Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure uncovered

Huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure uncovered in UK
By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON – It's an unprecedented find that could revolutionize ideas about medieval England's Germanic rulers: An amateur treasure-hunter searching a farmer's field with a metal detector unearthed a huge collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver artifacts.

The discovery sent a thrill through Britain's archaeological community, which said Thursday that it offers new insight into the world of the Anglo-Saxons, who ruled England from the fifth century until the 1066 Norman invasion and whose cultural influence is still felt throughout the English-speaking world.

"This is just a fantastic find completely out of the blue," Roger Bland, who managed the cache's excavation, told The Associated Press. "It will make us rethink the Dark Ages."

The treasure trove includes intricately designed helmet crests embossed with a frieze of running animals, enamel-studded sword fittings and a checkerboard piece inlaid with garnets and gold. One gold band bore a biblical inscription in Latin calling on God to drive away the bearer's enemies.

The Anglo-Saxons were a group of Germanic tribes who invaded England starting in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Their artisans made striking objects out of gold and enamel, and their language, Old English, is a precursor of modern English.

The cache of gold and silver pieces was discovered in what was once Mercia, one of five main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and is thought to date to between 675 and 725.

For Terry Herbert, the unemployed metal-detecting enthusiast who made the discovery on July 5 while scouring a friend's farm in the western region of Staffordshire, it was "more fun than winning the lottery."

The 55-year-old spent five days searching the field alone before he realized he needed help and notified authorities. Professional archaeologists then took over the find.

"I was going to bed and in my sleep I was seeing gold items," Herbert said of the experience.

The gold alone in the collection weighs 11 pounds and suggests that early medieval England was a far wealthier place than previously believed, according to Leslie Webster, the former curator of Anglo-Saxon archaeology at the British Museum.

She said the crosses and other religious artifacts mixed in with the military items might shed new light on the relationship between Christianity and warfare among the Anglo-Saxons — in particular a large cross she said may have been carried into battle.

The hoard was officially declared treasure by a coroner on Thursday, which means it will be valued by experts and offered up for sale to a museum in Britain. Proceeds will be split 50-50 between Herbert and his farmer friend, who has not been identified. The find's exact location is being kept secret to deter looters.

Bland said he could not give a precise figure for the value of the collection, but said the two could each be in line for a "seven-figure sum."

Kevin Leahy, the archaeologist who catalogued the find, said the stash includes dozens of pommel caps — decorative elements attached to the knobs of swords — and appeared to be war loot. He noted that "Beowulf," the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, contains a reference to warriors stripping the pommels of their enemies' weapons as mementoes.

"It looks like a collection of trophies, but it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career," he said.

"We also cannot say who the original, or the final, owners were, who took it from them, why they buried it or when? It will be debated for decades."

Experts said they've so far examined a total of 1,345 items. But they've also recovered 56 pieces of earth that X-ray analysis suggests contain more artifacts — meaning the total could rise to about 1,500.

The craftsmanship was some of the highest-quality ever seen in finds of this kind, Leahy said, and many British archaeologists clearly shared his enthusiasm.

Bland, who has documented discoveries across Britain, called it "completely unique." Martin Welch, a specialist in Anglo-Saxon archaeology at University College London, said no one had found "anything like this in this country before."

Herbert said one expert likened his discovery to finding Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamen's tomb, adding: "I just flushed all over when he said that. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up."

The collection is in storage at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where some of the items are to go on display starting Friday.

It's unclear how the gold ended up in the field, although archaeologists suggested it may have been buried to hide the loot from roving enemies, a common practice at the time. The site's location is unusual as well — Anglo-Saxon remains have tended to cluster in the country's south and east, while the so-called "Staffordshire hoard" was found in the west.

In the meantime, archaeologists say they're likely to be busy for years puzzling out the meaning of some of the collection's more unusual pieces — like five enigmatic gold snakes or a strip of gold bearing a crudely written and misspelled Biblical inscription in Latin.

"Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face," reads the inscription, believed to be from the Book of Numbers.

Also of interest is the largest of the crosses, which experts say may have been an altar or processional piece. It had been folded, possibly to make it fit into a small space prior to burial, and the apparent lack of respect shown to such a Christian symbol may point to the hoard being buried by pagans.

"The things that we can't identify are the ones that are going to teach us something new," Leahy said.

For England, a country at the edge of Europe whose history owes an enormous debt to the Anglo-Saxons, the find has the potential to become one of its top national treasures, according to Webster.

Caroline Barton, assistant treasure registrar at the British Museum, said objects over 300 years old and made up of more that 10 percent precious metal are only offered for sale to accredited museums in Britain, so the collection will not be leaving the country.
Associated Press writer Karolina Tagaris in London contributed to this report.
On the Net:

Immortality only 20 years away says scientist

Immortality only 20 years away says scientist
Scientist Ray Kurzweil claims humans could become immortal in as little as 20 years' time through nanotechnology and an increased understanding of how the body works.
By Amy Willis
22 Sep 2009

Ray Kurzweil claims we could all be cyborgs in 20 years.

The 61-year-old American, who has predicted new technologies arriving before, says our understanding of genes and computer technology is accelerating at an incredible rate.

He says theoretically, at the rate our understanding is increasing, nanotechnologies capable of replacing many of our vital organs could be available in 20 years time.

Mr Kurzweil adds that although his claims may seem far-fetched, artificial pancreases and neural implants are already available.

Mr Kurzweil calls his theory the Law of Accelerating Returns. Writing in The Sun, Mr Kurzweil said: "I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies' stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever.

"Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively.

"Within 25 years we will be able to do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or go scuba-diving for four hours without oxygen.

"Heart-attack victims – who haven't taken advantage of widely available bionic hearts – will calmly drive to the doctors for a minor operation as their blood bots keep them alive.

"Nanotechnology will extend our mental capacities to such an extent we will be able to write books within minutes.

"If we want to go into virtual-reality mode, nanobots will shut down brain signals and take us wherever we want to go. Virtual sex will become commonplace. And in our daily lives, hologram like figures will pop in our brain to explain what is happening.

"So we can look forward to a world where humans become cyborgs, with artificial limbs and organs."

Water On The Moon

September 24, 2009

Water On The Moon
Studies in the journal Science report that instruments on three different spacecraft have found evidence for widespread trace amounts of water on the moon. Karen Hopkin reports.

For all you space buffs who like to keep track of where the water is, it looks like you can add our very own moon to your list. Because according to a trio of papers appearing in the journal Science, the lunar surface is wetter than we realized.

Forty years ago, Apollo astronauts brought a bunch of moon rocks back home. For the most part those samples showed no traces of water whatsoever. Those that seemed even the slightest bit moist were thought to have been contaminated by water from Earth—because the containers they were stored in turned out to be leaky.

But now scientists say they’ve spotted water right on the moon’s surface. Using instruments on three different spacecraft, the scientists detected the chemical signature of good old H2O. And they think the water springs from the moon itself. The lunar soil is nearly 50 percent oxygen, and the scientists think that hydrogen comes from the solar wind that pounds the moon’s surface.

Put the two together and you get wet. Not too wet, of course. There’s probably only about a quart of water in every ton of lunar soil. That’s dryer than the Sahara. But wetter than we thought.

Nintendo drops Wii price to $199

September 23, 2009
Nintendo drops Wii price to $199
by John P. Falcone

Nintendo has officially announced that the price of the Wii will drop to $199.99, effective on Sunday. The long-rumored $50 price cut comes in the wake of recent price drops for the PlayStation 3 ($299, with built-in Blu-ray player) and Xbox 360 ($299 for the 120GB version with built-in DVD player and Netflix support), which have boosted sales of the Sony and Microsoft consoles. (To date, the Wii remains the best-selling home game console of the three.)

Other than the price cut, there are no other changes to the current Wii bundle--you're still getting the console, along with the Wiimote and Nunchuk controllers and the bundled Wii Sports game. By contrast, there's at least one rumor that the U.K. will get a Wii package that adds the MotionPlus peripheral and Wii Sports Resort to the mix. Meanwhile, white remains the only color choice in North America (Japanese consumers can choose black as well).

Nintendo also took the opportunity to officially announce the release date for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which had previously been slated for a vague "fall 2009" window. The multiplayer Super Mario game will hit store shelves on November 15.

Fishing and gardening in your living room?

