March 12th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Blackwater: superbly researched indictment of America's hired killers

Blackwater: superbly researched indictment of America's hired killers

Jeremy Scahill's brave and outraged "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" renders the story of the Blackwater mercenary group, and other mercenary groups that have seized the economic opportunities opened by the Bush regime's willingness to offer no-bid contracts and no-liability opportunities to fight America's wars. Backwater -- founded by ultra-right-wing Christian conservatives -- hires Pinochet-era Chilean war-criminals, ex-law-enforcement types and former military, and others to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan -- and in America. They can and do murder civilians with impunity, they line their pockets with cost-plus multi-billion-dollar military expenditures, and they kill their own men -- and the American soldiers they are supposed to be helping -- through corner-cutting profiteering.

Scarier still is their deployment on US soil, as with the Katrina disaster, where Blackwater took in millions for shoveling armed men and automatic weapons into the stricken city of New Orleans, where food and health care were impossible to come by but where there was no shortage of ammunition.

Scahill's book is incredibly, even mind-numbingly well-researched and documented. Framed around the gruesome, vile murder of four of Blackwater's mercs in Fallujah (Scahill shows that Blackwater sent them to their deaths by skimping on security, support, and intelligence), Scahill works from primary sources, Congressional testimony, on-the-ground reporters, and a wide variety of corroborating evidence to build the case against using hired killers to support American military objectives. Link 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1560259795/downandoutint-20

Chris Keeley

Report from new Mark Ryden show

Report from new Mark Ryden show

Roq La Rue gallery owner Kirsten Anderson attended the opening for Mark Ryden's new art exhibition, "The Tree Show" at the Michael Kohn Gallery.
Picture 8-11 The entire show is woodland themed. Everything has the same mystical creepy-cute, child's nightmare vibe that is Ryden's trademark, but the girls and assorted beings in this show have a new intensity to them, even more than the Blood show. There were 8-9 large paintings (including the largest one which went for $800,000!) and a large sculpture of a treee with a antler headed baby inside it. In the next room were an array of drawing and paintings studies, plus random ephemera including a large display case full of Ryden's inspirations, toy trees, babies, lumberjack books, toy trains, creepy bunnies...The front windows of the gallery were fully dressed and had a diorama of a wooded scene full of aforementioned ephemera and a large Abe Lincoln figure. It was fabulous.
Link 

http://thataintart.blogspot.com/2007/03/ryden-report.html

Chris Keeley

Linux developer Hans Reiser charged with murder

Linux developer Hans Reiser charged with murder

An Oakland, CA judge today ruled that Linux programmer Hans Reiser will stand trial on charges that he murdered his estranged wife, 31-year-old Nina Reiser, who's been missing for six months. Hans Reiser, 43, is the founder of Namesys, and invented the ReiserFS Linux file system.
Nina and Hans Reiser had been separated for nearly two years when she disappeared on Sept. 3rd. She was last seen at the home Reiser shared with his mother in the Montclair area of Oakland. Her van turned up five days later, abandoned on a quiet residential street two miles from Reiser's home.

Though no body has been found, Reiser was arrested Oct. 10 after the Oakland Police Department found small drops of blood in his house and on his Honda CRX. DNA testing tied the blood to Nina Reiser.

(...)The judge also noted that Reiser bought a book titled Masterpieces of Murder soon after the disappearance. She found there was sufficient evidence to make him stand trial for murder.

"It's sort of a downer," [Reiser's lawyer William DuBois] concluded as his client was shackled and led from the courtroom.

Link to Wired News story by Joshua Davis. See also this earlier story on Hans Reiser's plans to sell his company.


More...

