Sunday, August 31, 2003
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Friday, August 29, 2003
politics > iraq > sarcasm
...The situation in Iraq can no longer be tolerated. Iraq is a failed state. And as Wolfowitz declared shortly after 9/11, America must act to end failed states.
Ambassador Bremer must be given an ultimatum to hand over all foreign terrorists, including Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda fighters, and to cede power to the democratic will of the Iraqi people, or else the international community will act with force to remove him...
... Nor will it ever exist.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
politics > russian > oligarchs
This is a rather convoluted story. Russian ex-oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky (Gazprom magnate and Media-Most owner), after rubbing Putin the wrong way was relieved of his ownership of NTV by the Russian government. He fled the country, was arrested in Spain where the judges refused to extradite him to Russia.
Two days ago he was arrested in Athens on an interpol warrant. The Russian government, after being officially informed of Gusinsky's arrest, is again requesting his extradition, although if the Greek daily "Eleftherotypia" is to be believed, not with too much fervour [linked article is in Greek]. The same article claims that the Greek government is under pressure from US and Israeli circles (Gusinsky is an Israeli citizen, and has other ties with the country) to release him.
No one has any clue as to what Gusinsky was doing in Greece.
[Update Aug. 27. Greek newspaper Ta Nea, has published a letter from Rep. (D) Tom Lantos adressed to Greek Foreign Minister G. Papandreou, expressing "concern" about his "good friend Vladimir Gussinsky" and pretty much requesting his release...]
[Udate Aug. 29. VG is, as expected released on bail...]
The law, in its majestic impartiality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
corporate > crime > pays
The quote is attributed to Anatole France, offered by fellow MeFite George Spiggot, commenting on this story.
Monday, August 25, 2003
politics > selling out everything to private corporations
Matt Taibbi is probably the most interesting journalist in the English language right now. I first ran across him on the exile, an american emigre publication in Moscow. He is now writing regular columns (that apparently due to the paper's very poor web-indexing cannot be seen as a list) for the NY Press.
He seems to be one of the few to notice these links.
[Update Aug. 29: National Grid mentioned in MT's article as the Parent company of NiMo, is involved in yet another blackout...]
Software > patents > gratuitous
The Proposal for a software patent directive, which will be submitted to the European Parliament for plenary debate and subsequent decision on September 1st, is giving rise to another wave of protests. Various groups in Belgium and elsewhere are mobilising for a rally in Brussels on August 27th and are calling on web administrators to temporarily block their web sites.
More on gratuitous software patents in the EU.
More on the Eurolinux alliance.
illusions > digital
Applied unreality, or how come models have perfect skins... Example of various image enhancing technologies at work:This is how the real Jamie Lee Curtis looks like.
And it's not only people: visit Greg's digital retouching portfolio for more digital shape-shifting.
Of course you can mutate yourselves and your friends as well with Mutant at Protozoo.
politics > iraq
Robert Fisk provides his insight on the attacks against the UN HQs in Baghdad, and on "Why the US Needs to Blame Anyone But Locals". Relevant articles from Counterpunch: Marjorie Cohn and Virginia Tilley.
In the meantime stay tuned to what's happenning in Iraq with some local perspective (sadly missing from western media reporting) provided by Salam Pax (related photoblog), Riverbend, Gee, (also see Gee's photoblog).
Salam Pax recommends Iraq Today, for daily english language news from Iraq. I visit Occupation Watch for more of the same. Oh, and I can't recommend Christopher Allbritton's Back In Iraq 2.0 enough.
The Intelligence Squad has a few intelligent things to say about the Iraq debacle as well...
Last but not least: John Pilger has a few unkind yet justified things to say about the occupation forces.
Red Wine and Olive Oil are good for you
health > mine
Heh, yet another scientific study extolls the virtues of the Meditteranean diet.
From the BBC story:
The scientists, from Harvard Medical School and Biomol research laboratory in Philadelphia, have identified resveratrol as the key ingredient in red wine.
This molecule is abundant in red wine. It gives red wine its anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties. They have found that this molecule can influence genes that have been linked to lifespan in yeast.
They found that quercetin, which is abundant in olive oil, has a similar effect.
In particular, they affect those genes that have been shown to extend life as a result of a calorie-restricted diet by enabling cells to live longer.
In the case of resveratrol it was found to extend the life of some yeast cells by as much as 70%.
Judging by the quantities of red wine I have recently consumed (and just wait til they start studying raki) I'm going to live 70% longer then expected (hey that's what? an extra month?)... Damn. I knew I shouldn't have quit smoking.
Friday, August 8, 2003
"I know it's wrong to pretend you can forecast complex economic outcomes with three-decimal accuracy. I know it's wrong to reduce the whole of the human endeavour to the endless pursuit of material prosperity. Yet still I yearn for economics. I hunger for the prestige that comes with being the only social science to regularly make The National. I savour the smug power of belonging to that exclusive sect of financial mystics who understand the magical circuits of money and commodities."
Politics > Middle East > Iran
There is an incredible proliferation of Iranian weblogs, that, to me, indicates a passion for political action and is certainly related to the student uprisings in the country. The diversity, the maturity and the eloquence of many of these bloggers is such that it's surely a promising sign for Iran itself... A few favorites (but I still have only skimmed the surface!):
The eyeranian, Human first, then proud Iranian, Free Thoughts, where's MY elephant? and Persian Blogger.
