Sappho, by Christina Georgina Rossetti
* I sigh at day-dawn, and I sigh
When the dull day is passing by.
I sigh at evening, and again
I sigh when night brings sleep to men.
Oh! it were far better to die
Than thus forever mourn and sigh,
And in death's dreamless sleep to be
Unconscious that none weep for me;
Eased from my weight of heaviness,
Forgetful of forgetfulness,
Resting from care and pain and sorrow
Thro' the long night that knows no morrow;
Living unloved, to die unknown,
Unwept, untended, and alone.
To Lesbia (after Sappho), by Gaius Valerius Catullus
I say not not Helios burns so strong,
I say he outshines the flickering sun
when your laughter's radiance falls on him there,
trembling before you;
the song draws the soul from my body, it
shakes me with wanting and fear, because when I
see you I arch to the stars and dissolving I
fade into darkness,
and now, like a mawkish boy, I stammer,
pale flame veins my flesh and my ears ring
crazy in chimes and night veils my eyes,
failing such brightness.
Languor, Catullus, destroys you. Look out!
Languor ripens your womanish ease.
Languor before has ruined great kings,
laid waste happy cities.
Waldemar Kaminski, who quietly ran a food stand in Broadway Market for more than 50 years, has been revealed to be a self-made millionaire and philanthropist who anonymously gave millions to Buffalo charities and neighbors in need.
He died at home Wednesday night from complications of a long illness. He was 88.
"He didn't want anyone to know him, but I just had to thank him," said Anne Gioia, co-founder of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, to which Kaminski donated several million dollars. "Now I think we should shout it from the rooftops."
He made his hidden fortune in the stock market, carefully investing his hard-earned money over the course of his lifetime. The sole luxury in his unadorned flat, situated directly above Kaminski Meats, was the computer that he used to track his investments.
"Sometimes I feel so guilty that there's so much, and it's just me," he said humbly to Cindy Eller, vice president for development at RoswellPark, when he showed her around the apartment he lived in for much of his life.
"He felt that if you died a wealthy person, you had not lived a worthwhile life," Gioia said. "I don't think he had any regrets."
Kaminski gave so much to so many that it's difficult to quantify just how much he's given.
He donated millions to RoswellPark - including $1 million for an endowed chair in pediatrics and $1 million to build a two-acre park on the institute's campus.
He gave handsomely to other groups as well, including the Father Baker Home, the Salvation Army, HilbertCollege and Camp Good Days and Special Times. He even helped neighboring families with mortgage payments, college tuition and lines of credit at his stand.
I sacrifice myself for one and all
I come forward telling the truth
Bearing witness, as I must, to my experience
I describe my perversion, my immorality, in detail
Listen, they spit on me, trample me, and I don’t give a toss any more
I’m here, it’s today
I’m not, unlike you, a mass of defences, ready to spring into action
A tissue of falsehoods for justifying my failures
Fifty-six ways to camouflage the truth
Here it is utterly naked in front of you
Open your eyes and learn a lesson from it
You’ll never be better than me
You’ll never be worth more than me
I’m the one who confronts life
I’m the one who confronts truth
by Mary MacElveen
This is a recent AOL poll taken concerning Bush's power grab in which he vexes congress and abuses his power. When AOL was writing the top question, they should have included an answer "None of the above" I suppose that an overriding majority would have answered that one.
Which branch of government do you trust the most?
What do you think of the way President Bush uses presidential power?
He goes too far
He doesn't go far enough
To the 16% that approve and the 3% that say he has not gone far enough: What color is your shirt? Brown I suspect.
This is a message to our framers: Please send us leaders that will actually uphold the Constitution of the United States. Send the spirit of the Declaration of Independence to those that will abide by it. We have gone full swing back into a tyranny that you were trying to escape from. We most certainly let you down.
As we fast approach July 4, which is a celebration of our independence from tyranny, we as Americans must remember these words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Americans must crave leaders like this for our very survival:
Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death”
St. Joan of Arc: "I fear nothing, except treason."
