Tuesday, April 29, 2003

From Muckrakers To Buckrakers

Three decades after their reporting led to President Nixon's resignation, the pair have sold their notebooks and other materials from the Watergate years to the University of Texas at Austin. They asked for -- and received -- five-million bucks for the sale. And so they have added to one of journalism's finest moments a new and sleazy chapter.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for journalists making money. But there's something about this particular transaction that doesn't sit right, and I wish that "Woodstein" hadn't done it.

· Watergate [Tompaine]

Monday, April 28, 2003

Born to Party Ecstasy accused ran corporate parties

Two of the four men charged over Australia's biggest ecstasy seizure yesterday are executives of a public relations company that organises corporate parties where they take care of everything.
· Taglia [SMH]

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Media Snob Journalism

We in the news business have many problems: a declining appetite for news among the young; a breakdown between news and entertainment values; public mistrust over our power and objectivity. But now we have a new problem or, rather, a new nuisance: Lee Bollinger.
Bollinger's vision amounts to snob journalism: journalism by an elite for an elite. He believes that most journalists should be credentialed by universities -- a graduate process he suggests should be lengthened from one to two years. Journalism, he says, should be seen (and should see itself) as a profession' -- presumably like law, medicine, accounting or architecture. These are bad ideas that, if adopted, would reduce journalism's relevance and raise public mistrust. They might also worsen journalism's central problem: loss of audience.

· Snobs [WashingtonPost ]
Velvet President

Like Bill Clinton, Václav Havel is a product of the ’60s. Unlike Clinton, he inhaled. And his aversion to cant has made him the Orwell of our age...
· Why Vaclav Havel is our era’s George Orwell and more [Reason]
eBooks The 10,000th eBook at Fictionwise

Congratulation to Fictionwise for its ever growing ebooks collection
· NonFiction [FictionWise]

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Internet Queensland Government's eBooks

eBook is Half Price than the Printed Book
Read them on your computer, or a pocket PC. Try this exciting new technology for yourself. We now have seven of our own titles in eBook format, as well as several from other publishers. eBooks are generally cheaper than the paper version - ours are half the price (Awesome pricing strategy!)- so now you can buy twice as many titles, and there's no freight to pay.

· Creative Queensland [DPI]

Friday, April 25, 2003

· Assylumn [OD ]
Journalism Dayparting More Popular on Newspaper Sites

If you visit azcentral.com after 6 p.m. MST, you'll find a racier, more entertainment-driven home page, with hard news corralled into a small holding pen. It's part of The Arizona Republic's rollout of azcentral@night, a far funkier version of the paper's daytime Web site. The goal of the Republic, and a growing number of other newspapers, is to boost their audiences at night, when their Web servers get pretty lonely.
· Drawing Nocturnal Visitors With Focus on Fun [EditorPublisher ]

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Films Reality Film (AKADocumentaries) Making Comeback

Filmmaker Michael Moore's huge success with "Bowling for Columbine" has "energized nonfiction filmmakers and piqued moviegoers' curiosity about fare drawn from real life, and encouraged distributors to put more documentaries into theaters. But this doesn't mean his style of documentary - sar- donic, polemical, and propelled as much by his own ego as the cause he's fighting for - will now dominate the field.
· Donic [CSMonitor]

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I'm a strong believer that all your lows are also your highs ... that the things that happen to you which are most awful are often the things you learn most from.
--Hugo Weaving
Obituaries CNN

APRIL 16--While all news organizations prepare obituaries in advance of the deaths of famous individuals, the folks at CNN inadvertently gave the Internet-surfing public a chance to preview how the network's web site would note the demise of Vice President Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and a few other prominent figures.
· Fame [SmokinGun ]

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Exiled Journalists Gather in London

In a recent seminar offered by the UK RAM Project
Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, and Mass Media, 35 exiled journalists compared notes on how to continue their work from abroad. Not surprisingly, the Internet is a key tool for these journalists -- but it's not always affordable for journalists who mustflee their native lands with few resources. See this article from journalism.co.uk. It's a wake-up call for journalists who take free speech for granted.
Diary Of Work With Ex-Prisoners

Nearly two years ago, Gara LaMarche, OSI vice president and director of U.S. Programs, spent a four-month sabbatical volunteering at the Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), a community-based organization located just a few blocks away from his home in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. LaMarche focused on FAC's Developing Justice Program—a project supported by OSI that provides assistance to people recently released from jail, helping them reintegrate into their communities.
· Sabbatical [Philanthropy ]
War Rebuilding Iraq -- The Contractors

Even before the war in Iraq began March 20, the Bush administration was considering plans to help rebuild the country after fighting ceased. According to news reports in early March, the U.S. Agency for International Development secretly asked six U.S. companies to submit bids for a $900 million government contract to repair and reconstruct water systems, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in Iraq.
· Contracts [ OpenSecrets]
Internet Email Patterns Show Who Counts In A Group

Turns out you can tell who's important in a group of people by tracking the email traffic within the group. "Researchers have developed a way to use e-mail exchanges to build a map of the structure of an organization. The map shows the teams in which people actually work, as opposed to those they are assigned to. The technique can also reveal who is at the heart of each sub-group. These people often correspond with company-designated leaders such as project managers. But unofficial de facto leaders can also emerge. The approach might even help to pinpoint the heads of criminal or terrorist networks."
· Crowds [Nature]
Cities The Inevitable Tragedy of Urban Memory Lapse

It happens in every city, particularly in North America: things
disappear. They become other things, or sometimes they become nothing. But they disappear, either because no one wanted them, or they were dated, or dilapidated, or just plain ugly. Eventually, you walk past something that was once something else, and you can't even remember what it used to be. And that moment is one of the saddest aspects of modern urban existence.

· Memories [TheStar ]

Monday, April 21, 2003

Blogging Anonymity

A lot of people participate in the many chatrooms on the internet, and most of the messages that fly around (especially the inflammatory ones) are signed by aliases. In effect, one of the main ways in which cyber-culture differs from the off-line world is that many more people hide their true identity.
· True to life [Amitai-notes. ]
Even in the modern world, irony will take you only so far...


