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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Friday, April 30, 2004
DAMN'D IF YOU DO, DAMN'D IF YOU DON'T. I'm revising upwards my opinion of LiveJournal outward attention.

That's all I'm saying, and I'm sticking to it.

Aside from still bitching at having to be "anonymous" if I want to breath a word to someone there. (And, like, who doesn't like breathing a word to those close?)

4/30/2004 08:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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It was members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps who lured four American security contractors to their deaths and mutilations on March 31.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you're playing "follow the war."

4/30/2004 04:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT WAS UPLIFTING. Join me in a chorus of "it's a surreal world, after all!"
How much weight does a bearded mullah carry in a freewheeling liberal society like Norway's?

The country's well-known Muslim comic, Shabana Rehman, decided to find out Tuesday when she lifted the founder of Iraq's Ansar al-Islam terrorist group off the ground before a startled audience.

[...] The cleric, known as Mullah Krekar, did not find the stunt funny. He went up smiling but was sputtering with rage by the time Ms. Rehman set him back down.

"I do not have the right to carry her like that and she has no right to carry or touch me," he exclaimed into his microphone. He vowed to sue and demanded that photographs of the stunt be destroyed.

Tuesday's incident took place at an Oslo nightclub called Smuget where Mullah Krekar was appearing to promote his new memoir, "In My Own Words." The mullah has won over many critics in Norway with his jovial, friendly manner. At the nightclub on Tuesday, he took part in a panel discussion after which Ms. Rehman, known for her parodies of conservative Islamic teachings, asked Mullah Krekar if he would submit to a "fundamentalist test." The mullah agreed but was taken by surprise when the comic suddenly lifted him in the air.

Ms. Rehman has lifted men in performances before, including several prominent Norwegians. Some found it funny; some were embarrassed.

Mullah Krekar's lawyer, Brynjar Meling, said the cleric planned to file a complaint with the police. On Thursday, his brother said the mullah would not press charges if Ms. Rehman apologized.

Of course, Mullah Krekar is a jovial guy. Who wouldn't be won over?

Read The Rest as interested; check the latter link for some perspective not far from his.

4/30/2004 03:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sahhaf, now a broadcast correspondent in Abu Dhabi, could not be reached for comment yesterday. He was interviewed when the U.S. military took control if Iraq but was not held. "He wasn't wanted for anything. Unfortunately, being a bad spokesman is not a crime," a U.S. official said.
Read The Rest Scale: 1.6 out of 5.

4/30/2004 02:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TAKE NO CHANCES. Better safe than sorry.
Despite what both sides agreed was the polite, even friendly tone of the meeting, the commissioners were treated as outsiders by the White House. They were seen being searched by hand for weapons before they stepped into the Oval Office, a requirement for all visitors to the White House apart from many foreign leaders.
Reports have it that no one actually lunged at the President, though alarm rippled through the room when he reached for a pretzel.

For reasons beyond me, the following story is on the same page:

Mr. Bremer, who in 1999 was chairman of a national commission on terrorism, gave a speech on Feb. 26, 2001, in which he said the "general terrorist threat" was increasing. "The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism," Mr. Bremer said in remarks to the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation.

"What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, `Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?' "

"That's too bad. They've been given a window of opportunity with very little terrorism now, and they're not taking advantage of it. Maybe the folks in the press ought to be pushing a little bit."
Damn him for politicizing this.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 on the visit of the Commission for a show of non-partisanship.

4/30/2004 02:21:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WTF is this?
The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's money, documents show.

In addition, the Office of Foreign Assets Control said that between 1990 and 2003 it opened just 93 enforcement investigations related to terrorism. Since 1994 it has collected just $9,425 in fines for terrorism financing violations.

In contrast, OFAC opened 10,683 enforcement investigations since 1990 for possible violations of the long-standing economic embargo against Fidel Castro (news - web sites)'s regime, and collected more than $8 million in fines since 1994, mostly from people who sent money to, did business with or traveled to Cuba without permission.

The figures, included in a lengthy letter OFAC sent to Congress late last year and provided to The Associated Press this week, prompted Republicans and Democrats alike to question whether OFAC has failed to adjust from the Cold War to the war on terrorism.


Sen. Max Baucus, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, requested the figures, which showed that at the end of 2003, OFAC had 21 full-time agents working Cuba violations and just four full-time workers hunting bin Laden's and Saddam's riches.


Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the tax-writing Senate panel, agreed.

"OFAC obviously needs to enforce the law with regard to U.S. policy on Cuba, but the United States is at war against terrorism, and al-Qaida is the biggest threat to our national security," Grassley said. "Cutting off the blood money that has financed Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden must be a priority when it comes to resources."


Last Christmas, Grassley and Baucus accused the agency of failing on at least two occasions to freeze the money of people identified by U.S. allies as terrorist financiers.

Richard Newcomb, the career official who has run OFAC for years under both Republican and Democratic presidents, was the subject of an internal investigation in the mid-1990s that concluded he improperly met outside the office with representatives of companies under investigation by his agency and took uncoordinated enforcement actions that potentially compromised criminal investigations.


Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

4/30/2004 02:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, April 29, 2004
FRANCE STRUGGLES WITH ITS ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS. One is reminded of the famous story of British General Charles Napier, who upon abolishing the practice of certain Indians of burning women upon the death of their husband, was told that it was their custom. He famously replied: "My nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national custom."
The cleric, Abdelkader Bouziane, was the fifth cleric expelled from France this year on charges of spreading a dangerously divisive brand of radical Islam. The country has kicked out dozens since 2001.

"The government cannot tolerate the public statement of views that are contrary to human rights, attack the dignity of women and call for hate or violence," the country's new interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, said recently.


Mr. Bouziane, 52, won an appeal that would allow him to return from his native Algeria to France, despite the Interior Ministry's presentation to the court of evidence that Mr. Bouziane has links to groups that support terrorism.

[On Thursday, President Jacques Chirac, who has been criticized by moderate Muslims for his handling of the case, vowed to take further legal action if Mr. Bouziane returns from Algeria. "If we have to change our law to avoid repeating this kind of case, which is unacceptable for us, we will change the law so we can expel people who say such things," he said at a news conference.]


Part of the problem is a dearth of domestically trained clerics to lead congregations of European-born Muslims. As a result, mosques like that in Vénissieux often have to rely on imported imams or self-proclaimed clerics who espouse fundamentalist beliefs that grate against Europe's more tolerant societies.

"The problem is that we have 1,500 imams, but the great majority of them don't have any knowledge of the land," said Azzedine Gaci, who heads the Muslim Council in the Rhône-Alps region.

Only about 10 percent of the imams preaching in France's mosques and prayer rooms are citizens, and half do not speak French, according to the Interior Ministry.


Mr. de Villepin said last week that France would have to help Muslims to train moderate prayer leaders here to encourage the emergence of a tolerant "French Islam." The country's government-sponsored Muslim Council is working on a training program but says it needs state aid. Any government move to support such a program, however, faces huge obstacles because of France's strict laws barring the state from meddling in religion.


France has tried to regulate its five million Muslims by creating a national advisory body to address issues like the training of clerics and to act as the Muslim representative in dealing with the government. But the country's most extreme fundamentalists have refused to take part.

"People like Mr. Bouziane live in another world," said Mr. Gaci, who is part of a broader trend of young, politically active second-generation Muslims here who are struggling to establish a united front to give Europe's Muslims a stronger voice and indisputable power. He worries that the scattered but spreading fundamentalist movement is hurting that effort.


The Interior Ministry issued an expulsion order in February, but did not immediately execute it. Then, in early April, a local publication, Lyon Mag, published an interview with Mr. Bouziane in which he spoke about his support for the Koran's teaching that adulterous women should be stoned and that it was a man's right to strike his wife if she was unfaithful.

"He shouldn't hit her in the face, but aim lower, the legs or stomach," he said in the interview, adding that a man can hit hard to instill fear in his wife.


In the housing projects near Mr. Bouziane's mosque, a young man with a closely cropped beard said he thought that the cleric had done nothing wrong. "If my wife cheats on me, I have the right to correct her," he said, "and not just with a slap on the bottom, but with a gunshot."

There are distinct limits to my cultural relativism, as well. Is that bad? It's my culture that gives me those limits. If you believe in cultural relativism, you have to grant me mine. It's my generalnapierism.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you want to read the other half of the article, including the parts about terroism and jihad I left out.

4/29/2004 10:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE COME-BACK KID? In case you hadn't heard, by the way, Ariel Sharon, and the plan to withdraw from Gaza, is in trouble.
The country's two largest newspapers, Yediot Aharonot and Maariv, each released polls on Thursday that showed Mr. Sharon's plan in trouble among Likud members.

In Yediot Aharonot, 47 percent of Likud voters said they opposed the plan, and 39 percent said they would support it, with 14 percent undecided. In Maariv, 45 percent were against and 42 percent in favor, with 13 percent undecide. Both polls had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Meanwhile, a poll by the Israeli radio found 51 percent of Likud voters planning to reject the Gaza withdrawal, and 43 percent to support it. No margin of error was given.