Harry S Truman (A prophetic leader): "Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear"
Samuel Adams (His challenge to us all): "If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."
Benjamin Franklin (Most Americans have forgotten you): "It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority." Another quote from Benjamin Franklin that all of us must remember "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"
Thomas Jefferson (Perhaps the most liberating quote of all times): "When the people are afraid of the government, that's tyranny. But when the government is afraid of the people, that's liberty."
Republican President Theodore Roosevelt (Folks, it is okay to oppose Bush and, in fact, it is your duty): "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Bush lied to you and the end result was that over 2,500 of our soldiers are now dead, thousands have come home maimed for all eternity and I suppose wishing that they had died and as the Los Angeles Times reported over 50,000 innocent Iraqis are now dead. If that is okay with you, then you are un-American.
Irving Benig (How many are living this today?): “I believe a point arrives in our lives when we must make a choice between our hopes and our fears. If we choose our fears, we choose a living death.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower (We must tell our government to stop handing over our tax money to defense contractors): “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
But sadly this French jurist hit the nail on the proverbial head “Every country has the government it deserves.”
Joseph de Maistre (1753-1827)
Please ask yourselves if you do deserve better as you are paying higher taxes, higher gas prices in which the oil executives have the nerve to justify their profits to you, your environment is in shambles, your national parks are being forced to cut their expenditures, you are paying more for food and the list is endless.
If you fully believe in going along with the status quo, then you do deserve this government.
I wonder if this country, The United States of America, has the temerity to return to the country that our founders fought so bravely for.
Our framers spilled real patriot blood as long as the Mississippi River and by and large Americans are throwing that away.
Rise up to the challenge left to all of us by President John F. Kennedy when he stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
If you do not, then we shall go the way of the once Mighty Roman Empire.
IThe secret of the House of SetIs hidden in my sevenfold veil;For I am he that doth begetThe Rood, and bear the Holy Graal.Yet is my manhood woman-frail,Barren my motherhood. They nowShall men my mystic mountain scale?These ram's-horn thumbs jut from my browTo push them to the miry sloughWherein the foes of Set are caught.Come, let us pluck the Golden BoughFrom the brave Tree of life and thought!Who heareth naught, he heedeth naught.Come, we are safely housed and shrinedWhere subtler images are wroughtThan boast the treasuries of Mind!IIThe secret of the House of Set.As a poor pilgrim clamberingToils on the slopes, so I to getHalidom for my lord the King.Faintly and feebly murmuringI uttered the mysterious runes,And bade my body's sleekness singSilky, satanic, subtle tunes.Was he not holy? Milk of moonsWere not so pallid as his cheek,And roses of a million JunesHis mouth left livid. So I seekIn all God's seas a tiny creekWherein to moor my shallop. Nay!He is a mountain, chill with bleakStark winds of innocence astray!The fearful passion sweeps me away.So with a passionate thrill of fearI creep -like shadows across Day!Like Winter on the expended year! -From those cold feet, a frozen meer,To those cold knees, a lost lagoon,To that wild woodland, strangely nearTo the lone tower that tops the moon!Verily and Amen! UnhewnThe great grim forest menaces.What gardener may dare to prunThose woods to build me palaces?So climb, each ledge an infinite stress,Lustful as light, as lechery loth,From the brutality of BeszTo the plumed perjury of Thoth!I held him holy. Holier bothThan aught the bearers of the bier,Thoum-aesh-neith and Auramoth,Saw in the hiding-house of fear.The sorceries that span the sphere,The spells that harness star and sun,I whispered in his siren ear -Once, twice, and thrice for every one!Once, twice, and thrice -the boon's begun!With four and five and six it stirs:With seven the druid dance is done,And Death drives home his silver spurs!Then -the last leap. What crowning curseCan bid that cup of curses brim?How may God's maniac ministersLash the last languor out of Him?I did it. How? So great and grimThe Gods are, I may never guess.Suffice it, on his mouth I swimA drowning dastard. The caressWakes the lost life. I see him dressThe godhead. Up he bounds and brays: -The wild ass of the wilderness,The soul that sees, the soul that slays!Inhabit the untrodden ways;Set! Thou my god and I thy priest,Thy temple hidden in the hazeOf deserts death to god or beast!Thou who art both shalt foin and feastWith me who am both, thy hate's co-heir,Lord of the West and of the East -The scorpion's hole, the lion's lair!I kissed his mouth -sublime despair!Our souls were one; our bodies met -Yea! darkness cover everywhereThe secret of the House of Set!