Fishing and gardening in your living room? Welcome to the future of farming
Sep 22 2009
Alexandra Le Tellier

Finding ways to grow edible gardens in our limited urban landscape has inspired a flurry of creative solutions among green-thumbed pros and apartment-bound rookies alike. With chefs growing produce on rooftop gardens, Santa Monica homeowners creating "share gardens" with their neighbors and Del Rey dwellers planting in patches of soil in the alleys behind their homes, it seems everyone is drinking the fresh veggie Kool-Aid. But it's the folks at Philips Design who are really pushing boundaries with a three-concept Food project, which they predict will change the way we consume and source food 15 to 20 years from now.

The first component of the project is the "diagnostic kitchen," a nutrition monitoring system with a "swallowable sensor" that tracks food intake for the purpose of digestive health. It also has a scan wand for gathering nutritional content, thereby suggesting what the individual should eat. Part 2 is "food creation," which pushes the principles of molecular gastronomy, the process of deconstructing food and reassembling it in new forms via man-made chemical compounds, such as freezing alcohol with liquid nitrogen. It includes a "food printer," which would allow people to tailor food forms based on their individual needs.

But it's the third part of the concept, "home farming," that knocks the Food project out of the park, to a dimension that not even the creators of "The Jetsons" could have dreamed up. Behold a solar-powered, self-sufficient biosphere that stacks interdependent mini-ecosystems on top of each other to create a holistic food chain, reduce the impact on the environment and also potentially feed an entire apartment complex full of people. Talk about a modern share garden.

"Looking into the economics and politics of rising food prices and theories and impending food shortages led us to create the 'food farm' to test people's sensitivity to the issue," says Clive van Heerden, senior director of design-led innovation at Philips Design. "We wanted to develop something initially that would supplement the nutritional needs of a family living in a high-rise accommodation, without drawing electricity or gas."

How it works, based on a video demonstration:

The tube running through the appliance acts as the central nervous system, connecting the ecosystems.

It captures and channels natural light and operates as a light at night.

Water and nutrients are cycled through the system.

Shrimp help purify the water, while fish fertilize the plants.

Organic waste is used to generate methane.

Methane is used to create power and carbon dioxide.

CO2 is captured and used to feed the edible plants.

Plants give oxygen, which in turn is given to the fish.

Excess oxygen is dispersed into the atmosphere.

Ecosystem layers slide up and down for access to the food.

Map of McDonald's in the USA

Thanks to for the following...

Ace Hoffmann, Thomas Friedman & Nuclear Power

September 24th, 2009

When I first read Thomas Friedman's most recent use of denigrating terminology ("wimps") to describe those who disagreed with him, I thought he was just a bit emotional.

Then I went back through the record, and this Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times author actually is rather habitual about it. Those who opposed his gas tax idea in 2006 were also "wimps," and in 2008 they had no "guts." Now, any environmentalist who opposes nuclear power has earned the moniker.

Friedman hasn't changed.

And nor has the New York Times. They are the classic newspaper of America, they provide the indelible historic record, and even in this electronic era, they still hold sway over public opinion, political discourse, and thus, over public policy, as only a few other media outlets can even aspire to, let alone, come close to.

And so they are the perfect place for a nincompoop to poop nincomshit. Hence, Friedman has found a home.

Friedman is playing dirty, rotten pool with the facts, but how could such shoddy material slip past the editors at the New York Times? Not by accident. Unflagging support for government policies on nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and for various wars, despots, agendas and so forth, have been a part of The New York Times' editorial process for decades.

The government loves a public that is asleep about the dangers of nukes. Friedman wants to help with that. Romancing France's nuclear policies is especially useful right now for the pro-nuclear agenda, because the two large French nuclear "corporations" (arms of the government, really, especially in the case of AREVA) are both buying American nuclear power companies, enrichment companies, mining companies, etc.. Once invested, they will use local employees to sway public policy based on French government interests, not those of the majority of Americans, who want to preserve our land and protect our children's DNA. Radiation destroys our DNA, and the way the French handle their nuclear problems is to lie about them, to sink protestor's boats (and even kill protesters), and to bribe foreign workers. Yet Friedman calls us "wimps" for not embracing their murderous nuclear habit. The French also smoke a lot more cigarettes than, say, Californians. Just thought I'd mention it.

Friedman would love to whip the public into a fierce frenzy. He uses the word "wimps" to describe those who oppose his point of view. Wimps are made to be broken, of course. By bigger wimps.

The opposite of building more nukes isn't just "not building more nukes." It's also shutting down the ones that are currently operating. But that view never makes it into the venerable (by some vestige of their former reputation) New York Times. Only "build a lot more nukes" versus "build a few more nukes" or maybe, once in a while, "don't build any more right now." But NEVER will the New York Times give space to "shut 'em all down immediately" which is, actually, the scientifically, economically, and medically sound thing to do. Thus, the patriotic thing to do. Not doing so allows about 10 tons of hazardous high-level radioactive waste to be produced each day in America, for which no valid (safe, economical) solution exists because plain old physics gets in the way. Friedman calls Yucca Mountain "totally safe." He's totally wrong. And getting the waste to Yucca Mountain isn't safe, either. And leaving it where it is? That's the worst choice of all. Ten tons worse every day in America, and about 50 tons worse around the world.

Global warming? Radiation is "hotter than hell." Each radioactive burst is a little fire, its "heat" stirs and shakes up everything around it: It spins molecules around, making poisonous mirrors of themselves. It destroys DNA. It breaks large signal proteins. It puts holes in cell walls. It creates thousands of "free radicals" at once.

And there are so many radioactive atoms released in a nuclear accident! It is so great a number, that nobody expresses radiation in raw numbers. It is often filtered down into Curies, for instance. A Curie is 37 billion atomic disintegrations per second.

Chernobyl released about 15 billion Curies of radiation, in mixed isotopes. Chernobyl has probably killed 300,000 people, yet pro-nukers claim it only killed 60 or 100 or some other unrealistic number, because they swear that a little radiation is good for you, because, they say, it stimulates the immune system. This flawed and simplistic hypothesis is known as "Hormesis." Randomly poisoning our children with excess radiation should not be allowed at all, but it is.

Your immune system will be plenty stimulated throughout your life. This is an unnecessary and unwarranted additional burden.

Being allowed to release what lax regulators call "small" amounts of radiation into the environment is a fundamental principle of business -- of economic survival -- for virtually ALL commercial nuclear facilities. They MUST leak or they will, themselves, become overwhelmed with radiation.

Supposedly "only" 15 million Curies of radiation were released at Three Mile Island, although the exact amount is unknown and it could be ten times that, or worse. Yet Friedman naively believes that there were "no deaths or injuries" from TMI. Not one? It doesn't even fit the official government description of Linear, No Threshold (LNT) effects from radiation, which is the theory that radiation effects occur at any dose, and in a ratio according to dose size.

The LNT theory, widely accepted in the scientific community, and in direct contradiction to Hormesis, does NOT mean that a low dose only causes a mild illness. Instead, it suggests that the rate of cancers will be approximately proportional to dose. But cancer's no fun, even if only a few people get it. I've had it. More than a few people are getting it. And radiation is a primary cause of cancer, leukemia, heart disease, and a thousand other ailments.

Friedman calls those who do not endorse the random killing of humans and other living things "wimps." What are we to do when the New York Times allows him to do this, and lets him call anyone who opposes his views "wimps" year after year? Challenge him to a duel? How uncivilized! Ask them to print our responses? How hopeless!

Scorn them on the Internet? Sure, it's a start.

** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
** home page:
** email:

Saviors and Survivors


Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (Hardcover)
by Mahmood Mamdani
List Price: $26.95

Editorial Reviews Review
Book Description

From the author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim comes an important book, unlike any other, that looks at the crisis in Darfur within the context of the history of Sudan and examines the world’s response to that crisis.

In Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani explains how the conflict in Darfur began as a civil war (1987—89) between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land in the south, triggered by a severe drought that had expanded the Sahara Desert by more than sixty miles in forty years; how British colonial officials had artificially tribalized Darfur, dividing its population into “native” and “settler” tribes and creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter; how the war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried unsuccessfully to address the problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency–but not to genocide, as the West has declared.

Mamdani also explains how the Cold War exacerbated the twenty-year civil war in neighboring Chad, creating a confrontation between Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi (with Soviet support) and the Reagan administration (allied with France and Israel) that spilled over into Darfur and militarized the fighting. By 2003, the war involved national, regional, and global forces, including the powerful Western lobby, who now saw it as part of the War on Terror and called for a military invasion dressed up as “humanitarian intervention.”

Incisive and authoritative, Saviors and Survivors will radically alter our understanding of the crisis in Darfur.

Saviors and Survivors invites the reader to rethink the lesson of Rwanda in light of Darfur. It is a warning to those who would act first and understand later.

Part One discusses the nature of Save Darfur advocacy. Like the War on Terror from which it has borrowed its assumptions and coordinates, Save Darfur has turned into a lavishly funded and massive ad campaign spreading and sustaining a lethal illusion, consistently exaggerating the level of mortality and racializing the reasons for it. Why has Save Darfur not lost credibility even though its information is increasingly divorced from reality? A part of the answer lies in its ability to turn activism around Darfur into a domestic "feel good" issue while obscuring the context of the violence in Darfur.

Part Two of the book explains this context, starting with correcting the widely-held assumption that Arab tribes of Sudan are settlers from the Middle East, when they actually comprise local tribes that adopted the Arabic language and identity in the course of forming local states. The book locates the roots of the current conflict in colonialism, ecology, and the Cold War: colonialism introduced into Darfur a system of local discrimination based on tribal identity; an ongoing ecological crisis has led to the expansion of the Sahara by a hundred kilometers in four decades, igniting a conflict between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land in the mountains of the south; and, finally, the Cold War confrontation in Chad between Gaddafi (with Soviet support) and the Reagan administration (allied with France and Israel) spilled over into Darfur and militarized the conflict.

Part Three explains the Darfur crisis. Rather than a willful attempt by the government to eliminate particular groups--genocide--the present phase of the conflict stems from a land-based ecological confrontation at the local level and a struggle for power at the central level, exacerbated by the ongoing War on Terror. The urgent need today is not to punish those responsible for the mass killings of 2003-04 but to arrive at a political solution that will reform the land system in Darfur and political power in Sudan.

From Publishers Weekly

Mamdani (Good Muslim, Bad Muslim) continues to challenge political and intellectual orthodoxies in his latest book, a bold, near brilliant re-examination of the conflict in Darfur. While acknowledging the horrendous violence committed in the region, Mamdani contends that Darfur is not the site of genocide but rather a site where the language of genocide has been used as an instrument. The author believes that the war on terror provided an international political context in which the perpetrators of violence in Darfur could be categorized as Arabs seeking to eradicate black Africans in the region. Challenging these racial distinctions, Mamdani traces the history of Sudan and the origins of the current conflict back past the 10th century to demonstrate how the divide between Arab and non-Arab ethnic groups is political rather than racial in nature. The author persuasively argues that the conflict in Darfur is a political problem, with a historical basis, requiring a political solution—facilitated not by the U.N. or a global community but rather by the African Union and other African states. The book's introductory and closing chapters are essential reading for those interested in the topic.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

If the nations of the world waited too long to react to the genocide in Rwanda, they have been too hasty in reacting to declarations of genocide in Darfur, according to Mamdani, scholar and author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim (2004). Exploring the moral dilemma of not wanting to be “good Germans” who ignore evil, Mamdani argues for the need to investigate and gain the knowledge necessary to bring about real and lasting peace in the region. He begins with a historical analysis of Sudan and the Darfur region, focusing on traditions, tribes, race, and locality and how assumptions from earlier eras continue to influence current geopolitical viewpoints. He also examines how the cold war and the current war on terror have affected Western viewpoints on the ethnic divisions and politics within Sudan, arguing that the seeming conflict between native and settler tribes is far more complex and requires an approach similar to the South African model of reconciliation after atrocity to bring about lasting peace. By providing broader context, Mamdani brings fresh perspective to conflict in this troubled region. --Vanessa Bush


“Mamdani traces the path to the Darfur tragedy through its historical and colonial roots to the current situation, where drought and desertification have led to conflict over land among local tribes, rebellion, and finally to the brutal involvement of the forces of the state and to the efforts of the United Nations and others to help the victims and stop the violence. His radical reevaluation of the Darfur problem is a major contribution to understanding and, it is to be hoped, to ending a shocking human disaster.”
–Sir Brian Urquhart, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

“An incisive and challenging analysis. Framing both Darfur’s war and the ‘Save Darfur’ movement within the paradigm of the West’s historic colonial encounter with Africa, Mahmood Mamdani challenges the reader to reconsider whether Darfur’s crisis is ‘genocide’ warranting foreign military intervention.”
–Alex de Waal, Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of War in Darfur

“Mahmood Mamdani has turned his fearless independence of mind on Darfur, Sudan, and the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ producing a book that is as passionate and well-informed as it is intelligent and (for those used only to surface orthodoxies) challenging.”
–Conor Gearty, Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics

“A brilliantly argued and profoundly challenging critique of liberal support for humanitarian intervention in Darfur. Beyond this, Mamdani sets forth an alternative approach to such catastrophic situations. This book should be required reading for the Obama foreign policy team.”
–Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

“A bold, near brilliant re-examination of the conflict in Darfur . . . Essential reading for those interested in the topic.”
Publishers Weekly

“A necessary contribution to the literature surrounding both humanitarian aid and African geopolitics.”
Kirkus Reviews

“By providing broader context, Mamdani brings fresh perspective to conflict in this troubled region.”

About the Author

Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and a member of the departments of anthropology; political science; and Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. His previous books include Good Muslim, Bad Muslim; Citizen and Subject; and When Victims Become Killers. Originally from Uganda, he now divides his time between Kampala and New York, where he lives with his wife and son.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Save Darfur movement claims to have learned from Rwanda. But what is the lesson of Rwanda? For many of those mobilized to save Darfur, the lesson is to rescue before it is too late, to act before seeking to understand. Though it is never explicitly stated, Rwanda is recalled as a time when we thought we needed to know more; we waited to find out, to learn the difference between Tutsi and Hutu, and why one was killing the other, but it was too late. Needing to know turned into an excuse for doing nothing. What is new about Darfur, human rights interventionists will tell you, is the realization that sometimes we must respond ethically and not wait. That time is when genocide is occurring.

But how do we know it is genocide? Because we are told it is. This is why the battle for naming turns out to be all- important: Once Darfur is named as the site of genocide, people recognize something they have already seen elsewhere and conclude that what they know is enough to call for action. They need to know no more in order to act. But killing is not what defines genocide. Killing happens in war, in insurgency and counterinsurgency. It is killing with intent to eliminate an entire group—a race, for example—that is genocide.

Those who prioritize knowing over doing assume that genocide is the name of a consequence, and not its context or cause. But how do we decipher “intent” except by focusing on both context and consequence? The connection between the two is the only clue to naming an action. We shall see that the violence in Darfur was driven by two issues: one local, the other national. The local grievance focused on land and had a double background; its deep background was a colonial legacy of parceling Darfur between tribes, with some given homelands and others not; its immediate background was a four-decades-long process of drought and desertification that exacerbated the conflict between tribes with land and thosewithout.The national contextwas a rebellion that brought the state into an ongoing civil (tribal) war.

The conflict in Darfur began as a localized civil war (1987–89) and turned into a rebellion (beginning in 2003). That Darfur was the site of genocide was the view of one side in the civil war—the tribes with land whosought to keep out landless or land-poor tribes fleeing the advancing drought and desert. As early as the 1989 reconciliation conference in Darfur, that side was already using the language of “genocide”—and indeed “holocaust.” But that charge was made against the coalition of tribes they fought, and not against the government of Sudan. In spite of this important difference, that language has come to inform the view of those who blew the whistle—genocide—at theU.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 and was translated into a unanimous resolution of both houses of theU.S.Congress that year.

Observers noted the exceptional brutality with which both sides fought the civil war. This derived in part from the zero-sum nature of the conflict: the land conflict was about group survival. If the stakes were already high, the lethal means to wage this bitter conflict were provided by external powers. In the opening phase, these deadly weapons came from adversaries in the Cold War over Chad: Colonel Muammar al-Quaddafi of Libya and the anti-Libyan triad (Reaganite America, France, and Israel); with the onset of rebellion, the government of Sudan stepped in to wage a brutal counterinsurgency, just as the managers of the War on Terror set about framing the government as genocidaire while shielding the insurgents in the name of justice.

