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Human rights for even Anders Breivik

In retrospect, awarding the newly elected Barack Obama a Nobel Peace Prize was about as smartly ambitious as it gets. Everyone knows humanitarians don't do it for the reward. A Nobel Prize is wasted if there's not some eligible sociopath who might be influenced with the pressure to behave themselves. President Obama's Nobel medal was an experiment in paying it forward. Who knows how much more bloodthirsty Obama might have gotten with his drones had not the Nobel committee tried to extort him with its higher expectations? The Nobel award givers took a lot of ribbing for their foolishness from those of us who weren't idealist enough. AND SO IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE when Norway's mass murdering overachiever Anders Breivik sued his jailers for abusing his human rights because he wasn't getting sufficient visitors in his cushy prison suite, that the Norwegian supreme court would rule Breivik was right. Of course they did. If you're not going to give a death sentence to a crazed bigot who guns down 76 children, if you're not going to throw him in a hole but instead give him a spacious accommodation, if instead of a life sentence you let him pursue university studies and limit his incarceration to twenty some years, then you don't want to isolate your prisoner from human contact if it might appear even as a semblance of solitary confinement. Because lesser cultures do that. Lesser capitalist flagship states isolate, execute and torture. I so appreciate that Norway wants to set a high bar, but I despair that the land of Guantanamo and waterboarding and indefinite detention and ILLEGAL detention and rendition and extrajudicial assassination and no habeus corpus can't even see this bar to reach it.

Draken Harald: the Vikings are coming!

Apparently it was the traditional Viking practice to wait until launching day of each Operation Rape & Pillage before affixing the dragon heads to the bows of their long ships. Modern Norway's largest replica Viking ship, the DRAKEN HARALD, began its transatlantic voyage yesterday but press photos circulated to promote the event featured a headless ship instead of a fearsome surface raider. The Vikings were pioneers of exported extortion and exploitation, though apparently they lagged behind on fearmongering propaganda. Just kidding. The dragehode was the original Shock and Awe. The berserker reputation preceeded the Vikings, literally, as the prow of their ship hit shore. Norwegian reenactors will be rowing the Draken Harald to the New World anew. This time to visit with the Vikings of this age. Gluttons, slavers, and despoilers of an exponentially vast scale. The replica ship is heralded as the world's largest, but it's tiny next ships of today, including those belonging to many of today's celebrated chieftans which they call yachts. Here's the itinerary of the Draken Harald vikings, crossing the Atlantic as friendship ambassadors. Med Vikingskip over Atlanterhavet til USA Reiserute: 24. april: Avreise frå Haugesund 3. mai: Reykjavik på Island 16. mai: Quqortoq, Greenland 1. june: St Antony, Newfoundland, Canada 15. june: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada 1. - 3. juli: Toronto, Ontario, Canada 8. juli: Fairport Harbor, Ohio, USA 14. juli: Bay City, Michigan, USA 27. juli: Chicago, Illinois, USA 5. august: Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA 18. august: Duluth, Minnesota, USA September: Oswego, NY Canals, New York, USA 15. september: New York City, New York, USA Oktober: Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, USA

Are you there God? it’s me Anders. The impersonal diary of Oslo Bomber and Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