Opinion surveys polling a cross-section of citizens have indicated that a strong majority of Israelis favor a Gaza pullout.
Similar Haaretz poll here. More commentary here.

This is without even getting into Sharon's indictment problems.

It's more than unusual for me to root for Sharon, but as I entirely favor the Gaza withdrawal as necessary, in this case I can but wish that he'll somehow manage to rally support for it in his Sunday Likud referendum.

Read The Rest as interested.

4/29/2004 09:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ISRAEL, LAND OF THE FUTURE. Whaddya we got here? Let's see.

3-D email. Batteries a standard printer can print. A way to print electrical circuits onto any surface.

The Israeli startup Objet Geometries, however, has succeeded in breaking this limit by developing a process and a product that make it possible to send three-dimensional polymer models via e-mail.

Objet's rapid prototype (RP) system sprays layers of photopolymer onto a build tray just as an inkjet printer sprays ink onto a sheet of paper. Each layer of a model is dried and cured with a built-in UV light, and more layers are added until the model is complete.


Power Paper has developed batteries that can be printed directly on any surface, at minimal cost, using standard printing equipment. The batteries are thin, flexible microelectronic stickers that have low-currency batteries integrated within.

The batteries are used in electronic clothing that are supplied with thin, flexible energy sources, semi-permanent tattoo stickers, electronic tags, and energy sources for toys. In the future, this technology will be able to change the way hearing accessories and tiny robots are used.


Using a process similar to that of home inkjet printers, NanoPowders has developed a way to print electrical circuits onto any surface. When this technology reaches the market, it will make it possible for each of us to design and print electrical circuits, rather than being dependent on the giant chip plants operated by the big companies.

Printers: a step on the way towards transporters and replicators.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

4/29/2004 07:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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When appearing on a comedy show, such as The Daily Show, it is one's solemn duty to, at all costs, avoid being funny.
Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

4/29/2004 06:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT IRAQIS WANT. Fascinating survey.
A strong majority of Kurds, who make up 13% of the total population of 25 million, and a plurality of Sunnis would accept a European-style parliamentary democracy, which also is favored by the Bush administration. But most Shiites want an Islamic state and won't accept the Western democratic model.


Almost all Iraqis are Muslims, but only the Kurds favor separation of church and state. Sunni and Shiite areas oppose a secular government and see the Islamic clergy playing a formal advisory role in all aspects of government and civil life.

• Only Kurds strongly favor giving women the same legal rights as men. All groups say women should vote, hold a good job or public office. But most Sunnis oppose allowing women to hold national leadership positions.

Shiites and Sunnis say women should have less freedom than they had under Saddam Hussein. And 42% of all Iraqis would support a government-mandated dress code for women.

The deepest divide is on the question of Kurdish self-government. Three-fourths of the Kurds polled refuse to even accept "additional autonomy," a U.S.-backed idea. They demand complete independence. A strong majority of Shiites and Sunni oppose any additional autonomy for the Kurds.

Despite those differences, Iraqis say they support democracy over a Saddam-like dictatorship, and they doubt that their country would be plunged into a civil war in the event of an American pullout, which they strongly favor — except for the Kurds.

Only the Kurds say the Americans are staying in Iraq to build that democracy. The poll shows only 28% of non-Kurds say America is very serious about a democratic Iraq. And 27% agree that the United States is serious about improving the economic lot of the Iraqis.

USA Today plonks a "Iraqis optimistic about future" headline on this, which certainly makes clear they're optimistic, all right. The results on women's rights is certainly not something to be cheery about.

And I'm afraid I suspect that the belief about the unlikelihood of civil war is more wishful thinking , to some degree, than fully accurate, though I may be all wrong (note, I'm not predicting that there would be civil war if very US citizen vanished from Iraq tomorrow; I'm just saying I think the odds are higher than the poll indicates).

Read The Rest Scale: there's not much more on that page, but there are links to the detailed results, and a lot of other interesting facts about Iraqi conditions, if you're interested.

Other facts: I find this ownership of media astounding-- the prevalence of tv ownership over phones, that is:

Total Baghdad Shi’ite Sunni Kurd
TV set 95% 97 93 94 95
Radio 72% 79 74 66 6
Telephone 21% 32 21 18 14

Here's a cheery one:
Taking everything into account, do you think the coalition invasion of Iraq has done more harm than good or more good than harm?
Total Baghdad Shi’ite Sunni Kurd
More harm 46 59 47 56 2
More good 33 18 28 20 97
The same 16 21 19 16 1

It gets worse, but then eventually there's some good news to be found. Read The Rest: 6 out of 5. It's fascinating to compare the results of questions 9 and 10, may I note? Questions 11, 12, 13, and 14 here give some good news, though.

It appears that some 40% of Sunnis consistently defend and stand by Saddam Hussein; which is of less importance than other questions at this point, but revealing of underlying opinions.

In 29, the IGC doesn't come off quite as badly as it is often portrayed. Part III here.

4/29/2004 04:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Interrogation commenced: 0330 hours

Woke SH quite early to catch him off-guard and groggy. I asked, "What's your first name?" and he said, "Saddam." Again I asked, "What's your first name?" and he said, "Saddam." I kept asking, "What's your first name?" and he kept saying, "Saddam." Once I had a rhythm going, I quickly asked, "Where are the WMD?" and he said, "Saddam."

Interrogation terminated: 0338 hours

- - - -

Interrogation commenced: 2210 hours

I played chess with SH, who is not too bad a chess player. At one point, my bishop took his rook. I told him that in the U.S., when you lose your rook to a bishop, it is customary to divulge a little personal secret, like maybe where the WMD are. He said we weren't in the U.S., then he took my pawn with the horse piece.

Interrogation terminated: 0122 hours
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 for the remaining entries. (Via Sore Eyes.)

4/29/2004 03:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I LIKE THEIR OLDER, FUNNIER SHOWS. Pet TV isn't what it was in the Fifties.
Pet TV is a service digital viewers can access by pressing the interactive red button on their remotes, for a week-long run from Saturday May 1.


The interactive TV service will consist of a looped series of images and sounds, including clips of snooker balls rolling across the green baize, frisbees flying through the air, cat toys and cartoon characters such as Top Cat.

The service will also offer clips from more traditional TV fare, such as EastEnders, Neighbours, The Muppet Show and Animal Hospital.

Pet TV can be tried out on dogs, cats, birds and even fish, according to the BBC.

"It's a unique opportunity to find out if we really do have a nation of pet telly addicts, and if so, what are the pets' favourite shows," the BBC said.

"Do pets pick up messages from the television? See if they respond to dogs barking, wolves howling, parrots talking in English. The sound of running water might attract your fish to the screen, and the sight of fish swimming around a tank might attract your cat to the television more than the sight of mice," it said in a press statement.

Animal lovers keen to know if they have the brainiest pooch or moggy in the land will also be able to put their pets through one of six IQ tests on the BBC website.


"Pets, and particularly cats, do need environmental stimulation and activity, otherwise they can get into destructive behaviour. So if this promotes that it will be good," a spokeswoman for charity Cat Protection said.

"It will be interesting to see how different species rate [in the IQ tests]. My only worry is that people are going to start selecting their pets based on intelligence, which is not really a criteria you should use," she added.

No, we wouldn't want to discriminate, would we? I suppose picking based upon how much they shed wouldn't do, either. I wondered what they do recommend as proper criteria, so I went to their website (they're actually named "Cats Protection"; typical Grauniad accuracy, as it took me an entire two seconds to discover this, and that with a 33k modem).

I found What To Consider Before Adopting A Cat, where I found this:

Before you adopt a cat, there are some important questions you should first consider:

Will my lifestyle allow it?
That was the only question. Admittedly an important one, this suggests the possibility that if you go in to adopt "some cats," you will only take away one. Be warned.

There seemed to be no other advice on proper criteria for choosing your adopted cat. I am forlorn at this fortuitous lack of felicitous feline advice. (No, I don't know why I'm suddenly struck by constant compulsive alacrity for alliteration; I expect it's a brain tumor.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if interested in Pet TV.

4/29/2004 12:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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APPALLING. I didn't see this on tv last night, but read it here, as you should as well.
Last month, the U.S. Army announced 17 soldiers in Iraq, including a brigadier general, had been removed from duty after charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners.

But the details of what happened have been kept secret, until now.

It turns out photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad. The Army investigated, and issued a scathing report.

Now, an Army general and her command staff may face the end of long military careers. And six soldiers are facing court martial in Iraq -- and possible prison time.


According to the U.S. Army, one Iraqi prisoner was told to stand on a box with his head covered, wires attached to his hands. He was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.

It was this picture, and dozens of others, that prompted an investigation by the U.S. Army. On Tuesday, 60 Minutes II asked Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of coalition operations in Iraq, what went wrong.

“Frankly, I think all of us are disappointed by the actions of the few,” says Kimmitt. “Every day, we love our soldiers, but frankly, some days we're not always proud of our soldiers."

For decades under Saddam Hussein, many prisoners who were taken to the Abu Ghraib prison never came out. It was the centerpiece of Saddam’s empire of fear, and those prisoners who did make it out told nightmarish tales of torture beyond imagining – and executions without reason.

