Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If you googled NAMUDNO over the past couple of months this site came in as about the 5th link, and all I'd done was quote the NY Times and link to Rick Hasen. As of 8:20 tonight it's 17, and it's going to keep dropping.
Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 three years ago with wide bipartisan support. But on Wednesday, the future of the law seemed in peril, as conservative members of the Supreme Court expressed strong doubt about its constitutionality.
Hasen has more

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Claudia La Rocco says she became a dance critic because someone asked her to write a dance review and that her record of "humiliating myself in international print and online" is still out there available on google; the point being that if she can't escape it, at least she's not adding to it.
Concert hall flamenco requires a particularly tricky suspension of disbelief. Much of the form’s theatrical currency depends on the strong, raw emotions that threaten to unhinge the performers even as they promise to transfix the audience. To be transfixed, of course, the audience must disregard that these great, ungovernable passions are summoned on demand, night after night and sometimes twice daily.

Otherwise, what often remains is only the lesser art of melodrama, whether cloying or amusing — except in those rare, astonishing occasions when the explosion of actual emotion surprises everyone in the room, performers included
A dancer is not a method actor. She doesn't ask "What's my motivation?" she asks "Where does my arm go?" That holds double for any rigorously formal folk tradition. Two relevant posts here and here Or use the search bar above and search for "sincerity" and "formalism."
Folk traditions devolve into melodrama when pop modernizers soften them up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

making peace with monsters

"The people the Villagers have anointed as our moral leaders are, for the most part, monsters."

"Big Dog. Showed why he earned the name."

[Rick Perlstein on Agee] In his book, he arrived at a typically New Left solution: the institution must not be reformed, for “reform” is the very myth by which the Leviathan nourishes itself. It must be destroyed. This root-and-branch determination turned what might have been a noble, if controversial, vehicle for intelligence reform into something destructive. Amid its overwhelming welter of details (“It almost takes the stamina and interest of a Soviet spy to get through,” Walter Pincus wrote in the Times review), the book included the real names of every C.I.A. officer, agent and asset Agee could recollect. Shortly after its publication, Richard Welch, a C.I.A. officer not named by Agee but whose name was published by a Greek newspaper in the worldwide fad for agent-outing that followed “Inside the Company,” was murdered by anti-American militants. The year began with strong momentum for intelligence reform; the C.I.A. took advantage of Welch’s martyrdom to defend the status quo.
...Philip Agee was never part of any solution, just another facet of the shadow world’s ever proliferating strangeness.

During Avrakotos's time in Greece, the CIA was instrumental in destroying Greek freedom and helping to turn the country into probably the single most anti-American democracy on Earth today. Incredibly, Crile describes this as follows: "On April 21, 1967, he [Avrakotos] got one of those breaks that can make a career. A military junta seized power in Athens that day and suspended democratic and constitutional government." Avrakotos became the CIA's chief liaison with the Greek colonels. After the fall of the colonels' brutally fascist regime, the 17 November terrorist organization assassinated the CIA's Athens station chief, Richard Welch, on Dec. 23, 1975.

"We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."
[The actual number may be a quarter million, or it may be more, but should the term "monster" hinge on the distinction? And the same applies to the attack on Al-Shifa.]

I won't call Duncan Black a "moral monster" for having a crush on the killer of Ricky Ray Rector.
4) Using carshare is easy and takes zero time. Click on the online reservation system, then go get your car. Key FOB opens door, keys are in car. No paperwork, no dealing with humans..."
There's less irony there than Atrios would want to admit.

And I call Zionists racists, not monsters, because that's a fair description of the facts: they're racial separatists who think that history justifies their actions.

Not bad:
Krystian Zimerman, the great Polish concert pianist, is usually a man of few words. He doesn't, as a rule, talk to the audience during performances. He says little or nothing in the press between his all-too-rare concert tours - not even about his habit of travelling everywhere with his own Steinway grand piano. He rarely grants them the pleasure of an encore. 
So he triggered more than the usual rumble of discomfort when he raised his voice in the closing stages of a recital at Los Angeles' Disney Hall on Sunday night and announced he would no longer perform in the United States in protest against Washington's military policies.

