Noteworthy ETF Outflows: VGT, PYPL, CRM, ADP   
Looking today at week over week shares outstanding changes among the universe of ETFs covered at ETF Channel one standout is the Vanguard Information Technology ETF Symbol VGT where we have detected an approximate 100 9 million dollar outflow that s a 0 7 decrease week over week
          The police response to Joanna Yeates' murder, and Reclaim the Night   
So it seems little has changed since the late 1970s. According to this Guardian article, following the murder of Joanna Yeates, Avon and Somerset police are advising women not to walk alone at night. Sound familiar?

This casually sexist response by the police, according to which women are effectively being advised not to have a life (especially given the wintry daylight hours!) reminds us of the importance events like Reclaim the Night and the Million Women Rise March. They are as important as they ever were, since the early Take Back the Night marches in Philadelphia and Brussells in the mid-1970's. (A history of Take Back the Night is here.) What is frustrating is that the same argument needs constantly to be made, 35 years on.

When the first Take Back the Night and Reclaim the Night marches took place, they were a direct response to small-minded sexist police "advice" like that recently meted out by the Avon and Somerset police. That is why they were held outdoors; that is why they were held at night; and that is why they were women-only affairs. But recently the focus of many RTN marches has justifiably shifted to domestic violence and intimate partner violence. (According to Home Office statistics, only 17% of rapes are committed by strangers; 54% are committed by partners (including spouses) or ex-partners. And according to this BCS report, only 13% of rapes are committed in a public place; 55% occur in the victim's own home, and 20% occur in the offender's home.)

I have personally heard the view many times that this change of focus makes RTN marches in some sense passé. But this criticism overlooks the fact that RTN marches make for a strong, clear public message, and provide an opportunity for the feminist community to reassert their continued presence and solidarity. And anyway, thanks to Avon & Somerset police, it turns out that after all we all need reminding of the original motivation for RTN: that violence against women is not the responsibility of the women who suffer it.
          BBC World Service Interview   
Jon was interviewed about the group for "The World Today" on the BBC World Service which is listened to by 33 million people world wide! You can listen to it here...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/10/101019_waters1_wt_sl.shtml


          Köln verpflichtet Cordoba vom FSV   
Ungerührt vom geplatzten Millionen-Transfer von Anthony Modeste hat der 1. FC Köln Jhon Cordoba unter Vertrag genommen. Der Stürmer kommt vom 1. FSV Mainz 05 und war schon länger ein Kandidat bei den Kölnern.
          Report: Kings to sign Bogdan Bogdanovic to three-year, $36 million contract   
Sacramento also declines to extend qualifying offer to Ben McLemore
           | Rise Against - Wolves   
01. Wolves (03:38) 02. House on Fire (03:15) 03. The Violence (03:49) 04. Welcome to the Breakdown (03:03) 05. Far from Perfect (03:33) 06. Bullshit (04:13) 07. Politics of Love (04:10) 08. Parts Per Million (03:41) 09. Mourning in Amerika (03:20) 10. How Many Walls (03:51) 11. Miracle (03:41) 12. Megaphone (03:06) (Bonus Track) 13. Broadcast [Signal] Frequency (02:31) (Bonus Track)

          Le film "Valérian" sera le sauveur ou le fossoyeur du distributeur Europacorp   
Avec une perte record de 119,9 millions sur l'année écoulée, EuropaCorp, la mini "major" cinématographique de Luc Besson, joue son avenir avec la sortie du film de science-fiction "Valérian", plus gros budget du cinéma français.
          Facebook: Tyler Perry is being sued over his plans to build a 33-million-dollar movie stud…   
Tyler Perry is being sued over his plans to build a 33-million-dollar movie studio in Georgia. Even crazier, the guy suing him is ALSO played by Tyler Perry. #FallonMono The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s Facebook Wall
          Post-Brexit Blues? Schwachsinn!   

Also ganz ehrlich, mir geht das ganze Gejeiere rund um den Brexit und was man jetzt tun könnte, um das Vereinigte Königreich für die EU zu retten, ziemlich auf den Geist. Die Berichte über Leute, die angeblich nicht wussten, was sie da ankreuzen. Und dass die Mehrheit der Briten eigentlich eh für die EU wäre, wenn sie sich rechtzeitig informiert hätten.

Oder Robert Misik, der überhaupt meint, die Labour Party sollte das jetzt ausnutzen, um mit dem Slogan, das Referendums-Ergebnis nicht zu befolgen, eine Wahl zu gewinnen.

Gehts noch?

Also.

Erstens: Es war ein Volksentscheid, und ein solcher ist in einer Demokratie nun mal einzuhalten und umzusetzen, auch wenn dabei etwas herausgekommen ist, das ich für einen Fehler halte. Eine Abstimmung so oft zu wiederholen, bis herauskommt, was eine bestimmte gesellschaftliche Schicht will, halte ich für gefährlich und undemokratisch. In einer Demokratie hat nun mal das Volk das Recht und die Macht, Dinge zu beschließen, die schlecht für das Land sind (übrigens auch inklusive der Auflassung der Demokratie). Im Nachhinein zu behaupten, die hätten sich nicht ausgekannt oder wären sogar zu blöd zum Wählen, zählt nicht, denn erstens ist das eine unzulässige Pauschaldiskreditierung, zweitens hatten sie Monate Zeit, um sich zu informieren (und ich nehme an, dass sie das in dem Ausmaß getan haben, das sie für nötig befunden haben), und drittens sind die Leute nur so blöd, wie es das Bildungssystem eines Landes zulässt.

Wenn jetzt manche Politiker dumm dreinschauen, weil sie mit der Entscheidung der Bürger, die sie sich mit jahrzehntelangen Einsparungen im Bildungs- und Sozialsektor herangezogen haben, nicht zufrieden sind, dann habe ich mit diesen Politikern wenig Mitleid. Schon gar nicht, wenn es sich dabei um Politiker handelt, die mit Lügengebäuden mit dem Schicksal von Millionen spielten, um ihre eigenen Eitelkeiten zu pflegen.

Ebensowenig Mitleid habe ich übrigens mit den Journalisten, die jetzt Entsetzen heucheln, nachdem sie ebendiese Leute ebenso jahrzehntelang gegen die EU, gegen die Zuwanderer und gegen die Politik insgesamt aufgehetzt haben. Darüber, dass die Gier nach hohen Verkaufszahlen nun mal gesellschaftspolitische Auswirkungen hat, hätten sie vielleicht nachdenken sollen, bevor sie ihre Blödmaschinen angeworfen haben.

Zweitens: Seit der Grexit-Drohung interessiert mich, was wirklich passiert, wenn ein Land die EU verlässt. Das war nämlich bisher immer graue Theorie, eingehüllt in den Nimbus des Grenzkatastrophalen. Zusammenbruch der Wirtschaft, Weltuntergang, irgend so etwas wurde da immer ausgemalt, ohne dass klar war, was nun wirklich passiert. Jetzt bietet sich die Chance, das herauszufinden.

Beim Grexit waren wir ja kurz davor, dass ein Land in diese Situation gezwungen wird. Nun hingegen hat sich die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung des Vereinigten Königreichs in einer Abstimmung freiwillig und mit zum Teil ziemlichem Enthusiasmus dafür entschieden, sich selbst gewissermaßen als Versuchskaninchen für dieses Langzeitexperiment mit unsicherem Ausgang zu Verfügung zu stellen. Das kann zwar schlecht ausgehen, sollte aber auch als Chance gesehen werden.

Denn: geht das Experiment schief, dann wird den diversen Exit-Strategien der europäischen Rechtspopulisten und -extremen der Wind aus den Segeln genommen. Für die Zukunft der EU kann, so hart das klingt, ein Scheitern Großbritanniens außerhalb der EU durchaus von Vorteil sein. Zugegeben, das kann (zumindest vorübergehend) für die Briten bitter werden, aber die rechtliche Möglichkeit eines Wiederbeitritts oder einer EWR-Mitgliedschaft ist ja gegeben.

Geht das Experiment nicht schief, dann hat Großbritannien ja auch keinen Nachteil. Blöd wäre das aber insofern, als dann nicht nur die ganzen rechten Parteien Europas auch diverse Austrittsreferenden abhalten und möglicherweise gewinnen würden, sondern auch, weil das ja auch hieße, dass die EU einen wesentlichen Teil ihrer Daseinsberechtigung ganz einfach nicht hat. Die Frage, wozu man eine EU in der derzeitigen Form braucht, wenn es anders auch problemlos geht, ist ja nicht unwesentlich.

In diesem Fall könnte der Brexit dazu dienen, einen Denkanstoß zu geben, um herauszufinden, wofür wir die EU brauchen. Das Vereinigte Königreich hat die EU immer nur als Freihandelszone verstanden. Wenn es ohne eine solche auch geht oder wenn der EWR alleine ausreichend ist, wie kann die EU dann zum Nutzen Europas beitragen? Vielleicht mit etwas weniger Bürokratie und Regelungswut? Etwas weniger Neoliberalismus? Dafür mehr gemeinsame Sozialpolitik, Bildungspolitik, Umweltpolitik und Friedensinitiativen?

Das ist eigentlich das, worin der eigentliche Mehrwert des Brexit besteht - dass wir eine Antwort auf die Frage bekommen, ob es die EU in der derzeitigen Form braucht, und wenn nein, dann wie wir sie umgestalten müssten, damit wir mehr Nutzen von ihr haben. Zugegeben, dass das au Kosten von 64 Millionen britischer Staatsbürger herausgefunden wird, ist mehr als nur hart, aber deren demokratische Mehrheit wollte eben genau das herausfinden, und die Antwort ist ganz wesentlich für den Fortbestand und die anzustrebende künftige Entwicklung der EU.


          The Job Crusher Mike Filsaime – Video   
http://TheJobCrusher.info Discover what it REALLY takes to build your OWN successful online business with Mike Filsaime’s amazing new Job Crusher program. Million-Dollar strategies and tactics are being revealed inside right now!
          Es stinkt.   

Der französische Politiker Édouard Herriot soll gesagt haben: "Politik ist wie eine Andouilette - sie muss nach Scheiße riechen, aber nicht zu sehr." Er meinte damit wohl, dass es immer wieder notwendig ist, unpopuläre Maßnahmen zu setzen, um für alle etwas Positives zu erreichen - nur müsse man eben darauf achten, dass das Positive stets überwiegt.

Momentan bekommen wir gerade mit, wie sehr die europäische Einwanderungspolitik nach Scheiße riecht, und zwar viel zu sehr.

Genau genommen ist das, was Ungarn gerade macht, vom Gesetz her völlig in Ordnung. Genau genommen hat Ungarn europäische Abkommen gebrochen, als es Flüchtlinge einen Tag ausreisen ließ. Möglicherweise gab es dann einen Rüffel von irgendwo, aus Deutschland, aus einem anderen EU-Land, woher auch immer. Also: Grenzen wieder zu, Flüchtlinge in Ungarn registrieren, Asylverfahren ebendort abwickeln. Menschlich korrekt? Naja. Legistisch korrekt? Durchaus, auch wenn es stinkt.

Nur: wie registriert man tausende Flüchtlinge, die das nicht wollen? Deren Warten auf einen Zug mitten in Budapest mit jedem Flüchtling, der dazu kommt, zu einem stillen Protest wird, wo mit jedem weiteren dazukommenden Flüchtling die Stimmung jederzeit kippen kann?

Die kritische Masse von Flüchtlingen, bis zu der die von der EU vorgesehenen Asylverfahren abgewickelt werden können, ist in Ungarn längst überschritten. Die Politik, die stinkt, also Menschen, die weiter wollen, im Land hält, funktioniert nicht mehr. Also greift man zu Mitteln, die zu sehr stinken. Eines dieser Mittel war der plötzlich auftauchende Zug, der nach Sopron fahren sollte und in Bicske stehen blieb (laut ITV-Reporter James Mates [Video-Link] war übrigens nicht behauptet worden, der Zug fahre nach Deutschland, ein mieser Trick war es trotzdem); ein anderes, das wir vielleicht auch noch sehen werden, ist dann Gewaltanwendung. Ja, das stinkt ganz ordentlich nach Scheiße.

Die Situation stinkt auch deshalb so, weil Gesetze auf eine Situation angewendet werden, die für diese Situation nicht geeignet sind. Erstens, weil es eine viel größere Zahl von Flüchtlingen gibt, als dass die Dublin-Regelung noch angewandt werden könnte - wie sollen die Schengen-Grenzländer ernsthaft allein die Massen an Flüchtlingen, die momentan in die EU strömen, registrieren, geschweige denn die Asylverfahren durchführen? Zweitens, weil die aktuellen Flüchtlinge nicht einfach nur vor dem Krieg flüchten, sondern in ein bestimmtes Land wollen (meist Deutschland oder Schweden) - dadurch sind sie genau genommen eigentlich keine Flüchtlinge (das sind nur bis zum Überschreiten der Schengen-Grenze), sondern Migranten.

Die Gesetze gehen nämlich davon aus, dass jemand, der vor Krieg oder Verfolgung flüchtet, um Asyl ansucht, sobald er sich in einem sicheren Land befindet, aber berücksichtigen nicht, dass er in diesem Land möglicherweise nicht bleiben will und höhere Ansprüche als Schutz von Leib und Leben hat. Insofern gibt es keinen automatischen Anspruch auf Weiterreise nach dem Überschreiten der Schengen-Grenze, insofern erfüllt - und hier stinkt es wieder - Ungarn seine politische Pflicht.

Insofern hat - und das stinkt besonders - Viktor Orbán sogar recht, wenn er sagt, die Flüchtlinge seien ein "deutsches Problem", weil keiner der Flüchtlinge in Ungarn bleiben wolle, sondern fast alle nach Deutschland wollen. Das wiederum zieht die geforderten Flüchtlingsquoten für alle EU-Länder ins Absurde: Wenn sich gestern in Bicske Leute auf die Gleise werfen, schreien, in überhitzten Waggons ohne Essen sitzen bleiben, nur weil sie um jeden Preis nach Deutschland wollen, wie werden diese Menschen reagieren, wenn sie dank EU-Quote nach Estland, Polen oder Portugal geschickt werden? Wohl ziemlich genau so.

Die möglichen Lösungen für diese stinkende Misere sind alle einigermaßen problematisch:

Erstens, sich abschotten und einbunkern. Das endet vermutluch in Grenzzäune und irgendwann auch in Selbstschussanlagen, denn der Exodus aus den Krisenregionen hat gerade erst begonnen und wird vermutlich nicht mehr abreißen, wenn sich die Situation in den Krisenregionen nicht drastisch ändert. Die derzeitigen Flüchtlingsströme demonstrieren, wie relativ einfach es geworden ist, große Distanzen zu überwinden, und welch ein lukratives und risikoarmes Geschäft es geworden ist, Menschen in großen Mengen zu verschiffen. Das Geschäft hat gerade erst begonnen.

Zweitens, die Situation in den Krisenländern drastisch ändern. Das wird wohl nur über militärische Interventionen und anschließenden Wiederaufbauhilfen funktionieren. Allerdings ist die Lust der EU, sich mit kleingesparten Armeen in einen Guerillakrieg gegen radikale Gotteskrieger zu begeben, verständlicherweise gering, und den USA, die die Syrien-Kriese mit ausgelöst haben, ist nicht zuzutrauen, dass sie nicht ein ähnliches Chaos hinterlassen wie im Irak oder in Afghanistan. Zudem ist noch nicht gesagt, ob die Verlockungen des westlichen Kapitalismus nicht ohnehin stärker sind; man würde damit zwar den Flüchtlingen im Libanon und der Türkei die Rückkehr ermöglichen, aber Deutschland würde vermutlich nichts von seiner Attraktivität einbüßen.

Drittens, sich der Macht des Faktischen beugen, die Einwanderungsgesetze radikal ändern, und die Leute ins Land lassen. Es werden halt nicht wenige sein. Der deutsche Innenminister sprach vor kurzem von 800.000 zu erwartenden Migranten in diesem Jahr, eine Zahl, die aufgrund der weiterhin steigenden Flüchtlingszahlen bereits in Zweifel gezogen wird; im kommenden Jahr werden es vermutlich deutlich mehr sein. Die Frage, die oft gestellt wird, ob Deutschland einer Million Menschen und eventuell einer weiteren Millionen im nächsten Jahr eine Unterkunft anbieten kann, kann man zwar ziemlich sicher mit "ja" beantworten, wesentlich wichtiger scheint mir aber eine andere Frage zu sein: Kann Deutschland diesen Menschen auch entsprechend viele Arbeitsplätze geben?


          Von der ungewollten Unehrlichkeit   

#Danke_Deutschland الالمان يستقبلون السورين بالورود شكرا من القلب لكل الشعب الالماني والحكومة المانية التي فتحت ابوابها بالابتاسامة والورود والمحبة بعكس كثير من دول العربية وشكرا من القلب للشعب الالمانيDie Deutschen begrüßen das syrische Volk mit Blumen. Dafür danken wir dem deutschen Volk und der Regierung von ganzem Herzen, dass sie ihre Türen für uns öffnen im Gegensatz zu den arabischen Ländern.

Posted by Talal Abk on Dienstag, 25. August 2015


Fühle nur ich mich komisch, wenn ich so etwas [1] sehe? Ich meine, ist ja nett gemeint und so, aber für mich ist das in erster Linie Ausdruck einer unglaublichen Naivität, die Menschen unbewusst und ungewollt verhöhnt.

Klar, Krieg gibt es bei uns derzeit keinen, aber angesichts von 4,5 Millionen Hartz-IV-Beziehern [2] und 12,5 Millionen, die in Deutschland in Armut leben [3], finde ich es einfach unseriös, bei Leuten, die in festem Glauben nach Deutschland kommen, dass sie dort problemlos eine neue Existenz aufbauen können, völlig falsche Hoffnungen zu wecken.

Ich weiß, das ist momentan eine unpopuläre Meinung - selbst beim sonst so vernünftigen Misik geht gerade eine Art Shitsturm los [4], in dem "Mitleid" und "professionelle Hilfe" für einen Journalisten [5] gefordert werden, der "schlimmer als die 'Ausländer raus'-Plärrer" [4] sei, wenn er unter anderem schreibt

es ist nicht die Aufgabe von Journalisten, in erster Linie gerührt zu sein. Von Politikern sollte man erst recht etwas anderes erwarten. [...] Stimmungen können sich verändern, in jede Richtung. Eine Politik, die sich auf Gefühlslagen verlässt, ist schnell verlassen. Es ist gerade mal ein halbes Jahr her, da haben die Deutschen noch hinter jedem Zauselbart einen Dschihadisten vermutet [...]. Man ahnt, dass es nicht viel braucht, um die alten Befürchtungen wieder zu aktivieren. [5]

Gut, im restlichen Artikel [5] steckt schon auch einiges an nicht wirklich Haltbarem drin, aber ich sehe beim besten Willen nicht, was an der Grundaussage selbst falsch sein soll.

Ich weiß schon, solche euphorischen Begrüßungen sind auch ein symbolischer Akt, ausgelöst durch unerträgliche Hasspostings und noch unerträglichere Hassverbrechen, eine bewusste Gegenbewegung zum Mob, der Menschen beschimpft und Flüchtlingsheime anzündet, aber sie sind, auch wenn sie gut gemeint und auch wirklich Ausdruck echter Gefühle sind, insgesamt trotzdem verlogen. Es ist der Unterschied zwischen einer freundlichen Begrüßung und einem wirklichen Willkommensein. Es ist das Erwecken des Anscheins, es gäbe in diesem Land Jobs für alle und keine hasserfüllten Menschen. Das werden die Flüchtlinge spätestens dann merken, wenn sie ihre Pläne, sich in Deutschland eine Existenz aufzubauen, umsetzen wollen und bei der Jobsuche nichts anderes als 1-Euro-Jobs oder Anfeindungen von den Deutschen finden.

Henryk M. Broder [6] spricht in diesem Zusammenhang davon, dass den Flüchtlingen das Schicksal blüht,

um mit Marx zu reden, [...] eine "industrielle Reservearmee" [zu sein], für die es keine Beschäftigung gibt und keine geben wird, das Lumpenproletariat von morgen und übermorgen. Was unser Urteilsvermögen trübt, sind die Bilder, die wir täglich sehen: von der griechisch-mazedonischen Grenze, aus Calais am Ärmelkanal, aus Freital und Heidenau in Sachsen.

Nein, man soll diese Menschen nicht abweisen oder zurückschicken. Man soll sie auch begrüßen, ihnen Wasserflaschen, Lebensmittel und Hygieneartikel geben, denn das ist ein Gebot der Menschlichkeit und Höflichkeit. Man soll aber heute nicht hurra schreien und Blumen schwenken, wenn die Gefahr besteht, dass morgen die Notunterkunft, in der sie untergebracht werden, von Neonazis angezündet wird. Hier zu feiern, dass sie dem Krieg entkommen sind, ist ein bisschen spät, denn der Krieg liegt mittlerweile zumindest geographisch schon mehrere tausend Kilometer hinter ihnen. Hier zu feiern, dass sie in Deutschland sind, ist unangebracht, denn "in Deutschland sein" allein ist noch kein Garant dafür, dass sich ihre Hoffnungen und Wünsche auch irgendwie erfüllen.

Jetzt sind Hilfe und Ehrlichkeit angebracht, nicht naive Euphorie. Vor allem haben sie sich nichts verdient, worüber sie sich heute vielleicht freuen, das sie aber in ein paar Monaten nur noch als blanken Hohn empfinden werden. So entsteht Verbitterung, und so entstehen Konflikte.

[D]ie Medien [lassen] immer öfter Migranten zu Wort kommen, die nicht dankbar, sondern enttäuscht sind. So habe er sich Deutschland nicht vorgestellt, klagte vor Kurzem ein Syrer bei der "Welt", der kein Wort Deutsch und nur sehr gebrochen Englisch sprach. Wie dann, ist man versucht zu fragen, wie dann? [6]

Quellen:

[1] Talal Abk, "Die Deutschen begrüßen das syrische Volk mit Blumen"
[2] Leistungsempfänger von Arbeitslosengeld II im Jahresdurchschnitt von 2006 bis 2015
[3] Bericht des Wohlfahrtsverbands: 12,5 Millionen Menschen in Deutschland sind arm
[4] Robert Misik, "Was verdienen Leute die jetzt solche Kommentare schreiben?"
[5] Jan Fleischhauer, "Die Deutschen und die Flüchtlinge"
[6] Henryk M. Broder, "Wer nur Mitleid empfindet, der hat keinen Verstand"

          Pier 1 Imports stock sinks as revenue misses target    

Shares of Pier 1 Imports Inc. cratered in Wednesday's extended session after the retailer missed Wall Street's revenue estimate. Pier 1 reported its first-quarter loss narrowed $3 million, or 4 cents a share, from $6 million, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue fell to $409.5 million from $418.4 million. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast a loss of 5 cents a share on revenue of $421 million. Same-store sales, on a constant currency basis, were flat but online sales, accounting for about a quarter of net sales, rose 23%. Pier 1 shares tumbled 19% after hours.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


          Father's Day - History of Neckties   
Neckties have always been one of the most popular gifts during Father's Day. Believe the statistics or not, Americans are actually known to spend more than a billion dollars every year to buy 100 million ties.
          What's With the Tie?   
Neckties are staple accessories for every man who works in the office. That is a fact. Another interesting fact is that with the millions of necktie wearer, majority of them do not have any idea whose tie is better than the other. Men wear neckties for like a third of their entire life, yet very few actually know the value of the neckties that they wear. Of course, if you are a necktie wearer it always pays to know what goes into one necktie and how you can say that your tie is actually better than the other.
          Why Kerry Lost   

BOSTON—My take on the election: Vision without details beats details without vision. President Bush put forward a powerful and compelling philosophy of what the government should do at home and abroad: Expand liberty. You can disagree with Bush's implementation of that vision, but objecting to it as a matter of principle isn't a political winner. John Kerry, on the other hand, campaigned as a technocrat, a man who would be better at "managing" the war and the economy. But for voters faced with a mediocre economy rather than a miserable one, and with a difficult war that's hopefully not a disastrous one, that message—packaged as "change"—wasn't compelling enough to persuade them to vote for Kerry.

Without reliable exit-poll data, it's hard to know exactly which voters and issues decided the election, but my guess is that the Democrats will ultimately conclude that they did what they thought was necessary on the ground to win the election. Karl Rove and the Republicans just did more. (On the exit-poll question: If the initial evening exit-poll result that 5 percent of the late deciders broke for Ralph Nader had turned out to be accurate, Nader would have received more votes from among the pool of late-breaking undecideds than he ended up receiving from the entire electorate.) The Democratic confidence during the early afternoon and evening was based on more than faulty poll data. The Kerry campaign was confident that high turnout from the party base would swing the election their way.

But this election wasn't a swing, or a pendulum. There was no fairly evenly divided group in the middle of the electorate that ultimately broke for one side and made the difference. The 2004 campaign was not a tug of war between two sides trying to yank the center toward them. Instead, it was a battle over an electorate perched on a seesaw. Each campaign furiously tried to find new voters to add so that it could outweigh the other side. Both sides performed capably: Kerry received more votes than Al Gore did four years ago, and he even received more votes than the previous all-time leader, Ronald Reagan in 1984. President Bush just did even better.

Rove's gamble that he could find more Bush supporters from among nonvoting social conservatives than from the small number of undecideds in the usual voting public worked exactly as designed. The question for Democrats is whether Rove's formula will turn out to be a one-time trick tied to Bush's personal popularity and the emotional bond the nation formed with him after the trauma of 9/11, or whether the Democratic Party has been relegated to permanent, if competitive, minority status. Are the Democrats once again a regional party, the new Eisenhower Republicans of the Northeast? For seven consecutive presidential elections, the Democratic candidate has failed to garner 50 percent of the vote. Not since Jimmy Carter in 1976 has a Democrat won a majority, and even Watergate could get Carter only 50.1 percent.

The silver lining for the minority party is that the Democrats may have a slight edge in the Electoral College. Although he lost the popular vote by more than 3.5 million (a landslide in a 50-50 nation), Kerry lost the presidency by a much smaller amount: fewer than 140,000 votes in Ohio. The 2008 battleground will likely be even smaller than 2004's: Only 19 states in this election had a vote margin that within single digits. In 2000's divided America, Bush and Gore finished within 5 points of each other in 22 states. This time, Bush and Kerry came within sniffing distance of each other in half as many, 11. Despite President Bush's remarkably successful campaign, and despite the fact that he became the first president to win a majority of the vote since his father did the same in 1988, in his second term George W. Bush will preside over a country that is even more divided than it was during his first.


          Blame the Electoral College   

BOSTON—There's no reason to start crying that American democracy has been sullied, or that the system doesn't work, or that a constitutional crisis is looming. The Constitution does not enshrine the right to know the winner of a presidential election before bedtime. The one certainty at the end of this long Election Night: There's something really, really wrong with exit polling. The near-certainty: John Kerry is going to lose this election relatively quickly.

How long can Kerry contest an election in which a wartime incumbent beat him by 3.7 million votes? This isn't the same as losing the Electoral College by 537 votes when you won the overall popular vote by more than 500,000. Granted, Kerry isn't contesting anything yet. He's just waiting until the vote totals show that he's been mathematically eliminated, and he shouldn't be begrudged that right.

The real takeaway from this election is that the Electoral College needs to be abolished immediately. If the American public doesn't want to shutter the Electoral College after tonight, we never will. The 2000 election didn't persuade me that the system needed to be junked, but this election provides a far better example of the system's flaws. Under a popular-vote system, President Bush would probably have been declared the winner by the time the polls closed on the West Coast. Only the fact that states, rather than people, elect the American president allowed Kerry to get within striking distance in an election he lost by 3 percentage points. You could argue that the 2000 election was a tie, that it was so close that the winner couldn't be discerned. That's not the case this time around. A majority of Americans clearly went to the polls and voted for the re-election of President Bush. John Kerry lost this election. The Electoral College is just going to make him suffer a slow and painful death instead of a swift and decisive one.

By 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday night—or Wednesday morning—when reporters shuttled outside to watch John Edwards deliver one of the most disappointing political speeches in American history, everyone, including what was left of Kerry's hometown crowd, knew the Democratic ticket had been defeated. When Edwards walked out to explain why he and Kerry were not ready to concede, his statement had all the eloquence of a statement made on an airport tarmac. He spoke for less than a minute. Here's what he said, in its entirety: "It's been a long night, but we've waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night. Tonight, John and I are so proud of all of you who are here with us, and all of you across the country who have stood with us in this campaign. John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people, that in this election, every vote would count, and every vote would be counted. Tonight, we are keeping our word, and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less. Thank you!" The speech's redeeming element was Edwards' suggestion that this will all be over by Wednesday night.

But even if the election continues into next week (an unlikely scenario), it's worth remembering that so far, no one's suing, no one's litigating, and no one's contesting anything. We're just waiting for the outcome of a close election to be determined. Kerry and Edwards are losing, but that's no reason for them to walk off the field before the clock runs out.


          Lockhart Ranks the States   

BOSTON—Just after 10 p.m., Joe Lockhart updated the press at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel on the Kerry campaign's view of the unfolding election. He appeared to list states in descending order, as related to the campaign's confidence that Kerry would win them:

"Let me talk a little bit about where we think things are. We are in, I think, a remarkably strong position as we stand here tonight. We think—Let me try to do this in some semblance of order. The first state that will flip, we believe, is New Hampshire. We've had a very aggressive campaign out there, a very aggressive ground game, and we expect to win that state.

"Ohio was a state that stayed close throughout the campaign, but we are very bullish based on the turnout in the state. We had very positive turnout within, as I was saying earlier, the Democratic precincts particularly in African-American communities. We had our precincts, the Democratic precincts, performing at 115 percent of our expectations, and we had the Republican precincts reporting at 94.3 percent of expectations. …  We had African-American precincts reporting in very high, at about 115 percent of what we expected, and Hispanic precincts were reporting at 150 percent of what we expected.

"I think if you look at the vote that's coming in, what you have to keep in mind is there's a series of Democratic counties that we only have very limited reporting in now. I give you those counties and with that [the] margin that Gore had in 2000: Cuyahoga, obviously Cleveland, strong Democratic area, Gore won by 160,000; Lucas County, Toledo area, Gore won by 35,000; Montgomery County, the Dayton area, Gore won by 5,000; Summit, which is Warren, which is where we had the rally over the weekend, Gore won by 25,000, and Mahoney County, which Gore won by 30,000. If you look at the numbers now, these are very underreported, and these are the ones that are coming in late.

"On Florida, we think we, as I said earlier today, we started with a very strong advantage based on the early voting, almost 30 percent of the state voted before today. And we've had absolutely outstanding turnout in the southern part of the state, in Miami-Dade, Broward, and West Palm. If you look at 2000, Gore won Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach by 350,000, and we think we're going to do better than that. We have very limited reporting in those counties in Florida now. But we think that, based on the limited information, we have a 42,000-vote lead in Palm Beach County, with less than half the vote in. Broward County, we have a more than 200,000-vote lead, with still more than a quarter of the vote left to be counted, with still over a quarter left to be counted.

"I think in both of these states, Ohio and Florida, the turnout, the incredible turnout, an unprecedented turnout, I think you've seen in the long lines, in the fact that they're still voting. We have reports from Columbus, Ohio, of a polling place that will be open until midnight based on the line when the polls closed. There's still voting going on in Florida. So we feel very strongly about both of these states as states that will come into our column once the votes are counted.

"I'll do two areas before we get to questions. The first is the Upper Midwest. We feel very strongly about, we'll have a comfortable win in Minnesota. Wisconsin, based on the turnout that we've looked at and analyzed over this afternoon and this evening, we think we'll also hold. I think, Iowa, with a late surge in the last four or five days, and with a very aggressive ground game, we think we'll also be able to hold the state of Iowa.

"In the Southwest, New Mexico and Nevada, one red state, one blue state, we feel very strongly that we've done well there, we've done enough and that when the votes are counted there we'll win those states. So, overall we feel like we're in a strong position."

Q: What's surprised you tonight?

"We expected a very large turnout. I don't know that we expected this, something this large. And I think we've always believed that turnout, and the size of it as it grew over by the millions and maybe even 10 million more than what we saw in 2000, that would advantage us, and I think that's what we're seeing.

"You know, I think the turnout in a number of Democratic communities has been strong. I think if you look at the data that's out now, probably the biggest surprise is how the 18- to 25-year-olds, how many of them came out, and think how strongly they've come out for Kerry. I think if you're looking for one thing to put your finger on right now that's making a difference in this race after many cycles of there being hype about getting young people re-engaged and getting involved in voting again, this is the year that it actually happened."


          The Vanishing Nonvoter   

FORT LAUDERDALE—Republicans love to criticize Democrats for failing to use "dynamic scoring" when assessing the impact of tax cuts on budget revenues. But if President Bush loses the 2004 presidential election, it may be because Karl Rove failed to use dynamic scoring when assessing the impact of his political strategy on the electorate.

In budgetary matters, dynamic scoring means including the effect that cutting taxes will have on economic growth when determining how a tax cut will affect federal revenues. A static analysis, on the other hand, would just decrease the government's inflows by the amount that taxes were cut (or increase revenues by the amount taxes were raised), without calculating the ways a change in tax policy can change people's economic decisions.

For the 2004 election, Rove's static political analysis was that appealing to the 4 million evangelicals who didn't vote in 2000 would bring President Bush a decisive re-election victory. Bush's campaign—and his presidency—have appealed almost entirely to the base of the Republican Party. In a static world, that strategy makes sense: Consolidate the support you received last time, and then find new conservative voters who weren't motivated to turn out four years ago, whether because of the late-breaking news of Bush's DUI arrest or because they weren't convinced of Bush's conservative bona fides. But Rove may have missed the dynamic analysis: the effect that such a strategy would have on the rest of the nonvoting public.

In most states, the Democratic voter-registration program has outpaced the Republican one. Here in Florida, that hasn't been the case, as the GOP has turned up more new registrants across the state than the Democrats. But evidence that Rove's unconventional strategy inflamed the Democratic base can be seen in the early-voting turnout, which seems to be favoring the Democrats. Friday's South Florida Sun-Sentinel featured this headline on the front page: "Early Vote Turnout Boosts Democrats." Calling the turnout in heavily Democratic Broward County a "bad sign for President Bush's chances to win the state," the Sun-Sentinel noted that "twice as many Democrats as Republicans had either voted at early voting sites or returned absentee ballots in the county." In Miami-Dade, another heavily Democratic county, Kerry stands to beat Bush by 90,000 votes if a Miami Herald poll conducted by John Zogby is accurate, Herald columnist Jim DeFede wrote on Thursday. Al Gore won the county by less than 40,000 votes.

"By our count, John Kerry already has a significant lead with the people who have already voted in Florida," Tad Devine said in a conference call with reporters Saturday. The voters who are waiting in line for 2 1/2 hours to vote—almost exactly how long the line was Saturday at the downtown Fort Lauderdale public library—aren't doing that to register their support for "more of the same," he said. Interestingly, Devine sounded more confident about Kerry's chances in Florida than in Ohio, a state in which most people think Kerry has a slight edge. He said that Kerry had a "small but important advantage" in Florida (as well as Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania) but only that the race was "very close" with Kerry "positioned to win" in Ohio, putting that the Buckeye State in the same category as Bush-leaning (by most accounts) states Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico.

It's possible that Rove and the Bush campaign have turned up a huge trove of conservative nonvoters who were registered to vote four years ago and who therefore aren't showing up in the numbers of new registered voters. Unless that's true, however, the early indications are that Rove's repudiation of centrist politics will backfire. The secret of Bill Clinton's campaigns and of George W. Bush's election in 2000 was the much-maligned politics of small differences: Find the smallest possible majority (well, of electoral votes, for both men) that gets you to the White House. In political science, something called the "median voter theorem" dictates that in a two-party system, both parties will rush to the center looking for that lone voter—the median voter—who has 50.1 percent of the public to the right (or left) of him. Win that person's vote, and you've won the election.

Rove has tried to use the Bush campaign to disprove the politics of the median voter. It was as big a gamble as any of the big bets President Bush has placed over the past four years. It has the potential to pay off spectacularly. After all, everyone always talks about how there are as many people who don't vote in this country as people who do vote. Rove decided to try to get the president to excite those people. Whether Bush wins or loses, it looks like he succeeded.


          I Want My GOTV   

COLUMBUS, Ohio—With only nine days until this election is over (or so everyone hopes), we've reached the stage of the campaign when the political press evaluates each side's ground game. The media's track record on this is not encouraging. Almost exactly nine months ago, reporters were wandering around Iowa judging the merits of everyone's "organization, organization, organization." The verdict: Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt were the men to beat. We were dazzled by Gephardt's union support and by Dean's "Perfect Storm" of door-knocking, orange-hatted, out-of-state volunteers. They both got creamed.

In hindsight, Dean's Perfect Storm has been judged a debacle on two levels: It annoyed Iowans, who don't like outsiders, and it tied up Dean's staff with organizational headaches—where should we house the Stormers? How can we keep them busy?—when the staff's time would have been better spent figuring out how to get Iowans to the caucuses. But at the time, it got great press.

So, perhaps it's a bad omen for Kerry's ground game in Ohio when I discover that Christy Setzer, the woman who handled press for the Perfect Storm, has been assigned to deal with national reporters who parachute into Columbus to watch America Coming Together, the New New Thing of the general election, in action. That's not meant as a slap at Setzer—she's a terrific person who's good at her job (see the aforementioned glowing press)—but the parallels are irresistible. Like the Storm was for the caucuses, the George Soros-funded ACT is the Big Question Mark of the general election: How many of the new voters it registered in the past year are authentic? How many of them will show up to vote? Can this unconventional strategy win Kerry the presidency?

ACT's army of red-coated canvassers are Kerry's Afghan warlords: He's outsourced his base campaign, his voter-registration drives, and a healthy chunk of his get-out-the-vote operation to them. Much of the rest of the operation will be handled by the groups (including ACT) that make up America Votes, another 527 that coordinates the voter-contact and voter-turnout operations of a host of interest groups, from the AFL-CIO to Planned Parenthood, to ensure that everyone's on the same page. In a sense, America Votes does for the liberal ground game what Grover Norquist's weekly meeting does for conservative talking points.

When I ask Setzer to compare ACT to Dean's Storm, she says it differs in important ways. For one, the canvassers are paid workers and not volunteers, and the organization tries to hire locals instead of out-of-towners. More important, perhaps, the canvassers are supposed to identify voters and get them to the polls, not tell voters their personal stories of how far they've traveled and why they're committed to Howard Dean (or John Kerry). But the real key is that they don't work for just one weekend.

The secret to turnout is frequent face-to-face contact with voters. That's a lesson Steve Rosenthal, the national head of America Coming Together, learned during his years as the political director of the AFL-CIO. Many people attribute Al Gore's victory in the popular vote in 2000—and his wins in every close state except Florida—to Rosenthal's turnout operation for the unions in 2000. Donna Brazile has called Rosenthal "the last great hope of the Democratic Party" and has compared him to Michael Whouley and Karl Rove. ACT is a national version of what Rosenthal did for Philadelphia Mayor John Street in 2003. In that race, 38,000, or 44 percent, of the 86,000 new voters Rosenthal registered came to the polls, he told National Journal earlier this year, compared to 28 or 29 percent of what the magazine called "voters from the same neighborhoods and similar socio-economic backgrounds who had registered on their own."

In Ohio, ACT sends out between 200 and 250 paid canvassers each day. They get paid between $8 and $10 an hour. Setzer reels off impressive numbers: We've knocked on 3.7 million doors in Ohio, had more than 1 million conversations. On Election Day, ACT will send out 12,000 volunteers, each paid a stipend of $75 for travel and expenses, to make sure voters get to the polls. ACT and the partner organizations that make up America Votes have registered about 300,000 new voters in Ohio, and they'll consider it a success to turn out just half of them. Those voters alone, though, wouldn't swing the election. Four years ago, Bush's margin of victory was nearly 180,000 votes. In all, Ohio has between 700,000 and 800,000 new voters for this election, though Setzer points out that some of that could just be churn from voters who moved.

My trip to watch two ACT canvassers in action wasn't very impressive, but that's because it was a Potemkin canvass, organized for the benefit of an MSNBC reporter and his camera. Malik Hubbard, 26, and Julian Johannesen, 32, walked up and down a few blocks in a largely African-American neighborhood in Columbus on a Saturday afternoon. As ACT's field directors for Franklin County, which includes Columbus, Hubbard and Johannesen don't usually canvass themselves. Each man carried a Palm Tungsten T2, which contained the addresses of the voters they were supposed to contact. It's Saturday afternoon on the day of the Ohio State homecoming game, so it's not optimal door-knocking time, but they do their best to put on a good show. When a voter answers the door, the canvasser gives him or her a flyer that has the address of the local polling place stamped on it. He explains that the polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., advises the voter to bring some form of identification to the polls in case their registration is challenged, and asks if there are any questions. On two separate occasions, a voter worries about a false rumor that the neighborhood's voting machines have been replaced with punch-card ballots. After talking to each voter, Hubbard and Johannesen input the data into their Tungsten T2s.

Over the next nine days, canvassers will follow up with voters, continuing the personal contacts. For what it's worth, the Bush-Cheney campaign in the state is following a similar strategy, though it doesn't partly rely on an outside organization to carry it out. "I'm not saying we're gonna outperform the other side, because they have the potential to be spectacular," says Dave Beckwith, a Bush-Cheney spokesman in Ohio. "I'd just rather be where we are, with a real solid model." The model is the Republican "72 Hour Program," Karl Rove's get-out-the-vote operation from 2002, which helped the Republicans gain House and Senate seats in the midterm elections. Like ACT, the 72 Hour Program relies on frequent face-to-face contact with voters, what Bush's Ohio campaign manager Bob Paduchik calls "the volunteer-to-voter interface."

"By and large, it is an effort to move closer to the Democrat knock-and-drag vote drive," Beckwith says. Republicans have traditionally relied on things like direct mail to get out the vote, but this time, "We are going to the personal contact system." The Bush-Cheney campaign has printed up small pamphlets that contain a list of each committed Bush voter in a neighborhood, along with voters' phone numbers and a map of the area. On Election Day, a volunteer takes the book and checks off each voter after they go to the polls.

Beckwith admits that the Democrats have registered more new voters than the Republicans, but he says that their work was done by "mercenaries"—and they have "people signed up by crack addicts"—while his side employs volunteers, or "liberty-loving free men." Beckwith then drifts into a reverie about the Battle of San Jacinto and explains how Sam Houston knew that "conscripts" and the forces of "despotism" couldn't defeat free men. The enemy was saying, "Me no Alamo," Beckwith says with a laugh. (At another moment in the interview, Beckwith observes of the Kerry-Edwards campaign offices, "I think they're on Gay Street, which is interesting, because we're on Rich Street.")

At the Bush-Cheney headquarters, I mention to Paduchik, Bush's Ohio campaign manager, how the media overestimated the effectiveness of Dean's Perfect Storm. Paduchik says the evidence of Bush's organization in Ohio is the size of his crowds, because the campaign distributes its tickets through its volunteers. When you see 22,000 people in Troy, Ohio, or 50,000 people in Westchester, Ohio, you know you're looking at "a real organization," he says. "It's not because we had tickets you could download from the Internet. It's not because we had put them on car windows, or had people pick them up at a 7-Eleven, like the other side does."

On the way out, I'm reminded that all this work on both sides isn't necessarily a sign of confidence. As we walk to the door, Beckwith points to an empty portion of the Bush-Cheney offices. That's where the staff for Sen. George Voinovich works, he says. "These cocksuckers are up 30 points and they're never in here."


          Kerry Puts the Gloves On   

SHEBOYGAN, Wisc.—If John Kerry loses the election, a reporter once told me, we'll probably be able to blame it on the mistakes he makes while trying to sprinkle local color into his speeches. The Badger State boasts Kerry's most famous slip of the tongue: the time he declared his love for "Lambert Field," suggesting that the state's beloved Green Bay Packers play their home games on the frozen tundra of the St. Louis airport. But there have been others: his shout-out to the "Buckeyes" while campaigning in Michigan, or his announcement in Canonsburg, Pa., that he would like to go to a local restaurant that doesn't let its customers choose their entrees, because he has a hard time making up his mind about what to eat. In a slightly different category, but in the same vein, was Kerry's request in Philadelphia for Swiss, rather than cheese whiz, on his Philly cheesesteak.

Here in Sheboygan, during a "Kerry-Edwards '04 Brat Fry," Kerry adds to the litany Friday by referring to the local food as a short-A "brat," the way you would refer to a spoiled child. "Brot!" yell members of the crowd. For good measure, Kerry makes the mistake at the end of his speech, too. "Before I get a chance to have some braaats ..." "Brots!!" some women near me shout in frustration.

OK, it's unlikely to have much resonance beyond Sheboygan, and neither will Kerry's reference to the women's soccer star "Brady" Chastain, beyond providing more fodder for Football Fans for Truth. But the press on one of the buses in Kerry's caravan through Wisconsin has fun with it anyway, imagining a new Kerryism at our next stop, Appleton: "Hello, Applebee's!" or, even better, "Who among us does not like Applebee's?"

Besides, things are looking up for Kerry, despite his miscue. The polls in the upper Midwest battlegrounds are trending his direction, and there's a positive spin that can be put on the fact that many of the most important swing states are ones that Al Gore won in 2000. Yes, it means that Kerry is playing defense on what is supposed to be his party's home turf, but on the other hand, surely Democrats would prefer the election hinge on their chances of winning Wisconsin and Iowa rather than, say, Colorado and Nevada.

The Democratic worries that filled the month of August and much of September have been replaced by Republican fretting. "If you don't have some anxiety you are not in touch with reality," Newt Gingrich told the Los Angeles Times. It wasn't a sign of confidence when President Bush decided Thursday to visit with the press on Air Force One for only the third time of his presidency. And although this election has been marked by an upending of all the normal political rules, a factoid identified by USA Today's Susan Page has to add to Republican unease: "In three elections—in 1960, 1980 and 2000—a presidential candidate has gone into the first debate trailing his opponent in the Gallup Poll and come out of the last debate ahead of him. Each went on to win." Kerry entered the first debate trailing Bush by 8 points. By the second debate, he'd tied the president. The first post-debate Gallup Poll will come out this week.

But what if Kerry isn't ahead? How dispirited will his supporters be if he can't pass Bush after winning all three debates? Next week's polls won't decide the election, obviously, but they'll go a long way toward measuring the effectiveness of Kerry's turn-it-on-late, Mayday Malone campaign strategy. During the summer months, when Kerry pretty much went into hiding while the Bush campaign was trying to bury him with millions of dollars in negative advertising, the strategy was dubbed the "rope-a-dope," after Muhammad Ali's strategy in the "Rumble in the Jungle" against George Foreman. Now, as if it were planned for the finale all along, Kerry has adopted Ali's query to Foreman in the seventh round: "George, is that all you've got?"

The other thing Kerry has been telling crowds for the past two days is that the eyes of the world will be on America on Nov. 2, that the world is "waiting for the United States to be the country they know us to be." This election isn't just about one country, Kerry says; it's about the fate of the entire world. It's a global test, in other words, though he's not stupid enough to phrase it that way. Bush says he doesn't like global tests, but even he wouldn't deny that no matter which man wins, he'll have the right to think, at least privately, that he's something else Muhammad Ali proclaimed: king of the world.


          Cheney Drops the Ball   

CLEVELAND—Does Dick Cheney know that he told voters watching the vice presidential debate to go to GeorgeSoros.com? In response to a series of attacks from John Edwards on Cheney's tenure as CEO of Halliburton, the vice president said that Kerry and Edwards "know the charges are false. They know that if you go, for example, to factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton." One problem with Cheney's rebuttal: He misspoke. He meant to say "factcheck.org," rather than ".com." According to the Wall Street Journal, the company that owns factcheck.com, Name Administration Inc., took advantage of Cheney's error to redirect traffic to a page titled, "Why we must not re-elect President Bush: a personal message from George Soros."*

But maybe Cheney was lucky to have misspoken, because there was a larger problem with his response: It isn't true. Well, it is true that factcheck.org provides "specific details with respect to Halliburton," but those details have nothing to do with the charges Edwards made. The Democratic running mate said that Halliburton, while Cheney was CEO, "did business with sworn enemies of the United States, paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false financial information, it's under investigation for bribing foreign officials." All factcheck.org rebuts is a different charge, that Cheney collected $2 million from Halliburton "as vice president." It turns out that Cheney collected a good chunk of that money as vice president-elect, including nearly $1.5 million on Jan. 18, 2001, two days before his inauguration.

After the debate, Bush campaign communications director Nicole Devenish repeats Cheney's statement and directs reporters to factcheck.org for the details. I've already been to factcheck.org, I tell her, and it says nothing about what Edwards said, about trading with the enemy, about bribing foreign officials, about providing false financial information. She tells me to go to debatefacts.com, the Bush-Cheney rapid-response Web site. The answers are all there.

Except they're not. "The Facts" page at the Bush-Cheney debate site doesn't get Edwards' claims correctly either: "Edwards' Claim: The Department Of Defense's Contracting Process In Iraq Is Rife With Cronyism And Secrecy," it says. Did Edwards claim that? I thought he said Cheney traded with the enemy, bribed foreign officials, and provided false financial information. On those charges, the Bush-Cheney campaign has no answers, at least not tonight.

The exchange on "factcheck.com" was the debate writ small in many ways: Edwards would make a charge, and Cheney would have no answer for it. In debate, that's called a "dropped argument." Cheney left arguments all over the floor. Three times, when offered a chance to respond to something Edwards had said, Cheney declined, leaving Edwards' critique to stand on its own. Edwards went through a long list of votes that Cheney made as a congressman: against Head Start, against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors, against Meals on Wheels, against the Department of Education, against Martin Luther King Day, against the release of Nelson Mandela. What else was he against, longer recess? Cheney declined to defend or explain a single one of his votes. On gay marriage, Edwards said the constitutional amendment proposed by the president was unnecessary, divisive, and an attempt to distract the country from important issues such as health care, jobs, and Iraq. Cheney declined to refute any of Edwards' points, and instead thanked him for his kind words about his family. On homeland security, Edwards said the administration has failed to create a unified terrorist watch list, and it foolishly screens the passengers on airplanes but not their cargo. We need to be not just "strong and aggressive" but also "smart," he said. Cheney's response: to decline a chance to respond, which is the same as ceding the point.

When Cheney did have an answer, it was often a misleading one, just like factcheck.com. On one occasion, Cheney said the Kerry-Edwards tax plan would raise taxes on 900,000 small businesses, and he said that was a bad idea because small businesses create 7 out of 10 jobs in America. But the two statements have nothing to do with each other. Those 900,000 small businesses—double the real number that would be affected, according to CNN—don't create 70 percent of the nation's jobs. On another occasion, Cheney criticized Kerry for supporting defense cuts that Cheney supported as secretary of defense during the first Bush administration. Other statements were simply false, rather than merely deceptive or misleading. For example, Cheney said he had never asserted a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. That's not true. Cheney said he had never met Edwards before. That's not true.

Edwards didn't have a perfect debate. Cheney defended himself and the administration capably during the opening questions about Iraq and the war on terror, and I was disappointed when Edwards failed to give an answer to Cheney's criticism that he and Kerry have no plan to deal with state sponsors of terror. And Edwards got mauled when Cheney said Edwards, by saying that 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq were American, was saying that the deaths of Iraqi soldiers fighting with the U.S. "shouldn't count."

We're halfway through the debates, and I think that each side still has one big question that it hasn't answered. Kerry and Edwards haven't given an adequate explanation of how they would approach states that sponsor terrorism and harbor terrorism. If Iraq was the wrong country to focus on, what was the right country? Just Afghanistan? Or do they support a broader Bob Graham-style war against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations? If regime change isn't the right policy for dealing with state sponsors of terror, what is? Would a Kerry-Edwards administration wage a "war on terror," or just a war on al-Qaida?

The question for Bush and Cheney is the same, but from the opposite side. Where does their war stop? When does it end? How do we measure victory? Most important, what is their answer to a question that Edwards posed and Cheney ignored: "There are 60 countries who have members of al-Qaida in them. How many of those countries are we going to invade?"

Correction, Oct. 7, 2004: The article originally claimed that George Soros bought the factcheck.com URL after Cheney referred to it and redirected its traffic to GeorgeSoros.com. In fact, the company that already owned the URL, Name Administration Inc., redirected the traffic to the Soros page. (Return to corrected sentence.)


          Great Expectations   

PHILADELPHIA—On the Kerry plane Thursday, reporters asked Mike McCurry why the campaign agreed to make the foreign-policy debate first, as the Bush campaign wanted, instead of third, as the Commission on Presidential Debates had scheduled it. "You know, we have to take anything like that and turn it into an opportunity," McCurry said. So, you see it as an opportunity? Not quite: "I'm supposed to lower expectations, not raise them."

Maybe McCurry should tell the candidate. I counted six times this week that Kerry raised his debate expectations by disparaging President Bush's intelligence or knowledge, seven if you count a comment made by Sen. Joe Biden during a Friday rally here. During his Monday night appearance on David Letterman, Kerry said that during the debates, "George Bush is gonna sit on Dick Cheney's lap," an apparent reference to the widespread Democratic belief that the vice president is the ventriloquist/puppeteer and Bush is the dummy. (At least, I hope that was the reference.) On Tuesday's Live With Regis & Kelly, Kerry said of the just-concluded debate negotiations, "The big hang-up was George Bush wanted a lifeline where he could call," an allusion to Regis Philbin's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? game show. That night in Orlando, Kerry said that President Bush says he would have gone to war "even if he knew there was no connection of al-Qaida and Sept. 11 and Iraq—which we knew, but even if he knew that." In Columbus on Thursday, Kerry mocked Bush's claim that the CIA was "just guessing" about Iraq in its National Intelligence Estimate by implying that the president didn't understand the nature of the report and hadn't looked at it: "It's called an analysis. And the president ought to read it, and he ought to study it, and he ought to respond to it." On Friday on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania *, Biden compared the two candidates for president by saying, "John Kerry understands and has actually read history." Earlier that morning, during Kerry's war-on-terror speech at Temple University, Kerry noted that the president agreed to testify before the 9/11 commission "only with Vice President Cheney at his side," and he ridiculed Republican claims that a new president wouldn't be able to get more allies involved in Iraq and the war on terror by saying, "I have news for President Bush: Just because you can't do something doesn't mean it can't be done."

Good lines all—well, except the sitting-in-Cheney's lap one. But was this the week to trot out the Bush-is-an-idiot-controlled-by-Cheney meme? I thought the campaigns were supposed to talk up their opponents before the debates, not deride them. Kerry is Cicero and Bush is Rocky Marciano, the man who has never lost.

Other than this minor misstep in the expectations game, however, Kerry set himself up well this week for Thursday's debate, which will be the most decisive event in the presidential campaign so far. The foreign-policy debate deserves to go first, because this is a foreign-policy election. At Kerry's town halls, even the ones that are supposed to be about health care or Social Security or the economy, the majority of voters ask him questions about Iraq. Here's one way to think about next week's face-off: Bush and Kerry are running for leader of the free world, not just president of the United States, and both candidates want to cast themselves as a global Abraham Lincoln while defining their opponent as an international version of John C. Calhoun.

