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NYT:

Over the next few days, the skin of his 6-month-old son, Salam, bloomed with blisters, which burst into weeping sores all over his body. The whole family suffered headaches, nosebleeds and stomach aches.

How that slick, a highly toxic cocktail of petrochemical waste and caustic soda, ended up in Mr. Oudrawogol’s backyard in a suburb north of Abidjan is a dark tale of globalization. It came from a Greek-owned tanker flying a Panamanian flag and leased by the London branch of a Swiss trading corporation whose fiscal headquarters are in the Netherlands. Safe disposal in Europe would have cost about $300,000, or even twice that, counting the cost of delays. But because of decisions and actions made not only here but also in Europe, it was dumped on the doorstep of some of the world’s poorest people.

So far eight people have died, dozens have been hospitalized and 85,000 have sought medical attention, paralyzing the fragile health care system in a country divided and impoverished by civil war, and the crisis has forced a government shakeup.

“In 30 years of doing this kind of work I have never seen anything like this,” said Jean-Loup Quéru, an engineer with a French cleanup company brought in by the Ivorian government to remove the waste. “This kind of industrial waste, dumped in this urban setting, in the middle of the city, never.”

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Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar, profiled in the Observer:

Photographs furnish a stark reminder of just who Kassar is. One is of him shaking hands with Uday Hussain, Saddam’s brutal son, killed in the months after the invasion. Another photo shows the two men together with an Arab musician. Kassar says he met Uday when he was sponsoring the Iraqi football team.

In a cabinet nearby is a picture of him holding hands with Hassan Aideed, son of Farah Aideed, the now-deceased Somali warlord portrayed in the film Black Hawk Down. ‘A good man,’ says Kassar. (He has been implicated in shipping arms to Somalia, in violation of an international embargo.)

The warlord Aideed is just one of his eclectic group of acquaintances, and Kassar insists that, in fairness, there are many less controversial ones. On the mantelpiece is a photo of Kassar with a Spanish intelligence official and Mustafa Tlas, the former defence minister of Syria. Then there is the photo, taken at a gala fundraiser in Marbella, of him standing next to ageing country music singer Kenny Rogers.

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Depth of Field:

ooogling eyes
salt lake city, utah

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My first real camera, Adam Richardson:

There are few products that have had as profound an effect on their category as the T90 had on the modern SLR, not the least of which is the interface paradigm that it introduced and which is copied almost verbatim on every SLR (and many point and shoots) on the market today, 20 years later. Some parts of it interface are common-place on many products beyond cameras as well, such as Blackberries.

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NYT Book Review:

Bob Woodward reports that when he told Mr. Rumsfeld that the number of insurgent attacks was going up, the defense secretary replied that they’re now “categorizing more things as attacks.” Mr. Woodward quotes Mr. Rumsfeld as saying, “A random round can be an attack and all the way up to killing 50 people someplace. So you’ve got a whole fruit bowl of different things — a banana and an apple and an orange.”

Mr. Woodward adds: “I was speechless. Even with the loosest and most careless use of language and analogy, I did not understand how the secretary of defense would compare insurgent attacks to a ‘fruit bowl,’ a metaphor that stripped them of all urgency and emotion. The official categories in the classified reports that Rumsfeld regularly received were the lethal I.E.D.’s, standoff attacks with mortars and close engagements such as ambushes.”

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NYT:

In a nine-page memorandum, the two officials, Gordon R. England, the acting deputy secretary of defense, and Philip D. Zelikow, the counselor of the State Department, urged the administration to seek Congressional approval for its detention policies.

They called for a return to the minimum standards of treatment in the Geneva Conventions and for eventually closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The time had come, they said, for suspects in the 9/11 plot to be taken out of their secret prison cells and tried before military tribunals.

The recommendations of the paper, which has not previously been disclosed, included several of the major policy shifts that President Bush laid out in a White House address on Sept. 6, five officials who read the document said. But the memorandum’s fate underscores the deep, long-running conflicts over detention policy that continued to divide the administration even as it pushed new legislation through Congress last week on the handling of terrorism suspects.

When the paper first circulated in the upper reaches of the administration, two of those officials said, it so angered Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that his aides gathered up copies of the document and had at least some of them shredded.

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MWM:

September 2006 // Full site RE-design // New navigation // New work in all disciplines

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Part one, excerpts of Bob Woodward’s new book, Washington Post:

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card was enough of a realist to see that two negative aspects to Bush’s public persona had come to define his presidency: incompetence and arrogance. Card did not believe that Bush was incompetent, and so he had to face the possibility that as Bush’s chief of staff, he might have been the incompetent one. In addition, he did not think the president was arrogant.

But the marketing of Bush had come across as arrogant. Maybe it was unfair in Card’s opinion, but there it was.

He was leaving. And the man most responsible for the postwar troubles, the one who should have gone, Rumsfeld, was staying.

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NYT:

In recent years, Al Qaeda has formed a special media production division called Al Sahab to produce videos about leaders like Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri, terrorism experts say. The group largely once relied on Arab television channels like Al Jazeera to broadcast its videos and taped messages.

Al Sahab, whose name means the cloud, has continued to draw on a video library featuring everything from taped suicide messages by the Sept. 11 hijackers to images of gun battles and bombings spearheaded by Al Qaeda and others, said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on Islamist movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman who has close ties to jihadists in Jordan and Syria.

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Guardian:

“It’s getting to the point now where there are 800-900 attacks a week. That’s more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces,” Bob Woodward told CBS television in an interview to be aired tomorrow night.

