Friday, July 11, 2008

'The Yippies went on to nominate...a pig named Pigasus for President of the United States'

The Pigasus was used by John Steinbeck as a personal stamp with the Latin motto Ad astra per alia porci (to the stars on the wings of a pig). The pigasus was supposed to symbolize Steinbeck as "earthbound but aspiring.... A lumbering soul but trying to fly...(with)...not enough wingspread but plenty of intention."

Coincidentally, Pigasus was a character in the Oz books written by Ruth Plumly Thompson in the 1930s. Her Pigasus was also a winged pig. As with Pegasus, his riders gained the gift of poesy, speaking in rhyme while on his back. The character first appeared in Pirates in Oz.

~ From: Wikipedia ~


Pigasus was a pig and was a satiric candidate for President of the United States for the Youth International Party (Yippies). The pig's name was a play on Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology. Led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Pigasus's candidacy was announced during the massive protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. After this episode, Pigasus was a member of the Hog Farm group, and moved with them. The candidate was also featured in a later New York City parade that started at the Gansevoort Street garbage pier on the Hudson River and proceeded to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.

The Pigasus campaign is mentioned in the Illuminatus! trilogy, early on in the first book.

~ From: Wikipedia ~


In 1968, in the fading years of one of the most un-American chapters in our entire history, the "House Un-American Activities Committee" ("HUAAC" or "HUAC") still existed. This committee was set up to root out (as you can tell from the title) "un-American" activities ... which started out as "communism" but soon morphed into "anything the right wing didn't approve of." It was in this later incarnation that, in 1968, it was holding hearings on those unruly and upstart youngsters, the hippies.

These were not patchouli-reeking slackers (OK, well, maybe some of them were), these were the youth of America who were organized, seriously annoyed with the direction of a very unpopular war, and wanted to influence the political debate of the day. They formed their own "political party" in Chicago (at the Democratic National Convention), which they called the Youth International Party -- or, the "Yippies." At the forefront of this movement was the radical leader Abbie Hoffman. And in 1968, he was called before HUAAC to testify on his activities. His testimony followed fellow Yippie Jerry Ruben, who had appeared in front of the committee dressed in (as Hoffman later described it): "Beret by IRA. Black pajama bottoms by Viet Cong. Bandoleers borrowed from the mountains of Mexico were crisscrossed across the bare sexy chest of a yippie warrior -- his body slashed with lavish swatches of red paint."

Needless to say, political theater was very big, back in the day. Why don't we have committee hearings this entertaining today, one wonders ...

But the question remained, how could Abbie possibly top this opening act? Again, in his own first-person account (from his book, Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture):

"In exactly two hours I'd do more for the flag than anyone since Betsy Ross. As our star-spangled retinue approached the hallowed halls of Congress, a detachment of police summoned to the scene quickly encircled us. 'You are under arrest for the desecration of the flag. Come with us.' ... Instantly the steps became a swarm of cameramen, cops, and screaming yippies. ... I fought for life and shirt, swinging wildly. Rrrrrrrrrip! 'You pigs, you ripped my fuckin' shirt,' I screamed ... The next day I stood before the judge, bare to the waist. The tattered shirt lay on the prosecutor's table in a box marked Exhibit A. 'You owe me fourteen ninety-five for that shirt,' I mentioned. Bail was set at three thousand dollars. 'Get out of here with that Viet Cong flag. How dare you?' the judge intoned. 'Cuban, your honor,' I corrected [Hoffman had painted a Cuban flag on his body]. A few months later this same judge started letting his hair grow long, called for the legalization of marijuana, and began speaking out against the war."

When the trial was held, under a brand-new section of U.S. law (Abbie claims he was the first person tried under the statute, which carried a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine), the judge, whom Abbie reports "deemed it his duty to find me guilty," allowed him to make a statement. Big mistake, for anyone who knows Abbie Hoffman. Hoffman's response was: "Your honor, I regret that I have but one shirt to give for my country."

The case, of course, was later overturned on appeal (since it was blatantly unconstitutional to begin with), and Abbie never had to serve the month-long sentence handed down. Abbie reports further: "By the time we had [won the appeal], over three dozen people had already been arrested for similar offenses. A vest in Virginia. A bedspread in Iowa. All with the familiar flag motif. In arguing for the government in defense of the law, Nixon's prosecutor stated, 'The importance of a flag in developing a sense of loyalty to a national entity has been the subject of numerous essays.' The first essay the U.S. government quoted was a lengthy passage from Mein Kampf, by history's most famous housepainter, Adolf Hitler."

