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10 February 2007

Caravaggio Rules, Exhibit n

This may be a mirror reflection of the original; if you know, lemme know. In any event, I think it's absolutely phenomenal. It was a treat -- almost an honor -- to have seen many of his paintings unvirtually in Rome last summer.

(Click on the image to see the full-size, non-pixellated version.)

Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education by David F. Noble

A serious indictment, from 1998, of the distance-learning trend in higher education, and, parenthetically, in corporate training.

If anyone has related material, please post it in comments or e-mail it to me.

Obama: The Real Deal?

I don't put much stock in either party's ability to stop the tailspin of our republican traditions, such as they are, from a presidential perch. The Congress, courts, press, and general public must reassert themselves, and in concert (or at least simultaneously) in order to salvage representative democracy and the rule of law.

Presidents have the most power in foreign policy, and the mainstream Dem view isn't all that much different from the Bush crew's. Less obvious about dominance; more careful about force application. But the same script, as has been the case since Truman, regardless of party. I see very little on his site about reigning in the military-industrial complex; in fact, very little on specifics whatsoever. This is tried-and-true politics -- the Blair model, one might call it: "The politics has been taken out of politics." Now, we just want daddies (or mommies).

Domestically, a Dem such as Obama might help to make a big difference, but that depends on whether he is true to his organizing roots or succumbs to the lure or lash of corporate power. I.e., the Demz problem since the decline of unions and the rise of the DLC (which was instrumental in Obama's early rise; Obama returned the favor by supported Lieberman against Lamont when Obama might have made a difference) and multinational globalization, among other things.

Some articles on Obama:

Later: Oh, you gotta love the BBC. They "analyzed" Obama's speech by first stating that he was the first African-American to run for President. Lovely. They failed to note that Obama's reference to his "presumptuousness" in announcing what everyone knew he would announce for weeks now melds perfectly with his last book's title (The Audacity of Hope).

Obama's anti-Washington, I'm-an-outsider stance (common to virtually every candidate for president since Carter, regardless of validity, usually low) as well as his required notification of his Christian faith (ditto) is absolutely par for the course. His "bold" plan to do exactly what conventional wisdom, as enshrined in the Iraq Study Group report, suggested in Iraq (subject to Presidential cooperation, which we all know will surely be forthcoming) is right between the yellow lines, pun intended.

Finally, I find it hilarious that Obama's candidacy is being touted as "a political insurrection in the Democratic party." The Lamont campaign was that, possibly. Kucinich is, possibly. Obama? Not a chance. The only question is whether the BBC correspondent is ignorant or simply selling the event.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Putin attacks 'very dangerous' US

Whatever else Putin is, he's right about this.

Update: Full text of speech.

09 February 2007

Lapham's Quarterly

Lewis Lapham's new journal; coming Fall 2007.

Some Free Video Lectures on Islam

From WGBH, Boston's PBS station:

  1. Muhammed: Legacy of a Prophet
  2. Understanding More About Islam
  3. The Iron Cage: The Palestinian Struggle for Statehood

Conversation with Lewis H. Lapham

From "Conversations with History," with Harry Kreisler, a great series available here.

Information Clearing House Blog - Senator Clinton’s Remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

Right there in black-and-white. What a difference a Democrat would make, huh?

Fogonazos: Hiroshima, the pictures they didn't want us to see

Let's keep this in mind while "debating" the necessary [sic(k)] use of nuclear weapons on Iran in order to prevent the possible creation and possible use of nuclear weapons at some time in the future, maybe.

Chris Hedges Interview on Christian Fascism and More

The link above is an mp3; transcript here. If the audio doesn't load off this blog well (I had issues), just go the the transcript link and click on the audio link on that page on truthdig.

A conversation with Amy Goodman, audio.

Independent Jewish Voices: UK

A new organization in the UK. A very hopeful development.

A Time to Speak Out: Independent Jewish Voices

We are a group of Jews in Britain from diverse backgrounds, occupations and affiliations who have in common a strong commitment to social justice and universal human rights. We come together in the belief that the broad spectrum of opinion among the Jewish population of this country is not reflected by those institutions which claim authority to represent the Jewish community as a whole. We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty.

We have therefore resolved to promote the expression of alternative Jewish voices, particularly in respect of the grave situation in the Middle East, which threatens the future of both Israelis and Palestinians as well as the stability of the whole region. We are guided by the following principles:

1. Human rights are universal and indivisible and should be upheld without exception. This is as applicable in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as it is elsewhere.

2. Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to peaceful and secure lives.

3. Peace and stability require the willingness of all parties to the conflict to comply with international law.

4. There is no justification for any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia, in any circumstance.

5. The battle against anti-Semitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.

These principles are contradicted when those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people. The Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip face appalling living conditions with desperately little hope for the future. We declare our support for a properly negotiated peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people and oppose any attempt by the Israeli government to impose its own solutions on the Palestinians.

It is imperative and urgent that independent Jewish voices find a coherent and consistent way of asserting themselves on these and other issues of concern. We hereby reclaim the tradition of Jewish support for universal freedoms, human rights and social justice. The lessons we have learned from our own history compel us to speak out. We therefore commit ourselves to make public our views on a continuing basis and invite other concerned Jews to join and support us.

Today's DN! segment.

08 February 2007

An Example of SECRECY NEWS, from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2007, Issue No. 15
February 8, 2007



The interagency Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) has formally decided to endorse the proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) concept as the basis of the future U.S. nuclear arsenal, a new report from the Congressional Research Service revealed.

In November 2006, "the NWC determined that the RRW is to be adopted as the strategy for maintaining a long term safe, secure and reliable nuclear deterrent," the CRS report stated, quoting from new Department of Energy budget documents (at page CRS-26).

It is a momentous decision on which Congress might be expected to weigh in.

Not only that, but RRW development will be funded at the expense of existing nuclear weapons programs, budget documents say, "through reductions in resources required to support legacy weapons." (at page CRS-27)

Defunding work to extend the functional lifetime of existing weapons would tend to foreclose efforts to avoid new nuclear weapons development.

According to a CRS calculation (and subject to future adjustments), the projected budget for the RRW program from FY 2008-2012 would be $725.1 million, including NNSA and Navy funds.

The Congressional Research Service does not release its publications directly to the public. A copy of the new report was obtained by Secrecy News and posted on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

See "Nuclear Weapons: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program," updated February 8, 2007.


Some other noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that are not readily available in the public domain include these.

Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send email to secrecy_news-request@lists.fas.org with "subscribe" in the body of the message.

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Steven Aftergood
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Federation of American Scientists
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TomPaine.com - War Backer's Gambling Debt

Jonah Goldberg owes the USO $1000. Think he'll pay?

07 February 2007

More John Pilger Films...

You simply cannot go without seeing these excellent films. Each is about an hour. The subjects should be clear; they date from the late seventies to the last few years, but all are necessary for understanding world affairs.

1. Breaking the Slience (on the "War on Terror")

2. Cambodia: The Betrayal

3. Palestine Is Still The Issue

4. Death of a Nation (on East Timor)

5. The New Rulers of the World (on neoliberal globalization)

6. Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq (on Clinton the Good's sanction regime)

7. Stealing a Nation (on the sad story of the Chagos Islands)

8. Apartheid Didn't Die

9. Flying the Flag (Arming the World)

10. Breaking the Mirror (The Murdoch Effect)

11. Nicaragua: A Nation's Right to Survive

12. Cambodia: Year Zero

13. Burma: Land of Fear

06 February 2007

"We're the Government -- And You're Not"

This is libertarian, obviously, but I'm down with the free-speech and anti-sheep message. The all-taxes-are-bad message, eh. But considering the recent budget sent to Congress, well...I can think of better uses for my money. So, edit out the Ayn Randomness, and you still have a funny vid.

John Pilger, War By Other Means

A simply phenomenal film from the early '90s on the World Bank and IMF's "silent war" on the underdeveloped world. Pilger is Chomsky with a camera: same moral clarity, same dogged fight on behalf of the have-nots, same crystalline logic. Too bad we don't see this on TV, huh?

Democracy Now! | Two Longtime Chicago Journalists On The Rise of Sen. Barack Obama:

RealPlayer autolaunch: go here for other options.

Info on the person who might be the least-worst option. I'm still for Kucinich, and Nader may make another run (RealPlayer autolaunch; other options). This time, he (Nader) may be worth supporting, especially if the other options are Shillary and McCain-not-Able. That is, if Kucinich's campaign doesn't either get the nomination or force whomever does further left.