Saturday, October 18, 2003
Friday, October 17, 2003
"...the Senate designated nearly half of the reconstruction aid as a loan, to be repaid by Iraq unless its foreign creditors forgive 90 percent of the debts incurred under Saddam Hussein. "
My question is whether the Iraqi governing council will have the authority to decline the loan. Let's hope.
From the Olympian:
OLYMPIA -- When students in Olympia elementary schools pick bits of lettuce from their salads, cafeteria workers don't lament the waste. They ring up the Morton farmer who produces about 20 percent of the salad greens served in the organic salad bars throughout the school district. Salad farmer Susan Moser is more than happy to adjust the mix to please young palates.
That flexibility, not to mention intimacy with its suppliers, is one reason the Olympia School District is being recognized for its efforts to bring farm-fresh produce to its cafeterias. The salad bars were offered first at Lincoln Elementary school, then at Pioneer and Boston Harbor. Since Oct. 1, every Olympia elementary offers students the choice of a salad bar lunch.
Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture singled out Olympia for its effort to buy fresh produce from local farmers. USDA officials and their state-level counterparts spent the day at Lincoln to learn more about the program and how it might be implemented elsewhere.
Paul Flock, food services director, said a fortunate lineup of conditions led the district down the organic path. For one, the district was interested in nutritious foods and doing its part to address the obesity epidemic. Second, the federal government increased the reimbursement rate for school meals, which generated $15,000 to pay for more expensive organic fare. Third, and most important, an active parent, Vanessa Ruddy, wanted to see it happen and marshaled support for healthy options at Lincoln.
"We want to make sure what children are seeing in their classrooms, they're seeing in their lunchrooms," Flock said Wednesday as federal and state agriculture officials spent the day studying what makes Lincoln special.
Flock said the federal money, along with savings the district gleaned by not serving dessert, gave him some financial flexibility. The district spent nearly 2 percent less on fresh produce in the first year, and the overall cost of serving lunches increased less than a half of 1 percent, or about 5 cents a lunch.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by five years of civil war. Last month, a UN peacekeeping brigade took over security responsibilities in the eastern part of the country in the town of Bunia. Ever since then, the streets there have been relatively quiet, but The World¹s Amy Costello discovered that peace beyond the outskirts of Bunia remains elusive.
Commentary - Monopoly should be more realistic
The 2003 National Monopoly Championships is underway, with contestants boarding an Amtrak train, dubbed the "Reading Railroad." On Saturday, the train pulls into Atlantic City, with the final round played at a Boardwalk casino. Commentator and humorist Tim Bedore wonders if it's time for an update. Here's one: Instead of giving the winner just $15,140 -- the total amount of money in a standard game -- today's kids should play for billions of dollars. "Let's make their game experience comparable to what's happening in the real world," says Bedore. And, if you land on "Go To Jail," you should, well, go to jail. "How else are we going to teach business ethics…and civic responsibility," says Bedore. "The business schools sure don't seem to be doing it."
Washington - Defying a muscled lobbying effort by President George W. Bush to get Congress to grant Iraq $20.3 billion for reconstruction, bipartisan senators yesterday narrowly forced a change to make some of that money a loan.
UNITED NATIONS - The United States won its biggest victory in Iraq since the toppling of Saddam Hussein as the UN Security Council unanimously approved a new resolution Thursday that opens the way for increased international help with reconstruction and peacekeeping. After standing firm against attempts by France, Russia and Germany to set deadlines for surrendering power to an Iraqi interim government, Washington secured endorsement of its draft, which leaves the U.S.- and British-led coalition in control of the country until a handover is "practicable." Even Syria, the only Arab nation on the Security Council and a staunch opponent of the U.S.-led war, voted in favour of the resolution.
The vote gives international sanction to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq by saying coalition forces are serving as a multinational force under U.S. command. This is aimed at helping a number of countries overcome domestic opposition to joining the coalition, and could lead to their contributing troops to help stabilize the country. The draft also makes Iraqi reconstruction an international priority by calling on all countries to make "substantial pledges" of cash at a major donors' conference in Madrid next week.
