Monday, June 23, 2008
What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment & death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment ... inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose. --Thomas Jefferson
One nation that has dramatically exemplified this malevolent Western pattern several times in the twentieth and early twenty-first century is Iran. Dominating the Persian Gulf, situated midway between the Suez Canal and China, possessing 70 million residents,  and controlling more untapped oil than any other known place on earth, Iran has figured prominently in Western foreign policy since England and Russia began competing for influence there in the 1800s, and especially since oil was unearthed there in 1908. Now the country is widely seen as an exporter of terrorism, a rogue state, a nuclear belligerent, a dictatorship, and an implacable foe of Israel and the United States that must be watched carefully and reproached diligently.
Colonialism, domination, imperialism, and big business--cloaked as "free trade", "influence", "expansion", and "the favor of Divine Providence"--are directly responsible for turning the ancient land of Persia into a hotbed of anti-Westernism.
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Comcast Quits EarlyPPT Link (via Consumerist)
Technicians are not showing up for appointments and it appears they are not being held accountable.
* Comcast technicians and subcontractors routinely cancel/reschedule customer appointments without approving or even notifying the customer of the change when they are tired of working.
* Several of my customers have complained that the technician was rude or short with them when they refused to let him come earlier than scheduled.
Scott of New Hudson MI (01/29/07) "I made 3 separate appointments to have Comcast come out and install cable, phone, and high speed internet as part of their Triple Play deal. The first appointment came and went, nobody showed up or called. Set up another appointment, but they did call to cancel that one…"
Is there nothing Google and its offshoots can't do? Google Maps is so impressive I am tempted to moon out of the window and see if it appears, although then I'm sure "The Emperor's Ass" would pop up on some blog dedicated to scouring the maps for oddities. Thanks to folks like that we don't even have to go to the trouble of looking for such things and while an awful lot of anomalies aren't it has proved a very useful tool for crop circle spotting and quite a few people have put together their finds. This is one of the more watchable and recent (March 2008) efforts and it really does help you appreciate them (although whether you think they are rather oblique messages from space brothers*or public works of art). Watch on:
MPAA sez, "We shouldn't have to prove infringement took place before collecting $150k per file in damages"
"Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances," MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.Link
"It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement," van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.
[Right: Jerry's Records, Pittsburgh]
People are no longer leaving their houses. They are content to wirelessly import digital music straight into nano-engineered storage devices implanted in their grey matter, and the digital revolution is killing brick-and-mortar retail. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the record store's death have been greatly exaggerated. Just as people of faith need houses of worship in which to commune, music zealots are no less dependent on shrines dedicated to their own decibel-cranked passion. For that reason, Paste hereby celebrates the record store, bestowing superlatives on a few of America's finest. May they live long and loud!
AMOEBA MUSIC LOS ANGELES
The Best Store in the World. Not Just Music. But Store. Including Target.
Tour posters climb the 50-foot walls, surrounding you as you join the skinny-jeans-wearing bass players and bespectacled screenwriters who listen to an in-store performance from The Bird and the Bee. You can then wander off in search of a red-vinyl Vince Guaraldi album or Tom Jones' Live at Caesar's or the latest posthumous Tupac release. Looks like L.A. doesn't suck after all.
[6400 Sunset Blvd., Amoeba.com]
CRIMINAL RECORDS ATLANTA
Most Likely to Get Arrested for Cramming Too Much Addictive Stuff Into Such a Small Space
Criminal makes the most of its tight square footage, snugly fitting loads of DVDs, books, comics, magazines, toys and stereo accessories, plus multiple listening stations and, of course, its impressive CD-and-vinyl selection—everything from classic Smiths to obscure noise rock. Bonus points for having helpful clerks (not jerks), amazingly diverse in-stores (both Japanese drone-metal band Boris and sweet-voiced gospel singer Charlie Louvin), and for being hugely supportive of the thriving Atlanta music scene.
[466 Moreland Ave. NE, Criminal.com]
OTHER MUSIC NEW YORK CITY
Most Trusted One-Stop For New York Record Dorks
Named partly for the albums the massive Tower Records across the street didn't carry, New York's Other Music has now outlived its late, monolithic neighbor. With a staff that birthed Animal Collective, the adventurous buyers aren't afraid to curate sections classified merely as "In" and "Out."
[15 E. 4th St., OtherMusic.com]
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On the demented, celebrity-crazed, surrender-happy, endlessly-on-the-verge-of-being-wiped-off-the-planet publishing industry. (Note to panicked book lovers: Everything is going to be okay.)
Larry King's backyard in Beverly Hills, with its high hedges, glittering pool, and verdant lawn, is full of Industry People. Besides Larry King, there aren't any movie or television stars here, but you get the sense that these are the people who hire the stars. There is a giant portrait of Larry King made entirely out of Jelly Bellies in the room overlooking the lawn. On the buffet table in the dining room is a mountainous spread of medium-rare bison, a layer-cake-like dip composed of seven varieties of goat cheese, dishes of duck pâté, and platters of other things so bizarre they almost seem like they were ordered off a menu from a myth.
Media mogul and honest-to-god billionaire Ted Turner is wandering around, looking small in his gray suit. He walks up to a woman, goes for an air kiss, and stops himself. "Oh, I'm sorry," he says. "I thought you were my old girlfriend." His accent is very Southern—downright Suhthuhn, in fact—and the chuckle in his voice causes the woman to demur and forgive him. "Meet my new girlfriend," he says to her, introducing a woman not quite half his age, then wandering away, his new girlfriend trailing behind. Also in attendance are a couple dozen booksellers from around the country, here in town for BookExpo America (BEA), the annual book-industry convention. Though the booksellers are dressed in literally the best clothes they own, they still look cheap next to the tanned, coiffed, and face-tucked rich folks standing next to them, simply because a $500 white shirt is always going to look better than a $50 white shirt. The haves and the have-nots stay in their cliques for the most part. A few enterprising book publicity people try to ascend the social ladder, but their small talk doesn't gain them purchase. They are pushed back in the face of having absolutely nothing in common to discuss beyond the air we're all sharing.
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by PAUL KRUGMAN
Blaming environmentalists for high energy prices, never mind the evidence, has been a hallmark of the Bush administration.
And the administration has spent the last eight years trying to convince Congress that the key to America's energy security is opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling — even though estimates from the Energy Information Administration suggest that drilling in the refuge would make very little difference to the energy outlook, and the oil companies themselves aren't especially interested in punching holes in the tundra.
But it still comes as a surprise and a disappointment to see John McCain joining that unfortunate tradition.
I've never taken Mr. McCain's media reputation as a maverick seriously, because on most issues, he's a thoroughly conventional conservative. On energy policy, however, he has in the past seemed to show some independence. Most notably, he voted against the really terrible, special-interest-driven 2005 energy bill, which was backed by the Bush administration — and by Barack Obama.
But that was then.
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by Len Hart
Bush's Official Conspiracy Theory of 911 Defies the Laws of Physics. If an airliner of some 100 tons had crashed into the Pentagon, some 100 tons of debris would have been recovered. It wasn't recovered because it wasn't there! Not even Bush's kiss ups have dared make such a claim!
The question then is not 'where is the airliner', but 'where is the debris'? Until Bush can come up with a better cover story, his 'theories' are not credible. Stories inconsistent with demonstrable physics are --bluntly --bald-faced lies. Odds are good that whomever is most motivated to lie about 911 is guilty of it!
The 'official conspiracy theory' of 911 is just such a lie. Bush's official conspiracy theory requires a complete rewrite of the laws of physics going back to Galileo, Newton, and perhaps even Aristotle. It is more reasonable to conclude that Bush is a part of a murderous plot to seize dictatorial powers than to conclude that Galileo, Newton and Einstein were just wrong about matter, motion, and the conservation of both matter and energy. I don't think they were wrong. Rather --I think Bush is a goddamn liar!
Certainly, Einsteinian physics proposed an equation that describes the conversion of matter into energy: E = mc2. But E = mc2 cannot explain what happened at the Pentagon unless one is willing to posit that a nuclear device was exploded there. Had that happened, the Pentagon and perhaps much of DC would not have been left standing. That we are expected to believe that a 100 ton airliner simply vanished is the most absurd violation of Occam's Razor that I've encountered in my lifetime. It's stupid! Needless to say --no one exploded a thermonuclear device; neither did an airliner exceed the speed of light and thus pop into another dimension.
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The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and finally said, "The Church is in desperate need of funds and I will agree to do it."
Bush showed up to church.
This was the sermon:
"I'd like to speak to you all this morning about our President. George Bush is a liar, a cheat, and a low-intelligence weasel. He took the tragedy of September 11 and used it to frighten and manipulate the American people. He lied about weapons of mass destruction and invaded Iraq for oil and money, causing the deaths of tens of thousands and making the United States the most hated country on earth."
"He appointed cronies to positions of power and influence, leading to widespread death and destruction during Hurricane Katrina. He awarded contracts and tax cuts to his rich friends so that we now have more poverty in this country, and a greater gap between rich and poor, than we've had since the Depression. He instituted illegal wiretaps when getting a warrant from a secret court would have been a mere administrative detail, had his henchmen lie to Congress about it, then claimed he is above the law."
"He has headed the most corrupt, bribe-inducing political party since Teapot Dome. The national surplus has turned into a staggering national debt of $7.6 trillion; gas prices are up 85%, and vital research into global warming and stem cells is stopped cold because he's afraid to lose votes from some religious kooks."
"He is the worst example of a true Christian I've ever known
But compared to Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, George Bush is a Saint."
By Mike Whitney
You wouldn't know it from reading the newspapers, but the streets of Seoul are packed with tens of thousands of angry protestors who've brought business and government to a standstill. The demonstrations have dragged on for more than a month and show no sign of ending anytime soon. President Lee Myung-Bak's decision to lift the ban on US beef imports has set off a political firestorm that is likely to bring down the government and put the kibosh on free trade agreements for years to come.
On Tuesday, the powerful Korean Confederation of Trade Unions threatened to call a general strike if the meat-deal with Washington was not rescinded. If the unions strike, the whole capital will shut down. That's why the politicians are scrambling for solutions.
South Korea suspended the purchase of US beef in 2003 after an incident of mad cow was reported in Washington state. Many Koreans still don't believe the government's assurances that the meat is safe and they may have a point. According to the LA Times the USDA tests less than 1% of cattle. (USDA Mad Cow Madness" LA Times) In contrast, Japan tests every cow that enters the food chain. Also, according to the Associated Press:
"Restricted imports of U.S. beef reached South Korean supermarkets last year, but further shipments were put on hold in October after banned parts, such as bones, were found in a shipment.
Scientists believe mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), spreads when farmers feed cattle recycled meat and bones from infected animals. In humans, eating meat products contaminated with the illness is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal malady."
The Myung-Bak administration is being strong-armed by the Bush team to ignore the massive protests and honor the terms of the trade agreement. It's a "lose-lose" situation for the Korean president who can either incur the wrath of the corporate oligarchs by caving in or commit political seppuku by shrugging off the demands of his people. Either way, Lee's career is kaput; he'll never survive the fallout.
A small band of believers urges NASA to take its next step—onto an asteroid.
It was another brilliantly sunny day for NASA astronaut Tom Jones. In orbit on his fourth space shuttle mission in February 2001, Jones was outside the International Space Station, installing a new laboratory module. He remembers the moment with great clarity: Gerhard Thiele, another astronaut, called from the ground to relay the news that the robotic NEAR Shoemaker probe had just made the first-ever landing on an asteroid, 433 Eros.
"There I was, turning bolts on the ISS," says Jones. "I was thinking: What a cool job this is. But how much cooler would it be if I were doing this on an asteroid!"
The idea that astronauts might visit an asteroid and explore it up close had long intrigued him. Today, Jones is more convinced than ever that it would be a grand and worthwhile journey. "The asteroids," he says, "are begging for a visit."
By "the asteroids" he doesn't mean one of the rocks circling out in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, but something a lot closer to home: An Earth-crosser, or NEO (near-Earth object). A rogue.
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Every so often some aluminum-foil-hatted nut will pull you aside at a party and tell you the Freemasons are a powerful secret society bent on controlling the world. He'll point to the all-seeing pyramid on the one-dollar bill, run down the list of Masonic presidents, and trace supposedly Masonic symbols on the streets around the Washington Mall. From these premises he will argue that the gentlemen you may have seen strolling into your local lodge on a weekday night are actually officers of a 291-year-old international conspiracy.
I am a Freemason. I can't tell you much, but I can assure you that all of the above is pure paranoid fantasy. A meeting of Masons is as benign as a meeting of good friends around the fireplace. And yes, I know, that's exactly what a Mason would say, which is why conspiracy theories are so hard to kill off. It is impossible to disprove the notion that somewhere out there is a roomful of people, bound by an oath of secrecy, pulling the invisible strings that make the world dance. The only way to know for sure is to become one. Along the way you learn things that can't be shared. This sounds rather ominous, of course, and the endless cycle of paranoia, curiosity, and secrecy is again renewed.
In the 19th century, the Masons were the favorite scapegoat of frightened jingoists who found themselves at the mercy of history and wanted someone to blame for their problems. In the early 20th century, it was the Jews—I'm one of those, too. These days, the conspirators of choice are the internationalist elites who arrive by chartered jet to mingle with their fellow Murdochs, Soroses, Gateses, and Wolfowitzes (I'm a few dinner parties away from becoming one of these).
With that in mind, we present six organizations that have been accused of plotting world domination, along with an assessment of who they are, what they do, and just how powerful they actually are. From what we can tell, no group on this list is running the world from behind its locked doors. But those without keys can never be sure.
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Silicon Valley is experimenting with bacteria that have been genetically altered to provide 'renewable petroleum'
Special to The Japan Times
20/06/08 "Japan Times" -- -- In a September 2003 article for The Guardian newspaper, Michael Meacher, who served as Tony Blair's environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003, shocked the establishment by calling the global war on terrorism "bogus." Even more controversially, he implied that the U.S. government either allowed 9/11 to happen, or played some role in the destruction wrought that day. Besides Meacher, few politicians have publicly questioned America's official 9/11 narrative — until Diet member Yukihisa Fujita.
In January 2008 Fujita, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, asked the Japanese Parliament and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to explain gaping holes in the official 9/11 story that various groups — including those who call themselves the "911 Truth Movement" — claim to have exposed.
Fujita, along with a growing number of individuals — including European and American politicians — are leading a charge to conduct a thorough, independent investigation of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
Today, I received a report from Dick Thoreson, who managed my farm when I had one in
Yes, he wrote back, he and his wife were fine. But, boy, had it ever rained. Leading his neighbor, John, to calculate just how many gallons of water had fallen on
1) There are 640 acres in a square mile
2) And 43,560 square feet in an acre
3) And 231 cubic inches in a gallon
4) An average of 9 inches fell in
5) Every 25.6667 square inches equaled a gallon
6) There are 144 square inches in a square foot
7) Thus, every square foot equaled 5.61 gallons of water
8) Every acre = 244,388 gallons of water
9) Every square mile = 156,408,685 gallons
John goes on: "It would take 375 times that amount to fill lake Superior . . . which is 10% of the world's fresh water. So .027% of the world's fresh water fell on
It is heartbreaking to see what's happened, and continues to happen, to so many fine Midwesterners; sobering to think of the short-term economic impact and potential long-term environmental damage (what's in that water?).
One more reason to fear that our RSW double-inverse S&P shares may have
And one more reason to be sure your flood insurance is up to date.
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Broken Laws, Broken Lives: The Consequences of Torture Review of Physicians for Human Rights' Report
by Spencer Spratley
"This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual's lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors".
The report focuses on the experiences of 11 former detainees who were subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment as well as barbaric physical and sexual abuse. It is worth noting that none of these individuals were ever charged with a crime and no reparations have been made to them. Among other things, these men were subjected to a wide variety of sadistic indecencies, including: prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, beatings, sodomy, electric shocks, severe stress positions, being forced to drink urine, and witnessing the desecration of the Koran.
The consequences for these men (who were never charged with any wrong doing) have been severe. Many of them are experiencing lasting problems with their physical health and some have developed severe psychiatric problems as a result of their experiences. The medical evaluations conducted by the group involved two day clinical interviews and the review of medical records (where available). These evaluations provide medical evidence that confirms the first hand accounts of men who were tortured by U.S. personnel in places like Iraq , Afghanistan , and Guantanamo Bay.
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Barack Obama said Thursday that he would not participate in the public financing system for presidential campaigns—reversing earlier statements and making him the first major party candidate to opt out since the system was created in 1976, after the Watergate scandals. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said the system had collapsed. An adviser to Obama's Republican rival, John McCain, said Obama had "broken his word." (The New York Times)
What the commentators said
There's a good reason for Obama to change his mind, said Kenneth P. Vogel in Politico. By turning down the $84 million in public money, he'll also sidestep the $84 million spending limit. His record-breaking fundraising ability, with a possible boost from primary-season rival Hillary Clinton's backers, could land him $500 million in contributions, which would allow him to pursue an unprecedented 50-state campaign that would force the GOP to spend money in even the reddest states.
"The financial edge, rare for a Democrat to enjoy, was simply too attractive to pass up," said John Harwood in CNBC's Political Capital blog. But now Obama will take heat from McCain for "breaking his commitment." Obama's defense is that McCain has so many friends in special interest groups that he will get help outside the system. It won't be easy for "Obama—who has run, like McCain, as a straight-talking reformer"—to make that explanation stick with voters.
That's an understatement, said Jim Geraghty in National Review Online's The Campaign Spot blog. Obama said unequivocally in February that he would take public financing if the Republican nominee did the same, yet the McCain camp says he never even contacted them about the matter. "The man makes promises he has no intention of keeping."