Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The USA merrily greets the rest of the world with the threat of torture. Don't get involved with anti-US activities.

The secret anti-terror apparatus snaps up suspects, tortures them, and imprisons them indefinitely without trial. The Bush Administration claims "enhanced interrogation techniques" are not torture; well, don't become invited to their suspect 'hospitality'...

Perhaps 'the media is the message'
= the message is fear

Sunday, December 09, 2007


An excellent compilation by Seldes, George (1985) The Great Thoughts contains thought-provoking quotes:

"No one can possibly achieve any real and lasting success or "get rich" in business by being a conformist."
--- J Paul Getty (1892-1976), American businessman; interview, Paris Herald Tribune 10 Jan 1961

"There is no such thing as an independent press in America. I am paid for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street looking for another job. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

--- reply to the toast "An Independent Press" at Twilight Club journalists' gathering, New York City, 12 April 1893; John Swinton (1830-1901), Editor, The New York Sun

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Guantanamo is a horror

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a defilement of US law, lacking in civilized fairness and due process.

There may be some very bad 'detainees' there. But among more than 700 people who've been interred, over 400 have been released without charge, in some cases after years of isolated and stressful suffering. Only a small fraction of the remaining people are expected to be charged - nobody really knows, and nobody is in a hurry to make (or to solve) their cases. This situation is not proper.

Look yourself at
- habeas corpus
- the Geneva Conventions
- US Army Regulation 190-8
- Uniform Code of Military Justice USA
- defining the Combatant Status Review Tribunal
- The Golden Rule

The indefinite imprisonment (why call it detention simply because they haven't been charged, tried or convicted?) is now being argued as reasonable because these people are "held overseas in a country that the United States does not occupy and uses only under the terms of a lease that reserves sovereignty to the lessor — Cuba."

This is false - the USA blatantly occupies the Guantanamo territory without regard to Cuba's strenuous objections; it's a 40+ year sovereignty infringement in an area larger than Manhattan. (If Cuba supposedly has sovereignty, might Cuba decide the fate of the prisoners? Or provide palliative care or relief?) The answer is clear: no way José. Arguing these people are horribly dangerous is potentially believable; arguing that the USA does not occupy Guantanamo is a blatant lie. In fact, such knuckleheaded assertions should lead an impartial court to rule that the USA must abandon Guantanamo on Cuba's request.

Wholly disregarding law, or seeking to spin blatant lies as truth, indicates something different than partisanship, and a perversion of advocacy. This is pathogenic for society. Surely many up-and-coming people in the USA and around the world watch and learn from these knuckleheads. What is being unleashed is not good. Can't we retreat from an Age of Sham? the Thousand-Year Fraud?

In the same recent brief (US Supreme Court Nos. 06-1195 & 06-1196, Respondent's Brief; Oct. 2007), US Solicitor General Paul Clement claimed:
"The detainees now enjoy greater procedural protections and statutory rights to challenge their wartime detentions than any other captured enemy combatants in the history of war"

I'd like to believe that.
But the Solicitor General's statement is untrue.
Why "lay it on so thickly?" ...Dude...

Open the can of worms

Senate Majority Leader
Senator Harry Reid

Dear Senator Reid

I urge you to please support democracy and open government - do not allow telecom immunity. You are sure to know more about this topic than I do. But please consider:

The secrecy of the present administration and its stifling of checks-and-balances undermines our Constitution. An informed electorate is helped when facts are established in wider forums such as assorted courtrooms and Senate and Congressional hearings. This administration has ignored many Congressional subpoena. They operate unilaterally as THE STATE, although our government should be of and by the People, with other key branches of government keeping balance.

I have no sense of enmity nor wish for severe punishment of the telecoms, but I do hope for more open and sustainable government.

Prof. Bruce Henry Lambert

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"In them days..."

Time marches on... I've read media stories of people being surprised that others had never heard of the musicians "the Beatles" -- or people arguing passionately that we should work day and night to avoid any chance that World War II could occur ("!Hello!")