by Tracy StaedterWouldn't it be great if your computer could recognise when you're frustrated with it and adjust itself to calm you down? Emotion-sensing technology could someday allow a computer to do just that, researchers say. Computer scientist Christian Peter of Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics and his colleagues are working on a system that collects data about a person's emotional state using sight, sound and touch technology.
The system then interprets the information and reacts accordingly. For example, if a computer senses that its user is agitated, it might tone down the background colour of the screen, turn down background music, enlarge or reduce graphics, adjust the flow of information being presented to the user or simply apologise. "With humans, somebody who ignores the feelings of others is not liked as much as somebody who shows some sort of emotional feedback. Why should it be different with computers?" says Peter.But sensing emotions from a person is not always easy. Current methods for collecting the data require researchers to wire users with electrodes and monitor their behaviour in a laboratory. Less-obtrusive means, such as using a video to monitor gestures or a recorder to analyse voice, allow the user to behave more naturally. But the data can break down if the person moves too far away. Tuning in to your emotionsPeter and his team are working on technology that unobtrusively senses a person's emotions while they interact freely with a computer.Their latest prototype is a wireless electronic glove that measures heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature. Peter will be demonstrating the wireless glove at the CeBIT exhibition in Hanover, Germany, in March. "Fraunhofer has been on the leading of edge of innovating," says computer scientist Professor Rosalind Picard of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Information gathered by the glove is transmitted wirelessly to a base unit, which stores it on a memory card or sends it to a computer database.Software written by Peter's team analyses the data and retrieves patterns that indicate certain emotions. Is that anger I'm sensing?For example, if a person's heart rate increases quickly and their skin temperature falls below a certain threshold, it may indicate that they are angry.A different combination of other variables suggests the person is slightly surprised or very surprised. The Fraunhofer team is also working on technology that will read facial features using an ordinary webcam.The goal is to collect all the emotion-indicating information in one database, analyse it in real time and program the computer to respond immediately.
...Others say knowledge only is eternal, it is the eternal illusion of learning-the Ukase of learning what we already know. Directly we ask ourselves "how" we induce stupidity; without this conception what is there we could not know and accomplish? Others for concentration, it will not free you, the mind conceiving the law is bondage. Arrived at that, you will want deconcentration. Dissociation from all ideas but one is not release but imaginative fulfilment, or the fury of creation. Others again, that all things are emanations of the Divine Spirit, as rays from the Sun, hence the need of emancipation? Verily, things are of necessity through their conception and belief. Then let us destroy or change conception, and empty the belief.These and many other doctrines, are declared by me as the perpetuators of sin and illusion. Each and all depending on a muddled implication, obscuring, yet evolved from the duality of the consciousness for their enjoyment. In fear they would vomit hot blood were they to see the fruits of their actions and pleasures. Thus believing in widely different doctrines, they are of the dual principle, necessary parasites on each other. Like drugs and the surgeon's knife, they only annul or at best remove an effect. They do not change or remove the fundamental cause (the law). "Oh, God, thou art the stagnant environment." All is quackery: these religions whose very existence depend on their failure, are so full of misery and confusion, have only multiplied arguments, as full of argument as they are evil, so crowded with non-essentials, being so barren of any free pleasure in this life or another, I cannot uphold their doctrines. Their criterion for enjoyment-death! Better it were a man renounce them all, and embrace his own invincible purpose. He cannot go further, and this is his only release. By it he may put his pleasure where he will, and find satisfaction....
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of the Goddess they were,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
and I asked Her, "What have we here?
These prints are large and round and neat,
But much too big to be from feet."
