Here's a good cartoon on...
Click here: http://powerlineblog.com/archives/03-05-2005.php
Opinions on Politics, Art Stuff, Outrages current & otherwise, an occasional photograph, and of course Cool Space Pics of the Day. Formerly titled "Wudndux"
The government of Niger has cancelled at the last minute a special ceremony during which at least 7,000 slaves were to be granted their freedom.I blame Dubya. For the slavery, not the cancellation. Well, that too. Or maybe John Ashcroft. Somehow this has to be our fault, even tho slavery is described as "traditional" in Niger. Ah, yeah, that's the ticket: Slavery is a traditional family value...in Niger. Somebody tell John Dean so he can make it an issue against Condi Rice when she runs for president.
A spokesman for the government's human rights commission, which had helped to organise the event, said this was because slavery did not exist.
It is not clear why the government, which was also a co-sponsor of the ceremony, changed its position.
At least 43,000 people across Niger are thought to be in slavery.
Acting under pressure, Niger's parliament banned the keeping or trading in slaves in May 2003.
The Plaza Hotel, where the fictional character Eloise romped through the corridors inside and the fiction writer F. Scott Fitzgerald romped in the fountain outside, (made) official the timetable for the hotel's closing. No one will romp at the Plaza after April 30.I have fond memories of the Plaza. So it goes.
The real estate company that owns the Plaza says it will become...condominiums and stores with a far smaller hotel on the 58th Street side.
They describe the cleaning of the building as “brutal” and say that it was carried out with abrasive materials abandoned years ago by the conservation industry. They also say that a staircase which provided access to the roof has been removed and they say that the restorers have placed a large stone plinth commemorating their restoration inside the chapel.I have no idea who is right.
“All right, all right. But apart from liberating 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining dictatorships throughout the Arab world, spreading freedom and self-determination in the broader Middle East and moving the Palestinians and the Israelis towards a real chance of ending their centuries-long war, what have the Americans ever done for us?”Dunno, but the London Times has Gerard Baker's column.
When Gilmore asked to see the rules explaining why his photo ID is necessary for airline security, his request was denied. The regulation under which the Transportation Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, instructs the airlines to collect such identification is classified as "Sensitive Security Information."There is a fair bit of blahblahblah in the middle, but a worthwhile issue to think about.
...When John Gilmore demanded proof that the airport ID rule met Constitutional muster, the government at first declined to acknowledge it even existed.
Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for TSA, tacitly acknowledged the strange rabbit hole into which Gilmore has fallen. The Department of Justice, in its first response to Gilmore's suit two years ago, declined to acknowledge whether such an instruction existed. Later, it admitted its existence. Then the government asked a judge to hold a hearing in secret and preclude Gilmore's lawyers from seeing the regulation they sought to challenge, the contents of which seem to be pretty widely known.
“We used thousands of guns (from Mozambique's civil war) to make the sculpture...Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about how many lives that represents. Where I come from, we believe in spirits of the dead, and if I look at the sculpture I can see lost children’s souls, I can see their mothers crying for them.”Trench art, which flourished during the First World War and again during World War II, is a now rather obscure form of folk art from around the world. Generally made from the detritus of war by soldiers and civilians alike, it encompasses an enormous range of objects, both practical and purely decorative. One theme which runs thru the genre is that of turning weapons into peaceful objects: today we see pieces made even during the Great War which literally recite the Bibical passage: "You shall beat your swords into plowshares, and your spears into pruning hooks." Click here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-47-1504992,00.html
...In 1997 Sengulane challenged the country’s oldest arts collective, Nucleo del Arte, to use the dismantled guns to “make something to inspire peace”....
“You should look at The Tree and see in it an appeal for a culture of peace around the world,” explains Sengulane, a cross welded from pistol parts hanging from his neck. “We’re making art speak a universal message, one of peace, using instruments of war.”
