Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Court grants National Security Archive motion to search White House computers and preserve e-mails

Washington, D.C., January 14, 2009 – The United States District Court for the District of Columbia today granted the National Security Archive's emergency motion for an extended preservation order to protect missing White House e-mails.  With the transition from the Bush Administration to the Obama Administration taking place in six days, and all the records of the Bush White House scheduled for a physical transfer to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on that same day, the Court has directed the Executive Office of the President (EOP) to search all its computer work stations and has ordered EOP employees to surrender any media in their possession that may contain e-mails from March 2003 to October 2005.

“There is nothing like a deadline to clarify the issues,” said Archive Director Tom Blanton.  “In six days the Bush Executive Office of the President will be gone and without this order, their records may disappear with them.  The White House will complain about the last minute challenge, but this is a records crisis of the White House's own making.”

Counsel for the Archive, Sheila Shadmand from Jones Day made clear: “The White House has been on notice since we filed our lawsuit a year and a half ago that they would have to retrieve and preserve their e-mail.  Instead of coming clean and telling the public what they have been doing to solve the crisis, they refused to say anything.  At this point, it is critical to preserve evidence that can help get to the bottom of the problem and prevent it from happening again.”

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Cheney hints at pardon for President Bush

With the Bush administration in its final days questions are being asked whether the president will be investigated over a number of concerns.

Those concerns include the legitimacy, legality, and constitutionality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq; the controversial eavesdropping by the NSA of U.S. citizens; the authorization of the use of torture; and the treatment and processing of detainees at prisons in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

While there are impeachment proceedings underway in the House of Representatives, they have been sidelined by the global financial crisis, and will be overtaken by the end of the Bush presidency on January 20.

There are many however who believe the president and members of his administration should be pursued. Officials in the Department of Defense have reportedly been pressing the Obaaa transition team to take action to demonstrate that justice will be served, and to restore America's image in the world.

There are others that say it is time to move on, and the healing of the nation from the tumultuous times of the Bush years will be advanced by not opening up old issues.

Barack Obama has given some hope to those that are interested in the former. he has said he will promptly review actions by the Bush administration "If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated," he has said.

However he has also said, "I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of the Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve."

Dick Cheney seemingly is one of those that wants to move on as he unexpectedly raised, and drew parallels with, President Ford's pardon of former President Nixon this week, hinting that similar treatment should be afforded President Bush.

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[ via Legitgov ]

Musical Innerlube: Pink Floyd - 'Run Like Hell'

Idfnadesk doesn't want you to see



The Video idfnadesk doesn't want you to see
from the CBC website

Columnist: Draft is needed because we may have to invade Pakistan

Conservative columnist Tony Blankley foresees a dangerous future, in which the United States will be able to ensure its own survival only through a universal military draft and may routinely have to commit hundreds of thousands of troops to overseas excursions, including a potential invasion of Pakistan.

Blankley, a former Reagan speechwriter and Newt Gingrich press secretary, is the author of The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations? (2005) which raised the specter of a Europe dominated by radical Islam. His new book is called American Grit.

"If we don't do a lot of things smart and tough, we could get overwhelmed," Blankley told the hosts of Fox & Friends on Monday. "We've failed to exploit our energy. We're not paying enough attention to what our kids are learning -- Bill Ayers is actually a senior person in guiding the curriculum design of America."

One of Blankley's more eye-catching proposals in American Grit is that all eighteen year olds should be subject to two years of required military service.

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Charles Darwin reminds us not to squander the great legacy of the Victorians

We imagine the Victorians as stuffy and orthodox; yet they were the most questioning, most radical and most open-minded generation in our history. Perhaps it is our own arrogance, rooted in a belief that we invented modernity, that prevents our seeing this.

Perhaps it is also that we see so few reasons to be confident about ourselves. Our systems of belief appear to have failed; with capitalism, private and public institutions, the so-called world order, and what passes for western civilisation under physical and moral threat. We envy the Victorians what we imagine was their sense of certainty, their determination to impose a uniform way of life not just on themselves, but on the future. This, again, is a misunderstanding, and one to which Darwin acts as a corrective.

What one of the great Victorian poets, Browning, called "doubt, hesitation and pain" were prevalent. The years from 1837 to 1901 were characterised by technological advances of such scope that they destabilised as they liberated. At the beginning of the Queen's reign, it was usual to find people who had never travelled more than a village or two, and spoke in dialects strange to those living 20 miles away. The railway changed that. There was a massive growth in population and in prosperity; but there was still unimaginable poverty. The thieves' kitchens and slums of Dickens owe nothing to poetic licence.

The first third of the reign – which included the 17 years in which Darwin went from his first sketch of On the Origin of Species in 1842 to its sensational publication in 1859 – was also a period of political turmoil. Philosophers, novelists and poets concentrated on "the condition of England question". There was indeed new prosperity, and it created a substantial middle class: but people down the ladder wanted a share. They also wanted the vote, and an education. The landed interest fought in defence of feudalism, and was not defeated until just into the 20th century: but by the 1860s, with the second Reform Act and Gladstone's Education Act of 1870, the tide was moving unstoppably.

The turmoil of these changes surpasses anything in our times. There were fights on several fronts. Before Darwin implicitly suggested that Adam and Eve might not have happened, the Catholic Emancipation Act had allowed a challenge to the Church of England. On one side, John Henry Newman argued for the one true faith; on the other Carlyle, with his own followers, described a form of post-Christian deism.

With Darwin, secularisation and atheism began to have momentum; Darwin, who had been intended for the Church before he started collecting beetles and finches, ended up an agnostic. Yet there was church building in Britain on a scale unseen since medieval times. Roman Catholics could build their own churches, and in provincial towns imitated the great edifices of Catholic Europe. Meanwhile, the expanding industrial towns, built Anglican churches that were idealised models of those built in what Carlyle called "the most perfect feudal times", to a Gothic plan approved by John Ruskin as the only architecture that could properly connect with God.

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Arrests skyrocket in alleged Turkish ultranationalist terrorist ring

The indictment itself, at 2,455 pages, describes an intricate conspiracy involving lawyers, journalists, police, academics, the mafia, hit men and former military members, reports the BBC. The group is linked to the murder of a secular judge in 2006 and a grenade attack on an office of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, which is known for its opposition to the government—but takes a liberal, rather than a far-right bent. Yet at the same time, Ilhan Selçuk, a prominent columnist for the newspaper, is among Ergenekon defendants.

Time magazine wrote about the case, “billed as an historic opportunity for Turkey to rein in renegade security elements that see themselves operating beyond the reach of law—many Turks have long suspected the existence of such a network, popularly referred to as the 'deep state,'” an alleged underground fascist network thought to wield power to preserve the vaguely definable concept of “Turkishness.”

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AFRO POP: Hip Hop Revolution



In "Hip-Hop Revolution" South African filmmaker Weaam Williams takes a nostalgic and energetic look at the hip hop culture and its influences on South African youth on the edge of a new post-apartheid South Africa. This film, a favorite at this year's AFI Silverdocs Festival, has been praised because it gives "voice to South Africa's hip-hop subculture, and reminds Western viewers of the complexity of black experience, at home and worldwide."

~ nbpc.tv ~

Revolution! A Napalm Clique Hip Hop Video



The Revolution music video was created by Eklectyk Creative Media for the Napalm Clique, a Bay Area Hip Hop group. The song lyrics and the original interview with Fred Hampton Jr. inspired a short story about the power of using hip hop in the classroom. The video blends imagery of history's revolutionaries with a vision of present day hip hop, reminding us of the necessary connection between hip hop and social change.

FEATURING:
Unity Lewis
K.E.V
F.L.O.
Chinaka Hodge
Unsmokables

Angela Davis
Black Panthers
Bobby Seale
Che Guevara
Fela Kuti
Fred Hampton
Fred Hampton Jr.
Harriet Tubman
H. Rap Brown
Huey P Newton
James Brown
Jamiroquai
Jesse Jackson
Malcom X
Nat Turner
Roy Ayers
Stokely Carmichael

Written & Produced by Trevor Parham
Executive Produced by Unity Lewis
Directed by Aled Ordu & Stefan Ruenzel
Director of Photography: David Gilbert
Assistant Director: Nick Johnson
Hair & Makeup: Caitlin Goetz

The video was shot in HD at the California College of the Arts (CCA), in Oakland, CA using a Panasonic HVX.

The ABC's of DADA



The Dada movement was a protest against the barbarism of World War I, the bourgeois interests that Dada adherents believed inspired the war, and what they believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society. Dada was an international movement, and it is difficult to classify artists as being from any one particular country, as they were constantly moving from one place to another.

Dada thought that reason and logic had led people into the horrors of war, so the only route to salvation was to reject logic and embrace anarchy and irrationality. However, this could also be thought of as the logical side of anarchy and rejection of values and order; it is not irrational to embrace the systematic destruction of values, if one thinks them to be flawed.

According to its proponents, Dada was not art - it was "anti-art". It was anti-art in the sense that Dadaists protested against the contemporary academic and cultured values of art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art were to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strove to have no meaning - interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend. Ironically, Dada became an influential movement in modern art, a commentary on order and the carnage Dadaists believed it wreaked. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics they hoped to destroy them.

A reviewer from the American Art News stated at the time that "The Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man." Art historians have described Dada as being, in large part, "in reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide."

Years later, Dada artists described the movement as "a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path. It was a systematic work of destruction and demoralization...In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege."

While broad, the movement was unstable. By 1924 in Paris, Dada was melding into surrealism, and artists had gone on to other ideas and movements, including surrealism, social realism and other forms of modernism. Some theorists argue that Dada was actually the beginning of postmodern art.

By the dawn of World War II, many of the European Dadaists had fled or emigrated to the United States. Some died in death camps under Hitler, who persecuted the kind of "Degenerate art" that Dada represented. The movement became less active as post-World War II optimism led to new movements in art and literature.

Dada is a named influence and reference of various anti-art and political and cultural movements including the Lettrists and the Situationists.



EXCERPTS FROM DADA TEXTS:

I say unto you: there is no beginning and we do not tremble, we are not sentimental. We are a furious Wind, tearing the dirty linen of clouds and prayers, preparing the great spectacle of disaster, fire, decomposition.* We will put an end to mourning and replace tears by sirens screeching from one continent to another. Pavilions of intense joy and widowers with the sadness of poison. Dada is the signboard of abstraction; advertising and business are also elements of poetry.

Science disgusts me as soon as it becomes a speculative system, loses its character of utility-that is so useless but is at least individual. I detest greasy objectivity, and harmony, the science that finds everything in order. Carry on, my children, humanity . . . Science says we are the servants of nature: everything is in order, make love and bash your brains in. Carry on, my children, humanity, kind bourgeois and journalist virgins . . . I am against systems, the most acceptable system is on principle to have none.

The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art, but of a disgust. Disgust with the magnificence of philosophers who for 3000 years have been explaining everything to us (what for? ), disgust with the pretensions of these artists-God's-representatives-on-earth, disgust with passion and with real pathological wickedness where it was not worth the bother; disgust with a false form of domination and restriction *en masse*, that accentuates rather than appeases man's instinct of domination, disgust with all the catalogued categories, with the false prophets who are nothing but a front for the interests of money, pride, disease, disgust with the lieutenants of a mercantile art made to order according to a few infantile laws, disgust with the divorce of good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly (for why is it more estimable to be red rather than green, to the left rather than the right, to be large or small?). Disgust finally with the Jesuitical dialectic which can explain everything and fill people's minds with oblique and obtuse ideas without any physiological basis or ethnic roots, all this by means of blinding artifice and ignoble charlatans promises.

As Dada marches it continuously destroys, not in extension but in itself. From all these disgusts, may I add, it draws no conclusion, no pride, no benefit. It has even stopped combating anything, in the realization that it's no use, that all this doesn't matter. What interests a Dadaist is his own mode of life. But here we approach the great secret.

Every product of disgust capable of becoming a negation of the family is Dada;
a protest with the fists of its whole being engaged in destructive action: Dada;
knowledge of all the means rejected up until now by the shamefaced sex of comfortable compromise and good manners: Dada;
abolition of logic, which is the dance of those impotent to create: Dada;
of every social hierarchy and equation set up for the sake of values by our valets: Dada;
every object, all objects, sentiments, obscurities, apparitions and the precise clash of parallel lines are weapons for the fight: Dada;
abolition of memory: Dada;
abolition of archaeology: Dada;
abolition of prophets: Dada;
abolition of the future: Dada;
absolute and unquestionable faith in every god that is the immediate product of spontaneity: Dada.



EXCERPTS FROM DADA TEXTS:

I know that you have come here today to hear explanations. Well, don't expect to hear any explanations about Dada. You explain to me why you exist. You haven't the faintest idea. You will say: I exist to make my children happy. But in your hearts you know that isn't so. You will say: I exist to guard my country, against barbarian invasions. That's a fine reason. You will say: I exist because God wills. That's a fairy tale for children. You will never be able to tell me why you exist but you will always be ready to maintain a serious attitude about life. You will never understand that life is a pun, for you will never be alone enough to reject hatred, judgments, all these things that require such an effort, in favor of a calm level state of mind that makes everything equal and without importance.

Dada is not at all modern. It is more in the nature of a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference. Dada covers things with an artificial gentleness, a snow of butterflies released from the head of a prestidigitator. Dada is immobility and does not comprehend the passions. You will call this a paradox, since Dada is manifested only in violent acts. Yes, the reactions of individuals contaminated by destruction are rather violent, but when these reactions are exhausted, annihilated by the Satanic insistence of a continuous and progressive "What for?" what remains, what dominates is indifference. But with the same note of conviction I might maintain the contrary.

Dada is here, there and a little everywhere, such as it is, with its faults, with its personal differences and distinctions which it accepts and views with indifference. We are often told that we are incoherent, but into this word people try to put an insult that it is rather hard for me to fathom. Everything is incoherent.

Dada is a state of mind. That is why it transforms itself according to races and events. Dada applies itself to everything, and yet it is nothing, it is the point where the yes and the no and all the opposites meet, not solemnly in the castles of human philosophies, but very simply at street corners, like dogs and grasshoppers.

Like everything in life, Dada is useless.

Dada is without pretension, as life should be.

Perhaps you will understand me better when I tell you that Dada is a virgin microbe that penetrates with the insistence of air into all the spaces that reason has not been able to fill with words or conventions.


~ Posted on YouTube by OttOmOlOtOv ~

The lugubrious decay of occidental hegemony (Pt I)

As our occidental (western) society struggles with rising tensions, both within and without of its borders. As those being colonized begin to throw their shoes in despair, and those who thought they belonged to the empire begin to realize that their dream is no longer sustainable. The organic intellectual is able to grasp the severity of the global crisis. As bankers announce their losses, the banking cartel slowly collapses. First, the major investment banks and hedge funds, then their traditional counterparts, all showing loses which only a year ago had been presented as ground breaking profits, as slowly the deck of cards unfolds and everything crumbles. Soon the job cuts begin, across continents furious workers revel against their enslaving owners, demonstrations, walkouts, sit-ins, failed negotiations between trade unions and shareholders. The sky is falling and the capitalist always strives to win. For a while, dormant workers watch their colleagues being laid-off, at first it seems an unavoidable aspect of capitalism, the dirty side of a casino culture, which rewards some at the expense of others. But then, neighborhoods begin to witness empty houses, people evicted, squatters moving in, the law can do little to prevent it, the numbers are too big to contain. The lobbyists in Washington are eagerly fighting for pieces of the bailout money prepared by a government, which faced with complete anarchy must regain a foothold in the corridors of power. Confidence must never be lost. Hence, a new face in the White House, a new man, a new dream, perpetuated by the chanting of hope. But things will never be the same in America, as young bankers spend their holidays in despair not knowing if their job awaits them in the coming year, the dark thoughts of unemployment begin to creep in. Obama proposes solutions, three million jobs to be created by rebuilding the fallen infrastructures of the great American empire. An empire, which in its boom forgot to cement its foundations and now collapsing, will offer its unemployed bankers the opportunity to go and fix roads.

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Archaeologist and leading cave painting expert explores the origin of human creativity and belief

From: EurekAlert!

Jean M. Auel, bestselling author of Clan of the Cave Bear and The Shelters of Stone: Earth's Children, says, "The cave paintings of France and Spain, which date from 35,000 to 10,000 years ago, have posed an intriguing enigma since they were first recognized. Experts have debated, and ordinary people have wondered, why they were painted and what they might mean. David Whitley's take is one of the more original interpretations, and certainly an interesting one. And the man can write. His descriptions of the sites and the art in the caves are captivating and poetic."

