Uncategorized

A Duty to Disobey All Unlawful Orders:

[Many articles have been written on the illegality and the immorality of

Bush’s plans to attack the people of Iraq. While many of these

articles are excellent, they are not usually directed at the people who

need to read them the most — the members of the armed forces of the United

States. If you find this information useful, please forward this

article to anyone you know in the military or to websites that they

would frequent or link to it here. I couldn’t find this online anywhere else, so I posted it despite its length. Thanks, Dennis, for forwarding it to me. ]

A Duty to Disobey All Unlawful Orders

By Lawrence Mosqueda, Ph.D., Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA 98505

DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

As the United States government under George Bush gets closer to

attacking the people of Iraq, there are several things that the men and

women of the U.S. armed forces need to know and bear in mind as they are

given orders from the Bush administration. This information is provided

for the use of the members of the armed forces, their families, friends

and supporters, and all who are concerned about the current direction of

U.S. policy toward Iraq.


The military oath taken at the time of induction reads:

“I,____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and

defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,

foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the

same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United

States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to

the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me

God”

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 809.ART.90 (20), makes it

clear that military personnel need to obey the “lawful command of his

superior officer,” 891.ART.91 (2), the “lawful order of a warrant

officer”, 892.ART.92 (1) the “lawful general order”, 892.ART.92 (2)

“lawful order”. In each case, military personnel have an obligation and

a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to

disobey Unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not

comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S.

Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders,

especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution

and the UCMJ.

During the Iran-Contra hearings of 1987, Senator Daniel Inouye of

Hawaii, a decorated World War II veteran and hero, told Lt. Col. Oliver

North that North was breaking his oath when he blindly followed the

commands of Ronald Reagan. As Inouye stated, “The uniform code makes it

abundantly clear that it must be the Lawful orders of a superior

officer. In fact it says, ‘Members of the military have an obligation

to disobey unlawful orders.’ This principle was considered so important

that we-we, the government of the United States, proposed that it be

internationally applied in the Nuremberg trials.” (Bill Moyers, The

Secret Government
, Seven Locks Press; also in the PBS 1987 documentary,

The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis)

Senator Inouye was referring to the Nuremberg trials in the post WW II

era, when the U.S. tried Nazi war criminals and did not allow them to

use the reason or excuse that they were only “following orders” as a

defense for their war crimes which resulted in the deaths of millions of

innocent men, women, and children. “In 1953, the Department of Defense

adopted the principles of the Nuremberg Code as official policy” of the

United States. (Hasting Center Report, March-April 1991)

Over the past year there have been literally thousands of articles

written about the impact of the coming war with Iraq. Many are based on

politics and the wisdom of engaging in an international war against a

country that has not attacked the U.S. and the legality of engaging in

what Bush and Rumsfield call “preemptive war.” World opinion at the

highest levels, and among the general population, is that a U.S. first

strike on Iraq would be wrong, both politically and morally. There is

also considerable evidence that Bush’s plans are fundamentally illegal,

from both an international and domestic perspective. If the war is

indeed illegal, members of the armed forces have a legal and moral

obligation to resist illegal orders, according to their oath of

induction.

The evidence from an international perspective is overwhelming. The

United States Constitution makes treaties that are signed by the

government equivalent to the “law of the land” itself, Article VI, para.

2. Among the international laws and treaties that a U.S. pre-emptive

attack on Iraq may violate are:

  • The Hague Convention on Land Warfare of 1899, which was reaffirmed by

    the U.S. at the 1946 Nuremberg International Military Tribunals;

  • Resolution on the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons and Prevention of Nuclear

    War
    , adopted UN General Assembly, Dec 12, 1980;

  • Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

    December 9, 1948, Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the UN General

    Assembly;

  • Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in

    Time of War
    , Adopted on August 12, 1949 by the Diplomatic Conference for

    the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of

    Victims of War;

  • Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any Other Hostile Use of

    Environmental Modification Techniques
    , 1108 U.N.T.S. 151, Oct. 5, 1978;

  • The Charter of the United Nations;
  • The Nuremberg Principles, which define as a crime against peace,

    “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or

    a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances,

    or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of

    any of the forgoing.” (For many of these treaties and others, see the

    Yale Avalon project at www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/imt.htm. Also see

    a letter to Canadian soldiers sent by Hamilton Action for Social Change

    at http://www.hwcn.org/link/hasc/letter_cf.html)

As Hamilton Action for Social Change has noted,

“Under the Nuremberg

Principles, you have an obligation not to follow the orders of leaders

who are preparing crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. We

are all bound by what U.S. Chief Prosecutor Robert K. Jackson declared

in 1948: [T]he very essence of the [Nuremberg] Charter is that

individuals have intentional duties which transcend the national

obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.” At the Tokyo

War Crimes trial, it was further declared “[A]nyone with knowledge of

illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it is a

potential criminal under international law unless the person takes

affirmative measures to prevent commission of the crimes.”

The outcry about the coming war with Iraq is also overwhelming from

legal experts who have studied this in great detail.

By November of 2002, 315 law professors had signed a statement entitled

“A US War Against Iraq Will Violate US and International Law and Set a

Dangerous Precedent for Violence That Will Endanger the American

People.” (See the full statement at

www.the-rule-of-law.com/IraqStatement/.)

Other legal organizations such as the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear

Policy and the Western States Legal Foundation have written more

extensive reports, such as that by Andrew Lichterman and John Burroughs

on “War is Not the Path to Peace; The United States, Iraq, and the Need

for Stronger International Legal Standards to Prevent War.” As the

report indicates “Aggressive war is one of the most serious

transgressions of international law.” In fact, at the Nuremberg trials,

the issue was not just individual or collective acts of atrocities or

brutal actions but the starting of an aggressive war itself. U.S.

Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson stated,

“We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen

leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they

started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of

the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or

policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced

and condemned as an instrument of policy.” (August 12, 1945, Department

of State Bulletin
. For a copy of the Lichterman and Burroughs report

see www.lcnp.org/global/IraqLetter.htm)

In another report written by the same authors and also by Michael

Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, and

Jules Lobel, Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh entitled

The United Nations Charter and the Use of Force Against Iraq, the

authors note that:

“Under the UN Charter, there are only two circumstances in which the use

of force is permissible: in collective or individual self-defense

against an actual or imminent armed attack: and when the Security

Council has directed or authorized use of force to maintain or restore

international peace and security. Neither of those circumstances now

exists. Absent one of them, U.S. use of force against Iraq is

unlawful.”

The authors were specifically referring to Article 51 of the UN Charter

on the right to self-defense. Nothing that Iraq has done would call

that provision into effect. The report also states that:

“There is no basis in international law for dramatically expanding the

concept of self-defense, as advocated in the Bush Administration’s

September, 2002 “National Security Strategy” to authorize “preemptive” –

really preventive – strikes against states based on potential threats

arising from possession or development of chemical, biological, or

nuclear weapons and links to terrorism. Such an expansion would

destabilize the present system of UN Charter restraints on the use of

force. Further, there is no claim or publicly disclosed evidence that

Iraq is supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorist.

The Bush administration’s reliance on the need for “regime change” in

Iraq as a basis for use of force is barred by Article 2(4) of the UN

Charter, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the

territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Thus the

rationales being given to the world, the American public, and the armed

forces are illegal on their face. (For a copy of this report see

www.lcnp.org/global/iraqstatement3.htm)

It is important to note that none of the authors cited thus far or to be

cited have any support for Saddam Hussein or the Government of Iraq

whatsoever. They and others who do not support an illegal war in Iraq

believe that government of Saddam Hussein is corrupt, vile, and

contemptible. So is the leadership and governments of many of our

“allies,” such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan-governments that the United

States may very well attack within the next decade. It is important to

remember that Saddam Hussein was an important “ally” during the 1980s

and that many of the weapons that may be faced by our armed forces will

bear a “Made in the USA” label. The issue here is not the “evil’ of

Saddam Hussein, nor the international community doing nothing, but an

illegal march to war by the Bush administration.

Even former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a very conservative

Republican from Texas, has warned that an “unprovoked attack against

Iraq would violate international law and undermine world support for

President Bush’s goal of ousting Saddam Hussein.” Armey explicitly

states “If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is,

without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other nation

states who might do so. I don’t believe that America will justifiably

make an unprovoked attack on another nation. It would not be consistent

with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation.”

(Chicago Tribune, August 9, 2002, available at

http://commondreams.org/headlines02/0809-08.htm)

Other articles demonstrating the illegality of this war can be found at

http://deoxy.org/wc/wc-ilaw.htm and at

www.lcnp.org/global/SCIraqletter.htm.

In addition to the violations of international laws, which have been

incorporated into U.S. law, the impending attack on Iraq is a direct

violation of national law as Bush claims that he has the authority to

decide whether the U.S. will go to war or not. The U.S. Constitution is

very explicit on this point. Only the Congress has the authority to

declare war, Article 1, section 8, Par. 11. Congress does not have the

right to give that power away, or to delegate that power to the

president or anyone else. The President as the “Commander in Chief”

(Article 2, section 2, Par. 1) can command the armed forces in times of

peace and war, but he does not have the authority to declare the war or

determine if that war is to occur, especially if he is engaged in

illegal conduct in violation of the Constitution itself or his oath of

office. The Constitution spells out very clearly the responsibility of

the President and his oath, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will

faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and

will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the

Constitution of the United States.” (Article 2, section 2, Par. 8). The

President also has the primary duty to make sure “that the laws be

faithfully executed,” (Article 2, section 3).

The vaguely worded resolution passed by the Congress in October was both

illegal and an act of cowardice, as noted by Senator Robert Byrd of West

Virginia. Byrd’s remarks were made on the floor of the Senate on

October 3, 2002. In part he said:

“The resolution before us today is not only a product of haste; it is

also a product of presidential hubris. This resolution is breathtaking

in its scope. It redefines the nature of defense, and reinterprets the

Constitution to suit the will of the Executive Branch. It would give the

President blanket authority to launch a unilateral preemptive attack on

a sovereign nation that is perceived to be a threat to the United

States. This is an unprecedented and unfounded interpretation of the

President’s authority under the Constitution, not to mention the fact

that it stands the charter of the United Nations on its head.”

The full texts of his remarks are well worth reading, not only on the

illegality of the war but also the illegality of Congress in abandoning

its duty under the Constitution. (See the text at

http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_newsroom/byrd_news_oct2002/rls_oct2002/rls_oct2002_2.html)

MORAL CODES AND LAWS

The United States is a secular country with a great variety of

religions, which are adhered to by the majority of the people.

