Do not fuel conspiracy theories

“The Guardian visited Khan Shaykhun (also known as Khan Sheikhun) in the aftermath of the attack – the only news organisation in the world to do so. It established that there had been no weapons depot near the scene of the contamination. Surrounding warehouses were abandoned. Birdseed and a volleyball net were all that existed inside.

But eight days after the Khan Shaykhun attack John Pilger, famous for exposing propaganda and lies, was interviewed on the website Consortium News. He praised Postol as “the distinguished MIT professor”, suggested that the Syrian government could not have carried out the attack – as he claimed it had destroyed its chemical arsenal in 2014 – and maintained that jihadists in Khan Shaykhun “have been playing with nerve gases and sarin … for some years now. There’s no doubt about that.” Despite many claims to the contrary, I have found no credible evidence that Syrian jihadists have access to sarin.

On 26 April Noam Chomsky, interviewed on Democracy Now, claimed that Postol, whom Chomsky called “a highly regarded strategic analyst and intelligence analyst”, had produced a “pretty devastating critique” of a White House report that maintained the Syrian government was responsible. Although Chomsky accepted that a chemical attack had taken place and said it was plausible that the Syrian government could have carried it out, this interview helped trigger a frenzy of online commentary endorsing Postol’s hypotheses and dismissing the possibility that the Assad government could have been responsible. The atmosphere became toxic: when I challenged Postol’s claims, people accused me of being an Isis sympathiser, a paedophile being blackmailed by the government, and a Mossad agent. But the madness had only just begun.

In June the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an article in the German paper Die Welt, based on information from a “senior adviser to the US intelligence community” who maintained that there had been no sarin strike on Khan Shaykhun. Instead, a meeting of jihadist leaders in “a two-storey cinder-block building” had been bombed by the Syrian air force with the support of the Russians and with Washington’s full knowledge. Fertilisers and disinfectants in the basement, Hersh claimed, could have caused the mass poisoning. (Again, this possibility was examined and discredited by the OPCW).


symposium on human evolution

I was just blown away by this conference at UC San Diego.

Half a dozen professors at the Anthropology Institute summarize the latest hominid theories.

1) Early hominids were less ape-like than our imaginations drew and displayed in museums in the past. We imagined homo erectus, the first to stand upright, to have a gourd-like rounded rib-cage like an ape, except it turns out they have a tighter one like we do.

2) The last lecture by the older woman was the keynote really. The Neanderthal had AS BIG a brain as modern humans. Except to raise a such a large brain, you need to have a well regulated body temperature for at least until the child becomes independent to feed / hunt itself. Early hominids may have had comparable brain sizes, but unless their bodies developed to match such a big head (human babies have giant heads compared to their bodies), and the body grew at a rate which could sustain the giant head — having an ape’s body but large brain made a difficult problem to regulate the temperature and rear children to a surviving age.

Our species was the first, to have a magical fit, between a lean and sustainable body with such a large brain. We quickly wiped out the other ones, if climate change didn’t do the rest.

The Song of Hiawatha

watching boardwalk empire, steve buscemi does a fantastic scene, reciting from two amazing poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before getting into a fight in a bar.

“Hiawatha And The Pearl-Feather”
Take your war-club, Puggawaugun,
And your mittens, Minjekahwun,
And your birch-canoe for sailing,
And the oil of Mishe-Nahma,
So to smear its sides, that swiftly
You may pass the black pitch-water;
Slay this merciless magician,
Save the people from the fever
That he breathes across the fen-lands,
And avenge my father’s murder!”

“Straightway from the Shining Wigwam
Came the mighty Megissogwon,
Tall of stature, broad of shoulder,
Dark and terrible in aspect,
Clad from head to foot in wampum,
Armed with all his warlike weapons”

The Song of Hiawatha

Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,.
In the purple mists of evening,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!

Bain Capital strikes again

Mitt Romney’s company was famous for buying out good American companies, saddling them with debt, then selling them off after all the jobs were destroyed.


Buyout firms KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Bain Capital LP, together with real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust (VNO.N), took Toys ‘R’ Us private for $6.6 billion in 2005. The deal saddled the company with debt, limiting its ability to revamp its stores and make online shopping easier.