Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Who Killed the Electric Car? Director Chris Paine Holds Grand Opening for Green Demo Home Marrakesh House on June 6th

Culver City, CA – May 19, 2009 - Filmmaker and environmentalist Chris Paine, noted for his award winning documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? celebrates the completion of Marrakesh House (,), his new green demonstration home with a Grand Opening Party on Saturday June 6th. The event will commence at 5pm so guests can witness a brilliant sunset from the hillside home.

Entertainment includes headliners Naked Rhythm, plus acclaimed performer Ben Lee, Danyavaad, DJ eEvil, and KCRW’s Tom Schnabel.

Inspired by a lifelong commitment to environmental activism and his interest in Moroccan design, Chris and his team transformed a hillside Mid-Century Modern Home into a 21st Century green showcase for more sustainable living. Located adjacent to California's newest State Park, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Marrakesh House is one of the more environmentally friendly remodels in Southern California.

"Bringing people together has always been important to me, especially living in Los Angeles where everything is so spread out, says Paine. I wanted Marrakesh House to provide a relaxed atmosphere that reflects my interests in different cultures and more eco-friendly living. I hope Marrakesh House inspires everyone who comes here."

The Marrakesh House Grand Opening supports charities NextAid, Green Wave, Plug-In America, Rainforest Action Network, the Impro Theatre, and the Wildlife Learning Center. All the organizations will have representatives and information on hand at the event.

Marrakesh House Sponsors and solar providers Mitsubishi Electric and REC Solar have installed a unique kiosk that allows party-goers to see how the solar array is impacting the home’s energy use. Other house sponsors include sustainable plumbing provider Toto USA, Pittsburgh Paint Low VOC wall covering, Cisco Brothers furniture, noted Burning Man/ Coachella installation artist Shrine and GardeNerd organic gardens.

In addition to music and dance performances by Naked Rhythm, Ben Lee, Danyavaad, and DJ eEvil, there will be live animals courtesy of the Wildlife Learning Center who provide outreach education in wildlife biology. Models will be showcasing the latest in sustainable fashion by Meghan Fabulous and delicious Moroccan style cuisine will be provided by Akasha.

Ticket prices are $50 ($75 at door) for VIP which includes hosted bar and a gift bag of sustainable products or $25 ($40 at door) for general admission. Valet Parking is included. Space is very limited.

Tickets are on sale now through Brown Paper tickets, the first and only fair trade ticketing agency at

Paine traveled to Morocco in 2008 and discovered that the layouts of traditional Moroccan “riads” center on a courtyard, in a way that mirrors the layout of his new property. With Marrakesh and Los Angeles located on similar latitudes, each with desert topographies near high mountains, he decided to call his remodel “Marrakesh House” combining the home’s Mid-Century modern architecture with Islamic design motifs to forge a visual bridge between two cultures.

Paine rarely wavered in his commitment to remodel the 4,300 square-foot house using environmentally friendly guidelines. He assembled a team of dedicated craftspeople, led by project manager, noted LEED AP, Shellie Collier. He also brought on board sponsors who were passionate about a reconstruction that would showcase greener living. When asked about their choices in planning the remodel, Shellie said, “I’m very glad we spent time considering how to take advantage of what the house already had instead of tearing everything down. Sometimes the future is about simply remaking the present.”

As a residence for the director of Who Killed the Electric Car? no garage would be complete without solar powered plug-in electric vehicles. During the remodel, three 220volt chargers were installed to charge on-site and visiting plug-in vehicles, whether electric scooters or plug-in hybrid conversions. “Of course, you can plug almost any electric car directly into a regular wall socket – it just takes longer that way,” notes Paine. At the moment, Paine’s “plug-in mecca” includes a 2002 Toyota Rav4-EV and his 2008 Tesla Electric Roadster, both of which have cameos in his upcoming film Revenge of the Electric Car. “Electric Cars make powering your car with renewable energy off your house easy. You just can’t do that with a gas car.”

In all Paine has created an opening event and home that brings Mid-Century modern into the 21st century with the currently popular, yet eternal style of Morocco and a focus on sustainability that will never go out of fashion.
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For information on Marrakesh House or the event please contact Susan von Seggern on or 213-840-0077.

Susan von Seggern
Public Relations Consultant

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Readers often ask us what more can be done to get the valuable information they find at to a wider audience.

One way is to take advantage of our 3-for-the-price-of-1 book offer and then to donate the three books - Lost History, Secrecy & Privilege, and Neck Deep - to your community or school library.

If we could get the books into the collections of 1,000 libraries, hundreds of thousands of people would have access to the honest history that the books present - from the Reagan-era scandals of the 1980s to the crimes and abuses under George W. Bush this decade.

For instance, more people would learn the true stories of cocaine trafficking by Ronald Reagan's Nicaraguan contras (in Lost History); George H.W. Bush's dark role in U.S. politics (in Secrecy & Privilege); and George W. Bush's brazen theft of Election 2000 (in Neck Deep).

Now, for a limited time, you can get all three books for only $20, plus $5 for shipping ($25 total). Then, you can contact your local library about placing them in the permanent collection. (If you wish, we can send them to the library directly although it's more effective if a local person donates them.)

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Robert Parry, Editor

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded in 1995 as the Internet's first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.

Klassic Konformist: The Integraton

Robert Sterling, Robert Larson, Stephen Miles Lewis, Peter Stenshoel, Adam Gorightly, Greg Bishop at The Integraton...

Great Movies: Thief of Bagdad

Great Movies
Thief of Bagdad (1940)
by Roger Ebert
May 6, 2009

Cast & Credits
Abu - Sabu
Ahmad - John Justin
Jaffar - Conrad Veidt
Genie - Rex Ingram
Princess - June Duprez

Janus Films/United Artists present a film directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger and Tim Whelan. Written by Miles Malleson. Running time: 106 minutes. Available on DVD from the Criterion Collection.

To begin with a story: Our grandson Taylor was deeply immersed in a video game on his laptop. I began to watch "The Thief of Bagdad" on DVD. At first he ignored it. Then I saw him glancing at the screen. Then he closed the laptop and watched full time. During the spider sequence, only his eyes were visible above the neck of his T-shirt. "That was a good movie!" he told me. "What did Taylor say when he found out it was almost 70 years old?" his mother, Sonia, asked me. "I didn't tell him," I said.

This 1940 movie is one of the great entertainments. It lifts up the heart. An early Technicolor movie, it employs colors gladly and with boldness, using costumes to introduce a rainbow. It has adventure, romance, song, a Miklos Rozsa score that one critic said is "a symphony accompanied by a movie." It had several directors; as producer, Alexander Korda leaped from one horse to another in midstream. But it maintains a consistent spirit, and that spirit is one of headlong joy in storytelling.

The story is loosely borrowed from Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924), itself a great film. Fairbanks Jr. told me it was his father's favorite. One major change is crucial: In the silent film, the thief and the romantic lead were one and the same, played by Fairbanks. In the 1940 film, they are made into two characters. The thief, Abu, is played by the Indian child star Sabu, then about 15. The king, Ahmad, is played by John Justin with a Fairbanksian mustache. This is an invaluable change, for both dramatic purposes and practical ones: The silent character needs no one to talk to. The 1940 characters become allies drawn from the top and bottom of society, making Sabu essentially the star of the film, although he doesn't receive top billing. The most compelling character, as he should be, is the villain Jaffar, played by the German emigre Conrad Veidt with hypnotic eyes and a cruel laugh. The beautiful, passive heroine, a princess desired by both men, is played by June Duprez.

The story in my mind moves from one spectacular special-effects sequence to another: the Sultan's mechanical toy collection. The flying horse. The storm at sea. The goddess with six arms. The towering genie released from a bottle. Abu's assault on the temple that contains the All-Seeing Eye. His climb up a mountainous statue. The battle with the gigantic spider. The flying carpet.

Half of the the shots in "Citizen Kane" used special effects, according to Robert Carringer, who wrote a book on the film. There is rarely a shot in "The Thief of Bagdad" without them. The film was a breakthrough in technique and vision, influential in shaping the entire genre. There are few effects in "Star Wars" (1977) that cannot be found in "Thief." Some of them, such as blue screen, were still being perfected. Other effects, such as matte paintings, had been in use for years.

The Criterion DVD offers interviews with three effects experts, including Ray Harryhausen, who discuss the film's techniques. It is especially eye-opening to see stills revealing the "hanging matte" technique, which creates a background or completes a composition by suspending a matte painting in front of the camera. The camera's 2-D eye is fooled by the painting into making us see foreground as background. Other techniques are simplicity itself: The genie is made to tower over Abu by using an optical printer to combine a shot of the genie (Rex Ingram) close to the camera, and Abu hundreds of feet away. Both are filmed from a static camera on the same beach.

The use of blue screen may seem primitive compared to today's computer-generated animation, but it has the advantage of using real-world subjects. The flying horse, for example, is a real horse, with a real actor mounted on it. The flying carpet is a real carpet, with Abu standing on it. Both the genie and the thief seem real in all of their shots, because they are.