Political leaders who claim to speak in the name of God are rightfully

looked upon with suspicion, whether they are foreign leaders or the

president of the United States. This is especially true when the issues

are those of war and peace. Nevertheless, the U.S. often blends the

border on issues of Church and State, including in public oaths, such as

the oath which is taken at the time of induction. This author will not

claim to know the will of God, but it is valuable to examine what the

religious leaders of the country are saying about this war. Virtually

every major religion in the United States has come out against the Bush

plans for war. Again this is not because of any support for Saddam

Hussein, but rather the Bush plans do not meet any criteria for the

concept of “just war.” One would expect this from the religions that

are respected and pacifist, but it also true from those who have

supported past U.S. wars, and even have Chaplains in the service. Below

is a sample of the analysis of U.S. religious leaders:

Catholic

We respectfully urge you to step back from the brink of war and help

lead the world to act together to fashion an effective global response

to Iraq’s threats that conforms with traditional moral limits on the use

of military force. US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Letter to

President Bush
, Sept. 13, 2002.

Episcopalian


The question for us now must be: what is our role in the community of

nations? I believe we have the capacity within us to help lead our world

into the way of justness and peace. The freedoms we enjoy as citizens of

the United States oblige us to attend not only to our own welfare, but

to the well-being of the world around us. A superpower, especially one

that declares itself to be “under God,” must exercise the role of super

servant. Our nation has an opportunity to reflect the values and ideals

that we espouse by focusing upon issues of poverty, disease and despair,

not only within our own nation but throughout the global community of

which we are a part. The Presiding Bishop’s statement on military

action against Iraq
, September 6, 2002.

Jewish

International cooperation is far, far better than unilateral action, and

the U.S. must explore all reasonable means of attaining such support.

Non-military action is always preferable to military action, and the

U.S. must fully explore all options to resolve the situation through

such means. If the effort to obtain international cooperation and

support through the United Nations fails, the U.S. must work with other

nations to obtain cooperation in any military action. Union of American

Hebrew Congregations, Executive Committee Decision on Unilateral Action

by the U.S. Against Iraq
.

Lutheran

While we are fully aware of the potential threat posed by the government

of Iraq and its leader, I believe it is wrong for the United States to

seek to over-throw the regime of Saddam Hussein with military action.

Morally, I oppose it because I know a war with Iraq will have great

consequences for the people of Iraq, who have already suffered through

years of war and economic sanctions. Further, I believe it is

detrimental to U.S. interests to take unilateral military action when

there is strong international support for weapons inspections, and when

most other governments oppose military action. I also believe that U.S.

military action at this time will further destabilize the region. I

call upon members of our congregations to be fervent in prayer, engaged

in conversation

with one another and with our leaders. In the final analysis, we must

stand unequivocally for peace. ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson’s

Statement on Iraq Situation, August 30, 2002.

Methodist

United Methodists have a particular duty to speak out against an

unprovoked attack. President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are members

of our denomination. Our silence now could be interpreted as tacit

approval of war. Christ came to break old cycles of revenge and

violence. Too often, we have said we worship and follow Jesus but have

failed to change our ways. Jesus proved on the cross the failure of

state-sponsored revenge. It is inconceivable that Jesus Christ, our Lord

and Savior and the Prince of Peace, would support this proposed attack.

Secretary Jim Winkler of The United Methodist Church General Board of

Church and Society, August 30, 2002.

Presbyterian

We urge Presbyterians to oppose a precipitate U.S. attack on Iraq and

the Bush administration’s new doctrine of pre-emptive military action.

We call upon President George W. Bush and other leaders to: Refrain

from language that seems to label certain individuals and nations as

“evil” and others as “good”; Oppose ethnic and religious

stereotyping, Guard against a unilateralism, rooted in our unique

position of political, economic and military power, that perpetuates the

perception that “might makes right”; Allow United Nations weapons

inspections in Iraq, without undue pressure or threats of pre-emptive,

unilateral action; and End the economic sanctions against Iraq, which

have been ineffectual but have done untold damage to the Iraqi people.

The General Assembly

Council and the staff leadership team of the Presbyterian Church (USA),

September 28, 2002.

United Church of Christ

With heavy hearts we hear once again the drumbeat of war against Iraq.

As leaders committed to God’s reign of justice and peace in the world

and to the just conduct of our nation, we firmly oppose this advance to

war. While Iraq’s weapons potential is uncertain, the death that would

be inflicted on all sides in a war is certain. Striking

against Iraq now will not serve to prevent terrorism or defend our

nation’s interests. We fear that war would only provoke greater regional

instability and lead to the mass destruction it is intended to prevent.

UCC leaders, September 13, 2002.

Ecumenical

As Christians, we are concerned by the likely human costs of war with

Iraq, particularly for civilians. We are unconvinced that the gain for

humanity would be proportionate to the loss. Neither are we convinced

that it has been publicly demonstrated that all reasonable alternative

means of containing Iraq’s development of weapons of mass destruction

have been exhausted. We call upon our governments to pursue these

diplomatic means in active cooperation with the United Nations and to

stop the apparent rush to war. World Council of Churches, August 30,

2002.

For a fuller elaboration of these and other comments from religious

leaders, such as by the Mennonites, Quakers (Society of Friends),

Unitarian Universalist, and other ecumenical groups see www.ecapc.org.

Other religious and moral objections to Bush’s plans have been

articulated. In September of 2002, 100 Christian Ethicists from major

seminaries, divinity schools, and traditionally conservative religious

schools challenged the claim that preemptive war on Iraq would be

morally justified in a simply worded statement, “As Christian ethicists,

we share a common moral presumption against a pre-emptive war on Iraq by

the United States.” (See the Chronicle of Higher Education, September

23, 2002, at http://chronicle.com/daily/2002/09/2002092302n.htm.)

Religious resistance to Bush’s war plans can also be found in the

overwhelming vote of 228-14 by the U.S. Catholic Bishops against the war

at http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1114-03.htm and in the

unprecedented show of unity by Chicago’s top Christian, Jewish, and

Muslim leaders in the first public statement on any national issue of

the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago in opposing

Bush’s war. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 1, 2002)

It is noteworthy that the Pope John Paul II has come out very strongly

against this war in unambiguous terms, “No to war!” The Pope said during

his annual address to scores of diplomatic emissaries to the Vatican, an

exhortation that referred in part to Iraq, a country he mentioned

twice. “War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for

humanity.” (NY Times, January 14, 2003). The Pope, a seasoned

diplomat, was not just making a moral statement about peace; he referred

to the legal codes discussed earlier in this article, “War is never just

another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences

between nations. As the Charter of the United Nations organization and

international law itself reminds us, war cannot be decided upon, even

when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last

option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring

the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the

military operations.” (See Irish Examiner, 1/13/2003)

It is also important to restate that the head of Bush’s own church has

come out against this war. Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the

Board of Church and Society for the United Methodist Church has come out

very strongly against this war. President Bush has refused to meet

with Winkler.

“The Methodist Church, he (Winkler) says, is not pacifist, but ‘rejects

war as a usual means of national policy’. Methodist scriptural doctrine,

he added, specifies ‘war as a last resort, primarily a defensive thing.

And so far as I know, Saddam Hussein has not mobilized military forces

along the borders of the United States, nor along his own border to

invade a neighboring country, nor have any of these countries pleaded

for our assistance, nor does he have weapons of mass destruction

targeted at the United States’.” (See Observer/UK, October 20, 2002 at

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1020-02.htm.)

Individual will have to make their own decisions about the “morality” of

the war but the consensus decision that has been developing among

religious leaders is that this war does not constitute a “just war” by

virtually anyone’s standards. The concept of “sin” is also a personal

decision but again those who study these issues from the Pope to

theologians to pastors to other religious leaders do not and cannot give

their approval to the illegal actions that the Bush administration are

going to impose on the world in general, and people of Iraq and the men

and women of the U.S. armed forces in particular.

REASONS FOR THE WAR AND POSSIBLE ACTIONS

The reasons for war are not supposed to be the purview of soldiers in

the field. They are just supposed to follow orders. But when a war is

so blatantly illegal soldiers need to have some background to make an

informed decision about how to conduct themselves. In a short space it

is not possible to delineate the full reasons, but it is not about the

dangers of Saddam Hussein. As indicated above, there are no credible

anti-war or peace advocates that advocate any positive statements about

Saddam Hussein or the Government of Iraq. The world, however, in

general, does not believe that the Bush administration has any solution

to the situation. In fact many believe that Bush, himself, is a

significant part of the problem.

Many people have pointed out that this war is about the oil. It is, but

it is much more than that. The United States does not need the oil to

survive but the people in the Bush administration want to expand the

hegemony that the United States government has had since the collapse of

the Soviet Union. This is not a critique of U.S. foreign policy, per

se, but a recognition of reality. This is essentially what Bush has

been saying in his public speeches at West Point, etc., and is very

explicitly saying in his National Security Strategy (NSS), available

at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nssall.html, which he published in

September of 2002.

The NSS is the political articulation of what the main actors of the

Bush administration published in September 2000, before the elections,

before they took power, and before the fateful day of September 11,

2001. That project was called Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy,

Forces and Resources for a New Century
, A Report of The Project For the

New American Century, available at:

http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports. These documents

are essentially the blueprints for hegemony and for a word that has come

back into vogue —

Empire. These documents are publicly available, but not often read.

All Americans and all members of the armed forces should read them.

Many of the people quoted in this article have no doubt read them and

understand the policies basic illegalities, and thus the conclusion that

the war itself is domestically, internationally and morally

indefensible.

There are many critiques of the impact of these policies-which

articulate the reasons not to go to war. Some of the better ones can be

found at Global Policy at www.globalpolicy.org; Foreign Policy in Focus at

http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/index.html, or the Education for

Peace in Iraq Center
at http://epic-usa.org. There are also several

other valuable research sites.

There are also many U.S. veteran groups that have seen the horrors of

war up close and do not want to have another generation of young

Americans suffer not only the war, but also the post traumatic stresses

that emerge after war, when they discover they have been lied to, have

participated in aggression, and then are abandoned by their government

after the wars. This war is particularly amenable to such, since there

is so much dissention, based on solid information that this war is not

only unnecessary but also illegal, and may be without a foreseeable

end.

