Tuesday, September 14, 2004

*Ø* Copyright dangers

Today's edition of The Law Report is a very important radio program, especially for Australians. Under the terms of the recently signed, and misnamed, Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and the USA, copyright has changed, to the advantage of the wealthy.

The audio covers such issues as how the estate of James Joyce pressures performers and others who wish even to quote a few of the long-dead Irish writer's words. It shows how Disney's corporate muscle was a main driving force to extend copyright internationally from 50 years to 70 years (because the copyright on Mickey Mouse was due to expire soon). How this matters to artists, writers, people on the Net ... whether in Australia or elsewhere.

Read on

Listen in | Real Media | Windows Media

*Ø* USA using excessive force on civilians, Turkey claims

Turkey threatens withdrawal from Iraq over mistreatment claims

"Turkey's Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, has condemned what he has called the excessive use of force against civilian populations [in Tall Afar, Iraq], he says he has asked the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to end the fighting in the region."

*Ø* Level playing field

Electioneering leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mark Latham, has announced an education funding policy that will take a little of the government funding of the richest private schools and redistribute it to some less-advantaged schools. Labor says it wants a level playing field.

The principals of the wealthy schools say they agree, in principle, with the "level playing field" concept, adding that they also want cushioned seats by the swimming pool, shade cover for the tennis court and cappuccino machines at the rifle range.

*Ø* Superheroes for a super challenge

Activist scales Buck House for fathers' rights

[I heard on the grapevine that the Queen phoned Gotham City and asked Commissioner Gordon to send more firepower, but the 'Commish' was in court trying to win quadrennial visitation rights for his children.]

"A comic book superhero perched in a dangerous location brandishing a banner has become an increasingly common sight in recent months.

"From Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge to London's Tower Bridge, numerous landmarks have been targeted by the costume-clad campaigners of Fathers 4 Justice.

"Britain has ordered an urgent security review at Buckingham Palace after a campaigner dressed as Batman evaded armed police and spent five hours on a ledge at the Queen's London residence.

"Jason Hatch, 32, used a portable ladder in broad daylight on Monday to scale the perimeter fence at the palace, dash across the parade ground and climb 10 metres up the front wall."
Source: New Zealand News

Death to uppity dads
"A companion dressed as his trusty sidekick Robin turned back when police threatened to shoot him as he climbed the ladder."
Source: Reuters

Picture: Batman removed from palace

“I cry silently for these children who, through no fault of their own, are forced to grieve unnecessarily and applaud the heroic fight of Fathers 4 Justice.”
Pierce Brosnan, star of Evelyn

*Ø* New at 'Kill the President'

New verses are regularly being added to the saga of Irving Lumwedder:

"Alright, you speech guys, from today, no more lies.
Listen up and get wise, things have changed.
At 3 o'clock today, I got somethin' to say,
on soil and decay, so what do you say?
What do you think?" They think "So it's true. He's deranged."

More at fishpond the blog.

Monday, September 13, 2004

*Ø* Powell said what about Shrub's neocons?

"Fucking crazies", that's what

"A furious row has broken out over claims in a new book by BBC broadcaster James Naughtie that US Secretary of State Colin Powell described neo-conservatives in the Bush administration as 'fucking crazies' during the build-up to war in Iraq.

"Powell's extraordinary outburst is alleged to have taken place during a telephone conversation with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The two became close friends during the intense negotiations in the summer of 2002 to build an international coalition for intervention via the United Nations. The 'crazies' are said to be Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz."
Source: Guardian

Tsk, tsk! My, but these conservatives have dirty hippie mouths these days.

Why doesn't Powell just quit, write a book, do lectures? How much money and power can salve that conscience (assuming that, as is widely asserted, he's actually been against Bush & Co from the beginning)? And maybe he'd get something resembling a smile back on that miserable face.

Maybe he's just not the token dove people like to paint him as. Wish he'd speak up next time his boss wants to kill fifty or sixty thousand people. Still, there's the mortgage and all. Isn't there more in lecture tours? Must be the power then. Hmmm

*Ø* Hammer day, Rome; Little Richard

Day of Driving the Nail, Roman Empire
In ancient Rome a nail was driven into the wall of the temple of Jupiter every 13 September. This was originally done to tally the year, but subsequently it became a religious ceremony for warding off calamities and plagues from the city ...

* Ø * Ø * Ø *

Tutti Frutti
September 13, 1955 Los Angeles, USA: Little Richard (Richard, or Ricardo, Wayne Penniman) recorded a bowdlerised version of Tutti Frutti. What the naughty words were that he expunged, your almanackist has not been able to determine, but “all over rootie” is still in the published lyrics.

I always thought it was “I wanna rootie”. The most famous line of the song is when Richard sings “A Wop bop a lu bop ba lop bam boom!” Or something like that.

Following an Australian tour in 1957, during which he looked up into a Sydney sky and saw Sputnik and was troubled by it, he said he saw a vision of the apocalypse and his own damnation in a dream. He said he prayed to God during a fiery plane flight, promising God that if the plane landed safely he would give up his rock ’n’ roll life ...

These are just a couple of snippets of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

*Ø* Free fantasy fonts

If you like fantasy & medieval fonts & runes & wonderful wingdings, and especially if they're free, then check out Lord Kyl's excellent collection. The site appears to have cobwebs on it (not up to date) but there's plenty of goodies left in the pantry.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

*Ø* 9-11 revisited

By now, I suppose everyone knows that Bush lied about how he first heard of the tragic attack on America three years ago. This page sets it out.

Here's the biggest list of 9-11 links I've found. Here's another at the Scriptorium, and for some analysis of the event, Myths of the War on Terrorism and Iraq has a wealth of information. Don't forget An Interesting Day, which has a timeline of Bush's actions and movements on that day ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.

*Ø* Cheney, 9-11 and oil desperation

The From the Wilderness website frequently has some stimulating articles.

Now available for free download (a PDF file) is a speech given by Michael C Ruppert, which is a teaser to his new book, Crossing the Rubicon. It is a thought-provoking window into the links between the Kean commission that investigated 9-11, and the oil industry.

It's well worth a read for its presentation of facts about the parlous state of oil production in the world, and, startlingly, points a finger at Dick Cheney as responsible for 9-11. I haven't read the book (but hope to) so I have no opinion on the latter, but there is a great deal of essential reading in the speech. For me to recommend a bloody PDF, it's got to be something out of the box.

Thanks, Star Light, for sending the link to the PDF.

From the Wilderness has another article on the subject here. Again, recommended. It's called In Your Face: Connections between Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force, 9/11 and Peak Oil "On the Table". Here's a quote:
60% of the world's recoverable oil is in a “golden” triangle running from Mosul
in northern Iraq, to the Straits of Hormuz, to an oil field in Saudi Arabia 75
miles in from the coast, just west of Qatar, then back up to Mosul. Sixty per
cent of all the recoverable oil on the planet is an in area no larger than the
state of Indiana .

Is it surprising then that the overwhelming majority
of US military deployment since 9/11 is in this region?
Torturing Children, by William Rivers Pitt
Also at From the Wilderness, a disturbing article by William Rivers Pitt, Torturing Children, about 107 Iraqi children abused by American forces at Abu Ghraib prison, with war crimes including sodomizing of some children. Just another one of those Internet stories that, if you're lucky, the media take notice of about two years too late.

Friday, September 10, 2004

*Ø* Ahmed Shah Massoud
I was a bit crook yesterday (I feel well now), so I couldn't post this, which commemorates this September 9 event, harbinger of the world we now inhabit. From our Book of Days for September 9:

Death of the Lion of Panjshir

Ahmed Shah Massoud ('the Lion of Panjshir'; born c. 1953), leader of the Northern Alliance, was assassinated in Afghanistan on September 9, 2001.

Massoud, probably the greatest resistance leader of the 20th century, and probably equal to any of all time, was the victim of an Al Qaeda suicide bomber attack at Khvajeh Baha od Din, two days before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the USA, and as part of that strategy.