The point here is that all of the effects, supervised by the wizard Lawrence W. Butler, are used to further and deepen the story. Consider the remarkable beauty of several scenes showing magnificent cities climbing hills in the background. The cities may be tinted peach or blue, which makes them all the more fantastical. They are all mattes.

Once on a visit to the Disney Studios, I met the famous matte artist Peter Ellenshaw, who was a young assistant artist on "Thief." He told me how his paintings used not only a forced perspective , but such devices as deliberate blurring to create the illusion of depth. When two lovers are standing in a balcony in front of a matte cityscape, it would be a mistake to make the painting in a photo-realistic style. Its indistinct qualities make it seem farther away.

Korda, a Hungarian emigre who had earlier run Britain's Denham Studios, was now an independent, powerful in the Mayer, Selznick or Goldwyn mode. He used his brother Vincent as his art director, his brother Zoltan as a director. The already legendary art director William Cameron Menzies also worked on the film, and is said to have directed some scenes. Together they made a film of breathtaking beauty. It is done so well that it does not date. Never mind that today similar vistas could be painted with CGI. These are so gorgeous that we cannot imagine them being improved.

Korda often employed others from overseas. Veidt (1893-1943) was a famous German silent actor who fled Hitler in 1933, became a British citizen, worked in Hollywood, was a major star. Sabu (1924-63) was born in Mysore, India, and as a boy was a servant for a maharajah. In 1937, he was cast by Robert Flaherty in the title role of the quasi-documentary "Elephant Boy," an international hit. He was signed by Korda, for whom he made "The Drum" (1938), "Thief" and the great success "Jungle Book" (1942). Rex Ingram (1895-1969), the genie, was a well-known African-American stage and screen actor who graduated from Northwestern University. He achieved fame in films like "Green Pastures" and "Cabin in the Sky."

The energy centers on the film are clearly supplied by Sabu and Veidt, as a boy bubbling with enthusiasm and innocent guile and a man steeped in bitterness and cruelty. Both performances are perfectly pitched to the needs of the screenplay. The romance between Duprez and Justin, as the princess and Ahmad, is rather bloodless, centering on abstract vows; their greatest passion is shown in the scene where they're bound to opposite walls, and under sentence of death. The same low-flame romance was mirrored in Disney's "Aladdin" (1992), greatly influenced by both versions of the "Thief," combining Abu and Ahmad as "Aladdin."

Although the film had so many directors (including Michael Powell, two Kordas and Menzies), it seems the work of one vision and that must have been Korda's. It remains one of the greatest of fantasy films, on a level with "The Wizard of Oz." To see either film is to see the cinema incorporating every technical art learned in the 1930s and employing them to create enchanting visions. Today, when dizzying CGI effects, the Queasy-Cam and a frantic editing pace seem to move films closer to video games, witness the beauty of "Thief of Bagdad" and mourn.

Note: You may watch the Criterion Collection's DVD of "The Thief of Bagdad" online for $5 at

Eva Longoria Photo Break

FeedBack: RIP! A Remix Manifesto

I actually wasn't that aware of Girl Talk until I saw the film at a screening a few weeks ago. Even though I was initially uncertain about how I felt on the subject, the film did a remarkable job of swaying my opinion in favor of copyright loosening. Particularly the discussions and illustrations of the manners in which culture builds upon the past. I'm glad to see the film is available on iTunes and through their website ( now because it will certainly spur some interesting discussion.

Edward L.

Obama’s sermon at Notre Dame

Obama’s sermon at Notre Dame
19 May 2009
Tom Eley

President Barack Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame University took on heightened political significance after several weeks of a media-hyped protest by anti-abortion fanatics denouncing the presence of a supposedly “pro-choice” president at the nation’s leading Catholic university.

As it turned out, the reactionary campaign mustered little more than one hundred protesters, most of whom were brought to the campus from other locations. Residents of South Bend, Indiana—where Notre Dame is located—were overwhelmingly hostile to the anti-abortion fanatics and their publicity-minded campaign. Even after weeks of a right-wing media campaign spearheaded by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, the overwhelming majority of Notre Dame students were hostile to anti-abortion forces. The handful of protesters who tried to disrupt Obama’s speech were completely drowned out by chants from the crowd.

This outcome was not particularly surprising. National opinion polls show that a very sizable majority of the population opposes further restrictions on abortion, and that there remains a strong consensus in support of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973. Randall Terry, one of the principal protest leaders, publicly admitted that the aim of the Notre Dame campaign was to revive the “moribund” anti-abortion movement.

Obama could have easily ignored the protest and used his appearance to address any number of issues of greater concern to Notre Dame students and the country as a whole. Or, if he felt that the question of abortion had to be addressed, he might have taken the opportunity to present an unambiguous defense of every woman’s constitutionally-established right to privacy and her freedom of choice.

Instead, in what has become this administration’s standard operating procedure, Obama opted for an approach that was as spineless as it was reactionary. The central premise of his speech was that the views of those who would deny citizens their democratic rights are no less deserving of respect than those who seek to secure and defend those rights. He approached the issue of abortion as if this legal right should be perpetually subject to negotiation between those who seek to exercise their rights and those who would deny women the protection of the law.

Obama’s indifferent attitude toward the defense of democratic rights was not confined to the issue of abortion. In a statement whose reactionary implications grows clearer with each reading, Obama declared: “The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.”

What is Obama’s point? That the general who favors martial law “to protect us from harm” has a view that is as legitimate as that of the lawyer who defends the Bill of Rights? That the views of the evangelical pastor whose hateful sermons encourage anti-gay discrimination are to be seen as a valuable contribution to the national discourse? And, finally, that some sort of common ground should be found between those who oppose stem cell research and those whose children may die because of such reactionary efforts? Why is opposition to stem cell research, rooted in ignorance and hostility to science, being praised by the president as “an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life”?

On the issue of abortion itself, Obama tacitly implied that women who undergo this procedure are engaged in disreputable activity, and that the moral high ground is held by the opponents of abortion. He declared: “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.

Obama overlooks the fact that no one is compelled by law to undergo abortion. Those who disagree with abortion are not required to avail themselves of the legal right to have one. But why should the president feel obliged to “honor the conscience” of those who would deny this right to those who decide to exercise this right? The so-called “conscious clause” would make it possible for health care workers to deny individuals treatment to which they are legally entitled. Then there is the suggestion that “sound science” may be based on bad ethics. Again, the president is adapting himself to the baseless claims of the religious right, which demands that science be subordinated to their ignorant and reactionary world view. As for Obama’s reference to the “equality of women,” the phrasing makes clear that these words were included only as an afterthought.

There are many other aspects of Obama’s speech that betrayed a callous indifference to democratic principles, including the separation of church and state. Obama’s remarks were far less a political speech than a religious sermon, with numerous invocations of God, a reference to “original sin,” and the retelling of his own discovery of Christ.

Does Obama—whose late mother was an atheist—actually believe any of this? In the Notre Dame rendition of his conversion story, Obama emphasized the influence of the Catholic hierarchy. He did not mention the name of his long-time pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. When it was politically convenient to do so, Obama gave credit to Wright, the politically-connected black Baptist preacher from South Chicago, for his religious consciousness. Obama even used Wright’s phrase, “audacity of hope” in the title of his best-selling book of the same name. But after Wright’s criticisms of US social and military policy became the center of a media campaign during Obama’s battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Obama dumped Wright and his Baptist congregation, where Obama and his family had been parishioners for years.

What was on display at Notre Dame was not Obama’s deep-rooted religious convictions—which, we suspect, are as flexible as all his other convictions—but definite political calculations. The president’s every move is intended to accommodate and cultivate the most reactionary social forces.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Organic Foods Provide More than Health Benefits

Organic Foods Provide More than Health Benefits
Friday, May 15, 2009 by: Sheryl Walters, citizen journalist
Key concepts: Foods, Food and Organic foods

(NaturalNews) Organic foods can be considered to be better and healthier not only for the consumer but also for the environment. Organic foods are considered to be more nutrient dense than their counterparts produced via modern farming practices.

Dr. David Thomas, a physician and researcher, has studied and compared the United States government guidelines and tables for the nutritional content of various foods. These tables have been published by the government first in 1940 and again in 2002. Dr. Thomas has noticed a trend that supports the decline in the nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables produced via modern farming practices in recent decades. Because of his research Dr. Thomas has posed the following question, "Why is it that you have to eat four carrots to get the same amount of magnesium as you would have done in 1940?"

A study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition lists many nutrients that appear to be altered based on how they are farmed. The study looked at organic apples, pear, potatoes, wheat, and sweet corn and compared the levels of certain nutrients in relation to the commercially available counterparts produced via modern farming practices. The study lists the macronutrient chromium as being found at levels 78% higher in organic foods. The study also showed that Calcium is found at a level 63% higher in organic foods and Magnesium is found at a level 138% higher in organic foods. Other studies have shown that the use of pesticides can also alter the levels of certain vitamins including B vitamins, vitamin C, and beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables.