Charles Sheehan Miles, is a Gulf War veteran and former President of the

National Gulf War Resource Center (http://www.ngwrc.org). He also helped

to found the extraordinarily useful “Veterans for Common Sense”

(http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org/) which has a great deal of

information about the current situation. On January 16, 2003, he

wrote:

“This war does nothing to protect American lives, but it will do

everything to destroy the lives of many thousands of Iraqis and

Americans. This war will not protect us from weapons of mass

destruction, but it will make it more likely Iraq will try to use them.

This war will not liberate the Iraqi people, but it will do everything

to ensure they receive a new master, one ruled by corporate profits and

oil to fuel more American consumption.

This war isn’t worth the life of one American soldier.”

(http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14952)

The idea that those who oppose the Bush plans for war are against the

troops is a fundamental lie. Support for the troops is not done by

sending them off to a war which is fundamentally unnecessary-support is

keeping them home. Support for the troops is not done by lying to them

about the purpose and goals of the war and allowing those who will

benefit and profit a free ride on the backs of the troops. Support for

the troops is not done by making them complicit in an illegal and

immoral war-it is done by exposing the lies and giving the troops an

opportunity not to be complicit in war crimes.

A group of veterans of many different wars and eras has issued a

statement that has been distributed to active duty soldiers making some

of the points made in this article. Signers includes many well-known

veterans such as Vietnam veteran and author Ron Kovic (Born on the 4th

of July
), author and film producer Michael Moore (Bowling for

Columbine
), and American historian Howard Zinn (A People’s History of

the United States
) and several hundred other veterans.

The statement Call to Conscience from Veterans to Active Duty Troops

and Reservists
reads in part:

“…. Many of us believed serving in the military was our duty, and our

job was to defend this country. Our experiences in the military caused

us to question much of what we were taught. Now we see our REAL duty is

to encourage you as members of the U.S. armed forces to find out what

you are being sent to fight and die for and what the consequences of

your actions will be for humanity. We call upon you, the active duty and

reservists, to follow your conscience and do the right thing.

In the last Gulf War, as troops, we were ordered to murder from a safe

distance. We destroyed much of Iraq from the air, killing hundreds of

thousands, including civilians. We remember the road to Basra — the

Highway of Death — where we were ordered to kill fleeing Iraqis. We

bulldozed trenches, burying people alive. The use of depleted uranium

weapons left the battlefields radioactive. Massive use of pesticides,

experimental drugs, burning chemical weapons depots and oil fires

combined to create a toxic cocktail affecting both the Iraqi people and

Gulf War veterans today. One in four Gulf War veterans is disabled….

If you choose to participate in the invasion of Iraq you will be part of

an occupying army. Do you know what it is like to look into the eyes of

a people that hate you to your core? You should think about what your

“mission” really is. You are being sent to invade and occupy a people

who, like you and me, are only trying to live their lives and raise

their kids. They pose no threat to the United States even though they

have a brutal dictator as their leader. Who is the U.S. to tell the

Iraqi people how to run their country when many in the U.S. don’t even

believe their own President was legally elected?…

There is no honor in murder. This war is murder by another name. When,

in an unjust war, an errant bomb dropped kills a mother and her child it

is not “collateral damage,” it is murder. When, in an unjust war, a

child dies of dysentery because a bomb damaged a sewage treatment plant,

it is not “destroying enemy infrastructure,” it is murder. When, in an

unjust war, a father dies of a heart attack because a bomb disrupted the

phone lines so he could not call an ambulance, it is not “neutralizing

command and control facilities,” it is murder. When, in an unjust war, a

thousand poor farmer conscripts die in a trench defending a town they

have lived in their whole lives, it is not victory, it is murder….

If the people of the world are ever to be free, there must come a time

when being a citizen of the world takes precedence over being the

soldier of a nation. Now is that time. When orders come to ship out,

your response will profoundly impact the lives of millions of people in

the Middle East and here at home. Your response will help set the course

of our future. You will have choices all along the way. Your commanders

want you to obey. We urge you to think. We urge you to make your choices

based on your conscience. If you choose to resist, we will support you

and stand with you because we have come to understand that our REAL duty

is to the people of the world and to our common future.”

(To see the full statement and view all the signatures see

http://www.calltoconscience.net.)

The choices that those in the military and their supporters face are

hard ones. Let us begin with some undisputed options. Members of the

armed forces are sworn to protect the Constitution from all enemies,

foreign and domestic. They are also sworn to obey all LAWFUL orders and

have an affirmative duty to DISOBEY all UNLAWFUL orders.

The unelected president will not tell his troops or his commanders that

he is issuing unlawful orders. Few, if any, of the top commanders will

tell their troops that they are issuing unlawful orders. Those on the

front lines, those who fly the planes, those who target Cruise missiles

and other weapons of mass destruction need to make decisions. According

to International Law, Domestic Law, the Constitution, and various Moral

Codes it is not enough to say or believe that one is just “doing their

job” or just “following orders.” Decisions have to be made.

One should check out the sources of information presented in this

article, to see if International Law still applies to America, to see if

the Constitution still applies, to see if the Pope and other national

and international members of the clergy are right in their moral

objections to this war, to see if the legal arguments are valid against

the war or for the war. One should investigate if they are being lied

to by their unelected commander in chief. Members of the armed forces

have a sworn and sacred duty to uphold the law and the Constitution.

According to the laws, international, domestic, and moral, the

interpretation of whether orders are legal are not only the

responsibility of “superior officers,” but is needed each level of

command, and by those who execute those commands.

Please note that the information presented here is not meant to

encourage one to break the law, but rather to follow international,

domestic, and moral laws. The information here is not intended to

encourage one to break one’s oath but rather to be true to one’s duty

and conscience and make an informed decision.

If the decision is made that the orders to begin or continue the war are

illegal, then each bomb dropped will be a war crime, each bomb loaded

will be a war crime, each support effort will be aiding and abetting a

crime. Each death, especially that of a civilian, will be a war crime

(not collateral damage). If the war itself is a crime than all efforts

that aid in that effort are criminal. Given that over 50% of the people

of Iraq are children under the age of 16, this will be a war against

children and a crime against humanity.

The decision to obey one’s oath and not follow illegal orders is no

doubt a difficult one, and one that will probably result in punishment

from those who issue the illegal orders. One should not take this issue

lightly, just as one should not take the decision to follow an illegal

order lightly. There will no doubt be consequences for those who follow

their conscience. It is the duty of all who recognize the illegality of

the war to support all resisters. For examples on how hundreds of

thousands of GIs resisted the illegal war in Vietnam (by the U.S.

Governments own admission in the Pentagon Papers) read Howard Zinn’s A

People’s History of the United States,
Chapter 18. For a personal

account of a brave officer’s resistance in Vietnam and later, see

Witness to War by Charles Clement.

I am aware that many active duty personnel and reservist already have

grave doubts and reservations about the conduct of this war, just as do

significant numbers of veterans and the general public and citizenry.

Those who have severe doubts about the legality of what they are

“ordered” to do should talk to their comrades in arms, their spiritual

advisor (if they have one), and should contact one of the groups listed

below and weigh their options.

There may well be some safety in numbers. Albert Einstein, the genius

physicist, once stated that if 2% of the military refused to fight or

participate, the wars could not continue. Time is short. Or if you are

reading this after the hostilities have commenced, it is time to stop

the madness and war crimes.

At the end of this article there is contact information for

organizations that have historically assisted active duty personnel,

reservist, or veterans of conscience who desire specific legal,

political, or moral guidance in time of war. If possible, these would

be good organizations to contact. As the veterans’ “Call to Conscience”

statement notes “if you have questions or doubts about your role in the

military (for any reason) or in this war, help is available. Contact

one of the organizations listed below. They can discuss your situation

and concerns, give you information on your legal rights, and help you

sort out your possible choices.” These organizations are listed for

your information and are not responsible for the contents of this

article.

Also listed below are sources of information that may be useful about

the current situation, in addition to the sources listed in the

article.

SUGGESTED RESOURCES:

BOOKS on foreign policy

  • By Noam Chomsky, especially Deterring Democracy, 9/11, Rogue States
  • Phyllis Bennis, Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September

    11 Crisis


  • Gilbert Achcar, The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of

    the New World Disorder


  • William Blum, Killing Hope

  • Dilip Hiro, Iraq, In the Eye of the Storm

WEB SITES

ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE HELPED GIs IN THE PAST

(Some are religious, some political, some pacifist)

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New WTC plan is taller than twin towers:


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“A complex of angular buildings and a 1,776-foot spire designed by architect Daniel Libeskind was chosen as the plan for the World Trade Center site on Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.

(…) The new building is planned to be taller than the trade center towers, which briefly stood as the world’s tallest at 1,350 feet. Libeskind’s tower also would surpass Malaysia’s 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest buildings in the world.” CNN

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Tackling the ‘Inevitability’ Defense:

Is it too late to call off the war? “Conventional thinking (and the higher in a bureaucracy you go the more conventional the thinking gets) says that the United States is now committed to war with Iraq, even if tens of millions of people and most of the world’s governments are against it. You don’t send 200,000 troops to staging areas in the Mediterranean, Kuwait, and Jordan only to call them back without a fight.

I agree. It is a waste of time and money. The question is – What kind of fight?” — Rose Berger, Sojourners

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A Longer Timetable For War

Paul Rogers, Foreign Policy in Focus, suggests that, “contrary to expert predictions, war may still be five weeks

away
. The U.N. and antiwar demonstrators still have time to

derail the Bush administrations plans for war.” AlterNet

“There may still be two superpowers on the planet:

the United States and world public opinion.”

— Patrick E. Tyler, in The New York Times

article “A New Power in the Streets,”

Feb. 17, 2003.
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Great American Parade:

“…Worst Novel Ever Published in the English Language… I am on the phone with Robert Burrows, author of the recently published political novel Great American Parade. This book has sold only 400 copies nationwide, and Burrows seems flabbergasted to be hearing from me. The most prestigious newspaper to have shown any interest so far is the Daily Student at Indiana University.

I tell Burrows that if he is willing to submit to an interview, I am willing to review his book at length in The Washington Post. The only catch, I said, is that I am going to say that it is, in my professional judgment, the worst novel ever published in the English language.”