"Get your hands off my country," Zimerman told the stunned crowd in a denunciation of US plans to install a missile defence shield on Polish soil. Some people cheered, others yelled at him to shut up and keep playing. A few dozen walked out, some of them shouting obscenities. 
"Yes," Zimerman responded with derision, "some people when they hear the word military start marching."
The assumptions here are idiotic. The argument is that the press as a whole should be better than it is.
What a shame. Although it is tragic that we must be talking about something like torture in the United States of America in 2009, this issue does offer modern journalism a chance to do something we have not done in at least a generation -- and that is to provide this nation, our readers and viewers, with moral clarity and leadership.
I wonder what I.F. Stone would say to that? The press is ruled by cheap cynicism. It always has been and always will be. A few people will consider it their responsibility to try to be better, but lecturing the others on their mediocrity is no better than their presumption of seriousness. The best way to teach adults or children is by example. This has something to do with the American mythology of consensus: always trying to drag people up or down to your own level. But the point is you never know what 'level' you're on absent being tested by others. Without that context you're just floating in a sea of assumption. Bunch is as self-regarding as the people he's attacking. It's not the attack that I disagree with just the self-regard. Adversarialism is not founded on an assumption of our capacity for reason but on an assumption of the opposite. But of course exceptionalism trumps adversarialism in the imagination of our technocratic intellectual class.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Scott Horton
The following interview with Prof. Manfred Nowak, U.N. Rapporteur for Torture, appears in the print edition of today's DER STANDARD (Vienna). I have rendered the interview into English.
STANDARD: CIA torturers are according to U.S. President Obama not to be prosecuted. Is that decision supportable?

Nowak: Absolutely not. The United States has, like all other Contracting Parties to the UN Convention Against Torture, committed itself to investigate instances of torture and to prosecute all cases in which credible evidence of torture is found. This would be the same for Austria: we could not simply, or not without violating the Convention, say "but for certain instances of torture we have decided to make an exception, there will be no prosecutions."

STANDARD: In other words, by making this announcement, Obama has violated international law?

Nowak: Correct. It is a violation of binding international treaty law in this case, because this is an international law convention - and it provides unequivocally that states are not merely obligated to make torture a crime, but also to prosecute any incidents of which credible evidence can be found.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged.


Monday, April 13, 2009

With the election this weekend of the first batch of new governors in Iraq, the new political map of the country is also beginning to emerge. The Iraqis have already stretched the legal framework quite considerably – the “15 days deadline” from the publication of the final results on 26 March has apparently been interpreted as “working days”, and the emphasis has been on holding meetings rather than necessarily electing all key officials – but around half or Iraq’s provinces now have new governors.

It can be useful to discuss the emerging landscape on the basis of two different ways of looking at Iraqi politics. One is to emphasise ethno-sectarian divisions betweens Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis (which in turn are seen as internally unified monolithic blocs), and to interpret the Iraqi parliament as a tripartite construction where an alliance of Kurds and Shiites dominate. For a long time this sort of paradigm prevailed in US policy-making circles, where it gave rise to such concepts as the “80 per cent solution” (i.e. “dominate Iraq through friendly Kurds and Shiites”) and an “alliance of moderate sectarians” (which in practice meant the two Kurdish parties, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI for the Shiites, and the Tawafuq bloc as a token Sunni representative). The alternative view is to ignore the sectarian identity of Iraqi politicians and instead consider their position on key issues in Iraqi politics. From this perspective, the Iraqi parliament has a highly different appearance, with the main cleavage between those ethno-federalists who favour almost all features of the 2005 constitution (KDP, PUK, ISCI, and, more reluctantly the Islamic Iraqi Party or IIP) and those who criticise several aspects of it including federalism, ethno-sectarian quotas and how to deal with Kirkuk (the 22 July parties, including the Sadrists, Fadila, Iraqiyya, the Mutlak bloc and various defectors from the Tawafuq coalition). In the middle, leaning towards 22 July on most constitutional issues but still in government with the ethno-federal parties, are the Daawa factions and the group of independents that formed the State of Law coalition under Nuri al-Maliki’s leadership in the January 2009 local elections.

At the national level, it has become increasingly clear that the ethno-sectarian approach is fast losing its relevance. How, then, is this playing out in local politics after the formation of at least some new provincial councils? North of Baghdad the picture is a mixed one.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

"For it is a certain maxim, no man sees what things are, that knows not what they ought to be."
Jonathan Richardson
quoted by Gombrich, Art and Illusion.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

various: For a while now I've been calling Richard Tuttle a couturier in styrofoam and plastic wrap. Now he seems to agree
It's a nice show, but it's not an insult to either of them to say this time I prefer Miyake
Zionists discover Mubarak Awad, neoliberals discover greed...

And the Rat Patrol rides into LA.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

On the way driving back at night, they called me from AlJazeera Arabic to offer some remarks about US reactions to Lieberman's remarks. I agreed: they called me and I started yelling in my cellphone but my voice was weak by that point.
The Angry Arab is an angry Arab.