Friday, December 31, 2010

William S. Burroughs New Year’s Day 1965

William S. Burroughs New Year’s Day 1965: "William S. Burroughs New Year’s Day 1965:

INTERVIEWER: You regard addiction as an illness but also a central human fact, a drama?

BURROUGHS: Both, absolutely. It’s as simple as the way in which anyone happens to become an alcoholic. They start drinking, that’s all. They like it, and they drink, and then they become alcoholic. I was exposed to heroin in New York - that is, I was going around with people who were using it; I took it; the effects were pleasant. I went on using it and became addicted. Remember that if it can be readily obtained, you will have any number of addicts. The idea that addiction is somehow a psychological illness is, I think, totally ridiculous. It’s as psychological as malaria. It’s a matter of exposure. People, generally speaking, will take any intoxicant or any drug that gives them a pleasant effect if it is available to them. In Iran, for instance, opium was sold in shops until quite recently, and they had three million addicts in a population of twenty million. There are also all forms of spiritual addiction. Anything that can be done chemically can be done in other ways, that is, if we have sufficient knowledge of the processes involved. Many policemen and narcotics agents are precisely addicted to power, to exercising a certain nasty kind of power over people who are helpless. The nasty sort of power: white junk, I call it - rightness; they’re right, right right - and if they lost that power, they would suffer excruciating withdrawal symptoms. The picture we get of the whole Russian bureaucracy, people who are exclusively preoccupied with power and advantage, this must be an addiction. Suppose they lose it? Well, it’s been their whole life.”


The Impending Police State

The Impending Police State: "

policestateabbyVia Media Roots:

In George Orwell’s 1984, Britain is depicted as a totalitarian police state that is ruled by the Party, or Big Brother — an enigmatic, ubiquitous elite that controls society through heavy surveillance, nationalist propaganda and historical revisionism.

The concept seems like a far-fetched portrayal of a Democratic nation’s demise into totalitarianism, but in America’s “post 9/11” climate of fear, the United States government has been building a comprehensive grid of surveillance and control that bears frightening similarities to Orwell’s fictional narrative.

The glaring difference between the two is that Orwell’s dystopian society is overtly totalitarian. America, conversely, operates under a “soft fascism” – an insidious, systematic method of preventative action and corporate top-down control over society’s media, economy and politics – while maintaining the necessary illusion of personal choice and freedom. A populous with little to no concept of their subjugation makes them the perfect subjects to rule.

Many Americans might not feel the government’s hand or Big Brother’s watchful eye directly in their lives. However, with the use of GPS, cell phones and the Internet, every move we make can be tracked, cataloged and divied into demographics that are used to increase corporate advertising efficiency and to create a “chilling effect” throughout our culture, stifling dissent and diminishing activism.

During times of war, governments are notorious for capitalizing on their ability to suppress dissent and manipulate the masses. In the wake of 9/11 hysteria, the Bush administration enacted several controversial pieces of legislation that severely curtailed Americans’ freedoms under the pretext of “security” and “protection”. With the help of a consistently compliant and unquestioning media, his administration also instituted a legal framework to circumvent citizens’ civil liberties and target their free speech. Bush’s cabinet adopted Orwellian rhetoric and Nazi style propaganda to litigate sweeping measures that further eradicated liberty: The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act’s (USA Patriot Act) warrantless domestic wiretapping, and the Homegrown Terrorism Act & Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act’s criminalization of thought and peaceful activism.

Read full article about the impending police state here.


The Story Of The Maya: Recording The Mysteries

The Story Of The Maya: Recording The Mysteries: "
image credit

In the late 1560s Diego de Landa wrote of how Maya books, or codices, of 'ancient matters and sciences' had been burned because they contained 'superstition.' Just four codices survived, only one of which, the Grolier Codex, has remained in the Americas.

