Friday, February 27, 2004

ScienceDaily News Release: Researcher Successfully Vaccinates Some Patients Against Lung Cancer

science > good news
It seems that an effective vaccine treatment of an especially persistent form of lung cancer is in the works. I can think of quite a few smokers and ex-smokers who will be very happy.

Three patients with advanced stage lung cancer experienced complete remission of their disease lasting six months, 18 months and ongoing at 22 months. For two of these patients, prior treatment with chemotherapy had failed. One patient experienced a 30-percent decrease in the size of a lung nodule, and for seven patients, their disease remained stable and did not progress for a period ranging from almost five months to more than 28 months.

“These results are very promising for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, which is frequently resistant to chemotherapy,” Dr. Nemunaitis said. “We believe this study is the first time immune therapy has been the sole treatment associated with complete and durable regression of metastatic NSCLC lesions, particularly those lasting more than one year, as observed in two patients in our study.”

Via Baloney

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Thank you Mrs. Gun

politics > humanity > benefactors
Defending democracy:
A GCHQ translator sacked for revealing a secret e-mail has been cleared of a charge under the Official Secrets Act.
Katharine Gun, 29, from Cheltenham, claimed the e-mail was from US spies asking British officers to tap phones of nations voting on war against Iraq.
She walked free on Wednesday when the prosecution offered no evidence...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A Legacy of Lies

iraq > war > history forgotten
Since I've been reading all sorts of theories from US Democrats, about how the Iraq war would never have happenned if Gore were president - a small reminder:
"Intelligence agencies obviously exaggerated Iraq's WMD potential, and it's well known that they were egged on by their political masters in the Bush administration. But that's not the whole story. In fact, Bush's manipulation of Iraq intelligence was built on a foundation established during the late 1990's, when Bill Clinton was in the White House.
Faced with the need to justify an economically devastating and internationally unpopular embargo of Iraq, the Clinton administration engaged in a pattern of stretching and distorting weapons data to bolster their claim that Saddam Hussein was still hiding an illicit arsenal. The Clinton White House never used that 'intelligence' to push for an invasion of Iraq, as Bush so effectively did. But in its desperate quest to salvage a crumbling Iraq policy, the Clinton White House laid the groundwork for the deceptions of their successors."

Monday, February 23, 2004

Pentagon to Bush: climate change will destroy us

climate > disaster > impending
You have been warned. Although, to tell you the truth it does seem way overfetched. Still these Pentagon types... they should now, right? I mean judging from Iraq and all...

"A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents."

Thursday, February 19, 2004

European Union

politics > corporate > european
By Robin Blackburn; Le Monde diplomatique February 2004:

"European social institutions and aspirations for an independent role in world affairs are threatened by rampant United States' power, Anglo-Saxon economics and European Union enlargement. These are all long-term forces, but already have enough strength to paralyse European institutions and subject the continent internally to corporate-led globalisation and externally to US leadership, as the White House now calls its imperial role. This is not the Europe that the world needs.

Because the EU is now the only global entity with an economic weight and political potential equal to that of the US, it has in principle the best possibility of defying the US. This should not be a question of making Europe more like the US (a process that has already gone too far) but ensuring that Europe represents a different model, based on social justice, and that on the international stage it frees itself from the chariot wheels of President George Bush's policies of conquest..."

A voice in defense of the welfare state. Commendable - but can't we be more imaginative and ask for something beyond this? Something qualitatively more substantial is in order. The problem of course is that even this eminently reasonable and moderate Keynsianism is considered "radical" in the current political climate of malignant neoliberalism, that is plaguing this old fart of a continent.

This might be a tentative first step.

Monday, February 16, 2004

In case you're wondering what I talk about in my Greek blog...

translation > lost in'll still be left wondering. Systran is a greek automatic translation system, translating from and to five european languages to and from Greek. Greek->English is the third dropdown menu option (default is English ->Greek) and you're supposed to either enter a url or a piece of text in the textbox...

...So the results are far from impressive (actually they're hilarious) but AFAIK it's the only such service available on the web and a decent first step.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Censorship the eXile Way

politics > reality > manufacture
Mark Ames: a philosophical tract of great sincerity. Brutally accurate as always.

"...The other sort of censorship is harder to spot and much more cruel. It’s a matter of which stories get told or noticed in the first place, rather than fussing about the language in which they get told. Put it this way: how many things happened yesterday? and how many of those things made the nightly news? For starters, you probably didn’t. Yup, if you’re reading the eXile, it’s a good bet that nothing you did or ever will do made the news.

