Friday, March 04, 2005


Selective terrorism

The woman who epitomised the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution that overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza has been denied entry to the US to take up her post as a Harvard professor on the grounds that she had been involved in "terrorism".

The decision to bar Dora Maria Tellez, one of the best-known figures in recent Latin American history, who has frequently visited the US in the past, has been attacked by academics and writers.

It comes at a time when President George Bush has appointed as his new intelligence chief a man associated with the "dirty war" against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

A spokeswoman for Harvard University said it was "very disappointed" that she would not be taking up her appointment.

Ms Tellez was a young medical student when she became a commandante with the leftwing Sandinistas in their campaign to topple the dictator.

She was Commander 2' in 1978 when a group of guerrillas took over the National Palace and held 2,000 government officials hostage in a two-day standoff. After negotiations, she and the other guerrillas were allowed to leave the country. The event was seen as a key moment that indicated the Somoza regime could be overthrown.

She later led the brigade that took Leon, the first city to fall to the Sandinistas in the revolution, and she is celebrated as one of the popular figures of the revolution. She became minister of health in the first elected Sandinista administration.

Last year Ms Tellez, now a historian, was appointed as the Robert F Kennedy visiting professor in Latin American studies in the divinity department at Harvard, a post which is shared with the Rockefeller Centre for Latin American Studies. She was due to start teaching students this spring.

The US state department has told her she is ineligible because of involvement in "terrorist acts". A spokesman for the department confirmed yesterday that she had been denied a visa under a section making those who had been involved in terrorist acts ineligible. He said he could not comment further on the reasons for the ban. (more)


Thursday, March 03, 2005



I have been feeling ill for the last month. It has been like a flu you just can't get rid of. Tried going to a walk-in clinic where I was given some antibiotics that accomplished nothing other than making me sick to my stomach. When a medicine says take with food, believe the warning.

A week later I am heading back to my parents place to help install a a set of ceilling lift in a nursing home. By the time the train arrives my neck is swollen and my sinuses are like faucets. I go to another walk-in clinic, am given aother anti-biotic, but the doctor ignores any issues with my sinuses. Two days later I am feeling worse, the onset of insomina as an additional symptom areally didn't help. So I go back to the walk-in clinic and am given a small pile chemicals to swallow over the next few days. The next day I trek back to Toronto and start the pill regime. Two days later, I wake up and my face is red and my arms look like a bad medical textbook.

I figure the red face is a drug reaction. Time to find a real doctor, one that will examine you and not just pass out prescriptions. I luck out and after five minutes of searching I find a doctor that is willing to take new patients. I get an appointment for later that morning. Dr Berlin turns out to be an ancient man with a grudge against walk-in clinics. Yes, I was having a drug reaction, No, he didn't know why I was sick though he guessed at mono. He sent me to a nearby lab were they took six vials of blood. That was tuesday. It is amzing who much better I felt after goinging off all of the drugs I had been taking.

Update: I officially have mono.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


A scrapper is needed Posted by Hello


Preserved VW Van Posted by Hello


Cold day in Newfoundland Posted by Hello


The Death of a Muslim Woman

In the past four months, six Muslim women living in Berlin have been brutally murdered by family members. Their crime? Trying to break free and live Western lifestyles. Within their communities, the killers are revered as heroes for preserving their family dignity. How can such a horrific and shockingly archaic practice be flourishing in the heart of Europe? The deaths have sparked momentary outrage, but will they change the grim reality for Muslim women?

The shots came from nowhere and within minutes the young Turkish mother standing at the Berlin bus stop was dead. A telephone call from a relative had brought her to this cold, unforgiving place. She thought she would only be gone for a few minutes and wore a light jacket in the freezing February wind. She had left her five-year-old son asleep in his bed. He awoke looking for his mother, who, like many Turkish women in Germany, harbored a secret life of fear, courage and, ultimately, grief. Now her little boy has his own tragedy to bear: His mother, Hatin Surucu, was not the victim of random violence, but likely died at the hands of her own family in what is known as an "honor killing."

