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Project Censored has published a list of the top 25 news stories you didn't hear of in the mainstream media:
1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
11 Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed
14 Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US
18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
24 Cheney's Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year
(via Boing Boing)
The 9/11 films are coming; Oliver Stone (best known for the steaming turd that was Alexander) is working on one, and now there's one about Flight 93. It's going to be a Working Title film, so perhaps they'll have Hugh Grant doing a cameo as Tony Blair or something. No word on whether either Jerry Bruckheimer or the Independence Day guy is going to do a 9/11-themed gung-ho patriotic thriller.
There should be 9/11 movie drinking game. Drink one shot for each scene with a US flag. Drain the bottle for footage of an eagle soaring against a blue sky.
Who said it: Little Green Footballs or Late German Fascist? See if you can tell your warbloggers from your Nazis. (via Ben Butler)
(Re Godwin's Law: Is it still mentioning Nazis in vain when it's about someone calling for mass sterilisation of "subhuman vermin", as opposed to advocating their text editor preferences or whatever?)
Art Spiegelman, the author of Holocaust graphic novel Maus, has tackled September 11:
"The work is on my feelings towards the hijacking and then the hijacking of the hijacking by the Government. I'm not so sure The New Yorker is being complacent. I'm sure I'd be welcomed back once I had found the right medication."
Spiegelman's new book is sure to cause as much, if not more, ruckus as MAUS. It depicts a government out of control, or, more chillingly, totally in control. "They had an agenda already on their mind before September 11," he says. "Drying up funds for health and education and moving the funds upward to the rich, all made more implementable by the war in Iraq."
Tonight I went to the cinema to see Master and Commander, Peter Weir's film depicting naval battles between a heroic British crew and dastardly French privateers in the oceans around South America. Visually, it was quite spectacular, with impressive sets, locations and effects. The story was the usual boy's-own adventure on the high seas. Interestingly enough, the music was composed by one Iva Davies (the lead singer of 80s Australian-rock band Icehouse, and best known for not wearing underpants); it consisted mostly of chamberish pieces. There were also some sequences in the film with the captain (played by Russell Crowe) playing (and almost rocking out on) a violin; I wonder whether he'll incorporate his violin lessons into the next TOFOG album.
(Something else to think about: would Master and Commander, a film in which the British Navy are heroic and the French are snivelling villains (not all that far removed, morally, from the craven, effete redcoats in The Patriot), have been made before 9/11? Could it be the trade-off for films like Fight Club and Starship Troopers (not to mention the two Che Guevara biopics Hollywood had on the drawing board on 10/9/2001), which would not get the green light these days? My hypothesis is that, on September 10, Middle America saw the British Empire as evil colonial oppressors; after September 11, the British Empire became a projection of contemporary America/McWorld, a force for good through superior firepower; sort of the way that the Star Trek Federation was. Discuss.)
Jimmy Cauty's follow-up to his Queen-in-a-gas-mask postage stamp: images of Big Ben exploding like the World Trade Center, labelled "5-11" after the date of Guy Fawkes' Day. The images have triggered widespread public outrage on behalf of 9/11 victims:
Gareth Glover, who helped set up the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund, told the Brighton Argus newspaper: "The images are very cheap and highly insensitive. In my opinion they should be treated with the contempt they deserve."
Cauty's defense is that the images are Tackling Uncomfortable Issues.
Mr Cauty said: "Any uncomfortable reaction to this new artwork may reflect the proximity of the subject. If Blacksmoke 5-11 depicted the government buildings in Baghdad or Kabul, would we pay attention? The war on terrorism starts here."
I wonder what the outraged citizens make of all those computer-generated animations of Big Ben blowing up that were all the rage in action films some years earlier.
(A word of advice to Mr. Cauty: if you wish to avoid public outrage, spraypaint your art pseudonymously on a wall. Nobody expects Banksy to steer away from subject matter verging on the obnoxious (i.e., his stencil of Auschwitz victims wearing lipstick). Come to think of it, could Banksy and Jimmy Cauty be one and the same? The Queen-in-a-gas-mask piece did look somewhat Banksyesque.)
