r.i.p. vo nguyen giap

the commander of vietnamese troops which sent the French and then the U.S. packing, at 102

yahoo obit

The so-called “red Napoleon” stood out as the leader of a ragtag army of guerrillas who wore sandals made of car tires and lugged their artillery piece by piece over mountains to encircle and crush the French army at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The unlikely victory, which is still studied at military schools, led not only to Vietnam’s independence but hastened the collapse of colonialism across Indochina and beyond.

Giap went on to defeat the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government in April 1975, reuniting a country that had been split into communist and noncommunist states. He regularly accepted heavy combat losses to achieve his goals.

“No other wars for national liberation were as fierce or caused as many losses as this war,” Giap told The Associated Press in 2005 in one of his last known interviews with foreign media on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the former South Vietnamese capital.

“But we still fought because for Vietnam, nothing is more precious than independence and freedom,” he said, repeating a famous quote by Ho Chi Minh.



via washingtons blog: new information, particularly the following from 12 former U.S. intel officials

There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.


fred frith plays NYC


nice, informed review of several performances in the area recently, by film reviewer glenn kenny, whom I share more opinions with on music than movies

The final set I heard was last night’s 10 p.m., for which Frith indeed broke out the handmades. He constructed them, Bruce told me, because he didn’t want to ruin his own guitars; he wanted instruments he could hit hard without worry. The handmades aren’t pretty, but they’re not caveman-crude either. They are notable for their limitations. By radically restricting the player’s options, they force him or her to resort to desperate measures. Like hitting.

Of course, as with his more sophisticated instruments, the effects play a crucial role. There has not been an enormous paradigm shift in Frith’s electric playing since Guitar Solos; it really is as much about the instrument’s interplay with electronics as it is with the player’s interplay with the instruments. And here too there’s a certain humility, but also confidence, at work. Frith doesn’t have all of his effects yoked together in a special box he can plug into an electrical outlet, nor does he have a sprawling all-in-one digital box specially designed for him or anything like that. His effects are, in a manner of speaking, a la carte; small boxes, powered by batteries, chained together via patchchords. And not all that many of them, either. For the homemades set, he performed in duo format, under the name Normal, with Sudhu Tewari, an electro-acoustic musician who also studied at Mills College. Tewari played what was termed”heavily assisted readymades.” The the naked eye, these consisted of what looked like a solid-state amplifier/receiver with the faceplate removed, and dozens of screws and metal clips inserted into the top grate. I understand how this might sound intimidating, but the set was in fact rollicking. The first thing the audience heard was a spoken word sample of an aperçu about “control” and much of the dynamic of the subsequent fifty minutes of improvisation saw Frith simulating an effort to set a sonic agenda and Tewari exuberantly sawing through it.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing mr frith perform on two homemade guitars in philadelphia, back in ’79 or ’80, at a room in a church. he pulled yarn and whatnot that had been wound through the devices, and hypnotized the small audience of 30 or so for around 40 minutes.

one of my favorite concert memories ever.

i know of no musician who challenges himself so relentlessly, for over forty years.

you can get an idea of his character and er style from the review above.

a must-see, if you can — he teaches at Mills College in cali now, and doesn’t do this much anymore.

thanks for sharing, glenn.


r.i.p. julie harris


mostly known for her theatre work, i’ll always remember her for the haunting



lavabit shuts down in face of govt strongarming

kudos to ladar levison for refusing to bow to the giant eye

While Levinson did not say much about the shuttering of his company – he notably did not refer to the NSA, for instance – he did say he intended to mount a legal challenge.

“We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Levinson wrote. “A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.”

He continued: “This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”

[original Guardian article]


obama: down the slippery snowden slope

. . . [N]ow Obama’s refusals to deal honestly with Congress and stonewalling by impeding access to Greenwald (which Congresscritters are convinced of even though Obama can play faux innocent) are on the verge of backfiring. Recall that what brought Nixon down in Watergate and damaged Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair were not the events but the cover-up.

Here, the NSA and Administration seem unable to grok that Greenwald has the goods and he is going to proceed methodically with his releases of information. If the NSA knows what Snowden downloaded (as they assert they do) they should be well aware of what he can publish. Yet they persist in telling bald-faced lies that Greenwald is able to swat back with the NSA’s own materials.

naked capitalism via undernews


state of the security state

from andrew o’hehir’s review of the Dirty Wars documentary

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that everything the government has implied about Awlaki is true: He was essentially a general or leading strategist for al-Qaida, and he got what he deserved. But his momentous passage from suburban Virginia to a Shi’ite militant stronghold in northern Yemen, from American to enemy combatant, illustrates what has gone wrong in the entire misguided “war on terror,” which is pretty much everything. Nearly everything we have done in the name of fighting terrorism since 2001 has blown back in our faces like piss on a windy beach, turning those who should be allies into enemies and making the whole problem immeasurably worse. We can certainly point fingers at two presidents, a spineless and dysfunctional legislature, and a secretive national-security apparatus free from any significant oversight. But Obama is basically right: We decided to give the government unlimited power – or, at least, didn’t decide not to – so we don’t get to act shocked when they decide to use it. You pays your money and you takes your chance.

slao see two recent items from russ baker’s (Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, which I’m half way through and am enjoying immensely) blog:

threats from without or within the fbi against occupy “leaders” (!)

peter dale scott on tamerlan tsarnaev as a patsy/double agent for the fbi