Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Contradictions of "Benevolent" Capitalists

The Gates Foundation is an illuminating case in point:
Justice Eta, 14 months old, held out his tiny thumb.

An ink spot certified that he had been immunized against polio and measles, thanks to a vaccination drive supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But polio is not the only threat Justice faces. Almost since birth, he has had respiratory trouble. His neighbors call it "the cough." People blame fumes and soot spewing from flames that tower 300 feet into the air over a nearby oil plant. It is owned by the Italian petroleum giant Eni, whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The oil plants in the region surrounding Ebocha find it cheaper to burn nearly 1 billion cubic feet of gas each day and contribute to global warming than to sell it. They deny the flaring causes sickness. Under pressure from activists, however, Nigeria's high court set a deadline to end flaring by May 2007. The gases would be injected back underground, or trucked and piped out for sale. But authorities expect the flares to burn for years beyond the deadline.

The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.

Oil workers, for example, and soldiers protecting them are a magnet for prostitution, contributing to a surge in HIV and teenage pregnancy, both targets in the Gates Foundation's efforts to ease the ills of society, especially among the poor. Oil bore holes fill with stagnant water, which is ideal for mosquitoes that spread malaria, one of the diseases the foundation is fighting.

Investigators for Dr. Nonyenim Solomon Enyidah, health commissioner for Rivers State, where Ebocha is located, cite an oil spill clogging rivers as a cause of cholera, another scourge the foundation is battling. The rivers, Enyidah said, "became breeding grounds for all kinds of waterborne diseases."


Whinge and Surge

Bush is, indeed, an idiot:
President Bush is to announce this week that up to 30,000 extra troops will be thrown into the battle for Baghdad. They will be part of a crackdown against insurgents and the largely Shia death squads who have brought Iraq to the brink of civil war.

The final shape of Bush's new strategy began to emerge yesterday in a series of leaks and statements in Washington and Baghdad ahead of his announcement, expected on Tuesday.


Another Rough Year Begins in New Orleans


With at least eight slayings in the city in the first week of the new year, officials are considering a curfew to help stem the violence, the police superintendent said Saturday.


Eye Candy

I just ran across this chalk art by Julian Beever over at Xinhua, and felt I had to share.


College Students Everywhere Mourn

The father of Ramen has died:

Momofuku Ando, the founder-chairman of Nissin Food Products Co, who was widely known as the inventor of instant noodles, died of a heart failure this evening at a hospital in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, his family said. He was 96.

Born on March 5, 1910 in Taiwan, Ando initially ran clothing companies in Taipei and Osaka while he was a student at Ritsumeikan University. In 1948, he founded the precursor of Nissin, before introducing Chicken Ramen, the world's first instant noodle product, in 1958.

Ando was inspired to develop the instant noodle after coming upon a long line of people on a cold night shortly after World War II waiting to buy freshly made ramen at a black market food stall, according to Nissin. The experience convinced him that "Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat," it said.

In 1971, Nissin introduced the Cup Noodle, instant noodles in a waterproof styrofoam container that could be used to cook the noodles, ahead of his competitors.

Dubbed the Ramen King, Ando is credited with expanding Nissin into the No.1 company in the industry and was well-known for his dedication to his job.

"I believe generation after generation will talk about Chicken Ramen. I don't think there will ever be an instant noodle product that beats the taste of Chicken Ramen," Kizugawa said.


"Swift" "Justice"

It only took them five years (and counting):

The US military expects to file revised charges against a group of Guantanamo Bay prisoners by February and present the first evidence against them at trials in the US summer, the tribunal's chief prosecutor said.

Hundreds of foreign captives have been held as suspected terrorists without trial and mostly without charges since the prison at a US Naval base in Cuba opened nearly five years ago in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

The US Office of Military Commissions confirmed this week that Australian detainee David Hicks would likely be in the first group of inmates charged.

Adelaide-born Hicks was captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks and was among the first group of Guantanamo inmates charged in 2003.

He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, but the charges were dropped after the US Supreme Court ruled last year the then military commission system was illegal.

Fresh charges against the 31-year-old Muslim convert were expected to be laid some time after January 15.