Bush lays claim to the mantle of Lincoln the Emancipator: Like the 16th president, Bush believes that individual liberty trumps state sovereignty (the international version of states' rights). Sure, Saddam Hussein was sovereign, but he was a tyrant and a menace to his people, Bush says, so America's invasion was a just one. Kofi Annan says Bush's invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law, but Bush appeals to a higher law that says that some laws and some rulers are illegitimate. Bush laid out his Lincolnesque doctrine of liberty over sovereignty in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention: "Our nation's founding commitment is still our deepest commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the frontiers of freedom." Bush wants to paint Kerry as a global Calhoun, a man who prefers French sovereignty to Iraqi freedom.

Kerry, on the other hand, casts himself as Lincoln the preserver of the Union (while at the same time questioning Bush's competence and highlighting the disparity between the president's "fantasy world" ideals and the "world of reality" on the ground). I don't want to overstate this, because the Republican caricature of Kerry as a one-worlder who would let France exert a veto over American security is inaccurate. But Kerry clearly believes in the international structures and institutions that have been created since World War II, and he sees Bush, shall we say, nullifying them. In this version of the story, it's Bush who is Calhoun, the man who would elevate the shortsighted rights of his state over the compact that every state has entered to promote the greater good.

This analogy, like all historical analogies, is flawed in many ways. It may be particularly unfair to Kerry, who on the stump talks about relying on allies out of pragmatism rather than idealism. But it gets at the factor that I think will determine the winner of next week's debate: Which candidate will be able to present himself as the internationalist and his opponent as the isolationist? Bush says Kerry would turn his back on the people of the world who suffer under tyranny. Kerry says Bush has already turned his back on the world and has replaced dictatorship in Iraq with chaos, not the freedom he claims.

It will be an uphill battle for Kerry. So far, he's been successful at pointing out the flaws in Bush's policies, but he hasn't convinced enough people that President Kerry's policies would be any better. And Bush's bounce out of the Republican convention showed how attractive the president's principles, if not his policies, are.

In July, voters seemed to have decided that they'd like to get rid of Bush. But when they turned their attention to his potential replacement, they were disappointed by what they discovered. The Republican convention exploited that disappointment, and now there are more undecided voters than ever—because voters found out they don't like either guy.

Bush lost the incumbent's referendum, then Kerry lost the one on the challenger. Now we don't know what we want. That's why Thursday will be so critical. For Kerry to win, he needs to argue successfully that liberty and the international order, like strength and wisdom, are not opposing values.

Correction, Sept. 27, 2004: This article originally said that Biden spoke at the University of Philadelphia. He spoke at the University of Pennsylvania. (Return to corrected sentence.)


          Lakers News: David Nwaba's $1.3 Million Contract Exercised by LA   

The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday they exercised their 2017-18 option for David Nwaba.

According to SpotracNwaba will earn a little over $1.3 million next year.

In 20 games for the Lakers last season, he averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds. The 24-year-old spent most of his season with the Los Angeles D-Fenders in what is now the NBA G League. He appeared in 40 games, averaging 14.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus thought picking up Nwaba's option was the smart option for Los Angeles:

Nick Young declined his player option with the Lakers earlier this month. Assuming Young isn't a part of the Lakers in 2017-18, Nwaba will provide nice depth at shooting guard behind Jordan Clarkson, and given his age, he can position himself as part of the franchise's long-term plans.

Read more NBA Pacific news on BleacherReport.com


          Ill Communication   

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.—"It's actually getting better," John Kerry says, but his voice cracks like an adolescent on "better," making the Democratic nominee for president of the United States sound like Peter Brady in the episode where his voice changes. The timing provokes good-natured laughter from the crowd. "Do you want some Tylenol?" a woman had called out, just moments before. Kerry's sick, and he's losing his voice. At times, he sounds like he can hardly get his words out. 

He gamely soldiers through the town hall, his only event on Wednesday's schedule, but not long after it's over, his campaign announces that he's taking most of Thursday off. John Edwards is called in from the bullpen to attend two events Kerry had scheduled in Iowa, one in Davenport and one in Cedar Rapids, and Kerry cancels an event he had planned to hold in Columbus, Ohio. The press is getting ready to shift from its "Kerry is staggering" storyline to a "Kerry is surging" one, and the last thing his increasingly competent campaign needs is for the candidate to show up with laryngitis at the first presidential debate next week in Miami.

The Sept. 30 face-off is so important that Kerry plans to be "down," as campaign lingo has it, all next week, practicing and preparing for his showdown with President Bush. But before disappearing, Kerry tried out some new rhetoric late Tuesday night in Orlando and then Wednesday here. Perhaps the funniest line Kerry trots out is one about Bush's promise of middle-class "tax relief." "He gave you relief," Kerry says, "kind of like the sort of relief you get when someone comes into your home and relieves you of your TV set. You know, we've been relieved of 1.6 million jobs. Half a million kids have been relieved of child care." He concludes, "And I think it's time we relieve George Bush of his responsibilities." The crowd inside the TD Waterhouse Center—the home of the Orlando Predators, winners of Arena Bowl XIV, according to a banner in the rafters—goes nuts.

But the line that Kerry wants to emphasize, and that he returns to the next day, is one of the president's. Kerry introduces this ersatz Bushism in Orlando by saying, "This is the president of the United States today, standing in New York City, where he was answering questions about Iraq and about his speech to the United Nations." Kerry pulls out a piece of paper to read and says, "Quote, 'The CIA laid out, ah'"—pause here for laughter and a huge, screaming ovation—"I just want you to know, I'm quotin'," Kerry says. "'The CIA laid out, a—several scenarios and said, life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better. And they were just guessing"—pause, and more laughter—"as to what the conditions might be like.'" Kerry then asks, "Ladies and gentleman, does that make you feel safer? Does that give you confidence in this president, knows what he's talking about? The CIA was 'just guessing.' This president ought to be turning that CIA over, upside down, if that's all they were doing."

Kerry returns to this theme Wednesday. He drops the "tax relief" line—in fact, the best one-liner comes from the crowd, from a man who shouts of President Bush after hearing Kerry's riff on Social Security, "We ought to privatize him!"—but he goes back to "just guessing." Kerry alters the meaning of Bush's statement slightly, but the gist is the same: "Yesterday, George Bush said he was just guessing on the intelligence estimates about conditions in Iraq. Now, George Bush's guesswork on privatizing Social Security is gonna cost $2 trillion. The president should stop guessing about Iraq, about Social Security."

Was this "guesswork" line going to be Thursday's message, too? Would Kerry have succeeded at connecting Bush's own words to the Kerry campaign's new "fantasy" vs. "reality" critique? (On Wednesday, Kerry says, "Yesterday, I was in Orlando, next to Fantasyland. The difference between me and George Bush is I drove by it. He lives in it.") The world may never know. Instead, in Columbus, Ohio, where Kerry spent the night, reporters joked about their stories for Thursday's empty day: "Today, John Kerry nurses a cold in the battleground state of Ohio…"


          Shrum Strikes Back?   

ALLENTOWN, PA.—The Washington Post's Mark Leibovich profiled Kerry adviser Bob Shrum in a piece Friday that focused on the so-called "Shrum Curse," the idea that Shrum is the losingest great political strategist of modern times. Leibovich didn't bring up William Jennings Bryan or the Buffalo Bills, but he does compare Shrum to Kerry's favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. Ten speechwriters at the Democratic convention, Leibovich writes, considered wearing "Reverse the Curse" T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Shrum. The article's headline: "Loss Leader: At 0-7, Adviser Bob Shrum Is Well Acquainted With the Concession Speech."

Ouch. It gets worse. Here are some of the piece's highlights: "Shrum's career-long slump in presidential campaigns, a well-catalogued losing streak that runs from George McGovern to Al Gore. … the ["Reverse the Curse"] slogan endures as a joke among Kerry staffers. … Shrum's 0-7 win-loss record in presidential elections has become ensconced in the psyches of the campaigns he orchestrates. …. Kerry is sputtering … His campaign has been called listless and unfocused, words that were also applied to Shrum's last presidential enterprise, the Gore campaign (a forbidden comparison within Kerry headquarters). … But curses sometimes have prosaic explanations. … critics started to rehash old complaints about Shrum. They say he relies too heavily on populist rhetoric, … that his aggressiveness led to backbiting within the campaign. ... James Carville harpooned Shrum relentlessly to reporters at the Republican convention last week. Clinton himself was critical of the campaign's reluctance to attack Bush—a position Shrum had advocated—in a phone call to Kerry … Shrum's brand of old-style liberalism—steeped in the tradition of his political patron, Ted Kennedy—is anathema to the centrist, New Democrat ethic that got Clinton elected twice. … 'You tend to listen extra hard to Clinton people,' says a mid-level Kerry aide who didn't want to be identified because he's not an official spokesman. 'They've actually won one of these.' "

The one thing Leibovich couldn't nail down was Shrum's role in the Kerry campaign after the elevation of John Sasso and Michael Whouley and the infusion of Clinton operatives like Joe Lockhart. How much power does Shrum have now? Does he still have the candidate's ear? "Shrum is either in Kerry's doghouse, or his influence has been diffused by the high-level additions. Ultimately, though, campaign sources say, Shrum is a survivor" who has "worked strenuously to cultivate Lockhart." Leibovich also writes that Kerry feels loyal to Shrum for helping him to defeat William Weld in 1996.

So, Shrumologists take note: During a rally here on Friday, the same day Leibovich's critical profile appeared, Kerry inserted a Shrumian flourish into his standard stump speech. For a few minutes, Kerry sounded an awful lot like Al Gore during his much-criticized—and Shrum-penned—"people vs. the powerful" acceptance speech at the 2000 Democratic convention. The business-friendly Kerry  of Labor Day vanished, replaced by a Wall Street-bashing economic populist.

Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Kerry's remarks weren't significant. "It didn't strike me as anything unusual," she said. "It's not a 'people vs. the powerful.' " Judge for yourself: There's a theme that runs through "everything I just talked about," Kerry explained. "Why aren't we importing drugs from Canada? Why did they take that out? Why did we refuse to allow Medicare to be able to negotiate [bulk drug prices] so you would lower your taxes? Why has the tax burden of the average American family gone up while the tax burden of the richest people in America has gone down? Why is it that when we're fighting to have alternative and renewable energy, we wind up with an energy bill that's written for the oil and gas companies? Why is it that when American citizens are losing their health care by the millions, it's the HMOs and the companies that keep getting fed?" Kerry mentions all of these things frequently on the stump, but this time he punctuated his critique with an allusion to the rhetoric of Al Gore's "forbidden" campaign: "I'll tell you why: because this administration exists for the purpose of serving the powerful and the moneyed, and we need to restore … the voices of America, the real Americans who built this country and make it strong. We need to step up and fight."

Was Kerry paying a final tribute to the dear, departed Shrum? Or was Shrum serving notice to the Clinton faction that he won't disappear without a fight? Both? Neither? Was it just a coincidence? What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a Shrum falls in the forest, does it make a sound?


          Tristany Jonestano Here   
He needs no introduction. But here’s the quick and dirty: Anthony Fantano, aka TheNeedleDrop, is one of the most prevalent music resources on the net. He has nearly a million YouTube followers. He’s been blogging for a decade, and vlogging for roughly eight years. Fantano has an impressive output, and uploads videos at a voracious […]
          John Kerry's Five-Star Campaign   

NEW YORK—Never mind the arrival of John Edwards; I knew the general election had begun when I got my own butler. During the penny-pinching primary season, when the candidates were constantly on the brink of bankruptcy, I followed campaigns that stayed at discount hotels and even supporters' homes. Not John Kerry—at least, not anymore. In the past three days, we stayed at the Westin in Pittsburgh, the Sheraton Sand Key Beach Resort in Clearwater, Fla., and the St. Regis Hotel in midtown Manhattan, where each room comes equipped with a 24-hour on-call Jeeves and where the rate for my room, picked up by Slate, was $299 a night. (On hotels.com, it goes for $445.) Somewhere between March and July, the presidential campaign turned into an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Not that there's anything wrong with that! "Say what you will about Kerry, at least he travels better than Gore," one reporter tells me. "Gore was all Super 8s and Econo Lodges." In Gore's defense (or Kerry's, depending on your perspective), the former vice president didn't have $180 million to burn.

Flush with cash—and still raising it, with $2 million flowing into the campaign after Thursday night's Radio City Music Hall gala and another $1.2 million after two Friday morning fund-raisers—the Kerry campaign is engaged in a scheme not unlike the one Richard Pryor is tasked with in Brewster's Millions: seeing how much money it can spend on deadline. Unless Kerry takes the unprecedented step of opting out of the public-financing system for the general election, he has to spend his remaining millions in the next three weeks. Once he formally accepts the Democratic nomination on July 29, he's got only $75 million for the next three months. By mid-August, my reporter friend might start grumbling again.

At least she'll still have the Kerry planes to enjoy. They're a long way from McFun, the Ford E-350 I rode in with Howard Dean nearly a year ago. I have yet to reach the hallowed ground of the real Kerry plane, which is reserved for the press pool, but the secondary press plane—paid for by its passenger-reporters—is a four-across, first-class affair, and the only restriction upon its travelers appears to be the assigned seating chart. Cell phones, Blackberries, and laptops whir throughout the flight. There are flight attendants, but they're there to lavish the press corps with food, not to take away our drinks during takeoff and landing or burden us with demands to wear our seatbelts, put away our tray tables, and place our seats in the upright position. Yet another media myth demolished: The national political press are alleged by some to be engaged in a devious scheme to force socialism upon an unwitting American public, but when we fly, we take Libertarian Airlines.

(A few overhead compartments burst open during our landing Wednesday in Cleveland, prompting some frenzied journalists to leap to their feet to prevent their belongings from spilling onto colleagues' heads. That's the price of freedom, I guess.)

The other big change from the primaries to the general election is the quality of the celebrities who support John Kerry. The Radio City Music Hall fund-raiser draws A-listers such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Wyclef Jean. In the lead-up to Kerry's surprising win in Iowa, by contrast, one press release heralded a "celebrity-studded RV tour" featuring—I am not making this up—Max Weinberg, some guy from Party of Five, and Kelly from The Real World: New Orleans.

Did anything of substance occur this week? Not really. Just your normal, run-of-the-mill campaign stops, with voters wearing T-shirts of the president surrounded by the words "International Terrorist" and the candidate making homoerotic jokes about his running mate. "I said to [Edwards], we've got to stop hugging like this," Kerry told a women's fund-raiser Friday morning. He then described a Jay Leno bit in which photos of Kerry and Edwards hugging and gazing adoringly at each other were aired to the tune of "You Are So Beautiful." Kerry loved it. "I just want you to know," he told the assembled audience, "I thought we made a great couple."

And I thought, you know what, John Kerry can be charming. When he's not irritating, that is, as he was Thursday night when he followed his boast that the Democratic ticket had "better hair" with, unbelievably, a pander to the bald vote. "My wife told me earlier, you just lost the bald vote," Kerry said. "Please don't. We're just having fun. You've gotta have fun."


          That '70s Campaign   

NASHVILLE—The Democratic Party's estimates of its chances of defeating President Bush in November have rebounded in concert with John Kerry's campaign. A little more than a month ago, most Democrats were overly pessimistic about the 2004 election. Now they're overly optimistic. Sunday afternoon, during a press conference prior to a Democratic Party rally at the downtown Hilton here, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., declared not only that "Bush 43 looks very beatable at this point," but also that 2004 could be a congressional "tidal wave year" for the Democrats, akin to 1994 for the Republicans.

And if 2004 isn't a Democratic 1994, maybe it's 1976. That was former Vice President Al Gore's message to the Tennessee Democrats Sunday night. In an angry, sweaty shout, sounding like the second coming of Huey Long, Gore drew an extended comparison between the post-Watergate election of 1976, the year of his first election to Congress, and the post-Iraq election of 2004. John Kerry's two main rivals in Tennessee, Wesley Clark and John Edwards, spoke to the party, too, but Gore was clearly the main event. And if he wasn't before he spoke, he was by the time he was finished.

"You know, there was a mood in '76, a spirit of unity, a feeling of determination that we were going to win that race that year," said Gore, clearly linking that feeling to the resolve of 2004 Democrats to win back the presidency. Gore, however, wasn't referring only to the feelings of national Democrats in 1976. He was referring to the feelings of Tennessee Democrats, who were bitter over a Senate race that had been lost six years earlier.

Gore's father, Albert Gore Sr., was defeated in his 1970 campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Gore made a number of comparisons between 1970 and 1976 in Tennessee and 2000, 2002, and 2004 in America. "President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors," he said, implying, it seemed, that Nixon smeared his father in the midterm elections of 1970 just as President Bush smeared Georgia Senator Max Cleland in 2002. "They tried to make out like my dad was an atheist because he didn't want a constitutional amendment putting the government in charge of telling children how they ought to worship God in the public schools," Gore said. "They came out with accusations that he was unpatriotic because he was opposed to the Vietnam War and the mistaken policy that got us into that war." Gore recalled his father's concession speech on Election Night: "He took the old Confederate slogan about 'The South shall rise again,' and he stood it on its head. And he proudly proclaimed, 'The truth shall rise again!'"

Gore was also drawing an analogy between his father and himself. He was expressing the hope that just as his father's loss was redeemed by the election of a Democrat, Jim Sasser, to his U.S. Senate seat six years later, so too could Gore be redeemed after his loss to George W. Bush, if the Democrats reclaim the White House in 2004. As Gore stood on stage before his remarks, I wondered, what must it be like to be Samuel Tilden? What's it like to be haunted by the fact that you're a historical footnote? Gore's speech provided some answers.

"We have seen an administration which in my view more closely resembles the Nixon-Agnew administration than any other previous administration," he said. "There's a reason I say that. I don't offer that as simply a casual slur." The crowd laughed. "I'm not above a casual slur," Gore added, in a "mind you" tone, to more laughter. "But I'm biased, I didn't vote for the guy." A man calls out, "Neither did America!" To which Gore responds, "Well, there is that."

He continued: "But here's the reason I say that President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors. Nixon was no more committed to principle than the man in the moon. He, as a conservative Republican, imposed wage and price controls. Hard to believe in this day and time. But he did. And he cared as little about what it meant to be really conservative as George W. Bush has cared in imposing $550 billion budget deficits and trillions in additions to the national debt. That has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with his effort to get re-elected!"

Gore then explained how he planned to travel to Iowa in September 2001 to deliver "a real ripsnorter of a speech" that would have harshly critiqued President Bush's first nine months in office and broken Gore's political silence. He abandoned his plan after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, and instead swallowed his pride and told the Iowa Democrats of the man he clearly feels stole the presidency from him, "George W. Bush is my commander-in-chief."

"I think there were millions just like me, who genuinely, in spite of whatever partisanship they may have felt prior to that time, genuinely felt like they wanted George W. Bush to lead all of us in America wisely and well," he shouted.

"And the reason I'm recalling those feelings now is because those are the feelings that were betrayed by this president! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America, he took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!" Gore closed with his father's line from 1970: "And so I say to you in closing my friends, in the year of 2004, the truth shall rise again!"

The crowded erupted in a frenzy that recalled a Howard Dean audience circa August 2003. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much where Gore still is. Many Democrats took the 2000 election personally, and they saw the Dean campaign as the outlet for their anger and frustration. But no Democrat could have taken it more personally than Al Gore. To those who speculate that Gore's endorsement of Dean was a crude and ill-timed political calculation, this speech was a repudiation.

Not only does he believe that he should rightfully be president, he also thinks he performed his patriotic duty in the aftermath of 9/11, and Bush screwed him for it. To Gore, it seems that beating Bush wouldn't suffice. He wants to convince the world that Bush is one of history's worst presidents.

Gore is still popular with the Democratic base, but after this speech, the question for the party's nominee has to be, do you want this man to speak at the convention in Boston? Even if you like the sentiment behind this speech, if Gore delivers an address like this one in July, the historical analogy won't be to the Democrats of 1976 or to the Republicans of 1994. Instead, the comparison will be to the disastrous Republican convention of 1992. The angry white male is back. Do the Democrats really want him?


          Howard Dean's Day Off   

HOOKSETT, N.H.—Howard Dean is going to Arizona! He's going to New Mexico! He's going to Michigan! And Washington! And Burlington?

Every major Democratic presidential candidate except Howard Dean will campaign Wednesday in one of the Feb. 3 states (Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina). Front-running John Kerry heads to St. Louis for a rally, while John Edwards goes to Springfield, Mo., and St. Louis. Wesley Clark travels to Charleston, S.C., Joe Lieberman is doing three events in Delaware (not "Joeklahoma"?), and Dennis Kucinich will stump in Oklahoma. But Dean is going to rest up and regroup at campaign headquarters in Vermont. He's not taking the day off—he's going to do television interviews with local stations in key February states—but the decision indicates that the Dean campaign may be looking past Feb. 3 in its quest for the nomination after a second-place finish in New Hampshire.

The campaign won't out-and-out admit that it's looking past Feb. 3, of course. The current spin: We've raised $1.5 million in the past week. We have a 50-state organization. But what good did their money and their organization do them in Iowa and New Hampshire? From another perspective, it looks as if the campaign isn't sure what to do right now. Every staffer that I talked to Tuesday night didn't know his or her next destination. New Hampshire communications director Dorie Clark told me she was moving out of her Manchester apartment, putting her stuff in storage, and ready to take her duffle bag wherever they told her to go. They just hadn't told her yet.

But there may be a strategic motivation for going into hiding. At the Holiday Inn bar in Manchester Monday night, Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi told reporters that Dean just needed to hang around long enough until voters got tired of John Kerry. Then, he hoped, those voters would start coming back to Dean. He cited the example of Jerry Brown winning Colorado in the 1992 campaign after voters tired of Bill Clinton. (He then insisted that his candidate was not Jerry Brown.) The assumption had been that Dean was going to go fight in Arizona and New Mexico, but Trippi sounded like a man who was managing expectations in preparation for a potential goose egg on Feb. 3. (Many people think Dean has a better shot on Feb. 7 in Washington and Michigan.)

It's not an insane idea. Sit back, husband your resources, and pray that John Kerry can defeat John Kerry in time to give you a chance on March 3, when huge states like California, New York, and Ohio weigh in. Dean's support in Iowa and New Hampshire turned out to be very soft, and Kerry's support is likely to be soft, too. Now that Kerry is the front-runner, he's going to start receiving a lot more scrutiny from the press, which Dean hopes will damage Kerry's perceived electability. Plus there's the theory that Kerry is a candidate who wears poorly on voters.

The last two Democrats to win both Iowa and New Hampshire were Al Gore in 2000 and Jimmy Carter in 1976, but Dean's best hope is that the Kerry campaign is closer to that of the Democrat who won both states four years before Carter: Edmund Muskie. The problem with that hope is that the second-place finishers in New Hampshire who ended up as the "perceived winner"—Eugene McCarthy in 1968, George McGovern in 1972, and Bill Clinton in 1992—all finished within single digits of their opponent. Dean lost by 13 points.

Wesley Clark's third-place finish in New Hampshire also looks likely to hurt Dean's chances. Of the 35 percent of New Hampshire voters who cast ballots for a candidate other than Dean or Kerry, the 13 percent who went for Clark are the largest trove of likely Dean voters. The longer Clark stays in the race as a serious contender, the longer the antiwar vote is divided.

So, it's a long shot, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe has ordered candidates who don't win a state on Feb. 3 to quit the race. (At the Holiday Inn, Trippi virtually promised to ignore McAuliffe.) But it's probably Dean's only shot. Will the voters who dated Dean, then married Kerry get bored enough that they start to fantasize again about sleeping with Dean?


          Closing Arguments   

NASHUA, N.H.—I'm feeling sorry for Dennis Kucinich. And the feeling just makes me feel even sorrier, because pity isn't the emotion he's trying to evoke. Kucinich is standing in front of more than 1,000 Democrats at a fund-raiser Saturday night for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, at which every candidate in the New Hampshire primary except Al Sharpton is scheduled to speak. Kucinich must know that he's not going to win Tuesday night, but at the same time he surely fantasizes that this is his moment, this is his chance to make a winning, last-ditch appeal for his unlikely candidacy.

I am the only candidate who voted against the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, Kucinich proclaims to fervent applause. I am the only candidate "who insists on an immediate end to the occupation." Imagine a presidential debate between President Bush and my opponents (other than Al Sharpton), he says. They supported the war, they voted for the invasion, or they support the occupation. "Where's the debate with President Bush?" he asks.

And it's not just the war. Kucinich wants not-for-profit single-payer health care, and his opponents don't. "This is the time," Kucinich is saying, but I can't hear the rest. He's being drowned out, at least in the back of the room where I stand, by cries of "How-ard! How-ard! How-ard! How-ard!" coming from the hallway, where Howard Dean must have just arrived. Nearly a year of campaigning by the Ohio congressman for the highest office in the land is summed up in this moment. What must it be like to imagine yourself as the leader of an incipient movement for progressivism and then to have that movement led by another man, one that you view as a charlatan?

The night's other tragic figure is Joe Lieberman. He's begging for scraps of support by appealing to state pride, the last refuge of a second-tier candidate. "Hey, let me tell you this, I love New Hampshire," he says. "Did you see me at the debate the other day? I swore to God to fight to the death to protect the first-in-the-nation status of the New Hampshire Democratic primary." Lieberman knows he's not popular, but he's hoping against hope, too. "Looking around this room, I see there are some people supporting some other candidates for president, and I respect that diversity," he says.

See, Lieberman's not a conservative Democrat. He's diverse! "I have never wavered for a moment" on the need to remove Saddam Hussein, he says, and it sounds like three people clap. I'm more electable than the others, he says, because there are "a surprising number of Republicans who are disappointed with George W. Bush and ready to go for an acceptable alternative." There's a winning Democratic primary message: The candidate whom Republicans kinda like!

Lieberman can't get it right even when he's shoring up his liberal bona fides by talking about his plan to fight poverty. "Is it right for George W. Bush to have turned his back on 35 Americans in poverty?" he asks, omitting the crucial word, "million." But he's not discouraged. "I feel something happening in this campaign for me," he says. "My staff says that in New Hampshire today, there is an outbreak of 'Joe-mentum,' and I hope so." That's only the latest painful "Joe" pun in a Lieberman campaign list that includes the "Joe-vember to remember" and the campaign vehicle, the "WinnebaJoe."

As he's wrapping up, thanking "the people of New Hampshire for the warmth and respect" they have given him, Lieberman's speech has the feeling of a farewell, very much like a speech I saw Dick Gephardt give the night before the Iowa caucuses. Miracles do happen, and the Lieberman campaign is circulating a poll that shows him in a fight for third place (most polls show him mired in fifth), but inside this room it feels as if Lieberman, like Kucinich, is clinging to a fantasy.

Of the other candidates, Wesley Clark comes across the worst. "I haven't been a member of this party for very long," he says, and the crowd grumbles. "I know," shouts one man, while another calls out, "No shit!" Now that Dean has turned down his volume, Clark is the race's screamer, and he sounds a little unhinged. "We Democrats have got to take out that president," he says, in an unfortunate turn of phrase for one of the two candidates that has actually killed people. The crowd's applause is polite but tepid, and the race feels like it's slipping away from Clark, too.

The chair of the Democratic Party, Kathy Sullivan, introduces Dean as if he's a figure from the distant past, praising him for energizing the party "at a time when we were tired and unsure of ourselves." Dean draws big cheers, but they mostly come from the people in the back rows and in standing-room-only. A woman calls out to him, "Howard, don't ever give up." A man yells, "Give 'em hope, Howard!" Dean's eyebrows rise as he smiles his wicked grin. "I'm going to resist the temptation," he says.

Nearly a year ago, Dean appeared before the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting and declared, "What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq." He pricked the post-9/11 bubble surrounding Bush and in the process transformed himself from a curiosity into a contender. But his speech Saturday barely touches on Iraq. He also says something I don't think I've ever heard him say before: "I ask for your vote."

John Edwards captivates the crowd. Edwards doesn't transfix me the way he does other members of the press. His way of merely describing his message as "positive" and "optimistic" and "uplifting" rather than, you know, actually having a message that embodies those qualities grates on me. What's the difference between Edwards' rhetoric and the awkward "Message: I care" rhetoric of George H.W. Bush? Edwards also has this new gesture he's using, where he puts a finger to his lips to appear thoughtful, that makes him look like Austin Powers.

But his message undoubtedly connects. He enters to enthusiastic applause, though it's not Dean-level. His speech about two Americas, about the importance of fighting poverty, and the borrowed Deanisms about restoring American democracy and taking it away from "that crowd of insiders in Washington, D.C.," and the "I believe in you" conclusion wins nearly everyone over. Edwards has become Howard Dean in the body of a good-looking, smooth-talking Southerner, and as he did in Iowa, he feels hot, hot, hot.

Of course, they're all Dean now. (Or, as The Nation'sDavid Corn put it, they're "the Angry Populist, the Calm Populist, the Polite Populist, the Executive Populist, and the Radical Populist.") John Kerry, who I think has the support of the majority of the crowd, says he wants to "break the grip of the powerful interests in this country and put the people in charge."

If Kerry, or whoever is the party's nominee, becomes president in 2005, he'll have Howard Dean to thank. Dean won. That's why he's losing.


          Wesley Clark's Loose Lips   

Whether it's true or not, Gen. Wesley Clark's rise in the polls in New Hampshire is being partly attributed to some voters having "cold feet" about former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, especially Dean's penchant for making statements that are quickly seized upon by Fox News or the Republican Party as evidence of unpatriotic disloyalty. But Clark has the same propensity for speaking imprecisely off the cuff. Here are some statements I heard him make last week during my trip with him in New Hampshire:

Bush was "warned" about 9/11? "President Bush didn't do his job as commander in chief in the early months of his administration. He was warned that the greatest threat to the United States of America was Osama Bin Laden, yet on the 11th of September in 2001, the United States had no plan for dealing with the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden. The ship of state was on autopilot. There were good CIA officers and FBI officers and everybody doing what they'd been taught to do, but the essential leadership process of putting focus on the resources of the United States, and giving these agencies a real target and a mission, it wasn't done. At least, I think that's what the evidence will show if we ever get the results of this presidential commission, and if they've asked the right questions." (Jan. 6, McKelvieMiddle School, Bedford.)

Bush "never intended" to get Osama Bin Laden? "We bombed Afghanistan, we missed Osama Bin Laden, partly because the president never intended to put the resources in to get Osama Bin Laden. All along, right after 9/11, they'd made their mind up, I guess, that we were going to go after Saddam Hussein. That's what people in the Pentagon told me. And they capped the resources, stopped the commitment to Afghanistan, and started shifting to prepare to go after Saddam Hussein." (Jan. 6, McKelvieMiddle School, Bedford.)

There wasn't a single terrorist in Iraq before the war? "The president was not and has not been held accountable yet for misleading the American people. He is continuing to associate Saddam, Iraq, and the problem of terrorism. Yet the only terrorists that are in Iraq are the people that have come there to attack us." (Jan. 7, Town House, Peterborough.)

Fifty-five million voters are "ill-informed" dupes of the Christian right? "Now, there's one party in America that's made the United Nations the enemy. And I don't know how many of you have ever read that series of books that's published by the Christian right that's called the "Left Behind" series? Probably nobody's read it up here. But don't feel bad, I'm not recommending it to you. I'm just telling you that according to the book cover that I saw in the airport, 55 million copies have been printed. And in it, the Antichrist is the United Nations. And so there's this huge, ill-informed body of sentiment out there that's just grinding away against the United Nations." (Jan. 7, FullerElementary School, Keene.)

Does Islam need an Enlightenment or just Match.com? "Young men in an Islamic culture cannot get married until they can support a family. No job, no marriage. No marriage, unhappy young men. They get real angry, they feel real frustrated, they feel real powerless. And a certain number of them are being exploited in the mosques by this recruiting network." (Jan. 8, Havenwoods Heritage Heights senior center, Concord.)

President Bush doesn't even want to find Bin Laden? "Newsweek magazine says he's in the mountains of western Pakistan. And I guess if Newsweek could find him there, we could, too, if we wanted to." (Jan. 8, Havenwoods Heritage Heights senior center, Concord.)

[Update, 1/15/04: Click here and scroll to the bottom to read a more precise explanation of this article.]


          The Second-Place Candidate   

BEDFORD, N.H.—When I last saw Wesley Clark, I called him "Howard Dean with flags." Since then, he's reinvented his candidacy and made himself an even bigger threat to the former Vermont governor. He's now Howard Dean with flags and tax cuts.

Clark seems pretty close to emerging as the consensus pick for the only realistic non-Dean candidate. By sitting on the sidelines during the various Dean-Kerry, Dean-Gephardt, Dean-Lieberman, and Dean-"Insert Democratic candidate here" scraps, it appears that Clark's benefited from the "Dean vs. the Washington Democrats" infighting. He's in a statistical tie with Dean in a national poll. And by camping out in New Hampshire while everyone else makes a two-week sprint toward Iowa, Clark hopes to rise even further in the Granite State polls, too. (To be fair, not everyone is in Iowa. Joe Lieberman is spending a good deal of time in New Hampshire. But Clark strategist Chris Lehane rightly says that Lieberman is like "Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense: He's dead and doesn't know it yet.")

For Dean, Clark poses a slight problem because the general can't be painted with the same brush as Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, and Lieberman. He's not a "Washington Democrat." He didn't vote for No Child Left Behind. He didn't vote for the Iraq resolution. The question for Clark is whether he will emulate Bill Clinton as the Comeback Kid, turning a potential second-place New Hampshire finish into an expectations victory, or whether he's just the voters' Fallback Guy. After all, the usual sad lot of the first runner-up is to sit around and vainly hope that the reigning Miss America won't be able to fulfill her duties. (Of course, there is always that chance that Howard Dean posed naked somewhere … never mind.)

As a candidate, Clark has improved his skills dramatically since I watched him speak in September. He's smoother, more coherent, and more concise. He's also willing to give voters at least mildly unpopular answers. At a "house party" on Tuesday (the first of several days that I'm going to be following Clark in New Hampshire), Clark tells a man concerned about job losses, "We'll probably never bring back the specific manufacturing jobs that have left." He doesn't rule out means-testing Medicare, though he does say that he's predisposed against it. (My favorite fudge on the subject: "I'm against means-testing as a matter of principle, insofar as it's at all practical.") The house is filled with physicians worried about medical malpractice suits, but Clark states his opposition to "arbitrary caps" on legal damages. "The court system really is important for ordinary Americans," he says. "The truth is if you're a poor person in this country or a person of modest means, the only way you can get legal advice is on a contingent-fee basis."

Despite the widely held belief that Clark is the candidate of Clintonian moderates while Dean is the candidate of the so-called "angry left," I don't see much evidence that voters at Clark events are more centrist or less liberal than voters I've seen elsewhere. (Exhibit A: A reporter walks up to a man in scrubs at the house party. "You're a doctor?" he asks. "An abortion provider!" is the cheery response.) At a town-hall meeting Tuesday night, one of Clark's biggest applause lines is his pledge to raise taxes on people who make more than $200,000 a year: "We're gonna ask them to be patriotic. We're gonna take back the Bush tax cuts."

But what really endears him to the crowd is his indictment of President Bush during the run-up to war. After outlining the Clark plan for Iraq—1) withdraw Paul Bremer; 2) put a non-American in charge; 3) place U.S. forces under NATO; 4) allow a rapid turnover of the country to Iraqis, "long before this July 1 date"; 5) don't let the Kurds keep their weapons, and don't give them an autonomous region—Clark mentions his Monday night appearance on MSNBC's Hardball. Chris Matthews was obsessed with Clinton's impeachment, Clark says. It's all he would ask him about. "We wasted millions of dollars and years in this country trying to find something that Bill and Hillary Clinton did wrong. And it was a waste of money and effort," Clark says. "I'd like to know why the United States Congress and this party is not demanding, every single day, an investigation into why the president of the United States misused the intelligence community, took us to a war we didn't have to fight, and still won't tell the American people the truth! That's what should be investigated! That's the truth!"

The candidate is angry, his voice rises, and the crowd leaps to its feet. It's Clark's best moment of a pretty good day. He's got them, I think, as the crowd presses around him for autographs and picture-taking. But I also can't help but think that Howard Dean would have had them on their feet from the start.


          "We'll See If It Happens"   

NASHUA, N.H.—The metaphor of choice for Howard Dean's Internet-fueled campaign is "open-source politics": a two-way campaign in which the supporters openly collaborate with the campaign to improve it, and in which the contributions of the "group mind" prove smarter than that of any lone individual.

Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi has admitted on numerous occasions (including this Slashdot post) that his time in Silicon Valley affected his thinking about politics. "I used to work for a little while for Progeny Linux Systems," Trippi told cyber-guru Lawrence Lessig in an August interview. "I always wondered how could you take that same collaboration that occurs in Linux and open source and apply it here. What would happen if there were a way to do that and engage everybody in a presidential campaign?"

But tonight, at the end of a town hall meeting at Daniel Webster College, is the first time I've seen the metaphor in action. Even if it had nothing to do with the Internet.

At the end of tonight's event, Paul Johnson, an independent voter from Nashua who supported John McCain in 2000 and has supported Dean since May, tells Dean that he's "deeply troubled" by the idea that his candidate is going to turn down federal matching funds and bust the caps on campaign spending. Politics is awash in too much money, Johnson says. Why not take the moral high ground and abide by the current system? That sounds like a great idea until Bush spends $200 million, Dean says. Well, then "challenge him to spend less," Johnson replies. Tell him you'll stay under the spending limits if he does, too. Dean's face lights up. "I'll do that at the press conference on Saturday," he says. "That's a great idea." (Saturday at noon is when Dean is scheduled to announce the results of the campaign vote on whether to abandon public financing.)

I walk over to Dean's New Hampshire press secretary, Matthew Gardner, and tell him his candidate just agreed, in an instant, to announce on Saturday that he'll stay under the federal spending caps for publicly financed candidates, if President Bush agrees to do the same (which, admittedly, is more than a little unlikely.) Gardner looks puzzled, then laughs. "That'll be interesting," he says. "We'll see if it happens."


          More than one million stuck on zero-hour contracts   

The post More than one million stuck on zero-hour contracts appeared first on The Big Choice.


          Notes From New Hampshire   

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Notes on a day in New Hampshire:

The first Wednesday of every month is Meetup day for Howard Dean supporters, so they're gathered in a cramped restaurant called Merrimack, waiting for the candidate to arrive. It's close to a Holiday Inn where Dean and the other candidates will participate in a "women's issues" debate sponsored by Planned Parenthood. Merrimack is packed with media, including Joe Klein ("Hi, Joe," Dean says when he gets there) and George Stephanopoulos, who appears to be dressed in the same black turtleneck Wesley Clark and Dennis Kucinich wore Tuesday night.

Once Dean arrives, he stands atop a chair to address the crowd. "It's not true that I'm the shortest candidate in the campaign," he says. "In fact, I may be in the top half." This isn't as preposterous as it sounds. There are nine candidates, and only John Kerry, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt are indisputably taller than Dean. Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun are shorter. That leaves a fierce battle for the vital center among Dean, Wesley Clark, Al Sharpton, and Joe Lieberman. Maybe at the next debate they should all line up in their stocking feet.

During his speech, Dean clearly urges his supporters (who are voting this week on whether the campaign should turn down federal matching funds) to let him bust the federal spending caps: "It's a gamble, and there's good things to be said for both sides. But I fundamentally do not believe we can compete with George Bush if we limit our spending to $45 million."

Earlier in the day, Dean delivered a speech in New York (which I watch from the comfort of my Manchester hotel room, on www.howarddean.tv) to announce the vote. What catches my eye: While criticizing President Bush's "powerful money-bundlers," Dean said, "They are people like Walden O'Dell, a 2004 Pioneer, who is also manufacturing electronic voting machines to count our votes, and has said that he is, quote, 'committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.' " Does Dean believe that the Republican Party is going to manipulate electronic voting machines to steal the 2004 election? At Merrimack, I ask him. He admits that he doesn't know much about the subject, but he sounds open to the possibility. "I think it's a serious issue," he says.

A line Dean says to a supporter that he might want to consider dropping: "The only difference between me and McGovern is we're going to be in the White House."

Things of interest during the Planned Parenthood debate:

The candidates are asked to grade themselves on their parenting, and Dean and Clark give the most interesting answers. "I will not pretend for a moment that I did 50 percent of the work, but I did a lot," Dean says. Clark is even more honest. "I don't give myself a very good grade, but I had an A-plus wife," he says. "Sometimes you get better than you deserve in life, and I've been lucky."

They are also asked, "Do you practice a faith, and would you invoke the name of God when discussing a policy?" Nearly every one of them gives the safe answer, that their faith is important to them, but that they respect the separation of church and state. "I pray every night, but don't go to church very often," says Dean. "My religion does not inform my public policy, but it does inform my values," is Edwards's answer, and he adds, "The president of the United States should not be setting policy for the country based on his or her faith."

Only Kucinich dissents. (Along with Clark, Kerry, and Braun, he's one of four Catholics at the debate. Although Braun and Clark self-identify as Catholics, Braun attends an Episcopal church and Clark attends a Presbyterian one.) He says that within the context of a pluralistic society, religious values can and should influence public policy. "We must live our spiritual values in our public policy," such as full employment, health care, and education, he says. "A government that stands for peace reflects spiritual values." After the debate, I try to ask Kucinich about the relationship between his faith and his public policy, but I get off on the wrong foot by saying that he changed his abortion position to pro-choice "right before" he started running for president. "Wrong," Kucinich says, it was spring 2002. The discussion goes nowhere from there.

Since the topic came up, after the debate I also ask Clark why he converted to Catholicism as a young man, and why he no longer practices.

"When I was in England during the Vietnam War, the Nonconformist churches over there were just extraordinarily political. And I just couldn't go to service and have them condemn the armed forces that I was serving in. I mean, they were my West Point classmates there, and they were being accused of terrible crimes, and it wasn't so," he says.

"I believed in the structure, and the balance, and the long-term durability of the Catholic Church, and that's why I converted to Catholicism. But over the years as we went from location to location and saw the church, we found that our spiritual needs were better met by attendance at Protestant services. The services were richer in their spiritual meaning. And of course I still consider myself a Catholic. But I enjoy the singing, I enjoy the sermon, I enjoy the fellowship in the Protestant services. It's just a much deeper spiritual experience. That's for me."

Back to the debate. Three of the candidates say 18-year-old women should be required to register for Selective Service, just like 18-year-old men. "If you have different standards, that begins the path toward discrimination," Dean says. Clark and Kerry say yes, too. Edwards says no, and Braun says it would be OK if it weren't for the fact that one in four women at the Air Force Academy are victims of sexual assault or rape. Kucinich gives my favorite answer, an attempt to have it both ways: "No, not that they can't, if they want to."

What role would a "first lady, first man, or first friend" play in their administrations? There are three interesting answers. Dean confirms that "I'd very much like to be the first president who has a working wife in the White House" who does not participate in his career. Braun, who is divorced, says, "This is an impossible question. There has never been a First Man or First Gentleman." Like Dean, but with more flair, she concludes, "You'll get me, but you'll get no one for free."

But it's Kucinich, who also is divorced, who steals the show. "As a bachelor, I get a chance to fantasize about my first lady. Maybe Fox wants to sponsor a national contest or something," he says. He adds that he wants "someone who would not want to just be by my side," but would be a "dynamic outspoken women who was fearless" in her support for peace in the world and universal, single-payer health care. So, "If you're out there, call me."


          Flag on the Field   

BOSTON—Who wants to bet that Howard Dean wishes he had said last week thathe wanted to reach out to people who have silhouettes of naked women on their mudflaps? Or people who sport, "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God" bumper stickers? Or people who display pictures of Calvin urinating on Chevy or Ford logos on their back of their trucks?

But no, he had to say, "I still want to be the candidate for guys withConfederate flags in their pickup trucks" in an interview with the Des Moines Register.  I happen to think this is a bogus issue. Recovering their appeal to white working-class voters is something of an obsession among Democratic Party politicians, and the Dean campaign rightly points out that the Confederate-flag comment is something that their candidate says all the time, and that he never received any criticism for it in the past. During tonight's debate in Boston, the campaign issued a press release pointing to C-SPAN footage from the February 2003 winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee that was attended by every candidate except John Kerry. There, Dean said, "White folks in the South who drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance, either, and their kids need better schools, too." The campaign says he was received with a standing ovation, "even bringing Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe to his feet," and they say you can see it on C-SPAN here, right before the 2:09:00 mark.

That said, Dean handled tonight's kerfuffle over the Confederate flag poorly, and he did so in a way that raises a worrisome question about his candidacy. Why is he so obstinate about admitting that he was wrong? Earlier in the campaign, when Dean was confronted with changes in his positions on trade, on Social Security, and on Medicare, his first instinct was to deny that he had held the earlier position. Surely it would have been far easier to just say, hey, I made a mistake.

Something similar happens tonight. Dean could easily have pointed out that he phrased his comment slightly differently this time, and he could see how it was misinterpreted. It is, after all, somewhat different to say that you want to "be the candidate" for those who wave the Confederate flag than to say that you want to bring those voters into your party. The latter suggests at least some effort to change hearts and minds, while the former implies that you just want to be their standard-bearer. Sure, he calls the Confederate flag a "loathsome symbol," a "racist symbol," and he says the party shouldn't embrace it. But on the matter of admitting that he made a teeny, tiny error, Dean won't budge.

In a way he created his own mess tonight. Had he simply answered the question he was asked by an audience member—"Could you explain to me how you plan on being sensitive to needs and issues regarding slavery and African-Americans, after making a comment of that nature?"—he might have gotten off more easily. But instead of explaining what he wants to do for African-Americans, Dean decides to talk about white people. "There are 102,000 kids in South Carolina right now with no health insurance. Most of those kids are white. The legislature cut $70 million out of the school system. Most of the kids in the public school system are white. We have had white Southern working people voting Republican for 30 years, and they've got nothing to show for it." This is all fine and good, and I'm generally against targeting political appeals to specific ethnic groups, but it was shockingly tone deaf for Dean to respond this way. The question was, how will you be sensitive to the needs of black people? Dean's response was, by working to help white people.

Al Sharpton jumps on Dean and says, "You are not a bigot, but you appear to be too arrogant to say 'I'm wrong,' and go on." (After the debate, Dean mistakenly attributes this comment to John Edwards.) Then, John Edwards stands up to confront Dean and delivers one of the best shots of the evening: "Because let me tell you the last thing we need in the South is somebody like you coming down and telling us what we need to do." By the time Edwards is done, you can feel his poll numbers among Southerners with chips on their shoulders start to spike. Luckily for Dean, at this point Carol Moseley Braun decides to bail him out, by endorsing his explanation that the party should bring whites and blacks together. She says, "Yes, this is an important conversation. But it has to be done in a way that does not play into the real racists and the real right wing."

Here was the night's marijuana-use scorecard, for those who didn't hear all of it: Kerry, yes; Kucinich, no; Sharpton, no; Edwards, yes; Lieberman, no; Clark, no; Braun, no comment; Dean, yes.

This may be my own pangs of guilt for calling him "irrelevant" after the Detroit debate last week, but other than the fact that he was dressed like Wesley Clark's Mini-Me (in an identical black turtleneck and blazer), I thought Dennis Kucinich had a pretty good night. I agree with him on almost nothing, but this was the first debate in which he did more than switch from angry ranting to moon-eyed idealism and back again. He was even a little inspiring when he told the young people in the audience to trust their hearts and their "inner knowingness."

Still, Kucinich couldn't top Wesley Clark for the best moment of the evening. In the spin room after the debate, Matt LaBash of the Weekly Standard asks the general what he thought when he noticed the two candidates were wearing the same outfit. Clark pauses, as if he's unsure of how to take this, then says, "I thought Dennis Kucinich had excellent taste."


          The 6 Best Places to Shop in Orlando - Locals' Picks   

The greater Orlando, Florida , area received 68 million visitors in 2016, their wallets brimming with fun money. After dropping bills in the theme parks, the next favorite location for out-of-towners to splurge is in the local shopping areas.


          Euromillions League: Laurent Monier remplace Serge Crevecoeur au Brussels   
L'information n'a pas tardée à être communiquée: c'est bien une solution interne qui a été trouvée pour palier le départ de Serge Crevecoeur à Pau. Son assistant depuis toujours: Laurent Monier
          Labourer - Kingston - Waste Management - Kingston, ON   
WM serves nearly 25 million customers in residential, commercial, industrial and municipal markets throughout North America through a network of collection...
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          Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Faith Communities Responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis   
Syria is the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 4 million people have fled Syria since 2011 and almost 9 million people are predicted to be internally … Continue reading
          LSE Holocaust Memorial Commemoration   
LSE Faith Centre organized the Holocaust Memorial Commemoration on Tuesday 26th January in the Shaw Library. The theme of this year’s Commemoration is ‘Don’t Stand By’. The Holocaust is constituted of millions of personal tragedies and stories of suffering and loss. The historical … Continue reading
          【ミリオンライブ!】【ぷちます!】コミックス発売日決定! 限定版の収録内容をお届け   
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The Seattle Seahawks plan to keep Marshawn Lynch around for the long haul.The team announced Friday that Lynch signed a two-year extension, keeping the hard-charging running back in Seattle through the 2017 season.  The contract is worth $24 million in new money and pays $31 million over the next three years, NFL Media Insider Ian […]
          New: info page! Human Trafficking facts!   
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 27 million in bondage across the …
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LOST 6.12 : Everybody Loves Hugo Los Angeles Pierre Chang is hosting an event honoring Hugo Reyes. Good old Hurley and his love for chicken, Pierre tells us, have enabled his franchise to prosper and his philanthropic activities to grow. Photos are shown to the audience of Mr. Cluck’s restaurants in Paris, Japan, and Cairo. Hurley used his lottery winnings to purchase a Mr. Cluck’s restaurant. Since his luck wasn’t bad after the win in this alternate reality, I’m guessing that Tricia Tanaka wasn’t killed when the meteor, and the restaurant wasn’t destroyed. Hurley has helped to fund parks, schools, hospitals, The Humane Society, zoos, an experimental farm, and a new wing on the anthropology museum. (Probably the same museum where Daniel spotted Charlotte.) Yes, all is well with millionaire Hurley. Except for his love life. At least that’s what his mom thinks. On the Beach Preparations are still being made to blow up the airplane ...
          Chelsea to sign Alex Sandro for £60 million   
Chelsea are growing ever more confident of signing Juventus' Alex Sandro for a club record fee of around £60 million, Goal understands.
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Paris Saint-Germain have stepped up their pursuit of Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe and have made an offer of over €135 million, Goal understands.
          US $6 million Agreement between Jewish Agency for Israel and Genesis Philanthropy Group on Educational Activities in the Former Soviet Union   
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          Become a millionaire by betting on UFC Fight Night 27   

Let’s say you always assumed you’d be rich someday, even though you hate working. Psychologists call this condition “America.” Obviously you need a million dollars, so women can finally see the real you, and obviously you enjoy mixed martial arts. So why not combine the two and make a million dollars by betting on UFC […]

The post Become a millionaire by betting on UFC Fight Night 27 appeared first on Fightlinker.com.


          India and the Balance of Power   

India is arriving on the world stage as the first large, economically powerful, culturally vibrant, multiethnic, multireligious democracy outside of the geographic West. As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the "political West" and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades. Whether it will, and how soon, depends above all on the readiness of the Western powers to engage India on its own terms.

THREE STRATEGIC CIRCLES

India's grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighborhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighborhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire global stage, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security.

Three things have historically prevented India from realizing these grand strategic goals. First, the partition of the South Asian subcontinent along religious lines (first into India and Pakistan, in 1947, then into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, in 1971) left India with a persistent conflict with Pakistan and an internal Hindu-Muslim divide. It also physically separated India from historically linked states such as Afghanistan, Iran, and the nations of Southeast Asia. The creation of an avowedly Islamic state in Pakistan caused especially profound problems for India's engagement with the Middle East. Such tensions intertwined with regional and global great-power rivalries to severely constrict India's room for maneuver in all three concentric circles.

The second obstacle was the Indian socialist system, which caused a steady relative economic decline and a consequent loss of influence in the years after independence. The state-socialist model led India to shun commercial engagement with the outside world. As a result, India was disconnected from its natural markets and culturally akin areas in the extended neighborhood.

Finally, the Cold War, the onset of which quickly followed India's independence, pushed India into the arms of the Soviet Union in response to Washington's support for Pakistan and China -- and thus put the country on the losing side of the great political contest of the second half of the twentieth century. Despite being the largest democracy in the world, India ended up siding with the opposite camp on most global issues.

The last decade of the twentieth century liberated India from at least two of these constraints; state socialism gave way to economic liberalization and openness to globalization, and the Cold War ended. Suddenly, New Delhi was free to reinvent its foreign policy -- positioning itself to face the rise of China, shifting its strategic approach to its other neighbors, and beginning to work closely with the world's existing great powers.

VARIETIES OF INFLUENCE

India's recent embrace of openness and globalization has had an especially dramatic effect on the country's role in the region. As the nations of the subcontinent jettison their old socialist agendas, India is well positioned to promote economic integration. Although the pace has been relatively slow, the process has begun to gain traction. The planned implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement this summer signals the coming reintegration of the subcontinent's markets, which constituted a single economic space until 1947.

At the same time, optimism on the economic front must be tempered by an awareness of the problematic political developments in India's smaller neighbors. The struggle for democracy and social justice in Nepal, interminable political violence and the rise of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, and the simmering civil war in Sri Lanka underscore the potential dangers of failing states on the subcontinent. There are also the uncertain futures of Pakistan and Afghanistan: defeating religious extremism and creating modern and moderate states in both countries is of paramount importance to India. A successful Indian strategy for promoting peace and prosperity within the region would require preventing internal conflicts from undermining regional security, as well as resolving India's own conflicts with its neighbors.

In the past, great-power rivalries, as well as India's own tensions with Pakistan and China, have complicated New Delhi's effort to maintain order in the region. Today, all of the great powers, including the United States and China, support the Indian objective of promoting regional economic integration. The Bush administration has also started to defer to Indian leadership on regional security issues. Given the new convergence of U.S. and Indian interests in promoting democracy and countering extremism and terrorism, New Delhi no longer suspects Washington of trying to undercut its influence in the region. As a result, it is more prepared than ever to work with the United States and other Western powers to pursue regional goals.

Meanwhile, the external environment has never been as conducive as it is today to the resolution of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir. The conflict has become less and less relevant to India's relations with the great powers, which has meant a corresponding willingness on New Delhi's part to work toward a solution. Of particular importance has been the steady evolution of the U.S. position on Kashmir since the late 1990s. The support extended by President Bill Clinton to India in its limited war with Pakistan in 1999 removed the perception that Washington would inevitably align with Islamabad in regional conflicts. But India remained distrustful of the Clinton administration's hyperactive, prescriptive approach to Kashmir. It has been more comfortable with the low-key methods of the Bush administration, which has avoided injecting itself directly into the conflict. The Bush administration has also publicly held Pakistan responsible for cross-border terrorism and has extracted the first-ever assurances from Pakistan to put an end to the attacks. New Delhi does not entirely believe these promises, but it has nonetheless come to trust Washington as a source of positive of influence on Islamabad.

