Thursday, February 28, 2008

A few links for you

"Appetites whetted, Stiglitz and Bilmes dug deeper, and what they have discovered, after months of chasing often deliberately obscured accounts, is that in fact Bush's Iraqi adventure will cost America - just America - a conservatively estimated $3 trillion. The rest of the world, including Britain, will probably account for about the same amount again."

"Soaring prices of staples — which have risen about 75% since 2005, driven by growing demand, rising oil prices and the effects of global warming — have sparked riots in several countries, as people reel from sticker shock and governments scramble to feed their people. Crowds tore through three cities in the West African nation of Burkina Faso late last week, burning government buildings and looting stores; when officials tried to talk peace with one group of protesters, the enraged crowd hurled stones at them. The riots followed similar violent protests over food prices in Senegal and Mauritania earlier this year. And, last October, protesters in India burned hundreds of food-ration stores in West Bengal after stockpiles emptied, leaving thousands of people unfed."

"For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars. Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34."

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Military chiefs in five Western countries have called for Nato to accept the need for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against any would-be nuclear power. (...) The report called for a “grand strategy” and claimed that “a first-strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” as there is “no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”. (...) Particularly drastic is their demand for a directorate and an end to consensus decision-taking in favour of majority voting. The military chiefs complain of EU “obstruction” and rivalry with NATO and call for the right for the alliance to act militarily without the consent of the United Nations Security Council when “immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings”."
It was in May of 1993 when Axel Gautier, the world famous trainer for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, was stomped to death. Descended from six generations of Swedish performers, this 35-year veteran developed such elaborate tricks as getting elephants to walk sideways on their hind legs. He was on sabbatical from the Greatest Show on Earth and decided to tour the company's private breeding operations in Williston, Florida. Significantly, this facility--just like its zoological counterparts--was opened in response to stricter laws and regulations that were being passed to regulate the exportation of elephants from foreign countries. Circuses and zoos no longer had easy access to their labor pool. They needed a new, more reliable source. Thus, breeding programs and "conservation centers" sprung up around the country. As for Gautier and his visit to the Ringling operation, he went alone into a corral that contained a group of elephants. He must have known or trained at least a few of them. In any case, the elephants knocked him down and stepped on him repeatedly. Gautier died of internal injuries. The circus implied that this was an unfortunate accident, but they kept mum on the specific details. Twelve years later, another longtime Barnum trainer paid a visit to the facility, and the elephants stomped him too. He, however, would survive.

Little white lies

In 2003, Kouchner visited Izetbegovic on his death bed, where the following exchange, (as recounted by Kouchner in his Les Guerriers de la Paix, Paris, Grasset, 2004, pp.373-374.) took place in the presence of Richard Holbrooke:

Kouchner: “You remember President Mitterrand’s visit? In the course of that conversation you spoke of the existence of ‘extermination camps’ in Bosnia. You repeated that in front of the journalists. That provoked considerable emotion throughout the world. François sent me to Omarska and we opened other prisons. They were horrible places, but people were not systematically exterminated. Did you know that?

Izetbegovic “Yes. I thought that my revelations could precipitate bombings. Yes, I tried, but the assertion was false. There were no extermination camps whatever the horror of those places.”

Kouchner concludes: “The conversation was magnificent, that man at death’s door hid nothing from us of his historic role. Richard and I expressed our immense admiration."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It's really unbelievable. The second video especially, which has more of the trial itself. Almost an hour each but I urge everyone to find the time. Beyond belief.

Things to come

How did you end up working for Sen. Obama?

His office called me when he began serving in the U.S. Senate in early 2005. He had just read "A Problem From Hell" and wanted to meet to discuss fixing American foreign policy. I thought, "Well that's interesting -- clearly he's in some other league." I mean, who spends Christmas reading a dark book on genocide? No other politician had ever contacted me to discuss it.

We were supposed to meet for only an hour but ended up meeting for three or four hours at a steakhouse. Suddenly it was almost midnight and I heard myself saying to him, "Why don't I just quit my job at Harvard and work in your office for a year or whatever?" I didn't even know what I was proposing, but he said, "Great."

How did you make the leap from journalist to going to work for a political candidate?