In 2003 a study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry which found that organic corn had 52% more vitamin C than the commercially available counterpart which was grown utilizing modern farming practices. This study also found that polyphenol levels were significantly higher in the organic corn.

While many studies have been done looking into the benefits of organic produce there still is much to be learned. Dr. Marion Nestle the chair of New York University's department of nutrition, food studies and public health has said, "I don't think there is any question that as more research is done, it is going to become increasingly apparent that organic food is healthier."

Many studies including a study recently published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) have done much to reinforce the perception of many American consumers that organic foods are both better for the consumer and the environment.

About the author

Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner.

Her website provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous.

And her latest website offers a vast quantity of information on how to increase sex drive and enjoy a vibrant sex life.

Top Ten Products for Fasting and Detoxification

The Top Ten Products to Use for Fasting and Detoxification
Thursday, May 14, 2009 by: Kirk Patrick, citizen journalist
Key concepts: Burdock, Milk thistle and Fasting

(NaturalNews) Spring has traditionally been the season for detoxification and cleansing. Throughout the ages, humans and animals have emerged from their winter dormancy to find themselves malnourished. Having gone months without any vegetables they needed to seek remedies provided by nature, many of which blossom in spring. Certain plants and compounds greatly increase the productivity of the internal organs and thus help to restore optimal health. This article will summarize the top 10 products that assist the body`s natural healing processes.

The Top Ten

1) Milk Thistle (seed) - Silybum marianum (Compositae)
Milk Thistle is a thorny, purple flower that is commonly found growing by the roadside. Used as a liver tonic for centuries, milk thistle seeds contain the active ingredient Silymarin. By exerting a protective effect on the liver, silymarin prevents damage from compounds that are normally highly toxic such as Poison Death Cap Mushrooms. Milk thistle flowers can be boiled and eaten like artichokes. A mild laxative and natural antidepressant, milk thistle is used to treat cirrhosis and hepatitis. Milk thistle both increases breast milk production and stimulates bile production.

2) Cascara Sagrada (bark) - Rhamnus purshiana (Rhamnacea)
Cascara sagrada is one of the safest laxatives and normally induces peristaltic action within 8-12 hours. The "sacred bark" has been used for over 1000 years. During a fast, cascara sagrada is essential as it assists detoxification by helping the body to remove large amounts of impurities from the intestine and colon.

3) Psyllium (seed husks) - Plantago (Plantaginaceae)
Psyllium seed husks contain fiber and can absorb remarkable amounts of water. One Tablespoon of psyllium will make a cup of water become as thick as pudding within one minute. Psyllium acts as a bulk laxative and provides moisture to areas commonly chapped due to digestive acids. Psyllium has soothing properties and is used to treat stomach ulcers and hemorrhoids.

4) Bentonite (clay) - Aluminium Phyllosilicate (Montmorillonite)
Bentonite clay is available in two forms: sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite. Bentonite clay is a form of volcanic ash that has the ability to physically remove 25 times its weight in impurities from the body through a process called adsorbtion. Bentonite has laxative properties and contains high levels of iron, magnesium and silicon. Bentonite is used in cement, ceramics, acne medication, facial clay, cat litter and to clarify wine.

5) Burdock (root) - Arctium lappa (Compositae)
You are likely to have once found Burdock burrs stuck to your clothing after walking through a field. A potent blood purifier, burdock root removes heavy metals such as Mercury and Aluminum along with other toxins. Containing up to 45% inulin along with arctiopicrin, arctiin, tannins and volatile oil, burdock is used to treat skin conditions such as acne. Burdock helps to purify the liver and is used as a natural cancer treatment. Burdock has antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-tumor properties.

6) Licorice (root) - Glycyrrhiza glabra (Leguminosae)
Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. Licorice is used to treat discomfort and arthritis. Licorice is an expectorant, demulcent, adrenal agent, and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Note that some black licorice candy still contains real licorice extract.

7) Yellow Dock (root) - Rumex crispus (Polygonaceae)
A powerful cleansing herb and safe laxative, yellow dock is a bitter herb that contains anthraquinones. While the leaves of yellow dock contain oxalates (which can cause kidney stones in high doses), the oxalate level in the root is safe for consumption. Yellow dock is used to treat many conditions of toxicity including acne, eczema, constipation and arthritis. Yellow dock is a bile stimulant that has purgative effects on the colon.

8) Sarsparilla (root) - Similax (Liliaceae)
Sarsparilla contains 1-3% steroidal saponins, phytosterols, and starch. Sarsparilla has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties. Sarsparilla is used to relieve skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, rheumatism, and gout. An aphrodisiac, sarsparilla helps produce testosterone and increases muscle mass. Used to treat impotence as well as premenstrual problems and menopause, sarsparilla is a natural antidepressant and a key component of (real) Root Beer.

9) Dandelion (leaves and root) - Taraxacum officinale (Compositae)
A bitter herb with diuretic properties, dandelion contains sequiterpene, lacotones, coumarins, taraxacoside, potassium and calcium. Dandelion is used to alleviate fasting symptoms such as headaches, and to treat hangovers, high blood pressure, coughing, constipation, and gallbladder problems. Most consider it to be a weed, but dandelion greens can be added to salad and are best picked before they flower.

10) Blue Green Algae (cyanobacteria) - Anabaena sphaerica (Cyanophata)
Blue green algae contain chlorophyll, a deep green antioxidant. "Bad" bacteria such as Fecal Coli cannot coexist with chlorophyll, which helps keep fresh water clear. Algae not only contain nearly every required vitamin and mineral, but also have the effect of increasing oxygen while reducing nitrogen and carbon.


While these natural products have powerful effects they rarely cause unpleasant side effects. Some are available in seed form, and many can be found growing in the wild. Most are recommended to relieve the symptoms of (or provide an alternative to) chemotherapy. Herbal supplements are highly concentrated, have a long shelf life, and most will provide several months worth of doses in one container.

Kirk Patrick has studied natural medicine for over a decade and has helped many people heal themselves.

Guacamole Delivers Concentrated Nutrition

Guacamole Delivers Concentrated Nutrition
Monday, May 11, 2009 by: Kirk Patrick, citizen journalist
Key concepts: Guacamole, Cilantro and Salt

(NaturalNews) Finally some positive news: Guacamole is good for you. While avocado has a bad reputation as being high in fat, the truth is that it ranks among the healthiest types of vegetable oil. Also, the other ingredients in Guacamole are highly alkalizing, loaded with phytonutrients and feature over 100 known health benefits. It`s essential to make Guacamole fresh however as the many prefabricated mixes (often what restaurants serve) contain no real Avocado! This article will break down each component of Guacamole and provide a recipe at the end.
Guacamole Ingredients

Most of the following twelve foods can be grown in the home garden.

* Tomato - Solanum Lycopersicum (Solanaceae)
Tomato contains Lycophene, a powerful antioxidant and phytonutrient. Tomato contains vitamins A, C and K along with Niacin and Calcium. Tomato helps purify the blood and improves skin clarity while reducing cholesterol and gallstones. Tomato relieves liver congestion and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. Tomato has unique benefits in raw versus cooked form. Tomato has antiseptic properties.

* Pepper - Capsicum (Solanaceae)
Pepper contains the antioxidant Capsaicin, an alkaloid that relieves allergies and reduces pain. Peppers help treat ulcers, headaches and congestion and also reduce cholesterol, blood clotting and strokes. While, increasing metabolism Peppers also have antibacterial properties.

* Garlic - Allium Sativum (Liliaceae)
Garlic contains the antioxidant Allicin, which is formed from alliin and allinase when the cloves are crushed. Garlic helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol while cleansing the liver. Offering unique health benefits when consumed in raw versus cooked or aged, Garlic kills parasites and has antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

* Onion - Allium Cepa (Liliaceae)
Onion contains the antioxidant Quercetin along with vitamin C, vitamin E, Potassium and Folic Acid. Onion relieves allergy symptoms and congestion along with helping reduce cholesterol. Onion can treat and prevent cataracts, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease and helps remove heavy metals from the body. Onion has antimicrobial properties.

* Cilantro - Coriandrum Sativum (Umbelliferae)
Cilantro contains several antioxidants including camphor, carvone, elemol, geraniol and limonene. A natural deodorizer, Cilantro relieves nausea, indigestion and bloating along with urinary tract infections. Consuming cilantro (whose seeds are called Coriander) helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Cilantro kills Salmonella and removes heavy metals such as Mercury from the body. Cilantro has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

* Cumin - Cuminum (Umbelliferae)
Cumin is available in both seed and powder form and contains Iron. A powerful antioxidant, Cumin helps improve digestion, strengthens the immune system and has antibacterial properties. Cumin is one of the primary flavors in many Ethnic cuisines, especially Mexican.

