Thursday, July 29, 2004

It's brilliant, indeed ... Posted by Hello
That's right. There's no need to adjust your computer. You are looking a picture on this website. For the first time during the 17 months that this site has been on the Internet I got a picture up here: for free, no less.
Watch out for the Russkies. Posted by Hello
Demme's re-make of The Manchurian Candidate looks great, but I think I should probably see the original first.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

As another example of shit going very wrong in post-occupation Iraq, CNN reports that "Iraqi forces, insurgents, civilians and three U.S. service members lost their lives in violence Wednesday, among them at least 68 in a Baquba suicide bombing and 42 in fighting in south-central Iraq." You know, I really hope that we can get the fuck out of that mess as soon as possible with the least damage done. God damn.

Monday, July 26, 2004

And now, a passage from the journal of "prison pyschologist and U.S. Army Captain"* Gustave M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, concerning an interview with Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering in his prison cell, during the Easter recess from the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg (April 18, 1946), with emphases added.

GOERING: "Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship."

GILBERT: "There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

GOERING: "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Dang, this site looks good on Netscape.

P.S.: Get Netscape.
After reading the first two chapters of the exhaustively researched 9-11 Commission final report (see below for the link to it in its entirety), I commend the bipartisan committee for its excellent, objective work at piecing together, almost on a minute-by-minute basis, the circumstances and actions surrounding what happened on that terrible day.

The second chapter deals with the broader, historical context regarding the rise of Islamist radicalism and, particularly, Osama bin Laden's brand of it, al Qaeda, whose history is meticulously dissected and recorded. Although I am only up to page 71 of the report, I do not see any political bias at all, regardless of what, say, Fox News Channel may say about the Commission or its Report.

Also, concerning one of the more controversial findings of the Commission -- the one that flatly rejected the notion that al Qaeda and Iraq had solid ties -- is not entirely represented by the mainstream.

Here's the full story on the relationship between the state of Iraq and al Qaeda, according to the findings of the Commission (emphases added): "There is also evidence that around this time Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response. According to one report, Saddam Hussein’s efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other Middle Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of Bin Ladin" (p. 66).

However, "In March 1998, ... two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin’s Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis. ... According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States." In light of all this, the Report concludes that "to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship." Furthermore, no evidence was found by the Commission "indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States" (id.)

The very well-documented Report, complete with 1,742 endnotes (pp. 451-567), is not to pass unnoticed. At least I can reserve my final judgment until I finish reading it. But, at 585 pages, it is quite lengthy, although the actual text of the Report does not begin until page 17, which puts the length of the actual Report at an easier-to-digest 568 pages (3% less).
The 9-11 Commission (the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) released its final, 585-page report ("The 9/11 Commission Report") Thursday, available as a PDF file in full here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

In a controversial move, the United Nations voted 150-6 to endorse "a resolution demanding that Israel comply" with the ruling of the International Court of Justice at The Hague "to dismantle its West Bank barrier," according to a report from BBC News.
 
According to al Jazeera, the largest Arab-language news network, many Palestinians see the barricade/wall/fence as, bluntly put, an 'apartheid wall', which personally seems extreme (my view is that it is simply a wall). Whether this degrades the social standing of Palestinians even further from their current second-class citizen status to the point at which it can be compared to South African apartheid is, well, arguable at best.
 
There were 10 abstentions to the vote, and among the nations opposed were the United States and, of course, Israel. The 'security fence' (a.k.a. 'apartheid wall' or barricade) currently being constructed will cut relatively deep into Palestinian territory, which is the cause of the controversy over the issue as many Palestinians (the US Census Bureau estimates that the population of Palestinians living in the West Bank is roughly two million) see as a 'land grab'.
 
Israeli Defense Force (IDF) plans entail the construction of enclaves inside the West Bank that appear to divide off sections of the West Bank into segregated cantons, known quite simply as the 'Encirclement Fence' (David Makovsky, "How to Build a Fence," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2004, vol. 83/no. 2, p. 60).
 
Under the IDF plan, the so-called fence will excise 47% of Palestinian territory and there will be 118 Israeli settlements (as opposed to 52 settlements under the Israeli Ministry of Defense plan, 45 according to the 'Clinton Parameters', and 18 under the Geneva Accords) on the 'Israeli side' of the fence (ibid., p. 61), which under the 'encirclement' plan will cut far into West Bank territory, even more so than what is currently being constructed. (Imagine the global outcry from humanitarian groups and the like if the 'encirclement' plan, much less the current one in effect by the Ministry of Defense, were to be implemented.)
 
Under the current scenario, which has elicited global condemnation -- from the ICJ for instance and, now, the UN, in addition to 'Arab world' opinion -- 14.5% of Palestinian land is being annexed and 10,940 Palestinians (id.) are being displaced, roughly .5% of the population of the West Bank.
 
The idea of segregating a whole population of a particular group of people (the Palestinians) is disturbingly reminiscent of the ghettoes in which the Jews were forced to live cordoned off from the rest of society by the Germans, although it must be made clear that I, a Jew myself, am NOT comparing the state of Israel to Nazi Germany, but rather that the policies of the Sharon administration and the IDF toward the Palestinian people are about as disturbing as the PLO's policy toward the Jewish people, which is to drive them to the sea; Sharon's policy is to keep the Palestinians as second-class citizens, and segregated from society in name of 'security'. Of course, this is a completely outrageous, unacceptable observation and for that I most sincerely apologize.
 
Again, as a Jew, however, I very much support Israel's right to exist as much as any nation's. However, I am deeply troubled that its Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, may be sending his nation down the path of a very dark road, and I hope that the two peoples in that troubled land may someday find a way to co-exist and seek a peace between themselves. A wall, be it in the form of any name, is not the answer. It will only make the problem worse, and continue to ensure that the devastating cycle of resentment and violence may only continue.
Although I do not believe there is any 'liberal bias' in US mainstream media (e.g. the Associated Press, CNN, Washington Post, etc.), here's a site that does posit that view, complete with a very convenient, collated list of instances where "liberal bias, agendas, distortions and erroneous reporting" appears by paper, big and small.
The 9-11 Commission (also known as the National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States) is scheduled to release its final report on Thursday, 22 July. Here's their press statement. Hopefully the report won't be too laden with rhetoric and will just get right to the facts that the Commission has found. In which case, it's probably going to be a very long report.

Monday, July 19, 2004

There's a new, cheaper iPod now that has longer battery life. Oh, yeah, and if you happen to have a brand-new BMW, you can get an adapter so that your brand-new iPod can seamlessly be integrated into the pre-existing sound system. Elitist bastards; why doesn't Starbucks have a franchise where you can have your own espresso machine in your Mercedes. I don't have a fuckin' BMW, but I do have an iPod: 5 GB, first-generation. Yeah, with the scroll wheel. Sure, it's not one of the new ones with no moving parts or the cool, touch-sensitive buttons. It's one of the first, and sort of clunky and heavy by comparison. But I don't care. It's still fuckin' awesome to me.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Los Alamos National Laboratory has been shut down due to a number of disks containing classified nuclear information that are missing and unaccounted for. According to an article from Wired News, the director of the lab, George P. "Pete" Nanos, Jr., "'has suspended all operations at the laboratory,'" according to "an internal e-mail obtained by Wired News". On July 15, Nanos "suspended all classified work at Los Alamos, after officials there lost track of a pair of Zip disks and two external hard drives containing classified information." Los Alamos "is under fire for losing track of its classified material three times in the last eight months." According to Danielle Brian, the "executive director of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight", Nanos said that "'these guys aren't taking security or safety seriously. I'm shutting this place down until they do.'" I hope that the site of the research and development of the first atomic bomb and the foremost nuclear lab in the US can get its shit together. (This story was heavily buried in the Washington Post, as one of the Nation In Brief articles on page A17.)

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Just in case you are in doubt of the facts presented in Fahrenheit 9/11, you can consult the 'Notes + Sources' for the movie, collated and published on Michael Moore's website. (Here's the link to the documentation.) Check it out.
Huh. Blogger's got a new posting interface. I got new fonts and shit. Cool.

Got new kicks.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

You know, there's a reason why Fahrenheit 9/11 is not doing relatively as well as, say, Spider-Man 2. Although it has thus grossed about $60 million (with an opening weekened of $22 million, a record for a documentary), there are some who are saying that it is only doing mediocre, and they have their theories to account for this. I have mine, and it is a very simple, logical one, free of any ideological constraints or partisan bantering: the rating and the size and scope of the release. The MPAA, up until a few days before the US release, was being appealed for a PG-13 rating; didn't happen. So, less people are allowed to see the film. Also, the limited release, ensured by the 'controversial' content of the film, the criticism from the mainstream media, and the few pressure groups that intimidated theatres from showing the film (à la The Passion of the Christ, a film that Fahrenheit 9/11 is being compared to, although the Passion was not, to my knowledge, very political) set the barrier up to which the film could grow into the hearts of Americans. Usually I'm not this eloquent, and for that I apologize.

Friday, July 09, 2004

A report released today by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence through the New York Times, "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq," includes 117 'conclusions' that damn the CIA for distorting intelligence on Iraqi capability regarding its alleged biological, chemical, and nuclear arsenals (WMD). In trademark bureaucratic newspeak, the paper reads, "Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting." Some of the findings in the report are redacted, but it is pretty damning nonetheless.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Disney, in a limited national release, distributed a film to, they believe, counteract Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11, titled America's Heart and Soul.