(…)

Me: It is possible that some people might have found the plot a little improbable. They might find it hard to believe that, in order to garner political support for his tax cuts, George W. Bush would secretly arrange a giant parade in Washington honoring the richest people in America, who would march front to back in order of their net worth. Or that a cadre of earnest, teetotaling college students would get wind of this and, encouraged by Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, rise up to stage a heroic counter-parade honoring basic American values like morality and hard work. Was this perhaps deft satire, a nifty Swiftian touch?

Burrows: No. Washington Post

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The Banner Art Collective

creates, collects, and distributes net.art and poetry within the limitations and context of web advertisements.


Most view net advertising as a necessary evil. But creating an effective ad requires a strict adherence to voluntary standards that strictly control both the pixel and file size and limit the interactive behaviors of the ad. Designers must produce work that will be viewed in a variety of contexts on a variety of pages, and they must create an ad that uses its position within the marginalia of a webpage to its advantage. In addition, ad designers must be hyperaware of accessibility issues–an unviewable ad is a dead ad.


By creating and distributing art within the limitations of WWW advertising, net.artists are forced to work under stringent rules. In that regard, banner art follows in a historical tradition of working against and within the limitations of a strict, sometimes arbitrary, form. In exploring this form, they also explore the marginalization of net.art; in banner art, this marginalization is quite literal.

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An American Apology To The World:

From the heart of the United States, we extend a profound apology to the rest of the world for the serious failure of our political system.

While not receiving a majority of the popular vote and selected by the Supreme Court rather than elected, we nevertheless have ended up with a sociopath as President surrounded by religious fanatics who actively seek war and others who seek to destroy our democracy and impose authoritarian values.

This group is taking the world down the path to an Armageddon that they believe is the necessary and appropriate end to the world as we know it. They hate life, believe themselves to be flawed by sin, and long for a divine intervention that will make them rulers of an Earth transformed by the absence of earthiness.

They care nothing for the environment because there won’t be an environment when they are done.

They do not care about international law and a preemptive U.S. strike as precedent because there will be no such law under the elevated “Christian” rule.

They do not worry that an invasion of Iraq may cause outrage in the Muslim world and spread the conflict because such an expansion is part of the necessary script.

They do not worry about later retaliation by those angered at an invasion of Iraq because all such lesser beings will be under their unbreakable domination after the final battle.

They do not worry about how to govern a post-war Iraq because they will be ruling the entire world and everyone will appear before them on bended knee.

They do not worry about Iraq or the U.S. initiating the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction because use of such weapons is part of the Armageddon script.

The only thing they worry about is getting the war started before some force can prevent their usurpation of everyone’s future.

At home, civil liberties are quickly being erased in favor of absolute government to prevent democratic discussion of and opposition to the coming holocaust and to practice for their coming domination of the world.

We lack an appropriate political mechanism for removing these dangerous people from power. We do not have the opportunity to vote no confidence, as the Australian Senate did.

The once proud Democratic Party is coopted and corrupted by corporate contributions and eager to beat the drums of war in hopes of being popular.

The once independent media is now a corporate conglomerate that closes more doors to truth than it opens.

Our people are fed lies big and small and lack access to the information they need to understand what is happening in our country.

Flush with the wealth exploited from the planet they seek to kill, our government and corporations bribe, buy, or otherwise coerce smaller and more fragile governments into ignorantly supporting the coming destruction.

All we can do is appeal to those outside our country to save the world from our government.

Even though we will not hear about it from our media, march in your streets.

Even though we will not hear about it from our media, expose the lies being told by our government and others.

Even though we will not hear about it in our media, talk about Armageddon so people will know where the madness is leading.

Urge your government to vote no on any U.N. resolution furthering the Armageddon agenda.

We will continue to reach out to our fellow citizens within the limitations imposed on our society and do our part to bring sanity back to the human family and protect all life.

Our apology is an expression of our love for and unity with that family and the living Earth.

As it did for the reader who sent it to me, this captures many of my feelings. We may truly be living in the end of days if the madmen in Washington have their way.

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"A Huge Eruptive Prominence


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is seen moving out from our Sun in this condensed half-hour time-lapse sequence. Ten Earths could easily fit in the “claw” of this seemingly solar monster. This large prominence, though, is significant not only for its size, but its shape. The twisted figure eight shape indicates that a complex magnetic field threads through the emerging solar particles. Recent evidence of differential rotation inside the Sun might help account for the surface explosion. The sequence was taken early in the year 2000 by the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite. Although large prominences and energetic Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are relatively rare, they are occurred more frequently near Solar Maximum, the time of peak sunspot and solar activity in the eleven-year solar cycle.” Astronomy Picture of the Day

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Demon-Haunted Brain:

Skeptical inquirer Michael Shermer: “If the brain mediates all experience, then paranormal phenomena are nothing more than neuronal events… These studies are only the latest to deliver blows against the belief that mind and spirit are separate from brain and body. In reality, all experience is mediated by the brain. Large brain areas such as the cortex coordinate inputs from smaller brain areas such as the temporal lobes, which themselves collate neural events from still smaller brain modules such as the angular gyrus. Of course, we are not aware of the workings of our own electrochemical systems.” Scientific American

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Virtual March on Washington:

On February 26th, every Senate office will receive a call every minute from a constituent, as they receive a simultaneous flood of faxes and e-mail. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country will send the collective message: Don’t Attack Iraq. Every Senate switchboard will be lit up throughout the day with our message — a powerful reminder of the breadth and depth of opposition to a war in Iraq. And on that day, “antiwar rooms” in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles will highlight the day’s progress for the national media, while local media can visit the “antiwar room” online to monitor this constituent march throughout the day.


We need your help NOW to make the Virtual March a reality. You can (1) prepare a free fax for transmission on the day of the march, and (2) register to make phone calls to Congress on the day of the march below. We’re lining people up for every minute of the day in every state. Faxes are very easy and phone calls are the most effective. Do both or do whatever you can.


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This ‘Virtual March on Washington’ is sponsored by the Win Without War coalition, composed of many credible organizations with impeccable antiwar credentials (in case you worried that you would be used for a secondary agenda by some of the crazies the antiwar movement is starting to attract).

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‘Repress Yourself,’

says psychiatrist Lauren Slater:

You’ve been in therapy for years.You’ve time-traveled back to your childhood home, to your mother’s makeup mirror with its ring of pearl lights. You’ve uncovered, or recovered, the bad baby sitter, his hands on you, and yet still, you’re no better. You feel foggy and low; you flinch at intimate touch; you startle at even the slightest sounds, and you are impaired. Hundreds of sessions of talk have led you here, back to the place you started, even though you’ve followed all advice. You have self-soothed and dredged up; you have cried and curled up; you have aimed for integration in your fractured, broken brain.

This is common, the fractured, broken brain and the uselessness of talk therapy to make it better. A study done by H.J. Eysenck in 1952, a study that still causes some embarrassment to the field, found that psychotherapy in general helped no more, no less, than the slow passing of time. As for insight, no one has yet demonstrably proved that it is linked to recovery. What actually does help is anyone’s best guess — probably some sort of fire, directly under your behind — and what leads to relief? Maybe love and work, maybe medicine. Maybe repression. Repression? Isn’t that the thing that makes you sick, that splits you off, so demons come dancing back? Doesn’t that cause holes in the stomach and chancres in the colon and a general impoverishment of spirit? Maybe not. New research shows that some traumatized people may be better off repressing the experience than illuminating it in therapy. If you’re stuck and scared, perhaps you should not remember but forget. Avoid. That’s right. Tamp it down. Up you go. NY Times Magazine


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The ‘trauma establishment’ in modern mental health care is an enormous edifice which largely arose as a legitimate feminist-driven backlash against at least a century of misogyny in psychiatric care — ever since Freud revised his theory of infantile trauma shortly after the turn of the century with the declaration that the memories of abuse he was seeing in his female patients with ‘hysteria’ were merely fantasies. Yet several crucial mistakes in the use of the trauma concept in modern mental health care have rendered it an overblown, ineffective approach that often does more harm than good (and leave it open to the embarrassing ‘Emperor’s-new-clothes’ findings about the ineffectiveness of post-trauma acute interventions such as those which have been emerging after 9-11).

First, the assumption that trauma underlies much psychiatric distress, at least in female patients, has been unleashed in the hands of inexperienced, unsubtle, polemical mental health practitioners with an irrational, religious zeal. In its most extreme fashion, the fervent and uncritical hunt for a history of abuse in their patients leads therapists to inject the infamous “false memories” of traumatic scenes which, although facile explanations, never happened. While dramatic, however, this is not the greatest harm induced by the uncritical application of the trauma hypothesis. Far more pervasive is the assumption, in cases where a patient did actually undergo some physical or sexual abuse, that it explains any and all mental health distress the patient currently suffers. This has led to the dilution of the concept of trauma and the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder to the point of meaninglessness.

To paraphrase Bateson, a distinction is a difference that makes a difference, and ‘PTSD’ no longer makes a difference in describing symptomatology, suggesting a treatment approach, or predicting outcome, if almost any event seen as a precipitant to distress is ‘traumatic’. What then gets lost is the crucial clinical and research question — why do some people who suffer a trauma go on to develop PTSD or other post-traumatic syndromes, while others are resilient, integrate it and continue to function well? Both from the point of view of salient characteristics of the trauma and salient characteristics of the sufferer, the possibility of answering this question is obscured. Surely Slater is right that some trauma victims under some circumstances should repress and go on, but it is not clear that she zeroes in on which ones. Undertrained mental health practitioners on a mission, convincing their patients that any and all remembering is better under any and all circumstances, and armed with little more than platitudes about “the courage to heal” and “taking back the night”, certainly do not zero in.

Another aspect of therapeutic nieveté which Slater touches upon is one reaction to the suggestion that we bolster, instead of break through, repression. Some therapists feel that encouraging repression of ‘legitimate’ memories sacrifices the chance to help the patient reach the holy grail of the therapeutic process — the authentic, accurate, total truth about their lives. This ignores the fact that the ‘truth’ one helps a client create for her life in the psychotherapeutic process is narrative truth, inherently different from historical truth.

The next shortcoming in thinking about trauma (about which next to nothing is written and about which Slater is spot on) is to ignore the fact that most trauma sufferers probably never present to mental health providers. The selection bias in generalizing from the subset who are seen works to underestimate the capacity for healthy coping strategies to get one past even horrendous trauma. In the emphasis on psychopathology, as elsewhere in the mental health field, resiliency is not given its due.