* Lemon Juice - Citrus Limon (Rutaceae)
Fresh lemon juice contains vitamin C and has an alkalizing effect on the system. Lemon relieves stomach discomfort and removes gallstones when combined with olive oil. Lemons help prevent osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes and kidney stones. Lemon has antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties.

* Apple Cider Vinegar - Malus Domestica (Rosaceae)
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains an enzyme chain long regarded as a cure-all called Mother. Taken by Hippocrates himself, Apple cider vinegar helps relieve gout, acid reflux and arthritis. Apple cider vinegar helps reduce cholesterol, calcium deposits, allergies, acne and even muscle fatigue. Cider vinegar improves stamina and metabolism, soothes a sore throat and strengthens the immune system. Cider vinegar is also a powerful cleaning agent and kills fleas while being safe for pets.

* Olive Oil - Olea Europaea (Oleaceae)
Olive Oil contains oleic acid, a healthy, monounsaturated fatty acid. Olive oil is found in the Mediterranean diet and helps reduce blood pressure, asthma and arthritis. Olive oil helps prevent and treat diabetes and increases metabolism. Choose extra virgin oil as "pure" is normally processed with solvents including Hexane.

* Avocado - Persea Americana (Lauraceae)
Avocado contains Lutein, a carotenoid along with vitamin E, monounsaturated fat and Magnesium. Avocado helps improve the absorption of the nutrients from other foods and improves skin tone and clarity.

* Lime Juice - Citrus Aurantifolia (Rutaceae)
Lime juice contains potassium and helps purify the blood and liver. Lime juice strengthens the immune system and also has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.

* Sea Salt - Sodium Chloride
Sea salt (versus strip mined salt) contains many trace minerals, especially gray and pink salt. Sea salt stabilizes the heartbeat and blood sugar levels while helping the body to generate hydroelectric energy. Sea salt improves absorption and nerve cell communication while relieving the lungs and sinuses.
Salsa Recipe

The following salsa mixture is a prerequisite for Guacamole and can be used in many other recipes or enjoyed straight.

*4 heirloom tomatoes
*2 peppers
*2 garlic cloves
*1 onion
*1/2 cup fresh cilantro
*1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
*1 Tbsp olive oil
*1 Tbsp lemon juice
*1 tsp coriander
*1 tsp cumin

*Using mortar and pestle, mash garlic, cilantro, cumin and coriander
*Add olive oil, lemon and vinegar
*Dice tomato, pepper and onion
*Blend ingredients together with potato masher
Guacamole Recipe

Next, simply stir salsa with fresh avocado, lime and salt for fast guacamole. Mixing the other ingredients together independently is something most restaurants miss (especially those serving "table side" Guacamole). Instead they serve diced vegetables suspended in Avocado. Be careful not to over-mix (green and red make brown). Storing the Avocado seeds in the mixture keeps the guacamole green longer. Refrigerate and consume within 24 hours.

*4 ripe avocados
*1/4 cup salsa
*1 Tbsp lime juice
*1/2 tsp Sea salt

*Stir together avocado and salsa
*Add lime juice and salt
Other Serving Suggestions: Substitute mango for avocado for fast mango salsa (or try peach, banana or blueberry). Fresh salsa can be mixed with ground meat and beans to make fast chili, tomato puree to make fast pasta sauce, black beans to make fast nacho dip, and Basmati rice for a fast vegetarian meal.

Kirk Patrick has studied natural medicine for over a decade and has helped many people heal themselves.

Acupuncture Beats Western Medicine

Acupuncture Beats Western Medicine for Treating Low Back Pain
Monday, May 11, 2009
S. L. Baker, features writer
Key concepts: Acupuncture, Medicine and Health

(NaturalNews) The results of the largest randomized back pain trial of its kind shows acupuncture clearly helps people with chronic low back pain more than standard medical care. But the results of the SPINE (Stimulating Points to Investigate Needling Efficacy) study, just published in the May 11, 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine, has some researchers scratching their heads over the remarkable findings. The reason the study's results are so intriguing? Not just one but three different forms of acupuncture beat out western medicine in helping relieve low back pain.

The SPINE trial included 638 adults with chronic low back pain who were patients at two nonprofit health plans, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Washington, and Northern California Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. All the research subjects ranked their pain as a minimum of three on a scale of zero to 10 of "bothersome" discomfort.

None of the participants had ever experienced acupuncture before participating in the study. They were randomly put into one of four groups for different kinds of treatment. All received standard medical care but three groups of patients also were treated with varying forms of acupuncture -- needle puncture at points individualized for each case, standardized acupuncture that used a single prescription of needle punctures at points on the back and back of the legs and what the researchers called "simulated acupuncture" that involved pressing on points with a toothpick without penetrating the skin.

All the research subjects in the three acupuncture groups were treated twice a week for three weeks and then had weekly treatments for another month. At eight weeks, six months and 12 months, the researchers retested back-related dysfunction and measured improvements in the patients' symptoms.

The SPINE investigators found that at eight weeks all three acupuncture groups were functioning far better with less pain than the group getting only standard medical care. What's more, additional follow-ups found the benefits of acupuncture lasted for a year for many of these people.

"We found that simulated acupuncture, without penetrating the skin, produced as much benefit as needle acupuncture -- and that raises questions about how acupuncture works," SPINE trial leader Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, said in a statement to the media.

However, the idea the non-skin penetrating acupuncture was not the real deal, and was, instead, "simulated acupuncture" is disingenuous. Here's why: while most forms of acupuncture studied by Western researchers do involve piercing the skin, the ancient healing therapy also includes non-piercing types of acupuncture. In fact, the web site for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the SPINE trial, notes that acupuncture "describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body using a variety of techniques." And "stimulation" does not necessarily equal "skin piercing."

Cherkin's co-author, Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, a senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies, specifically pointed this out in the media statement: "Historically, some types of acupuncture have used non-penetrating needles. Such treatments may involve physiological effects that make a clinical difference."

Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of NCCAM, noted that SPINE "..adds to the growing body of evidence that something meaningful is taking place during acupuncture treatments outside of actual needling. Future research is needed to delve deeper into what is evoking these responses."

Lady Gaga: the new queen of pop

Photos of Gaga in pink sequinned catsuit courtesy of

Lady Gaga: How the world went crazy for the new queen of pop
She's pop's newest princess and the paparazzi's latest plaything. But it is Lady Gaga who is calling the shots
By Fiona Sturges
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Lady Gaga walks into the room carrying a teacup. Nothing unusual there, you might think. But this isn't just any old teacup. Since an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago when it was briefly separated from its owner, the cup is, on the fame stakes, up there with Gaga herself. It might even have eclipsed her. I wouldn't be at all surprised if has its own book deal.

The saga began when Gaga took the teacup, a pretty purple number with flowers on the outside, on to Jonathan Ross's TV chat show. Hours later she was snapped by the paparazzi still carrying it. And the following evening she took the cup with her to a restaurant where, after a few cocktails, she accidentally left it behind. As it was subsequently reported, Gaga "kicked up a stink" and demanded that a taxi be sent back to the restaurant to retrieve it.

The following morning, Gaga's publicist, who was in the midst of spring-cleaning his bathroom, found himself fielding calls from showbiz journalists about the alleged hissy fit. Meanwhile, staff at her hotel were besieged by reporters looking for witnesses. On Monday the red-tops all carried articles on "Lady Gaga's Teacup Tantrum" and, inevitably, the "Storm in a Teacup". On Google, there were 50,000 related stories, including earnest blogs pondering the merits of the teacup as fashion accessory.

For Gaga it's all grist to the mill in the weird world of pop stardom, a ridiculous moment of unpredictability in her otherwise regimented existence. While it's still unclear whether a tantrum actually took place, she certainly doesn't seem like the kind of person who would easily lose her cool. Despite spending her every waking hour in the eye of a publicity storm, she is a remarkably composed presence. "This is what I have chosen, or rather it has chosen me," she states huskily, settling down on a sofa. "This is what fame is."

We meet at a recording studio just off London's Oxford Street. Outside in the reception, Gaga's retinue of stylists, personal assistants, publicists, pluggers and managers sit staring at their Blackberrys, all plotting her next move. It's 10.30 in the morning. She has already put in appearances on BBC Breakfast news and Radio 1. Later she is due at Capital Radio where she will play songs in front of a select audience of fans. Then it's straight on a plane and back to her native New York where the whole merry-go-round will start over again.

With the record industry suffering from the combined effects of an internet revolution and global recession, there's a sense that Gaga is the goose that laid the golden egg. Apparently it's not enough that she has reached number one in 20 countries with her single "Poker Face", or been nominated for a Grammy for the song "Just Dance", or sold 1.9 million copies of her debut album, The Fame. The more impressive the statistics, it seems, the more intense the schedule.

But if it's hard work being an über-cool, multi-million-selling post-modern pop icon, Gaga isn't going to be caught grumbling. I spend a good 10 minutes trying to get her to admit that the interviews, the television appearances, the costume changes, the rictus smiles, are beginning to wear her down. After all, nobody spends years trying to make it as an artist in order to be quizzed about a teacup on breakfast telly, do they?