In the USA the right tends to endorse the war on drugs, bans on prostitution, gambling, pornography and other vices. The right means to craft people’s souls via government’s coercive powers.
The left wants government regulation of the economy – minimum wage laws, anti-trust crusades, progressive taxation and government efforts to equalise and redistribute wealth.
The left and right both want intrusive government. Ayn Rand noted that metaphysics has an impact here: The right’s idealism and the left’s materialism tend to dictate what is to be controlled.

· The libertarian does not have an answer as to how to solve all human problems [PhilosophersNet ]
Miami Herald with the heart of a Primo Levi

War Might does not make right.

I suspect that a man who knew Ali back when he was a 6-year-old Korean boy bleeding in the back of an ambulance would agree with me that his story is not about this war.
· It is about all wars [Miami Herald]

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.
--Karl Popper
Europe EC

In Europe, law is the engine of history, but politics is the driver.
Time for all EU citizens to directly elect the European Council.

· EU [OpenDemocracy ]
Mitteleuropa Revisionist history is a hit

When TV Prima reran the supermarket drama Zena za pultem (Woman Behind the Counter) last autumn, modern-day TV viewers got an unintentionally comical look at an idealized version of life under communism, circa 1978. And TV Prima scored huge ratings -- as much as 20 percent of the adult viewing audience.
· Communist heroes, corrupt capitalists are drawing good ratings [PraguePost ]
Life Food Glorious...

To eat badly is a sign of self-neglect, even self-loathing: to eat well is a celebration of life.
· Men & Cooking [ TimesONLine]
I stick my necks out and describe Moreton Bay as one of the most beautiful bays on earth. Of course, not every square inch is beautiful, but after seeing areas such as the Suttons Beach, the Queens Beach, mooring canals I think Moreton Bay deserves more praise than it gets - especially from the Queenslanders themselves.

But it isn't just the scenic bayside that touched me. Without a doubt, Scarborough and Redcliffe are getting better, too. At 5 oclock in the morning swimming pools at the bay are pulsating and the sunrise and cycling scenes have everything for the walker. You can immerse yourself yourself in history at the first settlement site, marvel at grand cathedrals of red rocks, go mystic at the distant whiteness of Moreton Island's Tangalooma...

While the Bay may appear compact, the more you explore, the bigger it becomes. Like the Moreton Bay, the Redcliffe Peninsular pretends to be small: a glorious peninsula of coves, cliffs and beaches are anything but small!

One thing Queensland teaches you; it teaches you how to slow down.

Travel Glory of the open road

Already this year, inland Queensland towns are reporting early sightings of the great Mexican migration: the seasonal shift of southern residents to fish, relax, explore and enjoy the many delights of a north Queensland winter.
· The great Mexican migration [CourierMail ]

If someone tells you the resort you're booked into has a 19.6km beachfront, 100km of dirt roads, camels and enough space for two championship golf courses, it's a fair bet you're going to be a long way from the madding holiday crowd.
· 101 ESCAPES [Queensland]

Saturday, April 19, 2003

To quote the Manics: 'Libraries gave us power.' Not any more they don't. They're stuffed full of Sophie Dahl and Naomi Campbell's novels, along with Tony Parsons's drivel, a gang of floppy-fringed public schoolboys and their precious pointless literary fictions, a few failed PR girls and all the rest of the cobblers that passes for a publishing culture these days.

We're living off air

Matthew's cash rejection isn't a scam, it's political: a one-man protest against the publishing industry. Sophie Dahl's novelette was the straw that broke Matthew's back.
I don't want their stupid money until the industry is less stupid. Culture is important; it affects how people think of themselves, the world, their place in it, and the publishing industry in this country is now a joke that's gone too far.
· RIP [Guardian]
Madonna condemns 'vapid and vacant' children's books

Madonna is complaining about the lack of morals in children's books. I'm sure if the irony ever hit her, her head would explode.
· a.k.a. Cavewoman [Guardian(UK)]
Literature One Book One City programs is great

Further, it is interesting that the books chosen to be read are inevitably promoting a social or political agenda, serving as civic lessons for us all. Government-sponsored reading! Are we all morons so as not to be able to see what the intentions here are? Once upon a time, books were meant to upset the apple cart, to make politicians nervous, threaten the status quo, shake up our expectations, make us question things anew. I will change my views about everyone reading the same book the day that one of Jean Genet's novels is selected.
· Has anyone noticed that the blessed Review has now shrunk to about 4 pages in length? [CenerForum]
SARS Spreading

Ted Kaehler has an interesting graphic on the spread of SARS and the potential growth in the number of cases both worldwide and in the United States. Using data from the World Health Organization, Kaehler says that the "number of reported cases of SARS in the world is doubling every 16 days," and based on that growth, there could be 100,000 cases near the end of June.
· Doubling every 16 days [Squeak ]
Philanthropist Sir Paul Getty

Sir Paul Getty, who has died in hospital at the age of 70 after being treated for a recurrent chest infection, gave his profession as philanthropist in the spare six-line entry he provided for Who's Who.
· Easter Obituary [Guardian(UK)]
It's the worst-kept secret of this year's Easter Break...

Holidays Redcliffe Peninsula

The water provides a focal point for all manner of craft - from wind surfers and tinnies to luxury ocean-going yachts and cruisers; to jet skis, vehicular ferries and a whale-watching catamaran. Scarborough Harbour & is an ideal place to watch whales. Monarch is the only whale-watching vessel owned & captained by a woman on the South Pacific rim. When the whales have headed back to the Antarctic, Kerry Lopez operates site-seeing tours of the Bay.
· Writing [Write101 ]
· Whalewatching [whalewatching.net]

Friday, April 18, 2003

Easter? We, Slavs, Beat Up Girls

Foreigners who come to live in Czech Republic for a longer period of time are often surprised or even shocked when they learn abou Czech Easter traditions. We don't hide-and-seek Easter eggs. To put it simply, guys celebrate and girls have to struggle to survive. :o) On Easter guys get their wickers with colorful bows on the ends and go to visit their female relatives, friends, girlfriends, neigbors etc. etc. Everytime they come to someone's door and the girl comes out, they "whip" her with the wicker on her butt and yell out the traditional poem that guys are supposed to say at that moment. Mostly it means "give me your painted egg and if you don't have a pained one give me an ordinary WHITE one". Yes, I know that eggs are normally brown but many years ago they were white. Then the girl gives each guy an egg. Younger guys get chocolate eggs, older guys and men VERY OFTEN get a shot of vodka or something. So at the end of the day most of the guys are trashed.