The third crucial error of the trauma establishment has been to confuse and conflate several different types of ‘trauma”. (Bonanzas in research funding come from having a larger constituency, especially one that can tap directly into federal dollars!). First is the attention to ‘shellshock’ or combat victims paid by the nascent postwar American psychiatric establishment and augmented by the profession’s advocacy for Vietnam veterans, especially within Veterans’ Administration psychiatric departments. Arguably, most combat veterans had undergone a normal course of development prior to their service. Second has been the research and early intervention edifices that have grown up around horrendous but momentary traumatization due to natural disasters (the 1972 Buffalo Creek flood), massive accidents (airplane crashes, fires and building collapses), and terrorizing crimes (the 1976 Chowchilla, CA schoolbus kidnapping; hostage incidents). Again, the majority of those exposed to such events were ‘normally functioning adults’ previously. Finally come the instances (which I am convinced are the vast minority of cases seen in trauma clinics) in which a person has been repeatedly or continuously traumatized, often for a significant portion of their childhood, within a family or pseudo-family situation, essentially kept captive and terrorized. This subjects the person not only to unbearability but inescapability, and betrayal of the beneficence of early caretakers which is essential to normal development, so early and so repetitively that they never have the chance to develop the resources for trusting relationships or coping strategies. In my impression, these people do not so much develop post-traumatic symptoms as a pervasive post-traumatic personality formation. I have been amazed by the lack of perspective by all but a few of the most thoughtful trauma theorists — such as Dr Judith Herman — about the crucial significance of these distinctions. Slater quotes, but largely dismisses, a psychiatrist acquaintance of mine, Dr. Amy Banks, who aptly puts it this way:

Trauma that happens at the hands of another human being has a much greater psychological impact than trauma that happens from a physical illness, accident or even natural disaster. There’s a bigger destruction in trust and relationships. And to further complicate things, sexual abuse usually happens over time, in a situation of secrecy, to what may be a preverbal child. A heart attack is a public event that involves fully verbal adults who have so much more control over their world.’

Without an appreciation for which trauma sufferers may have the capacity for repression or the ability to keep themselves safe and get to an alliance with a therapist, it is hard to strategize where to apply Slater’s suggestion that we should forsake reexperiencing and leave well enough alone. Certainly, my objections to the ‘trauma establishment’ and the harm it does to patients are largely built on an understanding similar to Slater’s that uncovering and talking-through are overrated and applied indiscriminately. But there is a reprehensible and ignorant attitude attitude toward most sufferers of mental illness abroad; my patients are often reporting to me that family, friends or work associates are telling them to “get over it”, “tough it out”, “try harder”, etc. The danger is that Slater’s argument will be used uncritically as ammunition for this misguided message. As Amy Banks, again, puts it:

…(R)epression is useful for repressors. Is repression useful for those of us with different styles? I doubt it. I think it’s probably harmful.

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Is Google too powerful?

A technology consultant (read: not a journalist) writing on the BBC site takes the occasion of the news of the Google purchase of Blogger having been broken on a weblog to beat a dead horse again: Blogging is not journalism.

Ridiculous comments, such as Dan Gillmor’s claim that “with the advent of weblogging, the readers know more than the journalists” only stoke the fires of hyperbole and do not help us understand this new tool.


Blogging is not journalism.


Often it is as far from journalism as it is possible to get, with unsubstantiated rumour, prejudice and gossip masquerading as informed opinion.


Without editors to correct syntax, tidy up the story structure or check facts, it is generally impossible to rely on anything one finds in a blog without verifying it somewhere else – often the much-maligned mainstream media.


The much-praised reputation mechanism that is supposed to ensure that bloggers remain true, honest and factually-correct is, in fact, just the rule of the mob, where those who shout loudest and get the most links are taken more seriously.

He then goes on to some more cogent comments about the dangers Google’s expansion might represent in the privacy sphere, much as I suggested in my initial reaction to the news of the purchase. He concludes, “Perhaps the time has come to recognise this dominant search engine for what it is – a public utility that must be regulated in the public interest.”

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Foreign Policy Meets Biblical Prophecy:

“For many believers in biblical prophecy, the Bush administration’s go-it-alone foreign policy, hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and proposed war on Iraq are not simply actions in the national self-interest or an extension of the war on terrorism, but part of an unfolding divine plan.” — Paul S. Boyer (professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and currently a visiting professor of history at the College of William and Mary, and author of When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture), AlterNet.

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"Just Shut Up:

Nobody gives a shit what anti-war or pro-war writers think. Really. So shut up. That goes double for poets. Shut the hell up, poets. Everybody just shut up.” The inimitable Neal Pollack thinks what 9-11, the War-on-Terror ® and the impending Just-Because War have mostly subjected us to is bad writing. Lots of it. theStranger And I still think Pollack is the self-important Dave Eggars trying to be provocative. Shut the hell up if you don’t agree.

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Perhaps the only reason to watch the Grammy Awards is to see if this happens. [via Drudge Report] Oh, and to see if they continue to heap adulation on the ignorant misogynist Eminem…

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Brain’s response to addictive drugs, stress:

This is big. Stanford researchers have characterized a central mechanism underlying addiction, regardless of which substance a subject is addicted to. It appears to involve dopamine-induced sensitization of neurons in a brain region called the ventral Tegmental area to another neurotransmitter, glutamate. Interestingly, the same process occurs in response to stress. Neuronal sensitization to glutamate is at the core of the biochemical mechanism of learning and memory as well. The investigators appear at a loss to explain the similarities between stress-induced and drug-induced VTA changes, but the link may be the theory, of Bessel van der Kolk in Boston and others, that traumatic stress induces a cascade of endogenous opiate release. van der Kolk has long maintained that, in effect, the trauma victim becomes addicted to stress (explaining the risk-taking behaviors and the so-called compulsion to repeat the trauma often seen in this population), and we may be seeing the neurophysiological evidence for it here. Traumatic memory is different from ordinary memory — walled off, experienced inchoately and nonverbally, perhaps repressed; the elucidation of stress-induced changes in a system that regulates learning and memory may help us to understand why. EurekAlert!

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How to be Anti-War Without Encouraging Saddam:

Joe Conason takes off from a Washington Post report this week that Saddam, believing that the anti-war demonstrations last week expressed support for his regime, has been emboldened to stall any cooperation with the inspection process.

That is precisely the opposite of what the peace movement should want.


The Post report is highly credible because this kind of lethal illusion is characteristic of Saddam. Wily but unwise, he mistakenly assumed that the West and the U.N. would do nothing if he invaded Kuwait in 1990, and like many dictators, he is reportedly isolated from the truth about negative world opinion of him. Apparently he also shares the Bush administration’s jaundiced view of the antiwar movement as “defenders of Saddam,” which could well be his fatal error. International ANSWER and other “radical” stooges for fascism may well support Saddam, but the millions who turned out to endorse inspections rather than war don’t share ANSWER’s politics.


Although time is terribly short, there is a real answer to this problem. The Iraqi tyrant must be made to understand that the enormous crowds that turned out to oppose war don’t support him — in fact, despise him — and demand his full, complete, immediate cooperation with U.N. Resolution 1441. Salon

Conason proposes that the next venue for anti-war demonstrations be the Iraqi embassies throughout the world, and that there be a flood of emails to the Iraqi U.N. mission (MissionOfIraq@nyc.rr.com) and the Iraq News Agency (ina@uruklink.net) demanding Iraqi compliance and disarmament. I’m not sure, however, on reading this, whether Conason is making a realistic, if desperate, strategy proposal, or if he is more interested in rehabilitating the credibility of the anti-war movements with its critics.

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Ready for Primetime?

Homeland Security Site Doesn’t Shoot Straight: “It’s better than a hysterical call for duct tape. But Ready.gov, the Homeland Security Department’s new website to help the public prepare– and deal with the aftereffects of – a biological, chemical or nuclear terrorist attack, still ignores an obvious truth: that such strikes are nearly impossible for al Qaeda-like groups to pull off.” — Noah Schachtman, Defense Tech

And:


The Smart Way to Be Scared:

“Flashing ‘threat level’ warning boxes on newscasts. Police officers with shotguns wandering Times Square, antiaircraft missiles near the Washington Mall. Federal instructions to stockpile water and batteries and obtain plastic and tape for a ‘safe room.’ Yet it’s far from clear that this security rush will help anyone.” — Greg Easterbrook, NY Times

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Weapons That Disable Circuitry May Get First Use in Iraq:

“As the United States readies for a possible conflict in Iraq, many of the star weapons from the Persian Gulf war of 1991 are back and deadlier than ever. The smart bombs are smarter. The stealth planes are sneakier. Even the ground troops are better equipped than they were a dozen years ago.

Yet according to military experts, the biggest technical revelation of another war in the region may not be improvements to old systems but rather a new category of firepower known as directed-energy weapons.” NY Times

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The raw, human wizardry of ‘Oz’ comes to a close:

“Yes, HBO’s prison drama is fueled by shower-room shankings, an Aryan cult, and grotesqueries such as the excretion cocktail mixed by one Hole-bound inmate. Most viewers have turned away from the show’s in-your-face imagery in disgust, including the Emmy voters, who consistently ignore stunning acting by Eamonn Walker, Christopher Meloni, Rita Moreno, Dean Winters, Lee Tergesen, and J.K. Simmons. ”Oz,” so feral and explosive, is the black sheep of quality television.” Boston Globe

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Update: Girl critical after 2nd transplant:

‘With perhaps only hours left to live, the 17-year-old girl mistakenly given a heart and lungs with the wrong blood type was miraculously handed a second chance Thursday after doctors — against all odds — located another set of organs.


Surgeons rushed to transplant the new heart and lungs into Jesica Santillan, whose relatives had feared she would be dead by the weekend.

She was in critical condition after the four-hour operation, and doctors warned it was too early to say whether she would pull through.’ Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Baby Bells fall after FCC decision:

“Shares of U.S. local telephone companies fell Thursday after federal regulators kept in place rules that force carriers to provide rivals with low-priced access to their telephone networks, analysts said.

In a complicated decision, the Federal Communications Commission approved new guidelines that give state regulators the power to decide what parts of local telephone networks must be leased at discounts. That dealt a blow to the dominant local telephone companies–the Baby Bells, which wanted immediate relief from rules they contend cost them money and customers.

The FCC decision, however, did offer the Baby Bells a partial win. The agency ruled that local companies that install new fiber-optic cables for high-speed Internet access won’t have to share those lines with rivals.” CNET News

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The perfect anti-war poem:

I mean, what good is a poem by some lowly person against a cruise missile, or an aircraft carrier, or Total Information Awareness?