20 unanswered questions about 9/11; from who shorted airline stock on September 10, 2001, and why Pentagon officials cancelled commercial air travel plans before September 11, to whether the 19 men named as the hijackers were in fact the actual hijackers, and the EPA's cover-up of toxins released after the WTC collapse (which could probably be said to be just standard Bush-era environmental policy).
After 9/11, gun-toting libertarian and rampaging egomaniac hacker Eric S. Raymond, who maintains the Jargon File fell in with the neo-conservative warbloggers; and now, he's taking the Jargon File along for the ride. The latest edition has entries for bullethead coinages such as "anti-idiotarianism" and "fisking"; and the definition of "hacker politics" has been revised to "Formerly vaguely liberal-moderate, more recently moderate-to-neoconservative", with the proviso that "hackers too were affected by the collapse of socialism".
blogosphere (n): The totality of all blogs. A culture heavily overlapping with but not coincident with hackerdom; a few of its key coinages (blogrolling, fisking, anti-idiotarianism) are recorded in this lexicon for flavor. Bloggers often divide themselves into warbloggers and techbloggers. The techbloggers write about technology and technology policy, while the warbloggers are more politically focused and tend to be preoccupied with U.S. and world response to the post-9/11 war against terrorism.
Ah yes, the "blogging was born on 9/11" myth. (via NtK)
While opinion of American politicians has never been lower in Britain, American comedians are doing very well; well, the more liberal ones like Rich "Otis Lee Crenshaw" Hall (whose act includes a song titled "Let's Get Together And Kill George Bush", whose irony would be lost on the typical middle-American audience).
Conversely, some jokes are now acceptable in America that would never be permissible in a mainstream British comedy club. "Why are there no Muslims on Star Trek?" Hall heard one American comic ask. "Because it's set in the future." "It's a very heavy joke, laced with blanket hatred. I disagree with that, but you can do that. You can get away with that in America, because the basic mindset of most Americans is that we're at war with the Muslims, and that really bothers me."
I seem to recall that there weren't many Christian Fundamentalists on Star Trek either (which would make its secular, vaguely multilateralist future, profoundly un-American, if some polls are to be believed). Though I recall that there were religious Jews on Babylon 5.
Meanwhile, British hip-hop comic Ali G has fallen flat on his face in America, partly due to an inopportune joke about 9/11; and partly because the idea of a white gangsta news anchor isn't that much weirder than some of the things sincerely on US cable TV.
Anyway, apparently Rich Hall is doing some gigs at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. I saw him a few years ago, and can say that he's well worth seeing.
Surprise, surprise: after September 11, a number of Hollywood films which had been made were shelved as unpatriotic. These films included those which projected negative images of the US military.
And then there were not one but two Che Guevara biopics planned, one starring Antonio Banderas. On September 10, 2001, with Communism having all but collapsed as a threat, it was safe to pander to baby-boomers' '60s radical nostalgia by rehabilitating one of the (now safely commodified) icons of their wild youth. Then the planes hit, and the projects got scrapped to make room for Jerry Bruckheimer patriotic thrillers and safely escapist fantasy flicks.
(The identity of heroes/villains in films can be telling; for example, there's Four Feathers, which glorifies the British Empire (which can be seen as a rather prestigious model to proponents of a a global American empire) and its doings in the Middle East, only a few years after pre-9/11 film The Patriot painted the British as the original Nazis (somewhat slanderously, apparently). I wonder whether we'll see any metaphorical films about straight-dealing, heroic apple-pie Romans (played by Ben Affleck or Brendan Fraser) doing battle with treacherous, Taliban-like Visigoths.)
Forbidden thoughts on 9/11, ranging from political thoughtcrime and hate-mongering to just people getting in touch with their inner sociopath.
"I used to think all firemen were hot. I now think they are slimy. At least four times last October I was in a bar where a fireman was so forward and sleazy, saying things like 'It's been so hard. You can't believe it' while pawing me. I'm sure his buddy who died running into a building on fire would feel vindicated by this slimeball getting laid, but I'm not going to participate." -- Anne, 31, an advertising sales manager in New York
I read [the New York Times'] 'Portraits of Grief'... as object lessons in why one should never aspire to be a model employee.