HIH To err is Aussie: directors ape HIH

Several of the practices that led to the downfall of HIH are in widespread use by Australian boards.
Justice Owen shows how, when combined in the HIH circumstances, they can be a lethal cocktail.
On paper, at least, the HIH board was by no means Australia's worst.
But Australian directors have great problems governing overseas businesses when they turn sour.
Owen reveals HIH lost $1.8 billion in the UK and the US – three times the losses on FAI. When HIH's UK branch was established in 1993 there was no evidence that the board contributed to a business plan.
Perhaps that's why it extended into film financing, personal accident cover to the Taiwanese military, and motor vehicle insurance – without terrorism exclusions – in Israel. Australian companies need to expand overseas, but they need the right skills and a clear strategy.

· HIH History [ News]
Shaming & Naming Fleace: Boardroom agents

One of the nation's biggest publishing success stories in recent times is not a book, newspaper or magazine. Rather, it's the Interior Ministry's official list, published in March, of collaborators with the Communist-era secret police, the StB. All 3,000 copies of the initial print run of the nearly 6,000-page-long list were distributed a matter of hours.
The list includes around 78,000 names of StB collaborators and informants. Quite a few of those names are now top managers of the most prominent companies in this economy.
· Cold Revenge [Prague Post]
War on the western front

Trouble is brewing at The West Australian, where management has accused the paper of poor journalism. Managing director Ian Law has launched an extraordinary attack on the paper's editorial performance, blaming journalistic shortcomings for the worst circulation figures in the nation.
· A pit-bull scrapping for a brawl [Australian]

The write stuff

Room 116 of the Hotel Josef houses a double bed with a bright-orange spread, one uninviting chair and writing desk, and one exhausted Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Jeffrey Eugenides, sprawled across the bed with his shiny black shoes on, does not rise to meet the reporter. He politely excuses himself, explaining that he hasn't slept a wink in the past two days.
· Jeffrey Eugenides came to Prague an author and left a Pulitzer Prize winner. [PraguePost ]
If truth is the first casualty of war, free speech may be closing in at a close second.

Freedom A chill wind is blowing in this nation...

Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us - right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation.
· Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years [Webdiary ]

Freedom's untidy

For lack of a beautiful mind, I believe that George Monbiot of The Guardian told the truth when he said, They have unlocked the spirit of war, and it could be unwilling to return to its casket until it has traversed the world.
· For lack of a beautiful mind [CommonDream]
Go North Young Family Man Child lead-poisoning warning for Sydney

Exposure to lead is causing significant intellectual impairment to children with the most damage occurring at levels declared safe in Australia, a five-year study has revealed.
· Misleading Lead [SMH ]

Thursday, April 17, 2003

What War Is Good For

Not that there's any doubt any more about the reach of the Internet, but NYTimes.com issued some numbers today that are still startling. The site (which requires registration, by the way) reported significant traffic increases throughout the first quarter of 2003, culminating in record page-views in March that were double the level of a year ago (up to 615 million). March 24, the Monday after the first bombing of Baghdad, was a record day, with 30.7 million page-views. The typical day during March saw 1.7 million unique visitors to the site.
It's untidy. Freedom's untidy. Stuff happens.
--Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on the current anarchy in Iraqi cities.

Freedom What would make a writer cancel a book promotion? .

The author of "The Boys of Summer," one of the most popular books ever written about baseball, has canceled a book–tour appearance at the Baseball Hall of Fame to protest the museum's cancellation of an appearance by actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon due to their anti–war views. A Reuters wire story reports that author Roger Kahn sent a letter to museum president Dale Petroskey, a former member of the Reagan administration, who had cancelled an event honoring the baseball movie "Bull Durham" because it would have involved an appearance by the two movie stars. "In theory, at least, we have been fighting this war to give Iraqis freedom of dissent," wrote Kahn. "But here you, through the great institution you head, have moved to rob Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and (writer–director) Ron Shelton of that very freedom."
· Very Freedom [ WireStory]

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Accident Hospital Or Morgue?

Undertaker's car collided with an ambulance in Prague several days ago. I wouldn't say it is funny, but it is ironic, don't you think? SOURCE: www.kompost.cz
· The irony that couldn't take any more [Czechout 15 April 2003]

Taxes Morality

Little Off the Top
Gregg Easterbrook on the morality of taxes
Why I Almost Like Tax Time
It Could Be Worse

What your pastor, imam, or rabbi wants you to pay.
How serious a crime is evading taxes?

Did Jesus Want You to Pay Taxes?
Bible scholar Marcus Borg on the render unto Caesar clause.
Plus: Evade or Cave?
Links to sites that defend or protest taxpaying.

Is It OK to Cheat on Your Taxes?

You've slaved over the fine print, scribbled calculations, and tested your faith in Uncle Sam. Now, what do you believe about your taxes? Take our completely anonymous, completely arbitrary set of polls below and see what others believe.
Everyone knows waiters, for instance, don't report all their tips. Should we raise tax rates on cash income to compensate for underreporting?
Yes, what a clever idea.
No, it would punish those who follow the rules.
No, high tax rates already encourage underreporting.
Is exploiting a loophole--like creating trusts for people you never met--cheating?
No. Loopholes are built into the system.
Yes. It's against the spirit of the law and only available to rich people.
Tax evasion is an act most comparable to:
Burning the flag

· Poll [BiliefNet]

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Elections Massive recount as political SARS causes poll chaos

The database is secure and the counting engine itself is fine; it's the process of transferring the data from one to the other which is the problem. This system had the pants tested off it before the election and it showed none of these problems.
· Tony Green: Pants tested off [SMH ]
Business Rights Make Might

Imagine that you've been laid off, and jobs are scarce. But, you have a great idea for starting your own business. All you need is a short-term loan, so you visit the local bank.
· WorldBank [TomPaine]
Post War Let a Thousand Stories Bloom

When the shooting stops, the crucial battle begins - the battle over the story of the war.
In the long run, the most important results of any war are the stories people tell about it. Every war produces many stories. Eventually, one story eclipses all the others. This is the official story, the one most widely accepted, the one that future generations will tell. Long after the facts are forgotten, the official story will be shaping and reshaping our history. Just think of the power the World War II story still holds.