And this feeling was borne out when I arrived and saw the crowd of mostly oldsters like myself, flying their freak flags the same as ever, only shinier.


I have written poems, especially when I was young, that use war, or have war in them. I typically exploited the horror, the feeling of helplessness, and the landscapes we leave when we give up on one another.


But I couldn’t imagine any of these bad dream poems having a salutary effect on the peace gathering. So I dug up some old World war I poems of Wilfred Owen, “Strange Meeting” and “Dulce et Decorum Est,” both harrowing poems written in his wartime “remission,” when he invalided in England after succumbing to the noise and horror of bombs.


Before they dragged Owen away, he had sat gibbering in a hole for four days with the parts of a comrade splattered all around him.


The thing about Owen’s poems is, they are bitter and sad, like every young man’s poems. Except, he had greater call. I thought, as I looked out at the gathering in the coffee shop, that we had all got so old. I’m twice Owens’ age, and Robert Bly, over there in the corner, is more than three Owens of time.


The war was so terrible, because it took a generation of men educated in genteel ways, and it ground them to puilp. They went off to war like gentlemen, and came back, if they were lucky, with a frankness of expression that was rooted in the greatest grief.


We today owe our freewheeling diction, our realism, to the horrors of the trenches. They gave us e.e. cummings and Hemingway, Robert Graves and Gertrude Stein (she worked as a nurse) … Appolinaire, Cocteau, Eluard and Breton … Isaac Rosenberg, Otto Dix and Eugenio Montale.


They gave us Robert Bridges, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Joyce Kilmer, John Dos Passos, Edith Wharton (likewise a nurse), Archibald Macleish, Giuseppe Ungaretti, W. Somerset Maugham.


These people created a new language of straight talk from the rubble of the empires, which comes so easily to us today. worldgonewrong

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Microsoft Tests the Blogging-Tool Waters:

Redmond quietly fields its ASP.Net Community Starter Kit, a freely downloadable Weblog builder.

With Google buying Blogger creator Pyra Labs over the weekend, many are wondering when and if Microsoft will take a similar plunge into the Weblog-tools world.


It will come as a surprise to many that, with little fanfare, Microsoft officially entered the blogging-tool space last week. At the VSLive! developer conference, Microsoft unveiled five new sample applications built on top of its ASP.Net scripting environment. One of these five — the ASP.Net Community Starter Kit — is a blog builder.


“You could use this (Kit) to build a Weblog,” confirms Microsoft developer division product manager Shawn Nandi.’ Microsoft Watch

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‘A bit like Kosovo with an oil pipe attached…’

Euro-occupation plan for Iraq:

So now we know the Franco-German alternative to an Anglo-American war against Iraq. It is a plan for the occupation and carve-up of Iraq without a shot being fired.


The German scheme, which has won French support and tacit approval from the Russians, would mean tripling the number of UN weapons inspectors, extending the no-fly zone over the entire country, and sending in thousands of UN troops in what the UK Guardian calls a ‘peaceful invasion’.


The UN Security Council (UNSC) would have complete control over Iraqi airspace and soil, and Iraq would be reduced to the status of a protectorate, a bit like Kosovo with an oil pipe attached. Perhaps Iraq will be governed by a UN High Representative, in the same way that failed UK politician Paddy Ashdown rules Bosnia, effectively replacing Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship with an absolute monarch appointed by the powers that run the UNSC.

Is Mick Hume, writing in sp!ked, a classic British Francophobe/Germanophobe or an unflinching political realist? I had preferred to see the Franco-German postiion as a principled one, but:


This scheme confirms that Germany and France, supposedly the leading anti-war nations, are not really anti-war or anti-intervention at all. They are perfectly happy to support military intervention if it suits their purposes. The Franco-German plan is simply the latest move in the strategic chess game that these governments are playing with President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, designed to boost their international status and their standing at home…


Meanwhile, the allegedly anti-war French step up their political and military intervention in the Ivory Coast, their former African colony, cajoling the government into sharing power with rebels, while protesters call on the USA to intervene and save their democracy from being ‘assassinated’ by French president Jacques Chirac.

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Geeks Without Borders:

“L3 takes place in virtual space, while the Go Game unfolds on actual city streets. But they share a common denominator: the widening of the game environment. Most forms of entertainment are defined by their edges: the outline of the Monopoly board or the dimensions of a movie screen. To enter the world of the game or the story, you enter a confined space, set off from the real world. Play-space doesn’t overlap with ordinary space. But Go and L3 don’t play by those rules. Go colonizes an entire city for its playing field; L3 colonizes the entire Web. These are games without frontiers.” Slate

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Mutant gene ‘sparked art and culture’:

‘A tiny mutation in a gene common to mammals may have changed the destiny of humanity. The gene, foxp2 – identified by British researchers two years ago – could have been the switch that lit up art, culture and social behaviour in Homo sapiens 50,000 years ago.


Richard Klein, an anthropologist at Stanford University in California, told the AAAS that early modern humans 100,000 years ago were confined to Africa and seemed no different from their now-extinct cousins Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus in Europe and Asia. Then, 50,000 years ago, behaviour altered dramatically: “There was a biological change, a genetic mutation of some kind that promoted the fully modern ability to create and innovate.’ Guardian UK

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Allegedly seen at one of the rallies last weekend:

“Bush has it backwards–abortion is surgical; bombing is murder.”


Then there’s this one: “Send Jenna.”

Or:Blame Florida.”

But if you want make your own, here is a list of slogans that were used in previous antiwar demonstrations…”

Some will say that all antiwar activism is empty-headed sloganeering; if so I’m just playing into my critics’ hands with this post. But even thoughtful antiwar indignation has use for catchphrases, it seems. I love ’em. For example:

  • “Hans Blix — look over here.”
  • “Let Exxon send their own troops.”
  • “War is so 20th century! “
  • “9-11-01: 15 Saudis, 0 Iraqis. “
  • “Don’t waive your rights while waving your flag. “
  • “Drop Bush not bombs. “
  • “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity. “
  • “I asked for universal health care and all I got was this lousy stealth bomber.”
  • “How many Lives per Gallon?”

[more] AlterNet

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Scratchy, swingy and stringy:

Radio Thrift Shop: I’m not a big fan of twangy stuff, but this sounds interesting. “Host Laura Cantrell scours the bargain bins, church bazaars and yard sales for those forgotten rekkids of all RPM. Often scratchy, swingy and stringy.”

“She has the sort of east Tennessee accent that seems to keep your coffee warm. Her decidedly uncatchy signature line — ‘Well, there you have it folks’ — has become a lazy weekend mantra for her fans. And over the last six years, her noon-to-3-P.M. show, ‘The Radio Thrift Shop’ on WFMU, the famously eclectic New Jersey radio station, has made her one of the city’s best-known deejays among music lovers with a country-and-western bent.” — The New York Times [via Outside Counsel]

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Iraqi Roswell?

Is Hussein Owner of Crashed UFO? ‘ “An (sic) UFO-related incident that occurred four years ago poses a troubling question whether any kind of cooperation is possible between Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and extraterrestrials,” UFOlogist Joseph Trainor declared in his review UFO Roundup (issue 51 of December 17, 2002). “On December 16, 1998, during Operation Desert Fox against Iraq, a video clip aired on CNN showed a UFO hovering over Baghdad; it moved away to avoid a stream of tracer anti-aircraft fire. At that time we all thought it was another UFO sighting, although captured on videotape. But now, ufologists think it was much more than a mere incident.” ‘ Pravda [via Confederacy of Dunces] Could the rush to war with Iraq be a race to prevent Iraq from reverse-engineering the crashed spacecraft and becoming a truly unstoppable world power? Arab journalists are non-committal, except:

Mohammed Hajj al-Amdar said on the basis of strange stories coming out of that valley: “Saddam gave the aliens sanctuary, so that they couldn’t be captured by Americans. Nobody can reach the citadel Qalaat-e-Julundi at night. They say that the aliens created “watchdogs” for Saddam. The aliens took ordinary desert scorpions and used their bio-engineering to grow the scorpions to giant size. Scorpions of a cow-size! They are wonderful watchdogs: they blend in with the desert, swiftly and silently move on their warm-blooded prey for a decisive attack. Luckless intruders hear just some strange sound from behind stones, then a pincer crushes their necks, another pincer crushes their legs; then the victims is slammed to the ground and beaten with a barbed tail six or seven times. Death comes almost immediately.”

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Word ‘bursts’ may reveal online trends

“Searching for sudden “bursts” in the usage of particular words could be used to rapidly identify new trends and sort information more efficiently, says a US computer scientist.


Jon Kleinberg, at Cornell University in New York, has developed computer algorithms that identify bursts of word use in documents.


While other popular search techniques simply count the number of words or phrases in documents, Kleinberg’s approach also takes into account the rate at which the word usage increases.


Kleinberg suggests that the method could be applied to weblogs to track new social trends. For example, identifying word bursts in the hundreds of thousands of personal diaries now on the web could help advertisers quickly spot an emerging craze.” New Scientist [via bOing bOing]

The scientists applied the algorithm to State of the Union addresses and, lo and behold, saw evidence of the emergence of the depression, the atomic age, the Communist ‘menace’, etc. At first blush, my response was, “How different is this from the word frequency analysis of Dubya’s 2003 SotU I did in my weblog last month?” Next question: “How different in import is this analysis than, for example, Wired magazine’s ‘wired, tired, expired’ feature?” The authors would respond that watching not so much frequencies as their first derivative, the rate of growth in a word’s frequency, is the significant measure, but is it really a boon? Is this going to identify any trends before we already notice them? I mean really?

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Closer to a national ID plan?

“A little-known company called EagleCheck is hoping to

provide a standardized identity check technique that governments and

corporations will use to verify that you are who you claim to be
.

EagleCheck, a privately held firm in Cleveland proposes that whenever

someone uses a driver’s license or a passport for identity

verification, the ID’s authenticity will be checked through

EagleCheck’s network that is tied to state motor vehicle and federal

databases. The databases will respond by saying whether the ID is

valid.” — Declan McCullagh, CNET News

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‘We are doing this for one reason only: to harm the German economy.’

“America is to punish Germany for leading international opposition to a war against Iraq. The US will withdraw all its troops and bases from there and end military and industrial co-operation between the two countries – moves that could cost the Germans billions of euros.

The plan – discussed by Pentagon officials and military chiefs last week on the orders of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld – is designed ‘to harm’ the German economy to make an example of the country for what US hawks see as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s ‘treachery’.Guardian UK

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Chirac finding pro-US stances hard to stomach:

blow-by-blow account of Chirac backed into a corner by hawkish cohort at European Council summit. The Herald

And: ‘Listen to the voices of Iraqi exiles’;



Defiant Blair answers the concerns of the protesters
: “The timing of Tony Blair’s monthly press conference, entirely dominated by questions on Iraq, was no coincidence.

Arranged before the European Union swung behind the prime minister to toughen its stance against Saddam Hussein, Mr Blair was determined to address the concerns of the thousands who turned out on Saturday to protest at the prospect of war against Iraq.” The Herald

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Antiwar Protests Fail to Sway Bush on Plans for Iraq:

President Bush dismissed antiwar protests today as a factor in his plans for confronting Iraq and pressed ahead with a strategy to persuade reluctant allies that United Nations weapons inspections would not secure the disarmament of Saddam Hussein.” NY Times Does this surprise you? I thought not. Have you started to feel hopeless yet about preventing this crime against humanity? Can you say “nonviolent direct action”?

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Behind the Great Divide

Paul Krugman: “There has been much speculation why Europe and the U.S. are suddenly at such odds…”

Many Americans now blame France for the chill in U.S.-European relations. There is even talk of boycotting French products.


But France’s attitude isn’t exceptional. Last Saturday’s huge demonstrations confirmed polls that show deep distrust of the Bush administration and skepticism about an Iraq war in all major European nations, whatever position their governments may take. In fact, the biggest demonstrations were in countries whose governments are supporting the Bush administration.


There were big demonstrations in America too. But distrust of the U.S. overseas has reached such a level, even among our British allies, that a recent British poll ranked the U.S. as the world’s most dangerous nation— ahead of North Korea and Iraq.


So why don’t other countries see the world the way we do? News coverage is a large part of the answer. NY Times

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TiVo in dock after new Discovery

“A personal video service that promised to revolutionise TV by remembering to record viewers’ favourite programmes has been accused of Big Brother tactics after it programmed viewers’ video recorders to automatically tape shows on the Discovery Channel…

US subscribers have discovered that their box is automatically switched to the Discovery Channel two nights a week to download commercials and trailers and when they switch their TV on the following morning, it is tuned to Discovery.” Guardian UK

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Girl, 17, Fights for Life After Organ-Donor Error

“A 17-year-old girl is in critical condition after mistakenly being given a heart and lung transplant from a donor with the wrong blood type at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.

The patient, Jésica Santillán, has rejected the organs and is unconscious and on life support. Doctors say she is unlikely to survive more than a few days without another transplant. But she has little chance of getting one, because donors are scarce. In 2001, doctors performed only 27 heart-lung transplants in the United States.” NY Times

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Armageddon Asteroids:

‘Best kept a secret’. “A scientific adviser to the United States government has suggested that secrecy might be the best option if scientists were ever to discover that a giant asteroid was on course to collide with Earth.

In certain circumstances, nothing could be done to avoid such a collision and ensuing destruction, and it would be best not to tell the public anything, said Geoffrey Sommer, of the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California.” Independent UK

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Hacker accesses 5.6 million credit cards —

Visa: ‘No accounts have been used fraudulently’. “The hacker who breached a security system to get into credit card information had access to about 5.6 million Visa and Mastercard accounts, far more than originally announced, the two card associations told CNN Tuesday.

Monday, Visa and Mastercard said the hacker could look at as many as 2.2 million accounts after breaching the security system of a company that processes credit card transactions on behalf of merchants.” CNN

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Massive Great Ape Die-Off in Africa—

Ebola Suspected: “A catastrophic die-off of lowland gorillas and chimpanzees at the very heart of their range in central Africa has been reported by scientists.”

//news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/photogalleries/gorillas/images/primary/2_young_lowland_gorillas_n.jpg' cannot be displayed] The epidemic appears be spreading from west to east. Scientists from the World Wildlife Fund working in Minkebe National Park in northern Gabon documented the disappearance of great apes from an estimated area of 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 square miles) sometime between 1990 and 2000, and suspected that the Ebola virus might have been the cause. Three Ebola epidemics were recorded in villages in the Minkebe area between 1994 and 1996.


Between November 2001 and June 2002 at least 80 people died during an outbreak of the disease in the cross border area of northeastern Gabon and northwestern Congo (Mekambo-Ekata-Mbomo-Kelle). During this epidemic, scientists from ECOFAC, CIRMF, and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) also documented deaths of great apes in the same area and the Ebola virus was confirmed from one carcass. In several cases it was established that handling fresh ape carcasses that they had found in the forest had contaminated humans.


//news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/05/images/030205_ebolaoutbreak.jpg' cannot be displayed]No one knows how the disease entered the first human or ape, said William Karesh, head of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Field Veterinary Program. “But we do know that the virus is subsequently spread from infected animals to other animals and from infected people to other people.”


Karesh said that there was no known way to contain the epidemic among animals. “When people are infected we can educate them about the risk of touching or consuming dead or sick animals, and if they are sick, to immediately let authorities know so they can be isolated before they infect other people.” National Geographic News

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Slammed by Slammer?

More on Wired‘s claims that Symantec identified the Slammer threat and failed to share the information widely. “(D)id Symantec really sit on the problem? The company’s claims are inconsistent: a Silicon Defence analysis shows that Slammer infected more than 90 per cent of vulnerable hosts within 10 minutes. This analysis is supported by first-person accounts of telecom security experts contacted by us, as well as security consultant Robert Graham’s excellent review of the spread of the worm.

So we think this is more a case of Symantec shooting itself in the foot with inflated marketing claims for its early warning service rather than anything more sinister. If it knew about Slammer before everyone else (which is questionable) then we doubt it knew it was anything like as vicious as it turned out to be.” The Register [thanks, Michael]

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The Repression Ramps Up:

Two Arrested for Posting Pictures of Iraqis in NYC: “Artist Emilie Clark and writer Lytle Shaw were arrested for posting pictures of people from Baghdad in Soho late Thursday night. Both have been released. A court date has been set to prosecute the two for showing New York City the people who will die in a possible war against Iraq.

Clark and Shaw were members of the Baghdad Snapshot Action Crew. Based in New York City, the crew of 75 artists and activists began posting simple flyers with pictures of ordinary Iraqi citizens around New York City, in anticipation and solidarity of the February 15th anti-war rally. The pictures were taken by artist Paul Chan, who recently returned from Baghdad as a member of the Iraq Peace Team, a project of the Chicago based, Nobel Peace Prize nominated activist group, Voices in the Wilderness.” National Philistine [thanks to John Maas] The police who detained Clark and Shaw justified their actions by concerns about the threat of a terrorist attack on the anti-war rally, and probably believed it. The twisted logic of justifying all sorts of repressive measures as protection is a keystone of the Ashcroft cosmos as it has been in every oppressive regime.


[Image 'iraq66.jpg' cannot be displayed]

I can’t find any coverage of this in the ‘official’ press; please send me the URL if you see a news source.

The Baghdad Snapshot Action website has full-size .pdfs of the thirty posters in black and white here. I’m sure the artists wouldn’t mind if you printed them out and began posting them around your communities…

Little Friends

(For Ween and Levon)

The little friend might be a scientific partner, helping you with your

experiments, head turned up in clean appreciation. Little friends mass in

thrift stores. You adopt on hair color and compatibility. Kung Fu

aesthetics are not the aesthetics of the little friend, but those of the

dense competition among equals.

Little friends are dirty; you’ve seen their expressions in phonics

textbooks. A number of little friends might be arranged in a choir and big

voices could lead, guide the chimes of little friends.

In the morning, mist rising above the castle and hill, The Dwarf leaves his

den under the tree roots, eyes adjusting to the scene around the river:

endless little friends there in respect and confidence. He is their

protector, and of course their leader.

— Lytle Shaw
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New study shows narcissism plus social rejection equals aggression:

“A new study by researchers at San Diego State University and the University of Georgia reveals that people with narcissistic personalities who experience social rejection are more aggressive than those who are not so self-absorbed, a finding that may help explain why some teens resort to violence while others do not.” EurekAlert!. One in a series of blinks at FmH about the dangers of inflated self-esteem.

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The Strange Case of Dr. B.:

Within months of his death in 1990, the reputation of Bruno Bettelheim — the revered survivor of the camps, head of the famous Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School for troubled children at the University of Chicago, formidable educator, and author of the acclaimed The Informed Heart, The Empty Fortress, Love Is Not Enough, The Children of the Dream, and The Uses of Enchantmentappeared to be in shreds. Certain former students from the school and several of his former associates were accusing him of everything from plagiarism and lying about his past to brutality and child abuse. He was even bitterly condemned for having taken his own life. So radical and abrupt a shift in perception about a famous and admired man suggests an overpowering personality whom others had feared and resented and only now felt safe to attack.


Indeed, Bettelheim was such a personality—inspiring, seductive, aggressive, irascible, dismissive of fools or perceived enemies, and capable of both great kindness and great unkindness. Like other remarkable men who have been leaders, even gurus, within small, intense, contained institutions —Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, William Shawn at The New Yorker— he attracted passionate loyalty and affection but also built up suppressed (or open) resentment in certain of his disciples. New York Review of Books

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Computer Stupidities

“The following is a large collection of stories and anecdotes about clueless computer users. It’s a baffling phenomenon that in today’s society an individual, who might in other circumstances be considered smart and wise, can sit down in front of a computer screen and instantly lose every last shred of common sense he ever possessed. Complicate this phenomenon with a case of “computerphobia,” and you end up with tech support personnel having phone conversations that are funny in retrospect but seem like perfectly valid motives for wild machine gun shooting sprees at the time. You will read stories in this file that will convince you that among the human race are human-shaped artichokes futilely attempting to break the highly regarded social convention that vegetables should not operate electronic equipment. And yet, amidst the vast, surging quantities of stupidity are perfectly excusable technological mishaps — but that are amusing nonetheless. After all, even the best of us engages in a little brainless folly every once in a while.


Most of these stories are true. Some happened to me personally. Some happened to friends of mine. Some are considered urban legends, but even most of these are more likely to have happened in some form or another than not. Skeptics look at such stories and doubt their truth. But reason, common sense, and experience tell me that if you sit someone who isn’t computer literate (even a smart someone) down in front of a computer, you’re bound to accrue anecdotes no less outrageous than these. You’d be surprised.”

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TurboTax Test Results Part II:

Adding to earlier concerns about TurboTax using digital rights management is the icing on the cake: the program gains unauthorized access to sectors of your hard disk outside the operating system to write special licensing data.

Clearly, the data in Sector 33 is a special “signature” that SafeCast uses to decide whether a program installation is legitimate. If you copy TurboTax to another hard drive , or restore to a new drive from a backup, this signature will not be included. And without that signature, SafeCast may deny you access to the software even if you’ve legally purchased and registered it.


Reserved Sectors Can Be Unsafe: Unfortunately, these “reserved” sectors of the hard drive aren’t necessarily a safe place for data. And they’re an especially dicey place to keep licensing information. According to Frank Van Gilluwe — whose company, V Communications, publishes System Commander and Partition Commander — viruses have been known to hide in this portion of the disk.


Data compression utilities, “multiboot” utilities, password protection and encryption software, and sector translation software (which allows older computer systems to accept today’s huge hard drives) may also reside in this area. Sometimes these applications can interfere with each other, in effect fighting for use of the space. extremetech.com

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False Alarm?

Alert Partly Based on Lies:

‘A key piece of the information leading to recent terror alerts was

fabricated, according to two senior law enforcement officials in Washington

and New York.


The officials said that a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that

Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a “dirty bomb” sometime this

week had proven to be a product of his imagination.’ ABC News

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As We May Think by Vannevar Bush:

Looking at the reactions to Google’s big-time push into weblogging (see item below), I was led to Matt Webb‘s comment that “Google is building the Memex” and thence to this 1945 Atlantic essay by Vannevar Bush which so amazingly prefigures the internet not so much technologically — it’s quaintly limited in that respect — but in discussing what such a development would do for the relationship between thought and the sum of knowledge.

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, “memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.


It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.


In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism. Yet if the user inserted 5000 pages of material a day it would take him hundreds of years to fill the repository, so he can be profligate and enter material freely.”

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Google Buys Pyra:

Blogging Goes Big-Time:

Weblogs are going Googling.


Google, which runs the Web’s premier search site, has purchased Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing weblogs, the increasingly popular personal and opinion journals.


The buyout is a huge boost to an enormously diverse genre of online publishing that has begun to change the equations of online news and information. Weblogs are frequently updated, with items appearing in reverse chronological order (the most recent postings appear first). Typically they include links to other pages on the Internet, and the topics range from technology to politics to just about anything you can name. Many weblogs invite feedback through discussion postings, and weblogs often point to other weblogs in an ecosystem of news, opinions and ideas.


“I couldn’t be more excited about this,” said Evan Williams, founder of Pyra, a company that has had its share of struggles. He wouldn’t discuss terms of the deal, which he said was signed on Thursday, when we spoke Saturday. But he did say it gives Pyra the “resources to build on the vision I’ve been working on for years.” — Dan Gillmor, siliconvalley.com

Gillmor has a nice set of blinks to commentary on this development from the weblogging community. It may give more credibility to weblog content, and users of Blogger like myself may get better technical support from the bevy of Google web engineers, and certainly Evan Williams will be sitting pretty getting one of those dotcom buyout windfalls that seem to have become a thing of the past. But I worry about the smell of oligopoly here, and how the little independent weblogger will fare in the corporate blogging environment. Certanly more immediacy to the need to study Google’s threat to privacy now…

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Pentagon Perverts Pharma with New Weapons: Liability and Public Image in the Pentagon’s Drug Weapons Research. “The conventional view is that pharmaceutical research develops new ways to treat disease and reduce human suffering; but the Pentagon disagrees. Military weapons developers see the pharmaceutical industry as central to a new generation of anti-personnel weapons. Although it denied such research as recently as the aftermath of the October theater tragedy in Moscow, a Pentagon program has recently released more information that confirms that it wants to make pharmaceutical weapons. And on February 5th, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went a big step further. Rumsfeld, himself a former pharmaceutical industry CEO, announced that the US is making plans for the use of such incapacitating biochemical weapons in an invasion of Iraq.” Sunshine Project

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Unspeakable Conversations:

Harriet McBryde Johnson meets influential philosopher Peter Singer.

He is the man who wants me dead. No, that’s not at all fair. He wants to legalize the killing of certain babies who might come to be like me if allowed to live. He also says he believes that it should be lawful under some circumstances to kill, at any age, individuals with cognitive impairments so severe that he doesn’t consider them ”persons.” What does it take to be a person? Awareness of your own existence in time. The capacity to harbor preferences as to the future, including the preference for continuing to live.


At this stage of my life, he says, I am a person. However, as an infant, I wasn’t. I, like all humans, was born without self-awareness. And eventually, assuming my brain finally gets so fried that I fall into that wonderland where self and other and present and past and future blur into one boundless, formless all or nothing, then I’ll lose my personhood and therefore my right to life. Then, he says, my family and doctors might put me out of my misery, or out of my bliss or oblivion, and no one count it murder.


I have agreed to two speaking engagements. In the morning, I talk to 150 undergraduates on selective infanticide. In the evening, it is a convivial discussion, over dinner, of assisted suicide. I am the token cripple with an opposing view. NY Times

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Small World Competition Gallery

“gives you a glimpse into a world that most have never seen. It is a window into a universe that can only be seen through the lens of a microscope.


For the past 28 years, Nikon has sponsored the Small World Competition, the world’s foremost forum for recognizing excellence in photomicrography. Listed below are links to image galleries featuring photomicrographs from the winners of previous contests.” [via MetaFilter]

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Salon warns it may not survive beyond February:

Online magazine publisher Salon Media Group Inc. on Friday warned that it may not survive beyond this month if it can’t raise more money to pay its rent and other bills.


The San Francisco-based company painted a grim financial picture in a quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Things are so bad, Salon said, it stopped paying rent for its San Francisco headquarters in December, prompting the landlord to issue a Jan. 29 demand for a $200,000 payment.


To raise money, the company said it may sell its rights to $5.6 million worth of advertising on a Cablevision Systems Corp. subsidiary for as little as $1 million. Miami Herald

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The Decline and Fall (cont’d.): As Man Lay Dying, Witnesses Turned Away

D.C. police released a startling surveillance tape yesterday that shows a daylight killing at a Northeast Washington gas station and witnesses doing nothing to report the crime or tend to the victim as he lay bleeding on the concrete. The videotape, from the Hess station in the 500 block of Florida Avenue, shows in gruesome detail the Jan. 31 slaying of Allen E. Price, 43, of the 2100 block of Fourth Street NW. Police said they were shocked by the apathy of those who were there, including one man who continued pumping kerosene after looking briefly at Price’s body. Washington Post

Counterpose this to the same days’ turnout of millions for peace. [Growing up, I lived in the Queens, NY neighborhood which, similarly, turned its deaf ears in 1964 to the murder of Kitty Genovese in the streets below its windows. It is useful to point out that, while I detect in the coverage of the current episode an innuendo that such callous disregard is associated with the lower class minority locale, the Genovese murder took place in a white-collar white neighborhood and the disregard was laid down to middle class complacency. Plus ca change… ]

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Pentagon Perverts Pharma with New Weapons: Liability and Public Image in the Pentagon’s Drug Weapons Research. “The conventional view is that pharmaceutical research develops new ways to treat disease and reduce human suffering; but the Pentagon disagrees. Military weapons developers see the pharmaceutical industry as central to a new generation of anti-personnel weapons. Although it denied such research as recently as the aftermath of the October theater tragedy in Moscow, a Pentagon program has recently released more information that confirms that it wants to make pharmaceutical weapons. And on February 5th, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went a big step further. Rumsfeld, himself a former pharmaceutical industry CEO, announced that the US is making plans for the use of such incapacitating biochemical weapons in an invasion of Iraq.” Sunshine Project

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Google as Big Brother; The top ten Google privacy problems, e.g.:

6. Google’s toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google’s free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf. Yes, it reads your cookie too, and sends along the last search terms you used in the toolbar. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that’s only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google’s toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you phone home. Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you’d like an updated version. But not Google.

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phil ringnalda:

I need to chew a bit more on Distribution of Choice and Ecosystem of Networks …but it feels to me like there’s something useful in Ross’ discussion of “the strength of 12”, the average number of people with whom you can have a strong relationship (or, that you are willing to be alerted by IM of their every weblog post), and “the magic number 150”, the number of people with whom you can manage a social relationship (or, the number of RSS feeds that you can keep up with).


I’ve been wondering for quite a while now how to rethink how I do a blogroll, and what feels best to me sounds a lot like that: a fairly short list of my tribe, people whose every word I read as soon as I know it’s published, and I’ll assume you’ve read too, and then a longer (much much longer, probably) but less prominent list of “barbarians with whom we can sometimes trade,” people whose feed I read, or whose page I visit fairly regularly, and whom I need to post about more often, because I know damn well you aren’t clicking on them in my blogroll…”

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Millions Join World Protests Against Iraq War: //us.news1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/nm/20030215/amdf209876.jpg' cannot be displayed] In what Alexander Cockburn referred to as “the largest outcry in history”, “More than six million demonstrators turned out across the world on Saturday in a wave of protest supporting international leaders in urging the United States not to rush into a war against Iraq.

From Canberra to Cape Town, from Karachi to Chicago, people from all walks of life took to the streets to pillory President Bush as a bloodthirsty warmonger in the biggest demonstration of ‘people power’ since the Vietnam War.” Yahoo! News

Related:

“There’s a curious group of Americans demonstrating their opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

They don’t fit the stereotypes of the 20-something who shuns a privileged home for piercings and tattoos, or the Birkenstock-wearing vegan who hangs out with anti-globalization activists and environmentalists.

Whether they are pacifists or former military commanders, poets or high-powered executives, Psychologists for Social Responsibility or Mothers Acting Up, today’s anti-war movement appears to run through mainstream America.” Sign On San Diego

And — lo and behold — CNN covers the day of anti-war protest in detail.

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Kissing the ‘right’ way begins in the womb: “Two thirds of us instinctively tilt our heads to the right when we kiss, reveals a new study timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day. The 2:1 ratio matches our preference for using the right foot, eye and ear. The bias probably has its origins in our tendency to turn our heads to the right in the womb and for up to six months after birth, says the study’s author, Onur Güntürkün.” New Scientist