Maya codices consist of long strips of paper made from the bark of the fig tree, and are several feet long. Codices are folded in concertina fashion, much like a modern map, allowing much of the book to be viewed at any one time as required. The paper was prepared with a layer of limewash on which the scribe painted.

(thanks Mr Ghaz)"




Old School (ca. 1900) party– A cigar smoking man poses with a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of beer. –Image by © DaZo Vintage Stock Photos/



1 Times Square, West 43rd Street @ Broadway & 7th Avenue

NY Times Tower held a celebration of the opening of its new headquarters with a display of fireworks on January 1, 1905, at midnight. The famous New Year’s Eve Ball drop tradition began in 1907. via



The first New Year’s Eve Ball– made of iron and wood and adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. It was built by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr, and for most of the twentieth century the company he founded, sign maker Artkraft Strauss, was responsible for lowering the ball. via



Murray’s Roman Gardens — from Manhattan’s fabled “Lobster Palace Society” era. via

As part of the 1907-1908 festivities, waiters in the fabled “lobster palaces” and other deluxe eateries in hotels surrounding Times Square were supplied with battery-powered top hats emblazoned with the numbers “1908″ fashioned of tiny light bulbs. At the stroke of midnight, they all “flipped their lids” and the year on their foreheads lit up in conjunction with the numbers “1908″ on the parapet of the Times Tower lighting up to signal the arrival of the new year.

The Ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, when the ceremony was suspended due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City. Nevertheless, the crowds still gathered in Times Square in those years and greeted the New Year with a minute of silence followed by the ringing of chimes from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower– a harkening-back to the earlier celebrations at Trinity Church, where crowds would gather to “ring out the old, ring in the new.” –via Times Square New Year’s Eve




Circa. 1900– A group of young adults drinking alcohol from a jug. –Image by © DaZo Vintage Stock





Circa. 1905– Two couples smoking, and drinking whiskey and beer from a wooden keg on the beach. –Image by © DaZo Vintage Stock Photos/





Circa. 1905– A beer drinking group pauses the party for a photo. –Image by © DaZo Vintage Stock




Circa. 1900– A group of party goers takes a break and sleeps. –Image by © DaZo Vintage Stock



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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Media Hit Job Of The Year: Helen Thomas

Media Hit Job Of The Year: Helen Thomas: "
Helen Thomas. Photo: rachaelvoorhees (CC)

Helen Thomas. Photo: rachaelvoorhees (CC)

Our Media Experienced A Few Highs and Many Lows in 2010;

None As Disgraceful As The Vitriol Against Helen Thomas

In 1960, I co-founded a student magazine at Cornell University called Dialogue. I was a wannabe journalist, fixated on emulating the courageous media personalities of the times, from Edward R. Murrow to a distinctive figure I came to admire at presidential press conferences, a wire service reporter named Helen Thomas.

In recent years, my faith in the power of dialogue in politics has been severely tested—as, no doubt has hers—in an age where diatribes and calculated demonization chills debate and exchanges of opposing views.

Once you are labeled and stereotyped, especially if you are denounced as an anti-Semite, you are relegated to the fringes, pronounced a hater beyond redemption, even beyond explanation.

You have been assigned a scarlet letter as visible as the Star of David the Nazis made Jews wear.

My career path took me from covering civil rights activism in the streets to later working in the suites of network power. I went from the underground press to rock and roll radio to TV reporting and producing at CNN and ABC.

As a member in good standing of an activist generation, I saw myself more as an outsider in contrast to Helen’s distinctive credentials as an insider, as a White House bureau chief and later as the dean of the White House Correspondents Association.

Yet, beneath her establishment credentials and status, she was always an outsider too—one of nine children born to a family of Lebanese immigrants in Winchester Kentucky, who despite their Middle East origins, were Christians in the Greek Orthodox Church.

She became a pioneering woman, a modern day Helen of Troy, who broke the glass ceiling, infiltrating the clubby, mostly male, inside the beltway world of big egos and self-important media prima donnas, most supplicants to power, not challengers of it.