60 Minutes II talked about the prison and shared pictures of what Americans did there with two men who have extensive interrogation experience: Former Marine Lt. Col. Bill Cowan and former CIA Bureau Chief Bob Baer.

"I visited Abu Ghraib a couple of days after it was liberated. It was the most awful sight I've ever seen. I said, ‘If there's ever a reason to get rid of Saddam Hussein, it's because of Abu Ghraib,'” says Baer. “There were bodies that were eaten by dogs, torture. You know, electrodes coming out of the walls. It was an awful place."

"We went into Iraq to stop things like this from happening, and indeed, here they are happening under our tutelage,” says Cowan. It was American soldiers serving as military police at Abu Ghraib who took these pictures. The investigation started when one soldier got them from a friend, and gave them to his commanders. 60 Minutes II has a dozen of these pictures, and there are many more – pictures that show Americans, men and women in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners.

There are shots of the prisoners stacked in a pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English.

In some, the male prisoners are positioned to simulate sex with each other. And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up.

60 Minutes II was only able to contact one of the soldiers facing charges. But the Army says they are all in Iraq, awaiting court martial.

"What can the Army say specifically to Iraqis and others who are going to see this and take it personally," Rather asked Kimmitt, in an interview conducted by satellite from Baghdad.

"The first thing I’d say is we’re appalled as well. These are our fellow soldiers. These are the people we work with every day, and they represent us. They wear the same uniform as us, and they let their fellow soldiers down,” says Kimmitt.

“Our soldiers could be taken prisoner as well. And we expect our soldiers to be treated well by the adversary, by the enemy. And if we can't hold ourselves up as an example of how to treat people with dignity and respect … We can't ask that other nations to that to our soldiers as well."

“So what would I tell the people of Iraq? This is wrong. This is reprehensible. But this is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are over here,” adds Kimmitt. “I'd say the same thing to the American people... Don't judge your army based on the actions of a few." One of the soldiers facing court martial is Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick.

Frederick is charged with maltreatment for allegedly participating in and setting up a photo, and for posing in a photograph by sitting on top of a detainee. He is charged with an indecent act for observing one scene. He is also charged with assault for allegedly striking detainees – and ordering detainees to strike each other.

60 Minutes II talked with him by phone from Baghdad, where he is awaiting court martial.

Frederick told us he will plead not guilty, claiming the way the Army was running the prison led to the abuse of prisoners.

“We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain rules and regulations,” says Frederick. “And it just wasn't happening."


Frederick says he didn't see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged.

The Army investigation confirms that soldiers at Abu Ghraib were not trained at all in Geneva Convention rules. And most were reservists, part-time soldiers who didn't get the kind of specialized prisoner of war training given to regular Army members.


But the Army investigation found serious problems behind the scenes. The Army has photographs that show a detainee with wires attached to his genitals. Another shows a dog attacking an Iraqi prisoner. Frederick said that dogs were “used for intimidation factors.”


There is also a picture of an Iraqi man who appears to be dead -- and badly beaten.

"It's reprehensible that anybody would be taking a picture of that situation,” says Kimmitt.

But what about the situation itself?

“I don't know the facts surrounding what caused the bruising and the bleeding,” says Kimmitt. “If that is also one of the charges being brought against the soldiers, that too is absolutely unacceptable and completely outside of what we expect of our soldiers and our guards at the prisons."

Is there any indication that similar actions may have happened at other prisons? “I'd like to sit here and say that these are the only prisoner abuse cases that we're aware of, but we know that there have been some other ones since we've been here in Iraq,” says Kimmitt.


"We will be paid back for this. These people at some point will be let out,” says Cowan. “Their families are gonna know. Their friends are gonna know."


Two weeks ago, 60 Minutes II received an appeal from the Defense Department, and eventually from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to delay this broadcast -- given the danger and tension on the ground in Iraq.

60 Minutes II decided to honor that request, while pressing for the Defense Department to add its perspective to the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison. This week, with the photos beginning to circulate elsewhere, and with other journalists about to publish their versions of the story, the Defense Department agreed to cooperate in our report.

Of course, rumors of this sort of thing have been rife among Iraqis for the past year; I've read innumerable quotes of such accusations by Iraqis, as well as of the less brutal, but still psychological damaging, fact that we were busily disappearing thousands of Iraqis into custody with no means or system of letting Iraqis know where their fathers, sons, and brothers had been taken, why, or for how long.

When I've posted on this previously, I've had rabid Americans-can-do-no-wrong people tell me this was all the fault of Iraqis; if they'd just stop fighting, everything would be fine.

That's not even in the same universe as being good enough, of course. We are not our ideals; we are what we do. And the Iraqis, however much they'll also spread false rumors and believe them, however much they may also blame us for things they shouldn't, are utterly blameless themselves for hating us for this.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

MORE: BBC coverage here. NYT here. LA Times here.
Grauniad here. A familiar reaction from the Australian PM: Torture photos 'appalling', says PM. At this moment, 480 more stories here.

The Sarge speaks.

I can't find anything about it on the CBS website, but they did broadcast a followup on the April 29th evening broadcast making clear that the Army does seem to be handling it forthrightly, having fully investigated, it appears so far, locked up folks and proceeded with court martials, dismissed General Karpinsky, instituted new training and supervision, and so on. There is no indication there was anything official above Karpinsky about this (so far, of course; nothing is definitive at an early stage), and it appears that one of the problems was allowing unqualified contractors to work with completely unqualified regular guards who had no training or regs at all on where to draw a line. Part of their motivation, in turn, seems to have been to impress the real interrogators, CIA, etc. The whole thing remains unspeakable, of course.

UPDATE: Horrible pictures found here or here. (Sanitized samples here. ) Horrific. Simply horrific. Enough to lead to Godwin's Law violation. Unbelievable. I SERIOUSLY warn you not to look at them unless you are prepared to have a reaction that is likely to include vomiting, bursting out in tears, and pounding your fist against the wall while cursing and screaming. I am not kidding. It's no different than looking at concentration camp pictures, except it's "us."


4/29/2004 10:50:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
GOOD PEOPLE. The September 11th Commission staff.
The staff's aggressive investigation has surprised some critics who had questioned whether Mr. Zelikow's close ties to the Bush administration — he served on its transition team and had written a book with Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser — would prevent him from leading an effective investigation.

Mr. Zelikow put an emphasis on creating a staff with rich credentials and deep expertise. It includes established and rising academics, including Ernest May, a diplomatic historian at Harvard; Daniel Byman, a professor at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service; and Alexis Albion, the former historian at the International Spy Museum. Top intelligence and law enforcement officials were also recruited, like Douglas J. MacEachin, who retired as the C.I.A.'s deputy director for intelligence, and Lloyd Salvetti, former director of the agency's research arm, the Center for the Study of Intelligence.

Mr. Kean, a former governor of New Jersey, recruited John J. Farmer Jr., a former attorney general of New Jersey. John Roth, a Justice Department lawyer who oversaw investigations into money laundering and the forfeiture of assets in terrorism and other cases, was also selected.

Some members of the staff have deeply personal involvement with the attacks they are studying. Mr. Snell himself was engulfed in debris from the collapse of the second tower as he escaped his own office.

Kevin Shaeffer was working at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building and killed many of those near him. He suffered first-degree burns on 40 percent of his body. Forced into retirement because of his injuries, Mr. Shaeffer received an offer to join the commission staff.

The staff members work out of undisclosed locations in New York and Washington. Eating tacos, heroes and pizza, they have worked late nights seven days a week over the past year reading through interview transcripts and sifting through documents that have been scanned and cataloged into a huge electronic database.
I owe Philip Zelikow an apology. Not for anything I've said or done, but for my suspicious thoughts of him, before the Commission began producing work.

Based upon his being on Bush's transition team, and having written a book with Rice, I suspected he was there to soften any criticism or strong investigation into the Bush Administration. It appears I was entirely, thoroughly, wrong. He's simply been entirely fair, it appears.

I should have remembered what I constantly tell others: that most people in government are, in fact, professionals, non-partisan, dedicated to doing the best work they can within the system. Philip Zelikow appears to be such a man.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

4/28/2004 07:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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D'OH! On the new Iraqi flag:
Responding to criticism yesterday, the flag's designer, Rifat Chaderchi, 77, a London-based architect and writer, said: "I didn't think about Israel. Political opinions don't concern me. I approached the design from a graphic point of view."
Well, yes, of course. The last thing anyone should think about when they look at a flag should be politics. They should think solely about graphic design. Is it pretty? Is it shapely? Do we like the color scheme, my precious?

Brilliant approach.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

4/28/2004 07:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE LOSS OF THE VOICE. So, you're wandering around the Web, as is your wonkish wont to wantonly do. And you look over your blessedly bloated blogroll, which you're always trying to cut down on, but which wickedly like your stomach, you find it dreadfully, dubiously, difficult to do.

And you think to yourself, unlike your normal thought transmissions, which are to others, you think "whom shall I go visit now? X? Been there too recently. Good old Y? Bored last two times. Z? Hasn't updated in a year and a day."