There have been two international reports on the post-2003 violence in Darfur. The first was by the U.N. Commission on Darfur (2005) and the second from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2008). Neither paid attention to the land question that has fueled the two-decades-long civil war in Darfur. Instead, they focused on those who had contributed to further militarizing the conflict. But even that focus was partial, limited to the government of Sudan; it was silent about the role of regional and international powers in exacerbating and militarizing the conflict over the Cold War and the subsequent War on Terror.

The U.N. Commission concluded “that the Government of Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide,” for the element of “genocidal intent” was missing. It derived the government’s lack of genocidal intent from the context of the violence: “it would seem that those who planned and organized attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.”1 In contrast, when the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court charged the president of Sudan, Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, with genocide, he focused on the consequences of the violence, not its context.

Let us compare deaths related to violence in two places: Darfur and Iraq. The Darfur insurgency began in 2003, the same year as the United States invaded Iraq. I discuss estimates of the number of “excess deaths” (that is, deaths beyond what would ordinarily be expected) in Darfur in chapter 1, but, briefly, the estimates for the period during which the violence was horrendous (2003–4) range from 70,000 to 400,000. Compare this with three available estimates of excess deaths in Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003.* The lowest comprehensive estimate, from the Iraqi Health Ministry survey, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, is of 400,000 Iraqi deaths, of which 151,000 are said to be “violent deaths.” A middling estimate is from the British medical journal The Lancet: an estimated 654,965 excess deaths, of which 601,027 are said to be violent. The highest estimate comes from a survey by Opinion Research Business, an independent polling agency located in London: 1,033,000 violent deaths as a result of the conflict. The first two estimates cover the period from the 2003 invasion to June 2006. The third survey extends to August 2007.2

Not only are the figures for Iraq far higher than those for Darfur, ranging from a low of 400,000 to a high of 1,033,000, but the proportion of violent deaths in relation to the total excess mortality is also far higher in Iraq than in Darfur: 38 percent to nearly 92 percent in Iraq, but 20 to 30 percent in Darfur. So why do we call the killing in Darfur genocide but not that in Iraq? Is it because, despite the wide disparity in the number of excess deaths, whether violence- related or violent, victims and perpetrators belong to different races in Darfur but not in Iraq? That is what many assume, but the facts do not bear this out.

Those who blew the whistle on Darfur in 2004 have continued to argue, for almost four years, that the violence in Darfur is racially motivated, perpetrated by “light- skinned Arabs” on “black Africans.” In the chapters that follow, I suggest that this kind of framing of the violence continues the error that came out of the colonial tradition of racializing the peoples of Sudan.

This book invites the reader to rethink Rwanda in light of Darfur. Rather than a call to act in the face of moral certainty, it is an argument against those who substitute moral certainty for knowledge, and who feel virtuous even when acting on the basis of total ignorance.

Indeed, the lesson of Darfur is a warning to those who would act first and understand later. Only those possessed of disproportionate power can afford to assume that knowing is irrelevant, thereby caring little about the consequences of their actions. Not only is this mind-set the driving force behind the War on Terror, it also provides the selfindulgent motto of the human rights interventionist recruited into the ranks of the terror warriors. This feel-good imperative can be summed up as follows: as long as I feel good, nothing else matters. It is this shared mind-set that has turned the movement to Save Darfur into the humanitarian face of the War on Terror.

In contrast to those who suggest that we act the minute the whistle blows, I suggest that, even before the whistle blows, we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live—and act. Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant.

Save Darfur activists combine a contemptuous attitude toward knowing with an imperative to act. Trying hard not to be “good Germans,” they employ techniques of protest politics against their own government—and now the government of China—and turn a deaf ear to experts who they claim only complicate the story with so many details as to miss the main point. Instead, they rely on the evidence of their eyes and avoid any discussion of context. But by letting pictures and interviews do the talking, they have opened an entire movement to “the CNN effect.” If “good Germans” were taught to trust their leaders first and ask questions later, the good souls mobilized to save Darfur are taught to trust pictures above all else and ask questions later. Above all, they strip Darfur—and the violence in Darfur—of context.

Product Details

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Pantheon (March 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307377237
ISBN-13: 978-0307377234

Why the Public Option is Doomed To Fail

Wed, 09/23/2009
The generous, expansive public option on the lips of Congressional progressives, which would be open to all and compete to lower insurance prices is largely imaginary, while the president's stingy, divisive and means-tested version is all too real.
But what about the third version of the public option? What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus doing to promote it, and to allow states to pursue single payer on their own?

Why the Public Option is Doomed To Fail, and What Can Be Done About It.
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Some highly profitable and job creating industries simply cannot be reformed. Slavery and child labor cannot not be made humane and reasonable, not with kind and solicitous masters or school and limited hours for the kids. Allowing souless and greedy corporations to collect a toll for standing between patients and doctors is immoral, uneconomical, and just plain wrong. But it's not illegal. Not in the US, at any rate, not yet.

The issue in health care reform today is how much longer and under what conditions private insurance companies will be allowed to collect tolls for rationing and denying health care. The public option is a cruel and cynical hoax inside of a much larger scam. The great scam is the substitution on the part of the president and his party, of health insurance reform for their campaign promise of universal health care for all Americans. The public option is, at bottom, an excuse not to abolish the role of private insurance death panels and toll collectors in the nation's health care system.

Nobody can read the president's mind, but he did promise to construct health care legislation in an open and transparent manner, even "on C-SPAN." Instead, Obama handed off the drafting of health care legislation to five House and three Senate committees. The most generous view is that he did this to give legislators a stake in the bills, and because there is this thing called the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

Another view is that the embedded influence of Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Big Medicine were easier to conceal when spread out over several committees, where the lobbyists are themselves former congressmen, senators and their top staffers, and many current members and staff look forward to the same career paths. These are the men and women who wrote what is and will be the president's health insurance reform legislation. The result has been a half dozen versions of a thousand-plus page bill, chock full, as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibi points out, of deliberately obscure references to other legislation. Nobody can authoritatively claim to have read, much less understand all of it. And that's just the way insurance companies and the president like it. HR 676, the Enhanced Medicare For All Act, which does provide universal coverage at reasonable cost, comes in at under thirty pages.

To begin with, there are no less than three versions of the public option. The first is an imaginary public option first conceived by Political Science grad student Jacob Hatcher in 2001. It was to postpone the death of private insurance companies by forcing them to compete with a publicly funded insurer open to all comers which would drive their prices downward. This imaginary public option has never been written into law, and is not under consideration in Congress this year. It lives pretty much in the minds of the public and the lips of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, MoveOn.Org and many others. It's in the mouth of Howard Dean, who says it will be just like Medicare, only available to everybody. To distinguish it from the President Obama's version, it is usually called "the robust public option."

The second version of the public option is not imaginary, it is all too real. President Obama explicitly outlined its contours in his health care address earlier this month. Unlike the expansive and inclusive imaginary public option championed by MoveOn.Org, the president's public option will be stingy, means-tested, socially divisive, actuarially unsound and doomed to failure, unless its objective is simply to discredit the word "public" in the term "public option." The president has said it will be limited to 5% of the nation's population, those Americans too poor to afford the cheapest insurance available on his regulated "insurance exchanges" which won't be fully implemented anyway till 2013. Those making more than a very small wage will be ineligible for the president's version of the public option, and those who currently get insurance from their employers, no matter how skimpy the coverage, how high the co-pays and deductibles, will also not qualify. Those who receive relatively good (or maybe not so good) coverage from their employers will pay a special tax to support both the public option and the subsidies the government will pay to enable others not quite poor enough for the public option to fulfill their legal obligation to buy shoddy insurance from private vendors.

In a social culture where Americans have been taught to despise poverty and the poor, even when they themselves are poor and near poverty, this will be bitterly and inherently divisive. It will provide economic incentive for the working poor to look down on and resent whatever benefits those even poorer than themselves receive. It turns medical coverage for the poor into stigmatized welfare subsidized by the near-poor, and all to the continuing profit of insurance companies.

