Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"the ingredient that gives Dannon Boysenberry yogurt and Tropicana Ruby Red Grapefruit juice their distinctive colors comes from crushed female cochineal beetles."
"used in ice cream, strawberry milk, fake crab and lobster, fruit cocktail cherries, port wine cheese, lumpfish eggs and liqueurs like Campari, according to the FDA. Carmine's also used in lipstick, makeup base, eye shadow, eyeliners, nail polishes and baby products, the agency said."
"Cochineal extract has long been made from the dried and ground female bodies of an insect called Dactylopius coccus costa"
wanna see an image?
If you are freaked about eating insects..
By a vegetarian site
Thanks to Team Maddow for the news..

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Finnish President that Conan has been doing mock ads for has won a second term...Haven't seen the skits he has been doing? Watch one here..(click highlights and video moments..its in there)
Remember Dario Fo? The Nobel Prize winning author of Mistero Buffo and other classics in farce, satire and political drama..
He is running for Mayor in Milan...
"Iraqi government interference with the independence of the judges in the trial of former President Saddam Hussein threatens the fairness of the proceedings, Human Rights Watch said on Friday"

Saturday, January 28, 2006

by Laila el-Haddad
Hamas's victory is the inevitable result of the failure to do anything about the oppression which Palestinians suffer
by Gerald Kaufman
What is Hamas? How did they develop? What are their stated goals?
Mazin Qumsiyeh has a perspective on the elections here...
Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, dismissed such claims, saying hostage-holding was a tactic used under the ousted Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and "we are not Saddam." A U.S. command spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said only Iraqis who pose an "imperative threat" are held in long-term U.S.-run detention facilities.
But documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are among hundreds the Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court order to meet an American Civil Liberties Union request for information on detention practices.
These sites might be of interest to kwtis out there:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Public Eye awards are out...

Yes, while the heavy boots and sharp stilettoes of the rich and connected booze and schmooze among the snow and Swissness of Davos..secure in the knowledge that all the thousands of protestors will not be allowed under the same sky ...the Public Eye awards are being handed out to those companies that have the hideous dishonour of being the most irresponsible and damaging entities around..Oh, and the guy with the awsome glasses is Patrick Frey the presenter of the awards and a Swiss author and comedian..indeed.
The Nominees included:
For complicity in the intimidation and murder of union members in it's bottling plants in Columbia.
For agressive marketing of baby formula, hostility to unions and the illegal pumping of spring water.
For "serious labor and human rights violations" by subcontractors
For being a haven for tax evasion and money laundering.
And the award goes to:
"Chevron is currently a defendant in a historic class-action trial in Ecuador brought by 30,000 rainforest dwellers."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What's in a headline?

Named, ousted, deposed, appointed, nominated, abdicated, row, crisis, dispute, agrees, is forced, removed, replaced, coup, and my personal favourite 'votes to relieve'...

coup' ousts Emir of Kuwait Telegraph.co.uk
Ailing Kuwaiti Emir Is Ousted Los Angeles Times
PM nominated to lead Kuwait as emir TVNZ, New Zealand
New Kuwait amir nominated Aljazeera.net
Kuwait’s parliament deposes ailing ruler Financial Times
Kuwaiti legislators approve ailing emir's abdication Xinhua
Kuwait parliament votes out ailing emir Reuters
Kuwait's ailing emir resigns to make way for PM Sabah Times of India
PARLIAMENT VOTES TO RELIEVE SHEIKH SAAD; Cabinet nominates Sheikh ... Arab Times
That which we call a joke, by any other name would pretty much stink as well..
Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.
Agnes Repplier

Monday, January 23, 2006

PIW's report on Kuwait's oil reserves mentioned the unsurprising fact that officials have been lying about official numbers...