"The day of 9/11, [my friend and I] spoke frequently, as we always did, being that we were inseparably close. The next day she called and said that she was walking in her neighborhood and some 'Indians wearing saris' were walking down the street and she spit on them -- it was her patriotic duty."
And then there's the response of British artist Damian Hirst, best known for chainsawing cows in half, who acclaimed the terrorist attacks as a work of art; echoing what Laurie Anderson said (many years ago), that terrorists are the last true performance artists. (Wonder what will happen when Hirst next sets foot in New York; I imagine quite a few people would see it as their patriotic duty to grab a Louisville Slugger and form a welcoming committee for him.)
Those comsymps at the Grauniad are having a minute's silence for September 11 victims -- September 11, 1973, when the CIA-backed Pinochet regime overthrew Allende in Chile. Mind you, the estimated 30,000 men, women and children who were killed were all Communists, who would have enslaved Chile under a hellish Stalinist dictatorship had the CIA not intervened in the name of defending freedom worldwide.
(Wasn't it Kissinger or someone who articulated the difference between "totalitarianism", which is uniformly evil (and ideologically "left-wing"), and "authoritarianism", which can be benign, a strong state concerned about defending cherished values and such?)
On a similar tangent, I once heard that one of the reason for the West's toleration of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor was that Fretilin had troublingly leftist leanings; an independent East Timor would have been a probable Soviet client state, and Australia could have had its own Cuban Missile Crisis. And what better experts on Communist eradication in the asia-pacific region than Suharto's New Order?
To commemorate the September 11 attacks and impress the might of America on all those who may seek to challenge it, a US radio talk show host has proposed moving the Prime Meridian to New York, and redrawing maps and calendars.
"I recommend that the Prime Meridian be moved to New York. Let's put it right down the middle of Ground Zero so all our enemies will know where our time begins. Instead of a polite English voice announcing the hour, we will use voices of the survivors of the terrorist attack. And every year, on the precise anniversary of the attack, we will stop time for a few minutes to honor the dead and force the whole world to mourn with us, whether they like it or not.
Which reads rather like Jonathan Swift combined with Ed Anger. (via bOING bOING)
Recently East Timor, which attained independence after years of bloody repression, held presidential elections. A thought that occurred to me: would East Timor have had any chance of getting its independence today, had it not done so before the World Trade Center terrorist attack? Probably not; given how governments across the world have capitalised on the War On Terror to label domestic pro-autonomy movements (from Chechens to Uighurs) as "terrorists" ineligible for sympathy or human rights, I can imagine Indonesia being given carte blanche to pacify its recalcitrant province by all means necessary, with no interference from the Western media, in return for joining the coalition against al-Qaeda.
More on high-school slang post-9/11, from a rather sarcastic website in Russia; also from them, 911 things to hate about America, from foreign policy to "Hot, blonde Mormon girls refuse to put out". I suspect this guy has a bee in his bonnet.. (via The Fix) "
US teen slang after the WTC attack. Attractive boys are "firefighter cute", petty concerns are "*sooo* Sept. 10", mean teachers are "terrorists", and weird kids (read: acceptable targets for bullying) are "Taliban". (via Reenhead)
Did Big Oil/the MIE complex engineer the WTC terrorist attack to get carte blanche to bomb Afghanistan into compliance? A roundup fnord of details of conspiratological significance about the whole affair.
In Britain, a flight engineer has published a detailed paper asserting the U.S. took the joysticks out of the pilots' hands using a method of remote control developed by the American military in the 1970s.
Now think about this for a second: The Independent in London questions how Bush could claim in two public appearances to have seen the first plane hit the first tower long before any such TV footage was broadcast. The paper also asks why Dubya continued sitting with elementary school students after the second tower was hit and he'd been told, "America is under attack." Very mysterious, when standard procedure for such a situation is to whisk the president away to safety. Unless -- and here is the nub -- unless he knew something more than we did that morning.