The first computer I bought (in 1985) had no internet access; neither did the second in 1991. In them days, that was the way it was; now it is almost unimaginable.

Time marches on.

PS- My first computer industry job was in 1979, before the mass-market PC was born, as a systems monitor for a Digital Equipment DEC PDP-11. The machine and its huge tape drives were kept away from users, behind glass in a climate-controlled room (standard in them days)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Japan Mocks Science & Research - Why?

Japan's whaling season has begun. This week a fleet of ships leaves Shimonoseki, Japan, on a five-month hunt to the South Pacific.

Mission: kill whales & deliver whale meat to Japan

Why? Research into whale population stocks is claimed. "Scientific whaling" is alleged, but the studies have been condemned for generating little useful data, via unnecessarily lethal methods.

Certainly if anthropologists studying tribes had to kill a bunch of case subjects to conduct research, we might consider it paradoxical. Yet it is that very jump to anthropomorphic comparison that gives many whaling proponents heartburn: whales are not people. (They are huge chunks of meat?)

JARPA, Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit, is soon to be expanded and extended under the vision of "Monitoring the Antarctic Ecosystem"...

Those not cetacean researchers, including me, perhaps cannot properly judge the importance of such research. Anyhow, a list of scientific papers (click here) is helpfully online at the Institute of Cetacean Research. It is an old list, dated 1998, with 134 total "scientific papers based on data and material obtained during JARPA" The list is padded: 60 of the 134 papers are marked "unpublished" (perhaps unpublishable); another 41 papers are presentations to the International Whaling Commission or reports about Japan's proposed research whaling; one scientific paper is the list itself! Suddenly an impressive looking list of 134 scientific papers becomes 31. Even that list is not wholly scientific results: 5 papers report about the research plan or its logic (e.g., Nagasaki,F,1989. The facts, "facts" and fiction of scientific whaling. Sci.Technol.Jpn 8(31),pp 36-47); another 8 papers are student theses, including 3 at BA level (some replicate other listed papers, e.g., S.Itoh's work on "Lipids of the Antarctic minke whale" was split into two publications, literally I and II, and also lists as a Ph.D. thesis). Another of the listings specifies JARPA basis as [in "Notes"], so perhaps explicitly not part of the paper. Thus, how much science came out of research whaling to that point? Surely 17 studies, plus the student studies; perhaps impressive...

Then why do it? Japan has a long history of whaling. Many people consider harvesting whales nearly the same as killing other animals such as cows or pigs for their meat. More importantly, proponents in Japan have positioned the whale hunt as a point of national pride - "we Japanese (我々日本人) shouldn't have foreigners dictating our way of life." Such meddlesome outsiders are depicted as beef-eating hypocrites.

Yet to hide the hunt behind a smokescreen as "research" belittles science. The Japanese government has taken a belligerent position that has now outraged foreign consumers who (maybe) buy Japanese products. But they managed also to insult the scientific method, and to diminish Japanese science in the eyes of the wider global community.

Japan Whaling Association - homepage

Japanese Government: Fisheries Agency
Emphasizing the "sustainable use of marine resources"

Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Shanghai Seven" didn't vote Bush!

Bridge team from USA (yes, card players) accused of sedition
Link:   Uproar Over Fact or Anti-Bush?

Some call Him ... Moloch
Truly He is a vengeful God
Burning & purging all sin & transgression

These wenches might be tarred & feathered
They could be stripped of their livelihoods
Offered bare sackcloth & ash
To expiration. Bedamned!

Or the histrionics may simply be stopped.

Alors! Alors! Shall we tear our hair?
Gnash our teeth
Call down the Lord to smite them...

Or perhaps allow a passing fact.

Or suppose, just maybe, a voting machine audit
Would find these rude bridge players
-- "The Shanghai Seven" --
Did vote for Bush
113 times.