These developments have opened the way for a peace process between the two governments. With the growing awareness that the normalization of relations with Pakistan would end a debilitating conflict and help India's regional and global standing, New Delhi has begun to negotiate seriously for the first time in decades. Although the pace of talks has not satisfied Pakistan, the two sides have agreed on a range of confidence-building measures. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected the idea of giving up territory, but he has often called for innovative solutions that would improve living conditions and for common institutions that would connect Kashmiris across the Line of Control. Singh has made clear that the Indian leadership is ready to risk political capital on finding a diplomatic solution to Kashmir.

India's recent effort to resolve its long-standing border dispute with China has been just as bold. New Delhi decided in 2003 to seek a settlement with Beijing on a political basis, rather than on the basis of legal or historical claims. As a result, during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in April 2005, India and China agreed on a set of principles to guide the final settlement. The two governments are now exploring the contours of mutually satisfactory territorial compromises.

India's search for practical solutions to the disputes over Kashmir and its border with China suggests that the country has finally begun to overcome the obsession with territoriality that has consumed it since its formation. Ironically, the nuclearization of India and Pakistan in 1998 may have helped in this regard: although nuclearization initially sharpened New Delhi's conflicts with both Islamabad and Beijing, it also allowed India to approach its territorial problems with greater self-assurance and pragmatism.

INDIA UNBOUND

Progress on the resolution of either of these conflicts, especially the one over Kashmir, would liberate India's political and diplomatic energies so that the country could play a larger role in the world. It would also finally release India's armed forces from the constraining mission of territorial defense, allowing them to get more involved in peace and stability operations around the Indian Ocean. Even with all the tensions on the subcontinent, the armies of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been among the biggest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. The normalization of Indo-Pakistani relations would further free up some of the best armed forces in the world for the promotion of the collective good in the greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Even as the Kashmir and China questions have remained unsettled, India's profile in its extended neighborhood has grown considerably since the early 1990s. India's outward economic orientation has allowed it to reestablish trade and investment linkages with much of its near abroad. New Delhi is negotiating a slew of free- and preferential-trade agreements with individual countries as well as multilateral bodies including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the Southern African Development Community. Just as China has become the motor of economic growth in East Asia, a rising India could become the engine of economic integration in the Indian Ocean region.

After decades of being marginalized from regional institutions in different parts of Asia, India is also now a preferred political partner for ASEAN, the East Asian Summit, the GCC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the African Union. Moreover, it has emerged as a major aid donor; having been an aid recipient for so long, India is now actively leveraging its own external assistance to promote trade as well as political objectives. For example, India has given $650 million in aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. Meanwhile, the search for oil has encouraged Indian energy companies to tail their Western and Chinese counterparts throughout the world, from Central Asia and Siberia and to western Africa and Venezuela.

On the security side, India has been actively engaged in defense diplomacy. Thanks to the strength of its armed forces, India is well positioned to assist in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region. It helps that there has been a convergence of U.S. and Indian political interests: countering terrorism, pacifying Islamic radicalism, promoting democracy, and ensuring the security of sea-lanes, to name a few. The Indian navy in particular has been at the cutting edge of India's engagement with the region -- as was evident from its ability to deploy quickly to areas hit by the tsunami at the end of 2004. The Indian navy today is also ready to participate in multinational military operations.

AXES AND ALLIES

The end of the Cold War freed India to pursue engagement with all the great powers -- but especially the United States. At the start of the 1990s, finding that its relations with the United States, China, Japan, and Europe were all underdeveloped, India moved quickly to repair the situation. Discarding old socialist shibboleths, it began to search for markets for its products and capital to fuel its long-constrained domestic growth. Economic partnerships were easy to construct, and increasing trade flows provided a new basis for stability in India's relations with other major powers. India's emergence as an outsourcing destination and its new prowess in information technology also give it a niche in the world economy -- along with the confidence that it can benefit from economic globalization.

Barely 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India's omnidirectional engagement with the great powers has paid off handsomely. Never before has India had such expansive relations with all the major powers at the same time -- a result not only of India's increasing weight in the global economy and its growing power potential, but also of New Delhi's savvy and persistent diplomacy.

The evolution of Sino-Indian ties since the 1990s has been especially important and intriguing. Many see violent conflict between the two rising Asian powers as inevitable. But thanks to New Delhi's policy of actively engaging China since the late 1980s, the tensions that characterized relations between them from the late 1950s through the 1970s have become receding memories. Bilateral trade has boomed, growing from less than $200 million in the early 1990s to nearly $20 billion in 2005. In fact, China is set to overtake the European Union and the United States as India's largest trading partner within a few years. The 3,500-kilometer Sino-Indian border, over which the two countries fought a war in 1962, is now tranquil. And during Wen's visit to India in April 2005, India and China announced a "strategic partnership" -- even though just seven years earlier New Delhi had cited concerns over China as a reason for performing nuclear tests, prompting a vicious reaction from Beijing.

India has also cooperated with China in order to neutralize it in conflicts with Pakistan and other smaller neighbors. In the past, China tended to be a free rider on regional security issues, proclaiming noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations while opportunistically befriending regimes in pursuit of its long-term strategic interests. This allowed India's subcontinental neighbors to play the China card against New Delhi when they wanted to resist India's attempts to nudge them toward conflict resolution. But now, Beijing has increasingly avoided taking sides in India's disputes, even as its economic and security profile in the region has grown.

China is not the only Asian power that India is aiming to engage and befriend. Japan has also emerged as an important partner for India, especially since Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has transformed Japanese politics in the last few years. During a visit to New Delhi just a couple of weeks after Wen's in April 2005, Koizumi announced Japan's own "strategic partnership" with India. (This came despite Japan's harsh reaction to India's nuclear test in 1998, which prompted Japanese sanctions and an effort by Tokyo to censure India in the United Nations and other multilateral forums.) Amid growing fears of a rising China and the incipient U.S.-Indian alliance, Japan has elevated India to a key player in its long-term plans for Asian security.

Recognizing the need to diversify its Asian economic portfolio, Tokyo has also, for political reasons, begun to direct some of its foreign investment to India (which has overtaken China as the largest recipient of Japanese development assistance). Since the start of the Bush administration, Japan has also shown increasing interest in expanding military cooperation with India, especially in the maritime domain. India, too, has recognized that it shares with Japan an interest in energy security and in maintaining a stable balance of power in Asia. Japan actively supported India's participation in the inaugural East Asian Summit, in December 2005, despite China's reluctance to include New Delhi. Neither India nor Japan wants to base their political relationship exclusively on a potential threat from China, but both know that deepening their own security cooperation will open up new strategic options and that greater coordination between Asian democracies could limit China's impact.

India's relations with Europe have been limited by the fact that New Delhi is fairly unimpressed with Europe's role in global politics. It senses that Europe and India have traded places in terms of their attitudes toward the United States: while Europe seethes with resentment of U.S. policies, India is giving up on habitually being the first, and most trenchant, critic of Washington. As pessimism overtakes Europe, growing Indian optimism allows New Delhi to support unpopular U.S. policies. Indians consistently give both the United States and the Bush administration very favorable marks; according to a recent Pew Global Attitudes poll, for example, the percentage of Indians with a positive view of the United States rose from 54 percent in 2002 to 71 percent in 2005. And whereas a declining Europe has tended to be skeptical of India's rise, the Bush administration has been fully sympathetic to India's great-power aspirations.

Still, India does have growing economic and political ties with some European powers. Although many smaller European countries have been critical of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, the continent's two nuclear powers, France and the United Kingdom, have been supportive. Paris, in particular, bet long ago (well before Washington did, in fact) that a rising India would provide a good market for high-tech goods; with this in mind, it shielded New Delhi from the ire of the G-8 (the group of eight highly industrialized nations) after India tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. In the last several years, the United Kingdom has also started to seize economic opportunities in India and has been generally accommodating of New Delhi's regional and global aspirations.

In the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, India also worked to maintain a relationship with Russia. The two states resolved residual issues relating to their old semi-barter rupee-ruble trading arrangements, recast their 1971 peace and friendship treaty, and maintained military cooperation. When President Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin, in 2000, India's waiting game paid off. A newly assertive Moscow was determined to revive and expand its strategic cooperation with India. New Delhi's only problems with Moscow today are the weakening bilateral trade relationship and the risk of Russia's doing too much to strengthen China's military capabilities.

CHARM OFFENSIVE

At the end of the Cold War, the prospect of India's building a new political relationship with the United States seemed remote. Washington had long favored Pakistan and China in the region, India had in turn aligned itself with the Soviet Union, and a number of global issues seemed to pit the two countries against each other. Yet after the Cold War, India set about wooing the United States. For most of the Clinton administration, this sweet-talking fell on deaf ears, in part because Clinton officials were so focused on the Kashmir dispute and nonproliferation. Clinton, driven by the unshakable assumption that Kashmir was one of the world's most dangerous "nuclear flashpoints" and so needed to be defused, emphasized "preventive diplomacy" and was determined to "cap, roll back, and eventually eliminate" India's nuclear capabilities. Of course, Clinton's approach ran headlong into India's core national security concerns -- territorial integrity and preserving its nuclear option. Pressed by Washington to circumscribe its strategic capabilities, New Delhi reacted by testing nuclear weapons.

But even as it faced U.S. sanctions, New Delhi also began to proclaim that India was a natural ally of the United States. Although the Clinton administration was not interested in an alliance, the nuclear tests forced the United States to engage India seriously for the first time in five decades. That engagement did not resolve the nuclear differences, but it did bring Clinton to India in March 2000 -- the first American presidential visit to India in 22 years. Clinton's personal charm, his genuine empathy for India, and his unexpected support of India in the 1999 war with Pakistan succeeded in improving the atmospherics of the relations and in putting New Delhi on Washington's radar screen in a new way.

It took Bush, however, to transform the strategic context of U.S.-Indian relations. Convinced that India's influence will stretch far beyond its immediate neighborhood, Bush has reconceived the framework of U.S. engagement with New Delhi. He has removed many of the sanctions, opened the door for high-tech cooperation, lent political support to India's own war on terrorism, ended the historical U.S. tilt toward Pakistan on Kashmir, and repositioned the United States in the Sino-Indian equation by drawing closer to New Delhi.

India has responded to these sweeping changes by backing the Bush administration on missile defense, the International Criminal Court, and finding alternative approaches to confronting global warming. It lent active support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan by protecting U.S. assets in transit through the Strait of Malacca in 2002, agreed to work with the United States on multinational military operations outside of the UN framework, and, in 2005 and 2006, voted twice with Washington against Iran -- an erstwhile Indian ally -- at the International Atomic Energy Agency. India also came close to sending a division of troops to Iraq in the summer of 2003 before pulling back at the last moment. Every one of these actions marked a big departure in Indian foreign policy. And although disappointed by India's decision to stay out of Iraq, the Bush administration recognized that India was in the midst of a historic transformation of its foreign policy -- and kept faith that India's own strategic interests would continue to lead it toward deeper political cooperation with Washington. New Delhi's persistence in reaching out to Washington since 1991 has been driven by the belief that only by fundamentally changing its relationship with the world's sole superpower could it achieve its larger strategic objectives: improving its global position and gaining leverage in its relations with other great powers.

But India's ability to engage everyone at the same time might soon come to an end. As U.S.-Chinese tensions grow and Washington looks for ways to manage China's influence, questions about India's attitude toward the new power politics will arise: Can India choose to remain "nonaligned" between the United States and China, or does India's current grand strategy show a clear bias toward the United States?

The nuclear pact unveiled by Bush and Singh in July 2005 -- and consolidated when Bush went to New Delhi in March 2006 -- was an effort by Washington to influence the ultimate answer to that question. Bush offered to modify U.S. nonproliferation laws (subject to approval by Congress, of course) and revise the global nuclear order to facilitate full cooperation with India on civilian nuclear energy. New Delhi, in return, has promised to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs, place its civilian nuclear plants under international safeguards, and abide by a range of nonproliferation obligations. India's interest in such a deal has been apparent for a long time. Having failed to test weapons before the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was drafted, in 1968, India was trapped in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the nuclear order: it was not willing to give up the nuclear option, but it could not be formally accommodated by the nonproliferation regime as a nuclear weapons state.

India's motives for wanting a change in the nuclear regime are thus obvious. But for the Bush administration, the deal is less about nuclear issues than it is about creating the basis for a true alliance between the United States and India -- about encouraging India to work in the United States' favor as the global balance of power shifts. Ironically, it was the lack of a history of mutual trust and cooperation -- stemming in part from past nuclear disputes -- that convinced the Bush administration that a nuclear deal was necessary.

AN IMPOSSIBLE ALLY?

Many critics argue that the Bush administration's hopes for an alliance are misplaced. They insist that the traditionally nonaligned India will never be a true ally of the United States. But such critics misunderstand India's nonalignment, as well as the nature of its realpolitik over the past 60 years. Contrary to a belief that is especially pervasive in India itself, New Delhi has not had difficulty entering into alliances when its interests so demanded. Its relationship with the Soviet Union, built around a 1971 peace and friendship treaty, had many features of an alliance (notwithstanding India's claim that such ties were consistent with nonalignment); the compact was in many ways a classic response to the alignment of Washington, Beijing, and Islamabad. India has also had treaty-based security relationships with two of its smaller neighbors, Bhutan and Nepal, that date back to 1949-50 -- protectorate arrangements that were a reaction to China's entry into Tibet.

In fact, there is no contradiction between India's alleged preference for "moralpolitik" (in opposition to pure power politics, or Machtpolitik) and the Bush administration's expectation of an alliance with India. New Delhi is increasingly replacing the idea of "autonomy," so dear to Indian traditionalists, with the notion of India's becoming a "responsible power." (Autonomy is thought appropriate for weak states trying to protect themselves from great-power competition but not for a rising force such as India.) As India starts to recognize that its political choices have global consequences, it will become less averse to choosing sides on specific issues. Alliance formation and balancing are tools in the kits of all great powers -- and so they are likely to be in India's as well.

That India is capable of forming alliances does not, however, mean that it will necessarily form a long-term one with the United States. Whether it does will depend on the extent of the countries' shared interests and their political capacity to act on them together. The Bush administration expects that such shared interests -- for example, in balancing China and countering radical Islam in the Middle East -- will provide the basis for long-term strategic cooperation. This outcome is broadly credible, but it is by no means inevitable, especially given the United States' seeming inability to build partnerships based on equality.

When it comes to facing a rising China, India's tendency to engage in regional balancing with Beijing has not come to an end with the proclamation of a strategic partnership between the two nations. Indeed, preventing China from gaining excessive influence in India's immediate neighborhood and competing with Beijing in Southeast Asia are still among the more enduring elements of India's foreign policy. Despite Western concerns about the military regime in Myanmar, New Delhi has vigorously worked to prevent Yangon from falling completely under Beijing's influence, and India's military ties with the Southeast Asian nations are expanding rapidly. In 2005, when Pakistan pushed for giving China observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India acted quickly to bring Japan, South Korea, and the United States in as well. Given India's deep-seated reluctance to play second fiddle to China in Asia and the Indian Ocean region -- and the relative comfort of working with a distant superpower -- there is a structural reason for New Delhi to favor greater security cooperation with Washington.

In the Middle East, too, India has a common interest with the United States in preventing the rise of radical Islam, which poses an existential threat to India. Given its large Muslim population -- at nearly 150 million, the third largest in the world -- and the ongoing tensions stemming from the subcontinent's partition, India has in the past acted on its own to avert the spread of radical Islam. When Washington aligned with conservative Islamic forces in the Middle East during the Cold War, India's preference was for secular nationalist forces in the region. When the United States acted ambivalently toward the Taliban in the mid-1990s, India worked with Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian states to counter the Taliban by supporting the Northern Alliance. Now, although some in India are concerned that alignment with the United States might make India a prime target for Islamist extremists, there is no way India can compromise with radical Islam, which threatens its very unity.

But shared interests do not automatically produce alliances. The inequality of power between the two countries, the absence of a habit of political cooperation between them, and the remaining bureaucratic resistance to deeper engagement in both capitals will continue to limit the pace and the scope of strategic cooperation between India and the United States. Still, there is no denying that India will have more in common with the United States than with the other great powers for the foreseeable future.

While New Delhi has acknowledged that U.S. support is necessary for India's rise to be successful, Washington has recognized India's potentially critical role in managing emerging challenges to global order and security. As a major beneficiary of accelerating globalization, India could play a crucial role in ensuring that other developing countries manage their transitions as successfully as it has, that is, by taking advantage of opportunities while working to reduce the pain of disruption. Given the pace of its expansion and the scale of its economy, India will also become an important force in ensuring that the unfolding global redistribution of economic power occurs in an orderly fashion. Meanwhile, India could become a key player in the effort to modernize the politics of the Middle East. If nothing else, India's success in ensuring the rights and the integration of its own Muslim minority and in reaching peace with Pakistan would have a powerful demonstration effect.

To secure a long-term partnership with India, Washington must build on the argument of "Indian exceptionalism" that it has advanced in defense of the recent nuclear pact, devising a range of India-specific policies to deepen cooperation. India is unlikely, however, to become a mere subsidiary partner of the United States, ready to sign on to every U.S. adventure and misadventure around the world. It will never become another U.S. ally in the mold of the United Kingdom or Japan. But nor will it be an Asian France, seeking tactical independence within the framework of a formal alliance.

Given the magnitude of the global security challenges today, the United States needs more than meek allies. It should instead be looking to win capable and compatible partners. A rising India may be difficult at times, but it will act broadly to defend and promote the many interests it shares with Washington. Assisting India's rise, then, is in the United States' own long-term interest.


          Alleged former Diddy employee demands payment on Twitter   
theGRIO REPORT - Diddy tweeted that he would spend $2 million at a strip club, but a former employee says pay me instead...
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Maruti Suzuki is likely to hit its production target of 2 million vehicles on a yearly basis at least two quarters into FY19, powered by demand for new models.
          Spit Test May Reveal The Severity Of A Child's Concussion   
A little spit may help predict whether a child's concussion symptoms will subside in days or persist for weeks. A test that measures fragments of genetic material in saliva was nearly 90 percent accurate in identifying children and adolescents whose symptoms persisted for at least a month, a Penn State team told the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. In contrast, a concussion survey commonly used by doctors was right less than 70 percent of the time. If the experimental test pans out, "a pediatrician could collect saliva with a swab, send it off to the lab and then be able to call the family the next day," says Steven Hicks , an assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State Hershey. Hicks helped develop the test and consults for a company that hopes to market concussion tests. A reliable test would help overcome a major obstacle in assessing and treating concussions, which affect more than one million children and adolescents in the U.S. each year. Many of
          The Real Secret of Cambodia’s Mythic Warrior: Archaeological Insight   
By Kent Davis
Originally posted at http://www.devata.org/2012/03/the-real-secret-of-cambodias-mythic-warrior-archaeological-insight/

…like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away….

Koh Ker, Cambodia – Protests from the Kingdom of Cambodia recently halted the multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale of an ancient stone statue with the support of the United States government. When the Cambodians sought help bringing the thousand-year-old Khmer statue back to their country the New York Times ran a detailed article entitled “Mythic Warrior Is Captive in Global Art Conflict.”

10th century Cambodian sculpture previously scheduled for a multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale.
Their investigation reveals that the legal and moral issues surrounding the ownership and sale of ancient art are quite complex. In this case, one generous art collector may actually provide a positive solution. But like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away.

Mystery of the Missing Men of Koh Ker

One thousand years ago, the Khmer Empire ruled most of what is now Southeast Asia from its capital in Angkor. During their heyday, the architecturally and artistically sophisticated Khmer people created some of humanity’s most extraordinary stone temples and statues. Apart from a few stone inscriptions, however, no written records of the civilization survived. Out of necessity, archaeologists have had no alternative but to piece the story of the Khmer people together, clue by clue and stone by stone.

Rising above 30 meters in height, Koh Ker’s central temple-mountain of Prasat Thom was built 100 years before Angkor Wat. Photo: Khmersearch, Panoramio.
Early in the 10th century (for reasons that are still unclear), King Jayavarman IV and his son Harsavarman II relocated the empire’s capital from Angkor to an isolated plateau 100 km to the northeast. There they built the city of Koh Ker, a huge new complex of temples and shrines, where they established their throne for a brief 16 year period (928-944 AD). Like all great Khmer cities, Koh Ker was ultimately abandoned and swallowed up by the jungle. The rediscovery of the Khmer civilization by Westerners didn’t begin until French explorers arrived in the second half of the 19th century.

In 2007, stone conservator Simon Warrack was working with the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP), a scientific organization that had been doing critical restoration on Angkor Wat temple for more than a decade. In May, Warrack took a side trip to the Koh Ker site (Google Map link) to consider future conservation needs there.

At Koh Ker, Warrack noticed two distinctive pedestal platforms in the first enclosure of Prasat Chen. There, by the west gopura (an entry structure), he saw the feet where two statues had clearly been broken off. But the gods that once stood there were nowhere to be found. The mystery sparked his imagination.

The two Koh Ker pedestals as Warrack found them at Prasat Chen in May 2007. The pedestal circled in red shows a fabric section still attached in the center.
Virtually Connecting Ancient Dots…and Stones


From my own research cataloging the devata of Angkor I can attest that field work is generally hot, uncomfortable and distracting. Almost all of my discoveries happen at my desk in Florida examining photos taken weeks or years before at remote locations. Warrack continued his search in similar fashion.

The Norton Simon dvarapala featured in “Adoration and Glory”, p. 149
He pondered the distinctive bases and began searching for photos in books and research archives. Finally, he found a possible solution. In “Adoration and Glory – The Golden Age of Khmer Art” by Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford one image stood out. It showed a figure identified as a dvarapala (guardian) at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena California. That statue was missing its feet, but many are. The key to solving this puzzle was the unique tail at the bottom of its clothing element. After scanning images and digitally combining them Warrack confirmed the close match between the two fragments.

Warrack’s 2007 digital superimposition of the base and body of the Koh Ker statue.
Warrack immediately wrote a short paper to seek opinions from others in the field of Khmer studies. He forwarded copies to friends and associates as well as to key authorities including the APSARA Authority, which manages the Angkor region’s heritage assets; the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Phnom Penh; and the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), a French organization dedicated to Asian studies that has been active in conservation efforts at Angkor since 1907. I met Simon in 2007 shortly after his find and the photos above come from the original article he shared with me.

Everyone who saw his image realized the importance of this observation. Determining the original location of displaced objects can be a huge help in interpreting their meaning and significance within the context of an ancient civilization. The record shows that the Norton Simon piece was acquired legitimately and is on public display for educational, artistic and cultural appreciation. But not all art ends up this way. Much of it disappears into private collections, out of view.

Such was the case of the complimentary statue that stood face to face with this one more than a thousand years ago at the Khmer capital of Koh Ker.

Sotheby's twin Khmer warrior. Note the unbroken base of the fabric tail.
The Long Lost Twin Reappears

In the summer of 2010, a “noble European lady” contacted Sotheby’s to discuss the sale of a “spectacular tenth-century Cambodian sculpture, 160 centimeters in height and exceptionally well carved.” Word got out quickly to the worlds of art and archaeology. When pictures began to circulate it was instantaneously clear that this was the long-lost companion to the statue Warrack had connected to the Norton Simon Museum three years earlier.

Meanwhile, in New York, the matching sculpture was estimated to sell for millions of dollars. According to the owner’s records, she legally acquired the piece in 1975 from the now-defunct London art dealer Spink & Son. The Norton Simon Museum also acquired their piece that year. Some evidence suggests that both statues left Cambodia in the late 1960s, but exactly when and how that happened, and who arranged it, is unknown.

Paraphrasing Sotheby’s Senior Vice President Jane A. Levine, the New York Times article stated “Ms. Levine countered that the statue could have been removed any time in its thousand-year history, and said the word ‘stolen’ was often ‘used loosely.’ ” Meanwhile, Christie’s auction house acquired Spinks in 1993 and claims that the 1975 records of the statue’s origin are “no longer available.”

Regardless of the lack of facts, the ownership of both statues seems quite legal under international laws. Which brings us to a question at the heart of this matter.

Who Should Own Historical Art?

An idealistic answer is “humanity” but even this dream can have unexpected consequences as we’ll discover below. My personal goal would be for historical assets to be accessible to everyone who wants to respect them, preserve them, appreciate them and learn from them. But this philosophy wouldn’t get me through the front door at most of the world’s public institutions holding these assets (let alone to private collections).

Most of us are fortunate enough to live in a free society. We can buy, sell and own personal property within the law. The laws protecting heritage assets have evolved considerably over the past few decades, and they continue to do so. But the fact remains that countless artifacts were legally acquired by collectors (“noble ladies” included) as well as public museums since the beginning of time. Isn’t it their right to display, use and sell their property as they see fit?

Let’s consider some difficult questions raised by recent news:

The taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Photo: Wikipedia.
1. Can a government or private entity decide to demolish old structures? This happens every day in every city around the world. Sometimes historical societies rally to save a site. Sometimes they can’t, as seen in the shocking annihilation of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Was that government right? Were those people right? And who are you to judge? Do you live there?

In Sarasota Florida some local groups rallied to have this mural erased from a shop.
2. Can a government or private entity destroy something offensive or blasphemous to their values or religion? How far does freedom of expression go? This Yale article discusses the destruction of Buddha images in the Maldives. But it also mentions things like Henry VIII’s systematic destruction of all the monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland. Near my home in Sarasota Florida a debate has run for months about erasing a mural that may promote gangs. Acts of artistic control and destruction happen all the time.

Sunken treasure found by Odyssey Marine 1700 feet deep in the Atlantic Ociean.
3. Can a private group use its own funds to recover or preserve historical objects that were clearly abandoned by the original owners hundreds or even thousands of years earlier? In other words, does everything actually belong to some hypothetical “rightful owner”? And who owned these things before them? Odyssey Marine Exploration in Tampa Florida just got a harsh lesson in how arbitrarily this question can be answered. Odyssey spent years working to locate and salvage a ship in international waters off the coast of Portugal. It lay, unknown and untouched for two centuries in 1700 feet of water. US courts just ruled against Odyssey and returned all the artifacts to Spain.

Ironically, that silver and gold was mined in Peru by peasants working under slave-like conditions. Peru, of course, came under Spanish control in the 16th century when conquistadors brutally subjugated the Inca civilization in their quest for territory, power and treasure. But to the US courts, 200 years of ownership was enough to confiscate assets for an “original” owner…but not 400 years. Peru’s claim to the artifacts was ignored.

On the other side of the gold coin, salvage operations generally destroy much of the archaeological evidence that exists on a wreck site. I took an archaeological research diver workshop at a Florida galleon site, and I’ve also had the privilege of discussing this topic with the father of underwater archaeology, George Bass. I am quite opposed to the wholesale destruction of history to recover precious metals on land or at sea.

But in this case, Odyssey Marine consistently gathers a lot of archaeological data from their sites. And is it reasonable to ask when and how carefully archaeologists would be excavating this particular site more than half a kilometer deep? It seems we can all learn much from Odyssey’s digital photos, detailed site maps and the thousands of objects recovered. More than we would have known if the site was never found. Now the responsibility falls to Spain to educate and inspire us with their recovered objects. The world watches.

The “Angel of Beng Mealea” - March 5, 2006 and February 12, 2007.
4. Do poor people have the right to take abandoned objects from public places just to survive? I wrote about my own painful experience with this at Beng Mealea in this article “Death of an Angel.”

There are countless examples. There will be countless more. Each situation is different. Right and wrong are not always clear. And certainly never appear the same to opposing parties in a disagreement.

Back in 2008 I bought a used car legally. But what if the original owner (or the factory, or the country where it was built) tried to reclaim it because “I parked it too long” or “I wasn’t taking care of it” or “they want to study it” or “it belongs in the original place”? I can’t say I’d be too happy.

But there are solutions to these issues…as there are to most human conflicts: communication, empathy and diplomacy. Fortunately, a combination of these factors may lead to a resolution to the quandary of the Sotheby’s statue sale.

Collectors Who Share

Cultural sensitivity about who historical objects should belong to is a fairly new concept. As noted above people have the right to own private property. This has been going on for a long time. Humans are an acquisitive species by nature.

It’s worth noting that some of the most successful “acquirers” (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates come to mind) have also proven themselves as some of our most generous givers. And some art collectors have proven themselves in this way, too. After a lifetime of actively hunting, obsessively gathering and painstakingly preserving the rare objects they crave…many end up donating their collections to public institutions.

In the world of Khmer art, Douglas Latchford, co-author of “Adoration and Glory” with art historian Emmy Bunker, is one example. He began collecting Khmer artifacts 56 years ago (1956). Over the years he and his friends have shared financial gifts with the National Museum of Cambodia. More significantly, he is the museum’s biggest contributor of artifacts (read more about Douglas Latchford on KI-Media).

Now another collector may assist with a solution to the thorny situation of the Koh Ker statue at Sotheby’s.

Dr. István Zelnik, founder of the Gold Museum in Budapest, Hungary.
During the 1970s, Dr. István Zelnik served as a Hungarian diplomat in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Like many passionate collectors he invested his money in rare books, antiques and works of art. Motivated by a love of art and curiosity about the objects he found, he became an increasingly sought after consulting expert for museums and archaeologists around the world. In 2011 his dreams culminated with his greatest achievement: founding the Zelnik István Southeast Asian Gold Museum in Budapest Hungary.

In a statement to the New York Times Dr. Zelnik expressed the possibility that he may purchase the statue for donation to the people of Cambodia. A generous, diplomatic and expedient solution in our complex world. The owner would be compensated for her private property, huge amounts of time and money would not be wasted on legal litigation, and the people who respect and admire the art of the Khmer people could once again see this expression of creativity in the land where it was born.

I wish him success and encourage him along with Mr. Latchford and other collectors to continue sharing the objects of their passion with the world.

The two mythic Cambodian warriors as they one faced each other at Koh Ker. Below, Simon Warrack asks if they can one day be reunited?
Could Two Ancient Brothers Meet Again?

To conclude this article I contacted Simon Warrack to ask his current ideas about the ownership of historic art. Here’s what he had to say:
“The concept of “ownership” may be the wrong place to start when considering important objects. It is the value and significance of an object that should be thought of first, rather than who it belongs to.

”The questions should really be about the object itself, not who it belongs to. Where is the object best valued? Where is it best appreciated? Where is it best understood? Where is it best conserved?

“Who an object belongs to should be secondary. As one of my colleagues observed ‘Objects are not important because they are in museums. They are in museums because they are important.’ The object itself is the important factor, not the museum that possesses it.

“After finding the empty pedestals seven years ago actually seeing both Koh Ker statues is remarkable. The possibility now exists that, one day, they may be reunited.

“Today, I called HE Hab Touch to ask his opinion on this matter. He is optimistic but noted that at this early stage no decisions or agreements are in place. However, Cambodia is ready and there are at least two suitable, secure locations where the pieces could be located for public appreciation. In the National Museum, of course, but plans are also being made for a museum at Preah Vihear, the same province where Koh Ker is located. There, the museum will become a gateway to the World Heritage Site and these figures could, once again, provide a wonderful center piece to welcome visitors from around the world.”
Simon closed by mentioning a concept from the book, Who Owns Antiquity by James Cuno. Cuno observes that national museums in wealthy nations host “encyclopedic” collections of objects from around the world, while national museums in less wealthy countries host indigenous local art relating to their own history.

He suggests that the global exchange of art would be a good direction to head in. Just as it is good for a child in Pasadena to experience the art of Cambodia, wouldn’t it also be wonderful for a child of Cambodia to see pieces of American history? Or the creations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mexico, etc.?

With communication, empathy and diplomacy we can all grow and learn.

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          Politics Aside, Counting Crowds Is Tricky   
Updated at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 27 There has been a lot of arguing about the size of crowds in the past few days. Estimates for President Trump's inauguration and the Women's March a day later vary widely. And for crowd scientists, that's pretty normal. "I think this is expected," says Mubarak Shah , director of the Center for Research in Computer Vision at the University of Central Florida. Shah says he encountered something similar during mass protests in Barcelona, Spain a couple of years ago. "The government was claiming smaller number than the opposition was claiming," he says. Counting quarrels have popped up during previous events in the U.S. as well. During the Million Man March in 1995, the National Park Service estimated the crowd to be far smaller than the organizers claimed. The controversy led Congress to bar the Park Service from doing head counts on the National Mall. The reason that disagreements frequently arise is that there's no foolproof way to get an accurate head
          Important measures to avoid mistakes while dealing with link building   
It has been seen that people tend to make many mistakes while making efforts to boost up the page rank of their respective websites.

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Social media is not enough:
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          Flipping A Switch In The Brain Turns Lab Rodents Into Killer Mice   
Mice that kill at the flip of a switch may reveal how hunting behavior evolved hundreds of millions of years ago. The mice became aggressive predators when two sets of neurons in the amygdala were activated with laser light, a team reported Thursday in the journal Cell . "The animals become very efficient in hunting," says Ivan de Araujo , an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University and an associate fellow at The John B. Pierce Laboratory in New Haven. "They pursue the prey [a live cricket] faster and they are more capable of capturing and killing it." Activating the neurons even caused the mice to attack inanimate objects, including sticks, bottle caps and an insectlike toy. "The animals intensively bite the toy and use their forepaws in an attempt to kill it," De Araujo says. But the aggressive behavior is reserved for prey. Mice didn't attack each other, even when both sets of neurons were activated. The results hint at how the brain changed hundreds of millions of years
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          Kingdom’s arable land all but gone   
A map created by the rights group Licadho shows economic land concessions and mining concessions in Cambodia. Map Supplied

Thursday, 01 March 2012
May Titthara and David Boyle
The Phnom Penh Post

If the government continues to grant economic land and mining concessions at the current rate, there will be no more arable land left in the country to give away within one year, a researcher from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said yesterday.

Pointing to the vast increase in economic land concessions granted last year alone, which rights group Adhoc places at about 800,000 hectares, Ouch Leng, the head of the CCHR’s land reform program, said only 300,000 hectares of unclaimed arable land remained.

“The government can grant licenses for one more year because the remaining arable land is only 386,294 hectares,” he said.


Exploratory mining concessions had been included in this calculation, he said, because while firms granted these rights did not technically own the land, they acted like it in practice by erecting fences and expelling villagers from the area.

Ouch Leng said increasing outbreaks of civil unrest across the country such as the protests in Kandal, Kratie and Ratanikkiri province were sounding a clear message that Prime Minister Hun Sen had begun to heed.

On Monday, the premier canceled all 35 commercial fishing lots on the Tonle Sap lake, leaving the country’s most fertile fishing ground entirely for small scale fishermen.

Beng Hong Socheat Khnmero, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, said ELCs were not the responsibility of his ministry and deferred questions to Ministry of Agriculture officials, who could not be reached for comment.

But figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday showed 1.19 million hectares had now been granted in ELCs, far below findings from rights groups Adhoc and Licadho released late last year, which put the number closer to 2 million.

A map from Licadho obtained by the Post shows that 54.90 per cent of all arable land in Cambodia had been absorbed by ELC’s alone up until November 2011.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at Licadho, said that the latest figures show two-thirds of all arable land in Cambodia has now been given away through ELCs.

“We [Cambodians] are dependent on agriculture, but two-thirds of arable land has been granted as economic land concessions,” he said.

“I don’t know if the government is worried, but NGOs are.”

Statistics released by Adhoc last year found that when all types of private concessions were added together, including forest concessions, about 39 per cent of Cambodia’s entire land mass has been granted to private firms.

          Generating Traffic Through Keywords   
Keywords are probably the most important factor to establishing a successful website. When you visit your favorite search engine, their software is using Keywords to decide what websites to show you and in what order to display them on the search results. To a webmaster, profiting off of the popularity of their website through online advertising, keywords are very important indeed.

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          Thailand Pushes Xayaburi Dam   
Xayaburi work goes on (photo credit: Suthep Kritsanavarin)

Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Written by Our Correspondent
Asian Sentinel


Despite reservations from Mekong Basin countries, construction continues

Over the opposition of environmental groups and the governments of other countries in the Mekong Basin, the Thai government is pushing ahead with the construction of the controversial Xayaburi Dam, environmentalists say.

Although the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments have expressed concerns about the dam and work was supposed to stop until further study has been completed, preliminary construction on the giant dam deep inside Laos, is continuing, according to International Rivers, which opposes the structure.


Large numbers of workers have been on the job for two years to build access roads and facilities for the project, said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers. Ch. Karnchang, Thailand’s largest construction company, has the contract to build the dam for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, better known as EGAT, which has contracted to 95 percent of the energy from the dam.

“It doesn’t mean the dam can’t be stopped,” Deets told Asia Sentinel in a telephone interview. “We believe there are many channels that we can try to cancel the PPA (power purchase agreement).”

Thailand appears to be defying an agreement in early December by the Mekong River Commission Council, comprising water and environment ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, to seek international support to produce a more complete study of the dam, which is intended to produce 1,280 megawatts of power for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

The Mekong supports the largest freshwater fishery in the world. The downstream governments are concerned that the Xayaburi and 10 other dams planned for the Mekong, which feeds a river basin populated by 60 million people, will do irreparable damage to the river’s habitat.

Environmentalists say anywhere between 23 and 100 fish species could be adversely affected.

The dam, 810 meters wide and 32 meters high, is opposed by 263 NGOs from 51 countries. Thousands of people in the region have urged that it be cancelled. Its primary objective is to generate, along with electricity, foreign exchange earnings for financing socio-economic development in Laos, a landlocked and obscure country of 6.8 million mostly poverty-stricken people. Laos is seeking to develop its way into prosperity through extensive investment in dams, mines and plantations, hoping for jobs, rising incomes and revenues to end poverty.

Wracked by incessant bombing and the dropping of tens of millions of antipersonnel mines by the Americans during the Vietnam War, Laos remains one of the world's poorest countries, ranking 135th in the world. Nearly 41 percent of the population are under the age of 14. It is one of the few remaining one-party Communist countries left on the planet. Subsistence agriculture accounts for as much as 30 percent of gross domestic product, according to the CIA Factbook, and provides 80 percent of total employment.

Ten dams are already in operation across the country, generating 669 megawatts of power. Another eight are expected to be operational by this year, generating an additional 2,531 megawatts. Nineteen more are planned and 42 more are the subject of feasibility studies, almost all of them financed and developed by foreign interests expecting to turn a profit from electricity generation. Thailand is to import up to 7,000 megawatts by 2015. Vietnam will take another 3,000 megawatts by 2015 possibly rising to 5,000 megawatts by 2020 in accordance with an understanding reached in December 2006, according to a 2010 study titled Development in LAO PDR: the Food Security Paradox, produced for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and written by researcher David Fullbrook.

In 2010, the Mekong River Commission commissioned a strategic environmental assessment that recommended all decisions on Mekong mainstream dams be deferred for a period of at least 10 years while further studies can be conducted.

“We are afraid the fish migration could be destroyed,” Deets said. “There are 60 million people in the basin who depend for their livelihood on the river.”

The Thai government, she said in a prepared statement, “has ignored the agreements made last year among the four regional governments and the concerns expressed by Cambodia and Vietnam. With more than eight provinces in Thailand at risk from the Xayaburi Dam’s transboundary impacts, the state has also disregarded its duty to protect its own people from harm. It’s irresponsible to push forward with this dam, when the project’s impacts on Thailand have yet to be adequately studied.”

“The Mekong River Commission governments have not yet reached agreement on the Xayaburi Dam nor have they closed the prior consultation process,” the press release quoted Lam Thi Thu Suu, Director of the Centre for Social Research and Development in Vietnam, as saying. “By committing to purchase power from the dam and moving forward with the project’s implementation, EGAT and Ch. Karnchang are violating the trust and goodwill of Thailand’s neighbors. No construction on the Xayaburi Dam should proceed while further study is underway.”

Four Thai banks have already provided financial support for the dam including the state-owned Krung Thai Bank. When the Commission asked about the steps they took to examine the project’s environmental and social impacts, however, the banks were not able to provide detailed information.

“It’s astonishing to think that the financiers of this project have not taken the dam’s significant environmental and social impacts more seriously. Even a five minute search on the internet would reveal numerous media reports that highlight the concerns of the Thai people,” Deets said. “The recklessness of EGAT’s and the Thai companies’ pursuit of the project is likely to become a catastrophe for our country’s reputation. We call on the Thai government to immediately cancel the power purchase agreement and for Thai banks to withdraw financing from the Xayaburi Dam.”

An independent study has already concluded that the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity is not needed to meet Thailand’s demand for energy in the coming decades.

          Sotheby's trying to resolve Cambodia relic dispute   

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Associated Press

Sotheby's is working to help return an ancient statue to Cambodia after the government claimed it had been illegally removed from the country decades ago.

The auction house said Wednesday it took the 1,000-year-old relic off the auction block a day before a sale scheduled for March 24, 2011, after Cambodia sent a letter asking Sotheby's to do so and arrange for its return.

The 5-foot-tall sandstone sculpture of a mythical warrior in an elaborate headdress had been estimated to sell for up to $3 million.

Sotheby's identified the seller as a European collector who purchased the work from a London dealer in 1975, almost two decades before a 1993 Cambodia law prohibited the removal of cultural artifacts without government permission.


The auction house said it informed Cambodia about the statue in writing 4 1/2 months before the sale, in November 2010.

Jane Levine, senior vice president and worldwide compliance director for Sotheby's, said the government did not respond until March 23, 2011, a day before the auction, when the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO contacted the auction house on Cambodia's behalf.

Cambodia "did not allege that the statue constituted stolen property, did not identify any basis to contest the owner's title to the property and did not allege that it would be unlawful for Sotheby's to sell the statue or that Cambodia owned the statue," said Levine.

The Associated Press was not immediately able to obtain the letter.

The story was first reported in New York Times on Wednesday.

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that it was working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan and the Cambodian government "to look into the matter and determine the proper course of action."

Spokeswoman Danielle Bennett declined on Wednesday to answer further questions, citing the ongoing investigation.

After the seller and Sotheby's voluntarily withdrew the statue from the sale, the auction house said it asked Cambodia to come up with a solution agreeable to both parties.

In May, Cambodia endorsed a plan to seek a buyer to purchase the statue and donate it to Cambodia. It subsequently identified a Hungarian antiquities collector as a potential buyer, with whom Sotheby's has been in talks, the auction house said.

"We are also very interested in hearing from anyone else who would be interested in participating in such a sale process," added Levine, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who was appointed to President Barack Obama's Cultural Property Advisory Committee last year. "Sotheby's would like to find a solution that is fair to both Cambodia and to the owner who bought the sculpture in good faith almost 40 years ago."

Cambodian diplomatic officials in the United States were not immediately available for comment Wednesday. Anne LeMaistre, a Phnom Penh-based UNESCO representative who is involved in the talks, told The Times "buying back such items can seem distasteful, but sadly it is not unusual when the country's aim is return of the property."

The work is one of a pair of statues from a temple in Koh Ker, north of the famous Angkor Wat complex of temples.

Archeologists have matched the footless statue to a pedestal and feet at a Cambodian archaeological site. The other statue has been at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., since 1980, and also has been matched to its base at the site.

Many ancient artifacts were looted and damaged in the 1970s when the Khmer Rouge ruled the country.

Eric Bourdonneau, the archaeologist who matched both statues to their pedestals, told the Times the relics were looted in the early 1970s.

Levine said Sotheby's was aware before accepting the statue for sale that it had come from Koh Ker. But she said it did not know when and how it was removed "as the circumstances of that are to date unknown."

She said the statue was purchased in "good faith" and exported long before the 1993 Cambodian law was passed, "and Cambodia has not claimed otherwise."

Levine said a law dating to the 1920s may have provided certain export restrictions but did not nationalize ownership of Cambodian relics, and therefore could not retroactively "redefine clearly established legal title rights."

          Is This What You Are Searching for About Back Pain   
Primarily, a correct sitting pose can help in forestalling back pain, so ensure that you sit right to steer clear of any pressure on your back muscles. An alternative treatment to back ache that is bit by bit beginning to be accepted as a result of its celebrated accomplishments is acupuncture- an art that has been in practice in the Chinese people's culture for many long years and consists of the incorporation of needles into explicit points of the sufferer's body to bring about a healing flow.





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          UN protests after Cambodia blocks Khmer Rouge judge [-Does the UN have the gut to pull out of the KRT?]   
Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet was appointed as Reserve Co-Investigating Judge on 1 December 2010. (Photo: Courtesy of ECCC)
Friday, January 20, 2012
AFP News

The United Nations on Friday protested at Cambodia's rejection of a Swiss judge to the international Khmer Rouge tribunal who has paralyzed probes into two cases opposed by the government.

Cambodia is in "breach" of an accord with the UN setting up the international tribunal into the Khmer Rouges crimes of the 1970s in which up to two million people died, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

"This is a matter of serious concern," stated Nesirky who said the Cambodian government had formally notified UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday of its refusal to name Laurent Kasper-Ansermet of Switzerland as co-investigating judge.

"The United Nations continues to support Judge Kasper-Ansermet and Cambodia should take immediate steps to appoint him as international co-investigating judge," the spokesman said.


The tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was set up with one Cambodian investigating judge and one foreign judge. The previous German judge resigned in October following government opposition to further prosecutions linked to the 1975-1979 regime.

Kasper-Ansermet was the official reserve judge and Nesirky stressed that the 2003 accord setting up the court "states unequivocally" that if there is a vacancy the person appointed must be the reserve judge.

The Cambodian government "raised ethical concerns" about Kasper-Ansermet in November, said Nesirky.

"The United Nations thoroughly reviewed the concerns, determined that they were unfounded, and requested that the Supreme Council of the Magistracy proceed with his appointment."

David Scheffer, an American named as special expert on UN assistance to the Cambodia trials, is travelling to Phnom Penh for talks with the government and court officials, the spokesman added.

Kasper-Ansermet has been blocked since his arrival in Phnom Penh in December. The supreme council, the government body charged with rubber-stamping the nomination, has not met.

And the Cambodian co-judge You Bunleng has publicly refused to work with the Swiss. Kasper-Ansermet has in turn accused You Bunleng of blocking "important" information about the two new cases involving five ex-Khmer Rouge members accused of crimes against humanity.

The tribunal has so far completed just one trial. A second is underway but risks being overshadowed by the new controversy.

          Cambodia stands out among CLMV [... for Thai investments]   
January 20, 2012
The Nation

Among Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam, widely abbreviated as CLMV, Cambodia is the most outstanding investment destination for Thai companies thanks to the country's free-trade policy and abundant natural resources, according to the Trade Negotiations Department.

Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the department, said that though Cambodia was the last to join Asean in 2009, its trade policy is the most liberalised among the four countries under the government’s policy to draw foreign investment and reduce poverty.


"Cambodia sets its sight on infrastructure investment, particularly road connection with neighbouring countries and hydro power plants. Beside, it possesses a competitive edge, over natural resources. Offshore oil and gas reserves were discovered. This could help eradicate poverty, but it depends on the efficiency and transparency of revenue to be derived from the resources," she said.

In 2010, Cambodia attracted FDI worth US$782.6 million (including $349 million from other Asean countries), up 45.2 per cent from the previous year. Among 10 Asean nations, in terms of FDI, it was ranked the 7th. Cambodia is also a member of key international organisations like the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank.

Srirat noted that the Asean community paves way for Thai investment. Low labour cost would also be on the plus side. Attractive investment areas are in parawood processing, hotel, food and spa, aside from construction.

          Report: Kings to sign EuroLeague star Bogdan Bogdanovic   
Coming off a successful draft that saw them add De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson in the first round, the Sacramento Kings are reportedly bringing in yet another reinforcement. Multiple reports are suggesting that Sacramento will sign EuroLeague star Bogdan Bogdanovic to a three-year, $36 million contract. BREAKING: Sources tell me Kings to sign Serb guard Bogdan Bogdanovic […]
          Bern gives transalpine rail cargo aid to offset high Swiss franc   

GenevaLunch News BERN, SWITZERLAND – Four rail groups are receiving CHF21 million in aid from the Swiss government to offset some of the losses they suffered in 2011 due to the rapid increase in the value of the Swiss franc during the year. All four provide transalpine shipping and use combined or piggyback cargo transport, carrying trucks […]

Bern gives transalpine rail cargo aid to offset high Swiss franc © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Review of William J. Cook, 'In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman'   

A straightforward problem in mathematics remains unsolved, even with a $1 million prize for whoever solves it. Scott McLemee thinks attention must be paid.


          Seco confirms CHF27m in Syrian assets frozen   

GenevaLunch News BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs confirmed to ATS and AP news agencies Sunday that the government has blocked more than CHF27 million in Syrian assets, although it has not confirmed if they belong to Bachar al-Assad, president. He and his brother are on a list of 23 persons whose assets were […]

Seco confirms CHF27m in Syrian assets frozen © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Duvalier money goes to court after 25 years (update)   

GenevaLunch News Update 12:50  Bern / Zurich, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The argument over who gets the Duvalier millions, some CHF5.8 million of them, will finally be heard in court, with the Swiss government 2 May initiating forfeiture proceedings at the Swiss Administrative High Court. The proceedings are the first under a Swiss law that went into effect […]

Duvalier money goes to court after 25 years (update) © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.


          Classic Sunday Brunch   
Up in New Paltz, NY sits an old school resort called the Mohonk Mountain House and this is the scene for todays brunch. Its a pretty massive resort with a lot of beautiful scenery and what feels like millions of walking trails to get lost on but lets start out with the food. The Sunday


          Spectrum Outside Sales Representative - (Chicopee)   
Company Overview:Spectrum is America?s fastest growing TV, internet and voice company. We?re committed to integrating the highest quality service with superior entertainment and products. Spectrum is at the intersection of technology and entertainment, facilitating essential communications that connect 24 million residential and business customers in 41 states.
          Spectrum Outside Sales Representative - (Worcester)   
Company Overview:Spectrum is America?s fastest growing TV, internet and voice company. We?re committed to integrating the highest quality service with superior entertainment and products. Spectrum is at the intersection of technology and entertainment, facilitating essential communications that connect 24 million residential and business customers in 41 states.
          Account Rep Advertising & Marketing Sales - (Waltham)   
The Power of Text Message Marketing There are currently over 290 Million mobile phone users in the United States alone. Of these mobile phone users, nearly two-thirds are active users of Text Messaging. With nearly 91% of all Americans having their cell phone with them at all times, it has become a common sight to see people everywhere with their heads buried in their cell phones!
          Leipziger Messe kratzt an der 100-Millionen-Marke   

Die Geschäftsführung der Leipziger Messe hat eine positive Halbjahresbilanz gezogen, auch wenn der Sprung in die dreistelligen Umsätze in diesem Jahr wohl nicht nicht erreicht wird. Von den steigenden Umsätzen profitieren vor allem die Gesellschafter.


          Median resale price in Manhattan passes $1M benchmark   
According to this week’s market reports, the median resale price in Manhattan increased 1.3 percent year-over-year to pass $1 million for the first time, and New York is the world’s most expensive city to rent a co-working space. Residential Manhattan and Brooklyn sales and rentals | StreetEasy In Manhattan, home prices contracted at both extremes in May. Prices at bottom of the market prices increased 11.8 percent year-over-year while luxury market prices dropped 3.4 percent. […]
          Hamptons Cheat Sheet: Brokers dish on the slow market, Jackie O’s former summer house gets chic $4M haircut … & more   
Jackie O’s old summer house in East Hampton gets a $4M price cut The former summer home of Jackie Kennedy Onassis is now asking about $35 million, down from its original ask of $39 million, Curbed reported. The seven-acre estate at 121 Further Lane, dubbed “Lasata,” contains a 10-bedroom main house, pool, and a guest house. An adjoining four-acre parcel, occupied by tennis courts, is available for an additional $12 million. Its current owner, designer […]
          Sabey secures $200M from Wells for former Verizon building   
The Sabey Corporation locked in nearly $200 million in financing for its commercial condominium in the former Verizon building at 375 Pearl Street, according to records filed with the city Wednesday. Wells Fargo is the lender on the 29-floor commercial condo. The financing includes a $96.4 million gap mortgage and assumes a $103 million acquisition loan provided by Indure Build-to-Core, a real estate fund from the Washington, D.C.-based electrical workers union IBEW, the documents show. […]
          About 11M sf of industrial space has vanished in NYC. Here’s what happened to it   
New York City lost more than 11 million square feet of industrial space to rezonings between 2007 and 2016, according to a new report. Although several large rezonings of manufacturing space in the city went into effect during the early 2000s, millions of industrial square feet have also been rezoned over the past decade, an analysis by Ariel Property Advisors found. Some properties been transformed into residential lofts and offices, but a surprising amount remains […]
          New York REIT shopping four office buildings as one large package   
As part of a $2.8 billion liquidation, New York REIT is looking to sell four of its remaining assets as a single package spanning about 750,000 square feet, sources told The Real Deal. The real estate investment trust expects to sell the four office buildings in Chelsea and the Garment District for a combined $700 million, sources said. The properties could still sell individually, sources added. The package consists of the Twitter-anchored 245-249 West 17th […]
          Can Joe Sitt survive a retail apocalypse?   
From the June issue: It took Joe Sitt less than 30 minutes to agree to pay Aby Rosen $132 million for a trio of buildings at 516-520 Fifth Avenue in 2011. It was a rapid-fire deal even for the Thor Equities CEO — who one friend described as New York real estate’s version of the Tasmanian Devil. “He’s really fast, and I love fast people who can be decisive in the moment,” Rosen, co-founder of […]
          Rock Hall to open new $15M 'Power of Rock' exhibit   
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is opening a $15 million exhibit this weekend to bring fans a taste of the hall's famous induction ceremonies.
          Metro Loft buys Vanbarton out of 180 Water   
Nathan Berman’s Metro Loft Management is paying $450 million to buy its partner Vanbarton Group out of the rental apartment tower 180 Water Street . Metro Loft bought a 10 percent stake in the tower in 2014 and a year later the two firms launched a $100 million office-to-residential conversion, the New York Post reported. The 24-story, 567,221-square-foot building now includes 573 apartments, with asking rents ranging from $2,690 for a studio to $7,190 for […]
          El Primer Tren Ligero Electrico de Supercondensadores del Mundo SIN RIELES- China   
380 pasajeros de capacidad

70KMH de Velocidad









INTRODUCTION

How does China solve the country’s prevalent public transportation problems? By unveiling the world’s first autonomous train transit system that runs on a virtual track.
In this video we will know about China’s New Autonomous Train that Doesn’t Even Need Rails for its truck.

CHINA’S AUTONOMOUS TRAIN TRANSIT

The world’s first rail less train was revealed last week in Zhuzhou in central China’s Hunan province. China’s state-owned enterprise called CRRC began developing the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit back in 2013, to provide a solution to the country’s transportation problems in congested urban areas.

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit in short ART is some kind of cross between a train and a bus or tram. The ART runs on roads like a bus, but only on designated paths like a tram. It's modular like a train, and carriages can be added or removed to accommodate different numbers of people. Each carriage can fit about 100 passengers.

