The NYT reviews Noam Chomsky's new book, Failed State. Discussing the foreign interests that the US has pursued, the review states:
"These are not, Chomsky insists, the interests of the American people, but of the corporate elite that dominates the country and its policy making. For, he says, the United States is not a democracy, if that word is reserved for a society where the people's will is done.
Take health care. Chomsky has the data to show that the American system is economically inefficient, much costlier than more socialized models abroad and deeply unpopular with a majority of Americans, who are ready to pay for increased government intervention even if that means higher taxes. That democratic majority remains unheard, however, because "the pharmaceutical and financial industries and other private powers are strongly opposed." That is why the mainstream news media, a perennial Chomsky target, say publicly funded health care lacks political support: the majority might back it, but not the people who count.
Chomsky employs the same linguistic deconstruction for media definitions of prosperity. The experts may say the economy is healthy, as it is for the top 1 percent, whose wealth rose by 42 percent from 1983 to 1998. But it is not healthy for the majority, whose wages have stagnated or declined in real terms, nor for those going hungry in America because they cannot afford to buy food.
Much of this will be familiar to veteran Chomsky readers, but in this book he supplies a new twist. What, he asks, is a failed state? It is one that fails "to provide security for the population, to guarantee rights at home or abroad, or to maintain functioning (not merely formal) democratic institutions." On that definition, Chomsky argues, the United States is the world's biggest failed state. This sounds like a hyperbolic charge, ludicrously overblown — but he goes far toward substantiating it. He is especially strong on pointing up Washington's woeful efforts to protect Americans from terror attacks, in one instance lavishing more resources on the imaginary threat from Cuba than on the all-too-real menace of Al Qaeda."
The review concludes that, "It's hard to imagine any American reading this book and not seeing his country in a new, and deeply troubling, light."
The Adriatic is among the worst affected coastal areas Human activity has had a devastating effect on coasts since Roman times, research suggests. More than 90% of coastal life has declined and there is widespread degradation of water quality.
Scientists studied 12 estuarine and coastal regions in Europe, North America and Australia from the onset of human settlement until today.
Their findings, reported in Science, suggest that 20th Century conservation efforts have had only limited success.
A team from nine research centres in the US, Canada, Australia and Panama used archaeological, historical and ecological records to study the human footprint on coasts and estuaries over the past 2,500 years.
The group found that depletion of natural resources began during Roman times, then accelerated in Medieval times and in the wake of European settlement in North America and Australia.
Many of the biggest declines were seen from 1900 to 1950 and 1950 to 2000 as populations grew and industry boomed.
REGIONS STUDIED W Baltic Sea Wadden Sea N Adriatic Sea Southern Gulf St Lawrence Outer Bay of Fundy Massachusetts Bay Delaware Bay Chesapeake Bay Pamlico Sound Galveston Bay San Francisco Bay Moreton Bay Mammals, birds and reptiles were among the first to suffer, exploited for food, oil and luxury goods such as furs, feather and ivory, the authors say.
Most were depleted by 1900 and declined further by 1950. Fish such as salmon, sturgeon, tuna, cod and sardines were quick to follow, with shellfish such as mussels only recently becoming the targets of expanding fisheries.
Plant life has also suffered badly, with 67% of wetlands, 65% of sea grasses and 48% of other aquatic vegetation lost through disease, destruction or direct exploitation.
"Throughout history, estuaries and coastal seas have played a critical role in human development as a source of ocean life, habitat for most of our commercial fish catch, a resource for our economy, and a buffer against natural disasters," said lead researcher Heike Lotze of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
"Yet, these once rich and diverse areas are a forgotten resource.
"Compared to other ocean ecosystems such as coral reefs, they have received little attention in the press and are not on the national policy agenda.
"Sadly, we have simply accepted their slow degradation."
The researchers say conservation efforts in the 20th Century have led to partial recovery of 12% of the species.
Some - such as seals, otters, birds, crocodiles and alligators - have done well; but others such as large whales, sea turtles, manatees and dugongs remain at low levels."
You know, here's what it's going to come down to if we can't control our population. We're going to have to limit humans to large mega cities and wall off the rest of the Earth in order to allow it to recover. You can't continue to shit where you eat.
Poor Arnie. Caught between the proverbial compressed carbon and silica formation and the proverbial not-so-soft place. He needs those RNC dollars, but hating on immigrants is not good politics in Ca-lee-fore-ee-ya. I hope he's not the only Republican governor who finds him/herself in this predicament.
"Schwarzenegger Denies Bush Troop Request By AARON C. DAVIS, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 24, 5:25 AM
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shakes hands with California National ... SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week rejected a request from the Bush administration to send an additional 1,500 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, the governor's office confirmed Friday.
The National Guard Bureau, an arm of the Pentagon, asked for the troops to help with the border-patrol mission in New Mexico and Arizona, but Schwarzenegger said the request would stretch the California Guard too thin in case of an emergency or natural disaster.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn confirmed the governor's decision Friday after two California National Guard officials revealed it to The Associated Press.
Mendelsohn said the governor believed sending more troops would create an inappropriate burden on the state and disrupt the guard's training schedule.