Did they call him an weasel?
Did they call him a knave?
Did they call him horrid?

"We did not vote for Bush"
Horror of Horrors!
?! Burn them ?!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Autumn Appetite?

In Japan, the phrase Autumn appetite (食欲の秋) explains the special tastes and hungers of the Fall season. Today my sense of taste was uncommonly acute. Perhaps it is the Autumn air, perhaps it is biorhythms, or perhaps it is from taking 1200 mg of the dietary supplement Quercetin this morning.

Quercetin is a flavonoid derived from apples, berries, tea, onions, etc. presently under intense study by DARPA for the US military. It reportedly can bind to viruses and bacteria to stop them replicating, stimulating immune response (see New Scientist 2007-09-19, p.10); I got my Quercetin from Vitamin World.

Rest In Peace

It is odd how some things make a big impression.

This weekend an Australian newsreader, Charmaine Dragun, tragically threw herself from a cliff. I didn't know her, or previously know of her, but online news referenced her below article about a trip to her ancestral village in Croatia:
Dragun's search for her roots

The article vividly describes her excitement and sensory experiences.

Now she is dead, age 29.

Friday, October 05, 2007

If Only...

haiku of surprise
by Genki (RIP Rita)

Two minute warning (?!)
But life ain't the NFL -
Many die surprised.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Thousand Points of Light

In his inaugural address on 20th January 1989, President George Bush spoke of a "thousand points of light." His reference was to community organizations doing good.

But now America has another President George Bush. His "thousand points of light" are from white phosphorus weaponry in Iraq, and muzzle flashes from military snipers on supposed preemptive strikes. He and his cronies are squandering vast resources overseas, leaving little for domestic programs. But more problematic is that consistently they are misreporting key elements (why war was necessary, how long it would take, how much it would cost). They've punished 'dissidents & troublemakers' within their ranks who've reported inconvenient facts. These leaders are not simply stupid -- we are. Too few Americans recognize being hoodwinked. Shine a floodlight on their shenanigans.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunshine for Koreans

Tonight I sat at a local restaurant in central Seoul where news images on a large-screen TV silently showed of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's historic visit to Pyongyang, North Korea. I was very interested to watch so many other diners swiveled around watching the scenes of North Korea.

For the 49 million people of the South, the real lives of 23 million North Koreans can barely be imagined. But these people share language and culture, and a long history. Two Koreas, operationally distant and at-odds in recent decades, are much more alike than different, with a common background linking them together in special ways.

Reunification may be a common dream to both sides, yet it is difficult to see how such a thing might come about. In any event, this week's images of leaders from the two Koreas chatting in a common language has stirred the imagination of more than a few people.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The General Speaks

"... We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together... "
-- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ret.)
17 Jan. 1961; Farewell Presidential Address

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Holy See

After many entries here critical of politicians, it is perhaps time to be critical of those managing religion.

The Roman Catholic Church, governed by the Holy See at Vatican City, has had many ups and downs over it's history. If we shine the light of critical inquiry on what (still) goes on in the fancy palaces of the Pope, we quickly uncover much that is indefensible. That's sad, because the Church is mostly well-meaning.

In fact, the topic is still politics when dealing with the Holy See. While many believers see their Church as incapable of doing wrong, there is too much bad.

Thanks to widespread reforms, the unbeliever is no longer threatened with torture and death. The final agonies of too many people were amplified by the sight of a fat priest chanting sanctimoniously of divine pity.

Yet there are key internal reforms still wanting:

The Church is sexist: women are wholly banned from priesthood.

The Church is unscientific: key works somehow inconvenient are condemned: Copernicus (for 215 years his work was banned by the Index Librorum Prohibitorum), and Galileo (grabbed by the Inquisition, required to recant his views and all were forbidden to publish his work), etc.