It was the event that, in my opinion, ushered in the century and the Age of the New US Imperialism.

The assassination: prelude to 9-11
Two days before 9-11, Ahmad Shah Massoud, warrior-intellectual hero of the resistance to Russian imperialism and Taliban lunocracy, was assassinated by two suicide bombers posing as journalists. It was big news when it happened, and like many I was stunned, but like everyone else except Al Qaeda, I hadn't the slightest idea what big event it was leading up to within 48 hours. In fact, we weren't even sure he was dead because his cadres denied it, saying he was only wounded, as they played for time to regroup and plan. (It is believed that the horribly wounded Massoud died within 15 - 30 minutes, although his death was denied until September 13.)

If the official explanation for the September 11 attack on America is correct, ie, that Al Qaeda was to blame, then it's reasonable to assume that from Osama bin Laden's point of view, it was necessary to eliminate the Lion of Panjshir in order to secure local territory for the expected retaliation from the US when he attacked NYC and the Pentagon. With Massoud gone, so was bin Laden's mortal enemy and a reasonable man who did not despise the West.

Who was Ahmed Shah Massoud?
Massoud was a soccer player and coach, a horse rider, swimmer and karate sportsman, chess player, architect and reader, but he gave it all up for his country and people. "I love Hafiz's poems," he once said, "I always read them. They change and inspire me. Music talks to the innermost feelings of a human being. Poetry and music have influence on every one."

He once told National Geographic journalist Sebastian Junger (author of Fire) he was fighting not only for a free Afghanistan but for a free world. Junger wrote: "There was something about him – the slow nod of his head as he listened to a question, the exhaustion and curiosity engraved on his handsome, haggard face – that made it clear we were in the presence of an extraordinary man. I found it impossible not to listen to Massoud when he spoke, even though I didn't understand a word. I watched everything he did, because I had the sense that somehow – in the way he poured his tea, in the way his hands carved the air as he talked – there was some secret to be learned."

Nine times the Soviet Union tried to defeat the Afghans in the Panjshir Valley, and nine times they were repelled by forces commanded by Massoud. The Soviets killed approximately 1,000 Afghan military personnel and civilians to every one of their own combatants (15,000 Soviets dead compared to 1.5 million Afghans), and forced more than 7 million out of a population of 18 million to flee to squalid refugee camps where millions remain to this day. Despite this overkill, the USSR was forced to give up their war of aggression. Massoud, a brilliant military commander, was largely responsible for the victory of the Afghan people.

For at least two decades, Massoud determinedly resisted first the Soviet invaders, then the Taliban, living in a multitude of wilderness camps in the same rudimentary conditions as the guerrilla fighters under his command.

Robert D Kaplan wrote in his book The Soldiers of God, 1991: "Ahmad Shah Massoud has to be considered one of the greatest leaders of guerrilla movements in the 20th century. He defeated his enemy just like Marshall Tito, Hu Chi Minh and Che Guevara did. Massoud controlled a bigger terrain that was much more difficult to defend militarily and was under constant attack from the enemy. His territory suffered much more attacks from enemy forces than those areas which were under the control of the resistance movements of Tito, Hu Chi Minh, or Guevara."

Massoud was a man of character. In 1980, a young soldier took advantage of the darkness and shot at Massoud's car from only three metres away. Massoud told him: "Friend, your hands are trembling and you are not used to shooting anyone," and let the attacker go. Moscow tried to poison, shoot and blow up Massoud, but was never successful. On one occasion, Dr Najibullah, later President and at that time chief of the puppet Afghan government's intelligence service, sent an agent named Kamran to Panjshir where Massoud gave him the traditional and celebrated Afghan hospitality. Kamran finally came to understand Massoud's reason for resisting the Communists and handed over the muffled firearm he had been given by the Afghan government to carry out the planned assassination. Kamran then took refuge in Germany, asking for political asylum.

Massoud's last plea: "America, help us"
In Massoud's last interview, given to Newsweek two weeks before murder, his plea (couched in diplomatic terms but nonetheless clear), was for the USA to stop aiding the Pakistan/Taliban/bin Laden brutalization of his country and to develop a policy that would support moderate politics in Afghanistan. As we all know now, freedom-loving George W Bush had more important things to do at the country club and had never heard of any of these entities that his government was either supporting or turning a blind eye to.

Nobel Prize for Massoud?
Your almanackist, for one, hopes that Massoud will be awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to freedom and the inspiration he continues to give the world. I believe that there are other ways of national self defence than Stinger missiles and home-made guns forged out of water pipes, as used by the Mujahideen under Massoud's command. However, in the real situation of the defence of a country that has been repeatedly invaded, from Genghiz Khan to the British (three times) the mighty Communist empire to the north, (and of course more recently the 'Coalition of the Willing'), at least Ahmed Shah Massoud was incorruptible, merciful, and almost worshipped by his people. And unlike the generals of the invaders, he fought on the battlefield with his men, resting in dirty caves and tents in boiling hot and sub-freezing temperatures in Afghanistan's parched desert valleys and deep-snow mountains, sleeping in a different bed most nights and eating the meagre rations of the guerrilla fighter.

Shaobakhai, Lion of Panjshir, and tashakoor. Goodnight, and thank you.

More Massoud links at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days

Thursday, September 09, 2004

*Ø* Two gods at war

Another reminder to Australians about the anger their government, with its cruel policies, has naturally caused in the Muslim world. News from Australia's nearest neighbour, Indonesia (the nation with the largest Muslim population):

Embassy blast kills 7 in Jakarta

"Seven people are now reported to have been killed after a blast outside the Australian embassy building in Jakarta this afternoon, but no Australians have been badly hurt.

"Hospital officials in Jakarta say at least seven people were killed and nearly 100 injured. Indonesian Radio is also reporting around 100 people have been injured."

This outrage, will, of course, up the ante. And so on ad infinitum. Expect rhetoric about the evil of these people, with never a reference to their grievances or the circumstances that can lead people to sacrifice their lives, while killing others.

Sadly, although the Australian government is aware of the context of these bombings, its leaders are expert manipulators of opinion, and they are adept at subordinating terrrorism, and the deaths of innocent people, to their political agenda. I believe we can expect much more of the same from fanatics of both the Islamist and Western economic rationalist variety. It's two gods at war while ordinary people are their collateral damage.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

*Ø* The pentagram: origins in Venus

The pentagram is a fascinating arcane symbol and well known to Neopagans and occultists.

In my own view, the pentagram's origins are in part associated with the passage of the planet Venus through the skies, a view propounded by Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, but don't let that put you off. Others, such as this Freemasonry website, dispute it, and I would hazard a guess that's because of the sacred feminine associations of Venus, as the Freemasons are a very masculine association.

I know there's a lot of current interest in this question, and Dan Brown's assertion that a four-year venus cycle informs the Olympics periodicity seems wrong to me. As far as I know, the Venus path is on an eight-year cycle. After that period, Venus, the Sun, Earth and the stars are in the same relative positions (more).

However, I certainly ain't no astronomer and can only go by what I read. If you have any information at all associated with this matter, or anything to do with the pentacle and its origins, I'd be grateful if you'd let me know.

Nick Anthony Fiorenza of Lunar Planner/The Venus Transit has very kindly permitted the use of his animation. I recommend his fascinating site.

*Ø* Free audio

Little Johnny Howard,
How 'ard you try ...

A funny song that isn't too respectful of the Australian Prime Minister.
You can hear the song here in mp3 format, about 4 megs and not a real fast download. You can order it here, which is the only website of a political candidate that I've ever seen which shows the candidate mucking out a bull yard (Jeremy Bradley is an organic farmer). Goodonya, Jezza! We're voting Greens in the Australian election (endorsing Democrats in the USA).

* Ø * Ø * Ø *

Free Iraq! with every purchase

While I'm here, I must mention a site I just found (that's their logo at left) called Wax Audio. Lots of audio to download free, taking the piss out of the WMDs/Children Overboard politicians.