"My child," She said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."
"You would not learn, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.
"Because in life, there comes a time
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."
Using the good-old American method, a lemonade stand, a ten-year-old Cub Scout has raised funds to save over 4,000 acres of rainforest in Guyana.Alex Rice of Piney Branch Elementary School in Maryland, USA, who has never set foot on local soil, got together with his friends of Cub Scout Den 7 (Pack 33) group in Takoma Park, Maryland and raised US$350 as part of a public service project for rainforest protection in Guyana.Alex's father, Dr Richard Rice and his US office, Conservation International (CI) in Washington, matched the money and CI-Guyana (CI), which manages the Upper Essequibo Conserva-tion Concession, further matched it. Every US 15 cents raised is equivalent to one acre of forest. ...
Sitting stone still under a skull cap fitted with a couple dozen electrodes, Austrian scientist Peter Brunner stares at a laptop computer. Without so much as moving a nostril hair, he suddenly begins to compose a message — letter by letter — on a giant screen overhead.“B-O-N-J-O-U-R” he writes with the power of his mind, much to the amazement of the largely French audience of scientists and curious onlookers gathered at the four-day European Research and Innovation Exhibition in Paris, which opened Thursday.Brunner and two colleagues from the state-financed Wadsworth Center in Albany, New York were demonstrating a “brain computer interface (BCI),” an astounding technology which digitalizes brain signals emitted as electrical impulses — picked up by the electrodes — to convey intent.While no spoons were bent, this was definitely mind over matter. Without recourse to nerves or muscles, BCI “can provide communication and control to people who are totally paralyzed” and unable to unable to speak or move, explains researcher Theresa Sellers, also from Wadsworth.Dr. Sellers estimates there are some 100 million potential users of BCI technology worldwide, including 16 million sufferers of cerebral palsy, a degenerative brain disease, and at least five million victims of spinal cord injury. Another 10 million people have been totally paralyzed by brainstem strokes, she said. Scientists have been experimenting with ways to translate thought directly into action for nearly two decades, but BCI has only recently begun to move out of the laboratory and into the daily lives of those trapped inside bodies that no longer respond to their will.Possible applications extend beyond the written word into physical movement — it is only a matter of time, Sellers says, before the same technology is used to operate motorized wheel chairs. “We can do already. But it is a complex problem, and for now it would be unsafe,” she says.The frightful condition of being “locked in” came into the public eye in the late 1990s, when French journalist and Elle Magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, after suffering a massive stroke, painstakingly “dictated” a beautiful and moving memoir by blinking his left eyelid. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” published two days before he died, became an international bestseller. Had BCI technology been available to him, Bauby would almost certainly have been able to write his book unassisted, and in a fraction of the time.The Wadsworth system, one of several that detects electroencephalographic (EEG) activity, is based on an algorithm that analyzes the brain waves and identifies peaks in activity that correspond to particular mental efforts.As Dr. Brunner concentrates on the “B” of “bonjour” in a keyboard-like grid of letters and symbols taking up half the screen, a computer randomly highlights lines of characters in rapid succession.Each time the row — vertical or horizontal — containing the letter “B” is illuminated, Brunner’s brain emits a slightly stronger signal. It takes the computer about 15 seconds to figure out what letter he is looking at. The system is doubly adaptive, with both the software and the person using it becoming more efficient over time. “It may not sound very practical, but for someone who is paralyzed it can make all the difference in the world,” says Sellers. Indeed, for at least one 48-year old neurobiologist in the United States stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — an invariably fatal degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells — the Wadsworth BCI technology has make it possible not only to communicate but to continue working, even though he can no longer even move his eyes. “He writes grant proposals, sends e-mails and can use the keyboard of a computer at home,” Sellers said of the man, whom she did not identify in order to protect his privacy. He even wrote a message for the exhibition in Paris, which Sellers projected onto a screen.