There are various other areas that provide ample dissatisfaction. Declaring Meister Eckhart's work 'heresy' is one, the massive and sometimes corrupt Roman Catholic bureaucracy another. I reject teaching that the Church is a necessary mediator, and sole access to God. Some would support the revival of this Church as Holy Roman Empire. All the best to believers, but don't tread on me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Guns not butter

Guns not butter, by Genki

The high school has no music class
Our younger kids lost art
To play school sports requires cash
The poorer never start

"I can't care less" say many folk
"It's not a lot we've lost"
Get-rich-quick mirror tricks with smoke
Cheap goods in bulk near cost

A flimflam artist cheated me
His White House friends are quiet
My pension's gone; so's referee
I'm being forced to diet

Our leaders with a bit of wit
Give us the roundabout
Deny deny just don't admit
Uncertainty or doubt

My nation's got no sympathy
For stupid, slow or lame
The USA should charge a fee
To watch our growing shame

"No child left behind" has meant
We're going nowhere fast
Yes with democracy's consent
Our time on top has passed

World rankings show our sharp decline
Some titter it's a stain
But as I feed the drive-thru line
My ignorence is pain

It's "guns not butter" experts say
"Hava-gudday" to all
As dreaming proles, we've lost our way
Just bred to fight and fall.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Escalation, surge, occupation forces = dumb

Americans in their nervous Homeland have been taught to use the terms 'surge' and 'weapons of mass destruction' - alternative phrases are now forgotten.

Too few Americans have read the below story:
>>> Experiment... failed

describing the neo-con social engineering policies of Bush's government. Wow!

Another great article interviewed Gen. Jay Garner (Ret.), the first US administrator in Iraq (three week term; replaced by more radical visionaries). Readers might overlook what to me was a key point in the below article: Many Iraqi people are educated, urbane and clever. These are people exposed for years to Western ideas, many with overseas family members or education abroad. Let them build their own nation; it ain't the business of the U.S. of A.
>>> Gen. Garner interview

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Myku by Genki

Tray of coarse red foods
Lone Seoul diner, tepid soup
Floating chili oil

Carafe of water
Cool and clean, full and sweating
Absorb; Refresh; Thanks !

Remove fingernails
Enhanced interrogation
Undamaged organs

today gone wasted
was the bright tomorrow craved
by yesterday's corpse
- (derived from Kim Yai Hee)

artists share with me
new worlds perhaps mean or trite
the sound of water

Friday, September 07, 2007

Colin Powell: Cat got yer tongue?

Rats now abandon the sinking ship Bush. Many keep their mouths shut, or work to obscure mendacity and lies. Until now, Colin Powell has been quiet - might we hope he'll speak out?

Try transparency. Please.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Thanks for spurning Easy Street

On 4th April 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was already a world famous Nobel Prize winner when he delivered an important speech at Riverside Church, New York City. Rather than resting on his laurels, Dr. King spoke out - "A time comes when silence is betrayal."

He spoke about war and violence and the need to work for a better world. Forty years later his words still resonate; the same violence continues, fueled by greed and ignorance. (A year after this speech, Dr. King was murdered).

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence
full text and audio at:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cooking War Criminals

Recent awakenings among US Democrats (and others) claim they were blindsided by government assurances over Iraq and its dangers. It was clear from way back, however, that the Bush regime were peddling stinky fish.

British MP Robin Cook had just resigned as Leader of the House of Commons in protest over the planned invasion of Iraq when he delivered a well-reasoned and impassioned speech to Parliament on 17 March 2003. Cook is clear in his speech (which received a standing ovation from both sides of the House) that invading Iraq was being planned with no clear & present danger, and without multilateral agreement - Britain and the USA were embarking on an illegal war.