I got into journalism not to be a journalist but to try to change American foreign policy. I'm a corny person. I was a dreamer predating my journalistic life, so I got into journalism as a means to try to change the world. I didn't get into journalism by any means to win a Pulitzer Prize or do anything like that. Back then, I was obsessed with what was going on in Bosnia. I went over there because of that; I tried to get a job at NGOs ... But I didn't wait this long [to work for a candidate] because I was such a hardcore reporter. It was because I never met anybody worth doing it for before.

You were born in Dublin, Ireland, and grew up mainly in the United States. How did you come to write about genocide?

I read about the Holocaust in college [at Yale University]. Right around the time I graduated there were the concentration camps out of Bosnia with these emaciated men behind barbed wire. And I could tell a long story about why that moved me ... but it was so moving.

Genocide was the lens for me. And you can see genocide whether you go to Rwanda or you don't go to Rwanda, but you still have to figure out a way to inject concern for human beings into our foreign policy. This is what was so gratifying to me about the way Obama read "A Problem From Hell" -- for him it was about fixing American foreign policy.

--interview with Samantha Power

One, Two, Many Yugoslavias

Henry flies a kite:
Should we prevent the Pakistani state from splitting up into three or four ethnically based groups? I don't think we have the capacity to do that.

Ideology for beginners

Q: How do I know that my vote has been cast and counted?

A: Whenever a voter presses the CAST BALLOT button and the waving American flag appears, the vote is cast and counted.

SOMETHING Declares Independence

Camp Bondsteel, covering some 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. The camp also includes a prison, "one which you would absolutely recognize from the photographs of Guantanamo"....The IMP will be "responsible for: Assisting and advising with respect to the process of integration in Euro-Atlantic structures" and advising on "the involvement of elements from the security force in internationally mandated missions."

Meanwhile, making use of the engineering skills of Halliburton subsidiary, Brown & Root Services Corp., the United States built a giant military base, Camp Bondsteel, covering some 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. The camp also includes a prison. According to Alvaro Gil Robles, Human Rights Commissioner for the Council of Europe, who visited the prison in 2005,

"What I saw there, the prisoners' situation, was one which you would absolutely recognize from the photographs of Guantanamo. The prisoners were housed in little wooden huts, some alone, others in pairs or threes. Each hut was surrounded with barbed wire, and guards were patrolling between them. Around all of this was a high wall with watchtowers. Because these people had been arrested directly by the army, they had not had any recourse to the judicial system. They had no lawyers. There was no appeals process. There weren't even exact orders about how long they were to be kept prisoner."


There is also to be an International Military Presence (IMP) established by NATO; it is to "operate under the authority, and be subject to the direction and political control of the North Atlantic Council through the NATO chain of command. NATO's military presence in Kosovo does not preclude a possible future follow-on military mission by another international security organization, subject to a revised mandate." Furthermore, the IMP is to "have overall responsibility for the development and training of the Kosovo Security Force, and NATO shall have overall responsibility for the development and establishment of a civilian-led organization of the Government to exercise civilian control over this Force, without prejudice to the responsibilities of the ICR." The IMP will be "responsible for: Assisting and advising with respect to the process of integration in Euro-Atlantic structures" and advising on "the involvement of elements from the security force in internationally mandated missions."

also here.

Alain Robbe-Grillet

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is a promise to perpetuate a fraud on the American taxpayers: if he no longer intended to seek the presidency, he made a legally-binding promise to pretend to remain in the race just long enough to collect public money to repay the loan.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday. (...) The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties. Lord Justice Moses, hearing the civil case with Mr Justice Sullivan, said the government appeared to have "rolled over" after the threats."

The British government really wanted to investigate this, but protecting you from islamo-evil comes first. What other motive could they possibly have had to stop the corruption investigation of Britain's largest defence company?

But is it true love, in the rectum?

Matt Frei: Mr President, thanks for joining us. You're famous for saying that you don't believe in opinion polls.

President George W Bush: Yeah!

Frei: Do you have any idea how you rate in the countries that you're going to be visiting in Africa?

Mr Bush: No, sir. I don't.

Frei: But, I've got news for you and it's good news.

Mr Bush: All right.

Frei: You rate pretty well. It's sort of - you know, in the average 80s... Is that one of the reasons why you're going there? This is one the parts of the world where you're still very popular?