Air Force Colonel Moe Davis, the chief prosecutor, said in a telephone interview that pretrial hearings could resume in March, but he added: "I don't see us getting to trial on the merits until some time this summer."

He cautioned that such a timetable was open to change: "All that is subject to federal court intervention and a hundred other things could bring that to a grinding halt."


F*** Bush

Oh, sure. Now, all of a sudden, he wants a balanced budget?

What a vile, petty, venal little man we have in charge:

President Bush, seeking the upper hand in his dealings with the Democrats now running Congress, asked lawmakers on Saturday to join him in balancing the budget within five years and cut thousands of pet projects from future spending bills.

"I'm confident that we can find common ground," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "By holding the line on spending and continuing our pro-growth policies, we can balance the budget and address the most urgent needs of our nation."


Ivins Is Kicking Some Ass

You gotta love her:

The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck -- so it's up to us. You and me, Bubba.

I don't know why Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it's time we found out. The fact is WE have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped NOW.

This war is being prosecuted in our names, with our money, with our blood, against our will. Polls consistently show that less than 30 percent of the people want to maintain current troop levels. It is obscene and wrong for the president to go against the people in this fashion. And it's doubly wrong for him to send 20,0000 more soldiers into this hellhole, as he reportedly will announce next week.

What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn't supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny? Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?

It's a monstrous idea to put people in prison and keep them there. Since 1215, civil authorities have been obligated to tell people with what they are charged if they're arrested. This administration has done away with rights first enshrined in the Magna Carta nearly 800 years ago, and we've let them do it.

This will be a regular feature of mine, like an old-fashioned newspaper campaign. Every column, I'll write about this war until we find some way to end it. STOP IT NOW. BAM! Every day, we will review some factor we should have gotten right.


The U.S. Government Is Not Trust-Worthy

At long last, the lawsuit is to begin:

The head of the Interior Department will be forced in 2007 to balance two major class-action lawsuits -- one involving billions of dollars owed to a half-million individual American Indian landowners, and now a trust-fund lawsuit that includes more than 250 tribes.

The Native American Rights Fund, a nonprofit law firm in Boulder, Colo., announced Wednesday the latest class-action filing in federal district court in Washington, D.C. The tribal trust-fund suit seeks full and complete accountings from the Interior Department on tribal accounts worth an estimated $200 billion.

For tribes, Nez Perce vs. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is nearly two centuries overdue.

"This lawsuit is a reflection of a huge historical problem with the federal government's mismanagement of tribal trust accounts," said Nez Perce Tribal Chairwoman Rebecca Miles. "We have tried to work with the agencies, and we have tried to work with Congress. Our hope now is with the courts. We are pleased to step forward with NARF in leading this fight for Indian justice."


Friday, January 05, 2007

Undead Surge

Bush's unholy plan becomes clear:
The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.


The Catholic Church Loves Oscar Wilde

Just... odd
Even though it had previously criticized writer Oscar Wilde for his homosexuality, the Vatican honored the Irish poet in a recent literary collection.

Several aphorisms from the iconic playwright and poet -- who was once sent to prison for gross indecency over an openly gay relationship -- were featured in a collection from one of the Pope's closest aides, The Times of London reported.

In contradiction of the Vatican's earlier stance toward Wilde, Father Leonardo Sapienza added such famed Wilde sayings as "The only way to get rid of a temptation is yield to it" to his collection of quotes for Christians -- "Provocations: Aphorisms for an Anti-conformist Christianity."


Paranoia in Power

We didn't never talk to no one!

The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.

The Bush administration didn't reveal the existence of the memorandum of understanding until last fall. The White House is using it to deal with a legal problem on a separate front, a ruling by a federal judge ordering the production of Secret Service logs identifying visitors to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.


It's Snuggling Time!!

Gramsci was just a little happy to have us back.

"What? Write your dissertation? You silly, you should be petting me!!"


It's Not the Size of the Surge...

Okay, so the idiotic neocon idea is that we need to "surge" in order to secure victory in Iraq. A stupid and wrong notion, but one that Bush is embracing.