Here is an mp3 version of that famous speech:
Robin Cook resigns over Iraq attack plan 2003-03-17.mp3

and a transcript:
Robin Cook resignation speech

This was not a tiny voice from the fringe, but a mainstream warning against unilateralism, bullying and wielding war in doubtful circumstances (Robin Cook had been Foreign Secretary for more than four years under PM Tony Blair). Those who ignored his warnings might yet be convicted for criminal acts. The death, destruction & huge costs they've sown are tragedy for all.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Illegal Foreigners

Immigrants have a hard time in making their lives in a new nation. And immigrants have helped many nations in fundamental ways. We can celebrate the immigrant. But illegal foreigners should not be encouraged. Let's reserve the term immigrant for those who properly follow legal immigration procedures. Hiking across a border should not confer the title 'immigrant' -- an honorable word.

The United States of America confers citizenship on people born within US territory. This is the law of jus soli (also lex soli). Citizenship is granted to a child born in the USA; parent nationality or legal status is immaterial (with the exception of children born to foreign embassy or consular officials posted to the USA, or the offspring of occupying enemy soldiers).

This system should be revised. When citizenship is granted to the babies of illegal foreigners, or to the offspring of tourists or short-term visitors, great confusion arises. The parents may soon need to leave, or already illegally resident (the legal status of parents is unchanged) but the infant has a citizen's right to stay. This condition is sometimes called 'birth tourism' or having an anchor baby...

Nutty! Little American children without the right to keep their parents with them. Of course we feel something is odd & unfair.

Revision of jus soli is complex because of the US Constitution's 14th Amendment, (excerpt): "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." The law has been upheld on challenge: United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898); Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).

This anomaly can and should be fixed.

Friday, June 29, 2007

"Immigration reform" in the USA

Perhaps US immigration rules are flawed in fundamental ways. The long delay in processing spouse visas for US citizen family members is terrible. The bureaucracy of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) often seems deliberately oppressive & unfriendly. Giving citizenship under jus soli rights to children born in the US to foreign students and visitors (yet not to their parents) seems illogical -- in some ways unduly liberal, in another sense regressive.

Should foreigners be given amnesty after criminally entering the USA? I think not.

Of course they have contributed. Their illegal work has received compensation. Most are nice people. Private parties may be satisfied, but the social contract is damaged by these illegal operations.

Americans should be encouraged to invest in their communities and nation. Allowing unrestricted entry is costly. Providing services to new arrivals subtracts something from the common wealth. Perhaps future contributions by immigrants might offset many such costs. Yet who is to be "welcome in" should be a decision for the citizenry. Otherwise there is little incentive to invest in society.

Many Americans may believe that kindness and charity should guide such policies. But the world's people outnumber Americans 20 to 1. Too many to integrate. Darwinist competition and raw untrammeled dog-eat-dog capitalism grow closer with unrestricted immigration.

I know there are many nice, hardworking and friendly people everywhere in the world. But those who force their way into my home and demand feeding at my table are abusive and should be strongly discouraged.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who's the bigger Jerk?

The USA is endangering East Asia and wasting huge resources jerking around with North Korea. Why?

The US agreed many months ago to return $24 million in frozen North Korean funds they'd demanded confiscated in September 2005 due to what the USA considers irregularities.

North Korea is fundamentally irregular. They wish to be irregular (examine juche ideology to somewhat understand). They're part of the "Axis of Evil" according to President Bush.

But returning those funds was a clear condition for dismantling North Korea's nuclear program. Weeks and months have passed; numerous news reports have cited progress; but the North Koreans still don't have their money.

Now US$24 million may seem like a lot of money to you or me, but to nations it ain't much at all. The South Koreans are forced to remain on alert with 650,000 troops: the North keeps 1,000,000 troops, while US deployment in South Korea is 30,000 troops. How much does that cost? Let's be silly and make a very conservative estimate: for a US soldier, $100 each day: for South Korean soldiers (most under mandatory conscription) $10 per day; and let's say a soldier's maintenance in North Korea costs $1 each day. Thus pure costs are (3,000,000 + 6,500,000 + 1,000,000) well upward of US$10 million each day. How much damage will a nuclear accident do to East Asia? How much would military intervention cost? The USA now spends $195 million every day on the Iraq conflict. And how much are the lives of soldiers and civilians worth? The agreements were reached in so-called "Six Party Talks" requiring great coordination. A one-off $24 million is clearly cheap. But some plump jerks in Washington are stringing this along, and angering close allies in the process.