First there is this:
"Jan 16 (KUNA) -- Kuwait's oil sector has seen huge and unprecedented developments...During the six-year period to end-2005, Kuwait's crude reserves increased from 96.5 billion barrels to 99 billion"
Oh KUNA...
Then there is this:
"LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters)...according to data circulated in Kuwait Oil Co (KOC), the upstream arm of state Kuwait Petroleum Corp, Kuwait's remaining proven and non-proven oil reserves are about 48 billion barrels"
Then of course there was this :
'I have no idea where they got this figure from ... I don't think it's accurate,' Farouk Al Zanki, the chairman of state-run Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) said in Kuwait City...'We are always evaluating our reserves,' Zanki said. 'Up to now, they are set at 95 (billion barrels) ... I don't know who gave them (PIW) those figures, I have no idea, but I don't think it's 100 percent accurate.'
As far as unconvincing statements go, it's not encouraging when the Chairman of KOC says things like "I don't think its accurate", or "I don't think it's 100 % accurate" ...Is it 99% accurate? Is it 50% accurate..we don't know..and then there is the fact that he admits it is set at 95 Billion barrels, which is neither the 96 Billion it was or the 99 Billion it was supposed to have become according to KUNA's report above..So at the very least PIW's report was not 100% innaccurate , right?..sigh..
Now there is also this:
"US crude oil futures settled above $US68 on Friday, the highest in nearly five months, as tension over Iran's nuclear research program and unrest in Nigeria continued to stoke fears of supply disruptions.
A report from industry publication Petroleum Intelligence Weekly that Kuwait's oil reserves are only half those officially stated helped push prices higher in late trading
An article with lots of graphs for those who want more info at The oil Drum
"Peak Oil means not 'running out of oil', but 'running out of cheap oil'. For societies leveraged on ever increasing amounts of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without significant successful cultural reform, economic and social decline seems inevitable."
From Energy bulletin's Peak Oil Primer
Here are some quotes from : PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION:

  • "A unique aspect of the world oil peaking problem is that its timing is uncertain, because of inadequate and potentially biased reserves data from elsewhere around the world"p6
  • "Sometimes politics or self-interest influences reserves estimates, e.g., an oil reservoir owner may want a higher estimate in order to attract outside investment or to influence other producers."p. 12
  • "Higher oil prices result in increased costs for the production of goods and
    services, as well as inflation, unemployment, reduced demand for products other
    than oil, and lower capital investment." p.28


And now we can all return to the 'I'll have you for lunch before you have me for dinner' kwti leadership wrestling match ..

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Crisis...it would be understandable if the passing of the late Emir were a surprise, something that couldn't have been planned for, something that the previous five years could not have arranged for in a civilized way..but what, after all, is civilized about a malformed democracy...the democracy where everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop...for more teeth to be bared...all the feverish wheeling and dealing in the background while we look on like the impotent audience members we feel we are...at least this audience member feels it...a complaint here, a statement of worry there and a waving of flags as always ....and there's the disrespectful text messages flooding the static around our skulls...texts which, had they contained a coherent complaint against the proceedings, would be an act of free speech that we could all be proud of, but they weren't anything but cowardly squeaks from our typical resort to cheap volleys of humour..as always, bitter humour to deal with our fears...a discomfort that has it's cold hands on all our hiding, quiet little hearts...the media plays the tune that is set by its owners, or the news come from gossip and leaks, whispers and winks..what a way to get information...our blogger brothers and sisters are doing their bit to say something in this void...and there is that sense of insecurity still hanging about the air...and we stay as always waiting for the next spoon to land on our still tongues..

headlines from around the world:
Kuwait Moves to Strip Power From Ill Emir NYT--Kuwaiti paper calls for ruler to step down Guardian, london ---Kuwait struggling to recover sense of purpose FT ---Kuwait rulers in succession wrangle after emir's death Egypt ---Kuwait emir plans oath despite health concerns India
جموع الأسرة بايعت الشيخ صباح Al-Watan
الرأي اليوم / لماذا صباح الأحمد؟ AL-Rai Al-Aam

Kuwait's Constitution

الله يحفظ الكويت

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Golden Globe Moments:

George Clooney's acceptance speech on video ...If you are wondering who Jack Abramoff is, here are reviews of his many, many, many bad, bad deeds at wikipedia..and Salon and Think Progress
Clooney won for best actor in Syriana
Paradise Now was an interesting pick as Best Foreign Language film..
Here are all the nominations and Winners, in case you were on the moon for the past few days..
Here are the press interview videos..
Didn't Natalie Portman look lovely, as usual..well more importantly she has shorn off her locks for a film called V for Vendetta and it is based on the graphic novel by one of the best comics writers Alan Moore, who also wrote The Watchmen which I have mentioned before...