...France, Russia and Germany, which had opposed the war, told the United States not to expect new commitments from them beyond any they have already made. In a joint statement, they said the resolution failed to give the United Nations a bigger role in Iraq's political transition or speed up the transfer or authority to Iraqis. They said they endorsed the resolution, however, "in the spirit of unity.''
In an even bigger blow for Washington, Pakistan said it was not prepared to commit troops at this time despite also having supported the resolution as one of the Security Council's members.
...Canada has already pledged $300 million for Iraqi humanitarian needs and reconstruction, and has already allocated $100 million of that amount.
For now, Ottawa is not expected to pledge more at Madrid, but a Canadian official said this week that the option of doing so remains open.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Interesting piece from a gossip columnist; Check it out. - Barry:
This one is way under the radar, and, but for serendipity, I would never had caught it.
On the way hone tonite, Kitty, a fellow sufferer of the LIRR, showed me this little tidbit in (of all places) Liz Smith's gossip column in Long Island Newsday. Smith is a catty old biddy who's usually more interested in what celeb was out with who else's wife, whether this or that famous person has had more or less plastic surgery than Cher, and which of the Fab5 on Queer Eye for Straight Guy is not really gay; That's right -- she actually "in-ed" somebody.
Y'all know, the really important stuff.
But Liz surprises and amuses in today's Newsday, waxing eloquent (for Liz at least) on matters of great import to the body polity:
"IF I WRITE here that Team Bush reportedly commissioned private polls indicating that Dick Cheney is a drag on the GOP ticket and that the Halliburton connection doesn't help either, I suppose many of you will just chalk it up to my "liberal media bias." But no. I'm not the one who said this. It comes from The American Conservative, a magazine put out by Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopoulos. (These guys say they started their mag to "save the right wing of the Republican Party.")
Taki and Pat firmly believe Cheney has to go, writing: "Key House Democrats have already called for the resignations of [Donald] Rumsfeld and [Paul] Wolfowitz and are right to do so. But President Bush needs a more thorough housecleaning if his administration is to right itself."
Why not Condoleezza Rice? Here's their answer? "Rice only makes sense if you believe the administration's foreign policy has been effective, but she is, to say the least, no Henry Kissinger."
And that's what conservatives are saying. Wow!"
-Liz Smith, Newsday, Oct 15, 2003
A Beauty Adds Brawn
By the by, I've been all over The American Conservative magazine on line -- to verify that the gossip columnist is correct (no luck). I either have to buy Buchanan's rag, or hope they post more material on-line soon.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
70,000 workers on strike.
Carter Wright at the Joe Kenehan Center has an excellent post.
I take the full responsibility. I sent out 14 invitations and recieved a mere 3 replies with 2 pledges to participate and 1 declining because she was too busy, but also thought the question was vague and confusing. One of the two who pledged to participate is MIA. In the first forum, I sent 7 inivites with 4 RSVP's of whom 3 pledged and did participate and 2 more party crashers. For second forum, I sent out something like 20 invites with 10 RSVP's and 7 participants. So clearly, I blew the Invitations this time around. I think it started with the spammish looking Subject: line of "Invitation" instead of something a little more specific. I couldn't think of anything brief with a good hook and I was tired and harried and said, "Oh well." After sending the 8th invite I thought to myself, "This is a mistake." I think I was right.
Then there was the question:
This week I am asking female bloggers:
Is this - http://188.8.131.52/mp3/dsico/dsico_heartof_e_missyvsblondie.mp3 - feminism? Lyrics can be found here: http://www.anysonglyrics.com/lyrics/m/missyelliot/workit.htm .
Those who feel themselves gravitating towards an essay about the relevance of feminism in 2003 should answer this question:
What do you make of this - http://184.108.40.206/mp3/dsico/dsico_heartof_e_missyvsblondie.mp3
I'm not hosting a forum on the relevance of feminism (this week).