· By now we are reconciled to the fact that some evil continues to flourish [CommonDreams ]

Monday, April 14, 2003

Sport You must always be the best, distinguished from all the others

The word gymnasium can be translated as nude-itorium. Sport without clothes was at the epicentre of Greek education. Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum were located in gymnasia. But in most studies of Greek culture the significance of this bare fact has been ignored.
· Baron de Coubertin [TLS ]
Iraq German Leader Rejects US's Berlin Wall Comparison

The president of Germany's parliament rejected Friday comparisons being made by U.S. leaders between the 1989 breaching of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq.
When East Germans and other Eastern Europeans knocked down the statues, the people did it by themselves and not with the troops of a victorious war participant," added Thierse, who as president of the parliament is second only to President Johannes Rau as the leading representative of Germany.
· Off the Wall:Drinking too much Rum [Reuters ]
Iraq Sadam Madam

The doors of the town house opened to reveal a playboy's fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a mustached hero battling a crocodile.

· Troops Discover Lush Saddam Sexaway [News ]

SARS SARS could be biological weapon: experts

Russian infectious disease experts say Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) may be a man-made biological weapon.
Nikolai Filatov, head of Moscow's epidemiological services, told the Gazeta daily that he thought the pneumonia was man-made because
Yet he had some reservations, since the virus has a low mortality rate - so far killing 4 per cent of those infected - and because it is relatively difficult to pass on - through direct contact or inhalation.

· Immunity [ ABC]

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Life I'm Not Selling Out -- I'm Buying In!

If sponsors can get products placed in movies, why not in a song?

Take me out to the (Rawlings official major league) ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some (Planters dry roasted) peanuts and Cracker Jack (product placement waaaaay ahead of its time)
I don't care if I ever get back
For it's (frosty A&W) root, root, root (beer) for the (Walt Disney Co.-owned) Angels ....

· Now I bid you good (courtesy of Sleep-Eze) night. [LosAngeles]
'I'd frantically write, after dark, on lager'

He is on Granta's prestigious Best Young British Novelists list, and his first novel is receiving huge critical acclaim. So why has Dan Rhodes declared that he will never write again?
· Premature retirement [The Guardian (UK) ]
Premier Bob Carr heads the list of longest served Premiers, and best paid, politicians in history. He has wealth, an egohood, a captivating wife, charisma. At home in various Machiavellian intrigues and an accomplished historian, he is also infuriatingly brainy. Put another way, he is ambitious, self-centred, workaholic, privileged, caustic and suicidal. Human nature is not always generous to those who win. Here, then, we have the faithful portrait of Australian version of democracy.

Politics Dinner, a chat with Carr for only $15k

Some of the state's biggest corporations and their high-flying executives will get the chance to meet the Carr Government's new ministry next month - but they will have to pay up to $15,000 for the privilege.
· Master of the State [SMH]
· Freedom of ( or from) Information [Stateline ABC]

Iraqi PR man's great future

The Iraqi Minister of Information, whose ability to defy reality has made him something of a cult figure in the West, has had a website dedicated to his pronouncements which is already drawing massive numbers of hits.

His ability to work for a doomed cause and show fortitude in the midst of great strain is already triggering commentators to wonder about where his talents may be most usefully employed in future. Here are some of my and Samizdata's suggestions:
* One Nation campaign manager (no explanation really required)
* Bob Carr's humility counsellor
* Spin doctor for the 2GB
* George W. Bush's elocution coach
* Tim Blair's psychiatrist (a tough assignment, admittedly)
* Chief coach to the Australian soccer team
And finally,
* Management consultant to the Fox's news service.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

A tyrant brought down to earth

As Saddam’s statue lies shattered in the Baghdad dust, a sonnet written nearly 200 years ago best sums up the fall of the vainglorious tyrant. Percy Bysshe Shelley was inspired to write Ozymandias by the broken colossus of Pharaoh Rameses II in Egypt, but the poem stands today as fitting epitaph for Saddam’s rule and its wrecked idols:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things.
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Part of the job of a Chief Knowledge Officer is to understand the knowledge culture, the collective knowledge behaviours, of the organization you work for. A phenomenon I have observed over the past decade is that such behaviours tend to evolve as the employees learn more, and as the tools available for learning and research become more complex.
· Complexity [Salon ]
The Real War - On American Democracy

Many think it's just to fund tax cuts and subsidies for the rich, that the multimillionaire CEOs who've taken over virtually all senior posts in the Bush administration are just pigs at the trough, and this is a spectacular but ordinary form of self-serving corruption. It all seems so plausible, and there's even a grain of truth to it.
· Selfserving Corruption [CommonDream ]
· Feature [TomPaine]
MittelEurope Hungry Panorama

From the vast Hungarian plain, the vista of Europe in a rich panorama.
· Vista [OpenDemocracy ]
The remarkable thing about this week was that even seasoned journalists could not stop talking about a girl who was found and rescued. Not the American soldier Pfc Jessica Lynch of fame, but an ordinary girl from Rockhampton ...
Feared murdered ... Natasha Ryan has told police she stayed hidden in her boyfriend's house for more than four years because the lie became too big.

Murder She Wrote Saving Private Citizen Ryan

Secretly taped confessions led police to believe Natasha Ryan was murdered by a suspected serial killer.
· Biggest media circuses [CourierMail: Rupert]
· Four years hidden from daylight
· Bidding war for Natasha's story
· Imprisoned by a lie
Deadly Conflict doesn’t contain anything about the way shady businesses are conducted with dictators, or the messy truth of the liquid evil. The story doesn’t ask when international business deals crossed the line from odd to certifiable; nor is it concerned with how many times history has to repeats itself before the global community gets sick of the replays.