So there's a Mexican vigilante drug ring declared itself a law-keeping fraternity of the Knights Templar, now the Oslo gunman/bomber claims accreditation. The "2083" manifesto which Anders Behring Breivik released through a carefully harvested email list includes a curious diary/progress log, including this passage after a technical setback on day 42: "I prayed for the first time in a very long time today. I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail."   That's about as much as God, spirituality, or conscience make an appearance. Breivik's candid musings share the desensitized voice of his favorite TV show. And he may be the first real serial killer to use emoticons. I think that Breivik's affable, sometimes self-deprecating, mostly aggrandizing voice comes straight out of DEXTER, obviously not by chance his favorite show. Though the television character means to depict a loner, there's a discordant charm which Breivik, probably like a typical Dexter fan, doesn't have any idea is a horribly ironic incongruity. Most relevant perhaps is that Breivik is a veteran of the occupation of Iraq. You wonder if Norway will now think hard about its role in the continuing occupation. Maybe sending its mercenary-mentality personalities to sow their oats in a war zone contaminates more than their young men's consciences. Breivik's favorite computer game, a first person shooter, involves racially-variated combatants. What the media is calling Breivik's "manifesto" is mostly copy-and-pasted information he gathered from the net: the history of the Knights Templar and lots of how-to for aspiring allies. We've bypassed the explosives how-to to present the account of his day to day travails, including this gem, Day 70: it is hard work for one person and I am really beginning to understand why Mr. McVeigh limited his manufacturing to 600kg. He probably encountered much of the issues I did and he probably had to learn everything the hard way just as I have done. However psychologists will choose to describe him, Breivik isn't stupid, or religious. We've annotated this excerpt by highlighting some of the cultural supplements with which Breivik was augmenting his diet, with intentional consequences and perhaps not. April - 2011 On April 6th I leased a car (short term lease), from AVIS; a silver grey Fiat Doblo van with 735kg of carrying capacity. They would charge my credit card with 810 euro per month. I needed this car as I had an introduction meeting with a farm owner the next day. I removed all the AVIS insignias so the car would pass as my own. I had previously made initial contact with the owner of an appropriate farm through an online real estate forum for farms etc. At this point in time I had regularly searched for farms with 30-100 decare of farmland the past 6 months and had around 10 potential leads, all within 4.5 hours driving

Between Norway’s Bodø and Lofoten, the no man’s land of the midnight sun

BODØ-LOFOTEN FERRY, NORWAY- The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, except above the Arctic Circle, where the midnight sun rises in the North, and where home TV satellite dishes point downward. Bodø is the airbase from which the CIA flew U-2 spy-plane missions over the USSR. This complicity was forever denied by the Norwegian government, and when in 1979, investigative journalists were able to surmise the airfield's function by deducing an intelligence community who's-who from local phone book listings, the journalists were jailed, did I mention they were Socialists? There followed a notorious trail which finally reaffirmed a Norwegian freedom of the press. A WWII event on the island chain of Lofoten had a significant impact on the German occupation of Europe. Norway fell quickly to the Nazis in 1940, but an immediate counterattack by British paratroopers, which held a beachhead for only six hours, now known as the "Lofoten Raid" but appearing then as a counter-invasion, compelled the German strategists to station considerable reserves of soldiers in Norway to deter Allied ambitions to retake the valuable northern seaports.

Palestinian refuges denied Oslo camp

OSLO, NORWAY-- Pro-Palestine demonstrators who marched on Thursday to demand political asylum found themselves surrounded the next morning and made to dismantle the tents they'd pitched beneath the statue of the subversive, now lauded, Henrik Wergeland.