Did the era of human rights end on September 11? It looks a bit like it, with the preservation of Empire taking precedence over feeling warm and fuzzy about doing the right thing, western countries diplomatically shutting up about their new allies' human-rights problems and everyone from Australia to Zimbabwe using "terrorism" as an excuse to dismiss human rights issues as a holdover from a softer, more decadent era.
But, as the Cold War should have taught the US, cozying up to friendly authoritarians is a poor bet in the long term. America is still paying a price for backing the shah of Iran. In the Arab world today, the US looks as if it is on the side of LouisXVI in 1789; come the revolution in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, American influence may be swept away. The human-rights movement is not in the business of preserving US power. But it should be concerned about stability, about moving strategically vital states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia from closed to open societies without delivering them up to religious fundamentalists.
Here it comes: hip-hop goes patriotic; "Fight the Power" is out, and now the only colours are the stars and stripes (which dissident rappers The Coup, incidentally, call "violent gang colours", but they're not getting any MTV airplay, so they're irrelevant). Even former gangsta personnel are lining up behind Dubya's Crusade, with Dr. Dre (whose "F*** Tha Police" caused much uproar in the early 90s) toying with a track named "Kill Bin Laden", Death Row boss Suge Knight stating that there is no place for protest lyrics or disunity, and Canibus (whose name, apart from being a marijuana reference, is Latin for "His Doggness") releasing a song titled "Draft Me", about his desire to fight for America. Even radical Black Muslims such as Wu Tang Clans, formerly militant critics of the US establishment, have been getting on the bus. Meanwhile former rapper turned cable-TV salesman MC Hammer has used this as an opportunity to make a comeback with an album titled Active Duty, presenting himself as the patriotically-correct spokesman for hip-hop.
David "Davey D" Cook ... puts the blame on disproportionate reporting. "The whole point of propaganda is to eliminate voices of dissent," he says. "If you tell everybody that 90% of people are pro-war, then people who don't really feel that way think, 'Well, maybe it's better to keep my mouth shut.' There are opinions across the board, but it's really a question of who gets the most time on the microphone."
Curiously enough, the only major dissent, other from the usual suspects such as Chuck D, comes from a niche subgenre of hip-hop, known as "backpacker hip-hop", and marketed predominantly at white left-liberals.
The Church of Euthanasia (which is like a cross between VHEMT, the Church of the SubGenius and something Jim Goad or someone could have come up with) has a new video out. Titled I Like To Watch, it splices footage of the WTC attack with pornography and sports coverage, over an electronic soundtrack, all to make a statement:
"I found it very beautiful." He continues: "I don't believe that I'm the only person in the world who derived sexual gratification from watching two of America's tallest buildings destroyed, but I do believe that I'm one of the few people with the courage to admit this in public. As an artist, I have an obligation to capture my feelings as accurately as possible. What I'm feeling may make me a monster, but I don't believe I'm alone in being a monster."
Proof that terrorist whackos come from all stripes: The FBI has arrested the chairman of the Jewish Defence League, the militant Jewish nationalist group founded by the late Meir Kahane, over plans to blow up a mosque in Los Angeles and the office of a congressman of Arab descent. According to an informant, the attacks were planned as a "wake-up call" for Arabs. (Presumably Arabs being kicked off flights for their suspicious names and skin colour and randomly assaulted by all-American rednecks (along with turban-wearing Sikhs) wasn't enough of a wake-up call.)
The Church of the SubGenius' bulldada artists have not been silent since the WTC attack and the Death Of Irony; indeed, they have come up with two galleries of themed art/commentary, which ranges from anti-Bin Laden posters to subversive propaganda and just plain Bad Attitude; not to mention this suggestion for how to rebuild the WTC, and an eerie actual ad run in a Belgian magazine sometime before the WTC attack. All in all, it's heartening to know that the SubG movement hasn't devolved en masse into jingoistic flag-waving glorps like certain web sites we could name... Praise "Bob"! (Ta, Peter!)
Conspiracy theory of the day: Russia's Pravda reckons that Fidel Castro was really pissed off about the WTC bombing -- because now he won't be the first to strike at America, Or was he?
in 1983, Castro ordered Cuban MiG 23 pilots to program their computers to attack targets in Florida. Among the selected targets was the Turkey Point nuclear plant, which Castro said had the potential of producing a nuclear disaster larger than Chernobyl. According to Gen. del Pino, Castro's words were: "I don't have nuclear bombs, but I can produce a nuclear explosion." The plan included the possibility of suicide attacks, crashing Cuban planes against American nuclear plants and targets in Washington D.C.