The overall deployment for the border mission will remain at 6,000 soldiers.
On June 1, Schwarzenegger agreed to send the California National Guard to the Mexican border to help the federal government's effort to curb illegal immigration. That ended a 17-day standoff with the Bush administration over whether the state would join the border patrol effort and who would pay for it.
California has committed to putting 1,000 troops on the border by July 31 and has 250 there already.
Schwarzenegger initially criticized the administration's plan to deploy troops to the border, saying it was the wrong approach to dealing with illegal immigration.
The governor finally relented after the Pentagon signed a document promising to pay for the entire mission, a cost that could top $1.4 billion nationally.
Schwarzenegger also wanted the Bush administration to commit to a firm end date. It did not, but Schwarzenegger signed an executive order saying he would not authorize the deployment beyond the end of 2008.
Associated Press Writer Scott Lindlaw contributed to this report from Soda Springs, Calif."
I touch you in the night, whose gift was you, My careless sprawler, And I touch you cold, unstirring, star-bemused, That have become the land of your self-strangeness. What long seduction of the bone has led you Down the imploring roads I cannot take Into the arms of ghosts I never knew, Leaving my manhood on a rumpled field To guard you where you lie so deep In absent-mindedness, Caught in the calcium snows of sleep?
And even should I track you to your birth Through all the cities of your mortal trial, As in my jealous thought I try to do, You would escape me--from the brink of earth Take off to where the lawless auroras run, You with your wild and metaphysic heart. My touch is on you, who are light-years gone. We are not souls but systems, and we move In clouds of our unknowing like great nebulae. Our very motives swirl and have their start With father lion and with mother crab. Dreamer, my own lost rib, Whose planetary dust is blowing Past archipelagoes of myth and light What far Magellans are you mistress of To whom you speed the pleasure of your art? As through a glass that magnifies my loss I see the lines of your spectrum shifting red, The universe expanding, thinning out, Our worlds flying, oh flying, fast apart.
From hooded powers and from abstract flight I summon you, your person and your pride. Fall to me now from outer space, Still fastened desperately to my side; Through gulfs of streaming air Bring me the mornings of the milky ways Down to my threshold in your drowsy eyes; And by the virtue of your honeyed word Restore the liquid language of the moon, That in gold mines of secrecy you delve. Awake! My whirling hands stay at the noon, Each cell within my body holds a heart And all my hearts in unison strike twelve.
Listen to the words of the Great Beeotch she who of old is known as Arwen, Inanna, Jaz, Kriselda, Lynna, Raven, Suzi, and Wolfrose, and by many other names, some best left censored:
Whenever you have need of anything once in the month, and better it be when it is not my moontime or any other time when I might be tired or already irritable, then shall you gather and adore me, who am Queen of all Bitches. There shall you gather, you who desire to learn the true Art of Bitchcraft, yet have not honed it to razor sharp precision; to these I will teach the esoterism of true bitchiness. And you shall be free from fluff; and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall cite tradition, correct misconception, bad grammar, spelling errors, and demand proper capitalization, and punctuation. For I am educated and can read above third grade level. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it and if anyone tries to stop you, smack them hard upside the head. For mine is the determination to succeed and educate the ignorant.
I am the Queen Mother Bitch, Who can give the Gift of Joy unto the heart of man or woman if you have not seriously ticked me off. On Earth, I give the Knowledge that to communicate effectively and honestly is no crime; and beyond death, I give peace from the fools who have annoyed you and freedom from those fools and reunion with other great Bitches who have gone before you. And actually, I do demand sacrifice, for behold; Putting up with these twits wears on my nerves. I am the Bitch of All Living and My Ire is poured out upon the Earth when I am grumpy.
Hear ye the Words of the Star Goddess: She under Whose Feet all stupid people are Dust, Whose Body encircleth the Universe especially when She is bloated.
I, Who am the Bitch Queen of the Earth and the Black Mood amongst the Stars, and the Mystery of why idiots are not drowned in my Waters, and the Desire of the heart of man to avoid Me when I get like this. I call unto thy soul, all ye who would be Bitches: "Arise! And come unto Me!"
For I am the Soul of the Bitch, Who giveth Crap back to the Universe: from Me all things proceed, and unto Me all things must return and if they don't get here fast enough, I may hurt something. And before My Face, which is bitchy and known to all gods and men, thine innermost Bitch Self shall be enfolded in the Rapture of the Infinite Bitch.
Let My Worship be within the heart that tolerates no shit, for behold: all acts of bitchiness and honesty are my rituals. And therefore let there be bitching and strength, honesty and compassion, honor and humor, mirth and reverence within you.
And thou who thinkest to seek for Me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knowest the Mystery: that if thou are stupid who seekest Me, then thou shalt never find Me.
For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am That which is attained at the end of PMS.
"Sometimes - nay, often - it's the small, unnoticed bills in Congress that are the most telling. Take H.R. 2679, for instance:
The measure, known as the “Public Expression of Religion Act” (H.R. 2679), would deny attorneys who get involved in church-state cases the ability to recover any of the legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in such litigation.