Her origins were more modest. She grew up in an ethnic neighborhood in Detroit, a city I later worked in, as an intern in the Mayor’s office (I was in a Ford Foundation education in politics program in the sixties that also boasted a fellow fellow in another city, Richard B. Cheney. Yes, the one and the same.)

Helen received her batchelor’s degree from Wayne State University in 1942, the year I was born. Earlier this year, her alma mater which had taken so much pride in her achievements, withdrew an award in her name in a striking gesture of cowardice and submission to an incident blown out of all proportions that instantly turned Helen from a shero to a zero in a quick media second.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center—not, by the way, linked to the legendary Nazi Hunter (who was unhappy with its work), put her on their top-ten list of anti-Semites after angry remarks she made about Israel went viral and blew up into one of the major media stories of 2010.

President Barack Obama who cheerfully brought her a birthday cake, hailing her long years of service to the American people, later labeled her remarks “reprehensible.” You would think that given all the vicious slurs, Hitler comparisons and putdowns directed at him, he would be more cautious tossing slurs at others.

But no, all politicians pander to deflect criticism whenever they fear the winds of enmity will blow their way.

But now it was Helen who was being compared to Hitler in a new furor over the Fuhrer even though she says she grew up in a home that despised him, and from which her two brothers joined the army in World War ll. She says now “We didn’t do enough to expose Hitler early on. He was not just anti Jewish. He was anti-American!”

I might add if I considered it necessary, that I grew up in a Jewish family and am proud of that identity, our culture and traditions. But that was no big thing to Helen who worked alongside Jews all of her life in the media world, many as close friends. Her main concern as a child was with non-Jews who baited her in school as a “garlic eater,” a foreigner.

She may be a critic of Israel but never a hater of Jews, a distinction the world recognizes, but that right-wing backers of the Israel lobby (and the media that backs it) refuse to accept in the name of a black/white ‘you are with us or ag’in us” ideological agenda which has no tolerance for critics, differences of opinion or the anger of the dispossessed.

They only see themselves as victims, never the people they victimize. Prejudice often infects those who live in glass houses and who are quick to condemn others.

For many years, I admired Helen from afar, and later gave her an award for Truth In Media voted by my colleagues on She was an institution, an icon of honor. We were impressed by her history of asking tough questions even when they embarrassed Presidents.

Then, suddenly, last June, I like everyone in the world of media, was stunned to witness her public fall from grace, partly self-inflicted, perhaps because of inelegant language used in response to an ambush interview by provocateur father-son Israeli advocates posing as journalists

They were following in the footsteps of the vicious comments by Ann (”You will find liberals always rooting for savages against civilization”) Coulter who earlier denounced her as an “old Arab” sitting yards from the President as if she was threatening him. She refused to dignify that smear with a response.

I didn’t know until she told me that she had also been hounded for years by Abe Foxman, a leader of the Anti-Defamation League, who demanded she explain 25 questions she asked Presidents over the decades, “I didn’t answer,” “she told me, “because I don’t respond to junk mail.”

Foxman then sent the questions to her employer trying to get her fired, she says. Later, he recruited former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleisher in his crusade against her. Ari and his boss disliked her “hostile” questions about Iraq on official claims that have since been unmasked as lies.

Helen always stuck to her guns. She was considered the granddame of White House journalists. Presidents respected her. She went to China with Nixon. You don’t survive in that highly visible pit of presidential polemics for as long as she did by backing down. Many correspondents assigned there turn into bulldogs for the camera. Maybe that’s why Helen can appear abrupt at times.

She has, however, always been polite enough to try to answer questions from strangers without always realizing who she was dealing with in a new world of media hit jobs, where “GOTCHA” YouTube videos thrive on recording embarrassing moments, what we used to call “bloopers.’

