Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theater, all just to keep the people distracted . . . secretly, it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology . . . by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques, by something that needed the energy-burst of war, crying, 'Money be damned, the very life of [insert name of Nation] is at stake," but meaning, most likely, dawn is nearly here, I need my night's blood, my funding, funding, ahh more, more. . . . The real crises were crises of allocation and priority, not among firms--it was only staged to look that way--but among the different Technologies, Plastics, Electronics, Aircraft, and their needs which are understood only by the ruling elite . . . "
Gravity's Rainbow, p. 521

"The networks don’t like to talk about how much they actually spend, but one veteran of the media scene here estimated the cost for a major TV network at about $100,000 a month. Others say that is a low estimate. Almost all of this cash (except a few “tips” here and there) goes directly to the Iraqi government. Once you add up the bill for the TV networks alone, we’re talking perhaps millions of dollars in revenue a month for the government.

There is a joke here that the major media outlets are now competing with oil smuggling as the number one money-maker for the Iraqi government. It is particularly ironic that while Rupert Murdoch’s 'troops' from FOX News Network rally for the war, dismissing antiwar activists as dupes of the Iraqi regime, the “network America trusts” is paying 'Saddam' (as they refer to Iraq) hand over fist tens of thousands of dollars every month. But stroll down the halls of the press center and you’ll see that Rupert’s troops have multiple battalions. He also owns Sky News (the British version of FOX), as well as the Times of London. A bit of research would probably find that Murdoch owns other publications operating here as well.

FOX News reporters (and others as well) like to say 'for the benefit of the viewers' that their broadcasts are being monitored by the Iraqi government. Fair enough. But perhaps the Murdoch Empire should begin each of its reports or dispatches from Baghdad by disclosing how much money they paid “Saddam” today. "

-Jeremy Scahill, reporting from Iraq
IraqJournal.org, 1 February 2003

....as multinational corporations prepare to rebuild -- reaping fabulous profits in the process -- what the US prepares to destroy....

Monday, February 03, 2003

"There's something still on, don't call it a 'war' if it makes you nervous, maybe the death rate's gone down a point or two [...] but Their enterprise goes on"
Gravity's Rainbow, p. 628

The death rate's ready to climb again, dramatically, and opportunity abounds:

Job Description

United States Navy

MORTICIAN-$6,000 Sign-On Bonus
Location: New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL;
Houston, TX; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego, CA
Position Type: Employee
Position Duration: Full-Time
Date Posted: 01/31/2003

We are looking for candidates Nationwide!!!!

Worldwide. Position will require relocating.

The Navy Mortuary Affairs Program is responsible for the recovery, preparation and final disposition of Navy and Marine Corps deceased personnel and their eligible beneficiaries. Even during peacetime, we are funeral service professionals caring for our brothers and sisters-in-arms throughout the world during a most difficult time, providing aid to their families with Honor and Dignity. You would serve as a uniformed member of the United States Navy Hospital Corps, a group deeply ingrained with traditions of Honor and Commitment not unlike the devotion of those who choose the funeral industry as their career.

Requirements are a graduate of accredited Mortuary school and licensed Funeral Directors/Embalmers willing to serve where needed in locations such as Italy, Spain, Guam and the United States. Experience in all facets of the funeral industry is a plus with emphasis placed on technical ability. An enlistment award of $6000 is available as well as advanced rate upon completion of training. Applicant must be a U.S. Citizen , less than 35 years of age, and in good health.

Worldwide. Position will require relocating

For more information, contact a Career Development
Specialist at hj@cnrc.navy.mil (email), or
888-633-9674 (toll free).

Pentagon stocks up on body bags

Nearly 10,000 bags were ordered, but officials say they have not been shipped to the Persian Gulf.

By Sydney P. Freedberg
St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2003

In the last six months, the Pentagon has ordered 9,640 body bags, but they are not immediately headed for the
Persian Gulf.

'Right now, we're just replenishing supplies' in military warehouses, said Frank Johnson, a spokesman for the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia. 'It's not necessarily an indication of things to come.'

But two military suppliers said it is logical to assume that the government is anticipating battlefield casualties.

'The fact is, they are preparing for casualties,' said Gerald Kramer, president of Extra Packaging Corp., a Boca Raton-based supplier of body bags. 'This is a buildup of bags for a war that may occur.' [...] "

The Daily Howler, 3 February 2003:

"[...] In an editorial, the Washington Post describes another paradox about the reaction to Columbia. Last Friday, four U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan, victims of a Blackhawk crash. But their deaths have been completely ignored, even as the Columbia seven are discussed wall-to-wall, and even as we stage worthless discussions about whether the space program will continue. (Hint: It will.) '[A]s we read the biographies of these brave seven,' the Post says, 'replay their buoyant interviews of recent days and come to know the grief-stricken but proud surviving spouses and parents, we might spare a moment also for the four who died near Bagram, and the others most of us will never hear about.'

Those others 'we will never hear about' include the coming dead in Iraq. It has been remarkable to compare the mourning for the Columbia seven to the all-encompassing lack of interest in the deaths which will soon occur in Iraq. Is war on Iraq a good idea? On that, we don’t express a view. But it has become rather clear that these upcoming deaths play no role in our current calculus. In the press, we have seen almost no attempt to estimate or discuss the impending loss of life. Recent reports about 'Shock and Awe' or possible use of American nukes have produced almost no discussion. Do Americans care about Iraqi deaths? There is almost no sign that we do.

Inevitably, others will notice. In this morning’s Times, for example, Neil MacFarquhar reports reaction in the Middle East to the Columbia disaster. He quotes a Jordanian columnist who 'said he hoped the disaster would push Americans to reflect about what they are doing in the Middle East every day, about the destruction and death visited by American-made munition.' There is, of course, no chance that any such reaction will occur. Around the world, people will notice this lack of concern about deaths which lie outside our family. [...] "

" [...] MotherJones.com: What do you make of the Total Information Awareness project?

John Perry Barlow: I was just writing a spam to my friends last night about its 'all seeing eye' logo [The logo has since been changed - Ed.]. Looking at that logo, you've got to wonder if they aren't just engaged in some massive prank on us. It's hilarious -- straight out of a Thomas Pynchon novel. Can you beat it? It's fortunate that this is so stupefyingly funny. [...] "

Sunday, February 02, 2003

" [...] If things turn more bleak for McCaw, Ellison or Bertarelli, they can always look to the story of the Wall Street tycoon George Mallory Pynchon for inspiration. A few years after a failed effort aboard his yacht Defiance in 1914, Pynchon's brokerage house went bust and he was barred from the stock exchange. But Pynchon landed on his feet. He was soon hired by a rival broker — as a messenger. [...] "

Pursuit of the America's Cup Can Be Fulfilling, and a Curse
By Warren St. John
New York Times, February 2, 2003

....thinking of the many Pynchon characters who fail to get the message....