To grasp what drove these ancient artists to create these masterpieces, and to understand the origin of myth and religion, as Whitley explains, is to appreciate what makes us human. Moreover, he broadens our understanding of the genesis of creativity and myth by proposing a radically new and original theory that weds two seemingly warring camps from separate disciplines.

On the one hand, archaeologists specializing in prehistoric cave paintings have argued that the visionary rituals of shamans led to the creation of this expressive art. They consider shamanism to be the earliest known form of religion. By contrast, evolutionary psychologists view the emergence of religious beliefs as a normal expression of the human mind. In their eyes, the wild and ecstatic trances of shamans were a form of aberrant behavior. Far from being typical representatives of ancient religion, shamans were exceptions to the normal rule of early religion.

Whitley resolves the controversy by interweaving the archaeological evidence with the latest findings of cutting-edge neuroscience. He thereby rewrites our understanding of shamanism and its connection with artistic creativity, myth, and religion. Combining a colorful narrative describing Whitley's personal explorations at key archaeological sites with robust scientific research, CAVE PAINTINGS AND HUMAN SPIRIT makes for engrossing reading. It provides a profound and poignant perspective on what it means to be human

"David Whitley, the leading American scientist in cave paintings and rock art, has attempted nothing less than to explain the origins of art and religion," says Mitch Allen, PhD, archaeologist and professor at Mills College, Oakland, CA, and founder of archaeological publication house, Left Coast Press. "Drawing from his decades of archaeological research, and pulling from literature as diverse as neuropsychology, anthropology, geochemistry, religion, and art history, Whitley helps us understand the basic human drives behind—and meanings of—the breathtaking paintings left deep in caves by our ancestors 25,000 years ago. Audacious? Of course. But he might just be right."

Art/Anarchy: How art transforms our perceptions of a city

Enter ShadowHawk

Okay, okay, wait a second. What is the difference between superhero and vigilante, really? What is the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist? What's the difference between ShadowHawk and Rudy Guliani?

This was the same time-period in New York City history when a new paradigm for crime intervention grew in support, the "zero-tolerance" policing that exists still today. Civil liberties were suspended and still are as the New York Police Department began a new campaign inspired by the "broken windows policing" theory. This was done under the reign of mayor Rudy Guliani.

In theory, by cracking down on all forms of "criminal" activity, such as j-walking, spitting, graffiti, ordinance code violations, littering, loitering, and the like, you would significantly decrease violent crimes and property crimes. The economic results are generally in support of the thesis and - whether causally-related or not - NYC has seen a decrease in crime since the early-90s. Sociological authors have cast serious doubt on the theory and its merits.

At the same time Rudy Guliani increased the number of police on beat patrol, the number of those working on the civilian complaint board decreased or were replaced by former police officers. Thus, the number of complaints and the number of cases brought against the New York Police Department have seemingly dropped. The police now enjoy superhero vigilante status, and with fewer oppositional forces within the city government, and less criticism.

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Decarbonisation 'impossible under current political leaders'

None of Britain's leading politicians are able to provide the impetus needed to make the transfer to a low-carbon economy, a former adviser to David Cameron has said.

Sustainability expert Jules Peck told politics.co.uk a "paradigm shift in society" is required to "radically decarbonise" the economy.

"Right now the responses from politicians are looking really really poor on that challenge," he said.

"At the moment… there's a very, very poor political discourse on the scale of change that's needed. It's not about a few wind turbines – it's about transforming our society away from consumerism."

Mr Peck, who was director of David Cameron's quality of life policy group for two years, has previously worked for the European Commission and in government and corporate positions in both the US and Britain.

He says only US president-elect Barack Obama has the capability and capacity to create the changes needed and that, in Britain, political leaders are wary of connecting political and philosophical debate because of concerns they will not be taken seriously.

"Any politician or business leader or media person who puts their head above the parapet ends up being ridiculed by the media," Mr Peck added.

"That's a great shame because it's exactly that kind of leadership which we need to debate in society now."

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UK: Plan to force public bodies to narrow the wealth gap

Radical proposals that will create a legal obligation on all public bodies to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor form part of new equality plans unveiled by the government yesterday.

The plans, contained in a white paper of draft legislation for consultation, were published as Gordon Brown said he was committed to giving everyone the opportunity to "achieve their potential".

The Prime Minister announced a series of measures to increase social mobility in the UK but the draft paper that would make councils and public bodies actively consider how they can close the wealth gap in Britain could go much further.
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The proposals are championed by Harriet Harman, Equalities Minister and deputy Labour leader, who has won the battle to have the measure included in the white paper. A single catch-all paragraph, described as "socialism in one clause" by commentators, could be inserted into the forthcoming Equalities Bill.

The bill will be UK-wide but there will be consultation with devolved administrations and assemblies as to how its measures would work in their areas of responsibility.

"In principle it will apply in Scotland but there will be proper consultations with all stakeholders and devolved administrations," said a Cabinet Office spokeswoman.

Mr Brown brought back former Blairite rival Alan Milburn to chair a new social mobility commission that will try to get more people from poor backgrounds into professions dominated by the middle- class and privately educated. Joining Mr Milburn will be 32-year-old Glasgow-born entrepreneur Azeem Ibrahim, who was brought up in a council house in the city and is now worth an estimated £60m.

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Enjoy life more by being ready for its end, hospice nurse says

During more than two decades as a hospice nurse, Tucsonan Tani Bahti noticed a consistent and alarming trend: Most of the people she encountered had no clue about death.

She watched, year after year, as that lack of knowledge caused terrible pain, family strife and regrets.
Now she's taking action.

This month Bahti, 54, created Passages, a not-for-profit organization that aims to "normalize" death and dying. She's visiting community centers and groups, giving free talks aimed at changing the culture of dying. The talks are for everyone, as death is something we all share.

Ideally, she said, Passages will grow into a resource center, and eventually, education about grief, loss and dying will have a place in local school curricula.

Bahti is well-equipped to talk about the practical side of death, including living wills and securing a power of attorney. But she said the most important part of being prepared for the end of life is having what she calls "the conversation" with loved ones.

People fear pain, suffering, being a burden and, in general, the unknown aspects of death. But avoidance is not a good way to face those fears, Bahti said.

"If you haven't been living consciously, it's hard to play catch-up at the end," said Bahti, who has written both a book and an award-winning video about death and dying.

The problem is that once someone is dying, loved ones frequently shift into crisis mode, she said. Family members may be unaware of patient advocates. In their grief, they may not understand what the doctor is telling them. They may fear telling each other about a difficult decision, such as wanting to stop treatment.

"There's a fear of telling someone, 'I'm thinking of your funeral,' " Bahti said. "But if you have the conversation, it takes off the scary edge."
Bahti, for example, has had that conversation with her three sons, and her sons now know her end-of-life wishes and she knows theirs. She regards this as a special gift with long-term rewards that parents can give to their children.

And consider these facts cited by Bahti:

● Eighty-five percent of us will have chronic illness before we die.

● Increased violence is connected to an inability to process grief.

● Thirty percent of Medicare patients spend their final 10 days of life in intensive-care units.

● Eighty percent of those facing a potentially terminal illness want to talk about it, yet only 20 percent find a professional or family member who will have that conversation with them.

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Situationist International: The decline and fall of the spectacle commodity economy

    A text written by the Situationist International in 1965 regarding rioting in Watts. It's relevance is still apparent today.

AUGUST 13 - 16, 1965, the blacks of Los Angeles revolted. An incident between traffic police and pedestrians developed into two days of spontaneous riots. Despite increasing reinforcements, the forces of order were unable to regain control of the streets. By the third day the blacks had armed themselves by looting accessible gun stores, enabling them to fire even on police helicopters. It took thousands of police and soldiers, including an entire infantry division supported by tanks, to confine the riot to the Watts area, and several more days of street fighting to finally bring it under control. Stores were massively plundered and many were burned. Official sources listed 32 dead (including 27 blacks), more than 800 wounded and 3000 arrests.

Reactions from all sides were most revealing: a revolutionary event, by bringing existing problems into the open, provokes its opponents into an unhabitual lucidity. Police Chief William Parker, for example, rejected all the major black organizations' offers of mediation, correctly asserting: “These rioters don't have any leaders.” Since the blacks no longer had any leaders, it was the moment of truth for both sides. What did one of those unemployed leaders, NAACP general secretary Roy Wilkins, have to say? He declared that the riot “should be put down with all necessary force.” And Los Angeles Cardinal McIntyre, who protested loudly, did not protest against the violence of the repression, which one might have supposed the most tactful policy at a time when the Roman Church is modernizing its image; he denounced “this premeditated revolt against the rights of one's neighbor and against respect for law and order,” calling on Catholics to oppose the looting and “this violence without any apparent justification.” And all those who went so far as to recognize the “apparent justifications” of the rage of the Los Angeles blacks (but never their real ones), all the ideologists and “spokesmen” of the vacuous international Left, deplored the irresponsibility, the disorder, the looting (especially the fact that arms and alcohol were the first targets) and the 2000 fires with which the blacks lit up their battle and their ball. But who has defended the Los Angeles rioters in the terms they deserve? We will. Let the economists fret over the $27 million lost, and the city planners sigh over one of their most beautiful supermarkets gone up in smoke, and McIntyre blubber over his slain deputy sheriff. Let the sociologists bemoan the absurdity and intoxication of this rebellion. The role of a revolutionary publication is not only to justify the Los Angeles insurgents, but to help elucidate their perspectives, to explain theoretically the truth for which such practical action expresses the search.

In Algiers in July 1965, following Boumédienne's coup d'état, the situationists issued an Address to the Algerians and to revolutionaries all over the world which interpreted conditions in Algeria and the rest of the world as a whole. Among other examples we mentioned the movement of the American blacks, stating that if it could “assert itself incisively” it would unmask the contradictions of the most advanced capitalist system. Five weeks later this incisiveness was in the streets. Modern theoretical criticism of modern society and criticism in acts of the same society already coexist; still separated but both advancing toward the same realities, both talking about the same thing. These two critiques are mutually explanatory, and neither can be understood without the other. Our theory of “survival” and of “the spectacle” is illuminated and verified by these actions which are so incomprehensible to American false consciousness. One day these actions will in turn be illuminated by this theory.

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Greece: Whitewash over asbestos

The local residents of Metsovo northwestern Greece have unwittingly brought fame to their small town by following the traditional practice of whitewashing their homes. The whitewash they used was made from local soil called luto which was crushed, boiled and applied to the walls. However, even though exposure was brief, at most three times a year, it had serious detrimental health effects. The soil was contaminated with tremolite, a type of asbestos, and large amounts of fibres were released and inhaled, leading to a high prevalence of disease.

Almost half of the town's population developed pleural calcifications (PCs) around the lungs and a very high proportion (about 300 times that expected from the general population) succumbed to malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a deadly cancer. For MPM, death usually follows within one year of diagnosis. The condition was named Metsovo lung and it was later discovered in other areas of Greece in which asbestos-containing soil was converted into household whitewash.

The use of luto has now been phased out and the incidence of PCs and MPM has declined over the last 20 years. However, the link between the development of PCs and MPM remains intriguing. It appears that sufferers who developed PCs were less likely to contract MPM, suggesting that they confer some kind of protection. This link has been investigated by a 10-person team from the Universities of Ioannina in Greece and Siena in Italy and the data have been published in the Journal of Proteome Research, with senior author Luca Bini from Siena.

The team collected bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL) from residents of Metsovo with and without PCs, as well as samples from control subjects living in a different area. All Metsovites had used luto for decades. The fluids were subjected to proteomics analysis to try and identify proteins that were involved in the reaction to fibre exposure in both disease states: MPM with and without PCs.

~ more... ~

Online culture of anonymity draws scrutiny

The arrest of a wildly popular Internet financial pundit, better known as ``Minerva," is raising new questions about Korea's Internet culture and pitfalls of anonymous online postings.

Last Thursday, Korean authorities announced that they arrested a 31-year old man named Park Dae-sung on charges that he had spread false information online, including making allegations that Korea's won currency was in danger of collapsing.

But with the arrest last week, local Korean media are asking how a single individual armed with Internet access can wield so much influence in society and attract so much recognition within the span of a few months.

One newspaper report asked over the weekend: ``Could this Minerva have been possible if Internet postings were not anonymous? What if he was forced to make his commentaries with his actual identity for all to see?"

``This Minerva phenomenon was possible only because Korea's Internet allowed for and even nurtured anonymous writings and commentaries on the Web," according to the report.

Observers note that Korea's online discussion culture is radically different from that of the more traditional means of communication. Korea's Internet users, ``netizens," can avoid using their real names when posting commentaries and participating in online discussion forums. And this fosters an environment where there is little accountability and personal attacks and outlandish claims are commonplace, according to local reports.

Newspaper reports also noted a similarity between the ``Minerva" phenomenon and what had occurred at the ``Agora" talk forum during the height of the anti-U.S. beef protest movement last summer. Reports noted that, in both instances, a few unnamed Internet users were allowed to wield major influence on the Internet community, exploiting the Web's unique characteristics.

~ more... ~

The Satanic Verses: How one book ignited a culture war

The phrase "literary London" is usually employed to nebulous effect but it accurately describes the gathering that took place at the Greek Orthodox church in Bayswater on 14 February, a clear blue St Valentine's Day, in 1989. The occasion was Bruce Chatwin's memorial service, and it was attended by a large contingent of what was and remains an exceptional generation of British or British-based writers. Among them were Martin Amis, Paul Theroux and Salman Rushdie.

According to Theroux, Chatwin's funeral "was the high watermark of that decade's creative activity". For Amis, Chatwin, a recent convert to Greek Orthodoxy, had played a last joke on his friends by subjecting them to "a religion that no one he knew could understand or respond to". If so, it was a joke destined to be overshadowed by a very different kind of theological offering that was far more of a challenge to understand or respond to. That same morning Rushdie had been informed of the fatwa issued by the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, calling for his execution for the crime of writing a novel, The Satanic Verses.

Word of the death sentence had spread among the mourners. Thinking the fatwa was little more than the empty threat of a faraway tyrant, Theroux called out to Rushdie: "Next week we'll be back here for you!" But Khomeini's pronouncements in such matters were seldom without consequence. As far back as 1947, when merely a cleric, he had ordered the death of an Iranian education minister who within days was shot dead. And thereafter countless other political and intellectual opponents were to lose their lives on Khomeini's command. Chatwin's memorial service was to be Rushdie's last public appearance for some time.

~ more... ~

Greece: Protests planned over US arms to Israel

Left-wing opposition parties said Tuesday they will go ahead with a protest at a Greek port despite the U.S. decision not to use the facility for an arms shipment to Israel.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said plans for shipping U.S. arms to Israel had been changed to avoid Greece.

"I think the Greek government had some issue with the off-loading of some of that shipment in their country, and so we are finding alternative means of getting that entire shipment to its proper destination in Israel," Morrell said.

He declined to say what kind of arms were included in the shipment.

Greek opposition parties maintained the government objected to the shipment only after the issue was revealed in the local media, because it feared public opinion in Greece, which is broadly opposed to ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza.

Protests at the western Greek port of Astakos are planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

~ Associated Press ~

Pro-Israel rally attended by big-time NY Dems descends into calls for 'wiping out' Palestinians

Then Paterson highlighted the anti-Semitism that has followed in the wake of Israel's attack on Gaza, highlighting the beating of a teen-age girl in France.  “This kind of anger and hatred spreads like a disease,” Paterson said, “and one thing I've always pointed out is there's no place for hate in the Empire State.”

But hatred was plentiful at the rally Paterson addressed. Right in front of the stage, a man held a banner reading, “Islam Is A Death Cult.” Rally attendees described the people of Gaza to me as a “cancer,” called for Israel to “wipe them all out,” insisting, “They are forcing us to kill their children in order to defend our own children.” A young woman told me, “Those who die are suffering God's wrath.” “They are not distinguishing between civilians and military, so why should we?” said a member of the group of messianic Orthodox Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch group that flocked to the rally.

No one I spoke to could seem to find any circumstance in which they would begin to question Israel's war. No number of civilian deaths, no displays of extreme suffering -- nothing could deter their enthusiasm for attacking one of the most vulnerable populations in the world with the world's most advanced weaponry. There are no limits, no matter what Israel does, no matter how it does it.

~ more... ~

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