Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Featured book review on Monsters and Critics :
 
Positing his belief that the integrated spectacle — his IS writ large — comprises the material reconstruction of "the religious illusion," Debord condemned its dictatorial freedom to proclaim "the predominance of appearances" while concealing its essential character "as a visible negation of life – and as a negation of life that has invented a visual form of itself . . . For what the spectacle expresses is the total practice of one particular economic and social formation; it is, so to speak, the formation's agenda. It is also the historical moment by which we happen to be governed . . . The spectacle is self-generated, and it makes up its own rules: It is a specious form of the sacred... . The spectator feels at home nowhere, for the spectacle is everywhere . . . The spectacle's function in society is the concrete manufacture of alienation . . . The spectacle is capital accumulated to the point where it becomes image."

Look no further than the ostentatious whoopla surrounding the AOL-Time-Warner megadeal last week, a nice bit of bizthness pundits predict will engender copy-cat conglomerates greedy for the greatest gains at the expense of the greatest good. Merger-mania is afoot; God is dead; no doubt, with the Western world's accelerated state of disgrace, what can only be described as cultureless utilitarianism (CU) will — IS willing — outlast us all.

Everybody knows we've been universally flattened by the commodification of absolutely everything; nobody quite recalls when the remote took control of our lives. But, like it or not, we've all become the contemporary anybody, the chronically frustrated voyeur of the ubiquitously visible, the itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie chip off the ol' integrated block.

"Ed Sanders invented everything"

In his youth, Sanders had the vision of the social movement that both cheerleaders and detractors refer to when they conjure the 1960s. While most people may be unaware of the bigness of Ed Sanders' work, they've not missed his colorful feathers that have graced our landscape for decades. "Ed Sanders invented everything," our mutual friend John Sinclair once told me. He's a Renaissance hyphenate and one of the first public figures of his generation to live seamlessly within the realms of politics, art and fun. In the process of self-reinvention, he became the first cousin to Che Guevara's paradigmatic New Man -- albeit thoroughly American and anti-authoritarian. To list all of Ed's prodigious accomplishments, we'd need more space than is available to us, given the reason I write these words: to praise the man's contemporary recordings.

In particular, his latest: the masterful Poems For New Orleans . He read and recorded his history of the Crescent City and Hurricane Katrina with musical accompaniment over four months in 2007 and has released it on Paris Records, a label on which proprietor Michael Minzer has also released spoken word by Ginsberg, Kathy Acker, Robert Creeley and a collab twixt Corso and Marianne Faithfull. Ed creates a people's history in the Zinn tradition and his own American verse histories by tracing the story of New Orleans through the eyes of the fictitious Lebage family, from Lemoine to his great great great great granddaughter Grace.

Russian reporter who authored book critical of Kremlin granted asylum in Britain

A Russian reporter who wrote a book critical of the Kremlin and later escaped injury in a bomb explosion said today that Britain has given her political asylum.

Thirty-four-year-old Yelena Tregubova said her life was in grave danger in Russia.

Tregubova's 2003 book "Tales of a Kremlin Digger," accused President Vladimir Putin of stifling freedom of speech and turning Russian media into a propaganda machine for the Kremlin.

Tregubova, who wrote for the influential Russian daily Kommersant, also suggested that Putin tried to seduce her when he headed the country's top security agency.

~ full article ~

 

Top Green Beret Discusses Implications of Modern American Way of War

 
Today, Lambert declared, with the threat from the Soviet Union removed, compounded by the mounting reliance on information dominance and an increasingly proactive American foreign policy (most recently demonstrated in the preemptive attack on Iraq), the United States is not only changing the way it conducts war but also how it plans war. During the Cold War, U.S. strategic doctrine viewed war in terms of national survival. As such, war planners emphasized winning a war with the Soviet bloc by any means necessary leaving few resources devoted to planning for the post war environment.

The advent of American military supremacy, however, allows today's war planner to shape military campaigns to achieve a predetermined and preferable post war environment. Indeed, unlike the days of the Cold War, there is little question as to whether the United States is capable of defeating likely adversaries. As a result, wars are increasingly being planned backwards to forwards and provide U.S. military capabilities with different "options" for achieving success. Such luxuries also enable the U.S. more than ever before to prevent armed conflict in the first place and stabilize regional instabilities before they can escalate into major crises.

[ ... ]
 
Information has also benefited psychological operations (PSYOP). While PSYOP methodology remains relatively unchanged, operations now are surgical as well as strategic, operational and tactical. PSYOPS can now target specific military and political commanders via personal cell phones, faxes, or email accounts. According to Lambert, preliminary results from Operation Iraqi Freedom have proven the increase in effectiveness of psychological operations.

In a world where achieving military victories is no longer a question for the United States military, humanitarian relief and the minimization of civilian casualties can now be placed at the forefront. Such capabilities fortuitously arrive at a time of a decrease in the public's tolerance for collateral damage and civilian suffering. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to this when he discussed "compassion" as a key ingredient to the most recent campaign in Iraq along with power, precision, speed and flexibility.

 

Freedom Next Time - Japanese Neonationalists Silence Yasukuni Film

Neo-nationalists have shut down a Chinese-directed movie about Japan's controversial war memorial Yasukuni, the latest in a string of incidents threatening freedom of expression in Japan.
Its name translates as "peaceful country," millions have silently prayed there for an end to wars, and for much of the year the loudest sound is the buzzing of insects and the shuffle of old footsteps to the hushed main hall. Yet Yasukuni Shrine, which occupies a single square kilometer of central Tokyo, is one of the most controversial pieces of real estate in Asia, resented by millions who consider it a monument to war, empire, and Japan's unrepentant and undigested militarism.
 
A decade ago when Chinese director Li Ying began filming there he didn't know what to make of his mysterious subject either. Today, as he watches the official Tokyo launch of his two-hour movie "Yasukuni" go down in flames amid death threats and cancelled screenings, he says the shrine symbolizes a "disease of the spirit" in Japan. "That I haven't been able to leave this issue alone for the last ten years means that I too am suffering," explained the 44-year-old Guangdong native.

"I didn't really want to make such a difficult film…so I must be sick to do it. The point is to look directly at the disease."

Li's point appears to have been lost by Japanese conservatives, who have branded the movie "Chinese propaganda," and condemned a decision by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan to award Li a 7.5 million yen (approx. $75,000) grant. In March, the film's distributors were forced to give a private preview to 80 lawmakers after weekly tabloids launched a campaign against the decision to fund it. With criticism growing along with the threat of ultra-right-wing violence, four Tokyo cinemas have pulled out of an official launch on April 12. The documentary is unlikely to ever flicker on Japan's movie screens.
 
 

On the road to saving two Kerouac sites

Poring over books and maps in his mom's Ozone Park apartment, Jack Kerouac planned the most famous road trip in literary history - and embarked on it in 1947.