That's right. Hand in hand with the so-called "Pledge Protection Act" soon to be debated, it's clearly the intention of our Congressional leaders to make it impossible to legally challenge conflations of church and state.
Next bill on the docket: if you successfully prosecute a Congressman for corruption, you get a hundred lashes."
"He was a very small frog with wide, dull eyes. And just as I looked at him, he slowly crumpled and began to sag. The spirit vanished from him as if snuffed. His skin emptied and dropped; his very skull seemed to collapse and settle like a kicked tent. He was shrinking before my eyes like a deflating football. I watched the taunt, glistening skin of his shoulders ruck, and rumple, and fall. Soon, part to his skin, formless as a pricked balloon, lay in floating folds like bright scum on top of the water: it was a monstrous and terrifying thing. I gaped, bewildered and appalled....I had read about the giant water bug, but never seen one....It eats insects, tadpoles, fish, and frogs....It seizes its victims with these legs, hugs it tight, and paralyzes it with enzymes injected during a vicious bite. That one bite is the only bite it ever takes. Through the puncture shoot the poisons that dissolve the victim's muscles and bones and organs-all but the skin-and through it the giant water bug sucks out the victim's body, reduced to a juice. "[Tinker at Pilgrim Creek at 7-8]
Do you remember where you were when you first read Tinker at Pilgrim Creek by Annie Dillard? It was a spiritual revelation for me, a major step in my spiritual development.
Fascinating article in the LATimes about attempts by various Abrahamic cults to bring about the end of the world. Some of it's pretty damn harmless -- who cares if some poor old cattle farmer wants to raise a "few head of red heifers for Jewish high priests. Citing Scripture, Lott and others say a pure red heifer must be sacrificed and burned and its ashes used in purification rituals to allow Jews to rebuild the temple." But, as the article notes, "Generations of Christians have hoped for the Second Coming of Jesus, said UCLA historian Eugen Weber, author of the 1999 book "Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs Through the Ages." 'And it's always been an ultimately bloody hope, a slaughterhouse hope,' he added with a sigh. 'What we have now in this global age is a vaster and bloodier-than-ever Wagnerian version. But, then, we are a very imaginative race.'"
In a sane society, people who ran around trying to bring about the end of the world would get therapy and good drugs.
Here's what I find so fascinating about these three (xians, jews, muslims) related cults. They're all monotheistic cults devoted to an angry thunder sky god who is the ONLY god. And, in the end, they're all devoted to being anti-life, anti-body, anti-Earth. Hastening an end to life is really the only logical goal that such a religion can espouse.
What if we had religions that recognized diverse deities and that worshipped sex, the Earth, life? How different would almost everything look?
Spider woman. Many Wiccans, and my circle as well, conceive of the Universe as a web. It's why magic works. You pluck one thread of the web HERE and it reverberates over THERE. It's why Wiccans cast a circle and then say, "We are between the worlds. What happens in one, affects them all."
As BBC reports, "a genetic study suggests all orb-web spinners share some key silk-making proteins, indicating a single evolutionary origin.
Coupled with fossil evidence, it suggests that the great great ancestors of modern spiders were weaving webs as long ago as 136 million years ago."
"What are the risks of seeking face-to-face communion with Divine Intelligence? What treasured illusions must be sacrificed? What part of me has to die?
All the best teachings I'd encountered agreed that in order for one's Higher Self to be born -- and it was only the Higher Self that could endure direct communication with the Creator -- the little self had to die. Hermetic philosophy asserted that there is an immortal part of each of us, an adamantine uniqueness that was never born and will never die; but our awareness can't inhabit that immortal part until we dissolve our attachments to the hodgepodge of conditioning that most of us mistake as our precious, fascinating, unique self.
And that dissolution can be excrutiating, especially if a slew of attachments expire in one sudden swoop.
There, in the Nevada desert, I was as scared as I had ever been. What if I opened myself so completely to the sun's raging blessings that I would be transformed into something I no longer recognized as me?"
In a way, it's a typically male way to describe a mystical experience: it must involve death. Only the Higher Self can endure direct communication with the Creator. We have to dissolve our attachments to this world. Blah, blah, blah, dualism, blah blah blah, patriarchy, blah, blah, Zoraster.
I think that may be wrong. I think to even conceive of our "self" as higher or lower is wrong and puts a barrier between us and -- the ineffable, Divinity, the Creator, the World, Life, the Mother, my cat, the worms that are crawling right now in my garden, the spider that right now is spinning a web in my sweet woodruff, the Stars that are, right this minute, having star sex and making baby stars.
And, yet, in some of the shadow work I'm doing, I've come to realize that completely embracing my shadow will mean a change to what I now recognize as "me". So is this "just" semantics? I don't think so. I think that the use of dualistic language to describe mystical experience has as damaging an effect as almost anything else that I can think of. And, yet, I do think that, at some level below the Hermetical level that Brezsney describes, we are talking about the same thing. I suppose that part of the problem comes form trying to describe something that's almost impossible to describe.
I used to imagine him coming from his house, like Merlin strolling with important gestures through the garden where everything grows so thickly, where birds sing, little snakes lie on the boughs, thinking of nothing but their own good lives, where petals float upward, their colors exploding, and trees open their moist pages of thunder - it has happened every summer for years.