AFTENPOSTEN exclusive Wikileaks cache reveals US collaborators

Norway's AFTENPOSTEN newspaper claims to have received the entire cache of Cablegate diplomatic cables. So far they've restricted themselves to releasing correspondence relating to US-Norwegian relations, revealing particular Norwegians doing America's bidding, from those with "strong pro-US instincts, to another considered by "some very senior U.S. officials" to be "weasily." From the cable about weasily Norwegian Ministry of Defense State Secretary Espen Barth Eide who's played a key role in keeping Norwegian troops in Afghanistan and tried to manipulate his Government to support US machinations in Haiti, these misgivings: Senior Norwegian officials, with strong pro-U.S. instincts, have also told the Embassy in private that Barth Eide is not to be relied upon to promote U.S. priorities. One key test of Barth Eide´s inclinations will be the MOD recommendation on which fighter plane to purchase, the Joint Strike Fighter or the Saab Gripen. News as well to Norwegians is a cable about Oslo's regional governor collaborating with US plans to move/expand its embassy which had been meeting with severe resistance from the public. Although the AFTENPOSTEN is published in Norwegian, the cables are being reprinted in their original, Here's a listing of what's out so far: Dokumentene fra USAs ambassader OSLO REGIONAL GOVERNOR OFFERS SUPPORT FOR NEW AMERICAN EMBASSY PROJECT  (15.12 2010) NORWAY: A POTENTIAL HAVEN FOR WAR CRIMINALS? (15.12 2010) ESPEN BARTH EIDE, POWER IN NORWAY´S MOD AND RISING STAR IN THE LABOR PARTY  (16.12 2010) RISING NORWEGIAN ANTI-SEMITISM AFFECTING ITS ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST? (15.12 2010) 13.2.2009: CONSTRAINTS ON NORWAY´S MIDDLE EAST ROLE? (15.12 2010) NORWEGIAN LAWYERS SUE ISRAEL FOR WAR CRIMES ABUSES (15.12 2010) NORWAY WILL NOT PUBLICLY SUPPORT UN 1267 KREKAR DESIGNATION (15.12 2010) GOJ TO APPROACH DUTCH TO ASK THAT MULLAH KREKAR NOT BE EXPELLED TO NORWAY (15.12 2010) MULLAH KREKAR CASE: STATE OF PLAY IN JORDAN (15.12 2010) OSLO NEC - THE HIGH COSTS OF FREEZING THE PROJECT (15.12 2010) 21.5.2003: Tigers issue hard-edged letter demandinginterim structure in north/east (19.12 2010) 11.2.2009: Norwegian FM Stoere: The world at his feet (15.12 2010) 16.6.2003: Tensions notch up over sinking of Tamil Tigership and latest slaying of a Tiger opponent (19.12 2010) 15.7.2003: Tigers still refusing request from monitors tovacate forward base (19.12 2010) 11.8.2003: LTTE base issue; Tigers get ready for Paris meeting (19.12 2010) 4.11.2003: Provoking political crisis, President fires three key ministers and suspends Parliament (19.12 2010) 23.10.2003: President demands removal of chief monitor, but it is not clear how far she wants to push matter (19.12 2010) 5.11.2003: President Affirms Commitment to Negotiated Settlement and Cease-fire (19.12 2010) 12.11.2003: Sri Lanka update: No resolution in "cordial" President-PM meeting; Norwegians here to meet all sides (19.12 2010) 17.11.2004: Possible ways forward in political standoff between Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister (19.12 2010) 6.3.2004: Ignoring orders of LTTE leadership, rebel commander remains ensconced in east (19.12 2010) 9.6.2004: Recent meetings show the way forward for Sri Lanka peace process is troubled (19.12 2010) 15.4.2004: In meeting, Norwegian Ambassador reviews recent discussion with President on peace process (19.12 2010) 17.6.2004: Talks about Talks in Stasis while Norwegians Ponder Next Moves (19.12 2010) 23.6.2004: Norwegian peregrinations for peace (19.12 2010) 20.4.2004: Norwegian envoy Solheim finds GSL and LTTE committed to peace process (19.12 2010) 6.12.2004: "Low key" Norwegian visit to Wanni (19.12 2010) 29.11.2004: Norwegians concerned by JVP-orcheastrated campaign against them (19.12

American Nazis get fewer recruits

Congratulations to Norway for booting the Israeli weapons program from Norwegian deep water testing facilities. Norway declared last week that German-manufactured submarines destined for Israel would not be permitted to use its submarine base on the southern coast, on account of the ongoing Israeli military aggressions against Palestine and Lebanon. No mention of restrictions against US weapons heading for American war zones. Not only does Israel have a nuclear arsenal estimated to exceed 200 warheads, they have submarines to launch them from anywhere in the world. Israel is the single nuclear power in the Middle East, now the rogue preemptive warrior has a nuclear reach beyond the purported aspirations of terrorists, alleged. So Norway has imposed a stumbling block on Israel's international war plans, but the impediment is merely symbolic in the face of America's unhindered state terror program. Where are the principled stands against aiding and abetting the US mechanized subjugation of its furthest flung imperial conquests? Norway earns sizable profits from its weapons industry, and supplies its share of NATO troops in Afghanistan. Its small contingent of soldiers reflects no economic draft, but simply the natural statistical proportion of adventurous, mercenary males. When occupied by the Germans during WWII, over 10,000 Norwegians volunteered to fight for the Nazis. Many on the Russian Front reenlisted. Against that proportion, the few hundreds today willing to join the Americans make the over-worn Nazi comparison even less favorable.