Check it out, it won't disappoint. Titles include 'Bushbeats', 'Howard Killed' (hilarious) and 'American Justice'. Slow downloads, but cool.

From the site:

American Justice
We hear the static of radio frequencies, the dial settles and we are tuned into a steady hip-hop beat & the rhythmic rhetoric of commander in chief, George W Bush, delivering his ultimatum to Saddam :

"Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict ...at a time of our choosing"

Following Dubya is John Howard, then Tony Blair. Before long all three are reciting their pre-war mantra in unison –

"Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons of Mass Destruction"

A punching bass line drives the rhythm beneath before Dubya returns to the front without missing a beat.

"…we have the terrorists on the run, we're keeping them on the run… one - by one - the terrorists – are learning – the meaning – of American – justice"

*Ø* Cheney's outrageous claim

Senator John Edwards released the following statement today in response to comments made by Dick Cheney that America is more likely to be attacked if John Kerry and John Edwards are elected in November:

"Dick Cheney's scare tactics crossed the line today, showing once again that he and George Bush will do anything and say anything to save their jobs. Protecting America from vicious terrorists is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it's an American issue and Dick Cheney and George Bush should know that.

"John Kerry and I will keep America safe, and we will not divide the American people to do it."

*Ø* Green Brown hits back

Vote Greens in the Australian federal election. If only to give John Anderson apoplexy.

"THE coalition was mounting a 'Greens under the bed' scare campaign to distract voters from its own shortcomings, Australian Greens senator Bob Brown said tonight.

"Senator Brown said a new round of attacks from the government, spearheaded by Nationals leader John Anderson, would simply fail and drive voters to the Greens. Mr Anderson, campaigning in the marginal Nationals' seat of Page in northern New South Wales today, said supporters of the Greens would have been members of the Communist Party in the 1950s. [Emphasis mine]

"He said the Greens were like a watermelon - green on the outside but red on the inside.

"But Senator Brown said the Greens were more like avocados - green on the inside and outside.
He said when it came to links with communist organisations, it was the coalition government in bed with the reds.

"'This government cosies up with the biggest communist regime in the world - Beijing,' he said.

"'I've been trying to get out monks and nuns locked up in Tibet who are on the political right, and that's being done by the Chinese.

"'If John Anderson wanted to set up the National Party in China he'd be arrested as soon as he got there.'"
Souce: Herald Sun

Andrew Wilkie for Benelong: WMDs whistleblower Wilkie for Green Party challenges Prime Minister Howard in his safe seat

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

*Ø* Osama Fires Publicist

No Mention At Convention Has Madman Miffed

"Al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden, reportedly 'furious' that his name was not mentioned once at last week's Republican National Convention, fired his publicist today and warned that more changes in the Qaeda publicity department may be imminent.

"According to sources close to Mr. bin Laden, the Qaeda kingpin had eagerly anticipated watching the Republican gathering in its entirety, hoping to hear his name bitterly invoked dozens of times by G.O.P. speakers.

"But after hearing four nights' worth of speakers excoriating Democratic nominee John Kerry instead of him, an increasingly riled bin Laden picked up the phone and fired his publicist, David Grenway of the Grenway Group, a leading New York public relations firm."

Continue at The Borowitz Report

*Ø* Wal-Mart builds near world-famous sacred site

Mexicans battle over Wal-Mart-owned store being built near 2,000-year-old pyramids

"A Wal-Mart-owned discount store rising a half-mile from the ancient temples of Teotihuacan has touched off a fight by a small coalition that doesn't want to see the big, boxy outlet from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun.

"We'd rather not have Mickey Mouse on top of the Pyramid of the Moon"

"But with most people in the area supporting Wal-Mart, the group is waging a lonely battle for what it calls its defense of Mexico's landscape and culture.

"The dispute in Teotihuacan – a town built next to the ruins of the 2,000-year-old metropolis – illustrates how the allure of low prices and U.S. lifestyles often wins out in Mexico, leaving traditionalists struggling to draw a line in rapidly shifting cultural sands.

"'We'd rather not have Mickey Mouse on top of the Pyramid of the Moon,' says Emmanuel D'Herrera, a business owner in Teotihuacan, 30 miles north of Mexico City.He claims a tall sign will loom near the huge twin pyramids that draw hundreds of thousands of tourists annually, although a government-appointed archaeologist disputes that."
Source: SFGate

I found it at Infoshop, a website that's definitely a keeper.

Google News on Teotihuacan Wal-Mart

Click the thumb above for Common Dreams story and to expand image.

*Ø* Bush by numbers

Four years of double standards

By Graydon Carter

1 The rank of the United States worldwide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

25 Percentage of overall worldwide carbon dioxide emissions the United States is responsible for.

53 Number of days after taking office that Bush reneged on his campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

14 Percentage carbon dioxide emissions will increase over the next 10 years under Bush's own global-warming plan (an increase of 30 per cent above their 1990 levels).

408 Number of species that could be extinct by 2050 if the global-warming trend continues.

5 Number of years the Bush administration said in 2003 that global warming must be further studied before substantive action could be taken.

62 Number of members of Cheney's 63-person Energy Task Force with ties to corporate energy interests.

0 Number of environmentalists asked to attend Cheney's Energy Task Force meetings.

6 Number of months before 11 September that Cheney's Energy Task Force investigated Iraq's oil reserves.

2 Percentage of the world's population that is British.

2 Percentage of the world's oil used by Britain.

5 Percentage of the world's population that is American.

25 Percentage of the world's oil used by America.

63 Percentage of oil the United States imported in 2003, a record high.

24,000 Estimated number of premature deaths that will occur under Bush's Clear Skies initiative.

300 Number of Clean Water Act violations by the mountaintop-mining industry in 2003.

750,000 Tons of toxic waste the US military, the world's biggest polluter, generates around the world each Year.

$3.8bn Amount in the Superfund trust fund for toxic site clean-ups in 1995, the Year "polluter pays" fees expired.

$0m Amount of uncommitted dollars in the Superfund trust fund for toxic site clean-ups in 2003.

Source: The Independent. Found at Majority Report Radio

[To which I add:

1 The national ranking of Australia in terms of per capita greenhouse emissions.]

*Ø* Humpback whales head home, Australia

“There were around 10,000 Humpback Whales off eastern Australia in 1952. In 1962, after 10 years of commercial whaling, that number had been reduced to a critically low 100 individuals. When Humpback whales were commercially harvested between 1952 and 1962, Australia made about 1 million pounds (current value around $32M) annually in sales of oil and other whale by-products. Today in Australia around $70M is earned annually through whale-watching and associated tourist business.”

At present there are around 44 species of whale recorded in Australia, 35 of them toothed whales and nine baleen whales. The Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, is one of the baleens.

Your almanackist is fortunate enough to live a few metres back from the eastern shore of the continent (Sandy Beach, NSW). Two days ago a baby whale was stranded on the beach, as they're wont to do. I missed seeing it, but presume it was a baby Humpback on September's southward migration, from the tropical breeding waters of northern Queensland, back to the icy Antarctic.

Six thousand kilometres there and six thousand back, just to have sex – even in Australia, where long distances are the norm and God knows one can get desperate, that's a long way to go for a humpback ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.

*Ø* How to become a Wikiactivist

Wikipedia for social change

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, is a great favourite of mine, and I have been visiting it and using it since not long after its inauguration.

Wikipedia began in a conversation between two old Internet friends, Larry Sanger, editor-in-chief of Nupedia, and Ben Kovitz, a computer programmer, on January 2, 2001. The idea was to have an encyclopaedia that was not only free to users, but which could actually be created by the general community. It might even be said that it is a very good example of anarchism at work.

When I first found Wikipedia there weren't a lot of articles but it has grown fantastically so that today there are more than 340,000 articles. It is a true Internet success story and a credit to the vision of its founders.