Hoffman went on to wear a similar shirt on the Merv Griffin Show, which was the first example in television history of a show being broadcast with the video edited out. This proto-pixilation showed the entire screen as a deep blue, rather than subject America to an image of Abbie Hoffman with a flag motif shirt on.

Note that: flag motif. Abbie never cut up a flag to make a shirt, he bought these patriotic items from people who manufactured them. As Abbie relates his appearance with Merv (emphasis in original):

"I told him how I had just been given a thirty-day jail sentence, not for wearing the star-spangled shirt, but for the thoughts in my head; how Ricky Nelson, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Raquel Welch, and Phyllis Diller had all worn similar flag garb on television and in movies; how anyone could go to the fashionable boutique a few blocks from the studio where I had bought the shirt and get one just like it."

Get that -- it's not just wearing the flag that will get you into trouble, but your political beliefs while you wear that flag. Starting to sound a little bit familiar?

Abbie's appearance was aired the next night, but with the following disclaimer read by the vice-president of CBS before the broadcast (and before it was visually turned into a completely blue screen) [editorial note in brackets in original, by Hoffman, speaking in first-person]:

"An incident occurred during the taping of the following program that had presented CBS network officials with a dilemma involving not only poor taste and the risk of offending the viewers but also certain very serious legal problems. It seemed one of the guests had seen fit to come on the show wearing a shirt made from an American flag [not true; it was a shirt with a flag motif]. Therefore, to avoid possible litigation the network executives have decided to 'mask out'' all visible portions of the offending shirt by electronic means. We hope our viewers will understand."

Pioneering television. Elvis' pelvis was just kept off-screen, but the birth of what would develop later into pixilation had its origins not in hiding inadvertent nipples (a la Janet Jackson), or someone flipping the bird to the cameraman, but to hide a man wearing a shirt with a United States flag motif.

Abbie, however, got the last laugh, as he was so often wont to do:

"In all, 88,000 people were angry enough that night to call and protest the censoring. In the following days stores all over the country sold out their stock of shirts bearing the flag motif, demonstrations were held at CBS offices in three cities, and Merv Griffin publicly apologized, saying he had not been told of the censoring in advance."

The Yippies went on to nominate, during the tumult surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention, a pig named Pigasus to run for President of the United States. Like I said, it was the era of great political theater.

~ From: What Would Abbie Hoffman Have Thought Of The Flag Lapel Pin Debate? ~

The Goodbye Republic

Imagine mainstream media reliably telling Americans the truth about the most vital issues of our time. Indeed, that's quite a stretch—but try forgetting for a moment the millions of Americans oblivious to rampant omission; citizens who, after so much manipulation and deceit, also still believe lies on the fresh list. Just envision a well-informed population that knows their way past omission, while knowing the difference between lies/propaganda, and the truth. Envision the New World Order dead in its tracks.

A free and independent mainstream media could be a precious ally of the people; dreadfully, we have the opposite. For instance, people who get most or all of their news from television know little or nothing about what is really happening in the world at large. Television news would certainly never mention the country having been reduced to what Gore Vidal calls "…a framework for crooks to go in and steal money". Evidence is rife that, by so faithfully serving its owners, corporate mainstream media (CorpoMedia) has become a powerful enemy of the people.

If CorpoMedia were an ally of the people, would the wildly fraudulent presidential "election" of 2000 have been allowed to kick start the evisceration of our Constitution, and final destruction of the nation from within? Would 9/11, vicious false-flag horror involving psychopathology at the highest levels of our government, remain after almost seven years an official fairy tale in contempt of science and STILL not even legitimately investigated…same as the home-grown anthrax attacks? Would we have been cheerleaded into war crimes convincing the rest of the world's people that the two greatest threats to global peace are the United States, and Israel? Day by day the list grows, bristling with clear designs on destroying the Republic….

The United States stands in the way of the elitist dream of a one world fascist government. Predatory elite and their global corporations enjoying unfettered access to the planet's remaining resources, while vassals and slaves make up the necessary human herd of a billion or less—it's called "friendly fascism" (http://www.oilempire.us/fascism.html). The next step is collapse of the world economy to usher in the "post-industrial" age—including a 90% reduction in human population. Lots of smoke smudging the horizon; meanwhile, CorpoMedia blackout of the elitist smolder is as pervasive as blackout of the recent Bilderberg meeting where further progress was hammered out.

