Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Merry Xmas

Call of the "Timist": "Down with 'Happy New Year'"

I am a timist. Mentions of "new year" or "Happy New Year" offend me. I don't believe in time, don't believe in the turning of this bogus "calendar". The sun rises and sets on a single day. Time, as you know it, is a solar/lunar event that has been misinterpreted for millennia. I'm sick of the media ignoring my beliefs.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Xmas from the Fortean Times - "The Last Wild Man"


As the Christmas season engulfs us, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and their international counterparts beam at us from every medium, hawking earthly treasures to delight our loved ones.

As we watch this portly figure entice us with baubles, we are witnessing the last remnant of the oldest sacred figure that exists, for Santa's past is full of ancient mysteries, with a depth few imagined. In the Middle Ages he was a Wild Man, a beast-man who jousted with knights in Merrie Olde England and dashed through Germanic streets during Carnival, frightening children and adults alike. In the Sixth Century, he was a beast-god so powerful that Pope Gregory the Great chose him to be Christianity's poster child for evil – the cloven-hoofed, goatish devil figure that persists even today. For millennia before that, he was worshiped as a god whose annual death was a necessity for life on earth itself.

Tracking the elusive Jolly Old Elf's history involved a labyrinthine journey that would make Daedalus proud. The search began with 19th century gift givers in America, Britain, and Germany. These gift givers appeared at end-of-year celebrations, but didn't travel alone; they were accompanied by a predictable entourage, no matter what country they trod. Santa's companions invariably included a Bessy – a man dressed as a woman – and assorted merrymakers dressed in goat or bear skins or wearing goat or bear masks. The other characters varied; usually there was a comic doctor and often an archer. Of course, America's Christmas Man wasn't called Santa at the time; he gained that name in the mid-1800s. First, he was Pelznichol, or Nicholas in Furs; in Nova Scotia he was the Janney; in Trinidad he was Papa Bois; in Great Britain he was Yule until Ben Johnson christened him Father Christmas in his 1616 Christmas Masque. His names were as varied as the communities he both terrorized and blessed.

The Wild Man's motley crew went door-to-door, demanding entry. After the raucous group was welcomed, they acted out an odd play – the leader, who dressed in goat or bear skins, argued with another character or with the woman figure. He was killed, the woman lamented, and the doctor comically resuscitated him, or he spontaneously revived, declaring he wasn't dead after all. Before the troupe left to visit the next house, they demanded gifts. This might sound somewhat familiar; today's Halloween trick-or-treaters carry on a juvenile version of the original visit – going house to house, demanding gifts and treats. In the bygone adult festival, the troupe gave its blessing and shared fruits of the land with the inhabitants, or wreaked havoc and cursed the homes if they weren't well received.

This invasion didn't take place at only at Yuletide; in Germany, Carnival signaled the Wild Man's wild rush into town in the Schembartlauf (run of bearded men). In other countries, the wild run usually ended winter's reign, but no matter what the time of year or what country, there were arresting similarities. In the 18th century, an emerging breed of "folklorists" noted these similarities and began to record these festivals and theorize about their origins. Jacob Grimm made a herculean effort to record Germany's folk customs before they disappeared, and scholars in Great Britain managed to accumulate some of the most extensive collection of local rituals. These rituals encompass a wide range of mumming activities with the ever-present Fool, an offspring of the Wild Man and precursor of Father Christmas.

Those who study and categorize Britain's mumming rituals sort them into three main types – the wooing ceremony, which includes Plough Monday peregrinations, the sword play, and the Saint George Play. All have a death and resurrection; of course this death and resurrection in historical festivals is a comic one, but these activities are remnants of a more serious death – the death of the Wild Man, the beast-god who was responsible for life on earth.

Richard Bernheimer pieced together the basic fertility ritual from which these plays derive in his book Wild Men in the Middle Ages. In that ritual, a town's young unmarried men went to the woods to hunt the Wild Man or stir him from his cave. The largest and strongest of the men dressed in animal skins and horns to play the role of the Wild Man. He was captured, chained, and dragged back to the village. Since he was, after all, a Wild Man, he had torn up a tree or two to drag with him, showing his power; in the village these trees became the May Pole and the Yule Log. Because he was a god of the elements of nature – thunder and lightning – the villagers fired guns and beat drums to herald his arrival.

Chains dangling from his body, the Wild Man and his companions made a mad dash into town, frightening and beating bystanders; one of the devices he used to beat villagers was a giant phallus, his symbol as a fertility god. In the village square, he mated with a village wench (or wild woman, if one was available), then was killed by an archer. He revived or was replaced by a son. The mood was bedlam; the humor as course as it comes; and everyone was both excited and terrified.

Folklorists who debated the origins of these holiday activities were delighted when world traveler and Renaissance man R. M. Dawkins happened upon a fairly untouched version of this ritual in the Balkans in 1906. In this festival, large, blackened, humpbacked goat-men shambled through the village with bells around their waists and ankles. The leader carried a huge phallus; another carried a crossbow. An old woman carried a doll in a basket. As they went from house to house, the phallic goat-man pounded the phallus on the door and demanded money. In the course of the parade, the baby grew to manhood quite suddenly and demanded a bride. When she was supplied, the pair copulated, the archer shot the newly satisfied groom, the bride grieved, and the goat man revived. After receiving a gift from the homes where they performed, the paraders dragged a plough through the village.

This discovery was Nirvana for folklorists – they found all the elements of the mumming plays; the Fool was in his original beast form; the death and execution were enacted amorally. In later plays, the Fool or beast-man is often killed by a young groom because he "makes a pass at" the Woman, and narrators explain the behavior with a comic script. In the Balkan version, the inhabitants didn't need a verbal explanation; the ritual had been part of their lives for centuries. Only in more recent times did the master of ceremonies or narrator emerge.

This Balkan festival was the finest modern discovery yet of the ancient rite of the god's birth, sacred marriage, death, and sacrifice for his people. Better yet, it was found in Greece. Scholars concluded that the hundreds of versions peppering Europe could be traced to the great goat-god Dionysus. After all, the Dionysian rites gave birth to modern theater; even the word tragedy means goat song. Under this diffusionist scenario, Dionysus and his counterparts Adonis and Bacchus spread throughout Europe with spread of the Roman Empire.

This conclusion reflected a myopic flaw in many prehistorians' thinking–that everything emanated from the Mediterranean, the "cradle of civilization." But we find these rituals in the Arctic Circle among people neither the Romans nor the Catholics found worth their time to conquer or even visit in those days. There, among the Lapps, the Vogul, and the Gilyaks some of the purist, most ancient rituals continued. We also find the ceremonies among the enigmatic Ainu, the aboriginal Japanese.

Among these Arctic peoples and the Ainu we discover the original "storyline" of the ritual that found its way to ancient Japan, Russia, Western and Northern Europe, and the Mediterranean. In these ceremonies, the Master of the Mountain sends his gods to his people as a bear to keep them from starving. In the ceremony, the people rouse the hibernating beast in its cave, and the best marksman ritually executes it with an arrow. They prepare and mount the skin and skull in a certain manner, then share the god's bounty in a feast.

In a ceremony of gratitude and honor the hunters re-enact a tale of the bear's life – how it found a mate and bore an offspring, then was killed by an archer. The people thank the bear for its gift of life and send the emissary's spirit back to the gods, until it returns next year. Here we find the arrow, the mating, the sacrifice and rebirth, and the other accouterments we find in today's mumming plays – even the ivy-crowned head.

How old is this ritual of bear and goat worship that found its way to areas as widespread as the Mediterranean and the Arctic Circle? There is evidence this bear sacrifice was carried out more than 50,000 years ago; early 20th-century German excavatons of the Wild Man's Cave and other caves in the High Alps discovered altars to the bear with bearskins and skulls ritually treated exactly as the Arctic peoples treated them.

Anthropologist Josepn Campbell and invesfigating anthropologists made the connection between these ancient finds and the arctic rituals and dated them to about 70,000 BC.

Of course. Homo sapiens sapiens - modern humans - weren’t around then; Neanderthals performed these ancient rituals. Later archaeological excavations reveal Neanderthas sacrificed in the same manner as the bears. The question inevitably arises whether the original Wild Man was a Neanderthal, perhaps performing a bear ritual.

The history of the death and resurrection of the beast-god that sired Santa is older than Greece, even older than modern humans. It was a ceremony of death and resurrection, of life and fertility, carried on by an ancient aboriginal people - called elves or fairies by later settlers - and adopted by these settlers, who replaced them and continued the sacred rituals throughout Europe.