STILL A FEW BUGS IN THE SYSTEM
So it's a little vague and the stricture on not going off on a tangent about "feminism" might have been a little annoying. On one hand I wanted to folks to bat it around however they wanted and have some fun, suprise me. Hence the vagueness. On the other hand, if you knew which right wing women were invited to participate, you'd know why I was trying to head anti-feminist screeds off at the pass and get back to the politics of the song. Hence the annoying stricture.
Anyway, enough of my hemming and hawing. Like I said, we lucked out. Our one response is from Belle of John and Belle Have A Blog. A fine, fine writer, who nailed the spirit of the question:
This week Marc Brazeau, that multimedia Wobbly of Blogonaut, invited me to participate in a group blog on the topic of this dsico bootleg of Missy Elliot's "Workit" and Blondie's "Heart of Glass." (Dsico has a blog now, too, BTW.) You can read the lyrics to "Workit" here, and those to "Heart of Glass" here.
Specifically, he wanted to know if I thought it was feminism, but not if I was going to say a lot of boring things about politics. Well, I'm pretty sure that this bootleg can't be feminism in toto, since I think there has to be stuff in there about equal rights and Susuan B. Anthony and shit, and not just synthy beats backing up raps about needing to shave your chocha. But is it feminist? Well, yeah. Again, this is a sort of easy question. There are indubitably a few really straight-laced feminists in the world who actively disapprove of women flaunting their heterosexy abundance and so on. Dworkin, etc. But let's be honest, there aren't that many, and most feminists, even the fire-breathing ones, feel faintly embarassed by them. It's worth noting, I suppose, that this song has more cred coming from the divine Miss E than it would if, say, L'il Kim were the one inviting us to take off her thong. Missy's invitation to "get your hair did", get drunk, and become convinced you "look like a Halle Berry poster" has a sassy, coming from your hot-but-slightly-chubby friend appeal; if Li'l Kim was telling me all this it would seem sort of skanky. And, it's also worth noting that killer rhymes coming from a woman who's also an innovative producer, etc, etc. are welcome in the "life ain't nothing but money and fucking bitches" world of hip-hop.
(As a side note, I love Ice Cube, but I had a chilling moment on the NY subway back in the day when I saw a little 8-year-old black kid dancing in the aisle, rapping aloud to his headphones, "and if she cries rape..we got the little hooker on tape". Um, "Giving up the Nappy Dugout" is still a good song, though.)
I think the best thing about the Missy song is the use of the word "cinnabon" to refer to...well, pretty obvious, no? No one eats jelly rolls anymore. I have made them a few times, but they are an underwhelming dessert. (Pace Peg Leg Howell:/Jelly-roll, jelly-roll, ain't so hard to find./Ain't a baker shop in town bake 'em brown like mine/I got a sweet jelly, a lovin' sweet jelly roll,/If you taste my jelly, it'll satisfy your worried soul) Now that I have a child I'm hoping to hype some of these childhood foods more, because I enjoy them, but the plain fact is that jelly rolls don't have much cultural currency. I formally declare cinnabon to be the 21st-century equivalent of jelly roll, and look forward to hearing lots of songs called "Cinnabon Blues" and "Your Momma Done Taken Her Cinnabon Back Home" and so on. I'm definitely working cinnabon into the mix.
Actually, the funniest thing about this whole thing for me has been learning the real lyrics to "Heart of Glass". "Mucho mistrust/Love's gone behind"?! OK, now, you're going to laugh, but my whole life I thought it said "Don't mistrust/Love from behind." Stop laughing. STOP. Yeah, Freudian whatever. Draw what inferences you will.
And as a remix? It's good. Regular readers will know I prefer dsico's Missy Elliot/Joy Division remix "Love Will Freak Us" (And there's a movie now). I think that the Blondie drags a little; it has been audibly slowed to accomodate Missy's vocals. Still, very nice. Gold Star.
I agree with Belle about "Love Will Freak Us", but that song wasn't provocative enough to build a forum around (no cracks about my failure to build this forum). You can visit Dsico at his homepage which is also organized as a blog or go straight to his catalogue for more boots and other tracks.