But now I know more about the great wheel of growth, and decay, and rebirth, and know my vision for a falsehood. Now I see him coming from the house - I see him on his knees, cutting away the diseased, the superfluous, coaxing the new, know that the hour of fulfillment is buried in years of patience - yet willing to labor like that on the mortal wheel.
Oh, what good it does the heart to know it isn’t magic! Like the human child I am I rush to imitate - I watch him as he bends among the leaves and vines to hook some weed or other; I think of him there raking and trimming, stirring up those sheets of fire between the smothering weights of earth, the wild and shapeless air.
I am SO going to see this. In fact, the day it comes out, I'm probably going to go see it about three or four times in a row, cry, get drunk, and generally rail at Father Time. Len, you were always my man. As you've aged, Sweet Mother, you've earned that face -- the face of Adonis & Apollo. But I don't think of you that often.
Mahablog weighs in on the important question behind this week's instantly-debunked Santorum lying-point, to wit, that the US DID (it didn't) find chemical weapons in Iraq:
"And speaking of coincidences — what a coincidence that John Negroponte had a hand in this! Negroponte was also behind last March’s “junk intelligence” escapade, also known as Dumbo Document Dump; see here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Essentially, from time to time Negroponte pulls a toy rabbit around a track and lets the righties get some exercise by running in circles, chasing it.
I took all this in, and then made some coffee, and then sat down to consider the burning question of our time — how stupid are Bush supporters, really? This goes way beyond your average left the keys in the car stupid, which plagues the best of us from time to time. There’s something more primordial going on here. In some cases, IMO, we’re looking at simple turtle crossing an interstate stupid. You can’t really blame them for it. In other cases we may be dealing with more exotic forms of cognitive handicaps, however, such as I’m getting messages from Mars stupid, or the cookbook said to separate the yolk from the white so I boiled the egg first stupid."
The AP is reporting that the Earth's temperature may be at a level not seen for thousands of years:
"Earth's Temp May Be at 2,000-Year High By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - It has been 2,000 years and possibly much longer since the Earth has run such a fever. The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia."
A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is heating up and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." (emphasis mine). Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.
This is shown in boreholes, retreating glaciers and other evidence found in nature, said Gerald North, a geosciences professor at Texas A&M University who chaired the academy's panel.
The report was requested in November by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., to address naysayers who question whether global warming is a major threat.
Last year, when the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, launched an investigation of three climate scientists, Boehlert said Barton should try to learn from scientists, not intimidate them.
Boehlert said Thursday the report shows the value of having scientists advise Congress.
"There is nothing in this report that should raise any doubts about the broad scientific consensus on global climate change," he said.
Other new research Thursday showed that global warming produced about half of the extra hurricane-fueled warmth in the North Atlantic in 2005, and natural cycles were a minor factor, according to Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a research lab sponsored by the National Science Foundation and universities. (emphasis mine).Their study is being published by the American Geophysical Union.
The Bush administration has maintained that the threat is not severe enough to warrant new pollution controls that the White House says would have cost 5 million Americans their jobs.
Climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes had concluded the Northern Hemisphere was the warmest it has been in 2,000 years. Their research was known as the "hockey-stick" graphic because it compared the sharp curve of the hockey blade to the recent uptick in temperatures and the stick's long shaft to centuries of previous climate stability.
The National Academy scientists concluded that the Mann-Bradley-Hughes research from the late 1990s was "likely" to be true, said John "Mike" Wallace, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington and a panel member. The conclusions from the '90s research "are very close to being right" and are supported by even more recent data, Wallace said.
The panel looked at how other scientists reconstructed the Earth's temperatures going back thousands of years, before there was data from modern scientific instruments.
For all but the most recent 150 years, the academy scientists relied on "proxy" evidence from tree rings, corals, glaciers and ice cores, cave deposits, ocean and lake sediments, boreholes and other sources. They also examined indirect records such as paintings of glaciers in the Alps.
Combining that information gave the panel "a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years," the academy said.
Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850.
The scientists said they had less confidence in the evidence of temperatures before 1600. But they considered it reliable enough to conclude there were sharp spikes in carbon dioxide and methane, the two major "greenhouse" gases blamed for trapping heat in the atmosphere, beginning in the 20th century, after remaining fairly level for 12,000 years.
Between 1 A.D. and 1850, volcanic eruptions and solar fluctuations were the main causes of changes in greenhouse gas levels. But those temperature changes "were much less pronounced than the warming due to greenhouse gas" levels by pollution since the mid-19th century, it said.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government of scientific matters."
I love this blog and I don't care how shallow that makes me. But I was just talking last night w/ a friend about the importance of women-owned businesses in the Third World. And, in today's post, the Dress Lady notes, "The dresses are produced in Zanzibar, and, in addition, 100 kroner (About US$15) from the sale of each dress goes directly to the women's cooperative on Zanzibar; they are using it to build a store to sell children's clothing to the tourists who visit there." So I'm shallow. Sue me.
WaPo reports some good news out of SCOTUS for a change:
"The Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed a sex discrimination jury award for a female forklift operator who was transferred to a more physical job after she filed a lawsuit accusing her employer of sexual harassment.