You ponder with great ponderosity, and you think "aha, yes, A! Haven't had a looksee in months, have you?"

And you carefully click your calloused click, and what do you find?

"Where's good old A? Why are all these posts signed by C, and B? Who the bloody hell is C? Who the frick is B?"

And you realize that, of course, like so many others convinced these days that if a blog isn't updated twenty times a day, it won't be a popular blog, they rang in some friends to generate quantity, because that's what counts, and like all the cool kids right now, in your absence, good old A's blog has become a group blog.

And you growl to yourself, as you have so many times before, that what you value about blogs, what makes them worthwhile to you, why you spend so much time with them is that they are individual voices. You become friends, in your own mind, at least, with the voice, because it speaks uniquely, has its own view, speaks in its own manner, says what it wants to say in the way that only it would.

You've grown accustomed to her face. Or his, yes, yes.

And your wrath rises, because here is another blog that has lost its unique voice and is now a bland porridge of multiple, unknown, voices.

Imposters! Invasion of the pod people! Infidels!

Moreover, they've not even bothered to update their sidebar to identify who the mysterious B and C are.

And with a feeling of regret, bitterness, and, yet, relief that another blog has found a way to get you to act, you reach over and disappear them from your blogroll.

Congratulations on your uptick in popularity.

4/28/2004 04:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IS THIS, LIKE, AN ABORTION THING? Those wacky Japanese, part 86.
TOKYO - Dressed in a black suit and tie, a man asked the roomful of mourners to bow their heads. For a minute, they stood and faced the brightly lit altar in silence.

On a stage, piled in a pyramid and surrounded by white daisies and lilies sat the dead: dozens of eggs in clear plastic cartons.

Arranged by the Agriculture Ministry and the poultry industry, Wednesday's solemn ceremony at a Tokyo hotel honored hundreds of thousands of chickens slaughtered since a deadly bird flu was discovered here in January.


The ceremony was nonreligious, though it featured an altar and flowers commonly found at religious funeral rites in Japan.


There was nothing deliberately humorous about the chicken funeral services.

Over 200 officials and poultry producers observed a minute of silence and then bowed to the stack of eggs.

Okay, I'm mocking someone else's culture. Sue me. Domo Arigato.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you want to know more about the Serious Aspects.

4/28/2004 03:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MY FAITH IN GEORGE PACKER'S REPORTING is rather undermined by this. (It's the whole article, now online, not the previous truncated version.)

Packer, whose reporting I've previously found detailed and convincing, on subjects I'm distant from, is a weird mix of accurate insight and completely distorted analysis here on this subject I'm close to, blogging.

The hugest distortion is that, to him, a "blog" means only one thing: "political blog." This is the equivalent of announcing the start of a paper analyzing the nation-state, and proceeding to examine only the Carribean islands. One might say many accurate things about Jamaica, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic, but they turn out to be less than useful in considering China, Australia, and Sweden. Or any global or regional issue.

The following statement is from some other planet than Earth-1:

Above all, they [blogs] didn't grasp the intensity of feeling among Democratic primary voters — the resentments still glowing hot from Florida 2000, the overwhelming interest in economic and domestic issues, the personal antipathy toward Bush, the resurgence of activism, the longing for a win.
Uh, yeah, everyone was either for Bush, or lukewarm. Check. [begin slowly backing away from the strange man]

Read The Rest as interested.

4/28/2004 03:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Blog-Tracking May Gain Ground Among U.S. Intelligence Officials

People in black trench coats might soon be chasing blogs.


As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable.

Still, a panel of folks who work in the U.S. intelligence field - some of them spies or former spies - discussed this month at a conference in Washington the idea of tracking blogs.

"News and intelligence is about listening with a critical ear, and blogs are just another conversation to listen to and evaluate. They also are closer to (some situations) and may serve as early alerts," said Jock Gill, a former adviser on Internet media to President Clinton, in a later phone interview, after he spoke on the panel.

Some panel and conference participants, because of their profession, could not be identified. But another who could is Robert Steele, another blog booster. The former U.S. intelligence officer said "absolutely" that blogs are valid sources of intelligence and news, though he said authenticating the information in blogs "leaves a lot to be desired."


The CIA and FBI haven't publicly commented about use of blogs in their work, but many D.C. observers believe both agencies monitor certain blogs.

At least one nation, China, is actively tracking blogs. It's also reportedly trying to block blogs. Several press reports earlier this year said the government shut two blogging services and banned access to all Web logs by Chinese citizens.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you want to see Salem Pax, Riverbend, and others cited.

4/28/2004 01:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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What more need be said?

4/28/2004 01:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE GMAIL SAGA. My old acquaintance, Brad Templeton, unsurprisingly has the most sage and comprehensive analysis and advice on the issue.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 if you care at all about online privacy issues; if not, not.

ADDENDUM: Hosed link fixed.

4/28/2004 01:06:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CLEARLY I'M A WONK, BUT AM I A HACK? Topic from a discussion at a Cato panel as described here.
Inspired by a recent Washington Monthly article by Bruce Reed, formerly domestic policy adviser for Bill Clinton and now president of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Reed wrote: "Strip away the job titles and party labels, and you will find two kinds of people in Washington: political hacks and policy wonks."

In short, the problem with hacks is that they're obsessed with politics and don't really care about the details of whatever policy they're advocating for. The problem with wonks is that they're so interested in the details that they don't care about the results.

On the panel, Reed stressed the importance of having an equilibrium between wonks and hacks in a White House.

Fellow panelist Ron Suskind, author of the third-most-recent Bush White House expose, said he thinks the problem is that White House wonks just don't get a hearing from the people who matter.

Asked to give an example of a Bush administration decision that was not a hack triumph, final panelist David Frum, author and former Bush speechwriter, said that the hacks were actually against the war in Iraq.

So it was a wonk war? That led to some debate over lunch about whether Bush wonks may have a problem sufficiently considering opposing viewpoints, traditionally a wonk characteristic.

And for those trying to figure out who's a wonk and who's a hack, here's a complication: In some rare cases, you can be a hack and a wonk at the same time.

"Clinton was by far the best hack and the best wonk in his administration," Reed asserted.


Reed described a simple test to determine if someone is a wonk or a hack: Do you know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? If you do, you're a wonk.

Yeah, but is Wonkette a wonk as well as a hack?

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

4/28/2004 12:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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REVEALED: WRITING ALTERNATIVE HISTORY MEANS you favor the premise. I have great respect for Mark A. R. Kleiman, and I generally agree with his positions.

So I regret having to tromp all over this ridiculous notion. Mark says that Newt Gingrich, in writing Gettysburg "hates America" and that:

Openly pandering to wish-fulfillment dreams about the defeat of the armed forces of the United States by the forces of a rebellion mounted in defense of slavery ought to be unthinkable for someone still active in American politics.

Just imagine the firestorm if a still-active Democratic politician had written a novel with Santa Ana as its hero. Yet the moral case for sympathizing with Mexico in the Texan succession fight or the Mexican-American war is far stronger than the case for sympathizing with the CSA.

That Gingrich can get away with it says something ugly about his section, and his party, and the tame press.
Aside from the fact that Bill Forstchen did, um, a lot of the writing, and that it's actually gotten excellent reviews from Publisher's Weekly ("This well-executed alternative history... a veritable feast."), Booklist ("...intriguing... thorough... imaginative... carefully offered in vivid battle descriptions and well-considered alternative strategies.") and elsewhere, the idea that authors of fiction are writing "wish-fulfillment" is utterly inane.

Let's see. When Philip K. Dick wrote the award-winning The Man In The High Castle, he was expressing his wish that Japan and Germany had defeated the US in WWII and partitioned it.

When Norman Spinrad wrote The Iron Dream, he was revealing his desire to be Adolph Hitler.

When L Sprague de Camp wrote Lest Darkness Fall, he was revealing his wish that we still lived in the Roman Empire.

When Robert Harris wrote Fatherland, he was revealing his wish that the Nazi regime ruled Europe today.

When Brendan DuBois wrote Resurrection Day, he was revealing his wish that the US had been devastated by nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

When Eric Flint wrote 1632, he was revealing his wish that six square miles of Western Virginia had been sent back in time to Germany in 1632.

When Keith Robert wrote Pavane, he was revealing his wish that Elizabeth I had been killed, and the Spanish Armada triumphed.

When... oh, the hell, I could spend a month at this. Harry Turtledove should just kill himself now before he reveals any more shocking secrets from his inner fantasy life.

Let's just assume everyone of these authors, and these authors are engaging in wish-fulfullment.

And so is everyone who posts to soc.history.what-if.

And so is everyone who posts here and here.

So is everyone who has ever cared about the Sidewise Awards.

Basically, most science fiction fans, given the widespread popularity of "alternate history" and "counterfactuals," are all just kooks who read solely for wish-fulfillment.

In fact, the only reason anyone writes, or reads fiction, is wish-fulfillment. It only logically follows.

Gingrich is, incidentally, a science fiction fan (he came to the 1986 World SF Convention when it was in Atlanta, as a fan), as well as an historian.

Oh, and he and Forstchen also wrote 1945 (read this link; you won't regret it, people); does Gingrich also wish the Nazis had attacked the American mainland?

I look forward to Mark's followup, asking why Winston Churchill hated America when he wrote If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg.

Having gotten that off my chest, I'd like to completely recommend Mark Kleiman's blog. Despite this momentary lapse -- and we are all entitled to many, particularly when we're on subjects we're not expert in -- Mark is not just a fine writer, with generally extremely sound judgment, a keen mind, excellent insight, a terrific eye for important news, an expressive way of logically making an argument, but I think he's right far more often than not, he's timely, and he's one of the best news bloggers around. Check him out, and don't let my beating him about the ears for a single silly post stop you. Really.

4/28/2004 10:44:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Newsarama has learned that tomorrow's Wizard #152 will send Hal Jordan fans into fits of glee. The issue contains an article outlining how, in the October-debuting Green Lantern: Rebirth, a five issue miniseries by Geoff Johns and Ethan VanSciver, Hal Jordan will return to the DCU in a costumed form, and with a ring.

The current Green Lantern series will end with issue #181 in September.

Johns is quoted in the article, saying that the storyline will encompass all facets of the Green Lantern mythos, including John Stewart, Guy Gardner, the Spectre, Alan Scott, and Kyle Rayner, who will, according to Johns, play a major role.

In darkest night, when all seems lost, no matter how long the night, never forget the immortal, inspiring, Oath of another Green Lantern:
"When day is bright...
...or is it night?
No... ah...
...something or other
will escape my sight...
...let those who...who...
Let all those looking for a fight...
...something something something...
Green Lantern's light."

-Perdoo of Qualar IV
Words to live by.

Our last GL post here. Read The Rest as interested in details.

4/28/2004 07:31:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Whenever Cheney comes onstage, it's difficult not to think of Mike Myers playing Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films.
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

4/28/2004 07:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004
April 26, John J. Miller: My prediction: Toomey, by a whisker.

Jack Fowler: Toomey is surging. It is the perfect storm -- for Arlen.

April 27th: TONIGHT'S PREDICTIONS [John J. Miller]
Toomey 51 percent, Specter 48 percent

Good shootin', Tex.

4/27/2004 10:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Precincts Reporting: 7212 Of 9416 77%
Winner Candidate Incumbent Votes Vote %
Arlen SPECTER X 338,903 51%
Pat TOOMEY 327,183 49%
The gap narrowed from earlier results, but this ABC station is calling it, for what that's worth. If so, too bad for the NRO boys and girls.

Of course, anyone who remembers three and a half years ago will call a close election a sure thing until later than this.

UPDATE: At 11:52 p.m. EST it's 89% of precincts,
434,398 50%
426,087 50%

NEXT: At 12:02 a.m. EST, unless there are errors, I think it's safely over. 9019 Of 9416 96% precincts reported.
499,731 51%
483,626 49%

Barring errors or a recount, I'm calling it for Specter.

4/27/2004 08:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SHOPPING FOR TASTEFUL BODY ARMOR. Robert Kaplan has a guide.

So many choices; so many possibilities.

A quite amusing, and somewhat educational, piece; doubtless extremely useful to a few, though I hope not to be one of them.

Read The Rest as interested.

4/27/2004 08:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE USES OF OPTIMISM IN POLITICS. A useful think piece by Jonathan Chait. Have the editors of The Atlantic suddenly taken to waving big checks at TNR writers?

Anyway, I just want to say: I'm an optimist! I've always been an optimist!

And I believe in America!

Just so we're clear.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for political buffs.

4/27/2004 08:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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At this moment, Specter is leading by a nose. With 43% precincts (4035 out of 9416), it's
Arlen Specter 141,627 52%
Pat Toomey 132,074 48%

4/27/2004 07:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOOK OUT! GIANT LAND SNAILS FROM SPACE! (Okay, Africa and Asia, actually.)

Federal health officials have seized several dangerous pests called Giant African Land Snails from Wisconsin classrooms and have started a national search for the creatures, which reproduce rapidly, destroy plants and can transmit meningitis.

The snails, which are illegal to have in the United States, were used in classrooms by unwitting school officials, said Willie Harris, eastern regional director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Safeguarding, Intervention and Trade Compliance Program.

Snails have been seized in the past month from Wisconsin cities including Big Bend, Menasha and Milwaukee.

They're here to destroy all plant life on planet Earth!
They are concerned the snails, about the size of a person's hand, could be transported to states with warmer climates, where they can rapidly reproduce and destroy plants.
They have killer mucous!
The snails, native to Africa but also found in parts of Asia, are known to consume as many as 500 different plants and their mucous can transmit meningitis.
Run for your lives!!!

Read The Rest Scale: 1.5 out of 5 as interested. (I am ineluctably reminded of the ancient SNL "land shark" sketches.)

4/27/2004 07:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I don't recall this sort of problem coming up during WWII; do you?

4/27/2004 06:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S ALSO THE PRESS'S FAULT. I've always respected David Ignatius, since I first noticed him sometime in the early Eighties. I don't always agree with him, of course, but I think he's a hard-working, honest, thoughtful guy.

(His 1987 novel, Agents of Innocence, based around the bombing of our Embassy in Beirut in 1983, and using his CIA sources -- he was friends with our murdered CIA station chief, Robert C. Ames -- is excellent, too, by the way; the amazing real story is here.)

His mea culpa is refreshing.

A quick survey using LexisNexis (that intolerably precise measure of who published what, when) shows that before Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Times mentioned Osama bin Laden and terror 176 times; The Post made that connection 57 times. That wasn't enough.


A few journalists did "get it" about the danger posed by bin Laden, but I was not among them. That cursed Nexis search reveals that while I wrote often about terrorism and the Arab world, I didn't mention bin Laden once in my columns or other journalism before Sept. 11.


A Feb. 17 article in the Times about what could go wrong in Iraq included this haunting quotation from an unnamed senior official: "We still do not know how U.S. forces will be received. Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won't know until we get there." Even though it was a blind quotation, that should have been a red flag to every editor and columnist in America. But it wasn't.

The uniformed military privately had serious questions about the Iraq mission, but these only occasionally made their way into print. A rare example is a March 11, 2003, story in The Post by Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks, which began: "The U.S. Army is bracing for war in Iraq and a postwar occupation that could tie up two to three Army divisions in an open-ended mission that would strain the all-volunteer force and put soldiers in the midst of warring ethnic and religious factions, Army officers and other senior defense officials say." Again, that story should have been a red flag.

Here's a key point:
In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own.
This passivity, this flaccidity, this brain-dead lack of consciousness, which is pounded into you at J-school, I gather, is a critical problem in American journalistic custom and practice. It must stop.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

4/27/2004 05:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A LOVING PAEN TO the genuine science fiction qualities of Futurama.

Read The Rest as interested.

4/27/2004 12:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NOT THE FOREVER WAR, since I heard about this indirectly via Locus Online's mention of Joe Haldeman's involvement.
U.S. troops returning from duty will be encouraged to write about their wartime experiences through a new National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program, called Operation Homecoming.


The program's roster of writers who will lead workshops includes Richard Bausch, veteran, award-winning fiction writer, and English professor; Mark Bowden, journalist and author of Black Hawk Down; Tom Clancy, popular novelist and military writer; Judith Ortiz Cofer, poet, essayist, novelist, and English professor; Joe Haldeman, veteran, novelist, and writing instructor; Barry Hannah, author, screenwriter, and educator; Victor Davis Hanson, military history writer and author of The Soul of Battle; Andrew Hudgins, poet, essayist, and humanities professor; McKay Jenkins, journalist, author, and educator; Bobbie Ann Mason, novelist, writing instructor, and author of In Country; James McBride, journalist and author of The Color of Water; Marilyn Nelson, poet and English professor; Wyatt Prunty, veteran, poet, and English professor; Dan Rifenburgh, veteran, poet, and educator; Jeff Shaara, author of Gods and Generals; and Tobias Wolff, author, veteran, and English professor.


Workshops will be held for Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and Camp Pendleton, Calif.; for Army soldiers at Fort Drum, N.Y. and Fort Richardson, Alaska; for Air Force airmen at Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and for Navy sailors at Norfolk, Va. and San Diego, Calif.


The NEA is issuing an open call for submissions from active military personnel and their families. Items may include essays, letters and other writings related to recent military service. A panel of literary experts assembled by the NEA will review the entries. The best examples will be published next year in an anthology that will be given to military installations, schools, and libraries and sold in bookstores. Authors will receive an honorarium and two copies of the book. A percentage of any proceeds will go to military charities.

Hell of a line-up of writers. Speaking as someone who as one of the junior-most editorial personages at Avon Books in the mid-eighties, worked on the Vietnam nonfiction and fiction line, as well as the WWII line, and various other books about war, and as a reader, and as a human being, I think this is a Very Fine Thing.

Read The Rest As Interested.

4/27/2004 11:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A chunk of the moon that landed on Earth as a meteorite contains a new mineral....
...which scientists have named after a researcher who years ago predicted the unusual process that formed the material.


The researchers named the new mineral hapkeite after Bruce Hapke of the University of Pittsburgh, who 30 years ago predicted the process that forms this mineral.

Hapkeite, kryptonite, same diff, is it green, or red, or gold?

Read The Rest as interested.

4/27/2004 10:41:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOU SON OF A SON! Today, mice.
From time immemorial, making a mammalian baby has involved two essential ingredients: eggs and sperm. Now Japanese scientists have written men out of the reproduction rule-book, and created fatherless mice.

The team made the animals by combining the nucleus of one female's egg with that of another, essentially creating a mouse with two mothers. "It is a bit of a surprise," says evolutionary biologist David Haig of Harvard University, Boston.
Okay, next pigs, and women.

Read The Rest as interested.

4/27/2004 09:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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The Express directors began the meeting by greeting the arrival of Mr Deedes and the Telegraph finance director, Niamh O'Donnell-Keenan, with a chorus of "guten morgen" and "sehr gut".

Mr Deedes replied by congratulating Mr Desmond on "seeing the light", a reference to the Express's decision today to switch its allegiance to the Tories.

Following exchanges about Conrad Black, the Telegraph's outgoing owner who is battling allegations of pocketing unauthorised executive payments, conversation reverted to the German theme.

In a faux-German accent, Mr Desmond asked if the Telegraph bosses - who also included managing director Hugo Drayton and printing director Bill Ellerd-Styles - were looking forward to being run by Nazis.

"That's not very helpful," Mr Deedes said, pointing out that Axel Springer - the German newspaper group currently bidding to buy the Telegraph titles - had a commitment to the state of Israel as part of its publishing philosophy.

When Mr Desmond said: "They're all Nazis", Mr Deedes replied: "That is thoroughly offensive. Could you please sit down so we can start the meeting?"

"Don't you tell me to sit down, you miserable little piece of shit," Mr Desmond said, before he launched what witnesses described as "a stream of foul-mouthed abuse, both personal and general".

"After three years dealing with a bunch of crooks I'm starting to enjoy this," Mr Desmond said, adding, "You sat down with that fucking fat crook and did nothing," in an apparent reference to Lord Black. He also called the Telegraph directors "fucking cunts" and "fucking wankers" among other names in an expletive-ridden tirade.

When Mr Deedes said he didn't think the discussion - a monthly meeting of West Ferry's finance committee - was going to be productive, Mr Desmond paused before launching a fresh assault.

It was then he mimicked the Basil Fawlty walk, only for Mr Deedes to argue that it was unacceptable to refer to people as Nazis.

"Do you want to come outside and sort it out, then?" Mr Desmond sneered, before the Telegraph executives decided to abandon the meeting, scheduled to start at 9am.

At this point the Express directors - managing director Martin Ellice, finance director Rob Sanderson and publishing manager Chris Haslum - were told to sing Deutschland uber Alles.

It is understood the Telegraph will refuse to reconvene the meeting unless there are third parties present.
Isn't it good to be a powerful newspaper owner, and a grown-up?

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. (Via Ogged.)

4/27/2004 09:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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In another development the Americans were watching, reports from inside Najaf said the growing anger of residents there against Mr. Sadr and his men, who have sown a pattern of lawlessness since their uprising in the city began this month, had taken a startling new turn, with a shadowy group killing at least five militiamen on Sunday and Monday.

Those reports, from residents who reached relatives in Baghdad by telephone, said the killers called themselves the Thulfiqar Army, after a two-bladed sword that Shiite tradition says was used by the patron saint of Shia, Imam Ali, the martyred son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. The group distributed leaflets in Najaf threatening to kill members of Mr. Sadr's Mahdi Army unless they fled Najaf immediately, according to accounts.

One Najaf resident said some of Mr. Sadr's militiamen were shedding the black clothing that has been their signature. The same resident said that he knew of two killings of Mahdi Army members on Sunday and that three others had been killed later on Sunday or Monday.
The story is not otherwise precisely crammed with upbeat news, but it would be surprising if it were.

Read The Rest if you want to follow the sit-rep; John Burns is one of the best.

4/27/2004 07:05:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE CLASSICS. Always good to see Gregg Easterbrook coming out firmly against "abstract knowledge", and wasting taxpayer money on it.

Look at that boondogle, the "Manhattan Project"! Did we get any atomic-powered jetpacks out of it?! No!

What a waste! Nothing will come of this "abstract knowledge" crap! Mark Gregg Easterbrook's words.

4/27/2004 06:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WE BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER. An examination of contemporary German anti-Semitism.
Frindte, who has been researching anti-Semitism in Germany for over a decade, estimates that every other German holds some anti-Semitic opinion. According to his findings, just under 50 percent of Germans do not feel they bear any responsibility to Jews due to the Holocaust, while over 60 percent are very critical of Israel. The effect of anti-Semitic views is also evident among this group, Frindte believes.


"The statistic that consistently emerges from the various studies is that the number of Germans who hold anti-Semitic views is around 20 percent," he says. "That was also our starting point, but during the course of the research we found that this is a phenomenon with other faces, and we decided to develop a model that would enable us to measure them as well."


The study was based on a model developed by Frindte that defined four ways of expressing hostility to Jews: demonstratively, latently, by denying the feeling of responsibility for the Jews, and by voicing harsh criticism of Israel.

The study's major finding is a rough estimate of the number of the German population that voices hostility in each of these four ways. The smallest group is one with stated anti-Semitic views - a figure slightly less than 20 percent. The next group, a few percentage points greater, is one with latent anti-Semitic views - those with negative views of Jews who refrain from voicing them in public and in "regular" surveys. "The way we chose to identify those with latent anti-Semitic views was to use indirect questions such as 'Do you relate in public what you think of the Jews'?" Frindte says.

A review of the breakdown of the respondents according to political views indicates that 46 percent of right-wing voters belong to both the first and second group. There was also a direct correlation between the rate of support for both views and the respondent's age.

The two remaining groups turned out to be not only the largest groups, but also the more problematic regarding the methodology. Some 46 percent of the respondents deny German responsibility toward Jews for the Holocaust due to having agreed to statements such as, "As a young man in Germany, I have no responsibility for the Jews" or "Decades after the end of the World War, we don't need the Holocaust. We need to close that chapter of our past."

"There was a big debate in Germany over whether such sentiments represent an expression of anti-Semitism," Frindte says. "We found that there is a strong correlation between those with stated anti-Semitic views and rejection of a sense of responsibility." The percentage of those who deny responsibility among right-wing voters is 84 percent.

However, the group that holds anti-Israeli views is larger and more complex. Frindte did not try to use a rigid criterion to distinguish between "legitimate" criticism of Israel's policy and criticism tarnished by anti-Israeli. Instead, in the first stage he isolated the group with strong criticism and only in the second stage he investigated whether there were any connections between this group and the other three groups. Some 64 percent of those surveyed were found to be anti-Semitic after having agreed to some extent with statements such as, "Israelis are an occupation force and they have no business being in Palestine" (79 percent agreed or totally agreed); "It would be best if the Jews were to leave the Middle East" (38 percent); and "The Israelis treat the Palestinians the way the Nazis treated the Jews" (57 percent).


A review of the breakdown of political views indicates that anti-Israel sentiment is a trait equally present in all of Germany's political streams: 66 percent of left-wing voters, 61 percent of centrist voters, and 62 percent of right-wing voters hold such views. In all age and gender groups, the level of hostility to Israel was uniform - in no group was it less than 60 percent. The percentage of those with such views peaked among those aged 46-76: 55 percent of them were hostile to Israel.

Using Frindte's method, it is possible to define the nature of the connection between anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism: not all anti-Israelis are anti-Semites, but all anti-Semites are anti-Israel.

Among the extreme right, extreme left, and radical Islam, the view that "the situation in Israel is not marked by the behavior of a `normal' democratic state, but stems from the character of the Jews" has become more widespread.

57% believe that Israel is systematically rounding up all Palestinians and killing them in death camps. Israel and Palestine are being made Palestinian-rein.


I find these views bothersome, and the results, dare I say, distressing.

But you'll better understand the survey if you read the rest. The four-type breakdown seems very useful.

(Via Norman Geras.)

Here is an entirely separate, ADL, poll:

According to the survey, those polled in Germany showed the highest rate of anti-Semitism: 36 percent (down from 37 percent in 2002).

Belgium had the second-highest rating with 35 percent deemed to be anti-Semitic according to the poll (down from 39 percent two years ago).

France was third, with 25 percent (down from 35 percent); Britain was at 24 percent (up from 18 percent); Spain was at 24 percent (down from 34 percent); Austria was at 17 percent (down from 19 percent); Switzerland was at 17 percent (down from 22 percent); Denmark was at 16 percent (down from 21 percent), and Italy was at 15 percent (down from 23 percent).

The Netherlands had the lowest rate of anti-Semitism with 9 percent (up from 7 percent in 2002), the poll indicated.

A total of 5,000 people were interviewed by telephone for the survey. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 per cent.
France notably dropped after Chirac's speeches and actions; good for him and the French. Britain has jumped up from 18 to 24 percent; not so good.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 as interested.