C'mon USA - you said you'd return North Korea's money. It's clearly more a matter of principle than the funds themselves. Fix it. Cough up. Don't endanger us all with dumbass brinkmanship.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Unlamented (a poem by Genki)

The lineup marches forward
Surging broken & gristly
Optimism mutilated
America's Finest
Taste distant desert sand
Final finest service.

It happened slowly; Unlamented
A tragedy. A hero.
The President himself repeats.
A loss to all who knew her
Family beyond recovering
That last understanding
of dust

LaVena Johnson
Major Gloria D. Davis
Two names, among many
Heroes. Enlisted to serve.
But systematically outmaneuvered.
Pray gone to heaven
Not lost to blackness
White bones wonder why.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Withdraw from Iraq? Don't hold your breath...

The US government is under pressure from a wide range of interests, both foreign & domestic, to withdraw military forces from Iraq. This is unlikely to happen - here's why:

The USA, with close ally Israel behind & urging them forward, needs the military bases now commandeered/occupied/rented in Iraq. Most US resources have now been withdrawn from Saudi Arabia, esp. Prince Sultan Air Base. (This gave a key victory to Osama Bin Laden -- as forcing US withdrawal from Saudi Arabia was a central focus for 9/11 terrorism, where 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian).

The new US embassy compound in Iraq will be the world's largest embassy by far. On 104 acres (42 hectare) in the heart of Baghdad, the riverside site would fit three Pentagon buildings (that building is 29 acres plus a 5 acre central plaza) - and the Pentagon is one damn big building; the US Capitol building footprint is just four acres. How many visas they plan to issue?

US claims for staying in Iraq to install democracy seem poppycock. The duly-elected lawmakers of Iraq themselves asked for a US withdrawal timetable (8 May 2007), and have been thus far ignored. As with Guantanamo and many other US bases around the world, "y'all Irakis'd best prepare 4 permanent Aw-Q-Pay-Shun."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Haiku by Genki

One skinny lawyer
Truth Quest leveraged: Gandhi
Lead by example
-- 2007-05-27 Seoul

Outside traffic sounds
4 AM; slumber beckons
Enough Now for now
-- 2007-05-27 Seoul

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Colin Powell: A Murderous Duck

Colin Powell is no longer the U.S. Secretary of State. Where is he? As Powell's deception and the multiple lies of Bush White House unravel, Powell is playing duck-and-cover. Doing a bit of charity work, trying to hunker down and wait until the day seems right for rehabilitation.

Forget it Colin. You are worse than bankrupt. You were trusted as a voice of reason and balance. Now thousands of Americans & tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead, the killing continues, and it is largely due to you. Your complicit absence with empty near quotes -- "according to statements from an associate" or "a former colleague of Powell explains" -- only compound your crimes. Months pass, taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of billions are poured into Iraq (and denied to US domestic needs), yet from you we hear only very quiet whimpers of "i didn't know..."

Yet you told the United Nations, and the entire world, "WE KNOW..." 32 times. It was baloney. You spoke also of obligations; now you duck all codes of honor.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolf at the door

The saga of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank continues. Yes there has been misunderstanding, but the underlying problem is politicization. Some of this was generated by Wolfowitz, some of it from the favoritism allowed to the US government and its stranglehold insistence on deciding who can be the World Bank President.