I. The Story of GlaukosThe story begins two generations before the Trojan War when the child Anthêdôn (Rejoicing in Flowers) was born to the Minôs (Ruler) of Crete (who had come from Skuthia, i.e. Scythia) by bull-loving Pasiphaê (All-illuminating), a daughter of the Moon and Sun (that is, Hêlios, also called Phaethôn, Illuminating). One day the child went into a cave used to store hydromel (mead), which was the sacred drink before Dionysos gave us wine. In innocent ignorance he drowned himself in the liquor, but nobody knew what had happened to him.Therefore the Minôs sent for the Kourêtes (Curetes), who were known as great seers (manteis), and they told him that whoever could best describe Minôs' miraculous cow would be able to restore Anthêdôn alive to him. This cow changed colors every four hours: from the black of chaotic night, to the pure white of day, to the vital red of blood, then back to black again. So Minôs had all the diviners in the land brought together, and the Kourêtes judged the best description to be that of a certain iatromantis (healer-seer, i.e. shaman) from Corinth called Poluidos ("Much Knowing"), the son of Koiranos, the son of Abas, the son of Melampous (Blackfoot) the Egyptian, the most famous iatromantis in Greece, who knew the language of snakes and woodworms. Poluidos said that the cow was like the ripening mulberry (batos), which is first pure white, then vibrant red, and finally a rich dark purple (i.e. black). (These are also the colors of the alchemical Great Work.)Therefore, Poluidos was entrusted with finding Anthêdôn, and by divination he came to a place where the Owl (Glaux) was driving away the Bees (Melissai) from a cave (for Bees reveal the presence of prophetic Goddesses). Looking inside he found the drowned boy, and brought him to Minôs.However, the grief-stricken Minôs was not satisfied, because the Kourêtes had said that the iatromantis would restore his living son to him, so he ordered that Poluidos be shut up with the boy's body in a beehive-shaped tomb, until he brought Anthêdôn back to life. This was beyond Poluidos' (or any mortal's) power, and so he prayed to the Gods for help. After a while, as his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he saw a snake approaching the corpse. On an impulse he killed the snake, because the idea had come into him that it would nibble the corpse. Shortly thereafter a second snake came forth and discovered the body of the first. Then it went away and came back holding in its mouth the twig of an herb (called Dios Anthos, the Flower of Zeus) with three blue-green (glaukos) leaves. [Graves thinks it was mistletoe, the Druidic Herb of the Sun.] The second snake laid this herb upon the first snake, which immediately came to life and left with its companion. Poluidos was astonished, but quickly took the serpent's branch and applied it to the boy while repeating a prayer three times. Like the snake, the boy immediately returned to life. (This is the very same herb that Asclepius later used to resurrect Hippolytus.)Anthêdôn had a shiny blue-gray scar over his heart where the branch had touched him, and so he was thereafter called Glaukos (Blue-Grey) or in their language Glas (Gaelic, "Grey"). Poluidos explained to the boy that a part of his mortality had been burned away and replaced by divine substance, as shown by the scar. In this way he was reborn as a iatromantis (healer-seer), and he was called Antitheos (Godlike). Moreover, he later discovered that from the serpent-staff he had acquired power over snakes, as have his descendants to the end of time.Minôs gave Poluidos many gifts, but then ordered him to teach Glaukos all his arts, especially divination; because Glaukos (or Glas) was an eager student, he became known as Gathêlos Glaukos or, in their language, Gaodhal Glas, from Gaoith-Dil (Lover of Learning). His magical craft, the Glaukou Tekhnê (Art of the Blue Man), became so famous that the ancients would say, "It doesn't take the Art of the Blue Man to do so and so" when they meant "It doesn't take a wizard to do so and so."Eventually Minôs gave Poluidos leave to return home, but before he did so, the seer bade Glaukos to spit in his mouth. Ovid is wrong in claiming that by so doing Glaukos lost all power of divination and that in this way Poluidos reclaimed the gift he had been compelled to give. If this were true, how could Glaukos have become the famous seer that he did, eagerly sought for his prophecies by people throughout Greece? What really happened is