Undoubtedly, the suicide bombers were familiar with the structure of the buildings, and knew exactly where to crash their planes to cause maximum structural damage. Short of a computer simulation model, only a close inspection of the WTC towers, or to a building with similar characteristics, would have allowed them to discover the weak points in the building's structure. Did Fidel Castro bring with him some of his highly trained army demolition engineers to study the structure of the Petronas towers?
Though, given that the author compares Castro to Hitler, I suspect that he may have a slight chip on his shoulder.
A big list of songs blacklisted from US radio after the WTC attack. These include obvious choices (songs like "Wipeout", "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", "Crash and Burn" and "In the Air Tonight"), as well as anything by Marxist rockers Rage Against The Machine (whose online message board has been shut down after pressure from the Secret Service), and antiwar anthems (because dissent is now tantamount to treason in the court of public opinion). Some notable omissions from the list are The Cure's Killing An Arab and Public Enemy's Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.
As America joins in prayer, the nihilistic young hellions of Portal of Evil News have put their misanthropic barbs on hold and replaced their page with a memorial for those killed in the WTC attack, and now the Onion is suspending its next edition, and doing some soul-searching. Some commentators are saying that the age of irony is over:
"Look at Congress singing 'God Bless America' on the steps of the Capitol" Tuesday night, he added. "That would have seemed ridiculously hokey 24 hours earlier, but when it happened, it was a mesmerizing display of unity."
It will be interesting to see whether the age of irony is truly over, whether the detached hipster cynicism that permeated the 1990s died on 11/9/2001, to be replaced by a new Organization Kid earnestness and sense of responsibility, just as America's innocence is said to have when Kennedy was shot, or whether it is merely on hold for the moment. It will be interesting to see whether, when the Onion resumes publication, it will be as detached and faithless as before, or whether it will develop a new wholesomeness and sense of communitarian identity, and if the former, whether its circulation will drop off as a result of changing public tastes. Also, it may be interesting to observe whether underground countercultures continue to flourish (after all, when everybody is singing God Bless America in unison, what sense is there in defining oneself outside of the greater whole), whether authors like Douglas Coupland and Chuck Palahniuk will keep being published, and whether low-budget disaffected-slacker comedies will keep appearing in cinemas.
We may soon, if not now, be living in a true post-ironic age; only this time the "post-" isn't short for "postmodern" and a symbol of still further detachment, but is used in its literal sense; A neo-Rockwellian earnestness without the blasphemous self-awareness of kitsch.
Richard Dawkins looks at the WTC attack, and puts the blame on religious delusion:
If a significant number of people convince themselves, or are convinced by their priests, that a martyr's death is equivalent to pressing the hyperspace button and zooming through a wormhole to another universe, it can make the world a very dangerous place. Especially if they also believe that that other universe is a paradisical escape from the tribulations of the real world. Top it off with sincerely believed, if ludicrous and degrading to women, sexual promises, and is it any wonder that naive and frustrated young men are clamouring to be selected for suicide missions?
To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used.
The WTC attack: Intelligence consultancy Stratfor believes that clues left behind by the terrorists were red herrings, designed to throw investigators off the trail and buy them time.
The attackers knew how to avoid detection by the National Security Agency and other technical intelligence outfits while organizing outside the United States. They also knew how to avoid suspicion once in the United States. That means they had a sophisticated understanding of how U.S. intelligence works and the discipline to avoid triggering suspicion. It is nearly unbelievable that an organization capable of carrying out such a complex operation would leave behind relatively obvious evidence.
There are also unconfirmed reports that pictures of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, widely viewed as a prime suspect in the attacks, and copies of the Quran were left in rental vehicles used by the suspects. For intelligence operatives who earlier exhibited remarkable skill, such theatrics do not make sense.
I thought that the car full of Arabic-language flight manuals seemed a bit too obvious.
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