Many definitive statements can be seen at:

Quoting from the above report (by Bank Information Center, a 'watchdog' organization), perhaps the statements by former World Bank General Counsel Roberto Dañino are most condemnatory:
  • Dañino: "PW [Wolfowitz] acted incorrectly, not only providing the additional benefits discussed...above, but also by trying to blame the Board, the EC, the General Counsel and the VPHR (Vice President of Human Resources) when these actions became public. It is only after the inaccurate assertions of PW or his spokespersons were denied by the affected parties and when PW's express instructions in writing became public, that PW admitted he had made a mistake.
  • Dañino: "In my opinion, the matter presents not merely questions of legal compliance but also - and more importantly - questions about the moral authority of the Bank's President and the confidence he commands from the Bank's own staff and around the world. I believe that PW made serious substantive errors by providing unauthorized benefits to a person with whom he had a relationship that created a conflict of interest...He then failed to disclose these actions and later blamed them on others, apparently trying to deceive the board, the staff and the general public. He or his spokespersons falsely suggested that his actions had been approved by the Board, the EC, the GC and/or the VPHR. Later statements have charged his accusers with political motivations. In my judgment, these actions and statements have badly hurt the morale of the staff, damaged the reputation of the Bank, and eroded his moral authority to lead the Bank."

Maybe there was misunderstanding and miscommunication. But there also seems a try to steamroller underlings and summarily to stifle criticism.

At least Wolfowitz has done the world a service by highlighting the anti-democratic dimensions of how the World Bank President is appointed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Y Iraq?

Picture a nation in mourning, which had been grievously attacked. People around the world supported America's loss on 9/11 with sympathy, but many Americans responded with anger, and military enlistments soared. Soon the US military would begin a "war on terror" for justice.

Five and a half years later, many of the top planning perpetrators of 9/11 remain at large. The US leadership moved the battle to Iraq; thousands of American young people (and dozens from the Coalition of the Willing) are dead.

Those on the sidelines talk and wring their hands. Those who lost loved ones wonder deeply - just what the hell is going on?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Deadly Anomalies

War is most perverse when only a few people are involved in a life & death struggle, and others are essentially unaffected. Too many Americans contribute to supporting war merely through displaying a tacky ribbon on their automobiles...

But there are other anomalies even less explainable.

Young American men are required to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. This has been the law since 1980. The system is for "emergency manpower needs of the Military by conscripting untrained manpower, or personnel with professional health care skills, if directed by Congress and the President in a national crisis."

According to the government's website:

Registration is the law. A man who fails to register may face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison term of up to five years.

Men who aren't registered won't qualify for Federal student loans or grant programs: Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans.

Registration is a condition for U.S. citizenship if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.

The Workforce Investment Act offers programs to train men (& women) for jobs in auto mechanics and other skills;
(but for men,) only open to those who register with Selective Service.

A man must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service (required only for men born after December 31, 1959).

Some states have added additional penalties for those who fail to register.

We live in a society that demands equality. Why are women not part of the system?
We live in a democracy. But women are not directly threatened by the Selective Service or its penalties. Why not? Perhaps because if all voters needed to register for the draft, those involved might adjust the system. Only putting young men at risk is sexist, inequitable, and perhaps illegal.

Many young men detest appearing cowardly. They would serve their nation honorably. Yet allowing others to weasel away (women & Dick Cheney) is wrong. Women could proudly serve if called. This system now places us all closer to war, and closer to a draft.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

America in Iraq: A deceptive "bill of goods"

Many otherwise-clever Americans have been led to believe that the USA should "stay the course" in Iraq, because a U.S. military withdrawal would leave a dangerous and tragic vacuum.

But there are nearly 200 other nations in the world; those concerned can assist if necessary, probably in cooperation with Iraq's nearby neighbors.

Various others people of the world (also) have vested interests in Iraq. Most Americans do not.

Many Iraqi and Kurdish people detest continued American interference. Most Americans would be better served by US federal spending at home, not in far-off Iraq. Persistent violence in Iraq is killing & brutalizing far too many people. The USA never should have taken the unilateral decision to invade; the key reasons given at the time have now been accepted as erroneous.

Let's imagine a North American scenario -- the USA and Mexico are presently arguing about border security: what if a belligerent European, African or Asian nation inserted troops?
No way José.