ENVIRONMENT FRENDLY VEHICLE


It is considered to be a cheaper alternative to other commute networks as well as being sustainable and environmentally friendly. With a cross appearance between a bus and a train, the autonomous train is composed of three carriages and spans 30 meters long.

It’s part of the intelligent rail express system by CRRC, which operates on rubber tires as opposed to traditional rail tracks. Means, it runs on rubber tires and has sensors to read the dimensions of the road and plan its route.

A pair of dashed white painted lines acts as virtual tracks which the autonomous train follows. The idea is that the 'smart train' could travel without a driver or rails.

CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY 

This ART system can be driven up to a maximum speed of 70 km/h and can carry up to 300 passengers in three carriages at a time. Providing a new and smart method for solving urban transport pressures, the autonomous vehicle is powered by electricity, which can journey to a distance 40 km when fully charged. It uses a lithium titanate battery and can embark on a substantial journey with only 10 minutes of charging.

Equipped with sensors, the autonomous train can process and analyze road dimensions then plan its own course. Very much like a bus-train hybrid vehicle running on a virtual track. CRRC can also add more carriages to the transit system in order to increase the passenger capacity. Moreover, the newly developed ART system can be integrated fairly easily into existing road infrastructures as it doesn’t require heavy construction works compared to rail track systems.

COST SAVING EFFORTS

In general, most medium-sized and smaller cities in China doesn’t have the budget to build expensive subway systems, or most of the time, they take too long to build.
According to Xinhua, it costs up to $102 dollar to build a kilometer of a subway track, as compared to about $2 million for a standard length ART bus.
So, this solution proves to be ideal because of its multiple advantages over conditional transit systems. It’s cheap, sustainable, and is able to transport a large volume of people in a fast and reliable manner.

PLANNING

The current ART system is still in its prototype stage and is driven manually by a human driver. However, the Zhuzhou city government in the Hunan province is expected to build a 6.5-kilometer ART line throughout its downtown. Operations of the autonomous train within the city will begin in 2018.








          Africa - China (Belt and Road Initiative); #SGRLaunch: A new chapter of China-Africa cooperation (Madaraka Express)   
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta is on the maiden voyage of the Madaraka Express. China officially handed over the Standard Gauge Railway to Kenya at a special ceremony. High-level Kenyan and Chinese dignitaries have praised the project as a sign of deepening relations between the two countries. The SGR is the biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since independence. It runs over 4-hundred and 72-kilometres between the port of Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi. The railway will reduce the travel time from 10 hours to less than five. The name - Madaraka Express -translates as independence, freedom or liberty. Chinese and Kenyan leaders have lauded the project, which is one of the first outcomes of the ambitious Belt and Road Intitiative.


One of the stops along the route is Mtito Andei. It's the nearest station to the Tsavo National Park. President Kenyatta is expected to stop here on the inaugural journey later on Wednesday. Kathryn Omwandho reports.


Kenya's standard gauge rail line is an ambitious project, that has taken five years to build. The SGR is Built and funded by China, and the rail line is part of China's bridge and road initiative CTGN's Robert Nagila went to the streets of Nairobi to find out what Kenyans think of this mega project


Kenya is about to witness its first modern railway. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, or SGR, will massively boost the country's economic growth, and possibly the whole of East Africa. The railway, which is built according to Chinese standards, is another great example of China-Africa cooperation. Here is more on that story


The train is not just a milestone for Kenyan construction, but for gender equality too. Eight women were selected to go to China to learn how to drive the SGR. Four of them will be driving the inaugural train. CGTN's Maria Galang met one of these extraordinary ladies.


There's a lot of excitement in Nairobi since in a matter of hours, the new SGR train will be arriving in the Kenyan capital. CGTN's Kane Kiyo is at the Nairobi Terminal to share the excitement.


As the Kenyan President officially launches the first phase of the new Standard Gauge Railway, Kenyans say the new raiway will not only improve lives but make it easier to do business.


On the vast African savannah, a steel dragon crawls through the terrain. It is part of the East African Master Plan - the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway. By introducing Chinese standards, technology, equipment and management to this fast-growing continent, Chinese builders are also bringing hope and love to the people. Today we will visit Maasai Primary School near the Nairobi South station, and listen to their story


Local manufacturers in Kenya have been major beneficiaries of the just launched Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway. Already, 40% sourcing of materials was dedicated to the local market, generating inflows of about 95 million dollars. Now that Kenya's first modern railway is complete, local players are still set to win big. Earlier on, I had a chat with the CEO of Kenya's manufacturers association, Phyllis Wakiaga, about the benefits of this project to the country's manufacturing sector


It is clear that East Africa is a natural extension of the Maritime Silk Road. During the Ming Dynasty, four of the famous admiral Zheng He's seven expeditions reached the east coast of Africa, where they promoted friendship between China and the continent. The Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway had to pass through Tsavo, an important wildlife reserve in Kenya. In this episode, we will see how the Kenyans and the Chinese worked together to guarantee that the project was completed successfully without affecting the local wildlife.


And ordinary kenyans who were lucky to experience the maiden trip have been speaking out as well


          Namaste London   
First weekend in the city. Glorious day; bright, warm, sunny. Will go and check out the various summer sales going on in the city. Only hitch - short on cash before the first stipend payment. But hey, window shopping doesn't cost a penny! And since I've got the monthly travel card made, travel is also free. So, wait there London city, me cometh.

***

First day in office, day filled with form-filling and other stuff. The highlight of the day was the walking tour we had around the office with an official walking tour guide. As the gentleman said - "Every stone has some history in London." Starting with the Roman era, to the great fire of 1666, to the Victorian times - the city is filled with relics and monuments. Of course, we Indians do have lot deeper historical roots, but one has to appreciate the way the Western World preserves its past. Makes me sad to think about all the history spread all over India, ruining & dying slow death.

By the way, death does have some part to play in the history of London. All big monuments are either churches, with big grave yards (tombstones are still there, though all the bodies were exhumed and taken out of the city sometime in 1800's) or have someone important murdered there, after elaborate torture, of course. We saw a square where William Wallace, aka Braveheart, was executed.
[..]On 22 August 1305, following the trial, Wallace was taken from the hall, stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to Smithfield Market. He was hanged, drawn and quartered — strangled by hanging but released while still alive, emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burnt before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts — at the Elms in Smithfield. His preserved head was placed on a pike atop London Bridge. It was later joined by the heads of his brother, John, and Simon Fraser. His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Aberdeen.
Who the hell used to come up with all that. Yikes! And yeah, the guide told us the executions there were still carried out even after London got the tube in 1860s. So you could actually come using the tube to see an execution. Beat that!

***

First day at the desk - mostly easy. Some stuff to be read and understood. Met almost the entire team. Had lunch at Subway with the two analysts from IIT Delhi. Left early. My manager was not in. London accounts for almost 50% of credit derivatives volume in the world and the volume runs in billion $; sitting on the floor where millions are made and lost was some thrill. Still don't understand many things, but surely this stuff ain't no rocket science!

Eventually got to meet my manager on the next day. Pretty busy and pretty aggressive guy. Heard he joined here after working in Chicago for quite some time. No wonder he is all full of the typical american aggression. Check out the meeting we had recently (all in good humor, mind you. Not really menacing)
Manager: We seriously are f**king around here. What happened to the slide I asked you to do?
Subordinate: Oh yeah. I know I was supposed to do it, but I guess it got lost in the process.
Manager: Yeah. In your world its "lost in process", in my world its called "f**king around!" See basically you f**k around because I am basically a nice guy.
Only if I could get a penny everytime he says f**k, my cash crunch will be solved for a very long time. Almost the entire desk works pretty hard and leaving before 7-8 is kind of stuff hallucinations are made of. Around me, I keep hearing lots of different languages, seeing lots of different colored people. The office is quite cosmopolitan and location wise its in the downtown London, sitting pretty just opposite the London Stock Exchange.

***

The place we (six of us: 3 from IIMC, 2 from A and 1 from B) are staying in is pretty cool too! Full of interesting restaurants (Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Malaysian, blah blah) and shops, its considered among the better residential areas in London. We of course are staying in the company provided service apartments. The room, although a bit on the smaller side, is sufficient and quite comfortable. Usually I take a 15 minute ride in the tube to reach the office. The morning rush is nothing compared to the rush in Mumbai locals or even Kolkata metro.

So there, the routine is almost set and life is good.
          Biz-cket   
Subhash Chandra, of Zee fame, has announced the formation of new cricket series, the Indian Cricket League. Apparently Chandra was miffed by the poor performance at the World Cup and wants to develop "a reserve pool of cricketers who could play for the country." No one minds making millions in the process, of course. "We are not shying away to tell that this is also a business proposition but at the macro level, this is a passion of the group to promote cricket," Chandra said.

Whatever be the intention behind it, this can make difference. Check out Chandra's plans -
Format: Six teams will participate in this year`s league, which would start any time between July and August. The number of teams would be extended to 16 in the coming three years. Each team would comprise of two national, four international and eight budding players, who would be selected by the talent scouts. The matches will be played both in the ODI and Twenty20 formats with teams playing on a home and away basis.

Ball's in BCCI's court now.


Infrastructure Support: The league will be supported by cricketing academies across the country having state-of-the-art facilities headed by international and domestic coaches. Talent scouts would pick talents from across the country and groom them in academies to provide a pipeline of reserve players.
Chandra did mention Kerry Packer - "No, that was a coup. All the players of Australia were signed and he also chose not to get the telecast rights of the Australian board," he reasoned. Chandra has seeked support from BCCI & state cricket associations and said, "If BCCI wants to draw from the talent pool, they are welcome to do so." BCCI is yet to respond, but I guess they won't be happy to lose the monopoly control they have over Indian cricket.

This thing looks good. The point about searching talent at the grass-root and grooming them at state-of-the-art academies and giving them chance to rub shoulders with international players, all this sounds too good to be true! This should definitely bring forth some quality competition in the domestic circuit. Chandra is basically offering to do the work BCCI should be doing, and taking the bounty in the process, sounds fair to me! However, we presently have a mechanism in place to find players from the member states of BCCI. All players representing the teams in domestic tournies are basically held by contracts. If BCCI puts its foot down and outlaws it to play in the ICL, the league might get reduced to all fizz and no fun. Some players might get lured by the money, but I doubt if it'll be a big number. Then we'll have probably retired or forgotten players; Vinod Kambli might just get another chance there :-).

"At present there are only 20 players contracted with the board and there is a restriction that they cannot play for anybody else. From each state only 25 players can come up as registered players. What about the millions of boys playing cricket in schools and colleges? Do they get a chance?" Chandra said. Not another reality show, I hope! But if Chandra's league doesn't get the top 20-25 players from the states, I doubt if their talent scouts can hunt plenty of good ones. Hence, the ball essentially lies in BCCI's court. As per the good of Indian cricket, Chandra's plans definitely have my thumbs up. It's essentially an open market vs monopoly situation and I would always go for open market.
          "Pol Pot killed one point seven million Cambodians, died under house
arrest, well done there. Stalin killed many millions, died in his bed, aged
seventy-two, well done indeed. And the reason we let them get away with it
is they killed their own people. And we're sort of fine with that. Hitler
killed people next door. Oh, stupid man. After a couple of years we won't
stand for that, will we?" - Eddie Izzard   
"Pol Pot killed one point seven million Cambodians, died under house
arrest, well done there. Stalin killed many millions, died in his bed, aged
seventy-two, well done indeed. And the reason we let them get away with it
is they killed their own people. And we're sort of fine with that. Hitler
killed people next door. Oh, stupid man. After a couple of years we won't
stand for that, will we?" - Eddie Izzard
          what if I told you a story, all about someone who loved you; cole williams   

what if I told you a story, all about someone who loved you; cole williams

what if I told you a story, all about someone who loved you; cole williams by ravenwood on Polyvore.com

**** Cole can be super shy at times- he rarely talks to girls and spends his time studying, readings, or playing video games. He currently attends Stanford University, as he lives in the heart of San Francisco. His parents are multi millionaires and he's heir to the throne of their industries. He gets everything he wants, he never argues, and he has a few close friends. He's undeniably gorgeous, with messy, black hair and the most stunning pair of hazel-green eyes to be seen. He's usually addressed by "Mr. Williams," if it's not by family or friends. He doesn't really pay attention to his looks, but takes he effort in working out and exercising everyday, as he got into Stanford through his studies, his name, and his Lacrosse skills. He has a perfect life. His birthday is on August 5th, 1997. He's funny, gorgeous, and loving towards his parents. He doesn't really want to be heir to the company, but is forced to, only to keep up a good public image- he has to be perfect. **** pm if you want to roleplay! :) @pitchslapped @txstrawberry @gypsyoccult @natasha-maree13 @ironkyle @chanelandcoke @hayley-177 @exvie


          The Senate plan means 22 million uninsured? Let’s take a honest look at that number   
Senate Republicans have announced that they are delaying a vote on their health care plan by at least a week. The news comes after several Senators had second thoughts because a report from the Congressional Budget Office suggested that under the GOP plan 22 million people would not have health insurance. The U.S. Bishops cited the [...]
          Fin de vie pour Android Market, le 30 juin 2017   
Si comme des millions de personnes Android Market ne vous dit absolument rien, c'est normal, il s'agit de la première version d'un magasin d'applications, avant que la firme de Mountain View déploie le Google Play...
          Nouveau cap pour Spotify, qui enregistre 140 millions d'utilisateurs actifs   
Spotify vient une nouvelle fois de franchir un cap important en passant la barre des 140 millions d'utilisateurs actifs sur sa plateforme de streaming musical. Il s'agit d'un grand bond en avant car il y a à peine un...
          Réalité virtuelle: le casque Playstation VR a passé le cap du million d'exemplaires vendus   
Sony, qui connaissait déjà un succès insolent dans le domaine des consoles, peut aussi se vanter de renouveler l'exploit dans le secteur de la réalité virtuelle. Sony a en effet vendu plus d'1 million de casques en...
          03/24/17: New Biomateriality Lab   
New Biomateriality Lab in the Enter and Encounter exhibition presents new Finnish biomaterials, mainly based on wood. All materials have been invented and produced in multidisciplinary research projects.

Enter and Encounter – 24.3.–22.10.2017
Designmuseum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki


Historically, wood cellulose has had a remarkable role in Finnish industry, though mainly for high volume and low value products. The annual growth of wood biomass in Finland is 104 million m3 and about one fifth of this is not brought into use. This equates to about four million additional tonnes of cellulose per year.  If this additional tonnage could be refined into value-added cellulose products and if those products had an estimated price similar to that of cotton, then the value of that additional business for Finland could be worth five billion euros per year. However, we still need to closely monitor that we are using our precious forests in a smart and responsible way.

The ongoing collaboration between designers, architects, material scientists, engineers and business specialists aims to generate a new high-value industry. Through the combination of traditional large-scale and new start-up businesses, the Finnish cellulose ecosystem will be a strong player in the global market of the future.

Contact person:

Pirjo Kääriäinen
+358 50 3810 217
pirjo.kaariainen@aalto.fi
Cellulose from Finland

The exhibition is coordinated by Aalto University’s CHEMARTS collaboration and participating projects are DWoC, NoMa, Hiilinielu Designstudio and Trash2Cash. The main partners are Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Technical University of Tampere, Universities of Applied Sciences in Lahti and Tampere, University of Vaasa and Design Forum Finland, in collaboration with various companies, funded by Tekes and EU.

 


          Progress Software Is Buying App Development Specialist Kinvey for $49 Million   
The combined company aims to make apps that run anywhere.
          They Think We Can Do Better   
Transhumanism and my work in the Wall Street Journal today (with about 2.4 million copies in print too—largest US paper by circulation I think). It’s hard to tell, but this might be the first time the WSJ has covered the #transhumanism movement at all. Sorry, there is a pay wall to read full article on […]
          The first commercial astronaut training center will be built in the UK   
The government’s mission to put the UK at the forefront of commercial spaceflight has been given a big boost after plans were announced to build the world’s first private space research centre in Bedfordshire. The £120 million Blue Abyss facility will be constructed at RAF Henlow, providing domestic and international companies with access to the […]
          If EMdrive is real and scales with Q factor then we get almost Star Trek level Technology   
Adam Crowl considers spaceships if EM-Drive is verified as a real thing. If the NASA emdrive performance of 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt. 8.3 TeraWatts of power would be needed to provide 10 million newtons of thrust to accelerate a 1000 ton space-craft at 1 gee of acceleration. We have no power source that could generate […]
          Interlude: The Spirits Don't Speak Proper English   



"The lord whose oracle is at Delphi neither speaks nor conceals, 
but gives signs."- Heraclitus, on Apollo  

From the very beginning I saw this story as one somehow centered on some kind of possession or channeling. And now that seems to be the only explanation for this endless parade of omen and ancient symbolism of the love goddess and her shepherd-boy consort.

And it only gets stranger and more impossible. 

In truth, I suspected Elizabeth Fraser was channeling something entirely different as soon as I heard "Sugar Hiccup" back in 1983. I grew up around professional musicians- my mother was a trained soprano- and I heard a hell of a lot of music. But somehow I knew something seemed to have come here from somewhere else.

It wasn't just me- you hear the phrase "otherworldly" used quite a lot to describe her singing. 

Even then it felt like something was revealing itself, something very big and strange, through this shy, vulnerable, troubled girl (she was only 19 when she sang "Hiccup") with the mile-wide howl and her art-damaged bandmates.

I just had no idea how big and strange it truly was.

UNDER APHRODITE'S SPELL


Nope, doesn't look possessed at all. No, sir.

Now, Elizabeth Fraser loved Jeff Buckley. I mean she really loved him. 

I mean she really, really, really loved him. 

This isn't conjecture on my part. She talked about it in interviews, saying her love for him was an "addiction" and that she was "maniacal." She sang that she was a "junkie" for him. Twice

Five years after his death she appeared in the "widow role" on a BBC documentary on Buckley and it was painfully clear that that love still burned inside her.

This is the kind of love that poets used to write epics about. The kind of love that Innana had for Dumuzi, that Selene had for Endymion, that Isis had for Osiris. The kind of love city-states used to go to war over.

She sang about this love. A lot. She wrote an entire EP about it, made a heart-wrenching (and startlingly-prophetic) longform music video about it, dedicated an entire album to it, and eventually wrote the best-known song of her career about it, a song which tens of millions of people have heard. 

And again, she recorded that song the day Buckley died.



Fraser ("strawberry") "Sacred to Aphrodite" 
and Buckley "Shepherd Boy"

So bear all this in mind as we take a deeper look into the prophetic foreshadowing in the Cocteau Twins' music and this increasingly impossible avalanche of omen and symbol, all leading to what very much looks like a real-time god-LARP of the one of the oldest stories known to history- one that's been retold many different times in many different places-  the love of the Love Goddess for a doomed shepherd-boy.

It's a story upon which the world's first great empire rose and fell.


ENTER APOLLO, THE POSSESSOR


Mapquest calls it "Wolf River Lagoon"

Directly overlooking the spot on the Wolf River Lagoon/Harbor where Jeff Buckley drowned is the Tennessee Welcome Center, which houses a statue of Elvis Presley that is curiously posed in a strange recreation of the same contrapposto stance that Apollo was customarily depicted striking in the Classical world, with a guitar in place of a lyre (same difference, really).

Elvis died in Memphis 20 years before Buckley did so (1977). He is also closely connected to the Carnival Memphis. 


"Kiss Out"- to deprive someone of their share

And of course Apollo is both the god of song and music and the god of prophecy.

 He was also known as Apollo Lyceus, or "Apollo the Wolf God." One of the grand old theaters in Memphis was named in honor of Apollo Lyceus, The Lyceum.

















Apollo's powers of prophecy came from a very interesting source, one that will play an important role in the story about to unfold here.
The Homeric Hymn to Apollo acknowledges that Apollo's gift of prophecy first came to him from three bee maidens, usually but doubtfully identified with the Thriae, a trinity of pre-Hellenic Aegean bee goddesses. 
Apollo imparted his prophecies to the rest of us through channeling and his oracles were variously known as the Sibyls or the Pythia ("Pythoness"). The latter of whom, before some asshole had to get all rapey, were originally teenaged girls (like Fraser was when she first recorded Garlands):
The Pythia (or Oracle of Delphi) was the priestess who held court at Pytho, the sanctuary of the Delphinians, a sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Pythia were highly-regarded, for it was believed that she channeled prophecies from Apollo himself, while steeped in a dreamlike trance.  

A Roman historian described how this channeling came about: 
At last Apollo mastered the breast of the Delphian priestess ; as fully as ever in the past, he forced his way into her body, driving out her former thoughts, and bidding her human nature to come forth and leave her heart at his disposal.  
(F)irst the wild frenzy overflowed through her foaming lips ; she groaned and uttered loud inarticulate cries with panting breath ; next, a dismal wailing filled the vast cave ; and at last, when she was mastered, came the sound of articulate speech... ” - Lukan- The Civil Wars
"Elizabeth, we'd like to speak with Apollo now..."

Now, again- see if all of that there- "loud, inarticulate cries with panting breath" and all the rest of it- doesn't sound a bit like this. 

Or this.

Or this.


VIVA HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS


Perhaps more than anyone else, Elvis is nearly synonymous with Las Vegas. He first played there in 1956 (a month before appearing at the Carnival Memphis) and later began a long residency in the Dog Days of 1969 at the Las Vegas International which would eventually see him give over 700 performances there. 

There was even an Elvis Presley Museum in Vegas. There are still Elvis Wedding Chapels there.



And just as there is one overlooking the exact spot where Jeff Buckley ascended to Heaven, there is also an Elvis statue in Las Vegas.



So if in fact Fraser was first introduced to Buckley backstage in 1991 (and not 1994, when they began seeing each other), it would mean they met during the Heaven or Las Vegas tour.

It would mean Buckley saw the tour where "Wolf in the Breast," "Road, River and Rail" and "Mizake the Mizan" were first played onstage. "Mizake's" lyrics again.

Saw a mermaid in the
Lagoon Klisova
Become


So until the hour
My coeur cheri paiyaa
Honey
Grey water
Hoist and throw me down in the water
Drowning
Hoist and throw me down the waterfall

It would mean that Elizabeth serenaded young Jeffrey with a hit parade of personalized death omens, including 'Blue Bell Knoll', 'Lorelei', 'Road, River and Rail' and 'A Kissed-Out Red Floatboat'.


So just as this love story was beginning we saw a shockingly-specific new set of omens of how it would in fact end. 

I mean, have you read any of the Pythias' prophecies? Bloody amateurs in comparison.

"THE BREATH OF GOD IN MY MOUTH"

Elizabeth Fraser, Heaven or Las Vegas video
It was quite noticeable that he was borne along by a divine inspiration when he spoke, when from this so wise a mouth flowed in waves the words, which flew like flakes of snow. Then it seemed that his eyes filled with a shining splendor, and all over his face spread rays of a divine illumination. - Marsinus on Proclus, author of On the Signs of Divine Possession
And then there is the question of glossolalia, for which Fraser was world-famous:
Fraser's distinctive singing has earned her much critical praise; she was once described as "the voice of God." Her lyrics range from straightforward English to semi-comprehensible sentences (glossolalia) and abstract mouth music. For some recordings, Fraser has said that she used foreign words without knowing what they meant – the words acquired meaning for her only as she sang them.
So by assembling lyrics out of words in foreign languages she didn't understand, Fraser was literally "speaking in tongues." And it's in this and her use of glossolalia that Fraser was once again acting in the exact same manner as the ancient oracles:
Neoplatonist philosopher Iamblichus linked glossolalia to prophecy, writing that prophecy was divine spirit possession that "emits words which are not understood by those that utter them; for they pronounce them, as it is said, with an insane mouth and are wholly subservient, and entirely yield themselves to the energy of the predominating God."
And again, Fraser herself told the New Musical Express in 1984 that she felt as if she were channeling some other entity and that her songs seemed to write themselves. Mind you, this is not a woman who was given to hyperbole or self-aggrandizement.

LULLABIES REVISITED

The Sibyl with raving mouth utters solemn, unadorned, unlovely words, but she reaches out over a thousand years with her voice by force of the god within her. - Heraclitus
The breath of God in my mouth
A love you can taste, God, get some paste
He and I, breath to breath -"Seekers who are Lovers"

This is really a work-in-progress here so forgive me as I go over a lot of the material. 

But please be aware we're getting grade-A hits here. This isn't some kind of "well, if A=B, then 5=ham sandwich" kind of leaping and stretching. There's no tortured Gematria wrangling or King Kill horseshoe tossing. 

It's all so right on the nose- past the point of overkill- that it's actually terrifying to me.  

UPDATE: Like this- the flower on the cover of Lullabies is the Calla Lily, a poisonous flower also called "The Green Goddess." (H/T Persephone J)
Calla lilies have become a common favorite in wedding ceremonies, but in contrast, lilies are also associated with death. They were often used on the graves of youths who suffered an untimely death.
When Venus, goddess of love, beauty, and desire, saw the lilies she was jealous of their beauty. She cursed their beauty by placing a large yellow pistil in the middle of the flowers. Because of this story, some associate the calla lily with Venus and thus with lust and sexuality. 
Lullabies is the EP the Cocteau Twins put out in 1982 after Garlands (again, Jeff Buckley died on Garlands Day, when sacrifices used to made to ocean gods). We looked at it before but we really need to look at it again.  

So let's decode these songs in reverse order:


And guess what? That's exactly what Apollo imparted onto his oracles. Exactly like someone or something seems to imparted onto the young Elizabeth Fraser.

And as some have noted- including Federico Garcia Lorca- lullabies have often been associated with death.

Now we get to the truly frightening part of the program.


  "The Pythia resembles a shamaness at least to the extent that she communicates with her [deity] while in a state of trance, and conveys as much to those present by uttering unintelligible words."  Martin Litchfield West, The Orphic Poems

And that's the incredibly-witchy 'Alas Dies Laughing'. What I wrote previously:

After two attempts at conventional choruses, the song breaks down into a bridge that has (a pre-transformation) Fraser moaning like the Pythia as the fumes rise. After the breakdown, she dispenses with the niceties and lapses into a repetitive chant about exactly how Alas died laughing:

Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one

(Note: I've listened to this song many times now and am convinced she's singing "Wake takes a lonely one" only she's Liz'ing the hell out of the syllables. It makes more sense with the rest of the lyrics- bone, stone, on)

I really should have taken a closer look at the verses though, because they are absolutely mind-boggling. I had to listen to this song about a hundred times to get the lyrics right but it was worth it. 

And note that like the Pythia, Fraser sounds like she's a trancelike state for the entire EP, even though she belted these songs out live like a trouper. It's actually unnerving. Especially on these lyrics:


Flaxen, the dress is bone
Crush a crushing stone



Click here if you're at all lost.

The first thing I'd like to do here is reframe this narrative. The prism we should see this through is that of the story of the theme song to what was at one time the most watched television show in the world, namely House MD.


And subsequently we're also looking at the backstory of a music video that's gotten over 48 million views on YouTube. Those are Beyonce numbers. 


So rather than try to figure out why this incredibly strange and impossible chain of events has focused on a couple singers most people have never heard of, let's approach it all under that context. 


This is a story tens of millions of people have been exposed to without realizing what it is they're hearing.

I'd also like to let it be known that this isn't a story that ended twenty years ago. As we've seen Chris Cornell- whose death continues to make headlines- somehow found himself wound up in all this, both through his close relationship with Jeff Buckley but also through his unlikely connection to the mythos we're unfolding here.


And into the midst of it all comes the announcement that Elizabeth Fraser is appearing at Royal Albert Hall in July:

John Grant will chat to Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser about her iconic indie group’s 1988 album, Blue Bell Knoll, with all proceeds from the show going to gay rights charity Stonewall. 
The event on Sunday 23 July is a rare chance to see Fraser talk about her distinctive, indelible music, which influenced an entire generation of performers, including Grant, with his exquisite electro-balladeering.

I really don't know where to start. I couldn't possibly make up an event more symbolically loaded. Is someone actually fucking with me here?

Where to begin? Let's try this, from the must-read VISUP site.
(Robert Anton) Wilson is primarily responsible for bringing the 23 enigma to public attention. Wilson in turn partly became obsessed with the number 23 after supposedly receiving telepathic messages from an alien race based upon Sirius after performing a Crowley-inspired ritual on July 22, 1973. The next morning he found a peculiar message in his 'magickal diary' stating "Sirius is very important." This led Wilson to doing some research. 
"The Skeptic went to town and browsed in the public library. Imagine my state of mind when I discovered that this very day, July 23, when I had received the message 'Sirius is very important,' is the day when, according to Egyptian tradition, the occult link (through hyperspace?) is most powerful between Earth and Sirius. 
"Celebrations of the Dog Star, Sirius, beginning on July 23, are the origin of the expression 'dog days,' meaning the days from July 23 to September 8, when the last rituals to Sirius were performed."- The Cosmic Trigger Volume I, pg. 87 
What Wilson is referring to is the heliacal rising of Sirius, often associated with July 23:
The heliacal rising: the first visible, though brief, appearance of a star on the eastern horizon before sunrise. On the previous morning, sunlight made the star invisible.  
Sirius is also identified with Isis, who plays a major role in our story here:
As the star Sopdet (Sirius (in Greek Sothis)), she heralds the life-giving inundation. 
July 23rd has also been connected with the Ancient Egyptian New Year:
Ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River, and it appears their New Year corresponded with its annual flood. According the Roman writer Censorinus, the Egyptian New Year was predicted when Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky—first became visible after a 70-day absence. 
July 23rd is also identified with Our Sweetheart, the Drunk:
This massive party was tied to the myth of Sekhmet, a war goddess who had planned to kill all of humanity until the sun god Ra tricked her into drinking herself unconscious.  
Which turned her into the love goddess Hathor. And then there's this little detail here: 
In ancient Egypt, the helical rising of Sirius coincided with the annual rising of the Nile at Memphis.
Wait: did they say Memphis? I thought so.

Elizabeth Fraser last appeared at Royal Albert Hall with the Cocteau Twins, touring the Milk and Kisses album, which included a number of songs written about Jeff Buckley.




Blue Bell Knoll is a luscious album, the musical equivalent of having warm honey dripped on your head while you're taking a milk bath on really good drugs, but its title has a darker meaning:
In folklore, the flowers assist mortals in seeing fairies or seeing into their reality, but were regarded by some as unlucky because they could also reveal or even attract malign spirits, including the Devil himself... They are also called Dead Men's or Dead Man's Bells, because hearing the bells ringing is an omen of death.  
Remembering the line from Song to the Siren, "Did I dream you dreamed about me? Were you hare when I was fox?", note that bluebells are also known as harebells:
Campanula rotundifolia is associated with the fairies and with witches...The name Harebells may also allude to a folk belief that witches used juices squeezed from this flower to transform themselves into hares. 
And hey- milk again.
These juices lent the flower another Scottish folk name, "Milk-ort" (milk herb).
More importantly, the bluebell also connects to the central conceit of our story- the seemingly inexplicable symbolic overkill connected to the ancient myth of the goddess (variously associated with sex, war, music and the Moon) and her shepherd-boy consort.

Shepherd-boy being the literal translation of Buckley.


As it happens milk plays a very major role in that ur-myth as well. From the first known telling of the story, The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi:

  Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom / My shepherd, I will drink your fresh milk / Wild bull Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick/ I will drink your fresh milk.
Elizabeth Fraser's dedication on Milk and Kisses plows the same metaphorical furrow.

 "Milk and kisses for the first man / my old man / love and a thousandfold rose for Buckley /my Rilkean-Hearted friend."
(We're going to return to The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi again, in a big, bad way).

The bluebell has also been named for Endymion, the young shepherd consort of the goddess Selene, who fell in love with and put under a spell of eternal sleep so that she alone might enjoy his beauty. Selene was also known as Phoebe and one of the key tracks on Blue Bell Knoll is "For Phoebe, Still a Baby."



So I suppose it's only appropriate that this is being held at Royal Albert Hall, named in honor of Prince Albert, formally known as Albert, Prince Consort. 

And here were have another goddess-consort sad story. 

Albert was husband of Queen Victoria, herself named after the Roman goddess of victory. And for those of you who don't know the rest:
Albert died at the relatively young age of 42, plunging the Queen into a period of deep mourning in which she rarely appeared before her subjects.
 CARNIVAL OF LIFE AND DEATH

We saw that that Jeff Buckley drowned on the evening of the Carnival Memphis. As it happens it seems that he and Fraser began their courtship on the eve of the original Carnival...


This would be the night of March 4th, when both Buckley and the Cocteau Twins were playing in Atlanta. Significantly, the Twins performed "Road, River, and Rail" that night.

Simon Raymonde of The Cocteau Twins remembers Jeff being introduced to them as Tim Buckley's son while they were touring America in 1991.

Road, River and Rail is 3:17
3/17 is the day of Osiris' drowning

OK, I thought I heard that Buckley met them before 1994 but I couldn't find any corroboration online for that so I thought I had imagined it. If that is indeed true it makes the prophecies on 1990's Heaven or Las Vegas even creepier because that was the album they were touring then (and the only significant omen after that is the insanely-disturbing post-breakup Rilkean Dreams). 

Continuing:
Having recorded an ineffably beautiful version of Tim's ‘Song For The Siren’ (as This Mortal Coil) they were pleased to meet the young man, who was in turn awestruck by their music, especially the spectral voice of Elizabeth Fraser. Three years later it was their turn to see him perform. Simon and Liz went together to a small bar in Atlanta. "It was just Jeff and his little Fender guitar and amp. He sang for two hours and he knocked me sideways. Liz and I spent some time with him over the next few days."
It's likely that Fraser connected (or reconnected) with Buckley on what is technically March 5th, since the Twins had their own concert to do the night of the 4th. But what is the significance of March 5th? 


It's sacred to Isis. Very sacred, in fact:
Ididis Navigium, or alternatively Navigium Isidis, means Vessel of Isis. The festival gets its name from the main offering to Isis. In Apuleius’ Metamorphosis he describes the grand procession of worshippers from the temple of Isis to the harbor. 
Harbor. And the connection to Carnival? 
Modern carnival resembles the festival of the Navigium Isidis, and some scholars argue that they share the same origin (via carrus navalis, meaning naval wagon, i.e. float – later becoming car-nival). 
Reminding us again the Carnival Memphis is centered around Ancient Egyptian symbolism:
The twelve Grand Krewes that Carnival Memphis recognizes are the Mystic Society of the Memphi, Osiris, Sphinx, RaMet, Ennead, Phoenix, Aani, Ptolemy, Kemet Jubilee, Ptah, Luxor, Queen Bee...The Grand Krewes of Memphi, Osiris, RaMet and Sphinx are "old-line" Grand Krewes and were all started in the 1930s as the original secret societies of the Memphis Cotton Carnival.
And let's remember this Carnival centers of the appointment of the new Queen Isis and King Osiris:
Our Queen Isis has always been known for her beauty and membership in a prominent family. She wears the Ring of Isis, engraved with her hieroglyphic symbol. 
The identity of King Osiris is revealed at the Banquet of Past Kings. He and all Past Osiris Kings wear the King’s Medallion on a scarlet and white ribbon at all Osiris and Carnival events.
And this: 
Many elements of Carnival were in turn appropriated in the Corpus Christi festival, most prominently in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). 
Jeff Buckley recorded "The Corpus Christi Carol" on his first album.

Then there's this: 

Thus Plutarch tells us that Osiris was murdered on the seventeenth of the month Athyr, and that the Egyptians accordingly observed mournful rites for four days from the seventeenth of Athyr. Now in the Alexandrian calendar, which Plutarch used, these four days corresponded to the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of November, and this date answers exactly to the other indications given by Plutarch, who says that at the time of the festival the Nile was sinking, the north winds dying away, the nights lengthening, and the leaves falling from the trees.
Which would mean, according to this reckoning, that the "Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys" took place either on or right before November 17. Why is this significant?
Jeffrey Scott Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scott Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. 

Next we'll take a closer look at the prophecies involved and why they might have gotten some unwanted attention.


TO BE CONTINUED


UPDATE: Darren reminds of that famous Beatles song that namedrops Albert Hall and also  tells us of another doomed young prince, Tara Browne, dead exactly a month after Jeff Buckley was born. More 17s:

On 17 December 1966, Browne was driving with his girlfriend, model Suki Potier, in his Lotus Elan through South Kensington at high speed (some reports suggesting in excess of 106 mph/170 km/h).[2] He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. Browne failed to see a traffic light and proceeded through the junction of Redcliffe Square and Redcliffe Gardens, colliding with a parked lorry. He died of his injuries the following day. Potier claimed that Browne swerved the car to absorb the impact of the crash to save her life.


"A Day in the Life"
On 17 January 1967 John Lennon, a friend of Browne's, was composing music at his piano whilst idly reading London's Daily Mail and happened upon the news of the coroner's verdict into Browne's death. He worked the story into the song "A Day in the Life", which was later released on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

John Lennon's "Good Morning Good Morning" was the first song you heard on the last episode of The Monkees. "Song of the Siren" was its swansong.

          Deeper Than You Could Ever Know, or The Eternal Psychodrama   



The rabbit keeps digging. And digging. How far are you ready to go down?

I first began to follow this story when I heard about the drowning death of Jeff Buckley. I'm not sure why but the first thought that came into my head was that it had something to do with Elizabeth Fraser. 

I had no idea that all of this had been prophesied for years and years before, in ways that actually give me chills.

I had no idea that this was all closely following a very ancient script, for reasons I can't begin to wrap my head around. The symbolism is almost shockingly unambiguous, as we'll soon see.

I had no idea that a tragedy involving Chris Cornell, Jeff Buckley's close friend and posthumous spokesman, would take place on the banks of another river almost exactly 20 years later, a tragedy that seemed to follow a remarkably similar mythic script. And a tragedy that would seize the attention of millions all around the world.


And I most certainly had no idea twenty years ago that at the very same time police divers were scouring the muddy waters of the Wolf River Lagoon for Jeff Buckley's corpse a well-publicized reenactment of a mystery religion based on the drowning death of a revered ancient Egyptian god was being undertaken by an elite "secret society" just a few blocks away.

Yeah. That happened.

I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around that one too.

WHY AND WHAT FOR?

A reader asked a highly pertinent and perceptive question in the comments section of the previous post. It cuts to the heart of this extraordinarily unlikely mystery we're trying to crack here.
The thing that I keep asking is "why?" Why would spirits reenact this little passion play at all? Why with this small handful of singers and songwriters? It seems like a lot of effort, a lot of autistic attention to trivial details few would even notice - so where's the actual payoff for the Good Folk's effort? The only thing I can think up is that all the world's a play to them, but the dramatis personnae onstage never see more than a few glimpses of their lines before it's time for them to be spoken.
Why indeed? We're not talking about show biz superstars here, we're not talking about Benifer or Brangelina,  we're talking about two cult performers who never broke into the mainstream. 

We're talking about two very vulnerable souls whose supernatural gifts were balanced out by their struggles with their troubled upbringings and mental illness. But at the same time we're talking about two performers who could count the highest echelon of the music biz elite in their circle of apostles.

And we're talking about a love story whose tragic end was prophesied in a song that has garnered a staggering 48 million views on YouTube. Those people may not realize it but they've soaked all this in.

Which only makes sense because what we're actually seeing is a ritualistic reenactment of one of history's oldest love stories.


It's becoming increasingly well-known on the Internet that this song is about Jeff Buckley, though I think most people tend to underestimate how deep Fraser's obsession with the man really was. I don't think she ever got over it.

Buckley idolized Fraser, studied her, imitated her (the first time I heard Jeff Buckley- knowing nothing about him- I said to myself, "this guy sure sounds like he listens to a lot of Cocteau Twins records"). But when they met Fraser was in the middle of a serious- and painfully public- mental health crisis that would find her hospitalized twice within a year. 

Buckley brought color and excitement back into her life but he had far too many groupies chasing him to stay with an older woman who brought a lot of emotional baggage in tow. Plus, his star was rising and her band was in the process of winding down their long run.

The Wikipedia entry recites the almost-unimaginably eerie fact that Fraser was recording this song while the man about whom she was singing was dying on the other side of the world, but omits the fact that they were lovers:
Fraser wrote the song's lyrics. While recording the song on 29 May 1997, she found out that her once-close friend, Jeff Buckley, had drowned. "That was so weird ... I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him – that's how it feels to me anyway." 
And what most people tend to overlook is that not only is she singing about Buckley- yet again- she is also unconsciously prophesying his death. Yet again:

Night, night of matter (?)
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath
Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

I have a problem with this interpretation of the lyrics. As far as I can tell what Fraser is actually singing is "Night, night of murder" not "matter." Which makes a lot more sense when followed by "black flowers blossom." 

Why?

Because black flowers have traditionally been associated with death and mourning:
The color black has always been synonymous with death and mourning. It is thus the color of sadness and farewell. So, many people consider black roses to symbolize bereavement, loss and mortality. They are often used at funerals. 
And then there's this couplet, which connects us to a constellation of ancient goddesses whose dramas all center on lost loves ( and one of whose incarnations is known as "the first mermaid").


Water is my eye
Most faithful mirror

OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN


Some of Fraser's most extraordinary vocal performances come when she is channeling the dramas of ancient mythologies. This of course includes the Siren but also Lorelei, Echo, Pandora (not just once but twice), Persephone and Coatlicue.

She was, after all, "the Voice of God."

But there's one particular story that she seemed to embody and that's the story of the goddess who fell in love with the young shepherd boy. It seemed to start in an oblique and incidental way:
The Cocteaux released Moon and the Melodies in late 1986, which featured 'Sea, Swallow Me' and 'She Will Destroy You', among others. Then they released Blue Bell Knoll, which again is a reference to an old folk belief about a death omen. The bluebell is also known as Endymion non-scriptus. 
Endymion is yet another doomed mortal whom a goddess fell in love with: 
 Wandering farther afield from the British Isles, the bluebell is associated with the shepherd boy Endymion.  The moon goddess, variously called Seline or Diana, fell in love with him and cast an eternal sleep on him so that she could enjoy his beauty alone, forever.
One of the key cuts on Blue Bell Knoll is 'For Phoebe Still a Baby'. Phoebe is another name for Selene.  
This story goes back to the very cradle of civilization:
In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.
Inanna and Dumuzi also seem to be the stars of one of the earliest known tellings of the Descent into the Underworld, where Inanna traveled to retrieve the soul of her lost shepherd-boy consort. This story would be told over and over again.

This story was retold in Phrygia as the myth of Cybele and Attis (note see Tracy Twyman's dissertation of this myth at her blog):
Cybele loved the beautiful shepherd, and made him her own priest on condition that he should preserve his chastity inviolate. Atys broke the covenant with a nymph, the daughter of the river-god Sangarius, and was thrown by the goddess into a state of madness, in which he unmanned himself. 
This story was told in the pages of Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough, a book Elizabeth Fraser certainly seemed to have read. A variant on the story has the hermaphroditic Agdistis in place of Cybele. Strangely enough this version also correlates to the Fraser-Buckley drama, given the Cocteau Twins' singer's own innate androgyny. As the singer explained in 1995:
"I was very worried about being unattractive because I think I look quite masculine. Sometimes I feel more masculine than feminine and I don't like it. I mean, you've got a person who is in recovery from incest surrounded by men. I've never had a highly developed sense of being female."
Fraser would refer obliquely to Cybele in one of her many songs focused around moths and butterflies, 'Great Spangled Fritilary', a butterfly whose scientific name is S Cybele.

The Greeks retold the love-goddess and shepherd-boy story as that of Aphrodite and the shepherd-boy Adonis:
(Both) Aphrodite and Persephone, goddess of fertility and death, love Adonis, a beautiful young man. Adonis is killed by a wild boar while he is on the hunt: Aphrodite begs Zeus to restore him to life, but Persephone also demands that he be brought back to life for her sake. Zeus settles the dispute by resurrecting Adonis, but commands him to live six months in the upper world with Aphrodite and six months in the lower world with Persephone.

And sure enough, just before she would meet Jeff Buckley, Elizabeth Fraser would be depicted rising from a scallop shell like Aphrodite in the music video for 'Bluebeard'. 

The Syrian version of this archetype, widely believed to be the original incarnation of Aphrodite herself, who takes us right back to the world of sirens and mermaids. The very first mermaid, or so the story goes:
Atargatis was in love with a human shepherd but accidentally killed him.  Out of guilt, the goddess flung herself into the ocean hoping to become a fish.  But her beauty was so great, that she never could fully become a fish.  Instead she became half goddess, half fish, with a tail below the waist and human body above the waist.   

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER...

...let's play the Name Game. You see this little mythology primer here isn't just for the giggles and grins, it cuts right to the core of the very strange daisy-chain of synchronicity we are trying to untangle.

Because Jeff Buckley's very surname means "shepherd boy."
Ó Buachalla, taken from the Irish word 'buachaill' originally meaning 'herdsman' (in modern Irish it has come to mean 'boy'), was anglcised early as Ó Boughelly, Boughla, Buhilly and later as Buckley. 
So you see I'm not exaggerating when I claim that what we're seeing here is a very ancient psychodrama that chose to play itself out in real time. I mean it literally. Do you understand me now?

And what about Liz Fraser? Well, given the Egyptian origin of the Biblical name (the first Elizabeth was connected to Moses and Aaron, both of which are native Egyptian names) I will go to my grave believing that in fact it comes from Eloah-Esi-Beth, or "Temple of the Goddess Isis." We'll get to Isis shortly.

But first the Fraser name, which ties into Knights Templar history, of all things:
The Frasers are believed to have come from Anjou in France. The name Fraser may be derived from Fredarius, Fresel or Freseau. Another suggestion is that the Frasers were a tribe in Roman Gaul, whose badge was a strawberry plant (fraisier in French). 
Might come from "fraisier." Gee, you think? 

But what's the significance of strawberries in this tale here? Well, it ties right back into the lineage of the same goddesses we're looking at. In this case the Syro-Roman variant:
The strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shapes and red color.
In a connection that will take on greater significance when we get to the next chapter of this drama, it so happens that Venus had a very Roswell kind of origin story:
In another story, told by Hyginus, an egg fell from the sky into the Euphrates, was rolled onto land by fish, doves settled on it and hatched it, and Venus, known as the Syrian goddess, came forth
Yeah, we're going there. But don't worry- it's baked right into the cake.


Yeah, those eyes. I know.

But of course the big kahuna of love-goddess and doomed shepherd myths is that of Isis and Osiris. In the best-known telling of the tale, Osiris' first death comes when he is drowned in the Nile inside his sarcophagus:
In some cases the texts suggest that Set takes the form of a wild animal, such as a crocodile or bull, to slay Osiris; in others they imply that Osiris's corpse is thrown in the water or that he is drowned. This latter tradition is the origin of the Egyptian belief that people who had drowned in the Nile were sacred.
And just to establish his shepherd cred:
 He also carries the crook and flail. The crook is thought to represent Osiris as a shepherd god. The symbolism of the flail is more uncertain with shepherds whip, fly-whisk, or association with the god Andjety of the ninth nome of Lower Egypt proposed.[12]
And as the fathomless enigmas of fate would have it, one of the foundation texts for the Isis-Osiris myth takes us back to- you guessed it- Memphis:
Another important source is the Memphite Theology, a religious narrative that includes an account of Osiris's death as well as the resolution of the dispute between Horus and Set. This narrative associates the kingship that Osiris and Horus represent with Ptah, the creator deity of Memphis. 
Quoting directly from the Memphite Theology, we have this:
Isis and Nepthys without delay, for Osiris had drowned in his water. Isis [and Nephthys] looked out, [beheld him and attended to him].  
OK, we have a river, a drowning and a Memphis. Can I shoehorn a wolf into this little catty-corner?

Oh, yes I can:
In the beginning, Osiris was associated mostly with agriculture. This cult spread rapidly into Upper Egypt, and soon Osiris became identified with the funeral god, Abydos, Khenti-Amentiu, who was symbolized by the wolf.  
But then we get thrown right down the crazy-stairs...

Oh, the eyes. Interesting.

While police divers were still dragging the Wolf River Harbor for Jeff Buckley's body, just a few blocks east the Grand Krewe of Osiris was enjoying the Carnival Memphis, kicking off at the Crosstown Concourse:
The Carnival Memphis Association organizes, plans, budgets, and promotes the King, Queen, and Royal Court, as well as many of the events staged during Carnival week. However, the Grand Krewes (once known as secret societies) also stage their own festivities throughout the year, elect their own royalty, manage their own budget, and have their own membership requirements.  
Most of these organizations bear Egyptian names in accordance to tradition originally set out by the Mystic Memphi, and in conjunction with Memphis being the sister city of ancient Memphis, Egypt. The twelve Grand Krewes that Carnival Memphis recognizes are the Mystic Society of the Memphi, Osiris, Sphinx, RaMet, Ennead, Phoenix, Aani, Ptolemy, Kemet Jubilee, Ptah, Luxor, Queen Bees.  
The Carnival kicks off the first weekend following Memorial Day. 

But what exactly is the Grand Krewe of Osiris? Well, besides the hosts of osirismemphis.com, that is?
Osiris was founded in 1934 as a Mystic Secret Society. Osiris membership has always consisted of top professional and business leaders. 
The Great Eye, the hieroglyphic symbol of Osiris for thousands of years, continues looking intently forward to the future of great city of Memphis, on the American Nile.
The Great Eye? You mean the one glowing in the middle of that giant pyramid you got there? The one on the shore of the Wolf River Lagoon? OK. Thanks.

Good, clean Masonic fun

And what exactly do their ceremonies entail?
The ceremonies were mysterious and symbolic, but the most common feature was the procession of Queen Isis in her carriage, far beyond the precincts of her temple on occasions to other towns. 
These occasions were passed amid great rejoicing, music, dancing, and feasting which formed important parts of the festival rites. 
The feast was held within lofty walls, with an entrance between immense pylons inscribed with hieroglyphs. 
Those called to join celebrated the regeneration of the land, the renewal of friendships, and the hopes for a productive and joyful year!

Is it just me or does this sound like something straight out of Summerisle? And how exactly do these ceremonies climax?
Our Queen Isis has always been known for her beauty and membership in a prominent family. She wears the Ring of Isis, engraved with her hieroglyphic symbol. 
The identity of King Osiris is revealed at the Banquet of Past Kings. He and all Past Osiris Kings wear the King’s Medallion on a scarlet and white ribbon at all Osiris and Carnival events.
OK, now I'm sure this is all fun and harmless and zany (totally Masonic) fun for the Memphite upper crust. But that doesn't matter in the context of ritual, especially the kind of ritual that goes beyond ritual. 

Because all this was going on while Jeff Buckley's body was floating a few blocks away in the Wolf River in the same exact way Osiris' body floated in the Nile.


You know Osiris-- the star-sailor. 



I said the Starsailor.

But again, the point is that happened. That actually happened. A bunch of drunk lawyers, doctors and their wives were playacting the mysteries of Isis and Osiris while an aspiring rock superstar was actually playing the part of Osiris in a ritual who I can't begin to imagine who -or more accurately, what -- was staging.

I mean, I never heard of this Carnival until a few hours ago. Have you?


What are the odds Elizabeth Fraser knew about any of this while she was writing songs that prophesy how a man she wouldn't meet for another 12 years would die? 

Somewhere between slim, zip and fuckall I'd wager.

But stay tuned because this story is about to take a very dark and sinister turn, taking us into the world of elite UFO cultists, the Tower of Babel, demons of the air, World War Three, and a prophecy of the most momentous event of our times.

I wish I were kidding.



TO BE CONTINUED















          Twin Peaks and the Metaphysics of Evil   


Well, after 27 years of waiting and a good 18 months of hype it's finally here. Showtime aired the two-hour Twin Peaks reboot premiere and posted the first four episodes (the premiere was broken in two) online. I binged the first three as soon as they went up and the last episode the following morning.

My first impression? Ye gods, it's weird.

I mean, even on the David Lynch sliding scale, it's weird. How weird? Well, it makes the weird bits of Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire play like Days of Our Lives. Some door in Lynch's unconscious seems to have gone well off its hinges. 

It's also maddeningly inconsistent, veering from long, flabby scenes where nothing seems to happen to random bursts of truly disturbing horror and violence. There are a number of high profile cameos that range from the numinous (the more-radiant-than-ever Madeline Zima) to the far less-so (Michael Sera comes across as the pretentious kid in your ninth grade drama club) and an extremely confusing subplot with a Dale Cooper-alike in Las Vegas, not to mention the actual Dale Cooper and his demonic doppelganger.

But you know me, this shit's right up alley. I was at turns bored, riveted, horrified and embarrassed but I'm counting the hours to the next episode (which will go live on June 4th).

But the rest of the country? Maybe not so much.

Since we live in a culture that measures the quality of art in dollars and demos the big story on Twin Peaks was the tepid ratings it got. From Vulture:
The owls are not what they seem, and neither was viewer interest in a Twin Peaks revival — at least if Nielsen ratings are your metric for success. Per the ratings giant, Sunday’s quarter-century-in-the-making Twin Peaks: The Return attracted just 506,000 same-day viewers to Showtime via the network’s main linear channel.
But same-day is an archaic metric, isnt it? I'm sure the overwhelming majority of the audience will be consuming Twin Peaks online. We cut the cord a while back and haven't missed it. No one was actually watching the cable feed anyways. Vulture again:
First, it’s worth remembering the 506,000 viewer number reported by Nielsen Tuesday represents only a fraction of the audience that will ultimately consume Peaks across various Showtime linear and digital platforms. When measured over the course of weeks, rather than a single night, it’s quite common for premium cable series to end up with three, four, or even five times as many unique viewers as the same-day Nielsen ratings suggest. The actual audience for Sunday’s Twin Peaks resurrection will likely end up in the 2–3 million viewer range — no doubt less than what Showtime execs hoped for when they green-lit the project, but not quite as minuscule as these early numbers suggest.
But do note that the Twin Peaks premiere was watched by a mind-staggering 34 million Americans. But the blush came off that rose fairly quickly, especially during the second season when the series was relegated to the death slot. Even so, it has to be said that David Lynch has never been box office. Instead his audience is "more selective," as Ian Faith might have it. From Forbes.
Although David Lynch has always been something of a critical darling and a cult hero, the quality of his work hasn't necessarily translated into box office dollars. Yes, Mulholland Drive got rave reviews and was even voted best film of its decade by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (full disclosure: I'm a member and did not vote for it, feeling that as a rejiggered TV pilot it wasn't as deep as people were giving it credit for). But in terms of box office, it only generated $20 million international. His follow-up,Inland Empire, was way down from even that, at merely $4 million international, less than $1 million of which was domestic.
Just how selective it can be is evidenced by this frankly arrogant passage in the Variety review, written by Sonia Saraiya:
The bankable popularity of “Twin Peaks” also makes for an inexplicably stupid scene at the Bang Bang where the indie-electronic band Chromatics performs to a room of middle-aged townies taking tequila shots. Nothing says rural, small-town, faded glory like an impossibly cool synthpop band.  
What time period is Saraiya living in? First of all The Chromatics are an 80s revival band so it goes without saying that they would appeal to the "middle-aged townies" who grew up on synthpop. Second, Twin Peaks is set in the Pacific Northwest, which last time I checked was pretty hep to pop culture. Third, Lynch has been using synthpop in his projects since Blue Velvet. 