Planting memes and pulling up weeds at Wikipedia
Wikipedia affords a great opportunity for people with progressive ideas and a commitment to justice, peace and our natural environment to influence ideas. Anyone may initiate and edit articles, or add input to the 'Discussion' section at the head of each and every Wikipedia article. Ideas that you plant, and the rooting out of falsehoods and reactionary ideas, can influence the course of events and people's thinking in many ways.

Here are a few suggestions, just off the top of my head:

Start articles on people who have made a difference, such as activists and writers. There are already articles on movie celebrities and sports people, so let's up the ante with more inspiring people like R Buckminster Fuller, EF Schumacher, Petra Kelly, Jane Addams and Mahatma Gandhi. Together we can change the concept of celebrity;

Add useful internal and external links to existing articles. It's easy to learn how to make amendments and additions to any Wikipedia article, and most of the time no one will amend your amendments. It will happen sometimes, but you are allowed to debate it, and anyway, it won't be possible for cranky people to oppose everything you do, and you can invite some friends to join the debate – that's what democracy is all about;

Help give Wikipedia more global awareness and responsibility. If an article says something like "In 1972 the first movie about artichokes was screened", and you know that in your country there was one earlier, add the words "in the USA" ... this is necessary because Wikipedia is very Americocentric despite a policy in favour of internationalism. If an article says "Vice-President Schlemburger", it might be appropriate to add "of the USA". The authors often assume there is only one country – we all know that there will be no peace until globalism (rather than globalization) spreads;

You can bring some brain-food to articles that reveal the author's lack of thinking about what's important. For example, an article like 'F/A-22 Raptor' really needs a section that is critical of expensive death machines, and discussion about what this machinery does, i.e., kills men, women and children. There are obviously a lot of fairly unconscious people posting stuff without a view to the bigger picture, so take your monkeywrench to any article and fix it. There might be specific information you can bring to an article from your own reading, or you can search for info elsewhere. Most things have a political context and if no one points it out, Wikipedia users will be the poorer for it. Remember, if nothing changes, nothing changes;

The beauty of this is that it won't cost you a penny and you might influence thousands of people over the years. Think of all the schoolteachers and schoolkids who might get a much-needed alternative view because you took the time to assert good values where none previously existed. True, someone might edit your editing, but it's very democratic and even slightly progressive at Wikipedia, and you won't find yourself alone.

At Wikipedia you will also find links to Wikisource (where you can post source documents), Wikiquote (your choice of quotations to upload – and the authors of those quotes – can be influential in themselves), and Wikibooks.

If you think it is a good idea for progressive people to influence the world's knowledge bank in this free and easy way, I invite you to pass this on to as many people as you can.

Have fun being a Wikiactivist!

*Ø* Northern Ireland: Agreement 'in difficulty'

"Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said that the Good Friday Agreement stands in 'considerable difficulty' ahead of talks aimed at restoring devolution.

"He was speaking in London on Monday shortly before talks with British and Irish government officials.

"Mr Adams said that the DUP had been honest that they wanted to destroy the Good Friday Agreement ...

"The Sinn Fein leader was speaking at the beginning of a week of intense political activity aimed at generating movement in the Northern Ireland political situation ...

"The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office."
Full text: BBC

Monday, September 06, 2004

*Ø* Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

Abbots Bromley Horn (Antler Dance; Ceremony of the Deermen), Abbots Bromley, UK
Wakes Monday, the first Monday after September 4

Originally this was danced during the Yuletide on Twelfth Day (January 6) at Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England. Now the Abbots Bromley Horn is danced on the first Monday after September 4, the date having been moved in the 18th Century. Six male dancers hold white and brown-painted (formerly red and white) genuine reindeer antlers on wooden poles.

The antlers were obtained from reindeer that were castrated, or domesticated during the eleventh century. As reindeer are believed to have become extinct in the British Isles by then, and we know of no domesticated herds, the antlers were possibly of Scandinavian origin. In 1976, a small splinter was radiocarbon dated to around 1065. (At Star Carr in Yorkshire, Mesolithic antler ‘frontlets’, apparently meant to be worn, have been dated to 7600 BCE.) Since 1981, the Abbots Bromley horns have been legally the property of Abbots Bromley Parish Council and for 364 days of the year, they are on display in St Nicholas Church.

The dance starts at 7 am with a service of Holy Communion in St Nicholas Church, where the horns are housed. The dance begins on the village green, then passes out of the village to Blithfield Hall, currently owned by Lady Bagot.

The dancers hold the antlers to their heads as they dance. They go round neighbouring farms before the event (a distance of about 16 kilometres, or ten miles), which is possibly left over from a more ancient fertility dance. At the end of the day, the antlers are returned to the church. The Horn Dancers comprise six ‘Deer-men’, a Fool, Hobby Horse, Bowman (Robin Hood) and Maid Marion, performing their dance to a traditional tune provided by a melodion player.

The sight of a bowman following men wearing antlers is reminiscent of scenes in the celebrated cave paintings of Lascaux, France, which date to Paleolithic times 20,000 years ago, which depict men wearing antler head-dresses being stalked by archers (pictured at left). The Kalahari Bushmen’s ritual mimicry of hunters stalking antelopes also comes to mind, as does the Apache horn dance ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.

*Ø* Equatorial Guinea demands handover of former PM's son

"Equatorial Guinea is willing to guarantee that it would not use the death penalty if it were allowed to extradite Sir Mark Thatcher and other British citizens it accuses of involvement in a coup plot, the country's Attorney-General, Jose Olo Obono, has told The Independent on Sunday.

"Sir Mark, freed from house arrest in Cape Town on Friday after his mother, Baroness Thatcher, put up £165,000 bail money, is being investigated under South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act for his alleged part in financing a botched coup against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema's regime in March. Equatorial Guinea officials are due to arrive in South Africa today, and may be allowed to question him, but the west African nation wants Sir Mark and other Britons, including Simon Mann, an ex-SAS officer facing sentence in Zimbabwe on arms charges, Greg Wales, a British businessman, and Ely Calil, a London-based oil trader accused of masterminding the plot, to face its own justice ...

"[But] Equatorial Guinea has become sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest oil exporter since offshore fields were discovered in the mid-1990s, raising the stakes. International involvement in the latest plot, which collapsed when Zimbabwe intercepted a planeload of South African former special forces soldiers in March, has kept tensions high in Malabo."
Full text

*Ø* Four SEALs Charged With Abuse Of Prisoners

Washington Post, Saturday:

"The Navy said yesterday it charged four of its SEALs with abusing detainees in Iraq, marking the first time that elite Special Operations troops have been accused of such offenses in the expanding series of probes into the U.S. military's mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan ...

"Many of the charges brought against the SEALs this week grow out of a previously reported incident on Nov. 4, 2003, in which a detainee in the custody of the CIA died at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, officials said. The investigation continues, Navy officials said, and is expected to produce additional charges against other sailors. They said they did not know how many ultimately would be charged.

"Until now, the only service members facing legal action for alleged abuses of Iraqi prisoners are seven members of an Army reserve military police unit that worked in the Abu Ghraib prison. In the hierarchy of status within the U.S. military, those part-time MP soldiers, drawn from a support unit, are virtually at the opposite end of the scale from Navy SEALs, who are seen as highly skilled and disciplined troops trained to operate in extremely dangerous situations" ...

"The four new charges came after announcements by Pentagon officials over the past two weeks that dozens of additional charges against soldiers were likely to be filed. Army investigators said they have concluded that in addition to the seven already charged in connection with alleged offenses at the Abu Ghraib prison, 30 other soldiers and contractors participated in abuse there, and 11 more could face charges or disciplinary action for not reporting what they saw.

Also, the Army last month charged a soldier for abuse of an Afghan detainee, and Army officials said earlier this week that they expect to charge 25 other soldiers in connection with abuses in Afghanistan.

[All emphasis mine.]

Full text

In the lead-up to Australia's federal election on October 9, the government has been feeling some heat on the Guantanamo detainees issue, and is frantically taking baby steps to entreat the USA to give Hicks and Habib something resembling a fair trial.