Of course, burgeoning Christianity vigorously fought to suppress this widespread "pagan" ritual, but it persisted. In response, the church used the Wild Man’s form to depict its Satan. Under pressure from Christianity, villagers, holding to their old festivals while adopting the new Christian religion, managed to keep the old Wild Man alive by transforming him. In village festivals he became the Fool; in this role he strode at the front of his old troupe as master of ceremonies, the outspoken comic who introduced the troupe and made fun of local citizens and mores. In this role he evolved into the symbol of Christmas in America, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, and Germany. This fur-clad fool and social commentator took yet another direction in Italy, where, as Harlequin, he evolved from Medieval Devil to a primary figure in the commedia dell’arte and became a standard character in French and British Christmases. In all, the Wild Man adapted in almost infinite ways under pressures from Church, State, and the varying influences of civilisation.

In many areas, the beast-man changed little, and today the ancient festivals persist in places the great past tides of civilisation barely lapped. The hair-covered Chlaus yodel in Urnasch, Switzerland; the beast-masked Narren leap through Black Forest villages; the King of the Puck Fair is hoisted in Killorglin, Ireland; the blackened, goat-bearded berika romp in Georgia; the Perchta runners re-enact a death and resurrection ritual on the fields of Austria. The Ainu ritually enact their sacred ritual for tourists. The Paper Boys romp in Marshfield, Gloucestershire, and Crookham, and, in Grenoside, the sword dancing team ritually "executes" their captain.

Germany’s carnival elements also live on in the well-known Christmas poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas, which begins: "‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house..." There we see the old troupe preserved as reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, and Prancer are the raucous, high-stepping, hair-clad dancers that signalled the start of Carnival; Vixen is the Wild Woman; Cupid is the archer who ended the god’s life; Comet the sleigh of one of the Wild Man’s versions - the Wild Hunter; Donder and Blitzen (thunder and lightning) are the hallmarks of the Wild Man’s dominion over nature.

In some instances the Wild Man survives as a famous folk figure - in fact, some of our best known folk characters trace their origin to this original mystery. In Britain, he became Robin Goodfellow or Puck, celebrated by Shakespeare; Goodfellow’s cousin Robin Hood began life as Wood, a name for the Wild Man. In the Black Forest, the Pied Piper of Hamelin re-enacts poet Robert Browning’s version of the ancient mystery.

And, of course, there’s Santa Claus. As the ancient beast-god of old, he continues to bring bounty and promise to us each year, despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Gods, religions, nations and even hominid species have risen and fallen while he somehow persists. No wonder he winks as he sips his Coca-Cola.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Engima of J.D. Salinger

I recently reread J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, and came away pleasantly surprised by how well the novel stands up after all these years—since it was first published; since I last read it. The novel is iconic in our culture and written about ad nauseum, some critics delighting in panning the novel, others treating it like a religious text. I sat down with the novel as just another book, and found that it was an enormously enjoyable read.

Friday, December 16, 2005

You, Sir, Win the Prize for Craziest Search Topic That Led to My Blog

No kidding, someone searched on Can I really get a hotdog cart absolutely free? and got to my blog here.

Sir, I wish I could reward you with a free hotdog cart, but I simply do not have access to one.

Must-See Film: Peter Watkins' 1971 cult classic PUNISHMENT PARK

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -- George Santayana

Director Peter Watkins saw the United States PATRIOT Act coming back in 1971: "With the Vietnam war spiralling out of control and increasingly unpopular with the American public, President Nixon declares a state of national emergency and Federal authorities are given the power to detain persons judged to be a 'risk to national security'."

Updated 12/17/2005:

Punishment Park is a searing, provocative film that is set up to appear as a documentary, though it is actually fictional. It's the story of an extra-legal tribunal meting out sentences to persons deemed a danger to "national security" for reasons ranging from draft dodging, singing songs with "dirty lyrics", inciting revolution, and for simply being unemployed. As one reviewer on the IMDB known only as jwer79 insightfully noted, "See this film and you'll have the rare opportunity to choose your own morality." As the tribunal comprised of society's "straight" or "square" people confront society's misfits, strong cases are presented on both sides defending all of their actions.

I see a few hundred films each year -- at least two a day -- and I can count on one hand the number of times I've been confronted by a movie that has been as thought-provoking, engrossing, harrowing, and haunting as Punishment Park. No matter your political stripe, this is a film not to be missed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Most Unlikely Headline of the Year: "Bush takes responsibility"

Bush takes responsibility for invasion intelligence
"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong," Bush said during his fourth and final speech before Thursday's vote for Iraq's parliament. "As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we're doing just that."
Right. You know, this is why war should be approached as a final option. Not just saying "final option", as empty lip-service, but actually as a last option. As in first pursuing all other possibilities of resolving the problem. Like diplomacy. Like building a consensus among your allies -- like Canada, France, Germany, Japan, etc. Also, by listening to the voices who said the goddamned pre-war intelligence was inaccurate, and digging deeper for the facts.

Rather than maligning Joe Wilson and "outing" his CIA wife. Rather than casting responsible dissenters as traitors. Rather than dictating to allies. Rather than launching a pre-emptive war most clear-minded people knew was a mistake from the outset.

But this sort of conversation takes many things for granted -- too many things. It supposes that George W. Bush, and America by extension, gives a shit. It supposes that the war in Iraq was launched for the reasons listed by BushCo in the media. It supposes that Saddam Hussein's maggot-ridden hide is worth more than a hundred thousand lives (and counting). Shit, I don't believe Saddam Hussein is worth the flesh hanging on his bones.

George W. Bush taking "responsibility" at this late date is like the captain of the Titanic saying, "Whoops, I guess I shouldn't have gone full-speed into that region of icebergs," as the frozen north Atlantic waters crashed through the windows of the ship's bridge.

America lost its soul in Vietnam, lost its mind in Watergate, and now slouches across the earth like a zombified behemoth with sun-whitened eyes, insensate, seeking an elephant graveyard. Good luck finding that. I hope you don't take too many more tens of thousands of lives with you before you do.

Monday, December 05, 2005

America's #1 Export: Bullshit

Final Report on 9/11 Commission Recommendations

The two interest-conflicted, ineffectual milkshakes -- 9/11 commission chairman Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana -- who led the so-called "September 11 commission" were interviewed on NPR today about the stunning lack of urgency the Bush administration has shown toward defending America against another terrorist attack. The headline on reads U.S. given 'more F's than A's' on terror preparation. Interesting how George W. Bush and his ideologues mobilized when sticking their righteous noses into the Terri Schiavo case months ago. We see now where actual, implemented homeland security rates amid BushCo's far rightwing agenda. It doesn't.

Having traversed his life solely on the currency of his family name, George W. Bush is not a "results" oriented guy. Basically, he's never been in a position where he's had to produce. So, the expression "the proof is in the pudding" is meaningless to him and his junta. Why is BushCo so unconcerned about another terrorist attack occurring on American soil?

Pretend I'm an unethical person. Say I need money and decide the best way to get this money is to make an insurance claim. The most painless way to do this is to park my car between street lamps on my street, leave the car unlocked, and maybe even leave some money on the seat to entice a thief to steal my car stereo. When the inevitable happens, I, of course, feign outrage and suprise -- and collect my insurance money. But having orchestrated this little scam, I am not in any hurry to install an alarm on my car, or have my next stereo actually locked inside the console. Because it wasn't as though this was a random event that took me totally by surprise. It was an event I had hoped would happen. Had encouraged to happen.

Just as the 9/11 attacks benefitted BushCo, and cannot be realistically described as benefitting any other person or group.

The Bush administration has benefitted enormously from the 9/11 attacks -- which gave them the pretext for two wars and tens of billions of dollars in defense spending -- and another terrorist attack would benefit them, as well. George W. Bush desperately needs the distraction from his failed policies. He's quickly running out of shadows with which to shadowbox. His bullshit is running out.

BushCo has so damaged America's standing in the world that we see the ever-photogenic Condoleezza Rice jetting around the globe, reassuring the civilized world that America is not transporting terrorism suspects to countries that allow and use torture in interrogations.

Condoleezza. No one believes you. It's clear that American Christian conservatives are missing one crucial element in their education in life: a little story called The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Print a copy and include in your next briefing to George W. Bush. I'm sure he won't know what to make of the story, as he will undoubtedly side with the wolf. But for me, give it to him.

No, what the Bush administration is doing with its policy toward "enemy combatants" and its treatment of those its secret police steal away with in the night is manufacturing an enemy, not quelling or defusing it. But as happens with reprobates who make their sordid livings by faking falls in supermarkets, there comes a time when they take one too many. There comes a time when my hypothetical insurance company connects the dots of my claims. And that time has come for the cosmic, Great-Wall-of-China-sized mound of bullshit America has heaved onto the world since George W. Bush began squatting in the oval office.

And now Condoleezza Rice is the latest "Johnny Appleseed" spreading around the world America's greatest export: bullshit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Iraq War Comes Home to Onion Field, Ontario

Today the son of a friend of mine is being sent to Iraq. My friend's son joined the U.S. military months ago, and this is the culmination.

Also, I once knew one of the Canadians who was taken hostage in Iraq. His name is Jim Loney, and he was a good guy. I hope that he and the other hostages are returned quickly and safely.

Christian agency blames U.S. for kidnappings


From my as-yet-unpublished novel -- an experience I had in New York City with Jim in the late 1980s when I belonged to a Christian youth group:

New York City, March 1988.

One afternoon, I found myself standing on the sidewalk of Times Square, with two alcoholic, drug-addicted teenagers—each a year older than I—wondering how the hell that came to be.

... Jim asked if I wanted to join him on a visit to “some radical Catholics” who ran a Catholic Worker House—a soup kitchen and neighborhood mission—on New York’s Lower East Side. Having spent the day with Gary and Reg, I needed a break from them, and from the cramped hotel room. I said sure. Around seven o’clock, we went out to the van, leaving Gary and Reg to play cards and watch TV in the room.

The ride to the Catholic Worker House was like a descent into the murkiest neighborhoods of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. From the van’s window, I watched with growing apprehension as the neighborhoods we passed grew increasingly grim, increasingly dingy and forbidding. I said nothing, though—the cornerstone of his beliefs was faith.

The Catholic Worker House stood in the most blighted, blown-out neighborhood I ever saw in my life. After Zak dropped us off, Jim and I inadvertently saw more of the neighborhood than we intended—it was only then that Jim told me he wasn’t sure of the address of the Catholic Worker House.

We stood on the sidewalk, looking up at the crumbling, weathered buildings before us, searching for a light, the flicker of a television, any sign of life. There was none. Few of the darkened doorways even had addresses. Finally, Jim and I walked down the block.

As he looked for the address we needed, I surveyed the neighborhood, and felt a sick-certain sense that the street was almost entirely abandoned: seeing crumbling staircases leading up to unlit doorways; garbage strewn in moldering, reeking heaps on the sidewalks, spilled across the potholed road; dented toppled-over trashcans; abandoned, stripped-down, burned-out automobiles parked partly on the road, partly on the sidewalk. The place stank of sewage and garbage and rot. Part of me wondered if the street even appeared on a map. Surrounded by the utter desolation, I thought of the squalor along the southern highways—all those tiny slanting shacks with their fields of busted refrigerators and stoves—as Zak and I drove to New Orleans the previous summer.

The wind picked up, and I turned up my jacket’s collar.

After fifteen minutes, which passed with the slowness of hours, we came to a doorway, above which was a nearly illegible sign: CATHOLIC WORKER HOUSE. We knocked on the door, and waited. No answer. We knocked again. And waited. An excruciating procession of seconds passed before we heard footsteps inside. A naked light bulb winked on above us. The footsteps inside stopped, and I figured that Jim and I were being scrutinized through the fisheye lens in the faded red door. Finally, the door opened and a tall, cadaverous man stood before us. He looked to be in his sixties, wore black-framed Buddy Holly glasses, and had gray hair hanging down to his shoulders.

“We’re closed for the night, boys,” he said. Although he spoke in a subdued, mellow voice, I was nonetheless startled—until that moment, I figured we were visiting people whom Jim knew; with whom he might have previously worked, or gone to school. This was not the case.

“We’re not looking for help,” Jim said, and introduced us. “We’re missionaries,” he said, “and wondered if we could talk to you about how you run a Catholic Worker House.”

“I’m Harvey, I run the place,” the man said, and stepped aside. “Come in if you like.”

The interior was bare and neat; larger than I would have guessed from outside. There was a grungy easy chair with a mismatched seat cushion in the sitting room, an old couch with a coffee can as one of its legs, and a stack of wooden chairs in the corner. Harvey led them through a large, paint-chipped doorway into the kitchen, which looked like an old restaurant galley. We sat at a lopsided kitchen table, on mismatched chairs.

“Will you have some tea?” Harvey said.

We said sure.

He shuffled to the far corner and ran the hot water tap in a large laundry tub. The water came in a torrent, and within seconds a cloud of steam wafted up. He filled a kettle, and from that he poured our tea. When he finally joined us, with his old, stained mug, Harvey and Jim spoke about the poverty in New York.

I sipped his tea, and looked around the room, through the large, paint-chipped doorway, and realized there were no windows looking onto the street. Just as well.

They talked for twenty minutes. Then Harvey rose from his chair. I feared he was going to walk us to the door, say goodnight, and leave us outside until Zak came.

When is Zak coming for us? I wondered, and realized he drove off before we discussed a time. Well, he won’t leave them out here all night, I thought.

“I’ll show you around,” Harvey said. “Not much to show, but you can have a look.”

The second floor housed two makeshift offices, with avalanches of paper overwhelming two slanting desks. We went up another set of stairs, to a third floor, which was a large, dark, unheated room. I was surprised to find people there, seated at a long foldout table, folding pamphlets. Harvey introduced them around. There was a couple who appeared about Harvey’s age, a tall, stocky girl who was about twenty, and a Puerto Rican priest in his thirties, who looked like a prize-fighter. They welcomed us in the same low-key manner as Harvey.

Jim and I sat down, and helped fold the pamphlets—Catholic Worker newsletters—working by the wan light coming through the windows from the street lamps outside. The Catholic Workers told them about their various missions in New York and abroad.

Around ten o’clock, I turned to Jim. “When’s Zak coming back?”

Jim looked at me, puzzled. “He’s not.”

I began to smile, thinking he was joking. Then froze. He was as serious as the night he and Zak asked me to go to Covenant House, posing as a runaway.

“Don’t worry,” Jim said. “We’ll take the subway back to the hotel.”

I blinked, as though flinching from a blow. “The subway?!”


The room around me seemed to tilt. “The hotel’s in New Jersey. Do you know how to get there?”

Jim thought for a moment. “No.”

The Puerto Rican priest overheard us. He rose from his chair, and took me over to a faded map of New York City hanging on the wall. He pointed to an area and said, “You ever hear of this place?”

He pointed to HARLEM.

I nodded.

“If you and your friend take the subway, you’ll go through Harlem. I don’t recommend you do that. It’s rough all the way, but Harlem isn’t the place for guys like you.”

I asked Jim to come over. The priest reiterated his warning. To which Jim replied, “We’ll be okay.”

“I hope so,” the priest said.

When Jim and I made our exit, the Catholic Workers wished us luck, and slammed the door. I heard bolt slide home. Then I zipped my jacket, turned up my collar. The wind had not abated. It was beginning to snow.

Walking through that decimated neighborhood, a helpless terror rose in my throat. I slid a hand in my pocket and confirmed a fear that had nagged me since hearing Zak wasn’t coming back for us—I only had a few coins with me; not even a dollar.

We passed an abandoned playground where four rimless backboards stood on a potholed basketball court. Through the fence, on the other side of the playground, I saw a man. He just stood there: a black figure under a lopsided streetlight, watching us.

It was three blocks to the subway, and the street was so dark and deserted we almost walked past the subway entrance. I looked down the stairs, at the dingy urine-colored tiled walls, and knew that every step would be an act of will. Halfway down the stairs, the stench of human waste hit us like a blow.

As we approached the token booth, I showed Jim the few coins I had. He pulled a five-dollar bill and bought our tokens.

Passing through the turnstiles, I glimpsed a transit cop off to the side, watching them with sullen disinterest. I didn’t figure he would be much help if someone robbed us—and wondered if he might not try it himself.

We went to the platform, and waited.

“It’s just like riding the bus,” Jim said. “We’ll have to change trains a few times.”


He shrugged. “We’ll ask for directions.”

I turned away, feeling his stomach sink. Our luck, hedge of protection, whatever, had run out. I was sure of it. There was no way we would get out of that subway alive. It was one thing to stumble into danger, but Jim may as well have led me onto the subway tracks, and started walking toward the growing circle of light at the other end of the tunnel. All I could think about were the hustlers, beggars, pushers, and freaks of Times Square, and I struggled to keep myself from imagining their subterranean counterparts.

And I could be sitting in the hotel room, watching TV, I thought. If I’d only said no.

Then I heard the far-off rumble of an approaching train. When it screeched into the station, we got on, and for the next two hours my thoughts and senses turned inward, readying for the moment we would be robbed, or killed.

I followed Jim without question. We changed trains several times, ran up and down flights of stairs in different stations, catching trains just as the doors were closing. I was not aware of passing through Harlem; it must have come and gone with the blur of place-names I saw in each station. We eventually came to a bus station on the New York-side of the George Washington Bridge.

There was some relief in seeing the bridge; our hotel wasn’t far from it. Just when I was beginning to believe we might survive that night, we were approached by a large man who looked like all the other street people I’d seen that week. I braced for him to ask for money; thinking, if it came down to it, Jim and I could probably take him. When the man smiled, it made no difference—I was terrified; suddenly closer to tears than I had been in years.

“You guys need help?” the man said.

Before I could utter a word, Jim said, “Which bus will take us across the bridge?”

“Most any,” the man said. I watched him. The smile on his face held. “Bus oughta be here in ten minutes.” Then he gave them a few bus numbers for which to watch.

“Thanks,” Jim said.

“No sweat.” The man walked away.

One of the buses he named arrived soon after.

Jim paid the bus fare used with the last of our money.

As we rode across the George Washington Bridge, I gazed at the light-spangled spectacle of Manhattan behind us. It looked vast and unapproachable, yet beautiful in the same dangerous way as spewing lava. Hemmed in by the night sky, and the dark body of the river, Manhattan looked like a constellation, and I marveled that not an hour before, Jim and I had been immersed in it.

The bus driver let us off at the foot of the bridge on the other side of the river. By then, my blood teemed with exhilaration, my head reeled with the sense of having dodged a bullet. Still, we had to find the hotel. There wasn’t even a quarter left between us to call Zak.

The snow continued, and the wind whipped around us. Soon, we began jogging. At one point, the sidewalk down which we ran came to an end. The road forked, veering into a darkened neighborhood, and dropping down to an empty expressway—the one we traversed every day heading to and from Manhattan. Without a word passing between us, Jim and I ran down the on-ramp. My enduring image of that night is the two of us jogging along the shoulder of that vacant thoroughfare, snow flying around us, wind screaming in our ears, the sky dark and indifferent.

We rounded a bend, and the hotel appeared in the distance. It didn’t seem real; part of me was still on the subway, sure I would never see another familiar thing again. We climbed over the concrete median, crossed two lanes of empty expressway, and ran up the access ramp.

As we jogged into the hotel’s parking lot, as we entered the building—where I nearly collapsed in its welcoming warmth—the night’s events suddenly accordioned in my mind. By the time we came to the elevator, I thought, Of course we made it back. What was I so worried about? I looked at Jim, and saw in his eyes a glimpse of realization—he knew we had dodged a bullet, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Check out the Fun & Frolic the Contract Fiends Are Having in Iraq

See the "trophy" video made by these over-armed cowards
'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent - Republished from telegraph UK

When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done.

A “trophy” video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on “route Irish”, a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

The road has acquired the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the world because of the number of suicide attacks and ambushes carried out by insurgents against coalition troops. In one four-month period earlier this year it was the scene of 150 attacks.

In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.

There are no clues as to the shooter but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train, the music which accompanies the video.

Last night a spokesman for defence firm Aegis Defence Services – set up in 2002 by Lt Col Tim Spicer, a former Scots Guards officer – confirmed that the company was carrying out an internal investigation to see if any of their employees were involved.

The Foreign Office has also confirmed that it is investigating the contents of the video in conjunction with Aegis, one of the biggest security companies operating in Iraq. The company was recently awarded a £220 million security contract in Iraq by the United States government. Aegis conducts a number of security duties and helped with the collection of ballot papers in the country’s recent referendum

Lt Col Spicer, 53, rose to public prominence in 1998 when his private military company Sandlines International was accused of breaking United Nations sanctions by selling arms to Sierra Leone.

The video first appeared on the website The website states: “This site does not belong to Aegis Defence Ltd, it belongs to the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company.” The clips have been removed.

The website also contains a message from Lt Col Spicer, which reads: “I am concerned about media interest in this site and I remind everyone of their contractual obligation not to speak to or assist the media without clearing it with the project management or Aegis London.

“Refrain from posting anything which is detrimental to the company since this could result in the loss or curtailment of our contract with resultant loss for everybody.”

Security companies awarded contracts by the US administration in Iraq adopt the same rules for opening fire as the American military. US military vehicles carry a sign warning drivers to keep their distance from the vehicle. The warning which appears in both Arabic and English reads “Danger. Keep back. Authorised to use lethal force.” A similar warning is also displayed on the rear of vehicles belonging to Aegis.

Capt Adnan Tawfiq of the Iraqi Interior Ministry which deals with compensation issues, has told the Sunday Telegraph that he has received numerous claims from families who allege that their relatives have been shot by private security contractors travelling in road convoys.

He said: “When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done. Sometimes we ring the companies concerned and they deny everything. The families don’t get any money or compensation. I would say we have had about 50-60 incidents of this kind.”

A spokesman for Aegis Defence Services, said: “There is nothing to indicate that these film clips are in any way connected to Aegis.”

Last night a spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “Aegis have assured us that there is nothing on the video to suggest that it has anything to do with their company. This is now a matter for the American authorities because Aegis is under contract to the United States.”
And while these scum-of-the-earth yahoos are on their hooligans' holiday in Iraq, shooting the place up, there are people like Col. Ted Westhusing who don't see Iraq as some kind of demented Disneyland.

Finally, there is this: Allawi: Iraq Abuses As Bad As Under Saddam. The only people who support this atrocity in Iraq are those who make their livings wearing neckties and talking about war, not fighting it. Bill O'Reilly should shut his fucking mouth and go to Iraq -- and take that stagnant, coiffed altar boy, Sean Hannity, with him. Let's see these motherfuckers work a checkpoint for an afternoon. If you support this war, you should shut up and sign up.

"I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

Singapore executioner wants out

October 28, 2005 - 7:54AM

The man due to execute convicted Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van in Singapore is a 73-year-old grandfather who can't retire because no-one will take his job.

The Singaporean government looks set to take the 25-year-old Melbourne man to the gallows, after rejecting his appeal for clemency last Friday.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has made a last ditch attempt to save Nguyen's life, but says he has little hope the Australian will be spared.

Singapore's chief executioner Darshan Singh, who has hanged more than 850 prisoners in his 46 years in the role, is due to place the rope around Nguyen's neck, The Australian newspaper reported.

He will say: "I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

The newspaper says Singh, who lives in a government-owned apartment, wants to leave his job but authorities cannot find a replacement.

Singh is not permitted by law to speak publicly about his job.

But a colleague told the newspaper: "He tried to train two would-be hangmen to replace him, a Malaysian and a Chinese, both in the prison service.

"But when it came to pulling the lever for the real thing, they both froze and could not do it.

"The Chinese guy, a prison officer, became so distraught he walked out immediately and resigned from the prison service altogether."

Nguyen was caught with 396 grams of heroin strapped to his body and in his hand luggage at Singapore's Changi airport in 2002.

He is expected to be hanged in the next four to six weeks.

© 2005 AAP

From Yahoo News:

Sun Nov 27, 3:00 AM ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has sacked its long-serving hangman, less than a week before the scheduled execution of an Australian drug smuggler, after his identity and picture was exposed by media.

"They called me a few days ago and said I don't have to hang Nguyen and that I don't have to work anymore," Chief executioner Darshan Singh told Reuters on Sunday.

"I think they (the prison authorities) must be mad after seeing my pictures in the newspapers," Singh said.

Australia's Sunday Telegraph said a new executioner was expected to be flown into Singapore this week to carry out the December 2 hanging of 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van, who was sentenced to death for carrying 400 grams (0.9 lb) of heroin while in transit at the island-nation's airport.

Singh, a 74-year-old ethnic Indian, was reported in the Australian media to have conducted more than 850 hangings in his 50-year career. The reports said Singh had wanted to retire, but the search for a replacement was unsuccessful.

Singapore's prison department could not be reached for comment.

Despite repeated pleas from Australia to reconsider clemency for the former salesman, Singapore has stood firm on its decision, saying that Nguyen was caught with enough heroin "for 26,000 doses" and that the government would not allow Singapore to be used as a transit for illicit drugs.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has warned Singapore to prepare for lingering resentment in Australia if it goes ahead with the execution of Nguyen, but Howard has rejected public calls in Australia for boycotts of Singaporean companies and trade sanctions with one of its closest Asian allies.

Howard made another personal appeal to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on Saturday, Australian media reported on Sunday.

"I did have quite a discussion with him and he was left in no doubt as to the intensity of feeling within Australia," Howard told reporters. "There will be lingering resentment on the part of many Australians regarding this issue.

"They (Singapore) are certainly carefully monitoring what is occurring, but I am equally of the view, as I have been now for some time, that the government of Singapore is not going to change its mind."

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark also raised Nguyen's case during informal talks in Malta, media reported.

Singapore has one of the world's toughest drug laws. Laws enacted in 1975 stipulate death by hanging for anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 15 grams (0.5 ounce) of heroin, 30 grams (1.1 ounce) of cocaine, 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of cannabis or 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of methamphetamines.

Amnesty International said in a 2004 report that about 420 people had been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the city-state of 4.2 million people the highest execution rate in the world relative to population.

Monday, November 21, 2005

C.E.O. Stands for "Cheat Every One" Part II

Read C.E.O. Stands for "Cheat Every One" Part I if you missed it.

How do you know it's Xmas in North America? When all the news about layoffs and plant closings hits the airwaves; announcements made by grim-looking CEOs, feigning humanity as best they can as they speak their CorporateSpeak, which has all the tonal compassion of a grocery cart falling down a flight of concrete stairs.
NEW YORK ( - General Motors Corp. said Monday it would cut 30,000 hourly jobs and close or scale back operations at about a dozen U.S. and Canadian locations in a bid to save $7 billion a year and halt huge losses in its core North American auto operations.
The son of a bitch behind this latest "just-in-time-for-Xmas" announcement is GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. In 2004, he earned $9,957,020 in total compensation including stock option grants from General Motors and has another $5,000,000 in unexercised stock options from previous years.

What is the Xmas message from Mr. Wagoner and his family to you and your family this holiday season? Now, I'm paraphrasing here: "Fuck off and dry up." Nice.

In between drinking eggnog and singing Xmas carrolls this holiday season -- and sending out your resume and applying for unemployment benefits -- you should acquaint yourself with what our corporate titans earn each year. It's interesting. These are the men -- all middleaged white men, to the last -- who run our economy (run it like suicide bombers run cars and planes into buildings), and yet their names and faces are entirely unknown to me.

There is a C.E.O. out there who earned $230.6 million in 2004. Do you know who he is? What company he does he head? Then you should consult Forbes Magazine's CEO Compensation Special Report. Print a copy to read while waiting your turn in the unemployment office. Share the cheer with others.

And there are some really jaunty, funny categories in the Forbes report, like the "Worst Performing/Highest Paid CEOs". Read this aloud in the unemployment office and be the life of the party.

The day the human race is finally able to "outsource" greed, I hope we shoe-horn it into a lead-lined titanium box and shoot it into the sun. I wouldn't trust such a mission to a computerized auto-pilot. No, we'd need some dedicated, stand-up, brave-to-the-bone people to man this mission.

I elect Rick Wagoner, and every other son of a bitch you'll read about on the pages linked to this posting. When it comes to a manned mission to the sun to rid our world of greed, these men have the "right stuff."

Other sons of bitches you should add to your Xmas card list.

Never forget: Corporate executives are necrophilic grave-robbing swine.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

So Much For Freedom In China - Bush Can't Escape News Conference Due to Locked Door

In the Washington Post BEIJING (Reuters) - Irked by a reporter who told him he seemed to be "off his game" at a Beijing public appearance, President George W. Bush sought to make a hasty exit from a news conference but was thwarted by locked doors.

... "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work," Bush quipped, facing reporters again until an aide rescued him by pointing to him toward the correct door.
I'm sure corporations are hoping Bush has an easier time getting cellphones and microwave ovens into the hands of the Chinese masses than he did exiting this room.

And let's hope the Chinese chairman continues to press George W. Bush for more freedoms in America.

Something good has got to come from this visit.

See the video

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mr. Cheney, You Are a Liar, a Rogue, and a Miscreant

It's the "Old Executive Two-Step" -- when you have screwed up, gut-shoot the other guy; raise air-raid sirens about someone else's mistakes in order to distract attention from your own. That's Management 101.

Dick Cheney has been one of the leading voices of misinformation on behalf of the Bush Administration. He is lead assassin in the death of whatever skewed, malformed, and grotesque "honor" system may exist in Washington, D.C. But for him to stand up and charge others with "reprehensible" actions is truly beyond the pale.

There has been no more self-serving, morally void, black-hearted, humanity-impaired occupant of American public office than Dick Cheney. For Dick Cheney to stand up and say anything other than "I have sinned!" is an exercise in bearing false witness to thy brother (on his part).

The following remarks of Dick Cheney's are enough to make Christ himself dyspeptic, make the Devil himself envious, and any sense of justice and rightness in our human arena shrivel and gasp its last.

How interesting that someone with the same moral compass as Saddam Hussein was able to preside over Saddam's downfall. If this is the pattern of tyrants being taken down, I hope I'm fortified by distance, liquor, and nubile women when Cheney's nemesis arises.

... perhaps it's already slouching its way toward Bethlehem...

Excerpts As Prepared For Delivery Tonight by Vice President Cheney

THE VICE PRESIDENT: "As most of you know, I have spent a lot of years in public service, and first came to work in Washington, D.C. back in the late 1960s. I know what it’s like to operate in a highly charged political environment, in which the players on all sides of an issue feel passionately and speak forcefully.

In such an environment people sometimes lose their cool, and yet in Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate. But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition.

And the suggestion that’s been made by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city...

Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein. These are elected officials who had access to the intelligence, and were free to draw their own conclusions.

They arrived at the same judgment about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions that was made by this Administration and by the previous Administration. There was broad-based, bipartisan agreement that Saddam Hussein was a threat … that he had violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions … and that, in a post-9/11 world, we couldn’t afford to take the word of a dictator who had a history of WMD programs, who had excluded weapons inspectors, who had defied the demands of the international community, who had been designated an official state sponsor of terror, and who had committed mass murder.

Those are facts.

What we’re hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war.

The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out. American soldiers and Marines are out there every day in dangerous conditions and desert temperatures – conducting raids, training Iraqi forces, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers – and back home a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.*

The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone – but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.

We’re going to continue throwing their own words back at them. And far more important, we’re going to continue sending a consistent message to the men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts.

We can never say enough how much we appreciate them, and how proud they make us. They and their families can be certain: That this cause is right … and the performance of our military has been brave and honorable … and this nation will stand behind our fighting forces with pride and without wavering until the day of victory.
* What amazes me most is the lack of gall and outrage the American public seems to feel over the fact that the vast, vast majority of politicians who pushed for this illegitimate, wrong-headed war in Iraq not only never served their country in uniform, but actively avoided such service.

Update 11/26/2005

Why not whip... a dead horse?

Serial Killer Art Raises Free Speech Debate

Serial Killer Art Raises Free Speech Debate

I'm a writer and the family member of a person who was murdered.

People guilty and imprisoned for violent crimes lose their right to freedom, and that should include the right or freedom to sell their "art." Crime has cost society enough, and it's time the perpetrators of crime were slapped back into the position/understanding that society merely tolerates their presence, hindered and cut-off as it is. My opinion centers only on those guilty of violence, not those who have committed non-violent crimes.

If a person guilty of assault or murder writes a book, fuck his right to publish it. If a person guilty of assault or murder paints a picture, fuck his right to sell it.

Marjorie Heins, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, said freedom of expression extends to prisoners even if it causes emotional distress or offense to the victim's families.

That needs to change.

Our society does not tolerate "cruel and unusual" treatment of incarcerated criminals, and I think the handlers and decision-makers for criminals must re-awaken to the fact that society will not tolerate cruel and unusual assaults upon its psyche. Its more than enough that people who assault and kill are allowed to live, despite the lives they have mangled. Their rights begin and end with their right to draw oxygen. They are provided lodging, clothing, food, even legal counsel. They may not intentionally or unintentionally prey upon the families of their victims with their right to free speech.

Bosses Rejoice! Your Success is Well-Charted! "Survey: U.S. workers feel less secure"

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Reading says that nearly 24% think they could lose job in next year, up from 19.3% six months ago: Workers in the United States are far more nervous about losing their jobs than they were six months ago and are now among the least confident employees among the world's leading economies, according to a recent survey..

Bosses everywhere, you sly malignant bastards (whom I affectionately refer to as "grave-robbing necrophilic swine") must be doing something right! Your workers are shitting their pants. No, no, really -- take the bow that is your due. You've been exporting jobs at such a rate and souring the atmospheres of the jobs that remain in North America to such an extent, that workers everywhere are cowering in their cubicles, not wondering if the axe will fall, but when.

If only my pork belly investments and ocean-side Alberta property had grown from 19.3% to almost 24% -- then I could finally tell my own boss to go fuck himself. (Unfortunately, in this case, I am my own boss; but I'd be willing to make this outburst, and willing to take such impudence from myself, though it would make for certain awkwardness around the lunchroom.)

This is what we get with Prime Minister Paul Martin occupying the top latrine in Canada, and corporate jackals of the Bush Administration bleeding off the American economy like a 15th century medical man draining a troublesome patient of his "humors."

Bravo you corporate titans! I don't want to put pressure on you, but wouldn't it be great if we could see that increase double by next year at this time -- and just in time for Xmas!

Remember, the fewer employees you have, the fewer people you have to pay. And the fewer people you have to pay means more money for you! And that's what it's all about. Not just "earning a living," or "getting ahead." The name of the game is "fuck the other guy so hard he'll wish he was never born." And the rules of the game dictate "everything for me! Me! All for me! Not for you! For me!"

I have always believed that corporate executives have it right -- werk is so shitty and demoralizing that it's not worth getting out of bed for anything less than $50 million per year.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Latest Conspiracy Theory: Oil Company Profits Are Linked to High Prices - Yeah, Right!

There is absolutely no relationship between high prices of a given product, and the profits enjoyed by the maker of that product. Just as there is no relationship between a bullet being fired through the heart of a human being, and that human dying; and no relationship between fighting unjustifiable foreign wars, and the level of international hatred directed at countries who launch bloody, pre-emptive actions based on lies. These are conspiracy theories of the most damaging stripe and vintage.

Anyone who disagrees with this should shut up and buy a Hummer.

Just as Jesus Christ and God the Father created the universe guided by the mother-of-all-DIYs, Intelligent Design, so too has the Holy Spirit filled our corporate leaders to create an economy based on Intelligent Design.

Trust them. God does.

Gallery of Economic Martyrs

Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Lee Raymond

Chevron CEO David O'Reilly

ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva

BP America President Ross Pillari

Shell Oil Co. President John Hofmeister

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Most Hated Person in the World

As a kid I was fascinated by the Guinness Book of World Records, particularly the TV show hosted by David Frost. I was forever curious about who was the strongest person in the world, the tallest person in the world, the oldest living person in the world. But I was even more interested in learning about the more abstract "greatest"s -- smartest person in the world, bravest person, most evil person.

Seeing Argentina explode into riots over the Americas summit reminds me of how every city in the world explodes with unrest when George W. Bush visits. He's like the "Jessica Fletcher" (Angela Landsbury's character on the TV show Murder, She Wrote) of world politics -- wherever Jessica went, murdered people turned up; wherever George W. Bush goes, riots and protests erupt.

Sure, I know that protests follow most politicians. But not on the scale, and not with the ferocity and consistent charges of fascism, terrorism, and imperialism, as when George W. Bush lands in a new land. W. claims his participation in the summit is an 'opportunity to positively affirm our belief in democracy and human rights and human dignity'" but that's a complete and utter lie. It's an insultingly transparent lie, as well.

George W. Bush commands a country that believes in secret detentions, in torture (sometimes torturing people to death), in detention-without-end, with no charges, on secret evidence. No wonder so few people have been released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- seeing the frail old men and stunned young boys who have been released reveals the arbitrary, ridiculous, ill-planned nature of these detentions. None of the people released from that U.S. concentration camp have faced any charges when they returned home.

Now we're hearing about the ever-benevolent CIA operating "Soviet-styled" secret prisons in eastern Europe.

Hey, I'm all for getting the "bad guys." No kidding, I am. I've posted here before my belief in the importance of getting the actual bad guys. Once we have them, I'm all for leaning the full weight of justice against them. America hides behind that old, thinning saw of "national security," but I think in order to have any credibility, the U.S. must do none of this in secret. I'm not saying they should post the results of current investigations on the Internet, but they should most definitely stop designating certain people as "enemy combatants." This from the people whose tempers and morality went nuclear when President Bill Clinton quibbled about the meaning "intercourse" when being questions about his tryst with an intern in the White House.

If the '50's rock singer, Dion, is still living, he should write a song for W. called "The Squanderer," because George W. Bush is the legendary squanderer of the global goodwill that shone on the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks. And now he has squandered the "political capital" he felt he'd gained after his last rigged election (blackbox voting in the Land of the Free?). What comes out of W.'s mouth, and the mouthpieces of his White House, is so easily, consistently, and speedily proven false that W. lost all credibility with most of the world before the 9/11 attacks. He doesn't seem to understand that people now have access to something called "the Internet," and this "digital world-hive-brain" makes information more readily available than it has been in previous decades.

From the universally debunked reasons for the U.S. going to war with Iraq, to the staged photo-op on that aircraft carrier in which W. had the gall to appear in military uniform, the thinning, increasing fictions of his administration have rendered it as a sterling symbol of subterfuge, deceit, double-dealing, and corruption.

George W. Bush is arguably the most hated person in the world because of his seamless record of corruption. Words like "freedom" and "democracy" are curses coming from his mouth.

I submit that George W. Bush is the face of the "Axis of Insanity" that has surfaced in the 21st Century, and his presidency marks the decline and fizzling of everything America once was and once represented.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Canadian Judas-Prudence: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"

EDMONTON (CP) No more jail for Edmonton woman who concealed birth, put baby in garbage bag


EDMONTON (CP) - A woman who admitted to concealing her pregnancy and later placing her newborn baby in a garbage bag was spared further jail time Thursday.

A Court of Queen's Bench justice sentenced 23-year-old Nicole Anderwald to 90 days for causing the baby's death by neglecting to get help after giving birth and another 40 days for disposing of the infant.

But because she had already spent 3 1/2 months in custody, Justice Terrance Clackson decided to let Anderwald go free. She will be on two years probation.

"While this is about loss of life, this is not about murder," said Clackson, who noted that Anderwald's crimes involved deception but not violence.

"I'm not sentencing a killer, but a desperate woman wanting to hide her pregnancy from the world."

Patty Nixon, executive director of Alberta Pro-Life, called the ruling significant.

"It's certainly very disconcerting and it gives you an example of the value that is placed on human life," she said.

"Now when people hear of a child that is just abandoned and left to die, there's no uproar. There's this awkward silence . . . it was a poor situation, she was from some sort of background that was maybe, possibly dysfunctional, who knows? But they're finding some reason to justify that it was OK. And it's not OK."

Clackson said while the court must denounce Anderwald's actions, psychiatric reports show she was mentally unbalanced when she secretly gave birth to a daughter last year.

"The emotional repercussions will be a cross to bear for a long time to come," the justice added.

Clackson also took the unusual step of ordering the young woman to submit the results of quarterly pregnancy tests to her probation officer. That's to make sure that if Anderwald gets pregnant, she'll get the help she needs.

"I'm not trying to see that you not become pregnant," Clackson explained to Anderwald.

"But if you do, I'm taking steps to make sure the world knows about it.".

Last month, court heard Anderwald gave birth to a baby girl Aug. 9, 2004, in the bedroom of her family's Edmonton home before passing out.

After she woke up, she put the baby in a garbage bag beside her bed, had a bath and watched TV. Anderwald later told a psychiatrist the baby didn't move so she thought it had been stillborn.

She had tried to conceal her pregnancy by telling people she had a tumour, or was gaining weight, but relatives already suspected she was pregnant.

At one point, court heard, her mother gave her a note asking: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"

Before going to work the day after the birth, Anderwald stuffed the garbage bag in her bedroom closet where her mother later found it.

Co-workers said she was happy and told them an operation to remove a tumour the size of a watermelon had been a success. She was arrested by police at work.

Before she was sentenced, a pale Anderwald rose in the prisoner's dock and read from a statement, apologizing to her family and friends - many of whom she said still feel they failed her.

"I wish I could change the past and bring Angela back," she said, using the name she gave the child.

"Unfortunately, I cannot. For the rest of my life I will always wonder what she could have become and feel the pain of loss and regret."

The judge also said she should continue working at the call centre where she has had a job since before becoming pregnant, or report any changes in employment to her probation officer.

Anderwald was originally charged with second-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to infanticide after a preliminary hearing.

On Oct. 7, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of causing the death of a baby by neglecting to obtain assistance in childbirth and disposing of the body of a child.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

George W. Bush - Falling Poll Numbers Call for Another "Failure of Imagination" to Pump Them Back Up

I am Canadian. I couldn't care less if one of the South Park characters was elected president of the U.S.A.. The American political process interests me to the same degree the British system interested me when I lived in Ireland a few years ago: only the myopic, apathetic, or idiotic do not care what is occurring with their neighbors.

I followed the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign, interested in the fact that the son of a former president was running for office. I had little opinion about George Bush senior, but immediately developed opinions about George W. Bush. More than his mangling of the English language, more than his utter inexperience in government, politics, and his unbroken string of failures in the corporate world, it was his fogbound, pin-hole perspective on the world at large that led me to deduce the man an absolute imbecile; a man of murderous stupidity. The man's massive incuriosity, his child's attention span, his utter ignorance about the world; his utter lack of personality, wherewithal, belief system and character were pungently apparent early in his campaign.

What only accentuated my perception of George W. Bush as a spoiled, witless fratboy who has navigated his way through life on the currency of his family's name was the lack of criticism his persona and platform received in the media. My opinions were not formed or swayed by any so-called liberal lambasting of the man. There was no need for anyone to parody, satirize or otherwise insult or mock George W. Bush -- the man is his own neon travesty.

I'm one of these weird people who forms his own opinions. I think for myself. As I heard sound bytes of W.'s speeches, I marvelled at the lack of realistic analysis his views received. During his debates with Al Gore, there were a few moments when my disgust for George W. Bush morphed into actual pity -- seeing the man struggle with his mother tongue, articulating ideas he'd been coached on but which obviously made no coherent sense to him. Then to hear on the morning radio shows the following day how W. had cleaned Al Gore's clock in the debate. Beyond bizarre.

The debacle of the 2000 election seemed entirely inevitable. Hearing how Jeb Bush employed ChoicePoint to create those "purge lists" on the voting rolls in order to strip as many African Americans of their voting rights didn't strike me as far-fetched. W. winning the election struck me as ridiculous. But when it became apparent W. would actually become an unbothered squatter in the White House, one of the first opinions about him as president that I formed was that he would be the first U.S. president to resign from office out of boredom. It was clear the man was not cut out to do an honest day's work, no matter the venue. It was clear he was absolutely not up to the demands placed on presidents.

As with every other endeavor W. has embarked upon during his meandering life, I figured he would get bored with being president and simply walk away.

But he hasn't.

Having observed W. over these past five years -- through the presidential campaign and his first term as president -- a pattern has emerged: he's not good at being president, doesn't seem to derive any satisfaction from the job, and gets into these funks where his poll numbers slip like his grades through his academic career. The pattern that has emerged is when W.'s poll numbers decline, some radical "failure of imagination" occurs.

In the weeks before the 9/11 attacks, I recall W. was looking ahead to the unpleasant task of presenting some sort of vision to Congress and the Senate when they came back from summer adjournment. But then those tragic attacks took place, and W.'s football coach vocabulary and outlook suddenly became an asset to him.

The second "failure of imagination" was the response to Hurricane Katrina at the end of this summer. The only difference between the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks, is that Hurricane Katrina was not within the power of American law enforcement and intelligence to be stopped.

There is much talk in the media right now about an "avian flu" with comparisons to the massive 1918 flu pandemic that killed tens of millions of people worldwide. Will an outbreak of this avian flu in the United States be the third "failure of imagination" for George W. Bush's administration?

As a Canadian citizen, I am interested in and disgusted by George W. Bush because he is a global problem, like global warming, nuclear arms, STDs, etc.

To this point, the "failures of imagination" under W.'s watch have been passed off as being unforeseen. George W. Bush's poll numbers are free-falling once again. What cataclysmic event will take place to buoy them?

Friday, October 21, 2005

BANNED: Documentary "Conspiracy of Silence" - The most heinous story I have ever encountered

The Child sex ring that reached Bush/Reagan Whitehouse

Chapter 22 - "Omaha Call Boys" from George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin

Banned in North America, the documentary Conspiracy of Silence begins with the following notice:
On Tuesday May 3rd 1994 this program was scheduled to air on the Discovery Channel. (For the best viewable version go to Best Online Documentaries and navigate in its menu: Mystery > Conspiracy Theories > A-M > Conspiracy of Silence.)

Influential members of Congress applied pressure to the cable industry to stop the airing of the program and destroy ALL COPIES!

It was already listed nation-wide in the April 30th-May 6th edition of TV Guide and newspaper supplements.

The Discovery Channel and Yorkshire Television were reimbursed for the quarter to half-MILLION dollars production costs.


Conspiracy of Silence tells the story of Lawrence King, a GOP insider and convicted embezzler, who lived and worked out of Omaha, Nebraska. The sordid saga began with the collapse of the minority-oriented Franklin Community Credit Union in Omaha, directed by Lawrence E. King, Jr., a nationally influential black Republican who sang the national anthem at both the 1984 and 1988 Republican conventions.

When his S&L offices were raided, authorities stumbled upon a most unexpected trove of incriminating evidence -- not only of financial malfeasance, but of a shocking pedophile ring run by Lawrence King. Not only had King embezzled $40 million from his business, but he took gross advantage of children from the legendary Boys Town orphanage, which was right in his own backyard. King presided over a pedophile ring that provided the sexual favors of children as young as ten years to prominent businessmen, politicians, and even the Omaha police chief. Numerous photographs were taken and copious amounts of video shot of these men engaged in perverse sexual acts with children.

Photographer Russell E. "Rusty" Nelson "was allegedly employed by a former Republican Party activist to take pictures of current or retired U.S. House-Senate members and other prominent government officials engaging in sexual criminality by receiving or committing sodomy and other sex acts on children during the Reagan-Bush 41 administration."

One of the most vocal victims of this pedophile ring is a man by the name of Paul Bonacci, who names among his abusers Democratic Congressman Barney Frank. "... Bonacci -- kidnapped and forced into sex slavery between the ages of 6 and 17 -- told U.S. District Court Judge Warren Urbom in sworn testimony [pp.105, 124-126] on February 5, 1999: "Where were the parties?...down in Washington, DC...and that was for sex... There was sex between adult men and other adult men but most of it had to do with young boys and young girls with the older folks... specifically for sex with minors...Also in Washington, DC, there were parties after a party... there were a lot of parties where there would be senators and congressmen who had nothing to do with the sexual stuff. But there were some senators and congressmen who stayed for the [pedophile sex] parties afterwards...on a lot of the trips he took us on he had us, I mean, I met some people that I don't feel comfortable telling their name because I don't want to --- ...Q: Are you scared?... Yes..."
John DeCamp reads from Paul Bonacci's diary as quoted in DeCamp's book The Franklin Cover-up:

"I went in January of '84 on every trip. I was paid by men King knew for sex. The summer of '84 sometime I went to Dallas, Texas and had sex with several men King knew in a hotel. I flew on YNR airlines (by the way that’s a private airline or a private charter deal) and Cam airlines (another private charter deal) normally for King. I never had much personally to do with King only went where he told me to go.

"In or on July 26th, I went to Sacramento, CA. King flew me out on a private plane from an airfield in Omaha to Denver where we picked up Nicholas. A boy who was about 12 or 13, then we flew to Vegas to a desert strip and drove into Las Vegas to some ranch and got something. Then flew on to Sacramento. We were picked up by a white limo and taken to a hotel. I don't remember the name of it. We, meaning Nicholas and I, were driven to an area that had big, big trees. It took about an hour to get there. There was a cage with a boy in it who was not wearing anything. Nicholas and I were given these Tarzan things to put around us and some stuff like that. They told me to, (I won't use the word) blank the boy and stuff. (In other words have sex with him.) At first I said no and they held a gun to my genitals (I'll use that word) and said do it or else lose them or something like that. I began doing it to the boy and stuff. And Nicholas had anal sex and stuff. We were told to blank him and stuff and beat on him. I didn't try to hurt him.

"We were told to put our blanks in his mouth and stuff and sit on the boy’s blank and stuff and they filmed it. We did this stuff to the boy for about 30 minutes or an hour when a man came in and kicked us and stuff in the genitals. And picked us up and threw us. He grabbed the boy and started blanking him and stuff. The man was about (I'm not sure how to say this) the man was about so many inches long and the boy screamed and stuff. The man was forcing his blank into the boy all the way. The boy was bleeding from his rectum and the men tossed me and him and stuff and put the boy right next to me and grabbed a gun and blew the boy's head off. The boy's blood was all over me and I started yelling and crying and the men grabbed Nicholas and I and forced us to lie down. They put the boy on top of Nicholas who was crying and they were putting Nicholas's hands on the boy’s blank. They put the boy on top of me and did the same thing. They then forced me to blank the dead boy. (It gets pretty crude.) They put a gun to our heads to make us do it. His blood was all over us. They made us kiss the boy’s lips. (Anyway, a few other things.) Then they made me do something I don't even want to write so I won't.

"After that the men grabbed Nicholas and drug him off screaming. They put me up against a tree and put a gun to my head but fired into the air. I heard another shot from somewhere and then saw the man who killed the boy drag him like a toy. Everything including when the men put the boy in the trunk was filmed. The men took me with them and we went up in a plane. I saw the bag the boy was in. We went over a very thick brush area with a clearing in it. Over the clearing they dropped the boy. One said the men with the hoods would take care of the body for them.

"I didn't see Nicholas until that night at the hotel. He and I hugged and held each other for a long while. About 2 hours later the men or Larry King came in and told us to go take a shower since we'd had only been hosed off at some guy’s house. We took a shower together and then were told to put on the Tarzan things. And after we were cleaned up and dressed in these things we were told to put on shorts, socks and a shirt and shoes and were driven to a house where the men were at some others. They had the film and they played it. As the men watched it they passed Nicholas and I around as if we were toys..."
Bonacci's lawyer, John DeCamp, has waged a long, lonely and expensive legal campaign in exposing crimes involving an international pedophile-pornography ring.

In 1991, DeCamp filed a 12-count suit in federal court, charging 16 prominent individuals and institutions, including Lawrence E. King, Omaha World Herald Publisher Harold Andersen and the Omaha Police Department with conspiracy to deprive Paul Bonacci of his civil rights. DeCamp's suit detailed slander, false imprisonment, child abuse, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress suffered by Bonacci.

The complex case also involved high-level politicians, business leaders, judges and police officials with connections to the drug distribution/money laundering operations known as "Iran"-Contra which goes back to then Vice-President George Bush. DeCamp, a former Nebraska State Senator, even wrote a groundbreaking book about the sordid history of the case called The Franklin Cover-Up: Child Abuse, Satanism and Murder in Nebraska. More

The evening of July 11, 1990, Gary Caradori, the investigator for the Nebraska State Legislature, Special Committee, called Senator Loran Schmit, Chairman of the Committee, from Chicago and told him he had the "smoking gun". Caradori told Senator Schmit he would fly that night from Chicago on his private plane with his son en route to Lincoln, Nebraska, with the evidence. The plane exploded in mid-air a short time later while flying over Aurora, Illinois killing Caradori and his 8-year-old son.

Officials claimed the plane disintegrated in mid-air. They denied an explosion took place. De Camp writes in his book, "The Franklin Cover-Up"; "A farmer reported he saw a flash of light, heard an explosion, and saw the plane plunge to the ground .The eyewitness account of the flash of light and the explosion was on the early edition of television news in Nebraska, but was pulled from subsequent reports which said that the plane exploded on impact". (p. 2-3)

Bob Wadman, former Chief of Police of Omaha, and a perpetrator identified by the children, was Chief of Police in Aurora at the time.

Caradori’s briefcase and the rear seat to the plane have never been found. Ted Gunderson, suspects his briefcase contained the evidence mentioned the previous night to Senator Schmit, probably the incriminating materials, including photographs, provided by Rusty Nelson to Caradori. The rear seat to the airplane was not found, Gunderson suspects, to avoid evidence of a bomb.

The wreckage of the plane was examined on a military base rather than at a location under the control of civilian personnel. Under the Federal Delimitation Agreement, civilian personnel matters are handled by civilians and military matters are handled by the military. The crash was ruled an "accident" by government officials and not an act of sabotage.

Both Gunderson and Noreen Gosch, mother of missing-child Johnny Gosch, later learned that Caradori had in his possession evidence that her son was a victim of the Franklin satanic cult/sex/drug ring. Paul Bonacci and Rusty Nelson have both provided detailed testimony attesting to this.

Gary Caradori repeatedly told friends in the weeks before his death that he feared his plane would be sabotaged.

The documentary ends with the following note:
You have just viewed the rough edited copy of CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE.

This tape was sent anonymously to Nebraska Attorney John DeCamp one year after all copies were supposedly destroyed.
Further reading:

Paul Bonacci awarded $1 million by court for the abuse he suffered

Alex Jones Interviews John DeCamp, Author of The Franklin Cover-up

The Franklin Cover-up

The Franklin Cover-up 2005

Alex Jones interviews Tom Flocco on his latest story, Photographer for White House child sex ring arrested after Thompson suicide

Advice and Experience for Whistleblowers Looking for Help

Hear Your Host on Paul A. Toth's PodCast

My interview on Paul A. Toth's TothWorld Podcast is now available. It can be downloaded directly from, just as you would download any .mp3 file -- that is, right-click and save the file to disk.

You can also access TothWorld via I-Tunes, where you should look for TothWorld: The Paul A. Toth Podcast. It's listed under audio blogs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

... And Then There is Sander Hicks and THE BIG WEDDING

As an author and reader, books mean almost as much to me as my closest relationships do. While living in Dublin, Ireland, years ago, subsisting on a deli sandwich and can of soup a day, I remember earning a little money doing some teaching. Rather than going out and having a decent meal in a pub, I went to a bookstore and bought a copy of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.

Here I am, years later, still broke -- so broke that, in fact, when I purchased a book in July my wife was so insensed that she left me for three days. However, none of this held me back from purchasing the most important book -- in my opinion -- of 2005: The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-blowers, & the Cover-up by Sander Hicks.

Mainstream media is useful -- to some -- for only two things: filling time between commercials and muddying investigative waters by trumpeting the old saw, conspiracy theory, any time uncomfortable details surface regarding major events. Documentary-maker, Barry Zwicker, rightly refers to terms like conspiracy theory as "thought stoppers." Establishment spokesmen, such as Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw, have made excellent careers from reassuring the Great Unwashed that "conspiracies happen elsewhere." Peter Jennings' will was recently read out in court and it was learned the man was worth $50 million. That's a hell of a lot of incentive to "tow the line."

Since I first saw footage of the Zapruder film in a documentary about Nostradamus, The Man Who Could See Tomorrow, I've been suspect of "official stories." Persident John F. Kennedy was clearly shot from the front in Dallas in November 1963. All anyone need do to realize how ridiculous and phony the Warren Commission Report is is to read it.

It's always been equally difficult believing that Sirhan Sirhan murdered Robert Kennedy, considering that Sirhan was eight feet in front of Kennedy, and Kennedy died from a point-blank gunshot to the rear of his skull; just behind his right ear.

The "official" story of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is likewise rife with inconsistencies, as proven in the work and research of Dick Gregory, Mark Lane, and in the book An Act of State by William F. Pepper.

I remember years ago hearing some scientist's theory behind the creation of crop circles: that they were created by complex wind patterns. I'm more likely to believe crop circles are made by duck-footed aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, than that insultingly stupid theory. After seeing film footage of geometry-gifted hoaxsters creating crop circles in the span of a few hours one night, the mystery was forever solved in my mind.

So, the official story of the 9/11 attacks have always struck me as similarly ridiculous and intellectually insulting -- to wit: 19 men armed with boxcutters eluded the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus and defeated NORAD. Moreover, that the 9/11 attacks came as a complete and utter suprise to everyone from the Bush White on down the chain of command. The 9/11 Commission Report surpasses the Warren Commission Report in cynicism and depth of cover-up. It's conclusion being: "Everyone's to blame [for 9/11], therefore no one's to blame."


Investigative journalist Sander Hicks has recently published a book called The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-blowers, & the Cover-up that goes a long way toward putting faces and names behind the true history of the 9/11 attacks.

Hicks brings us Randy Glass, who, while working undercover for the U.S. government, met with members of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) at the Tribeca Grill, within view of the World Trade Center buildings in 1999. At one point during their meeting, one of the Pakistani men pointed in the direction of the World Trade Center buildings and said, "Those buildings are coming down."

(Do a Google search on Pakistan's ISI and see what you come up with.)

And there is Mike Vreeland, a quirky, shadowy figure who clearly had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

There is Daniel Hopsicker, an indomitable investigative journalist who discovered the real Mohammed Atta -- who ate steak, snorted cocaine, slept with white women, and may well have been an Egyptian double-agent -- behind the 9/11 Commission's convenient one-dimensional jihadist.

The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-blowers, & the Cover-up by Sander Hicks is an extraordinarily important book, and I urge all readers of this blog to pick up a copy. The book is not only vital and relevant to the dark times in which we now find ourselves, it's a highly readable, accessible work that does not attempt to solve all mysteries relating to the 9/11 attacks, but does a commendable job of pointing the way for further inquiry.
Check out: ____________________
Other important books:


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Morning with Ennis

                        Morning with Ennis

                        I’m sure my heart weighs
                        as much as my cat,
                        but is half as purposeful.

                        She leaps a distance
                        three times her height
                        onto a window ledge.
                        I’m looking out the window,
                        instead of writing.

                        Ennis turns rigid and furtive as a green beret
                        watching birds swoop into
                        the backyard, eating the grass seed
                        I cast there yesterday.
                        She speaks, cryptic as Colonel Kurtz
                        in Apocalypse Now:
                        “Eep, eep—qq qq qq.”

                        This is why science fiction doesn’t work for me:
                        Ennis is infinitely more alien than
                        a teal-painted actor with a toilet seat shaped insignia
                        on his trout-skinned tunic.

                        When her soliloquy is finished,
                        Ennis jumps down and lures me into the kitchen.
                        I go, still unable to write.
                        She implores like Dennis Hopper’s character
                        in Apocalypse Now:
                        “Mmm. Map. Owwwwww!”

                        She wants food, but I see there is food
                        in her dish.
                        She continues: “Owwwwww!”
                        She wants a tuna melt.

                        I comply, her oversized homunculus.