The Forbes review seems to get it:
 (The)Chromatics, as well as whatever industrial band it is that plays underneath footage of a car journey at night, fit effortlessly into the Lynchian soundscape.
But overall I think the more savvy viewers will adjust themselves to the jumbled narrative Lynch is putting on the table. As agog as I felt during long stretches of my binge I came out of it with a strong sense of theme. 

Lynch sets up a number of different arcs in different settings. The story ranges from Twin Peaks to Manhattan to South Dakota to Las Vegas. Plus, what looks like outer space but may be some other dimension entirely. And oh yeah, the Black Lodge.

In Twin Peaks a phone call from the Log Lady to Deputy Sheriff Hawk reopens the Laura Palmer case. It's here where we get the strongest hit of that old time Peaks religion and a serving of familiar faces (maybe a little too generous a serving in some instances). We also get some rather stunning photography that would fit proudly on anyone's demo reel. Plus, an owl.



The story in Manhattan centers on a young man whose job it is to sit in a secure room and stare at a glass box on behalf of some shadowy billionaire. He's being courted by a gorgeous young woman (Zima, turning on her native charm like a flamethrower) who is inexplicably curious about his job.

Unlike some other reviewers I won't spoil this arc. But I will say you could cut out those sequences and have yourself a very fine Stevens-Stefano Outer Limits tribute on Lynch's part. I'm thinking "The Galaxy Being", "OBIT" and "Don't Open 'Til Doomsday" were spinning in very heavy rotation somewhere in Lynch's head, unconsciously or otherwise.

The South Dakota storyline updates us on the Dale Cooper doppelganger introduced in the final moments of the original series. There's another murder mystery on the menu and a very Twin Peaks undercurrent of small town sexual intrigue when a high school principal is accused of murdering his mistress. 

The Cooperganger comes across like Frank Booth on Xanax but no less lethal. To show us just how lethal he's featured in a murder scene that is frankly pretty hard to watch.

We encounter the original Cooper, still trapped in the Black Lodge. Which seems only to have gotten more insane in the intervening 27 years. Michael Anderson has been replaced by the One-Armed Man so you don't really miss a beat (Anderson disqualified himself after hurling some pretty wild insinuations against Lynch on his Facebook).



And plus there's a talking brain-tree thing which refers to itself as "the evolution of the arm" (Michael Anderson's character referred to himself as the Arm). Which is probably the least bizarre thing in the Cooper arc.

I mean, strap yourself in because the Cooper-Black Lodge arc goes absolutely bugshit, even more so than anything Lynch has ever filmed. If you thought the lodge stuff was crackers, you literally have seen nothing yet.

Although all these arcs might seem unrelated-- and most probably completely bewildering to anyone not acclimated to Lynch's surrealist vision-- I am sensing a very strong thruline here.

I may be projecting all over it but it feels to me that Lynch is presenting a new metaphysics for evil. 

There's been a debate as old as humanity about the origin of evil, whether it's an innate reality or an invader from without. With the Bob arc from the first series and now with the juxtaposition of the Black Lodge and the Glass Box Lynch appears to arguing that evil is in fact a foreign presence, a metaphysical force that intrudes into our reality to look for hosts. 

As if to concretize this we see that the evil Cooper is not of our Earth and once the real Cooper escapes from his imprisonment (a spoiler, but come on) he is weakened and himself imprisoned.

I would argue then that Twin Peaks is a narrative about the flowering of evil. 

It presents evil as an outside force that invades and sets up shop into our environment then goes about finding suitable hosts to express itself through. It destroys lives, ruins families and communities for no apparent reason then moves on. 

This theme was explored in the thorny and divisive Fire Walk With Me, with Laura Palmer's descent prefigured by her dream of the Black Lodge and with her father's possession by the evil spirit Bob (what a great name for a demon).

Of course, Lynch may well move onto other themes before the series is finished so this is a provisional analysis. But Lynch seems to be fairly consistent in his fixations if you get past the whimsy. 

A lot of people accused Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire of incoherence but they both make perfect sense when you figure out their secrets. They're also essentially the same film told from two different perspectives.

Anyhow, I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on the series so far and any speculations you might have where all this is headed. I just hope the media doesn't just see it all as a numbers game.
          The Covenant and the Cargo Cult, Part 1   



Sir Ridley Scott's long-awaited prequel to Prometheus opened this week in certain countries and is set to open in America next week. For those waiting for a continuation of the storyline from the last movie- when crew member Elizabeth Shaw and the head of android David taking off to invade the Engineer homeworld- well, I hate to say it but you're out of luck. 

The Prometheus story is referenced only as exposition, apparently.  I hope I'm not giving away any spoilers (it feels like half the movie has already been posted to YouTube in the form of trailers and excerpts) but it is what it is.



Of course, the bit with Elizabeth and David's disembodied head from Prometheus is yet another one of those bizarre and inexplicable references to John the Baptist that tentpole sci-fi movies are so fond of. Remember that John's mother was named Elizabeth*, who had her own covenant with an extraterrestrial entity (the Archangel Gabriel, in this case). 

But I digress. If you've been following the previews and the various puff pieces in the media you'll suss out that Alien: Covenant is more like a remake of the first Alien film than a sequel to Prometheus. In much the same way as the JJ Abrams' Star Wars it's meant to act a jumping-on point for the Alien franchise for post-Millennials:
If Star Wars: The Force Awakens led the way in merging fan-service universe-building with fresh heroes, stories and themes for a new generation, Alien: Covenant grabs the reboot ball and runs with it. 
Director Sir Ridley Scott has said himself how much he was impressed by Disney's handling of Star Wars' renaissance, and it's clear to see why this similarly iconic '70s sci-fi world is equally ripe for a life-extending overhaul.
The film apparently references the AAT of Prometheus but also taps into the current anxieties over AI and robots and their potential to do away with the rest of us, kind of like a more ambitious HAL 9000. Scott apparently 86'd the idea of more direct sequel to Prometheus after reading some of the negative reviews dumped on the film, which he called "a mistake":
What changed was the reaction to ‘Prometheus’, which was a pretty good ground zero reaction. It went straight up there, and we discovered from it that [the fans] were really frustrated. They wanted to see more of the original [monster] and I thought he was definitely cooked, with an orange in his mouth. So I thought: ‘Wow, OK, I’m wrong’.
Well, somebody thought Scott was wrong, "somebody" almost certainly being a Fox accountant or three. However, one SF fansite accused Scott of "selling out" by not following up on the Prometheus story and I'm sure a lot of other fans will disappointed the story was dispensed with so easily. Either way, Scott continues to make eyebrow-raising comments about aliens in the press, referring to them recently as "superior beings."
Alien creator Ridley Scott has said that he is convinced that there are extra-terrestrials out there – and one day they will come for us. The veteran director said he believed in higher beings as he prepared to release the sixth episode of the sci-fi horror series, Alien: Covenant, next month. 
“I believe in superior beings. I think it is certainly likely. An expert I was talking to at Nasa said to me, ‘Have you ever looked in the sky at night? You mean to tell me we are it?’ That’s ridiculous.” 
“So when you see a big thing in the sky, run for it,” he joked.“Because they are a lot smarter than we are, and if you are stupid enough to challenge them you will be taken out in three seconds.”
Which makes you wonder about the whole "Covenant" thing, doesn't it? 

The term is essentially religious ('contract' is more commonly used to describe written civil agreements), dating back to the Old Testament.  And seeing how that covenant was made with a god who flew around the sky in a pillar of smoke and light, and needed a special environment built in order to interact with his subjects, you do start to wonder what the implications of all this happen to be. 

Well, start with this. Like Jack Kirby (whose Eternals so inspired the first Alien film),  Scott seems to have been bitten by the ancient astronaut bug and bitten hard. I don't know what the current status is on the project but back in 2014 it was reported that Sir Scott was developing an AAT series for HBO called Pharaoh:
Scott has signed on to serve as the executive producer and director for this project, which was created and sold to the premium cable channel by David Schulner. The Hollywood Reporter explains: 
The drama explores an alternate explanation for the foundation and ascent of the ancient Egyptian empire — one in which greatness was bestowed upon us by beings from another world, calling into question what it means to be a “god.” The project was co-created by Giannina Facio and Colet Abedi, who will exec produce alongside Scott and David Zucker for Scott Free. 
His film Prometheus was partially inspired by the writings of Swiss author Erich von Daniken who is known for his books like Chariots of the Gods? and Gods From Outer Space. Von Daniken is also a regular talking head on History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.
Again, I'm not sure where Pharaoh stands today but according to an October report from Omni the project was still on. It may be why the planned Stargate reboot was reported as being put into turnaround in November. Which, if so, strikes me a bit curious. The mighty Devlin and Emmerich nosed off their turf by Sir Scott? Huh.


But there's an interesting little visual cue in one of the trailers that suggests that Scott takes AAT very seriously. The Covenant crew lands on an alien planet and discovers a familiar sight. From io9:
This alien planet that looks untouched by human hands is growing recognizable wheat, which very much has been touched by human hands. This plays into the Alien mythos that there was a race of “Engineers” that were the progenitors of humans—they’re similar to us, why wouldn’t their food be similar? And if they were traveling around, why wouldn’t they carry seeds like we do?
Why is wheat so significant in the context of the Prometheus teleology? The late Lloyd Pye explains: 
Many have "wild" predecessors that were apparently a starting point for the domesticated variety, but others--like many common vegetables--have no obvious precursors. But for those that do, such as wild grasses, grains and cereals, how they turned into wheat, barley, millet, rice, etc. is a profound mystery. 
No botanist can conclusively explain how wild plants gave rise to domesticated ones. The emphasis here is on "conclusively". Botanists have no trouble hypothesising elaborate scenarios in which Neolithic (New Stone Age) farmers somehow figured out how to hybridise wild grasses, grains and cereals, not unlike Gregor Mendel when he cross-bred pea plants to figure out the mechanics of genetic inheritance. It all sounds so simple and so logical, almost no one outside scientific circles ever examines it closely.
Modern wheat is one of those innovations that scientists revert to ontological arguments to explain. The wheat we know obviously exists so it simply had to have been the product of long-term domestication. How exactly the domestication of an essentially-inedible wild grass was domesticated into a modern foodcrop-- over the span of centuries, mind you, if not millennia-- by illiterate Stone Age farmers is never exactly made clear. Pye again:
 On the other hand, those New Stone Age farmers who were fresh out of their caves and only just beginning to turn soil for the first time (as the ”official” scenario goes), somehow managed to transform the wild grasses, grains and cereals growing around them into their domesticated ”cousins”. Is that possible? Only through a course in miracles! Actually, it requires countless miracles within two large categories of miracles.  
The seeds and grains were maddeningly small, like pepper flakes or salt crystals, which put them beyond the grasping and handling capacity of human fingers. They were also hard, like tiny nutshells, making it impossible to convert them to anything edible. Lastly, their chemistry was suited to nourishing animals, not humans. So wild varieties were entirely too small, entirely too tough and nutritionally inappropriate for humans. 
They needed to be greatly expanded in size, greatly softened in texture and overhauled at the molecular level–which would be an imposing challenge for modern botanists, much less Neolithic farmers.  
Despite the seeming impossibility of meeting those daunting objectives, modern botanists are confident the first sodbusters had all they needed to do it: time and patience. Over hundreds of generations of selective crossbreeding, they consciously directed the genetic transformation of the few dozen that would turn out to be most useful to humans. And how did they do it? By the astounding feat of doubling, tripling and quadrupling the number of chromosomes in the wild varieties! 
Domestic wheat and oats were elevated from an ancestor with seven chromosomes to their current 42–an expansion by a factor of six.”
Remember that the cultivation of wheat brought about the rise of the Sumerians, who had oddly intimate relationships with their gods (the Anunaki, of course). The ancient Greeks were certain that wheat was the gift of a god; Demeter, in this case. It was the final "mystery" in the dramas put on at Eleusis. The Egyptians credited wheat to Osiris, the star-sailor.  So its inclusion in this film hardly seems incidental. On the contrary; it looks as if someone were doing their homework.

Now, longtime readers of The Secret Sun realize that nearly every major SF franchise of the past 50 years (starting with 2001: A Space Odyssey) is centered around ancient astronaut theory in one way or the other. 

Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars (arguably), Battlestar GalacticaAlien (of course), Stargate, The X-Files, Transformers, Indiana Jones and the entire Marvel and DC Universes all established their creation myths, in varying degrees, as the work of advanced extraterrestrial interlopers. Does that seem coincidental to you? It certainly does not to me.

There've also been a ton of less-visible but still-signficant TV shows and movies that have done the same, like Jonny Quest, The Phoenix, The Man from Atlantis as well as Childhood's End, Cocoon, Hangar 18, countless American and Japanese cartoons (even the hugely-popular cardgame/anime property Yu-Gi-Oh). So much so that you can't help but wonder if there's not a very powerful cargo cult at work behind the scenes in Tinseltown.


Bearing all that in mind, as well as the Ancient Aliens cable show (now in its 12th season), researchers might be forgiven for believing this was all part of some long-running conditioning program. You know, kind of like the one suggested by the Brookings Institution report back in 1960. 

Or exactly like it, actually.

Researchers would be especially forgiven in light of this recent blockbuster news story:
Was our solar system once home to an advanced civilization other than our own — perhaps one that predated humanity by hundreds of millions of years before being wiped out by an asteroid impact or some other cataclysm? 
There's no evidence for such a pre-human indigenous technological species, though people have been speculating about one since ancient times. But a respected space scientist points out in a provocative new paper that if the existence of home-grown intelligent space aliens has never been established, it's never been ruled out either. 
And if a race of smart and perhaps spacefaring aliens did make their home in our solar system, traces of their lost civilization might still be out there somewhere in the system just waiting for us to find them.
Quite a "synchronicity," don't you think?

UPDATE: Check out Gordon's review on Alien: Covenant on Rune Soup.



TO BE CONTINUED...

* Elizabeth is often traced to Elisheba but you can also frame it as a contraction of Eloah-Isis-Beth, or "House of Isis, the Goddess."

          Twin Peaks: Can You Go Home Again?   


Back in 1990, the Boston Phoenix ran a review of the first few episodes of Twin Peaks along with the plot of the sitcom Wings. 

It was an odd juxtaposition, intentionally so, contrasting David Lynch's highly-anticipated boutique series against a paint-by-numbers half-hour comedy. But the reviewer was a cynical bastard, and cast a jaundiced eye on the potential of a quirky auteur like Lynch to appeal to a mainstream television audience. 

The verdict was that Wings would stick around but Twin Peaks would not, its tone and style too idiosyncratic for a medium that, at the time, counted its audience in the tens of millions.

I tuned into the first season of Twin Peaks-- a miniseries, really-- but found it to be a bit too much of a compromise between Lynch's surrealist vision and the narrative demands of mainstream television. There was also a creeping absurdism that sometimes threatened to undermine the grim procedural drama that framed it.

I had high hopes for the project, having been brain-seared four years earlier by Blue Velvet. The first time I saw it I almost had an out of body experience- and not the pleasant kind- since it seemed so disturbingly familiar to me. Frank Booth was like any number of dangerous men that floated through the edges of my world, strange presences in bars in Weymouth Landing or Quincy Center. 

Frank Booth also reminded me all too much of a recently-released ex-convict my friend's mother had taken in as a boarder; a volatile alcoholic who drove a big old Cadillac and who, presciently, believed that cable TV was being used to spy on people.

A few years after seeing Blue Velvet I'd work for a woman who was close friends with Dennis Hopper's daughter Marin, who I'd later meet. I was told that Hopper wasn't actually acting in Blue Velvet, that that was basically his behavior on any given night before he rehabbed. Hopper told Lynch as much while auditioning for the part, insisting that he was Frank Booth.

Frank Booth was the black hole of Blue Velvet, the irrestible center of gravity around which the rest of the film revolved. I saw Blue Velvet twice at the Waverly Theater on Sixth Ave in Greenwich Village, and once Hopper blasted off you could feel the physical pressure descend upon the room. People walked out, not just a few, that's how intense it was. I brought two friends the second viewing and their knuckles were white the whole time. 

They were from Braintree, so they knew.

Twin Peaks didn't have nearly as compelling a focus, not Leland Palmer, not Bob, not anyone. Given the strictures of early 90s broadcast television it couldn't have. Instead the show went for mood and atmosphere and slowly-building tension. That, the lush scenery, appealing cast and seductive Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack were enough to sustain the series at first. 

But it failed to answer the central question ("Who killed Laura Palmer?") in its initial miniseries run and subsequently lost a lot of the curious and more besides. (AMC's remake of The Killing would make the same mistake more recently).

Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost distanced themselves from the series in the second season, for a number of varying reasons, including Lynch's work on Wild at Heart, which would star Nicholas Cage and Lynch muse Laura Dern. 

Even so, Lynch would direct episodes at the beginning and end of the season. But the spell the series had cast had been broken. The new production team didn't quite get a handle on Lynch's mix of darkness and whimsy (as if anyone else really could) and the new episodes seemed to lapse into self-parody without the author's oblique ability to square the contradictions.

But there were glimpses of a deeper magic, including cryptic subplots dealing with an alien satellite, demonic possession, doubles of dead characters and scenes inside the mysterious extradimensional portal, the Black Lodge. In short, the second series had a ton of potential on the conceptual end but a lot less so execution-wise. Plus, it was all a bit too challenging for network drama then. It would probably be just as much so today, which is why it's being revived on Showtime.

By the time it was cancelled Twin Peaks had been moved to the Saturday night death-slot and had slumped badly in the ratings. Lynch wanted another crack at it, however, so a spinoff film was planned. But Kyle MacLachlan felt betrayed that Lynch and Frost had bailed out on the show's second season (and by its resultant quality slippage), so after initially turning the picture down he agreed to a limited role. Chris Isaak, then a hot property, stepped in to play a ringer. Lara Flynn Boyle opted out for the same reasons as MacLachlan, forcing Lynch to recast the role with a non-lookalike replacement.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is one of those special kinds of films that has garnered a type of cult audience that tends to overlook what a total catastrophe it was in its initial release. Fire was outright butchered by the critics and didn't even earn back half its production budget in the US. Twin Peaks Fever had long since, uh, peaked, and the movie doesn't even try to meet a mainstream audience halfway. 

There's no wondering why: it's an incredibly dark and polarizing film and can be as hard to watch as Blue Velvet, if not for different reasons.

But it certainly follows a vision; it's not a cash-in on any level. It may not be light entertainment but in the long run it didn't hurt Twin Peaks' rep, in fact it undid most of the damage inflicted on the franchise by the frivolity of the second season. 

Even so, it would five years before Lynch would release another feature, 1997's Lost Highway. That too would be a deeply polarizing commercial disappointment.



It's been 11 years since Lynch released a feature film, 2006's masterpiece, Inland Empire. That in turn came five years after another masterpiece, 2001's Mulholland Dr. Both films are deeply informed by the vision Lynch cultivated on Twin Peaks, even if they bear little resemblance thematically, or even stylistically. It's more a feeling.

Mulholland Dr -- which Inland Empire models itself on in many important ways-- also began life as a TV pilot for ABC and was only morphed into a feature after the network passed. 

For my money, Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire remain Lynch's best, most fully-realized works. Like all of his creations they mine dream reality to a level of numinosity that most film-makers are incapable of reaching. It's both telling and damning that he's either been unable to secure financing or unwilling to jump through the requisite hoops needed to have followed up on them. 

I really don't know if Lynch felt a burning desire to return to Twin Peaks but I do know he's a better artist now than he was when he worked on the series. However, the power of a brand name trumps artistic vision in this environment. In that Mulholland and Inland are just as much elegies as films.

Judging from the press releases for the revival it seems Lynch's absence from longform film-making hasn't been for lack of energy. He directed all 18 episodes, wrote a 400 page screenplay (whether this was for the first episode or the series itself is unclear) and cast 217 actors. So both the spirit and the flesh seem to be willing in this case.

But is his mind in that space? This is the danger of the revival syndrome. 

It's been 27 very long years since the series first aired and we're living in an entirely different world now. The 1950s world that informed Lynch's vision isn't even a memory anymore. And the actors are no longer young, hot unknowns; many are more than twice as old as they were back then and some have come out the wrong end of Hollywood's merciless grinder. 

The inherent promise of the revival (or the reunion) is that the intervening years will melt away and we can vicariously return to the Garden, back to our innocence. It's not only the promise but the danger; woe betide you if you don't fire up that time machine for your audience. With an artist as quirky and unpredictable as David Lynch that danger only multiplies. Exponentially.

Lynch has already proven himself unwilling to pander with the Twin Peaks franchise, having unleashed a film as caustic and uncompromising as Fire Walk with Me. You get the sense he bores very easily, and might well use this opportunity to unleash all kinds of ideas he's been warehousing for other projects. That's both exciting and worrying. Exciting creatively and artistically, worrying critically and audience-wise.

Last year we saw Chris Carter use the X-Files revival as a soapbox for some truly confrontational storytelling, and the similar hype parade we're seeing now for Twin Peaks is giving me a bit of deja vu. But The X-Files was a bonafide cultural phenomenon, a game-changer. It's part of the common lexicon, worldwide. 

Twin Peaks is more a cult thing, an artifact of the Curator Era. Lynch could bring his absolute A-game and still confuse the hell out most of his new audience. And in the Internet Age that could go south very quickly.

Twin Peaks may have been a high point for Lynch as far as visibility but it also presaged a difficult stretch for him creatively, commercially and critically, with Wild at Heart and Lost Highway-- as well as Fire Walk with Me-- damaging his rep as an auteur. He restored his glimmer starting with The Straight Story but, frankly, he's a weird guy and you never know where his muses will carry him.  

The story of Twin Peaks, the franchise, is one about a boatload of potential that was never fully realized. Here's hoping Lynch closes the deal this time around. That will make it a story for the ages.

People.com has a documentary on the revival here.


          Spy vs Spy: Stuck in the Funhouse   

Funhouses are only fun when you can leave them. When the distorting mirror images become your new, day-to-day reality construct, then it's not so much fun anymore. 

I dreaded the 2016 Election because I had a very strong feeling that no matter who won we'd be plunged into a dystopian paradigm in which major power blocs would erupt into all-out warfare. And I sensed that neither Trump nor Clinton possessed the political skills or the communicative powers to keep the carnage fully out of our view. Or our path.


And I was right.


Trump's only been in office for a little over two months and I'm exhausted already. I'm certainly not alone in this. It all feels like a TV sitcom in its seventh season, well after the writers ran out of story ideas. The shark has been good and jumped. And the ratings (the approval ratings, in this case) are plunging too.


What is truly demoralizing though is the utter transparency of the secret war playing out, the seemingly endless spy vs spy thrust and counter-thrust, and the obvious deceptions. Even more so is the Animal Farm-like metamorphosis of the Democratic Party into a full-blown, funhouse mirror of McCarthy-era Republicans, but with Glenn Beck-worthy conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.


I don't know about you but all of a sudden the world seems especially cold, hard, gray, harsh. Masks are coming off, velvet gloves tossed into wastebins. It doesn't seem to matter who wins the scorpion fight, you're still stuck with a scorpion.  

We can't call out the play-by-play because it's largely being acted out behind closed doors. But we can look at the collateral damage and make certain speculations. There's no doubt that it would all be just as bad-- probably worse-- if Hillary won. Even so, this all feels especially grating.

You've probably seen this story:
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Friday apologized to the owner of a Washington pizzeria that became the subject of a conspiracy theory about human trafficking last year. 
Pizza shop Comet Ping Pong was thrust into the spotlight last year after a gunman allegedly fired a shot inside the restaurant. The suspect said he was investigating the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were operating a child sex trafficking ring out of the restaurant. 
The theory, which became known as Pizzagate, had circulated among far-right conspiracy theory websites and social media accounts. 
“In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him,” Jones, who runs Infowars, said in a video. James Alefantis is the owner of Comet Ping Pong. 
Jones said his website relied on reporters who are no longer employed by Infowars and that video reports about Pizzagate were removed from the website. He also invited Alefantis onto the show to discuss the incident.
It was preceded by this story:
FBI’S RUSSIA PROBE EXPANDS TO INCLUDE ‘PIZZAGATE’ THREATS 
According to McClatchy News, the FBI’s Russian-influence probe agents are exploring whether far-right news operations, including the pro-Donald Trump sites Breitbart News and Infowars, “took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives.”  Trump’s ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son, a member of the Trump transition team, were among those who boosted the so-called “PizzaGate” pedophile conspiracy theory.
I doubt this will quell the fervor among the Pizzagaters on sites like 4chan and Voat. Given the suspicion many on the fringes regard Jones with it may in fact give the flagging movement a fresh jolt. Jones' apology may also have to do with the drive to purge YouTube of "extremist" content and the controversy over the use of advertising on videos corporate clients find objectionable. A World without Sin, as our Gordon might put it. 


Washington Post headline, pre-election.

So much for theories that the FBI was ready to make mass arrests of prominent Washington figures related to Pizzagate.  Has any "mass arrest" Internet story ever panned out?  

Maybe it has:
Donald Trump became president on Jan. 20. And in one short month, there were more than 1,500 arrests for sex crimes ranging from trafficking to pedophilia.  
Big deal? You bet. In all of 2014, there were fewer than 400 sex trafficking-related arrests, according to FBI crime statistics. Liz Crokin at TownHall.com has put together a great piece on the push by the Trump administration to crack down on sex crimes. And she notes that while "this should be one of the biggest stories in the national news... the mainstream media has barely, if at all, covered any of these mass pedophile arrests. This begs the question – why?
This may have nothing to do with Trump-- in fact, it's likely it doesn't-- since these kinds of actions are planned out months in advance. The arrests continue, in case you were wondering, with major busts going down on a near-weekly basis. Someone's cleaning house. 

For what it's worth, I always reckoned that Pizzagate was in fact cover/distraction for a more hidden struggle, one that would take place under the radar*. As I noted back in November:

No one is saying as much but this very much feels connected to a deeper, more covert war. 
Why would I say such a thing? Because at the same time the Pizzagate story went dark we've seen major strikes taken against international pedophilia, which actually is a global conspiracy, with its own networks, secret codes and moles within established centers of power such as schools, police departments and governments.  
With such combustible accusations-- and such potential for a scandal that could quickly spread out of control (ie., involve political figures you're not trying to destroy)-- you'd naturally expect the action to go dark and the fall guys to be placed pretty far down the foodchain. (Remember that a prior investigation bagged one of the most powerful people in Washington at one time, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert).†


"EVER WONDER WHAT IT'D BE LIKE TO DIE IN A PLANE CRASH?" 



It may be sheer coincidence, but James Alefantis' former partner suffered a major heart attack this week
Media Matters for America founder David Brock was rushed to a hospital on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack. 
According to a press release from MMA, the founder of the liberal media watchdog and analysis website was rushed to the hospital early Tuesday afternoon and received treatment.
Sure, it may be coincidence. But I couldn't help but remember this story, published soon after the election
Dems to David Brock: Stop Helping, You Are Killing Us 
Democrats know they need someone to lead them out of the wilderness. But, they say, that someone is not David Brock.

As David Brock attempts to position himself as a leader in rebuilding ademoralized Democratic Party in the age of Trump, many leading Democratic organizers and operatives are wishing the man would simply disappear.
 
"Disappear." Huh. 
Many in the party—Clinton loyalists, Obama veterans, and Bernie supporters alike—talk about the man not as a sought-after ally in the fight against Trumpism, but as a nuisance and a hanger-on, overseeing a colossal waste of cash. And former employees say that he has hurt the cause.
It's worth remembering that Breitbart.com Andrew Breitbart died of a heart attack at the age of 43. A year before he'd posted a cryptic tweet that some have since linked to the Pizzagate imbroglio.  Just before his death he hyped some revelation about Barack Obama's past. 

A coroner in the office handling Breitbart's body subsequently died of arsenic poisoning. The day Breitbart's autopsy results were revealed, in fact.

COME BACK ROY COHN, ALL IS FORGIVEN


We also saw James Comey revive Russiagate, which had been flatlining after Vault 7. Any illusions among Trump fans that the FBI was secretly on their side were ground into powder, between this revelation and the Pizzagate conspiracy investigations. 

One can't help but wonder if the New Praetorians (I've noticed that the Praetorian meme has been picked up by more prominent commentators, but you heard it here first) are losing their last shred of patience with Donald Trump's shenanigans and are planning imminent regime change: 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, Director James Comey said Monday in an extraordinary public confirmation of a probe the president has refused to acknowledge, dismissed as fake news and blamed on Democrats. 
In a bruising five-hour session, the FBI director also knocked down Trump’s claim that his predecessor had wiretapped his New York skyscraper, an assertion that has distracted White House officials and frustrated fellow Republicans who acknowledge they’ve seen no evidence to support it.
How surreal is the world in which you know live in? So much so that mainstream political site The Hill is comparing the action in Washington to a Stanley Kubrick film, one which has become notorious for the conspiracy theories that have been projected onto it (and is well familiar to Synchronauts):
On the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Shining, Stephen King must be wondering if Washington is working on its own sequel. For the last couple months, Washington has been on edge, like we are all trapped in Overlook Hotel with every day bringing a new “jump scare,” often preceded by a telltale tweet. Indeed, a Twitter whistle has replaced suspenseful music to put the entire city on the edge of their seats. 
In this Shining sequel, however, people are sharply divided on who is the deranged ax-wielding villain in this lodge, the president or the press. Ironically, with the recent disclosure that some of the Trump campaign may indeed have been subject to surveillance, the president is looking more like Danny Torrence, a character dismissed for constantly muttering “redrum, redrum” until someone finally looked in a mirror at the reverse image to see the true message.
Yeah, I'm not really feeling that metaphor there, but whatever. It's been that kind of year.

Now the Internet is burning up with theories that disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has "turned" and is going to testify against the Trump Administration, or at least figures attached to it. 


It's hard to imagine a three-star general can be stupid enough to be guilty of things Flynn's been accused of but that may speak to a culture of impunity in Washington, in which your misdeeds are only punished if you get on the wrong side of the wrong people.

LIKE A BAD CYBERPUNK NOVEL


One wonders if the secret war has spread outside Washington. Car service giant Uber seems to be having a major run of rotten luck lately: 
Uber Technologies Inc. is suspending its self-driving car program after one of its autonomous vehicles was involved in a high-impact crash in Tempe, Arizona, the latest incident for a company reeling from multiple crises. 
In a photo posted on Twitter, one of Uber’s Volvo self-driving SUVs is pictured on its side next to another car with dents and smashed windows. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the incident, and the veracity of the photo, and added that the ride-hailing company is suspending its autonomous tests in Arizona until it completes its investigation and pausing its Pittsburgh operations.

The incident also comes as Uber, and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, are currently under scrutiny because of a series of scandals. The ride-hailing company has been accused of operating a sexist workplace. This month, the New York Times reported that Uber used a tool called Greyball to help drivers evade government regulators and enforcement officials. Kalanick said he needed "leadership help" after Bloomberg published a video showing him arguing with an Uber driver.
So who did Kalanick piss off? 

Coincidentally- there's that word again- the crash comes soon after Wikileaks revealed that CIA hackers had the ability to override the computer systems in automobiles. From Mashable:

WikiLeaks has published a trove of files it says are linked to the CIA's hacking operations — which apparently includes efforts to hack into cars.  
The first in a series called "Vault 7," "Year Zero" supposedly comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.  
"Year Zero" details the CIA's malware arsenal and "zero day" exploits against Apple iPhones, Google's Android operating system, Microsoft Windows and even Samsung TVs.  
 According to a document from 2014, the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. 
Oh, that's reassuring. Speaking of control systems, apparently pimps are controlling prostitutes with RFID chips:
It turns out this 20-something woman was being pimped out by her boyfriend, forced to sell herself for sex and hand him the money. 
 “It was a small glass capsule with a little almost like a circuit board inside of it,” he said. “It's an RFID chip. It's used to tag cats and dogs. And someone had tagged her like an animal, like she was somebody's pet that they owned.” 
This is human trafficking. It’s a marginal issue here in the U.S. for most of us. Part of that is because the average person isn’t sure what human trafficking – or modern day slavery – actually means.
Technology is our friend, right? And now this: 
Turkish Hackers Threaten To Wipe Millions Of iPhones; Demand Ransom From Apple 
Today, courtesy of CIO, we learn that a group of hackers referring to themselves as the "Turkish Crime Family", has been in direct contact with Apple and is demanding a $150,000 ransom by April 7th or they will proceed to wipe as many as 600 million apple devices for which they allegedly have passwords. 
The group said via email that it has had a database of about 519 million iCloud credentials for some time, but did not attempt to sell it until now. The interest for such accounts on the black market has been low due to security measures Apple has put in place in recent years, it said.

Since announcing its plan to wipe devices associated with iCloud accounts, the group claimed that other hackers have stepped forward and shared additional account credentials with them, putting the current number it holds at over 627 million.

According to the hackers, over 220 million of these credentials have been verified to work and provide access to iCloud accounts that don't have security measures like two-factor authentication turned on.
 
Of course, if credible, with an ask of just $150k, this is the most modest group of hackers we've ever come across.
Given the war that's erupted between the increasingly aggressive Turkish government and the EU, money may clearly not be the object here. Turkish PM Erdogan is clearly set on reconstructing the old Ottoman Empire and shivving Apple might just be part of the march.

Besides, Turkey is taking that recent coup attempt-- which is almost universally blamed on the CIA-- very personally.


Speaking of the EU, we've seen stories that Trump advisor Steve Bannon wants to dissolve the union. Which may be why Trump-adversary John McCain announced his unalloyed support for it- and the "New World Order" (his words, not mine):
The world "cries out for American and European leadership" through the EU and Nato, US senator John McCain said on Friday (24 March). 
In a "new world order under enormous strain" and in "the titanic struggle with forces of radicalism … we can't stand by and lament, we've got to be involved," said McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate who is now chairman of the armed services committee in the US Senate. 
Speaking at the Brussels Forum, a conference organised by the German Marshall Fund, a transatlantic think tank, he said that the EU and the US needed to develop "more cooperation, more connectivity". 
"I trust the EU," he said, defending an opposite view from that of US president Donald Trump, who said in January that the UK "was so smart in getting out" of the EU and that Nato was "obsolete". 
He said that the EU was "one of the most important alliances" for the US and that the EU and Nato were "the best two sums in history", which have maintained peace for the last 70 years. "We need to rely on Nato and have a Nato that adjusts to new challenges," he said.
Would McCain speak this way to a domestic audience? Of course not. Or maybe he would- I can't tell which way is up anymore. But either way it's good to know where he really stands.

Like McCain, China continues to sound a similar note of support for globalization, on which its very economic survival so desperately depends:
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli told a gathering of Asian leaders that the world must commit to multilateral free trade under the World Trade Organization and needs to reform global economic governance. 
“The river of globalization and free trade will always move forward with unstoppable momentum to the vast ocean of the global economy,” Zhang said. China will remain a strong force in the world economy and for peace and stability, he said, adding that countries must respect one another’s core interests and refrain from undermining regional stability. 
I suppose this is why China is off the target list for our new Cold (?) Warriors.

I've resisted posting on all this because it's all so depressing. I've actually written a few pieces on this chicanery that I ended up roundfiling. But I suppose I just wanted to go on the record about all this skullduggery, for posterity's sake.



UPDATE: Sex trafficking arrests and trials continue to proliferate. Most recent bust, an international ring in Minnesota. There is way too much activity going down in too short a time for this to be spontaneous.


* Which is exactly why I refrained from commenting on it here for the most part, instead noting that it had become a kind of memetic virus in much the same way that the Franklin/Boy's Town scandal had in the 90s. (Note that prior to the election-- and Pizzagate-- Trump nemesis the Washington Post was all over the issue of sex trafficking in the nation's capital). 

† The ongoing legal and police actions coinciding with the moves to shut down the Pizzagate fringes on the Web seem like the exact kind of action one would expect if there were a serious operation at work. Shutting down the Internet chatter makes perfect sense in this context because it can only complicate cases made by prosecutors. 
          The Present Can Only Be Viewed from the Past   


2017 might seem like the hangover after a particularly-nasty meth, glue and Thunderbird bender, but it's actually a year of major anniversaries. We're coming up on the 70th Anniversary of Kenneth Arnold and Roswell (as well as the National Security Act), the 50th Anniversary of Sgt. Pepper and the Summer of Love and the centennial of the Russian Revolution. But there are a lot more observances, all kinds of 'ennials to observe. 

I thought I'd dig into a few anniversaries germane to The Secret Sun and the topics we look at here. Readers are encouraged to weigh in with their own (observations that can be counted in multiples of five and ten, that is) in the comments.

December will see the fifth anniversary of the 2012 apocalypse/ascension/ absurdity (depending on your point of view). Needless to say, most of us are still here and the skies didn't open and Nibiru didn't come crashing into the moon. So there goes another apocalypse. 

I can't help but wonder about the 2012 meme, though. As I wrote a couple years back, it certainly seems like something changed that year, that the bottom fell out somewhere but no one seemed to notice it at the time. 

I mean, Donald Trump is sitting in the White House, isn't he? If even you're a Trump supporter you have to admit this would have seemed impossible five years ago.

Maybe the Apocalypse works on a different timeline than it does in the movies. Maybe we're living in one only we can't see the forest fire for the burning trees. History can only be written from a distance.

2007 was the year Our Gods Wear Spandex was published and the year I began actively blogging on this site, so Happy Ten Year Anniversary to me. It's also the year that a newly-elected Senator - with a weird, oblique connection to the Council of Nine - announced his candidacy for President.


This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Heaven's Gate suicides, an event I've gone into some detail on this blog. Whatever the media might have you believe the Gate were a bonafide modern Gnostic sect, were serious and rigorous about their work and were deeply troubled by the emergence of the techno-surveillance state they saw emerging at the time. 

This week also marks the 20th anniversary of the last of the Order of the Solar Temple "suicides" ( rendered in quotes since many investigators suspect foul play by outside parties with the OST mass deaths). I wrote in some detail about the OST and their influence on pop culture here (the X-Files writers seemed especially fascinated with the OST and their unique status and history and the lingering questions over their deaths).

Postmortem reports claimed that the OST committed ritual suicide in order to spiritually ascend to Sirius, where they believe their souls originated from. If this is true this is another troubling link to the "Walk-Ins from Sirius" theme from Ruth Montgomery's seminal Aliens Among Us, which has also been linked to the Heaven's Gate suicides.

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the Phoenix Lights flap, a controversial UFO sighting that caused a major media meltdown and has been the focus of a growing mythology ever since. What is particularly interesting about the Phoenix episode- however you view it-- is that it took place right down the highway from the Heaven's Gate compound in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. 

It may have been seen as the final sign that their ride was here, seeing as how the web-savvy cult was monitoring all kinds of infostreams for omens and portents. 

Next week also marks the 20th anniversary of the Outer Limits episode "Double Helix," which plays out like an idealized fantasy world version of Marshall Applewhite's most cherished beliefs. 

Seeing as how the suicides were discovered before its airing it plays like an elegy, a bizarre epitaph for the cult, its leader and their beliefs. How the hell that happened is anyone's guess.

Speaking of double helixes, 1997 saw the announcement that the first major cloning had been done, of "Dolly" the sheep. The news was broken in Roslin, Scotland, of all places (Dan Brown fans take note). More ominously it was also the year IBM's Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in chess. 

Coincidentally or not, Steve Jobs returned to Apple a few months later and changed the world as we knew it. One of his last projects was designing the Apple HQ, which looks like a friggin' flying saucer.

Why do all those events feel so closely entwined? We can't say we weren't warned.



1987 is the 30th anniversary of the publication of Whitley Strieber's seminal autobiography Communion, which brought the concept of alien abduction out of the fringes and into book store in America and other parts of the world. 

It's hard to explain to younger people what a phenomenon this book was, the controversy it engendered, and the effect it had on the culture. Strieber was a well-known author of best-selling horror novels, a couple of which had been adapted into movies (Wolfen and The Hunger) but never enjoyed a success like Communion, which stayed on the New York Times best-sellers list for months and sold millions worldwide.

Daytime talkshows were suddenly fora for abductees, whether real or imagined, as were popular tabloid TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries. The craze made celebrities out of Strieber, abduction researchers like Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs and later, Harvard psychologist John Mack. 

Oldline UFO researchers stewed on the sidelines, having traditionally regarded abduction reports with suspicion, if not contempt. Communion would lead to other projects, the Travis Walton biopic Fire in the Sky, The X-Files (which became an even greater phenomenon than Strieber's book), and the Steven Spielberg maxi-series Taken (which would be the SciFi Channel's most-watched series at the time of its airing).



1987 was also the year New Age seeped into the mainstream and has been insidiously rewriting its host body like a computer virus ever since. Pop culture was the medium yet again- a miniseries based on Shirley MacLaine's "spiritual authobiography" Out On a Limb was aired on ABC and planted the seeds for the Me Generation's catch-as-catch-can Theosophy 2.0. 

1987 saw "Ramtha" go wide with the publication of JZ Knight's autobiography, A State of Mind. Channeling soon became a multimiilion dollar industry, with hundreds of mini-Ramtha's popping out of the woodwork dispensing greeting card homilies for a spiritually-indiscriminate polity.

All you needed to do was squint, loll your head around meaningfully, adopt a weird quasi-British accent and learn to spout pseudo-profoundities and you were in clover.

Again, the New Age craze is hard to explain today, though in large part because the New Age is so ubiquitous today it's woven into the cultural fabric of most Western- and many non-Western- cultures. 

Yoga studios can be found in every sizable American town. Acupuncture and other "alternative" modalities are often covered by health insurance programs. Health food stores are slowly displacing conventional supermarkets and many more traditional houses of worship offer New Age programs (meditation, yoga, self-actualization) to their congregants.

1987 also saw the Harmonic Convergence (aka the "New Age Woodstock"), meant to act as the movement's big hop over the cultural fence. But its organizers (which included the original 2012 guru, Jose Arguelles) deeply misjudged the true nature of the movement and how it actually existed in the ideational biosphere. 

This wasn't a revolution, it was a slow-moving insurrection, one that subverted culture from within, all the while denying its very existence (the hallmark of a true New Ager is that they deny actually being a New Ager). Big, showy events weren't going to do the work. Tenacious, relentless but quieter actions were going to insinuate New Age into the mainstream.



1987 saw the Iran-Contra Affair- in which arms were sold to Iran in exchange for American hostages held by Iran-controlled radicals and the profits then diverted to anti-Sandinista militants in Nicaragua- become the major news story, dominating the headlines and Sunday talk shows for the entire year and into the next. 

Iran-Contra is also arguably the impetus for the true mainstreaming of conspiracy theory (just in time for the dawning of the Internet Era). Conspiracy research wasn't a fringe hobby then, it was front page news all across the world. It's just that the virus escaped from the lab and filtered down into places the mainstream media would have rather it hadn't.

But the real groundwork for the rise of conspiracy culture would be laid ten years earlier when the first fully-functional home computer, the Commodore PET was debuted at a trade show. 

Conspiracy theory may have thrived on talk radio (and short wave and ham radio, not to mention mail order) but it would explode on the Internet, even in the crudest venues of the BBS dial-in days.

At the same time the Commodore was unveiled, a new President from Plains, Georgia took office who swore to tear the lid off government corruption (and significantly, UFO secrecy) in Washington. 

Things, predictably, wouldn't work out so well for him.

1977 saw the commoditization of the modern Hollywood blockbuster-- already having birthed itself in 1975 with Steven Spielberg's Jaws. 

George Lucas' spiritual SF epic Star Wars and Spielberg's UFO fantasia Close Encounters of the Third Kind changed the rules forever (you can throw in Saturday Night Fever if you like, as it spawned the rise of the blockbuster soundtrack as well) and, as many would argue, planted the seeds for the eventual creation empoverishment of the Hollywood they created.

In today's market, doubles and triples are no longer be enough, you need to either write a movie off as a tax loss or score a grand slam blockbuster, complete with merchandising and ancillary rights.

But Star Wars and Close Encounters were such monsters because they filled a genuine void in the culture, a need for miracle and transcendence in a rapidly-secularlizing culture. In their wake the movies would become the dream theater of the masses, in the same way the great cathedrals were to the peasants of the Middle Ages.

Both films struck at the right time- NASA tested its first space shuttle at the beginning of the year, promising a new era in space exploration. One that has yet to come to pass, 40 years later. Even so the mood was right at the time.

On the other end of the ritual spectrum 1977 also saw the arrest of David Berkowitz, whom the media named as the sole "Son of Sam" killer despite the fact that witnesses had cogently and explicitly described other shooters not matching his description. 

Berkowitz himself would later claim he was a member of a sect of the Process Church of the Final Judgement, he was not the only shooter and that the killings were human sacrifices. And as fate would have it two of the men he claimed as his accomplices would die under mysterious circumstances not long after Berkowitz was arrested. 

And their father was named Sam.

Also in the summer of 1977, Elvis Presley died after a long struggle with obesity and prescription drug abuse. 

It was poetic in a Greek tragedy kind of fashion since '77 not only saw the precipitous rise of Disco as an all-consuming craze (Donna Summer had the first hit with a totally-synthesized record, "I Feel Love," that year) but also the breakthrough of punk rock and first-wave New Wave (the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Elvis Costello and Talking Heads all released their debuts), which took the basic, four to the floor rock 'n' roll Presley cut his teeth on and wed it to postmodernism, Dada and other weird, Continental theories that old-timers like the King would never have anything to do with.

Not that most of America even noticed. The Eagles' Hotel California, Pink Floyd's Animals and Fleetwood Mac's Rumors were albums most of the public were actually buying. Punk bombed bad in its first assault on American record stores and most of the first wave bands would soon break up or radically water down their styles in a bid to make it to the US Top 40. 

New Wave, which began as a marketing ploy to ease punk into the American market, would become the musical equivalent of New Age, a contagion that would insinuate itself into the host and rewrite the matrix from within. 

40 years later New Wave concepts are so dominant (irony and sarcasm not the least among them) in pop they're no longer recognized as distinct or unique. But that process began in earnest over 35 years ago, when MTV began beaming art school weirdos from England into a growing number of American living rooms. 

In short order even Jethro Tull and Bob Dylan- the onetime crunchiest of the crunchy- were recording with drum machines and sequencers.

There's more to come. 




          Caesarean section and risk of autism across gestational age: a multi-national cohort study of 5 million births   
Abstract
Background: The positive association between caesarean section (CS) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be attributed to preterm delivery. However, due to lack of statistical power, no previous study thoroughly examined this association across gestational age. Moreover, most studies did not differentiate between emergency and planned CS.Methods: Using population-based registries of four Nordic countries and Western Australia, our study population included 4 987 390 singletons surviving their first year of life, which included 671 646 CS deliveries and 31 073 ASD children. We used logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for CS, adjusted for gestational age, site, maternal age and birth year. Stratified analyses were conducted by both gestational age subgroups and by week of gestation. We compared emergency versus planned CS to investigate their potential difference in the risk of ASD.Results: Compared with vaginal delivery, the overall adjusted OR for ASD in CS delivery was 1.26 (95% CI 1.22–1.30). Stratified ORs were 1.25 (1.15–1.37), 1.16 (1.09–1.23), 1.34 (1.28–1.40) and 1.17 (1.04–1.30) for subgroups of gestational weeks 26–36, 37–38, 39–41 and 42–44, respectively. CS was significantly associated with risk of ASD for each week of gestation, from week 36 to 42, consistently across study sites (OR ranged 1.16–1.38). There was no statistically significant difference between emergency and planned CS in the risk of ASD.Conclusion: Across the five countries, emergency or planned CS is consistently associated with a modest increased risk of ASD from gestational weeks 36 to 42 when compared with vaginal delivery.

          Ramon Novarro: Ben-Hur on Sunset Boulevard   
In a turn of events that reminded more than one person of Sunset Boulevard, the 69-year-old former silent film star Ramon Novarro was murdered by two brothers who were male hustlers.
At their murder trial, defense attorney Richard Walton told the jury, “Back in the days of Valentino, this man who set female hearts aflutter was nothing but a queer. There’s no way of calculating how many felonies this man committed over the years, for all his piety. What would have happened if Paul had not gotten drunk on Novarro’s booze, at Novarro’s urging and at Novarro’s behest? What would have happened if Novarro had not been a seducer and traducer of young men? The answers to those questions will determine the issue and degree of guilt of Tom Ferguson and the issue and degree of guilt of Paul Ferguson.”
Being beaten to death is what an officer of the court felt free to argue that a gay man deserved in 1969, two months after the Stonewall Riots.
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In 1876, during a train journey, a former general and failed attorney named Lew Wallace was humiliated.
While debating religion with the famed agnostic author Robert G. Ingersoll, Wallace realized that he knew next to nothing about his own Christian faith.
Wallace devoted three years to studying the Bible and researching Christianity, and the result was an adventure novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which eventually outsold every book in the United States except the Bible.
I was fascinated to learn that the first dramatic adaptation of the story was notthe silent film version, but a six-act, three-and-a-half-hour 1899 Broadway play which boasted spectacular lighting, large onstage crowds and, as biographer Andre Soares noted, “…two horse-drawn chariots darting at full speed on parallel treadmills, with a Circus Maximus backdrop revolving behind them.” Half a million people saw the play on Broadway, and more than 20 million saw it on tour throughout the world.
His starring role in the tortuous production of the 1925 film Ben-Hurwould cap Novarro’s career.
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Throughout most of the 1920s, Novarro had an intense personal, professional and presumably sexual relationship with movie journalist Herbert Howe.
Their relationship had cooled by 1928, and in a 1931 article for The New Movie Magazine, Howe hinted why. “All his emotions are adolescent,” Howe wrote. “He never hates because he never loves too much. He is not a particularly good companion. As he often said: ‘I have so little to give.’ His life is expressed in acting, not in thought or conversation. You get the essence of him seeing him on the screen. Off the screen he is … a theater with the lights out.”
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In April 1930, when he was one of America’s most popular screen stars, Novarro wrote a check for a new car and drove away with it. The embarrassing call came later. His check had bounced.
He’d earned $248,000 in 1928, $170,000 in 1929 and $125,000 for his last movie alone, and had $160 left in his bank account. Novarro had entrusted his business affairs to a (presumed) former lover, Louis Samuel, now married, who had embezzled the money to cover his brother’s stock market losses and to pay the mortgage on his own home in Hollywood Hills, one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Novarro refused to press charges against his former friend, and scrambled to recover from the devastating financial blow. He was able to secure a refund on his income taxes, which helped him get by.
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Declining box office receipts for his pictures cost Novarro his contract with MGM in the mid-1930s. A series of uncertain career moves didn’t help the situation, nor did his growing dependence on alcohol.
On Dec. 12, 1940, on the way home from a birthday party for Laura Hope Crews, a drunken Novarro was seriously injured in a head-on collision. He lied to friends about the accident’s cause and displayed not the slightest interest in the other driver, whom he might have killed.
“The man who could be so generous with his money could also be unabashedly self-centered when trying to shield himself from recriminations — whether from the law, from friends and relatives, or from within,” wrote Soares in Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro. “Even so, such tactics fell far short of total effectiveness. The law would find him guilty of reckless driving a number of times; his family … was ‘extremely embarrassed’ by his drunken driving arrests; and Novarro himself was undoubtedly aware of both his culpability in the car accident and his alcoholism. Despite his attempts at self-deceit, Novarro knew he had a serious problem that he was unable to solve.”
Novarro spent the rest of his life alternating between shameful alcoholic episodes and self-righteous periods of arch-Catholic religiosity, I think at least in part because he no longer had an effective way to express his artistic impulses. He never found a creative path off the dead end of Sunset Boulevard.