Muddy wellies across white canvas

Norway prides itself on its ubiquitous and egalitarian middle class, making of its opera house a celebration of folkstheatre –and it’s no empty boast– Oslo newspapers address eight pages to culture versus one to sport. But I think the architects behind the glacier-slopped Oslo Opera House have struck with typical condescending Nordic sarcasm. Here is an in-edifice to high art on which the people can trod, on every last angle. Even if Scandinavian farmers are not inclined to attend opera performances, they can sight-see from the pretentious exterior. Idealists can assert this art reaches the Hoi Poloi, as it compels visitors to put it all underfoot. It's form over substance, literally. The result presents aimless booted peasants looking like they wouldn’t know art if they stepped on it. I can see the pretension to flatten the Sidney Opera House, crossed with Hong Kong harbor's wreck of the Queen Mary II. The straight lines may have impressed on paper, but crawling over with masses, I see more a sinking white elephant.

Do we have a soft spot for mercenaries

It's damning photograph. I sought it out after hearing the story of the two Norwegian mercenaries condemned to death in the Congo for the murder of their Congolese driver. Was their black companion killed in an attempt to rob the white adventurers, as they tell it? US news outlets asked Tjostolv Moland's mothers about the picture of her son, which showed him smiling as he wiped blood from the driver's seat of their pickup. The mother dismissed it as bad timing, she though her son was probably caught off guard, laughing at a joke unrelated to his morbid task. Boy can Americans relate. Other US newspapers speculated about a fabled Norwegian propensity to laugh at adversity. They also described Norwegian diplomats scrambling to save the two boys from the gallows. It's true that Norway doesn't have a death sentence, and therefore does not condone it elsewhere. Otherwise US and BBC portrayal of Norwegian concern for the two mercenaries seemed at odds with Norway's usual determined pacifism, so I was eager to hear from my relatives there. The scoop? Contrary to US and UK sentiments and their projection of Norwegian concerns, there is no domestic sympathy for the two wayward boys. None. The Norwegian public has become well aware that Moland and partner Joshua French have been traveling the Congo as mercenaries, and have been involved in other killings as well. The fact that Congolese courts are trying to extort a large fine from the Norwegian government, based on the accusation of the two travelers being agents of Norway, is due to documents which the two forged to pretend they had active duty contact with the Norwegian military. In Norway, military service is compulsory. Every Norwegian male has a record of military service. It helps that Norway rarely involves itself with acts of aggression, sanctioned by a fraternity of nations or not. And when soldiers of fortune like Moland and French set about rampaging in Africa, it behooves Norwegian authorities to ensure that their military is not implicated by association. How fitting that US and UK listeners should presume a reflexive maternal instinct to protect the two white boys, set upon by angry African opportunists. The boys might be mercenaries, but America and Britain have lots of those overseas. Hired guns, paid assassins, professional killers, why quibble with words? The laws of war grant little grace for mercenaries, but that's not what English-speaking supporters of imperial expansion want to believe. Mercenaries in the Neocon vernacular are called private contractors. They're just ordinary soldiers who've escaped the poor pay of military service, to the entrepreneurial ranks of war-making free enterprise.