Belle gives me a well deserved semantic ribbing about how I worded the question. "Is this an example of feminism?" sounds a little stilted. And "what are the politics of this and are they productive for women?' hits it on the head but is a little leading.
I have to disagree that it was an easy question. You'd think. And hope. But I know liberated women who certainly don't subsribe to the neo-puritanical feminism of AD, who would feel that the song was degrading. I would suspect that their reaction has a bit of unexamined residual racism bound up in it. The politics of the song were what I was hoping to unpack.
The blogger who pledged a response and bailed has been in the middle of selling her house, so I stretched the deadline and sent a gentle reminder. Well she's spent plenty of time the last two days sticking up for Rush Limbaugh, so who knows what she would have made of the song.
For myself, I love it. But it's far too easy for men to slide into an Esquire-esque "Hey, what have we been trying to tell you all along?" reaction. Smart, confident women who want to get it on? What could be better than that?
Anyway, I like to thank Belle again. If you aren't a regular reader of their blog you ought to be. In fact, though I'm always looking for reasons to drop blogs from my margin, (I have a thing about big sloppy blogrolls that are no help in navigating the blogosphere) this reminds me that I've been meaning to add them. Which I will do now.
For more Bootlegs check the margin under: bootleg of the week
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
ECOWAS Chairman, President J.A. Kufuor and his colleague African Leaders, UN Officials and observers from the International Community yesterday witnessed another promising stage in Liberia's reconstruction process as the new National Transitional Government of Liberia under Charles Gyude Bryant was sworn in.
...The President, his spokesman said is hopeful that beefing up the 3,500 UN peacekeeping troops (UNMIL) to 15,000 is vital to preventing a possible outbreak of renewed hostility in Liberia.
Kwabena Agyepong maintained that ECOWAS under President Kufuor's Chairmanship had spared no effort in the search for peace in Liberia, and the Akosombo and Accra Peace Talks were a clear manifestation of the pursuit of peace which culminated first in the June 17, 2003 Ceasefire Agreement and adoption of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in August 18, 2003.
Under the terms of the Liberia Peace Agreement, Gyude Bryant's two-year National Transitional Government will oversee the implementation of political and rehabilitation programmes, promote reconciliation and set the stage for the conduct of free, fair, and democratic elections in October 2005 and subsequent inauguration of a new government t in January 2006.
...United Nations peacekeepers are on high alert and security is tight after a shootout between rebels and government supporters in Monrovia two weeks ago. In a reminder of the devastation wrought by the fighting, the guests were sitting on plastic chairs because the parliament building had recently been looted.
And the sombre ceremony was punctuated by the sound of these chairs breaking and people falling to the floor.
"If there's no peace in Liberia, there's no peace in West Africa," said President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, which has contributed the bulk of the peacekeeping force in Liberia.
The leaders of the two rebel groups did not attend the ceremony but both factions were represented by the ministers they have nominated to be part of the new government.
About 45,000 fighters, half of them children, must still be disarmed.
Ethiopian troops have undergone human rights training for their peacekeeping mission in Liberia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.
The 45 commanding officers underwent training at the Bilate Training Centre after a request by the Ethiopian National Defence Forces. Some 3,000 junior officers and regular troops also underwent training on the basic principles of the Law of Armed Conflict (LoAC), the ICRC added.
The law of armed conflict, while not prohibiting war, rather spells out a balance between military necessity and the demands of humanity.
From the Guardian:
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwanese Foreign Minister Eugene Chien told lawmakers Monday that he offered to resign after Liberia cut diplomatic ties with the island. Chien's comments came one day after Liberia announced that it was switching official recognition to China.
"I told the premier and the president that I wanted to resign,'' Chien said in a question-and-answer session in the legislature. The Presidential Office did not immediately say whether it would accept Chien's resignation. It's a Taiwanese tradition for officials to offer to step down after major setbacks or policy failures. The resignations are often rejected.