          Helen Gahagan Douglas: She Who Must Be Waylaid   
“Helen Gahagan Douglas … had not the slightest interest in politics until the late 1930s. Her conversion was as dramatic as a first-act curtain in the theater.”
  Eleanor Roosevelt

Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, a former movie star and opera singer, was a principled beacon of liberal light following the death of FDR.
She had once played She Who Must Be Obeyed, and when she ran for Senate in California, Congressman Richard Nixon regarded her as She Who Must Be Waylaid.
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Helen Gahagan Douglas
“While sitting in a Viennese coffeehouse with an English music critic who was a friend of several colleagues, the two discussed her new contract,” wrote Sally Denton in The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas. “Suddenly, the man leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, ‘Of course, Miss Gahagan, you are pure Aryan?’
“Helen felt sick to her stomach as the man attempted to recruit her to the Nazi cause. ‘Aryans such as we,’ he told her, ‘(have) a duty to defend the superior race against Jews.’ At first she couldn’t speak. Until that moment the perspective of Jews in the world was a purely abstract notion. Now, as the Englishman spouted the familiar rantings of Hitler and Goebbels while asking her to enlist the support of fellow Nazi sympathizers in America, she felt forever changed. Her ‘Irish blood at the boiling point,’ she tore up the contract and left for home.”
It didn’t help the English critic’s case that her husband, the film actor Melvyn Douglas, was a Jew.
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But it was the Dust Bowl that really blew Helen Gahagan Douglas into politics.
Once upon a time, specifically in California during the Dust Bowl 1930s, those much-despised “illegal aliens” were American citizens who’d fled West.
“Confined to filthy camps, thousands of starving families were ‘herded about like animals,’ living without toilet or showers, while local officials and growers fought to keep the federal government from supplying the migrants with food and medical supplies, fearing that they would form permanent communities, join unions and, most significant, interfere with the cheap Mexican laborers they were shuttling across the border and paying slave wages,” wrote Denton.
 “Importing labor was far cheaper than establishing schools and health-care clinics for American migrant workers, so the growers used every method possible, including force, to get the migrants to move on.
“Helen and Melvyn had attended dinner parties at which the subject of the ‘Okies’ was raised and they were frequently appalled at the lack of compassion shown by many of their peers. They ‘listened with astonishment to people making comfortable statements about how the situation was exaggerated or that the migrants should stop being so lazy and dirty.’”
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Guided by Eleanor Roosevelt, she became more involved in politics even as she became less involved in her marriage. After Melvyn started a serious affair with a co-star, they separated, but would never divorce.
“I suppose it is commonplace that most long-time couples divide areas of emotional response, even as they share responsibilities and material goods,” Melvyn said years later. “Certainly our friends, the Roosevelts, had done something like that.”
Rising in politics, Helen had few illusions about it. “I was raised in a household of dominating men, and I learned early that men guard their authority over women jealously,” Helen said. “As for politics, they sincerely believe public life to be a male bailiwick. They reason that men have been running the country for the past two hundred years and are meant to do so for centuries to come. In short, men would never share power with women willingly. If we wanted it, we would have to take it.”
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Fighting a conservative tide to keep the liberal Henry Wallace vice president in 1944, Douglas gave an eloquent speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“The Democratic party is the true conservative party,” she said. “We have conserved hope and ambition in the hearts of our people. We are the conservative party. We have conserved the skills of their hands. We have husbanded our natural resources. We have saved millions of homes and farms from foreclosure and conserved the family stake in democracy.
“We have rescued banks and trust companies, insured crops and people's savings. We have built schools. We have checked the flooding rivers and turned them into power.
“We have begun a program to free men and women from the constant nagging fear of unemployment, sickness, accident—and the dread of insecure old age. We have turned a once isolated, flood-ravished, poverty-stricken valley, the home of four and a half million people, into what is now a productive, happy place to live—the Tennessee River Valley. We have replanted the forest, re-fertilized the soil. Ours is the conservative party.
“We have guarded children, protected them by labor laws, planned school-lunch programs, provided clinics. Ours is the conservative party. Ours is the party that has created laws which have given dignity and protection to the working men and women of this country. Ours is the party that has made the individual aware of the need for his participation in a true democracy. We are the conservative party.
“We have conserved the people's faith in a people's government—democracy.”
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Elected to Congress in 1944, Douglas was often compared to her glamorous right-wing counterpart there, Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and wife of Time Inc. founder Henry Luce.
“Driving cross-country with her secretary Evie Chavoor, and a friend, Jarmila Marton, having decided to make the move to Washington by automobile, the women tuned the radio to a morning news broadcast,” Denton wrote. “They listened with amusement to the announcement that Helen had defeated Luce as one of the 10 best-dressed women in public life.
“The rookie congresswoman had broken a cap on her front tooth, leaving a gap and stump when she opened her mouth to smile. Evie ‘turned around and looked at Helen, and there she was in the back seat with her terrible sloppy pants on … huddled in a blanket, her hair all streaming down.’ The women howled with laughter, wishing a photographer could see her in such a state.”
Douglas understood, though, that the trivial focus on women’s looks was a means of undermining their power. “Congresswomen’s ideas should rate above their clothes and looks,” she said. “Why this emphasis on the sexes anyway, in a serious thing like government?”
“I never felt I left the stage,” Douglas said, and her clipped, powerful, theatrically trained voice was a great asset in politics.
But there was nothing phony about her, nothing fake. She was a proponent of what philosophers call “virtue ethics,” giving a fair summary of it in this quote: “Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”
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The liberal and idealistic Douglas was waylaid by the rising, conniving and unprincipled Nixon, sounding an ugly theme that has echoed in American politics right into the 21stcentury.
Nixon’s dirty tactics — among them smearing Douglas as a Communist and sponsoring calls to ask voters if they were aware that her movie star husband was “a Jew” — earned him the apt, lifelong nickname Tricky Dick. But Douglas was also hampered by her own lofty idealism and California’s Chinatown-like civic corruption. And the times were against her, the 1950 election coinciding with both the rise of McCarthyism and the height of the Korean war.
“There was the United States fighting communism and I was the person who said we should limit the power of the military and try to disarm the world and get along with Russia,” Douglas said.
“The worst moment, a sight I couldn’t shake, was when children picked up rocks and threw them at my car, at me. I knew that in order to survive I would have to accept the rocks and the Nixon campaign, shrug them off and move on. I wondered if I would be able to do it.”
She was, finding herself exhausted but strangely calm after Nixon’s huge victory. “I was so pleased that I had escaped the terrible burden of hating Richard Nixon that I was almost elated,” she said.
Nixon, in later years, at least feigned regret over his behavior in the campaign. “Years later, asked by British publisher David Astor to explain his campaign tactics, Nixon reportedly ‘cast down his eyes with a look of modest contrition’ and explained, ‘I want you to remember that I was a very young man,’” wrote Anthony Summers in The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. “In 1950, (Nixon) was 37 and a veteran of four years in the House of Representatives.”
Douglas summed it up simply: “There’s not much to say about the 1950 campaign, except that a man ran for Senate who wanted to get there, and didn’t care how he did it.”
After Nixon revealed his true character to the world in Watergate, and was driven from office in shame, Douglas had the last laugh. But she didn’t laugh. She mourned.
“If the national security is involved, anything goes,” she said in 1973. “There are no rules. There are people so lacking in roots about what is proper and improper that they don’t know there’s anything wrong in breaking into the headquarters of the opposition party.”
After Nixon’s resignation, a bumper sticker started appearing on vehicles throughout California: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas.”
Her secretary Nan Stevens said, “People rather expected that she would be gloating over Richard Nixon finally being found out, but she was only said. She thought it terrible for the country and for America’s reputation abroad. I know that makes her sound almost too good to be true, but she was good. I’m not saying Helen didn’t have feet of clay. But you had to look awfully hard to find her tiny clay feet.”
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Douglas and her husband often led separate lives. She had an affair with, among others, Lyndon Baines Johnson, but became estranged from with him during his presidency over her support for disarmament and opposition to the escalating Vietnam War.
But Douglas and Melvyn were always good friends, and he made an impassioned radio speech for her during her doomed Senate campaign. “It is easier — as a matter of fact it is the easiest thing in the world — to call people of good will dirty names, to call them Communists,” he said.

Melvyn was at her side when she died of cancer in 1980, and he wrote, “She was entranced always by the light. In every house we ever occupied, she wanted the windows to be wider. She always thought no room could have too many windows … She was always saying, ‘Look at the light! Isn’t it beautiful? Shewas the light. And she was beautiful.’”

          William Manchester: The Reasonable Warrior   
“War is literally unreasonable,” wrote the author, biographer and historian William Manchester in his 1979 Pacific combat memoir Goodbye, Darkness.
“Today’s youth cannot understand it; mine, I suppose, was the last generation to believe audacity in combat is a virtue. And I don’t know why we believed it. The mystery troubled me and baffled me, for some of my actions in the early 1940s make no sense to me now.
“On Okinawa, on Saturday, June 2, 1945, I suffered a superficial gunshot wound just above my right kneecap and was ship back to a field hospital. Mine was what we called a ‘million-dollar wound.’ Although I could hear the Long Toms in the distance, I was warm, dry and safe. My machismo was intact; I was simply hors de combat.
“The next day I heard that my regiment was going to land behind enemy lines on Oroku Penisula. I left my cot, jumped hospital, hitchhiked to the front and made the landing on Monday.
“Why had I returned to terror? To be sure, I had been gung ho at the outbreak of war. But I had quickly become a summer soldier and a sunshine patriot. I was indifferent toward rank, and I certainly sought no glory. ‘We owe God a death,” wrote Shakespeare. So we do, but I hoped God would extend my line of credit indefinitely. I was very young. I hadn’t published a short story, fathered a child or even slept with a girl. And because I am possessed, like most writers, by an intense curiosity, I wanted to stick around until, at the very least, I knew which side had won the war.
“So, craftily, I became the least intrepid of warriors, a survivor, not a hero, more terrier than lion. If there was a coward’s way, I took it. The word hero, to me, is redolent of Nelson Eddy in his Smokey Bear hat, with Jeanette McDonald shrieking in his ear, or of John Wayne being booed in a Hawaiian hospital by an audience of wounded Marines from Iwo Jima and Okinawa, men who had macho acts, in a phrase of the day, up their asses to their armpits.
“To be sure, I was not an inept fighter. I was lean and hard and tough and proud. I had tremendous reserves of stamina. I never bolted. I was a crack shot. I had a shifty, shambling run, and a lovely eye for defilade — for what the Duke of Wellington called ‘dead ground,’ that is, a spot shielded from flat-trajectory enemy fire by a natural obstacle, like a tree or a rock — coupled with a good sense of direction and a better sense of ground. To this day, I check emergency exits immediately after registering in a hotel, and in bars you will find me occupying a corner table, with my flanks secure.
“But that was the sum of my military skills. I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death and had been terribly frightened. Afterward, those few of us in my unit who had survived received a document from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal citing us for ‘gallantry,’ ‘valor,’ ‘tenacity’ and ‘extraordinary heroism against enemy Japanese forces,’ but those shining words didn’t really apply to me. Indeed, at times it seemed that they applied to no one except the dead. I agreed with Hemingway: ‘Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the number of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.’
“For us, they had been Buna and Suribachi; the Kokoda Trail and Tarawa; the First Marine Division and the Eleventh Airborne; the Kumusi and the Asa Kawa; December 7, 1941, and V-J Day. I honored them while hating the whole red and ragged business of war.”
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Manchester, who had harrowing experiences as a Marine in World War II, was an eloquent and even compassionate writer with a determined honesty, and yet a blind spot.
Reading his memoir, you find it easy to spot a theme that constantly reappears. It’s that the concerns and fates and white male warriors are the only things that really matter, and that their extreme sacrifices somehow sanctified that principle. Only his band of brothers and their fathers were fully real existentially. All others were somewhat shadowy figures who owed them gratitude.
By 1979, Manchester felt himself to be someone whom time was passing by. And he was right. It was and it has. A growing awareness of justice has entirely swept his worldview away, leaving the reader to admire him, yes, but also to feel a little embarrassed for him. But how few of us manage not to embarrass our descendants.
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“War monuments have never stirred me,” Manchester wrote. “They are like the reconstructed buildings at Colonial Williamsburg, or elaborate reproductions of great paintings; no matter how deft the execution, they are essentially counterfeit.
“In addition, they are usually beautiful and in good taste, whereas combat is neither. Before the war I thought that Hemingway, by stripping battle narratives of their ripe prose, was describing the real thing. Afterward I realized that he had simply replaced traditional overstatement with romantic understatement.
“War is never understated. Combat as I saw it was exorbitant, outrageous, excruciating and above all tasteless, perhaps because the number of fighting men who had read Hemingway or Remarque was a fraction of those who had seen B movies about bloodshed. If a platoon leader had watched Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Errol Flynn, Victor McLaglen, John Wayne or Gary Cooper leap recklessly about, he was likely to follow his role model.
“In crises, most people are imitative. Soldiers received ‘Dear John’ letters copied from those quoted in the press. The minority who avoid Hollywood paradigms were, like me, people who watched fewer B movies than we had read books. That does not mean we were better soldiers and citizens. We certainly weren’t braver. I do think that our optics were clearer, however — that what we saw was closer to the truth because we weren’t looking through MGM or RKO prisms.”
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Manchester’s already passé notions about gender roles mixed with melancholy about humanity’s fate when he visited Tinian, the island from which, on the late afternoon of Aug. 6, 1945, the B-29 named Enola Gay took off to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
“There is an air of forbidding stillness on the isle, a desolation unmatched in, say, rebuilt Hiroshima,” Manchester wrote. “This is where the nuclear shadow first appeared. I feel forlorn, alienated, wholly without empathy for the men who did what they did. This was not my war. In my war, a single fighter with one rifle could make a difference, however infinitesimal, in the struggle against the Axis. It was here that the role of men as protectors began to fade until women, seeing how much it had diminished, left their own traditional roleas behind and shouldered their way upward.”
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The bored Marines stood at attention, listening to Buck Rogers describe homosexual sex acts.
Manchester recalled that his captain, “Buck” Rogers, would read aloud from Navy courts-martial arising from sexual indiscretions.
“As unsubtly as possible, we were being warned that no matter how horny we got, we couldn’t go down on each other,” Manchester wrote. “It mystified us. Youth is more sophisticated today, but in our innocence we knew almost nothing about homosexuality.”
“There was so much excitement (and apocrypha about) heterosexuality that we seldom gave homosexuality a second thought. Had we been told that practitioners of oral sodomy wanted to live together openly, with the approval of society, and insisted on being called ‘gay,’ we would have guffawed. That just wasn’t one of the rights we were fighting to protect. We weren’t exactly prejudiced. It was, literally, mindlessness. We hadn’t thought about it. That didn’t make it unique. We weren’t fighting for the emancipation of housewives, either, or for the right of blacks, who performed menial, if safe, tasks far behind the lines, to bleed alongside us. Like most soldiers in most wars, we were fighting for status quo ante bellum. And like the others, we were doomed to disappointment.”
All those bored Marines knew were that perverts were guys who lisped and longed to put on a dress. “Therefore the other NCOs and I laughed when our sergeant major told us, in a drunken moment (and an unusual one, because liquor was generally reserved for officers; enlisted men, including sergeants, got beer), that he had slept with men. Mike Powers was in the regular Marine Corps, a professional soldier; he had served in Nicaragua, Haiti and on Gibraltar. It was on Gibraltar that he had, by his soused account, violated Chapter Two Specification Seventeen almost nightly. His lovers had been civilians, he said, some of them distinguished European civilians.”
Powers told them that when he retired, he planned to write a book calledFamous Cocks I Have Sucked.
“We didn’t take him seriously, partly because in the Marine Corps there was a constant rivalry to see who could be coarsest,” Manchester wrote. “His behavior was in many ways regrettable, but always in macho ways which, we thought, were the exact opposite of homosexuality. Six feet two, blond and virile, he was heavily muscled and deep voiced.”
Powers was tough and brave, but he had a flaw in combat. “Our strutting, bullying, powerfully built sergeant major just couldn’t stand the strain of concentrated enemy shellfire,” Manchester said. “He could take small-arms fire, and once he demolished a Nambu light-machine-gun nest with a hand grenade. But artillery turned his bowels to water.”
And so one night, when the firing stopped after a sustained attack from 81-millimeter mortar shells, Powers cracked up. The Marines knew that the silence was a tactic to draw them out in the open so they could relieve themselves, at which point they’d be caught in a fresh fusillade. Powers began ranting and yelling and ordering a charge that would have gotten them all killed, so Manchester was forced to relieve Powers and get him to a battalion aid station.
Manchester never saw Powers again, but he learned Powers’ fate much later, when Manchester, bedridden in a naval hospital, heard the officer of the day describe the court martial of one Michael J. Powers. Powers had been caught having oral sex with the young medical corpsman who had soothed and befriended him when Manchester left him at the aid station. And he’d been sentenced to 85 years in Portsmouth Naval Prison for it.
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One perverse irony of war, Manchester found, is how it sanctifies bloody disasters while underrating undramatic military victories.
“Time (magazine) trumpeted the defense of the American tactics: ‘Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of … the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa,’” Manchester wrote. As a sergeant, he’d been in the middle of that 76-hour battle in which roughly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died, mostly on and around the small coral island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll.
“That made everyone on Betio stand tall, but it deserves second thoughts. The Alamo and Little Big Horn were massacres for Americans, and the Fifth and Sixth Marines had been cut to pieces in Belleau Wood. Time’s comment may be attributed to a curious principle which seems to guide those who write of titanic battles. The longer the casualty lists — the vaster the investment in blood — the greater the need to justify the slain. Thus the fallen are honored by hallowing the names of the places were they fell, thus writers enshrine in memory the Verduns, the Passchendaeles, the Dunkirks and the Iwo Jimas, while neglecting decisive struggles in which the loss of life was small.
“At the turn of the 18thcentury, the Duke of Marlborough led 10 successful, relatively bloodless campaigns on the Continent, after which he was hounded into exile by his political enemies. In World War I, Douglas Haig butchered the flower of England’s youth on the Somme and in Flanders without winning a single victory. He was raised to the peerage and awarded 100,000 pounds by a grateful Parliament...”
“Similarly, in World War II, Anzio and Peleliu are apotheosized, though neither contributed to the defeat of Germany and Japan, while the capture of Ulithi, one of the Pacific’s finest anchorages, is unsung since the enemy had evacuated it, and Hollandia, (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur’s greatest triumph in that war, is forgotten because the general’s genius outfoxed the Japanese and limited his losses to a handful of GIs.
“In the Pacific, we received ‘pony’ editions — reduced in size, with no ads — of Time and the New Yorker. The comparison of Tarawa with great battles of the past didn’t impress most of us; we saw it for what it was: wartime propaganda designed to boost the morale of subscribers, a sophisticated version of the rhapsodies about the Glorious Dead who had Given Their All, making the Supreme Sacrifice. Our sympathies were with those who protested the high casualties.”
From his vantage point on the battlefield, Manchester immediately saw through military myth-making, but years would pass before he could bring himself to cast a cold eye on other hypocrisies of war. “At the time it was impolitic to pay the slightest tribute to the enemy, and Nip determination, their refusal to say die, was commonly attributed to ‘fanaticism,’” he recalled. “In retrospect, it is indistinguishable from heroism. To call it anything less cheapens the victory, for American valor was necessary to defeat it.”
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Memory was Manchester’s thing. He remembered sights like this: “You could always tell whether men were moving up or coming off the line. Usually those coming off had samurai swords jutting from their packs. And they had a different look — dull, sightless eyes showing the strain, misery, shock, sleeplessness and, in veteran fighters, the supreme indifference of young men who have lost their youth and will never recover it. The Spanish poet Frederico Garcio Lorca caught their expressions. They had ‘sad infinite eyes, like those of a newborn beast of burden.’”
Manchester remembered, even as he watched others forget. “When a man reaches his late fifties almost any change empties him a little,” he wrote. “It is disconcerting to feel quaint.”
---
Thirty-five years after the war, Manchester ticked off the Marines he had known well and seen killed.
“Shiloh Davidson II, Williams ’44, a strong candidate for his family’s stock exchange seat, crawled out on a one-man twilight patrol up Sugar Loaf. He had just cleared our wire when a Nambu burst eviscerated him. Thrown back, he was caught on improvised wire. The only natural light came from the palest wash of moon, but the Japs illuminated that side of the hill all night with their green flares. There was no way that any of us could reach Shiloh, so he hung there, screaming for his mother, until about 4:30 in the morning, when he died.
“After the war, I visited his mother. She had heard, on a Gabriel Heatter broadcast, that the Twenty-ninth was assaulting Sugar Loaf. She had spent the night on her knees, praying for her son. She said to me, ‘God didn’t answer my prayers.’ I said, ‘He didn’t answer any of mine.’’
Recalling Okinawa, Manchester wrote, “I was in the midst of satanic madness: I knew it. I wanted to return to sanity: I couldn’t. All one could do, it seemed to me, was to stop combat from breaking you in half, to keep going until you reached the other side of your immediate objective, hoping it would be different from this side while knowing all the time, with the weary cynicism of the veteran, that it would be exactly the same. It was in this mood that we scapegoated all cases of combat fatigue — my father’s generation of infantrymen had called it ‘shell shock’ — because we felt that those so diagnosed were taking the dishonorable way out. We were all psychotic, inmates of the greatest madhouse in history, but staying on the line was a matter of pride. Pride was important to young men then. Today it is derided as machismo. But without that macho spirit, California and Australia would have been invaded long before this final battle.”

          Time to Fill Out Your Bracket For the 2016 Million Dollar Bracket Challenge   
We just wanted to remind you that today is Selection Sunday. The teams were announced and when you’re ready, you may fill out your bracket. Continue reading…
          William S. Paley: The Limits of Power   
In 1965, the new Eero Saarinen-designed building on 52nd Street at Sixth Avenue — swiftly dubbed “Black Rock” — was CBS President Frank Stanton’s baby.
“Consistent with his own taste in art, the furnishings and fixtures reflected a sleek, modern look,” wrote Lewis J. Paper in his book Empire: William S. Paley and the Making of CBS. “Glass, chrome and modern paintings dominated the interior space. Even the location and quantity of plants received careful consideration.
“The only exception to the master plan was (CBS Chairman of the Board Bill) Paley’s office. It continued to reflect his own (and very different) tastes. The French gaming table remained as his desk, rich paneling still adorned the walls, comfortable couches were placed strategically, exquisite paintings hung on the walls, and various artifacts — an old CBS microphone, the cigar-store Indian and later a photograph of Edward R. Murrow — all helped to provide a warmth that seemed even more pronounced because of its stark contrast with the rest of the building.”
But the urbane and sophisticated gourmet Paley had his own baby —a haute cuisine restaurant on the ground floor, eventually to be called The Ground Floor.
“The notion of owning a restaurant had always appealed to Paley, especially as the years went by,” Paper said. “Decades of culinary experience had only added to his knowledge and heightened his interest in planning a restaurant. It would, of course, have to feature the best in everything — from its design to the food to the service. Friends noticed the considerable energy he put into the restaurant — picking a name, shaping the décor and planning the menu.”
The interior design reflected the exterior of Black Rock, but the restaurant’s manager, Jerry Brody, thought that was a mistake. “He felt the building was too cold and stark for a restaurant,” Paper said. “Then there was the cost of the fixtures. Bill Paley wanted the best, but the cost made it that much more difficult for the restaurant to show a profit. All of which might have been overcome if the restaurant became popular, but Bill Paley’s zest for food was not matched by his success as a restaurateur.”
Brody suggested a northern European steakhouse, but Paley said no. It must be French cuisine.
“He went to France almost every year, knew the food and it would draw the right kind of customers — sophisticated people, those who appreciated the finer things. But all these plans and hopes and expectations could not guarantee results. No matter how much time Paley spent in the kitchen tasting the soups and other fare (which he did almost every day), The Ground Floor did not produce the business that Bill Paley wanted, that he felt he deserved.”
In 1968, restaurant critic Gael Greene described the chilly ambience. “The Ground Floor is a perfect room to end an affair in,” she wrote. “The tables are far enough apart to announce the break in a firm voice, and the ambiance is stern enough to discourage sloppy emotionalism.”
“But Boss Paley mingles with everyday folk in the dining room. Leonard Lyons moves through the grill, antennae clicking off the celebrities du jour – Donald Pleasence, Sloan Simpson, an author or two drinking breakfast. And good grief! Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman tieless, unjacketed, grizzled gray locks to the shoulder, Ben Franklin specs … the oldest hippie in the world. Mostly, though, the grill is lined with youngish executives expense-accounting each other. Restrained, subdued: That is not a bar to get sloppy drunk in … not a room to unlax in.”
“It was a never-ending source of frustration,” Paper wrote. “He knew food, he knew New York City and yet he could not make the kind of mystical connection to customers that he had made with his programming. And those who confronted him with the obvious truth proceeded at their peril.
“There was the time, for example, when Stanton, Fred Friendly and Bill Leonard met with Paley one afternoon shortly after The Ground Floor had opened. Paley asked the three executives if they had eaten at the restaurant. In fact, they had all just eaten there — and thought it was terrible. Neither Stanton nor Friendly dared to speak the truth, though. They mumbled that it was fine, just fine. But Bill Leonard loved food as much as Paley, and the two of them had spent many occasions passing away hours discussing food. Leonard could not compromise the truth on so important a matter, and he blurted out, ‘It was awful. The food was terrible. Fred had a fish dish and got sick. The service was bad and the prices were way out of line.’
“As Leonard continued, on and on, the color started to drain from Stanton’s face, and the effect on Paley was obvious.
“‘It was as though I had said his mother had been caught with a young man,’ said Leonard. The meeting ended more quickly than anyone had anticipated, and the phone was ringing for Friendly almost as soon as he and Leonard returned to the news offices on West Fifty-seventh Street. Friendly reported that it was Stanton with a message for the deputy news chief.
“‘Tell Leonard,’ said Stanton, ‘that he has just set the News Division back 10 years. He’s wrecked everything. All Paley can talk about now is the restaurant.’”
“All he wanted, he told friends in 1965, was a simple place where a secretary could go downstairs and have lunch for seven or eight dollars,” David Halberstam wrote in the Atlantic. “His pleasure was enormous when the restaurant finally opened, and his disappointment equal when it was not a wild success. At one point Paley, puzzled by the lack of its success, turned to the restaurateur running it for him, Jerry Brody, and suggested that they might try a supper club for those who eat around 11 p.m., something that Paley liked to do after an evening of concerts or theater.
“ ‘Bill,’ said Brody, ‘there ain’t no supper business in this town.’
“ ‘No?’ answered Paley, puzzled. ‘Why not?’
“ ‘Because everyone’s home watching the tube.’”
Paley’s restaurant evolved into the Ground Floor Café, the American Charcuterie and then the sixth incarnation of the venerable Rose Restaurant. Today the location offers the haute Asian fusion of the China Grill.
---
Who was Paley? The son of an Eastern European Jewish immigrant to Chicago who’d started a successful cigar company, William S. Paley was, by 1928, a young man looking to make a mark in a young industry, broadcasting.
He’d received a million dollars worth of stock in the Congress Cigar Company, and wanted to use part of it to buy a controlling interest in New York-based UIB, the United Independent Broadcasters, a rival to the industry leader, NBC. But he couldn’t do that without his father’s approval.
“After thinking it over, Sam told his son that he approved of the UIB purchase, that Bill should use $400,000 of his stock funds to buy (Jerome) Louchheim’s interest, and that the family would contribute another $100,000,” wrote Paper. “Paley was delighted and surprised, but most of all surprised. He had convinced himself that Sam would never release him from the cigar business, and he could not resist asking his father why he had yielded. Sam replied that it was all a matter of good business sense. ‘Well,’ he told Bill, ‘if you succeed, it’ll be a bigger business than what you’re in now; and if you don’t succeed,’ his father added, ‘you will have had a lot of experience which might be very useful in the cigar business and to me, and so, on balance, I think you ought to try it.’”
After some hard bargaining, Paley succeeded in securing 50.3 percent of UIB’s stock for $503,000, the day before his 27th birthday.
“Paley was no doubt excited when he arrived at UIB’s office on an upper floor in the tower of the Paramount Building in midtown Manhattan. But the reception was something less than he had hoped for. A stocky office boy refused to admit the boyish-looking president, demanding to see credentials and to know the purpose of his visit.”
The purpose of his visit was to run the company for several decades, as soon as he changed its name to CBS.
---
Programming was always Paley’s first love at CBS, and his desire for both quality and profits wasn’t easy to satisfy. In Paper’s book, programming chief Mike Dann recalled that day in the 1960s when he entered Paley’s office to deliver the good news that CBS now had nine of the top 10 daytime programs. Paley’s response was, “That damn NBC always hangs in there for one.”
Paley’s programming instincts may have been strong, but they weren’t infallible. In the late 1950s, Paley “…rejected any suggestion that the network make use of Ian Fleming’s stories about James Bond, believing that the American public would have no interest in the escapades of a British spy,” Paper wrote.
---
Shaken by CBS’s extremely costly debacle in experimental color television, Paley seemingly lost his nerve. The sure, instinctive executive touch was gradually replaced by indecision. His confidence about programming also suffered.
“Paley was too far removed from his audience,” wrote Sally Bedell Smith in her Paley biography In All His Glory. “For decades, he led a rarified life. He did not carry cash, never stood in line, and each morning his faithful valet Dean knotted his tie. Early in 1977, after CBS acquired Woman’s Day magazine as part of its Fawcett Publications purchase, Paley asked Jack Purcell, president of CBS Publishing, ‘Who would buy this? It’s nothing but recipes.’ Purcell told him that eight million women bought the magazine every three weeks. Paley was amazed. ‘Where do they go to buy it?’ he said. ‘Supermarkets,’ said Purcell, who could tell by Paley’s quizzical look that the CBS chairman had never been in that kind of store. Purcell subsequently took Paley to a supermarket on the West Side. After walking all around the store to inspect the displays, Paley stood transfixes as women moved through the check-out lines buying Woman’s Day or Family Circle.”
But while he may never have been a man of the people, Paley’s principled and fairly consistent support for the independence of CBS News set a journalistic standard that ultimately benefited the American public at large.
---
Whatever his private misgivings, if any, Paley backed Edward R. Murrows nation-rattling broadcast expose of the fascist Sen. Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts in 1954, in a show that risked reprisals against his own network. Murrow biographer A.M. Sperber noted that, “In the morning there had been a  call from Paley: He’d be with Ed tonight and tomorrow as well — a personal gesture for which Murrow was understandably grateful.  Paley also urged Murrow to offer McCarthy reply time on the air: Beat him to the punch,he said.”
---
The charming and aloof Paley’s central position at CBS during decades when CBS was central to American society seemed to make him something more than self-centered. After decades of such power, Paley finally seemed to regard even mortality as just another problem to be solved by an executive decision.
In 1974, his wife Babe was diagnosed with lung cancer. “Bill Paley … now faced the prospect that his 58-year-old wife could die, leaving him, alone in his old age,” wrote Smith. “His perfectly constructed world threatened to unravel. Paley, so accustomed to controlling virtually every aspect of his existence, worked furiously to conquer Babe’s illness. ‘He was motivated by concern for her,’ recalled Kidder Meade. ‘But he also was confronted by something he couldn’t control. He had an extreme impatience of any failure.’”
“The idea of Babe dying was a terrible shock to me,” Paley said. “I had such faith in myself and believed that, somehow, I was going to beat the rap.”

He didn’t. When his wife died in 1978, Paley sank into two years of depression and disorientation, once complaining to a friend, “My memory is so poor now. I can’t even remember whom I sat next to at dinner last night.”

          Enter the TFCU 2016 Million Dollar Bracket Challenge Here   
It's time to dust off the crystal ball. This year, 63 intense college basketball games will fill up the college basketball championship tournament bracket – it's your job to figure out who wins each one... Continue reading…
          Hilariously Unfortunate Typo Makes Basketball Seem Much More Dangerous [PHOTO]   
It's amazing how getting one little letter mixed up can make a world of difference—and make millions of men cringe. Continue reading…
          The Harrowing Translations of Valeria Luiselli   

The number of refugees is staggering and the circumstances harrowing: If you are a girl crossing the border from Mexico, there is an 80 percent chance that you will be raped.

The post The Harrowing Translations of Valeria Luiselli appeared first on The Millions.


          The King of Shopping Mall Surrealism   

McClanahan is not afraid to hold the royal and holy up alongside the mundane and banal. He cups them all together and the result is a book that is as tender as it is fierce.

The post The King of Shopping Mall Surrealism appeared first on The Millions.


          Teju Cole’s Incantations   

In Blind Spot, Cole creates a space in which to notice himself noticing—he’s the third echo in the series, and invites us to stand in as the next—and the result is something richer and more ambiguous than we might have anticipated.

The post Teju Cole’s Incantations appeared first on The Millions.


          Resistance Blooms in Nigeria   

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim's novel goes beyond a tragic love story and proves not just a biting critique of Nigeria’s political structures but also of its cultural, religious, and gendered norms, challenging what a woman can and can’t do within a conservative society.

The post Resistance Blooms in Nigeria appeared first on The Millions.


          Lineage of Restless Women: On Kristen Radtke’s ‘Imagine Wanting Only This’   

Family is how many people understand the world, and that’s okay, but for many women, art is the key to unlocking the mysteries of life.

The post Lineage of Restless Women: On Kristen Radtke’s ‘Imagine Wanting Only This’ appeared first on The Millions.


          Mixed Methodology: On Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve   

Blatt’s quantitative approach to literature is novel --
and very entertaining -- but the book is undermined by poor copyediting and methodologies that call into question the conclusions Blatt reaches.

The post Mixed Methodology: On Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve appeared first on The Millions.


          Fiction’s No Stranger: On Doree Shafrir’s ‘Startup’   

Art imitates life in tech, but novels give us one precious advantage over reality: the time to reflect on what we’re consuming.

The post Fiction’s No Stranger: On Doree Shafrir’s ‘Startup’ appeared first on The Millions.


          Tiny Shudders: On Elizabeth Strout’s ‘Anything Is Possible’   

Strout’s genius is her ability to wring deeply moving stories from ungenerous sources; to reveal, through hurried gestures and single syllables, the welter of feeling the Lydias and Olives of the world are trying to conceal.

The post Tiny Shudders: On Elizabeth Strout’s ‘Anything Is Possible’ appeared first on The Millions.


          Rising Waters: On Omar El Akkad’s ‘American War’   

El Akkad deploys a subtle critique of torture as not only immoral, but ineffective -- and a direct critique of the Bush administration’s embrace of torture and Donald Trump’s lurid flirtation with it.

The post Rising Waters: On Omar El Akkad’s ‘American War’ appeared first on The Millions.


          The Sexless Idiot   

At a time when sex is the starting point rather than the goal of most romantic relationships, we don’t have a rich phrasebook for understanding why two seemingly interested people fail at step one.

The post The Sexless Idiot appeared first on The Millions.


          Redding Woman Wins $12 Million In Malpractice Case   
65-year-old Vivian Gagliano said a surgical mistake at Danbury Hospital in 2008 put her into a month-long coma.
          Ottawa's L-SPARK to Foster Growth for Innovative Enterprise Software Entrepreneurs   

L-SPARK Formed to Cultivate a Distinctive Canadian Startup Ecosystem with $7.7 Million in Funding Over 5 Years

(PRWeb November 03, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/11/prweb12297639.htm


          Wag the tail of the dog days   

By Tom Uhlenbrock

What’s a matter, Bunky? Heat and humidity got you down? Feel like a flower wilting in the sun? Already dreaming of a white Christmas?

Missouri offers several sure-fire ways to beat the dog days of summer. Here are a few tried-and-true favorites.

Float your boat: Missouri’s Ozark streams are spring fed, so the water’s always clear and cold. The Current River flows under a dappled canopy of green as it leaves Montauk State Park on its way to Cedargrove. Further down, Welch Spring dumps in 105 million gallons of crystalline water, every day. That will revive your spirits.

Explore a cave: There are four cave tours offered in three state parks. Onondaga Cave State Park has tours of its spectacular namesake, and of Cathedral Cave. It’s a whole ‘nother world down there, and the temperature is always a cool 57 degrees.

Jump in the lake: The two main beaches at Lake of the Ozarks State Park can get a bit crowded. Try McCubbin Point, where you can swim in a more secluded spot. You’ll pass the entrance to Ozark Caverns on the way, so this can be a twofer.

Hang out at a bar: Head to Sam A. Baker State Park, stop at the main campground and take the short stroll to the gravel bar lining Big Creek. Sink your lawn chair at the edge, and dip your toes into this gentle stream. You can wade, fish, or do nothing and the price is right. Free, like all state parks.


          Fill 'Er Up: Gas Is Under $3 for the First Time in 4 Years   

By Jonathan Fahey, AP Energy Writer NEW YORK -- The sight is so surprising that Americans are sharing photos of it, along with all those cute Halloween costumes, sweeping vistas and special meals: the gas station sign, with a price of $2-something a gallon. "It's stunning what's happening here," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "I'm a little bit shocked." Must Read: 10 Stocks Carl Icahn Loves in 2014 The national average price of gasoline fell 33 cents to end October at $3 a gallon and dipped Saturday to $2.995, according to AAA. That marks the first time in four years that gas has been cheaper than $3 a gallon. When the national average crossed above $3 a gallon in December of 2010, drivers weren't sure they'd ever see $2.99 again. Global demand for oil and gasoline was rising as people in developing countries bought cars by the tens of millions and turmoil was brewing in the oil-rich Middle East. Now demand isn't rising as fast as expected, drillers have learned to tap vast new sources of oil, particularly in the U.S., and crude continues to flow out of the Middle East. Seasonal swings and other factors will likely send gas back over $3 sooner than drivers would like, but the U.S. is on track for the lowest annual average since 2010 -- and the 2015 average is expected to be lower even still. Trisha Pena of Hermitage, Tennessee, recently paid $2.57 a gallon to fill up her Honda CRV. Like many around the country these days, she was so surprised and delighted by the price she took a photo and posted it on social media for her friends to see. "I can't remember the last time it cost under $30 to put 10 or 11 gallons in my tank," she said in an interview. "A month ago it was in the $3.50 range, and that's where it had been for a very long time." Must Read: Jim Cramer: What the Fall in Oil Means Here are a few things to know about cheap gas: Crude prices came off the boil. Oil fell from $107 a barrel in June to near $81 because there's a lot of supply and weak demand. U.S. output has increased 70% since 2008, and supplies from Iraq and Canada have also increased. At the same time, demand is weaker than expected because of a sluggish global economy. In the past, a stronger economy in the U.S., the world's biggest consumer of oil and gasoline, typically meant rising fuel demand. No longer. Americans are driving more efficient vehicles and our driving habits are changing. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute calculates that the number of miles travelled per household and gallons of fuel consumed per household peaked in 2004. The drop from last year's average of $3.51 per gallon will save the typical U.S. household about $50 a month. The drop will save the U.S. economy $187 million a day, and also boost the profits of shippers, airlines and any company that sends employees out on sales calls or for deliveries. It will take an extra 1.5 years to make purchasing a higher-priced, better-mileage Toyota Prius instead of a Toyota Corolla pay off. New York's average of $3.365 is the highest in the continental U.S. South Carolina and Tennessee are the lowest, with an average of $2.74. Politicians are either going to take the credit for lower gasoline prices or blame the other party for not helping them fall further. Don't listen. There are small things politicians can do over long time horizons, like implement fuel economy standards or ease drilling regulations, but the decline in prices is mainly due to market forces. Gasoline is cheaper than milk again. In September the national average price of milk was $3.73 per gallon. The annual average for milk is on track to be more expensive than the annual average for gasoline for the first time since 2011. The gap is even bigger for some bottled water lovers. A case of a dozen 1.5 liter bottles of Evian on Amazon.com costs $38.99, which makes for a price per gallon of $8.20. Must Read: Oil Services Stocks Are Now Too Cheap to Ignore as Crude Oil Prices Slide

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          The Deal: Regency Energy Pays Premium for PVR   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Houston energy midstream services provider Regency Energy Partners said Thursday it agreed to buy PVR Partners of Radnor, Pa., for $5.6 billion, expanding it from the Permian Basin, South Texas and northern Louisiana into Appalachia's Marcellus and Utica shale plays and the Mid-Continent. The deal includes $1.8 billion in debt assumption.PVR was surging on the news, gaining 12% to $25.65, while Regency was losing 8% to $25.61. Holders of PVR common units, Class B units and special units will receive 1.020 common units of Regency for each PVR unit they hold and a one-time cash payment at closing estimated at $40 million. Together, the stocks and cash were valued at $28.68 per unit, a 25.7% premium over PVR's closing price Wednesday of $22.81. Both partnerships' boards have approved the deal. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014 if it clears PVR unitholders and Hart-Scott-Rodino. CreditSights Inc. analysts Andy DeVries and Charles Johnston wrote in a report Thursday that Regency is paying a full multiple for PVR at 19.5 times Ebitda for the last 12 months, 17 times this year's estimated Ebitda and 14 times next year's Ebitda, versus the bidding war for Southern Union Co. that went over 10 times Ebitda ("and everybody thought that was expensive," they wrote). "While the 14 times is high relative to historic norms, that is being driven by the Fed and investors chasing yield in MLP's," they said, noting that 14 times is in line with current merged GP/LP MLP valuations like MarkWest Energy Partners LP (13.9 times) and Enterprise Products Partners LP (14.2 times). CreditSights said it was surprised by the deal, as it expected Regency would instead get merged into Energy Transfer Partners LP. It was also surprised that Regency used equity to fund the deal, as Regency yields 6.7% while Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, also owned by Energy Transfer, yields only 3.7% and thus is a much more richly valued currency for making acquisitions. "We understand PVR is in a different business line than SXL [Sunoco] but we assumed SXL could find its own acquisitions," it wrote. CreditSights is also concerned about Regency picking up PVR's coal royalty business, which makes up 20% of its earnings. "While less than 10% of the combined company's Ebitda, coal is clearly a negative for MLP [master limited partnership] investors," it said. "We assume the negative of the coal business is offset by O&M [operations and maintenance] synergies." PVR also merged with its general partner in 2011 so there are no incentive distribution rights impacting financials, CreditSights noted.The two companies claimed that the deal will create a leading gas gathering and processing platform with a scaled presence across North America's premier high-growth unconventional oil and gas plays in Appalachia, West Texas, South Texas, the Mid-Continent and northern Louisiana. The combination will be slightly dilutive to next year's discounted cash flow. However, the partnerships said it's not expected to affect anticipated cash distribution growth next year, and the enhanced scale, balance sheet strength and diversification are expected to provide substantial Ebitda and discounted cash flow growth over time. Moreover, the deal is expected to better-position the combined company to capitalize on the long-term growth momentum of North American gas production through incremental, high-value expansions around its core asset base and other growth and acquisition opportunities. "This acquisition enhances our overall geographic diversity by providing Regency with a strategic presence in two prolific producing areas, the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Appalachian Basin and the Granite Wash in the Mid-Continent region," Regency CEO Michael Bradley said in a statement. "These are tremendously complementary businesses, and as a result, we expect the increased footprint and scale to create significant synergies and provide substantial organic growth opportunities that will continue to support our goal of increasing distributions and creating unitholder value." PVR chief executive William Shea Jr. said in a statement the merger creates a larger, more diversified operating platform that will be highly attractive to investors, customers, creditors and employees. "We believe that the size and scope of the combined enterprise will be highly beneficial to our unitholders, offering added diversification and critical mass which will provide the needed financial flexibility to fully execute and benefit from the significant portfolio of organic growth projects we have developed over the past three years, especially in our Eastern midstream operations." Bradley will continue as president and CEO, and Thomas Long will continue as CFO. Regency and PVR expect to establish a transition team made up of members of both management teams to prepare for and to oversee the integration. The partnerships said the combination will have assets in many of the most economic, high-growth unconventional oil and gas plays in North America: the Wolfcamp, Bone Springs, Avalon and Cline shale plays in the Permian, the Eagle Ford shale play in South Texas, the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Appalachia, the Granite Wash play in Oklahoma and Texas and the Haynesville Shale and Cotton Valley formation in North Louisiana. The increased scale and footprint will position Regency to build deeper customer relationships and secure and execute additional accretive growth opportunities, the partnerships said. Regency used Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Michael Cannon and Andrew Castaldo, UBS Investment Bank's Rob Pierce and Carlos Rivero and a Baker Botts LLP team including Neel Lemon, Breen Haire, Joshua Davidson, Steve Marcus, A.J. Ericksen, Daniel Gottschalk, Rob Fowler, Paul Cuomo, Scott Janoe, Doug Rayburn and Luke Weedon. PVR tapped Citigroup Global Markets Inc.'s Claudio Sauer and Drew Horn; Evercore Partners' Ray Strong, Rob Pacha, Eric Bauer, Amit Bushan and Joyce Zhang; and Vinson & Elkins LLP's Mike Rosenwasser and Michael Swidler.--By Claire Poole in Houston

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          The Deal: ECOtality Enlists Help for Restructuring   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Despite raising more than $8 million in June, ECOtality Inc. may be on the road to bankruptcy court after losing its funding from the Department of Energy and experiencing issues with its products.

The San Francisco-based provider of clean electric transportation technologies warned that it is currently exploring its options for a restructuring or the sale of its company after being unable to obtain financing to fund its continued operations.

According to an Aug. 12 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ECOtality has hired FTI Consulting as its restructuring adviser. FTI Consulting declined to comment. ECOtality, which builds electric vehicle charging stations, may also be facing a bankruptcy petition "in the very near future," it said in the SEC filing. ...

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          Taxing the Land Transfer Tax in Toronto   
Instead of curbing spending Toronto City Councillor pitches extra tax on Home and condo purchasers. 


Toronto Canada has the highest Tax to purchase a home based on the sales price of the transaction.

The Ontario Government imposes a Land Transfer Tax
The City of Toronto imposes their own Land Transfer tax

Check what a sale a $750,000 would cost you.
http://www.trebhome.com/buying/ltt_calculator/ltt_calculator.htm

Now they want you to pay a NEW tax on the tax

At the city of Toronto's budget committee meeting on Tuesday, they'll be discussing a proposed $75 administration fee. Torontonians will have to pay the fee in order to process a Municipal Land Transfer Tax payment.

It was put forward by Toronto City Councillor Gary Crawford

If passed, the fee would be imposed as of April 1st and would reportedly save the city $5 million a year.

For more details about the proposal visit http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2016.BU18.1

- See more at: http://www.newstalk1010.com/news/2016/01/24/toronto-budget-committee-proposal-looks-to-add-processing-fee-to-municipal-land-transfer-tax-payments#sthash.uqUAa89l.dpuf

   

          We all buy based on monthly payments   
But do you actually stop to think and consider the value of what you are purchasing?

Some recent events are causing me to re examine some decisions I have made in the past;  Namely, we decided that paying $735 per month in maintenance fees was acceptable since we lived near the lake, had transit and concierge both at the front door.

Since, I work primarily from home I relished the conveniences of no maintenance obligations, a garbage chute, the power washing of my above ground parking spot inside a heated garage, snow removal and landscaping.  I walked to my office coffee in hand.

We have a new child.  Everything has changed in the span of 9 months


This is causing our revisit to a detached home;  deemed un attainable by pricing, as detached property in the west Toronto averages well into a one million dollar purchase.

http://www.trebhome.com/market_news/market_watch/

The alternative is to accept modern, thermally efficient, well wired (no aluminium or weekend electricians) centrally located townhouse that are in close proximity to a subway station.

A number of these communities have emerged, Islington Village, Furrow Lane, Van Dusen, Bering Avenue, Six Points Road,  and newest is Westhaven's Tiffany Park, [just south of Judson beside the No Frills]

BUT  what are you buying for almost $900,000?  Lets say that together ...  NINE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!

The lot size in the pictured sample is 14.76 feet by 61. 81 feet. This includes the patio or rear deck over your tandem garage.  There will be a rear door to the alley.  A lot of this size is called a POLT   Parcel of Tied Land,  the balance of the property is actually a condominium corporation for the ongoing road landscaping and upkeep.  This way we are buying a FREEHOLD property.

Trims and finishes are modern granite and hardwoods, Fireplaces are Gas fired, but there is little rear yard for gardening.

Let' examine the Monthly carry costs

$900,000 Purchase Price
  180,000 Downpayment (20% will save you the CMHC premiun)
 $720,000 First Mortgage  at Today's rate  you qualify at 4.64% but get 2.69% for 5 Yr.

LTT (Toronto Land Transfer Tax to purchase)     $28,200

That payment is $3,294 per month assuming no rate increases over the next five year period.  Your mortgage balance at renewal is $611,709.  We have not paid the maintenance fees or property taxes, Nor turned on any lights or the heat.  Have you

A good used car carries at $500 per month with 0.9% financing but I only extended myself to $35,000.

Adding my car debt requires an income level of $250,000 gross per year ( family or combined ) and that simply is beyond most first and second time buyers.  Mortgage Finance rules have changed for 2016 requiring Larger down payments and stricter lending guidelines. Those Millennials fortunate enough to have found a decent paying dependable job will some trouble qualifying for new mortgages; Those with contract work will find it a struggle.

What are your thoughts on Toronto Housing affordability?














          Toronto's Million Dollar Homes are HOT   
The luxury market in the Greater Toronto Area was very active during the first seven months of the year. Sales of properties over $3 million increased 119 per cent year-over-year. The increase of sales at the top-end of the luxury market can be attributed to two factors.

One is overall price appreciation in both markets, driven by low inventory and high demand for single-family homes that has led to more homes meeting the higher dollar threshold. A second factor is high demand for luxury homes from foreign buyers in both markets. 

Two demographics make up the majority of buyers in Toronto’s luxury market.  One is families with older children and parents with professional jobs who have built up enough equity in their previous home to upgrade. The second are families from outside of Canada, primarily China, with school-aged children. These buyers typically choose four or five-bedroom homes and are strongly influenced by proximity to good schools.


http://download.remax.ca/PR/HMO2016/Report/REMAXHousingMarketOutlook2016.pdf#20561241

Average sales prices now exceed $600,000 for a detached home.  Our year over year gain for 2015 is expected to be at or near 10%

Canada Mortgage and housing has introduced new rules for additional down payments requiring 10% down after the $500k threshold.   I doubt these measures will have any effect to slow sales.

Rates continue sub inflation
Inventory Remains Low
Immigration for Jobs and Safe Haven Continues

Are you Selling or Buying?  http://DavidPylyp.com  Come see what's new!

What do you think?











          marcie and easymoney has something to share**   
Reply #3,791
Good luck with Mega Million 06202017

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          Roma sign Rick Karsdorp from Feyenoord for ¬14 million fee   
Roma have completed the signing of full-back Rick
          Is it a mistake for Chelsea to sell Matic to rivals Manchester United?   
Craig Burley believes Nemanja Matic is the enforcer Jose Mourinho needs to strengthen the spine of United's midfield. Craig Burley believes Nemanja Matic is the enforcer Jose Mourinho needs to strengthen the spine of United's midfield. The guys answer your tweets on Chelsea overlooking Fabhino and how agents how evolved since Craig and Shaka's playing days. Nemanja Matic has enjoyed a roller-coaster of a career at Chelsea. Arriving in the summer of 2009, the gangly 21-year-old was unable to make an impression on the first team and was eventually included as a makeweight in the £21 million deal that brought David Luiz from Benfica. In January 2014, it was Matic who was the subject of a £21 million transfer from the Portuguese capital to Stamford Bridge. This time he would have an instant impact, dominating Yaya Toure on his first start...
          June is National Pet Microchipping Month!   
Of the millions of dogs and cats that enter US animal shelters every year, only about 20% of dogs, and less than 2% of cats, are reunited with their owners. By microchipping your pet, you can greatly increase your chances of being reunited with your furry friend in the event that it becomes lost.
          Sandvine Corporation To Be Acquired By Vector Capital   
WATERLOO, ON – May 26, 2017 – Sandvine Corporation (“Sandvine” or the “Company”) (TSX: SVC), announced today that it has entered into an arrangement agreement (the “Arrangement Agreement”) with an affiliate of Vector Capital (“Vector Capital”). Vector Capital is a leading global private equity firm specializing in transformational investments in established technology businesses. Under the Arrangement Agreement, and with support from Sandvine’s Board of Directors, an affiliate of Vector Capital, Scalar AcquireCo Corp. (“Scalar AcquireCo.”), will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Sandvine, other than certain shares held by members of management, for CAD $3.80 in cash per share. The price per share implies an aggregate fully‐diluted equity value for Sandvine of approximately CAD $483 million.
          Feast and famine   
With the Christmas parties and New Year feasting that's featuring in many millions of homes this week, the Radio New Internationalist team wants to get it's teeth into some of the interviews that we've done during 2007 about the food we're finding on our dinner tables: Angus Calder - a company director in search of more efficient agriculture - takes us through the problems that threaten our food supplies. As rising populations face falling levels of both water and agriculture land, he
          Download Free Dude, Where's My country? Ebook PDF Free   

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          Ontario, the city of uninspected apartments   
Yes, I know I'm supposed to be a danged libertarian, but this just doesn't strike me as right.

Andrea Bennett covered this story.

It seems that there was a proposal before the City Council to require city inspections of apartments, at a charge of $36 per unit, at the astonishingly high frequency of once every 48 months.

Most if not all of the City Council members indicated their support for the measure at an April 15 meeting, either personally or by letter.

But now, the Council has deferred implementation of the measure, delaying its discussion until June 3.

Why?

Karen Fricke, executive director of the Apartment Association of the Greater Inland Empire or AAGIE, said her organization, which represents more than 5,000 units within the city, said she had planned a rally at the Euclid Avenue bandstand before Tuesday's meeting.

The scheduled protest was canceled, however, when city officials agreed to revise the ordinance, Fricke said....

Fricke said with the $36 per door fee, a few Ontario landlords in her association will pay $17,000 a year.

That fee was too high, and the proposed entry of every single unit would be too time-consuming for city staff, apartment managers and residents, she said.


Let's look at that $17,000 fee that is so detrimental to the landlords. For a landlord to have to pay $17,000 a year, that means that the landlord has at least 472apartments that need to be inspected that year. And, since inspections are on a four year cycle, that means that the landlord actually owns 1,888 apartments.

Now let's figure that the 1,888 apartments have an average monthly rental of $500 per month. (That's probably low, but humor me.) This means that each of the 1,888 apartments takes in gross rentals of $6,000 per year.

In other words, the landlord that has to pay $17,000 a year is already grossing over $11 million a year.

And, what's more, the landlord doesn't have to pay the money. You can guess what's going to happen once this gets ratified. Anyone who rents an apartment in Ontario will suddenly find themselves subject to a $36 inspection fee. Even if they stay in the apartment for less than four years, they'll still have to pay a $36 inspection fee.

But what the hey, the Apartment Association Greater Inland Empire (AAGIE) is just doing its advocacy. But they can't plead poverty.
          McDonalds - Starbucks Round Four   
Now if this is the only blog you read, you may be wondering about rounds one, two, and three. Well, those rounds appeared in my general interest blog, mrontemp.

Round one, entitled You think Feldman-Israel is a bad war? Wait until McDonalds-Starbucks gets into battle mode!, ventured the opinion that Starbucks would do better by differentiating itself from McDonalds, rather than trying to grab the McDonalds crowd.

But then I remembered how businesses work. Round two concentrated on the needs of stakeholders other than the customer - namely, the investors. Investors, whether public company shareholders or private company investors or venture capitalists, wants businesses to grow and expand and continue to show growth, and growth, and growth. A Starbucks that maintains the same level of revenues and profits is a failure for those folks.

I just wrote round three, which concentrated on cost optimization, or whatever euphemism you want to use for cost cutting - another thing that the investors want to see, since lower costs result in higher profits, don't they?

Well, I saved round four for this blog, because it's taking place right in Ontario. Continuing on the cost-cutting theme, but adding a new twist.

From the Daily Bulletin:

Mervyns distribution warehouse in Ontario is laying off 200 employees and will outsource to a manager of third-party logistics vendors called Kalserve....

Mervyns expects to save $4million. It will keep about 30 employees in Ontario to oversee its third-party vendors.


More here. While Matthew Wrye took the local point of view, the Sacramento Business Journal noted that layoffs took place in northern California also. (By the way, I didn't realize that Mervyns was no longer part of Target. But hey, it's only been independent for four years now.)

As for Kalserve...well, I can't find out anything about any logistics company called Kalserve, or for that matter any company called Kalserve, other than an unidentified company in Dublin, Ireland.

But Mervyns would probably like it better that way.
          Carnegie Science Center gets $7.5M donation for new wing   
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Carnegie Science Center has received its largest gift, a $7.5 million donation from PPG and its corporate foundation for the interactive museum in Pittsburgh....
          Grains Worth BILLIONS Allowed to Rot in India While Poor Starve   
Contrary to popular belief, India is not a poor country. Just terribly selfish and heartless. After all, they worship millions of gods who are heartless (because they are no god). If you’ve been raised to believe India as synonymous with poverty, you’ve been lied to. …………….. NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Every day some 3,000 Indian […]
          U.S. charges Penn West Petroleum, ex-executives with accounting fraud   

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. securities regulators on Wednesday filed civil accounting fraud charges against Canada-based oil and gas company Penn West Petroleum Ltd and several of its former top finance executives.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Penn West Petroleum, which changed its name earlier this week to Obsidian Energy, had moved hundreds of millions of dollars from operating expense accounts to capital expenditure accounts.

That maneuver, the SEC said, artificially reduced the company's operating costs by as much as 20 percent at times, and improved metrics for oil extraction efficiency.

The company issued a statement saying the lawsuit is based on "historic" accounting practices that were discovered and reported to the SEC in July 2014.

The company restated its financial statements in September that same year.

"We are naturally disappointed that the SEC has chosen to pursue these past matters which we reported to them and fully remediated years ago," Chief Executive Officer David French said.

"This is particularly true since the employees involved in the matters have long since left the company," he added.

The SEC's complaint, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan, also charged former Chief Financial Officer Todd Takeyasu, former vice president of accounting and reporting Jeffery Curran, and former operations controller Waldemar Grab.

The SEC said the three had manipulated operating expenses to lower a key metric related to the cost of oil extraction.

Grab, the SEC said, is cooperating with the agency and has agreed to settle the case without admitting or denying wrongdoing.

Richard Albert, an attorney for Takeyasu, said his client is confident that "the SEC's claims against him are meritless and he looks forward to defending this case vigorously and prevailing in court."

Attorneys for Curran and Grab could not be immediately reached for comment.

Separately, the SEC said on Wednesday that two of the company's other former CEOs had reimbursed the company for cash bonuses and stock awards. Neither were found to have engaged in any misconduct.

