Saturday, February 23, 2008

Watada’s latest appeal still pending

Question: What is the status of the court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who faced an Army court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq in 2006?

Answer: "No real news," reports his civilian attorney Ken Keagan, since the federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in November prohibiting the Army from bringing Watada to a second court-martial. Watada's first court-martial, a year ago, ended in a mistrial. Watada and his attorney claim that a second trial would violate his constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled on Nov. 8 that no court-martial will be held for Watada pending the outcome of his claim that it would violate his Fifth Amendment rights by trying him twice for the same charges...

~ Read on... ~

Asian American soldiers of conscience

..."Torture is un-lawful", are the first words of his keynote address, part of the "War on Terror" lecture series presented by the Human Rights Center at Berkeley. In 2004 Taguba was lead investigator into conditions at the US military's Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq. His highly critical report was publicized throughout the world. The 6,000-page report gave evidence of torture, prisoner abuse, and a failure of leadership and responsibility at the highest levels of authority. The report was hailed as a thorough investigation completed in only 30 days. But in January 2006, Taguba received a phone call from the Army's Vice-Chief of Staff who offered no reason but said, "I need you to retire by January of 2007." This Taguba did after 34 years of active duty.

The war in Iraq has thrust American soldiers of Asian ancestry into the limelight as no other US conflict has ever done before. Aside from their Asian heritage there is yet another tie that these men have. It reflects another on-going battle - one that is being fought in the halls of Congress and in countless debates throughout the world. Asian American soldiers have found themselves front and center in these fights over the use of torture, questions of wartime ethics and conduct and even over the legality of the Iraq war itself.

In my interviews with war resistor First Lieutenant Ehren Watada; James Yee, the former captain and Muslim chaplin at Guantanamo Bay Prison; and Taguba, they all remain strong believers in the US constitution, its principals and the ability of the US military to protect them. Despite the different ways they acted on their beliefs and despite differing opinions, what remains is their commitment to a firm set of ideals and their willingness to pay a price for it.

[ ... ]

Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq underscored the Bush administration's determination to go to war, with Truth being its first casualty. Watada argues that the President misled the public and that the reasons for going to war were based on false premises. Watada states that he will not fight an illegal war. He now faces a possible court martial.

The stand Watada took remains a source of controversy. Yet support for him is strong, with a group of Asian Americans supporters driving several hundred miles to his trials in Washington State. Support for Yee first came from Muslim Americans. But as events surrounding his case were revealed, Chinese and Asian Americans rallied to his cause.

I compare this situation to that of the war in Southeast Asia. When I documented stories of Asian American Vietnam Veterans, I was told of an Asian American soldier being signaled out by a squad leader. He then told the squad, "This is what the enemy looks like." The contributions of these Asian Americans in the armed forces were no less than those of Asian American soldiers today. But too often racial stereotyping and derogatory attitudes reserved for the Vietnamese were also pointed at Asian Americans. The sense of isolation, the mental and emotional scars inflicted upon these men and women remained apparent years after returning to civilian life...

~ Read more... ~

Update On Wikileaks Censorship

On Monday I wrote about the unprecedented attempt by Bank Julius Baer to censor the web site by having a San Francisco judge issue a restraining order telling the web site's domain name registrar to stop from pointing to its actual IP address, This was the first know instance of a court shutting down an entire web site. One Kafkaesque feature of this omnibus order is that the court order and other materials were ordered to be emailed to Wikileaks. But with the domain name abolished, no mail sent to them could get to anyone.

Two days after my article, the New York Times finally covered the Wikileaks censorship effort and conclude:

"Judge White's order disabling the entire site “is clearly not constitutional,” said David Ardia, the director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard Law School. “There is no justification under the First Amendment for shutting down an entire Web site.”

The narrower order, forbidding the dissemination of the disputed documents, is a more classic prior restraint on publication. Such orders are disfavored under the First Amendment and almost never survive appellate scrutiny."

Since the controversy broke Monday, this censorship has become a major topic in the news and on the web. after all, the shutting down of an entire web site threatens all citizens who use or rely upon the web for disseminating and obtaining a diversity of otherwise unobtainable information. A new blog site,, has been created:

"to discuss the ethical and technical issues surrounding the project, which claims to be developing an "uncensorable" version of WikiPedia, for "mass document leaking" and whistleblowing."

While I have no direct knowledge of who is behind this new site , I assume it is tongue-in-cheek when it goes on to state:

"This blog is not yet affiliated with the secretive and media manipulative project, but the issues for discussion remain important, regardless of whether or not ever overcomes its technical, legal, ethical and funding problems."

At this point they have a detailed analysis of the second restraining order against Wikileaks in which they argue that it is so broad that it may actually ban virtually all internet activity by the bank, Bank Julius Baer, that brought the suit! Read it and see for yourself.

The order was issued, allegedly because Wikileaks had obtained bank documents that, according to Wikileaks:

“allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion.”

Wikileaks has made a discovery potentially shedding light upon the bank's motives in the case. Bank Julius Baer was about to launch a $1 billion IPO, and that the press attention and increased regulatory scrutiny flowing from it may well scuttle this deal. After all, it's hard to launch an IPO when there are suggestions in the press ad the blogosphere that your profts may be due to money laundering. It may turn out that this restraining order was an act of self destruction by Bank Julius Baer with few parallels. As a Wikileaks press release explains [not being a profesional journalist, I can actually quote their press release instead of paraphrasing and pretending I did the reporting myself]:

"Wikileaks has discovered Bank Julius Baer was preparing to take their US operation public via an a billion dollar IPO. They filed the prospectus with the SEC on Feb 12, a mere three days before convincing Federal court Judge Jeffery White to order total censorship of the transparency site.

"We are an asset management company that provides investment management services to institutional and mutual fund clients. We are best known for our International Equity strategies, which represented 92% of our assets under management as of September 30, 2007." They were going to call the business "Artio" (ticker symbol ART, to be listed on the NYSE). Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch were to underwrite the IPO according to Bloomberg.

So the last thing they needed was to be the subject of a New York Times story and all over the world press, associated with money laundering. Now the deal goes under a microscope. Their underwriters have to take a second look and the SEC may have questions. Julius Baer will probably have to file a "material event" 8-K report with the SEC. Newspaper and magazine reporters will be looking at Baer. The question will be raised that the rather high returns Baer reports may be achieved via money laundering.

All this is happening in a down market, in which it is hard to do an IPO and in which investors are very sensitive to unexpected risk. The whole deal may evaporate, or be repriced downward.

Attempting to censor Wikileaks was a very, very expensive mistake for Baer."

Meanwhile, the struggle against this censorship and prior restraint has suddenly become a central front in the battle to preserve freedom of speech for those without the millions to pay for it. We should all stand prepared to assist in any ways requested.

And remember that, while no longer points to it, Wikileaks still exists. Just past its IP address ,, into your web browser, or go to, or any of dozens of other cover names. Let the leaks continue!


Stephen Soldz is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He maintains the Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice web site and the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. He is a founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations leading the struggle to change American Psychological Association policy on participation in abusive interrogations.

~ Link ~

Biggest ever Fairtrade switch by a UK company

  • Tate & Lyle announces its ambition to move its entire retail cane sugars range to Fairtrade, marking the largest ever switch to the ethical labelling scheme by any major UK food or drink brand.
  • In the first year alone, the switch will create a return of at least £2 million in Fairtrade premiums for cane farmers.
In an announcement expected to dramatically increase the amount of Fairtrade certified sugar sold in the UK, Tate & Lyle confirms today its ambition to move 100% of its retail cane sugars range to Fairtrade. It also establishes the accessibility of Fairtrade for all.

[ ... ]

Fairtrade Foundation Executive Director Harriet Lamb comments: “Fairtrade is already making a big difference to the lives of more than seven million people in the developing world, but there are millions more we'd like to reach. In terms of size and scale, this is the biggest ever Fairtrade switch by a UK company and it's tremendous this iconic UK brand is backing Fairtrade. We'd now like to encourage other companies of the same size and scale as Tate & Lyle to think actively about making a similar commitment. The more we can make Fairtrade the norm, the more its positive impact can be felt by farmers and their communities across the developing world.”...

~ Link ~

Confessions Of A Propagandist

" ... China's propaganda department has a long history of antagonizing the international community with its words. Regular rants about the "splittist" Dalai Lama--usually after he has a conversation with a head of state--do more to foster support for the Tibetan leader than to turn the tide against him. The veiled threats of military action against Taiwan also never fail to rankle. The trouble is, everyone now expects these fiery remonstrations; to suddenly tone down the tirades would be like saying the Dalai Lama is not so bad or Taiwan can have independence after all.

While the highly formulaic nature of Chinese government rhetoric makes for stodgy news stories, academics rejoice in its rigidity, analyzing the language to predict subtle shifts in party ideology. Hong Kong University's China Media Project constructed a league table charting the frequency with which President Hu used certain buzzwords in his report to the 17th Communist Party Congress last October. "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" thrashed the opposition with 52 references, comfortably defeating "scientific development," "opening up and reform" and "harmony."

A few plotted graphs and some articulate reasoning later, the China Media Project experts concluded that the party's basic direction for the next five years was "first and foremost a reaffirmation of the path of reform and opening in response to the left's opposition and call for a turn back." Simple as that.

For the rest of the world, however, it was anyone's guess what Hu was trying to say, and the uncertainty was reflected in contrasting headlines. Following the speech, Agence France Presse went with "Hu flags political reform for China." The New York Times plumped for "China's leader closes door to reform." ... "

~ Read more... ~

Are Kenyan runners stoking violence?

As anyone following the sport of running knows, a sizable chunk of the world's fastest runners hail from Kenya, a country rocked by violence after a disputed December 2007 election. Now a paragraph in a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) says elite runners there may be funding, training, and commanding militias...

~ Read on... ~

Official apology after CIA 'torture' jets used UK base

A British territory in the Indian Ocean was used for American "torture" flights, despite categorical denials of Britain's involvement from both Tony Blair and Jack Straw, the Government admitted yesterday.

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, had to make a humiliating apology to the Commons after it emerged that the US failed to tell British officials that two CIA rendition flights carrying suspected terrorists landed on the island of Diego Garcia in 2002. Six years on, one of the suspects is still being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The other has been released.

Mr Miliband denied there was a deliberate cover-up and said he believed the US had acted "in good faith". However, Gordon Brown, attending an EU summit in Brussels, expressed his "disappointment" and said Washington's failure to disclose the flights earlier was "a very serious issue"...

~ Read on... ~

Empowering West African Women With Diesel Engines

The mechanization of domestic tasks such as milling or husking grains (normally done with a mortar and pestle or grinding stone) can transform the time-consuming actions into profitable economic activities for rural West African women. The Diesel engines responsible for such transformation are being distributed in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Not only mill work is accomplished. A new diesel-run engine mounted on a steel chassis, called multifunctional platform, or MFP can power a variety of equipment, including a battery charger, and joinery and carpentry equipment. The machine can also generate electricity for lighting, refrigeration and water pumps...

~ Read more... ~

United Diversity - Toward Cooperative Systems

Just as every Human Being possesses different Fingerprints, so it is that we all have different Thought-prints, and none of these has ever been shown to be 100% identical. Diversity is reality.

Yet no existing governments on earth fully honor our Natural Diversity even in the 21st Century. Instead, uniquely different Individuals are forced into act-alike government molds, standarized and dogmatized, including Fascism, Capitalism, Socialism and Communism. Obviously, to impose act-alike political and economic systems on unwilling Individuals is to enslave and deprive them of their Natural Rights of Freewill, and no World Peace, Harmony and Freedom has ever been produced by any of it.

For Unity of the one Human Family, the Natural Diversity of each member must be Honored!

Toward the goal of Justice, Peace and Freedom, and for the first time in recorded history, every adult Human can be fully Empowered Politically in a society built on Voluntary Cooperation with a Balance of Rights! Enforcement by Reactive/Defensive Neutralizing Physical Force can finally replace history's bully ways of Initiating Physical Force.

Our intention is to help transform all systems of "involuntary governance" to Cooperative Systems, local to global. Slavery, Serfdom, and all forms of Bondage will disappear. Public Policies, along with the needs and desires of people, will be achieved by Cooperative systems.

Humans are created with Inherent, Inborn, Ingrained, Innate, Instinctive, Intuitive, and Inalienable Natural Rights of Freewill, and until they are Balanced among all members of the one Human Family, there is no true Justice, Peace or Freedom!

Inalienable Natural Rights include (1) to Protect against Initiatory Physical Force, Coercion and Fraud, (2) to Protect Self-governance, (3) to Protect against Environmental and Physical Harm, (4) to Protect Justly-acquired Personal Property, (5) to Protect One's Freewill to Travel, Trade, and Associate with others, (6) to Protect One's Expression on Public Issues, (7) to Protect One's Right to Participate Equally and Vote Directly on Public Issues, (8) to Protect One's Right to Dissociate from any Principle, Policy, Program, Practice or Person, (9) to Protect against any human-contaminated Air, Water, Soil or Food, (10) to Protect Equal Access to Public Places and Public Information, and (11) to Protect Open, Transparent settlement of Differences with others.

"As Individual Natural Rights are Protected, so is all Life including the planet Protected, and when we Cooperatively extend Unconditional Love to each member of our Human Family, there is Peace and Goodwill" (Cooperative for Unconditional Love).

See the "World Cooperative" CONSTITUTION of UNITED DIVERSITY

KOKOPELLI : biodiversite', la fin des illusions / French seed association Kokopelli condemned for protecting biodiversity

Les verdicts sont tombés : l'association Kokopelli est lourdement condamnée :

  • 12.000€ pour le grainetier Baumaux
  • 23.000€ pour l'état et la fédération des industriels de la semence (FNPSPF).
Il faut être réaliste : les semences que défend l'association Kokopelli, étant maintenues dans l'illégalité par une volonté politique, nous ne pouvions pas gagner ces procès.

Malgré les directives européennes, les avis de l'ONU, du Sénat, de scientifiques, d'agronomes affirmant l'urgence de sauvegarder la biodiversité végétale alimentaire, l'état français refuse de libérer l'accès aux semences anciennes pour tout un chacun.
C'est ce qui permet aujourd'hui aux magistrats d'infliger ces lourdes peines à l'association Kokopelli.

Dans le cas du procès de la SAS Baumaux pour concurrence déloyale, M. Baumaux verra donc son bénéfice de 800.000€ augmenté de 10.000€ et recevra 2.000€ pour ses frais.

L'état français recevra 17.500€ au motif que KOKOPELLI vend des semences illégales, 5.000€ seront consacrés aux frais et à l'information du bon peuple sur les pratiques dangereuses de l'association KOKOPELLI. Les semences qui ont nourri nos grands-parents et qui servent à nous nourrir aujourd'hui par le jeux des croisements, sont donc devenues illégales et dangereuses.

~ Lire la suite ~

Limans, 17 February 2008

Urgent : Biodiversity under threat !

The French seed association Kokopelli condemned for protecting
Severe risk of a disastrous directive being adopted by the European
Union concerning seeds of conservation varieties

Dear friends,

Seeds represent a genetic heritage built up over 10,000 years of
human selection, one of the oldest and most precious treasures
belonging to all humanity. The future of this priceless heritage is
at stake and decisions of great importance will be taken in the
coming months. Will this enormous wealth of traditional seeds which
forms the basis of all life on earth be freely available to farmers
and gardeners as it was for thousands of years, or will it only
belong to a few multinational seed companies?

The French seed industry is leading an unprecedented war for control
in this field. It has done all in its power to ensure that national
legislations and European directives make illegal the production and
sale of reproducible seeds that are not registered in the official
catalogue of breeds and varieties. This catalogue is almost entirely
made up of sterile varieties. The situation differs throughout
Europe. A country like Austria, for example, has taken the opposite
approach and provides considerable support to initiatives seeking to
maintain and protect the seeds of traditional varieties.

In the most recent episode of this open war Kokopelli has just been
condemned in two trials2. This association has created one of the
largest European collections (2500 reproducible varieties) of
vegetable, flower and cereal seeds reproducible and accessible both
to amateurs and to professionals. There are many larger seed banks,
but they are the property either of big agro-industrial trusts
(Limagrain, Syngenta, Pioneer…), which reserve them for the
production of clones and GMOs, or of states which provide little or
no access for the wider public.

These verdicts could become a dangerous jurisprudential precedent
affecting the whole of Europe and could prevent other organisations
seeking to preserve biodiversity from distributing and selling seeds.
It is urgent to react throughout the European Union. We must make
clear to all national governments and to the European Commission that
the citizens of this continent consider it to be absolutely essential
to protect our heritage of cultivated genetic biodiversity. It is
therefore vital to adopt European directives that enable associations
like Kokopelli to pursue the invaluable work they are doing in this

It is in fact the French government that is keeping Kokopelli in an
illegal position. For ten years a European directive (98-95 CEE) has
clearly indicated that everything must be undertaken to safeguard
varieties under threat of genetic erosion. However, neither France
nor the European Commission have appled this text which has not been
transposed into the national legislation. This would have enabled
Kokopelli to continue its work of conservation and distribution in
full legality, a task the state is no longer guaranteeing.

Since 1998 other directives have been adopted, partially replacing
Directive 98-95 CEE. European legislation on seeds is so complex and
confusing that the European Commission recently decided to carry out
an evaluation with the aim of ensuring that there is a coherent
harmonised legal situation throughout the EU. This evaluation, which
is to be completed by the end of this year, is being carried out in a
very undemocratic manner with a total lack of transparency. As yet it
has been impossible to find out which external body has received the
mission to carry it out. It is essential that there is a genuine
debate and consultation with all of the actors in the seed sector,
including organisations involved in the defence of traditional seeds
and in the conservation of biodiversity.

Everything indicates that the Commission intends to completely
remodel European seed legislation on the basis of this evaluation,
which would no doubt take place in 2009. Despite this fact, in its
meeting on 25 February in Brussels the « Standing Committee on
Seeds» will be debating the first of four proposals3 on the seeds of
conservation varieties. These include severe geographic and
quantitative restrictions to the production, use and sale of seeds
under threat of genetic erosion (see annexe). The Commission is
basing its plan to impose such restrictions on the content of
existing directives which will soon become null and void.

This is why we call on you to send letters, as rapidly as possible,
to the Minister responsible in your country for the questions of
seeds and cultivated biodiversity. There are three key demands to make :

Seeds of conservation varieties should not be considered to be a
matter of minor importance within the general question of seeds,
subject to regulations imposed without a public debate and
consultation with all those involved in the sector ;
No directives on seeds of conservation varieties should be adopted
before the completion of a transparent and democratic evaluation and
the adoption of new European legislation which reflects the views of
organisations promoting biodiversity. Discussion of the three draft
directives on the agenda of the meeting on 25 February should be
postponed until this date ;
A moratorium should be established covering the period of the
evaluation and the adoption of definitive new European seed
legislation to enable the many associations and companies throughout
Europe to pursue their vital work for the safeguard and distribution
of traditional seeds. Without such a moratorium these organisations
will face the risk of being taken to court for the illegal sale of
seeds. A year without activity in this field will exacerbate the
already serious erosion of traditional plant varieties.

Please send us copies of your letters. In this way we will be able to
inform the European Parliament and Commission as well as the media
that there is Europe-wide concern about this matter.

With our best wishes,

Nicholas Bell
European Civic Forum


The texts of the three proposed directives on the agenda of the
meeting on 25 February are not available yet, either to the public or
the European Parliament. We can, however, suppose that they will
resemble the documents already proposed in April 2007.

