Sunday, June 29, 2008

Five Uncanny Predictions: Earth Before The Dawn Of 2001...

In December of 1900, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. wrote: “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet, they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America. To the wisest and most careful men in our greatest institutions of science and learning I have gone, asking each in his turn to forecast for me what, in his opinion, will have been wrought in his own field of investigation before the dawn of 2001 - a century from now. These opinions I have carefully transcribed:"Prediction #8: Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels. Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Such guns will be armed by aid of compasses when used on land or sea, and telescopes when directed from great heights. Fleets of air-ships, hiding themselves with dense, smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities, fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon them deadly thunderbolts. These aerial war-ships will necessitate bomb-proof forts, protected by great steel plates over their tops as well as at their sides. Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains of to-day. They will make what are now known as cavalry charges. Great automobile plows will dig deep entrenchments as fast as soldiers can occupy them. Rifles will use silent cartridges. Submarine boats submerged for days will be capable of wiping a whole navy off the face of the deep. Balloons and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred-mile vision with camera attachments, photographing an enemy within that radius. These photographs as distinct and large as if taken from across the street, will be lowered to the commanding officer in charge of troops below.

Prediction #10: Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before them the coronations of kings in Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. The instrument bringing these distant scenes to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus transmitting each incidental sound in its appropriate place. Thus the guns of a distant battle will be heard to boom when seen to blaze, and thus the lips of a remote actor or singer will be heard to utter words or music when seen to move.

Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other.

Prediction #18: Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.

Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300. Meanwhile both kinds of coal will have become more and more expensive. Man will have found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity. Along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides washing in. Out of these the water will be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.

-John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. (Excerpted 5 of 29 predictions: “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years”, Ladies Home Journal,December 1900, Image: "Earth From The Moon: A Different Perspective On the Harvest Moon", Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." Apollo 11 Mission, 7.16.1969).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Art From The Underground: Watching You 24/7...

"Anna Barriball's minimal typographic artwork 'About 60 Miles Of Beautiful Views.' is the latest commission by Art on the Underground to go on display on the Tube network.

Barriball will display a collection of evocative phrases taken from the back of found photographs in a photo album. Printed in New Johnston font, the texts will be displayed on posters in advertising spaces across the network.

Customers traveling on the Underground will encounter unexpected phrases like ''About 60 miles of beautiful views.' or 'On way to birthday party.' or 'Looking back the way we had come.'. These cryptic texts are loaded with personal memory, yet connect with individual reasons for travel and the millions of private thoughts customers carry with them on their journeys. The phrases are distinctly personal and strangely visual, creating small windows into imagined vistas or glimpses into unidentified personal worlds, open to interpretation in their new context.

Anna Barriball's work often steps between the parallel languages of drawing and sculpture. Her practice produces objects that combine a minimalistic rigour and the attempt to make sense of the world of objects by empirical study. In the context of the Tube this approach will inject moments of quiet contemplation into a busy, working landscape.

Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art on the Underground, says: "Anna's project is exciting because it offers customers the chance to encounter artworks across the entire Tube network. We hope that these encounters result in pleasantly unexpected asides to daily journeys". -Anna Barriball("About 60 Miles Of Beautiful Views," Art On The Underground, Transport for London, 2008).


"Ah yes, TFL says we should relish the chance to be constantly reminded that we are under total surveillance at all times. It is clear, however, that many commuters have found the new signs to be neither "pleasant" nor "unexpected".

Britain is acknowledged as the world leader of Orwellian surveillance. An estimated 4.2 million closed-circuit TV cameras observe people going about their everyday business, from getting on a bus to lining up at the bank to driving around London. It's widely estimated that the average Briton is scrutinized by 300 cameras a day and that there is one camera for every 14 people in the country."

-Steve Watson ("New Big Brother London Underground Signs Stir Controversy",, 6.24.08).


Monday, June 23, 2008

The Hedonists of Power: Smoke & Mirrors, Tricks & Con Games...

Washington has become Versailles. We are ruled, entertained and informed by courtiers. The popular media are courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are courtiers. Our pundits and experts are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games. We are being had.

The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation’s greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism.

No journalist makes $5 million a year. No journalist has a comfortable, cozy relationship with the powerful. No journalist believes that acting as a conduit, or a stenographer, for the powerful is a primary part of his or her calling. Those in power fear and dislike real journalists. Ask Seymour Hersh and Amy Goodman how often Bush or Cheney has invited them to dinner at the White House or offered them an interview.

"All Governments Lie", as I.F. Stone pointed out, and it is the job of the journalist to do the hard, tedious reporting to shine a light on these lies. It is the job of courtiers, those on television playing the role of journalists, to feed off the scraps tossed to them by the powerful and NEVER QUESTION THE SYSTEM. In the slang of the profession, these television courtiers are “throats.” These courtiers, including the late Tim Russert, never gave a voice to credible critics in the buildup to the war against Iraq. They were too busy playing their roles as red-blooded American patriots. They never fought back in their public forums against the steady erosion of our civil liberties and the trashing of our Constitution. These courtiers blindly accept the administration’s current propaganda to justify an attack on Iran. They parrot this propaganda. They dare not defy the corporate state. The corporations that employ them make them famous and rich. It is their Faustian pact. No class of courtiers, from the eunuchs behind Manchus in the 19th century to the Baghdad caliphs of the Abbasid caliphate, has ever transformed itself into a responsible elite. Courtiers are hedonists of power.

Our Versailles was busy this past week. The Democrats passed the FISA BILL which PROVIDES IMMUNITY FOR TELECOMS that cooperated with the National Security Agency’s illegal surveillance over the past six years. This bill, which when signed means we will never know the extent of the Bush White House’s violation of our civil liberties, is expected to be adopted by the Senate. BARACK OBAMA HAS PROMISED TO SIGN IT in the name of national security. The bill gives the U.S. government a license to eavesdrop on our phone calls and e-mails. It demolishes our right to privacy. It endangers the work of journalists, human rights workers, crusading lawyers and whistle-blowers who attempt to expose abuses the government seeks to hide. These private communications can be stored indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to other governments as well. The bill, once signed into law, will make it possible for those in power to identify and silence anyone who dares to make public information that defies the official narrative.