Hatin's crime, it appears, was the desire to lead a normal life in her family's adopted land. The vivacious 23-year-old beauty, who was raised in Berlin, divorced the Turkish cousin she was forced to marry at age 16. She also discarded her Islamic head scarf, enrolled in a technical school where she was training to become an electrician and began dating German men. For her family, such behavior represented the ultimate shame -- the embrace of "corrupt" Western ways. Days after the crime, police arrested her three brothers, ages 25, 24 and 18. The youngest of the three allegedly bragged to his girlfriend about the Feb. 7 killing. At her funeral, Hakin's Turkish-Kurdish parents draped their only daughter's casket in verses from the Koran and buried her according to Muslim tradition. Absent of course, were the brothers, who were in jail. (more)


Earthquake prediction

I have had a hunch this was possible for some time now, ever since a georgian scientist gave a seminar about an observatory in georgia when he casually mentions that they had seen an increase in upper atmosphere/ solar radiation interaction before large earthquakes.

PRAVDA, RUSSIA - Viktor Bokov, a scientist from St. Petersburg, deals with short-term earthquake forecasts. The information about the forthcoming disaster in Southeast Asia, which killed 215,000 people, appeared on the website of the Arctic and Antarctic Institute (on which Bokov's forecasts are regularly published) two days before the tsunami hit the Asian shores. . .

Not less than ten earthquakes occur in the world on a daily basis. Viktor Bokov predicts them several days before they rock the ground. Specialists from Japan and Russia's Far East use the scientist's forecasts regularly to avoid any victims in seismically dangerous areas.

He informed about the coming earthquake in Turkey, which occurred on April 10th, 2003. The specialist forecast the disaster with great precision. Bokov predicted a powerful quake in the north of Algeria and posted the information on the website of the above-mentioned institute. The government of Algeria was left totally uninformed about the earthquake, which resulted in a vast number of victims.

Viktor Bokov's method is based on observations of daily weather changes. Each part of the globe is characterized with its certain peculiarities that may cause an earthquake.

"The Antarctic Institute receives the data from the European weather forecasts center every day. It is enough for me just to have a look at it to realize where a quake is likely to occur. The sun and the atmospheric pressure have the largest influence on the seismological situation on our planet. The Earth's atmosphere weighs 512 trillion tons. This mass of air has a permanent enormous pressure on Earth, making landscape hills and plains. As soon as the atmosphere increases, the tectonic activity grows too; the ground starts shaking when the tension in tectonic plates reaches its peak.

When airplanes land in St.Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, seismographs register slight quakes measured 2.0 on the Richter scale. Human beings do not sense the ground vibrations.

Link to his site


An idea

EFFECTIVE WHENEVER we think about it, the Review will replace the terms "Christian right" and Christian extremist" with the more theologically correct phrase "Christian heretic." That which is known as fundamentalist Christianity is in fact a considerable perversion of Christian teachings, a heresy in which the word of God is altered to suit the prejudices of the purported Christian.

Here is just one example from Matthew of Jesus' teaching that is defied regularly by Christian heretics of the televangelical ilk: "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

We don't have to actually burn them at the stake in the manner of heretics of yore, but their cynical attempt to give bigotry the cover of Christianity should at least be directly challenged.



DAVID SWANSON, ROLLING STONE - A review of fines levied by other federal agencies suggests that the government may be taking swear words a bit too seriously. If [the FCC censorship] bill passes the Senate, Bono saying "fucking brilliant" on the air would carry the exact same penalty as illegally testing pesticides on human subjects. And for the price of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors. (Actually, you might be able to afford four "nuke malfunctions": The biggest fine levied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year was only $60,000.)
If Bush has his way, Howard Stern may soon have a tough choice to make: Tell a sex joke on the air, or dump toxic waste in New York's drinking water while willfully placing an employee at risk of injury or death? No wonder the foul-mouthed host is moving to satellite radio, which falls outside the authority of the FCC.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005


An Alternate Guide to London

That was the top secret advice to would-be communist spies in a previously unseen handbook on surviving in 1930s London.