But neither the walk-up where Kerouac plotted his cross-country exploits, nor a South Richmond Hill home where he worked on the classic novel "On the Road," are protected with city landmark status.

"Without question, they should be city landmarks. No book has captured the public imagination like 'On the Road,' " said Douglas Brinkley, a CBS News history analyst and Kerouac scholar.

To aid a landmark push, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told Queens News he would consider loaning the original 120-foot "On the Road" manuscript - a unique, continuous scroll that he purchased for $2.4 million in 2001 - for display at the borough sites.

~ read on... ~

 

Prisons commit greater crimes than inmates

From the Yale Daily News :
 
" ...One in 100 American adults is behind bars. That's 2.3 million people total. America imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world. China runs a close second, but of course, China has four times as many people as the U.S and is also a Communist dictatorship. America's incarceration rate is higher than every country in Europe combined. In fact, the prison population in the U.S. is equivalent to five Luxembourgs.
 
[ ... ]
 
Although American prisons are financially and ethically grievous, the incarceration rate continues to skyrocket with hardly a peep from politicians. This may be because the prison system impacts our society's most disempowered. Once you're convicted of a felony, you are stripped of your rights as a citizen. (In seven states, a quarter of the entire black male population is permanently ineligible to vote.) The fact that the prison system acts as an often-privatized, productive growth industry for the country (the third largest) offers tangible economic benefits that keep politicians tight-lipped. After all, prisons need to be built, prisoners clothed, supervised and provided for. Looking for access to a 35 billion dollar industry, corporations, defense giants and investment banks are eager providers.
 
[ ... ]
 
It is often difficult for people to garner much sympathy for the victims of our prison system. In the popular imagination these people are vicious murderers, rapists and pedophiles. However, perpetrators of violent crime make up a vast minority of inmates and even the worst criminals are human beings, the majority of which have grown up in poverty and abusive households. The prison system is the way our society deals with the poor, drug-addicted, homeless and mentally ill. Sixty percent of inmates are illiterate. 60 to 80 percent have a history of substance abuse. Two-hundred-thousand suffer serious mental illness. In a Colorado Supermax, a quarter of the inmates are on anti-psychotic medication. When released, these people will experience restricted employment opportunities, often prohibited from getting federal loans or public housing. In this way, our prison system disenfranchises the already destitute. ... "
 

U.S. Azeris Network launched a campaign of commemoration and recognition of the Azerbaijani genocide

The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) joins the Azerbaijani-American communities across the country, as well as all Azerbaijanis and their friends across the globe and in the Republic of Azerbaijan, in commemorating the great tragedy that has befallen on the people of Azerbaijan through the 20th century, and specifically during the "March days" of 1918. The USAN is expressing its deep sorrow to all the victims and their families.

On those tragic days in March and April 1918, the Armenian Dashnak forces have committed the biggest genocidal act of the time in the region, by slaughtering no less than 12,000 Azerbaijanis in Baku alone, and later continuing these acts in Guba, Shemakha, Shusha, Naxcivan and other cities across Azerbaijan, increasing the total of deaths to 30,000. This act, explained in vivid details by a major British journalist and historian Peter Hopkirk, was described by him as "genocidal" ("Like hidden fire. The Plot to bring down the British Empire", Kodansha Globe, New York, 1994, pp. 281-287). To commemorate that and other Armenian atrocities against innocent Azerbaijani civilians, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), which was the first Parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world, observed March 31 as the Day of Massacres in 1919 and 1920, thus being the very first political, legal and historical assessment of the tragedy, and preceeding by several decades the politicised counter-acts by other people. Taking into the account that since 1948, the largest crimes against humanity have been defined as "genocide", on the 80th anniversary of the March Massacres that tragedy, along with similar massacres in 1905, 1947-1953, and 1992, were named as the day of the Azerbaijani Genocide.
 
 

Kagame's fury at Spanish warrants

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has said a Spanish judge who issued arrest warrants for 40 Rwandan army officers can "go to hell".

Mr Kagame described judge Fernando Andreu as "arrogant".

Judge Andreu accuses the officers of carrying out killings during Rwanda's genocide in 1994.

Mr Kagame said Judge Andreu had not distinguished between genocide perpetrators, and those who stopped it, such as his own forces.

The judge issued the arrest warrants in February, accusing the officers of genocide, terrorism and crimes against humanity.

He investigated the matter after a human rights group filed a complaint.

Under Spanish law, a court can prosecute alleged human rights crimes, even if they take place abroad.

 

Professor films past, present of hippie life

Hippies.

Some call them flower children. Others refer to them as drug users or stoners. People of younger generations think of '69's Woodstock, of peace and love, of an old, hidden picture of a parent decked out in beads and a flower garland.

But was that really what the hippie movement was about? And where are the bell-bottom wearing, peace-sign waving hippies of the '60s today?

In a developing independent film, Beverly Seckinger, an associate professor and interim director of the UA's School of Media Arts, will answer those questions.

"The people I'm interested in are not the ones who had a little flirtation with the counterculture when they were 18 or 20 and then woke up one day and renounced it," Seckinger said. "The people I'm interested in never renounced that time in their life or the importance of it.
 
 

Orwell meets Vanunu and The Industrial Military Media Security/Surveillance Complex

Those concrete walls in Baghdad are dwarfed by the 30ft high concrete ones in the 'Holy' Land; which is in pieces, Bantustans. Both builders of those walls claim to be democracies and that the walls are for Security. Both builders of those walls exhibit the schizophrenic discipline of thinking two contradictory truths at the same time. Coined by Orwell as doublethink, the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth fabricates lies and the Ministry of Love tortures and kills any it deems threatening. Most threatening for Big Brother are those with independent thought.
In 2007, Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, argued that at the height of the 2003-07 economic boom, the military industrial complex was driving Israel's tremendous economic growth, and Israel had the largest GDP growth of any Western country.
Klein theorized that the source of Israel's tremendous economic growth in the past five years cannot be attributed simply to its encouragement of high tech entrepreneurship and basic science. Its success must be understood, rather, as a product of its ability to use the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank as a laboratory for defense industry innovation -- and to showcase their wares.
"Young Israeli computer scientists and engineers gain their training in the military, and then go on to start the kind of technology companies that have proliferated wildly in Israel and whose products are much sought after abroad. The entire Israeli hi-tech sector and not just military technology per se, is thus an outgrowth of Israel's hyper militarization. The Israeli economy's tech sector grew by 20% in 2006 alone, and Israel is now the foreign country with the second most US stock exchange-listed companies. Klein's point that Israel's military-derived technologies are an economic growth-driver because they can be tested in situ is correct, but it is insufficient for describing the magnitude of the military's tremendous penetration of the country's economy. Palestinians under occupation can indeed be seen as human "guinea pigs" and not just merely military targets, as Klein claims, but the society's militarization is far more profound than even she suggests." 
After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Israel's economy was devastated, but then came 9/11, and "suddenly new profit vistas opened up for any company that claimed it could spot terrorists in crowds, seal borders from attack and extract confessions from closed-mouthed prisoners…Many of the country's most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel's status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom--a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war…Israel now sends $1.2 billion in "defense" products to the United States—up dramatically from $270 million in 1999…That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world…Much of this growth has been in the so-called "homeland security" sector. Before 9/11 homeland security barely existed as an industry. By the end of this year, Israeli exports in the sector will reach $1.2 billion--an increase of 20 percent. The key products and services are …precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories. Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the "global war on terror… Israel's policy of erecting walls and checkpoints to seal off the occupied territories are also "laboratories where the terrifying tools of our security states are being field-tested Palestinians--whether living in the West Bank or what the Israeli politicians are already calling "Hamasistan"--are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs…"
Poster-boy for Israel's Industrial Security/Surveillance Complex is the Christian convert from Judaism, Mordechai Vanunu. Every email Vanunu has ever written, snail mail received, phone call conversation and walk he has ever taken through east Jerusalem, has potentially been monitored 24/7, since his release from an Israeli prison in 2004.  
During my first trip to east Jerusalem in June 2005, Vanunu told me that during the first two years of his 18 years in jail [most all in solitary confinement] a light shone above his head 24/7 in a tomb sized cell. When ever he closed his eyes a guard would come in and shine a brighter light into his face and say, "Just checking if you had committed suicide yet."
A few weeks ago, and thirty odd years from my first time, I reread Orwell's 1984, that was published in 1949. I was struck at how much Vanunu reminded me of Winston Smith, Orwell's man with an independent thought that Big Brother; The Party incarnate found so threatening they tortured him beyond his endurance in order to break him, brainwash him and strip him of his humanity.
In 1987, in Ashkelon Prison, Vanunu wrote, I had "no choice. I'm a little man, a citizen, one of the people, but I'll do what I have to. I've heard the voice of my conscience and there's nowhere to hide…yes, it's there all right. I'm all right. I do see the monster. I'm part of the system. I signed this form. Only now I am reading the rest of it. This bolt is part of a bomb. This bolt is me…Who else knows? Who has seen? Who has heard?"
 
 

The Coming False Flag to Justify War on Iran

Former Wall Street Journal Editor and business columnist Paul Craig Roberts, also known as the Father of Reaganomics, lays out some explosive and terrifying possibilities in his latest article, Secret Schemes and Undeclared Agendas.

Roberts' article becomes even more urgent to ponder now. Why? Since his article warning of a coming false flag attack to justify a US attack on Iran came out, several disturbing dominoes have fallen.

 
1) Admiral Fallon who was the highest ranking military man to refuse to attack Iran . . . suddenly resigns under pressure.

2) A US nuclear submarine just entered the Persian Gulf, and

3) General Patreaus just blamed the last attack on the Green Zone in Iraq . . . on the Iranians.  Of course he has no proof, just a hunch.  We can see where the dominoes are falling towards, Iran.

 

Roberts cites investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein's work, regarding the mysterious radiation poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer living in England who died in 2006, apparently from the radioactive isotope Polonium-210.

Roberts asserts that the neocons need a horrific attack in the U.S. that would allow them to launch war on Iran.  Was this Russian agent part of such a scheme? The answer to that may be too disturbing for most Americans to even ponder. Roberts deals with that issue as well.

In Roberts' explosive article he states:


Who would be trying to build a secret nuclear weapon or perhaps only a "dirty bomb" that would serve to spread some radiation and massive amounts of fear and hysteria? The public has been carefully prepared to suspect Iran. If such a device were exploded somewhere in the United States, Bush, Cheney, and the neocon nazis would have their second new Pearl Harbor to justify their planned attack on Iran.

We know that the Bush regime wants to attack Iran. Despite the NIE report that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program several years ago and despite no signs of a weapons program having been uncovered by IAEA inspectors, Bush, Cheney, and the neocon nazis continue to agitate for striking Iran "before it is too late." Their politicized military commander in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus, keeps insisting that Iran is training Iraqi insurgents and supplying weapons that are killing US troops. Bush and Cheney themselves have made trips to Europe and the Middle East trying to marshall support for an attack on Iran. Anyone who is not deaf, blind and stupid knows that the Bush regime is doing everything it can to create circumstances that will permit a US attack on Iran.

We know for a fact that the Bush regime created false evidence, lied, and deceived in order to attack Iraq. All the reasons given for the US invasion have proven to be false. The real agenda has never been declared. Yet, five years later the traitors in high office who deceived Americans into a war in behalf of a hidden agenda have not been held accountable. As Agatha Christie said, getting away with one murder makes it easy to commit another.
 
 

Bernard Weiner: Things that go bump in my night

In the hour of the wolf, I am visited by a number of nightmarish political scenarios. No doubt, dear reader, you have your own scary visitations. Here are just ten of mine:

1. MOVING CLOSER TO IRAN WAR

That some major false-flag terrorist attack, perhaps arranged by our own black-op agencies, will be unloosed in a major American city -- maybe a dirty nuke, or some virulent toxin, or a bomb -- and the planted "evidence" will seem to lead back to Iran. CheneyBush, perhaps in coordination with Israel, will finally get their wished-for aerial assault on that country.

This could happen either very shortly or sometime before the November election. The buildup of U.S. forces in the region has proceeded apace in the past few months; the military preparations are much the same as just prior to Bush's "shock&awe" attack on Iraq five years ago. And the Saudis seem to be preparing for possible nuclear fallout from a U.S. attack on Iran's reactors. Not a good sign.

The result of a U.S. attack on Iran would be a spiraling rise in violence in the Greater Middle East, more hatred of America around the world, the dollar heading into the toilet, various holders of billions of U.S. notes calling them in, a possible economic embargo on essential resources coming to the U.S., the economy in ruins, the U.S. a pariah in international affairs.
 
 

Ireland: US landed 1,500 army flights with weapons on board

Almost 1,500 flights landed at Irish airports last year carrying weapons, munitions, explosives and other dangerous goods on board.

Most of them are believed to have been destined for US military forces and to have passed through Shannon airport along with hundreds of thousands of US soldiers on their way to Iraq. The Department of Transport told the Irish Independent it never received a request for permission to land carrying depleted uranium ammunition.

Anti-war campaigners claim that planes carrying the ammunition, which is used as an anti-armour weapon had passed through Shannon.

The new figures, were revealed yesterday by the Department of Transport after media queries amid fears that an emergency landing at Shannon on Friday involved an old DC-8 cargo plane that was suspected of carrying explosives.

~ read on... ~

 

Pentagon may close spy office under fire

The Pentagon is expected to shutter a controversial intelligence office that has drawn fire from lawmakers and civil liberties groups who charge that it was part of an effort by the Defense Department to expand into domestic spying.

The move, government officials say, is part of a broad effort under Defense Secretary Robert Gates to review, overhaul and, in some cases, dismantle an intelligence architecture built by his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld.

The intelligence unit, called the Counterintelligence Field Activity office, was created by Rumsfeld after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as part of an effort to counter the operations of foreign intelligence services and terror groups inside the United States and abroad.

~ read on... ~

 

JUSSMAG complains arms dealer role is 'misconception'

A U.S. military group whose origins date back to the late 19th century has helped enhance South Korea's defense capabilities for decades, although it remains largely unknown.
 
Formally established in 1948 by an agreement between South Korea's foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state, the Joint U.S. Military Affairs Group (JUSMAG-Korea) helped train over 10,000 South Korean military students in the United States since 1976.
 
It has also coordinated the sales of nearly US$20 billion worth of U.S. arms to South Korea since 1950, according to the JUSMAG-K chief, Army Col. Kevin W. Madden.
 
[ ... ]
 
In just six years from 2002, South Korea purchased over $7.3 billion worth of weapons or defense articles from the United States in both Foreign Military Sales (FMS), or government-to-government sales, and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), company-to-government sales.

By a common misconception, the JUSMAG is often considered as a promoter for U.S. weapons and weapons manufacturers.

"Obviously, someone would have that misconception because we are involved in FMS, that JUSMAG is arms sale organization. We are absolutely anything but that," said Madden, adding that the U.S. defense industry "knows that and works with us in ensuring that what they are selling is what Korea wants and requests."
Madden admitted he would rather have South Korea purchase more U.S. weapons systems simply because, as he put it, the U.S. offers "Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Cartier" of defense items.
 
 

UN campaigns for anti-torture pact

THE United Nations is lobbying Bahrain to sign an optional protocol that aims to prevent the torture of citizens, it has emerged.

Al Karama Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence director Nabeel Tammam said UN officials were set to travel here in an attempt to persuade the government to endorse the agreement.

He was speaking after returning from a workshop in Geneva organised by the Aman Network for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Dr Tammam presented a report on Bahrain at the three-day workshop on behalf of the Adliya-based centre, which operates under the umbrella of the Bahrain Human Rights Society.

Delegates from Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq and Sudan attended the event.

Thirty-four countries have so far signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

On Monday, Bahrain unveiled a new human rights roadmap, which includes setting up a National Institution for Human Rights and the setting up of a task force to combat breaches.

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2-13 Apr 2008 - World Bank and International Monetary Fund hold Spring meeting with environmental flavor

" ... Climate change, the possibility of a global recession and the recent resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks are likely to be top issues at the Spring meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. And, as usual, anti-globalization and anti-capitalism protesters have marked the meeting on their calendars.

Environmentalism has infected both organizations in recent months, as it has other global and regional bodies. The IMF's lead news release in December urges global action on warming, while eight of 22 WB press releases in that month relate to climate change and/or the environment. At the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, the bank launched a new multi-million-dollar fund to compensate developing countries for the value of their living forests.

[ ... ]

For the present, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is downplaying the market troubles. Financial markets are not experiencing a "deep crisis" but only turbulence, and central banks are managing the crisis well, he said in an interview with Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore in December. For the global economy "certainly there will be a slowdown," he said, "but I would not say a recession." He predicted that a slowing down of the United States economy will impact Europe's economic growth in 2008. ... "

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Green Tea Boosts Antibiotics for Superbugs

Green tea can help antibiotics be three times more effective in fighting drug-resistant bacteria, even superbugs, according to a study by researchers at Alexandria University in Egypt.
 
Green tea is common in Egypt, and it's likely that many people there drink it while taking antibiotics.Therefore, the researchers wanted to determine if green tea would decrease or increase the effectiveness of antibiotics or have no effect.
 
"We tested green tea in combination with antibiotics against 28 disease-causing microorganisms belonging to two different classes," Dr Mervat Kaseem, of the university's pharmacy faculty, said in a prepared statement. "In every single case, green tea enhanced the bacteria-killing activity of the antibiotics. For example, the killing effect of chloramphenicol was 99.99 percent better when taken with green tea than when taken on its own in some circumstances."
 
 

'In the early 1950s Mr. Williams turned down Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” '

 
" ... Jonathan Williams, the founder of the Jargon Society, the small publishing house in the western mountains of North Carolina that for more than 50 years has introduced the works of unknown, little-known and soon-to-be-better-known writers, photographers and artists, died on March 16 in Highlands, N.C.
 
[ ... ]
 
Mr. Williams was himself a poet, essayist, photographer and graphic artist — talents he brought to the meticulously refined design of the approximately 100 books of avant-garde poetry and fiction, folk art and photography that Jargon has published since 1952.

"The face he presented to the world was of an irascible crank, a loose cannon, a gadfly," Mr. Meyer said. "But as a publisher he was extraordinarily generous, always looking for the overlooked."

Among the writers whose careers budded or bloomed through Mr. Williams's attention were James Broughton, Basil Bunting, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Paul Metcalf, Lorine Niedecker, Charles Olson and Louis Zukofsky. A book-length poem about the history of industrialization by the futurist Buckminster Fuller was published by Mr. Williams in 1962.

Hugh Kenner, a Canadian literary critic, once called Mr. Williams "the truffle hound of American poetry."

In the early 1950s Mr. Williams turned down Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," which became a Beat Generation classic. He had no regrets. "If Jargon had published it," he told The New York Times in 1976, "it would have sold 300 copies." ... "

 

Mumbai's Bizarre Books promises relief from “high agonised seriousness”.

They could well have been like the famous Rossetti siblings, but for that irreverent tone. Amita and Gopal Mukerjee—bound by blood and a rebellious spirit—have given shape to Revenge Ink, a UK-based publishing company. And its first two products Ugly Duckling and The Armageddon Mandala, penned by Amita and Gopal respectively, were launched in India with the promise of providing relief from "high agonised seriousness".

The company is an offshoot of the Indian-American writers' desire to take on the high priests of the literary and publishing establishment, "those etiolated dotards entombed in their redoubts of high culture, perfect craft and refined sensibility". Instead they want to produce fictional narratives that are "crazed, bizarre, malformed, overwrought, surreal, Rabelaisian, scandalous, violent and above all, subversive".

Ugly, the story of a naïve young Indian-American Mia Makarand in Paris, sounds very much like Amita's. Like the author, the protagonist is pursuing a career in translation and interpretation. But finding work is hard and her dream of becoming a writer looks dead. Mumbai-born Gopal's The Armageddon Mandala revolves around self-declared private eye Allen Ginsberg, a pleasure-loving slacker with "nothing resembling drive or ambition". Their writing exhibits their love for "word-anarchists" like Louis Ferdinand Céline, Charles Bukowski, William S Burroughs, Henry Miller and Hunter S Thompson.

This apart, the siblings—who have lived in India, Britain and the US—have imbibed a hybrid nature to their character which reflects in their writings. "We love writing that is popular but also literary, global as well as personal. Our aim is to sell popular hybrid books and hybrid art throughout the world in a global manner without shunning our identities or those of our authors," they explain.

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Uptight Times Online disses Amy Winehouse style

 
This is nursery-slope insanity, however, compared with recent speculation that Roberto Cavalli is about to loop Amy Winehouse into some kind of financial love-in. Nothing has been signed, you understand, but Cavalli's spokesperson confirms that he "adores" the singer and that they have been in talks. Even more amazingly, Winehouse's agent says this isn't the first time that she has been approached by a fashion company. Admittedly, this is the sort of thing that agents are genetically predisposed to say, even when they are representing someone with the fashion savvy of Jimmy Tarbuck. But judging from the number of press releases we receive on the Times fashion desk, helpfully informing us that Winehouse has been carting her bits and bobs around in such-and-such a bag - with its, ahem, useful expandable compartments - or cushioning her long-suffering toes in so-and-so's shoes - with handy wipe-down, patent finish - there are plenty of brands keen to cash in on what might charitably be called catastrophe chic.

Australia slackening U.S. alliance

It is no surprise that Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would kick off his round-the-world tour with a visit to the United States and announce that he would fulfill his election pledge to pull out 550 Australian troops from Iraq. He is proving he is different from his predecessor John Howard, who had gone whole hog in supporting U.S. President George W. Bush and his war in Iraq.

Rudd did commit to humanitarian aid and farming assistance in Iraq, but kept future possibilities of military involvement with U.S. troops there remote. In Afghanistan, however, Rudd said Australia is in for the long haul.

Australian public opinion, like that elsewhere in the world, supported a U.S. attack on Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on the United States. But the senseless invasion of Iraq, coupled by the U.S. failure to restore order there, is the reason for a groundswell of anti-Americanism in Australia, as across the world.

So bad is post-Howard public opinion in Australia that Rudd's customary designation of his host George W. Bush as an honorary Queenslander -- Rudd's home state -- drew angry reactions in the sunshine state.

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Japanese politician questions official 9/11 tale

Japan Councilor Calls For Answers to Japanese 9/11 Dead

Member of Japan's House of Councilors (Diet) - the Japanese version of Congress or Parliament - who is currently on a visit to Australia, has called for the Japanese government to demand answers from the U.S. government concerning Japanese citizens killed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.A.

Councilor Yoshiaki Fujita was attending the Sydney 911 Truth conference over the weekend and told Mathaba that 24 Japanese were killed in New York, and the Japanese government has not found out how and why they died and who did it.

"There has been a lot of evidence [leading to] doubt about the official report by the U.S. government. For instance, the official report did not mention anything about the collapse of the World Trade Center [building] number 7. They did not mention about the details of how a large aircraft was actually able to go into the Pentagon [leaving such a small hole]. They were not given enough satisfactory answers on the possible [put options], and oil prices increased just before the 9/11. So it is important for the Japanese government to ask the U.S. government to clarify those facts."

Yukihisa Fujita talking about 9/11 in Japanese Parliament
http://propagandapress.org/2008/01/16/yukihisa-fujita-talking-about-911-in-japanese-parliament/
Below is a transcript of testimony in the Japanese Parliament that was broadcast live nationwide on NHK television. The Member of Parliament talking about 911 is Yukihisa Fujita from the Democratic Party of Japan. After the testimony Mr. Fujita says he got lots of phone calls from other members of Parliament thanking him for having the bravery to bring up 911 in Parliament. He also got one death threat.

[ ... ]

I would like to talk about the origins of this war on terrorism. You may recall that in November I asked you if terrorism was war or if it was a crime. And the whole start of this war on terrorism was 911. What I want to know is if this event was caused by Al Qaeda or not. So far the only thing the government has said is that we think it was caused by Al Qaeda because President Bush told us so. We have not seen any real proof that it was Al Qaeda. I would like to know why the Prime Minister thinks it was the Taliban who was responsible for 911. Committee Chief, I want to ask the Prime Minister because he was chief cabinet officer at the time.
Prime Minister Fukuda:
Since the attacks we have communicated with the U.S. government and other governments at different levels and exchanged information. According to secret information obtained by our government and reports put together by foreign governments the 911 attacks were carried out by the international terrorist organization known as Al Qaeda.
Mr. Fujita:
So, you are talking about both secret and disclosed information. My question is has the Japanese government carried out its own investigation using the police and other resources? It is a crime so surely an investigation needs to be carried out. When a Japanese journalist was shot in Myanmar you carried out an investigation. In the same way over 20 Japanese people died on 911 so surely the government carried out its own investigation and decided that Al Qaeda was responsible. So, what kind of investigation did you carry out? At the time you were Chief Cabinet Secretary so surely you would know better than anybody so I want to ask you about your investigation.
Prime Minister Fukuda:
After the 911 attacks the National Police Agency sent an emergency anti-terror team to New York. They met with U.S. government officials and gathered information about missing Japanese.
Mr. Fujita:
So you are saying over 20 people died as a result of a crime and most of those people were working in New York. Also there were some Japanese who died in the four airplanes that were hijacked. I would like to know exactly how many people died in the buildings and how many died in the airplanes. I also want to know how you confirmed this. I would like the Foreign Minister to answer for me.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura standing at right in front of microphone:
We found the bodies of over a dozen Japanese following the simultaneous terror attacks carried out on September 11 2001. We were also informed about the death of 11 more people by the U.S. authorities. In total 24 Japanese died in those attacks. Of those 2 were in the airplanes.
Mr. Fujita:
I would like to ask what flights the two Japanese who died in the airplanes were on and how you determined who they were. If the foreign minister does not know it is OK to get a bureaucrat to answer:
Foreign Ministry division chief Ryoji Tanizaki:
Since this a question of fact, I will answer. As the Foreign Minister said, of the 24 people who died two were on the airplanes. One of them was on United Flight 93 and the other was on American airlines flight 11.As for how we know this, well I do not have the information in front of me but we were told by U.S. authorities and, in general, they use DNA testing. So we believe that is how we know about those two people.
Mr. Fujita:
So you are saying you do not know because you do not have the documents. Also, you say you believe there was DNA testing but you do not know. So what I want to say today is that this was a crime and crimes are supposed to be investigated. So the government needs to inform the victims families of the results of their investigation. Also, instead of just observing the anniversary of 911 every year you must be gathering information and reacting to it. So, during the past six years have you been supplying the families of the deceased with information? I would like to ask the Foreign Minister to answer.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura:
So you do not want to ask any more about how we confirmed the deaths of Japanese but want to know about reports to the victims families? We provided the families with information about the bodies and about compensation funds. Also, for the 13 Japanese whose remains we found, we helped the families deal with the bodies. We also financial support visits to the World Trade Center site for the families on every anniversary.
Mr. Fujita:
Since I do not have much time I would like to ask about the suspicious information being uncovered and the doubts people world wide are having about the events of 911. Many of these doubters are very influential people. In such circumstances I believe the Japanese government, which claims the attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda, should be providing the victims families with this new information. In that context I would like to ask several questions.
First of all I would like to get all members of the committee to look at this panel and look at the pictures I have provided you with. This is concrete evidence in the form of photographs and other types of information. The first photograph has computer graphics attached to show how large the plane that hit the Pentagon was. A 757 is quite a large airplane with a width of 38 meters. So as you can see even though such a large plane hit the pentagon there is only a hole that is too small for the airplane. This is a photograph taken of firemen at work and you can also see there is no damage of the sort an airplane that large should make. I would also like you to look at the lawn in front and notice that there are no airplane parts on it. Let us now look at the third picture, which is also of the pentagon taken from a U.S. TV news report has captions that show the roof of the Pentagon is still intact. Again even though a huge airplane is supposed to have hit, there is not enough corresponding damage. Now let us move to the next photograph. Here is a photograph of a hole, as Minister Komura knows the Pentagon is a very strong building with many walls. Yet the airplane has pierced them. But as you know, airplanes are made of the lightest possible material. An airplane made of such light material could not make a hole like that. Next I would like to show a photograph of how the airplane hit the building. The airplane made a U-turn, avoiding the Defense Secretary's office and hitting the only part of the Pentagon that had been specially reinforced to withstand a bomb attack.
Also, in the middle of page five we have a comment from a U.S. airforce official. He says I have flown the two types of airplane used on 911 and I cannot believe it would be possible for someone who is flying one for the first time to be able to carry out such a maneuver. Also, as you know, they have not recovered the flight recorders from most of these 4 airplanes. Also, there were more than 80 security cameras at the Pentagon but they have refused to release almost all of the footage. In any case, as you have just seen there is no picture of the airplane or of its wreckage in any of these photographs. It is very strange that no such pictures have been shown to us.
As you know Japan's self-defense forces have their headquarters in Ichigaya. Can you imagine if an airplane hit a major city, if an hour and a half after an airplane hit New York that an airplane could hit the Pentagon? In such a situation how could our allies allow such an attack to take place. I would like the Defense Minister to answer this.
Defense Minister Fuyushiba Ishiba:
I have not prepared so I will have to answer ad-lib. If such a situation took place then the airforce would send fighters up to shoot down any airplanes. This is what happened with an attack on the German constitutional court. In the case of Japan our reaction would depend on what kind of airplane it was, who was flying it and what their purpose was. However, according to our laws it might be hard to order an airplane to be shot down just because it was flying at a low level. We would probably have self-defense forces fly with it and ask for a cabinet decision. Since an airplane would have many people on board we would have do discuss what to do. This happened a long time ago but a Cesna airplane was flown into the house of a person called Yoshio Kodama. There was also an All Japan Airways flight bound for Hakodate that was hijacked and had the pilot killed. It would be best if such a thing never happened but we need to prepare new laws for such situations and discuss them in Parliament.
Mr. Fujita:
Since we are running out of time I would like to present a new piece of evidence. Please look at this panel. The first picture is one you see often of the two towers that were hit by hijacked airplanes. I could understand if this happened right after the airplanes hit but here we can see large piece of material flying a large distance through the air. Some flew 150 meters. You can objects flying in this picture as if there was an explosion. Here is a picture I took from a book. This lets you see how far the objects flew. The third picture is of a fireman who was involved in the rescue talking about a series of explosions in the building that sounded like a professional demolition. We cannot present video today so I have written a translation of what the fireman said. Here his is saying "it went boom boom boom like explosions were going off."
Here is something said by a Japanese research team of officials from the fire department and the construction ministry. The interviewed a Japanese survivor who said that while she was fleeing there were explosions. This testimony appears in a report prepared with the aid of the construction ministry and the fire department. Now I would like you to see the following picture. Normally it is said that the twin towers collapsed because they were hit by airplanes. However, one block away from the twin towers is building number 7. It can be seen in the following map a block away from the WTC. This building collapsed 7 hours after the WTC buildings were attacked. If I could show you a video it would be easy to understand but take a look at this photograph. This is a 47 story building that fell in this manner (He drops and object to demonstrate). The building falls in five or six seconds. It is about the same speed as an object would fall in a vacuum. This building falls like something you would see in a Kabuki show. Also if falls while keeping its shape. Remember it was not hit by an airplane. You have to ask yourself if a building could fall in that manner due to a fire after 7 hours. Here we have a copy of the 911 commission report. This is a report put out by the U.S. government in July of 2004 but this report does not mention the collapse of the building I just described. It is not mentioned at all in here (he waves the book). FEMA also issued a report but they also fail to mention this building. Many people believe, especially after seeing the story about building number 7, that something is strange. Since this is an incident where many people died people think is should be investigated.
We are running out of time but I would also like to mention the put options. Just before the 911 attacks, ie on September 6th, 7th and 8th there were put options put out on the stocks of the two airlines United and American that were hit by hijackers. There were also put options on Merril Lynch, one of the biggest WTC tenants. In other words somebody had insider information and made a fortune selling put options of these stocks. The head of Germany's Bundesbank at the time, who is equivalent to the Governor of the Bank of Japan, said there are lots of facts to prove the people involved in the terror attacks profited from insider information. He said there was lots of suspicious trading involving financial companies etc prior to the attacks. The had of the Bundesbank was willing to say this much. I would like to ask the Finance Minster about these put options. Did the government of Japan know about this, and what do you think about this? I would like to ask Finance Minister Nukaga about this.
Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga:
I was in Burkina Fasso in Africa when I heard about this incident. I decided to fly immediately to the U.S. but when I got to Paris I was told there were no flights to America. So I only heard what was reported later about the facts. I know there have been reports about the points you raise. So we made it obligatory that people provide ID for securities transactions and for suspicious transactions to be reported and we made it a crime to provide money to terrorist organizations. We believe the international financial system should not be abused. In any case, terrorism is a horrible thing and must be condemned. This type of terrorism cannot be stopped by one country but needs to be stopped by international society.
Mr. Fujita:
I would like to ask finance specialist Mr. Asao to tell me about put options. A group of people with large amounts of money, clear insider information and financial expertise would have been necessary for such a thing to take place. Could a few terrorists in Afghanistand and Pakistan carry out such a sophisticated and large scale set of transactions? I would like to ask Mr. Asao to respond.
Keiichiro Asao:
I understand put options are a deal to sell stocks at a fixed price. In this case somebody must have had insider information to carry out such transactions because nobody could normally predict these airlines would have their planes hijacked. So, I believe this was certainly a case of insider trading.
Mr. Fujita:
Prime Minister, you were Chief Cabinet Secretary at the time and as somebody has already noted, this was an incident of the sort that humanity had never previously experienced. Also, there appears to be a lot more information about this incident coming out now than came out in the months after the attacks. Now that we are an internet and visual society, this information is being made public so if we look at the situation now, the whole starting point for these two laws , the start of the war on terror itself, as you have seen from the information I have presented, has not been properly investigated or analyzed. So I do not believe the government has acted properly by investigating this incident or asking the U.S. government for an explanation. So far we have not started refueling U.S. ships yet so I think we need to go back to the beginning and not just simply and blindly trust the U.S. government explanation and indirect information provided by them. There were too many victims so I think we need to start again from the beginning. We need to ask who the real victims of this war on terrorism are. I think the citizens of the world are its victims. Here in Japan we have disappearing pensions and disappearing records about victims of Hepatitis C contaminated blood but everything I have presented on facts and confirmable evidence. Let us talk about the vanishing black boxes, vanishing airplanes and vanishing remains. Also lots of the remains of these buildings have disappeared. Even FEMA says that prevented it from carrying out a proper investigation. We need to look at this evidence and ask ourselves what the war on terrorism really is. I can see the ministers nodding in agreement but I would like to ask Prime Minister Fukuda. Please look at me. I have heard that when you were Chief Cabinet Minister at the time you felt many strange things about these attacks. Do you not think it was strange?
Prime Minister Fukuda:
I never said I thought it was strange.
Mr. Fujita:
Prime Minister what about the origin of the war on terror and the idea of whether it is right or wrong to participate in it? Is there really a reason to participate in this war on terror? Do we really need to participate? I would also like to ask about how to really stop terrorism.
Prime Minister Fukuda:
We believe based on evidence provided to us by the U.S. government that the attacks of 911 were carried out by Al Qaeda. We need to put an end to Al Qaeda terrorism. That is why international society is united in the fight against terrorism. Here, concerning a law passed by the Democratic Party last year and based on UN resolution 16595. This is a resolution passed in response to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. So you passed the law agreeing with the UN didn't you?
Mr Fujita:
Did you confirm about the bodies and the facts behind the resolution because that is why you claim to be participating in this war on terrorism. So I believe to end terrorism we need to pass a law that actually helps the people of Afghanistan. I would like Mr. Inuzuka to talk about the law and about the fight against terrorism.
Tadashi Inuzuka:
Among the many problems raised by MP Fujita the thing we need to worry most about is that the people in Afghanistan can live in peace and without worries. That is the core of the issue of ending terrorism. Without discussing this but just operating behind the back lines by supplying oil and not thinking about the entire situation or the people involved it is nonsense to debate this law. This law should be made for peace and security in Afghanistan. Our country needs to pass a real anti-terror law.