The company said it does not expect the litigation to "materially alter" its business activities.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Grant McCool and Phil Berlowitz)


          Council to apply for SCBG for Williamson Water Project   
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. – With the current water system infrastructure in need of an overhaul, the Williamson City Council approved a motion for Region II to proceed with an application for a $1.5 million Small Cities Block Grant to be used for the Williamson Water Project. A public meeting was held last Thursday in Council Chambers […]
          Consensus Document of the Italian Association of Hospital Cardiologists (ANMCO), Italian Society of Pediatric Cardiology (SICP), and Italian Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetrics (SIGO): pregnancy and congenital heart diseases   
<span class="paragraphSection">The success of cardiac surgery over the past 50 years has increased numbers and median age of survivors with congenital heart disease (CHD). Adults now represent two-thirds of patients with CHD; in the USA alone the number is estimated to exceed 1 million. In this population, many affected women reach reproductive age and wish to have children. While in many CHD patients pregnancy can be accomplished successfully, some special situations with complex anatomy, iatrogenic or residual pathology are associated with an increased risk of severe maternal and fetal complications. Pre-conception counselling allows women to come to truly informed choices. Risk stratification tools can also help high-risk women to eventually renounce to pregnancy and to adopt safe contraception options. Once pregnant, women identified as intermediate or high risk should receive multidisciplinary care involving a cardiologist, an obstetrician and an anesthesiologist with specific expertise in managing this peculiar medical challenge.This document is intended to provide cardiologists working in hospitals where an Obstetrics and Gynecology Department is available with a streamlined and practical tool, useful for them to select the best management strategies to deal with a woman affected by CHD who desires to plan pregnancy or is already pregnant.</span>
          Apr 3 with Alan Oppenheimer Skeletor and The Never Ending Story   
Shaun and Nathan sit down with Mr. Alan Oppenheimer the voice of Skeletor from He-Man, Falcor from The Never Ending Story, as well as Star Trek, Happy Days, The Six Million Dollar Man, Night Court and so much more. Classic cartoons, Movies, Broadway, and Television only on GhostMan & Demon Hunter Show! -Download Here-
          Weekly Wrap- Up: The Week We Were Bored EVERY day!    
Typically we enjoy a good month of swimming in the lake, playing outside, playing with water balloons, etc before I hear my boys complain that they are bored.  This year, however, my boys only made it one week.  I must have heard "there's nothing to do" a million times this week.

No one wanted to go swimming in the lake, play outside, go on a hike, a field trip, etc... nothing.  I must have suggested a handful of things we could do each day and every single time my suggestions were met with shrugs, eye rolls, or sighs... so I let them be bored and ignored the complaints.

By the end of the week they were all pretty good at finding ways to keep themselves occupied!



Friday we met up with some friends at the movies and saw Cars 3.  Alec started the day making some delicious strawberry/ white chocolate chunk cookies (recipe will be on the blog tomorrow!).  The older two boys spent quite a bit of time working with the color by number coloring books and markers too.  They each brought a book and some markers in the car to keep them occupied while listening to our book on CD.




The boys were pretty much on their own Saturday.  My husband and I spent much of the day in our attic trying to get our duct work set up for our new heating/air conditioning unit (ours died a few months ago and getting a new unit required quite a lot of work!).  The boys spent time playing with their Lego sets, coloring, and crafting.  I was so startled to see Evan sitting at the table using Perler beads.  He had fun making a Minecraft healing potion using the new Minecraft idea book we got.  Ian took off with his grandfather to work for the afternoon; they built another picnic table.




The boys spent a good portion of the day outside on Sunday.  Ian started the day fishing with his grandfather.  The boys went swimming and tubing.  Evan asked us to take him to Gamestop so he could buy a new video game using the money he earned working.  We needed to head to Lowe's and buy some more supplies to get our heating system up and running anyway and we stopped for lunch at Subway.  We got the air conditioning up and running by dinnertime and we had a very nice meal for my husband with all of his favorites for Father's Day.  Complete with fresh strawberry shortcake that Alec made special for him.



Monday and Tuesday were pretty quiet days.  Ian had a friend over on Monday and the boys spent some time outside playing in the yard and up in their rooms.  We did go to karate this week and the boys got to work on break falls and forward rolls.  We played some card games, spent some time out in the sun and just enjoyed a few quiet days at home.  Alec spent lots of time in his room coloring and reading.



The boys helped me clean the whole house on Wednesday; we had a guy coming to inspect it and take pictures since we were switching insurance companies.  They grumbled a bit but realized it had been awhile since we cleaned.  We worked together room by room and got the whole house looking nice within an hour.  The older boys settled down to play Monopoly while Evan and I played Uno and War.  By the time lunch rolled around the older boys were yelling at each other and I had them clean up the game.  They were pretty unhappy with one another for the rest of the day.  We spent another afternoon inside since the caterpillars are out in full force now and even falling from the trees; though the younger boys and I did chance a quick walk up to our mailbox to get some fresh air and exercise.  We also had fun watching some hummingbirds at our feeder.  Ian headed off to work with his grandfather after supper and Evan and I settled down to watch the Lego Batman movie (again).  Alec had a sleepover planned that had been canceled at the last minute and while he was so upset he did cheer himself up watching some funny YouTube videos about Minecraft .


Ian headed out to work on Thursday morning.  He was moving the painted picnic tables out of our yard and bringing over some new ones for his brothers to paint.  He also had some mowing to do but the mower was running low on gas so he had to take a break until his father or grandfather got home.  The boys were fighting again and I figured I needed to find something for us to do so I pulled out some crafting supplies and we tried our hand at making metal stamped bookmarks.  Next thing I knew my boys were swimming (no that's not our pool), riding scooters and bikes, having a water balloon fight.  We spent the whole rest of the day outside!







Don't you just feel so bad for them?

What do you do when your kids complain that they're bored?

Linking Up With:

Family Friday Link-Up Party

The Homeschool Post

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          Enterprise Account Executive - Lithium Technologies - Austin, TX   
The Lithium® logo is a registered Service Mark of Lithium Technologies. Reach 500 million users....
From Lithium Technologies - Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:37:41 GMT - View all Austin, TX jobs
          Touring a Newport Mansion!    
The boys and I decided to head out Monday for a field trip.  We had quite a few things planned to do and places to see before the schools in our area let out.  We've been putting off our trips waiting for the nice weather and sunshine.



I finally gave up on that and we decided to just head out.  All three boys settled on touring the Mable House mansion so that's what we did.  It was rainy and foggy but we didn't mind.




We knew we wanted a self- guided tour and several of the mansions offer those with the use of a headset.  The headset told us about each room, the family that lived there, and all sorts of wonderful facts and tid-bits!  (Many of which I took notes on using my camera's memo feature... that I somehow managed to delete before arriving home).






This 11 million dollar summer cottage was built by William K Vanderbilt as a birthday gift for his wife Alva.  It's called the marble house because the outside and most of the inside is comprised of marble. 

They had three children; one girl and two boys and a few times throughout the tour we were treated to excerpts from their daughter Consuelo's diary. 




ceiling of the dining room 


Everything from the fireplace to the walls of this Gothic room was built in France and then disassembled and shipped to America to be re-built and put in place.  


The walls in the ballroom were finished in 22 karat gold!  There were many depictions of the Sun god and Greek gods throughout the ballroom and much of the house.  The Vanderbilts thought of their home as a mini Versailles palace believing themselves to be on par with royalty. 



Alva's room was done all in purple with a raised bed platform.  She was a proponent of women's suffrage and hosted rallies on the lawn of the Marble house.  She was also the first woman of her time and social status to divorce her husband.  She then married one of his friends and moved into another mansion down the road.  


Since deliveries were made on the ground floor of the home the stairway leading up through the house had bars and a lock to keep anyone from wandering upstairs to where the family would be.  

The large kitchen was where food was prepared for the family and all of the parties they hosted.  




One of the main reasons we chose to tour Marble house was so we could see the pagoda in the back garden.  This homage to Chinese architecture was built by Alva to offset all the Greek accents found throughout the house. 





The boys had such a great time and we learned so much!  I think it took us about an hour to an hour and half to tour the whole house.  It wasn't very crowded so we were able to take our time in each of the rooms and look at all the details.

If you are ever in the Newport area I highly recommend visiting!

Linking Up With:

Picture

Saturday Shuffle Blog Hop #100
Amanda’s Books and More



Marilyns Treats

          First step is building quantum computers, next step is scaling them   
It was a great pleasure to get a tour of the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Quantum Computation today from Prof Andrea Morello. The Centre was last year awarded A$70 million in funding from private and public sectors with the aim of achieving ‘10 qubits in 5 years’. On the face of it […]
          Chiffrer les données dans le Cloud public tout en respectant la GDPR   
La startup Difenso, fondée en 2015, vient d’achever une seconde levée de fonds, qui mène à 2 millions d’euros les fonds récoltés pour son financement depuis sa création. Accroître le réseau de revendeurs La priorité actuelle est le développement commercial (suite…)
          Whatsupic - Israël s’en Prend à l’Algérie pour le don de 25 Millions de Dollars au Profit des Palestiniens   

Le président algérien Abdelaziz
Bouteflika a annoncé dans un communiqué ce mercredi avoir octroyé une
aide financière de 25 millions de dollars au profit de la Palestine. Cet
acte, généreux soit-il, a fait rage chez le gouvernement israélien.





Whatsupic - Israël s’en Prend à l’Algérie pour le don de 25 Millions de Dollars au Profit des Palestiniens
          Le cynisme israélien vole de ses propres ailes   
Israël craint un impact sur son secteur touristique, déjà mis à mal par les quinze jours de conflit avec le Hamas palestinien. Le pays accueille chaque année des millions de visiteurs étrangers, dont plus de 300.000 Français.

Source: Le Figaro.

Je croyais que les roquettes du Hamas étaient dangereuses, moi.
On ne vous dit pas tout!
Ou on nous prend pour des cons?

          2014-15 Ann Arbor Public Schools Budget Includes Salary Freeze   
Additional students, a freeze on employee pay, and outsourcing custodial work are keys to Ann Arbor Public Schools having a balanced budget for next year. The school board approved the $197 million general fund plan early Thursday morning.
          Oct. 10th with guest Dr. Raymond Moody   
Dr Moody is a world thought leader in the area of near death studies, having coined the phrase “near death experience” and penned over 11 books on the subject.  His famous book Life After Life has sold 13 million copies worldwide and has just been re-released for its 25th anniversary edition. Dr Moody continues to […]
          Some cheer for Mallya: United Breweries' profit rises   
United Breweries Ltd on Friday posted a net profit of Rs 34.2 crore (342 million) for the second quarter ended September 30, as against Rs 19.5 crore ...
          How I Became The Bomb : Break Hearts   

DIRECTOR// David Shamban
DP// Hayden Mason
PRODUCER// Jon Burr
1ST AC// Owen Jackson
GAFFER// Evan Caddell
KEY GRIP// Talbot Solenberger
COLORIST// Jimmy Cadenas
VISUAL FX SUPERVISOR// Jonathan Parris

This is the follow up to last year's "Ulay, Oh" video, which has almost 30 million YouTube plays to date.
youtube.com/watch?v=CAID_2iKO5Y

Both songs are on the Adonis EP, also released last year, which is available on iTunes here: itunes.apple.com/us/album/adonis-ep/id1003406655

howibecamethebomb.com/

Cast: David Shamban and Hayden Mason


          50 Years Later, The Biting Satire Of 'The Smothers Brothers' Still Resonates   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYYCiaHhnx4 Tom and Dick Smothers came to CBS in 1967 not really intending to lead or support a revolution. They just got caught up in it — and they happened to have a network program, with some 30 million viewers, on which they criticized the war in Vietnam, celebrated rock 'n' roll music and satirized politics and politicians. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which premiered 50 years ago this week, got its message out slowly and sometimes sneakily at first. A lot of it came through the music and the hot new acts booked to perform on air. Over the run of the show, it was like a series of anthems from the counterculture — from Buffalo Springfield singing "For What It's Worth" to the Beatles singing "Revolution" — with the American TV debut of The Who, and the West Coast cast of Hair, and Dion singing a song about assassinated heroes in between. The Beatles didn't appear live to sing "Hey Jude" and "Revolution." They'd gotten disinterested in touring by
          JDM Associates Awarded $20 Million U.S.D.O.E. Better Buildings Initiative Contract   

Better Buildings is a broad, multi-strategy initiative aiming to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s buildings by 20% over ten years. JDM will provide the leadership role in working with corporate leaders, utilities, universities, states, municipalities, government officials, commercial real estate investors and others to meet this ambitious goal; estimated savings in energy bills of more than $80 billion per year will be used to create jobs, hire more workers, invent new products and create additional shareholder and asset value.

(PRWeb June 05, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12767767.htm


          In Its Retelling, 'Roots' Is Powerful, Must-See Television   
The original Roots miniseries, based on the 1976 Alex Haley novel tracing his own family tree from African tribal life to American slavery and freedom, was a phenomenon. ABC showed it over consecutive nights in January 1977, not because it was expected to earn huge ratings but because network executives were afraid it wouldn't. So they crammed the entire miniseries into an eight-day prime-time marathon, which aired, by coincidence, during a massive winter storm that snowed in much of the Northeast. Roots was TV's original binge-viewing experience, and it kept drawing more viewers every night. Its finale, still one of the most-viewed scripted programs in TV history, was seen by more than 100 million people. It started a new national dialogue about race and racism, and slavery and genealogy, and launched or heightened the careers of several black actors, including LeVar Burton, John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett Jr. and Ben Vereen. So why bother with a remake? After all, the TV
          W.Va. Sen. Capito’s difficult journey to ‘no’   

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced Tuesday she was against the current version of the Senate GOP health care bill. In an exchange that was filmed by someone else in the room and later posted on Facebook , where it has been viewed more than 5 million times, Hill showed the senator photos of Amy…

link: W.Va. Sen. Capito’s difficult journey to ‘no’


          Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort belatedly registers as foreign agent – USA TODAY   

USA TODAY Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort belatedly registers as foreign agentUSA TODAYWASHINGTON – Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort belatedly registered as a foreign agent for a pro-Russia group in Ukraine, disclosing that his firm was paid slightly more than $17 million over two years, according to documents filed with the … and…

link: Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort belatedly registers as foreign agent – USA TODAY


             
Mother of all Establishments

The ruling class, the creme de la creme, the establishment - the mother of all establishments in fact - what is it like? Its wit tends to be both dry and acerbic. Its city is New York. Its profession is attorney. Its manner cool. Its clothes black. Its heroes Kennedys. Its music is mostly jazz standards I think. Its passion is film, or maybe dating. (Though I doubt their self-conscious coupling deserves the name of passion.) Its ethnicity is mixed, but the Anglo-Saxon and Jewish elements predominate. Its politics are moderate but liberal on certain social issues like abortion.

Many minor-league establishments send their best players to the big leagues. The ultimate establishment draws from corporate CEO's; judges; college presidents; the highest ranks of the military; union bosses; partners in prestigious law firms; titans of finance; media royalty; upper echelons of the ever-spreading government bureaucracies; nabobs from the political world - governors, senators, etc.; successful entertainers of all kinds- talk show hosts, rap artists, journalists. Powers from other nations are included: prime ministers, despots, treasury secretaries, generals, top smugglers and rights activists. The distillation of all these subsidiary elites, everyone from bankers to performance artists, physicists and film stars, mayors who've clawed their way up from the streets alongside the residue of the most aristocratic families - are all blended together to create the mother of all establishments.

Don't confuse the ultimate establishment with the penultimate establishment. The penultimate establishment consists of conservative Republicans picked to play the role of the ultimate establishment. They are the designated target, the Simon Legree at whom we are directed to hiss. They, very visibly, perform the disagreeable but necessary tasks of Power. They are the millionaires who keep the economy moving, the generals who keep the armies moving. They are the father figures who can, eventually, be safely discarded.

If you think these Republicans are in fact the ultimate establishment they are supposed to be you are wrong: 1) Conservative Republicans always lose the bitter battles over social policy - the struggles over segregation, abortion, feminism, gay rights, etc. 2) The supreme establishment would never, at least visibly, ally itself with the rich or the military. The rich are wildly unpopular (They like escaping their tax obligation as much as cutting badly-needed services to working people.) The military commanders may be popular domestically, but they are hated abroad. The supreme establishment instead derives power from pretending to battle these dangerous forces. 3) Businessmen are ruled by the market, by the desires of consumers. The government, in contrast, can do whatever it wants - it can arrest you; jail you; take your house, your children, all your money.

What are the beliefs of the mother of all establishments? While hostile to the world's religions, especially those denigrated as "fundamentalist", the ultimate establishment does possess a faith. They hate any restrictions placed on individuals by churches or clan patriarchs or rural communities - any restrictions placed on individuals by Tradition.

The era of this ultimate establishment is nearly over. Soon they and their urbane vanities will disappear. Then I think people will wonder how so few ruled over so many for so long.
             
Disinterested

Earlier attempts to build a better world have collapsed. The record is muddy at best - mired in ambiguity: Christians - They have founded schools and hospitals, helped abolish slavery and gladitorial games. Unfortunately they have also fought cruel religious wars. Democrats - The people have established governments, but unfortunately these governments have invaded, massacred, stolen, enslaved (see Andrew Jackson). Liberals - What if we are wicked and foolish? What worth is our freedom then? Scientists - Scientific discoveries have improved our lives, but we have a tendency to employ these discoveries to make weapons. Even medical discoveries, though they have benefited millions, have caused some of our worst problems - like overpopulation. I am afraid neither our godliness nor our goodness can save us.

But eugenics can save us. Lead us to Eden, Arcadia, Shangri-La, The Blessed Isles. The silicon revolution changed the world, but the DNA revolution will remake the world entirely. More can be done in this century to improve the lot of mankind than in all previous centuries combined. This generation, if virtuous enough and if far-sighted enough, can do more to benefit mankind than any other generation.

George Washington resisted the temptation to seize power in a military coup d'etat. Americans look back at him with gratitude and awe. Future generations (how many?) will look back on us with gratitude and awe if we can be as noble, as disinterested.
          4M Blechdosenroboter   
19,90 EUR
Millionen von Blechdosen werden jeden Tag weggeworfen. Helfen Sie eine von ihnen zu recyclen und in einen coolen Roboter zu verwandeln (Bausatz).Geeignet ab: Grundschule, weiterführende SchuleGeeignet für: Sachunterricht, Sachkunde, Werkunterricht, TechnikunterrichtGeeignet als: Lernspielzeug, LehrmittelFördert: Technikverständnis, Verstehen physikalischer ZusammenhängeZwei 1,5 V AA Batterien und ein Kreuzschlitz-Schraubendreher werden zusätzlich benötigt. Außerdem natürlich eine gereinigte Getränke- oder andere, leere Dose.Achtung:Erstickungsgefahr! Verschluckbare Kleinteile, nicht geeignet für Kinder unter 3 Jahren.

          Damn Banks II   
I received a comment on my last post from Anonymous who seems to be an insider at one time. It was very informative and brought up some good points that I had to answer. The comment was long and my responses were at least just as long so I decided to make a new post. Maybe we all can learn something and clear up some misunderstandings, if any.

Anonymous is in yellow text, mine in white.


Anonymous said...

    LOL! SOME of what you said is true, some are "spiced" if you will.

    BTW, that building that you said came from somewhere... It isnt OWNED by NBAD. That building is owned by a member of a royal family. 3 floors are rented by NBAD.

You maybe have me there! I looked for a stock photo of a big building with the NBAD logo on it for the first photo. Its kind of a blogging thing. Here is the real HQ, the NBAD tower.

NBAD Tower



    There is no link with immigration, or with the traffic dept. If you want I will tell you the exact process (I had sadly asked that many ppl be bared from flying myself)

When a person properly quits their job, they have to surrender their passport to their employer/sponsor and will only get it back (on the day of travel) after all paperwork, including clearance letters from the banks et al, are submitted. If an expat cannot provide these, they do not get their passport back until all debts are paid. They can't leave as they have they have no passport, job or home at this point. I have heard jail is a desperate option.

What this does is creates the runner/absconder phenominon. Things go bad here with some folks for various reasons and they are deep enough in debt they cannot come up with the cash to settle local debts. So instead of having the option of leaving and paying the debt from abroad, they get desperate and just escape. I see enough dusty cars with flat tires in airport parking lots to know this is quite common. I think most people want to pay their debts but these rules force some into a corner. Seems the banks stand to lose more the way things are than trying to work with their customers before it becomes a legal problem.

Curiously, as I said in a previous post the banks seem uninterested in retrieving these automotive orphans to mitigate losses.

Banks Seem Unconcerned About Recovering These Assets, They Are Everywhere

 
    Also, there are reasons why banks here cant allow people to pay for debt from abroad. Mainly because you cant enforce it in any way. If a bank scares you into thinking that it can "get" you when ur back home, they are usually mistaken. Few are the countries in which a bank here can get a bad debt holder to pay. Truth.

I think that is changing. I recently got a small personal loan and was asked for family addresses back in the US and my Social Security Number so I could be easily located.Debt collector firms wordwide purchase bad debts from banks all the time and take on the risk of recovering the debt. VISA and Mastercard are also global companies with aggressive collection methods and could damage my credit rating back in the US.

    There are however non official ways to continue to pay for asset backed loans (Like a car or house) but we wont get into those. I will say that I had set a few such schemes up for customers and they did not cause me any issues till the day I left. But not all customers are like that. With 20% of the country being labor, and another 30% being low level employees (with low incomes) you simply cant take chances with everyone. It it really is a chance.

    The banking system here is based on caution. In the UAE it's the exact opposite. Yes, a healthy way to be would to have a nice balance, but you have to understand the contact, this region is not a stable one. the UAE may be stable, but it's surrounded by shit and bad stuff.

    Also, with 90% of the country's population foreigners, the control you have over securing your loan is close to nil. Truth is if you take out 500K worth of loans and leave within a week, the bank will have no warning and little recourse.

I think any of the banks here would go after someone owing that amount of money. They would be crazy not to.

    As for banks not being all they can be to consumers, it depends both on the bank and the consumer.

    If you have a salary of 55K, a 1.6 million mortgage, a car loan, a personal loan, and credit cards, the banks are the best you'll ever deal with.

    If you make 55K and send 45 back home on the same day, most banks wont care about you.

I truly understand about the demographics here and the difficulties they bring.

    Also, not all banks here have the same focus. NBAD has, and is, and probably always will be a corporate bank. Its main job (originally, and still) is to be the banker of the Govt of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as well as govt owned companies, semi govt companies, and large corporations.

    Do they have consumer banking solutions? yes. Are they good? Maybe. Are they the best? No.

    For a consumer, a more consumer focused bank like RAK bank might be a better option. RAK Bank is one of the few UAE banks that does NOT have a corporate banking section. Only consumer (you) and SME (Your small business)

    As for consumer rates (You mention a credit card at 35%) yes, it is highway robbery. But things are getting better. A few months back the central bank limited what a bank can offer and charge in terms of base banking and lending. CC were not included. Maybe in the revision next year. (Last year a certificate of liability costed 400, today its no more than 100 by law)

I have VISA and MC CC's with US banks that charge 10-12%. I agree 35% is very excessive for the same here. I took that aformentioned small personal loan (unsecured) for a very reasonable single digit rate. The credit cards are a cash cow and are aggressively marketed by commissioned salespeople. The rules seem lax and a lot of naive newcomers succomb the the lure of easy and high credit limits.

    The lack of a central lending database = ppl can get into debt easily and with multiple banks without the banks knowing. But this isnt the banks fault. The lack of the data base is the system's fault, but no one forces all these morons to sign those loan agreements.

 You are right on this. Theoretically, a person can get multiple credit accounts from several institutions without being qualified for the aggregate of the limits. This would not happen in countries with an independent credit bureau because that person could be tracke and info shared between financial institutions. In the US, every citizen has a credit score which sets limits on the amount that can be borrowed.

    It simply isnt anyone else's fault if you cant manage your finances.

I agree with you on that, but it seems a lot of people get into trouble in the UAE and that trouble can cause very serious legal consequences. In my opinion, the banks are like drug pushers making easy credit available to most. Hell, I bought a 99,000AED car on 100% credit after just 90 days on the job. Was that dumb...yes! Would I do it again...no! That car is sold now and I currently free of debt, at least in the UAE. I know many that are way over their heads in credit balances and will have to be in the UAE many more years than they want.

But ultimately it was my decision as I rose to the bait and took the hook.The banks are enablers but it is ultimately the individual that is responsible to refuse the offer.

    But yeah, you added alot of "baharat" (Spices) to the story Ace.

I didn't intend on singling out NBAD. They have treated me quite well except for the online banking troubles. My post tended to drift toward the overall financial system in the UAE as seen by a retail customer.

You are/were obviously a bank employee. I appreciate the insight and if there is something I failed to understand, let me know and maybe I won't sprinkle as much "baharat" on my future posts about the rules here.


UPDATE:
I just received an email today, 19 November, from the bank addressing my initial question I asked on 29 October, see below.

Email from Ace to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, 29 October:

I am now blocked from my online account. I need this fixed as I have bills to pay. Your phone message says 24/7 service for the online accounts and I was informed I could not be helped after 11:00 PM as the technical service was closed.

Ever since the website has changed, there have been problems.

Ace

The "prompt" reply 3 weeks later, 19 November:

Dear Ace,
              
Thank you for your recent email.

You are kindly requested to reply the following to help us process this faster:
                         
1. NBAD Account number:
2. PO Box number:       
3. Branch you received the password from:
4. Mobile/Telephone number:
5. NbadOnline User ID: 
6. time to be contacted :        
                                           
For any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again on toll free 800 XXXX  from outside UAE) between 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM on all UAE working days (from Saturday to Thursday) or send us a reply email.
                                             
Thank you for using nbadOnline.
                                        
Regards,                                 
                                        
Back Office Person
Internet Banking Unit
National Bank of Abu Dhabi

I had better luck with the telephone help-line and the problem was solved 2 1/2 weeks ago through them.  Apparently the email guys are not only unaware that the problem was fixed a long time ago by a 1 1/2 hour call to the help-line, they are just getting around to looking at the problem 3 weeks after my initial email complaint. Unbelievable!!!!

I expect things to work once they are set up. Here  internet , banking , electricity and cable TV services are very fragile and I have experienced many unexpected shutdowns. I cringe when I have to enter the labyrinth of what is called "customer service" in Abu Dhabi. It has always meant a time consuming and frustrating experience trying to correct a situation that was not of my making.  













          FAI Race at Yas Island   
I usually don't post twice in one day but I am in a writing mood and wanted to get this done. I went to this race two weeks ago. The venue was the the Yas Island Marina Circuit which is just a few KM's from my humble abode. When I first moved here, it was a wasteland, everything was under construction and just to get a loaf of bread was an ordeal. Now Khalifa City A as it is known has come into its own. I rarely have to venture into the city anymore.

There are world class hotels in this area now and the Yas Island complex is home to the Formula One race and many other automotive events.

This will be mostly photos...one picture is worth a thousand words!

 
Ferrari World Theme Park, I am not Kidding! Landscape Pending








Roller Coaster at Ferrari World
Yas Marina Circuit

At the Racertack

 
The Pits

A Dragster Built for Three, Who Would have Thunk?
One For the Kidlets!
Can we have have that in English? Damn!

Some Attention Seekers, It worked!
Looks like the good Captain is in danger of losing his First Mate!

Some Nice Ladies at the Info Booth
Twilight at the Track

A Yacht Show was running Concurrently


A Million LED's





A hell of an Engine you will not find in your everyday Kia. That would be overkill!


Where your $4/gallon is going.


 Damn, left my checkbook at home again!

Ditto!
How the Other  Half Lives

Note the cubby-hole for the Jetski.

Racecars and yachts made for a good day, I enjoy the choices I have here.



          The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)   
none
          Soldes : plus de périodes moins longues   
Ce mercredi 28 juin marque le début des soldes d’été partout en France. Un événement très suivi... Mais pas autant qu’auparavant.
Soldes : plus de périodes moins longues

Selon un sondage Toluna, 73% des Français ont l’intention de profiter des bonnes affaires durant les soldes d’été. Un bon chiffre sur Le papier, mais dans les faits, ce pourcentage recule de 4,4 points par rapport à l’an dernier. 2,2 millions de consommateurs pourraient ainsi passer leur tour, au grand dam des commerçants qui ont pignon sur rue.

 

Conscient de la désaffection qui touche de plus en plus les soldes — d’été comme d’hiver —, Bruno Le Maire a annoncé le lancement d’une concertation entre tous les acteurs du commerce. Alors qu’il inaugurait les soldes dans les grands magasins parisiens, le ministre de l’Économie a proposé de revoir l’organisation des périodes de promotions. « On peut améliorer les choses » a-t-il fait savoir.

 

Parmi les options possibles, le gouvernement pourrait choisir de revoir les dates de lancement des soldes ; celle d’hiver pourrait ainsi commencer dès le début du mois de janvier. Bercy planche aussi sur un raccourcissement de la durée des soldes pour faire en sorte qu’ils s’articulent mieux avec le commerce en ligne. Du côté de la Fédération nationale de l’habillement, on plaide volontiers pour doubler le nombre de périodes (on passerait de 2 à 4), mieux réparties sur l’année et plus courtes : habituellement, les commerçants perçoivent la baisse des ventes dès la troisième semaine.



          Catch Live Streaming & TV Replays of High School Sports   

Back by popular demand – Live video streaming & TV Replays of local High School Sports! LIVE STREAMING SCHEDULE Visit: www.mtcsports.net E-TV Ch. 3 TV REPLAY SCHEDULE – June 3 – 11 Boys High School Sectionals  North Putnam vs Southmont – 11 a.m. Monrovia vs Rockville – 2 p.m. South Vermillion vs Monrovia  – 5 p.m. & 8 p.m. Check back often for […]

The post Catch Live Streaming & TV Replays of High School Sports appeared first on Endeavor Communications.


          Et alors le métro traverse l’immeuble!…   
Insolite – Architecture : En Chine, dans une ville de 32 millions d’habitants, il faut être créatif pour fournir l’indispensable […]
          Genome analysis of Endomicrobium proavitum suggests loss and gain of relevant functions during the evolution of intracellular symbionts.   
Related Articles

Genome analysis of Endomicrobium proavitum suggests loss and gain of relevant functions during the evolution of intracellular symbionts.

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 Jun 23;:

Authors: Zheng H, Dietrich C, Brune A

Abstract
Bacterial endosymbionts of eukaryotes show progressive genome erosion, but detailed investigations of the evolutionary processes involved in the transition to an intracellular lifestyle are generally hampered by the lack of extant free-living lineages. Here, we characterize the genome of the recently isolated, free-living Endomicrobium proavitum, the second member of the Elusimicrobia phylum brought into pure culture, and compare it to the closely related "Candidatus Endomicrobium trichonymphae" strain Rs-D17, a previously described but uncultured endosymbiont of termite gut flagellates. A reconstruction of the metabolic pathways of E. proavitum matched the fermentation products formed in pure culture and underscored its restriction to glucose as substrate. However, several pathways present in the free-living strain, e.g., for uptake and activation of glucose and its subsequent fermentation, ammonium assimilation, and outer-membrane biogenesis, were absent or disrupted in the endosymbiont, probably lost during the massive genome rearrangements that occurred during symbiogenesis. While the majority of the genes in strain Rs-D17 have orthologs in E. proavitum, the endosymbiont also possesses a number of functions that are absent from the free-living strain and may represent adaptations to the intracellular lifestyle. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the genes encoding glucose 6-phosphate and amino acid transporters, acetaldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase, and the pathways of glucuronic acid catabolism and thiamine pyrophosphate biosynthesis were either acquired by horizontal gene transfer or may represent ancestral traits that were lost in the free-living strain. The polyphyletic origin of Endomicrobia in different flagellate hosts makes them excellent models for future studies of convergent and parallel evolution during symbiogenesis.Importance The isolation of a free-living relative of intracellular symbionts provides the rare opportunity to identify the evolutionary processes that occur in the course of symbiogenesis. Our study documents that the genome of "Candidatus Endomicrobium trichonymphae", which represents a clade of endosymbionts that have coevolved with termite gut flagellates for more than 40 million years, is not simply a subset of the genes present in Endomicrobium proavitum, a member of the ancestral, free-living lineage. Rather, comparative genomics revealed that the endosymbionts possess several relevant functions that were either prerequisites for colonization of the intracellular habitat or might have served to compensate for genes losses that occurred during genome erosion. Some gene sets found only in the endosymbiont were apparently acquired by horizontal transfer from other gut bacteria, which suggests that the intracellular bacteria of flagellates are not entirely cut off from gene flow.

PMID: 28646115 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


          Ukraine Says 15 Million Euro Eurovision Guarantee Frozen In Geneva   
none
          One Small Step for Geoengineering — or Is "Ecoengineering" Better?   

A reader named R.E. Riker alerts us to the progress of an experimental ocean restoration project (more here); the ringleader is one Russ George, who has proven controversial. Before your knee jerks in one direction or another, take a look:

This summer the crew has been aboard ship engaging in what is surely the most substantial ocean restoration project in history. In a large ocean eddy west of Haida Gwaii the project has replenished vital ocean mineral micronutrients, with the expectation and hope it would restore ten thousand square kilometers of ocean pasture to health. Indeed this has occurred and the waters of the Haida eddy have turned from clear blue and sparse of life into a verdant emerald sea lush with the growth of a hundred million tonnes of plankton and the entire food chain it supports. The growth of those tonnes of plankton derives from vast amounts of CO2 now diverted from becoming deadly ocean acid and instead made that same CO2 become ocean life itself. For weeks the men and women, on this village team toiled in stormy overcast weather and fog without a hint of blue sky. In mid-August the skies cleared and revealed the wonder of the mission on which they have laboured. Satellites focused on ocean health that monitor and measure plankton blooms sent back stunning images. Far offshore in these Haida salmon pastures a vast plankton bloom is revealed matching the health and vibrancy of blooms seen in rich coastal waters. The return of such blooms is “the stuff dreams are made of” for all ocean life.

The post One Small Step for Geoengineering — or Is "Ecoengineering" Better? appeared first on Freakonomics.


          Some Mexican Leaders Want To Revisit The Treaty That Made Texas A Part Of The U.S.   
From Texas Standard: The document that sealed Texas' entry into the United States is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexican officials were forced to sign it in 1848, at the close of the bloody Mexican-American War. The treaty let the United States annex most of Mexico's historic territory and pay $15 million for the land in installments. At least half of Mexico’s regional territory went to the U.S. – what now is Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. Both countries would look much different if it were never signed, or if it were to be nullified.
          How One Man Allegedly Got 10,000 Texans to Pay Off Fake Payday Loans   
From Texas Standard : Officials say about 10,000 Texans paid up to $50 million in debts they didn’t owe . The Federal Trade Commission says one Kansas man, Joel Tucker, got his hands on some very valuable data like social security numbers and banking information. But FTC attorney Michael Tankersley says they don’t know how Tucker allegedly got this info. Tucker himself has not commented on the charges.
          Cole hard cash: Nab this famed book agents’ Hamptons beach home   
An oceanfront beach cottage at 77 Dune Road in Bridgehampton, between Mecox Beach and Scott Cameron Beach, went back on the market this month for $10.25 million — up from its $9.9 million price with a different brokerage firm in March. The 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home once belonged to the late, larger-than-life literary agent Rosalind...
             
The Calgary Stampede is much more than a rodeo. Each year, more than a million people head to the western Canadian city to experience the epic festival, creative carnival food, thrilling rides and explosive music. CNN Travel finds out what makes this annual celebration so exciting.

          National MS Society Key In Funding Research, Technology   
Bike MS raises nearly $4 million for the National MS Society, which pays for research and technology to benefit people living with MS.
          MS Patient, Worker Sees Day Without Multiple Sclerosis   
Bike MS raises nearly $4 million dollars, much of which goes to pay for research into treatments, causes and a cure for multiple sclerosis.
          Senators Sign Mike Condon to Three-Year Contract Extension   
OTTAWA Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion announced today that the club has signed goaltender Mike Condon to a three year contract extension. The contract will carry an average annual value of $2.4 million ($1.7 M in year one, $2.5M in yea...
          Shock Value 2   


Welp I've heard the album.....and well...if he was saying he had better stuff on here then he did on the blueprint 3 (not that that was a large leap) then well...its subpar...

Where is One in Amillion Timbo?? 100% ginuwine timbo? one minute man, SWV "can we" timbo?? what happened man..
          Vintage Inspired: Paint by Numbers Rug   
Vintage Paint by Numbers were created by Dan Robbins and Max Klein in the 1950's. Robbins was working for Klein at the Palmer Paint Company and asked to create something that could make everyone an artist; Essentially mass produced art for the lay-person.  The very concept sneers at "high art," giving everyone the opportunity to have their own "Van Gogh" or "Mona Lisa." Soon, the Paint by Numbers phenomenon took off, selling over 12 million kits. Today these kitschy pieces of "art" are collectors items. With their distinct color pallet and perfectly cheesy nature scenes, they are a great addition to a vintage inspired home.

I have been in love with the nature scenes for awhile, and when looking for rugs I stumbled upon the most amazing giant paint by numbers rug at Anthropologie.  Over the course of a few weeks, I finally decided to purchase it, luckily it had gone on sale. Oh how I love my masterpiece, it is so cute that I can hardly walk on it (defeating the very purpose of owning a rug)!

-Alea Ladybird



          Israel is wrong   

I know I'm going to catch hell for this, but it's time to say something. Israel is wrong. There aren't two sides to this anymore. I've heard all I want to hear from Israel. It's time to stop the attack on Hezbollah, withdraw back into Israel, stop firing bombs into Lebanon, and shut up for a while and let everyone else sort this out. It's not just Israel's problem. There are hundreds of millions of lives at stake in the Middle East, and this time not only has an Arab country, and that's what Hezbollah is, withstood Israel's attack, but they're also clearly justified in their response to the Israeli attack.

Hezbollah has every right to have defenses against Israel. If I'm not mistaken, Hezbollah didn't start firing rockets into Israel until they were attacked by Israel. Okay, they took two Israeli soldiers hostage. And now Israel has killed hundreds of Lebanese, destroyed large parts of the country and its infrastructure. It's enough already. Even a Jew like myself sees how wrong the Israeli position is.

Maybe there's a silver lining here, maybe Hezbollah, having won not only a military victory, but also a political victory, maybe they can see their weapons as defensive, if not now, maybe soon. Especially if the western powers help get Israel to stop attacking.

Look, I'm not a diplomat, I don't speak for a country, I'm just telling you what I think. I don't expect a thoughtful response, but enough is enough, it's time to say something.

Note: This post appeared last night, but shortly after posting it, the flames started and I decided to pull it. Then I got an email from an Israeli saying it was good I realized it was wrong and pulled it. So I put it back up. For me the turning point was listening to the Israeli ambassador to the UN blame the killing of 50 Lebanese civillians, many of them women and children, on Hezbollah, even though they were killed by an Israeli bomb. Had the tables been turned, had it been 50 Israelis, I can't imagine Israeli logic concluding that they themselves were to blame for the deaths. Israel is not just defending itself, we are defending Israel. Without our army, our arsenal, our economy, Israel would not exist. They have an impossible problem, true enough, but they're not the only ones anymore, and they're just 3 million people. I don't understand where they get their support. I'm an American Jew, first-generation, child of refugees. If anyone would support Israel, it would be me, but I don't. This war has to stop now.


          Luxe Addition Tryout   

Luxe Addition Tryout

Luxe Addition Tryout by justthewayyouare1 on Polyvore.com

Name: Lena Derona Age: 19 Likes: shopping, partying, the beach,art, and what ever people dont approve of Dislikes: fake bitches, false statements Look-a-like: Bar Refaeli Known as: The girl who cleans up well Bio: Lena is a very care free person. She can be one of the guys and just hangout,surf,and play the guitar,etc... and she can be the high fashion girly girl.Lena doesn't worry about money because her father is a millionaire and her mother is a Spanish artist.


          Good Words from Obama - About Children Who Die Due To Abortion   
President Obama's speech about what he intends to do to address gun violence was very good. 

But as I heard it and then read it online, the question occurred to me, "Mr. President, Why is this not all also true of the unborn that are killed by the violence of abortion?" 

Look at these excellent words from our President - and see how they are also applicable to the 1.3 Million children aborted each year.

"These are our kids... And so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything that they’re capable of doing — not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country.
"This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged...If there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."
"This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty — not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever."
"That most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness…those rights are at stake."
"… when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now."

          Continuing the Case for Health Care Reform   

Fareed Zakaria is one of the most balanced, sensible reporters and commentators on international affairs going today. Because of this, he brings a global perspective to American domestic issues that many of the pundits lack. In this week's Time Magazine, he has a commentary entitled, “Health Insurance Is for Everyone” (CNN shows about half the article, the entire piece is on Time’s website that is accessed by subscribers).  In it he writes,

The centerpiece of the case against Obamacare is the requirement that everyone buy some kind of health insurance or face stiff penalties--the so-called individual mandate. It is a way of moving toward universal coverage without a government-run or single-payer system. It might surprise Americans to learn that another advanced industrial country, one with a totally private health care system, made precisely the same choice nearly 20 years ago: Switzerland.

Switzerland is not your typical European welfare-state society. It is extremely business-friendly and has always gone its own way, shunning the euro and charting its own course on health care. The country ranks higher than the U.S. on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.

Twenty years ago, Switzerland had a system very similar to America's--private insurers, private providers--with very similar problems. People didn't buy insurance but ended up in emergency rooms, insurers screened out people with pre-existing conditions, and costs were rising fast. The country came to the conclusion that to make health care work, everyone had to buy insurance. So the Swiss passed an individual mandate and reformed their system along lines very similar to Obamacare. The reform law passed by referendum, narrowly. The result two decades later: quality of care remains very high, everyone has access, and costs have moderated. Switzerland spends 11% of its GDP on health care, compared with 17% in the U.S. Its 8 million people have health care that is not tied to their employers, they can choose among many plans, and they can switch plans every year. Overall satisfaction with the system is high.

Zakaria continues,

The most striking aspect of America's medical system remains how much of an outlier it is in the advanced industrial world. No other nation spends more than 12% of its total economy on health care. We do worse than most other countries on almost every measure of health outcomes: healthy-life expectancy, infant mortality and--crucially--patient satisfaction. Put simply, we have the most expensive, least efficient system of any rich country on the planet. Costs remain high on every level. Recently, the International Federation of Health Plans released a report comparing the prices in various countries of 23 medical services, from a routine checkup to an MRI to a dose of Lipitor. The U.S. had the highest costs in 22 of the 23 cases. An MRI costs $1,080 here; it costs $281 in France.

In 1963, Nobel Prize--winning economist Kenneth Arrow wrote an academic paper explaining why markets don't work well in health care. He argued that unlike with most goods and services, people don't know when they will need health care. And when they do need it--say, in the case of heart failure--the cost is often prohibitive. That means you need some kind of insurance or government-run system.

Now, we could decide as a society that it is O.K. for people who suddenly need health care to get it only if they can pay for it. The market would work just as it works for BMWs: anyone who can afford one can buy one. That would mean that the vast majority of Americans wouldn't be able to pay for a triple bypass or a hip replacement when they needed it. But every rich country in the world--and many not-so-rich ones--has decided that its people should have access to basic health care. Given that value, a pure free-market model simply cannot work.

In the campaigns for president, it seems that the conservatives have changed their tunes on requiring mandate for everyone to be included in health insurance. Zakaria observes,

Catastrophic insurance--covering trauma and serious illnesses--isn't a solution, because it's chronically ill patients, just 5% of the total, who account for 50% of American health care costs. That's why the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, came up with the idea of an individual mandate in the 1980s, proposing that people buy health insurance in exactly the same way that people are required to buy car insurance. That's why Mitt Romney chose this model as a market-friendly system for Massachusetts when he was governor. And that's why Newt Gingrich praised the Massachusetts model as the most important step forward in health care in years. They have all changed their minds, but that is about politics, not economics.

He concludes,

When listening to the debate about American health care, I find that many of the most fervent critics of government involvement argue almost entirely from abstract theoretical propositions about free markets. One can and should reason from principles. But one must also reason from reality, from facts on the ground. And the fact is that about 20 foreign countries provide health care for their citizens in some way or other. All of them--including free-market havens like Switzerland and Taiwan--have found that they need to use an insurance or government-sponsored model. All of them provide universal health care at much, much lower costs than we do and with better results.


          Skye Jethani’s Church-365: Assist in cultural flourishing through vocation-based discipleship   
Skye Jethani’s recent posts at Out of Ur (part 1, part 2, part 3) are a clarion-call for churches to re-imagine their purpose and function. He calls the posts Church365,  challenging the church to move away from the Sunday-centric model (Church52) that pushes church leaders into a job of ensuring the perpetuity of their institutional church rather than on empowering and equipping people to bless the world.

In this five-part series (all of them are available at SkyeJetani.com), Jethani is talking my language. I am in the middle of starting a non-profit for the purpose of equipping believers in the exact ways that he articulates here, to encourage discipleship by and through believers’ vocations.

Jethani writes,
“We come to believe that programs rather than people are the vessels of God’s Spirit and mission in the world. When this occurs we begin to honor people for their involvement in, or service for, the church. But what they do with the remainder of their time gets little attention. When this assumption is reinforced over decades, a hierarchy of importance is established with church leaders (pastors and missionaries) at the top. Others are then only celebrated when they behave like pastors or missionaries, or when they leave their ‘worldly’ professions to devote themselves to ‘full-time Christian service.’”
What Jethani is asking the 21st-Century American church to do is to rediscover the Reformation’s deep theology of vocation.
“It was understood that all callings were valid before God, and each glorified him and provided a critical service in the world. In other words, the life of the painter, politician, or podiatrist is just as God-honoring as that of the priest when done in communion with Christ and for the benefit of others.”

Jethani says what I've been saying for years here at VanguardChurch.com, that churches should be offering commissioning services for everyone in every line of work. Every Christian is in "full-time ministry," no matter what they are doing, no matter what it says on their business card, no matter if they punch a time clock or are on salary, no matter if they are doing technical work or people work, no matter if they are paid or a volunteer, no matter if they work for their boss or for their family as a housekeeper.

He then interacts with David Kinnemann of the Barna Group (author of the new book, You Lost Me: Why Young People are Leaving the Church…And Rethinking Faith. In this book, Kinnemann insightfully states,
“For me, frankly, the most heartbreaking aspect of our findings is the utter lack of clarity that many young people have regarding what God is asking them to do with their lives. It is a modern tragedy. Despite years of church-based experiences and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, millions of next-generation Christians have no idea that their faith connects to their life’s work. They have access to information, ideas, and people from around the world, but no clear vision for a life of meaning that makes sense of all that input (You Lost Me, page 207).”
I’m grateful that for the last six years, I’ve been doing ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a ministry that sees our mission as primarily that of equipping college students with discipleship that takes seriously how their vocations will be their way of living for Christ for the sake of the world.

Now, with my future NPO, I will be doing that coupled with the task that Jethani advocates here:
“(This is) going to be highly relational. It’s going to require an older believer in finance to mentor a younger one. It’s going to require church leaders to function as match-makers linking people of similar callings together for support, encouragement, and equipping, rather than imposing their pastoral calling upon all of the sheep.
It also means seeing local businesses, clinics, schools, parks, and studios as discipleship outposts of the church. Consider my friend Walter in Phoenix. Walter works in real estate development, and his heart is to help young Christians who are called into the marketplace to engage their work with Christ. He’s created opportunities over the years to mentor younger business leaders in his office. Walter’s business is a discipleship outpost.
As church leaders, our role should be to visit Walter at his business to encourage him and see how we might equip him to do his work better. This is 180 degrees from what most churches try to do--which is to get people like Walter out of their offices and into the church facilities with more regularity to support its programming. Again, its the difference between Church365 and Church52.”
I met Skye Jethani at this year’s Q Gathering in Portland, where we talked about his previous book (The Divine Commodity – one of the best books I read this year) and his new book (With: Reimagining The Way You Relate To God). His presentation at Q was my favorite (and that’s saying something, since this event was packed with excellent presentations). Check out his musings at SkyJethani.com.
          Roomba Vacuum Cleaner   
The Roomba vacuum cleaner is made and sold by the company iRobot. The Roomba was released in 2002 with updates and new models released in 2003, 2004, and so on. These days, millions of them have been sold, making it the most successful and popular robotic vacuum cleaner thus far. Acessories 1. Remote control – [...] Related posts:
  1. Robotic Vacuum Cleaners
  2. Choosing The Right Vacuum Cleaner
  3. Vacuum Cleaner Bags

          Samsung investing $380M in South Carolina, creating 950 jobs   
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Samsung is investing $380 million in South Carolina to manufacture home appliances, creating an estimated 950 jobs over the next three years, state and company officials announced Wednesday....
          Lumber Manager - Federated Co-operatives Limited (33947) - Fort Qu'Appelle, SK   
Prairie Co-op is currently recruiting for a Lumber Manager for a $1.1 million Home Centre operation. Box 2002, Regina, SK S4P 3E7....
From Federated Co-operatives Limited (33947) - Tue, 27 Jun 2017 18:31:00 GMT - View all Fort Qu'Appelle, SK jobs
          Die 10 Gebote sagen mehr als 10 Millionen Gesetze   

 

«Die Zehn Gebote sagen mehr in der Substanz aus als zehn Millionen Gesetze, die wir heute haben.» Diese Ansicht vertritt der Vizepräses der EKD-Synode, Ministerpräsident a.D. Günther Beckstein (CSU), in einem am 14. Januar 2012 veröffentlichten Interview mit der Nürnberger Zeitung.

 

«Wenn man die Zehn Gebote besser kennen und besser befolgen würde, könnten wir uns die allermeisten Gesetze sparen», so der Autor des Buches «Die Zehn Gebote» (SCM Hänssler). Sie seien «eine von Gott geschenkte wunderbare Ordnung, die uns auch für die Politik bestimmte Grundlagen gibt». In dem Interview äusserte sich Beckstein ferner kritisch zur Abtreibungspraxis in Deutschland. Es belaste ihn, dass eines der reichsten Länder der Welt aus sozialen Gründen pro Jahr «100‘000 Kinder im Mutterleib abtreibt».

Im Blick auf das Lebensende wandte er sich scharf gegen die von der Organisation «Dignitas» angebotene Beihilfe zur Selbsttötung: «Wenn auf einem Parkplatz in der Schweiz jemandem ein Mittel zum Sterben verabreicht wird, hat das für mich nicht das Leiseste mit Würde zu tun. Aber ausgerechnet so nennt sich diese Sterbehilfeorganisation: Dignitas – Würde. Das hat für mich eher den Charakter einer illegalen Abfallentsorgung.»

Statt Sterbehilfe Sterbebegleitung

Am Lebensende komme es auf eine angemessene Sterbebegleitung an, wie sie in vielen Hospizen, Pflegeheimen und Familien praktiziert werde. Zur Frage, was die Politik von der Kirche lernen könne, nannte Beckstein «die Unbedingtheit des Lebensschutzes, wie ihn die katholische Kirche einfordert». Dies sei ein «ganz grosser Segen». Er sei fest davon überzeugt: «Wenn sich die katholische Kirche nicht so geäussert hätte, hätte sich auch die evangelische Kirche nicht so klar positioniert.»

Im Blick auf die Arbeit der Politiker wünscht sich Beckstein von kirchlicher Seite Respekt und nicht Hochmut. Die allermeisten besässen «einen hohen Ethos und gehen in die Politik, weil sie die Rahmenbedingungen so gut wie möglich gestalten wollen». Ausserdem hätten Politiker «oft mehr Sachkenntnis als ihre kirchlichen Kritiker».

 

Günther Beckstein: Anwalt, Politiker und Christ

Günther Beckstein (geb. 1943) ist deutscher CSU-Politiker. Er war von 1993 – 2007 bayrischer Staatsminister des Innern unter Edmund Stoiber und von 2007 – 2008 bayrischer Ministerpräsident – der erste evangelische Ministerpräsident Bayerns nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Seit 1973 ist Günther Beckstein mit seiner Frau Marga verheiratet und hat drei Kinder. Er gehört der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche an. Seit 1971 betreibt er eine Anwaltskanzlei. Als Rechtswissenschaftler schrieb er seine Dissertation zum Thema «Der Gewissenstäter im Strafrecht und Strafprozessrecht». Sein neustes Buch trägt den Titel «Die zehn Gebote. Anspruch und Herausforderung» und richtet sich an ein breites Publikum.

 

Datum: 17.01.2012
Quelle: idea.de



          Update News: Tuesday, July 17, 2012   
In Tuesday’s News: Coast Guard launching temporary base in Barrow until October; Drifting tug headed to Nome makes it to Cordova, USCG to inspect; As 1.5 million tons of debris from Japanese tsunami makes it to Alaskan shores, so far sparing the Norton Sound; Senator Mark Begich says $50,000 “woefully inadequate” for tsunami debris clean…
          Wahl: Peer Steinbrück optimistisch an der Urne   
Knapp 62 Millionen Deutsche drfen sich am Sonntag entscheiden, welcher der insgesamt 34 Parteien sie ihre Stimme geben. SPD-Kanzlerkandidat ... Wahl: Peer Steinbrück optimistisch an der Urne
Zoomin Euro 2012 DE
          EU pledges nearly $160 million to support northeast Nigeria   

DAKAR, Senegal - The European Union has announced a support package of nearly $160 million for recovery and reconstruction in Nigeria's Borno state, which has been devastated by attacks from homegrown Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. The EU said Thursday the northeastern state is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis.


          Orange Digital Ventures launches EUR 50m investment in Africa   

Global telco Orange announced it is strengthening its corporate venture strategy with the creation of a new Africa section within its program for investment in start-ups, Orange Digital Ventures. As part of the initiative, the group is committing Euro 50 million of funding, corresponding to around half of the direct investments made via its new Orange Digital Ventures Africa program, with the other half devoted to indirect investments through specialised funding for Africa.


          Vision Community Management using Phoenix Synergy   
Vision Community Management begins using Phoenix Synergy for their IT Support needs. For more than 10 years, Vision Community Management has been committed to providing solutions for community associations and suppports HOA’s that cover over a million homes in the valley.  Phoenix Synergy is proud to help … Continue reading
          Fall Out: New Vegas Preview   

Fallout New Vegas offers a plethora of new ideas added to an old plate. Yet for the millions of Fallout 3 fans this will likely be a welcome buffet.

read more


          TUESDAY’S VIDEO PICK | A Spill in Perspective   
If you have been following the ongoing drama that is the BP Spill “junk shot” & “top kill” are well know terms. As well as Kevin Costner and his little known investment of 15 years and over $20 Million to create in short a Britta Oil Filter Pump which BP just yesterday said they might […]
          William Hefner Architecture Involved with Redesign of Ashton Kutcher’s Home   
Here are two articles talking about Ashton Kutcher’s house, the sale of which will benefit The DNA Foundation. William Hefner Architecture was one of the key designers of the house, which is on the market for $2.6 million.  
          Wisconsin   
State of Wisconsin Spent Over 168 Million Dollars in 2016 on Unused Sick Leave

          Review: The Wolfman by Nicholas Pekearo   
The normal way to review a book is to summarize its plot---or at least its hook---and then detail what you like and don't like. Well, for Nicholas Pekearo's first novel The Wolfman I'm going to focus on voice.