In her senior years, she was brought down by a kid looking for a marketable soundbyte like the one he extracted — as if he was a big game hunter in Africa who bagged a lioness. She had been baited and took the bait. Unaware of how the video could be used, she ventilated and then regretted doing so. It was too late. That one media hit job triggered millions of online video hits.

Helen later apologized for how she said what she did without retracting the essence of her convictions. But by then, it was too late. Her long career was instantly terminated. The perception became everything; the context nothing.

She tried to be conciliatory, saying, “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”

Those remarks were derided and dismissed, with the pundits and papers demanding her scalp. She had no choice but to resign after her company, her agent, her co-author and many “friends” started treating her like a pariah.

“You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive,” she says now. She believes the Israel lobby controls the discourse on Israel. She cited, as an example, CNN firing a veteran editor in Lebanon for praising a popular cleric for his support for woman after he died. (CNN had no problems hiring Wolf Blitzer, a former executive director of AIPAC.)

I didn’t ask her but I am sure she is sympathetic to President Carter for speaking out on the issue the way he has, despite the way he was later dumped on. Once under predictable vitriolic attack began, even he was forced to back down away from some of his positions.

She was forced into retirement and thrown to the wolves in a media culture that relishes stories of personal destruction and missteps. It’s the old ‘the Media builds you up before they tear you down’ routine.

As blogger Jamie Frieze wrote, “I don’t think she should have been forced to resign. After all, the freedom of speech doesn’t come with the right to be comfortable. In other words, the fact that you’re uncomfortable doesn’t trump my free speech. Thomas made people uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean her speech should be punished.”

But punished she was.

As a veteran of one kind of real journalism, she may have been inexperienced in dealing with our volatile media culture that now thrives on hostile ‘drive by’ attacks and putdowns.

When I called Helen Thomas to ask if she might be willing to share some of her thoughts on what happened, I found her as eloquent as ever, supportive of Wikileaks, critical of Grand Jury harassment in the Middle West against Palestinian supporters and angry with President Obama for his many right turns and spineless positions.

This clearly was not a mea culpa moment for her, but what has she learned from this ordeal?

While she hasn’t written about the incident she did speak to me about it for publication.

I first asked her for her view about what happened?

She was, she said, on a path outside the White House on a day in which Jewish leaders were being honored inside, at American Jewish Heritage Celebration Day, an event she said she was unaware of. A Rabbi, David Nesenoff, asked to speak to her, and introduced his two sons who he said wanted to become Journalists. (One was actually a friend of his son Adam, also his webmaster.)

“People seeking advice come to me a lot,” she explained, “and I told them about my love of journalism and that they should pursue their goals. I was gracious, and told them to go for it.”

Then the subject abruptly changed. “What you think of Israel they asked next. It was all very pleasant and I don’t blame them for asking,” she told me. But, then, she admitted, she didn’t know the people who she then said, “shoved a microphone in my face like a jack knife.”

It wasn’t just any Rabbi making conversation. Nessensoff is an ardent pro-Israel supporter who runs a website called Rabbi Live and can be a flamboyant self-promoter. He says, “even though I was born in Glen Cove and grew up in Syosset Long Island, Israel is my Jewish homeland. It is the homeland for all Jewish people.”

The Jewish Forward newspaper would later report:

“Nesenoff came under scrutiny for appearing in a video depicting a man of Mexican descent pretending to give a weather forecast while a bearded rabbi in a black hat and coat stands nearby.

The four-and-a-half-minute video, titled “Holy Weather,” features Nesenoff dressed as “Father Julio Ramirez,” an outsize caricature of a Mexican priest. The rabbi makes statements that fuel stereotypes, painting Mexican laborers as dishwashers. He speaks in an exaggerated rasp of a Mexican accent, saying, among other things: “The last time I saw a map like that I was in an immigration office with three gringos down on the Mexican border, you know, right near New Mexico.” Fractured Spanish pops up from time to time, as when Nesenoff says the rabbi’s tendency to get better assignments is “no mucho bueno picnic.”

