Archive for the 'Serious News' Category

Pope Ratso Called Out on Indian Genocide

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huchavezCARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded Pope Benedict apologize to Indians in Latin America for saying this month in Brazil that the Roman Catholic Church purified them.

Chavez, who regularly clashes with the Catholic Church in Venezuela but had not directly criticized the Pope before, accused the Pontiff on Friday of ignoring the “holocaust” that followed Christopher Columbus’s 1492 landing in the Americas.

“With all due respect your Holiness, apologize because there was a real genocide here and, if we were to deny it, we would be denying our very selves,” Chavez said at an event on freedom of expression.

In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Venezuela’s neighbor Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Indian leaders in the region were outraged by the comments.

Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.

from Reuters

The majority of our Venezuelan students would hate us for saying so, but you gotta hand it to that Hugo Chavez. Besides, we teach at one of the most expensive and exclusive universities in the world, so do the math. While it is undeniable that Chavez is an eccentric egotist and that he has seriously infringed on the percs and privaledges of the traditional ruling class in the Latin petro-Democracy, it is certainly refreshing to have someone on the world scene who isn’t beyond noting that the Emperor has no clothes.

Gone are the days that Nikita Khrushchev, Idi Amin, Yasir Arafat and Haile Selassie regularly railed at the mega-powers that control our world. Shot down like Jaime Roldos, shot up like Salvador Allende, overthrown like Jean-Bertrand Aristide emasculated like Qadaffi, their voices have been silenced one by one. Some of them were truly bad men, some not so bad, but they had a style and charisma that are rare today, and none of them were afraid to stand up and call out the most powerful men on the planet, including the President of the United States, and the Pope.

The European genocide of native Americans, in large part sponsored, paid for and carried out by the Catholic Church remains the Original Sin of the Founding Fathers of all of the American states and everything that came after. Because honestly facing it will require a comprehensive reevaluation of our most sacred myths and legends, we are all in a sort of Disney denial of where our origin truly lies and exactly whose blood and how much of it nurtured the roots of our democracies.

But this process must begin, and must include not only reexamination and redress but also reintegration. Only by honoring and tapping the accumulated wisdom of the original continental caretakers can we avoid the ultimately distructive and death-centered religions, philosophies and -isms of Europe and the Middle East.

They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. We know all too well, we carry in our blood, the history of our European ancestors. But the history of this land exists only in the native peoples it nurtured, and we are dangerously close to losing those voices forever.

We would be willing to bet that the name Hugo Chavez will before too long be added to the list of silenced voices above. In the meantime, let us enjoy his candor.

Weep for the Scholars of Palestine

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islamicuGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israeli planes pounded Hamas targets and rival Palestinian factions exchanged bursts of automatic weapons fire outside Gaza City‘s Islamic University on Friday, as a volatile mix of Israeli strikes and Palestinian infighting plunged Gaza deeper into chaos.

The fighting largely died down later in the day after Fatah and Hamas fighters took up positions around the university. Earlier, the office of the university’s president, Kamelen Shaath, was attacked by rocket- propelled grenades, according to Hamas.

from AP

Will this madness never end? You shoot rockets at people long enough, they’re gonna shoot rockets back at you. What do you expect? And considering the Israeli rockets are high-impact, laser guided missiles fired from supersonic fighter jets, they are going to kill some innocent people. Turning their friends and family into the kind of people who would shoot rockets at you. What do you expect? Someone has to bust the chain before it drags them all down the drain, and us with ’em.

As a college Joe from the get go it particularly pains us to read of the use of a UNIVERSITY CAMPUS as a “stronghold” and a battleground! What sacrilege! Can you imagine Massachusetts Hall, built in 1720 and home office of octogenarian President Derek Bok, being attacked by ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADES! Even at the height of student protests, late 60’s-early 70’s, when Massachusetts hall was surrounded, occupied, the President (Derek Bok, coincidentally) trapped for days in his office, we never DREAMMMMED of rocket-propelled grenades. But time marches on, and Cambridge is not Gaza City. At least, not yet.

For this kind of madness, if not contained, can infect us anywhere. The global information and transportation revolution constitute the central nervous and circulatory systems, respectively, of the emerging global body politic, . Which, unfortunately, opens the doors to a host of new diseases, infections, breakdowns and modes of transmission. Rocket-propelled grenades, IED’s and suicide bombers are only a six-hour flight, or maybe a two-hour drive, from where you are sitting right now. Who can break the chain? How do we protect ourselves?