~ read on... ~

 

Congress studies how people track your online use

Executives from major Internet players—Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.—are due for a grilling about online privacy in a Senate committee Wednesday, but the company likely to get the most scrutiny is a small Silicon Valley startup called NebuAd Inc.

NebuAd has drawn fierce criticism from privacy advocates in recent weeks for working with Internet service providers to track the online behavior of their customers and then serve up targeted banner ads based on that behavior.

According to Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a civil liberties group, NebuAd's business model raises many of the same concerns as an earlier generation of "adware" companies. Those companies developed software programs that—when downloaded to a computer—could track where a user went on the Internet and mine that information to deliver customized online ads. Several NebuAd executives in fact were once employed by Gator Corp., an adware company that later renamed itself Claria Corp.

Privacy activists say adware companies duped many Web surfers into downloading their software programs by bundling them with free screen savers, online games and other Internet applications. But NebuAd has a new twist: It works directly with Internet service providers to scan their customers' Web surfing habits and deliver ads presumed to be of interest to them.

By injecting its monitoring in between consumers and the Web sites they visit, NebuAd's technology could violate a 1986 federal wiretapping law that requires at least one party to a communication to consent to a wiretap, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Center for Democracy & Technology. British technologists have leveled similar criticisms against a NebuAd-like system being prepared in that country by Phorm Inc.

"This is analogous to AT&T listening to your phone calls all day in order to figure out what to sell you in the middle of dinner," said Robert Topolski, a technology consultant to Public Knowledge and Free Press, two other public interest groups that have raised concerns about NebuAd.

more... ~

Domestic spying quietly goes on

NSA faces new limits, but surveillance thrives

With Congress on the verge of outlining new parameters for National Security Agency eavesdropping between suspicious foreigners and Americans, lawmakers are leaving largely untouched a host of government programs that critics say involves far more domestic surveillance than the wiretaps they sought to remedy.

These programs - most of them highly classified - are run by an alphabet soup of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They sift, store and analyze the communications, spending habits and travel patterns of U.S. citizens, searching for suspicious activity.

The surveillance includes data-mining programs that allow the NSA and the FBI to sift through large databanks of e-mails, phone calls and other communications, not for selective information, but in search of suspicious patterns.

Other information, like routine bank transactions, is kept in databases similarly monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency.
"There's virtually no branch of the U.S. government that isn't in some way involved in monitoring or surveillance," said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian and fellow at the National Security Archives at The George Washington University. "We're operating in a brave new world."

Federal rules limit the ways some of the information can be used and shared among government agencies. Pending changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act contain numerous provisions set up to safeguard the privacy of Americans. But there are few similar protections with other types of surveillance.

Under the FISA proposal, for example, a CIA transcript or NSA summary of an innocent social conversation between a foreign terrorist and his relative in the United States would not be shared with other intelligence analysts. Even if the conversation was later found to have investigative merit, the U.S. relative's name and other identifying information would either be redacted or revealed only under limited circumstances to select agencies.

The Bush administration argues that the privacy and civil liberties protections in place for surveillance not covered by the FISA rules are "unprecedented." In addition to the data-mining, use of financial transaction databases and satellite imagery, the surveillance includes monitoring the travel patterns of airline passengers.

Use of satellites by local law enforcement agencies, for instance, is supposed to go through a stringent approval protocol at the Department of Homeland Security's newly formed National Applications Office.

But critics say the safeguards don't always work. Some blunders in the use of such protections have become public. NewYorker writer Lawrence Wright wrote in January about one such experience. In 2002, while he was researching The Looming Tower, his Pulitzer Prize-winning book on al-Qaida, two members of an FBI terrorism task force arrived at his home. Why, they asked, had his daughter been speaking with someone in the United Kingdom who was in touch with suspected al-Qaida operatives?

It wasn't his daughter, he told them flatly. Wright himself had made the calls. And the person he contacted was a British civil rights lawyer who had asked him not to speak with her clients, some of whom are relatives of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant.

"My daughter is no terrorist - she went to high school with the Bush twins," Wright said. "I was taken aback. They were apparently monitoring my phones."

Wright said he was particularly surprised because he was aware of protections supposedly in place to conceal his name and other identifying information that would have been gathered during the creation of transcripts of the call.

Wright said he doubted the government would have been able to get a warrant for the information, and he said he didn't know how the FBI obtained his daughter's name, let alone got the impression that she was communicating with the British lawyer.

