Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Thursday, February 21, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Another Porto Alegre review

From Protest to Politics: a long review of this year's World Social Forum.

There was general agreement that the time had come to reposition the movement in affirmative terms--moving from a stance of exposing and protesting to proposing alternatives and solutions. "We are labeled as anti, anti, anti," said Public Citizen's Lori Wallach. "We need to change that perception. It's they who are anti. We are a movement for democracy. For equity. For the environment. For health. They are for a failed status quo." She joked, "You can see I've got who we are down to about fifty words. Now we've got to get it down to bumper-sticker size."

There was also recognition that after the bloody confrontations in Genoa, and certainly after the World Trade Center attacks, the movement could no longer afford any ambiguity about its stance on violence. "Too often we get dragged into a swamp debating what is euphemistically called 'diversity of tactics,'" said one European environmentalist. "Now we need to speak up and say clearly that violence, as a political tactic, just doesn't work either in the United States or in Europe."

The Bush-Lay Letters

The Smoking Gun has a collection of letters exchanged between Ken Lay and George W. Bush during his term as Governor of Texas. [via Moon Farmer]

Jeff Noon's new project

Jeff Noon's still keeping busy. Mappalujo is an online project he's working on with Steve Beard, something he describes as a writing game. The first 5 of 25 chapters are online so far. [via Blue Ruin]

Media Player phones home

Microsoft Media Player Logs Choices: It seems Media Player 8 logs songs and movies that are played with it and sends the information back to Microsoft. [via the null device]

Cloning patent brawl

Firms Fight over Lucrative Patent Rights to Animal Cloning

One company says Dolly the sheep, as most assume, was the first cloned animal. But another insists that its handiwork, Gene the cow, was the original.

A third firm, Worcester-based Advanced Cell Technology Inc., calls the debate irrelevant because its creations, cow clones George and Charlie, won the company the key U.S. patent to animal cloning.

George and Charlie and Dolly and Gene have given rise to a barnyard squabble between the three companies, culminating in a legal clash over ownership of the animal cloning patent and the potentially lucrative business it could bring.

See also:

[via bottomquark]

Nope, we wouldn't lie

Pentagon makes 'war on terror' u-turn

The plans to spread so-called "black" propaganda emerged earlier this week after the Pentagon hired an outside agency to help target countries friendly to the US as well as hostile nations.

But the Pentagon has been forced into a humiliating climb-down following a backlash in America and elsewhere.

"Consistent with defence department policy, under no circumstances will the office or its contractors willingly or deliberately disseminate false or misleading information to the American or foreign media or public," the Pentagon said in a statement to the New York Times.

Of course, this could be a planted story.

See also: Rumsfeld's interview in Salt Lake City:

Q: Mr. Secretary, there have been reports about the Office of Strategic Influence. Can you give us your comments about whether the Pentagon should be issuing disinformation to foreign press, and any comments?

Rumsfeld: Well, the Pentagon is not issuing disinformation to the foreign press or any other press.

Q: Will they be?

Rumsfeld: No. The United States of America has long had policies with respect to public information, and we have policies where certainly we make a practice of assuring that what we tell the public is accurate and correct. And if in any event somebody happens to be misinformed and say something that's not correct, they correct that at the earliest opportunity.

Columbian peace process over

Colombian president vows to retake rebel land:

The Colombian president, Andres Pastrana, has declared his country's three-year-old peace process over and vowed to retake the jungle territory he had granted to rebels as a site for talks.

Mr Pastrana made the announcement in a televised address last night, hours after guerrillas hijacked an airliner and kidnapped Senator Jorge Gechen Turbay, president of the Colombian Senate's peace commission, who was travelling on the flight. The remaining 29 passengers and crew were freed unharmed.

"Today the glass of indignation spilled over," Mr Pastrana said. Calling the hijacking "an international offence classified as terrorism" he added: "It's not possible to sign agreements on one side while putting guns to the heads of innocent people on the other."

Additional military aid from the U.S. for combating the rebels couldn't have anything to do with the decision, I'm sure.

Now fold it here...

Origami Astronomy: The Art and Science of a Giant Folding Space Telescope

Robert J. Lang is respected in the art community for folding a mean swan. He's written a half-dozen books on how to make paper airplanes, ants and animals. An admirer called one of his works "arguably the best moose design ever."

In engineering circles, Lang is known as a guy who can figure the best way to stow a car's airbag.

He's also the one they call when they realize that the 100-meter diameter sheet of plastic, part of The Eyeglass Space Telescope, has to fit into a 3x5 meter hole, without permanent creases. [via 2020 Hindsight]

Dealing with the axis of evil

A discreet way of doing business with Iraq: a November, 2000 article on how U.S. oil companies are doing business with Iraq.

Millions of dollars of US oil business with Iraq are being channelled discreetly through European and other companies, in a practice that has highlighted the double standards now dominating relations between Baghdad and Washington after a decade of crippling sanctions.


Halliburton, the largest US oil services company, is among a significant number of US companies that have sold oil industry equipment to Iraq since the UN relaxed sanctions two years ago.

From 1995 until August this year Halliburton's chief executive officer was Dick Cheney, US secretary of defence during the Gulf war and now Republican vice-presidential running mate of George W.Bush.

[via Doc Searls]

Ivory-billed woodpecker

Searchers Say Rare Woodpecker Was Possibly Heard, if Not Seen: birdwatchers who spent a month in a Louisiana forest looking for the ivory-billed woodpecker didn't see it, but they think they heard it and have it on tape. The searchers were following a tip from a student who claims he saw a pair of the birds in 1999.

On Jan. 27, at 3:30 p.m., four of the six members of the search team, in an undisclosed spot in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area near Slidell, La., heard a series of double raps characteristic of the drumming of the ivory-billed woodpecker. They managed to record the last double-rap of the sequence and some subsequent rapping.

On the same day, members of a Cornell Lab of Ornithology research group heard a similar sound in the same area, and two days later, other members of the team heard loud rapping uncharacteristic of other woodpeckers.

Afghanistan heading back to anarchy?

C.I.A. Warns That Afghan Factions May Bring Chaos: feuds between rival warlords are ramping up and could put Afghanistan back into civil war.

The C.I.A. report does not conclude that a civil war is imminent. But the slow pace of the efforts to set up a police and military force has been of particular concern because of Afghanistan's longstanding ethnic rivalries and the difficulties the interim Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, has had in trying to assert his control over the country, much of which remains in the hands of warlords.

"If it takes six months or more than a year to create a single army, what do we do in the meantime to deter war among the warlords?" a senior official said.

Military gap

The insanity of Europe's farewell to arms

Here is the war of the future. The United States fights. The United Nations feeds. The European Union picks up the tab for postwar "nationbuilding". And Nato? Indispensable, of course. As ... er ... "the only alliance capable of articulating the values of the way we live". An attendant lord, there to swell a pageant, but no longer at the cutting edge of Western power.

Strategic influence

US well versed in 'black arts': on the use of lies in wartime.

Quest put to use

Station astronauts used the new Quest airlock for the first time yesterday.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley