Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wikipedia Never Ceases to Amaze

Posted while I was typing my last note.

Presidential and government sources in Belgrade announced on Monday July 21, 2008, that Karadžić had been arrested and arraigned.[1] A statement issued by the office of President Boris Tadić said: "Radovan Karadzic was located and arrested tonight ... [and] was brought to the investigative judge of the War Crimes Court in Belgrade, in accordance with the law on cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia." Serbian security forces were credited with having located and captured Karadžić, without any further details being given of the circumstances.[14] The arrest has been confirmed by the ICTY.[15] If he is extradited to the ICTY, he would become the 44th Serb suspect to be sent to The Hague.[16] The arrest came just two days before the ICTY's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, was due to visit Serbia.[17]

Here's too Mladic

They Got the Good Doctor and Poet

Store here.

This has been a very long time coming. As I understand it, it was pretty much an open secret that the good Dr. (who published a well received book of verse just last year) was living comfortably in Serbia. Hopefully, the good Doctor has a better heart than Milosevic. It's so nice when they catch war criminals before they are eligible for retirement. RK is a sprightly 63. How long will it be to they catch Mladic?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Case Against Lawns

Clover is good. Weeds are good. Pesticides are bad. Fertilizer is unnecessary. Lawns are natural. It's cruel to mow. More here.

The greener, purer lawns that the chemical treatments made possible were, as monocultures, more vulnerable to pests, and when grubs attacked the resulting brown spot showed up like lipstick on a collar. The answer to this chemically induced problem was to apply more chemicals. As Paul Robbins reports in “Lawn People” (2007), the first pesticide popularly spread on lawns was lead arsenate, which tended to leave behind both lead and arsenic contamination. Next in line were DDT and chlordane. Once they were shown to be toxic, pesticides like diazinon and chlorpyrifos—both of which affect the nervous system—took their place. Diazinon and chlorpyrifos, too, were eventually revealed to be hazardous. (Diazinon came under scrutiny after birds started dropping dead around a recently sprayed golf course.) The insecticide carbaryl, which is marketed under the trade name Sevin, is still broadly applied to lawns. A likely human carcinogen, it has been shown to cause developmental damage in lab animals, and is toxic to—among many other organisms—tadpoles, salamanders, and honeybees. In “American Green” (2006), Ted Steinberg, a professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, compares the lawn to “a nationwide chemical experiment with homeowners as the guinea pigs.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BANNED Pres. Bush Interview

In Politics, Only, Of Course

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
-- H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Huntsville, Ontario Makes The Onion

Full story here.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm just treading water," he said. "Then I remember that a beaver near Baysville built a dam that was nearly 12 feet high. There's even one that's almost 200 feet long in Manitoba. I want to build something that I can be proud of."

This marks the third consecutive spring in which Messner has sought to build the perfect dam. Many in the area believe that Messner will fail and resort to burrowing a hole in the muddy ground where he will spend the rest of the season, as he has done the past three years.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

F*ck Farc

By FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press Writer 59 minutes ago

Ingrid Betancourt woke up, as always, at 4 a.m., for another numbing day in her seventh year of rebel captivity deep in Colombia's jungle.

The former presidential candidate listened to news of her mother and daughter over the radio then was told to pack by her guerrilla captors — helicopters were coming.

The sound always filled her with dread, but this time she and 14 other hostages — including three U.S. military contractors held since 2003 — were airlifted to freedom in an audaciously "perfect" operation involving military spies who tricked the rebels into handing over their prize hostages without firing a shot.

The stunning caper involved months of intelligence gathering, dozens of helicopters on standby and a strong dose of deceit: The rebels shoved the captives, their hands bound, onto a white unmarked MI-17 helicopter, believing they were being transferred to another guerrilla camp.

Looking at helicopter's crew, some wearing Che Guevara shirts, Betancourt reasoned they weren't aid workers, as she'd expected — but rebels.

This was just another indignity — the helicopter "had no flag, no insignia." Angry and upset, she refused a coat they offered as they told her she was going to a colder climate.

But not long after the group was airborne, Betancourt turned around and saw the local commander, alias Cesar, a man who had tormented her for four years, blindfolded and stripped naked on the floor.

Then came the unbelievable words.

"We're the national army," said one of the crewman. "You're free."

The helicopter crew were soldiers in disguise. Cesar and the other guerrilla aboard had been persuaded to hand over their pistols, then overpowered.

Not a single shot was fired in Wednesday's rescue mission, which snatched from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the four foreigners who were its greatest bargaining chips.

"The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another," Betancourt later said.

The operation, which also freed 11 Colombian soldiers and police, "will go into history for its audacity and effectiveness," Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

It was the most serious blow ever dealt to the 44-year-old FARC, which is already reeling from the recent deaths of key commanders and thousands of defections after withering pressure from Colombia's U.S.-trained and advised armed forces.

Military intelligence agents had infiltrated the FARC's top ranks — not one but many — in an operation that began last year and developed slowly and with meticulous care, Colombia's top generals said.

Many relatives of hostages have opposed rescue attempts, mindful of a botched 2003 operation in which rebels killed 10 hostages including a former defense minister when they heard helicopters approach.

This time, there were no such mistakes.

Through orders the hostages' handlers believed came from top rebels, they had maneuvered three separate groups of hostages to a rallying point in eastern Colombia's wilds for Wednesday's helicopter pickup.

"The helicopter was on the ground for 22 minutes," said army chief Gen. Mario Montoya, "the longest minutes of my life."

The agents had led Cesar, the local commander overseeing the hostages, to believe he was taking them to Alfonso Cano, the guerrillas' supreme leader to discuss a possible hostage swap.

A French and Swiss envoy were reported in the country seeking a meeting with Cano so the operation's timing was perfect.

"God, this is a miracle," Betancourt said after the freed Colombians landed in Bogota a few hours later. "It was an extraordinary symphony in which everything went perfectly."

She appeared thin but surprisingly healthy as she strode down the stairs of a military plane and held her mother in a long embrace.

A flight carrying the Americans — Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell — landed in Texas late Wednesday after being flown there directly. They were to reunite with their families and undergo tests and treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Betancourt said she will travel to France on Thursday and meet President Nicolas Sarkozy.

President Alvaro Uribe, in a celebratory news conference flanked by the freed Colombian hostages, said he isn't interested in "spilling blood" that he wants the FARC to know he seeks "a path to peace, total peace."

Although only Colombians were directly involved in the rescue, U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield said "close" American cooperation included intelligence, equipment as well as "training advice." He refused to offer details.

The two rebels overpowered will face justice, officials said. But the 58 others left behind on the ground were allowed to escape as a goodwill gesture, said Gen. Freddy Padilla, the armed forces commander.

"If I had given the order to fire on them they would almost certainly all have been killed," he said. Another 39 helicopters had been standing by, prepared to encircle the rebels and hostages if the rescue failed, Santos said.

Betancourt, 46, was abducted in February 2002. The Americans were captured a year later when their drug surveillance plane went down in rebel-held jungle. Some of the others had been held for a dozen years.

The French-Colombian Betancourt wore a floppy camouflage hat as she arrived in Bogota and hugged her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, and her husband, Juan Carlos LeCompte. Her two children and sister, Astrid, were expected to arrive early Thursday from France, where they live with her ex-husband.

Betancourt broke into tears several times — first on arrival and later at Uribe's side during the news conference.

"They used the pain of our families to pressure the entire world," she said, and appealed to the FARC to release its remaining hostages — about 700 by government count — and make peace.

"The people who stayed behind there, I forgive them," Betancourt said of her rebel captors. "Nobody is at fault."

She thanked Uribe, against whom she was running when she was kidnapped, and said he "has been a very good president."

However, she said, "I continue to aspire to serve Colombia as president."

Before leaving Paris, her son Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt called her release "the most beautiful news of my life."

Brownfield said the Americans were healthy and "very, very happy" but two suffered from the jungle malady leishmaniasis and were "looking forward to modern medical treatment."

Congratulations swarmed in for Uribe and his military from around the world, including from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had made Betancourt's liberation a priority of state.

Betancourt, a dual French national who grew up in Paris, had become a cause celebre across Europe, where scores of cities had adopted her.

Many Colombians believe the end is near for the FARC, whose ranks are filled with poor peasants resentful of government neglect but who are widely despised for their ransom and political kidnappings and reliance on cocaine trafficking.

FARC battlefield losses and widespread desertions have cut rebel numbers in half to about 9,000 as the United States has poured billions of dollars in military aid into Colombia in support of Uribe.

In March, co-founder leader Manuel Marulanda died of a reported heart attack, and two other top commanders were killed, one by a turncoat bodyguard.

Padilla said the FARC informants who had made the hostages' release possible would be rewarded not with cash but with "liberty."

"They did it so that they and their families can have a better life."

A Short History of the Most Successful Assault Rifle of All Time (Dr, Kalashnikov died penniless. The family is attempting to secure copyright.)

Also Worth Sharing; Glen Gould

Video explains the world's most important 6-sec drum loop