Military Bans Blogging from the War Zone

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donesbury blogging
WASHINGTON — Lieutenant Daniel Zimmerman, an infantry platoon leader in Iraq, puts a blog on the Internet every now and then “to basically keep my friends and family up to date” back home.

It just got tougher to do that for Zimmerman and a lot of other US soldiers. No more using the military’s computer system to socialize and trade videos on MySpace, YouTube, and nine other websites, the Pentagon says.

Citing security concerns and technological limits, the Pentagon has cut off access to those sites for personnel using the Defense Department’s computer network. The change limits use of the popular outlets for service members on the front lines, who regularly post videos and journals.

from the Boston Globe

It was just a matter of time before the information control freaks at the Pentagon nixed battlefield blogging. They know that should the hoary fog of war ever actually lift, the warrior’s world would be doomed, because exposed to the light of day and the sound of human voices bubbling up from below, rather than sonorous, solemn pronouncements from the powers that be up above, the civilian population will never support these overgrown playground brats and bullies blowing people and places to kingdom come just to mollify and accommodate their aggressive and destructive psychoses.

This is just one more example of the paradox of modern warfare. It is possible today to create weapons that are way more deadly, sophisticated, destructive and efficient than ever before. But it is also now impossible to hide the messy effects of their operation from civilians back home, who are footing the bill and in whose name they are being used.

Since Vietnam, the first modern war to be beamed directly into the living rooms of America, we have seen again and again that the viewing public will not tolerate images of murder, maiming and mass destruction in their name. Maybe a lightning thrust to save some hostages or overthrow a particularly onerous dictator, campaigns along the lines of the Six-day War, but certainly not a dirty, deadly, prolonged ground campaign, much less an exposed occupation. Despite the best efforts of military managers, there is no way to stop the flood of images, blog postings, email and guerrilla video from pouring out of the war zone, and given this information overload, no way to preserve popular support for the war.

Information wants to be free, and free information can stop the warmongers in their tracks, for the simple reason that their actions are against the interests of the country and the far majority of it’s citizens. No longer should the many suffer and die to serve the testosterone poisoning of the few.

Unfortunately, the disengagement from the present fiasco will be long and bloody in its own right, and those who do profit from war will continue hoisting these manufactured conflagrations on the rest of us until we elect some folks who “get it” and can start preparing for mankind’s mature evolution into sane stewards of our planetary inheritance.

Too Late to Save Private Ryan

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rjonesDear Cadets of Monty Tech:

Greetings from Baghdad, Iraq. I’m 1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones, US Army, and I was in your shoes not long ago. I graduated from Monty Tech in 2001 from the house carpentry program. When I was a student, there was no junior ROTC program, but if there was, I would have joined.

You all have made two very important decisions so far: First, to attend such a fine school and, second, to choose to participate in an organization that stands for greater good and to do so during a time of war.

I am currently an engineer branch platoon leader in Iraq. Our platoon does many things — from conducting raids of insurgent homes to our main mission, route clearance. The enemy’s most dangerous weapon is the improvised explosive device or IED. These are bombs that are placed on the side of the road and set to go off on innocent civilians or American convoys as they drive by.

Each day, my platoon and I patrol the streets of Baghdad looking for the IEDs. Once we find one, we either blow it up or disarm it. Never a dull moment. There have been a few times the IEDs have found us before we found them. But don’t worry — our trucks have enough armor on them to survive most blasts.

Life isn’t always great, but one thing that keeps my soldiers and I going are the wonderful letters you all sent. We give you heartfelt thanks for all of the kind words.

Hopefully, I will get a chance to visit the junior ROTC program when I come back to my hometown of Westminster. Good luck to all of you, and if you decide to enlist in the military or join an ROTC program in college, it will be one of the hardest and most rewarding decisions you ever made.

God Bless America.

1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones US Army Baghdad, Iraq

On Wednesday, two days after this letter was received, a vehicle carrying Jones and another soldier struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad, and the Defense Department announced yesterday that they had died from their wounds.

from the Boston Globe

Career Opportunity

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190masri.jpgBAGHDAD, May 1 — The Iraqi government said Tuesday that it was investigating reports from “reliable sources” that the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, had been killed in an ambush by a rival insurgent faction.

