August 16th, 2006

Chris Keeley

Food Not Bombs informs clients that the food has been reclaimed, and anyone who doesn't mind is welc

Diving for Dinner
Whether Motivated by Eco-Activism, Social Consciousness or Simply Scoring a Freebie, Scavenging for Groceries Gains in Popularity

By Megan Greenwell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 16, 2006; B01

Bryan Meadows's backpack lay open on the ground, bulging with bags of peanuts, a tub of chocolate-covered ginger and two loaves of bread. He tossed aside a few moldy pastries and was on his way back for more when he suddenly realized the jig was up.

"Can I ask what you're doing?" asked the Trader Joe's employee in a Hawaiian shirt.

Meadows was caught dumpster diving, though he is neither homeless nor destitute. He considers himself a "freegan" -- a melding of the words "free" and "vegan" -- meaning he tries not to contribute to what he sees as the exploitation of land, resources and animals wrought by commercial production.

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Chris Keeley

Benjamin believed he had found the omphalos of the modern city, with its erotic anonymity, its phant

Benjamin believed he had found the omphalos of the modern city, with its erotic anonymity, its phantasmagoria of fashions, its mixture of banality and enchantment.

What drugs taught Walter Benjamin.
Issue of 2006-08-21
Posted 2006-08-14

On December 18, 1927, at three-thirty in the morning, Walter Benjamin began writing a memorandum titled “Main Features of My First Impression of Hashish.” It is characteristic of Benjamin that the first fact he thought it necessary to record was not the time he had taken the drug but the time he started writing about it. Like the books he read and the streets he wandered—like life itself—hashish was important to him less for its own sake than as a subject for interpretation.

For a writer with Benjamin’s interests and allegiances, a rendezvous with hashish was inevitable. The surprising thing is that it took him until the age of thirty-five to try it. As early as 1919, he had been fascinated by Baudelaire’s “Artificial Paradises,” in which the poet issues warnings against the drug so seductive that they sound like invitations: “You know that hashish always evokes magnificent constructions of light, glorious and splendid visions, cascades of liquid gold.” Benjamin, who regarded Baudelaire as one of the central writers of the nineteenth century, admired the book’s “childlike innocence and purity,” but was disappointed in its lack of philosophical rigor, noting, “It will be necessary to repeat this attempt independently.” The notes from his first hashish trance show him holding deliberately aloof from any kind of rapture. “The gates to a world of grotesquerie seem to be opening,” he wrote. “Only, I don’t wish to enter.” According to Jean Selz, a friend with whom Benjamin smoked opium on several occasions, “Benjamin was a smoker who refused the initial blandishments of the smoke. He didn’t want to yield to it too readily, for fear of weakening his powers of observation.”

Over the next seven years, Benjamin participated in drug sessions as either subject or observer at least nine times, but his attitude toward drugs remained vigilantly experimental. He seldom took them when he was alone, and he never had his own supplier, relying on doctor friends to procure hashish, opium, and, on one occasion, mescaline. The sessions were recorded in “protocols,” furnishing raw material for what Benjamin intended to be a major book on the philosophical and psychological implications of drug use. When, in a letter to Gershom Scholem, his best friend from the age of twenty-three, Benjamin, then forty, listed four unwritten books that he considered “large-scale defeats”—evidence of the “ruin or catastrophe” that his career had become—the last was a “truly exceptional book about hashish.”

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Chris Keeley

Bill Polk"s analysis on Iran and the ME Crisis

Bill Polk"s analysis on Iran and the ME Crisis

This message from Bill Polk follows up on the analysis by Ray Close
distributed earlier.

Dear Friends,

I have just received the following remarks from Ray Close.  Ray was
for many years the CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, so one of the
most senior men in the CIA, with the rank of a four-star general,  and
a man with many years of experience all over the Middle East.  His
mother and father (who was a doctor) both taught at the American
University of Beirut, where they were friends of mine, so Ray grew up
speaking Arabic.  I don't always fully agree with his positions,  but
I certainly respect him,  his knowledge and his experience.  He is a
hard-headed realist.  So his worries about the course on which we seem
to be embarked are very disturbing.

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Chris Keeley

Polk on Iran

Subject:        Polk on Iran
Date:   Wed, 16 Aug 2006 10:59:54 EDT
From:  Ray close

Dear Keeley listers:

Bill Polk has enumerated with characteristic accuracy and depth some
extremely important points that support a rational conclusion that the
Bush administration couldn't possibly be insane enough to contemplate
seriously a military attack on Iran.  All of Bill's points are
indisputable and well known.

A couple of quick comments, however:

    1.  I sat next to General Anthony Zinni at a luncheon in Washington
in April, and asked him if he thought the administration would be crazy
enough to use military force to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities.  He
listed a dozen reasons why that action would be totally irrational (all
the reasons Bill Polk mentioned, and a few more).  Then he looked me
straight in the eye and added:  _"But these people ARE crazy, you know!"
_ (Please be very judicious about quoting that remark.  I obviously do
not have General Zinni's permission to broadcast his personal views.)

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