"You know, I have such an appreciation for where I am in my life because I've struggled and because I couldn't get signed, and because I couldn't get played on the radio," she says serenely. "There are times when it can be a lot to deal with but always when I get up in the morning I try to find that very joyful place that reminds me that I would die if someone took it all away. If someone did that I wouldn't be a person anymore."

Gaga is 23, though with her white hair, radioactive tan and pale-pink frosted lipstick, she appears oddly ageless, as if she's been cryogenically frozen and is still in the process of defrosting. Today she is wearing a white shoulder-padded jacket, black leggings, vertiginous platform sandals and a huge harlequin-style hat. And let's not forget her trademark: the false eyelashes, so heavy-duty that her eyes don't seem to open properly.

Gaga is notorious for her outré appearance, of course. On the Brit Awards she performed with the Pet Shop Boys in a porcelain bikini, while on her recent tour she appeared on stage in a clear plastic bubble dress. On Friday Night With Jonathan Ross she rocked a toga-style number made entirely of red vinyl Post-It notes. Gaga claims she would look like this whether she was famous or not. The eyelashes hardly ever come off; she even sleeps in them. "Whenever I have a lover I leave them in their apartment on the pillow," she coos. "Kind of like a keepsake."

Gaga, who took her name from the Queen song "Radio Gaga", has a steeliness and ambition that is at once impressive and terrifying. Not for nothing has she been compared to that other hugely successful mistress of provocation, Madonna. But the difference is that Gaga has created a persona that is so strong it has overwhelmed her entirely.

"Right now the only thing that I am concerned with in my life is being an artist," she states. "I had to suppress it for so many years in high school because I was made fun of but now I'm completely insulated in my box of insanity and I can do whatever I like."

As Gaga sees it, she's is a living subversion of the modern pop diva. She talks loftily about her art. Her stage designs are not sets, they're installations. She is not a pop star, she's a performance artist. Her idols are those who have blurred the boundaries between popular art forms, from Piet Mondrian and Andy Warhol to David Bowie and David LaChapelle.

"My ideas about fame and art are not brand new," she says. "We could watch Paris is Burning [Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary about New York drag artists], we could read The Warhol Diaries, we could go to a party in New York in 1973 and these same things would be being talked about. I guess you could say that I'm a bit of a Warholian copycat. Some people say everything [in music and fashion] has been done before, and to an extent they are right. I think the trick is to honour your vision and reference and put together things that have never been put together before. I like to be unpredictable, and I think it's very unpredictable to promote pop music as a highbrow medium."

Gaga's articulation of her position is certainly rare. This is not, one imagines, the kind of conversation you would get from Britney Spears. But listening to her album The Fame, a disco-tinged, sexually charged critique of modern pop culture, it's hard to distinguish Lady Gaga's sound from that of her chart-friendly contemporaries, from Pink to Christina Aguilera. Her songs are undoubtedly catchy but there is a gulf between how she perceives them and what the rest of us actually hear.

What really sets Gaga apart from her contemporaries is that she is responsible for every part of her act. She directs her own shows, designs the sets, chooses the clothes and writes the songs. She never, ever lip-synchs. Despite her coterie of creatives back home, whom she calls the "Haus of Gaga", she retains complete control over everything. If Gaga has spent the past two years fending off suggestions that she is nothing more than the product of a record-company brainstorm, she is not offended: "It's exactly the kind of discussion that I want to start."

But in deconstructing the cliché that is the modern pop star while enjoying all the benefits that the role affords, isn't there a sense, I ask, that she has had her cake and eaten it?

"It's not parody, it's commentary," Gaga replies coolly. "To use the words 'have your cake and eat it' implies something devious. For me, I just think I'm very good at what I do."

Still, there are moments when Gaga's conceptualising can be a little hard to follow. "I don't ever want to be grounded in reality," she explains when I ask if her persona is really sustainable 24 hours a day. "In my show I announce, 'People say Lady Gaga is a lie, and they are right. I am a lie. And every day I kill to make it true.' It's the dream of my vision, it's the lie that I tell, whether it's an umbrella or it's a hat or it's the way that I shape my lipstick. And then eventually it becomes a reality. My hair bow was a lie and now it's true."

Quite. What is clear is that Gaga is a very modern artist, not just in her sound and look, but also in how she courts the media. If her every moment is a performance, then the paparazzi are her enablers, instantly beaming images of her around the world. Since her rise to fame, barely a day has passed without Gaga appearing in the papers buying fish'n'chips in a fluorescent leotard or stepping out for the night in her PVC catsuit. Gaga lets out a little sigh at the mention of the photographers who are currently loitering around the front door. Put on a baggy sweater and you could lose them, I say. She looks at me aghast.

"That's a very dangerous precedent, and it's not fair to my fans. They don't want to see me that way just like I don't want to see Bowie in a tracksuit. He never let anyone see him that way. The outlet for my work is not just the music and the videos, it's every breathing moment of my life. I'm always saying something about art and music and fame. That's why you don't ever catch me in sweatpants."

The eldest daughter of an internet entrepreneur and his business-partner wife, Gaga – born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – was brought up in New York. She was a proficient pianist at five; by the time she was 11 she was all set to go to the prestigious Julliard School in Manhattan, though she decided it wasn't for her. Instead she went to the Convent of the Sacred Heart, also attended by Paris and Nicky Hilton. She was, she says, "focused, determined. I was always in a band, or in a musical. I didn't really fit in but I had friends because I'm a nice girl and fun to party with."

From the age of 14 Gaga was playing at New York clubs, which I note must be illegal until she tells me that she was chaperoned by her mother. Really?

"These were jazz bars not sex clubs," she explains. "They would have open mic nights so my mother would take me along and say, 'My daughter's very young but she's very talented. I'll sit with her as she plays.' "

An A-grade student, Gaga got a place at NYU's Tisch School of Arts a year early at 17. But she abandoned it after one year in favour of what she saw as a more honest education, plying her trade on the Lower East Side club scene. Immersing herself in the seamier side of life, she dabbled in drugs and worked as a burlesque singer. During performances she would frequently set light to cans of hairspray. But she never stopped playing gigs.

"There was this one night where I had had a couple of drinks," she remembers. "I had new material and I had on this amazing outfit. So I sat down, cleared my throat and waited for everyone to go quiet. It was a bunch of frat kids from the West Village and I couldn't get them to shut up. I didn't want to start singing while they were talking, so I got undressed. There I was sitting at the piano in my underwear. So they shut up."

It was then, she says, that Lady Gaga was born. "That's when I made a real decision about the kind of pop artist that I wanted to be. Because it was a performance art moment there and then." She pauses and thinks. "You see, you can write about it now and it will sound ridiculous. But the truth is that unless you were in the audience in that very spontaneous moment, it doesn't mean anything. It's, like, she took her clothes off, so sex sells, right? But in the context of that moment, in that neighbourhood, in front of that audience, I was doing something radical."

Gaga's pop ascendancy began in earnest a year later when the R&B star Akon heard her music and asked her to help him write some songs.

"I was like the weird girl who dressed like a zoo animal, the trash glamour in a roomful of urban hip-hop cats," she smiles. "They'd be, like, 'Gaga, what do you think of this lyric?' and I'd twist it all up and all of a sudden it was edgy."

Overnight she became a pop writer for hire, producing songs for the likes of Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls and New Kids on the Block. Was it frustrating, writing for other people when were trying to make it as a singer yourself?

"Honestly no, I loved it," she replies. "I got real joy from hearing Britney Spears sing my melodies. As much as I can sit here and talk about art, there's still something quite remarkable about writing a song when you're 20 and hearing a pop superstar sing it."

All the while, Gaga was putting together her own album. She had been signed by Def Jam records but was dropped shortly after. Next she signed with Interscope, though this time it was the radio stations that were proving resistant.

"They would say, 'This is too racy, too dance-oriented, too underground. It's not marketable.' And I would say, 'My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next.' And look," – she gestures grandly around her – "I was right."

It's getting on for midday and our time is up. Gaga is due a half-hour break before going to Capital Radio. Time for a power nap, I ask? "No, I'm going to work on my songs," she says sunnily and, picking up her teacup, teeters out of the room.

When it's time to leave, Gaga puts on her shades, opens her umbrella and, flanked by her security men, climbs into a people carrier. The publicist and I hop in a car behind. As we set off a photographer appears from nowhere on a scooter, and dices with death as he tries to stay close. There are at least 20 more paparazzi waiting outside the radio station, all of whom look desolate when the people carrier disappears, Gaga and all, into the tradesman's entrance.

Ten minutes later, Gaga is settled at the keyboards in the studio. The audience files in and the retinue return to their Blackberrys. Gaga performs three songs, including a classical version of her hit "Poker Face", during which she hoists a leg on to the keyboard and plays piano with her heels, and "Paparazzi" which she dedicates to "those buggers outside". It's a witty, stylish performance that easily proves her worth as a performer. But watching as the mostly teenage fans mouth along to every word, I wonder to what extent the performance-art concept is really appreciated.