War Or Peace Deadly Conflict Of Interest

The lesson to be drawn from Bechtel, the Aqaba pipeline and the present conflict is that an "evil dictator" is a friend of the United States when he is ready to do business, and a mortal enemy when he is not. Sadly, it is our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, who must pay the price when a deal goes bad.
· Lucrative oil contracts [Tompaine.com]

Friday, April 11, 2003

The product of an era when intelligent people occasionally could get elected ...
(Unknown source)

Policy intelligent people

A goldmine of ideas.
· Diggers [Australian Policy Online]
One is that the underlying realities (birth, death, scarcity, illness, frustration, hunger for blogging etc etc) haven't changed and never will ...

Literature Oneword is literature for non-readers

I defy anyone stumbling across it not to draw up a metaphorical chair, pour a mug of virtual cocoa and snuggle. If everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, Oneword is it, down-filled and probably frilled.
· Are you sitting comfortably? [The Times (UK)]
War OR Peace War and Its Consequences

The Battle for Bagdad seems to be over; so now the hundred year war for peace in Iraq begins

The military is the only generously funded institution in American public life. Over recent decades just about every other form of discretionary public spending has been allowed to lag—for education and health care, for environmental and social programs, for parks, schools, libraries, museums, and symphony halls. Only the military seems able to squeeze from Congress funds for the newest, the most sophisticated, the most expensive, and the best of everything, in generous quantity and pretty much on demand.
The US government had grown increasingly dependent on its military to carry out its foreign affairs:

The shift was incremental, little noticed, de facto.... The military simply filled a vacuum left by an indecisive White House, an atrophied State Department, and a distracted Congress.
· Fine Point [NYBooks]

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Convicted Felon Burns Himself To Death
It is really hard to believe but yet another man decided to commit a suicide by burning himself to death. A 43-year old Czechman was sitting in a pub with his friends and girlfriend. At one point he walked out and poured himself with paint thinner -- It's the third suicide this month that was comitted this way. According to the police the man was about to go to jail.

This week in my part of the world, we sadly farewell a fine, gentleman who had found that facing another sunrise was too much of a burden...

Death Beyond Life

FEW Australians would be unaware of the brutal gang rape and murder of Sydney nurse Anita Cobby 17 years ago, which shocked and outraged the nation.
· Cobby [Australian ]
Education Mind Work: How a Ph.D. Affects Black Women

Receipt of the Ph.D. is the ultimate admission to nerd-dom. It is also the beginning of a lifetime of set aside experiences. Folks could respect you, for example, for earning a doctoral degree and could exclaim loudly to neighbors about your success; they just had little practical use for you and many times didn't know what to do with you.
· NerdDom [Chronicle]
Go North Young Man: Creative Brisbane

Commissioned by the most creative Mayor in Australia, Jim Soorley, (eat your uncreative hearts out mexican amateurs like Frankie Sartor) the Brisbane's Creative Industries 2003 Report defines the city's creative industries, looks at employment in the sector. The report identifies strengths and weaknesses and examines financial dimensions such as government funding. Warning: PDF fortmat 1.2 MB
· Opportunities & Challenges [North V South]
Sex Sex school

The former madam of a Dutch escort agency has opened a Hanky Panky School for prostitutes to teach the world's oldest profession how to make more money.
· MadaM [ThisisisisLondon]

Psychologists are gaining new insights into sexual arousal with the help of innovative research methods.
Study finds sex differences in relationship between arousal and orientation.
Women and sex: What is 'dysfunctional'?
Sex research faces new obstacles.
Psychologists are creating interventions to curb high-risk sexual
behavior among young people. more
TV sex may be getting safer.
All the guys are drunk and naked. All the chicks are dressed and sober.

Democracy So what we have is a democracy of Hopelessness

Whenever you hear a metaphorically naked man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he will do whatever it takes to control your life.
· Power [Corante ]
Damages Award Raid shock mother wins damages

A woman who gave birth prematurely after she was held up at gunpoint by a prison escapee has successfully sued the NSW Government for negligence.
· Negligence [SMH ]
There never yet has been a great system sustained by force under which all the best faculties of men have not slowly withered. Deny human rights, and however little you may wish to do so, you will find yourself abjectly kneeling at the feet of that old-world god, Force -- That grimmest and ugliest of gods that men have ever erected for themselves out of the lusts of their hearts. You will find yourself hating and dreading all other men who differ from you; you will find yourself obliged by the law of conflict into which you have plunged, to use every means in your power to crush them before they are able to crush you; you will find yourself day by day growing more unscrupulous and intolerant, more and more compelled by the fear of those opposed to you, to commit harsh and violent actions.
-- Auberon Herbert - (British journalist - 1893)

Stupidity Awards

Just in case you were wondering how stupid and tasteless some Australians governments can be. The Australian Government's $15 million fridge magnet campaign to educate Australians about terrorism has scooped an international award as one of the most stupid security measures introduced since September 11.
The competition, run by Privacy International, which is best known for its annual Big Brother awards for intrusive practices, received almost 5000 nominations from 35 countries.
The Government took out the Most Egregiously Stupid Award for the kit which urged Australians to report anything suspicious while asking them to be alert but not alarmed.