The alternative tourist guide to London, compiled to aid infiltration into the UK, has been revealed amid hundreds of MI5 documents published at the National Archives.

But the guide also reveals what could be the first concrete link between London and one of the Soviet Union's master spies during the World War II: the head of the "Red Orchestra" anti-Nazi network.

According to the documents, the guide emerged when the Germans initially seized papers from Soviet agents during the war. When the Germans were themselves in retreat, the guide somehow fell into the hands of MI5.

The guide, a kind of Time Out of its era without the shopping recommendations, lists what to do in London, including the best places to meet without blowing your cover.

"The West End with its nightlife, the big hotels with foreign statesmen and jewellery-wearing society ladies all these make central London the most closely policed area of England," writes the anonymous author.

"There are no reasons why one should not use the hotels in this area - but it is remarkable how persistently this area is preferred for rendezvous by people who should know better.

Who's following?

"There is no reason why one should not live [in South Kensington] but rendezvous in the outlying districts of Greater London," the spy comments.

Ritz Hotel
It is advisable to arrive at all hotels with smart and sufficient luggage - the British spend a lot of money on good luggage and travellers risk being turned away or asked for a deposit if they do not comply with this custom
Anonymous spy
"Thus one can pass both on the way to the rendezvous and on the homeward journey through the central area with all its stores, museums shops, subways etc (having several entrances) in order to make sure one is not shadowed."

The key was to use large stores, such as Liberty on Regent Street, to quickly lose a tail by dodging in and out of the various departments.

Suggested central London meeting places included Trafalgar Square's subway tunnels and the Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens.

However, the writer preferred outlying locations such as the Kew Gardens, Richmond Park, North Harrow's Embassy Cinema, Pinner Underground Station booking hall and, strangest of them all, the Number 83 bus stop in Wembley, direction Ealing.

AA membership

A definite benefit was AA membership (£2, two shillings a year) because the club guaranteed free legal representation in the courts if it was ever needed in relation to a traffic accident.

Winston Churchill
Keep an eye out for this bloke
This was not communist Russia penny pinching - rather a cunning attempt to minimise any kind of contact with the authorities.

Hotels were however tricky places to meet. Some such as the Dorchester and Ritz required the "necessary social standing". Others could consider you suspicious if you acted differently.

"It is advisable to arrive at all hotels with smart and sufficient luggage. The British spend a lot of money on good luggage and travellers risk being turned away or asked for a deposit if they do not comply with this custom," says the author.

Trepper link

So who wrote the guide? That we don't know - but an unnamed MI5 analyst's has left some clues.

"It is possible that the document should be linked to Red Army intelligence interests," says the agent's comments on the papers.

"Trepper visited the UK five of six times between 1937 and 1939, his last visit being probably in the summer of 1939 for the purpose of discussing the possibilities of a Red Army Intelligence network."

Leopold Trepper was one of the best and most highly decorated Soviet spies. A Polish Jew, he escaped to Moscow at the start of the war and was recruited by the NKVD, a branch of Soviet Union's secret police.

He established a network of communist agents, "Die rote Kapelle", the Red Orchestra. It sought to undermine the Nazis in western Europe and got so good he may have tapped Nazi phones in France prior to his capture and interrogation.

Trepper returned to Moscow at the end of the war - but was swept up in Stalin's paranoid purges - the leadership convinced he was now a threat. He escaped with his life thanks to friends in high places - and after 10 years in jail left for Poland.

He later retired to Israel and completed his memoirs of the war before his death in 1982.


The cost of the pope lving

I'm certain producers at various major broadcasters and 24-hour news networks wish nothing but good health and long life to the Pontiff. And yet, his tenacious grip on life is beginning to get expensive:

"It was 1996 that I went to Rome myself to negotiate roof rights," said Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president for news coverage at CBS News. "Every broadcaster in the world has a rooftop or balcony lined up."