Your story is just too depressing. To make the news, your story has to be one of the consoling lies that a culture, any culture, tells itself to make the ordinary suckers’ lives seem bearable to them. If your bike is rearended at a stoplight and you spend the rest of your life tetraplegic, it’s not going to be on the news. It’s a big story to you, and it’s the kind of story total strangers enjoy hearing, if only out of morbid curiosity, but it won’t make the news. It’s too true. It’s not an exception..."

Friday, February 13, 2004

What the...? Greetings from a polar Athens.

bloody > cold

Downtown Athens is under a foot or two of frozen snow. This sort of thing didn't use to be frequent at all. In fact no blizzard this strong had struck Athens in the 20th century, until 2002. This, however, is the second time in two years this sort of phenomenon has happenned. Which is kind of worrying. In a global climate instability kinda way. I do hope its a weather fluke, but really, this sort of thing twice, is unprecedented.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Greek socialists and conservatives trade cadres as divisions fall

greece > carnival > political
"In one of the strangest twists in Greek politics in recent years, two former senior members of the New Democracy party, who were vilified by PASOK as the high priests of Greek Thatcherism, said yesterday that they were accepting the ruling Socialists' invitation for cooperation in the March 7 elections."

This isn't just a fluke either. This signifies the first time a growing trend in Europe is confirmed beyond the slightest doubt: The socialists are now visibly to the right of the Christian Democrats on issues concerning the economy. Both Manos and Andrianopoulos were indeed outspoken proponents of the most extreme neoliberalism.
The mutant Greek socialist X-men (probably the most corrupt political party in Europe) further transformed by their new leader - the heir to the throne of Papandreou - to a Lovecraftian monstrosity which one dreads to even lay eyes upon, are gathering a ragtag group of former leftists and staunch rightists in what can only be viewed as a coup against even the last remaining vestiges of political credibility in the country. The socialists can now be accurately described as the bastard offspring of an unholy union between Thatcher and Peron, with a chromosomal infusion of Hafez al-Assad for good measure.

The Carnival in Greece has officially begun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Insults ::: The Art of Insults

art > swearing
The perfect insult resource, this handy website allows you among other things to swear in 133 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu.
Includes a Study of Swearing in Modern English and an automatic insult generator. The sites offers a downloadable Shakespearean insult generator for free.
Oh, and as people regularly tell me: Futue te ipsum et caballum tuum...
(but its greek pages - and i assure you i am an authority on the matter - while generally correct and rich, contain some rather uncommon exotica and some downright ungrammatical entries.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Parmalat's Fall

business > family
Kavaljit Singh details the fall of mighty Parmalat:

"...Although the detailed investigations into the operations of Parmalat are still going on, the initial reports suggest that the collapse was triggered by murky financial dealings by its top management. The collapse was not an outcome of a typically cash-flow problem, as faced by many companies. Rather the top management deliberately used a variety of methods to misappropriate funds including use of complex financial instruments (particularly derivatives) and siphoning funds through its subsidiaries, Bonlat and Epicurum, located in Cayman Islands. The global structure of company came in handy for the top management to conceal certain losses..."

So I wonder, is this just Berlusconistan or does it demonstrate the deep roots of corruption in European businesses in general?

Monday, February 9, 2004

Straight outta Tikrit

rap > gangsta > political
From a rap song set to the tune of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” broadcast in April 2003 in Iraq by Radio Tikrit, a station believed to be backed by the CIA. A Saddam Hussein impersonator performs most of the song in English with occasional Arabic interludes. Originally from Harper's Magazine, June 2003.
Reminds me of the exile's "Straight outta Grozny" by "Chechenz with attitudes". But from a, ummm, slightly different angle.

Back to the present: the Baghdad proclamation

Iraq > colonial > history
From Iraqi agora, an Iraqi group blog, a reminder that the current occupation is far from the first attempt to colonize Iraq - and far from the first use of liberatory rhetoric to justify imperialism. Originally found in Harper's, the first part (one could see it as chapter zero) of a detailed timeline related to the recent attack on Iraq.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Red Scare (1918-1921)

history > US
An amazing collection of photos, cartoons and other visual material from post WWI USA.
From the introduction:

RED SCARE is an image database about the period in the history of the United States immediately following World War I. The dates are approximately from the Armistice in November of 1918 to the collapse of hyper-inflation in mid-1920. Within these two dates the country witnessed--not so much in rapid succession as concurrently--a deadly flu epidemic, a strike wave of unparalled proportions, harsh suppression in some cases of those strikes, race riots, hyper-inflation, mass round-ups and deportations of foreign born citizens, expulsion of duely-elected officials from various offices in government, an incapacitated president, espionage laws, sedition laws and, of course, the advent of Prohibition and women's suffrage.

