March 29, 2008 archive

Best end to an article ever

I won’t pretend that I understand quantum physics, or quite understand what the actual issues regarding CERN’s new Large Hadron Collider are, but the final paragraph of an article about it in the New York Times gives one of the greatest article closers I’ve ever seen:

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

Hate-filled propaganda video should fade into obscurity, where it belongs.

Der Spiegel reports.

It is little more than a makeshift collage, but it contains a horror show of images meant to distort Islam. Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders has launched his long-awaited video screed criticizing the Koran. Criticism is mounting.

And rightly so.  The video, a highly offensive sack of bile, opens with a passage from the Quran (the Muslim bible) immediately followed by footage of the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.  The exercise in deception and outright anti-Muslim bigotry deteriorates from there.

The film begins with an image that every Muslim in the world and many others are likely to recognize immediately: the controversial caricature of Mohammed wearing a bomb as a turban. The publication of this and similar drawings in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 triggered unrest in the Arab world.

The cartoonist who drew the caricature, Kurt Westergaard, himself the target of planned attacks recently, promptly protested against its use in the Wilders video. “The drawing was created in a certain context,” Westergaard said, adding that Wilders could “simply not use it. This is not a question of free speech, but of copyrights.” Westergaard told the paper that he wants the Danish association of journalists to take action against the copyright violation.

Wilders has animated the bomb fuse on Mohammad’s head, allowing it to burn up. Then the image is faded out and followed by a sura from the Koran calling Muslims to fight the infidels. The airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 appear through the lettering, followed by images of people jumping from the burning towers, screaming desperately.

The film continues in this suggestive mode: with images of the Madrid train bombings, of imams calling for global dominance, with a video showing the beheading of a Western hostage and with statistics on the rapidly growing number of Muslims living in the Netherlands.

The anti-Islam video was eventually pulled from, after the site was flooded with criticism ranging from mere declarations of offense to what the administrators describe as threats.  Given their willingness to post Wilders’ propaganda, their claims of being threatened are debatable.

The level of support gained from right-wing extremists, however, may be more appalling than the propaganda film itself.  (One troll posted a link at my own discussion forum, hoping to offend as many viewers as possible before I shut him down.)

Der Spiegel was not kind in its own assessment of the propaganda film:

Fitna seems like an anticlimax. It goes no further than making suggestive comments: the suggestion that the Koran is the source of all the violence in the world; the suggestion that Islam is a threat to everyone’s freedom, like Hitler and Stalin. But in Fitna, the Koran is not destroyed and the bomb in the prophet’s turban, drawn by the Danish cartoonist, doesn’t quite explode.

Has Wilders been successful in giving an example of his political and artistic skills with Fitna? Certainly not when it comes to his artistic capacity. Wilders doesn’t have enough creative talent and is sloppy in his approach.

This might still prove a problem and he will probably have to explain himself before the courts. For example he used material from the Danish cartoonist without asking permission and wrongly said a photograph of a rapper was the murderer of film-maker Theo van Gogh. And he has dragged others along with him – proof of a stunning lack of responsibility. The Dutch public prosecution department is also looking into whether Fitna incites hatred in the legal sense.

According to the review, Wilders’ goal may have had less to do with proving anything than in trying to gain attention by way of censorship — creating a backlash of criticism he hopes to manipulate so as to “prove” a point about the supposed intolerance of his critics.

Both left and right-wing politicians have dismissed the film as old hat. They saw ‘nothing new’ in the footage. But such comments show a misunderstanding of Wilders’ political goal. He doesn’t want to bring new insights or promote dialogue. Fitna is just a weapon in his propaganda war. His politics stand or fall with the concept of the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. In this sense Wilders hasn’t done himself or the citizens of the Netherlands a service. And that too must be said in public.

If this vile display of bigotry fails to garner the critical backlash Wilders hopes it will, that is a victory for decent folk everywhere.

Cities go dark for Earth Hour


The first cities have dimmed their lights for what is hoped to be an annual awareness event on climate change: Earth Hour, an hour of darkness to remind the populace of the impact of global warming.

The movement began a year ago in Australia and has now spread world-wide, with the first cities already dimming their lights between 8-9pm local time:

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — The iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge went dark Saturday night as Sydney became the world’s first major city to turn off its lights for this year’s Earth Hour, a global campaign to raise awareness about climate change.

Thousands of homes were dark for an hour in Christchurch, New Zealand. The famed Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand switched off its lights.

The three major cities were among 23 worldwide, along with 300 smaller towns, taking part in Earth Hour — a campaign by environmental group WWF to highlight the need to conserve energy and fight global warming.

“This provides an extraordinary symbol and an indication that we can be part of the solution” to global warming, Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett told Sky News television.

More below the jump…

Pony Party: Bonus Pictures

I was too lazy to come up with an actual topic for this pony party so I am going to add a few pictures from the protest…



Weekend News Digest

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 ‘Standing up’ Iraq army looks open-ended

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

47 minutes ago

Iraq’s new army is “developing steadily,” with “strong Iraqi leaders out front,” the chief U.S. trainer assured the American people. That was three-plus years ago, the U.S. Army general was David H. Petraeus, and some of those Iraqi officials at the time were busy embezzling more than $1 billion allotted for the new army’s weapons, according to investigators.

The 2004-05 Defense Ministry scandal was just one in an unending series of setbacks in the five-year struggle to “stand up” an Iraqi military and allow hard-pressed U.S. forces to “stand down” from Iraq.

The latest discouraging episode was unfolding this weekend in bloody Basra, the southern city where Iraqi government forces – in their toughest test yet – were still struggling to gain the upper hand in a five-day-old battle with Shiite Muslim militias.

Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, freestanding Iraqi army has seemed always to slip further into the future. In the latest shift, with Petraeus now U.S. commander in Iraq, the Pentagon’s new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when homegrown units will take over security responsibility nationwide, after last year’s reports had forecast a transition in 2008.

Globalization: Argentinian Farmers Strike, Food Prices Increase

cross posted from The Dream Antilles


Argentinian Farmers Protest

Argentinian farmers, whose strike for more than two weeks has crippled the country, have agreed temporarily to break off their strike, to negotiate with the government.  Details via the BBC:

 Farmers in Argentina have suspended a crippling strike called in protest at rises in export taxes on farm products.

A farmers’ spokesman said the 16-day protest – which included roadblocks and caused food shortages – had been halted to allow talks with the government.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had refused to negotiate with the until the action was stopped.

She says the taxes will redistribute wealth, but farmers say they and their communities will be hit hard.

Does any of this matter to the US, and if it does, where is the reportage about this strike in the traditional media?

Join me in BA.

“a whole nation called Iraq, now it’s wiped out.”

One of my worst sins in the Blogosphere is not reading Greenwald everyday. Today I went over to his place to atone…and found this. What can and cannot be spoken on television

Turkana mentioned the other day that we don’t hear from people inside Iraq. In fact we hear very little from inside Iraq. Which is pretty amazing when you stop to think about it. It’s not like we don’t have the technology…and now that the surge is working (hahahahahahaha-sob) reporters should be able to travel freely and report on conditions there and the mood of the people…and maybe even the people who are sort of miffed that their country has been destroyed for no reason, right?

Here is the clip on his page, please watch and read…and Greenwald has posted more of the transcript here.

And dem shout out: “Barack..Obama……..”

Cocoa Tea and me, we say, “One love, y’all.”

Letter from Venezuela’s Communications Minister to the Washington Post w/poll

Original letter by Minister of Communication and Information for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Andrés Izarra via :

Jackson Diehl

Deputy Editor, Editorial Page

The Washington Post

1150 15th Street NW

Washington, DC 20071

March 25, 2008

Dear Mr. Diehl,

Pony Party: Morning Groove

While my Memphis Tigers were winning, C and I were spending her gift certificate at a pricey downtown restaurant. We ate well, sucked back a bottle of wine and then headed off to see Jill Scott do her thing.

Jill started the evening by saying,”Are you ready to step out of the box and move the parameters”?

Good question. Are you?

Oh, and I am sucking wind in the tournament pool…. My only solace right now is that nobody has been knocked out of my final four yet.

Please don’t rec pony party, especially this ultra, super lame one. Hang out, chit chat, and then go read some of the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list.

This is the face of the war in Iraq

PhotobucketThe mind behind it will never be the same.

The Troubled Homecoming Of The Marlboro Marine

Only one face, of the tens of thousands, radically changed by their experiance in a War Of Choice, Choice by those who don’t fight them, not Absolutely The Last Resort! In Wars Of Choice most start questioning the Why? of their being ordered there, Survival becomes the ‘Nobel Cause’, theirs and those around them, and Survival comes with Deep Costs! Once having normal trained minds, absorbing more knowledge and experiances, the Nightmares of Death and Destruction take over, haughting many for the rest of their lives!

Docudharma Times Saturday March 29

There is unrest in the forest,

There is trouble with the trees,

For the maples want more sunlight

And the oaks ignore their pleas.

Saturday’s Headlines: Endorsement of Obama Points Up Clinton’s Obstacles:  Treasury Wants to Reshape Regulation:  Politkovskaya’s killer identified by prosecutors: It’s war, Mugabe says, as opposition prepares for battle: Fear keeps South African exiles away: Castro opens new era by lifting mobile phones ban: No end in sight to Andean conflict:  US rapper Jerome White Junior aka Jero finds enka stardom in Japan: Plague of rats brings threat of famine to millions in Mizoram: 19 Tense Hours in Sadr City Alongside the Mahdi Army

American warplanes join Iraqi troops in taking the fight to Shia militia

· Sadr stronghold in capital comes under attack

· British army holds fire as battles intensify·

US aircraft attacked Shia militia in Basra for the first time in the current round of fighting as intense battles continued between supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr and tens of thousands of Iraqi forces in a crackdown personally supervised by Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

British troops, based at the city’s airport, were kept away from the operation described by George Bush as “a defining moment in the history of Iraq”.

American fighter jets dropped bombs on a mortar team and a militia stronghold in Basra, said Major Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman. The number of casualties was unknown.

As protests spread across Iraq, US aircraft also attacked Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, killing at least five civilians, according to Iraqi police and hospitals.

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