Indeed, a case of what broadcasters dubbed "rooftop envy" swept through the Vatican in 1996 when the Pope underwent surgery to have his appendix removed and TV networks swarmed the area, striking exclusive deals with the hotels and private homeowners whose buildings and balconies overlook St. Peters Square, to lock in their live shots.
And it's not just the cost of renting rooftops. Equipment sits ready to go, hotel rooms are rented out of fear that the day the "Big Story" happens, there will be no room at the inn. A decade of people waiting for him to die - that must be very comforting to His Holiness.

All of the major networks have long had their shots lined up and their rooftops secured, but the longevity and surprising vigor of the Pope throughout years of ill health ... have put some of those arrangements in jeopardy.

When CBS News arranged for its rooftop, for instance, it struck a 10-year deal, figuring that would be more than enough time to ensure a spot for the Pope's death and funeral. But that deal is set to expire next year, meaning that if the Pope pulls through his current bout with illness, CBS may be forced to renegotiate the rights at somewhat of a disadvantage, considering that it has already fully prepared the rooftop for broadcasting on the fly.
I'm sure, despite all the money invested, that the networks will show appropriate restraint when the Big Story arrives, and won't intersperse the sombre reflection with attempts to sell me frozen pizza and drugs that allow me to sustain an erection.

Perhaps I've just tapped into the reason that God keeps His Holiness alive - She entertains herself by screwing with broadcasters. Or just likes the building owners in the area:

"Some [broadcasters] have been investing for almost up to 10 years, and have spent hundreds of thousands of euros. One block of flats has earned so much that the owners have been able to restore the building thanks to the proceeds."


Sunday, February 27, 2005


Artistic freedom crippled.

CHANNEL 18 LEXINGTON KY - A George Rogers Clark High School junior arrested Tuesday for making terrorist threats told LEX 18 News Thursday that the writings that got him arrested are being taken out of context. Winchester police say William Poole, 18, was taken into custody Tuesday morning. Investigators say they discovered materials at Poole's home that outline possible acts of violence aimed at students, teachers, and police.

Poole told LEX 18 that the whole incident is a big misunderstanding. He claims that what his grandparents found in his journal and turned into police was a short story he wrote for English class. "My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Poole disputes that he was threatening anyone. "It didn't mention nobody who lives in Clark County, didn't mention (George Rogers Clark High School), didn't mention no principal or cops, nothing," said Poole. "Half the people at high school know me. They know I'm not that stupid, that crazy."

On Thursday, a judge raised Poole's bond from one to five thousand dollars after prosecutors requested it, citing the seriousness of the charge. Poole is being held at the Clark County Detention Center.


Letter to London

[The following is from a letter from the Duke of Wellington to the British Foreign Office in August 1812, written while pursing Napoleon across Spain]

Gentlemen: Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests. We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of very officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately, the sum of one shilling and nine-pence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain.

This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstances, since we are at war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall. This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government, so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains.

I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below:

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copyboys in London, or, perchance

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant,


Elite Ethnography

DOMINICK DUNNE, VANITY FAIR - For those too young to remember, Phyllis was the lead singer of the McGuire Sisters, an enormously popular and attractive trio that included her sisters w Dorothy and Christine. They started out on the Arthur Godfrey talent show in the 50s and went on to a long nightclub career. I interviewed Phyllis for the June 1989 issue of Vanity Fair; and the late, great Helmut Newton photographed her taking a bubble bath in a marble tub, wearing a fortune in diamonds and sapphires, at her extraordinary residence in the swank part of Las Vegas. . .

Phyllis and 1 hit if off from the first minute. There is a 44-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower in her living roomi as well as well as 55 bergere chairs. She has a lake with black swans in it, five gardeners, a putting green, and waterfalls that you can turn on and off. She also possesses one of the world's great collections of serious jewels and once told me that maybe a few Saudis were better: customers of Harry Winston's than she was. In 1960 she began a long romance with Sam Giancana, the notorious crime figure who shared one of his mistresses, Judith Exner, with President John F. Kennedy and was assassinated in Chicago in 1975.

The first time I went to Phyllis's house, the door was opened by a guard with a machine gun. At the push of a button; I learned, steel shutters descend to cover every window and door, turning the house into a fortress. Phyllis is a revered figure in Las Vegas.


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