By a 9-0 vote, justices said that Sheila White was improperly punished with a suspension for 37 days over a Christmas holiday and a transfer from operating the forklift to doing more physical work as a yard worker.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that White did receive back pay. But he said she and her family had to live 37 days without any income.
'Many reasonable employees would find a month without a paycheck to be a serious hardship," Breyer wrote, adding that "an indefinite suspension without pay could well act as a deterrent, even if the suspended employee eventually received back pay.'
'Context matters,' Breyer wrote.
A schedule change may not bother many workers, he said, but it may matter greatly to a young mother with small children. Or, Breyer said, a supervisor's failure to invite a worker to lunch would seem trivial unless the luncheon was a weekly training session crucial to the employee's advancement."
When Lou Dobbs agrees with Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy, you ought to at least pay attention. Dobbs signs on board today with the notion that if Congress is going to vote almost annual raises for itself, it ought to do the same thing for hard-working Americans trying to get by on the minimum wage. Yet, this Republican Congress has refused for years to raise the minimum wage.
As Dobbs notes, "Corporate America, the Bush administration and the national economic orthodoxy with which they're in league have consistently argued against helping working men and women at the lowest end of the wage scale by raising the minimum wage. Big business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable say it will harm the economy and eliminate jobs. As is so frequent with the faith-based economics that grips both political parties in Washington, such concerns have absolutely nothing to do with reality." Dobbs goes on to explain that, "The myth that raising the minimum wage will lead to job cuts is just that: a myth. In fact, research suggests just the opposite. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, since 1998, states with higher minimum wages experienced better job growth than states paying only the federal minimum wage. Among small retail businesses in those higher minimum-wage states, job growth was double the rest of the country."
Dobbs quotes Rep. David Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin, who points out that, "'We have seen gas prices go up by 140 percent since the minimum wage was increased. We have seen home heating oil go up by 120 percent. We have seen health care go up by almost 45 percent.'"
Dobbs concludes that this "administration, our Republican-led Congress and the dominant corporate interests in this country want cheap labor. And to achieve that goal they're outsourcing middle-class jobs, importing illegal labor and cutting retirement and health-care benefits."
When you send your next check to Amnesty International, you might want to let them know that you believe women's rights are human rights and support their efforts to include reproductive freedom in their portfolio.
PUCK Now the hungry lion roars, And the wolf behowls the moon; Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, All with weary task fordone. Now the wasted brands do glow, Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, Puts the wretch that lies in woe In remembrance of a shroud. Now it is the time of night That the graves all gaping wide, Every one lets forth his sprite, In the church-way paths to glide: And we fairies, that do run By the triple Hecate's team, From the presence of the sun, Following darkness like a dream, Now are frolic: not a mouse Shall disturb this hallow'd house: I am sent with broom before, To sweep the dust behind the door.
PUCK If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber'd here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: if you pardon, we will mend: And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, We will make amends ere long; Else the Puck a liar call; So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.
According to BBC rain kept the crowds down to around 17,000: "Police estimate around 17,000 people watched the sun rise at 0458 BST on Wednesday despite cloudy conditions. English Heritage allows the public access to the 5,000-year-old stone circle for the annual event. Drum-beating and chanting turned to cheering as the sun broke through the clouds shortly after 0500 BST. Heavy overnight rain ensured numbers stayed well below the 20,000 expected to attend the annual revelry at the ancient stone circle on Salisbury Plain."
"Booby-Trapped Bodies of 2 GIs Recovered By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer
43 minutes ago BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military recovered the bodies Tuesday of two missing soldiers from an area it said was rigged with explosives. An Iraqi official said the Americans were tortured and killed in a "barbaric" way."
Yeah, well this is a surprise, given that we tortured Iraquis and killed their number two guy because...?
These children, and they were in their twenties I understand, had mothers who labored as hard as they've ever labored in their lives to give birth to them. Who stayed up late with them when they were sick and who patiently answered their questions when they were three.
I can't imagine what it would do to me to read that my son or grandson had been tortured and then booby-trapped. I can't imagine. But Mother of God, can we please admit that Iraq is a clusterfuck of cosmic proportions and pull our children the fuck out of there? Now? Please? Whose political career did these children die to save?
As WaPo reports today, concerning THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE, Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, by Ron Suskind: "The book's opening anecdote tells of an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled 'Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.' Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: 'All right. You've covered your ass, now' (emphasis mine).
Three months later, with bin Laden holed up in the Afghan mountain redoubt of Tora Bora, the CIA official managing the Afghanistan campaign, Henry A. Crumpton (now the State Department's counterterrorism chief), brought a detailed map to Bush and Cheney. White House accounts have long insisted that Bush had every reason to believe that Pakistan's army and pro-U.S. Afghan militias had bin Laden cornered and that there was no reason to commit large numbers of U.S. troops to get him. But Crumpton's message in the Oval Office, as told through Suskind, was blunt: The surrogate forces were 'definitely not' up to the job, and 'we're going to lose our prey if we're not careful.'"