Being a courtier, and Obama is one of the best, requires agility and eloquence. The most talented of them can be lauded as persuasive actors. They entertain us. They make us feel good. They convince us they are our friends. We would like to have dinner with them. They are the smiley faces of a corporate state that has hijacked the government and is raping the nation. When the corporations make their iron demands these courtiers drop to their knees, whether to placate the telecommunications companies that fund their campaigns and want to be protected from lawsuits, or to permit oil and gas companies to rake in obscene profits and keep in place the vast subsidies of corporate welfare doled out by the state.

We cannot differentiate between illusion and reality. We trust courtiers wearing face powder who deceive us in the name of journalism. We trust courtiers in our political parties who promise to fight for our interests and then pass bill after bill to further corporate fraud and abuse. We confuse how we feel about courtiers like Obama and Russert with real information, facts and knowledge. We chant in unison with Obama that we want change, we yell “yes we can,” and then stand dumbly by as he coldly votes away our civil liberties. The Democratic Party, including Obama, continues to fund the war. It refuses to impeach Bush and Cheney. It allows the government to spy on us without warrants or cause. And then it tells us it is our salvation. This is a form of collective domestic abuse. And, as so often happens in the weird pathology of victim and victimizer, we keep coming back for more.

-Chris Hedges,( "The Hedonists of Power", is a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times who will vote for Ralph Nader in November, 6.23.08. Image: -Nalindes, Flickr, "Mexican Black King Snake a.k.a Lampropeltis Getula Nigrita").

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Consuming Passions: The Age Of Heroic Consumption...The Tyranny of Money...

The age of heroic consumption is surely drawing to a close. The inspiration of those whose principal virtue is the money that permits them to lay claim to a disproportionate share of the earth’s resources is being by-passed in a world where a population of 9 billion must be accommodated by 2050.

The price tag on the possessions of the wealthy — their 20 million dollar mansions, 5 million dollar yachts, extravagant couture and priceless jewels, their private jets and lives apart from the great majority of humankind — are rapidly losing their power to enchant the rest of us. In an age when scientists, humanitarians and moral leaders are exhorting human beings to look to our impact upon the earth — and not solely in relation to the carbon footprint — it has become obsolete to gaze with breathless admiration upon individuals dedicated to the proposition that a whole world should be dying of consumption, and not just the 1.6m who perish from tuberculosis each year.

This startling proposition runs directly into another received idea, which is that the risk of disorder is a result of excessive materialism. What we suffer from is not a surfeit of materialism, but a deficiency of it; for if we truly valued the material basis upon which all human systems depend, we would exhibit a far greater reverence for the physical world we inhabit. If materialism means respect for the elements that sustain life, then we are gravely wanting in it. What is sometimes referred to as “materialism” is actually something else: perhaps a distorted kind of mysticism which believes we can use up the earth and still avoid the consequences of our omnivorous appetites.

This is why the gross consumers of the age will be scorned as the pitiable destroyers of the sustenance, not only of the poor of today, but of everyone’s tomorrow. It is natural for people to want to do the best for their children, but this is generally interpreted as leaving them a private monetary inheritance; but if the other side of this legacy is a befouled world, the enjoyment of today’s privilege may become the curse of the future. In any case, there is a great deal of humbug in pious concern expressed for our children’s children, since this rarely prevents those who give voice to such tender sentiments from living as though there were no tomorrow. “Live the dream” has become the cliche of the hour; although it requires no great wisdom to understand that dreams realized soon turn to ashes.

Everything that can be done to bring the age of heroic consumption to its close should be done. This means the promotion of a different understanding of wealth. The myriad aspects of a truly rich and fulfilled life should be rescued from the tyranny of money. Perhaps we have not entirely forgotten that the most joyful and exhilarating of human occupations derive from self-reliance, self-provisioning, not only in the basic goods that sustain life, but also in satisfactions that arise from the cost-free resourcefulness of ourselves and others.

This is why the A-listers, the celebs, the fat cats, the big spenders, the conspicuous consumers do not represent a “lifestyle” to be emulated at all costs, but serve as warning of the spector of depletion and exhaustion awaiting us within a short space of time. When Thorstein Veblen wrote his Theory of the Leisure Class at the end of the 19th century, he saw “conspicuous waste and show” as a replacement for “earlier and more primitive displays of physical prowess”. Even his caustic insights could not anticipate the degree to which the ornamental in-utility of the very rich would lead them to become pioneers of planetary demolition.

Of course, downgrading the exploits of the major culprits in ransacking the earth is easier said than done. Cultures are not, as journalists and politicians sometimes suggest, to be discarded or “changed” at will. But sooner or later, a reduction in the abuse of the elements of life will be forced upon the world. If it proves impossible to take preventive action in this regard, we shall soon enough be overtaken by events — oil wars, water wars, even more brutal conflicts over land than we have already seen, food wars, social disruption, rioting and breakdown, such as the World Bank has already detected in some 37 countries in the last two years, will be the form in which the relentless plunder of the planet will resolve itself.

Just as the age of heroic labor — the Stakhanovite idea of selfless dedication to the building of Communism — perished, so heroic consumption — that equally selfless dedication to sustaining capitalism — has also had its day. Stakhanovites were so called after a coalminer in the Soviet Union in 1935 who exceeded his work quota by 14 times the fixed level, producing 102 tons of coal in six hours. This became a kind of “spontaneous” official policy in the construction of Socialism.

How laughably old-fashioned this now sounds. And how swiftly things that appear immutable can change. It should be our ambition to ensure that the work of predatory individuals upon the fruits of the earth comes to appear as archaic and futile as the sacrifice of human energies in the Soviet Union to release the resources which, according to Marx, “slumbered in the lap of social labour”.

Heroic consumption, unlike heroic labor, requires no official sponsorship. The incentive to get rich is so deeply embedded in Capitalism, that it has been seen as an expression of human nature itself. The first task in achieving a decent security for all people on earth is to affirm the distinction between human nature and the nature of Capitalism.

Human beings want, above all, TO SURVIVE. The moral and social elevation of the wealthy and their profligacy suggests that they are prepared to sacrifice even this hitherto imperishable goal for the sake of transforming the beauty and value of the world into a wasteland.

-Jeremy Seabrook (Excerpt:"Consuming Passions",The Guardian/UK,6.10.2008. Image: -Antonio Petruccelli: One of the most famous and sought-after Fortune Magazine covers depicting the chaos and financial ruin left in the wake of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Issue: June, 1937).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Eyewitness To History: Crazy With Fear In San Francisco...

I had $600.00 in gold under my pillow. I awoke as I was thrown out of bed. Attempting to walk, the floor shook so that I fell. I grabbed my clothing and rushed down into the office, where dozens were already congregated. Suddenly the lights went out, and every one rushed for the door.

Outside I witnessed a sight I never want to see again. It was dawn and light. I looked up. The air was filled with falling stones. People around me were crushed to death on all sides. All around the huge buildings were shaking and waving. Every moment there were reports like 100 cannons going off at one time. Then streams of fire would shoot out, and other reports followed.

I asked a man standing next to me what happened. Before he could answer a thousand bricks fell on him and he was killed. A woman threw her arms around my neck. I pushed her away and fled. All around me buildings were rocking and flames shooting. As I ran people on all sides were crying, praying and calling for help. I thought the end of the world had come.

I met a Catholic priest, and he said: 'We must get to the ferry.' He knew the way, and we rushed down Market Street. Men, women and children were crawling from the debris. Hundreds were rushing down the street and every minute people were felled by debris.

At places the streets had cracked and opened. Chasms extended in all directions. I saw a drove of cattle, wild with fright, rushing up Market Street. I crouched beside a swaying building. As they came nearer they disappeared, seeming to drop out into the earth. When the last had gone I went nearer and found they had indeed been precipitated into the earth, a wide fissure having swallowed them. I was crazy with fear and the horrible sights.

How I reached the ferry I cannot say. It was bedlam, pandemonium and hell rolled into one. There must have been 10,000 people trying to get on that boat. Men and women fought like wildcats to push their way aboard. Clothes were torn from the backs of men and women and children indiscriminately. Women fainted, and there was no water at hand with which to revive them. Men lost their reason at those awful moments. One big, strong man, beat his head against one of the iron pillars on the dock, and cried out in a loud voice: 'This fire must be put out! The city must be saved!' It was awful."

-G.A. Raymond (EyewitnesstoHistory.Com: "A Narrow Escape," Eyewitness Account of The Great San Francisco Earthquake, The Palace Hotel, SF, 5:15AM, 4.18.1906 Image: San Francisco, Bush & Market Street Intersection Post-Quake, Library of Congress, April 18, 1906).

"The San Francisco Earthquake of April 18, 1906 ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes of all time. Today, its importance comes more from the wealth of scientific knowledge derived from it than from its sheer size. Rupturing the northernmost 296 miles (477 kilometers) of the San Andreas fault from northwest of San Juan Bautista to the triple junction at Cape Mendocino, the earthquake confounded contemporary geologists with its large, horizontal displacements and great rupture length. Indeed, the significance of the fault and recognition of its large cumulative offset would not be fully appreciated until the advent of plate tectonics more than half a century later. Analysis of the 1906 displacements and strain in the surrounding crust led Reid (1910) to formulate his elastic-rebound theory of the earthquake source, which remains today the principal model of the earthquake cycle."

-Ellsworth, W.L., Lindh, A.G., Prescott, W.H., and Herd, D.G., "The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake And The Seismic Cycle in Simpson, D.W., and Richards, P.G., eds., Earthquake Prediction: An International Review "(Maurice Ewing Series 4): Washington, American Geophysical Union, p. 126-140, 1981).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The News Media: NBC Furthering Fiction...NBC Furthering Lies=Propaganda 101

"I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that. … The right questions were asked. I think there’s a lot of critics-and I guess we can count Scott McClellan as one-who think that, if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, ‘This is bogus,’ and ‘You’re a liar,’ and ‘Why are you doing this?’ that we didn’t do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role."

That was NBC correspondent David Gregory, appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews.” He was responding to former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s new book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.” McClellan has challenged the role of the U.S. media in investigating and reporting U.S. policy in times of conflict, especially when it comes to covering the government itself.

While the diversity of the United States dictates that there will be a divergence of consensus when it comes to individual values and ideals, the collective ought to agree that the foundation upon which all American values and ideals should be judged is the U.S. Constitution, setting forth as it does a framework of law which unites us all. To hold the Constitution up as a basis upon which to criticize the actions of any given president is perhaps the most patriotic act an American can engage in. As Theodore Roosevelt himself noted, “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.”

Now David Gregory, and others who populate that curious slice of Americana known as “the media,” may hold that they, as journalists, operate on a different level than the average American citizen. As Mr. Gregory notes, it is not their “role” to question or debate policy set forth by the president. This is curious, coming from a leading member of a news team that prides itself on the “investigative” quality of its reporting. If we take Gregory at face value, it seems his only job (or “role”) is to simply parrot the policy formulations put forward by administration officials, that the integrity of journalism precludes the reporter from taking sides, and that any aggressive questioning concerning the veracity, or morality, or legality of any given policy would, in its own right, constitute opposition to said policy, and as such would be “taking sides.”