Bring US troops home from Iraq.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


by Genki 元気

A single red rose
Graces a saké bottle
By my Chinese lunch
      -- 2006-01-23

Bohemian road
Aimless Czech discovery
Balance elusive
      -- 2006-08-07

Mountains and water
Rhythms to be listened to
Away from the crowds
      -- 2006-08-07

Ultimately one
Life is shared, I die alone
Calm, scared -- otherwise
      -- 2006-09-24

Big Italian meal
With pickles in Korea
Very far from home
      -- 2006-11-26

Lights beneath the clouds
Night glimpses from a jet plane
Hurdling the globe
      -- 2006-12-03

Twelve hours thus far
Still yet I'm folded narrow
Seat 46K
      -- 2006-12-03

Friday, February 09, 2007

Watada and Nuremberg

US Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada has been on trial -- in essence, for undermining the military. Is he guilty - most certainly! What should be his penalty? The case should be dropped. He should receive our thanks.

The government of the USA took a great and costly risk to unilaterally enter war. There actually was no clear and present danger from Iraq. The Bush administration claimed to know of weapons of mass destruction, etc.; but they did not know. They were wrong, or perhaps deliberately they lied.

Is this important? Yes.

An article by Paul Rockwell in the Baltimore Sun (1 Feb 2007) discusses this key issue (here is an excerpt):

"Under the enlistment contract, every soldier has a right, even a duty, to disobey illegal orders. The legality of Lieutenant Watada's orders pursuant to a "war of choice" is the central issue of the trial.

No American soldier has any obligation to participate in military aggression, in "crimes against peace," or in any operations that violate the Geneva Conventions. Under constitutional government, the authority of military command derives not from one person alone but from the rule of law itself.

There are only two conditions in which a war is legal under international law: when force is authorized by the U.N. Security Council, or when the use of force is an act of national self-defense and survival. Apart from these conditions, war is an act of aggression. The U.N. Charter, based on the Nuremberg Conventions, prohibits war "as an instrument of policy." And the war in Iraq is just that - a war of choice.

There is a common tendency among lawyers and military commanders to sneer at international law. But the Constitution is unambiguous. Article VI states: "All treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby."

There is no exception for the military, no wall between domestic and international law.

Lieutenant Watada reminds us that the U.S. Army Field Manual states: "Treaties relating to the law of war have a force equal to that of laws enacted by Congress. Their provisions must be observed by both military and civilian personnel with the same strict regard for both the letter and spirit of the law which is required with respect to the Constitution and statutes.""

>> full article at: http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0201-30.htm

Ultimately this is the bottom line. We say soldiers must stand up to their leaders in refusing illegal orders. Concentration camp SS guards and common soldiers were held personally responsible for atrocities. If this war is illegal, our soldiers should not be there. End of story.

Ehren Watada (和多田) grew up in Hawaii and was an Eagle Scout. He completed deployment to Korea before refusing to deploy to Iraq.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Waiting Alien

published in The Korea Herald, 2007-01-23
Op-Ed (p.13)

The Waiting Alien

Waiting in an immigration line is never pleasant. Aliens face long waits, while returning nationals pass quickly by. Waiting in line offers time to reflect; some lines are more enduring and unpleasant than others.

Where I live, in Stockholm, Sweden, the wait at immigration is never more than a minute or two; I look at the quickly-moving line for EU nationals and imagine the day not far off that I can join that line, as a dual national of the USA and Sweden. The line at Seoul's modern Incheon International Airport is much longer, and more bitter. The boundary to Korean nationality, perhaps insurmountable in my lifetime, clearly separates those coming home from us who are visitors. The boundaries of East Asian nations are often a focus of national pride, while the boundaries of the EU (and of ASEAN, and even South America), grow more flexible. With many worldwide opportunities for the highly-skilled, I patiently wait to enter Korea; perhaps I'm a fool.

Prof. Bruce Henry Lambert