History Lesson: Australia. Here's a stunning fact I just learned watching some travel program on PBS: up until 1967, aboriginals in Australia were considered part of the "flora and fauna" of the island. Therefore, they weren't allowed to vote or included in the census. During a national referendum on May 27, 1967, 90% of voting Australians agreed that aboriginals should be granted rights to citizenship in their own country! Amazing. The movement for aboriginal rights occurred concurrently—and in solidarity with—other movements for indigenous and civil rights in the US and around the world, including the American Indian Movement, the Black Panthers, and, in New Zealand, the drive for Maori rights. While New Zealand's indigenous peoples gained the right to vote much earlier, this revelation—Australian indigenous people were viewed by white Aussies as akin to shrubs and kangaroos until only 40 years ago!—gives context for the work of Maori activists like Tame Iti across the Tasman Sea.
Secret postcards: Ann at Sivacracy points out this truly amazing website. PostSecret "is an ongoing community art project where people mail-in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard."

Condi's cans.

Condi's cans: Maybe Condoleeza Rice should start shopping for a new press secretary. (Pardon the alliteration.)
Regressive price indexing: Bush's notion of "progressive price indexing," a term the corporate media's been gobbling up, has a nifty, forward-looking, dare I say liberal, whiff to it. Heck, the way the prez talked about it the other night—how "people who are better off" will see reduced Social Security benefits under his reform plan—it almost sounded like he wants to do what we centrists and lefties have been pushing for: stopping government handouts for the rich.

But not so fast. He said benefits will be cut for everyone except “the bottom 30 percent of earners, or those who make less than about $20,000 currently.” So to be better off means to make more than $20,000 a year. That is, if you make $22,610—the 2005 poverty-line cut-off for a family of five, your benefits will be cut. Or it you're a recent graduate making $20,000 a year, you'll be hit too. Think Progress compares that to Bush's statements used to sell his tax cuts:
A 3/8/01 White House fact sheet entitled “President’s Tax Relief Plan Gives Greatest Relief to Lowest Income Taxpayers,” touts that the “share of income taxes paid is reduced for all income groups below $100,000 in income.”

So to sell his tax cuts, Bush implied that anything under $100,000 was “low income.” Now, to sell his Social Security package, anything over $20,000 is “better off.”

Fair and balanced:

Sans comment.

Via Crooks and Liars.
rion.nu: Check out Rion Nakaya's photoblog, one of New York's first. This shot is from a series of her father walking under the cherry blossoms in Japan. (Click here for a closeup.)
Few friends for the US in Latin America: By many measures, US Colombia policy has bombed: over the past five years, we've given $3 billion to help eradicate narcotrafficking and terrorism. While some efforts have been successful, the net to the US hasn't: the drug war there all but stalled out, and illegal drug sales here have actually gone up. So when Condoleeza Rice went to that country last week to tell Colombia that the US would maintain current funding levels there, I was surprised to see such a lovefest.

Perhaps this is why: kind of like the distant acquaintance you cling to like a long-lost buddy at a party filled with strangers, the US needs a best friend in a Latin America. Consider recent history: Bush pal Lucio Gutierrez, Ecuadorian president, was ousted last week after a popular uprising. And in the last five years people-powered movements overthrew leaders in Peru, Argentina and Bolivia; and in Brazil, Chile and Venezuela, left-leaning governments now rule. Across Latin America, new left leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez are gaining in popularity, a fact that reportedly has the Bush administration "running scared."

Absent from Rice's itinerary last week was a visit with Chavez, the leader who in April celebrated the two-year anniversary of a failed, US-backed coup. Conventional wisdom says that Condi's visit was explicity to help alienate Venezuela from its neighbors, but as Caracas-based journalist Craig Wilpert told Democracy Now!, that's not what's happening:
[E]very time that Condoleezza Rice criticizes Chavez, his popularity goes up within Venezuela, and probably also to some extent within the rest of Latin America. I mean, it's pretty much a transparent move, what Condoleezza Rice is trying to do is to isolate Venezuela with respect to the rest of Latin America... [I]t's almost the opposite that is happening, that in that process, the U.S. is isolating itself with respect to the rest of Latin America. I mean, Chavez has been signing all kinds of trade agreements and cooperation agreements with every country in Latin America, and he has been really pushing hard for the integration of Latin America. So, the isolation of Venezuela is very, very far from happening.
(You've got to wonder if Colombia's cozy relationship with the US will backfire and end up isolating it from the rest of Latin America.)

And: The Christian Science Monitor on the "new civic activism" in Latin America.
Under the hood: You might not recognize this man because last time you saw him he was wearing a hood in those infamous photos from Abu Ghraib prison. Last night Haj Ali, a former mayor of the Al Madifai district, near Baghdad, gave his first in-depth interview on NOW. "Abu Ghraib is a breeding ground for insurgents," he says. "99% of the people brought in are innocent, but with all the insults and torture, it makes them ready to do just about anything." Ali's crime is that he was a Baathist party member, a requirement for any elected official at the time. When he was released by the US, he received no apology: "They just said you were arrested by mistake... and they put a hood over my head. Then they put us in a truck with about 30- 40 other people. And they just pushed me off the truck." America's response to the abuse? The top five generals who oversaw prison policy were exonerated of any wrongdoing, while peons like Lyndie England are taking the fall. Is this the kind of justice we're modelling for Iraq's "fledgling democracy"?
Word of the day: Courtesy of The Wooster Collective, Wikipedia, and The Imaginary Foundation.


Munch masterpieces destroyed? The Norwegian press is reporting that Edvard Munch's masterpieces The Scream and Madonna have been destroyed by thieves. According to the paper Dagbladet, citing criminal sources and a secret police report, the works were incinerated in order to get rid of damning evidence as the police close in on the culprits behind the robbery. Madonna alone is said to be worth more than $22 million.


Pink triangles: "I dare ANYONE to tell me that we are NOW off-base comparing this kind of Nazi crap to what happened in Germany." What's got John at AMERICAblog so worked up? This:
Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."


Secret Service investigating Air America: Read it here.

Update: Or not.
Over the wall:
"Something there is that does not love a wall...
That wants it down..."

—Robert Frost, Mending Wall

An anonymous collective of California artists has begun doing art interventions into gated communities. Heavy Trash has installed three garish orange "viewing platforms" near walls that surround three LA gated communities to raise awareness of America's fastest-growing form of housing. While these communities are intended to wall out the riff-raff and keep its soft, wealthy innards safe, the platforms effectively turn its dwellers into zoo critters! (Via BoingBoing.)
Hidden horrors of the Bush budget:
If you've got something to hide in Washington, the best place to bury it is in the federal budget. The spending plan that President Bush submitted to Congress this year contains 2,000 pages that outline funding to safeguard the environment, protect workers from injury and death, crack down on securities fraud and ensure the safety of prescription drugs. But almost unnoticed in the budget, tucked away in a single paragraph, is a provision that could make every one of those protections a thing of the past.
The proposal, spelled out in three short sentences, would give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called the "Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them."
Read the full article at Rolling Stone. (Thanks, Reid.)
Who owns culture? CampusProgress posts the audiofile of an April 7 discussion between Free Culture author and Creative Commons brainchild Lawrence Lessig and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy at the New York Public Library. An excellent and accessible primer on copyright, technology and the future of our shared culture.


Big box bully: Wal-Mart has threatened a Carnegie-Mellon student who made a website poking fun at the Wal-Mart Foundation, the community development branch of the big box retailer. While the parody, by junior Daniel Papasian, seems like a clear case of fair use, Wal-Mart's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist order, which shut down the site. Says Papasian, "The site was a form of 'identity correction,' in which I used a parody to highlight real problems with companies like Wal-Mart. My site was designed to get people thinking about the consequences of importing goods from countries with poor labor laws, the environmental effects of big-box stores, and whether Wal-Mart is as benign as some would like us to believe. The site was designed to look like a page belonging to the real Foundation, but I can't imagine anyone who read the site didn't realize it was a parody."

What's interesting is that term "community development": some 70% of Wal-Mart's products are not made in America, but in China, according to just-launched website WalmartWatch.com. And while the company is hugely successful (as the world's largest retailer, they bring in $20,000 per minute with profits last year topping $10 billion), it can't seem to pay a living wage: it's average full-time worker makes $17,114.24 a year, well below the 2005 federal poverty level of $19,350 for a family of four. And because of such stingy pay and benefits, many of its employees are forced to seek out food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing, leaving US taxpayers to pay the "Wal-mart tax"—$1,557,616,500 per year. As NOW reported in 2003:
According to The Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California/Berkeley, in 2002, Wal-Mart workers in California relied on 50% more taxpayer funded health care per employee than those at other large retail companies. Put another way, taxpayers subsidized $20.5-million-worth-of medical care for Wal-Mart in California alone.
No wonder the company's a bit sensitive about how it's "community development" is perceived.
The devil's in the details: The tabloid amNew York is understandably taking some heat for running this photo. The paper, apparently a Newsday joynt, claims it never intended to make the pope so devilish (if you can't see it, the "horns" are actually the collars of the man standing behind the pope). Via Sploid.
Going nuclear: If the Senate shuts down over confrontation surrounding the fillibuster of Bush's far-right judicial nominees, who's to blame? Last time the Republicans forced a government shut-down, Newt Gingrich ended up stepping down, the Contract with America shriveled up and died, and the GOP lost seats right and left.

But this time around, who knows? A few indicators: by a two-to-one margin, Americans opppose the GOP changing rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering Bush's court nominees, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. And with the party's fearless leader's approval ratings tanking--large majorities oppose Bush's handling of Iraq, Social Security reform, the economy, and energy policy--it seems likely that Democrats will come off a bit better in case of a Senate shut-down. That, and the fact that, in the same poll, 47% of Americans say the Democratic party better represents their values. Only 38% said Republicans do.
Monday Einstein-head blogging: Atrios does Friday cat-blogging. AMERICAblog does Friday orchid-blogging. So welcome to Eyeteeth's first (and only) edition of Monday Einstein-head-blogging! (I found the image at Eyebeam awhile back, but don't ask what it's from.) This week, I'll be trying to lay off the gloom a bit--I've been realizing how down I've been getting about It All--so look for some lighter fare. And, as always, send your tips my way: paul (at) eyeteeth.org.
Soylent Green is people! And so is some genetically modified rice. According to The Independent, Japanese researchers have inserted genes from the human liver into GM rice "to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals." Scientists at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba say that the process makes rice immune to 13 different herbicides, but opponents say the human-derived food will flounder in the marketplace because it'll smack of cannibalism.
Stencil art seen on a wall in Portland, Oregon.

Via the Wooster Collective.



"What you ask is who you are, and what shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never think of asking..."

—Sam Keen
Bush bumps Kerry supporters from telecom confab: Time reports:
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign...
One-week media fast:
TV Turnoff Week starts tomorrow. See how it feels.

[Image: Street art by Banksy.]
New pope accused of "obstructing justice": My real problem with Benedict XVI is that he seems more bent on preserving the church as an institution, at any cost, than in promoting Christ's example—ostensibly the entire reason for the church to exist. Case in point: last night he was accused of obstructing justice when it came to light that he issued an order that clergy pedophilia cases be kept secret. From The Observer:
...The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001. It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week.

Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'.

The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'.

The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years.

It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'.

'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.

Daniel Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: 'It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It's an obstruction of justice.'
Full story here.
Microsoft caves to the religious right? As a Mac guy and someone with an aversion to monopolies, I see plenty of reasons to dislike Microsoft. Here's another: the company recently withdrew support for a bill that would've banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in Microsoft's home state of Washington, apparently caving to pressure by the religious right (an evangelical pastor in Redmond says he threatened a national boycott of the company if they continued to support House Bill 1515). Gay rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, are incensed, and the world's largest GLBT organization, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, has asked Microsoft to return the Corporate Vision Award it was given in 2001 for its anti-discrimination work.


Three days til TV Turnoff Week, April 25—May 1:
TV Turnoff Week is no ordinary social ritual. The goal is simple: to shake up routines and get people questioning the role of TV in their lives.

Sure, it’s a statement against dead-end couch culture. But it's also about cleaning up the mental environment. Like our oceans and air, our shared mindscape is littered with pollutants -- distorted news, manipulative ads, violence and top-down culture...
[Image: Captive Audience by Minneapolis artist John Diebel.]
So real they look fake: Carrie at Stay Free! links to an ad for the "Evolution by Margarita" bra, a lovely garment that features a "sculpted, graduated cup specially designed to mimic the appearance of cosmetic breast implants by lifting and slightly separating each breast to appear fuller and firmer both in and out of clothing" [emphasis mine]. Wow, we've gone full circle, haven't we?
A church for a new dark age? Pope John Paul II was, by many standards, a hardline conservative, but next to Benedict XVI, he's downright cuddly. As I learn more about the Cardinal formerly known as Ratzinger, the less hope I have that the Catholic church will maintain whatever relevance it has in the world, much less that it'll be a force for real Christ-ian justice. In my more hyperbolic moments, I fear Ratzinger is leading the Church into a new dark age—one where "faith" is determined not by how you live but by how well you follow the rules. Both Benedict's past and his first days in the papacy seem to bear these fears out.

The new pope kicked things off by getting political: he condemned the government of Spain for a likely-to-be-passed law that will allow homosexuals to marry and adopt children, calling it "iniquitous." Of course, political terrain isn't unfamiliar to him. A memo Ratzinger, John Paul's longtime orthodoxy cop, sent was made public last July, and it was immediately linked to Catholic candidate John Kerry. It stated that any Catholic who supports abortion shouldn't be granted Communion. (Very few of us pro-choice advocates "support" abortion, by the way; we do, however, support reproductive choice for women.) The memo even delved into moral relativism: despite the "Culture of Life" clan's claims of the "sanctity of life," Ratzinger made it clear: some lives are more sacred than others.
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.

While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
His statement, especially by its timing, seems to exonerate George W. Bush, who, were he Catholic, could serenely munch Communion wafers despite the fact that he broke records for executions while Texas governor and waged a war that killed tens of thousands on widely discredited evidence of weapons of mass destruction. So much for "Thou shalt not kill," eh?

But, for Ratzinger, that's just icing on the cake. He believes that once-widespread liberation theology, a spiritual and political movement of and for the poor, especially in Latin America, "constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church." He's unequivocally stated there will be no debate on issues such as the ordination of women, the possibility of married priests, reproductive rights, and homosexuality. He's refused to budge on contraception, even as a way of preventing AIDS/HIV. In a 37-page Vatican document, he accused the feminist movement of an "ideology based on sex" and "denial of the biological differences between men and women," adding that women are "naturally good at listening, welcoming others and waiting." And waiting is what they'll do if they want to be priests; he's called the ordination of women a "serious attack on the unity of the Church."

Ah, unity.

I'm starting to wonder if the unity he's seeking is a tiny unity. A unity of the straight, the male, the conservative, the wealthy, and the unquestioning. Perhaps I'm over-reacting. But the Church I embrace, the only one that keeps me clinging by my fingernails to the Catholicism of my youth, is one that is radically Christ-like. That is, inclusive, forgiving, focused on the poor, and oriented toward resurrection, not merely crucifiction. And Ratzinger's take and mine don't seem to match.

I haven't read the papal encyclicals and I'm not a hobbyist in exegisis, but my sense is that the Church will dwindle under the leadership of those like Ratzinger. People like me will bolt. Anyone considering filling the increasingly empty convents, rectories and monasteries will think twice. And the Catholic church—which will be only catholic in name—will wither.

Then again, we've got a president not so different from Ratzinger. Fifty-one percent of voting Americans supported the guy with the unnuanced thinking—the faith-based, with-us-or-against-us zealot. The guy with the nerve to wag his finger at the "Axis of Evil" while waging "preemptive" war, harboring a variety of political and corporate crooks, and seeking to sell off much of America, from ANWAR to Social Security, to his cronies in business. The man with disdain for the entire "reality-based community." Perhaps Ratzinger isn't ushering in a dark age. Maybe he's just in the right place at the right time.

Earlier: The "panzer pope's" Hitler youth and burying an investigation into pedophilia. And: Divinity for the reality-based community.

[Is that the new Vatican flag? Above: Untitled (Snake Flag) (2005) by Reuben Lorch-Miller.]
The Tipping Point: Perhaps I'm engaging in a bit of wishful thinking, but if my new entry at the Adbusters blog is even remotely correct, the right is heading for a fall. Starting out with a visit by Bush's Secret Service to an out-of-the-way art exhibition critical of the president, the article runs down a host of ways the conservative right is scrambling to put out fires, quell dissent, and maintain their tenuous grip on power:
...Scan the headlines of the past few days and you'll see it fits a pattern of similarly histrionic—even hysterical—behavior by rightwingers. Are they getting desperate? Starting to crack? At the very least, they seem to be flailing.

As accusations of ethical breaches by DeLay pile up like Texas cordwood, conservatives are angling to blame the "liberal media" instead of facing the obvious. Fox News' John Gibson made the bizarre postulation that convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh might've been in cahoots with the Iraqis to blow up the Murrah building ten years ago (after all, white guys can't be terrorist masterminds, can they?). Taking the same podium where DeLay hoisted a gun days earlier, aged rocker Ted Nugent thrust twin assault rifles in the air at this week's NRA convention as he called on gun-rights advocates to be "hardcore, radical extremists demanding the right to self defense." ("I want the bad guys dead," he said to the swooning crowds. "No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em.") And, despite Bush's insistence that "homeland security" is a top priority, his White House can't stand a little criticism on the topic: it just canned publication of a major report on international terrorism, the same annual study that found acts of terror last year reached a 19-year high despite Bush's tough talk.

Admittedly, the GOP's Teflon armor still has its shine, but with Bush's approval ratings hitting historic lows, with a majority of Americans standing in opposition to Republican meddling in what could've been a dignified death for Terri Schiavo, and with Republicans trying to quash criticism at every turn and monitor the work of artists, you have to wonder if we're nearing a tipping point.
Read it all.
Ever have one of those weeks?


You are being watched. According to a new report by a consortium of global groups, US-led surveillance measures are rolling back freedoms worldwide, with the goal of having every person tagged and tracked. The Register reports:
The technological capacity of the structures being built "dwarfs any previous system and makes Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four look quaint", says the report.

The result, however, will be a massive loss of freedoms in exchange for systems which do not succeed in their intended purposes, and which may even obstruct them by chasing down the blind alleys of predictive 'threat models' and risk profiling. "The initiatives described in this report are not effective in flagging terrorists or stopping their determined plans," it says. "They divert crucial resources away from the kind of investments in human intelligence we need to give us good intelligence about specific threats, rather than useless information on the nearly 100 per cent of the population that poses no threat whatsoever."


An example for us all... Bush loves Texas, but not enough to file his taxes there. AMERICAblog reports that "for tax purposes" the president and first lady filed a 1040 in Illinois using a "home address" that's merely a PO Box.
Losing grip: Can the right not fathom that some white folks are terrorists in their own right? Fox News' John Gibson suggests that Iraq was behind the Oklahoma City bombing. Especially bizarre is where he suggests that McVeigh was "just the grunt"--the guy found guilty of such un-grunt-like activities as "mixing the chemicals, driving the truck, setting the timer, and running off."
Gun nuts: Maybe Ted Nugent is a master of satire and self mockery. Maybe he's a freakin' nutcase. At the NRA national convention, he told members that they should only associate with other members and that it's their duty to be "hardcore, radical extremists demanding the right to self defense." The AP reports him saying:
"Let's next year sit here and say, 'Holy smokes, the NRA has 40 million members now,'" he said. "No one is allowed at our barbecues unless they are an NRA member. Do that in your life."

..."Remember the Alamo! Shoot 'em!" he screamed to applause. "To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em."

The pope on pedophilia: Ratzinger seems in denial about pedophile priests. He's actively covered up investigations into accusations of abuse, once even slapping a reporter's hand in anger over being questioned about one such case. And he's made statements suggesting that the scandal has more to do with trumped-up charges by the media than clergy who have been fondling and raping young boys. In 2002, he said:
In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts.

Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church. It is a logical and well-founded conclusion.


"Panzer pope": Known as "God's rottweiler," new pope Benedict XVI is "one of the most controversial figures in the modern Church," according to the Telegraph. No wonder. A quick Google search reveals a past and present filled with disturbing facts. A one-time (and half-hearted) member of the Hitler Youth, he spent the war "enrolled in an anti-aircraft unit that protected a BMW factory making aircraft engines. The workforce included slaves from Dachau concentration camp."

More recently, he intervened in the 2004 US presidential election to force bishops to refuse communion to John Kerry (he issued no similar order to 6th Commandment defier and preemptive warmonger George Bush). And, if you're wondering about his openness to all spiritual seekers, consider that he called homosexuality "an intrinsic moral evil." Gay Catholic conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan says
Benedict's election accelerates the Church "toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century."
Botero's ire: Colombian painter Fernando Botero has foregone his accessible paintings of chubby women and men in suits for more difficult subject matter—a series of 50 works that express his anger over US torture of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. His works, which show nude figures bound and bloody, arose from "ire that I and the world felt by the crime that was committed [at Abu Ghraib] by the country that presents itself as the model of compassion, justice and civilization" in the world.
Sculptural Grafitti: Legendary '90s graffiti artist Revs, who went undercover after his partner Cost's arrest in 1994, is back, but instead of doing graffiti he's creating elaborate, and mostly legal, sculptures out of construction-grade steel and found objects. But as Randy Kennedy writes, he's not interested in the typical path taken by street artists--leveraging street cred to get a graphic design job or gallery respresentation. He shuns the art world, and wouldn't allow his real name to be used in Kennedy's New York Times piece. Echoing Lewis Hyde's thesis that art is part of a gift economy, Revs says, "To me, once money changes hands for art, it becomes a fraudulent activity."

(For more Revs images, see Gothamist and Untitled Name.)


The reviews are in: After a sold-out preview party and an opening day where 1000+ people an hour streamed into the new Walker Art Center, excellent reviews have been rolling in. The New York Times writes that the Walker "has grown in size, but it has remained the institution it has always been: open, out there, street-level, uncorporate, wise. I only wish it could expand itself all the way to New York." The San Francisco Chronicle says "the measure of a museum's sucess is whether it enhances the experience of viewing art -- and does so in artistic ways. That's where the Walker excels." (See ArtsJournal for more reviews.)

The lone dissenter seems to be self-proclaimed "man of the people" and Star Tribune columnist James Lileks, who also happens to be a beloved rightwing blogger. After expressing his wish to poke out his eyes with knitting needles at the heinous eyesore that is the Walker, he writes: "Once you've seen a building as ugly as the new Walker, you can't see worse! Spare your eyes; it only gets better from here."
Tough on terror? If "homeland security" is America's top priority today, why did the Bush administration stop publishing a 19-year old annual report on international terrorism? Perhaps because it's not politically beneficial to the White House: the report found that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any other year since 1985, the first year the report was issued. The report was abruptly dumped, prompting criticism from counterterrorism experts. "Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said, "This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report."

The Bush administration has a pattern of hiding facts that aren't glowingly supportive of its efforts. David Sirota reminisces:
- When unemployment was peaking in Bush's first term, the White House tried to stop publishing the Labor Department's regular report on mass layoffs.

- In 2003, when the nation's governors came to Washington to complain about inadequate federal funding for the states, the Bush administration decided to stop publishing the budget report that states use to see what money they are, or aren't, getting.

- In 2003, the National Council for Research on Women found that information about discrimination against women has gone missing from government Web sites, including 25 reports from the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau.

- In 2002, Democrats uncovered evidence that the Bush administration was removing health information from government websites. Specifically, the administration deleted data showing that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer. That scientific data was seen by the White House as a direct affront to the pro-life movement.
(Via Daily Kos.)


Perhaps the biggest difference between Richard Saholt's art and the mind it chronicles is this: art stands still. Diagnosed with "chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia," Saholt says he can't turn off an ever-churning brain that incessantly pulses with images of war, of abuse by a father who was "the meanest son of a bitch who ever walked the face of the earth," and of living each day with a debilitating and stigmatized mental illness. The collages he creates--nearly a thousand over three decades--are a sometimes crude, always jarring explosion of imagery reminiscent of death-metal album art, cut-and-paste ransom notes, screaming tabloid headlines, and Fangoria horror zine covers. They're fitting allusions considering the terror he's lived through, the garish hues of his memories, and the mental imprisonment of his disease.

Born in 1924, Saholt was a reclusive child, a much-taunted stutterer who says he kept silently repeating, "I'm the dumbest kid in the world." His father--a wife-beater, a drunk, and a rumored pedophile later determined to be schizophrenic--didn't disabuse him of that notion, and instead ratcheted up the boy's troubles by putting him to work at the mortuary he ran. He once took Saholt to the embalming room and made him dress up a dead child his own age and, on another occasion, forced him to gather into a bushel basket the ragged remains of a man obliterated by a train.

But perhaps the most haunting memories came from his time in the US army's famed Tenth Mountain Division, an elite ski unit that fought in the Italian Alps during World War II. After a traumatic childhood, he hoped to prove himself in the army, and he did. His commanding officer assigned him to the dangerous tasks of sniper or point-man, the soldier sent out first to draw fire or detect land mines. In these roles he met face-to-face with war's carnage. In one instance, he hallucinated a voice shouting for him to duck; he did, avoiding the fate of his unit mates, whose faces were blown off by mortar fire. When the voice screamed, "Charge!" he complied, hurtling into a German bunker with only hand grenades and a rifle. Startled by the attack, thirteen German soldiers surrendered, earning Saholt a Bronze star. He returned home in 1945 with a bad back, damaged knees, and the persistent gnawing symptoms of what was then thought to be shell-shock.

Back in civilian life, Saholt sought help, but the US government, secretly labeling him "one of the most bizarre and genuinely crazy" veterans they'd seen, didn't offer an actual diagnosis until 1969, and it wasn't until 30 years after his discharge that he awarded disability payments. Saholt couldn't hold a job (he'd had over 100) and dealt with episodes of paranoia and severe nightmares. But in 1964, he all but stumbled upon art. While many Veterans Administration doctors prescribed radical treatments like a lobotomy or shock therapy, vehemently refused by Saholt and his wife Doris, the head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Minneapolis told him to "put down on paper" what he was having trouble communicating.

Taking the advice quite literally, he began snipping words and pictures from magazines and gluing them down with mementos from his military service. At first the collages were overt and clumsy, more therapy than art, but still compelling in their obsessiveness. Words like "terror" and "hell" telegraphed the chaos in his head. Later, when sampled illustrations, shards of color, and textures began sharing space with clipped text, the works became more expressionistic and evocative of his interior mayhem. Now 80 years old, a remarkable age considering the high suicide rate among schizophrenia sufferers, Saholt no longer makes collages. Stooped from years of nursing his war-wounded body and mind, he's tired. And his chief concern seems to be finding a home, a legacy for the artwork he credits, in part, for keeping him alive. "Art," he says, "gets this madness thing out of me."

My latest, published in Adbusters #59. Photo by Cameron Wittig.


Virtual tombstone: A blogger at the online community MetaFilter recently passed away, and the tributes to him--35-year old Eric Osterhoudt of Winslow, Maine, but known to the community mainly by his login name "poopy"--offer a curious and moving glimpse into online rituals and commemoration in a placeless space. One user posts his never-again-to-change final login statistic (at right), others use a single dot as a micro-moment of silence. As poster Zurishaddai writes, "Something about the nature of this community makes it unsettling to put together a screen voice with a fuller life that has ended. But it seemed wrong to see this news and keep it to myself."


Molded-rubber Messiah: Just under $25 will buy you your own personal Jesus, a 12-inch-tall action figure that recites five biblical passages. The Messengers of Faith line of dolls, which also includes the Virgin Mary, Moses, and David, goes on sale next month. But this Jesus will have to go face-to-face with another one that recites the 10 commandments. (Via Tom Tomorrow.)


Transparency, by Nike:
Remarkably, today Nike released a list of the names and addresses of the 750-some factories that make its shoes, apparel, and sporting good around the world. Plagued by its reputation for ignoring the plight of workers in the sweatshops it contracted with, Nike's disclosure—which breaks a 3-year silence on the issue—begs a question: will it's competitors follow suit? (Via Cursor.)

[Image: Hank Willis Thomas' Branded Head, 2003]
Child Left Behind: "The academic growth that students experience in a given school year has apparently slowed since the passage of No Child Left Behind, the education law that was intended to achieve just the opposite, a new study has found," reports the New York Times. Full story here. (Via Buzzflash.)
Leiberman refused unemployment payments: Sinclair Broadcast Group's Washington bureau chief Jon Leiberman tried to get out of his contract three times, citing ethical reasons, before he went public with concerns about the company's bias. It's bad enough he got fired for insisting on journalistic ethics, but now the Maryland Department of Labor says he can't collect unemployment. Incredibly, the department's language against Leiberman is harsher than anything I've seen against blatantly biased Sinclair. From Broadcasting and Cable:
The Department of Labor report found the reporter’s conduct “was either a deliberate and willful disregard of the standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect” or “a series of repeated violations of employment rules” with a “wanton disregard” of his obligations to Sinclair. Under the Maryland Unemployment Insurance Law, it concludes, Leiberman’s behavior “constitutes gross misconduct.”


Art under fire: As the FBI continues trying to charge members of the Critical Art Ensemble under the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act, the Secret Service is investigating an art show at Chicago's Columbia College. The exhibition, Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin, includes an artwork called Patriot Act that shows George W. Bush on a postage stamp with a gun to his head. Says an SS agent, "We need to insure that—as best we can—this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement."
New American anthem: The overwrought, flag-draped, 9/11-leveraging video for the '80s-style rock anthem, "America We Stand As One" just begs for a parody. Doesn't it?
The new Walker: Described as a "giant ice cube" by Newsweek, the new Walker Art Center in Minneapolis opens this weekend. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winners Herzog & de Meuron and clad in reflective expanded-aluminum panels, the building doubles the size of the Walker, throwing in odd touches: a talking dolphin, a tabletop computer equipped with gesture-recognition apparatus, a "theater tower" that's cantilevered 50 feet over Hennepin Avenue, a new Skyspace by James Turrell, and more. It's also where I work—and the reason I won't be blogging much this week.


GWB's iPod: BFD. The mainstream media seems to think we should give a rat's ass what is on the president's iPod. As many of these bold newsbreakers posit, maybe we can learn a little something about the prez by analyzing his playlist. Huh. How about analyzing his policies?
RIP Andrea Dworkin: Staggeringly radical feminist Andrea Dworkin has died at age 58. The Guardian eulogizes:
Like most, I feel a shudder of shock whenever I read the words of Andrea Dworkin. On crime: "I really believe a woman has the right to execute a man who has raped her." On romance: "In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine." On sexual intercourse: "Intercourse remains a means, or the means, of physiologically making a woman inferior: communicating to her, cell by cell, her own inferior status ... pushing and thrusting until she gives in." Her radicalism was always bracing, sometimes terrifying; and, in a world where even having Botox is claimed as some kind of pseudo-feminist act, she was the real thing. Her death at the age of 58 deprives us of a truly challenging voice.
Read more
Worst. President. Ever.
That's what a new Gallup poll says: Bush's approval ratings are the worst for any second-term president since World War II.
In defense of Blastocyst-Americans: Jesus' General on what's behind Sen. Alex Deccio's argument that the destruction of stem-cells through research is like the Holocaust:
It's all part of their strategy to prevent us from granting civil rights protections to Blastocyst-Americans. They want to keep our smallest citizens in a ghetto of unpersonhood as if they were merely homosexuals. We need to do something about that.

We'll need the public on our side. The best way to accomplish that is to wrap the Blastocyst-Americans in the flag. I'm speaking metaphorically here. We can't literally wrap them in the flag because it would be messy (it would cause a moral crisis--should we burn the soiled flag and thereby incinerate the innocent Blastocyst-Americans still clinging to it or should we save them and desecrate the flag). Anyway, appeals to patriotism are nearly always successful. Just look at how we used 9/11 to get the Patriot Act, torture, and the denial of habeas corpus. We can do the same for blastocyst rights.
(Via Peek.)
Rewarding courageous journalists: Jon Leiberman, the former bureau chief of Sinclair Broadcast Group's Washigton office and a key source for two recent Alternet stories I wrote on the company [1, 2], didn't make any friends with his former bosses when he publicly characterized plans to air a blatantly anti-Kerry documentary "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election." Sinclair fired him, but among those who care about journalistic ethics, he's a bit of a superstar. The University of Oregon's journalism school will be awarding him a 2005 Payne Award for Journalistic Ethics, a prize established “to honor the journalist of integrity and character who reports with insight and clarity in the face of political or economic pressures and to reward performance that inspires public trust in the media.” Also recognized was one of my favorite Iraq bloggers, photojournalist Kevin Sites. The Payne committee celebrated his
“courage, deliberate thinking and outreach” after filming a U.S. soldier killing an unarmed Iraqi man. Sites, an experienced war reporter, shared the videotape with the military, then worked with NBC to create a well-nuanced story that aired 48 hours after the incident. As was required, the footage was also given to others in his pool. When he became a lightning rod for those reacting to the story and for foreign journalists using the footage without context, he responded by using a web blog to explain his decision and its reasoning to the public.  The judges felt the blog and reactions to it added a new dimension to the story.
Congratulations, Jon and Kevin.
Stem-cell research = Holocaust?
Oh my goodness. This guy, a Republican state senator in Washington State, says that research using embryonic stem cells is equivalent to the Holocaust or African genocide. Sen. Alex Deccio, R-Yakima, says that victims of such state-sponsored atrocities were embryos too, once: "Public policy said those people should be destroyed. We are talking about the same thing. ... Human life begins with an embryo and that's what we are talking about here."

Actually, stem cell research can save lives. Genocide and the Holocaust were exclusively about hate and destruction.

Deccio's hyperbolic rhetoric offers yet more evidence to bolster the argument made yesterday by John Danforth, an 18-year Republican senator, a minister, and most recently UN ambassador, that the Republican Party has become "the political arm of conservative Christians." He writes:
It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.

Masking the human costs of war: Go to the Department of Defense's website and you'll find out right away what our terror threat level is (Yellow: Elevated). You'll get plenty of mentions of the "War on Terror," references that toe the White House line of conflating Iraq and 9/11. And you'll get lots of jargon about supporting our troops. But try this little test: click on the link above and time how long it takes you to find a comprehensive list of soldiers, by name, who've died in Iraq. I've logged on three times and haven't discovered it yet. Yet, not only is the Pentagon hiding the dead—1,547 Americans to date—but they're apparently hiding the wounded. The Independent reports that the US military is "smuggling wounded soldiers into the US under cover of darkness to avoid bad publicity about the number of troops being injured and maimed in Iraq."


Breaking news! A communique from a new splinter group called Unitarian Jihad.
Texacution: Speaking of the death penalty, the Texas legislature has just voted down a measure that would've made death without parole an alternative for Death Row inmates. The reason: "opposition from prosecutors and pro-death penalty organizations [...] said it would result in fewer death sentences."
Activist conservatives target Justice Kennedy: A gaggle of rightwingnuts is calling for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, calling his judicial opinions, among other things, Lenist, Stalinist, Satanist, and—ack!—activist. What did he do? Launch a war on a sovereign nation based on unsubstantiated grounds? Hand out peach no-bid government contracts to GOP donors? Pay out $500K to his wife and daughter using political-action and campaign committee funds?


Kennedy, a Reagan appointee to the court, offered a legal opinion that capital punishment for juveniles should be forbidden.

Preserving Tyranny: WWDT illustrates Aristotle's Suggestions for Preserving a Tyranny (Politics V.11).
storTroopers are back: (Although some of us weren't paying attention when they were first around, some five years ago.) storTroopers are pixelated characters you can dress and modify to your liking. Try it out.
Papal superpowers: Colombian artist Rodolfo Leon Valencia has resurrected John Paul II as a Satan-busting superhero in his comic book Incredible Popeman. "Like any self-respecting superhero, the Incredible Popeman has a battery of special equipment," writes Reuters. "Along with his yellow cape and green chastity pants, the muscular super-pontiff wields a faith staff with a cross on top and carries holy water and communion wine... In the comic book, the pope dies and is reborn with superpowers beyond the infallibility Catholic doctrine gave him on Earth."

And don't miss the generic (i.e. un-JP2-esque) pope action figure. Available from the Jesus Christ Superstore, it comes with Holy Cross Kali sticks, a "Meek and Mild Walther PPK handgun," and a "blood red Vatican Assault uniform."


Protest projector: To my list of high-tech protest tools add this: the SMS Guerilla Projector. A high-intensity light source, it's equipped with a cellphone that can receive and then project SMS messages in public spaces: theaters, walls, government buildings, Bush's next Social Security stump speech. By the London-based art/design collective Troika.

And: From Eyebeam, a recently launched site dedicated to the phenomenology of urban stencils, stickers, and graffiti, StreetMemes. (Also via Josh Rubin.)
Computational art: I love the art of Julie Mehretu: huge canvasses with expressionistic explosions of lines that, only on close inspection, reveal themselves to be the rigid forms of architectural blueprints, city planning grids, maps, and airport footprints. Amazing that such emotion could come from, well, such inhumanity. Jared Tarbell seems to be onto the same idea. His art takes the hard science of algorithms and spins it out, using computer programs. (Via Josh Rubin.)
CHEER? You thought the misnomers Clear Skies Act and No Child Left Behind were bad? Well get a load of this doozy from Bush's Environmental Protection Agency: CHEER. It stands for Children's Health Environmental Exposure Research Study, and what it would've done—had Democrats not succeeded in getting it halted—is use children as guinea pigs in pesticide testing. The $9 million, 2-year study would've been funded to the tune of $2 million by the American Chemical Council, and it would've rewarded 60 participating families (who reportedly live in low-income neighborhoods) with $970, a camcorder, and children's clothes. Leading the charge against the study were Sens. Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson, who demanded the study's cancellation as a condition for confirming Bush's nomination for EPA head, its acting director (who ordered CHEER), Stephen Johnson. In an editorial where it included Johnson among "The Worst of the Bad Nominees," the New York Times writes, "The idea that the E.P.A. would pay families to continue exposing their children to potentially dangerous chemicals is on its face outrageous - and made worse by the study's ghoulish acronym." (Via Sploid.)


Punk for peace: Thanks to the punk band Anti-Flag, an obscure clause in the No Child Left Behind Act is getting major press. The Act gives the military free access to data on all public-school students to use in recruiting, but hidden in Section 9528 is a way kids can opt out: Just print out a pdf form, get it signed by a legal guardian and mail it in. Learn more at Military-Free Zone (don't miss the DIY page).

(Via Cursor.)
GOP's Schiavo memo was real. The rightwing blogosphere worked tirelessly to smear as a hoax the GOP's memo on the conservative windfall the Schiavo case represented. Turns out, it's the real deal. Shocking, I know. AMERICAblog has a nice rundown of foot-in-mouth comments by rightwingers prior to this revelation: bowtied blabberer Tucker Carlson called it "a forgery, possibly written by Democrats on the hill in an effort to discredit Republicans"; GOP Sen. Bennett of Utah called it "an invention of the press"; the annoying conservative blog Powerline pontificated, "there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the memo originated with the Republicans, and considerable reason to think it may be a Democratic dirty trick..."

DailyKos has more.
George W. Nixon: With approval numbers hovering between 45 and 48 percent Bush is less popular than Richard Nixon, writes Juan Cole. He cites factors like high gas prices (58% of respondents in a recent poll say prices are creating "serious financial hardship") and the war (70% say the casualty count, more than 1500 dead, is unacceptable). Add to that his close ties to chronically scandal-prone Tom DeLay and his erratic stumping for Social Security privatization (his rationale has changed as often as his justification for the Iraq war; most recently, he's implied that government bonds aren't all that safe). AND: A flash movie on Bush and the 14 defining characteristics of fascism.


Free culture: NewsGrist points out an amazing online resource site for artists. UbuWeb catalogues hundreds of audio files, films, and papers by major avant garde and contemporary artists. Check out mp3s of Marshall McLuhan, Ionesco, Vito Acconci, Yves Klein, Susan Sontag, Joseph Beuys with Nam June Paik, Gary Snyder, Marcel Duchamp, and others. And movie files—some huge ones—include Bunuel's Un Chien andalou (above), The Society of the Spectacle, 37 shorts by Fluxus artists, experimental works by Kenneth Anger, Harry Smith, Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, Man Ray, and plenty more.


Toxic Rhetoric: Agent Orange, DU, and a "Culture of Life" Following up my recent post on so-far-unsuccessful efforts by Vietnamese citizens to find justice after 30 years of Agent Orange poisoning, a new piece I wrote for Adbusters' blog is now online. An excerpt:
For going on 30 years, the US government and its corporate accomplices have hidden behind a thin veil of technicalities to avoid responsibility for Agent Orange: what is morally, anecdotally, and, some would argue, scientifically obvious is ignored in hopes of putting the Vietnam legacy—specifically, its potential for billion-dollar litigation—behind them.

But not so fast. A present-day Agent Orange may be seething in the soil of another land the US so nobly seeks to "liberate." Radioactive weaponry—from bullets to smart bombs to cruise missiles—has left millions of pounds of cancer-causing dust behind in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. According to Katsuma Yagasaki, a scientist at Okinawa's Ryukyus University, the 800 tons of depleted uranium (DU) dropped in Afghanistan is as radioactive as 83,000 Nagasaki bombs, and the DU used in Iraq so far—40 million pounds in 2003 alone—is equivalent to 250,000 Nagasaki bombs. And its effects are being felt at home: according to a Veteran's Administration study of babies born to Gulf War I veterans, 67 percent had serious health problems including missing organs and limbs, fused fingers, organ malfunction or anophthalmos (being born without eyes)
Full story here. For more on DU, click here.
R.I.P. Saul Bellow.
Photography Pulitzers: As Cursor reports, coverage of the war in Iraq only received two Pulitzer Prizes, both for photography. San Francisco Chronicle photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice, whose work is shown here, won for her arresting photoessay on an Iraqi boy's struggle to recover from an explosion that nearly killed him. Congratulations to Fitzmaurice.
TV can turn your four-year old into a bully: According to a study led by University of Washington economist Frederick Zimmerman, television can increase bullying in four-year olds, who are particularly susceptible to the violent messages of cartoons. NewScientist reports:
The study showed that four-year-olds who watched the average amount of television - 3.5 hours per day - were 25% more likely to become bullies than those who watched none. And children who watched eight hours of television a day were 200% more likely to become bullies.
The report also suggested effective alternatives to offset bullying: cognitive stimulation and parental emotional support. Duh:
It found that children whose parents regularly exposed them to ideas - by reading aloud or taking them to museums, for example - were a third less likely to become bullies, as were those whose parents provided them with emotional support - by eating meals together and talking.
While we're at it: TV Turnoff Week is April 25-May 1.
Looking for the anti-Starbuck's? The Delocator, a website by the Finishing School art collective, can help you find a local coffeeshop not owned by the Seattle caffeine giant (owner of Diedrich, Gloria Jean's, and the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, as well as the flaship chain). But as the logo suggests, the artists' sponsor, the San Francisco Art Institute, was worried about Starbucks' trademark lawyers and requested the artists leave off the corporate name. Carrie McLaren has started a campaign to move the site up Google's ranks: just create a link on your website calling the the search tool what it is, the Starbucks Delocator.


Solar iPod charger: For 99 bucks, you can buy a solar charger for your iPod or cellphone. Four or five hours of direct sunlight and the portable, fold-out gadget is fully charged. (Via the very cool "green consumer" blog, HippyShopper, linked from WorldChanging.)

Green shoes (in black): The Black Spot, Version 2, with hemp uppers and recycled-tire soles are out. But be warned, they'll set you back a Fluevogian $125.
Limbaugh's lexicon: ThinkProgress runs a brilliant comparison of comments by Rush Limbaugh.

When Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib are tortured, ridiculed, and even murdered by US guards, Limbaugh said it was "sort of like hazing, a fraternity prank. Sort of like that kind of fun." When conservative Republican Pat Buchanan got a pie in the face, his tune was different:
[W]ho is it that is responsible for fomenting harm against others? Who is it that cannot tolerate hearing things they disagree with, and who is it that reports to heckling and throwing salad dressing or ice cream pies on conservative Republican speakers? It’s the left, my dear. It is the left, my good friends, that is out there fomenting violence.
(Via AMERICAblog.)
AT-AT street art by Dolk in Bergen, Norway. From the Wooster Collective.
Omit Lit: As Waxy notes, the Associated Press's story on Patrick Shanley winning a Pulitzer Prize fails to mention his authorship of his other masterwork, Joe Versus the Volcano. (Shanley got prize for his Broadway debut, Doubt.)

In other news uncharacteristic of this site, a woman has been breastfeeding tiger cubs born in a Burma zoo.
Yucca Mountain's junk science: "I've made up the dates and names. ... If they need more proof I will be happy to make up more stuff." That's what one scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey said in a recently released email about research on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project. The emails, part of a 90-page document cataloguing the "fudged" data on the controversial nuclear-waste repository, make it "obvious to everyone now that Yucca Mountain isn't going anywhere," said Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.
Spinning in his grave: As Cardinal Bernard Law says "I don't know that this is a time to be reflecting on" the issue of sexual abuse by priests, a new AP poll shows that the majority of Americans want the next pope to be more liberal, with 86 percent of Americans and 82 percent of the Catholics saying greater steps need to be taken to rein in predatory clergy. But that's not how Fox News is spinning the pope's death.


Partially progressive papacy: With the death of Pope John Paul II, conservatives in Rome are said to be vying for the "soul of the church" by making early moves to block the election of a progressive pope. Solidly conservative, John Paul was often considered an ally of rightwing Republicans in the US because of his opposition to abortion and his stance against Stalinism in Europe, writes Juan Cole, but in other areas—opposition to the death penalty and the war in Iraq, and a more balanced view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—he "was often an inconvenient man" to American conservatives. Cole catalogues some of JP2's most quotable moments:
War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity... [F]aced with the constant degeneration of the crisis in the Middle East, that the solution will never be imposed by recourse to terrorism or armed conflict, as if military victories could be the solution. And what are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than twelve years of embargo? War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations.
The Holy See has always recognized that the Palestinian people have the natural right to a homeland, and the right to be able to live in peace and tranquility with the other peoples of this area. In the international forum, my predecessors and I have repeatedly claimed that there would be no end to the sad conflict in the Holy Land without stable guarantees for the rights of all the peoples involved, on the basis of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions and declarations.

We must all continue to work and pray for the success of every genuine effort to bring peace to this land. Only with a just and lasting peace -- not imposed but secured through negotiation -- will legitimate Palestinian aspirations be fulfilled. Only then will the Holy Land see the possibility of a bright new future, no longer dissipated by rivalry and conflict, but firmly based on understanding and cooperation. The outcome depends on the courageous readiness for those responsible for the destiny of this part of the world to move to new attitudes of compromise and compliance with the demands of justice.


Meta-research:Trying to do a little research for a freelance story, I stumbled upon Phil Bradley's excellent overview of online research tools. Whatever you're looking for, there's a specific search engine. My favorites: Icerocket is a Google-style engine that also searches cameraphone pictures, blogs, and multimedia offerings—each result accompanied by a thumbnail of the site. Factbites offers summarized (and ostensibly more relevant) searches, while Google Scholar narrows searches down to scholarly articles. Looking for search results in a certain language? Try iBoogie, with language options ranginf rom Afrikaans to Welsh. Use Topix.net to aggregate local news. For another grid of search engines, visit the University at Albany SUNY.