June 25th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Cheney's Daughter Joins Fred Thompson

Cheney's Daughter Joins Fred Thompson

Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter has joined Fred Thompson's exploratory presidential campaign committee.

According to the Weekly Standard, Elizabeth Cheney, a former top official in the State Department's Near East and South Asia department, will be joined by:


  • Mark Esper, national security adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.


  • Joel Shin, a top policy staffer for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.

    Cheney also has worked at the World Bank and as a U.S. AID officer in Poland and Hungary.

    She, Esper, Shin -- all considered hawks -- will give Thompson foreign policy advice. The informal group will hash out current foreign policy issues and make recommendations.

  • Chris Keeley

    In 1951, 1.5 million pounds of tapioca spilled into the East River when a pier holding a shipment fr

    In 1951, 1.5 million pounds of tapioca spilled into the East River when a pier holding a shipment from Brazil collapsed in the early morning hours. (The headline in The Times: “Tapioca à la East River.”)


    It wasn’t the first time that the flavorless pudding base — the powder or granular “pearls” of dried cassava root — made headlines. Before World War II, all of the tapioca that Americans consumed came from Java; once the Japanese invaded the island, the supply was cut off. The Times’s food reporters treated lists of scarce wartime ingredients like those of casualties and kept close tabs on the tapioca situation. In the meantime, General Foods came up with a substitute made from sorghum, called Minute Dessert, which The Times declared an acceptable but hardly flawless substitute. To pudding makers across America, relief came at last in 1947, when the United States began importing tapioca from Brazil. Thus the drama on the pier.

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    Chris Keeley

    Do No Harm

    Michael Moore’s documentary is an attack on the American health-care system.

    Michael Moore has teased and bullied his way to some brilliant highs in his career as a political entertainer, but he scrapes bottom in his new documentary, “Sicko.” The movie is an attack on the American health-care system, and it starts out strongly, with Moore interviewing families who have been betrayed or neglected by H.M.O.s and insurance companies. A man whose life might have been saved by a bone-marrow transplant died when he was refused “experimental” treatment. A feverish baby died when her mother, rather than taking her to a hospital run by her insurer, Kaiser Permanente, rushed her to the nearest emergency room, where they were turned away. Moore then zeroes in on the situation of three volunteer Ground Zero rescue workers, who have trouble breathing or who suffer from stress and can’t get assistance from the federal government. More baffled than angry, they soberly report on their conditions, and Moore comments that even national heroes aren’t given help by the nation. A bit later in the film, however, he presents congressional testimony suggesting that people the Administration has deemed to be national enemies—the detainees at Guantánamo Bay—are receiving good health care free. So Moore loads the Ground Zero volunteers, plus some other people who have serious health problems, into three boats in the Miami harbor. “Which way to Guantánamo Bay?” he calls out to a Coast Guard vessel, and the little flotilla sets off for Cuba. When the boats arrive outside the base, they are, of course, stonily denied entrance. 

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    Chris Keeley

    The excellent Afrigadget blog has a post up today about a man named Peter Kahugu, in Banana Hill, Ke

    The excellent Afrigadget blog has a post up today about a man named Peter Kahugu, in Banana Hill, Kenya (near Nairobi), who makes a living using his bicycle to sharpen knives for his neighbors:

    AfriGadget reporter Afromusing and I had an opportunity to interview Peter who has modified his bicycle with a belt, a set of tensioning pulleys and a grinding stone to make it a knife-sharpening machine. By kicking the bike up onto its stand and engaging a gearing system, he is able to use “leg-horsepower” to drive a grinding wheel and sharpen knives while “on the move”.


    Peter has been at this for 2 years now and he makes about Kshs 500 ( app. 10 US$) a day by riding his mobile workshop from client to client sharpening all their knives as he goes. The grinding stone he uses has lasted an astounding 2 years and he has had to replace his drive belt a couple of times but that is as simple as cutting up a long strip of rubber from an old car or bicycle tire inner tube.

    Link, with some awesome video. 

    Chris Keeley

    Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake

    I love that Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war, but when he tried to push around the little guys, the National Archive data collectors — I’m visualizing dedicated “We the People” wonky types with glasses and pocket protectors — they pushed back. 

    A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy
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    Chris Keeley

    White Cube Gallery, is getting the most attention as people line up to see Damien Hirst’s $100 milli

    White Cube Gallery, is getting the most attention as people line up to see Damien Hirst’s $100 million, platinum skull set with 8,601 diamonds. (It was still unsold as of Friday.) 

    Mr. Hirst grabbed the limelight at the auctions too. At Sotheby’s on Thursday night he became the most expensive living artist at auction when “Lullaby Spring,” a 2002 stainless-steel cabinet filled with 6,136 painted, bronze cast pills, was sold to an unidentified telephone bidder for $19.2 million.

    Frank Dunphy, Mr. Hirst’s business manager was there, reporting to him by cellphone. “Damien was blown away by the price,” said Mr. Dunphy, who would not identify the buyer. “We were betting it would go for $10 million to $20 million.”

    Just 24 hours earlier Lucian Freud had the honor of being the most expensive living artist ever sold at auction. On Wednesday night at Christie’s, a 1992 portrait of Bruce Bernard, a British photo editor who died in 2000, sold for $15.6 million. David Dawson, Mr. Freud’s longtime studio assistant and model, could be seen standing in the doorway of the sales room, also reporting on the auction from a cellphone. Once the painting was sold, he quietly slipped out.

    Neither the cabinet by Mr. Hirst nor the painting by Mr. Freud was the most expensive contemporary artwork sold last week. That honor went to Francis Bacon, whose 1978 self-portrait brought $43 million. Anthony Grant, a specialist in the contemporary art department at Sotheby’s in New York, took the winning bid. After the sale dealers said they thought the buyer was Stefan Edlis, the Chicago collector who recently sold Warhol’s “Turquoise Marilyn,” to the hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen for $80 million.

    Tobias Meyer, director of Sotheby’s contemporary art worldwide, said the Hirst and the Bacon “sit outside the market because they can’t be replaced.”