Black Death and plague ‘not linked’. A US research team studied church records and other documents from the UK and concludes that, although it had similar symptoms, the Black Death was not a rat-borne disease but some organism spread by human-to-human contact. The plague was not accompanied by the enormous die-offs of rats which have historically accompanied epidemics of bubonic plague, and its pattern of geographic spread along roadways and waterways was not impeded by the kinds of geographic barriers to rodent movement. People died too rapidly for the infectious agent to be something that would first have to establish itself at high prevalence in the wild rodent population before spilling over to humans in a locality. BBC


Why the West is turning on Israel:

As we have argued elsewhere on spiked, Western society today is infected by a powerful sense of self-loathing and a rejection of its own political, social and economic achievements. Those sentiments are no more progressive when aimed against Israel as a symbol of the West, than when they are directed in an irrational campaign against, say, GM crops or the literature of Dead White Males.

The fact that we feel sympathy and solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians is no reason to endorse many of the reactionary arguments now masquerading as anti-imperialism. Populist anti-Israeli rhetoric is cheap, but it offers no solutions – especially when it ends with a demand for even more Western intervention in the affairs of the Middle East. The long-suffering peoples of the region deserve better than this moralistic posturing. — Mick Hume spiked!


Is Bush the Antichrist?

You see, one of the chief characteristics of the coming antichrist is that he appears “as an angel of light.” Therefore, an obvious reprobate such as Bill Clinton is immediately disqualified. The antichrist, by very definition, is a master deceiver. He must be someone who appears as good and benevolent. The bite is in his tail not in his tongue. In reality, Bush’s angelic persona makes him much more dangerous than bad boy Billy.


"…as truthful as we dare…"

Christian Dogs and Politicians:

“In his famous essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell wrote that “political chaos is connected with the decay of language.” His argument was that democratic politics become corrupt if not impossible when words lose their common meaning and no one knows for sure what is being said. When this happens, political hacks and even tyrants are able to take advantage of a confused electorate and to foist on the people policies that they might not otherwise approve.” The Vocabula Review


Hollow Me Fear…

“You may not realize it, but you are constantly bombarded by both spoonerisms and malapropisms. You’ll hear or read them in newspapers, magazines, the electronic media — and the local café or street corner. They are the quirks of our language. When you spot them, grin and bear it!” The Vocabula Review


Statesman or Dog Trainer?

President Bush, April 4: “Enough is enough.”

President Bush, April 6: “Withdraw without delay.”

President Bush, April 8: “I meant what I said.”

‘You have to give President Bush credit. Whereas politicians are known for saying whatever it takes to win over a crowd or sway a voter, Bush’s vernacular is consistently simple, even when he’s on the international stage addressing something as complex and awful as the current Israeli/Palestinian nightmare. That he has nothing of substance to say is beside the point. To his credit, he uses language and tone that most of us can relate to.

Unfortunately, it’s the language and tone people use when talking to their dogs.’ — David Turnley AlterNet


Saudi diplomat’s poem for killers

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain has written a poem praising Palestinian suicide bombers that was published yesterday in a mass market Arabic daily.

The news is likely to strain relations between the oil rich Gulf state and the United States after Ghazi Algosaibi also used the poem to criticise America and said the White House was ‘filled with darkness’.

Algosaibi, a well-known poet and writer, had his latest work published in Arabic on the front page of the London-based al-Hayat newspaper. He has been Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain for more than a decade and was once quoted as saying: ‘Poetry is the soul of the Arabs.’ Guardian UK


Tape of US hijacker aired:

Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera has broadcast a tape that appears to show one of the 11 September hijackers reading his last will and testament. The channel also aired a brief clip of wanted Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden, who is shown kneeling beside his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, as al-Zawahri praises the actions of the bombers.

The channel identifies the hijacker as Ahmad al-Haznawi al-Ghamdi, a name which closely resembles that of Ahmed al-Ghamdi, who was on Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

Al-Jazeera said the footage – which it says it checked thoroughly before broadcast – showed for the first time that the hijackers knew that they were on a suicide mission. BBC


Home phones get hip, high-tech: the makers of cordless phones are very worried about the consumer trend toward junking your landline in favor of cellular-only. Industry observers say they’ll continue to up the ante in terms of design, technology and features. CNET


Does it work? This compilation

of reviews (from an NBC affiliate in Abilene,

Texas) of those too-good-to-be-true gadgets sold only in late-night TV ads evaluates their amazing! fantastic! performance claims.