Critics say such stories recall 1960s and 1970s-era abuses - the CIA's involvement in political activities, and the FBI monitoring of peace groups and civil rights activists - that prompted Congress to pass far-reaching laws bringing foreign-intelligence gathering and any domestic surveillance under strict controls and judicial oversight.

Although the latest FISA proposal includes numerous provisions for a secret court to monitor and authorize surveillance, and for inspectors general to keep tabs on who's being monitored by various agencies, little oversight exists for surveillance programs that fall outside FISA scrutiny.

Congress has requested, and in many cases received, briefings on some of the programs. But its dissatisfaction with the amount of information provided by the administration has frequently resulted in holding back funding for programs.

The House Appropriations Committee took such a step this week, holding back funding for the National Applications Office's effort to use U.S. satellites for domestic purposes until August, when the Government Accountability Office will release a report about how the program will handle civil liberties and privacy concerns.

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the department had repeatedly met with lawmakers and would comply with any review process. He called efforts to stall the funding "misguided" and a potential threat to public safety and security missions.

Even when Congress has received information, lawmakers say their questions or concerns are often addressed within the agency that is responsible for the surveillance, amounting to a practice of self-policing.

"You don't have to look far into history to know that when the government, any government, is given secret authorities, that those authorities are ultimately abused," said Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "You don't even have to attribute bad motives to anyone. In an intelligence officer's zeal to protect the country, they often will overstep their bounds."

In part to assuage privacy concerns, the Department of Homeland Security has established a privacy czar to ensure that the technologies and programs initiated by the federal agency do not erode privacy laws or violate civil liberties. While many have lauded the creation of such a position, some believe it should be expanded to a Cabinet-level post in the executive branch, a step that some advocates say would send a powerful message in an age when digitized communications have ballooned and made safeguarding private information vastly more complicated.

"We should have what Canada has, which is a minister of privacy, someone looking out for the privacy issues of Americans," said James Bamford, an intelligence expert and author on two books about the history of the NSA. "We have armies of people out there trying to pick into everyone's private life, but we have nobody out there who's an advocate."
 
 

Analysis: U.S. military to patrol Internet

The U.S. military is looking for a contractor to patrol cyberspace, watching for warning signs of forthcoming terrorist attacks or other hostile activity on the Web.

"If someone wants to blow us up, we want to know about it," Robert Hembrook, the deputy intelligence chief of the U.S. Army's Fifth Signal Command in Mannheim, Germany, told United Press International.

In a solicitation posted on the Web last week, the command said it was looking for a contractor to provide "Internet awareness services" to support "force protection" -- the term of art for the security of U.S. military installations and personnel.

"The purpose of the services will be to identify and assess stated and implied threat, antipathy, unrest and other contextual data relating to selected Internet domains," says the solicitation.

Hembrook was tight-lipped about the proposal. "The more we talk about it, the less effective it will be," he said. "If we didn't have to put it out in public (to make the contract award), we wouldn't have."

He would not comment on the kinds of Internet sites the contractor would be directed to look at but acknowledged it would "not (be) far off" to assume violent Islamic extremists would be at the top of the list.

The solicitation says the successful contractor will "analyze various Web pages, chat rooms, blogs and other Internet domains to aggregate and assess data of interest," adding, "The contractor will prioritize foreign-language domains that relate to specific areas of concern … (and) will also identify new Internet domains" that might relate to "specific local requirements" of the command.

Officials were keen to stress the contract covered only information that could be found by anyone with a computer and Internet connection.

"We're not interested in being Big Brother," said LeAnne MacAllister, chief spokeswoman for the command, which runs communications in Europe for the U.S. Army and the military's joint commands there.

"I would not characterize it as monitoring," added Hembrook. "This is a research tool gathering information that is already in the public domain."

~ read on... ~

 

Senate passes unconstitutional spying bill and grants sweeping immunity to phone companies

ACLU Announces Legal Challenge To Follow President's Signature
 
Today, in a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy, the Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president's unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

"Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president's fear-mongering. With today's vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans' international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American."

The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The bill further trivializes court review by authorizing the government to continue a surveillance program even after the government's general spying procedures are found insufficient or unconstitutional by the FISC. The government has the authority to wiretap through the entire appeals process, and then keep and use whatever information was gathered in the meantime. A provision touted as a major "concession" by proponents of the bill calls for investigations by the inspectors general of four agencies overseeing spying activities. But members of Congress who do not sit on the Judiciary or Intelligence committees will not be guaranteed access to the agencies' reports.

The bill essentially grants absolute retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that facilitated the president's warrantless wiretapping program over the last seven years by ensuring the dismissal of court cases pending against those companies. The test for the companies' right to immunity is not whether the government certifications they acted on were actually legal – only whether they were issued. Because it is public knowledge that certifications were issued, all of the pending cases will be summarily dismissed. This means Americans may never learn the truth about what the companies and the government did with our private communications. 

"With one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "This bill – soon to be law – is a constitutional nightmare. Americans should know that if this legislation is enacted and upheld, what they say on international phone calls or emails is no longer private. The government can listen in without having a specific reason to do so. Our rights as Americans have been curtailed and our privacy can no longer be assumed."

In advance of the president's signature, the ACLU announced its plan to challenge the new law in court.

"This fight is not over. We intend to challenge this bill as soon as President Bush signs it into law," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The bill allows the warrantless and dragnet surveillance of Americans' international telephone and email communications. It plainly violates the Fourth Amendment."

For more information, go to:
www.aclu.org/fisa

~ ACLU ~

 

The Big Outcome of the '60s: The Triumph of Capitalism

" ... The anti-capitalist protests of the '60s supplemented the traditional critique of socioeconomic exploitation with a new cultural critique: alienation of everyday life, commodification of consumption, inauthenticity of a mass society in which we "wear masks" and suffer sexual and other oppressions.

The new capitalism triumphantly appropriated this anti-hierarchical rhetoric of '68, presenting itself as a successful libertarian revolt against the oppressive social organizations of corporate capitalism and "really existing" socialism. This new libertarian spirit is epitomized by dressed-down "cool" capitalists such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and the founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

What survived of the sexual liberation of the '60s was the tolerant hedonism readily incorporated into our hegemonic ideology. Today, sexual enjoyment is not only permitted, it is ordained -- individuals feel guilty if they are not able to enjoy it. The drive to radical forms of enjoyment (through sexual experiments and drugs or other trance-inducing means) arose at a precise political moment: when "the spirit of '68" had exhausted its political potential.

At this critical point in the mid-'70s, we witnessed a direct, brutal push-toward-the-Real, which assumed three main forms: first, the search for extreme forms of sexual enjoyment; second, the turn toward the Real of an inner experience (Oriental mysticism); and, finally, the rise of leftist political terrorism (Red Army Faction in Germany, Red Brigades in Italy, etc.).

Leftist political terror operated under the belief that, in an epoch in which the masses are totally immersed in capitalist ideological sleep, the standard critique of ideology is no longer operative. Only a resort to the raw Real of direct violence could awaken them.

What these three options share is the withdrawal from concrete socio-political engagement, and we feel the consequences of this withdrawal from engagement today.

Autumn 2005's suburb riots in France saw thousands of cars burning and a major outburst of public violence. But what struck the eye was the absence of any positive utopian vision among protesters. If May '68 was a revolt with a utopian vision, the 2005 revolt was an outburst with no pretense to vision.

Here's proof of the common aphorism that we live in a post-ideological era: The protesters in the Paris suburbs made no particular demands. There was only an insistence on recognition, based on a vague, non-articulated resentment.

The fact that there was no program in the burning of Paris suburbs tells us that we inhabit a universe in which, though it celebrates itself as a society of choice, the only option available to the enforced democratic consensus is the explosion of (self-)destructive violence.

Recall here Lacan's challenge to the protesting students in '68: "As revolutionaries, you are hysterics who demand a new master. You will get one."

And we did get one -- in the guise of the post-modern "permissive" master whose domination is all the stronger for being less visible. ... "

~ full article ~

 

Warning of revolt over tax

Small businesses are so ang-ry about the tax system that their willingness to comply with their legal obligations is in jeopardy, according to a group representing contractors and consultants.

The Professional Contractors Group called for an overhaul of the tax regime, which it said suffered from complexity, uncertainty and "sometimes strange and inconsistent tax outcomes". It also attacked the retroactive impact of recent changes or proposals, such as the simplification of capital gains tax and rules designed to stop "income shifting" in family-run businesses.

It said: "In order to disguise high levels of taxation, the government has complicated the system substantially, and also become more aggressive in attempting to extract the maximum revenue from existing rules."

It warned that taxpayers' willingness to comply with legal obligations would weaken as unhappiness increased. "PCG fears that small business taxation in particular is getting close to this dangerous territory."