"I have found that my work has to be both deep and shallow," said Gaga when I put this to her earlier. "All of my songs have meaning, all of my clothing has iconography buried into it. But by the same token, it's just as special if you look at it in its shallowest form. A quick moment of melody, a beautiful dress. People think, 'Gaga's so sweet', or 'Gaga sucks'. The point is that it's memorable. For commercial art to be taken seriously as fine art is a very unusual and difficult task. I think that a lot of people don't get it and a lot of people don't know what to make of me. And, you know what? I'm OK with that."

Lady Gaga's album, 'The Fame', is out now on Polydor. Her new single, 'Paparazzi', will be released in June. She will be playing Manchester Academy on 29 June, Oasis in Swindon on 6 July and 02 Academy in Brixton on 14 July. For tickets call 08444 775775

'Angels & Demons' tour illuminates Rome
'Angels & Demons' tour illuminates the charms of Rome
By Chris Gray Faust, USA TODAY

VATICAN CITY — The faithful stream into St. Peter's Square on Christianity's holiest day, engulfing the Egyptian obelisk that centers the piazza so carefully planned by 17th-century sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Stern despite their colorful striped uniforms, members of the Swiss Guards direct those in the Easter crowd fortunate enough to procure free tickets to chairs, while others stand, waiting for a glimpse of papal pomp.

It's a scene that could be taken straight out of Angels & Demons, author Dan Brown's best-selling prequel to the hugely successful — and highly controversial — novel The Da Vinci Code. Just like that book, Angels & Demons has been made into a movie starring Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon, which opens today around the world.

Set in Vatican City and Rome, Angels & Demons pits Langdon (paired with an intelligent and attractive female sidekick, Vittoria Vetra) against a modern incarnation of an ancient foe of the Roman Catholic Church, the Illuminati. In the book, Catholics fill St. Peter's Square, awaiting the announcement of Il Conclave, the assembly of cardinals charged with selecting a new pope. Little do they know they are sitting atop a time bomb — and that four cardinals in line for the job are being murdered at sites around Rome.

It's not a tale you'd expect the Catholic Church to embrace. And indeed, several prominent religious leaders — including Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president Bill Donohue— have come out against the film (although the church itself has not issued a boycott call).

No matter. Catholic indignation did nothing to stop The Da Vinci Code movie from grossing more than $758 million in 2006.

And it did nothing to stop Sony Pictures from shooting key scenes of the movie in Rome, which will only enhance the city's allure for Angels & Demons fans. Among the sites from the book that will be seen on film: the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angelo and its Pasetto di Borga, the secret passageway that connects the fortress with the Vatican.

The Vatican itself is not on film, nor are the interiors of two churches prominently featured in the book, Santa Maria del Popolo or Santa Maria della Vittoria; the Rome diocese said last summer that it had banned filming there because of the movie's themes. Reggia di Caserta, an 18th-century royal palace outside Naples and south of Rome, stood in for the Vatican in some scenes (and an elaborate replica was built on a Los Angeles studio lot).

Executive producer Todd Hallowell says the production didn't bother asking permission to film at the Vatican, as the church never grants it. He promises that viewers will feel as if they are within the Vatican, even if the church itself wasn't crazy about the filming.

Says Hallowell: "Given the fact that The Da Vinci Code was perhaps not their favorite movie, the concept of a sequel being shot in their backyard was not the best news they had all week."

Mapping out the book

On the steps outside Santa Maria del Popolo — the site of the book's first element-themed murder, Earth— about 30 people gather for Angels & Demons guided tours. While the operating company,, bills it as "the official Angels & Demons tour," several tour operators in Rome offer a similar version.

The group is split, and guide Graham Hannaford, 26, passes out a map of Rome, a replica of the one from Angels & Demons. Fewer than half the people on Hannaford's tour have read the book, but he carries it with him for reference (and occasionally, to debunk the poetic license that Brown sometimes took with Roman geography).

The first stop on the "Path of Illumination" that Brown has devised through Rome is the Chigi Chapel inside the church. Designed by Renaissance master Raphael and filled with sculptures by Bernini — the baroque wunderkind whom Brown cheekily portrays as a secret Illuminati mastermind — the Chapel is an artistic masterpiece, albeit one that might fall lower on a typical tourist itinerary.

Subsequent stops in the four-hour tour call at Roman sites both familiar and off-the-beaten-track: St. Peter's Square, the gloriously elaborate Santa Maria della Vittoria and the always-hopping Piazza Navona, sites of the book's Air, Fire and Water murders, respectively. It concludes at the imposing Castel Sant'Angelo, where the Hassassin in Brown's book keeps Vittoria captive in an alleged ancient Illuminati lair.

Jennifer Carroll, 32, of French Settlement, La., takes pictures at nearly every stop.

"My book club will kill me if I don't," she says.

Carroll and her husband, Basil, attended the papal Easter Mass and bought rosaries for family at the Vatican, including one for their daughter to use at her First Communion. Carroll had some friends who felt The Da Vinci Code was anti-Catholic and others who felt the murders in Angels & Demons were too violent. But the controversy has been overblown, she says.

"It's fiction, it's OK," she says. "You could get offended by just about anything if you wanted to."

Hannaford calls for a coffee break next to the Pantheon. With Roman tourism down, the Napa, Calif., native had questioned returning after Christmas, but he figured the release of Angels & Demons could trigger the same bump in visitors that Paris received from The Da Vinci Code.

The tour is not the company's best seller — visitors tend to hire guides to the immense Vatican Museum more often, Hannaford says. But he thinks that Angels & Demons provides a good road map to Rome's charms.

"The book does capture the spirit of Rome," he says. "There are a lot of chaotic things going on, but it all pulls together."

Seeing the story

Of course, visitors don't have to take a guided tour to see the parts of Rome explored in Angels & Demons. But some sites do require planning ahead.

Such is the case with the Vatican Scavi, the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica said to contain the grave of Peter, the founder of the Christian church. In the book, Langdon chases the camerlengo (played by Ewan McGregor in the film) through the subterranean passages to find the hidden canister of dangerous antimatter.

In real life, the Vatican Excavations Office carefully controls the number of people allowed to walk through the Scavi. Only 12 people are allowed through at a time, with a limit of 250 visitors a day. Travel agents and tour guides are not allowed to buy tickets; visitors must petition through e-mail or fax months ahead of time to secure a spot.

The machinations are well worth it. Undertaken in 1939 through 1950, the excavations unearthed pagan and early Christian tombs from a cemetery that existed on the site before Constantine built the original St. Peter's Basilica around 322. The corridors between the tombs are narrow and uneven, and the air is slightly dank. But what you'll see are remarkably well-preserved frescoes and mosaics that provide a glimpse into the time when Christianity was a religious newcomer.

Back above ground, a Vatican trip is not complete without visiting the Sistine Chapel, although doing so requires negotiating the crowded Vatican Museums. With the masses of people snapping photos of Michelangelo's famed ceiling, it's hard to imagine the Sistine Chapel as a quiet place of deliberation. But this is where Il Conclave chooses papal succession, broadcasting their results through smoke from a chimney brought in for the occasion.

A better job of crowd control takes place at the Galleria Borghese, where visitors are limited to two-hour time blocks. While the museum — set amid leafy Villa Borghese, Rome's version of Central Park— is not referenced in Angels & Demons, it's a must-stop for readers who are curious about Bernini's other works. Some of his most famous pieces are here, including The Rape of Proserpina, his determined David and Truth Unveiled by Time, created for himself.

The latter sculpture was composed when Bernini — a papal darling who not only designed the colonnades of St. Peter's Square but also came up with the idea for the 10 angels guarding Ponte Sant'Angelo, the bridge between Rome and Vatican City — was out of favor. Could it be that during this time, as Brown suggests, Bernini joined disgruntled intellectuals such as Galileo in the Illuminati ranks?

Vatican tour guide Joseph Mancinelli dismisses such speculation. "It is just a story, it has nothing to do with Christianity," he says of Angels & Demons. "You must believe what is true, not what people say in a story."

Follow Chris Gray Faust at


Getting there: Rome's main airport, Leonardo da Vinci, is known by its old name, Fiumicino. The Leonardo Express runs shuttles to Rome's Termini rail station every 30 minutes ($15, Taxis or car service to and from the airport costs about $60.