And since the pool accessed by the public option will be relatively older, poorer and thus more chronically ill, it will not be economically viable in and of itself, must less of the size needed to compete with private insurers and drive their prices downward. The president's public option is of course, buried in multiple versions of thousand-plus page bills that he allowed to be drafted by no less than five House and three Senate committees. The draft bills themselves, as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibi tells us, are chock full of obscure references to other legislation, so to get a full grasp of the proposals one would have to read at least 6 thousand pages of constantly changing stuff.

It's hard to put forward a benign reason for this level of obfuscation, when the president specifically promised that his health care legislation would be drawn up in the bright sunlight of public view, as he put it, "on C-SPAN." The only logical reason for allowing so many lengthy and obscure versions of his own health insurance legislation to be written is to frustrate public scrutiny, and to hide the degree to which lobbyists for Big Insurance, Big Pharma and Big Medicine actually wrote the thing. These interests have long been embedded in the Congress, where the head lobbyists are former legislators and their top staff, and current staff look forward to the same career path. The participation of these types would have been much harder to conceal in any drafting of the bill that the White House convened. By comparison, HR 676, the Enhanced Medicare For All Act comes in just under thirty pages.

The only good thing one can say about the president's version of the public option is that even he is not firmly attached to it, and does not regard it as essential to his package. That's actually good news.

Beyond the imaginary "robust public option" of MoveOn.Org, and the divisive, destructive public option of the presdient, there is a third public option, a very real one. It;'s HR 676, the Enhanced Medicare For All bill, sponsored by John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich. Unlike the mostly imaginary "robust public option" of MoveOn.Org, it actually exists and ordinary people can read and understand it. Unlike the president's public option, which does not take effect till 2013, a fact still ignored by most of the mainstream media, HR 676 can be put into effect almost immediately. The first Medicare back in 1965-66 took only eleven months to send out the first cards and pay the first medical bills.

The White House of course, is not listening to the public outcry for Medicare For All. For example, a group of Oregon physicians calling themselves the Mad As Hell Doctors put up a web site that included an email-the-president page. After the White House received only about 5,000 emails in the first few days, it elected to block emails coming from the Mad As Hell Doctors as spam. Never mind that tracking polls as late as this June indicate majority support among the public for the simple extension of Medicare benefits to everybody.

And although the progressive caucus in Congress continues to wistfully describe its imaginary version of the public option as a line in the sand, it is neither lining up votes for a promised HR 676 floor vote, nor are they demanding that caucus members support amendments to let states to pursue their own versions of single payer in the near future. Congress is being set up to accept anything with the name "public option" and be done with it, even the president's cynical and divisive proposal. The die is cast. The Obama proposals, written by the health insurance lobbyists may pass, but they're not worthwhile. The president's version of the public option, if it stays in the bill is doomed to fail, and the MoveOn version never existed. The only possibility for the real public option, Medicare For All, this year is on the state level. That door will be opened or closed by the Congress this year.

It happens that occasionally, highly profitable industries in which many people make their livings are beyond reform. Slavery and child labor are two examples. Kinder and wiser slavemasters, shorter hours and occasional school for the kiddie workers would not do the trick. Both these institutions had to go. The time for private health insurers, who exist only to collect a toll for standing between the sick and their medical care is almost up.

The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus can partially redeem their sorry capitulation to the president and Big Insurance by insisting that states be allowed to go their own way on single payer, the only real public option.

The Godfather - memorable lines

The Godfather - memorable lines
The expression 'make him an offer he can't refuse' has passed into movie legend, voted the second most memorable line in cinema history in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 Movie Quotes.
22 Sep 2009

The line occurs three times in The Godfather, each time in reference to the career of nightclub crooner Johnny Fontane, Vito Corleone's godson.

Corleone uses intimidation (the offers which can't be refused) to further Fontane's career on four separate occasions. On the first, which is referred to retrospectively in the film, he buys out a contract with a band leader that Fontane is locked into. He then ensures that Fontane wins a part in a war film (the producer finds the severed head of a horse in his bed), later helping him to win an Oscar for the role. Finally, Corleone lends Fontane money to set up a film studio.

The quotes in full:

Michael/Fredo/Jonny Fontane/Moe Greene at Connie Corleone and Carlo Rizzi's wedding

Michael: Fredo, who are the girls?

Fredo: That's for you to find out.

Michael: Get rid of them, Fredo.

Fredo: Hey, Mike, uh...

Michael: I'm here on business I leave tomorrow now get rid of them. Come on, I'm tired. Get rid of the band, too.

[Fredo chases everyone out of the room]

Michael: What happened to Moe Greene?

Fredo: He had business. He said give him a call. Once the party started.

Michael: Well, give him a call. Hello, Johnny.

Johnny Fontane: Mike, it's nice to see you again.

Michael: We're all proud of you. Sit down, Johnny, I want to talk to you. The Don's proud of you, too.

Johnny Fontane: Well, I owe it all to him.

Michael: He knows how grateful you are. That's why he'd like to ask a favor.

Johnny Fontane: Mike, what can I do?

Michael: The Corleone family is thinking of giving up all of its interest in the olive oil business, settling out here. Now Moe Greene will sell us his share of the hotel and the casino so that it can be completely owned by the family. Tom.

[Hagen hands Michael some papers]

Fredo: Hey, Mike, are you sure about that? I mean, Moe, loves the business. He never said anything to me about sellin'.

Michael: I'll make him an offer he can't refuse. You see, Johnny, we feel that entertainment is going to be a big factor in drawing gamblers into the casinos. We're hoping that you'll sign a contract agreeing to appear 5 times a year. Perhaps convince some of your friends in the movies to do the same. We're counting on you, Johnny.

Johnny Fontane: Sure, Mike, I'll do anything for my Godfather. You know that.

Michael: Good.

Moe Greene: Hey, Mike! Everybody's here. There's Tom. Freddie. Good to see you, Mike.

Michael: How are you, Moe?

Moe Greene: You got everything you need? The chef cooked for you special, the dancers will kick your tongue out and your credit is good. Draw chips for everyone in the room so they can play on the house.


Kay and Michael listening to Johnny Fontane

Kay Adams: Michael, you never told me you knew Johnny Fontane!

Michael: Sure, you want to meet him?

Kay Adams: Well, yeah! Sure.

Michael: My father helped him with his career.

Kay Adams: How did he do that?

Michael: ...Let's listen to the song.

Kay Adams: [after listening to Johnny for a while] Tell me, Michael. Please.

Michael: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn't let him. Now, Johnny is my father's godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1000.

Kay Adams: How did he do that?

Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Kay Adams: What was that?

Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.

Kay Adams: ...

Michael: ...That's a true story.

[cut to Johnny singing again for about 10 more seconds before going back to Michael]

Michael: That's my family Kay, that's not me.


Johnny Fontane and Don Corleone

Johnny Fontane: [discussing his problems] I don't know what to do, Godfather. My voice is weak, it's weak. Anyway, if I had this part in the picture, it puts me right back on top, you know. But this... this man out there. He won't give it to me, the head of the studio.

Don Corleone: What's his name?

Don Corleone: Woltz. He said there's no chance, no chance...

[Meanwhile, Hagen finds Sonny and summons him]

Johnny Fontane: A month ago he bought the rights to this book, a best seller. The main character is a guy just like me. I wouldn't even have to act, just be myself. Oh, Godfather, I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do...

[All of a sudden, Don Corleone rises from his chair and gives Fontane a savage shake]


[gives a quick slap to Fontane]

Don Corleone: What's the matter with you? Is this what you've become, a Hollywood finocchio who cries like a woman? "Oh, what do I do? What do I do?" What is that nonsense? Ridiculous!

[the Don's unexpected mimicry makes Hagen and even Fontane laugh; around this time Sonny comes in]

Don Corleone: Tell me, do you spend time with your family?

Johnny Fontane: Sure I do.

Don Corleone: Good. Because a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.

[gives a quick look at Sonny and affectionately embraces Fontane]

Don Corleone: You look terrible. I want you to eat, I want you to rest well. And a month from now this Hollywood big shot's gonna give you what you want.

Johnny Fontane: Too late. They start shooting in a week.

Don Corleone: I'm gonna make him an offer he won't refuse. Okay? I want you to leave it all to me. Go on, go back to the party.