~ more... ~

 

Beauty, death and power make Mishima a compelling figure

If Japanese author Yukio Mishima seemed unusually anachronistic, it may be  because he staked so much on the equation of aesthetic power and political power, trusting that attaining the one would naturally lead to possessing the other. Yet that he also staked everything on the romantic belief that beauty and destruction must court one another on equal terms—the former reciprocating the latter in fortitude—gets perhaps closer to the deeper truth of this man, the only genuine key to the mystery. Great beauty, in Mishima's highly disciplined ontology, could receive no higher honour than to meet with a magisterial death. 
DVDetective - Beauty, death and power make Mishima a compelling figure  
Paul Schrader's remarkable, at once beguiling and grotesque film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) wisely founds every aspect of its complex portrait of the artist within the consideration of this deeper truth, bookending itself with the event that most boldly exemplified Mishima's aesthetic convictions. On Nov 25, 1970, Mishima ate no breakfast. He carefully laid out his pristine uniform, the one he had specially designed for his private army. He gathered his closest aides, laid siege to Japanese military headquarters and attempted to rouse a disinterested audience of soldiers and journalists with appeals for Japan's return to imperial rule. He then committed ritual suicide, or seppuku, before having his men chop off his head. In the nearly four decades since, Japan still seems unable to process this event.
 
United by one of Philip Glass's finest scores, Mishima's final hours, shot in quasi-documentary style, are interwoven with biographical episodes, shot in black and white, and dramatizations from three Mishima novels—Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko's House and Runaway Horses—that help to convey his persona as it paralleled or imitated his fiction. These sections are the most visually extraordinary, vibrantly colourful, highly theatrical sequences, owing as much to the special genius of designer Eiko Ishioka as to the formal brilliance and collaborative skills of Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey. The result, buoyed by the charming, tormented, spookily focused central performance of Ken Ogata, is not a comprehensive bio-pic so much as a study in meticulous self-invention, and an investigation into a very particular psychopathology. As Glass puts it, Mishima is about "how the unimaginable becomes inevitable."
 
 

BIS slams central banks, warns of worse crunch to come

The central bankers' bank renews fear of second depression, writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

A year ago, the Bank for International Settlements startled the financial world by warning that we might soon face challenges last seen during the onset of the Great Depression. This has proved frighteningly accurate.

The venerable body, the ultimate bank of central bankers, said years of loose monetary policy had fuelled a dangerous credit bubble that would entail "much higher costs than is commonly supposed".

In a pointed attack on the US Federal Reserve, it said central banks would not find it easy to "clean up" once property bubbles have burst.

If only we had all listened to the BIS a long time ago. Ensconced in its Swiss lair, it has fired off anathemas for years, struggling to uphold orthodoxy against the follies of modern central banking.

Bill White, the departing chief economist, has now penned his swansong, the BIS's 78th Annual Report, released today. It is a disconcerting read for those who want to hope the global crisis is over.

"The current market turmoil is without precedent in the postwar period. With a significant risk of recession in the US, compounded by sharply rising inflation in many countries, fears are building that the global economy might be at some kind of tipping point," it said.

"These fears are not groundless. The magnitude of the problems yet to be faced could be much greater than many now perceive," it said. "It is not impossible that the unwinding of the credit bubble could, after a temporary period of higher inflation, culminate in a deflation that might be hard to manage, all the more so given the high debt levels."

~ read on... ~

 

U.S. war resister avoids deportation

U.S. war resister Corey Glass is looking at spending "at least a couple more months in Canada" after a federal court granted him a stay of removal. "I was shocked," Mr. Glass said shortly after receiving the phone call yesterday afternoon telling him he could stay in Canada. "I had my bags ready and had moved out of my apartment. So I'm in the process of looking for another apartment," said Mr. Glass, 25.

Mr. Glass, who came to Canada in 2006, was scheduled to be deported to the United States today.

Geraldine Sadoway, one of the lawyers for Mr. Glass, said the Iraq war veteran who served with the National Guard will remain in Canada while the court reviews and decides on his applications for leave and judicial review.

Meanwhile, Canadian anti-war groups and supporters of American army deserters from the war in Iraq are stepping up their fight to keep war resister Robin Long from being deported to the U.S.

"Our lawyers are applying for a stay of deportation," Bob Ages, chairman of the Vancouver War Resisters Support Campaign, said yesterday.

Mr. Long, who deserted the U.S. military and fled to Canada to avoid being sent to Iraq, could be deported as early as Monday despite a recent non-binding vote by Parliament allowing U.S. soldiers opposed to the war in Iraq to stay in Canada.

~ The Ottawa Citizen ~

 

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