Mr Bush: I - I go where needed. And - no, I'm going there because I've got a firm, heartfelt commitment to the continent of Africa and have ever since I became president


Frei: Your administration has given $15bn to treat Aids in Africa?

Mr Bush: Yeah.

Frei: Which is an unprecedented amount of money, and you want to double that amount yet again?

Mr Bush: Yeah.

Frei: This is a huge commitment. And, yet, the administration and you, personally, don't seem to be getting a lot of credit for it.

Mr Bush: Yeah - you know, this is kind of tied to your first question about polls. Polls are nothing more than just like a puff of air. What matters is results. And, ultimately, people will be able to make, you know, an objective judgment of a president and his administration and, in this case, a country's commitment. And so I care really about is the results of the programmes. I hope by now people have learned that I'm not one of these guys that - really gives a darn about elite opinion. What I really care about is, are we saving lives? And in this case, we are. As I mentioned in my speech that you kindly listened to - when I first went to Sub-Saharan Africa, 50,000 were receiving antiretrovirals. Today, 1.3 million. And that's a lot in a very quick period of time. But, there's so much more suffering. And that's why I've called for a doubling of aid. The good news is, it's not just America. As I mentioned in my speech, the G8 nations also are supporting this very important initiative. And, you know, it's... like an effort of mercy.

Frei: But, it has made a huge difference, hasn't it? So...

Mr Bush: Yeah.

Frei: Why not take some credit for it?

Mr Bush: Because it's just not my nature, you know?

[The post heading is a line from Beckett's Molloy.]

Friday, February 15, 2008

Political Spectacle

A failure, this, and suggestive of the stupid insularity and arrogance of cocaculture producing clerks. The conception is recycled niche product - targeted to 14-17 year old boys, who can't vote, and young men with adolescent sensibilities, who don't. Every note it strikes is wrong for the purpose: the slavish, empty, sarcastic mimicry of mimicry pitiably straining to sell itself as "ideas and innovation", the ostentatious avowal of the commodity nature of the product-candidate for sale (explicitly the analogue of a robotic appliance certain to be obsolete in less than four years), the unabashed nerd-machiste misogyny, the careless and giggling, infantile sadistic aggravation of real anxieties about dictatorship with this peculiar cocaculture pomosity which openly offers ersatz solutions, escape into the world of computer assisted fantasy, flight into the playstation. Beyond that, what appears to be a truly religious belief that irrational pseudosity is so strong, irony so ubiquitously corrosive and conquering, and audiences so manipulable, that one could sell a Presidential candidate with the screaming insinuation that only an elite and exclusive minority would ever "buy" him, and thus a vote for him makes he who casts it a rebel, committing an act of self-distinction and self-description through commodity consumption. Thus the ad reveals its designer's cocksure convinction that they can fool a huge audience into all doing the same thing - whether is it buying a pair of sports shoes or touching the name on a voting machine screen - by convincing them precisely that only insiders are doing this and that doing that thing will make each of them unique. Vote for Obama - like Apple, he's sure to come in a distant third. Because irrationalism and irony is imperial, the makers seem to believe, no audience will be troubled by or contemptuous of an image meant to represent Iconoclasm which is an exact and faithful replica of an iconic advertisement which itself exploited through faithful fetish exhibition - not undermining, much less smashing - well known, sacred icons. The ad seems to assume that this message cheerfully and smugly promising failure of the purported quest, this content, which requires audience rationality to decipher, cannot be problematic for the brand image cultivation underway here, as rationality is entirely abolished, and the only task undertaken by this ad is to associate Obama with a superior, if less widely used, product than the market leader, a product whose image is associated with California billionaires in casual clothes. In the elite nerd newmedia subculture from whence this ad springs, this utter absence of signification on which the ad wagers, this pure faith in the endlessly manipulable, sense-vacated, history-vacated, rinsed and re-usable images deployable at the whim and will of the video artist, can indeed be widely observed; but that subculture, being irrational in this way, being as it is so sure of the wisdom of the neoNietzscheanism to which it is devoted, remains in deep denial of the very exclusivity and eliteness it prides itself on. The result is a display of delusional self-confidence, and the ad provides a wry self portrait of its makers - in the grey herd which somehow engenders the macho blonde babe of boy's dreams to smash mommy, and "conversation", in the face with Nietzsche's hammer. In the subculture which sprouts this bit of doggedly derivative, comically arrogant advertising art, one can hold two contradictory ideas about the culture's own status - minority and majority, counter-culture and dominant culture - in one's heads simultaneously without getting a headache. This is the culture of the billionaire bohemian, after all.

In this promotional misfire, the exhaustion of this aesthetic and style is revealed as its usually veiled malice, manipulativeness and mendacity rise to the surface.

The later, successful Obama campaign retrieved What If? from the cybergeek fantasyland of the pseudo-imaginitive postmodern echochamber of the branding hard sell. It was all about disseminating a feeling of relief. Not Oz but Kansas. Not aggression but negotiation. Not anxiety but reassurance. Not cliché pseudo-worlds from the playstation, settings and pretext of tiring and pseudo-risky (success is assured) gestes and daring, but slightly updated small townscapes, with greenery, picket fences, schools, workplaces.

And look at this - the first image is a book. A relic from the gutenberg galaxy, from the lost rational past.

This stuff is corny to be sure, but at this point it is less corny - or appears so at least for not seeming deluded about its own corniness - than VoteDifferent. Its use of the style arsenal of "the digital age", though no less minutely controlled than in VoteDifferent, is on the surface very understated: the faux "hand held" quality of the footage, as if Obama's speech and audience are filmed by another member of the audience, ceding smoothly to a series of stills with titles - you are permitted a pause in bg motion to absorb this as information, as language with content. But the stills also work to suggest a shortage of video to complete the piece, as well as to allow a pause for the sake of a pause, a rest, a moment to digest - the pace unhurried - and additionally to evoke the reliability of a certain kind of documentary which traditionally involves narrative, sense, and information. The editing of the piece subtly seeks to replicate not a deliberate alienating and self referential joltiness but the ever so slight, residual joltiness one would find in a competent non-professional product when working with footage not expressly shot to be cut together. It's a very subdued effect but it also helps to instill this sense of calm and relief, this sense of communication, that the maker of this piece and its audience are striving for a clear line of interaction, that the maker is not trying to nauseate or confuse but to be as frank as possible, patiently and sincerely. The assemblage, which is the result of a professional editor aiming "insincerely" for just a touch of seemingly inadvertant roughness, simulates the result of an enthused amateur trying for maximum smoothness but falling just a hair short because of imperfect materials and limited resources.

Now this one is interesting (an amateur campaign ad) because it is a faux history channel documentary about the rise of President Barack Obama. The audio plus stills suggest something already sealed in amber, something further back in time, something "historic", something, unlike our present unfolding history, not recorded constantly on video - something from an earlier age but also something whose historic significance was not fully perceived as it happened. Its message is fait accompli. We are reminiscing. Reminiscing very affectionately with the photo album about our President who ended the nightmare, also our First Black President. We enjoy those old recordings of his voice...(and like the voice of so many of our cherished Figures, Bobby Kennedy, MLK but also Roosevelt, this one has to be matched to stills, as if there were no video. As a voice matched to stills, Obama's speeches remind us that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.) This, then, is hindsight. The implied perspective from which these images and sounds are delivered is the future, long after Barack Obama's glorious presidency has ended and delivered us all the prosperity promised. An homage from the future to the present as glorious and memorable past, as "historic" moment unaware in the moment of its momentousness. Now we have insta-ersatz-historic-moment-ness. In the digital age of the society of the spectacle we don't have to wait for history to deliver its verdict. We are made aware that we will always remember where we were when President Obama was elected as we will always remember the instant of hearing the allies had landed at Normandy, or that John Lennon and JFK were shot; we can feel that full intensity and nostalgia immediately, brought to us by this message from the future, when that relief now promised has long set in, when the rewards of this historic moment have been reaped.

This one is a student project.

"I Had A Bad Dream...."