[a gratified Fontane leaves]

The Godfather: 'Nobody enjoyed one day of it’

The Godfather: 'Nobody enjoyed one day of it’
Just like the film, the making of 'The Godfather’ was an ugly story of fear and dysfunction.
Philip Horne
22 Sep 2009

What was the formula that made The Godfather one of the most successful films of all time? Surely it would take an unusually harmonious combination of talents working in concert, a rare balance of commercial entertainment and artistic challenge, a run of luck those involved couldn’t miss.

But all wasn’t plain sailing on Francis Ford Coppola’s film in 1972. It was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three, and on its $6 million budget grossed $101million for Paramount within 18 weeks of release. As the film gets a welcome cinematic re-release in a beautiful restoration, it is timely to dive into the swirling mists of legend and recall how far it was from a sure thing.

“It was the most miserable film I can think of to make,” declares its producer, Al Ruddy. “Nobody enjoyed one day of it.” Coppola agrees: “It was just non-stop anxiety and wondering when I was going to get fired.” The novel by Mario Puzo could easily not have been written: eight publishers passed on the outline for a would-be best-seller pitched by a middle-ranking, mid-forties writer with a bad gambling habit and big debts. Only bumping into a friend had led to his actually writing The Godfather. Its 67 weeks topping the New York Times best-seller list surprised everyone.

Paramount bought an option when Puzo had only written 100 pages, for a mere $12,500, rising to $50,000 if the novel was filmed. But maybe – if we’re to credit Paramount’s head of production Robert Evans – Paramount very nearly didn’t acquire it. There was a bidding war: they were “one day away from Burt Lancaster buying The Godfather, and Burt wanted to play the Don”.

Coppola was no one’s first choice. A pack of others were considered: Arthur Penn, Peter Yates, Costa-Gavras, Otto Preminger, Richard Brooks, Elia Kazan, Fred Zinnemann, Franklin J Schaffner, Richard Lester… All said no. Finally, Evans decided Mafia movies hadn’t worked because, “they were usually written by Jews, directed by Jews and acted by Jews” – and the only Italian-American director with any track record was the up-and-coming Coppola. He almost said no, too, thinking Puzo’s opus “a popular, sensational novel, pretty cheap stuff”.

But Coppola relented, partly because his company American Zoetrope was broke. Once aboard, he saw in this blockbuster the profound story of “a king, almost Greek – a king with three sons”. Puzo liked him. Henceforth, though, everything was a fight. The studio wanted to keep costs down by setting the film in present-day Kansas City; Coppola refused, demanding and getting a $5million budget. He demanded an 80 day shooting schedule; Paramount gave him only 53.

Then there was the question of who would play Don Vito Corleone? Paramount had sounded out Anthony Quinn; but also on their list were Laurence Olivier – who was ill – George C Scott, Jean Gabin, Vittorio De Sica, John Huston, Paul Scofield, Victor Mature… Coppola wanted Marlon Brando, whose name was then dirt with the studios due to unreliability and a string of flops. Paramount president Stan Jaffe declared, “Marlon Brando will never appear in this picture”, even forbidding further discussion. But Coppola pleaded to the bosses that Brando was the greatest living screen actor, and finally, extravagantly, collapsed on the carpet before their eyes. They thought he’d had a heart attack brought on by an excess of sincerity and gave in, though on tough terms.

The rest of the casting was problematic, too. Paramount wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O’Neal as Michael, the Don’s son; happily the Redford deal fell through. Rod Steiger wanted to do it. Warren Beatty turned it down. Martin Sheen, David Carradine and Dean Stockwell were considered. Even Robert De Niro tested for it: the footage that survives is remarkable. Only Coppola saw Al Pacino’s depths; casting director Fred Roos found him “this sort of runty little guy”. Coppola prevailed. Pacino was paid only $35,000, but came through.

James Caan, already a name, was tested for Michael, but was best suited for the part he got, Sonny. John Cazale as Fredo was perfect. For Robert Duvall’s part as the consigliere Tom Hagen, both John Cassavetes and Peter Falk approached Coppola. Coppola objected to casting his sister, Talia Shire, as Connie Corleone, yelling at their mother that Shire was too pretty. But she stayed in, and it became a family film: he eventually included his parents, and even his three-week-old daughter, Sofia.

The shoot itself was a nightmare. “My history with The Godfather was very much the history of someone in trouble,” says Coppola. He knew early on “they were not happy with what I had done…”, and expected to be fired at any moment. In the men’s room he heard crew members talking: about the film – “What a piece of junk!”; and about him – “This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Coppola was constantly undermined. Indeed, Elia Kazan was lined up as a possible replacement. Coppola “kept dreaming that Kazan would arrive on the set and would say to me, 'Uh, Francis, I’ve been asked to…’”. But Brando nobly said he would walk off the picture if Coppola was fired. Pacino, too, expected the boot: “I always felt that I still had to win these people over.” He was convinced “I was out – and then the Sollozzo scene came”. They loved his intensity as he takes bloody revenge in that great sequence in the restaurant.

Brando came good. Coppola notes that “without exception, every one of his crazy ideas I used turned out to be a terrific moment”.

Coppola wanted to fill the film with “hundreds and hundreds of interesting specifics”, one example being the cat Brando cradles in the first scene. It wandered onto the set, Coppola befriended it and settled it on Brando’s lap.

Further disagreements abounded. Evans thought it unnecessary to shoot the Don’s death scene, now one of the best-remembered moments of the film. Cinematographer Gordon Willis thought Coppola unprofessional – Coppola said Willis “hates and misuses actors”. Still, the end result is tremendous, radiating a powerful darkness. Even the now iconic music, by Nino Rota, was disliked by Evans. A favourable preview audience saved its bacon.

Finally, there’s the length. Coppola chopped it down, on Paramount’s strict instructions, to a paltry 135 minutes (for exhibitors’ convenience). Then, Evans says, he himself turned on Coppola: “You shot a saga, and you turned in a trailer. Now give me a movie.” The film was restored to its nearly three hours, and the rest is history – and movie legend.

Philip Horne teaches literature and film in the Department of English at University College London

The Sway Machinery


“[The Sway Machinery] reinvent the sacred music of the past, transforming a purely vocal tradition into a thumping, instrumental celebration of Judaism's venerated back catalogue.” - Mother Jones

JDub Records is excited to report that the 2 West Coast performances of Hidden Melodies Revealed were a hit in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Sway Machinery shared their avant garde interpretation of the Jewish New Year with over 1,200 happy fans—most of which spent the night drinking and dancing along to the sweet sounds and vibrant visuals of HMR.

In Los Angeles, the 573-strong crowd packed into the Wilshire Blvd. Temple and rocked out with The Sway Machinery. We even spotted Adam Levine of chart-topping band Maroon 5! The night also included a visit from Fox News.

In San Francisco, the crowd at Temple Emanu-El numbered 641, with tons of people hitting the dance floor well into the night. We overheard one fan exclaim “Well, guess we ended up in a temple for Rosh Hashanah after all!”

Photos from Hidden Melodies Revealed are on Flickr:

LA -
SF -

Everyone involved with the events was delighted to note that both nights offered an incredibly diverse crowd, a detail that is very much aligned with JDub's mission of encouraging cross-cultural dialogue among fans. Again, we'd like to thank our funders, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the Koret Foundation, and our cosponsors, Tablet Mag, Myspace Music, Reboot/10Q, The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, The Hub at JCC-SF, and the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists

On a final note, these are really the days where friends are supposed to make amends as the New Year begins. Have you seen The Apologenerator 5000? It's sorry made easy!

Have a happy and healthy New Year,

Team JDub
Emily Goldsher
JDub Records
7 E. 10th St., 3rd Fl.
NY, NY 10003
M. 860.604.0459

Soulico - Exotic on the Speaker 10/6
Girls in Trouble 10/26

twitter@me -

PJ O'Rourke: a hellraiser who had to slow down

Robalini's Note: PJ O'Rourke may be a right wing asshole, but he sure is a funny and talented right wing asshole...

PJ O'Rourke: a hellraiser who had to slow down
PJ O'Rourke, America's favourite living wit, talks to Philip Sherwell about drugs, cars and his recent brush with cancer
By Philip Sherwell
20 Sep 2009

PJ O'Rourke: 'I survived the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties largely thanks to a poor constitution. If I got drunk and stoned, I couldn't do it the next day'

The first subject raised by PJ O’Rourke, the political satirist and renowned hell-raiser, is the offer of a drink – albeit not the kind of alcoholic libation his reputation might suggest. “Can I make you a coffee?” the 61-year old asks attentively when we arrive at his New England hideaway on a glorious autumnal afternoon.