I fucking hate these fucking fuckers. Thousands of Americans are dead and it is George Bush's fault. He let it happen on purpose and he let bin Laden get away on purpose. Go ahead and send me a tin foil hat. No wonder the slimy little fucker sat there and kept his eyes firmly glued to MY PET GOAT.
Today, as everyone in the blogosphere knows, and as WaPo reports, in his new book, THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE, Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, Ron Suskind describes "the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries 'in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3' -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail 'what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said.' Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, 'This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.'
Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was 'echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President,' Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as 'one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.' And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques" (emphasis mine).
"Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. 'I said he was important,' Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. 'You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?' 'No sir, Mr. President,' Tenet replied. Bush 'was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,' Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, 'Do some of these harsh methods really work?' (emphasis mine). Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, 'thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target.' And so, Suskind writes, 'the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.'
It is beyond my comprehension how an act of physical pleasure could "bring dishonor to the Oval Office," while Bush could sit in the Oval Office and ask his people to torture someone so that Bush wouldn't "lose face" for having lied to the American public and not have the walls fall down on him. It is simply beyond me. Remember when they told us that it wasn't the sex, it was the lies? Did Clinton ever ask his operatives to torture anyone? Bush lies and then lies about the torture he uses to cover up his lies.
The next president of the United States should burn the WH to the ground, salt the earth, and move the WH to another location.
Fascinating June 17th column in the NYT by Marianne J. Legato, the director of the Partnership for Women's Health at Columbia, and the author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget, who says, in part,:
"What emerges when one studies male biology in a truly evenhanded way is the realization that from the moment of conception on, men are less likely to survive than women. It's not just that men take on greater risks and pursue more hazardous vocations than women. There are poorly understood — and underappreciated — vulnerabilities inherent in men's genetic and hormonal makeup. . . .
Men's troubles begin during the earliest days in the womb. Even though there are more male than female embryos, there are more miscarriages of male fetuses. Industrial countries are also witnessing a decline in male to female birth ratios, and we don't know why.
Some scientists have argued that the probability of a male child declines as parents (especially fathers) age. Still others have cited the prevalence of pesticides, which produce more birth defects in male children.
Even when a boy manages to be born, he's still behind the survival eight ball: he is three to four times more likely than girls to have developmental disorders like autism and dyslexia; girls learn language earlier, develop richer vocabularies and even hear better than boys. Girls demonstrate insight and judgment earlier in adolescence than boys, who are more impulsive and take more risks than their sisters. Teenage boys are more likely to commit suicide than girls and are more likely to die violent deaths before adulthood.
As adults, too, men die earlier than women. Twice as many men as women die of coronary artery disease, which manifests itself a decade earlier in men than women; when it comes to cancer, the news for men is almost as bad. Women also have more vigorous immune systems than men: of the 10 most common infections, men are more likely to have serious encounters with seven of them.
While depression is said to be twice as frequent in women as in men, I'm convinced that the diagnosis is just made more frequently in women, who show a greater willingness to discuss their symptoms and to ask for help when in distress. Once, at a dinner party, I asked a group of men whether they believed men were depressed as often as women, but were simply conditioned to be silent in the face of discomfort, sadness or fear. 'Of course!' replied one man. 'Why do you think we die sooner?'
Considering the relative fragility of men, it's clearly counterintuitive for us to urge them, from boyhood on, to cope bravely with adversity, to ignore discomfort, to persevere in spite of pain and to accept without question the most dangerous jobs and tasks we have to offer (emphasis mine). Perhaps the reason many societies offer boys nutritional, educational and vocational advantages over girls is not because of chauvinism — it's because we're trying to ensure their survival. [She's wrong here, as well as in her overall plea for less emphasis on women's health, but just ignore it.]"
As the mother of a son and the grandmother of a grandson, I find this absolutely fascinating. The truth is so at odds with the story that patriarchy tells. Boys and men are, in many ways, both physical and intellectual/emotional, the "weaker" sex. Telling them, as Dr. Legato points out, to "be brave" and "not cry," to stop "being a sissy" when they express pain, is probably exactly the wrong message for us to be sending to them. Sending them off to war, and entrusting them to run our society as most governments still overwhelmingly do, when they "demonstrate insight and judgment [later] in adolescence than [girls]" and are unable to articulate their depression is also a foolhardy strategy, albeit one that humans have been pursing for thousands of years.
We tend to imagine that patriarchy hurts women and benefits men. That's only half true. Patriarchy hurts both women and men.
"You may have heard about an issue called 'Net Neutrality.' I want to tell you a little bit about Net Neutrality, why I believe it's so important to our democracy, and what you can do to help.
Today, the Internet is an open marketplace of ideas where anyone can join in. With traditional media, like TV, radio, or newspapers, it's been difficult for average citizens to have a voice. But now, new technology is giving a wide variety of citizens the voice to speak out -- anyone with a computer connected to the Internet can set up a website that's just as accessible as those owned by a large media conglomerate.
The result has been an incredible diversity of new sources of information and opinion, and a growing, vibrant source of political debate. I think that's healthy for our democracy, and I want to see it continue.
Now, this open architecture that makes the Internet so powerful is being questioned. Some argue that it would be better for companies to give certain traffic on the Internet -- content that they are paid to deliver faster -- higher priority.