The Pentagon’s latest quarterly report on Iraq, presented to Congress and posted on the defence department website on September 1, shows the number of attacks rising to 792 a week in August. However, that figure includes attacks on Iraqi civilians, infrastructure and Iraqi police as well as US and coalition troops. Iraqi civilians suffered the majority of casualties.

Woodward argues the administration routinely glosses over such news from the ground, as well as intelligence predicting further deterioration in Iraq, because they collide with Mr Bush’s convictions.

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More on the Great White fire at The Station, NYT:
Speaking today in the courtroom of Judge Francis J. Darigan Jr., David Griffith, whose brother Scott died in the blaze, said that “all of us have been victimized a second time” by the plea deal.

Judge Darigan acknowledged that many relatives found the agreement inadequate but said he was pressing forward with it. In a letter sent last week to the victims’ families, Judge Darigan said he had decided to strike the deal in part to avoid “public exposition of the tragic, explicit and horrific events experienced by the victims of this fire, both living and dead.”

One relative retorted today in the courtroom, “A trial would have been too hard on you, judge.”

The agreement provides that Jeffrey A. Derderian, 39, be sentenced to 500 hours of community service, but no jail time. His brother Michael, 45, would receive four years in jail.

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NYT:

The warning is described in Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.

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NYT:

Last month, more than 70 news organizations signed a nine-point pledge supporting the national reconciliation plan of Prime Minister Maliki, promising not to use inflammatory statements or images of people killed in attacks, and vowing to “disseminate news in a way that harmonizes with Iraq’s interests.” Days later, the police barred journalists from photographing corpses at the scenes of bombings and mortar attacks. Since then, policemen have smashed several photographers’ cameras and digital memory cards.

At Al Arabiya, the Baghdad station shuttered by the Iraqi authorities earlier this month, the studio door handle is sealed in red wax and bound in police tape. (The door is adorned with a photo of Atwar Bahjat, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Samarra in February while reporting on the bombing of a Shiite shrine.)

Some news executives express support for Al Arabiya’s closing.

“It is the right of the Iraqi government, as it combats terrorism, to silence any voice that tries to harm the national unity,” said Mr. Sadr, of the Iraqi Media Network.

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Washington Post:

In a report released yesterday, inspectors found that the Baghdad Police College posed a health risk after feces and urine leaked through the ceilings of student barracks. The facility, part of which will need to be demolished, also featured floors that heaved inches off the ground and a room where water dripped so heavily that it was known as “the rain forest.”

The academy was intended as a showcase for U.S. efforts to train Iraqi recruits who eventually are expected to take control of the nation’s security from the U.S. military. But lawmakers said yesterday they feared it will become a symbol of a different sort.

“This is the lens through which Iraqis will now see America,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. “Incompetence. Profiteering. Arrogance. And human waste oozing out of ceilings as a result.”

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You’ve finally reached the end of the f*ckin’ internet, dude. This is the home of the greatest band in the world, Metal Skool. DO NOT BE FOOLED by pale imitations of other imitations. We’re the best imitators of the best music in the history of music, 80’s metal.

We play songs by Whitesnake, G&R, Poison, Winger, Warrant, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and more.

Here. And on MySpace, Here.

Wired:

It worked. After making a splash on YTMND, the Lohan Facial, as it was dubbed, popped up on eBaum’s World. While YTMND includes author credits with each clip, eBaum’s World didn’t bother to give Lutz a shout-out. “What really pissed me off was that they placed their own watermark on it,” Lutz says, “as if they created it.” Bauman says he was simply indicating that his site was hosting a video that had been submitted without a watermark. But Lutz was hardly alone in his anger. For years, contributors to viral-media sites including Something Awful and Newgrounds had reported similar treatment. “There’s a history of [eBaum’s World] screwing over other authors and other sites,” says YTMND founder Max Goldberg.

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NYT:

Mr. Ashykbayev denounced Mr. Cohen’s performance as host of the MTV Europe Music Awards in Lisbon last fall, in which a skit mocked the imperial aura that surrounds Mr. Nazarbayev, the country’s president since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Mr. Ashykbayev suggested that Mr. Cohen was acting on behalf of “someone’s political order” to denigrate Kazakhstan and that the government “reserved the right to any legal action to prevent new pranks of this kind.”

Mr. Cohen, who is Jewish, responded, as Borat, in a video posted on his Web site, citing Mr. Ashykbayev by name and declaring that he “fully supported my government’s decision to sue this Jew.”

“Since the 2003 Tulyakov reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world,” he goes on in the video, citing fictional details in the absurdly stilted English that is central to his act. “Women can now travel inside of bus. Homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats. And age of consent has been raised to 8 years old.”

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Guardian:

Kazakhstan: land of superstition, religious intolerance, political suppression and goats. Wrong. Kazakhstan is actually a country of metals and machinery, an outward-looking, modern nation with a stable economy that attracts foreign investors to its cosmopolitan capital.

The Kazakh government took the unusual step yesterday of publishing a four-page colour supplement in the New York Times in what appeared to be in part an attempt to head off the fallout from a satirical film due out in November. Borat: Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is the latest work from Ali G creator Sacha Baron Cohen. The film lampoons the central Asian nation through Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakh journalist who travels to the US to report on local customs.

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NYT:

Photo buffs know a few things for certain: it’s best to shoot with the sun behind you, red-eye can be avoided with the right flash, and Leica makes some of the most sought-after cameras. Its latest, the Leica M8, is a 10-megapixel digital camera built on Leica’s M system of lenses.

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