Lodging: The Westin Excelsior Rome is offering a two-night Angels & Demons package that includes a private or group movie tour, as well as 20% off at the hotel's restaurants and bars. The promotion starts at $444 a night and runs through 2010 ( The venerable Hotel Hassler at the top of the Spanish Steps also has a three-night package that includes a tour starting at $2,323 ( Or live like the fictional Robert Langdon, who stayed at Hotel Bernini on Plaza Barberini (Bernini's Triton fountain is right in front). Rates start at $395 (

Generally, a cheaper way to stay in Rome is to rent an apartment through a service such as The Beehive, with dorm beds starting at $34 and private rooms at $109, is the No. 1-ranked budget hotel on Trip Advisor (

Dining: Rome's better restaurants are in alleys away from main tourist streets. Near the Pantheon, try the pasta at Osteria del Sostegno (primi, $8-$11, secondi, $12-$20). Osteria dell'Angelo, about 10 minutes from the Vatican on Via G. Bettolo, has an outstanding version of the Roman classic spaghetti carbonara at similar prices. Do as the Romans do and enjoy an evening gelato; Gelataria della Palma, also near the Pantheon, has 100-plus flavors.

Tours: The "Official Angels & Demons Tour" is four hours and includes some bus transport, $76 ( To book tickets to the Vatican Scavi, e-mail the Excavations Office several months in advance; the visit costs $14 ( Advance tickets to Vatican Museums can be purchased online for $19 (; private companies such as Context Rome also have tours with art historians ( The Galleria Borghese requires advance reservations for its two-hour blocks for $12 (


Suu Kyi Lawyers protest innocence as trial begins

May 18, 2009
Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi protest innocence as trial begins
Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor

Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy leader, said that she was innocent of any crime as the country’s military dictatorship put her on trial for allowing an eccentric American intruder to stay in her house.

Protesters marched outside Burma’s embassies across the world and European foreign ministers debated imposing new sanctions as Ms Suu Kyi appeared in the closed court room in the grounds of Insein Prison in Rangoon. A delegation of senior foreign diplomats, including Britain’s ambassador to Burma, was turned back by soldiers after attempting to observe the trial.

According to her lawyers Ms Suu Kyi appeared healthy and calm at the hearing in the prison compound where she has been held since her arrest last week. Appearing alongside her were her two friends and housekeepers, a mother and daughter named Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, and John Yettaw, the 53-year-old American who swam across a lake to gain access to her heavily guarded house this month.

Her lawyer, Kyi Win, said that she denied committing a crime. “She just felt sorry for this man as he had leg cramps after he swam across the lake,” he said. “That’s why she allowed him to stay. She did not want anybody to get into trouble because of her.”

“She looked quite well,” said Nyan Win, a spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). “She said she was OK. If things go according to the law, we surely will win this case.”

But Burmese courts almost never find in favour of opponents of the Government in political trials. An application by lawyers for Ms Suu Kyi for a public trial was rejected by the judges.

The prosecution called the first of 22 witnesses, Police Colonel Zaw Min Aung, who filed the formal complaint against Ms Suu Kyi. “Madam Aung San Suu Kyi allowed him to stay at her residence until the night of May 5, 2009, spoke with him, and provided him food and drinks,” the charge sheet read. “We found that Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma also helped Madam Aung San Suu Kyi’s treatment of Mr Yettaw.”

Mr Yettaw, described by his family in the United States as a well-meaning eccentric, is to be charged with trespass and immigration offences.

Mark Canning, the British ambassador to Burma, along with the ambassadors of France, Germany and Italy, and an Australian diplomat, were turned away without explanation at the military cordon that has been set up around the prison. The charges against Ms Suu Kyi have been denounced as a travesty by Western governments and international human rights organisations.

“There was never any expectation of getting through, but we were making a point,” Mr Canning told The Times by telephone from Rangoon.

“The point is that this whole process should not be going on. The debate over the terms of the house arrest is irrelevant, because she should never have been under house arrest in the first place. This is the only country in the world where someone can break into your home, and you end up being charged.”

The trial, which is taking place behind closed doors in a courthouse inside the Insein Prison compound, could last between a few days and a few weeks.

About 200 members of Ms Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), staged a protest outside the prison, under surveillance by armed and plain-clothes police. One man, a leader of the NLD youth wing, was reported to have been arrested.

Squads of pro-government militia were brought into the area around Insein over the weekend, and local shops were ordered to close, as the authorities acted to pre-empt public anger before the trial.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said that additional sanctions should be brought against Burma as foreign ministers gathered in Brussels. But the proposal will provoke debate about the effectiveness of European and US sanctions against a country that is being eagerly courted by China and India.

“I don’t think additional sanctions will help because you have seen they have not helped,” the EU’s External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said. “We have to reinforce dialogue with Burma’s neighbours. I think that is the way forward. it should always be a subject of discussion with China, India and others.”

Yuan 'set to usurp US dollar' as reserve currency

China's yuan 'set to usurp US dollar' as world's reserve currency
The Chinese yuan is preparing to overtake the US dollar as the world's reserve currency, economist Nouriel Roubini has warned.
By James Quinn, Wall Street Correspondent
15 May 2009

Professor Roubini, of New York University's Stern business school, believes that while such a major change is some way off, the Chinese government is laying the ground for the yuan's ascendance.

Known as "Dr Doom" for his negative stance, Prof Roubini argues that China is better placed than the US to provide a reserve currency for the 21st century because it has a large current account surplus, focused government and few of the economic worries the US faces.

In a column in the New York Times, Prof Roubini warns that with the proposal for a new international reserve currency via the International Monetary Fund, Beijing has already begun to take steps to usurp the greenback.

China will soon want to see the yuan included in the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights "basket", he warns, as well as seeing it "used as a means of payment in bilateral trade."

Prof Roubini's warning followed the US government's latest economic data that showed producer prices in April experienced their biggest year-on-year drop since 1950, falling 3.7pc.

The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefit for the first time rose by 32,000 to 637,000 in the week to May 9. The increase meant the total number of people claiming benefits stood at to 6.56m, a record high for the 15th consecutive week in a row.

But neither the gloomy data, nor Prof Roubini's verdict on the greenback's future, held back the markets. The Dow Jones traded up 59.89 at 8344.78 in lunchtime trading.

Military tribunals still seen as flawed,0,975101.story

Military tribunals still seen as flawed
President Obama has outlined rule changes designed to bolster defendants' rights, but the commissions to try suspected terrorists will still suffer an image problem, experts predict.
By Carol J. Williams and Julian E. Barnes
May 16, 2009

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles -- President Obama's decision Friday to revive military tribunals to try suspected terrorists will likely fail to erase the taint of illegitimacy over the courts despite efforts at reform, civilian and military legal experts said.

Obama outlined five rule changes aimed at bolstering defendants' rights, including strict limits on the use of coerced evidence, tougher restrictions on the use of hearsay evidence and more latitude for defendants to choose their own lawyers.

Still, experts said the tribunals, also known as military commissions, are seen as so flawed that no amount of improvement will be able to dispel impressions that they are rigged to deliver convictions.

"I believe that the rules and procedures can be fixed so as to provide an actual fair proceeding. But what I don't think they can salvage is the perception that the commissions are an illegitimate and unfair process," said Air Force Maj. David Frakt, a Western State University law professor who represents two prisoners held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

During the presidential campaign, Obama himself criticized the commissions as an "enormous failure" and said he would prefer to try detainees in federal courts or in traditional military courts.

His turnaround has surprised some experts, given the years of discussions over how hard it would be to fix the system.

"To make the commissions truly fair and equitable, they would have to be so fundamentally reconfigured that I just don't really understand how they can go forward," said Amos N. Guiora, a national security law professor at the University of Utah.

Administration officials said they are still mulling over other reforms to the tribunal system, although White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to detail them.

Gibbs defended the administration's decision to resume the tribunals, saying that "first and foremost, the president of the United States is going to do what he believes is in the best security interests of the people of the United States."

White House Counsel Greg Craig held a conference call with human rights leaders to explain the decision, but opponents said they remain concerned.

"I came away unconvinced that the case has been made for military commissions," said Elisa Massimino, executive director of Human Rights First, noting that the case-by-case evaluation Obama ordered on the 240 Guantanamo detainees has yet to be completed.

Obama has so far omitted any mention of where the resumed tribunals might take place. He has ordered the Guantanamo detention facility closed by Jan. 22, 2010, and the detainees who can be put on trial moved to U.S. locations. Those for whom there is no case must be released to their home countries or other states willing to receive them.

John B. Bellinger III, State Department legal advisor under President George W. Bush, said federal requirements for speedy trials, Miranda warnings and access to counsel probably prompted Obama to keep the military tribunals.

With the tribunals, "defendants have fewer rights, and it's easier to get convictions," Frakt said.

Despite that, the system has actually failed to produce many convictions. Persistent court challenges to the system have meant that only three cases were tried at Guantanamo Bay, while U.S. civilian courts have convicted more than 100 accused terrorists.

In the most high-profile terrorism cases, civilian courts have delivered guilty pleas, convictions and long sentences for defendants, including onetime accused "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla, thwarted hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui and Al Qaeda agent Ali Saleh Kahlah Marri.

"In practice, the military and civilian systems have been converging anyway because military judges have been trying to prove they can be fair, and civilian judges and juries are trying to prove they can be tough," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

Cmdr. Glenn M. Sulmasy, a national security law professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, suspected that the new tribunals are only a stopgap to get some trials going while work continues on creating a new court designed to try suspected members of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda.