that Poluidos also spat into Glaukos' mouth; in this way a sacred covenant was forged between the two seers. Thus also Glaukos was called Gnôstês (Soothsayer). (This name is also equipotent with the Antitheos Euplokamos, the Godlike One with Fair Locks)After returning home, Poluidos fathered Eukhênôr (who accompanied his father to Troy and was killed by Paris in the war), Astuktatia and Mantô (a famous prophetess).When Glaukos got his beard, he went to live on the shores of the Euboicum Mare (Euboean Sea) at the place in Euboia that is now called Anthêdôn in his honor. He felt a strong attraction for the sea and used to fish with both nets and rod and line.One day he came to a rocky place, with the waves on one side and on the other a meadow of grassy herbs, never touched by sheep or goats, nor frequented by bees, nor cut by people. He spread out his nets and lines on this grass to dry, and was counting the fish that were still on his hooks, when he observed the strangest thing: one of the fish nibbled a certain blue-green or gray grassy herb (glaukê poia) and suddenly became rejuvenated and jumped back into the water. In this way all the fish escaped back into the water. (This herb, which some call Glaukiskos, had been sown by Kronos in His Golden Age.)Glaukos was curious about the nature of this Undying Grass (Danaia Poia), and so he picked some of it and chewed it. Immediately his heart began to pound and he felt the irresistible call of the sea. He cried, "Farewell Earth, to which I shall never return!" and jumped into the depths. He was immediately surrounded by schools of sea-divinities, who called on the all-encircling King and Queen, Okeanos (Ocean) and Têthus, to accept him in Their domain. The Seirênes (Sirens) sang a magic purification song to him thrice three times, and told him that he had to bathe in the Hundred Streams.When Glaukos did so, his mind became confused as in a dream and was so transformed that he could not even clearly remember his earlier life. Through his delirium he discovered that he had a thick green beard, and bluish skin, and feet like the tail of a fish. Thus he became Glaukos of the Sea (Pontios or Thalassios), a Pontomedôn (Lord of the Sea) and came to rule a kingdom under the waters near Dêlos.To the prophetic art he had learned from Poluidos, he added the art of the wise Old Man of the Sea, Nêreus the Truthful, son of Earth and Sea (Gaia and Pontos), who was his friend, and thereafter Glaukos Gnôstês (Soothsayer) delivered oracles, coming once a year to the seamen in each port and island of Greece.Not long after Glaukos' transformation, Skulla (Scylla), a beautiful Nêreid (daughter of Old Man Nêreus), came down to the seashore at night. There she disrobed and refreshed herself in a shallow pool. In the moonlight she saw a beautiful boy floating with his chest and arms out of the water. She pulled her long hair over her breasts and called to him, "What are you looking at?""The most beautiful nymph," he replied, and they bantered for a time, with ever increasing mutual attraction."Come closer so that I can see you," she called, but when he got close she saw that his thick hair, which covered his back, was green and that his skin was blue, for he was Glaukos. When Skulla saw that he became a fish at his groin, she shrieked, jumped from the pool and ran to the top of an overhanging cliff. Regaining her confidence, she called "What sort of monster are you?"Godlike (Antitheos) Glaukos replied, "Fair nymph, I am not a monster, but a Sea God and more powerful than every Sea Lord (Pontomedôn) around here. But I cannot walk on land, and beg you to come back to the shore, so that we may share our love."When Skulla saw that she had nothing to fear from Glaukos, she returned to the shore, still naked but for her long hair, and stood above him."Come down into the water with me," he pleaded and stroked her calves."You are not so powerful if you cannot come to me," she laughed, slipping from his hands and going a few feet away to recline in the pool. With signs she invited him, and Mighty (Krateros) Glaukos struggled out of the water, using his strong arms to pull himself across the sand to the pool. He flopped up next her and reached for an embrace, but she jumped to her feet and kicked him, shouting "You are a mongrel thing, half fish and half man, and out of place in both kingdoms!" Then she grabbed her robe and ran away laughing.Great-Hearted (Megalêtôr) Glaukos was furious, but burning with love for her, and grief at her