Iraqi officials, desperate to show gains against a relentless insurgency, have in the past trumpeted the killing or capture of major insurgent leaders — including Mr. Masri — only to retract the claims later.

from the New York Times

Officials, both in Iraq and in Washington, should be more circumspect in touting each successive capture or kill as “a major blow to Al-Qaeda in Country X”. Eliminating one terror leader, even a national commander, does no more damage to the overall Jihadist movement than the scandalous resignation of the CEO of British Petroleum does to International Capitalism. There are always a dozen bright, ambitions, vicious and driven underlings eager to take over the top spot, and learn from his predecesor’s missteps. It’s a Darwinian descent into ever-more efficient mortal enemies.

Now, if an entire terrorist organization were to turn themselves in to American troops en masse, or we managed to target some kind of terrorist annual conference or national jamboree, well, that would be something more on the level of the collapse of Enron, and be something worth celebrating.

Cannabis Capitalism Comes Out of the Closet

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closetqWASHINGTON (Reuters) – The marijuana being sold across the United States is stronger than ever, which could explain a growing number of medical emergencies that involve the drug, government drug experts on Wednesday.

Analysis of seized samples of marijuana and hashish showed that more of the cannabis on the market is of the strongest grade, the White House and National Institute for Drug Abuse said.

They cited data from the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Potency Project showing the average levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in the products rose from 7 percent in 2003 to 8.5 percent in 2006.

The level had risen steadily from 3.5 percent in 1988.

from Reuters

This has been a regular recurring story now for going on 20 years, which can be scientifically confirmed by independent researchers around the country, including (full disclosure) several associated with the Dowbrigade Research and Development Department (DRDD). Let’s go to the archives.

During the initial invasion of pot-smoking hippies in the late 60’s and early 70’s, most of the marijuana was local scrub weed, gone to seed and poorly cured. In the rich American loam the variety of cannabis (hemp) grown extensively throughout the mid-West during WWII for making strong, durable rope, grows to monstrous proportions. Specimens have been seen over 20 feet high and as thick around at the stump as a telephone pole. Smoking this variety of pot, with a THC level of about 0.5% had little effect unless large quantities were consumed, in which case a wicked headache could be achieved.

During this period the “primo” pot on the street was driven up from Mexico, and weighed in at about 2.5% THC.

The 1970’s was the heyday of “commercial Colombian”, grown by the first of the grand Colombian Cartels, on huge, well-protected plantations by the ton, shipped to the US aboard a network of phantom freighters and ferried ashore by sleek cigarette boats that could out-run anything the Coast Guard could put in the water. It was undistinguished but strong, tipping the scales at about 3% THC.

In the 1980’s the continued growth in numbers, affluence and sophistication of marijuana consumers led to the development of higher-quality, outdoor domestic production, primarily in isolated areas of Texas and the Pacific northwest. The seed stock was gathered by itinerant world travelers in cultures where cannabis cultivation was a time-honored tradition.

In these cultures programmed interbreeding, stem splicing (a primitive form of genetic manipulation) and closely controlled growing conditions had produced super-active strains many generations old, which reached THC concentrations of 5 or 6%. This is a process of guided natural selection somewhat akin to evolution, in this case producing a much more potent product.

From Colombia, Panama, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Nepal came the seeds, tiny arks of arcane knowledge, to our shores, where they were transformed by modern techniques of manipulated plant genetics and American ingenuity into the multi-billion dollar domestic marijuana industry which is meeting the demands of discerning consumers today.

By the 90’s most domestic production had moved indoors, and sales of hydroponic potting beds, grow-lux lighting arrays and high-nutrient liquid growing medium skyrocketed. Current crops can have THC levels of 8-10%.

Local police and DEA agents have started to search for these grow houses by reviewing secondary evidence of the operations; receipts for lights and plant food, ridiculously high electrical bills in seemingly unoccupied properties, banks of lights seen to go on and off in unison at regular intervals, even the infra-red heat signature of the house itself, as measured by heat-sensitive instruments in unmarked cars or even helicopters.

This tendency has resulted in several interesting court cases questioning whether training sophisticated electronic detectors on a house without a search warrant constituted an unconstitutional search, and therefore makes any subsequent seizure inadmissible. In California v. McGillicutty…..but we digress. What was the topic, anyway? Oh yeah, the increasing potency of street weed in the US.

Although it surely doesn’t figure in the University of Mississippi study, one prime result of the increase is that millions of dope fiends are smoking less and enjoying it more.

BU Student Gamer Crosses the Line

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lgvt.jpegA part-time Boston University student who hosts a popular video game review show on an MTV Web site allegedly sent an e-mail threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend and recreate the Virginia Tech bloodshed at her school, according to a Boston police report obtained by the Herald.