Obama outed himself as a bigot when he crawled into bed with Rick Warren

Just like Clinton, Obama won't hesitate to throw gays to the dogs if he thinks it will buy him a single vote from the rabid right. I told you he wasn't to be trusted. And just as we saw with Prop 8, most of the black community only wants equal rights for themselves, not anybody else.   Say it out loud: Barack Obama is a coward. Of course, Obama openly declared his bigotry against gays before the election, declaring they did not deserve equal rights in marriage. So this really shouldn't surprise anyone that he would flip off the gay community like this. "Change we can believe in," my ass. During the campaign, I had so many arguments with his supporters, who insisted that he was the miracle that would make everything right with America. When confronted with the reality of his positions (as on gays) they would insist that was only to get elected, but, "just you watch," once he was, then we would see the "real Obama." Well, Ladies and Germs, the election is over, and there it is: the REAL Obama — flipping the bird to his supporters. Only a moron would think his hiring every right winger he can find somehow doesn't mean his is going to be a right wing administration. What, am I the only one who realized what being a Chicago politician meant? It means he's an asshole who can't be trusted. But now I suspect a lot of his supporters are beginning to realize that. Though there will always be those who will defend him, no matter what — just like those Republicans who constantly made excuses for Dubya, or those born-again Christians who spend their entire lives dreaming up excuses for their "god." People are pathetically stupid. Disgraced: 66 nations in the UN have backed a resolution decriminalizing homosexuality. Big hold outs: the USA, Russia, China, and the Vatican. The nations that are more progressive than this dying backwater: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Excerpts from Thomas McCullock's Dec 29 notes, thomasmc.com.

Red Bull is dangerous

RED BULL contains: caffeine, ginseng and guarana (all legal stimulants) sugars, artificial sweeteners, taurine (an amino acid said to lower blood pressure).   RED BULL promises: increased energy, better concentration, sharper cognitive performance, greater endurance, higher metabolism, faster reaction time.   RED BULL delivers: increased heart rate, heightened blood pressure, anxiety, jitters, hyperactivity, insomnia, hypoglycemia, dehydration. A single can of Red Bull or any other "energy drink" increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The caffeine-jacked soda pop causes blood to become sticky which is a pre-cursor to cardiovascular problems. One hour after drinking Red Bull, the blood system becomes abnormal, functioning as it would in a patient with heart disease. This effect is seen even in young people. Take a look at Red Bull's website. The company has aligned itself -- through high-dollar sponsorships, which are nothing more than manipulative ad campaigns -- with the sporting crowd. It started with rodeo; the Red Bull logo is tailor-made for a swaggering cowboy. The company's tentacles have reached into the racing circuit, BMX cycling, extreme skiing, even soapbox derby. You'll find athlete superstars wearing the Red Bull logo in arenas and venues across the globe. It would be one thing if Red Bull was marketing its product to coke heads and junkies, providing them with a legal daytime buzz. But to suggest that athletes will benefit from the "energy" Red Bull offers is wildly irresponsible and evil. Unlike the electrolyte-balanced rehydration found in Gatorade, Red Bull is chock full of stimulants which cause rapid DE-hydration, making energy drinks exceptionally dangerous when used in rigorous physical activity. Loss of consciousness, kidney failure, and death are a few of the more troubling outcomes of serious dehydration. Even mild dehydration makes you feel like crap -- foggy, sluggish, headachy -- which doesn't enhance physical or mental performance in anyone. Threatening the health and well-being of rednecks and jocks the world over wasn't quite enough for these bastards. Red Bull expanded its reach into the late night crowd. Barfare like "Vodka Bulls" and "Jaeger Bombs" combine Red Bull's powerful stimulants with a heavy depressant which can lead to heart failure and other health crises. Norway, France, Denmark, and even Uruguay have banned sales of Red Bull completely. History has shown us that we can't expect responsible behavior from corporations. They have an apparent duty to shareholders to make money, unfettered by ethical considerations. That's why the Food and Drug Administration has been appointed our trusty watchdog. As soon as they've finished banning every natural supplement found in any organic health food store, I know they'll muster the energy to take on Red Bull. That day can't come soon enough. Many of us are tired of running on empty promises.

“That small nations might be free”… and other Imperial Lies…

This is about, of course, the massive disconnect from reality shown by the "Nationalists" in the Bush Regime. The title comes from a song called "Foggy foggy dew" about the Easter Rebellion" and is a short representation of the British STATED reason for their rightful (or wrongful) share in starting World War One. "That the right of Small Nations to Self Determination is as valid as that of the Great Powers." While at the time they were engaged in one of their more Murderous Cycles of oppression in Ireland. And continued it even AFTER the Great War."Great" refers to the SIZE of the war, and the Powers. After the War the Imperial Powers Who Claimed Not To Be Imperialists (Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the U.S. ...) went on a frenzy of operations to quell rebellions in "their" Vassal States. Ethiopia and Somalia were carved out as separate states with Eritrea split between them, nations with compound words like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were created with a wave of the (Non) Imperial Scepter... Iran and Iraq, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia... The Shah was propped up as a puppet dictator just like King Faisal of Iraq, just like the Emirates... Mostly because the British Crown was more comfortable dealing with people who had Titles of Royalty. And Nationalist Sentiment in the Smallest Nations was tossed aside with the same Contempt and Disdain exhibited (to use another British phrase) by the Turk and Hun, meaning the Ottoman and German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Kaiser Wilhelm and Archduke Ferdinand and indeed all of the European Kingdoms involved (Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Suddenly Late Tsar Nicolas....) could call themselves Cousin and mean it. Many of them were still part of the Original Triple Lie "Holy" "Roman" and "Empire" It doesn't take an exaggerated sense of history to see which Royal Cousins got to keep their rank and titles and which were deemed "unworthy" by the "Democracies". And now, the reactions to claims of National Sovereignty by the Iraqis, the Palestinians, the Somalis... a huge long list actually, are being dismissed and pooh-poohed just as arrogantly as the British dismissal of the Irish claims, the Kenyan claims, the French dismissal of the claims of the Vietnamese, the Sudan, the Algerians,... the British "mandate" in Palestine dismissing the claims of both the Jews and the Arabs. The U.S. dismissing the claims of the Filipino and Hawaiian and Mexican and Central American claims to sovereignty over their own lands. And it hasn't stopped.

July 5 protest Starbucks unfair labor

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union has declared a Global Day of Action to protest Starbucks' anti-union termination. According to their press release: Coordinated Actions Across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America Could Be Largest Ever Against Coffee Chain. Grand Rapids , MI ( 06-30-2008 )- Union members and social activists are gearing up for what may be the largest, global coordinated action against Starbucks ever. Protesters will decry what they see as an epidemic of anti-union terminations by the world’s largest coffee chain. Starbucks and its CEO Howard Schultz have exhibited a pattern of firing outspoken union baristas ever since the advent of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) in 2004 and are demonstrating the same practice against the CNT union in Spain. "On July 5th people around the world will show Starbucks that we, baristas along with our supporters, will have a voice and Starbucks discrimination and repression of our efforts will not go unchecked," said Cole Dorsey, a fired Starbucks barista and a member of the SWU. ...Actions against Starbucks will take place in: Argentina, Chile, the British Isles, Italy, Japan, Norway, Serbia, Poland, Slovakia, 4 cities in Spain, 6 cities in Germany. In the US: Phoenix, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles.

Hallelujah once again

Hallelujah was written by Leonard Cohen and first recorded on his 1984 album Various Positions. Since then the song has been recorded or sung by dozens of artists including Willie Nelson, k.d. Lang, Sheryl Crow, Bon Jovi and Bob Dylan to name a few. Bono even did a horrendous spoken version of it to honor American artist Jeff Buckley, a fan of the spoken word, shortly after his drowning death. Of course, Cohen's version is untouchable, but a few of the other efforts are noteworthy. I've already posted Rufus Wainwright's beautiful rendition of Hallelujah from the Shrek soundtrack. But this version, sung by a regular-Joe Norwegian Idol winner and a couple friends, apparently on a coffee break, has got to be my favorite. Kurt Nilsen, a gap-toothed former plumber with a beautiful voice, was told by an Idol judge, "You sing like an angel, but you look like a Hobbit." Well, perhaps, a talented Hobbit about to go off into the blue for a mad adventure. These four Norwegian lads, casually called the New Guitar Buddies by the local press, embarked on what was to be a low key six-show gig. Their unexpected popularity led to an amended schedule, a 30-show tour for more than 100,000 concert goers. The Buddies then released a live album, not part of the original plan, which became the fastest-selling recording of all time in Norway. What the hell is it about this song?