"The best solution would be to create a unique system. I think they will at least be considering it" while reworking the commissions process, said Sulmasy, author of "The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror."

Panetta fires back at Pelosi on interrogations,0,7605785.story

Panetta fires back at Pelosi on interrogations
The CIA director says agency records show that officials truthfully briefed the House speaker in 2002. He also urges CIA employees to tune out the uproar.
By Greg Miller
May 16, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- CIA Director Leon E. Panetta on Friday fired back at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying agency records showed officials had briefed her truthfully about its interrogation program. He also urged the CIA workforce to ignore the political rancor consuming Capitol Hill.

Panetta's assertions came one day after Pelosi accused the agency of misleading Congress by failing to inform her during a fall 2002 briefing that the CIA had used waterboarding and other severe methods on an Al Qaeda suspect.

Panetta's written statement, which was directed to CIA employees but released publicly, marked a rare instance in which the secretive agency's leadership has chosen to publicly challenge a high-ranking lawmaker.

"Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress," said Panetta, a former member of the House of Representatives from Monterey. "That is against our laws and our values."

The statement is likely to keep Pelosi at the center of a roiling controversy over CIA interrogation methods that President Obama banned during his first week in office. As it has evolved, it now pits Pelosi against Panetta, another prominent California Democrat.

Republicans have accused Pelosi of hypocrisy for being a vocal critic of the CIA's interrogation operations even though she appears to have made little attempt to alter the program when she first learned about it more than six years ago.

CIA records indicate that Pelosi attended a briefing in September 2002 during which she was told about agency interrogation techniques that had been used. The records do not indicate with certainty that waterboarding was covered.

A month earlier, the CIA had used the simulated drowning method on Al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times.

Pelosi has maintained that she was not told that waterboarding was being used, only that it was a method under consideration. But on Thursday she raised the stakes by accusing the CIA of deliberately concealing the truth.

"The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed," she said Thursday. She acknowledged that five months later she was informed by a senior aide that waterboarding was being used.

The Obama administration has sought to avoid being drawn into the controversy, but Panetta emerged Friday to defend the agency. Panetta did not directly say that Pelosi was wrong in her assertion, citing agency records.

"Our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing 'the enhanced techniques that had been employed.' "

In his statement, Panetta also asked agency employees to overlook the controversy.

"My advice -- indeed, my direction -- to you is straightforward," Panetta told employees. "Ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. . . . Our task is to tell it like it is -- even if that's not what people always want to hear."

'Farrah's Story'

'Farrah's Story': Farrah Fawcett describes 'my own private war'
May 16, 2009
by Ken Tucker

Categories: Television

The two-hour Farrah's Story was a kind of home-movie diary of Farrah Fawcett's life covering roughly the past two years of living with cancer. Much of the time, the camera was handled by her friend Alana Stewart, sometimes by Fawcett herself; some sequences -- interviews with Ryan O'Neal, as well as a few of her doctors -- looked as though they were filmed in a TV studio. It all cohered as a long, sad story that was sometimes almost unbearable, sometimes fascinating.

Anyone who has experienced or been in contact with someone diagnosed with cancer knows the outline of Farrah's "story": the doctor consultations and hospital visits, the often-painful treatments (Fawcett undergoes them in both California and Germany), the moments of happiness and despair. I was struck by how curious about the disease Fawcett has been, eager for information from her care-givers, giving good, hard stares at pictures of the spread or remission of her diagnosed anal and liver cancer. In those moments, she was most like the sturdy young woman so many people have long admired.

Because the TV special used the format of a journal from which Fawcett reads sections in voiceover, there was a lot of positive-thinking asserted, and the inevitable phrases one falls back on to try and make sense of an unimaginable death sentence: cancer as "my own private war" and "it's seriously time for a miracle."

In the middle of Farrah's Story there was a chunk of time spent inveighing against the tabloids for reporting things that aren't true and photographers who crowd her in public places to snap pictures of her in a weakened condition. Fawcett referred to The National Enquirer as being "as invasive and malignant as cancer." This anger, as it was expressed by both her and Stewart, is a little baffling: After being the subject of tabloid reporting for decades, she could have expected this, and isn't the reporting on her condition the least of her worries? Then again, however, no one can know what brings emotional pain to another person.

Her son Redmond, freed from prison for a three-hour visit in leg-chains, is a sight the heavily-sedated and in-pain Fawcett seemed to have been mostly unaware of, and that was a small mercy. It was nauseating to see Redmond, serving time for felony drug possession, give a leering smile to the camera.

Because of Fawcett's eagerness to film so much of the past two years, the cameras caught interesting moments beyond the engulfing grievousness of her condition. Two stood out for me: a German doctor, trying to take her mind off the pain Fawcett was enduring, asked her to name her "best films." Fawcett said, "Oh, Extremities or Burning Bed or Small Sacrifices." And there was also one remarkable phrase she uttered in describing herself now: "a blonde nothingness." Sad, yes, but also startlingly poetic.

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Tillman Family is McChrystal-Clear

Tillman Family is McChrystal-Clear
By Dave Zirin

When NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman died at the hands of US troops in a case of "friendly fire," the spin machine at the Pentagon went into overdrive. Rumsfeld and company couldn't have their most high-profile soldier dying in such an inelegant fashion, especially with the release of those pesky photos from Abu Ghraib hitting the airwaves. So an obscene lie was told to Tillman's family, his friends and the American public. The chicken-hawks in charge, whose only exposure to war was watching John Wayne movies, claimed that he died charging a hill and was cut down by the radical Islamic enemies of freedom. In the weeks preceding his death, Tillman was beginning to question what exactly he was fighting for, telling friends that he believed the war in Iraq was " [expletive] illegal." He may not have known what he was fighting for, but it's now clear what he died for: public relations. Today, after five years, six investigations and two Congressional hearings, questions still linger about how Tillman died and why it was covered up.

Now the man who greased the chain of command that orchestrated this great deception is prepared to assume total control of US operations in Afghanistan: Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was McChrystal who approved Tillman's posthumous Silver Star, a medal given explicitly for combat, even though he later testified that he "suspected" friendly fire.

Yet despite this, both Democrats and Republicans are rushing to heap praise on McChrystal, including Sen. John McCain. It was McCain who rushed to speak at Tillman's funeral and then, when the cover-up became known, pledged to help the Tillman family expose the truth. McCain later turned his back on the Tillmans when they raised the volume and demanded answers. As Pat's mother, Mary Tillman, said last year, "He definitely eased out of the situation. He didn't blatantly say he wouldn't help us, it's just that it became clear that he kind of drifted away."

And now the Tillman family, amidst bipartisan praise for Obama's new general, must once again raise the inconvenient truth.

Pat's father, Pat Tillman Sr., told the Associated Press, "I do believe that guy participated in a falsified homicide investigation."

Mary Tillman, who excoriated McChrystal in her book, Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman, said, "It is imperative that Lt. Gen. McChrystal be scrutinized carefully during the Senate hearings."

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in response:

We feel terrible for what the Tillman family went through, but this matter has been investigated thoroughly by the Pentagon, by the Congress, by outside experts, and all of them have come to the same conclusion: that there was no wrongdoing by Gen. McChrystal.

Morrell's statement has more spin than a washing machine powered by a V-8 engine. McChrystal has never explained why the early reports of Tillman's death were covered up, why his clothes and field journal were burned and destroyed on the scene or why Pat's brother Kevin, serving alongside him in the Rangers, was lied to on the spot. Even the cover-up was covered up. This should be a cause for dismissal--or indictment--not promotion.

What particularly rankles about Obama's choice of McChrystal, whose background is in the nefarious and shadowy world of "black ops," is that his actions in the Tillman cover-up feel emblematic instead of exceptional.

When an anonymous Army interrogator "at great personal risk" blew the whistle to Esquire in August 2006 on an extensive torture enterprise at Camp Nama, he described the then unknown McChrystal as being an overseer who knew the ugly truth. Torture at Camp Nama included using ice water to induce hypothermia. It was not a rogue operation unless we consider Generals like McChrystal "rogues." As Esquire reported:

Once, somebody brought it up with the colonel. "Will [the Red Cross] ever be allowed in here?" And he said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there's no way that the Red Cross could get in--they won't have access and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators.

Later in the piece, when asked where the colonel was getting his orders from the interrogator said, "I believe it was a two-star general. I believe his name was General McChrystal. I saw him there a couple of times."

Clearly President Obama is trying to "own" the war in Afghanistan: upping the troop levels, making it his "central front" in the battle against terrorism and now placing his own general in charge. But the president is also disappointing a generation of antiwar activists who voted for him expecting an end to imperial adventures and torture sanctioned by the executive branch. Now a man who should perhaps be on trial at the Hague is in charge of Afghanistan. Obama needs to know it's not just the Tillmans who are enraged by this terrible choice.

Dave Zirin is the author of “A People’s History of Sports in the United States” (The New Press) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at