This is how V introduces himself:
"Me? I'm the king of the Twentieth Century. I'm the bogeyman. The Villian...The black sheep of the family"
Power, fascism, responsibility for your actions and for the government that you allow to rule you, empowerment of the people who should know that the govenment serves them and not the other way around, democracy and anarchism..all those themes and more are presented in the novel to make you think about the world we have all had a hand in shaping...
Another interesting story for our times...
"Her name is Anarchy and she has taught me as a mistress more than you ever did! She has taught me that justice is meaningless without freedom. She is honest. She makes no promises and breaks none. Unlike you, jezebel"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

الله يرحمه و عظم الله أجر الكويت
انا لله و انا اليه راجعون

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The police have arrested a bunch of grandmothers in an anti-war protest..see here for the photos of those scayree, dangerous senior citizens that had to be taken off the streets..
Good grief..
Norway is going to create a doomsday crop vault in an arctic mountain..so that if and when the world has all it's agricultural crops wiped out...there will be a safe supply of seeds for the first generation after the apocalypse or accident or whatever will befall this planet probably as a result of our actions..
Speaking of disaster planning there is this...and my comment would be "really??" and then maybe .."no, but, really!?"
And then, in other disastrous news...345 people dead already in the Hajj stampede...1000 injured and counting...hasn't this happened enough times for there to be new more efficient safety measures taken to make sure that the millions shoving each other around somehow do it with less fatal consequences? Here are the measures that were taken after the 1994 stampede...not useful for the lives lost today..
Past Hajj crowd control tragedies:

February 1, 2004, 251 Muslim pilgrims were killed and another 244 injured in a stampede during the stoning of the jamaraat (pillars) ritual.
March 5, 2001, 35 pilgrims were trampled in a stampede during the stoning of the devil ritual.
April 9, 1998, at least 118 pilgrims were trampled to death and 180 injured.
May 23, 1994, a stampede killed at least 270 pilgrims at the stoning of the jamaraat (pillars) ritual.
July 2, 1990, a stampede inside a pedestrian tunnel leading to the holy sites led to the deaths of 1,426 pilgrims

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Apologies to the many fans of 24 that I know....I remember trying to watch the first season of 24 and spending the whole time laughing hysterically at the melodrama...and at how you can predict every line and every event before it happened...and I spent the few episodes of season two doing a little less laughing and a lot more gagging at what I today find articulated in the Guardian :

Slavoj Zizek
Both terrorist and CTU agents operate as examples of what the political philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls homo sacer - someone who can be killed with impunity since, in the eyes of the law, their life no longer counts. While they continue to act on behalf of the legal power, their acts are no longer constrained by the law. It is here that we encounter the series' ideological lie: in spite of the CTU's ruthlessness, its agents, especially Bauer, are warm human beings - loving, caught in the emotional dilemmas of ordinary people.
Therein also resides the lie of 24: that it is not only possible to retain human dignity in performing acts of terror, but that if an honest person performs such an act as a grave duty, it confers on him a tragic-ethical grandeur. The parallel between the agents' and the terrorists' behaviour serves this lie.
But what if such a distance is possible? What if people do commit terrible acts as part of their job while being loving husbands, good parents and close friends? As Arendt says, the fact that they are able to retain any normality while committing such acts is the ultimate confirmation of moral depravity.
article 2
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Blogger Salaam Pax is on video here talking about democracy and Iraq...


Hilarious blogger Anna Marie Cox, formerly of Wonkette, has her book Dog Days looked at by the Village Voice, and the NYT.
The Bloggies are open for votes
Jon Stewart is hosting the Oscars
As the governator continues to refuse clemency for reformed or ill death row inmates...another governor is dealing with a different aspect of why the death penalty is wrong...the fact that you can kill an innocent suspect.
Roger Keith Coleman was executed in 1992, a DNA test has now been authorised by the Governor of Virginia to assess his possible innocence..
For a very readable and shocking book about innocent people being convicted of crimes they are later cleared of by DNA tests look at Actual Innocence
Supersize Me's Morgan Spurlock, went on a detox diet after he destroyed his body with McDonald's...If you watched the film, then you will recall his girlfriend, Alex Jamieson, who detoxed him back to health...her diet is now in a book called The Great American Detox Diet.
The bloodbaths in Iraq continue..
Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.
Ernest Hemingway
As Sharon's condition remains grim, Amos Oz writes From muscle to mystery in the Guardian...

This is how Palestinians feel about it... and how some feel in the West Bank...neighbouring Arab States... among more radical Jewish groups... in NY's Jewish and Arab communities..and of course that big ass, Pat Robertson did not want to be outdone by anyone and suggested, as usual, that God was punishing Sharon... because of course, Patty has a direct hot-line to God and all God's decisions...
For a detailed description of why Sharon got the nickname the 'butcher of Beirut' take a look at 'The Fateful Triangle', for an article that is very critical of his history see counterpunch, and for a more admiring article see here..