Draft Commission Directive providing for certain derogations for
acceptance of
agricultural landraces and varieties which are naturally adapted to the
local and regional conditions and threatened by genetic erosion and
for marketing of seed and seed potatoes of those landraces and varieties

We are strongly alarmed by this proposal because we consider that it
does not serve the needs of a satisfactory “on farm” conservation
of plant genetic resources. Instead of simplifying market access for
small-scale farmers and producers, it provides for a highly
restrictive framework for the marketing of seeds of conservation

According to the present proposal, the production, marketing and use
of the seeds of a conservation variety will be restricted to their
place of origin. Apart from the fact that the origin of a variety is
often outside Europe, this is an inappropriate barrier, contradicting
the idea of consumer and farmer choice. In addition it would block
the further development of biodiversity which requires exchange to
ensure regeneration. These restrictions would therefore create an
obstacle to the viable long-term conservation of varieties facing the
threat of genetic erosion. They also go against the fundamental
principle of the free movement of goods within the EU, and contradict
the principle of the freedom of trade and industry, without any
justification being presented.

Moreover, there are also quantitative restrictions affecting the
amount of seeds of a conservation variety which may be produced.
There are two forms of restriction: a ceiling of 0,5% of the seeds of
the same species used in the same season in a given member state
(0,3% of certain species), or of the quantity of seed needed to sow
20 hectares of the particular variety. These are extremely small
quantities and are not sufficient to ensure the daily and long-term
use which is the only way of avoiding the extinction of particularly
threatened varieties. Once again, no justification is given.

The present proposal would require controls of seed production on
site, of quantities of marketed seed and of the surface planted for
each variety. These controls would be expensive and do not comply
with the principle of proportionality, in view of the modest economic
relevance of conservation varieties.

The geographic and quantitative restrictions, together with the
control obligations, put a burden of costs and bureaucracy on to
farmers and small-scale breeders, instead of facilitating the
maintenance of conservation varieties through their daily use. This
goes against the goal of the conservation of biodiversity in
agriculture, as defined in various international commitments made by
the EU as well as in the EU Biodiversity strategy. The restrictions
and control obligations also seem disproportionate with regard to
consumer protection, as almost no risk for consumers exists, apart
from purchasing a less uniform selection of seeds. When consumers buy
seeds of a clearly labelled "conservation variety", they are aware of
this fact.

What is more, there is a strong call both from farmers and consumers
that old traditional varieties should be made available again and
thus find their way back to our plates. All of the restrictions
proposed by the European Commission represent unjustifiable
distortions of the freedom of economic operators.

Finally, the geographic restrictions would appear to be totally
counter-productive, if not suicidal, when one considers the growing
risks of climate change. Certain zones of origin of plant varieties
may become no longer adapted for such plants due to problems of
drought or temperature change. On the other hand, traditional plant
varieties originating from other countries or even continents may be
better adapted to these new climatic conditions. It is therefore
essential to ensure that this heritage built up over millenia is able
to adapt gradually to changing circumstances.

Department of Malicious Falsehoods

The Public Affairs Office at the Department of Defense has long figured as a redoubt for the Neoconservatives. At times, I've wondered about the name “Public Affairs.” Don't they really mean something more along the lines of “Department for the Political Instruction of Cadres”? I first marveled at their brazen misconduct and proclivity for heavily ornamented deceit when Seymour Hersh came out with a major story in the New Yorker describing the “Cooper Green” program. The program operated under the authority of Stephen Cambone and with an okay from Donald Rumsfeld and it authorized the use of illegal interrogation techniques, which we subsequently learned were the hallmark of the Bush Administration. I had discovered some key aspects of this program shortly before Hersh's article and discussed them with Hersh. After his article appeared, it was aggressively denounced by the Public Affairs Office as some sort of journalistic hysteria, and they proceeded to go after Hersh himself. I recall reading the statement and puzzling over it. They knew, and I knew, and Hersh knew that their statement was dishonest. Why would the Department of Defense issue a grossly false statement like that and then proceed several steps beyond it, assaulting the integrity of one of the nation's premier exposé journalists?...

~ Read on... ~

Musical Innerlube: Lykke Li "I'm Good, I'm Gone"

Why Work?

Proudly Unemployed: The Jobless World of the Talentful Beggar

Why Work?

Bob Black: The Abolition of Work

10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job

Become invisible to The Man

A German art project could help the British avoid the oppressive proliferation of surveillance cameras in their country. The I-R.A.S.C is simple, consisting of a circle of infra-red LEDs mounted on a headband. The infra red is invisible to The Man, but will cause CCTV cameras to flare out over the face of the wearer, obscuring his identity and making this the digital equivalent of a hooded sweatshirt.

This is not a production unit, but given that you'd only need a hat, a battery and a few LEDs, you could easily knock one up in the garage.

~ CCTV Busting Infra-Red Headset Makes You Invisible ~

The Greeks of Italy

" ... Italy, a land of distinctive culture, is also full of linguistic diversity. The language officially spoken today is a convention of the 19th century Accademia della Crusca, which emerged after the wars of unification (Risorgimento, circa 1848-1861). At that time, the intent was to forge an Italian people by forcing them to speak one standard language. This effort was only partially successful. Today within Italy's borders one can find pockets of minority languages like Sardinian, Albanian, and Friulan. Furthermore, while many Italians have a strong sense of Italian identity, they hold allegiances to their own towns and local dialects. An example is Griko, a near-extinct variant of Greek and other interspersed elements, spoken in a few villages in Salento (the Salentine plain), in Puglie, and in Calabria. These regions are located in Southern Italy, the ancient Magna Graecia, colonized by many Greek cities from 600 B.C.E. onward.

Speakers of Griko, who live and operate in Italy as fully assimilated Italians, call themselves Griki. This is not a paradox to them: although they are full-fledged Italian citizens, they are acutely aware of their Greek roots and they maintain multiple identities. They easily switch back and forth between Italian and the two local dialects, Romanzo, which is Italian based, and Griko. A key to their identity, and a factor that makes them unique, is their strong defense of Griko.

In the Magna Graecia of antiquity, Greek was the language of preference; it was, however, interchanged with Latin and other languages. There, in busy day-to-day interactions, migrants, merchants, and clerks were familiar with several tongues. The consensus of most linguists is that ancestors of present-day speakers were migrant workers who came to southern Italy from impoverished mainland Greece and surrounding islands to work the rich estates of Roman landowners. Over the centuries, these farmhands were ignored by policy-makers, soldiers, and other invaders who "conquered" Italy. Ironically, the low status of the Griki may, in the long run, have served to "save" their language and culture. ... "

~ From The Greeks of Italy by Lucia Clark ~

Rexroth on Lafcadio Hearn

" ... From his essays and stories emerges a sensitive and durable vision of how Buddhism was and still is lived in Japan — the ancient Buddhist traditions, rituals, myths, and stories that are still preserved, and their effects upon the beliefs and daily life of ordinary Japanese people.

Lafcadio Hearn was born on the Ionian island of Santa Maura in either June or August 1850 and died in Okubo, Japan in 1904. His father was an Irish surgeon major stationed in Greece and his mother a Greek woman, famous for her beauty. It was she who named him Lafcadio, after Leudakia, the ancient name of Santa Maura, one of the islands connected with the legend of Sappho. In a relatively short lifespan of fifty-four years he managed to live several different literary lives.

[ .. ]

In 1895 Hearn became a Japanese citizen and took the name of Koizumi Yakumo. In 1896 he became professor of literature at Tokyo Imperial University, a most prestigious academic position in the most prestigious school in Japan. From then until his death he produced his finest books: Exotics and Retrospectives, 1898, In Ghostly Japan, 1899, Shadowings, 1900, A Japanese Miscellany, 1901, Kwaidan, 1904, Japan, An Attempt at Interpretation, 1904. These were translated into Japanese and became at least as popular in Japan as they did in America.

During the last two years of his life, failing health forced Hearn to give up his position at Tokyo Imperial University. On September 26, 1904, he died of heart failure. He had instructed his eldest son to put his ashes in an ordinary jar and to bury it on a forested hillside. Instead, he was given a Buddhist funeral with full ceremony, and his grave is to this day a place of pilgrimage perpetually decorated with flowers.

[ ... ]

One of the things Hearn admires about Buddhism is its adaptability to the spiritual and historic needs of a people. If they need a pantheon of gods, Buddhism makes room for them. If they need to fix upon a savior, Buddhism provides one. But the Buddhist elite, the more learned monks, never lose sight of the true doctrine. I will never forget a symposium in which I once took part along with a number of Buddhist clergy. A Westerner asked the leading Shinshu abbot, “Do you really believe in the existence of supernatural beings like Amida and Kannon, and in a life after death in the True Land Paradise of Amida?” The abbot answered very quietly, “These are conceptual entities.” In fact the Diamond and Womb Mandalas with their hundreds of figures (sometimes represented by quasi-Sanskrit letters) are tools for meditation. The monk moves from the guardian gods at the outer edge, in to the central Buddha — the Vairocana — and at last beyond him to the Adi Buddha — the Pure, unqualified Void.

Yet, popular rather than “higher” Buddhism is Hearn's main subject, and he always is careful to distinguish between the metaphysically complex Buddhism of the educated monks and the simpler, more colorful Buddhism of the ordinary people.

[ ... ]

It is difficult to think of a better guide to Japanese Buddhism for the completely uninformed than Hearn, though there are others who may be his equals. Certainly the popularizers of Zen are not. Zen, after all, is a very special sect, in many ways more Vedantist or Taoist than Buddhist. And of course as the religion of the Japanese officer caste and of the great rich it plays in Japan a decidedly reactionary role. Hearn's Buddhism is far less specialized than Zen. It is the Buddhism of the ordinary Japanese Buddhist of whatever sect.

The first distinction to be made in any consideration of Buddhism itself is that Christianity is the only major religion whose adherents live lives and hold beliefs diametrically opposed to those of its founder. Nothing could be less like the life of Jesus than that of the typical Christian, clerical or lay. Imagine thirteen men with long beards, matted hair, and probably lice, in ragged clothes and dusty bare feet, taking over the high altar at St. Peter's in Rome or the pulpit of a fashionable Fifth Avenue sanctuary. The Apostolic life survives in only odd branches of Christianity: the Hutterites, some Quakers, even Jehovah's Witnesses, but not, as everyone knows, in official and orthodox denominations. Catholicism carefully quarantines such people in monasteries and nunneries where a life patterned on that of the historic Jesus is not wholly impossible to achieve. The opposite is true of Buddhism. No matter how far the sect — Lamaism, Zen, or Shingon — may have moved from the Buddhologically postulated original Buddhist Order, all sects of Buddhism are pervaded by the personality of the historic Siddhartha Gautama.

[ ... ]

Hearn's role in the spread of Buddhism to the West was a preparatory one. He was the first important American writer to live in Japan and to commit his imagination and considerable literary powers to what he found there. Like the “popular” expressions of Buddhist faith that were his favorite subject, Hearn popularized the Buddhist way of life for his Western readers. And he was widely read, both in his articles for Harper's Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly, and in his numerous books on Japan. Hearn's essays, with their rich descriptions and queer details, almost never generalizing but staying with a particular subject, always backed by the likeable and enthusiastic personality of Hearn himself, and always factually reliable, satisfied the vague and growing curiosity of his American readers about the mysterious East.

At St. Cuthbert's school, at age fifteen, Hearn had discovered that he was a pantheist. That is not unusual for a fifteen-year-old, and the fact that pantheism is unaccepted in Christian doctrine or in Western philosophical thought normally suffices to extinguish the common adolescent philosophy or to transmute it to something less vulnerable. But the idea stuck with Hearn, and when finally, at forty, he arrived in Japan, he was delighted to find that he could now exercise and explore his intuition of God-in-All. If Hearn entered Japanese culture and achieved understanding of Japanese Buddhist (and Shinto) thought with unprecedented rapidity for a Westerner, it is because his own spirit had always longed for an atmosphere in which his belief in the sentience and blessedness of all Nature could flourish. ... "

~ From Lafcadio Hearn and Japanese Buddhism ~

When the Terrorists Were 'Our Guys'

In 1976, when George H.W. Bush was CIA director, the U.S. government tolerated right-wing terrorist cells inside the United States and mostly looked the other way when these killers topped even Palestinian terrorists in spilling blood, including a lethal car bombing in Washington, D.C., according to newly obtained internal government documents.

~ Read on... ~

'Owners of a Churchillian "aenigma wrapped in a mystery" '

" ... And as far as "secret" and "secrecy" are concerned, I want to say this. It is not Masons that embrace secrecy: in fact, there is no secret; it is secrecy that embraces them, as sort of unavoidable mythological an implication. It is not correct to say that Masons promote secrecy: they endure it. Or, if you like, it is not a predilection of the Masons, but their complication. 

It is not a matter of victimization, it is a matter of fatality. Secrecy comes to the Mason as a self imposing physiological element, as a metabolite necessarily rooted in the elected fabric.  

In this sense, secrecy holds no real object: it is an empty bag, whose value resides in having a mythological range, and not a literal one.  

This is why the key of the Secret Master in the Scottish Rite is broken (more: it is closed within an urn): there is nothing mysterious to be open with it... The task of the Master Mason is not that of remolding it: the urn is locked, and you cannot draw the key that unlocks it, if the key that unlocks the urn, is sealed within the locked urn - and it is broken too.  

The task of the Mason is precisely that of managing the key exactly as it is being delivered to him/her. It is something to be treasured or to be contemplated, not to be pried.  

This is why masons are the first to ignore what this notorious secret could be, and profanes speculate about it a great deal more than it would deserve, till the point they often deem that an outsider might know better about "real" Freemasonry than an insider does, when the latter argues that there is no actual secret. ... "

~ From The Mephistophelian + 0.1: Speculative Freemasonry and Operative Freemasonry in the Squared Declension ~

Orwell on Gandhi

" ... It was also apparent that the British were making use of him, or thought they were making use of him. Strictly speaking, as a Nationalist, he was an enemy, but since in every crisis he would exert himself to prevent violence - which, from the British point of view, meant preventing any effective action whatever - he could be regarded as "our man". In private this was sometimes cynically admitted. The attitude of the Indian millionaires was similar. Gandhi called upon them to repent, and naturally they preferred him to the Socialists and Communists who, given the chance, would actually have taken their money away. How reliable such calculations are in the long run is doubtful; as Gandhi himself says, "in the end deceivers deceive only themselves"; but at any rate the gentleness with which he was nearly always handled was due partly to the feeling that he was useful. The British Conservatives only became really angry with him when, as in 1942, he was in effect turning his non-violence against a different conqueror.

[ ... ]

It is well to be reminded that Gandhi started out with the normal ambitions of a young Indian student and only adopted his extremist opinions by degrees and, in some cases, rather unwillingly. There was a time, it is interesting to learn, when he wore a top hat, took dancing lessons, studied French and Latin, went up the Eiffel Tower and even tried to learn the violin - all this was the idea of assimilating European civilization as throughly as possible. He was not one of those saints who are marked out by their phenomenal piety from childhood onwards, nor one of the other kind who forsake the world after sensational debaucheries. He makes full confession of the misdeeds of his youth, but in fact there is not much to confess. As a frontispiece to the book there is a photograph of Gandhi's possessions at the time of his death. The whole outfit could be purchased for about 5 pounds, and Gandhi's sins, at least his fleshly sins, would make the same sort of appearance if placed all in one heap.

[ ... ]

Of late years it has been the fashion to talk about Gandhi as though he were not only sympathetic to the Western Left-wing movement, but were integrally part of it. Anarchists and pacifists, in particular, have claimed him for their own, noticing only that he was opposed to centralism and State violence and ignoring the other-worldly, anti-humanist tendency of his doctrines. But one should, I think, realize that Gandhi's teachings cannot be squared with the belief that Man is the measure of all things and that our job is to make life worth living on this earth, which is the only earth we have. They make sense only on the assumption that God exists and that the world of solid objects is an illusion to be escaped from.

[ ... ]

And finally – this is the cardinal point - for the seeker after goodness there must be no close friendships and no exclusive loves whatever.  
Close friendships, Gandhi says, are dangerous, because "friends react on one another" and through loyalty to a friend one can be led into wrong-doing. This is unquestionably true. Moreover, if one is to love God, or to love humanity as a whole, one cannot give one's preference to any individual person. This again is true, and it marks the point at which the humanistic and the religious attitude cease to be reconcilable. To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor. It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi - with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction - always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: still, if the decision had been solely his own, he would have forbidden the animal food, whatever the risks might be. There must, he says, be some limit to what we will do in order to remain alive, and the limit is well on this side of chicken broth.

[ ... ]

However, Gandhi's pacifism can be separated to some extent from his other teachings. Its motive was religious, but he claimed also for it that it was a definitive technique, a method, capable of producing desired political results. Gandhi's attitude was not that of most Western pacifists. SATYAGRAHA, first evolved in South Africa, was a sort of non-violent warfare, a way of defeating the enemy without hurting him and without feeling or arousing hatred. It entailed such things as civil disobedience, strikes, lying down in front of railway trains, enduring police charges without running away and without hitting back, and the like. Gandhi objected to "passive resistance" as a translation of SATYAGRAHA: in Gujarati, it seems, the word means "firmness in the truth".

[ ... ]

At the same time there is reason to think that Gandhi, who after all was born in 1869, did not understand the nature of totalitarianism and saw everything in terms of his own struggle against the British government. The important point here is not so much that the British treated him forbearingly as that he was always able to command publicity. As can be seen from the phrase quoted above, he believed in "arousing the world", which is only possible if the world gets a chance to hear what you are doing. It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the régime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary. Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? The Russian masses could only practise civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference. But let it be granted that non-violent resistance can be effective against one's own government, or against an occupying power: even so, how does one put it into practise internationally? Gandhi's various conflicting statements on the late war seem to show that he felt the difficulty of this. Applied to foreign politics, pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement. Moreover the assumption, which served Gandhi so well in dealing with individuals, that all human beings are more or less approachable and will respond to a generous gesture, needs to be seriously questioned. It is not necessarily true, for example, when you are dealing with lunatics. Then the question becomes: Who is sane? Was Hitler sane? And is it not possible for one whole culture to be insane by the standards of another? And, so far as one can gauge the feelings of whole nations, is there any apparent connection between a generous deed and a friendly response? Is gratitude a factor in international politics?  ... "

~ From George Orwell - Reflections On Gandhi (1949)~

Pound and Vorticism

It was [Ezra] Pound who coined the name Vorticism, which was meant to connote vital, violent, rather mystical action. In artistic terms, the goals of the movement are difficult to define.


Great works of art contain this fourth sort of equation. They cause form to come into being. By the "image"
I mean such an equation; not an equation of mathematics, not something about a, b, and c, having something
to do with form, but about sea, cliffs, night, having something to do with mood. 

The image is not an idea. It is a radiant node or cluster; it is what I can, and must perforce, call a
VORTEX, from which, and through which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing. In decency one can
only call it a VORTEX. And from this necessity came the name "vorticism." Nomina sunt consequentia rerum,
and never was that statement of Aquinas more true than in the case of the vorticist movement.

Ezra Pound - Vorticism


Pravda report lends credence to metaphysics-intel connection theory

Sesnational [sic] news from the spirit-world came just the day 2 planes crashed in Russia. While Federal Security Service staff was clearing away the wreckage in the places of the accident in Rostov and Tula regions, the scientists of Saint Petersburg already knew that was an act of terrorism. They got interested strange sounds heard in the ultra short waves that are free from radio signal. When the scientists scrolled down the record, they were astounded. It said: That was a terrorist”.

A University of Radio technique professor Artem Mikheev got interested in this question. He found “Russian Instrumental Transcommunication” – an organization aimed to cooperate with the nether world.

[ ... ]

Inspired by the experience of foreign scientists, Artem Mikheev started his own experiments in 2002. Ghosts' answers came to Artem even when the microphones were off.

Mr. Mikheev says that on the day of the planes crash he was establishing connection with the other world. They didn't know what the cause of the tragedy was, so they turned to the strange voices for an answer. The answer was a quick messy record. Artem slowed the speed down 2,5 times, and heard somebody saying: “That was a terrorist”. Several days later this information was officially confirmed.

~ From Russian scientists contact nether world ~

'Augusta’s only orgone warrior'

" ... Dotson makes “orgonite tower busters,” organic resin disks the size of hockey pucks that are filled with metal filings and crystals. He and a small army of “cell-tower gifters” around the world say that the disks, when placed near cell towers, convert “deadly orgone energy” from radio transmissions into “positive orgone energy.”

Dotson receives no thanks for his efforts. In fact, he shuns the spotlight. But if he’s right, you’re the beneficiary.

To me, writing about tower busting is cruising on journalistic thin ice. There is a tendency to put every weird-sounding phrase in quotation marks as proof of one’s sanity. But to hell with this skittishness. It’s time to give tower busters some props for their selfless actions and colorful history.

While anybody can hope for world peace and good karma, orgone warriors actually engineer devices that charge the ether, ward off the fascist plague and disrupt government mind-control experiments. ... "

~ Read more... ~

Turkey's Army Launches Land Offensive Into Northern Iraq

ANKARA—Thousands of Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in their hunt for Kurdish rebels, television and a military source said on Friday, escalating a conflict that could undermine stability in the region.

Turkey's military said the cross-border offensive, possibly the largest in a decade, would continue until they had eliminated the threat from PKK rebels, who have been using northern Iraq as a base to stage attacks in neighbouring Turkey.

The United States on Friday urged Turkey, a key regional ally, to limit its offensive to precise PKK targets and to bring the operation to a swift conclusion. Iraq's government called on Turkey to respect its sovereignty and to avoid any military action which would threaten security.

The European Union and the United Nations also urged restraint, fearing the offensive could jeopardise the most stable region in Iraq at a time when security is improving, and also rekindle tensions between Turks and ethnic Kurds.

The Turkish military said its troops had entered Iraq late on Thursday to destroy PKK camps and hunt rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been battling for decades to create a Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey.

A senior Turkish military source told Reuters troops had clashed with PKK rebels in Iraq. He said many guerrillas had been killed. A PKK spokesman based in northern Iraq said only Turkish soldiers had died.

"The operations inside Iraq will intensify tomorrow," said the military source, who declined to be named...

~ Read on... ~

'Islamic stronghold in Pakistan goes secular'

" ... The notion of negotiation is ingrained in the Pashtun mind – a legacy of the jirgas, or councils, that have ruled Pashtun tribes for centuries – and it has great popular support here. The MMA's mullahs ran afoul of public opinion by abandoning such principles, residents say.

Sweeping to power in 2002 on a wave of anti-American sentiment after the invasion of Afghanistan, they were not sincere in their efforts to infuse politics with the tenets of Islam, residents say. One perception is that they used politics to get rich.

In 2002, "they used to go out canvassing on bicycles," says Ali Jan, pushing his shopping cart through the aisles of a Peshawar supermarket. "Now, they're driving around in Land Cruisers."

"They are hypocrites," adds Gul Khan, pausing for tea on the other side of town.

To him and others, Monday was a victory for Islam – driving corrupt mullahs from power in favor of a party that truly intends to help the people, it is hoped.

"[ANP] is not a religious party, but it is not the enemy of religion," says Lal Shah, while having a shave at a local barber shop. "I like the people whose job it is not to hate America or to hate Russia or to hate China, but to help Pakistan." ... "

~ Full article ~

U.K. death merchants worry about spending cuts

" ... The Society of British Aerospace Companies, for some 2,600 firms, said workers faced losing jobs and troops could be left without vital equipment.

[ ... ]

Both opposition parties have attacked government spending on the armed forces.

Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox accused the prime minister, Gordon Brown, of neglecting the armed forces.

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said a new strategic defence review was needed, rather than expensive "salami-slicing" programmes.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth is to meet coroners from Oxfordshire and Swindon and Wiltshire later to discuss how to speed up and improve the inquest process for troops killed in overseas operations. ... "

~ From Manufacturers fear defence cuts ~

"It was as if an occult hand had ..."

" ... This account comes from Larry Maddry in Hampton Roads Magazine: "It seems the phrase originated with Joseph Flanders, then an employee for the Charlotte News. He had typed: 'It was as if an occult hand had reached down from above and moved the players like pawns upon some giant chessboard.' "

This was in the fall of 1965. Newspaper colleagues "were so taken with Flanders' phrase they formed a society -- the Order of the Occult Hand -- and vowed to get the words ... into print as soon as possible." ... "

~ From Five things about the Occult Hand ~

Father Schall on "Spe Salvi"

" ... Q: In paragraph 15 of "Spe Salvi," there is a rich comparison of a monastery and a soul. What is the Holy Father trying to illustrate through the use of this imagery?"

Father Schall: A passage of Josef Pieper, originally based in Aquinas, if not in Aristotle and Plato, addresses this same question. The passage is found in "Josef Pieper -- an Anthology," called "The Purpose of Politics." It is only a couple of paragraphs long. I always point students to it as the most central of all passages about politics and political philosophy. It basically says both that you cannot understand politics without understanding the transcendent order, and that you cannot have a healthy society in which there is only politics.

Pieper writes, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas: "'It is requisite for the good of the human community that there should be persons who devote themselves to the life of contemplation.' For it is contemplation which preserves in the midst of human society the truth which is at one and the same time useless and the yardstick of every possible use; so it is also contemplation which keeps the true end insight, gives meaning to every practical act of life" ("An Anthology," 123). This passage is also behind much of what the Pope writes on natural law as the yardstick and measure of human actions.

One can state the issue succinctly: No political order can be itself healthy unless it has within it those who are not devoted to politics. This is not in any way a denial that politics are important, but it is a denial that they are the most important things in a society. Indeed, a society that makes politics the most important thing is already a totalitarian society, as Aristotle had already implied.

When the Pope treats this issue in "Spe Salvi," he refers to the monastic tradition and to Augustine. The Pope is careful to relate how this contemplative life is not opposed to any proper understanding of the temporal life of this world. He is even attentive to the relation of work to contemplation. Indeed, the elevation of work to a dignity and not a slavery or oppression had to do with the Benedictine notion of "pray and work."

The Pope cites a certain pseudo-Rufinus who says basically what Pieper did: "The human race lives thanks to a few: Were it not for them the world would perish." This is a remarkable statement indeed. It not only shows the absolute need of someone who constantly within society shows others that there is something more than this world, but it shows the importance of contemplation itself in keeping our mind straight.