Chris Keeley

Verdicts

by Jeffrey Toobin

It took a jury ten days of deliberations to find I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Jr., the former chief of staff for Vice-President Dick Cheney, guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal investigators. On one level, it’s hard to say why it took so long, because the evidence against Libby was both straightforward and overwhelming. The central issue in the case was how Libby learned that Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of the diplomat turned Bush critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the C.I.A. Libby testified repeatedly that he had first been informed of her status in a telephone conversation with Tim Russert, the NBC newsman. But Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, called five witnesses, all of them former executive-branch colleagues of Libby’s, who said that they had each separately discussed Valerie Wilson’s employment with the defendant. In the capstone to the government’s case, Russert testified that he did not tell Libby that Wilson worked at the C.I.A., because, at the time of their phone call, he did not know it. It’s one thing to claim a faulty memory, as Libby did, through his lawyers, at the trial. It’s quite another to concoct an imaginary conversation, as the jury ultimately decided that Libby had done. But, if the evidence was so strong, why did the jury find the case so difficult?

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Chris Keeley

Syrian Ambassador's Article on U.S.-Syrian Relations

Syrian Ambassador's Article on U.S.-Syrian Relations
Date:   Sun, 11 Mar 2007 22:51:04 -0400
From:   Imad Moustapha 
@syrembassy.net

Dear Friends,
Attached is an article I have just published in the latest issue of
the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs with the title:
U.S.-Syrian Relations: The Untold Story and the Road Ahead

All the best,

--
Imad Moustapha, Ph.D.
Ambassador of Syria to the USA

Embassy of Syria
2215 Wyoming Avenue NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: (202) 588 70 13
Fax: (202) 234 95 48


U.S.-Syrian Relations: The Untold Story and the Road Ahead
By Ambassador Imad Moustapha


It is no secret that Syrian-American relations have been quite strained,
to say the least, for some time now. Initial talks of a U.S. invasion of
Iraq sparked the first signs of tension with Syria’s fierce opposition
to such a plan. While we were Saddam Hussain’s arch-enemies, the notion
of infringing on another country’s sovereignty to dispose of its leader
based on dubious, or even fabricated, pretexts was unacceptable to
us—and should have been for everyone else. Besides, we were absolutely
convinced that any foreign occupation is a perilous concept that will
create serious problems and yield grave consequences.

Consequently, relations between both countries continued to spiral
toward diplomatic stalemate. Nonetheless, while the administration and,
for a while, Congress refused to engage or listen to what we had to say,
the so-called “rational center” (academia, think tanks, the media, and
thoughtful American citizens) were eager to hear from us and advocate
engagement with Syria.

Although the paradigm concerning Syria has shifted drastically in the
past few months, it is important to review the events that led to the
current deadlock and share a side of the story that has yet to be revealed…

Syria’s Untold Side of the Story
Relations between the U.S. and Syria were not always this strained.
Syria was one of the first countries to condemn the atrocious terrorist
attacks of 9/11 and approached the U.S. with intelligence on
al-Qaeda—which, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell in a letter
addressed to Congress, was “actionable information” that “helped save
American lives.”

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Chris Keeley

Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment at Labor Arts. "..

Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment at Labor Arts. "...This indelible work of visual and social history confirms Dorothea Lange’s stature as one of the twentieth century’s greatest American photographers. Presenting 119 images originally censored by the U.S. Army—the majority of which have never been published—Impounded evokes the horror of a community uprooted in the early 1940s and the stark reality of the internment camps. 

http://www.laborarts.org/exhibits/impounded/

Chris Keeley

Buste de Femme

Buste de Femme

 

And Now, the Fee to Be Drug-Free

Courtney Love is apparently drug-free these days, so as a result of her efforts to stay clean a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ended her probation and dismissed three misdemeanor cases against her. A small problem remains, though, according to the Beau Monde center, where Ms. Love spent a few months in drug rehabilitation in 2005: she has not yet paid the bill. The posh oceanfront retreat in Newport Beach, Calif., is suing, citing an unpaid bill of more than $180,000, The Associated Press reported.

 

Chris Keeley

Beirut drive-by

Beirut drive-by

The winner of this year's World Press Photo Award is a picture taken by US photographer Spencer Platt on 15 August 2006 - the first day of the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah - in a bombed-out street of South Beirut.