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Oh sure, I could tell you that The Wolfman is a fast-paced thriller mixing supernatural horror with gritty crime noir. I could even tell you the hook: Marlowe Higgins----Vietnam Vet, frycook, recovering alcoholic and werewolf----uses the curse of his monthly transformation to hunt down and kill a supremely bad person each month. But instead of my yammering lets look at the opening lines of the novel:

Let me paint a picture for you: The full moon was bulbous and yellow like the blind and rotted eye of a witch that peered down from the murky sky with bad intentions, and a million little stars shone down on the sleepy Southern town of Evelyn. The breeze was gentle and cool, carrying on it the scent of flowers and wet earth from the recent rain spell. The only thing missing was the children singing hymns, and I'm sure it would have been enough to make someone happy to be alive. (11)

This, to me anyway, is a great opener. You can tell right away the narrator, who we learn very quickly is Marlowe, is a smart but cocky prick with an eye for detail like some creepy version of Arthur Dove. It continues with passages like these throughout the novel:

When I blew into Evelyn one night a few years earlier, I was still hitting the sauce pretty hard. I initially drank because it made it easier to deal with being what I had become, but there came a point when I kind of accepted that part of myself, or at least became very stoic in a Marcus Aurelius kind of way. Still, I drank heavily when the mood struck me, and that mood usually urged me to go into a watering hole and pick a fight with somebody. I had a very wild hair growing in a very itchy place, and, to me, bars were made for two distinct purposes: for fisticuffs and to pick up broads. (41-42)

The Neo-Chandler voice intensifies here; with this little paragraph we learn our hero is not only smart, but well read. Not only cocky, but a tough guy constantly on the prowl for a fight. And he tops it all off with a bit of a dark sense of humor. To be honest, the voice really carries the book. As a mystery, the plot is very predictable. The secondary characters----which is pretty much everyone save Marlowe---are very thin. The werewolf mythology is vague, a little confusing and even a touch contradictory in parts.

But I loved this anyway. Marlowe lives in these pages, and that's something that only comes from real writing talent and passion. It's also why it's so sad that Pekearo died prior to seeing his first novel in print. We'll never really know what he could have done, and I find that incredibly sad.

So if you are intrigued by these passages, read some other reviews to get the plot. Or even better, pick up the book itself. It's worth it.

Excelsior

          Guardians of the Galaxy 2   
Niemand hat 2014 gedacht, dass der Film Guardiians of the Galaxy ein Erfolg wird. Aber er wurde. 800 Millionen Dollar hat das Weltallabenteuer umgesetzt. Da ist es keine Überraschung, daß jetzt Teil 2 kommt. hr3 Kino-Expertin Shadia Omar ist 'ne Runde mitgeflogen.
          See 40 minutes of gamescom DOTA 2 stream   
If you missed out on the livestream of the $1 million DOTA 2 tournament at gamescom, check out 40 minutes of gameplay from the best players in the world. Ukraine’s Na’Vi and China’s eHome were among the 16 hand-picked teams selected to be the first to play DOTA 2, and their weeks of secret preparation […]
          World of Tanks surpasses 5 million registered players   
Wargaming.net has announced its World of Tanks MMO has surpassed 5 million registered players. The free-to-play WWII MMO is about to celebrate its first birthday, and the firm, obviously, couldn’t be more pleased. “We didn’t expect World of Tanks would become this popular,” said CEO Victor Kislyi. “The game’s success has given us [the] confidence […]
          Review: Well-made ‘Million Dollar Arm’ works more as mythmaking than as a movie   
Simply by existing, “Million Dollar Arm” serves as both mythmaking and infomercial in equal measure. Based on the true story of how Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became professional American baseball players, the film is more than competent in the way it builds a wish fulfillment fairy tale out of a last-ditch effort to save his business by J.B.
          Save The Date: Boiler Room Returns to Shanghai   

Electronic music junkies and dance addicts better dust off their raving shoes, as Boiler Room is returning to Shanghai.

 

The London-based organisation are pioneers of alternative dance music, regularly throwing parties in New York, Miami, Brussels and Berlin, with their live broadcasts being watched by over 60 million fans every month, and on July 6, they’ll be in Shanghai.

 

boiler room Shanghai

 

Boiler Room has teamed up with Budweiser to bring us the beats of internationally acclaimed DJs Mr Carmack, DJ Wordy, Knopha and Guzz. It’ll be delivered through their bone shattering sound-system and broadcast live on LeTV for those who can’t cop a ticket.

 

The event will be held in a secret location, which invitees will be informed of closer to the time. For more information and the chance to win exclusive guest list access just follow Boiler Room on WeChat at boilerroomtv. 

 

boiler room Shanghai

 

Boiler Room is of the most celebrated and mysterious underground music live-streaming platforms and has become an international flag-bearer of youth underground subculture since founded by London-based CEO Blaise Belville in 2010. They made their China debut at a show in Shanghai late last year.

Sign up here for tickets 

 

Details

What: Boiler Room x Budweiser ‘Discover What’s Brewing’ Global Tour
Where: Secret Location (TBC)
When: 8pm Thursday, July 6 
How much: TBC  

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          Blackstone to acquire Croesus Retail Trust   
Blackstone Group has agreed to acquire the Singapore-listed Croesus Retail Trust for $650 million.  -More

          US listings market expected to heat up   
Blue Apron, a meal delivery service, is expected to launch a $480 million initial public offering in the largest of 10 US lis -More

          Philadelphia development gets $5.6M boost from Brandywine Realty Trust   
Brandywine Realty Trust has announced that it is putting an additional $5.6 million toward a mixed-use project in Philadelphi -More

          Nampa Kids Are Getting Free Tablets   
It's costing about $4 million, but soon hundreds of kids in Nampa will have brand new tablets.  Here's what's happening. Continue reading…
          Taylor Talk LIVE - Episode 196 - Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast   

Episode 196 - 

From our living room to yours, we bring you Taylor Talk Live! Episode 196 was recorded live to our listeners via Youtube on November 7th 3pm PST / 6pm EST. You can watch the Youtube version or listen on iTunes to hear us discuss the end of the US 1989 Tour. We analyze the setlist, costumes, and compare the 1989 Tour to Taylor’s other tours. If you have seen the 1989 Tour, was it your favorite tour or does another tour hold a special place in your heart? Enjoy the episode!

 

Highlights from Episode 196 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast

Main Discussion: The 1989 World Tour Wrap Up

– In the four years Taylor Talk has been on the air, we’ve had over 3.7 million downloads! What!

– Adam inspires us (bores us) with more Taylor Talk statistics.

– Did you know that Taylor gave every single fan a present at each concert?

– The Setlist — What was your favorite performance? Any songs you wished would have been included on tour?

– Everyone was excited about all the male dancers on tour.

– Listener engagement really made this episode fun! We loved hearing from you on twitter #TaylorTalkLive.

– Some lucky winners will get their Taylor Talk t-shirts very soon!

– See a complete list of the 1989 World Tour special guests on theswiftagency.com.

– Check out Steve’s 1989 Special Guest playlist on Spotify.

 

Calendar:

– November 10, 11, 12: The 1989 World Tour – Shanghai, China 

 

Submit to the Show!

EMAIL: TaylorTalk@TaylorSwift13.org

TWITTER: @TaylorTalk13

FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/TaylorTalk13

TAYLOR CONNECT: TaylorTalk13

VOICEMAIL: (240) 31-SWIFT / (240) 317-9438

ASK.FM: Ask.Fm/TaylorTalk13


          Rover pipeline HDD spill investigation   
Federal energy regulators overseeing the development of a new interstate natural gas pipeline have announced the opening of an investigation, following the inadvertent release of about 2 million gallons of drilling fluid from a horizontal directional...
By: PretiFlaherty
          Wildest Dreams   

Episode 177 - Oh my my my, how Taylor Swift has changed from the “Love Story” girl! In Episode 177 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast, we discuss Taylor’s new, realistic take on love in her song “Wildest Dreams.” Taylor says that when she meets someone new, her first thought is, “When this is over, I hope they think well of me.” Her opinion on love has changed from a more romantic happily-ever-after viewpoint to something more fatalistic. What’s your take on this perspective? Do you see love like Taylor does? Let us know your thoughts and what you think of “Wildest Dreams.” Enjoy the episode!

Also: We were nominated for BEST ENTERTAINMENT PODCAST at the 2015 Podcast Awards!! VOTE AT PODCASTAWARDS.COM DAILY.
Highlights from Episode 177 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast
Main Discussion: “Wildest Dreams” Song Analysis
– Is going into a relationship thinking that it will ultimately end really a fair way to enter a relationship?
– Steve says “Wildest Dreams” is about forming an immediate connection with someone. That’s one way to put it!
– Taylor Swift writes with her heart. Literally!
– How does the music create the mood of the song?
– Some people debate on whether or not this song sounds like Lana Del Rey. We debate on how to say “Lana.”
– Adam’s so vain, he probably thinks this song is about him.
– We kind of have a singing contest. And I’m kind of sure you’ll never want us to do it again. 
Other Topics:

– WE’RE NOMINATED FOR BEST ENTERTAINMENT PODCAST IN THE PODCAST AWARDS! Please vote daily at podcastawards.com!
– Meredith owes Taylor $40 million for scratching her leg. MeOW.
Calendar
– Taylor will appear on Live with Kelly and Michael on March 25th.
– The Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards are on March 28th.
– March 29th are the iHeartRadio Music Awards.

          Blank Space LIVE At The AMA's - Episode 161 - Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast   

Episode 161 - Don’t say I didn’t warn you… but Taylor Swift slayed at the 2014 American Music Awards! In Episode 161 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast, we discuss Taylor Swift’s performance of “Blank Space” at the 2014 American Music Awards. She wowed us all with pyrotechnics, acrobats, powerful vocals, and some serious crazy eyes. That night, she was also honored as the first recipient of the Dick Clark Award for Excellence. We hope you enjoyed the episode. Feel free to share your thoughts with us! Happy listening!

Highlights from Episode 161 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast
Main Discussion: Taylor Swift at the AMAs
– Poll: when they turned on the fire, were you scared for her or scared of her?
– Do you think this performance is a representation of the 1989 tour?
– We debate whether or not the pen click was ever a thing.
– Here at Taylor Talk, we ask the hard hitting questions: Which was more powerful, the music video or the performance?
– While being honored with the Dick Clark Award for Excellence, Taylor Swift manages to humbly bring honor to everyone else. 
Other Topics:
– Only Taylor Swift can knock Taylor Swift off the Number One spot on Billboard.
– 1989 hit its 2 million sales mark AND “Shake It Off” went 4x platinum. YAS!
– If Swifties ruled the world, all of Taylor’s exes would be sent to Mars. Muahah
– Adam memorializes a very special someone on the show… and reminds us all of the incredible love found in the Swifty community.

          Blank Space - Episode 159 - Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast --- Swifties are also listening to Cali Rodi   

Episode 159 - Nice to meet you, where you been? You should listen to Taylor Talk! In Episode 159 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast, we discuss Taylor Swift’s newest single “Blank Space,” a song that originally started out as a joke to mock the fictionalized character the media created from Taylor Swift’s alleged “serial dating habits.” It’s a catchy, well-written song, and join us as we analyze the lyrics line by line. There’s no doubt that “Blank Space” will become an instant hit. Happy listening!

 
Highlights from Episode 159 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast
Main Discussion: “Blank Space” Song Analysis
– “Hey, I want to write this completely satirical song about the fictionalization of my personal life…” said Taylor Swift, and that became “Blank Space”
– Which “Blank Space” song lyric is your favorite?
– Sami discusses the idea that Taylor embedded a little bit of her exes into each part of the song.
– Is there a reference to “The Lucky One” in “Blank Space?”
– We discuss what “Blank Space” would look like on the 1989 World Tour.
– In the likely chance that the official music video for “Blank Space” will be released this week, Steve has a hilarious idea as to what the music video might look like. 
Other Topics:
– 1989 had the year’s largest first week sales of nearly 1.3 million!! Yeaaauh Taylor feels amazin’.
– The 1989 World Tour has been announced! Check out taylorswift.com/events to see when it comes to your city.
– If swifties ruled the world the air would always smell like Wonderstruck.
– Swifties are listening to Cali Rodi’s “Friends Like Us.” Check out her seven free songs at CaliRodi.com.

          More 1989 Tracks + Taylor Curses?? What?? - Episode 151 - Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast - Swifties are also listening to Boys by Sky Ferreira   

Episode 151 - REAL TALK, Swifties. In Episode 151 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast, we discuss Rolling Stone’s follow-up to Taylor’s cover story, “22 Things You Learn Hanging Out With Taylor Swift.” Not only does this article give us some insight on Taylor’s personality and beliefs, it also gives us two (3?) new song titles! Your hosts — Adam, Diane, and Sami — note our favorite parts of the article and theorize about what Taylor’s new songs could be about. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts. Enjoy the show!

Highlights from Episode 151 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast

Main Discussion: Rolling Stone’s “22 Things You Learn Hanging Out With Taylor Swift”

- We’re so happy that Rolling Stone decided to release this over-flow material, because it’s so fun!

- Alert: Both Diane and Taylor Swift cry while drinking wine.

- We debate whether or not Taylor Swift will ever have an explicit album (no, no, no)

- Only Taylor Swift would have a greeting card writing room!

- The similarities between Taylor Swift and her grandmother are uncanny.

- Adam admits he’s taken a sneaky photo of a celebrity before. And he got caught. Oops.

- Taylor Swift admits that she’s never been in love. Like never ever. (it will never get old)

- You can grow up, but it’s never okay to get old.

- Taylor’s album is a “pop poetic party” — the writing is still going to be good, guys!

- What are your opinions on “Wildest Dreams”, “You are Love”, and “I Know Places (?)”

Other Topics:

- “Shake It Off” went platinum this week by selling over 1.2 million copies! Yeauuh.

- You know you’re a Swifty when you wear a Taylor Swift shirt for your school pictures.

- Taylor Talk Word of the Day: frolic, to play and move about happily

- Taylor Swift is listening to “Boys” by Sky Ferreira (note: Taylor, please keep recommending music on twitter. We like it.)


          Pop Music vs. Taylor Swift - Episode 113 - Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast    

Episode 113 - Will Taylor Swift follow the change in mainstream pop music or break from it? In Episode 113 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast, your hosts -- Adam, Diane, Steve, and Sami -- discuss Taylor's relationship to the changing landscape of pop music. Artists like Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and others are creating unique and edgier sounds. Could Taylor move in that direction and make music along the lines of "I Knew You Were Trouble"? What if she dropped in album with no warning like Beyonce? Regardless, Taylor always does something incredible to surprise the fans. Be sure to let us know what you think is next for Taylor in terms of her sound. Enjoy the show!

Highlights from Episode 113 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast:

- We want to thank everyone for their amazing support & helping us get nominated for a podcast award. We have the best listeners ever!

- Taylor Swift will help launch CMT After MidNite With Cody Alan, a new radio show. Taylor will appear on Tuesday January 7th. 

- Did you know the RED Tour sold 1.5 million tickets? Whoa.

- Beyonce dropped an album in the middle of the night with no promotion -- would Taylor do that?

- It would be super cool if Taylor Swift announced her next album on Taylor Talk. Just saying.

- Artists like Lorde, Passenger, and A Great Big World are changing the sound of pop music. We wonder if Taylor's new sound will be similar to theirs.

- You know you’re a Swifty when your friend complains that you tweet about Taylor too much. Oops.

- Swifties are listening to the new motion picture soundtrack for the film Frozen!


          13 Taylor Swift Moments of 2013 - Episode 111 - Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast    

Episode 111 - Can you believe 2013, the year of Taylor is almost over? As the year draws to a close, we recap the top 13 Taylor moments of 2013. So much has happened this year in terms of what Taylor has accomplished... for example, she went on her third headlining tour, recorded a song with Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, and opened an education center at the Country Hall of Fame just to name a few! To be honest, Taylor has achieved so much this past year, and we know that there are only better things to come for her in 2014. We hope you enjoy Episode 111 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast, and let us know what your favorite Taylor moments of 2013 are. Happy listening!

Highlights from Episode 111 of Taylor Talk: The Taylor Swift Podcast

- Sami from @TSwiftOnTour joins us as a special guest this episode.

- Did you know Taylor Swift was the most charitable celebrity of 2013? We are so proud. 

- What's your favorite Taylor Swift moment of 2013? We'll tell you ours in the main discussion.

- Taylor didn't win a Golden Globe in 2013, but she might in 2014. Find out when the Golden Globes air on NBC at 8pm.

- Adam loves the "22" music video because it has a chest bump :-P

- Listen to our interview with Shane Drake, the music video director of "Highway Don't Care," in Episode 62.

- Sami gives us a first hand account of what it was like to see Taylor perform at LP Field at CMA Fest in Nashville.

- What would a Swifty do if Taylor Swift recorded a song with Justin Timberlake?

- We hope Taylor one day releases a "tell-all" autobiography so we can find out who "I Knew You Were Trouble" is really about!

- Fun Fact: Taylor's $4 million donation to the Country Music Hall of Fame was the largest individual artist gift in the Hall’s history. She's incredible.

- "You know you're a Swiftie when you get very excited after realizing that 2013 was your first year of being a Swifty." Welcome to the club!

- Swifties are listening to "Chip on my Shoulder" from Legally Blonde the Musical.


          How the Student Loan Industry Is Helping Trump Destroy American Democracy   
Student loan servicers are engaged in economic terrorism, and DeVos is only making it worse.

Most of the discussion about student debt in the United States has centered on its excessiveness, the negative impact it has on home-buying for the next generation, various refinancing schemes, and (for the grossly uninformed) how borrowers simply need to “pay what they owe.” However, the untold story of student loan debt in the United States is that it is being used as a form of economic terrorism designed not only to redistribute wealth from everyday Americans to the elite, but to undermine and degrade American democracy as a whole.

Up until her confirmation as Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos had financial ties to a large student loan servicer in contract negotiations with the Department of Education. PRWatch reported in January that one of the firms DeVos divested from, LMF WF Portfolio, helped finance a $147 million loan to a student debt collection agency called Performant, which had more than 346 complaints brought against it with the Better Business Bureau. The student loan industry is said to be worth $1.3 trillion in total debt owed according to Forbes. While some might chalk this up to successful business management, it’s important to evaluate just exactly how the student loan industry works.

Contrary to what most students believe, many loans supposedly from the U.S. Department of Education are actually owned by big private banks. This acquisition of federal student loans by big banks was first introduced by the Federal Reserve in November of 2008, in which student loans, along with other forms of debt, are bundled and re-sold to banks as asset-backed securities (ABS). A few months later, with the blessing of former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, this program was dramatically expanded to include more than $1 trillion in collateralized debt. This means that for many borrowers, they're being jerked around by private loans deliberately dressed up in U.S. Department of Education attire.

Student Loan Servicers Are Engaging in Economic Terrorism

In a lecture delivered at Carleton University in Ottawa 2011, famed MIT professor and linguist Noam Chomsky argued that the American student debt system fosters fear and insecurity among people who, burdened by financial stress, anxious for their jobs or stuck in low-paying jobs, are afraid to question or challenge the system.

"When you trap people in a system of debt, they can't afford the time to think," Chomsky said.

One indebted borrower, Denise, whose fiancee, Kevin, spoke to AlterNet on condition of anonymity, is living proof of the dilemma Chomsky presented.

"I’ve wanted to marry Denise for years now," Kevin said. "But after seeing what she’s been put through with these student loan companies, I honestly don't want to risk having a bunch of crooks stealing my paycheck or my tax refund."

According to Kevin, the student debt Denise acquired for four years of higher education totaled approximately $35,000. Under the management of student loan servicer Navient (which broke off from Sallie Mae), her student loan debt quickly swelled to more than $75,000 in less than 10 years following her graduation from the University of Arizona. According to Kevin, loan fees and high interest rates quickly snowballed as a penalty for Denise not having enough money. (Multiple requests to reach Navient executives by phone or email were not returned.)

“The monthly payment they demanded was three times what Denise paid for her rent. She would send what she could afford, but it would end up being a fraction of the penalty fee they’d add to her loan balance for not having enough money to pay. They would then charge her interest on the penalty fee as though it were money she actually received for school," Kevin said.

Kevin’s account of what happened to Denise could be happening to millions of other distressed borrowers. A March 20 report from Bloomberg detailed how Secretary DeVos is now green-lighting punishing new fees on student borrowers even if they agree to make good on their outstanding debt. In a memo to the student loan industry, DeVos’ agency is allowing companies to charge struggling borrowers as much as 16 percent more of a debtor’s total loan balance in additional fees.

“It’s a con game that caused Denise so much stress that it began affecting her health and even made her fantasize about taking her own life as a means of getting out from crippling debt,” Kevin said. “These companies use the authority of the government to extort money from people who took out loans they thought were from the government and not just some crooked bank.”

In some instances, the tax refunds Denise counted on each year would be confiscated as penalty for not having enough money to pay her loans. According to Kevin, Denise earned a social sciences degree with the specific intent of pursuing a career that involved helping people and supporting positive change in society.

“Instead of doing that good work, she was forced to cling to whatever low-wage position she could find,” Kevin continued. “Even after I used my savings to help pay off the remainder of her student debt, the loan servicer, Navient, kept refusing to credit her account for the payment and continues to damage her credit.”

“It has taken such a huge toll on us,” he added. "I guess now we’ll have to gather more money to file a lawsuit to get them to acknowledge that they received payment in full. In the meantime, they can still take her tax refunds even though she doesn’t owe them money anymore.”

“This should be criminal. They’re just awful, awful human beings,” Kevin said.

Ironically, the Federal Student Loan Program was intended to make higher education affordable for students and families who lack the ability to pursue higher education without funding support. With the insertion of predatory banks and student loan shark servicer companies like Navient, Strada Education Network (formerly known as USA Funds), and others, the soul of the Federal Student Loan Program has shifted from that of opportunity and advancement to profit and subjugation.

Recently, Secretary DeVos announced that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness agreements the Department of Education made with borrowers who agreed to work in the public service field for at least 10 years might not be honored. The New York Times reported in March that students who signed up when the program began in 2007 may now be on the hook for those loans after all. A recent legal filing from the Department of Education argues that FedLoan Servicing's approval letters for the loan forgiveness program are non-binding and can be rescinded at any time.

This means borrowers, who chose professions in public service that are routinely paid less than those with jobs in other sectors, could now not only have forgone a much higher salary for over a decade, but could also find themselves on the hook for loans that the Department of Education agreed to forgive in exchange for their service.

Denise is not alone—the New York Fed reported earlier this year that 44 percent of student loan borrowers are underemployed. This means seemingly benign decisions when it comes to student loan policy ensure that a vast net of stress, fear, and insecurity is cast upon an entire generation. The lasting impact will, by default, stifle and root out any inclinations of challenge to the current political and economic system. In this way, the student loan industry is suppressing resistance to societal change by poor Americans, ensuring that whatever steps are taken in the name of neoliberalism to tighten the corporate grip on American society will be met with little to no resistance.

Who Has the Moral High Ground?

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes a provision requiring already cash-strapped student loan borrowers to pay higher monthly fees on income-based repayment plans. While there is no evidence showing how an increase in payment requirements is needed for an already grossly lucrative industry, the Trump budget prioritized steep cuts to Medicaid, Food Stamps, Social Security and Disability Insurance, while also raising monthly payments for student loan borrowers. The combination of these two policies is a crushing blow for underemployed student debtors.

The Republican Party often campaigns on being the morally superior party based on its stance on issues like abortion and contraception. However, the student loan industry’s pillaging of the next generation of Americans has been met with deafening silence by the GOP. One would think that a majority in the House, the Senate and control of the White House would motivate the GOP to address an issue that affects 44 million Americans, but instead, Republicans choose to look the other way.

Democrats aren't entirely blameless in the student loan debacle. While a recent effort to address the greed and usurious practices of the student loan industry was championed by progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), other neoliberal Democrats like Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) have joined the GOP's morality farce by teaming up with the private sector to ransack public schools and gut teacher’s unions in the name of “school choice” and “teacher accountability.”

If Republicans and Democrats alike hope to hold on to any credibility when it comes to ethics, they must take steps to address the student loan industry in favor of the hardworking Americans who put them in office, not their corporate masters.

 

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          Wally Boag feted at Golden Horseshoe event   

It's a lonely business, being the devoted fan of a theme park show that closed 22 years ago.

Or so I thought until last Saturday's Golden Horseshoe Revue Dinner Show and Celebration, presented by the grand folks of Ape Pen Publishing and The Magic Makers.

The evening grew out of the friendship of Ape Pen's founder, Caroline Thie, and the children of GHS star Wally Boag. They felt it was time for a tribute to the people and traditions of Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe ... and they created something as much fun and as touching as the show itself.


(L to R) Carlene Thie of Ape Pen Publishing, Wally Boag and Carlene's daughter, Rachel.
Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com

Plans for the event were changing right up to the last minute, so I didn't know what to expect when I arrived at the Anaheim Sheraton – maybe a few dozen former Disneylanders; and indeed, I spotted some familiar faces. But mainly there were 300+ people I'd never seen before. They had come from all over America out of affection for the Original Golden Horseshoe Revue.

There's something about Disney events and anniversaries that you have to experience, like finding a connection with your past. I first learned this in 1980 at Disneyland's 25th Anniversary, surrounded by thousands of people like me who simply wouldn't have thought of missing the party. You can strike up a conversation with anybody, because you're all living with the same passion for one crazy corner of the world.

The folks at Disneyland Entertainment sent over the Dapper Dans to warm up the crowd with tunes we all heard growing up. Then the show started with a video tribute to Horseshoe History – a collection of vintage clips punctuated by bursts of applause as each beloved performer appeared on screen. Of course, the loudest ovations were inspired by the first sightings of Wally Boag, Fulton Burley and Betty Taylor at work.


The Golden Horseshoe Girls kick up their heels one more time.
Photo by Denise Preskitt of Mousesteps.com

Then the Golden Horseshoe girls... and I mean THE Golden Horseshoe Girls: Deedee Bozikis, Arlene Dragon, Janice Gilmore and Georgeen Whitney... took the stage in costume, singing and dancing 'Welcome to the Golden Horseshoe' just as they did when I worked there back in the '80s. Apparently dancers never age.

The current headliners of the Horseshoe stage – Billy Hill & the Hillbillies – were represented by emcee (and fan favorite) John Eaden and Kirk Wall's outrageous Elvis medley. It's nice to know that Frontierland's comic tradition is in such silly, capable hands.

At my table I was delighted to be reunited with Jim Adams, Wally's long-standing sub and co-star. We swapped stories of the old days of working with Fulton and the Band. Jim had to laugh while watching video of he and Wally rehearsing for a 1980 TV Special, because he had no memory of doing it.


Jim Adams introduces Wally the clown to his namesake.
Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com

Memories came flooding back quickly, though, when Jim took the stage with GHS mascot Claude Dog and his puppet pals. One adorable clown had trouble remembering his own name... until Jim revealed it was 'Wally'; he'd been named years ago in tribute to the evening's guest of honor.

Disney Legends Bob Gurr and Charles Boyer reminisced about Wally and the Horseshoe and Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar took us back even further to before the park's opening in '55, when Wally was hired under a 2 week contract.

Wally's son, Lawrence, shared stories of his youth and being raised by his mischievous dad. His sister, Heather, gave us a taste of what it was like to have all of Disneyland as a playground and second home. It was touching to watch Wally taking it all in, his lovely wife Ellen proudly at his side.


Wally & his dining companion listen in as Lawrence Boag reflects on his
rather unique childhood. Photo by Ron Schneider

Congratulations were read from Disney Legend Art Linkletter. Then author Gene Sands, who has been collaborating with Wally on his autobiography, announced that their book, "The Clown Prince of Disneyland," would see release by Fall, 2008.

As part of the personal tributes, Jim Adams told the crowd he'd been a star struck kid when – on a break from his Disney job – he knocked on Wally's dressing room door in a pair of monkey feet and asked to meet his hero. He said that Wally opening that door and taking him in was a blessing he'd always remember. “I wanted to BE Wally Boag.”

Dana Daniels, star of the 'Golden Horseshoe Talent Show', brought the house down with his comedy magic, ably upstaged by his partner – Luigi, the Psychic Parrot. Dana told the story of his first visit to Wally's room... also on a break from work, but wearing clown shoes. “I ALSO wanted to be Wally Boag!”


 Dana Daniels and Luigi wowed the crowd with their psychic routine.
Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com

Folks who work in themed entertainment may not make the big bucks, and we may toil in relative obscurity – known only as the characters we portray – but we make up for it in volume... the sheer numbers of people whose lives we touch on a daily basis.

The people who were there that night… and millions around the world… have had a Disney day brightened by seeing Wally perform. But for Jim and Dana and Dick Hardwick and myself, Wally Boag was an inspiration.

So by the time it was my turn to speak, the only thing I could open with was, “Stop me if you've heard this before... “


 Ron Schneider at last month's Golden Horseshoe tribute event.
Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com

I chose to reminisce about my days as a fan of the Horseshoe, when I would run to the GHS reservations podium, hoping that Wally, Fulton & Betty would be performing that day. I spoke on behalf of all of us who had wanted to 'be Wally Boag', thanking him for his kindness and generosity; and for giving each of us a start in our lives as performers:

“Some of us are here tonight... All of us are here in spirit. And we are so grateful to have been a part of this legacy, and proud of what we brought to this wonderful show created by Walt and Wally.

But it must be said that when it came to Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe – nobody could touch Betty Taylor. And nobody could touch Fulton Burley. And no one can touch Wally Boag.”


 The crowd shows its appreciation for the one, the only Wally Boag !
Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com

I said it Saturday night and I'll say it all my days: “Wally, thank you for my life.”

Speaking of Mr. Schneider's life ... Ron's hard at work on his memoirs, "Themes, Dreams & Schemes: 40 Years Behind a Nametag." Which should show up in a bookstore near you in late 2008 / early 2009.


          How do you earn the right to perform in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue? Make a left at Magic Mountain    

Millions of people work in the entertainment industry. And of those folks, thousands of them make a living as actors. And of those thousands, hundreds of these performers are employed by theme parks. And of those hundreds of performers, only a couple of dozen actually work at Disneyland.

I bring this up because I want you to understand how long the odds were back in the late 1970s. When I initially set my sights on becoming a performer at that Anaheim theme park.

But wait ! The odds get longer still. I didn't want to be just a run-of-the-mill performer at Disneyland. I had my heart set on playing one specific role in one particular venue. A part that -- I should add -- had virtually no turn-over.

Back then, I wanted to be Wally Boag's understudy. I wanted to be the traveling salesman while Wally was otherwise engaged. I wanted to play Pecos Bill, spitting out those dried-lima-bean teeth, while Boag had split for parts unknown.

Mind you, it's not like I hadn't done any preparation for this role. At this point in my fledgling career, I had made dozens of trips to the Golden Horseshoe to watch Wally work. Marveling at the way that this veteran performer (who had literally performed some of these same gags tens of thousands of times) kept his traveling salesman & Pecos Bill routines feeling so fresh & new.

And what I learned from watching Boag ... I then applied to a character that I'd just been hired to play at Magic Mountain. One Prof. Samuel J. Spillikin, B.S., M.S., PhD. (“You know what B.S. Is? Well, M.S. is More of the Same, and PhD. is just Piled Higher & Deeper”).


 A young boy listens to Professor Spillikin's pitch at Magic Mountain

The Professor spent his days lurking around Spillikin Corners Crafts Village. Where he'd then try & convince the good folks who'd come out for the day to Magic Mountain to come buy a bottle of Grandma Spillikin's Herbal Cure & Indian Elixir.

The character of Prof. Samuel J. Spillikin? He was obviously a crook and a scoundrel. But a crook and a scoundrel with a very entertaining line of patter. Which is why I'd invariably draw a crowd as I launched into my Medicine Pitch.

And each day that I worked at Magic Mountain, I tried to improve my performance. Find additional ways to engage the crowd. All with an eye toward gaining the experience that I needed so that I could someday trod the boards at the Golden Horseshoe.

Now working at another theme park may seem like an odd way to win a headliner's role at Disneyland. But over the years, I have learned that the very best way to get a job at Disney is to already excel at the job before you apply. And in order to be able to fill in for Wally someday, I first had to become as strong a comic performer as possible.

That Medicine Pitch opens a lot of doors for me. I start picking up convention work and private parties. And since the whole act fits into one large traveling case, I can go just about anywhere.


 Bud Abbott (L) and Lou Costello (R) performing their
signature routine, "Who's on First?"

For example – Poppy's Star Restaurant. At that time, Poppy's was this new party place that had just opened in Canoga Park where the waiters, managers and kitchen staff are all musicians and variety performers. Working as a seater, I not only hone my "sales skills" with rowdy diners, I collaborate with many talented performers in a wide variety of formats. Partner Mitch Evans and I perform such classic variety turns as "Niagara Falls" and Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First?" Lou Costello's daughter Chris even praises our performance!

Alright ... It's 1979 and I've been pitching snake oil at Magic Mountain for 4 years when my sister happens to notice a small ad in Variety:

"Auditions for Golden Horseshoe Revue – Comics and Dancers needed for Disneyland's 25th Anniversary Celebration"

At last all my years of practice might now pay off.

The next time I'm at Disneyland, I sit in the Golden Horseshoe watching Wally and wonder what I should do for my audition. And I realize that the thing to do is my Medicine Pitch. That routine was different enough from Wally's traveling salesman bit to be reminiscent without seeming like a complete rip-off.

Wally's act always ends with his turn as Pecos Bill, in which he gets 'slugged' by the male singer and starts spitting out teeth. Dozens and dozens of teeth. It's a very funny bit, accomplished by using dried baby lima beans concealed in his cheek. On a whim, I catch one as it whizzes by me and put it in my pocket ... for luck.


 Photo courtesy of Davelandweb.com

On a December night in 1979, I check in at a backstage rehearsal hall in Anaheim for the cattle call auditions. About a hundred of the most beautiful women you can imagine are there in leotards and dance shoes to audition to be can-can dancers. After learning a dance routine, they all line up and -- one by one --jump into the air and come down on the floor in a full split. We comics just sit there, wincing noticeably.

At the auditor's table sit Wally Boag and Sonny Anderson, the then-head of Talent Booking for the Disney theme parks. When the dancers finish, they greet us funny guys warmly.

(Over the years I've attended dozens of auditions, and this is something I've always appreciated about Disney. Before they start seeing people, the folks in charge will welcome everyone and discuss candidly what they're looking for that day and what to expect at the audition. They answer questions and greet the folks they've seen before. Not every company does this, unfortunately. But it makes the whole experience that much less frustrating and frightening.)

Finally it's time to start seeing the comics. We all stay in that one room, so everyone will have an audience.

Everyone seems aware that Wally had been a mentor to Steve Martin, who was then at the very height of his fame as a stand-up comic. A few of the comics show up in Steve's trademark white suit with an arrow through the head and juggling balls and do his act. Some do one-liners or impressions. I begin to wonder if these guys have ever seen the Golden Horseshoe Revue.

I arrive in my traveling salesman rig with my medicine bag and bamboo cane. When my name is called, I start toward the front of the room. And as I pass the front table, I hear Sonny say to Wally “This is the kid I was telling you about.”

 
Photo courtesy of Davelandweb.com

That's what those four years at Magic Mountain had bought me. By building my reputation at that other theme park, I had not only prepared myself for Disney. I had prepared Disney to hire me.

Today's moral: Stay where you are and do good work. The way to get that dream job with Disney (or anywhere else) is to start doing your best work somewhere else. So that when opportunity knocks, you're really ready to answer the door.

I ace the audition, because I'm able to show them exactly what they're looking for. And at the point in my act where my cane slips and I 'accidentally' strike myself on the head, I shake it off and spit out that dried lima bean that I'd caught earlier at the show. Wally fell off his chair, laughing.

Three weeks later, a letter arrives from Disneyland talent booking. “We're sorry to inform you that we have nothing to offer you at this time. Thank you for auditioning.” Ah, well. I had my shot.

Three months pass. It's the morning of April 15th. Summer is approaching and -- resigned to another year at Magic Mountain -- I'm about to head north to search for an apartment in Valencia. But I never make it out the door.

At 10:30 a.m., I get a call from Mike Davis at Disneyland Talent Booking, inviting me to start training the next day for the comic's role in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue. Supressing my glee, I tell Mike that I'm free.

The very next morning, I show up bright and early and giddy-as-hell at the Disneyland Administration Building. Where Mike welcomes me and ...

I'll tell you the rest of this story next week ...


Image courtesy of Ape Pen Publishing

Speaking of next week ... On March 29th, Ape Pen Publishing will be paying tribute to Wally Boag with "The Golden Horseshoe Dinner Show & Celebration." Which will be held at the Sheraton directly across from Disneyland. There are literally only a handful of tickets left for this event. Which will feature performances by Dana Daniels, Dick Harwick and many of the other entertainers that Mr. Boag has inspired over the years. Plus -- of course -- an appearance by the great man himself. So if you'd like to get in on the fun, you should fire off an e-mail off to themagicmakers@charter.net ASAP

As for Mr. Schneider ... He's still hard at work on his memoirs, "Themes, Dreams & Schemes: 40 Years Behind a Nametag." Which should hit store shelves by the late Fall / early winter of 2008.


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All those streams add up to dollar signs, which will help boost Swift's estimated $280 million net worth.
          Prodigy of Mobb Deep dies at 42   
Prodigy, MC of long-running New York rap duo Mobb Deep, died in Las Vegas. At press time the cause of death was unclear. The group’s publicist sent the following statement to XXL: “It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance ...
          8 Emmys para "The Pacific"   



Con 8 Emmys (lástima que no este entre ellos su magnifica banda sonora) ha sido premiada la magnífica miniserie bélica producida por Steven Spielberg y Tom Hanks. Los 10 episodios de The Pacific continuan la narración de los grandes episodios de la Segunda Guerra Mundial iniciada en 2001 con la también miniserie Band o f Brothers (en español titulada Hermanos de Sangre, fue emitida por Telecinco a las tantas de la madrugada de los viernes) solo que ahora le toca el turno a las operaciones en el Pacifico contra le Imperio del Japón. Fue emitida esta primavera por Canal + casi al mismo tiempo que en los USA, y solo puedo decir que ha sido para mi una experiencia impresionante a varios niveles.

Técnicamente impecable, han pasado 9 años de la anterior serie, ya de gran calidad, pero los medios con los que cuenta -un presupuesto de más de 200 millones de dolares- en nada tienen que envidiar a los de muchas películas comerciales (el resultado puede verse en los vídeos que acompañan este texto). Banda sonora y efectos de sonido y sobre todo la fotografía te meten de lleno en el axfixiante escenario bélico de las Islas del Pacífico. En el plano de las interpretaciones estas rozan un alto nivel en todos sus actores tanto principales como secundarios, destacando el carisma de John Seda en su papel del héroe de guerra, John Basilone.

Conceptual y temáticamente se trata de una obra arriesgada, recibiendo algunas criticas menores acusándola de racista y por su exceso de violencia explicita en pantalla, en la linea realista de filmes como Salvar al Soldado Ryan (del propio Spielberg) y posteriores. Basada en la experiencia de tres marines de la 1º División de este cuerpo: Robert Leckie, Eugene B. Sledge y ya mencionado héroe en las batallas de Guadalcanal e Iwo Jima, John Basilone, presenta con toda crudeza la campaña del pacífico por parte de los marines de los EEUU, luchando isla por isla y cuerpo a cuerpo con los soldados japoneses.

La anterior serie, Band of Brothers respondía a la necesidad de recuperar la memoria de la "Guerra en Europa" y su "Generación Perdida" en una época en la que está empezaba a menguar por la muerte de sus últimos supervivientes y la llamada al "Fin de la historia" que fueron los 90 del siglo pasado -con sus guerras televisadas y de ejecución aséptica desde el aire. The Pacific, a parte de continuar dicho memorial con los Marines, -cuerpo cuya supresión se considera hoy por lo caro de su mantenimiento y la ausencia de operaciones militares anfibias- tiene una segunda lectura a nivel más profundo y en clave moderna. Si la de Band of Brothers podía ser una crítica al clásico "aislacionismo" republicano, el de la Old Rigth previo a la era del "consenso liberal", con el que se iniciaba la era Bush -y rápidamente roto por los atentados del 11-S-, la de The Pacific me lleva a relacionar la cruenta lucha a muerte contra el Imperio del Japón con la actual Guerra contra el Terrorismo islámico. La convicción de que la Guerra del Pacífico solo pudo ganarse con un máximo de sufrimiento y manchándose las manos de sangre, puede servir de inspiración ante las dudas que despiertan hoy los teatros de operaciones en Afganistan e Irak.

Los estadounidenses solo pudieron dejar Japón cuando dicha nación fue derrotada militarmente, aceptando sus responsabilidades y siendo asimilada en lo político a los regímenes democráticos coocidentales. No es arriesgado ver en los soldados japones, dispuestos a morir matando y negándose a rendirse al enemigo, a los actuales guerrilleros talibanes, terroristas de Al Qaida o ex-miembros de la Guardia Republicana de Sadam. Como dejo escrito en sus memorias el soldado Sledge:

"There is no 'mellowing' for me - that would be to forgive all the atrocities the Japanese committed against millions of Asians and thousands of Americans. To 'mellow' is to forget."
Sustituyan donde pone "japoneses" por las palabras terroristas y regímenes islámicos radicales. Y donde "asiaticos" y "americanos" pongan musulmanes, estadounidenses, europeos, etc.

En resumen, The Pacific es una serie dramática y bélica de primera categoría, que encierra ciertas lecciones históricas de gran interés, y que seguro no deja indiferente a nadie, por eso recomiendo a todos mis lectores su visionado.

Trailer extendido.

Gran diseño el de los títulos de apertura de cada capitulo, acompañados del emotivo y épico tema central de su BSO.

Making of.

          #Spain's Unicaja Raises $783 Million in IPO to Repay State Aid   
Malaga-based lender prices its IPO at low/mid/high of range Unicaja deal moving ahead three weeks after Popular resolution Unicaja Banco SA raised about 688 million euros ($783 million) in an initial public offering that turned into a test of confidence in ...
          Saab - Managing the Ridiculous   
(Originally aired Sept 1, 2011)

From Saab’s web site today … quoted “Swade”...

“Saab’s problem right now comes down to one thing and one thing only – a cash shortage. We didn’t have enough cash to meet obligations at one stage earlier this year and key suppliers made a decision that it was too big a risk for them to allow us to trade our way out of that situation. To win them back, we need to find the cash. Our fault. Our task to fix. We are working on it flat-out.”

It’s unbelievable, the propaganda Saab expenses on what is truly nothing but their own fault.

“Saab’s problem right now comes down to one thing and one thing only – a cash shortage."

Let’s explore Swade's comment. In the US, I estimate Saab has been burning around $35 Million per month since February 2010. In it's arrogance Muller’s team took the position “if we build - they will come.”

From a base line 250 sales per month, Saab began pushing unrealistic sales objectives to its dealers at the “burning gas” pace of 1500 per month. Targets not achieved, Saab's leadership team encouraged dealers report “service loaner” sales each quarter end.

Note: Service loaners are nothing but phony sales to the manufacturer (and press). Dealer takes a car in stock, reports the car to the factory as a service loaner sale, then parks the car in his back lot. Because the car was reported to the factory as a delivery the car's warranty begins. Its estimated that in CY2010 Saab reported more than 40% service loaner sales and the press reported these sales as +++% over last year.

What makes these actions so ridiculous is that factory executives forget about these phony sales and start telling dealers “we are gaining sales momentum over last year.”

Even more ridiculous ...Sweden doesn’t have a clue…they believe “wow US sales are kicking ass so lets build and ship more cars” when in fact dealers are parking the cars in back lots unsold.

The public, and most of the press, have no clue how sales are manipulated.

In any regard, Saab was reporting sales but NOT finding end users to drive them. This nonsense goes on most of CY2010. Inventories build at dealers and ports (bi-products sit unsold to this day).

Some other significant achievements during CY2010 and early 2011 …

The 2010 9-3 Convertibles built in CY2009 (missing trim items) are delivered to dealers in March 2010 (without proper marketing support most sit unsold for almost a year).

The 9-3 XWD Combi (wagon) is launched unsold with no ad support or promotions.

The first 2010 9-5 Aeros are delivered to dealers with no sunroof and are basically "tryout" models without proper finishing and options (missing remote start, plastic trim has no grain, priced over $53,000). You can find these service loaner cars on Ebay tonight for $39,000 - unsold.

The first 2011 9-5 2.0 Liter FWD cars land, $10,000 higher than the car it replaced. And as of today is a complete failure.

And this nonsense is just related to car sales.

Let’s not discuss:

Lack of brand awareness
Lack of brand positioning
Lack of any logic in product offers
Lack of any showroom dynamics
Lack of Tier 1, 2 and 3 advertising
Lack of anyone knowing what “bi fuel” stands for
Lack of promotions and competitive position
Lack of corporate communications to owners
Lack of profitable dealers

But according to Swade ….Saab’s “only” problem is a lack of cash. In the early months Saab indeed had tons of CASH.

Saab executives failed to ask the most significant question..

What is it we are doing and why?

Saab never had an honest business plan, and no one had the ambition to tell Victor Muller.. “the plan you have.. well sir it’s not a very good one and here is why.”

Note: There was one very bright exception.. however he only lasted a few months and moved on to a German brand.

More CASH Swade? How ridiculous.


          McDonalds   

(originally aired August 18, 2011)

From a Saab Dealership point of view...

If McDonald's corporate stopped making burgers but kept invoicing (charging) independent McDonald's franchisee's for cardboard burger boxes, paper cups, napkins, advertising fees, and facility upgrades, I suspect McDonald franchisees would rally together, hire an attorney and sue the parent company for breach of their franchise agreement.

If the CEO of McDonald's stated McDonald's indeed had a fully funded business plan (three times) when in fact they didn't, I suspect McDonald franchisees would rally together, hire an attorney and sue the parent company for breach of fiduciary responsibility and reliance.

In essence that's life of a Saab dealer today, however in this story Saab dealers do nothing.

-------

A major problem with Muller's Saab is the organization itself. Muller's "leadership team" followed bad habits learned from larger car companies. Mile high dealer objectives, monthly dealer invoicing, poor communications and departmental walls reflect the culture / habits of GM, designed with a focus of selling millions of cars.. not 3,000 Saabs. Examples:

GM styled product offerings - Lets look at Saab's new product offerings. The new 9-5 and 9-4X, designed by former GM employees, reflects a mindset of carlines selling in the the tens of thousands - rather than one hundred. Both the new 9-5 and 9-4 offer a ridiculous high matrix of trim and option packages typically found in Chevy and Buick showrooms.

GM type push for special tools and launch parts - Once again following the mind set of GM, the new Saab organization delivered to its sleepy dealers tens of thousands of dollars in 9-5 and 9-4X spare parts and special tools (how about a $12,000 engine support stand for the 9-5!).

GM Type facility standards - Following GM's "you should be thankful your still a dealer feeling," Saab requested its dealers volunteer thousands of dollars in facility updates ("ice block" building designs) at the same time Saab is not producing cars?

This nonsense doesn't happen by accident, it happens because no one asked the hard question:

What are we doing? and Why?

At minimum, Saab Corporate should have treated their dealers at a graduate level - reducing the financial burdens of keeping Saab dealerships open during these turbulent times. Deferring or suspending all dealer invoicing for items as i.e., Saab cups, plates and paper napkins would have been a great start.

Franchise Agreements and state laws are in force to protect dealership rights. Now facing closure, Saab dealers are left holding large inventories of new cars, parts and special tools.

But no one speaks.

Not Saab's dealer council. Not NADA. Not AIADA. Saab dealers are united... their passiveness during difficult times was truly amazing.


          Muller's Wind Tunnel   

(originally aired August 1, 2011)

Saab Vs. A Wind Tunnel

Back in January 2010 - Victor Muller stated he purchased Saab for the price of a wind tunnel. Once the purchase of Saab was completed, Muller proudly stated "Saab didn't need one new customer," meaning, if former Saab owners purchased new Saab's, the new organization could easily sell over 100,000 units.

The first time I heard these comments I was really taken back. Was this Muller's 15 minutes of fame speech? or ... was he indeed serious?

Prior to Saab's death in December 2009, Muller was impressed by the thousands of Saab owners gathering in support of saving Saab. 18 months later Saab owners have made it very clear.. they are not impressed.

--------

Assembly plants idle since April, Muller’s Saab is rushing to fill 11,000 orders.

Why?

Exception to the already funded China orders... why the rush to build cars people are not buying? It's estimated the US has an 11 month supply of unsold (new) 9-5 Sedans with MSRP's ranging from low $40's to upper $55's. There are thousands of 9-5 brake rotors collecting rust at US ports as well.

The all new 9-5 may have looked great on consolidated balance sheets (at inflated MSRP’s) but the true cost of sale per unit is likely close to $15,000 per copy (and this doesn’t include the cost of advertising per car sold). The consumer (and current Saab owners) have spoken, they don't want a GM based 9-5 sedan.

The same is unfolding with the all new 9-4X, without launch support to attract "conquest buyers" the carline is failing.

Its fair to say Muller worked very hard, doing wrong things, very well.

* Rush to place GM employees in key executive roles during critical start up periods.

* Rush to embrace Koenigsegg's business plan without proper due diligence.

* Rush to the media without a convincing plan for the brand - to the press and general public.

* Rush to jettison Born from Jets (top 6th recalled automotive slogan) and launch a internally defended global marketing campaign "move your mind."

* Rush to pretend to be an environmentally focused brand without products to back it up.

* Rush to build GM based 9-5’s without defining its need and audience.

* Rush to build the multi million dollar Phoenix project (abandoning the award winning Aero X).

* Rush to build GM based 9-4X without defining its real need and audience.

* Rush to build GM based 9-5 Wagon (segment so thin.. US sales are likely less than 50/month).

* Rush to burn cash without managing the rear view mirror (wholesale and revenue plans).

* Rush to build 11,000 cars with no market demand or retail support.

Unfortunately Muller's Saab is just about finished. There is no saving Saab this time around, and I'm not sure if there is anything left of the brand to save any longer.

Hopefully when its all said and done, and the factory is turned into a freight train assembly plant, someone will purchase the Saab logo and start something up again just for fun.

Pity dealers who have inventory, loyal employees, customers needing warranty repairs and Swedish Govt & EIB who were taken by Muller's salesmanship.

Creditably shattered but not defeated, Muller now eyes the wind tunnel.


          UBER rich   
And now the Wall Street automotive report, sponsored by Country Saab.

Al Gore started it, Bush approved it and Obama signed it.

Last week, the US government approved a $528 million loan from the U.S. Energy Department to Fisker Automotive Group, a start up automotive company based in California.

The car Americans are investing in costs $89,000, reach top speeds over 150MPH and go 330 miles without a charge.

A Toyota Prius for the UBER rich.

Production is being planned in Finland some 4200 miles away from Washington DC.

But no worries folks, the 528 million are part of the billions in TARP funds we put on the coffee table sometime last November.

They say good things happen to those that show up... Fisker wasted no time, with check in hand even Walt Disney couldn’t top the joy Fisker executives experienced on their way home.

This is Robb LoForese
          Harvest Time   
The earth is shaking; it’s a small rumble but a rumble just the same.Over 77 million adults are getting old fast.

Just like a tsunami, the first wave of boomers (13 million consumers) is turning 60 within the next 2 years and they plan to buy automobiles. And if you think this group loves cars…wait till the largest group of boomers, 23 million born 1960 – 1964, come of age!

Just like the anticipated real estate trend to smaller homes with larger luxuries, the car industry needs to reflect if they are indeed prepared to harvest this market of “last chance” personal indulgence.

A return to personal luxury.

Bill Mitchell best defined personal luxury about the same time boomers were just kids. Overtime boomers grew up with the appreciation that “one earns - what one drives” and aspirational brands such as Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler represented the pinnacle of life’s success. Now, 40 years later, it’s reasonable to conclude boomers are seeking the same status and identification in today’s brands—the same way one rediscovers an old friend. But sadly, with few exceptions, no one has responded.

Forget hip-hop, race wins and wheel spinners, personal luxury is not a four door, nor a cross- over vehicle or even a Hemi.

Imagine.. a high performing V8 hybrid. long hood, short deck, riding on a soft, but highly tuned and adaptive chassis, fitted and formed aircraft type seats, highly detailed exteriors and interiors, and an overwhelming use of quality materials (and craftsmanship) not seen since the 1930’s (i.e., triple chromed accents, real wood, leather, brass and stainless steel).

Price? Well it’s not about monthly payments… Don’t forget room for golf clubs, ease of entry and exit, slightly larger read-outs, and a very very cool audio / DVD system - grandchildren need to be impressed in order to keep the cycle moving to the next generation.

Editor: Bill Mitchell's legacy is as forgotten as a Google search for his photo - shame on us.
          How Zume Pizza is using automation to produce the perfect pie   

Millions of jobs will be lost to automation as part of the so-called fourth industrial revolution, according to a recent World Economic Forum report, with an anticipated net loss of as many as five million jobs by 2020. Another recent report indicated that more than 100,000 legal jobs will be automated over the next 20 years. But surely the […]


          Missing Lynq: This tiny tracker helps you find your kids without Bluetooth, maps, or internet access   

If you ever worry about losing your kids, pets, or elderly relatives in the great outdoors, one startup has just raised nearly $2 million for a product that lets you keep track of anyone for up to 5 miles — without relying on Bluetooth, maps, Wi-Fi, or cell networks. Lynq operates across a decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) network […]


          Swift Navigation raises $34 million for autonomous vehicle GPS   

Swift Navigation, which provides global navigation satellite solutions (GNSS), announced today funding of $34 million, in a round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Existing investors Eclipse and First Round Capital also joined. The San Francisco-based startup provides two products, or “receivers” — the Piksi Multi and Duro. Both have access to several frequency bands. […]


          Mystery Science raises $2 million to keep kids curious   

Kids are naturally curious, especially when it comes to the world that surrounds them. With questions like “Why is the sky blue?” or “What do blind people see?” children want to understand what is going on around them. But elementary school teachers may not always have the answers. Mystery Science today announced a seed round of […]


          Platform9 raises $22 million to help enterprises manage hybrid clouds   

Platform9, a startup that helps companies manage their cloud software deployments across on-premises data centers and the public cloud, announced today that it raised a $22 million series C round of funding. Canvas Ventures led the round, which also included participation from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Redpoint Ventures, and Menlo Ventures. The infusion of funds will […]


          In Conversation with Barry McLellan   
It comes as no surprise that as physicians assemble skills, a track record of making a difference and leadership acumen, they find their way into the &quot;C suite.&quot; Leading one of Canada's largest health sciences centres, Dr. Barry McLellan's began his career in emergency medicine and took a leadership role in trauma care, both in Ontario and Canada. With a stop as chief coroner for Ontario, Dr. McLellan returned to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Ce