A "mini-surge"? What on earth is that supposed to accomplish?
President Bush plans to order extra U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a new push to secure Baghdad, but in smaller numbers than previously reported, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
"Instead of a surge, it is a bump," said a State Department official. He spoke on condition of anonymity, because Bush hasn't yet unveiled details of what the White House is calling a "new way forward" in Iraq.


Our President, the Freak

What is he on?

President Bush, who raised eyebrows with an impromptu neck massage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, promised her on Thursday not to repeat it.

"No back rubs," he told her with a smile at the end of a joint news conference after White House talks. The German chancellor smiled sheepishly in response.

Merkel had raised her shoulders in surprise last July at a Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg when Bush, in a gesture of friendliness, approached her from behind and put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Catholicism: It Ain't All About Lust!

Also, avarice:
A new study reveals that a vast majority of responding Catholic dioceses uncovered financial fraud in their churches, The New York Times will report tomorrow.

"A survey by researchers at Villanova University has found that 85 percent of Roman Catholic dioceses that responded had discovered embezzlement of church money in the last five years," write Laurie Goodstein and Stephanie Strom, "with 11 percent reporting that more than $500,000 had been stolen."



A young boy who tried to copy hanging scenes from the execution video of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain died in central Pakistan, police said yesterday.

Mubashar Ali, 9, hanged himself, while re-enacting Hussain's hanging with the help of elder sister, 10, after tying a rope to a ceiling fan and his neck in his home in Rahim Yar Khan district on Sunday, a local police official said.
And here:
Police and family members said a 10-year-old boy who died by hanging himself from a bunk bed was apparently mimicking the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Sergio Pelico was found dead Sunday in his apartment bedroom in the Houston-area city of Webster, said Webster police Lt. Tom Claunch. Pelico's mother told police he had previously watched a news report on Saddam's death.

"It appears to be accidental," Claunch said. "Our gut reaction is that he was experimenting."


Another Great Swearing In

As Ellison makes use of Jefferson's Quran, Patrick makes a magnificent choice for his own inauguration:

Deval Patrick, the second black in U.S. history to be elected governor, was sworn in Thursday, taking the oath of office with his hand on a Bible that was given to John Quincy Adams by slaves he helped free in the Amistad affair.

“I am descended from people once forbidden their most basic and fundamental freedoms, a people desperate for hope and willing to fight for it – and so are you,” the 50-year-old Democrat said from the Statehouse steps to a crowd of thousands that stretched into Boston Common.


Intellectual Philanthropy

By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The cost? It's all free of charge.

The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 and now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide, aims to disperse knowledge far beyond the ivy-clad walls of elite campuses to anyone who has an Internet connection and a desire to learn.

Intended as an act of "intellectual philanthropy," OpenCourseWare (OCW) provides free access to course materials such as syllabi, video or audio lectures, notes, homework assignments, illustrations, and so on. So far, by giving away their content, the universities aren't discouraging students from enrolling as students. Instead, the online materials appear to be only whetting appetites for more.

"We believe strongly that education can be best advanced when knowledge is shared openly and freely," says Anne Margulies, executive director of the OCW program at MIT. "MIT is using the power of the Internet to give away all of the educational materials created here."


First Officer to Opt Out

Watada is right, and he's not running. He's standing his ground, on base, and declaring this war illegal:

First Lt. Ehren Watada, a 28-year-old Hawaii native, is the first commissioned officer in the U.S. to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq.

He announced last June his decision not to deploy on the grounds the war is illegal.

Lt. Watada was based at Fort Lewis, Washington, with the Army's 3rd (Stryker) Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He has remained on base, thus avoiding charges of desertion.

He does, however, face one count of "missing troop movement" and four counts of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.


All Your Sovereignty Are Belong to Us

American arrogance lives on:
The United States has a right to pursue Somalia's Islamists, which it believes have ties to international terror networks, the US embassy in Kenya said Thursday. On Wednesday, the US state department said the country has forces off the coast of Somalia and is working with other countries in the region to ensure that Islamists linked to terrorism are not able to flee the country.

"Counterterrorism is one of the US' goals in Somalia. We feel we have a right to pursue al-Qaeda terrorists wherever they are," said Robert Kerr, a counsellor for public affairs at the US embassy in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.


Let the Martyrdom Begin

But I thought Bush had brought Libya to heel!