UN Could Lead New 9/11 Investigation, Says Japanese MP

Fujita, an MP for the Japanese Democratic Party, and a member of the House of Councillors in the Diet (national legislature), presented evidence which contradicted the official 9/11 story during a widely publicized Japanese Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting in January of this year.
Following Fujita's presentation in the Japanese Diet, he also took part in a 9/11 truth conference at the EU Parliament in Brussels on February 26th which was hosted by Italian MEP Giullietto Chiesa (both presentations can be viewed at the end of this article).
"This is something Parliamentarians of various countries could ask - I was in Europe meeting with European MP's and they are also thinking about asking the UN to investigate, so these kind of efforts need to be done internationally," said Fujita, adding that he had visited eleven different European countries in an attempt to garner support for the move.

Sell Your Soul For 666-Day Standby Time

 
And you thought the claim of one year standby was pretty outrageous. If you feel like making a deal with the devil, then this Lucifer-inspired cell phone just might be for you. You see, the manufacturer claims that the I-Coloured Mobile ZJ268 offers 666 days of standby. Notice that they didn't say 665, 667, or "about 600". They said 666...

Memo: Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators

The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.

The 81-page memo, which was declassified and released publicly yesterday, argues that poking, slapping or shoving detainees would not give rise to criminal liability. The document also appears to defend the use of mind-altering drugs that do not produce "an extreme effect" calculated to "cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality."

Although the existence of the memo has long been known, its contents have not been previously disclosed.

Nine months after it was issued, Justice Department officials told the Defense Department to stop relying on it. But its reasoning provided the legal foundation for the Defense Department's use of aggressive interrogation practices at a crucial time, as captives poured into military jails from Afghanistan and U.S. forces prepared to invade Iraq.

Sent to the Pentagon's general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president's inherent wartime powers.

~ read on... ~

 

'Before Genetic Programs There Were DPMs'

 
While some scientists prefer shaping their opinions about evolution based on audience reaction while on book tour – others are actually busy looking for answers in the lab. Stuart Newman, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at New York Medical College, is the real deal.
 
[ ... ]
 
Charles Darwin's theory was last updated 70 years ago. "Extended Evolutionary Synthesis" is the working title of the new one.
 
[ ... ]
 

On Tuesday, March 25, Newman spoke at the University of Notre Dame's Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Biocomplexity Newman states that "in contrast to the Neo-Darwinian principle . . phenotypic disparity early in evolution occurred in advance of, rather than closely tracked, genotypic change."

Here's the abstract from Newman's Notre Dame "high tea"
University of Notre Dame/Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Biocomplexity/Center News:

"The shapes and forms of multicellular organisms arise by generation of new cell states and types and changes in the numbers and rearrangements of the various kinds of cells. This talk will consider the role played by a core set of "dynamic patterning modules" (DPMs) in the origination, development and evolution of complex organisms. DPMs consist of the gene products of what is known as the "developmental-genetic toolkit," but considered in subsets, as dynamical networks embodying physical processes characteristic of chemically and mechanically excitable meso- to macroscopic systems like cell aggregates: cohesion, viscoelasticity, diffusion, and spatio-temporal heterogeneity based on lateral inhibition, and multistable and oscillatory dynamics.

I will focus on the emergence of the multicellular animals (metazoa), and show how the toolkit gene products and pathways that pre-existed this form of life acquired novel morphogenetic functions simply by virtue of the change in scale and context inherent to multicellularity. We show that DPMs, acting singly and in combination with each other, constitute a "pattern language" capable of generating all metazoan body plans and organ forms.