Though some critics used the skit as ammunition to portray him as a hypocrite and a racist, Nesenoff said he was dressed up because it was Purim.”

God, he said, likes humor.

Israeli officials were not in a laughing mood during this period for other reasons. Fox News reported:

“A senior Israeli politician tells Fox News that Israel is currently in the midst of its worst international crisis since the creation of the Jewish state. The politician, who asked not to be named in order to speak more candidly, added that for the first time Israel’s legitimacy is being questioned by many in the international community.

“The official believes the lack of a viable peace process, combined with last week’s Gaza-bound flotilla incident, which killed nine, has brought Israel to this situation. The Israeli public doesn’t understand the severity of the situation, according to the politician. The official believes that Israelis should not react in a nationalistic way to recent events, because it is only weakening the Jewish state in this process.”

I don’t know If any of this was weighing on Helen’s mind but I do know that criticism of Israel was soon at an all time fever pitch because of the Gaza Aid Flotilla which left Turkey on the day of the “interview.”

Supporters of the humanitarian project feared Israel would attack the ships as they soon did. For media spin, Tel Aviv righteously and loudly defended its violent interception of the non-violent convoy as an act of legitimate self-defense but, later, quietly, paid compensation to the victims when the world media turned against them.

Soon, there would protests worldwide and furious exchanges in the media. Much of it was very emotional. There was also anger at President Obama for not denouncing Israel’s intervention on the high seas. But, by that time, Helen Thomas was silenced and silent. (In some outlets, the incident “outing” Helen was used, bizarrely, as pro-Israel “balance” to show why Israel must act tough.)

Back at the North Lawn that day at the White House, Helen, who must have been following these evolving events, blew a fuse, or at least lost her usually professional demeanor. Here’s the now infamous exchange videotaped by an amateur cameraman, offering a deliberately unflattering and extreme tight close up of an 89 year-old woman.

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybodtoday, any comments on Israel?

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?

Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …

Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?

Thomas: They go home.

Nesenoff: Where’s the home?

Thomas: Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else

Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?

Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?

Nesenoff does not repeat her use of America, but only to Poland and German. He has nothing to say about her reference to occupation,

Clearly, the question triggered something deeper in Helen, feelings that she had perhaps bottled up for many years in the White House where every reporter has a built in radar that teaches them to be careful about what they say and how they say it, especially on a subject like Israel that Helen considers a “third rail,” almost an “untouchable issue.” She earlier told one college audience, “I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter.” (She was then an opinion columnist and perhaps freer to speak her mind,)

Israel was not a new subject for her to comment on either. Anyone from the Arab world tends to have a very different understanding of the history there, a perspective that we rarely hear or see. It’s a narrative driven by anger ar unending Palestinian victimization.

She told me she had been in Israel in 1954 and visited the Palestinian village of Kibia that was invaded by Israel in which local residents were driven out and many killed. She told me she personally met many Palestinians forced from their homes. She is not the only one angry about this often hidden legacy, especially because many Israelis justify expelling Palestinians in biblical terms and are supported by Christian Evangelicals in saying so.

That’s ironic, isn’t it, because in our media, fanatical fundamentalists are only pictured as Muslims, rarely as Jews.

Her historic memory was clearly triggered although her views are hardly extreme. She says Israel has a right to exist, and so do Jews “like all people. But not the right to seize others lands.” She says Israel has defied 65 UN resolutions on these issues. She was frustrated when so many Presidents danced around the issues and in her view, “caved” on human rights.

To Nesenoff and many viewers oriented to see the world only through a unflinching pro-Israel narrative, Helen had crossed the line in their view from being anti-Israel to being anti-semetic. The reason: the inclusion of Poland and Germany into the mix were considered “obviously anti-Semetic.”