4/27/2004 05:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A GOOD CAUSE is what this seems like. (Although the front page of the site seems almost wilfully obscure as to what is actually undertaken.)

You might want to consider a donation. It's also 501(c)3 tax deductible in America.

(Via Andrew Olmsted.)

(While we're on the topic of donations, folks, I'm not kidding about the top of my page; no donations in weeks, and, um, I'm not kidding.)

4/27/2004 04:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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In an op-ed in yesterday's New York Times, evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson noted that NASA, at the behest of its "planetary protection officer," "is starting to prepare a high-security Martian containment facility."
There's a sentence you don't read in a news publication every day.

I leave it to you as to whether you want to know more.

4/27/2004 03:55:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CONGRESS GETS THE BLAME, TOO. Math is hard. So is reading reports.
In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated waging war in Iraq, copies of a 92-page assessment of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction sat in two vaults on Capitol Hill, each protected by armed security guards and available to any member who showed up in person, without staff.

But only a few ever did. No more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page National Intelligence Estimate executive summary, according to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material.


The chairmen and vice chairmen of the committees, for example, had seen and discussed five major "memorandums of notification" describing presidentially directed covert actions against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, according to recent testimony by CIA Director George J. Tenet. Tenet also listed bin Laden as one of the top three threats facing the United States each year since he became the director in 1997, and in classified session the agency described the threat in detail.

Had they demanded to know, the committees would have discovered that before Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI had no real idea of al Qaeda's strength within the United States, according to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and the joint House-Senate report on the Sept. 11 attacks.

Incidentally, I'm wondering what the other two threats were. I'm guessing Iraq and North Korea, but I can imagine other candidates.

Although many have criticized the president for appearing inattentive to reports on al Qaeda before Sept. 11, the Senate intelligence committee, which is given classified daily reports on terrorism and other intelligence, held only one closed-door hearing devoted to al Qaeda and bin Laden in the months before the attacks, according to congressional and administration officials. Some staff members recalled holding a second meeting; others did not.

• Forty-six senators -- none of them members of the intelligence committee -- demanded that the CIA declassify a section of the House-Senate Sept. 11 report that dealt with Saudi Arabia, saying it was crucial to the public's understanding of the terror plot. But most of the 46 senators, including the campaign's leader, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), never read the 28 pages they insisted be released. "I intentionally didn't read it because this administration plays hardball on things like this," said Schumer, who said he talked to senators who had read the 28 pages and told him it contained no real secrets. "Had I read the report and been critical, they would have accused me of leaking it the way they've done with other senators."


[Senator Jay Rockefellar said:] "Everyone in the world wants to come to see you" in your office, he said, and having to go to the secure room is "not easy to do." Members can't take notes, there is no staff to synthesize the material, and "it's extremely dense reading," he said. "It's the Brahms of music."

Hey, they didn't elect me to read stuff, and think about it. That's what staff is for!

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5.

4/27/2004 01:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'D LIKE MY PRIVACY WITH ANCHOVIES, PLEASE. And you can't get pizza delivered in jail.
A sampling in January of just three of Missouri's 114 counties found about $2 million owed to courts by people whose Social Security numbers were known, Coplen said. That finding suggests courts statewide could reap significant revenue once Dallas-based ACS Inc. gets to work this month pursuing people using phone numbers and addresses.

Databases compiled by private companies and government agencies are a key tool for firms such as ACS, Coplen said, and "one of the databases they find to be most helpful are pizza delivery databases."


"The first time your baby sitter orders pizza, that pizza delivery company has your phone number, address and name, and they sell it," he added. "They don't have to tell you about it, either."

Actually, I hate anchovies.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you ever didn't pay a parking ticket.

4/27/2004 01:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PROVERBS OF THE HAYTIANS. Also plundered from the Harper's archive, some extremely excerpted quotes from 1875:
My son, pluck the goose without making it scream.


When you see the wood-louse eat the earthen jar, the calabash can not be expected to resist.


When you see the wood-louse eat the bottles, hang the calabash high.


The cockroach is always wrong when it argues with the chicken.


It is when the wind is blowing that we see the skin of the fowl.


Shoes alone know if the stockings have holes.


The rat eats the cane; the innocent lizard dies for it.


You never eat gumbo with one finger.


The ears never weigh more than the head.

These, and many more, are from a lengthy article that actually explains the meaning of all these, the derivation, and waxes philosophical.

I just hadn't previously run across the jerk fortune cookie, as I think of these. You'll have to read the actual article to find out the meaning of the otherwise enigmatic:

The sitter is mean.
I suddenly understand: the origin of the Jedi lies in voudon. Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 as interested.

4/27/2004 12:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, April 26, 2004
AS YOU KNOW, BOB. From 1856 in the Harper's archive.
January 1, A.D. 3000

Awakened in the year 3000; Paris destroyed, America magnaminous in its victory over China; Transit by cannon; The state of economic competition; The specialization of the human body; The adjustment of the nose; Urban planning; A monkey that can calculate the eclipse; The fortunate elimination of liberty; Dining out on water; Tobacco eliminated; Babies raised in containers; Training in Thibetan; Beef day; Remarkable cutlery; The introduction of a dandy; Painting the clouds; Dowries and courtship; The infinite newspaper; Literary observations; Observing a lady; Bedtime enforced


“Ah!” said he, “I see you are looking at my costume. We declared our independence of tailors long ago.


To return to the subject of the old nations, I can not tell you what became of France. I have a general impression that it blew up in some way or other, in consequence of the discovery of some awfully-explosive substance by the Academy of Science; but you must ask Professor Krakman about it.


“And America—the United States?”

“Oh! I can tell you all about them. They were the original authors of the idea of a universal republic; and in the year 2207, after their General, Mrs. Von Blum, had conquered China, and established a territorial government there, with her daughter as military Governor, the proposal was first made public. I must say the United States acted handsomely. They made the Emperor of China Postmaster General for the Chinese Territory; and they gave the Emperor of Russia, whom their famous General, the Reverend Amos T. Smith, had just made prisoner, a very comfortable place in the Customs.


There was a door in the sphere, and I obeyed. I found myself in company with four or five persons in a hollow chamber. We had no sooner entered than an authoritative voice cried, “All right!” at which the door was closed.

Then I heard the word “Fire!” A tremendous concussion followed, and when I regained my breath the door was opened, and my fellow-passengers were getting out. We had crossed the strait. My companion noticed my astonishment, and kindly explained that the old system of ferry-boats was abandoned long since; that all short distances were now traversed by bomb-carriages fired from huge mortars.


Formerly railroads were built on the surface of the earth, but after a few centuries' trial they were abandoned, as they had multiplied to such an extent that they covered the whole face of the globe. No room was left for agriculture. Then subterranean railroads came into use. They answered pretty well, as they traveled at the rate of five hundred miles an hour, and accidents rarely happened; but steam balloons are fast superseding them.

Read The Rest as interested in this sort of thing. It seems clear that the future will not be a very nice place.

4/26/2004 11:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE VOICE AT THE OTHER END OF THE TIN CAN may not be who you think when you're a spy.
The story has poignant and humorous aspects. Kuklinski maintained written correspondence with his confessor-control agent, code-named Daniel. "I am grateful to you for your friendship," Kuklinski wrote, "which you invariably sustain, caring about and doing everything for my security."

Although Daniel eventually was reassigned to Vienna, the CIA decided to continue the correspondence in his name. So when Daniel wrote that "our friendship cannot be terminated and will endure and grow in strength forever," the author was actually a harried committee of CIA operatives working overtime to strike a tone that would sound just like Kuklinski's warm-bodied confidante.
Kuklinski was apparently the US's highest ranked spy in Poland during the Seventies and Eighties.

There are some other interesting reviews of other nonfiction works on espionage and military history in Sunday's WashPo Book World.

Read The Rest on this one: 2.5 out of 5, depending on interest. I'd definitely like to read James Lilley and Jeffrey Lilley's book.

4/26/2004 11:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WE CAN BUT HOPE. It's the long-sought First Sign. (This won't help much, but little will.)

4/26/2004 10:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE JORDANIAN TERROR PLOT looks possibly rather serious, as presented on Nightline tonight. (Their site presently has this placeholder story from AP.)

Certainly none of the suspects giving testimony looked at all tortured or mistreated or other than calm and detailed.

On the other hand, I have an inherent suspicion of confessions given under authoritarian regimes that engage in torture. Also on the negative side:

Airing suspects' confessions before their trial is unusual in Jordan. In 1998, six men accused of affiliation with a militant group confessed on television to planting a bomb that exploded outside an Amman hotel. Five years later, a court found them innocent.
Back on the first hand, Nightline seems to take the story quite seriously, and if it's true, it would have been terrible indeed, a major chemical attack possibly killing thousands of people; twenty tons of chemicals is a lot.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 and skeptically watch developments.

4/26/2004 09:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Best of all, it's a chance to say "yttrium."

Read The Rest Scale: it's a progress report, not a final result, so 3 out of 5.

4/26/2004 09:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BE CAREFUL WHAT WEB PAGES YOU HELP, and, well, about any help you give someone.