He then reaches for his current “drug” of choice – Nicorette gum – before settling down on his office porch, with views across the forests and mountains of southern New Hampshire (state motto: “Live Free or Die”) where he lives with his wife, Tina, their three children, three dogs and, of course, his car collection.

The best-selling author has recently published his 14th book, Driving Like Crazy, a celebration of just about any creation on four- or two-wheels that guzzles gas. It is a rollicking ride through three decades of O’Rourke’s car journalism, combining classic articles and new material with his trademark merciless skewering of liberal niceties and political correctness at every turn. As well as recording America’s obsession with the automobile, he traces his own path from fast-living youth (although not quite as fast-living as he once claimed) to his current incarnation as an SUV-driving, cancer-surviving father-of-three.

The timing of the book is not coincidental. He and his publisher had long discussed an anthology of his writings about cars, but the collapse of the American motor industry gave the mission topicality.

As a fervent foe of “big government”, he reluctantly accepts the need for the bank bail-out to prevent the entire financial system grinding to a halt. But he has no truck with the attempt to keep afloat the motor industry, most notably General Motors. “Saving GM was folly,” he says. “Millions of investors around the world were looking at GM and all agreed it was worthless. Then a guy who’s a lawyer with an Ivy League liberal arts education [Obama] comes along and tells me that my tax dollars are going to bail out GM. If I had wanted to own part of GM, I’d have a stockbroker.”

He looks across the Atlantic for evidence of where this policy will lead. “We have the British motor industry as a role model for what happens when you try to save an industrial dinosaur. Britain was the first country to industrialise and the first to de-industrialise. We should learn from this.”

O’Rourke’s new book is also a personal journey. The collection kicks off with his 1979 epic, and unforgettably entitled How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and not Spill Your Drink, which originally appeared in the American humour magazine National Lampoon. The essay features a series of driving tips that do not, suffice to say, appear in the Highway Code, and extols the virtues of young girls, fast cars and plenty of drugs.

But in a new essay, How to Drive Fast When the Drugs are Mostly Lipitor (a reference to a popular cholesterol-lowering medication), he acknowledges that there was as much embellishment as youthful excess about the original three-decade old piece.

“I survived the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties largely thanks to a poor constitution,” he says now. “If I got drunk and stoned one night, I couldn’t get up and do it all again the next day. I was saved by not having the constitution of John Belushi,” a reference to his friend, the hard-living actor and comedian who died after injecting a “speedball” of cocaine and heroin.

For all his rebellious ways, O’Rourke never adopted the outfit of the outcast and still favours the “preppie” uniform of dress shirt, chinos and loafers. His boyish looks, searing blue eyes and a mop of hair that falls across his forehead are also constants. Nowadays, a wild night involves a glass of scotch and possibly a cigar. Yet it is not just age and belated parenthood that have tamed him: in summer 2008, he was diagnosed with anal cancer.

“I mean, how embarrassing. Thank goodness poor Farah Fawcett distracted everyone’s attention from my ass,” he says, referring to the former Charlie’s Angels actress who recently died from a much more virulent form of the same cancer.

After a course of radiation and chemotherapy, he was given the all-clear earlier this year. He has, typically, even concluded that cancer has been good for the health of a lifelong smoker and drinker. “The chemotherapy probably blasted a lot of the bad stuff that was in there. And all sorts of green leafy things, which I suspect have names like kale and even kelp, are now showing up on my dinner plate, thanks to my wife.”

Patrick Jake O’Rourke was born into a family of Irish-American car dealers from Toledo, Ohio, and hails from good Republican stock. To his relief, he was never a wishy-washy liberal, but did go through a short-lived revolutionary communist phase at college, before he was confronted by the horrors of making a living and seeing his pay-cheque denuded by the taxman. That may have driven him back to his natural place on the political Right, but he was very much of a libertarian, anti-government hue rather than a social conservative.

After college, he wrote for local newspapers before joining National Lampoon at 26. He then moved on to a lengthy stint as a roaming foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine. Books such as Holidays in Hell and Give War a Chance established his credentials as a leading exponent of the first-person “gonzo journalism” that was most famously practised by Hunter S Thompson.

From his free-wheeling conservative perspective, he has developed a reputation for trenchant, biting and hilarious commentary. Yet in person, he is somewhat less scathing than in print. To Barack Obama, for example, he gives mixed marks. “I’m not sure that anyone else would have done a better job as president. With a financial crisis of the scale of 2008, whoever is in power would have been blamed and whoever replaced them would have felt obliged to be seen doing something. Doing nothing was not an option.”

O’Rourke and his friends did much to shape modern political satire at National Lampoon. Surveying the impact three decades later, he notes: “We may have fostered it a little too well as I’m told now that a majority of young people get their news from The Daily Show [a topical comedy programme]. Or maybe I’m just jealous as there’s only room for so much humour, so my share might be reduced.”

Still, he criticises the smugness and self-importance that he feels has crept into some political satire – not surprisingly, a trait he sees more on the Left than on the Right. “It does not do for a political humourist to be smug. We’re not offering policy alternatives; we’re pointing out political absurdities. We’re the ones switching on the kitchen lights and watching the cockroaches scamper. But we’re not going in there to stamp on them. That shouldn’t be our role.”

His slew of witty one-liners has earned him the status of the most quoted living writer in The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations. “Note the emphasis on the living. The moment I die, I’ll drop way down the list.”

As for his own favourite, he opts for an observation he made in 1993 that is enjoying a new lease of life today: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free,” he famously opined at a gala dinner for the libertarian Cato Institute as the then First Lady Hillary Clinton pursued her doomed efforts to reform the health care system.

“It’s very flattering to invent a catchphrase that sticks around and hear those words being quoted again,” he says, 16 years later. “They probably stand up to analysis and time because they’re true.

* ‘Driving Like Crazy' by P J O'Rourke is available from Telegraph Books for £15.99 plus £1.25 p+p. To order, call 0844 871 1516, or visit

The wit and wisdom of PJ O'Rourke

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whisky and car keys to teenage boys."

"Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them."

"You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money."

"There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible."

"It's not gay marriage that should be outlawed, it's first marriages."

"Earnestness is stupidity sent to college."

New Discoveries about Hemingway

New Discoveries about Hemingway… along with Some New Questions
By Hugh Turley

Ernest Hemingway had secret contact with Soviet intelligence agents, according to a recent book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev.

The book is based largely upon newly released KGB records, but it draws upon his FBI file to show, as well, that during World War II Hemingway used his fishing boat the Pilar to hunt for German submarines for the U.S. government. He had a weakness for political intrigue, and he leaned heavily to the left.

Although there is no known record of Hemingway ever having passed along any secrets, one KGB correspondence notes that “…he repeatedly expressed his desire and willingness to help us.” The KGB gave him the code name, “Argo.”

Hemingway’s KGB contacts possibly cast a new light on the violent death of the famous author. FBI records show Hemingway was under surveillance, and shortly before his death he checked into the Mayo Clinic using the alias George Sevier.

In a letter to his son Patrick, Hemingway wrote that he was being treated for high blood pressure. Mayo’s Dr. Howard Rome kept the Minneapolis FBI office informed on Hemingway’s condition. Dr. Rome is the doctor who later performed a psychological autopsy of Lee Harvey Oswald for the Warren Commission.

On July 1, 1961, the night before he died, Hemingway dined at the Christiania Restaurant in Ketchum, Idaho. In her book, How It Was, his wife Mary wrote, “As we wedged into the small far-corner table, Ernest noticed a couple of men seating themselves at a small table farther inside and asked Suzie, our waitress…who those men were. ‘Oh, they’re a couple of salesmen from Twin Falls, I think,’ said Suzie. ‘Not on Saturday night,’ said Ernest, ‘They’d be home.’ Suzie shrugged. ‘They’re the FBI,’ Ernest muttered.”

The first official report of Hemingway’s death was a joint statement by the coroner Ray McGoldrick and the sheriff Don Hewitt, “Ernest Hemingway died this morning at about 7:30 at his home near Ketchum from gunshot wounds. His wife thinks it was accidental while he was cleaning his gun.”

The UPI reported, “Officials did not see any gun-cleaning equipment in the room.”

The following day the UPI said McGoldrick was asked if “self-inflicted gunshot wound in the head” on Hemingway’s death certificate meant he killed himself or died accidentally. McGoldrick responded, “I wasn’t there so I don’t know. Maybe the truth will never be known. No one saw it. The family is willing to let it go that way and that’s all right with me. The wife thinks it was an accident.”

The authorities did not interview Mrs. Hemingway until the day after they had reached their ambiguous conclusion. Her statement had been given through a friend. There was no coroner’s inquest and no autopsy.

Hemingway was shot in the five-by-seven foot front entrance hall of his home. Hemingway’s custom-made, .12 gauge, double barreled, Boss shotgun was near his body. Both barrels had been fired, and Mrs. Hemingway said she was awakened by a couple of banging sounds.

Boss shotguns are highly prized and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. One known to have been made for Hemingway would have doubtless fetched a large premium. However, according to Carlos Baker in Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, a family friend “cut the gun to pieces with a blowtorch and buried them in a secret place.”

When Hemingway, himself, was buried on July 5, The New York Times reported “there was still no official decision—and never may be—as to whether the death …had been an accident or suicide.”

Suicide eventually became the popular truth while the reality of FBI surveillance and his meeting with KGB agents remained unknown to the public. Was Hemingway paranoid and suicidal, or were those covert operatives with sinister plans at the restaurant that night?

Hyattsville Life and Times, August 2009.

Ralph Nader, Fiction Writer,8599,1925576,00.html

Ralph Nader, Fiction Writer
By Tim Morrison
Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2009

Ralph Nader has been many things: lawyer, consumer-rights bulldog, political activist and perennial third-party presidential candidate. He has now added a new title to his business card: fiction writer. His latest book, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, is a 700-page populist fantasy in which a small group of billionaires and media moguls — led by Warren Buffett and including Ted Turner, George Soros, Bill Cosby, Yoko Ono and Phil Donahue — pool their massive resources to reform the U.S. With the help of a $15 billion war chest and a p.r. campaign starring a talking parrot, the group successfully unionizes Walmart, ends corporate influence on Congress, makes Warren Beatty the governor of California and legalizes industrial hemp. TIME talked to Nader about the origins of his book, its celebrity characters and the U.S.'s real-life political battles.

You say in your author's note that this book is not a novel. And yet it's not nonfiction. So what is it?

In the literary world, it's either called a work of speculation — "What if something happened?" "What if somebody did this?" — or a practical utopia. We haven't had many practical utopias. Russell Jacoby, a professor out in California, wrote a book called The End of Utopia in 1999, which argues that the idea of imagining better futures has diminished, as we wallow more and more in our desperate state of societal and governmental decay. So I tried to revive the genre, so to speak.

Was that your goal in writing the book? To create a practical utopia?

No. As you go through year after year, as many civic advocates do, being overwhelmed by the corporate lobbies and their allies in government, you say to yourself, 'If we only had more media, if we only had more money, if we only had more field organizers, if we only had better ideas and strategies.' That's what produced the book. What if we had a collection of superrich elderly, retired people who are very dismayed at the state of their beloved country, and what if they got together and really poured money in? What would happen? And what would happen is a major power collision with corporate goliaths and their government allies.

You mention your group of the superrich. How did you come up with that idea, with those characters?

First of all, the civil rights movement, contrary to popular impression, was funded in significant part by superrich people. The right-wing movement in this country is funded by people like Richard Scaife, who's put in a quarter of a billion dollars at least. I decided to pick [my characters] because they all brought something to the table: Barry Diller, media; Ted Turner, media; George Soros, the Open Society Institute and institution-building; Peter Lewis, insurance; Joe Jamail and Bill Gates Sr. on access to justice. They all brought something to it.

How does Yoko Ono fit into the group?

I wanted to have more women than I could find who were older and quite well-known. She brings moral sentiments and aesthetics. Aesthetics is a very understressed dimension of civic action: music, song, beauty, posters, logos, all these things.

Have you met all the people you based these characters on?

Oh yes. I've talked to or met a lot of them: Barry Diller, Phil Donahue, Bernard Rapoport, Leonard Riggio ...

Did you say to any of them, "I'm writing this book about you"?

Not until I finished it.

What did they say?

Well, I got through to eight of them; they were bemused, but obviously they weren't going to say much until they saw the book. But some of them were very pleased.

Did you ever consider making yourself a character in the book?

That's what Warren Beatty wants. He wants to make this a movie, but only if I'm in it.

The jumping-off point for the story is the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Was that the genesis of the book idea for you as well?

It was one of them, yeah. Another of them was how demoralized they were, these superrich older people that I talked to. I said to them, "How could you be demoralized? You're sitting on 5, 6, 8 billion dollars. For a billion dollars, with field organizers in every congressional district, you can get a single-payer health-care system.' What's a billion dollars to these people?

The events in the book read like an unstoppable wave of progressivism. Isn't it kind of a fantasy to expect that to actually happen?

Well, I tried to unleash almost everything short of detonations [on the main characters]. I mean, the other side really unleashed about everything they had, but you see, they weren't used to being taken on by the big guys or in ways they'd never seen before. They're used to meat-and-potatoes lobbying: put the ads on, get the think tanks going, throw more money in the PACs. Very traditional.

And you think that would be their response in real life as well?

Well, if they were caught by surprise, sure.

What do you think about the current fight over health-care reform?

Well, it's going down heavily. Obama's not going to get a public option. By the time the thousand-page monstrosity of complexity and ambiguity gets to his desk, it's going to be a shred of what the majority of doctors, nurses and the people in this country want — which is full Medicare for all.

What's your take on President Obama thus far?

Weak. Waffling, wavering, ambiguous and overwhelmingly concessionary.

Is any of that enough to get you back into the political arena?

It's too early to say. One thing is, I always want the progressive agenda represented on the ballot, even in a rigged two-party tyranny. I wish other people would do it, but as far as me, it's too early to say.

Do you think third parties have a shot in the next elections?

Sure. They'll be called the Bloomberg Party. Some billionaire will come in like Perot and turn it into a three-way race. There's so many billionaires, and a few of them are quite enlightened. You don't need a right-wing billionaire because they've already got the Republican Party.

Ode to Diddy Riese Cookies

Diddy Riese Cookies first opened it’s doors in 1983 and has been serving high quality cookies, brownies and ice cream—at very reasonable prices—to the Los Angeles community ever since. We’re known about town for our signature custom-made ice cream sandwiches, where you can choose from ten varieties of freshly baked cookies and from twelve flavors of Dreyers premium grand ice cream.

Our mission has always been to sell high quality deserts at very affordable prices. That’s why we’re known for our ability to easily supply bigger orders of cookies and brownies quickly and affordably, ranging anywhere from one dozen to 100 dozen and beyond. Please see our catering menu for more info.

So, stop on by today and try one of our famous ice cream sandwiches, cookies or brownies. And, please think of Diddy Riese when planning your next occasion. We’d be delighted to help make your event a great success!

(Oh, in case you were wondering about the name, Diddy Riese is proudly named in honor of our beloved grandmother.)

We look forward to serving you soon.

Visit the original Diddy Riese Cookies today at our Westwood location!

Our shop is near UCLA, right in the heart of the historic Westwood Village, Bruin movie theaters, restaurants and shopping.

926 Broxton Avenue
Westwood, CA 90024


mon-thur 10am - 12am
fri 10am - 1am
sat 12noon - 1am
sun 12noon - 12am

Paul Laffoley in Paris at Palais de Tokyo

Paul Laffoley in Paris at Palais de Tokyo
Richard Metzger

Douglas Walla and New York’s Kent Gallery announce a big Paul Laffoley show in Paris, to be held at the Palais de Tokyo as part of their Chasing Napoleon exhibit, from October 15, 2009 to January 17, 2010. If you happen to find yourself in Paris this winter, it’s going to be a must-see show.

When Paul moved a couple of years ago, several early works from the Sixties were found hidden in his storage space and make up the bulk of this show. The piece above, I’ve seen in person and—like all Laffoleys—it’s truly stunning, vibrant and electric.

Tara and I own two of Paul’s paintings that will be in the Paris show. We were sure sad to see them leave our home a few weeks ago. Now the walls seen so bare! (They’re huge, 6 by 6 ft).

Thanton III, 1989

Alchemy, 1973