Politics > Middle East > Iran
A member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran publishes scathing critiques of Political Islam and is banned from the listserv by pseudo-liberal wankers in Canada (not her first clash with such opinions though), thus exposing a major weakness of the multi-cultural approach: it becomes an apologetic for authoritarianism as it sees "other cultures" as static and unitary, contradictionless. This way they become defenders of every form of conservatism, backwardness and, of course, authoritarian political power and economic interests that hide behind the "traditionalist" mask. Note the rationale behind the decision:
"This article is in direct response to the Canadian Council for Refugees' decision to ban me from their e-mail listserv because my writings... critiquing Islam and political Islam were alleged to 'denigrate a whole group of people' and 'could encourage a level of intolerance against all Muslim people'."
The Worker-communist Parties of Iran and Iraq, are, from what I gather, Trotskyite or Trotskyite leaning groups (like the Socialist Worker in Britain or SEK in Greece), that are fiercly secular and anti-occupation, although from what I understand they are not advocating armed resistance in Iraq yet, but rather political action. Their rhetoric and analysis is, needless to say (think SEK), outlandish but they are certainly groups that seem to have their heart in the right place.
They are not to be confused with the "orthodox" (although de-stalinified) communist parties of Iraq and Iran (which are secular as well of course).
Politics > EU
Euro Space: From Wired magazine, a different perspective on the European Constitution... Excerpt:
The overblown rhetoric directed at the "American Empire" misses the fact that the US reach is shallow and narrow. The lonely superpower can bribe, bully, or impose its will almost anywhere in the world - but when its back is turned, its potency wanes. The strength of the EU, conversely, is broad and deep: Once sucked into its sphere of influence, countries are changed forever. Europe is a state of mind that cannot be contained by traditional boundaries.
Also Bruce Sterling chimes in with his views. Different perspectives for a document that is passing us by in Europe almost invisibly.
via MeFi and kliuless' comment.
The strange case of Leili Helms
International affairs > Afghanistan
Leili (or Leila) Helms' case is unique. Niece of ex-CIA director Jesse Helms, and of Afghan descent, she was the de facto spokesperson for the Taliban in the United States before Sept. 11. This is a story about her career as a Taliban apologist, published in the Village Voice, before the WTC bombings; excerpt:
"Early this year, the Taliban's ambassador at large, Hashami, a young man speaking perfect English, met with CIA operations people and State Department reps, Helms says. At this final meeting, she says, Hashami proposed that the Taliban hold bin Laden in one location long enough for the U.S. to locate and destroy him. The U.S. refused, says Helms, who claims she was the go-between in this deal between the supreme leader and the feds.
A U.S. government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, made clear that the U.S. is not trying to kill bin Laden but instead wants him expelled from Afghanistan so he can be brought to justice. Acknowledging that Laili Helms does a lot of lobbying on behalf of the Taliban, this source said Helms does not speak to the Taliban for the U.S."
Post 11-9-2001, she is no longer simply an oddity:
"Before the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, her support of the Taliban was startling to some, but nobody described it as treasonous.
That has changed. For almost three months, Ms.Helms has lived under siege in her suburban house in Bergen County, N. J.",
she still insisted on the same point though:
'To this day, she argues that the Taliban were not in league with him but that their leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, was too proud and primitive to break tribal rules of hospitality or surrender to American demands.
"Everyone I talked to in the Taliban wanted to hand him over," she said. "But Omar is an Afghan hillbilly who deals with the world at a tribal level, and the United States never really went down to his level."'
In their book "La Verite Interdite" ("The Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden"), Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie make a few mentions about Leili Helms:
"Between March 18 and March 23, Muhammad Omar's itinerant ambassador and personal advisor, twenty-four-year-old Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi, mad a bvrief trip to the United States. His visit came just after the Taliban's destruction of the centuries-old Buddha statues in Bamiyan. Despite the tense context, Helms organized several meetings for the young Afghan dignitary, including ones at the Directorate of Intelligence at the CIA, and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. Even better, Helms got her client interviews on two influencial media channels, ABC and National Public Radio. This was a perfect opportunity to improve the Taliban's image, and thus facilitate negotiations.""
The latest public sign of her that I could find was this interview of hers in the Spring 2002 issue of BardPolitik[warning: pdf file]. In it she analyses a lot of what has transpired in Afghanistan these past two years and the implications on US policy. Very interesting.
Which brings me to the question: given that she was the westerner closest to the Taliban (who, she still insists BTW, had nothing to do with Sept. 11) how come she was a side story rather than a main source in the whole Afghanistan coverage these past few years. I mean, here we have the niece of a former CIA chief for chrissakes, an insider supporting (for her own inexplicable, no matter how she defends them) reasons, a medieval misogynistic regime, that was considered responsible for the largest attack on American soil in history and she is (for all practical purposes ignored by mainstream US media? Two articles in two years are hardly the sort of exposure one would expect for such a person...
You be the judge on whether her story is interesting...
Hi, I'm mihalis. This is a blog I keep to share stuff I find on the web and brief opinions on it, for the benefit of friends and whoever stumbles in here. It's not my first experience with blogging, but it's my first experience with personal blogging.
Anyhow, despite the fact that I'm Greek I will not post in Greek (OK I will post the occasional note in Greenglish if I have to), for the following three reasons:
1. For some reason when I write in greek in Blogger, it comes out as unreadable gibberish. This is probably manageable in the long run but for now it's absolutely restrictive.
2. A lot of the people I know don't read Greek.
3. Most of the stuff I will link to, will be in English due to the poverty of content of the Greek web.
Anyway here goes nothing...