I can't possibly say, based upon a single article, but this prosecution is certainly described in a way that suggests it's very dubious, and dangerous.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

4/26/2004 08:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BBC UNDERSTATEMENT. This is all very cool and well:
Asian countries have signed a landmark treaty to create a highway that will connect Asia with Europe, like the ancient Silk Road trading route.

The treaty was signed by 23 nations at a UN meeting and outlines a network that will link the continents in some 140,000 km (87,000 miles) of roads.


Reports say the main route is expected to start in Tokyo and terminate in Istanbul - passing though North and South Korea, China and countries in South-East, Central and South Asia.

But here's the line I liked:
The UN first proposed the plan in 1959, but it was delayed during the Cold War.
It's not overtly stated in this article, but it seems to imply a bridge (or tunnel?) from Japan to Korea. I wonder.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5, as interested. (Via a comment on Obsidian Wings.)

4/26/2004 07:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE RELIGIOUS POLICEMAN truly is an extraordinary Saudi blog. Highly well-written and informative and funny.

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5. (Via Roger Simon.)

4/26/2004 04:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HE'S ANTI-ISRAEL, YOU SEE. Because you can never be too "pro-Israel."
“Sharon is not only an enemy, he is the most dangerous enemy of Israel”, wrote Likud activist, Ohad Kamin in a fiery article against PM Sharon on the “Jewish Leadership” Website and went on to compare the PM to a Nazi.

In the article Kamin, a right wing journalist and columnist who also writes for Makor Rishon and Arutz Sheva, also issued threats and incitement against Sharon.

Kamin writes, “What is the meaning of the statement that Sharon is our enemy? That negotiating with him, as with any true enemy, only increases his power base, the threat he poses and the sensation surrounding him”.

“The common thread of our enemies is that only force speaks to them. From their point of view- and this includes Sharon- whatever is said by an armed man is more just than what is said by an unarmed man. For the modern Barbarian (and Sharon is a prime example) power is justice”.

This is how Yitzhak "break their bones" Rabin was killed.

It's not just Palestinians who get to be crazy extremists.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

4/26/2004 03:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THEY SAVED FDR'S BRAIN. Politics and us.
The researchers do not claim to have figured out either party's brain yet, since they have not finished this experiment. But they have already noticed intriguing patterns in how Democrats and Republicans look at candidates. They have tested 11 subjects and say they need to test twice that many to confirm the trend.


The researchers had already zeroed in on those images and their effect among Democrats on the part of the brain that responds to threats and danger, the amygdala. Mr. Graham, like other Democrats tested so far, reacted to the Sept. 11 images with noticeably more activity in the amygdala than did the Republicans, said the lead researcher, Marco Iacoboni, an associate professor at the U.C.L.A. Neuropsychiatric Institute who directs a laboratory at the Ahmanson Lovelace Brain Mapping Center there.

"The first interpretation that occurred to me," Professor Iacoboni said, "is that the Democrats see the 9/11 issue as a good way for Bush to get re-elected, and they experience that as a threat."

But then the researchers noted that same spike in amygdala activity when the Democrats watched the nuclear explosion in the "Daisy" spot, which promoted a Democrat.

Mr. Freedman suggested another interpretation based on his political experience: the theory that Democrats are generally more alarmed by any use of force than Republicans are. For now, Professor Iacoboni leans toward this second interpretation, though he is withholding judgment until the experiment is over.


One of the most striking results so far is the way subjects react to candidates after seeing a campaign commercial. At the start of the session, when they look at photographs of Mr. Bush, Mr. Kerry and Ralph Nader, subjects from both parties tend to show emotional reactions to all the candidates, indicated in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with reflexive reactions.

But then, after the Bush campaign commercial is shown, the subjects respond in a partisan fashion when the photographs are shown again. They still respond emotionally to the candidate of their party, but when they see the other party's candidate, there is more activity in the rational part of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. "It seems as if they're really identifying with their own candidate, whereas when they see the opponent, they're using their rational apparatus to argue against him," Professor Iacoboni said.

I'm no scientist, but I kinda think they'll need a heck of a lot more datapoints than 22 people before I'll buy any results as even suggestive, let alone start buying theories for different political MRI results. But you can count on my continued interest.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.25 out of 5 as interested. (Pickup via e-mail from Elton Beard.)

4/26/2004 03:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JUDGE NOT. It's very difficult for me, however, to find any respect whatsoever for Randall Terry.
Randall, though, was sweetly oblivious. He played a mean guitar and piano, and smoked bodacious amounts of herb. He was going to be a rock-and-roll star. A bright kid, he dropped out of high school a few months short of graduation, stuck out a thumb and disappeared into the West.

A few months and boatloads of dope and magic mushrooms later, he washed ashore in Galveston, Tex. He had his epiphany in a diner and that was that. Randall Terry never had much trouble divining God's will after that -- the transmissions were crystal clear.

Terry returned to Rochester and began talking of God and hellfire, and selling used cars. Once he fell to his knees by the side of a highway and beseeched the Lord to forgive his sins. He enrolled in a Bible school, where he met his wife, Cindy. They talked of serving as missionaries in Central America. But "God interrupted" and delivered unto Terry a vision of a battle plan to fight abortion.

Terry read civil rights tracts, including Coretta Scott King's memoir, and slowly hatched a plan. In 1986 he founded Operation Rescue. This would become a significant moment in the history of the Christian right, the first time an evangelical general would wield the tools of civil disobedience in the service of the antiabortion cause.

In 1988, Terry and his legions started standing in front of local abortion clinics, screaming and pleading with pregnant women to turn away. They tossed their bodies against car doors to keep abortion patients from getting out. They waved crucifixes and screamed "Mommy, Mommy" at the women. When Terry commanded, hundreds went jellyfish-limp and blockaded the "death clinics."

In 1989, a "Holy Week of Rescue" shut down a family planning clinic in Los Angeles. More than 40,000 people were arrested in these demonstrations over four years. Subtlety wasn't Terry's thing -- he described Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, as a "whore" and an "adulteress" and arranged to have a dead fetus presented to Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. (He also opposed birth control and divorce -- "Families," he wrote in his 1995 book "The Judgment of God," "are destroyed as a father vents his mid life crisis by abandoning his wife for a 'younger, prettier model.' ")


In 1987, Randall and Cindy agreed to take in Tila and her older brother, Jamiel, then 8, and his older sister, Ebony, as foster children. In 1994, they formally adopted Tila and Jamiel. The children are biracial. Their biological mother, who was white, has since died.

Randall circulated a résumé at the time that described his family. "Children: One by birth and three black foster children."

I have to wonder what's in a man's mind to find it necessary to identify them by melanin level.

It's hard to know after talking with Jamiel and his sisters how much of their narrative is reality and how much desire. They insist their childhood was happy even as they say their parents' unyielding moral code allowed for few adolescent stumbles. They were to study the Bible and live its word. They were schooled at home and in fundamentalist schools. R-rated movies were out. So was divorce and any talk of sexuality.


When his parents divorced, Randall refused to let his children speak with their grandfather for three years.

A few years back, Randall Terry divorced his wife, Cindy -- who once said her husband was touched by the divine -- and married a much younger woman. (Terry's ex barely speaks to him anymore.) Their four children say they still love their father but the relationship has frayed. Terry recently barred one of his adopted teenage daughters from his house after she got pregnant out of wedlock for the second time. Another adopted daughter also became pregnant as a teenager and later converted to Islam, a religion Terry has described as composed of "murderers" and "terrorists." (The couple's lone biological child, a daughter, is in college.)
Randall Terry recently had separated from Cindy and taken up with a young former housekeeper and aide. He was shunned by many friends and activists in the antiabortion movement.


"My father kept saying, 'It's no one's business that I got divorced,' " Jamiel recalls. "I'd tell him: 'Dad, you sent out 100,000 Christmas cards with pictures of our perfect Christian family. You led Christian workshops on being a good husband. That's why people are disappointed.' "


Now Randall plunged into his second act, as an anti-gay-rights crusader, heading an organization called Loyal Opposition.

"The Bible," Randall notes, "doesn't condemn divorce, but it does condemn homosexuality."

He opened an office in Montpelier, within sight of Vermont's gold-domed Capitol building. One day he walked outside the capitol during a legislative vote and shook his head as though to dislodge images too horrible for words.

"It's hideous in there, man," he told reporters. "It's unbelievable. It's demonic."


So the father talks about the son whom he raised to adulthood. In a long phone conversation, Randall Terry says his son is lost, a drug user and a liar who has written bad checks. Randall says Out magazine paid Jamiel $5,000 to write the article and become its "homosexual poster boy." Randall says the magazine's editors "put words in my son's mouth."


Randall exhales into the phone, disgusted. "Dealing with Jamiel is like dealing with his biological mother -- you never know when he's playing you," he says. "I will tell you for sure: Jamiel's mother was a prostitute."

The loving father, the rescuer of unborn children, the respecter of human life, the crusader against divorce, the man who knows best, the man who is most moral, and fit to judge: Randall Terry.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

4/26/2004 02:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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