This, of course, is journalism in its most puritanical form, the ideal that the reporter simply reports, and keeps his or her personal opinion segregated from the “facts” as they are being presented. While it would be a farcical stretch for David Gregory, or any other mainstream reporter or correspondent, to realistically claim ownership of such a noble mantle, it appears that is exactly what Gregory did when he set forth the parameters of what his “role” was, and is, in reporting on stories such as the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Bush administration’s case for war. For this to be valid, however, the issue of journalistic integrity would need to apply not only to the individual reporter or correspondent, but also to the entire system to which the given reporter or correspondent belonged. In the case of Gregory, therefore, we must not only bring into the mix his own individual performance, but also that of NBC News and its parent organization, General Electric.

The media were not interested in reporting the facts, but rather furthering a fiction. Time after time, I backed my opposition to the Bush administration’s “case” for war on Iraq with hard facts, citing evidence that could be readily checked by these erstwhile journalists had they been so inclined. Instead, my integrity and character were impugned by these simple recorders of “fact”, further enabling the fiction pushed by the administration into the mainstream, unchallenged and unquestioned, to be digested by the American public as truth.

Scott McClellan is correct to point out the complicity of the media in facilitating the rush to war. David Gregory is disingenuous in his denial that this was indeed the case. Jeff Cohen, a former producer at MSNBC, has written about the pressures placed on him and Phil Donahue leading to the cancellation of the latter’s top-rated television show just before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Katie Couric, the former co-host of NBC’s “Today Show” (and current news anchor for CBS News), has tacitly acknowledged “PRESSURE” from above when it came to framing interviews in a manner that was detrimental to the Bush administration’s case for war. Jessica Yellin, who before the war in Iraq worked for MSNBC, put it best: “I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.“When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under ENORMOUS PRESSURE FROM CORPORATE EXECUTIVES, frankly, to make sure that this was a WAR THAT WAS PRESENTED in a way that was CONSISTENT WITH THE PATRIOTIC FEVER AND THE PRESIDENT'S HIGH APPROVAL RATINGS.”

Now, one would think that a journalist with the self-proclaimed integrity of Gregory would jump at the opportunity to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and focus on this story line, if for no other reason than to prove it wrong and thereby clear his name (guilty by association, at the very least) and the name of the organization he represents. The matter is simple, on the surface: NBC network executives either did, or didn’t, pressure their producers and reporters when it came to covering and framing stories. Surely an investigative reporter of Gregory’s talent can get to the bottom of this one?

David Gregory has vociferously defended the role he and NBC News played in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Scott McClellan’s new book, combined with testimony from other sources, including those from within the NBC News family, has called into question the integrity of the operation Gregory serves. An allegation from a credible source has been made, and any denial must therefore be backed with verifiable, documented information. To paraphrase former Secretary of State Colin Powell when talking about Iraq before the invasion, the burden is on NBC to prove that it wasn’t complicit with the Bush administration concerning its reporting on Iraq and administration policies, and not on NBC’s critics to prove that it was.

The old proverb notes that " a fish stinks from its head." Something that aptly describes the General Electric/NBC News team when discussing the issue of Iraq. I challenge David Gregory to demonstrate otherwise.

-Scott Ritter ("Investigate This," TruthDig, 6-10-2008)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gore Vidal: On Bush...The Courage To Sack Him....

It will take the United States a century to recover from the damage wreaked by President George. W Bush, writer Gore Vidal said in an interview published on Saturday.

"The president behaved like a virtual criminal but we didn't have the courage to sack him for fear of violating the American constitution," Vidal told the El Mundo newspaper.

The author, a trenchant critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq, said it would take the United States "100 years to repair the damage caused by Bush. We live in a dictatorship. We have a fascist government...which controls the media," Vidal also said presidential aspirant Barack Obama was "intelligent" adding that it would be a "novelty" to have an "intelligent" person in the White House. -Gore Vidal (El Mundo News, Spain 6.14.08)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gore Vidal’s Article of Impeachment...High Crimes & Misdemeanors...

On June 9, 2008, a counterrevolution began on the floor of the House of Representatives against the gas and oil crooks who had seized control of the federal government. This counterrevolution began in the exact place which had slumbered during the all-out assault on our liberties and the Constitution itself.

I wish to draw the attention of the blog world to Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment presented to the House in order that two faithless public servants be removed from office for crimes against the American people. As I listened to Rep. Kucinich invoke the great engine of impeachment — he listed some 35 crimes by these two faithless officials — we heard, like great bells tolling, the voice of the Constitution itself speak out ringingly against those who had tried to destroy it.

Although this is the most important motion made in Congress in the 21st century, it was also the most significant plea for a restoration of the republic, which had been swept to one side by the mad antics of a president bent on great crime. And as I listened with awe to Kucinich, I realized that no newspaper in the U.S., no broadcast or cable network, would pay much notice to the fact that a highly respected member of Congress was asking for the president and vice president to be tried for crimes which were carefully listed by Kucinich in his articles requesting impeachment.

But then I have known for a long time that the media of the U.S. and too many of its elected officials give not a flying fuck for the welfare of this republic, and so I turned, as I often do, to the foreign press for a clear report of what has been going on in Congress. We all know how the self-described “war hero,” Mr. John McCain, likes to snigger at France, while the notion that he is a hero of any kind is what we should be sniggering at. It is Le Monde, a French newspaper, that told a story the next day hardly touched by The New York Times or The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal or, in fact, any other major American media outlet.

As for TV? Well, there wasn’t much — you see, we dare not be divisive because it upsets our masters who know that this is a perfect country, and the fact that so many in it don’t like it means that they have been terribly spoiled by the greatest health service on Earth, the greatest justice system, the greatest number of occupied prisons — two and a half million Americans are prisoners — what a great tribute to our penal passions!

Naturally, I do not want to sound hard, but let me point out that even a banana Republican would be distressed to discover how much of our nation’s treasury has been siphoned off by our vice president in the interest of his Cosa Nostra company, Halliburton, the lawless gang of mercenaries set loose by his administration in the Middle East.

