Archive for January, 2009

War Against Pakistan Continues



The inauguration of Barak Hussein Obama did nothing to stem the tide of “drone” missles into Pakistan. As usual, the CIA claimed that the missiles killed senior operatives in “al Queda” while  subsequent reports from independent humanitarian organizations confirm that they killed a bunch of children and their families. Juan Cole does a great job of summing it up:

Bombing Pakistan unilaterally is illegal in international law where Pakistan has not attacked the United States or where there is no United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing such an attack. Please see the Charter of the United Nations, to which the US is a signatory. If the US had a formal treaty with Pakistan, signed off by the legislatures of the two countries, that permitted hot pursuit of militants from Afghan territory, that would bestow a basic legality on it. But the only warrant for the US to shoot Hellfire missiles into Pakistan and kill Pakistani women and children along with militants, is the Bush Doctrine, which I want to be abolished and which I had understood Obama and his team to object to, as well. Contravening US treaty obligations and international law is a war crime.”

And, we’d save money. Each of those drones must cost at least$20 million, and they’re only serving to stir up more hostility. If we really want Osama Bin Laden to be elected President of Nuclear Pakistan, we should keep bombing innocent civilians. He lives there, you know.

Waiting for it.


Living in Carbondale, there was no getting around meeting up with Lillian Adams, who just died at age 96. She was a fixture, an icon, and a protector of the weak in the region for six decades. Lillian was an activist in various causes for human rights and social restructuring starting way back in the 1930s. She never let up. She was always a protector of the powerless everywhere, any way that she could.

Like many, Lillian seemed to have stretched her life to witness certain milestones. Several studies have documented the fragmented nature of the timing of death around holidays, birthdays, and other special events. She really wanted to see Barak Obama inaugurated as President of the United States. And, she did.


From the So. Ill:

“Lillian Adams’ voice has been stilled.

Adams, 96, died Saturday at her Carbondale home after a remarkable life as an activist for social justice, peace, civil liberties and women’s rights, to name just a few of the causes she embraced.

Though in failing health, Adams insisted on watching TV coverage of President Barack Obama’s inauguration last Tuesday. Family said she repeatedly whispered, “Astonishing, astonishing” at seeing Obama, the man she had supported since his first campaign for the U.S. Senate, sworn in as president.

A search of The Southern’s archives reveals letters from Lillian Adams on dozens of issues. Her first Letter to the Editor, written shortly after World War II ended, upheld the right of a communist speaker to speak on the steps of the Murphysboro courthouse.

Chinese Management Compensation


While unlike most Iranians, Rednecks, Americans, or other uncivilized folk, I oppose the use of capital force by the State. Still, I have to applaud the willingness of the Chinese to punish corporate criminals. It’d be nice to at least have some long prison sentences for ours over here, eh?

Death Sentences in Chinese Milk Case Published: January 22, 2009

BEIJING — Chinese courts sentenced two men to death on Thursday for endangering public safety in a tainted milk scandal that killed at least six children, according to state-run news media.

Three other defendants, including a top dairy company executive, were sentenced to life in prison, another defendant received a suspended death sentence, and 15 others were given jail terms ranging from two to 15 years.

The sentences were the first to be handed down in one of the worst food safety scandals in China in decades.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Shijiazhuang, in the northern province of Hebei, said the defendants had intentionally produced or sold dairy products laced with a toxic chemical called melamine, which was used to artificially increase protein readings but which caused kidney stones and other ailments in about 300,000 children last year.

Among those to receive the death penalty was Zhang Yujun, a dairy middleman whom the government called one of the “principal criminals” in the scandal. He was convicted of selling 600 tons of melamine-tainted “protein powder” to dairy companies.

Another dairy producer, Geng Jinpin, was also sentenced to death. A third man, Gao Junjie, received the death penalty with a two-year reprieve, which means he could be spared execution.

Tian Wenhua, the 66-year-old former chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, one of China’s largest dairy companies, was sentenced to life in prison for her failure to stop producing and selling the tainted goods even after her company learned the products were flawed.

Ms. Tian was the highest-ranking corporate executive to have been brought to trial in the scandal. She pled guilty in December to charges that she had acted improperly in the case and was also fined about $3 million. All the deaths in the milk scandal so far have been linked to Sanlu, which was found to have sold the milk products with the highest concentrations of melamine.

Sociologist Crashes Airliner into the Hudson



I know who did this. It’s gotta be him. Barry Kosmin. I was having dinner with Barry, Ariela Keysar, and Ryan Cragun last night at a really nice restaurant in Hartford. We were finishing up a long set of sessions working on Barry and Ariela’s American Religious Identification Survey data, and over dinner the conversation began to turn to overreactive policy formation in defense contracting and public safety. The flow of the unanimous (at least at our table) critique was similar to the logic in Kuran and Sunstein’s work on the influence of  false information cascades. Barry went on a quite righteous rant about the highly ritualized and completely worthless sets of safety procedures we endure on each flight. Explaining how to put on a seat belt, and where the lifejackets are and how to use your seat as a flotation device. If you’ve never met him, try to imagine Barry’s staccato British intonation for the Kosmin quote: “Have you ever seen anyone use those stupid little rubber ramps in a real airplane crash? Or those ridiculous yellow vests you’re supposed to blow up with your mouth after a plane crash? It just doesn’t happen. I want to see it happen!” It was classic Barry Kosmin. He was hilarious. Spot on. Totally correct. Yep. It was him. Probably used a rocket launcher from his old office at CUNY….

I can’t stand Juan Cole



Every day, I slip through my news links and the favorites menu comes up. There he is. With his new picture. I liked his longer curly hair better. I click on something else. Maybe Susie Bright. I don’t want to know. I really don’t. Isn’t there something unimportant I can read about? Not there. Not with that guy. Especially not now.

I don’t know Juan Cole, but we corresponded in the process of him making a wonderful contribution to Review of Religious Research when I was editor. Cole was being screwed over by religious wackjobs, and had been rejected at several journals for a paper examining fundamentalism in Ba’hai. All the “experts” were also devotees, and they didn’t want to hear what Cole had to say, and Cole’s points were all on target.

I don’t want to hear what Cole has to say either. I can’t take it. I can’t imagine how he manages to report on the horrors of the contemporary Middle East.  A lot of the time, I can only read about half of what he writes, and then I have to look away. Now is one of those times.

I understand that most Americans watch that Tee Vee and stuff. I sure wish someone like Juan Cole was on the TV every night, telling people about what is really going on in the world, and maybe why. I feel ashamed not clicking on his site, what kind of person doesn’t want to know? Then, when I do, I wish I never knew. As painful as he is, Juan Cole is the most important source of information on the Middle East in the Anglo-world.

It’s time for the US to become more isolationist, particularly by eliminating all military aid to all nations and entities, and prohibiting the sale of all military equipment from US firms to foreign entities.  Just doing that will not only satisfy the true will of the American people, but it will make sure that nobody is bombing children with phosphorus bombs made in and paid for by the USA.

It’s what the world is fighting for….

From the Moguls to the Rooskies to the Crusaders....

From the Moguls to the Rooskies to the Crusaders....

 This is what it’s all about, baby. The Surge in Afghanistan. I mean, why else? Weed? We grow better weed in the US. Heroin? How many supermodels do you think there are? Osama Bin Laden? He lives in Pakistan, and will probably be elected President next year if we keep bombing weddings. Afganistanization used to be a negative term in foreign policy circles in the 1950s and 1960s. It denoted a policy orientation which would wind up with no positive outcomes, and  much pain. Afghanistan is, well, shit, a worthless wasteland. It is also home to a bunch of warring   tribes of sheep herders. But, they have really purty sheep. No, this has to be the answer, the Afghan sheep. It’s the sheep. Damn, I can feel the surge coming.

Take it away Jeff…