Liberia's announcement was a big blow to Taiwan's efforts to keep its diplomatic allies.
Taiwan seeks formal ties to bolster its claim that the island is a sovereign nation and not part of China. Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949.
Monrovia, Oct.14, GNA- ECOWAS Chairman President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday said the organization was determined to galvanise the energies and the resources in the Sub-Region for development rather than dissipate them on civil strife and conflicts.
He said conflicts and civil strife had seriously undermined the efforts of ECOWAS to ensure long-term stability, prosperity and peace, adding, " we cannot win the war on hunger and poverty until we win the war against conflicts".
President Kufuor was speaking at the inauguration of the 76-Member National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) and the swearing-in of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) under the chairmanship of Mr Charles Gyude Bryant, and his Vice-Chairman Mr Wesley Momoh Johnson in Monrovia. The ceremony was the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the factions in Accra on August 18, this year. The NTGL will manage the transitional process of the war-ruined country for two years to pave the way for general election in October 2005.
The elected government would assume power on January 6, 2006. The Agreement provides for a general framework for the peace process including the composition of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
ECOWAS set October 14, for the inauguration of the transitional government to take over from the incumbent Head of State, President Moses Zeh Blah.
Odd that in a country that is an even bigger basket case than Iraq, they can have such clearly defined goals and timetables.
Monday, October 13, 2003
The premature deaths in the past year of Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer ought to be enough to make the most pious among us angry at The Man Upstairs. In our prefabricated popular culture, these three stood out not only as artistic pioneers but also as icons of uncompromised integrity. They reached into our souls because they spoke from their own...
For myself, this year started when I got into a cab for the airport at four in the morning to fly back east for Christmas. Out the blue the cab driver asked, "Do you like the Clash?". "Yeah, there my favorite band, actually." "Joe Strummer died today." "Goddamn." "Yeah, I just wanted to talk to somebody about it." "Yeah, thanks man. Thanks for telling me."
Waiting at the gate I called an old college roommate because I needed to talk to somebody about it. I only got his voicemail. I was sad and angry because I knew that we had missed out on nearly ten years of great music because he had been locked in a battle with his label.
The music on 1999's rock solid Rock Art and the X-Ray Style had been written over the course of that period and their is no telling what he'd have accomplished if he had been able to cut and move. Tony Adams, Sandpaper Blues, X-Ray Style, Nitcomb, Forbidden City and Willesden to Cricklewood stand amongst his best work. I spent almost ten years looking in the soundtrack section of every used record store I entered for a vinyl or cd copy of the Walker soundtrack album until I finally picked up the vinyl for $20 at PDQ records in Tucson in 1999. I would have paid $100. That album is one of the great lost masterpieces of the twentieth century. He mastered and made fresh latin idioms long before Ry Cooder ever did his thing.
When I finally caught up with my friend Brad I said, "When I heard he was dead I felt like the sum total of human intelligence had been diminished in an infintessimal but somehow measurable and noticeable way." "That's exactly how I felt."
Posts on Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon.
Walker Evans photo
ARMONK, NY—In a move hailed by corporation owners as a forward-thinking humanitarian gesture, IBM emancipated more than 8,000 wage slaves from its factories and offices Monday.
"You are all free, free to go!" said IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano to the 600 men and women freed from the corporation's Essex Junction, VT, location. "No more must you live a bleak, hand-to-mouth existence, chained to your desks in a never-ending Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 cycle. Your future is wide-open. Now, go!"
The 600 newly freed workers cleared out their desks and were escorted from the building within an hour. In spite of Palmisano's jubilance, the emancipated wage slaves were strangely quiet as they filed into the parking lot, carrying their work possessions in cardboard boxes.
"I'll miss them," said Jim Tallman, manager of IBM's plant in Rochester, MN.
I try to see the other side of things. I may look at a set of policies and think they are bad for the common good. I may look at them and see them as a craven and cynical sop to vested interests. But I also try to think, "OK, these guys have a different philosophy, a different set of assumptions. Let me try to see things from their point of view to understand how the public good may be served." I'm not a supply sider, but I understand the argument and why reasonable people might sincerely believe that supply side economics serves the public good.