But there it was on the first page of Le Monde. The House of Representatives, which was intended to be the democratic chamber, at last was alert to its function, and the bravest of its members set in motion the articles of impeachment of the most dangerous president in our history. Rep Kucinich listed some 30-odd articles describing impeachable offenses committed by the president and vice president, neither of whom had ever been the clear choice of our sleeping polity for any office.

Some months ago, Kucinich had made the case against Dick Cheney. Now he had the principal malefactor in his view under the title “Articles of Impeachment for President George W. Bush”! “Resolved, that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate.” The purpose of the resolve is that he be duly tried by the Senate, and if found guilty, be removed from office. At this point, Rep. Kucinich presented his 35 articles detailing various high crimes and misdemeanors for which removal from office was demanded by the framers of the Constitution.

Update: On Wednesday, the House voted by 251 to 166 to send Rep. Kucinich’s articles of impeachment to a committee which probably won’t get to the matter before Bush leaves office, a strategy that is “often used to kill legislation,” as the Associated Press noted later that day.

-Gore Vidal (TruthDig, 6.12.08)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lucretius: Fall Of The Rebel Angels...

"All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher."

-Titus Lucretius Carus, (99 BC-55 BC: "On The Nature Of Things," "Roman poet and the author of the philosophical epic De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of the Universe), a comprehensive exposition of the Epicurean world-view. Very little is known of the poet’s life, though a sense of his character and personality emerges vividly from his poem. The stress and tumult of his times stands in the background of his work and partly explains his personal attraction and commitment to Epicureanism, with its elevation of intellectual pleasure and tranquility of mind and its dim view of the world of social strife and political violence. His epic is presented in six books and undertakes a full and completely naturalistic explanation of the physical origin, structure, and destiny of the universe. Included in this presentation are theories of the atomic structure of matter and the emergence and evolution of life forms – ideas that would eventually form a crucial foundation and background for the development of western science.

In addition to his literary and scientific influence, Lucretius has been a major source of inspiration for a wide range of modern philosophers, including Gassendi, Bergson, Spencer, Whitehead, and Teilhard de Chardin." -Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Image: -Pieter Bruegel,"The Fall Of The Rebel Angels," Oil on Oak, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 1562).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Media & Iraq: When The Abnormal Becomes Normal...

Armando Acuna, public editor of the Sacramento Bee, turned a Sunday column into a public flogging for both his editors and the nation's news media. They had allowed the third-longest war in American history to slip off the radar screen, and he had the numbers to prove it. The public also got a scolding for its meager interest in a controversial conflict that is costing taxpayers about $12.5 billion a month, or nearly $5,000 a second, according to some calculations. In his March 30 commentary, Acuna noted: "There's enough shame..for everyone to share."

He had watched stories about Iraq move from 1A to the inside pages of his newspaper, if they ran at all. He understood the editors' frustration over how to handle the mind-numbing cycles of violence and complex issues surrounding Operation Iraqi Freedom. "People feel powerless about this war," he said in an interview in April. Acuna knew the Sacramento Bee was not alone. For long stretches over the past 12 months, Iraq virtually disappeared from the front pages of the nation's newspapers and from the nightly network newscasts. The American press and the American people had lost interest in the war.

The decline in coverage of Iraq has been staggering.

During the first 10 weeks of 2007, Iraq accounted for 23 percent of the newshole fornetwork TV news. In 2008, it plummeted to 3 percent during that period. On cable networks it fell from 24 percent to 1 percent, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The numbers also were dismal for the country's dailies. By Acuna's count, during the first three months of this year, front-page stories about Iraq in the Bee were down 70 percent from the same time last year. Articles about Iraq once topped the list for reader feedback. By mid-2007, "Their interest just dropped off; it was noticeable to me," says the public editor.

A daily tracking of 65 newspapers by the Associated Press confirms a dip in page-one play throughout the country. In September 2007, the AP found 457 Iraq-related stories (154 by the AP) on front pages, many related to a progress report delivered to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Over the succeeding months, that number fell to as low as 49. A spike in March 2008 was largely due to a rash of stories keyed to the conflict's fifth anniversary, according to AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman.

During the early stages of shock and awe, Americans were glued to the news as Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad and sweat-soaked Marines bivouacked in his luxurious palaces. It was a huge story when President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, and declared major combat operations were over. By March 2008, a striking reversal had taken place. Only 28 percent of Americans knew that 4,000 military personnel had been killed in the conflict, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Eight months earlier, 54 percent could cite the correct casualty rate.

TV news was a vivid indicator of the declining interest. The three broadcast networks' nightly newscasts devoted more than 4,100 minutes to Iraq in 2003 and 3,000 in 2004. That leveled off to 2,000 annually. By late 2007, it was half that, according to Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the nightly news (

Despite the pile of evidence of waning coverage, news managers interviewed for this story consistently maintained there was no conscious decision to back off. "I wasn't hearing that in our newsroom," says Margaret Sullivan, editor of the Buffalo News. Yet numbers show that attention to the war plummeted at the Buffalo paper as it did at other news outlets. Why the dramatic drop-off? Gatekeepers offer a variety of reasons, from the enormous danger for journalists on the ground in Iraq to plunging newsroom budgets and shrinking news space. Competing megastories on the home front like the presidential primaries and the sagging economy figure into the equation. So does the exorbitant cost of keeping correspondents in Baghdad.

Los Angeles Times' foreign editor Marjorie Miller attributes the decline to three factors:

• The economic downturn and the contentious presidential primaries have sucked oxygen from Iraq. "We have a woman, an African American and a senior running for president," Miller says. "That is a very big story."

• With no solutions in sight, with no light at the end of the tunnel, war fatigue has become a factor. Over the years, a bleak sameness has settled into accounts of suicide bombings and brutal sectarian violence. Insurgents fighting counterinsurgents are hard to translate to an American audience.

