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From “Missing in Iraq: The United States has not found Scott Speicher either” by Scott Ritter in the June 2004 Harper’s.
On September 12, 2002, George W. Bush made his case for war before the General Assembly of the United Nations, telling the world’s representatives that their countries faced dire threats from escalating regional conflicts, terrorist cells, and outlaw regimes. Governments with “no law of morality” possessed “the technologies to kill on a massive scale.” But only Iraq, assured the President, harbored “all these dangers, in their most lethal and aggressive forms.” Saddam Hussein had repeatedly defied U.N. Security Council resolutions, including a 1991 ruling demanding “that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands.” According to Bush, more than 600 nationals from at least ten different countries remained unaccounted for in Iraq. “One American pilot is among them.”
The American pilot was Lieutenant Commander Scott Speicher, the first U.S. casualty of Operation Desert Storm. On January 17, 1991, during the war’s first night of combat, Scott Speicher’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter was hit by an Iraqi air-to-air missile over the desert west of Baghdad. Speicher never activated his rescue beacon, and there were no sightings of his ejection or parachute. “Airplane disintegrated on impact, no contact with pilot,” read a Navy report. When the war ended, Scott Speicher was officially declared killed in action. And for ten years he remained K.I.A., until January 2001, when the secretary of the Navy—spurred on by Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas and an unremitting advocate for deposing Saddam—changed Speicher’s status to missing in action. It was the first time the Pentagon had made such a reversal. An unclassified U.S. intelligence report made public in March 2002 stated that “Speicher probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis.” On October 11, the day after both houses of Congress authorized military force in Iraq, Speicher’s status was changed again. Navy Secretary Gordon England ruled that the pilot—who since his disappearance had been promoted twice, to the rank of captain—be reclassified to the “more appropriate” missing/captured, making Scott Speicher, almost twelve years after he was shot down, a prisoner of war.
Alongside arguments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, Scott Speicher offered Americans a human and less abstract rationale for war. In the six months leading to war, there were at least 135 news stories about Speicher, speculating about his fate and the character of those who would keep him prisoner. In March 2002 the Washington Times ran a front-page article on Speicher for five consecutive days. One was titled “Bush denounces ‘heartless’ Saddam; He suspects Navy pilot is a live captive,” and another cited an informant inside Iraq who “stated that the pilot was being kept in isolation.” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer called Speicher’s situation “shocking,” and on MSNBC a former Pentagon official discussed the likelihood that the pilot was being tortured. When asked about the hypothetical treatment of the Navy pilot, President Bush said, “It reminds me once again about the nature of Saddam Hussein.” In this manner, Speicher’s case became an argument for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Only a monster and a war criminal would hold a prisoner incommunicado for eleven years; and, so the syllogism went, surely such a monster and war criminal would acquire and deploy unconventional weapons.
When the credit crisis erupted in September, many experts thought that Africa would be spared the financial turmoil of the American and European financial systems, because African banks had almost none of their assets tied up in the global subprime market. But it has recently become clear that Africa is being hit hard. The World Bank estimates that its economies will grow an average of 3 percent this year, compared with an annual average of 6 percent from 2004 to 2008. “The crisis could not have come at a worse time,” said Jose Gijon, chief Africa economist at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris. “Before the meltdown, many African countries had made significant progress in attracting foreign investment and private capital, and this could derail those efforts.” –“Just When Africa’s Luck Was Changing,” Ron Nixon, The New York Times
I would suggest that the first English poets to really write with the book– and all the implications for distribution & consumption that the book entails– always already as part of the package, indeed the primary location for the life of the poem, are the likes of Wordsworth & Coleridge. The distance between Lyrical Ballads and Walt Whitman’s self-published first edition of Leaves of Grass, complete with photo of the author, is less than 60 years. In another 60, you will find Ezra Pound contemplating The Cantos as a keystone to his imagined five-foot bookshelf containing the Great Works. For Pound, the first English-language poet to make use of the typewriter not just as a site for writing, but as a compositional element in the spatial construction of his works, the book is thoroughly a given. It’s unquestionable. –“Monday, August 03, 2009,” Ron Silliman, Silliman’s Blog
Fat Princess is one of those games that all of us have known about for quite some time and wanted to play simply because it had a great name…. In a nutshell, this is how the game works: players start out in a stronghold, where they hold the enemy princess hostage. Meanwhile, the opposing team holds your princess hostage in their base. Therefore, players’ time must be divided between accumulating resources to build siege weapons, defenses for the castle, and class upgrades; running raids against the enemy fortress, while slaughtering your enemies who are trying to invade your castle; and keeping your captive princess as fat as possible by bringing her tons of tasty, tasty cake in order to make her difficult to move should your walls be breached. –“Let Them Eat Cake: Fat Princess is a delight,” Michael Thompson, Ars Technica
Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:
The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.
In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”
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“Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.”