· Big Brother [SMH]

If liberty means anything at all, George Orwell wrote, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

I am not a Traitor and I Will Not Be Gagged Over This War

Last week the government enlisted the Murdoch press to launch an assault on George Galloway, The Guardian, with the journalistic equivalent of a cluster bomb.
· Blair Wants Free Speech in Iraq, But Not in Britain [GuardianUK]
· Pigs at the Trough [MotherJones ]
· The memory of the Vietnam war resurfaces [FrontPage]

In Lugano, a peaceful place where one of my cousin lives, the bank, Banca del Gottardo, appears to have handled one or more sales from a known Russian biological weapons producer to a Swiss company with links to several radical Islamic groups.
· Lugano [AmericanReporter ]
Taxes Guns, Butter and Taxes

Apparently, history is repeating itself in more ways than one. Think guns and butter. Under the cover of darkness, otherwise known as the 24-7 media obsession over war tactics and instant analysis of complex issues – we won't get a true picture of for years to come – pre-emptive strikes against future generations of America are being carried out. Get your night vision goggles, citizen soldier, and journey back in time to the LBJ administration. Embroiled in a revolutionary war halfway around the globe, the Joint Chiefs of Staff tried to convince the president to raise taxes.
· Complexity [Alternet]
Antipodean History Native fiction by Geoffrey Blainey

Australia’s very own holocaust: were Tasmanians killed in mass by British soldiers, convicts, and settlers? Or is the so-called genocide an academic myth?
· Myths [NewCriterion]
Libraries Shredding The Patriot Act

Librarians across the US have protested provisions in the Patriot Act that require libraries to turn over records about their patrons. Librarians in Santa Cruz have turned to the shredder for their protest. Daily they shred records that might identify patrons in some way. The basic strategy now is to keep as little historical information as possible.
· Patriot Act [The New York Times]

Tuesday, April 08, 2003


The story is absurd and tragic, yet it may be the salvation of a young playwright. A writer said he based his play What the Umbrella Did Next on Markov in order to exorcise his ghost and pay him tribute.
He had been neglected so long, I thought it was an urban myth," he said. "To get this award is very encouraging right now. I'd just finished directing a show and I was really disheartened because it got fantastic reviews, yet the audiences didn't show.

· Absurd [SMH]

Dwindling book reviews hurting publishers

The book industry is going through difficult times and dwindling book reviews aren't helping.
· Reviews [TheStar]

SARS Tourism Scarred

SARS now posed the biggest threat to Australia's tourism industry, said the Minister for Tourism, Joe Hockey. Marketing budgets for Asia, parts of Europe and the United States would be redirected to New Zealand, India and other countries, he said.
· Links & Stories [SMH]
MPs Conflict

A DRAFT version of a rewritten conflict-of-interest law that aims to introduce severe sanctions for MPs and state officials who are found misusing their posts has been described as strict and good. If approved, the draft will require MPs and state officials, including municipal leaders and their close relatives, to regularly publish property declarations.
· Watchdog [Slovak]
That's libertarians for you - anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.
--Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars p318

Czechoslovakia Plastic Life of Anarchy

At their trial, exactly a year after the tragic death of my 22 years old sister sister, prosecutors accused the musicians of corrupting youth with vulgar lyrics and described the band as an anti-social phenomenon.
· Lyrics of Anarchy [PraguePost]

Monday, April 07, 2003

Housing Real Story

It is ironic. Australia was built on a bedrock of home ownership. Real estate is our favourite dinner party topic. Yet with public housing stock in decline, and a 15 per cent cut in federal/state funding since 1996, governments have failed to face up to the challenge of housing all Australians. The latest reliable figures (1996) show 105,000 Australians were homeless. And nearly 250,000 Australians are on waiting lists for public housing.
· Ironic [SMH]
War & Peace Metaphor and War, Again

Metaphors can kill.
· Metaphor and War fascinating analysis. [Alternet]
Odes of praise to the common law, and mistrust of legislative modifications of it, allow libertarians to say that the true benchmark of rights is provided by the older rules, not the newer ones. Judged against this standard, of course, the rules that benefit employers, landlords and manufacturers simply define liberty and property rights whereas the rules that benefit workers, tenants and consumers are interferences with liberty. The rules one likes are the foundations of sacred property rights, those one does not like are meddlesome regulation. This is a nice trick...
--James Boyle, Libertarianism, Property & Harm

Dictators Bin Laden, Dostoevsky and the reality principle

When Dostoevsky talks about the devils, or the possessed, he still seems to be guided by the idea that evil is something which captures man from outside. The main protagonist Stavrogin, for example, even talks about the devil’s appearances.
· Devil’s appearances [OpenDemocracy]
Brian (not wanting to be a messiah): You are all individuals...
Crowd (in unison): We are all individuals...
--Monty Python's, Life Of Brian

Europe What Europe

Without a coherent vision able to win its people's allegiance, the EU will wither.
· Vision [OpenDemocracy]

Sunday, April 06, 2003

With exquisite irony, the human tragedy is brought to bear on a reality TV about the uselessness of reality TV.

War Games - Ultimate Reality TV

The unprecedented convergence of up-close access to troops and new whiz-bang tools of the TV trade has turned many living rooms into domestic war theaters. And as the coverage marches on, opinions of it are firing back. We're watching this war as though it was a video game. It seems to be an entertainment instead of war coverage.
· There was a time when tragedy meant something [Dallas Morning-News]
· Past tragedy is sanitised while that of the present is dismissed as beneath attention [GuardianUK]
New Media Blogs Are No. 1! Blogs Are No. 1!

The most-read content at Lawrence.com?
Believe it or not, it's currently the city site's weblogs, according to general manager Rob Curley. Curley & Co. have crafted Lawrence.com into an edgy site with wide appeal to a younger audience Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas, and the site's blogs are promoted heavily and displayed prominently on the home page. Weblogs do hold some serious potential for media companies. Lawrence.com is one of several sites produced by Curley's Web team. LJWorld.com is the main news site.

· Floggers [LjWorld]
Literature Of Educational rat wheels & youth

Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, recently attacked the way English is taught in schools. He attacked the educational rat wheel that taught young people to read set texts and pass exams, but did not teach them to love literature, and gave a list of classics his students did not know. But maybe instead of leaning great literature by rote, today's students are better, not less, equipped to read. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect A-level students to have read great swaths of English literature. Maybe schools can only give them their bearings and an ability to read the compass if they want to make the journey later. It's making it accessible and saying 'you have got the skills to go away and read anything - and you will cope with it, you will make sense of it, you will enjoy it'.
· Excessive expectations [The Guardian (UK)]
· Literature & Art As Therapy [The Guardian (UK)]
While I am often critical of newspapers as institutions, I have great admiration for editors, reporters and photographers who take risks in their work - both creative, intellectual and even physical. In Australia I admire engaging storytellers like Jana Wendt, Margo Kingston, Ross Coulthart, Paul McGeogh, Chris Masters, Ben Hill, Marian Wilkinson...

Overseas journalists also have great stories to tell:

· Great Story 1 [WorldnetDaily]
· 2 [CSMonitor]
· 3 [GuardianUK]
· 4 [VillageVoice]
· 5 StraitsTimes]
· 6 [WVGazette]
· 7 [OpenSociety]
My normal disposition is rage: against cruel politicians, uppity parvenus, greed, pomposity, vanity, stupidity, bad manners, pandering characters stepping out of fiction...

A white flag that, alas, is not white enough: 'Dr. Strangelove' May Have Stepped Out of Fiction

French commentators are comparing the behaviour of U.S. military leaders in Iraq with that of the fictive figures in Stanley Kubrick's black comedy of militarism and nuclear age 'Dr Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb'.
The U.S. war against Iraq has also led to a revival of Kubrick's film, now being shown in several movie theatres in Paris.

· French Fear [IPSNews]

Saturday, April 05, 2003

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

-Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
(Donald Rumsfeld A Poet Who Didn't Know It)

Satire & Irony It was difficult not to write and read satire behind the Iron Curtain

We also expect satirists to exaggerate, to caricature, to lampoon. Juvenal does this, too, in spades. But satire, like liquor, comes in a variety of flavors and potencies.
· Rum & Liquor [NewCriterion]
The nature of the Jewish and Christian responses to evil

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there. . . . Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
--Luke 23:33–34

So the Philistines seized [Samson] and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. . . . They made him stand between the pillars. . . . Then Samson called to the Lord and said, Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.
And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, . . . [and] then Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life.
· The Torturers, Dictators, Homosexuals [Dilemmas]
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people
-Eleanor Roosevelt, Elenor obviously never worked for ATM... (smile)

Leagl News Daily Whirl

From Bob Helmer, news about his new website, Daily Whirl, that offers readers headlines from several dozen legal news and information sites that use xml syndication. The list of available sites is growing, and readers may create a customized page of links for daily viewing.
· Legal Whirl [DailyWhirl]

Friday, April 04, 2003

The biggest and saddest irony is that Saddam, even if he dies tomorrow, will be remembered as the hero who stood up against the occupying forces, and his crimes will be forgotten. I doubt if any one, except the Iraqis, would understand how horrible this idea is.
3 April 2003 Margo Kingston (Web Diary: link bookmarked; left)
Crime & Punishment Corporate America's Most Wanted

Exhibit A is HealthSouth. Last week, another high-ranking executive at the nation's largest provider of rehabilitative health care services pleaded guilty to routinely cooking the company's books. And this wasn't just happening back in the bad old days when everyone was doing it -- no, these guys were fraudulently inflating earnings well into 2002, even as Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia and Tyco were front page news. How's that for clueless?
· Most Wanyed [CommonDreams]
The very best advantage in gambling, as in literature, may lie in not playing at all. But if play you must, bet all and win...

War of Words Language bullies

This is ironic. Language bullying -- or prescriptivism, as it's more politely called -- is conservative in the worst sense. It advances a stuffy and old-fashioned view of language, the rules of which it considers set by supposed experts, such as the authors of grammar books, rather than common usage. It is deeply anti-populist and snobby, not to mention just plain wrong and cranky. There are good reasons to criticize Bush. But holding his -- or anyone else's -- grammar to dubious standards isn't one of them.
Most rules cited by bullies are highly suspect. We're told to stop the widespread practice of splitting the infinitive, as in the old Star Trek line, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

· Boldly [NationalPost]

The only thing which saves us from the Revenue Office is its inefficiency.
--Eugene McCarthy

Life We live in a reign of error.

Wittgenstein said that if people never did silly things, nothing intelligent could happen. If progress depends on stupidity, we’re in good shape.
In his promising, but Murphily exasperating, new book, Matthijs van Boxsel has a brilliant list of how technology makes us stupid. It includes these gems:
energy-saving lightbulbs are mostly employed for decorative use in gardens
zebra crossings increase pedestrian accidents
many tanning lotions contain carcinogens
air-conditioning promotes the greenhouse effect
computers vastly increase the consumption of paper
better hygiene creates susceptibility to bacteria.
· Helicopters [INDEPENDENT]
New Media Web Surfing: Cookies and Privacy

From the New York Times, A Trail of Cookies? Cover Your Tracks provides useful suggestions and links to resources that can facilitate your anonymity on the web and assist in protecting your privacy from the onslaught of third party advertising.
· This Link was not provided by Media Dragon [NYTimes]

I strongly recommend bookmarking this site

Protesting the Spamvertisers

It's amazing how many familiar names from my e-mail box can be found on the listings at Clueless Mailers. It's a site devoted to UCE (unsolicited commercial e-mail). Clueless calls it spamvertising and offers ways to fight it. You'll find something the site has dubbed The Spamdemic Map which is a graphical depiction of the connections among spammers, and the Black List, a list of spamvertisers, the domain names they use, and the ISPs that look the other way. Perhaps most entertaining is the glossary, where you can find outthe definition of Joe Job, spamhaus, listpimp, and more.
NSW Liberals

Like capital punishment some Liberal Party members do not seem to make voters suffer enough.
· All for ourselves, and nothing for the party [SMH]

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Language This Next-Generation Dictionary Provides a Global Tapestry of

For those who love words, here's a grand, global feast.
Nearly two decades ago, Princeton University psychology professor George Miller needed a decent computerized dictionary to help devise experimental tests to determine how children's brains learn language.

I said 'I'll make my own dictionary,' recalled Miller, 81. So Miller got a small government grant and a stack of dictionaries and began typing in all the nouns. His wife took the adjectives, and a colleague took the verbs. With that, WordNet and the next generation of dictionaries were born, according to many linguists around the world.
Instead of just listing the words and their definitions, Miller then launched a worldwide project to show how every word is linked to another. For example, type in the word "tree" and you'll get not only the definition, synonyms, and antonyms but also the hypernyms (a tree is a kind of what?), meronyms (what are the parts of a tree?), and more.