“(I)’m gonna (expletive) bring a gun to your school and kill you and K (another female student) and everybody you love. It’s gonna be VT all over again,” 20-year-old Andrew Rosenblum allegedly wrote in an e-mail to the victim just hours after 32 people were gunned at Virginia Tech.

“Seriously I’m just that demented,” Rosenblum wrote, according to a BPD report. He ended the message with a threat to commit homicide and suicide: “killing people can change people’s lives forever. (T)he best is in the end when I pull the trigger on myself, too.”

from the Boston Herald

Another hit to the image of both Boston University and the gaming community, as well as another reminder that while the human body is a remarkably robust and resilient organism, the human psyche can be incredibly delicate, and when suffering from catastrophic meltdown, incredibly dangerous.

Much discussion has been heard of gun control, early warning signs and emergency response systems. But to the Dowbrigade, these are all peripheral issues. Sure, without semi-automatic handguns and hollow point bullets it would be harder to kill 30 people in a few minutes. If a Neolithic proto-human went berserk in a cave 30,000 years ago, he probably could have taken out but 3 or 4 folks before going down or running out of juice.

On the other hand, suppose this incident had taken place in Japan, where guns are largely unavailable. Armed with a quality katana, a well-trained martial arts expert could probably kill that many people without resorting to a firearm. Hell, Uma Thurman killed the entire Crazy 88 with a samurai sword in ONE SCENE in Kill Bill (vol.1). The problem isn’t weapons.

The problem is that the human psyche, which evolved over tens of thousands of generations while we wandered around the savanna chasing animals and rooting for grubs and berries is not always up to the incredible pressures and distortions caused by our unnatural modern life. The effects of urbanization, mass culture and especially technology on daily life, in a certain small but significant percentage of the population, produce not a shutdown or paralytic breakdown, but a deadly explosion, a human hybrid of a suicide bomber and IED.

Don’t misunderstand us – the Dowbrigade is a big fan of technology and the rush of post-modern culture. We adore advertising. We see beauty in buzz. But we have achieved this transcendent perspective only after years of intensive auto-psycho-(delic) therapy, and recognize that these are influences we were not innately inured to. Others proved less resistant. We have seen the finest minds of our generation crash and burn.

The human mind is the most powerful instrument in the history of the planet, and when it implodes the results can be spectacular. The problem is exacerbated by psycho-pharmaceuticals which mask the problem without fixing it, often for years, creating these walking time bombs just waiting to be activated by going off their meds or fixating on a psychic trigger.

Is there a solution short of sending everybody home and throwing civilization into reverse? Maybe making different lifestyles available to more people by recognizing that different people can contribute in different ways, and life in the fast lane isn’t for everyone. Maybe by making an effort to find our moral compass, and reaching a consensus on what living in a post-industrial democracy entails, and requires, and makes possible.

Not easy tasks. But we are afraid that unless we at least start down that past, these incidents will happen again and again, until they touch every life in America.

The Looming Nightmare

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WASHINGTON — A much anticipated US intelligence report warned yesterday that the rising violence in Iraq could permanently tear the country apart and, in the worst case, create a state of anarchy with no legitimate authority that combines "extreme ethnosectarian violence with debilitating intragroup clashes."

The secret National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, the first in more than two years, said Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence now far outpaces the anti-US insurgency.

from the Boston Globe

Could the fact that we are so darn good at keeping those "Top Secret" reports and documents secret be a symptom or a contributing factor to the fact that the most powerful military in the history of the human race is getting smeared over the streets of Iraq by a rag-tag gaggle of demented turbaned fanatics?

As time passes and the death toll of innocents rises (including the tricked, trapped and betrayed GI’s) a partition of the country into three independent enclaves is becoming more and more a viable and attractive alternative. In the mainstream press, it has moved up the list of options, from an unthinkable disaster to the least of an evil list of possibilities. Of course, it is attractive only in comparison to the alternatives. The globe story continues:

The report by President Bush’s top intelligence analysts said that if the violence continues to get worse, there are three possible outcomes: The country will disintegrate into three separate enclaves (Sunni, Shi’ite, and Kurdish), a strongman will seize power, or anarchy will set in, bringing with it "the greatest potential for instability."

As usual, the mainstream press refuses to look beyond the next turn in the road. The real risk of a power vacuum in Iraq is the Horror Next Door. There is a very real possibility, which the Dowbrigade believes to be a probability, that when we withdraw Iraq will quickly become a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Revolutionary Council of Iran.