Spook Steve Recca wants us to feel safe

Commander Steve Recca, of the new DoD endowed UCCS Center for Homeland Security, told his Shove Chapel audience last night that Homeland Security is about being safe. That means everything to him from keeping his daughter safe at school to keeping the streets safe from excessive snow fall. Does the DHS want a crack at Climate Change? Recca also explained that Homeland Security is about community. Yes, community: the local community and the global community. Whatever does he think "homeland" refers to? Manitou? Planet Earth? Before Bush and Ashcroft I'm pretty sure "Homeland" had only ever meant Nazi Germany, needing to be kept safe from Fascist-haters like socialists, anarchists, discontents and others who objected to Nazi land grabs. In the Soviet Bloc security would have been about community: the community of neighbors ready to rat on you. Steve Recca kept Homeland Security affairs out of Greg Mortenson's presentation until the end. Then, to cap off the questions from the audience, from the darkened anonymity of the public microphone, Recca asked for everyone's patience while he read an "email from a Marine at an FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Afghanistan." In this "email" a soldier explained how protecting one of Mortenson's schools was the most important goal of his mission, etc, etc. The inattentive audience may have become too accustomed to visualizing boiler room letter writing sessions assigned to soldiers in the field, or soldiers laid up in VA hospitals with nothing else to do but hand-write form letters dictated to them by military PR specialists. Those Letters to the Editor sent to newspapers across the country, or emails to Dr Greg in this case, may be outsourced to India for all we know. In any case, the Colorado College audience was bored of it. I'd like to see Recca explain what role propaganda or jingoism plays in Homeland Security. Commander Steve Recca is a career spook, now pioneering the post-graduate studying of keeping white America safe. I can understand that DHS might require information sharing with the Intelligence Community. Does it have to be part of that community? Is that the "community" Recca was talking about? Will Homeland Security be training its airport shoe-sniffers to conduct surveillance and torture too? Steve Recca doesn't bring transportation or border guard experience to his job. His background is entirely about spying. 1983- graduate (with honors) of U.S. Naval Academy 1990- Master of Arts (with distinction) from Naval Postgraduate School 1990 to 1993- tours on USS YORKTOWN, USS TEXAS, USS AMERICA 1993- Staff, Commander Naval Forces Europe (CNE), in London     Intelligence Watch Officer, Head of the Current Intelligence Branch. 1994- Certificate in International Political Affairs     from University of Zurich 1995 to 1997- Special Assistant and Speechwriter     for the Secretary of the Navy 1997 to 1998- Office of the Director of Central Intelligence,     speech writer, member on Director's Long-Term Planning Board 1998 to 2001-American Embassy in Oslo, Norway,    