• The sheer cost of keeping correspondents on the ground in Baghdad is trimming the roster of journalists. The expense is "unlike anything we've ever faced. We have shouldered the financial burden so far, but we are really squeezed," Miller says. Earlier, the L.A. Times had as many as five Western correspondents in the field. The bureau is down to two or three plus Iraqi staff.

Other media decision-makers echo Miller's analysis.

When Lara Logan, the high-profile chief senior foreign correspondent for CBS News, is rotated out of Iraq, she might not be replaced, says her boss, Senior Vice President Paul Friedman. The network is sending in fewer Westerners from European and American bureaus and depending more on local staff, a common practice for media outlets with personnel in Iraq. "We won't pull out, but we are making adjustments," Friedman says.

Friedman defends the cutbacks: "One of the definitions of news is change, and there are long periods now in Iraq when very little changes. Therefore, it's difficult for the Iraq story to fight its way on the air against other news where change is involved," such as the political campaign, he says.

John Stack, Fox News Channel's vice president for newsgathering, has no qualms about allotting more airtime to the presidential campaign than to Iraq. "This is a very big story playing out on the screen every night... The time devoted to news is finite," Stack says. "It's a matter of shifting to another story of national interest." Despite diminished emphasis on the war, Fox has no plans to cut back its Baghdad operation.

McClatchy Newspapers maintains a presence in Baghdad — a bureau chief, a rotating staffer generally from one of the chain's papers and six local staffers — but the decline in violence since the U.S. troop buildup last year has resulted in fewer daily stories, says Foreign Editor Roy Gutman. "We produce according to the news. New York Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira says she is content to run fewer stories than in the past. "But we want them to have impact. And, of course, when there are big running stories, we will stay on them every day." Editors did not sit in a news budget meeting and make a conscious decision to cut back on Iraq coverage, George says. He believes the repetitiveness of the storyline has something to do with the decline. "I see and hear it all the time. It seems like a bad dream, and the public's not interested in revisiting it unless there is a major development. If I'm outside the newsroom and Iraq comes up, I hear groans. People say, 'More bad news.' Stories about the economy are moving up the news scale."

The reader representative for the San Francisco Chronicle doesn't think placement of stories about Iraq makes much difference. He reasons that five years in, most readers have formed clear opinions about the war. They're not likely to change their minds one way or another if a story runs on page one or page three, says Dick Rogers. "The public has become accustomed to the steady drumbeat of violence out of Iraq. A report of 20 or 30 killed doesn't bring fresh insight for a lot of people." Americans might care if they could witness more of the human toll. That's the approach the Washington Post's Dana Milbank took in an April 24 piece titled, "What the Family Would Let You See, the Pentagon Obstructs."

When Lt. Col. Billy Hall was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in April, his family gave the media permission to cover the ceremony — he is among the highest-ranking officers to be killed in Iraq. But, according to Milbank, the military did everything it could to keep the journalists away, isolating them some 50 yards away behind a yellow rope. The "de facto ban on media at Arlington funerals fits neatly" with White House efforts "to sanitize the war in Iraq," and that, in turn, has helped keep the bloodshed out of the public's mind, Milbank wrote in his Washington Sketch feature. There have been similar complaints over the years about the administration's policy that bans on-base photography of coffins returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You can forgive the American public for being shocked at the recent violence in Basra [in March]. From the lack of press coverage that's out there, they probably thought the war was over," says Mitchell, who wrote about media performance in the book "So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits — and the President — Failed on Iraq." Both journalists point to cause and effect: The public tends to take cues from the media about what is important. If Iraq is pushed to a back burner, the signal is clear — the war no longer is a top priority. It follows that news consumers lose interest and turn their attention elsewhere. The Pew study found exactly that: As news coverage of the war diminished, so too did the public interest in Iraq.

Ellen Hume, research director at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media and a former journalist, believes the decline in Iraq news could be linked to a larger issue — profits. "The problem doesn't seem to be valuing coverage of the war; it's more about the business model of journalism today and what that market requires," Hume says. "There is no sense that [the media] are going to be able to meet the numbers that their corporate owners require by offering news about a downer subject like Iraq. It's a terrible dilemma for news organizations."

Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, points to May 24, 2007, as a major turning point in the coverage of U.S. policy toward Iraq. That's the day Congress voted to continue to fund the war without troop withdrawal timetables, giving the White House a major victory in a clash with the Democratic leadership over who would control the purse strings and thus the future of the war. Democrats felt they had a mandate from Americans to bring the troops home. President Bush stuck to a hard line and came out the victor. "The political fight was over," Jurkowitz says. "Iraq no longer was a hot story. The media began looking elsewhere." "You could see the coverage of the political debate [over Iraq] shrink noticeably. The drop was dramatic," says Jurkowitz, who believes the press has an obligation to cover stories about Iraq even when the political landscape changes. "It is hard to say that the media has spurred any meaningful debate in America on this."

Is there anything to the concept of war fatigue or a psychological numbing that comes with rote reports of violence? Susan Tifft, professor of journalism and public policy at Duke University, believes there is. She reasons that humans do adapt when the abnormal gradually becomes normal, such as a bloody and seemingly endless conflict far from America's shores. Tifft explains that despite tensions of the Cold War, America's default position for many years had been peace. Now the default position — the environment in which Americans live — is war. "And somehow we have gotten used to it. That's why it seems like wallpaper or Muzak. It's oddly normal and just part of the atmosphere," she says.

Does an acceptance of the status quo indicate helplessness or rational resignation on the part of the public and the press? Is it a survival mechanism? Harvard University Professor Howard Gardner, a psychologist and social scientist, has explored what it is about the way humans operate that might allow this to happen. Gardner explains that when a news story becomes repetitive, people "habituate" — the technical term for what happens when they no longer take in information. "You can be sure that if American deaths were going up, or if there was a draft, then there would not be acceptance of the status quo," Gardner wrote in an April 17 e-mail. "But American deaths are pretty small, and the children of the political, business and chattering classes are not dying, and so the war no longer is on the radar screen most of the time. The bad economy has replaced it, and no one has yet succeeded in tying the trillion-dollar war to the decline in the economy."