WordNet now links over 138,838 English words in hundreds of
thousands of different ways. Linguists at universities around the world are creating online dictionaries modeled after WordNet, in more than a dozen languages, and meeting through the Global WordNet Association.
Their goal? To develop WordNets for every language and link them in one vast digital trellis of words that allows computers to provide instant, accurate translations.
It's the golden fleece of natural language processing -- a way for a machine to translate where humans can't.

· WarofWords [Cogsci]
Ignorance Edenic World

In a steady-state, Edenic world, such ignorance could be bliss. But Earth, peopled by people, is nothing like that. A decade ago, Wilson wrote in Science that one-fifth or more of all species might vanish within 30 years.
· Science [Harvard]

Ideas Libraries

BBC Online describes a new library in London that's calling itself an Idea Store:
The word library is set to fade from our vocabulary - but not because we've fallen out of love with books. Today's libraries are being made over as "idea stores", complete with cafés, crèches and multi-media offerings.
· Battles of Ideas [News]
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Economy NZ

New Zealand ought to be one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, a dynamic magnet for ambitious people looking for a better life. In reality...
· People Reality [PolicyReview]
Success, President John. F. Kennedy famously said, has many fathers. Defeat is an orphan.

Truth Hurts

On EartH we're all fools for letting things get this bad
· Earth To US [TomPain]

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

From Cold River to Cold Shot.
· The Blog Bar [SMH]

Speaking of Cold Shot Daily Czech

I hope this blog soon becomes your source for daily interesting news, comments and observations from Czech Republic. The author is a newspaper columnist with 5-year previous experience in TV news reporting and former U.S. high school student: that's why those observations of U.S. issues.
· Daily Bohemian Beer [CzechOut]
Whisper Propaganda posters remixed

Psssst...Secret Society of Spotters
· They do not hate the same people we do [SMH]
War & Peace Mitteleuropeans Caught in the middle

A soldier with the Czech chemical-war battalion in Kuwait wears a gas mask while awaiting an incoming missile.
· Chemical-warfare unit [PraguePost]
Ethics In Search of Ethics on the Internet

Today the Internet is critical to helping not just practitioners but also the broader public understand the ethics rules more thoroughly. Here is an overview of the growing number of sites bringing perspective to the profession's standards.
· Links [Abanet]
Europe Legal Issues

The EU launched a new free website providing news on legal issues and practices of member states. The site is accessible in eleven languages, including German, French, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese, English and Italian. (Thanks to DC for the link.)
See also this site from EuropeMedia Network, that provides daily updates focused on 11 telecom and Internet-related topics from EU member countries, and offers several search options: keywords, news by country, news by sector and headline news by country.

· Web [EU]
Altruism of Note
Budget-Strapped School Administrator Cuts Own Job -- Instead of Teacher's

In Dollar Bay, Michigan, school Superintendent Robert Barrette has issued a pink slip- to himself - to help deal with the district's growing budget deficits.
It's either that or cut teachers, Barrette said. Schools are about kids. If we cut teachers we hurt the quality of education, but eliminating an administrator won't hurt kids.

Barrette makes about $100,000 per year, including benefits, but will recommend his own termination at a school board meeting in March.
I cost money, Barrette said. I've looked at everything else but there's just not a lot to cut in our budget.
Dollar Bay has 19 teachers and 262 students. A principle will take on the superintendent's duties.
(From a story by the Associated Press)

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

If you are a medical practitioner Consider Bookmarking this:

A deadly respiratory infection, provisionally called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is spreading quickly around the world. Reports have come in from Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam, prompting the World Health Organization to issue a global alert for the first time in more than a decade.

Bioterrorism Biological, chemical weapons: Arm yourself with information

Bioterrorism. Germ warfare. Chemical agents. Sars All are names for a different type of warfare, one in which the enemy is invisible, microscopic and deadly.
Experts say the average U.S. resident's risk of exposure to biological and chemical agents is low. But knowing that doesn't necessarily allay your fears. You want to make sure you and your family are protected against anthrax or other bacteria, viruses and chemicals that might be used as weapons. Your first line of defense is not panicking, but arming yourself with information.
Microbiology and infectious disease experts say that the germs of greatest concern include those that cause anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism and tularemia.
Anthrax is caused by bacteria that normally reside in soil in the form of microscopic spores. The spores transform into the anthrax bacteria, which produce a toxin that can be fatal to humans and animals.

· Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [NLM]
sAddam’s Missing Apples - An Bilion $ update

Five years ago, in Amman, the capital of Jordan, eight wealthy Iraqis were savagely murdered at a dinner party in a Mafia style execution. The victims of this savage crime were front people for businesses secretly owned by Saddam Hussein. Like hundreds of other wealthy Arab businessmen around the world, they held cash and investments in trust for Saddam. But Saddam believed these Iraqis were double-crossing him, and he has only one means of control over this vast financial empire - fear.
So was it really necessary to invade Iraq - or could a determined effort to stem his sources of revenue have worked? We will never know. But as Jim Waley discovered, the fingerprints of many Western countries - including some among the Coalition of the Willing - are all over Saddam's bulging money box.
· First Blogger to expose the money trail will live in the virtual memory forever [SundayJW]
A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars....
-- Will Durant - (American historian - 1944)

Human Nature `Pork' for districts stashed all over

Alabama lawmakers saw all the signs last year of a budget crisis coming. Courts suspended jury trials, state prisons overflowed to dangerous levels and top leaders scrambled to avoid cutting millions from schools.
· Special projects [AL]
Literature The Wrongless Stuff

As to just what this ineffable quality was. . .well, it obviously involved bravery. But it was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life. . .any fool could do that. . . . No, the idea. . .seemed to be that a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment--and then to go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day. . . . There was a seemingly infinite series of tests. . .a dizzy progression of steps and ledges. . .a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even--ultimately, God willing, one day--that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men's eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself.