Archive for August, 2012

too many people

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yet their brows touched heaven. Islam brought them to their feet in this first of the Arab awakenings. Islam created Arabism, and from the start, the power of one was the power of the other. The strength of islam is the strength of absolute certainty. All is ordained, demonstrable, in the books. So, the Arabs became a great power, but even at its peak, this power was complex and contradictory, with the distinction between Church and State unclear from the beginning and in Mohammed’s own mind there was no distinction, which meant that unity stemmed from aspiration, and once having achieved success, it was difficult to sustain. And Mohammed the Prophet was also Mohammed the general: islam is the only one of the world’s great religions to have been founded on the Sword as well as the Word….

It is into this context of “unknown knowns” to which the West through various forms of Orientalism, implicated itself, embedded, into Arab affairs since the dawn of the Romantic Age, consumer society, and the rampant individualism that accompanied it, with the United States doing the heavy lifting in this regard since the end of WWII as them main arbiter in the Arab world. One aspect of this swagger, this shake and bake style of grabbing the spoils, has been the emergence of some extreme reactionary forces, fundamentalism of the most twisted variety to the exclusion of secularism and more progressive ideologies, allowing them, seemingly to crater to wilder aspects of religious anarchism and frontier justice, with the exception of taking a side opposed to that of which Saudi Arabia had major skin in the game. In the end there is much confusion as to what is germane or almost genetic to “culture” and what is inculcated and provoked by pressing the right levers and buttons…

—The death of Khalil al-Mughrabi two years before Corrie died was telling. The 11-year-old boy was playing football when he was shot dead in Rafah by an Israeli soldier. The respected Israeli human rights organisations, B’Tselem, wrote to the army demanding an investigation. Several months later, the judge advocate general’s office wrote back saying that Khalil was killed by soldiers who had acted with “restraint and control” to disperse a riot in the area.
But the judge advocate general’s office made the mistake of attaching a copy of its own confidential investigation, which came to a very different conclusion: that the riot had been much earlier in the day and the soldiers who shot the child should not have opened fire. In the report, the chief military prosecutor, Colonel Einat Ron, then spelled out alternative false scenarios that should be offered to B’Tselem. The official account was a lie and the army knew it.—Read More:

(see link at end)…Iraq has executed 21 people convicted of terror-related charges, including three women, on the same day, a justice ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

“The justice ministry carried out 21 executions against those condemned of terrorist charges, including three women terrorists,” Haidar al-Saadi said in a text message. He did not give any further details….

—According to an Egyptian report, Najlaa was arrested on the 30th of May, 2009; she went through four days of harsh interrogation before being transferred to a prison where she spent 20 months without trial. On the 14th of June 2011, she was sentenced to 5 years in prison and 500 lashes.
Last May, the Saudi authorities started the execution of the lashing sentence. Every week, Najlaa received 50 lashes for 6 weeks. She suffers from a deviation in her vertebral column, which only makes things worse.—Read More:

…A justice ministry official said the executions were carried out on Monday morning.

Amnesty International in June condemned the “alarming” increase in executions in Iraq, which had at that point put at least 70 people to death this year, more than all of 2011.

Iraq has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were executed on January 31….

—Justice was swift and brutal when fighters of the Al Nusra Front militia caught a man accused of raping and killing a young girl in front of her father. They beheaded the man and left his body in the street.
The presence of women and children didn’t deter them. Neither did the appeals of other rebels at the checkpoint in the embattled neighborhood of Salahuddin.
Members of the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel force, said that the man was a member of a pro-government militia and that they had no doubt he was guilty. They also had no objection to killing him, but they did object to a public beheading.—Read More:,0,7940241.story

UN High Commissioner for Human

hts Navi Pillay expressed shock earlier this year at the number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.Read More:

…(see link at end)…Human-rights activists are demanding the release of Nagla Wafa, an Egyptian wedding planner and designer sentenced to 500 lashes and five years in prison in Saudi Arabia following a business dispute with a princess.

Wafa ran afoul of a royal in the Saudi kingdom over the finances of a joint business venture, according to her family. She was reportedly accused of cashing a check from the princess but not following through on their deal to start a restaurant….

“As of May of 2012, Ms. Wafa has been subjected, on a weekly basis, to 50 floggings per week within the ‘Al-Malz’ Prison. She currently faces 200 more floggings … despite her suffering from distortions to her spine,” the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said in an online statement.

Accusing Saudi Arabian authorities of unlawfully detaining the 39-year-old mother of teenage twins, the organization said the case was a “blatant violation” of human rights and filed a complaint with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Read More:


And, another cautionary tale of how liberal media supports movements which end up reinforcing the some of the worst elements of patriarchal white privilege it ostensibly exists to combat. Think here about New York Times type of reporting:

(see link at end)…Before the vigil, we reached out to many organizations to support, and 36 signed onto our cause. We also reached out to Occupy Wall Street because justice and government transparency are in its mission, and we thought we could use the numbers and networks in OWS to bring out more support for our vigil, and we also wanted to show our solidarity with OWS.

So imagine my surprise when protesters from OWS showed up with OWS signs, not to stand with others lining up for the march to Columbus Park in support, but to stand in front of everyone, trying to direct them. These people, who had not, until that very moment, put in one bit of effort into organizing this action, who had no idea what the plan was, who had no idea who we were or who the family was, decided that they were going to make this an OWS event.

Conflict erupted when one of the OWS-affiliated protesters came with a giant Communist Party of China flag. This white man decided that he was entitled to represent us, at this protest for an American soldier, with a flag that has been used by this country to vilify the Chinese American community. When people began asking him not to demonstrate that flag because it was not the purpose of the event and we were in no way representing China or political parties, he began screaming at us about how we were ANTI-COMMUNIST and trying to take away his first amendment rights. We told him that Danny Chen was an American soldier and we wanted to respect the family and their wishes, but he continued screaming violent accusations at us at the top of his lungs and disrupting the event, until one of Danny Chen’s family members, on the verge of tears, finally convinced him to leave….

…OWS protesters often make it seem like they are the birth of social justice activism, that they are here to teach us how to protest because none of us know what the fuck we are doing and need their wealth of experience to help us out. I was not at all surprised when that woman so naturally assumed that she, as a white woman, knew better than me – she thought that I had found a blowhorn somewhere and decided to play around with it. It didn’t occur to her that we had been planning this for weeks and thinking critically about every step, that it was led by a civil rights organization that has been at work for decades, that we had applied for 4 different kinds of permits so that our event could safely and effectively achieve its purpose.

The actions of these OWS protesters showed that they were at the march and vigil, not to show their support for Danny Chen’s family or the ongoing work on their case, but to provoke and garner attention for themselves and their brand, and then try to turn our strategic work and planning into a nonsensical, self-righteous tantrum. They acted like tourists on vacation in the social justice world, and our efforts and long-term goals were expendable in light of their self-interested pursuit of an interesting experience….

…This is the problem I’ve always had with OWS—that it was a movement that came to earth as Christ himself, here to save us, to make the history of struggle, and the ongoing social justice work in this country by marginalized communities, irrelevant, and then to take the moral high ground and act as if we were the face of THEIR oppression when we took issue with their tactics.

…But these incidents of ignorance from OWS have been way too frequent and predictable to be isolated events. These incidents show that the OWS movement, while creating new opportunities to change the unjust world we live in, is, in many ways, the beloved child of our racist, sexist, intolerant capitalist society….Read More:

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Posted: August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


ON THIS DAY in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became part of the fundamental law of the land. In honor of this momentous anniversary, we offer this photograph of Susan B. Anthony doing Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s hair.

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on August 26, 2012 at 9:24 pm  Comments (1)  

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The ancient Native Americans of the desert Southwest subsisted on a fiber-filled diet of prickly pear, yucca and flour ground from plant seeds, finds a new analysis of fossilized feces that may explain why modern Native Americans are so susceptible to Type II diabetes.

Thousands of years of incredibly fibrous foods, 20 to 30 times more fibrous than today’s typical diet, with low impact on the blood sugar likely left this group vulnerable to the illness when richer Anglo foods made their way to North America, said study researcher Karl Reinhard, a professor of forensic sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

NEWS: Llama Poop Helped Inca Thrive

“When we look at Native American dietary change within the 20th century, the more ancient traditions disappeared.” Reinhard told LiveScience. “They were introduced to a whole new spectrum of foods like fry-bread, which has got a super-high glycemic index.”

The glycemic index of a food is a measure of how fast its energy is absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s measured on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being the slowest absorbing with the least effect on blood sugar. The native people who lived in the deserts of Arizona would have likely eaten traditional stews with glycemic indexes around 23, Reinhard found. Foods scoring lower than 55 are considered “low-GI” foods. (7 Foods Your Heart Will Hate)

Modern food and modern disease

Members of Southwest Native American tribes are more susceptible than Caucasians to Type II diabetes, which happens when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin to break down sugar from food, or when the body’s cells fail to recognize the insulin it does produce.

Researchers have long hypothesized that a “thrifty gene” (or, more likely, genes) acquired through feast and famine makes Native American populations more prone to this chronic disease. The idea is that people who were able to rapidly adapt to both lean times and times of plenty would have done better in ancient times. Today, the modern diet has rendered famine rare in the developed world, but the body continues to respond to times of plenty as if starvation is around the corner. Diabetes and obesity can result. 

ANALYSIS: The $400,000 Poop-Scooping Robot

Reinhard and his colleagues now suggest that feast and famine may not be necessary for the “thrifty gene” hypothesis to make sense. Basically, Reinhard said, an extremely low-calorie, high-fiber diet made the ancient Native American gut a paragon of efficiency. With the arrival of whites, the diet changed faster than physiology could keep up with it. In other words, the digestive system didn’t evolve for abundant, high-GI foods. 

High-fiber diet

To find solid evidence of what ancient Southwestern tribes actually ate, Reinhard turned to what he called “the most intimate residues from archaeological sites” — fossilized poop. Known as coprolites, these fossils contain a record of their creator’s most recent meals.

The researchers analyzed 25 coprolites from Antelope Cave in northwestern Arizona, a dwelling that was seasonally occupied for thousands of years. These particular coprolites (20 of which turned out to be human) date back to at least A.D. 1150 and earlier. The dates make the cave a perfect time to look at the transition from a total hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one supplemented by some agriculture, Reinhard said.

ANALYSIS: There’s Gold in That Thar Whale Poop

“It bridges two different dietary traditions, one which has been around for several thousands of years with one that was relatively newly introduced at the time the cave was occupied,” he said.

The analysis revealed that these ancient people chowed down on flour made from maize and wild sunflower and other seeds, as well as on fibrous succulent plants such as yucca and prickly pear. This diet was higher fiber than anything modern people eat. The feces were three-quarters fiber by volume, Reinhard said, and these Native Americans were probably eating between 200 and 400 grams of the indigestible stuff per day. For comparison, the Institute of Medicine recommends 25 grams of fiber a day for the modern woman, and 38 grams for men. The average adult manages only about 15 grams. (8 Reasons Our Waistlines Are Expanding)

Modern agriculture has favored plants with less fiber, Reinhard said, so even the ancient tribes’ maize would have been more fibrous than the corn we eat today.

“When I was a young researcher I tried to replicate this diet, and it was impossible,” Reinhard said. “I was essentially eating all day to try to get this fiber.”

ANALYSIS: Poop Plastic Puts Waste to Work

Evolving diets

In addition, Reinhard and his colleagues reported in the August issue of the journal Current Anthropology, the Southwest Native American diet had a very low glycemic index. Prickly pear pads, a common staple, rate only a 7 on the 100-point GI scale. The highest-GI food these tribes would have had was maize, the researchers found, which would fall at about 57 on the scale — just two points shy of qualifying as a “low-GI” food today. (Modern sweet corn on the cob has a GI of 60; processed foods like white rice and bagels are in the 90-95 range.)

In addition, prickly pear has a known blood-sugar-lowering effect, Reinhard said. Agave and yucca plants would have also had minimal effect on the blood sugar while providing yet more fiber. Rabbit, including bone fragments, was also found in the fecal fossils.

NEWS: Genetically Altered Astronaut Poo? NASA Wants to Know

“The change we have undergone over generations has been toward less appreciation of really resistant foods and more toward what is called a ‘Pablum’ diet,” Reinhard said. “It’s kind of like going from chewing on pumpkin seeds to chewing on oatmeal.”

The diet seen in the desert Southwest up to just 1,000 years ago is likely similar to what people ate the whole world over up until about 15,000 years ago, Reinhard said. And then humans invented agriculture, cultivating wheat, millet, rice and other grains.

“These plants, as they were cultivated, replaced the really, really ancient foods that everybody ate thousands and thousands of years ago with calorie-dense foods, or grains that could be turned into calorie-dense foods like grains, rice cakes, and, of course, alcoholic beverages,” Reinhard said.

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Instructions for losing a war .Lesson one, page one: ignore Karl Maria von Clausewitz…

…even his statement that war is a continuation of policy has been twisted into meaning that war is the most effective of political instruments, or that war is policy. No wonder “liberals” have so appalled by Clausewitz’s apparent immorality and brutality that they have rarely bothered to read him through. The garbling of Clausewitz’s thought by fire-eating military disciples has been compunded by similarly selective reading of his discussions of strategy and the conduct of war. His balancing qualifications and fundamental belief in the relationship of military means to political ends have been ignored.

—The anthropologisation of conflict was an intermittent feature of the past century. In War Machine, Daniel Pick notes that the 1870 Franco-Prussian War gave rise to extensive debates about the raw, virile Teutons and cultured, effete French (pp97-106). Throughout the Second World War, the Japanese and Germans were accused of militaristic instincts inculcated by generations of Junkers and Samurai – if not through harsh toilet training. Today, though, the backdrop of cultural typecasting that used to run alongside the political explanations of conflict has become the whole case for war, as the Rwandans and the Serbs are accused of imbibing hatred with their mothers’ milk.—Read More: image:

In Germany the swift victories over Austria and France in 1866 and 1870 seemed to prove that the general staff’s reading of Clausewitz was correct. However, those wars had been carefully prepared for by Bismark’s diplomacy, and Moltke subordinated military strategy to the Iron Chancellors policies. It was Moltke’s successors as chief of general staff, Waldersee and Schlieffen, and military writers like Bernhardi and Von der Goltz, who catastrophically misinterpreted Clausewitz and preached offensive war by a mobilized nation as the solution of all Germany’s foreign problems.

—Keegan’s version of the relationship between militarism and democracy stands reality on its head. As he sees it, democracy puts government at the mercy of the machismo of the masses. But militarism came straight from the top of European societies that were trying to head off the democratic challenge to their rule. Far from acquiescing to conscription laws, electorates resisted conscription, and during the First World War rank-and-file infantrymen mutinied on many fronts, while rebellions in Ireland, imperial Russia and Germany frustrated the war efforts of the great powers.—Read More: image:

Clausewitz exercised a hardly less disastrous influence on the French army. He was discovered by the French in the 1880′s, in the guise of the theorist who had deduced an infallible doctrine from the great Napoleon’s victories. Congenial extracts from Clausewitz married well with hero worship of the emperor and shaped French military thinking before 1914. The french, like the Germans, were mesmerized by the decisive victory, won with all forces united. Like other admirers of Napoleon, they failed to note that not one of the Emperor’s victories had been decisive, instead of leading to lasting peace on French terms, but instead had led ineluctably to the one decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars-Waterloo. Late nineteenth-century French military thinkers, in evlving their own Clauswitzian caricature, garbled another of Clausewitz’s insights, that of the importance of moral forces in war:

Moral forces…form the spirit which permeates the whole being of war…and therefore most of the subjects… in this book are composed of half physical, half of moral causes and effects, and we might say the physical forces are almost no more than the wooden handle, whilst the moral are the noble metal, the real bright polished weapon.

—If Keegan’s assessment were correct, conflicts in Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti would be the result of popular mobilisations. Indeed they are presented as such: the popular mobilisations of third world nationalists like Saddam, Aideed and Milosevic. But the real record is that contemporary militarism is a policy generated in the West in an attempt to redeem the authority of unpopular governments. Bruce Porter, predicting an unravelling of the American state, says “we can expect growing public disdain for the political process, rising unrest in the inner cities, proposals for radical constitutional change, third-party movements, one-term presidents and a serious national identity crisis over what it means to be an American” (War and the Rise of the State, p295). It is this crisis of political legitimacy, rather than technology or mass demand that provides the backdrop to contemporary militarism.—Read More: image:

A succession of idealistic and rhetorical French soldiers, from Ardant du Picque to Foch, evolved from this the lunatic doctrine that an attack, if pressed bravely enough, could prevail over machine guns and quick firing artillery by its sheer moral effect. In 1914 the French army attempted to win a decisive victory in Lorraine in obedience to such doctrines. The result was total failure, with such appalling losses that the French army-especially the officer corps- was weakened for the rest of the war. Foch admitted later, “At the beginning of the last war, we believed that morale alone counted, which is an infantile notion.”

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Posted: August 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

The dace is a bright handsome fish and spawns generally in March; they love a gravelly scour, are very shy and wary, like the trout, and when frigh… Read story

Notes Taken During the Late War in China
By Captain Cutaway, of Her Majesty’s Horse Marines Our regiment being ordered to Hong-Kong in the… Read story

fiona-jane weston loving londonA great day for London, Team GB and all the rest of it. Super Saturday, as the media decided to call yesterday, panned out beautifully in the end, with the six golds. So what a great way to build on that existing feel-good by taking in this show at the Leicester Square Theatre. Loving London is self-evidently a celebration of our city. Actress, artiste and chanteuse Fiona-Jane Weston has assembled an eclectic selection of favourites which she belts out, ably assisted by highly accomplished ivory tickler Warren Wills.

The show is topped and tailed by Downtown. By the end, the audience was gaily singing along con gusto. Between these renditions we have titles as diverse as 80s favourites Werewolves of London and London Calling mixed with cabaret standards Mack the Knife and Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’ Be. These were intersperced with well-chosen and delivered readings from Pepys, Dickens, Betjemen, Dryden, Pinter. For me there are two highlights in particular: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square sung in the style of Noel Coward and a song written by Coward himself: London Pride, an achingly moving tribute to the spirit of Londoners during the Blitz, characterised by the eponymous flower. There is a strong nostalgic feel to the whole proceedings, whether or not one was even alive at the time.

So something for everybody, as they say. Miss Weston engages the audience with enthusiasm and warmth. The venue is the basement space at the theatre, seating around 70 (full last night, including other London Historians members it was a nice surprise to bump into) giving an intimate feel. Loving London only has two more shows next Friday and Saturday (10 and 11 August). Tickets are £15 with a generous discount for groups of six or more.

More information here.

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