This concept implies that the multicellular organisms of the late Precambrian–early Cambrian were phenotypically highly plastic, fluently exploring morphospace in a fashion decoupled from both genotypic change and adaptation. The stable developmental trajectories and morphological phenotypes of modern animals, then, are considered to be products of stabilizing selection. This perspective provides a solution to the apparent "molecular homology-analogy paradox," whereby divergent modern animal types utilize the same molecular toolkit during development by proposing, in contrast to the Neo-Darwinian principle, that phenotypic disparity early in evolution occurred in advance of, rather than closely tracked, genotypic change."

Vilayanur Ramachandran: A journey to the center of your mind

Pakistan's new leaders tell US: We are no longer your killing field

The body language between Negroponte and Sharif during their meeting on Tuesday spoke volumes: the Pakistani greeted the American with a starched handshake, and sat at a distance .

In blunt remarks afterwards, Sharif said he told Negroponte that Pakistan was no longer a one-man show. "Since 9/11, all decisions were taken by one man," he said. "Now we have a sovereign parliament and everything will be debated in the parliament."

It was "unacceptable that while giving peace to the world we make our own country a killing field," Sharif said, echoing widespread public anger at US-funded military operations in the tribal belt.

"If America wants to see itself clean of terrorism, we also want our villages and towns not to be bombed," he said.

US officials have long paid tribute to the virtues of democracy in Pakistan. But, as happened in the Palestinian Authority after the 2006 Hamas victory, policymakers are racing to catch up with the consequences of a result that challenges American priorities.

~ read on... ~

 

'Delusionary, Dancing Bush' By Ray McGovern

 
" ... At ABC in New York, Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer was trying hard Thursday to understand it all. Shaking her head in disbelief after four straight days of attacks on the Green Zone, she asked how a round "can actually get inside the embassy; how fortified is that?" ABC national security correspondent Jonathan Karl let her down easy, explaining that artillery fire can actually get "over the walls … so it does happen: they do get inside the embassy compound."
A teaching moment. Mortar and artillery fire can actually get "over the walls." Quick, someone tell Gen. David Petraeus.
But Don't Bother Bush
No need to drag the president away from the Easter Bunny with such nettlesome details. Interestingly, it was Sawyer herself who asked Bush, during an interview on Dec. 16, 2003, where he gets his news and how he reacts to criticism. The president's answer was revealing:
"Why even put up with it when you can get the facts elsewhere? I'm a lucky man. I've got… it's not just Condi and Andy [Andy Card, former chief of staff], it's all kinds of people in my administration who are charged with different responsibilities, and they come in and say this is what's happening, this isn't what's happening."
[ ... ]
It is comfortable to stay in denial, and President George W. Bush basks in it. Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska saw that early on. In June 2005 he told U.S. News & World Report:
"The White House is completely disconnected from reality… it's like they're just making it up as they go along."
Would that someone had summoned the courage to tell Bush of William F. Buckley Jr.'s observations about Iraq in National Review on Feb. 24, 2006:
"Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. … Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality … different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat."
[ ... ]
In the past, Bush has let himself be convinced by Vice President Dick Cheney's "analysis" that increased enemy attacks were signs of desperation – an indication that the enemy is in its "last throes," if you will. And it seems clear that Cheney is still, as Col. Larry Wilkerson has put it, "whispering in Bush's ear."
That is scary. There were abundant signs during Cheney's recent visit to the Middle East that, among other things, he continues to be receptive to Israeli importuning, as Israeli president Shimon Peres put it on March 23, to deal with what both referred to as "the Iranian threat" before Bush leaves office. Bush and Cheney seem to have given Israeli leaders the impression that the Bush administration has made a commitment to do precisely that.
Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to the president's father and who was appointed chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board by the son, took the unusual step of going public with a startling remark in October 2004 that should give us all great concern. Just before he was sacked, the usually discreet Scowcroft told the Financial Times that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had George W. Bush "mesmerized." Eyeballing again – this time in Bush's direction, it appears.
And Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with masterful tutoring from the psychologists in the Israeli Mossad, has shown he can duplicate the spell. Who can forget watching Olmert's fulsome praise of George W. Bush during his recent visit to Israel and how Bush seemed to turn to putty. Aw, shucks, he seemed to be saying, at least the Israelis respect me. And they are "mighty tough fellas." ... "

From the Wikipedia entry on Ray McGovern
McGovern was a mid-level officer in the CIA in the 1960s where his focus was analysis of Soviet policy toward Vietnam. McGovern was one of President Ronald Reagan's intelligence briefers from 1981-85; he was in charge of preparing daily security briefs for Reagan, Vice President George H.W. Bush, the National Security Advisor, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Cabinet. Later, McGovern was one of several senior CIA analysts who prepared the President's Daily Brief (PDB) during the first Bush administration.
Upon retirement, McGovern was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Medal from Bush (which he later returned, see below) and worked for Washington-based non-profits before becoming co-director of the Servant Leadership School in Washington.
In 2003, together with other former CIA employees, McGovern founded the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity or VIPS. The organization is dedicated to analyzing and criticizing the use of intelligence, specifically relating to the War in Iraq. In January 2006, McGovern began speaking out on behalf of the anti-war group Not in Our Name. According to the group's press release, McGovern served symbolic "war crimes indictments" on the Bush White House from a "people's tribunal."

Should Americans Die For South Ossetia?

From Worldnet (via ICH) :
 
" ... One begins to understand why Gen. Petraeus wants a "pause" in the pullout of U.S. forces, and why Bush agrees. This will leave more U.S. troops in Iraq on Inauguration Day 2009, than on Election Day 2006, when the country voted the Democrats into power to bring a swift end to the war.

A day before Bush went to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, to speak of normalcy returning to Iraq, he was led down into "the Tank," a secure room at the Pentagon, to be briefed on the crisis facing the U.S. Army and Marine Corps because of the constant redeployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
[ ... ]
 
In short, the two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are wearing down U.S. ground forces of fewer than 700,000, one in every six of them women, to such an extent U.S. commanders called Bush and Dick Cheney to a secret meeting to awaken them to the strategic and morale crisis.

This is serious business. With the Taliban revived and the violence in Iraq rising toward pre-surge levels, the Joint Chiefs are telling the commander in chief that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are worn out.
 
[ ... ]
 
Can any sane man believe the United States should go to war with a nuclear-armed Russia over Stalin's birthplace, Georgia?

Two provinces of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, have seceded, with the backing of Russia. There are 10 million Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east of that country, and Moscow and Kiev are at odds over which is sovereign on the Crimean Peninsula.

To bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO would put America in the middle of these quarrels. We could be dragged into a confrontation with Russia over Abkhazia, or South Ossetia, or over who owns Sebastopol. To bring these ex-republics of the Soviet Union into NATO would be an affront to Moscow not unlike 19th century Britain bringing the Confederate state of South Carolina under the protection of the British Empire. ... "

Musical Innerlube: Joni Mitchell - Goodbye Blue Sky

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