Libya is reportedly to build a statue showing Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader executed in Baghdad on Saturday, on a gallows.


Feel Secure Yet?

Another grand success
by the Bush administration:
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on Thursday announced the dismissal of the head of the country's nuclear weapons program because of security breakdowns at weapons facilities including the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico.

Linton Brooks is to submit his resignation as chief of the National Nuclear Security Administration this month, the department said.


Peeping George

Let's face it, our president is a creepy voyeur.

How do feel about the fact that this man

has gone well out of his way to secure his right to read your mail?
President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush's move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the President's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In Your Bigoted Face, Goode

This could not have been more beautifully orchestrated. Well done, Ellison:

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, will use a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson during his ceremonial swearing-in on Thursday.

Ellison, a Democrat, contacted the Library of Congress about the Koran last month, said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the library.

Dimunation will walk the Koran across the street to the Capitol building for the swearing-in, and then walk it back to the library.

The Koran, an English translation of the Arabic, was published in 1764 in London, a later printing of one originally published in 1734.

"This is considered the text that shaped Europe's understanding of the Koran," Dimunation said.

It was acquired in 1815 as part of a 6,400-volume collection that Jefferson, the third U.S. president, sold to replace the congressional library that had been burned by British troops the year before, in the War of 1812.

Ellison was en route to Washington and unavailable for comment Wednesday, but his spokesman, Rick Jauert, said that the Ellison "wants this to be a special day, and using Thomas Jefferson's Koran makes it even more special."


Robertson: Listen to Me!

Another desperate whackjob evangelist cries out for attention. Pathetic, really:
According to evangelist Pat Robertson, the year 2007 will contain "serious" terror attacks and "mass killings of possibly millions of people."

"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," Robertson said during his show The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."


Berlin's Mayor: Gay, Not Flaming

Sorry, I couldn't resist:
Berlin's openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is being hailed a hero for sounding the alert and helping evacuate his apartment building when fire broke out on New Year's Eve.

Wowereit and his partner Joern Kubicki where celebrating the New Year when when Kubicki spotted smoke on the roof of the building and called the fire department.

The couple then raced door to door throughout the building warning neighbors of the danger.


As firefighters battled the flames the residents took shelter in a local restaurant where Wowereit bought champagne for them. They were allowed to return home at about 3 a.m.

Wowereit is frequently mentioned as presidential material. He and his Social Democrats won 31.4 percent of the Berlin municipal vote in September ensuring the party will remain in control. His easy victory for re-election came as the party nationally falls into decline.

Almost an unknown when he was selected by the party to fill the mayoralty in 2001 he captured the hearts of Berliners when he came out and declared at a party convention that year "I am gay, and that's a good thing."

I invite you to imagine what the current President of the United States might have done in the same situation...


And Yet Another Voice of Reason

Immediately following Shalikashvili's statement comes this:
Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen is the latest high profile person to call for an end to the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

"It’s time to start thinking about it and starting to discuss it," Cohen told CNN.

Tuesday, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili called for the ban to be repealed. (story)

“The dominos propping up ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are falling, and they are falling quickly,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“It is clear that prominent military leaders question the wisdom of maintaining the ban. As three service members continue to lose their jobs every day, our armed forces are experiencing a significant talent drain. Those who know our military best now realize that the ban is not only unjust, but also unproductive.”.



Sadly, I find his warnings all too credible. (However, I must take issue with the notion that a "major disaster" is, at this point, still only an "eventuality.")

Frustrated with people and politicians who refuse to listen or learn, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield ends his 34-year government career today in search of a new platform for getting out his unwelcome message: Hurricane Katrina was nothing compared with the big one yet to come.

Mayfield, 58, leaves his high-profile job with the National Weather Service more convinced than ever that U.S. residents of the Southeast are risking unprecedented tragedy by continuing to build vulnerable homes in the tropical storm zone and failing to plan escape routes.

He pointed to southern Florida's 7 million coastal residents.

"We're eventually going to get a strong enough storm in a densely populated area to have a major disaster," he said. "I know people don't want to hear this, and I'm generally a very positive person, but we're setting ourselves up for this major disaster."


Oh, Let It Be True

O'Reilly on Colbert!? I can't imagine what might happen...
The portrait of Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly is gracing the halls of the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) no more.

The Colbert Report has temporarily reclaimed the picture—presented to the school by the show’s host Stephen Colbert early last month—“in anticipation of an expected appearance by Bill O’Reilly on the Colbert Report in the near future,” according to Institute of Politics (IOP) Director of Communications Esten Perez.

In the segment “Stephen goes to Harvard,” aired on Comedy Central on Dec. 20, Stephen Colbert presented the portrait as a gift to IOP Director Jeanne Shaheen.

“There’s one bright spot in the Kennedy School of Government and that’s that Bill O’Reilly got a Masters degree here,” he said in the clip, later taking down one of the portraits of John F. Kennedy to replace it with O’Reilly’s.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another Voice of Reason

Attention, active-duty generals: Follow his lead, now:
General John Shalikashvili, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 through 1997, has joined the call for repeal of "Don't Ask. Don't Tell", the prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.


Another Grand Opportunity for the Dems to Blow It

I really hope they don't, but I'm not holding my breath:
Two of the Democrats' top goals — a higher minimum wage and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research — enjoy broad public support as the party takes control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years.

An overwhelming majority also supports making it easier for people to buy prescription drugs from other countries.


Go Edwards!

I agree completely:
Democratic presidential contender John Edwards says it is more important to invest in universal health care and lifting people out of poverty than to reduce the budget deficit.

The 2004 vice presidential nominee said in an interview broadcast Sunday said "there is a tension" between the two directions, but he has made his choice.

"If I were choosing now between which is more important, I think the investments are more important," he said on ABC's "This Week."


Kick 'Em to the Curb

Well done, Dems:

As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.

House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans.

But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.


Richard Dawkins: BBC's Top Public Intellectual

The rabid atheist wins!

Author Richard Dawkins has just topped Prospect Magazine's poll for Britain's top 100 public intellectuals.

The Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science gained almost double the votes of his nearest rival.


Big Win for Aboriginal Australians

Very good:
An Aboriginal tribe in Australia has won joint control of World Heritage-listed rainforests in a major land rights claim.

The deal covers 6,000 sq km (2,300 sq miles) in New South Wales state.

Tribal chiefs hope it will provide jobs and enable indigenous communities to become less dependent on welfare.

The agreement between the Githabul people and New South Wales state government follows a decade of talks and legal argument.

This is a fantastic victory for the Githabul tribe. Their land rights claim is one of the country's biggest and covers a vast area of national parks and forests.

It includes rugged mountain peaks said to be home to powerful ancestral spirits.


Playing to the Masses

I have mixed feelings about this. The librarian's role in a complex and often contradictory one, serving both the abstract thing called "human knowledge" and the empirically measurable one called "patron use."

It's always a balancing act, and I personally enjoy classics and pulp novels...

You can't find "Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings" at the Pohick Regional Library anymore. Or "The Education of Henry Adams" at Sherwood Regional. Want Emily Dickinson's "Final Harvest"? Don't look to the Kingstowne branch.

It's not that the books are checked out. They're just gone. No one was reading them, so librarians took them off the shelves and dumped them.

Along with those classics, thousands of novels and nonfiction works have been eliminated from the Fairfax County collection after a new computer software program showed that no one had checked them out in at least 24 months.

Public libraries have always weeded out old or unpopular books to make way for newer titles. But the region's largest library system is taking turnover to a new level.

Like Borders and Barnes & Noble, Fairfax is responding aggressively to market preferences, calculating the system's return on its investment by each foot of space on the library shelves -- and figuring out which products will generate the biggest buzz. So books that people actually want are easy to find, but many books that no one is reading are gone -- even if they are classics.

Let's just hope Virginia is beefing up its InterLibrary Loan system at the same time...


Monday, January 01, 2007

Welsh Jimi

How very odd
He famously played his own screeching version of the Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock but it has emerged that Jimi Hendrix may also have had a bash at another national anthem: the Welsh one.

The version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Land of My Fathers, was discovered on the end of a dusty eight-track tape which had languished for years in a forgotten tea chest in a north London recording studio.

