Calvin Demmon tells all

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A spam-unfriendly note: You can write to me at yahoodotcom by using my first and last names allruntogether.
Thursday, March 27, 2003

Al-Jazeera, the Arabic news network, has a Web site at The text is Arabic, but if you move your cursor over the links, they show up in English at the bottom of your browser.

That's how I found al-Jazeera's cartoon pages.

The cartoons aren't hard to understand, even if you can't read Arabic. Use the left-arrow below the cartoons to page backwards to earlier offerings, which include a portrayal of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as a monkey. (Or use this link.)

Racist? You betcha.

Al-Jazeera's Web sites, by the way, have come under cyber attack, and if the attacks continue you might not be able to access them peridocially.

Reports the BBC: "Some visitors to the site were diverted to a pornography site, while others found a page with an American flag and the message 'Let Freedom Ring'."

One of al-Jazeera's sites had been in English, but when I went there today it wasn't, apparently a result of the hackers' work.

"The al-Jazeera sites are slowly recovering from the hack attacks, but experts say it could take at least until Saturday before service returns to normal," the BBC says. Well, maybe. After writing and posting this today, I went back and checked the al-Jazeera links and they were down.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Salam Pax is the pen (or Web) name of a person who claims to be filing reports on a Web log from his home -- inside Baghdad.

His "blog" site ( has attracted so many readers that it has crashed at least once.

The two words "Salam Pax" mean "peace" in Arabic and Latin. Because it is so easy for anyone in the world to put up a "blog" under any imaginable name, there's a real question about who he is. Among suggestions: he could be a creation of the CIA, or of Saddam's Iraqi propaganda mill, or of a practical joker.

He could also be the real thing. He seems to be, as he relates his pain at watching his home city burn.

"The images we saw on TV last night (not Iraqi, jazeera-BBC-Arabiya) were terrible," he writes in an entry dated March 22. "The whole city looked as if it were on fire. The only thing I could think of was “why does this have to happen to Baghdad”. As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion I was close to tears. today my father and brother went out to see what happening in the city, they say that it does look that the hits were very precise but when the missiles and bombs explode they wreck havoc in the neighborhood where they fall. Houses near al-salam palace(where the minister Sahaf took journalist) have had all their windows broke, doors blown in and in one case a roof has caved in. I guess that is what is called “collateral damage” and that makes it OK? We worry about daytime bombing and the next round of attacks tonight with the added extra of the smoke screen in our skies."

He's also received a series of email spam messages that he assumes are from the U.S. government.

"Three of them are to army personnel and two to the general public. In those they gave us the radio frequencies we are supposed to listen to. They are calling it 'Information Radio'," he writes.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Embed a journalist and you embed an irrepressible storyteller.

Though the reporters and photographers traveling with U.S. forces in Iraq are in harm's way, they just can't help writing up what's happening to them -- and it's not enough to get their stuff on TV or in print. They've got a lot more stories to tell than the newspapers and networks have room or time for. So some of them are doing Weblogs, posting on the Internet more detailed notes and photos about their experiences.

Among the best of these "warblogs," until Friday, was one put up by Kevin Sites, a CNN correspondent, who was filing a first-person account of his life on the front lines, with photos, at As of Friday, though, Sites' site has been "paused."

In a note to his readers, Sites says he has been asked to suspend his war blogging for awhile. He doesn't say who asked him, but it seems to have been CNN.

"I'm chronicling the events of my war experiences, the same as I always have," he writes in his Friday message, "and hope to come to agreement with CNN in the near future to make them available to you in some shape or form."

Other "warblogs" are still being updated. There's a good list at

Friday, March 21, 2003
From an editiorial in the Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2003:

The great paradox of the escalating Iraq War is that the attacking allies want fewer Iraqi casualties than does Saddam Hussein. We can't recall another war where this was true, but the insight is crucial to understanding how this struggle is likely to unfold, and how the Iraqi dictator hopes to survive.

Saddam knows he can't win a straight military shoot-out. His only hope is to delay the outcome as long as possible, while imposing as many casualties both on Americans and in particular on Iraqis. If he can show off enough destruction and carnage long enough for the TV cameras, perhaps he can induce world and especially American opinion to cause President Bush to halt the war.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." -- James Madison

"A government by secrecy benefits no one. It injures the people it seeks to serve; it damages its own integrity and operation. It breeds distrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens and mocks their loyalty." -- Sen. Russell B. Long, in the Congressional Record, 1964.

The quotes are among several in the current issue of the FOI Advocate, the electronic newsletter of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, .

Published by the Missouri School of Journalism, the newsletter is one of those things that's worth subscribing to (subscriptions are free) because it is unsettling.

We have a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in this country, but it's been gutted, the newsletter asserts, by the "sweeping exemption to the FOIA passed during the headlong rush to enact the last year's Homeland Security Act." Last week, five senators introduced a bill to lessen that impact.

This issue of the newsletter links to the "Online FOIA Gallery" of EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, .

Highlighted in the "gallery" are some of the documents EPIC has obtained this year. The documents, complete with blacked-out words and paragraphs, are yours to read in .PDF format.

Among them, for example, is an FBI memo from 2000, revealing what EPIC describes as "numerous mistakes that agents made when using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. For instance, they illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission, recorded the wrong phone conversations, and allowed electronic surveillance operations to run beyond their legal deadline, during sensitive terrorism investigations. The existence of the memo was first revealed in documents that EPIC obtained through FOIA litigation."

Here's another quote from the newsletter:

"The Clinton administration's paranoid and prurient interest in (monitoring) international e-mail is a wholly unhealthy precedent especially given this administration's track record on FBI files and IRS snooping. Every medium by which people communicate can be subject to exploitation by those with illegal or immoral intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records or translate our international communications." -- Then-Senator John Ashcroft, opposing the Clinton administration's request for broadened authority to eavesdrop on high-tech communications, in an Aug. 12, 1997 op-ed piece in the Washington Times.

That's not exactly Ashcroft's tune now. But it still rings true.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

(1) If your friends are always forwarding copies of Humorous emails to you, you've probably seen some of the unflattering (and fake) photos of George Bush that have circulated in recent months. Here's a very large collection of them. Warning: some are funny and clever, but some may offend:

(2) On the other hand there's Evan Coyne Maloney, who likes to go to antiwar rallies and interview the participants, many of whom turn out to be, tragically, brain-dead. Maloney was at the protest in San Francisco last weekend and filed this QuickTime video:

Monday, March 17, 2003

A typo in a headline on page 17 of the February 28 issue mistakenly conveyed the wrong meaning for the article. Instead of "Relevant yet expendable: the ideals of Black History Month," the headline should have read, "Relevant yet expandable . . ." Neither the Chimes editorial staff nor the author of the article believe that the ideals of Black History Month are expendable, as is demonstrated in the article itself. Chimes sincerely regrets the error. -- Chimes, the student newspaper of Calvin College

The Age of Dissonance column last Sunday [in the New York Times], about cozying up to celebrities, mentioned a report in The Daily News that guests at the Sundance film festival "had their shoes spattered" when the actor Tobey Maguire was taken ill. But the day the Times column appeared, The News quoted the actor's publicist as saying that although Mr. Maguire doubled over at one point, it was not he who vomited. -- The New York Times, Feb. 2

(both of these were reported in Opinion Journal,


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