If, as some predict, Netanyahu wins a bid to replace Sharon...it has people very, very scared..

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Because I find it super creeps..and because I've had too many of these on an empty stomach, I suddenly have the, normally depleted, energy to go through the news with the added (and decidedly strange) bonus of looking through the telephoto lens of a modern day Tunisian Cassandra...

Hassan Charni predicted the deaths of Princess Diana, Yitzhak Rabin and a list of others...and he apparently predicted the Tsunami, hurricane Katrina, London's 7/7 and other disasters...all of which I thought... well, besides that 'it must be awful to be able to see tragedy before it happens as well as when it happens'...I thought, 'it's coincidence'...I mean how many things has he predicted that didn't happen..like this..and of course we all know the old and really overused phrase
كذب المنجمون ولو صدقوا
(overused in Kwt because so many people here are holed up with magic-dealers who read their coffee cups and concoct all sorts of potions they can stick in someone's panty drawer)..
At this point, however, I would hate to be on Charni's tragic hit-list of visions...because when I heard the news in the wee hours of this morning that PM Ariel Sharon had suffered a major stroke and was paralysed...it reminded me of this:

"Israeli premier Ariel Sharon will withdraw from government next year and spend his remaining days in a wheelchair."
He also said that the person who replaces Sharon will be much worse.. Hanan Ashrawi on BBC News today said that there is likely to be a period of 'hard-line policies' in Israel now..
Charni also predicted a significant rise in bird flu this year, and the guardian says this today..
He has predictions for Syria, Iran, Europe and the US and you can take a look at them here and here...
وقد اكون انا أو غيري من جمهوره في لحظات الراحة والبعد عن هموم الواقع الذي لايسر من الماء الى الماء في وطننا العربي الواسع، متى نقتنع نحن العرب بان حالتنا المتخلفة اسبابها الأولى المباشرة هي الاسباب الداخلية التي نحن وحدنا المسئولين عنها في مجالات السياسة وعلاقة الحاكم بالمحكوم وهشاشة اقتصادنا وهزال جامعاتنا ومؤسساتنا التربوية وعداواتنا العربية العربية وليست اسباب تردينا كامنة في دوران كوكب المريخ الذي تسبر اعماقه هذه الأيام مسابر بيجل الثاني الأميركية امام عيوننا المبهورة والمسحورة.
د. أحمد القديدي
The above quote is an opinion piece from the Kwti paper Al-watan which is saying something
sort of like:
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,--often the surfeit of our own behavior,--
we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars:
as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;
knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience ofplanetary influence;
and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on:
an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!
King Lear
Finally, before I leave you..
From 'Soliloquy For Cassandra'
It's me, Cassandra.
And this is my city covered with ashes.
And this is my rod, and the ribbons of a prophet.
And this is my head full of doubts.
Now I remember clearly-
how people, seeing me, broke off mid-sentence.
Their laughter died.
They moved away from each other.
Children ran to their mothers.
I didn't even know their vague names.
And that song about a green leaf--
nobody ever finished singing it in front of me.
I loved them.
But I loved them from a height.
from above life.
from the future.
Where it's always empty
and where it's easy to see death.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Tuesday on Letterman in the States this happened...which means it's screening here today, right? O'Reilly needs a good talking to every now and then..
Showtime, TV Land at 10pm and then 2 hours later at TV Land +2

Monday, January 2, 2006

Hope everyone is safe and snuggly in the arms of this new year... we hope that it will be better than the last...and recognise that we are bound to be reminded that bad news can always top itself:

Now for a roundup of the good and the bad and the kinda weird..

  • Want to download SNL's Weekend update? news is fun with folks like these..it's only the most recent ones that are watchable, but there are transcripts of the others..Enjoy.
  • Is Washington Planning a Military Strike? (Der Spiegel)...the answer is apparently yes...are those your knees shaking at the thought? Almost a year ago the New Yorker ran a piece on the plans for the strikes...
  • NYT article on blogging...
  • 4,000 year old gay couple on the walls of an Egyptian tomb, maybe...here are the images... who would have thought..Egypt was more progressive thousands of years ago than the gay marriage Europe of today..
  • No nudity in the new Indian Playboy...in fact no 'playboy', it will be called something else...what, GQ?
  • The 50 best albums of 2005, Rolling Stone.
  • Oh, Harpers...why you so funny?