In addition to the direct threat of a radical Islamic state close to going nuclear, Iran represents the seed of a Greater Islamic Republic (Empire), the common aspiration of the Ayatollahs, Usama bin Laden, Al-Queda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and fundamentalists around the world.

What that eventuality, a nuclear-armed Empire of almost a billion Muslims, in control of the majority of the world’s oil reserves and dedicated to opposing the American agenda and the destruction of Israel, would mean for the United States staggers the imagination, and is uncomfortable to contemplate. Developing contingency plans would be a nightmare.

But we sure hope someone at the State Department is working on it.

Saving the Worst for Last

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WRENTHAM — Jeffrey Cardin walked into a pub Thursday night near the modest cottage where he lived alone and told a stranger he was suffering through the worst day of his life.

He didn’t know the half of it.

Cardin, 48, said he had recently buried his sister, recalled Suzanne Bourque, who sat beside him at the bar.

To compound his heartache, the twice-divorced father of three continued, he had just heard that his best friend had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.

"He kept saying that his children were the only thing that made him feel good," Bourque said yesterday.

When Cardin left the Anvil Pub for the short walk home, the day he described as the worst day of his life also became his last. About 200 yards from the pub, Cardin was struck and killed about 9:40 p.m. on Shears Street by an automobile that left the scene.

Yesterday, the family of a 17-year-old girl contacted Wrentham police to say that their daughter, after seeing news reports, recalled that she might have struck something in the vicinity of the accident, according to Detective Sergeant William McGrath.

from the Boston Globe

Ah, she "might have struck something", eh? Or not. Whatever. Even a 17-year-old girl must have felt the impact of sending a 48-year-old divorced father of three shuffling off to the afterlife. Either she has such a flimsy grasp on reality she wasn’t sure if it had really happened, or she panicked. Either way, she’s in a world of trouble, and pain, and multiple lives will never be the same…..

Extreme Sanction

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NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Police shot and killed
a man suspected of shoplifting from a grocery store yesterday as he
tried to flee in a minivan with his 5-year-old daughter.

The officer opened fire after being struck by the suspect’s minivan, according
to a statement from North Smithfield Chief Steven Reynolds.

Security personnel at the Stop & Shop supermarket called police about 2:15
p.m. to report a shoplifter who had just left the store with another man. The
responding officer confronted the suspect in the store’s parking lot.

The suspect, identified by police as James Wilcox, 34, of Pawtucket, struck the
officer as he tried to flee in his vehicle, police said. The officer, whose name
was not released, fired one shot that struck Wilcox in the stomach, police said.

Wilcox was pronounced dead on arrival at Rhode Island Hospital. The officer was
treated and released. State child welfare officials were called to the scene
to take care of the girl. The other suspect, Carl Dinsmore, 45, of Cranston,
was apprehended nearby

from the Boston Globe

Jeez, if we had known they shoot to kill at Stop
and Shop we never wold have slipped that filet under our shirt that
sticky summer night after freshman year, broke and unemployed and
hungry . Next time, try Whole Foods – they don’t even kill their
lobsters. Oh yeah, when you’re dead there is no next time.

We Are Not Obese

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We’re a nation with a massively bulging waistline. Study
after study — not to mention personal experience — shows that’s true.
But a report released last week found that some obesity studies may actually
understate the crisis — because of people fudging their true weight
and height. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health came
to their conclusion by examining two national surveys of girth.

The Harvard researchers combined data from the state-by-state
phone surveys and found that among men, 22 percent reported that they
were obese. For women, it was 21 percent. But the more thorough in-person
survey discovered that 29 percent of men and 35 percent of women were
obese.

”It must be that people are intentionally
or unintentionally misreporting their weights and heights," said
Harvard population health researcher Majid Ezzati, lead author of the
study.

from the Boston
Globe

Original study, from the Journal
of the Royal Society of Medicine
(PDF)

We Are Not Obese

ø

We’re a nation with a massively bulging waistline. Study
after study — not to mention personal experience — shows that’s true.
But a report released last week found that some obesity studies may actually
understate the crisis — because of people fudging their true weight
and height. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health came
to their conclusion by examining two national surveys of girth.

The Harvard researchers combined data from the state-by-state
phone surveys and found that among men, 22 percent reported that they
were obese. For women, it was 21 percent. But the more thorough in-person
survey discovered that 29 percent of men and 35 percent of women were
obese.

”It must be that people are intentionally
or unintentionally misreporting their weights and heights," said
Harvard population health researcher Majid Ezzati, lead author of the
study.

from the Boston
Globe

Original study, from the Journal
of the Royal Society of Medicine
(PDF)