It goes to show that public pressure can have an effect sometimes, though in this case the government reveals itself as quixotic as it is cynical, for the US government has long shown it has absolutely no interest in the human rights of these Australian citizens whom it held without charge and in solitary confinement in 6 X 8 foot concrete cells for years.

*Ø* Tinkering won't help Hicks: ALP

"Tinkering with the US military commission process would not ensure Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks received a fair trial, Labor said.

"The federal government said it would seek changes to the process used to try Hicks to ensure he received procedural fairness.

"Hicks last month pleaded not guilty at a preliminary military commission hearing to charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes, aiding the enemy, and attempted murder.

"Another Australian, Mamdouh Habib, is also likely to face charges before a military commission.

"Opposition attorney general's spokeswoman Nicola Roxon said it had been known for months that the military commission process was unfair, but the Australian government had only chosen to act now.

"'We should demand ... where trials are held that people have a fair process and that if they have done something wrong and committed a crime they'll be convicted,' Ms Roxon told ABC radio.

"'But not using this trumped-up military commission process where really none of the normal rules apply and tinkering at the edges probably won't improve that.'"
Source: Yahoo! News

Downer, Ruddock admit failure on Guantanamo Bay
"The announcement that the Howard government will 'discuss' with the Bush Administration such matters as the presumption of innocence, the right to silence, the right to defence counsel and assurances against the death penalty at the Guantanamo Bay Military Commission is an admission of failure by ministers Downer and Ruddock, Greens Senator Bob Brown said in Canberra today.

"'The military commission is all but a kangaroo court. It cannot be made fair. Otherwise, why have it rather than have David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib brought before an Australian court?' Senator Brown said.

"'The government's compliance with this process is outrageous. Even Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry says he will disband the commission,' Senator Brown said."
Source: Australian Greens

*Ø* Extended Aljazeera Iraq ban blasted

"The interim Iraqi government's decision to extend a month-long ban on Aljazeera's reporting in the war-torn country has been criticised by the network and media rights groups.

"The secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, on Saturday condemned the decision to indefinitely extend the closure of Aljazeera's Baghdad office.

"The decision 'contradicts Iraqi officials' statements on democracy', Menard said, adding that it went against the notions of law and freedom."
Full text

*Ø* 'Kill the President' a-comin'

I'd hoped to post some more of Kill the President today as I want to keep adding about 7 or so stanzas per week. It didn't happen but I'll try to get some more there very soon, maybe a day or two. I need to derange my brain a bit before I can do it. I don't do drugs any more so I have to hit myself around the head a lot with a piece of 4 X 2.

If you're into killing the president, you can come back about once a week and there should be a new chapter unfold in the patriotic tale of Irving Lumwedder.

*Ø* Republican Dirty Tricks, Much?

["Born yesterday...NOT! — Orwell Himself Couldn't Have Imagined This Bullshit!" — Lisa -v]

No Trespassing
Bush admin move may keep Kerry and other candidates
from stumping on federal property

By Amanda Griscom

The Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, NASA headquarters, and the Washington Monument are among the many federal properties that may be off-limits to presidential and congressional candidates for campaign photo ops this election season, thanks to a guidance recently released by the Bush administration's U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The OSC is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes issues ranging from whistleblower complaints to concerns that federal employees are participating in campaign activities prohibited by the Hatch Act, which defines election-related political no-no's for people on the government payroll.

Kerry advisers and some environmentalists are royally peeved about the advisory, calling it at best deliberately ambiguous and misleading, at worst a deliberate maneuver to gain advantage over John Kerry's presidential campaign.

The guidance is "an extraordinary reinterpretation of the Hatch Act," said David Hayes, who oversaw national parks as deputy secretary of the interior under Clinton, and who now serves as a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign. "It is a patently ridiculous and extreme measure that the Bush administration is taking to cover up its appalling record on funding and protecting national parks after promising in the 2000 campaign to make it a priority."

But OSC spokesperson Cathy Deeds told Muckraker that her agency is merely "restating the Hatch Act" in response to repeated queries over the last several months from federal employees at various agencies about which campaign activities they can participate in and what federal property is fair game. [Yeah, yeah. -v] On Aug. 9, the office issued a government-wide guidance in an effort "to clear up the confusion." That just happened to be the very day that John Kerry made a campaign stop at the Grand Canyon and delivered a speech criticizing the shortfall of funding for national parks under the Bush administration. [Emphasis added. -v]


Sunday, September 05, 2004

*Ø* Plenty of Precedent for Chechen Revenge

Chechen Revenge
By BigEye.com Webmaster

The Bush administration's leaders, as well as the Russian government would prefer their publics to believe that the recent Russian school massacre occurred in a vacuum. Just as 9/11, this "terrorism" also has its obvious antecedents. As inhumane and barbaric as this school atrocity was, the number of children killed is only a fraction of those murdered by Russia's and lost by their Chechen parents. [Emphasis added. -v]

Despite their horror, "terrorist" acts perpetrated by individuals and private groups pall in comparison to those undertaken by state leaders. The governments of "Western Civilization", including our own [the U.S. -v], have been complicit in atrocities committed by the Russian government for the past decade against civilians in Chechnya and their heroic defenders.

If you want to gain perspective in this matter, read each of the following Foreign Correspondent columns by Eric Margolis, published on this web site.


*Ø* Hail to Dads' Day in Oz

It has never snowed in Sydney, as far as anyone knows, but it does get the occasional good hail storm. The one on April 14, 1998 will probably not be forgotten for generations (click the link for photo/story). That one destroyed my new car .... while I was in it.

Today, while Sydneysiders were commemorating Fathers' Day (first Sunday in September in the World's Second-Greatest Democracy), hail came down on Sydney Town. Not like 1998, but enough to give Sydney in Springtime almost a Northern Hemisphere Christmas appearance.

Baz le Tuff sent me a link to some good photos.

For dads: links on men's issues

*Ø* Romans catching up

"Not to be shackled while the world goes to hell in a handcart, the Vatican is making up new words to hold the line against sin.

"As the only body in the world still using Latin, the Vatican has helpfully produced a new lexicon of modern words.

"It may help resolve the problem of how to threaten damnation if you dare not speak vice's name.

"Words appearing for the first time include hotpants (brevissimae bracae femineae), nightclub (taberna nocturna) and cigarette (fistula nicotiana). Like iuvenis voluptarius (the new Latin playboy), they're unlikely to feature favourably in the next papal encyclical."
Full text

Saturday, September 04, 2004

*Ø* Pentagon mystery explored

Teensy-weensy hole in the Pentagon wall, no shorn-off wings, no skid marks on the lawn, an unskilled terrorist pilot with the skills of Han Solo, eyewitness accounts of a small plane or missile rather than a Boeing 757, films confiscated by FBI ...

From J-9, a Flash-animated short documentary about the plane that allegedly struck the Pentagon. It's a very slow download but I think well worth the wait. Have a cuppa while it loads.

*Ø* Google World? Nup

While I'm at it, I must mention I'm a bit fed up with Google News's presentation of what's going on in the world.

The tragedy in Beslan is a huge thing happening in the world, and top of the headlines worldwide, but Google News (which is otherwise a great service) today has headlines like

Bush Opens 11-Point Lead Over Kerry at Convention, Poll Shows
Bypass surgery among most common in USA
Cardiologist: Clinton's outlook good
A warning from Intel sets stocks tumbling

You have to scroll down for World News, which is always below news from the USA.

Memo to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin: There are 190 countries out here. Cumulatively known as "World". We love the USA as much as any of them, but ... hey, fellas, give us a break.

Granted, Google is an American company, and they can do any damn thing they want. (Why not, we may ask, all the other American companies do.) But the Internet is used by the people of the planet. Isn't it about time that Google's owners acknowledged that their own wealth comes from the people of a world, not just a nation? And even if most of their trade is domestic, perhaps they might allow internationalism to transcend parochialism.

I'd urge Google to put world news at the top, above any individual nation's local concerns. Sure, it's not very difficult for the rest of us to scroll down past Oprah Winfrey's's facelift or Edward Kennedy's grumbling gallbladder, down to "The Rest of You", but the symbolism of placing six billion people below any one country is rather telling and, quite frankly, insulting.

*Ø* Beslan

Our hearts go out to Beslan today. No suffering that has happened in Chechnya, no matter how vast, can ever justify the taking of innocent lives, especially those of children.

The Chechnyan people have suffered horrifically under the Russian boot, with organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture of one accord that human rights are still being systematically repressed in Chechnya.

It's all for Chechnya's oil, for rich industrialists and shareholders living in luxury in Moscow, Berlin, New York, Tokyo ... and countless thousands of innocents have been killed, tortured and "disappeared" to support their lifestyle.

Homes have been bombed indiscriminately, and the huge occupying Russian force behaves like Nazis, aided by the other major nations whose profit-making elites and their media ensure their citizens know practically none of the facts. Like Iraq, it's yet another case of "Sorry, but our oil is under your sand".

Even this 2001 report, 'Endless Brutality' from Physicians for Human Rights, reveals the level of the crisis, and it's quite out of date now and things have got much worse. We can well understand how long-brutalised people can get so desperate that violent reprisals seem the only choice.

Terrorism is wrong, and obsolete
However, terrorism and revenge are to be condemned as cruel and ineffectual methods of personal or political action. History records no lasting successes from the use of violence, and the skills of non-violent resistance are now well developed. There is enough experience of alternative methods of conflict resolution and self-defence to have rendered violence obsolete, especially terrorism which always turns global public opinion against the groups that employ it. Terrorism is clearly a method that works against the people who have the grievance.

People of goodwill are urged to spread knowledge of these superior strategies and tactics, information on which abounds on the Internet. The survival of our species and our world depends on it.

Crisis in Chechnya: A very good overview on one page, lotsa links. In fact, it's a must-read, IMHO.
American Committee for Peace in Chechnya
BBC's Chechnya timeline
The Politics of Non-Violent Action (Gene Sharp)

*Ø* Cats could carry the bird flu virus

"The bird flu virus that can kill humans has the potential to be spread by cats, scientists have found.

"It had been thought that domestic cats were resistant to diseases caused by influenza A viruses - one of which, H5N1, is responsible for avian flu.

"The disease killed at least 20 people in Asia earlier this year, and forced farmers to cull almost 200m birds.

"The research, by Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, is published in the journal Science ...

"Professor John Oxford, an expert in virology at Queen Mary College, London, told BBC News Online the study was 'very significant and slightly alarming'.

"He said there was little evidence at present that cats could be infected with other forms of human flu virus, and so the possibility that H5N1 could mix with a human virus inside a cat and produce a deadly new strain was probably slim." [My emphasis - N]
Full text

*Ø* Tours open up science treasures

"The Science Museum is opening up its vast storerooms in west London.

"The public can now book a curator-led tour of some of the 170,000 objects that are not on display in the museum's South Kensington exhibition halls.

"Known as Blythe House, the storerooms are home to early telescopes and operating tables, Stone Age tools and even freeze-dried GM mice ...

"Visitors who take up what are likely to be some of the hottest tickets on the London museum circuit will wince as they marvel at the massive collection of medical instruments, many of them amassed by the philanthropist Henry Wellcome.

"There are drills to open up people's skulls, amputation saws and intricate ivory models of the human anatomy used to explain to well-to-do ladies where babies come from. [!!!]

"A bottle of pills labelled 'Aphrodisiac' bizarrely also carries a warning in small print: 'poison'.

"'I suppose you would just have to chose your priorities,' medical curator Alice Nicholls said." Full text

Friday, September 03, 2004

*Ø* NYC demos: Reports from the front lines

Police reluctantly bully demonstrators
Remember your cause and keep your mind on why you came here and on what you came to do. Remember all of those people who came before you and did just what you did tonight for something they believed in.
NYC police officer to young protester

Published here (thanks to Almaniac Star Light) is a report from the New York City demos against Bush's war machine:

"Sorry we haven’t been up-to-date with our up-dates, but thanks to George Bush and Mayor Bloomberg, we’ve been in jail!

"Here’s what happened: We’d joined a march organized by War Resisters League, Schools of the Americas, Pax Christi, Veterans for Peace and others. The event was framed with this statement:
"'Our aim is to confront the administration with the death and suffering for which they are responsible: more than 10,000 Iraiqs and Afghanis, as many as 1,000 Americans killed, thousands more wounded and scarred for life, as well as the economic victims of Bush policies – the unemployed, the uninsured, the undereducated. The Republicans have chosen to hold their convention in New York City to link George Bush and 'Ground Zero'. Bush’s policies have created 'ground zeros' of death and suffering throughout the world and we hold him accountable for that.'

"Organizers asked people to gather at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Church and Fulton Streets (just in front of Ground Zero). The plan was to march from Ground Zero up Broadway to Union Square and finally to Madison Square Garden where a 'die-in' would be dramatized to honor the fallen.

"We arrived early to distribute Progressive Democrats of America fliers to the crowd as they gathered. An estimated 1-2,000 people had assembled. After a brief negotiation between organizers and police, a police officer clearly in charge of the event (whose badge read 'Shea') announced to the marchers over a megaphone that the march could begin. He cautioned marchers to:

Obey all traffic lights
Walk 2 X 2
Stay close to the fence and keep the sidewalk clear

"As we were told to do, we waited for the traffic light to change before crossing Church Street to begin marching East on Fulton. As we began to walk along the south side of St. Pauls’s Church, we walked 2 X 2 and stayed as close to St. Paul’s wrought iron fence as we could. When 100-200 had moved onto Fulton Street sidewalk, the march was halted by police at the front forcing marchers to spill into the whole sidewalk. The police (who numbered almost as many as the protesters) immediately closed off and circled the marchers contained on the sidewalk. We couldn’t move. We couldn’t back up or leave. We heard no warning and were not allowed disperse. We were enclosed by an orange net fencing and were told that we were being arrested.

"At about 4:15 p.m., police began rounding us up, handcuffing us and putting us onto to buses to be taken away. We then began being told that we were not “arrested” but merely 'detained'.

Twenty-four-hour ordeal
"What followed was a 24-hour ordeal of being moved from a temporary holding facility and eventually to central booking. We were continuously moved from cell to cell – chained to each other in chain-gang fashion. Conditions were deplorable. The cells were overcrowded and filthy and the food was not edible.

"As more and more people were brought into jail, we learned that similar sweeps had taken place across Manhattan. People were picked up at Union Square, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, the Library, and various other locations. It was a planned sweep to interrupt and shut down growing nonviolent protests to the Republican National Convention.

"Such is the 'America' that George Bush has brought us to.

"We do want to acknowledge that the rank and file police were overwhelmingly in support of us but seem to feel forced to satisfy the top brass to keep their jobs and feed their families. During our incarceration, we heard these comments from police:

"One police officer looked us in the eye and sadly said, 'I’m so sorry.'
Another said: 'You don’t think that any of us want to be doing this, do you?'
Another officer told us during the wee hours of the morning, that 'We’re doing this to keep the rich Republicans happy.'
Another officer reminded us that: 'When you’re feeling down and discouraged, remember why you’re here and what you came to do.'
And my favorite story ... When a young 17-year-old woman began to cry as she was being fingerprinted, the officer finger printing her gently said to her: 'Remember your cause and keep your mind on why you came here and on what you came to do. Remember all of those people who came before you and did just what you did tonight for something they believed in'."

Sherry and Thom Bohlen reporting from New York City, September 1, 2004
Sherry Bohlen, Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus

* Ø * Ø * Ø *

Indymedia has the latest on the protests and so does Indymedia NYC.

See also CounterConvention.org, which writes
Never has a convention been hosted so late in the year and this is the first time a Republican Convention has been in New York City. Why host a convention in September? Why New York? By exploiting our grief and trauma from September 11th, the right wing intends to further their regressive political agenda.

Thousands arrested in battle for New York
Judge orders release of NY protesters
Photo blog

"New York (CNSNews.com) - About a thousand protesters descended on Fox News Channel's headquarters in New York City on Tuesday afternoon and blasted the network as a fascist arm of the Republican Party."
Protesters Denounce Fox News for 'Twisted Views'

For breaking news of protests, call 212-233-5767

* Ø * Ø * Ø *


PS I've heard that these huge demonstrations haven't been getting much media coverage across the USA. If you have an important progressive action planned or in progress, we recommend you upload info to your local free Indymedia website, of which there are dozens worldwide. There's a list in the left-hand column at Indymedia central And we might be able to help by placing brief reports here. Just ask.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

*Ø* Windows XP update problems

"Millions of business users face problems when installing Microsoft's big security update for Windows XP.

"About 10% of all desktop machines will suffer compatibility problems following the installation of the SP2 update warns Canadian firm AssetMetrix ...

"Microsoft itself has detailed 60 programs, many produced by Microsoft itself, that will not work as they used to once the SP2 update is installed.

"In some cases tweaking Windows settings will solve the problems but in other cases more drastic action is needed."
Full text: BBC

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

*Ø* Wattle Day, Australia

This here is the wattle,
emblem of our land.
You can stick it in a bottle,
you can hold it in your hand.

Monty Python's Flying Circus*

Formerly August 1, Wattle Day was gazetted for September 1 by the Keating Government in 1992. The wattle may be one of many species available, and it is said that across Australia, on any day of the year there is at least one species flowering.

The flower loved by Australians (except allergy sufferers) was so named because the early British and Irish settlers used wooden slats and sticks of these Acacia trees to make their wattle-and-daub huts, being made of clay spread over light timbers in the style of the old country, or 'Home' as it was known for many years in the colony.

Australia's colours, as seen at the (ptuii!!) Olympiks are green and gold, due to the popularity of the plant and its frequent presence in the Australian bush alongside the omnipresent gumtrees (Eucalyptus spp).

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.

We have the full text of the Monty Python classic 'Aussie sketch' today, including 'The Drinking Song of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Woolloomooloo', with lyrics & audio of the song.

*Ø* So funnee!

I didn't watch a single event during the Olympics. Whether one is pro or anti competitive sports, I believe that the alleged corruption at IOC level, the scandal of sweatshops, and the never-ending saga regarding steroids etc. have soured it all for many. I saw a half-hour of the opening ceremony, which was quite spectactular as a pageant. But this is the funniest story of my week so far:

EU claims ‘victory’ over US in Athens

"Brussels: The European Union claimed on Monday that it was the true champion of the Athens Olympics, taking far more gold medals than the United States, the official winners of the most first places at the Games.

"The 25 EU member states compete as individual nations in Olympics, but that did not stop the EU’s executive European Commission from adding up their scores.

"'With 82 gold medals and all together 286 medals, the European Union swept the floor in the Olympic Games,' chief spokesman Reijo Kemppinen told a daily news briefing. 'For the sake of comparison, the United States of America won 35 gold medals and 103 medals in total, with China and Russia behind them (the United States).'

"He also said that European Commission president Romano Prodi hoped that the blue EU flag with its 12 gold stars would be featured for the first time at the 2008 Beijing Games." Full text

And then:

"Anti-EU papers aghast at Brussels 'hijack' of Olympics

"LONDON (AFP) - The European Commission spokesman might only have been joking when he hailed the collective success of the European Union at the Olympics, but for the vehemently anti-Brussels [UK] press it was no laughing matter ...

"'New EU bid to hijack Olympic glory,' screamed the Daily Mail in a front-page banner headline ...

"'Fury at 'Euro medal total'' was the page two headline of the Sun, the country's best-selling daily paper, which closely reflects the euro-scepticism of its proprietor, Australian-born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch ..."
Full text

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

*Ø* Reclaiming Islam from the Radicals

"With two French journalists facing execution in Iraq by Islamic radicals unless France scraps an imminent headscarf ban in schools, Muslims are protesting against the hijacking of their religion by terror groups.

"It is not only the government in Paris and numerous colleagues who demand the release of the two kidnapped French journalists in Iraq who have been threatened with death: There are also many voices from the Islamic world, including Amr Mussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League.

"The calls for the release of Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper have stressed that from the very beginning, France was opposed to the war in Iraq. Therefore any French reporters on the ground would be operating in a neutral capacity.

"But this latest case of westerners being held captive under a death threat in Iraq has little to do with the contentious conflict in that land.

"It is claimed that their detention and possible execution in fact has its roots in a situation within France, their own country. The kidnappers from the so-called 'Islamic Army of Iraq' are not concerned with France's political involvement in the Iraq war but with the headscarf ban in French schools which comes into effect at the beginning of September.

"The kidnapping case has revealed a level of public protest more notable and with more supporters than the amount of Islamic federations who stand against the headscarf ban. The protest is against the kidnapping itself and it is coming from a large contingent of French Muslims.

An insult to all Muslims

"Those who have joined to protest are angry about the use of the word 'Islamic' in the title of the group responsible and in the justification of its actions. They see this as an insult to Muslims all around the world, and reject the claim made by the group that the actions are dictated by the Koran, Islam's holy teachings."
Continue here

*Ø* Republican National Convention Schedule

Revised, August 2004

6:00pm - Opening prayer

6:15pm - Supplementary opening prayer

6:30pm - Prayer in thanks of first two prayers

6:45pm - New energy policy presented by Exxon

7:00pm - Canonization of Reagan

7:15pm - Additional prayers

7:30pm - Opening remarks by Halliburton

8:00pm - Prayer for the safety and well-being of Ken "Kenny-boy" Lay

8:15pm - Additional remarks by Halliburton

8:30pm - Stoning of the first homosexual

8:45pm - New healthcare polices presented by HMO leader, Kaiser Permanente

9:00pm - Invasion of Iran or North Korea (TBA)

9:15pm - Halliburton contributes 1.4 billion to Republican party

9:30pm - Reagan elevated to savior, Holy Trinity now referred to as "the quads"

9:45pm - Bush undergoes plast! ic surgery to look more like Reagan

10:00pm - Cheney runs into Ron Reagan, Jr. Tells him to go fuck himself

10:15pm - Recall of troops from accidental invasion of South Korea (Bush: "Damn, the SOUTH is our ally. My bad.")

10:30pm - Burning at the stake of 16 year-old Jenny Williams, who had an illegal abortion after being raped by her cousin

10:45pm - Dancing around the golden calf

11:00pm - Stoning of the partner of the first homosexual

11:15pm - New forestry policy presented by Weyerhaeuser

11:45pm - Thanking God for his wisdom in choosing Bush as president

12:00pm - Closing prayers (lasting until 2:00am)

2:00 am - Hookers arrive for all delegates

[Thanks to Almaniac Tom Hogan for sending this.]

*Ø* Lesson in rational thought from Giuliani

"Giuliani recalled standing below the north tower on Sept. 11 and seeing a man jump to his death from the 101st or 102nd floor.

"'At the time, we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed,' he said. 'Without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to him, "Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president." I say it again tonight, "Thank God George Bush is our president."'"

See what happens when you don't really think?

*Ø* UK Seeks Global Support for Stem Cell Research

"LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's leading scientific institution said Monday it is urging countries to back a campaign to stop a possible ban on stem cell research as part of a global treaty banning human cloning.

"The London-based Royal Society is stepping up its drive to push the United Nations to ban the cloning of babies, but to make no ruling on using the technology for medical research, or therapeutic cloning, at its 59th General Session in October."
Continue here

Monday, August 30, 2004

*Ø* Cleopatra the beautiful

August 30, 30 BCE Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) committed suicide at the court of Cleopatra VII of Egypt of Egypt when he wrongly heard that his queen was dead.

Cleopatra later committed suicide (legend has it she clasped an asp, the royal snake of Egypt, to her bosom) when she thought she would be exhibited by Octavian in his triumph at Rome.

I've never been very fond of Elizabeth Taylor, but if I had to choose ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with many more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date (or your birthday) when you're there.

*Ø* Oz elections: lesser of two evils?

As in the USA, electors will choose between two conservatives

Well, it's official. Australia goes to the polls on October 9, to choose between Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.

The right-wing Prime Minister John Howard refuses to divulge whether he plans to retire during the term if he is re-elected, and thus hand over the reins of power (unbridled?) to right-wing Treasurer Peter Costello. Costello refuses to promise not to challenge Johnny Howard's leadership after the election, if they win. The Government is running on a platform of "trust". Leader of the Opposition, the right-wing Mark Latham, missed his golden opportunity today by responding to that announcement with politician weasel words instead of one long, cackling laugh.

Meanwhile, someone said today "A vote for Howard is a vote for Costello". Someone replied, "Yeah, but a vote for Latham is a vote for Latham".

Latham's Labor Party, one of the very first social democrat parties in the world, and written about by VI Lenin, has moved inexorably closer to the middle. If that wasn't bad enough, because the right, represented by Howard's misnamed "Liberal Party", has moved so extremely right, the middle has shifted, making middle-of-the-road Laborite Latham just slightly to the left of Goebbels. However, many feel that Australia has an "anyone but Howard" situation.

Much of the above, we can be sure, will all have the ring of familiarity to our American readers.

Australian PM calls October poll

"CANBERRA, Australia -- Prime Minister John Howard says Australians will head to the ballot boxes on October 9, in a race that is seen as being the closest in 30 years.

"The 65-year-old leader will be pitted against maverick Labor leader Mark Latham in his bid to win a fourth consecutive term of government.

"Howard's eight-and-a-half-year-old conservative coalition has trailed the main center-left opposition Labor in recent opinion polls after months of unofficial campaigning ...

"Earlier this month, 43 eminent Australians – including two former chiefs of defense, three former intelligence chiefs and 30 former ambassadors – issued a scathing public statement accusing the government of deceit, and of rubber-stamping foreign policies decided by Washington.

"'We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people,' the statement said.

"The group said Howard told Australians in March 2003 that his reason for supporting the U.S.-led coalition was disarming Iraq, not removing Saddam Hussein.

"Two Australian inquiries have found the government did not misrepresent intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs and had not pressured spy agencies into bolstering a case for war.

"Australia still has nearly 900 troops in and around Iraq, and their deployment is likely to become a key election issue, with Howard saying they must remain there as long as they are needed ..."
Source: CNN

*Ø* Blog spammers

What a shame that bloglinker is being spammed. About 6,000 blogs are using what has been till now an excellent link exchange (it's in our right-hand column, down low), but now the owner of bloglinker has had enough and sounds like he wants to sell.

At time of writing, the following dubious-sounding "blogs" are gaining valuable free reciprocal links from bloglinker members:

The Best Online Pharmacy for Women 30 Aug
Orchid Care 30 Aug
emarketingprofit - powerlinking smartpages and blogbooks 30 Aug
PartnersManager 30 Aug
Cover for Ebook - Ecover Software 30 Aug
phone sex 30 Aug
CashWayz Links 30 Aug
GrowingWealthOnline 30 Aug
Jack Humphrey's Website Promotion Log 30 Aug
Profitbuz 30 Aug
BizOppCity - Get Rich Before You Get Old. 30 Aug
A Home Business That Makes Perfect Sense 30 Aug
BreakTrue Impact Newzine 30 Aug
Profitbuz 30 Aug
Net Affiliate Programs - Work at Home Ideas and Opportunities 30 Aug
new infoproducts 30 Aug
Smart Designer Consultants 30 Aug
Downline Builder 30 Aug
Free IQ Test 30 Aug
Russian Brides 30 Aug
Your Thai Bride is waiting to meet you... 30 Aug
Popinadvertising 30 Aug
Online Dating 30 Aug
BPJC Enterprises.biz

And that's just today's list. My apologies if any of these is a genuine blog.

In fact, not one of the recently updated blogs looks genuine. How do these people sleep at night? They probably don't, they sleep by day, hanging upside down.

Protesters against President George W. Bush march in front of Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican National Convention in New York. The marchers were estimated by the United for Peace and Justice coalition to reach more than 200,000. Source

*Ø* Geek or serial killer?

If you (like me) tend to think you can tell a lot about someone just from his face, try out this test.

Turn off your speakers if you don't want to hear the (fake) screams. :)

*Ø* More about bananas - and 400 massive spiders

Tropical spiders give family the creeps

"A Staffordshire family home has been plagued by an infestation of tropical spiders for almost two months after they were brought in on a bunch of bananas.

"The Huntsman spiders, more commonly found in the US and the Caribbean, began breeding in the home of Emma Bradbury, of Salters Lane, Werrington, eight weeks ago.

"One adult can give birth to up to 400 offspring - and now her home is overrun with the creatures, which can grow as large as four inches." [And the family is still in the house. Yikes!]
Full text

Bananas could power Aussie homes [?]

"Australian engineers have created an electricity generator fuelled by decomposing bananas, and hope to build a full size fruit-fired power station.

"At present, much of Australia's annual banana crop goes to waste, because the fruit are too bruised or small ...

"However Dr Clarke admits this technology has a flaw: it takes an awful lot of bananas to generate a small amount of power.

"He said: '60kg of bananas are needed to power a household appliance such as a fan heater for 30 hours.'" [Hmmm ...]
Full text

Sunday, August 29, 2004

*Ø* Thucydides, war and peace

In a Neopagan e-list to which I subscribe, came this message (my reply is below)
Please ponder this.

War is and evil thing, but to submit to the dictation of other states is worse. Freedom if we hold fast to it, will ultimately restore our losses, but submission will mean permanent loss of all we value. To you who call yourselves men of peace, I say: You are not safe unless you have men of action on your side.


* Ø * Ø * Ø *

Dear Gyllias,

I've pondered the quotation as requested, and thank you for it.

Thucydides was a remarkable man and a fine historian for his day, but his views on freedom and the necessity of war must be taken with a grain of salt. We only know his name because he wrote the history of the Peloponnesian War. He might, in fact, be considered to have had a vested interest in human slaughter. As a general of Athens, he most certainly had a vested interest in war, and no doubt was surrounded by a culture too wrapped up in war to think outside the square. His family background is heavily aristocratic and military, which must have coloured his thinking.

Thucydides was largely able to write his famous history because his inherited wealth afforded him luxuries such as education.The money for this came from the suffering of his family's slaves who worked in their gold mines. Thucydides, I feel, has little to share with us about freedom. Like many readers, I also find his writings to reveal an incredibly pessimistic man, so I'm not surprised if he doesn't have the brightness of mind to consider imaginative alternatives to war. Not everyone can do it.

He's been dead for 2,400 years and despite his wisdom (and I really do love the old coot), the challenges of the 21st century are way beyond his experience and understanding. He knows nothing of globalization nor the manipulation of public consent. The past has much to offer us, but very little of the arts and sciences of conflict resolution and creative alternatives to violence, as these are on the whole new disciplines. Thucydides could never have imagined the writings of people like Gene Sharp. Sharp is one of many who remind us that war, which was horrible in 5th-century BCE Greece, is even worse today and completely unnecessary as we've developed techniques that render it obsolete. National self defence needs no weapons.

So, thank you for stimulating me with this quotation. It reminded me of cranky old Thucydides, his wonderful writing, and most importantly, that there is much work to be done by peace-loving pagans to spread the word in the Neopagan community, which is still confused on this pressing issue. I'm sure most of us believe that there is absolutely no point to any religion if it is not about peace.

Bright blessings,



* Ø * Ø * Ø *

[pagans4peace Yahoo! Group is another great group.]

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