The delicate relation of will and mind is a central drama of philosophy and revelation. This is why it has always been said that the great disorders of soul, as well as the great movements for good, begin in the heart of the dons, academic and religious, long before they appear in the public order. Again this is what "immenantize the eschaton" means. ... "

~ Full article ~

The Russian boom in Montenegro

" ... Ivan Golovkin is not mega-rich yet, but he is working on it. He has taken a year off from studying economics in St Petersburg to sell top of the range flats in Montenegro.

Complete with Italian bathroom fittings, swimming pool and underground parking, the average cost is well over $0.5m.
Ivan's clients are Russian businessmen.

"Several times people have tried to pay cash," he says, "but we don't work this way. We are very careful to check. It's all clean money."

Yet there is concern that in some cases the property boom may be a cover for turning dirty money into respectable profit, especially since Montenegro unilaterally adopted the euro in 2002.

[ ... ]

The report also calls on Montenegro to do more to protect the environment.

Once again, there is a Russian connection.
Not far from Podgorica there is a huge pond, its waters an ominous shade of red.
It collects the toxic waste from Montenegro's biggest company, the Kap aluminium complex that accounts for 40% of the country's exports. ... "

~ Read more... ~

'Buckley was the enfant terrible and then the eminence grise of the conservative political movement'

" ... "The New England Nasal Nip" is winsomely witty and waspish, punctilious, preppy, and pugnacious.

With bemused detachment, Buckley cedes center stage to correspondents obsessed with his appearance. A conservative, they insisted, should look like one. Instead, each week on Firing Line, Buckley was disheveled, with an ill-fitting shirt and a crooked tie. He slouched. And he scratched his head with a pencil, which he then put in his mouth. "I can't sit upright," Buckley confessed. "Congenital." Nor did he really want to. He was trying to distract his audience "from the hypnotic quality of my reasoning. Otherwise my points of view would overwhelm the public; and that would be the end of Firing Line."

The English language, however, was no laughing matter. After all Buckley's favorite occupation is "the correction of other people's errors." So he settles a Scrabble squabble by disqualifying the word "jader" (the comparative is inappropriate for a mineral) but accepting "whiter," even though "white" connotes the absence of color. And he lambastes a teacher for suggesting that Buckley invented the phrase "to immanentize the eschaton." The term, he explains, subjects to human dominion that which is beyond time. ... "

~ From Passion for linguistic precision: a review of Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription - Notes & Asides from National Review ~

Procreate like crazy - Secularists grok extinction

" ... When the Roman Empire fell in the fifth century, the strong trustee families of the barbarian tribes replaced the weak, atomistic Roman families as the foundation of society.

Churchmen believed that a social structure that broke up the ever-feuding clans and gave the individual more freedom would be better for society's stability and spent centuries reforming the European family toward domesticity. The natalist worldview advocated by churchmen knit tightly religious faith, family loyalty and child bearing.

From the 10th century on, the domestic family model ruled Europe through its greatest cultural efflorescence. But then came the Reformation and the Enlightenment, shifting culture away from tradition and toward the individual. Thus, since the 18th century, the atomistic family has been the Western cultural norm.

Here's the problem: Societies ruled by the atomistic family model, with its loosening of constraints on its individual members, quit having enough children to carry on. They become focused on the pleasures of the present. Eventually, these societies expire from lack of manpower, which itself is a manifestation of a lack of the will to live.

It happened to ancient Greece. It happened to ancient Rome. And it's happening to the modern West. The sociological parallels are startling.

[ ... ]

Like it or not, the future belongs to the fecund faithful.

Does that scare you? It does Philip Longman. In his 2004 book, The Empty Cradle, he warns fellow secular liberals that demography is destiny and that those who want to preserve modernity must start having more children than "fundamentalists."

Good luck with that. ... "

~ From Why Western civilization must learn to procreate or perish ~

Turkish prosecutor part of "inside jobs" violent conspiracy

" ... Kemal Kerincsiz is a Turkish lawyer. He's also the guy who tried to prosecute Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink, and several other writers for “insulting Turkishness”. And he's been arrested — along with 32 others, including several military men — for being part of a massive conspiracy to commit violent acts against enemies of the state. The conspiracy is called “Ergenekon”, and the story is still coming out.

The strange thing is that I had to discover this on the blog of science fiction writer Bruce Sterling. There were articles in Reuters and the AP, but the major western news outlets seem to have pretty much ignored this. But it's quite a story:

[The] investigation uncovered evidence of active plots to assassinate Pamuk, three politicians, and a prominent journalist and to stage a series of bombings in the coming year, according to reports appearing in the Turkish Press. One source, CNN Turk, has reported that Kerincsiz and twelve others have been charged with inciting people to armed revolt.

Kemal Kerincsiz was behind a number of notorious court proceedings in Turkey in recent years. In May 2005 he filed a complaint that led to the cancellation of an academic conference entitled “The Ottoman Armenians in the Period of the Declining Empire,” and when journalist Hrant Dink received a suspended sentence that same year for “insulting Turkishness,” Kerincsiz appealed seeking a harsher punishment. [This is the same Hrant Dink who was killed last year in Istanbul.]

[... ]

All this happened in late January. Turkish prosecutors have clamped down hard on news leaks, so there hasn't been a lot of hard news in the last three weeks. Still, bits and pieces are emerging:

Revelations emanating from the investigation thus far have shown that many of the attacks attributed to separatist or Islamist groups or seen as hate crimes against minorities were actually “inside jobs.”

The investigation into the gang… has exposed solid links between an attack on the Council of State in 2006, threats and attacks against people accused of being unpatriotic and a 1996 car crash known as the Susurluk incident, which revealed links between a police chief, a convicted ultranationalist fugitive and a member of Parliament as well as links to plans of some groups in Turkey's powerful military to overthrow the government….

The gang is a part of a structure named Ergenekon, declared a terrorist organization by the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office, an aggregation of many groups of varying sizes, many of which have in their names adjectives such as “patriotic,” “national,” “nationalist,” “Kemalist” or “Atatürkist.” Ergenekon is the name of a legend that describes how Turks came into existence…

The investigation has found that the Ergenekon phenomenon, also referred to as Turkey's “deep state,” stages attacks using “behind-the-scenes” paramilitary organizations to manipulate public opinion according its own political agenda…

~ Read more at A Fistful of Euros blog ~

Police concerned about order to stop weapons screening at Obama rally

DALLAS -- Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order -- apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on.

"Sure," said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a "friendly crowd."

The Secret Service did not return a call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.

Doors opened to the public at 10 a.m., and for the first hour security officers scanned each person who came in and checked their belongings in a process that kept movement of the long lines at a crawl. Then, about 11 a.m., an order came down to allow the people in without being checked.

Several Dallas police officers said it worried them that the arena was packed with people who got in without even a cursory inspection.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because, they said, the order was made by federal officials who were in charge of security at the event.

"How can you not be concerned in this day and age," said one policeman.

~ Link ~


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