Unknown soldier

My dad grew up in Norway under the occupation. He had a half-brother three years older about whom he was told nothing, who joined the Germans during the war and was killed at the Russian Front. My father wasn't told when it happened, but remembers his mother getting the telegram.   We recently learned the brother's name, and my uncle has recovered a photograph from the municipal archives. His name was Martin. I have yet to see the new picture. This is a photograph which caught my eye some years ago, and which I kept, thinking it could be my family's lost son, just as well as any other. It remains from captured German records, depicting an unnamed soldier, anyone's. How likely is it that no-one survives to recognize this boy? Martin was the product of my grandmother's ill-fated first marriage. Her husband didn't get along with her parents. He tried to poison her father, and in the attempt killed her mother. He was sent to prison, leaving my grandmother alone with the boy. When she began a new family, the older boy grew to become too much of a reminder of the deviant father, too much apparently for her new husband to bear. My grandmother was prevailed upon to send the boy away to be raised by relatives in the country. Martin disappeared before his half-siblings were old enough to remember him, traces of his memory effaced. My father remembers seeing a family picture which included a young Martin, to which my grandmother pretended, "that's you." And so one weekend a month, Gudmor would leave the family to visit her old aunt in the country. In later years my dad and his siblings figured out there was no such aunt. My grandmother died without telling the story. It's surmised that Martin grew up unwanted, ostracized by family and extended family, which may explain why on his seventeenth year, the Norwegian boy joined with the occupiers and enlisted with the Waffen SS, the German Army unit reserved for citizens of the occupied countries. He was sent to the Russian Front where he died in 1943. My father called his younger brother yesterday, on a lark, though sometimes he is psychic. His brother was sitting in his car in Oslo, contemplating the photograph he'd just obtained of their lost brother. My uncle had also learned of Martin's resting place, a cemetery for German soldiers in present-day Poland. They're making plans to go visit his grave.

Neocon regalia

For decades after the Second World War, German vets would get together in beer halls to remember the great days of the Third Reich. The Nazi cause may have become perverted, but its ideals were certainly grandiose: a Germany reborn as the worker's utopia, a master race unshackled to bring order to a never-before united Europe. My father grew up in occupied Norway. He remembers the incomparable German swagger. To this day he judges the authenticity of war movies based on whether the actors capture the arrogance of the German officers in their walk. I remember reading a Wehrmacht soldier's autobiography reflecting on the initial ease with which Germany had overrun its neighbors. "It was impossible in those days not to feel immense pride in being a German." German regalia is highly collectible now, though my father remembers the days immediately following the war when Norwegians wouldn't deign to pick up the Nazi medals, ribbons and flags strewn outside the German headquarters in newly freed Oslo. Of course the German WWII regalia is collected fervently also because it was esthetic. A deliberate malevolence was courted by the fascists, a darkness amplified by the visual design of their uniforms, equipment and printed material. Albert Speer and Leni Reifenstahl were widely condemned for their contributions to the glorification of Nazi culture. So when old SS veterans are clanging their glasses in memory of Germany's grab for the brass ring, the nostalgia has quite a bit of pomp and polish. It was an Aryan dream in smart costumes and effective looking machinery. Are ex-American servicemen going to look back at the U.S. adventures in Fascism with equal nostalgia? What trappings do the Neocons offer to distinguish their racist machinations? Wrap-around Oakleys? Kneepads and leggings? The mercenaries' gold chains and Hawaiian shirts? And what stateside? Yellow ribbons? Cheap suits? Americans exude nothing but our simpleton arrogance I'm afraid. Yankee Fascism has probably required banality to disguise it. Later Americans will have to own up to our inhumanity and hubris with the additional shame that we couldn't even transcend our ugliness for the occasion.

Police state

In Norway you can't speed or run a light anywhere without getting a ticket. In Norway they have cameras mounted sporadically along the roadways so you have no choice but to drive properly. Even on a country road, even if you're running late, it makes no sense to break the law and that's rather stress-averting in itself. As a result there are no police cars in sight. Thus Norway has order and civility, without law enforcement authorities loitering to catch you. It's an interesting trade-off. Big brother -in a bureaucratic sense- instead of beat cops. It reduces the possibility of human error, personality clashes, power trips, graft, or whatever other motive led that officer to a career in law enforcement. British police officers, Bobbies, are required to wear the funny get-ups to counter the natural impulse a law enforcer might get to act too authoritively. Until recently most Bobbies were not even allowed to carry weapons. In this country, the policemen's Ray-bans, other masculine accouterments, and the big gun serve to promote machismo power tripping. Good for them, but not so terribly great for you. In American, even when you are behaving yourself, a person can't help the reflex of holding their breath when they cross the path of law enforcement officers. Have you noticed that they're multiplying? More tickets mean greater revenue for police departments, mean more officers, means a police state.

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