World Press Photo of the Year_745x345x90.jpg

It is a tremendous image, adding fault lines and divisions to those imposed by borders and wars. A kaleidoscope of meaning buried by the rubble. The comfortable and the not-so-comfortable heading off in different directions. Sunglasses, naked shoulders and an immaculate white T-shirt. Distance, safety, exposure and removal. So unflinching in its glamour. So softcore as warporn. Drive-by tourism, the spectacle is made real by a texting hand and the camera of a media man. A cloud of dust above the shiny red car. As spotless as blood. They head home.

Chris Keeley

Preparing the meal (2007)

Preparing the meal (2007)

cartola.jpg

By Nicola Verlato, currently on show at the Fabio Paris Art Gallery in brescia, Italy. The exhibition blurb reads:

"More is more: so, in the primordial soup the tornado – which is at once compositional stratagem, narrative element and metaphor for an art form (contemporary art), in which, like the artist says, “high and low, culture and trivia, present and distant past are thrown together by a torrent of energy which overwhelms everything in its path” – gives birth, you can encounter all the elements of the spiritual history of America. Burlesque – represented by a tribute to its queen, the artist Julie Atlas Muz (incarnation of “the darkest form of femininity, potent and destructive, but also a harbinger of new orders”), who is currently exhibiting with Jeffrey Deitch – stands alongside landscapes of the American midwest, which are in turn mediated as much
Chris Keeley

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky


On the occasion of a major retrospective at Munich's Haus der Kunst, German art magazine Art features a long article about Andreas Gursky, available for download as a pdf file. Needless to say, it's in German, but it's well worth the download because of the fine selection of his latest, utterly impressive photography.

Chris Keeley

Why 'Soft Partition' of Iraq Won't Work

*Why 'Soft Partition' of Iraq Won't Work**
Most Iraqis wish their country to remain unified.*

12 March 2007  --  The Christian Science Monitor
By Joost Hiltermann

[Joost Hiltermann is deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa
program of the International Crisis Group. He is based in Amman, Jordan.]

In the escalating debate over the US role in Iraq, the latest panacea on
offer is an option called "soft partition." However, like "hard" partition
(Iraq's breakup) and a military surge, this proposal will fail in its goal
to create a new and stable modus vivendi in Iraq.

Soft partition prescribes a weak Iraqi central government; three or four
strong regional governments; and the physical separation, with US help, of
Iraq's three major ethnic and religious groups: Kurds, Shiites, and Sunni
Arabs. They each would receive a proportionate share of royalties from oil
sales. Thus Sunni Arabs, most of whom are residents of oil-poor regions,
would still be guaranteed 20 percent of oil income, since they make up
about 20 percent of Iraq's population.

Soft-partition proponents argue that a loose federation along these lines
reflects reality - that Iraq cannot be kept together as a central state,
given the hostility among groups and their attempts at sectarian
cleansing. And, say advocates, the proposal is not an American imposition
but an Iraqi idea enshrined in the new Constitution.
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Chris Keeley

Why would any rational person listen to Robert Kagan?

Why would any rational person listen to Robert Kagan?
Glenn Greenwald

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/03/11/kagan/index.html
<http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/03/11/kagan/index.html?source=email>

unday March 11, 2007 12:02 EST

Why would any rational person listen to Robert Kagan?

(updated below)

Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan -- whose brother, Frederick, is the architect of the President's "surge" plan -- has a column in the Post this morning predictably assuring us that the surge is a great success. The headline is "The 'Surge' is Succeeding," and you already know what it says without reading it. The Evil Media has claimed the war is lost. But now it is clear that they are wrong. We sent more troops, the Great Gen. Petraeus has arrived, stores have re-opened, and Pajama Media bloggers Mohammed and Omar say things are getting better. Thus, Kagan says, there "is a new chapter in the story."

No rational person would believe a word Robert Kagan says about anything. He has been spewing out one falsehood after the next for the last four years in order to blind Americans about the real state of affairs concerning the invasion which he and his comrade and writing partner, Bill Kristol, did as much as anyone else to sell to the American public.

In April, 2003, Kagan declared the war over and said we won. Since then, he has continuously claimed that things were getting better in Iraq. He is completely liberated from any obligation to tell the truth and is a highly destructive propagandist whose public record of commentary about Iraq ought to disqualify him from decent company, let alone some sort of pretense to expertise about this war.

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