I just watched all the Obama tv ads and some other footage. One really can't help but "root" for him personally to take home the statuette, the sane, rational and familiar can-do suit flanked by two repugnant maniacs, Clinton and McCain. But there's more - every note of the campaign is precisely pitched to succeed in the present situation, where the electoral process is fully assimilated to a genre of media contests, the Academy Awards, The Apprentice, the World Series. The Obama campaign cultivates a mood of unbroken calm, ordinariness, de-escalation of the crisis-on-the-hour atmosphere of hyperventilation that is US mass media, a certain groundedness. None of that prodding of anxiety, the ominous narrative voice whispering in your ear of the scams and schemes and corruption of the opponent, the list of dangers, threats, risks and impending catastrophes as the clock tick tick ticks. All that is blessedly absent. Instead, we are transported to the bureau of trouble shooting. Entering the Obama campaign, you exit the swirling swooping CGI realm of calamity and helplessness and return to the brightly lit halls of competence and management, where the ground is steady under your feet and the camera doesn't swing around incessantly and sarcasm is not the only attitude possible for coping. The figure of Obama is imbued with the essence of achievement and capability, and so without making it explicit the campaign promises you will never catch him boasting of his incompetence, inattention, lack of foresight, bad judgement, poor information, and bungling. And to stitch this image and atmosphere into memory of more optimistic times, and feelings of empowerment, there are passing historical allusions for all - "our dream won't be deferred" - left quite vague so, as Murr notes below, everyone can fill in the details of their own dreams. And a little gentle move leftward, answering criticisms without exactly acknowledging them, as the nomination is sewn up. Image and personality wise, the contest as contest is no contest. Obama is the only appealing and reassuring figure. And he's packaged as just this dream lawyer you were hoping to find when you are really in trouble. Not an activist, just a professional, but not a snake. He at least acknowledges who is supposed to be working for whom. Counsellor Obama happily accepts an obligation to argue, to make a case, to make the elements of reasoning connect. He projects himself as your counsel, antidote to "the decider", who will, if nothing else, restore rationality and reasonableness to fashion. The "inspirational" ornamentation seems stuck on by the speechwriters, and the handlers who have advised him to affect an ever so slightly southern accent on the "y"s of "poverty" and "prosperity"; one can dismiss all that as courtroom theatrics. You're his client and he won't lie to you. (Hilary Clinton would lie to you every minute, just out of habit; she'd be secretly working for the other side if the price was right). Obama is that lawyer who looks at the case and tells you, yes he can fix it. And very frankly, looking you in the eye, he freely admits this will not be justice - but he can get you a deal you can live with and the nightmare you have been experiencing every moment of every day will be over.

A deal you can live with, and the nightmare will be over.

That's the subtext of the Obama campaign.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Starts slow, but really worth listening to the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Casting "The Prez"

The producers settled of course as expected with the WGA because of the Oscars which holds the whole political system together. You really can’t lose the Oscars during Presidential Primaries because it’s all one seamless spectacle, and the Academy Awards are the core event, which legitimates the whole American electoral system. The indispensable event of American “democracy” is the Oscar broadcast. If it were somehow not to happen people would know that the God Blessèd USofA was no more, that the crisis had come and swept it away.

We can confirm this by listening to and reading the best and brightest – this guy, Lawrence Lessig, is imagined to be not only a grown up, an actual adult, but an expert of some kind, savvy and slightly dissident, a bright guy and a sincere one – advising us on how to cast the role of Prez for the next hundred episodes in the four year series pre-order of Leader of The Free World. Lawrence Lessig easily explains that Barack Obama would be better television. So. That’s that. But he doesn’t even seem to comprehend that this is what he is saying. That he is speaking of a spectacle as if it were all there is. It sounds just like he is spitballing for a season of The West Wing – the policies yeah yeah, who cares, they’re fine, they’re the norm, there’s no choice anyway, there is no alternative. But this doesn’t matter for our nationwide casting session because the policies are not part of the drama anyway – they’re not featured in the Free World storyline. You don’t cast a lead role like The Prez in a hit show like New Free World Order according to some trivia like policies. What matters is the Prez should be compelling and likeable. And a good actor. He should embody. He should symbolise. He should convince. He should have a certain charisma and image. Of course this is all really advice to the writers who thank god are back at their computers, but their job will be so much easier if the casting directors do theirs like pros and match the face and figure to the backstory and character. Martin Sheen was Our Best President Ever, and it's a hard act to follow, but Obama is clearly the producers' and director's joint first choice for the next season…so Cast Obama As The Prez. If he loses, vote him in as the next James Bond.

That the final line here is just an out and out lie (Obama has repeatedly voted to fund the war, every chance he's had as Senator) should not tarnish this paragraph's marvellous unconditional surrender to victorious Reality Television. Read it and admire:

So I want you to shut your eyes and imagine what it will seem like to a young man in Iraq or in Iran, who wakes up on January 21st, 2009, and sees the picture of this man as the president of the United States. A man who opposed the war at the beginning, a man who worked his way up from almost nothing, a man who came from a mother and a father of mixed cultures and mixed societies, who came from a broken home to overcome all of that to become the leader in his class, at the Harvard Law Review, and an extraordinary success as a politician. How can they see us when they see us as having chosen this man as our president?

There can be no clearer way that we could say, that we could say that the United States could say, that we have changed, than by electing this man. There is no way we could more clearly move on toward peace than this. He represents the very best of who we are, the best of character, of integrity and ideals. And someone who opposed the war from the start.

Just picture it - the faces of those young men, all over the world, from Borneo to Nome, their eyes agleam, cut to the madrassah in Northern Pakistan, to the café in Gaza, to the slums outside Mexico City, see the wonder and happiness, face - face- face - hear the soundtrack swell...Filipinos, slowly beginning to applaud...worshippers in Mecca, looking up, as one, to read the news in skywriting overhead, slowly releasing smiles....O...B...half an A... and in Sierra Leone someone lifts a scarred limb and cries Obama! There won't be a dry eye in the house!

Bubbles and Value

Jean-Pierre Jouyet, France's minister for European affairs
Tue, Feb 12 2008, 11:37 GMT

Dow Jones - "Everyone agrees that the strength of the euro is prejudicial to a certain number of industries. You cannot act if there is insufficient willingness to cooperate on the part of the United States. The last G7 showed there was insufficient willingness to cooperate to eliminate the existing imbalances on exchange markets. For the markets to follow you there has to be a homogeneous message from monetary powers."
"Every insurgency is, of course, unique and different from all others, because the backgrounds are different, as are the cultures of the occupied peoples and the occupiers. The British differ from the Dutch, and both from the French. George Washington was different from Tito, and Ho Chi Minh from Yasser Arafat. Yet in spite of this, there is an amazing similarity between all the liberation struggles. For me, the main lesson is this: from the time the general public embraces the rebels, the victory of the rebellion is assured. That is an iron rule: an insurgency supported by the public is bound to win, irrespective of the tactics adopted by the occupation regime. The occupier can kill indiscriminately or adopt more humane methods, torture captured freedom fighters to death or treat them as prisoners of war – nothing makes a difference in the long run."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Terrorist Talk Show Host/Guest Cancelled

Montel Williams, celebrity and a former serviceman, says nothing about Iraqis murdered, maimed, raped, brutalised, immiserated, imprisoned, tortured, humiliated, poisoned and terrorised. He says nothing about US troops maimed and traumatised. He mentioned only the US troops who died, "defending democracy", interrupting the Heath Ledger coverage. He speaks of those troops as on a mission to "protect America". But even this reference to the war is inadmissible.


There's Just Something Off About TV

Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Few Americans are aware that for at least 16 years big business and banks have been secretly taking out millions of life insurance policies on their rank and file workers and naming the corporation the beneficiary of the death benefit without the knowledge of the worker. The individual policies are frequently in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the employee leaves the company, no problem; big business is still allowed to collect the death benefit and they track the employee through the Social Security Administration to keep tabs on when they die. These policies are commonly known as "dead peasant" or "janitor" policies because they insure low-wage earners including janitors. Some of the largest corporations in America have been boosting their income statements by including cash buildup in the policies as well as receiving the death benefit tax free."
"Military PC games. I play them compulsively, enjoying the freedom to dwell in the virtual space where I can do with impunity all the horrible things I was always dreaming of - killing innocent civilians, burning churches and houses, betraying allies... Plato was right: there are only two kinds of people on this earth, those who dream about doing horrible things and those who actually do them. My favourite game? Stalin Subway, a Russian one: Moscow 1952, the player is a KGB investigator, called by Stalin Himself to unearth the plot to kill Stalin and other members of the Politburo. One can arrest and kill suspects at one's will. If one wins, one gets a medal from Stalin and Beria! What more can one expect in this miserable life?"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Open Letterlet To American Media Professionals

What ought a hairdresser charge such a man? Minimum wage? Tip only? Should he have slaves to cut his hair? Or what?