It was a time then of great upheaval, of right-thinking men--in the words of Walter Lippmann--"scared out of their wits". It is this fear that Red Scare seeks to document, not only as it related to what variously were called "Reds", "Anarchists", "Outside Foreign-Born Radical Agitators" and the like (though of course they play an important role here), but rather the whole breadth of experiences from this period of which the anti-red hysteria was one symptom. Indeed, it is because the anti-red hysteria was so emblematic of the time, that we use it in the context of this database as a short-hand way of expressing the whole period.

For history buffs world wide, a great example of how visual material from an era can bring it to life.

I can't help but point out this image which, with a slight relabelling could be used today, a different use of the word "Soviet" (as in sovietism - and are some of these folks Drew Barrymore's Grand Parents?), a political cartoon which evades my poor historical knowledge of the time (Belgium? Why?), some rather obvious propaganda efforts, an era of increased labour power and viewpoints not yet called fascist.


Colombian rebels beat path to Peru

politics > revolutionary > America Latina
A brief recap from South America, where FARC members are seeping over to neighbouring countries and recruiting people and the whole continent is in turmoil. I'm not complaining.

"The political situation in South America could not be better for the Marxist rebels of the 20,000-strong FARC.
Left wing governments and instability abound.
In Bolivia, the US-backed president was overthrown, and one of the fastest rising new politicians is vehemently anti-American and wants to legalise drug production.
Venezuela's president has been accused of supporting Colombia's guerrillas and is allied to America's old enemy, Fidel Castro of Cuba.
The presidents of Peru and Ecuador - both US allies - are facing low levels of support and street protests.
'Our time is coming,' said El Flaco, his eyes burning with fervour.
'The revolution will sweep through Latin America, and the gringos will be sent back home.' "

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Norwegian Death Metal Shocks Poland

Marilyn Manson > is a wimp
"Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth staged a special concert that made Janet Jackson's breast-baring look like nursery school antics and left Catholic Poland outraged. A police investigation has begun after a show that included dozens of sheep heads on stakes, a literal blood bath and a naked, crucified woman, newspaper VG reports...
...This kind of thing should not happen on state TV and especially not in Krakow, which is the Pope's city," Jeziorek said. Jeziorek wanted to halt the concert but feared a riot from enthusiastic, bloodied fans who had paid for tickets."

This is the kind of enormously entertaining news that's fit to print... and some scary looking dudes. To understand what Norwegian Black Metal means take a look at this Mark Ames review of Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind. BTW This must be one of the most inspired book reviews in recent memory. Suffice to say that it combines the black metal review with that of the new Perle & Frum book.

I wonder if Gorgoroth plan to visit Greece after their stint in jail? After this, I wouldn't miss them for the world. Anyway our local Black Metal world icons are nowhere as daring in their shows, despite having the - heads over heals - most blasphemous name in existence.

Update [Feb 5]: too late! they were here a few weeks ago!

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Talabani Accuses Turkish Intelligence of Massacre

conspiracy > theories > for real?
Yes I know it's from Debka, a source I don't particularly trust, they do however have some serious sources in interesting places. The fact that the PUK has strongly rejected these claims, should be taken into account (they actually call on Debka to withdraw their claims), yet is not conclusive by itself... I wonder how the Kurds in Northern Iraq will react to US and Turkish forces. Via the eyeranian which has similar worries about the Kurdish-Turkish standoff that's brewing in the area and some other scary possibilities.

Iraqis Want Saddam's Old U.S. Friends on Trial

iraq > justice > for all
Let's have a trial, say Iraqis, and let's try Saddam and all his accomplices, regardless of their nationality... I mean who can argue with that!

...'Saddam was a top graduate of the American school of politics,' said Assad al-Saadi, standing with friends in the slum of Sadr city, formerly called Saddam City, a Shi'ite Muslim area oppressed by Saddam's security agents.
'My brother was an army officer who was executed. Saddam is a criminal and the Americans were his friends. We need justice so that we can forget the past.'...

Swans Commentary: "RESISTANCE: In The Eye Of The US Hegemon." Special Issue on Iraq

iraq > occupation > a recap
Excellent online edition of Swans dedicated to Iraq. Of immediate note (the first article I finished reading) Edward Herman's "United States: "Liberation" From the Philippines to Iraq".

Monday, February 2, 2004

Biotechnology as conceptual art

biotechnology > art > interface
"A Danish biotech company has developed a genetically modified flower that could help detect land mines and it hopes to have a prototype ready for use within a few years... The genetically modified weed has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) evaporating from explosives buried in soil"

via baloney