She agrees that by citing Germany, she opened the door to accusations of insensitivity, lumping her in with holocaust deniers, but denies being one or hating Jews. She says she was startled by that charge because she is, she says, a Semite so how can she be ant-Semetic? (Another irony: Jewish emigration to today’s Germany has increased 10 fold since the fall of the Berlin Wall to 200,000 with many leaving Israel. This “reverse exodus” troubles Israeli officials.)

Helen told me her thinking on this subject goes back to being moved by a Rabbi who spoke alongside Martin Luther King Jr at the March on Washington in 1963. I was there also, and heard him speak too, and so I looked him up,

It was Joachim Prinz of the American Jewish Congress who made a speech that influenced a younger Helen Thomas. He said, “When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not .the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

Helen says her whole career has been about combating the sin of silence. She says she has now been liberated to speak out. And “all I would like is for people to know what I was trying to say, that Palestinians are living under tyranny and that their rights are being violated. All I want is some sympathy for Palestinians.”

Had she said it like that, if she had perhaps made a distinction between Israel as a State and its settlers on occupied lands, she might still have her job. Unfortunately, what she did say, and how she said it, brought all the attention on her, not the issues she was trying to expose.

Now it’s the holiday season, allegedly a time of peace and forgiveness when Presidents issue pardons to convicted criminals and reflection is theoretically permitted, a time when its been suggested that even a State Department hawk like Richard Holbrooke could, on his deathbed call for an end to the Afghan war that he had dogmatically supported.

We have watched the rehabilitation of so many politicians over recent years who have stumbled, taken money or disgraced themselves in sex scandals, including Senators, even Presidents.

Helen Thomas is not in that category.

Yet, many of those “fallen” are back in action, tarnished perhaps, but allowed to recant, to work and then appear in the media.

But, to this day, there has been almost no compassion, empathy or respect shown for one of our great journalists, Helen Thomas, who has been presumed guilty and sentenced to oblivion with barely a word spoken in her defense. She admittedly misspoke and is now officially “Missing” like some disappeared priest in Argentina

A whole world may be critical of Israel. Millions may believe that the occupiers should withdraw or that that Israeli rejectionism of the peace process must end. But when a “mainstream” American reporter of great stature touches these sentiments, she is consigned to Dante’s inferno, and turned into a non-person.

How can we expect Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile if our media won’t set an example by reconciling with Helen Thomas?

Filmmaker and News Dissector Danny Schechter edits

For more on his film Plunder: The Crime of Our Time and companion book The Crime Of Our Time: Why Wall Street Is Not Too Big To Jail, visit

Will DVDs go extinct?

Will DVDs go extinct?: "Plummeting sales, rampant piracy and a growing appetite for video-on-demand point to a potentially dismal future for DVDs. Some cinephiles predict an imminent demise for the DVD in 2011."

Boney M frontman Bobby Farrell dies on tour

Boney M frontman Bobby Farrell dies on tour: "Flamboyant performer had complained of breathing problems"

20 Musicians We Will Miss: 2010, the Year in R.I.P.

20 Musicians We Will Miss: 2010, the Year in R.I.P.: "

As the year comes to a close, we've been thinking a lot about the musicians that we've lost this year. For some reason, it seems that some of the most innovative and unique minds in music passed ...

Continue reading "20 Musicians We Will Miss: 2010, the Year in R.I.P. " >"

Sex, sin and Craigslist

Sex, sin and Craigslist: "Shutting down “Erotic Services” is counterproductive and in bad faith"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Ethel Sighting on Boxing Day

An Ethel Sighting on Boxing Day: "After a year of sitting in her office rubber-stamping barrings of Downtown Eastsiders from Carnegie Centre, Ethel Whitty was spotted on Boxing Day. She was in the Carnegie theatre helping to serve turkey dinner to those still allowed through the door. The dinner was free but you had to have been given a ticket by staff.It was a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Instead of the"

Espionage Act ‘threatens every left wing activist,’ son of executed US communists declares

Espionage Act ‘threatens every left wing activist,’ son of executed US communists declares: "As US officials investigated whether they can charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the 1917 US Espionage Act, a voice of remarkable experience with the controversial law spoke out in defense of the secrets proprietor, suggesting his indictment under the act would yet again transform 'dissent into treason.' Robert Meeropol's parents were Julius and Ethel [...]