Despite the trend toward conservative Modernism in museum design, there are powerful exceptions. David Gordon, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, unabashedly champions Milwaukee’s decision to build the expansion designed by Calatrava, with winglike, mechanized sunscreens that open and close. He says the museum has raised $19 million to pay off its $25 million debt, and he believes it will gather the rest. A native of Great Britain, Gordon says he has adopted an American, can-do attitude. “In the States you do something ambitious, you go out on a limb, you find a way to raise money, and you ride on,” he says.The easy response, of course, is that the costs are beggaring some institutions, but Kahan has a good point. It will come down to what compromises the individual institutions are willing to make, and if, once made, they can pull it off. The Milwaukee Art Museum addition had a significant positive impact on Milwaukee's self-image, and apparently on its image elsewhere. That's no small thing.
Mitchell Kahan, director of the Akron Art Museum, is confident he’ll raise the additional $10 million he needs to complete the museum’s $38 million expansion, which will be the first in the United States designed by the chic Viennese architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au... “If cultural institutions do not embrace innovation in architecture, no one will,” says Kahan. “It is truly our responsibility to push the envelope, because the commercial sector will not.” Kahan also believes art museums need to stretch financially to make significant architectural statements. “At Milwaukee the focus is on the cost overrun,” he says. “That’s a choice they made, and I admire it. A few years of tightening the belt is nothing compared with having something that serves the community for the next century. I don’t know why people are so critical.”
Alabama argued its sex-toy ban " ... and related orgasm stimulating paraphernalia is rationally related to a legitimate legislative interest in discouraging prurient interests in autonomous sex." And that "it is enough for a legislature to reasonably believe that commerce in the pursuit of orgasms by artificial means for their own sake is detrimental to the health and morality of the State."What rocks have these judges been living under if they think that ppl who use sex toys do so alone?
The London-based newspaper Al Quds al-Arabi, which has for some time been a surrogate voice for "insurgent" talk in the Arab diaspora, polled its readers after the Iraqi elections and had the grace to print the result. About 90 percent had been favorably impressed by the sight of Iraqi and Kurdish voters waiting their turn to have a say in their own future....The term "Islamophobe" may be taking on the same usefulness which "Racist!" has long enjoyed as a debate stopper. It relieves the user of having to address the recipient's points.
(P)ropagandists...have lately been flourishing the term "Islamophobia." This word, or slogan, has been gaining ground among soft defenders of Islamism in Europe. It is used to put a stop to discussion about the political aims of Islamists in non-Islamic societies, and it has most recently generated great nervousness in Britain—sufficient nervousness to decide the Blair government to introduce legislation to make criticism of Islam into a prohibited hate crime.
Here again, the most persuasive evidence is the evidence that looks us in the face. In Iraq, Muslim militants place bombs in the mosques of those Muslims they regard as heretics. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, too, the Salafi and Wahhabi extremists commit murder against Muslims they deem unclean or unorthodox. And in the West, there are non-Muslims who excuse such atrocities as "resistance." These are often the same as those who hailed what they thought of as the "street." I don't think they should be indicted for hate crimes, but they should be made to understand that what they say is hateful and criminal, as well as sectarian. The battle for clarity of language is a part of this larger contest, and it is time for the opponents of terror and bigotry to become very much less apologetic and defensive on this score.
(Holland) can still seem a parody of itself — a magistrate ruled recently that an armed robber was entitled to a tax rebate on the cost of his gun as a tool of his trade..."We have been tolerant to the nontolerant, and we got intolerance back," Wilders says.This is far too long to quote more from- 6 pages in the London Times- but well worth reading by anyone interested in seeing what is going on in Europe. One conclusion: "The Dutch may be drawing the wrong conclusions, but they are surely right to be asking the questions."
“Cows look calm, but really they are gay nymphomaniacs,” he said....Driving through Wisconsin will never be quite the same.
Donald Broom, professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University, who is presenting other research at the conference, will describe how cows can also become excited by solving intellectual challenges.
To claim that people shouldn't have access to Wal-Mart or to cut-rate airfares or services from India or to Internet shopping, because these somehow reduce their quality of life, is paternalistic tripe. No one is a better judge of what people want than they themselves.Then Reich engages in his own tripe, which may be blamed but not excused on space constraints. It is his job to make his point persuasive.
The only way for the workers or citizens in us to trump the consumers in us is through laws and regulations that make our purchases a social choice as well as a personal one. A requirement that companies with more than 50 employees offer their workers affordable health insurance, for example, might increase slightly the price of their goods and services. My inner consumer won't like that very much, but the worker in me thinks it a fair price to pay.So why did Mr. Reich not just go to the American store selling over-priced merchandise in the first place? He feels guilty that he didn't, and needs to expiate his guilt by using the government to force him- and his fellow Americans- to Buy American. Essentially a "Stop me before I shop again" at the point of the regulators' guns.
The Bush memo... gives the CIA broad powers to use lethal force against suspected al-Qaida terrorists, superseding a series of such documents signed by President Clinton that had provided much more limited authorities for individual operations.Thanks to VolokhConspiracy: http://volokh.com/
The Clinton-era documents generally took weeks, even months, to prepare, in part because they were scrutinized with enormous care by administration lawyers, according to officials familiar with the process...
"It got so ridiculous," he told UPI. "When we were training for an operation to capture bin Laden, the lawyers made us build an ergonomic chair in which he would be comfortable. ... At one point we took three rolls of tape to the lawyers (at the National Security Council) -- duct tape ... masking tape and white adhesive tape -- so they could decide which we could use to put over his mouth that would be least uncomfortable."
He angrily contrasted the lawyers' attitude to the risks they were prepared to order CIA operatives to undertake.
"They were more than willing to send my officers out into the Western part of the United States to practice landing a C-130 without lights at night and risk their lives doing that," he said, "but they were worried about this damn Saudi's beard being irritated by tape."
A spacecraft that flies on sunbeams is about to begin its travels across the solar system. A group of American and Russian scientists are preparing to launch a probe with giant, wafer-thin plastic sails that can catch sunlight just as a yacht's sails fill with wind.Sailing thru space has been in the sci-fi books forever, but maybe it is finally going to happen.
Cosmos-1 has been designed to tack across space without using rockets and could form the forerunner of a network of solar observatories that would hover over the sun to provide early warnings of disruptive magnetic storms, or deliver instruments to remote space stations and planetary exploration teams.
The probe, to be launched from a Russian nuclear missile submarine, is made up of a fan of eight 15-metre sails, each thinner than a dustbin bag but stiffened and coated with mirror material.
Harvard University president Lawrence Summers has suffered acrimonious condemnation, and may have jeopardized his job, for suggesting that the underrepresentation of women in engineering and some scientific fields may be due in part to inherent differences in the intellectual abilities of the sexes. But Summers could be right....As they say, read the whole thing: Click here: The New York Times > AP > Science > Summers' Remarks Supported by Some Experts
``Among people who do the research, it's not so controversial. There are lots and lots of studies that show that mens' and womens' brains are different,'' says Richard J. Haier, a professor of psychology in the pediatrics department of the University of California Los Angeles medical school....
``I think it's an outrage that certain questions -- that real, important questions -- can't be raised in an academic atmosphere, that research that's well-known can't be presented without some sort of hysterical response,'' says Linda S. Gottfredson, a psychologist at the University of Delaware.
It's not that Mr. Summers thinks of himself as a conservative. He was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, and before that, chief economist of the World Bank.Virginia Postrel also has some comments in the Business section of the NYT: Click here: The New York Times > Business > Economic Scene: Some Economists Say the President of Harvard Talks Just Like Them
What's made Mr. Summers so controversial, said Nicholas Lemann, a Harvard graduate and now the dean of Columbia University's journalism school, is that he's conservative "not in his politics, but in the context of the university." "Just about everything he's done that's gotten attention is about a tug to the center," Mr. Lemann said....
By being naturally and deliberately provocative, he has challenged campus liberals, which is not what campus liberals are accustomed to. Click here: The New York Times > Week in Review > The Battle Behind the Battle at Harvard