Experts believe the ear-rattling rendition may be Hendrix as the track appears on the end of a recording by a group which features a friend of his. He is believed to have been in London when the tape was made. And it does sound rather like him.


Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Lynching

Riverbendblog spells it out:
It's official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths. This really is a new low. It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.

This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.

America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush's biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.
One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn't even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America's biggest accomplishment in Iraq. So who's next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who've died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?

2006 has definitely been representative of Maliki and his government- killings like never before and a lynching to end it properly. Death and destruction everywhere. I'm so tired of all of this…


No, He Didn't

If you believe that Bush mourned anything, you're downright delusional:
President Bush mourned the death of the 3,000th U.S. soldier in Iraq, the White House said on Sunday, but cautioned war-weary Americans that no quick end was in sight to the conflict.


The International Lives!

This news comes as a profound and happy surprise to me:
British, American and German unions are to forge a pact to challenge the power of global capitalism in a move towards creating an international union with more than 6 million members.

Amicus, the UK's largest private sector union, has signed agreements with the German engineering union IG-Metall and two of the largest labour organisations in the US, the United Steelworkers and the International Association of Machinists, to prevent companies playing off their workforces in different countries against each other.

The move, to be announced this week, is seen by union leaders as the first step towards creating a single union that can present a united front to multinational companies.

Just wow.


Something Bush Is Bound to Ignore

If it ain't in the Middle East, who cares, right?
China warned Friday that the military landscape in northeast Asia is getting "more complicated and serious" because of North Korea's nuclear weapons program and tighter defense cooperation between Japan and the United States.

The Chinese views on regional security, articulated in a government white paper on national defense, provided a rare glimpse into the strategic assessments that underlie decisions and priorities of the secretive Chinese military and the Communist Party's policymaking Central Military Commission.


China's announced military budget has risen about 10 percent a year recently, reaching $35.4 billion in 2006, and Pentagon specialists estimate that also counting equipment expenditures would more than double it.


The paper said China's military improvements are part of the country's overall modernization and economic expansion. The effort will continue apace, it added, seeking to "lay a solid foundation" by 2010, make "major progress" by 2020 and "reach the strategic goal of building informationized armed forces and being capable of winning informationized wars by the mid-21st century."


Texans: Classy As Ever

Oh, lordy:

A man unhappy with an Islamic association's plans to build a mosque next to his property has staged pig races as a protest during afternoon prayers.

Craig Baker, 46, sold merchandise and grilled sausages Friday for about 100 people who showed up in heavy rain. He insisted he wasn't trying to offend anyone with the pigs, which are forbidden from the Muslim diet.

"I am just defending my rights and my property," Baker said. "They totally disrespected me and my family."

Muslims don't hate pigs, they just don't eat them, said engineer Kamel Fotouh, president of the 500-member Katy Islamic Association in this Houston suburb.

"I don't care if he races, roasts or slaughters pigs," said Yousef Allam, a spokesman for the group.


Earlier this month, Baker conceded that the Muslims probably aren't after his land, but he said he had to go through with the pig races because "I would be like a total idiot if I didn't. I'd be the laughingstock now because I've gone too far."


Resident Susan Canavespe said the pig racing wasn't mean-spirited -- "It's just Texas-spirited."


Happy New Year in Afghanistan

Getting better all the time:
As of Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006, at least 296 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. The Defense Department last updated its figures on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2006.


Happy New Year in Iraq

Getting better all the time:

The military reported the deaths of six more American troops, making December the deadliest month this year for U.S. forces in Iraq. At least 2,998 members of the U.S. military have been killed since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

In Baghdad, 12 bodies bearing signs of torture were also found in various parts of the city, police said.

Two car bombs detonated one after another in a religiously mixed neighborhood of northwest Baghdad, killing 37 civilians and wounding 76, police said.

Another 31 people died and 58 were injured when a bomb planted on a minibus exploded in a fish market in a mostly Shiite town south of Baghdad, said Issa Mohammed, director of the morgue in the neighboring town of Najaf.

The man blamed for parking the vehicle in Kufa, about 100 miles south of the Iraqi capital, was cornered and killed by a mob as he walked away from the explosion, police and witnesses said.