Why I'm Liberal, Yet Not a Liberal (in Opinion)

Why I'm Liberal, Yet Not a Liberal (in Opinion): "
I owe my allegiance to certain principles rather than any political party."

Motorhead Announces World Tour, LA Date

Motorhead Announces World Tour, LA Date: "

Los Angeles strip club Patron of the Decade Lemmy and his current crop of Motörhead bandmates have announced a world tour that will take them all over the US and then over to Australia and Sout...

Continue reading "Motorhead Announces World Tour, LA Date" >"

Creatine Helps to Boost Brain Function

Creatine Helps to Boost Brain Function: "

The cognitive performance of vegetarians may benefit from supplementation of the pre-protein creatine.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Short of fertiliser, NKorea shops sell human excreta

Short of fertiliser, NKorea shops sell human excreta: "Shops selling human excrement began operating in North Korea this year, as acute shortages of fertiliser in the sanctions-wracked country put a price on faeces, an analyst said today.


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America in Decline: Why Germans Think We’re Insane

America in Decline: Why Germans Think We’re Insane: "

Tea PartyDemocrats Ramshield writes in Alternet:

As an American expat living in the European Union, I’ve started to see America from a different perspective.

The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less — right around 9 percent of GNP on medical, whereas we in the U.S. spend close to between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical — the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population.

The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane.

Der Spiegel has run an interesting feature called “A Superpower in Decline,” which attempts to explain to a German audience such odd phenomena as the rise of the Tea Party, without the hedging or attempts at “balance” found in mainstream U.S. media. On the Tea Parties…

Read More in Alternet


Monday, December 27, 2010

"Fucking Frogs!": The Untold Story of Discrimination in Professional Hockey Against French-Speaking Players

"Fucking Frogs!": The Untold Story of Discrimination in Professional Hockey Against French-Speaking Players: "

By BOB SIROIS - Counterpunch

Unless they are superstars, aspiring Quebec hockey players know that when the NHL experts meet, at equal or comparable talent, they will not choose a Quebecer, nor will they choose a European, or even an American. They will inevitably choose a “good ol’ Canadian boy.” The figures show that only the very best athletes from those nations will make it to what is in fact the English Canadian National Hockey League. Though ownership of NHL hockey teams in the United States is American, hockey operations on those teams are seventy percent Canadian, which explains the imbalance.

read more


Britain's Well Unfair State

Britain's Well Unfair State: "

SchNEWS - Friday 17th December 2010 | Issue 752

The truth is that the proposed benefits cuts are not made against ‘dole scroungers’, they are made against all of us, whether in work or out of work, on benefits or not. Their aim is to lower wages and make us fight each other, rather than fighting against them. Only the rich and the bankers who caused the economic crisis will benefit.

read more


Wikileaks: Bradley Manning speaks about his conditions

Wikileaks: Bradley Manning speaks about his conditions: "At Firedoglake, David House writes a lengthy and detailed report from visits with Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been in military detention for months for being the presumed source of Wikileaks' most damning US government leaks. He has not yet been convicted of a crime. Manning's lawyer and others have written about his detention conditions as 'extreme' and amounting to cruel and inhumane treatment. The sleep deprivation, movement deprivation, solitary confinement, and other elements of his current condition amount to torture, by widely accepted definitions.

Before this, no one has heard from Manning himself about those conditions. Snip:

I am one of the few people allowed to visit Bradley Manning while he is detained in the Quantico brig.

Manning is held in 'maximum custody,' the military's most severe detention policy. Manning is also confined under a longstanding Prevention of Injury (POI) order which limits his social contact, news consumption, ability to exercise, and that places restrictions on his ability to sleep.

