Category: History

Warning: this is obscene!

 Next month America will have been in Iraq for five years – longer than it spent in either world war. Daily military operations (not counting, for example, future care of wounded) have already cost more than 12 years in Vietnam, and twice as much as the Korean war. America is spending $16 billion a month on running costs alone (ie on top of the regular expenses of the Department of Defence) in Iraq and Afghanistan; that is the entire annual … [more]

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Who would Jesus water-board?

 This is one of those rare occasions where I agree with some of what Dershowitz had to say.  Water-boarding IS torture.  The real question is not whether or not a particular technique is torture, but whether or not torture harvests useful intelligence or is just indulging the sadistic impulses of some of our freakier interrogators.  The conduct of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and make no mistake, they are ours, not just George Bush’s) suggests that after more than … [more]

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Pathological stupidity

 On September 6th, there was an op-ed piece in the New York Times by L. Paul Bremer (the 3rd) titled “How I Didn’t Dismantle Iraq’s Army.”  I trust you already know this, but in case our national obsession with OJ and Britney has lapsed your memory, Bremer was head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

Bremer’s tale is a classic political dodge to avoid finger-pointing.  Regardless of who ultimately laid off half a million armed … [more]

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A Moment of Silence

A poem for 9-11

By Emmanuel Ortiz, September 11, 2002


Before I begin this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.

I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those … [more]

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Trans-Siberian Highway

 It was too good to be true…

I found out that the short curved section in the middle of the Trans-Siberian Highway is just an urban legend, probably based on a similar tale about the Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway.  Here’s the real story:

Nicholas I is involved in a common misconception about the railroad from Moscow to St. Petersburg. When it was to be constructed, the engineers proposed to Nicholas to draw the future road on the map himself. So he … [more]

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Out of Egypt

 Ms. Rice,

Thank you.  I just finished reading the paperback version of your novel [Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt].  I immediately detected a Catholic flavor to your tale, which is OK.  I saw it in Mel Gibson’s movie as well.  What I didn’t understand was the insertion of “Arabian” mercenaries on at least two occasions.  What was that all about?  Why did you feel it necessary to sell the notion that Jews and Arabs were adversaries even in … [more]

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Matthew 24

 Mr. Turner was interesting, but he disappointed me with his “spin” on Matthew 24.  Seems like the gist of his message was that, when he’s really challenged by alternate/competing philosophies or moments of doubt, he rests his faith in the prophecies of the Bible.  Funny how Jesus could be clearly explaining things that would come to pass in his audience’s generation, but then suddenly shift into really abstract metaphors concerning distant-future Christendom and a special time of tribulation way, way … [more]

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