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof is one who has tried. In a March 23 op-ed column, he quoted Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz as saying the "present economic mess" is very much related to the Iraq war, which also "is partially responsible for soaring oil prices." Stiglitz calculated the eventual total cost to be about $3 trillion. Kristof tossed out plenty of fodder for stories: "A congressional study by the Joint Economic Committee found that the sums spent on the Iraq war each day could enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start or give Pell Grants to 153,000 students to attend college... [A] day's Iraq spending would finance another 11,000 border patrol agents or 9,000 police officers."

In Denver, Jason Salzman has been thinking along the same lines. The media critic for the Rocky Mountain News suggested in a February 16 column that news organizations "treat the economic costs of the war as they've treated U.S. casualties." After the death of the 3,000th American soldier, for instance, his newspaper printed the names of all the dead on the front page. To mark economic milestones, Salzman would like to see page one filled with graphics representing dollars Colorado communities have lost to the war. "It's hard for me to realize why more reporters don't do these stories about the impact of the cost of the war back home," he said in an interview.

Another aspect of the war that could use more scrutiny is the Iraqi oil industry: Where is the money going? Who is benefiting? Why isn't oil money paying for a fair share of reconstruction costs? Similarly, much more attention could be paid to the ramifications of stretching America's military to the limit.

And what about the impact of the war on the lives of ordinary Iraqis? In April, Los Angeles Times correspondent Alexandra Zavis filed a story about a ballet school in Baghdad that had become an oasis for children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. "Now, more than ever," Zavis wrote in an e-mail interview, it "is the responsibility of journalists to put a name and a face on the mind-numbing statistics, to take readers into the lives of ordinary Iraqis, and to find ways to convey what this unimaginable bloodshed means to the people who live it."

Jurkowitz agrees. That's why he's predicting a renaissance in Iraq coverage in the coming months. Battle lines already have been drawn: Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican candidate, has vowed to stay the course in Iraq until victory is achieved. The Democrats favor withdrawing U.S. forces, perhaps beginning as early as six months after taking the oath of office. "When we get in the general election mode, Iraq will be a big issue. The candidates will set the agenda for the discussion and the media will pick it up. This could reinvigorate the debate," Jurkowitz says. "The war will be back in the headlines." Despite the litany of reasons, some journalists still take a "shame on you" attitude toward those who have relegated the Iraq war to second-class status. Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher, faults newsroom leaders for shortchanging "the biggest political and moral issue of our time."

- Sherry Ricchiardi (Excerpt: "Whatever Happened to Iraq?" American Journal Review, June/July, 2008. Image: -Chrysaora:Flikr, TV Set In Black, 2007).

Friday, June 6, 2008

June 6, 1968: Beautiful Bobby..."Is Everyone Else All Right?"

"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be rememberd simply as a good decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. "Those of us, who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world. "As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:" 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'"

-Edward (Teddy) Kennedy (Eulogy for his brother Robert F. Kennedy, Last line quotes: George Bernard Shaw, 6.9.1968)

Last words(spoken to his wife Ethel): "Is everyone else all right?" (6.6.1968)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Orson Welles & Howard Koch: On Mars..."Isn't There Anyone On The Air?"

"ANNOUNCER: I'm speaking from the roof of the Broadcasting Building -- I'm speaking from the roof of the Broadcasting Building, New York City. The bells you hear are ringing to warn the people to evacuate the city as the Martians approach. Estimated in last two hours three million people have moved out along the roads to the north -- Hutchison River Parkway still kept open for motor traffic. Avoid bridges to Long Island -- hopelessly jammed. All communication with Jersey shore closed ten minutes ago. No more defenses. Our army wiped out -- artillery, air force, everything wiped out. This may be the last broadcast. We'll stay here to the end.

People are holding service here below us in the cathedral. Now I look down the harbor, all -- all manner of boats, overloaded with fleeing population, pulling out from docks. Streets are all jammed. Noise in crowds like New Year's Eve in city. Wait a minute, the -- the enemy's now in sight above the Palisades: five -- five great machines. First one is crossing the river. I can see it from here, wading -- wading the Hudson like a man wading through a brook. A bulletin is handed me: Martian cylinders are falling all over the country -- one outside of Buffalo, one in Chicago, St. Louis, seem to be timed and spaced. Now the first machine reaches the shore. He stands watching, looking over the city. His steel, cowlish head is even with the skyscrapers. He waits for the others. They rise like a line of new towers on the city's west side. Now they're lifting their metal hands. This is the end now. Smoke comes out, black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now. They're running towards the East River, thousands of them, dropping in like rats. Now the smoke's spreading faster. It's reached Times Square. People are trying to run away from it, but it's no use.

They're -- They're falling like flies. Now the smoke's crossing Sixth Avenue...Fifth Avenue...a hundred yards's -- it's fifty feet....

OPERATOR FOUR: 2X2L calling CQ. 2X2L calling CQ. 2X2L calling CQ. New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone...2X2L --

PIERSON: As I set down these notes on paper, I am obsessed by the thought that I may be the last living man on earth. I've been hiding in this empty house near Grover's Mill -- a small island of daylight cut off by the black smoke from the rest of the world. All that happened before the arrival of these monstrous creatures in the world now seems part of another life, a life that has no continuity with the present, furtive existence of the lonely derelict who pencils these words on the back of some astronomical notes bearing the signature of Richard Pierson. I look down at my blackened hands, my torn shoes, my tattered clothes, and I try to connect them with a professor who lives at Princeton, and who on the night of October 20th, glimpsed through his telescope an orange splash of light on a distant planet. My wife, my colleagues, my students, my books, my observatory, my, my world -- where are they? Did they ever exist? Am I Richard Pierson? What day is it? Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks?

In writing down my daily life I tell myself shall preserve human history between the dark covers of this little book that was meant to record the movements of the stars. But to write I must live, and to live, I must eat. I find moldy bread in the kitchen, and an orange not too spoiled to swallow. I keep watch at the window. From time to time I catch sight of a Martian above the black smoke. The smoke still holds the house in its black coil, but at length there's a hissing sound and suddenly I see a Martian mounted on his machine, spraying the air with a jet of steam, as if to dissipate the smoke. I watch in a corner as his huge metal legs nearly brush against the house. Exhausted by terror, I fall asleep."

-Howard Koch ( Radio Adaptation of H.G. Wells classic Sci-Fi novel,"The War Of The Worlds," directed by and starring Orson Welles with the Mercury Theatre On The Air. CBS radio broadcast began at 8:00 PM, Halloween Night, 10.30.1938. Image: "Sunset On Mars," Photograph taken by the Mars Rover on the planet Mars. Mars Rover Exploration Mission, NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell, 5.19.2005).

THE HOAX: Thousands of people were fooled into believing that Invaders from Mars had landed in New Jersey. They mistakenly believed the show was a factual newscast. "Contemporary newspapers reported that panic ensued, with people fleeing the area, and others thinking they could smell the poison gas or could see the flashes of the lightning in the distance. Studies by unnamed historians "calculated" that some six million heard the CBS broadcast; 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were genuinely frightened. Within a month of the broadcast, there were up to 12,500 newspaper articles about its impact, while Adolf Hitler cited the panic, as "evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy." -Wikipedia.

Welles's adaptation is arguably the most famous radio dramatic production in history.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Iraq: It's Impossible To Calculate The Messages On The Streets...

BAQUBA: The real number of the dead is far higher than even the highest declared in death tolls, many Iraqis say. A study by doctors from the Johns Hopkins School of Health in conjunction with Iraqi doctors from al-Mustanceriya University in Baghdad, published in the British medical journal The Lancet in October 2006, estimated the number of excess deaths as a result of the occupation at above 655,000.

Just Foreign Policy, an independent organisation “dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy” offered an updated total of 1,213,716 at the time of this writing. On Sep. 14, 2007, Opinion Research Business (ORB), an independent polling agency located in London, produced a figure of 1,220,580 deaths as a result of the invasion. These estimates are above any official figures from Iraq, but they do consider the reported official figures.

Iraqis believe that the authorities are hiding these figures. “The U.S. military benefits from hiding the real totals,” said a political analyst who declined to give his name because of the atmosphere of fear within Iraq. “And the Iraqi government is a puppet of the Americans, so their figures are ridiculously low as well.”

The report published in The Lancet did not take into account many circumstances of death, say residents in Baquba, capital of Diyala province 40km north of capital Baghdad.

“All people know that a large number of bodies are dropped into the Diyala river.” said a local resident. “I was kidnapped and taken to a village called Huwaider, which is completely Shia and located on the Diyala River. Sunnis there are killed and dropped in the river by militiamen, but I was freed by the U.S Army. “People in all the villages on the river have gotten used to seeing bodies floating in the river."

“I lived in Gatoon district, the volatile stronghold of the militants in Baquba,” Yasir al-Azawi, a 37-year-old truck driver told IPS. “Everyday I saw vehicles dropping bodies in the river. Everyone in my district knows this truth; that the river contained an extraordinary number of bodies to the extent that living in that place became impossible. We left our home and moved to live in the north of Iraq.” An officer at the directorate-general of police for Diyala province said the number of dead is impossible to calculate exactly.

“When the new security plan began in Diyala, some of the arrested militants confessed that they were burying bodies.
Some of them led us to the places where they buried the bodies. We found hundreds by digging in the areas that are a stronghold of the militants, and sometimes in the gardens of the houses they were living in, or in a place nearby.”

An eyewitness at the Baquba morgue spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity. “I was looking for my relative who was kidnapped and then killed, and I saw an ambulance moving the dead who were killed by militants, I asked the driver about these bodies. He said that the Iraqi army found them in houses and in holes dug within the houses. I also saw a skeleton among the bodies.”

Many believe that the number of the dead is higher than these studies reflect also because the lack of access to areas controlled by militias and other fighters prevents police and army personnel from finding and collecting bodies. A policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS that “we were moving the bodies from the main streets of the city through patrols. A body that may have been dropped in the street is a message for people. They dropped it purposely. But these are only a few; the bodies of most we believe were killed, were never found.

“The morgue continues to receive bodies brought by the police or the ambulance,” said an employee at the Baquba morgue. “We used to receive many daily. The capacity of the morgue was not enough, so they were buried after certain procedures like taking photos or waiting for the families to ask about them and to take them. Sometimes, at times of bombing and disastrous accidents, we were receiving hundreds of bodies.”

“Hundreds of families come to the provincial office everyday to ask about their loved ones who were kidnapped; they do not know whether they are dead or alive,”
an employee at the governor’s office told IPS. “Often the Iraqi army finds records of the dead from the militants through their confessions. Every week there are new lists of names of those who were killed by the militants. People come to find out whether their loved ones are dead, in order to stop searching.” New burial grounds are found often, and the dead are usually not recorded. Many residents told IPS that farmers commonly find bones in their fields.

-Ahmed Ali & Dahr Jamail (Excerpt: "Iraq Death Toll: Above Highest Estimate",Inter Press Service, 6.2.2008, Image: -Hendrick van Cleve (1525-1589) The Tower of Babel," 16th Century. Christian Symbolism: The Tower of Babel symbolizes human arrogance and disrespect towards God).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent: Dazzled Yet Sober...

"I have known fear and the terrors of solitude. I have known those fair-weather friends we call tranquilizers and drugs. I have known the prison of depression and the confinement of hospital. But one day, I was able to come through all of that, dazzled yet sober.

-Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008, Stated upon his retirement in January, 2002. Image-Berry Berenson: Edie Baskin in the celebrated YSL Pantsuit, 1972).