Manning has been living under the solitary restrictions of POI for five months despite being cleared by a military psychologist earlier this year, and despite repeated calls from his attorney David Coombs to lift the severely restrictive and isolating order. POI orders are short-term restrictions that are typically implemented when a detainee changes confinement facilities and these orders are lifted after the detainee passes psychological evaluation.

Our conversations, which take place in the presence of marines and electronic monitoring equipment, typically revolve around topics in physics, computer science, and philosophy; he recently mentioned that he hopes to one day make use of the GI Bill towards earning a graduate degree in Physics and a bachelors in Political Science. He rarely if ever talks about his conditions in the brig, and it is not unusual for him to shy away from questions about his well-being by changing the subject entirely.

When I arrived at the brig on December 18th I found him to be much more open to lines of inquiry regarding his circumstances, and in a two and a half hour conversation I learned new details about his life in confinement.

Bradley Manning Speaks About His Conditions (firedoglake)

The article includes a petition to the brig commander, asking him to remove Manning's uneccessary POI status.

A note about the author of the piece: David House is a 23-year-old researcher at MIT who helped set up the Bradley Manning Support Network, a group raising funds for Manning's legal defense. Glenn Greenwald has an account here of House being harassed at the border, like others associated in one way or another with Wikileaks.


London's sewermen say: bin your fat, don't flush it

London's sewermen say: bin your fat, don't flush it: "

These festive London sewermen would like you to remember to throw away your cooking fat rather than running it down the drains, lest it form sclerotic poo-streaked fatty cake that chokes the city's vast cloacae. 'It's not every day you get to see a rough-and-ready performance of a Christmas carol by a bunch of guys knee deep in poo.'

Singing Sewermen - Thames Water


Cambridge university refuses to censor student's thesis on chip-and-PIN vulnerabilities

Cambridge university refuses to censor student's thesis on chip-and-PIN vulnerabilities: "After the UK banking trade association wrote to Cambridge university to have a student's master's thesis censored because it documented a well-known flaw in the chip-and-PIN system, Cambridge's Ross Anderson sent an extremely stiff note in reply:

Second, you seem to think that we might censor a student's thesis, which is lawful and already in the
public domain, simply because a powerful interest finds it inconvenient. This shows a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work. Cambridge is the University of Erasmus, of Newton,
and of Darwin; censoring writings that offend the powerful is offensive to our deepest values. Thus even
though the decision to put the thesis online was Omar's, we have no choice but to back him. That would
hold even if we did not agree with the material! Accordingly I have authorised the thesis to be issued as
a Computer Laboratory Technical Report. This will make it easier for people to find and to cite, and will
ensure that its presence on our web site is permanent....

...Fifth, you say 'Concern was expressed to us by the police that the student was allowed to falsify a
transaction in a shop in Cambridge without first warning the merchant'. I fail to understand the basis
for this. The banks in France had claimed (as you did) that their systems were secure; a French TV
programme wished to discredit this claim (as Newsnight discredited yours); and I understand that Omar
did a No-PIN transaction on the card of a French journalist with the journalist's consent and on camera.
At no time was there any intent to commit fraud; the journalist's account was debited in due course in
accordance with his mandate and the merchant was paid. It is perfectly clear that no transaction was
falsified in any material sense. I would not consider such an experiment to require a reference to our
ethics committee. By that time the Newsnight programme had appeared and the No-PIN attack was
entirely in the public domain. The French television programme was clearly in the public interest, as it
made it more difficult for banks in France to defraud their customers by claiming that their systems were
secure when they were not.

You complain that our work may undermine public confidence in the payments system. What will
support public confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in
admitting its weaknesses when they are exposed, and diligent in effecting the necessary remedies. Your
letter shows that, instead, your member banks do their lamentable best to deprecate the work of those
outside their cosy club, and indeed to censor it.

A Merry Christmas to all Bankers

Letter to bankers (PDF)

(via /.)