But this kind of preferential treatment could make it harder for individual voices to be heard. That's why I hope you'll join me as a co-sponsor of Net Neutrality legislation:
I've become an original co-sponsor of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, which would prevent Internet service providers from blocking, degrading, or giving a lower priority service on their networks.
That means a free and open Internet for every web page -- whether a blog created by a concerned individual or the home page of a large newspaper. That's the kind of open debate that makes our democracy stronger!
The fight for Net Neutrality has brought together business leaders, bloggers, good-government advocates, and many more. Please join them and me in this fight as a citizen co-sponsor of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. Sign on today:
Please join me in protecting an Internet where everyone can have a voice. Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of this important Net Neutrality legislation, and please forward this message on to your friends and family.
"Last week The House of Representatives took a look at their salaries and decided to give themselves a raise for the seventh time in eight years - a $3,000 increase, bringing their base salary to $168,500.00 Yet in that same eight years Congress has REFUSED to raise the federal minimum wage. It stands at $5.15 per hour. Those working full time year round earn only $10,700 a year - $5,000 below the official poverty line for a family of three!
Just moments ago Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced an ammendment calling for an increase in the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. A vote could come as early as Wednesday. On behalf of every American who struggles to feed their families and lift themselves out of poverty, we ask for your immediate help by emailing your Senators and urge them to:
Support Senator Kennedy's minimum wage amendment and Oppose any alternative minimum wage proposal that would help fewer workers and hurt many hardworking people who need overtime pay."
Miniver Cheevy blogs about Juneteenth. He's got a lovely idea for symbolic reparations, but symbolism isn't enough. And, I wonder if he's right that these coins would circulate, or if they'd become family keepsakes. It would be interesting to find out, though.
My family came to America long after the Civil War, but as a white American I've reaped the benefits of slavery's ugly legacy -- the privilege that comes from being white in a racist society. Reparations can never "make it ok." But they are the right thing to do.
As everyone knows, criminalizing abortion won't prevent abortion any more than, perhaps even less than, criminalizing speeding or using pot or hiring prostitutes has eliminated those practices. Abortion used to be criminalized in America and there were still abortions. (In fact, some of the earliest recorded uses for various herbs were for abortiofactents. Abortion has been around almost as long as sex has been around and is a humane alternative to exposure. People are wired to have sex and sex sometimes results in unwanted pregnancy. You can no more change that than you can change the fact that people are wired to eat, breathe, and eliminate.) So what IS the point to criminalizing it?
In theory, and it's mostly theory, AFAICT, criminalizing something, say robbing banks, allows us to lock up those inclined to rob banks, thereby making the world safe for banks. There's another theory, that, AFAICT, doesn't have much factual support that by criminalizing bank robbing we can punish bank robbers, thereby discouraging erstwhile bank robbers. Maybe. Maybe not. But are we really going to put mothers in the electric chair when they "murder" their fetus so that they can support the other children they already have? Throw them in jail and give their children to good upstanding xians to raise? I guarandamntee you we won't be executing or jailing white male doctors who perform abortions. So there's no "deterrent" effect to be had.
No. What criminalizing abortion will do is result in death. Death by back-alley abortion. And, here's a clue: not only does back-alley abortion often kill or maim the woman -- which is what the fundie xians want; they desperately want to punish women for being sexual beings -- but it usually kills or maims the fetus, as well. Culture of life, my ass. It also creates, in the same way that drug laws have created, a criminal class of people willing to charge a lot of money to help people get something illegal that they want or need. Let's face it, we could start selling pot in drugstores and gas stations tomorrow and all that would happen is pushers wouldn't get to charge so much for it. Ditto abortion.
We all know that we could reduce the number of abortions in this country if someone thought that were a worthwhile goal. There are a number of factors associated with low abortion rates: education for girls; free, safe, effective, and accessible birth control, real sex education, and, interestingly, liberal abortion laws. But the fundies who are hell-bound to criminalize abortion hate all those things, as well.
Well, women and fetuses are going to die in back-alley abortions in Louisiana. You know, I'd have imagined that Louisiana had better things to do with its legislative time and with its dollars (you think that defending this nonsense won't cost the State money? It will. So will enforcing it. So will dealing with the women who are "only" maimed for life.) than this. Something about levees, maybe.
A friend was telling me the other day about how Norway, which is currently oil-rich, but which realizes that the oil will likely only last another twenty years or so, is investing a huge amount of the profits into research concerning alternative energy and conservation. Contrast that with George Bush's BFF, the Saudis, who, when they run out of oil (or when oil becomes unimportant -- whichever happens first) will have a bunch of fancy palaces, no infrastructure, no new industries, and a really angry population on their hands.
Today's CNN has news of another brilliant thing that Norway is doing with some of its oil wealth. CNN reports that:
"OSLO, Norway (AP) -- It sounds like something from a science fiction film -- a doomsday vault carved into a frozen mountainside on a secluded Arctic island ready to serve as a Noah's Ark for seeds in case of a global catastrophe.
But Norway's ambitious project is on its way to becoming reality. Construction began Monday on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, designed to house as many as 3 million of the world's crop seeds.
Prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland were to attend the cornerstone ceremony on Monday morning near the town of Longyearbyen in Norway's remote Svalbard Islands, roughly 620 miles from the North Pole.
Norway's Agriculture Minister Terje Riis-Johansen has called the vault a 'Noah's Ark on Svalbard.'
Its purpose is to ensure the survival of crop diversity in the event of plant epidemics, nuclear war, natural disasters or climate change, and to offer the world a chance to restart growth of food crops that may have been wiped out.
The seeds, packaged in foil, would be stored at such cold temperatures that they could last hundreds, even thousands, of years, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust. The trust, founded in 2004, has also worked on the project and will help run the vault, which is scheduled to open and start accepting seeds from around the world in September 2007.
Oil-rich Norway first proposed the idea a year ago, drawing wide international interest, Riis-Johansen said.
The Svalbard Archipelago, 300 miles north of the mainland, was selected because it is located far from many threats and has a consistently cold climate.
Those factors will help protect the seeds and safeguard their genetic makeup, Norway's Foreign Ministry said. The vault will have thick concrete walls, and even if all cooling systems fail, the temperature in the frozen mountain will never rise above freezing due to permafrost, it said.
While the facility will be fenced in and guarded, Svalbard's free-roaming polar bears, known for their ferocity, could also act as natural guardians, according to the Global Diversity Trust.
The Nordic nation is footing the bill, amounting to about $4.8 million for infrastructure costs.
Already, some 1,400 seed banks around the world, most of them national, hold samples of their host country's crops.
But these banks are vulnerable to shutdowns, natural disasters, war and lack of funds, said Riis-Johansen.
Storing duplicate seeds in the Svalbard vault is meant to offer a fail-safe system for the planet.
The idea of a global seed bank has been around since the early 1980s, but unresolved issues, such as ownership rights to genetic material, stalled it until the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization adopted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2001.
While Norway will own the vault facility, countries contributing seeds will own the material they deposit -- much as with a bank safe deposit box. The Global Crop Diversity Trust will help developing countries pay the cost of preparing and sending seeds."
No discussion in the article about how global warming could endanger the seeds (and the polar bear guards!), but I'm betting those clever Norwegians have something figured out.
"Pepco Holdings Launches Smart Meter Pilot Program for 2,250 Homes
Pepco Holdings plans to install 2,250 smart meters in homes in the District of Columbia to give customers three options for power usage, the Washington Post reported today. The $2-million pilot project is designed to let consumers know when peak rates might come into play as demand heightens so they can cut back, as well as establish conservation baselines for the utility. The project will be run by a consortium operating under the name Smart Meter Pilot Program Inc., comprised of Pepco, the District's Office of the People's Counsel and Consumer Utility Board, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1900, and the D.C. Public Service Commission.
Wrote the Post: 'The utility will experiment with different approaches to the smart meters. One will give households information a day ahead about hourly pricing in the wholesale market for the regional power grid. Another will focus on giving customers advance information about four peak hours on 'critical peak' days either through the smart thermostats or by automated phone messages. A third will offer customers rebates for reducing consumption during those peak hours. The price of electricity can vary widely depending on time of day and season. Summer rates at peak hours are 64 cents a kilowatt-hour; rates during non-peak hours are 6.81 cents.'
Pepco will use a system developed by Advanced Metering Data Systems, and already installed in 50,000 homes in Birmingham, Ala. The system is also in the pilot stage in Gulfport, Miss.; Charlotte; New Orleans; Covington, La.; Jasper, Ga.; and two towns in Ontario, the Post reported.
Phil Franklin, director of business development at Advanced Metering, said wireless delivery of usage information will go to Pepco, letting utility officials know – for example – if the power has failed in an individual house: 'The utility knows immediately when the power's out and doesn't have to rely on the customer calling in. It allows the utility to know about the problem faster and therefore restore the power faster. Washington Post , June 19."
As per usual, the Wild Hunt hits it out of the ballpark. They'll "allow" Pagans, but only with all sorts of restrictions that they don't place on xians or other religions.
Fuck this shit. I'll dance naked if I wanna. I'll call my ancestors if I wanna. I'll hex who I wanna and take the whiplash. Fuck trying to make my religion into some happybunnyglitterstardust pathetic imitation of what it is.
Summer Solstice is coming. Fuck people who want to make Paganism tame.
"In Human Closeness There..." In human closeness there is a secret edge, That love nor passion ever rise above, Let lips with lips be joined in silent rage, And hearts be burst asunder with their love.
And friendship, too, is powerless against this secret edge, And so years of bliss pass gently by, When your heart is free and hidden by a hedge, Enjoying slow languor of the earthy sense.
And they who strive to reach this edge are mad, And those who reach are shocked with anguish hard -- Now you know why beneath your hand You do not feel the beating of my heart.
Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, October 1995 Edited by Dmitry Karshtedt, August 1996
I've tweaked this quite a bit to try and make it make sense to me. The last line of the second stanza is incomprehensible and I've left it alone. I sort of know what she's trying to say here, but this is another of her works that I simply don't think can be really translated.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."