But with this administration, especially on the environment; when I see things like this:
The Bush administration is proposing far-reaching changes to conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries.
Giving Americans access to endangered animals, officials said, would feed the gigantic U.S. demand for live animals, skins, parts and trophies, and generate profits that would allow poor nations to pay for conservation of the remaining animals and their habitat.
This and other proposals that pursue conservation through trade would, for example, open the door for American trophy hunters to kill the endangered straight-horned markhor in Pakistan; license the pet industry to import the blue fronted Amazon parrot from Argentina; permit the capture of endangered Asian elephants for U.S. circuses and zoos; and partially resume the trade in African ivory. No U.S. endangered species would be affected.
Conservationists think it's a bad idea. "It's a very dangerous precedent to decide that wildlife exploitation is in the best interest of wildlife," said Adam Roberts, a senior research associate at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute, an advocacy group for endangered species.
...then I can only think that they are doing it out of spite. I think they hate environmentalists so much that they dream up ferocious crap like this to A) just to keep the environmental movement so angry that it can't think straight B) keep the movement so busy it can't think straight. I can't imagine that there is anything more subtle behind these proposals than "Let's really stick it to these goody two shoes douche bags."
Am I wrong?
I mean these guys govern like fucking Simon Bar Sinister.
Thanks to Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest for the link.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
By Matt Bai
The ideology of Republican revolution was cooked up decades ago
in right-wing think tanks. By copying that model, John Podesta aims
to find an idea big enough to save the Democratic Party
INTERVIEW: GROVER NORQUIST
By Terry Gross from Fresh Air
Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. He's credited
with helping President Bush formulate his administration's tax plan.
INTERVIEW: SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD
From the World Press Review
Early on Sunday, Oct. 5, Israel bombed what it said was a terrorist
training camp in Syria. Two days later, London’s pan-Arab Al-Hayat
newspaper featured an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TED WILLIAMS NOW?
by Richard Ben Cramer from Esquire, June 1986.
The classic profile of the great Bosox hitter.
MATTHEW BARNEY VERSUS DONKEY KONG
By Wayne Bremser from Game Girl Advance
Wayne Bremser compares the properties of Donkey Kong
to the aesthetics of Matthew Barney's provocative film, Cremaster 3.
THE MATHEMATICS OF POCKET CHANGE...
BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE 18 CENTS?
By Alan Burdick
By one estimate, $10.5 billion in coins just sits around in people's
homes gathering dust. Jeffrey Shallit has a suggestion. A mathematician
at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, what the United States needs,
he says, is an 18-cent piece. He calls it the Elvis.
HAVE YOU SEEN JEFF MAGNUM?
By Kevin Giffiths from Atlanta Creative Loafing
Neutral Milk Hotel's bandleader built a faith on the transcendent
power of music. Then, when he needed it most, he gave up on it.
Mark Zingarelli's Lunch Counter Diaries
from No Depression
By Bill White from Pig Iron Malt
HOW DO GECKO LIZARDS UNSTICK THEMSELVES
AS THEY MOVE ACROSS A SURFACE
By Kellar Autumn from Scientific American
NEXT YEAR COUNTRY
By Bill Fricke from Double Take
Our correspondent spent time in North Dakota with fourth generation
farmers to find out how some things never change.
CROQUET HITS BACK IN SUMMER TIME ROW
By Tom Fordyce from the BBC
It started when a BBC commentator compared cricket's decline
to "croquet - the summer sport that was" and continued with
Croquet Association secretary Nigel Graves springing to the defense.
INTERACTIVE FEATURE: FRANKFURT AUTOSHOW
Mark Landler highlights the show for the New York Times
NEW YORK CITY COPS
By the Strokes
Edited by Carlton Doby from McSweeney's
Don't forget to read the comics over in the margin.
Thanks to John at John & Belle Have A Blog for the Jeff Magnum story.