Latest battle lines in the war on drugs: Saving the ‘vine of the soul’. US -backed coca spraying in Colombia to interdict cocaine manufacture and supply is inadvertently destroying yagé , sacred hallucinogen of the region’s indigenous people (Richard Evans Schultes is surely rolling over in his grave). National Post And Sell a glowstick, go to prison — “Authorities are shutting down 21st century

raves using 1980s crack-house laws — and

turning pacifiers and Vicks VapoRub into

the new drug paraphernalia.” Salon

Interview with Simeon Saxe-Coburg, the exiled last king of Bulgaria who returned last year and leads the party that just took control of Parliament in the Bulgarian elections. The electorate waits with bated breath to see if he will accept the post of prime minister. If he doesn’t, it may be a signal that his party may try to resurrect the monarchy. Interesting times.

Putin Says Russia Would Counter U.S. Shield — “President

Vladimir V. Putin said today that if

the United States proceeded on its own to

construct a missile defense shield over its

territory and that of its allies, Russia would

eventually upgrade its strategic nuclear

arsenal with multiple warheads — reversing

an achievement of arms control in recent

decades — to ensure that it would be able

to overwhelm such a shield.” That’s all it would take to render missile defense moot (oh, except against piddling little ‘rogue states’; does anyone really believe it’s meant to defend against them? really?), billions of American dollars wasted, and decades of painstaking gains in stabilizing the arms race flushed down the toilet.

I wondered if NMD is driving anyone to tax resistance to take a moral stand against complicity in this madness. Here’s a Google search on “tax resistance” and “national missile defense”.

A Do-It-Yourself SIOP — “(R)esearchers at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have developed a

computer program, part of their ‘Nuclear War Simulation Project,’ that can mimic the” top secret

current U.S. nuclear war plan, the ‘SIOP’ or Single Integrated Operational Plan which dictates how our nuclear weapons would actually be used in a strategic exchange. “The NRDC team hopes that by using their software, anyone can visualize the outcome of

a nuclear attack scenario. Their goal is a deeper public understanding of what it really means

to target countries like Russia and China with thousands of nuclear weapons on a day-to-day


Researchers at NRDC have been

studying the issue of nuclear weapons

targeting, nuclear force numbers, and

the mountains of other data surrounding

the support of the nuclear arsenal for

more than two decades. A confluence

of advances in computer technology, availability of commercial satellite data, and old-fashioned

ingenuity, allowed the NRDC team to create an interactive computer model of what they believe

the SIOP might look like.

NRDC claims that for the first time in unclassified literature people can view—with maps,

charts, images, and other visual representations—and better understand the cumulative effects

of the large-scale nuclear “counterforce” attacks that are part of U.S. and Russian nuclear war

planning. They hope their program will illustrate alternatives to the current arms control process

and eventually lead to more modest contingency war planning with far fewer weapons. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Italian Mafia Sees Rise of Girl Power — “… a quiet gender revolution in the Italian Mafia has seen women shatter the glass

ceiling of organized crime, as an increasing number of women take on the top job for

some of Italy’s major crime clans.

The penetration of women into the highest levels of one of the world’s most

patriarchal social institutions has caught the eye of Italian media and experts as well

as crime statisticians. In 1990, one woman was indicted for Mafia association. By

1995, there were 89 such indictments.” ABC


(high-intensity-discharge) headlights enable drivers to see more

effectively at night
than conventional tungsten-halogen lights… Based on field experiments in which drivers responded to objects in

their field of vision while using both sorts of lighting, LRC

researchers concluded that drivers using HIDs were better at

“detecting edge-of-roadway hazards, such as pedestrians and

animals… “[HIDs] produce more light, last longer, and use less energy,” … “There’s no question they result in better visual

performance. Now we’ve quantified that,”

HIDs are widely used on European automobiles and are growing

increasingly popular in the United States. The National Highway

Traffic Safety Administration has ruled HIDs do not exceed

maximum illumination standards.’

Military foods could enhance soldiers’ performance by 2025 — “U.S. soldiers of 2025 will be eating foods that

are a combination of hometown comfort and

space-age wizardry.

‘Opportunities in Biotechnology for Future Army

Applications,’ a report released today (Wednesday,

6/20) by the National Research Council’s Board on

Army Science and Technology, lays out a vision of foods

and agricultural activities that will keep future warriors

fed, disease-free and even safe from friendly fire.” The Defense Dept. looks to be shaping up as a major consumer of genetically modified foods — to enhance caloric content and digestibility, rapidity of growth, fold in antimicrobial factors, and even to include biological markers that could be used to distinguish friend from foe in firefights.

Centering the House — “With GOP moderates willing to take on their

party’s conservative Southern leadership,

bolstered by a unified Democratic caucus

willing to compromise to pull our politics back

from the right wing, the House could be


It’s on the tip of my tongue, the wag says: “One friend with whom I discussed this suggests that the recent

popularity of both species of oral sex
reflects improvements in indoor

plumbing since 1945 and escalating standards of personal hygiene,

from one bath per week to one shower per day. I am not sure this

really meets the case, though. The French are not best known for

dedication to personal freshness. Contrariwise, upper- and

upper-middle-class English people were taking baths daily by the

mid-19th century, yet fellatio does not seem to have been part of

their sexual repertoire.” NYPress Four fears prevent men from giving in fully to the pleasure of fellatio, says Ishmael Gradsdovic — the fear of possession, of “the monster”, of pain, and of death. And on the tip of another’s tongue: “A Chinese woman has launched divorce proceedings

against her husband after the family’s pet mynah bird reportedly spilled

the beans
on his marital indiscretions.

According to the Xinmin Evening News, the woman first suspected something

was amiss when the bird began repeating words apparently picked up from her

husband’s secret telephone calls to his lover after she returned from a

month-long visit to her parents.

She said words such as “divorce”, “I love you”, and “be patient” had become an

increasingly frequent feature of the feathered telltale’s idle twitterings.” CNN

RobotWisdom noted this rave review: Andrew Sarris on A.I. — ‘Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick have collaborated in

spirit on a fabulous fable called A.I. that is well on its way to

becoming the most controversial

conversation-piece to hit the

dumbed-down American movie scene since heaven knows

when. Its ending alone may invade your dreams, as it has mine

ever since I saw it at a screening. I frankly don’t know if I

would wish this psychic experience on children, and as a marginally certified adult I

am still grappling with the task of explaining exactly how A.I. has managed to push

the envelope of cinematic expression so far beyond what we have been conditioned

to expect as “family entertainment” over the past century.’ New York Observer

With the death of Sister Marie Frances Burgess, the last remaining Shaker community, in Sabbathday Lake, Maine, is reduced to its last six voluntarily celibate members. New York Times

Here’s a review of Celibacy, Culture, and Society: The Anthropology of Sexual Abstinence ed. Elisa Sobel and Sandra Bell: “…offers an in-depth examination of the

anthropology of sexual abstinence. This edited volume includes

chapters by a variety of individuals, using diverse perspectives. The

goal is ‘to explore . . . examples of the occurrences, perceptions, and

meanings of celibacy.’ ” Journal of the American Medical Ass’n