treatment. Slowly and painfully he dragged himself back into the sea and swam quickly from Euboia to Aiaia, a mysterious island near Sicily [Monte Circei?], which is the home of many beasts, who live on hills green with herbs. It is a paradoxical place, where the Sun rises and sets, and the hidden kingdom of Potnia Kirkê (Mistress Circe), divine sorceress and daughter of the Sun (Hêlios) and Persê, a Moon Goddess (perhaps Hekatê Herself) born of the Ocean; thus Kirkê was the sister of Pasiphaê, the mother of Glaukos. He came up through a submarine cave that opens into her halls (megara). There he called for audience with the queen and explained that he was filled with passion for a nymph. He begged, "Theia (Aunt) Kirkê, Polupharmakos (Knowing Many Potions), master of the magic of Love, grant me this favor and sing a spell or brew a potion - for I know the magic power of herbs - but not one that will cure me! Rather, turn her heart so that she burns with as much passion as me."The regal and powerful enchantress, Kirkê Euplokamos (Fair-haired), replied, "Ah, Godlike Glaukos, my dear young Sea Lord, it would be far better if you loved someone like me, who knows what it is to burn with passion, than that frivolous nymph." Then with many words and actions she won his heart, so that he felt the same lust as her. In a shallow pool in her halls they tangled their limbs, hers soft and white, his glossy and blue, and spawned like fish.Then Crafty (Doloessa) Kirkê taught him arts and incantations that would allow him to take the form of a mortal man, and accept her love in this way too. And through the night they enjoyed every pleasure afforded by their bodies and their craft.In the morning Glaukos begged Kirkê Audêessa (Speaking Mortal Speech) for forgiveness, saying, "Gracious Goddess I have misled you. Although you have shown me every kindness and we have joined in passion, I cannot stop loving Skulla. Indeed seaweed will grow on the tops of the mountains, and trees will grow in the depths of the sea, before I will stop loving her." (Kirkê is called Euplokamos - Fair-haired - because that name is equipotent with Audêessa Leaina - the Lioness who Speaks the Speech of Mortals - her secret nature.) Mistress Kirkê was furious and would have destroyed Glaukos, but she loved him already and knew he was a powerful Sea Lord. Therefore she turned her wrath toward Skulla, circling like a sparrow hawk and saying to herself "Very well; you want her desiring you like a bitch in heat, and so she shall." She stormed into the dark forest and gathered secret herbs and pulverized them into a pungent powder while she sang a spell taught to her by Hekatê. When she was done, she wrapped her azure robe around her fair shoulders and went out through her court, where her familiar animals fawned about her (for she is Potnia Thêrôn - Mistress of the Beasts). By magic arts she skimmed across the waves to Rhêgion (modern Reggio di Calabria), opposite the rocky coast of Zanklê (mod. Messina), and to that pool where Skulla was accustomed to refresh herself. She poured her potent potion into the water as she circled it, intoning over it a complex spell thrice nine times.At her usual time Skulla came to the pool, loosened the peplos (robe) from her shoulders, and folded it on a rock. When she had waded waist deep into the pool she felt something churning in the water around her thighs; suddenly the water around her waist erupted with snarling dogs' heads. She jumped from the pool to escape them, but discovered in her horror that they were her: her legs were covered with shaggy hair and shaped like dogs; each of her beautiful buttocks had become a yapping dog head, and her place of love had become a snarling dog. Such was the revenge of Kirkê Polupharmakos (Skilled in Many Potions).Kirkê brought Great-Hearted Glaukos to see what she had done to Skulla, hoping that she would then have all his love, but he was horrified that she could do such a thing and fled from her into the ocean's depths.Skulla Deinê (the Terrible) went to hide in a cave by the shore, where she would show her beautiful torso to lure sailors into her cave. When they came to lie with her, her lustful hunger was satisfied by the ravening dog-heads, for this was the only way they could be fed (although they could be placated somewhat by stroking). She also revenged herself on Kirkê by devouring as many of Odysseus' companions as she was able. Skulla Petraia (Living on Rocks) stayed in this place for many years, until she was mercifully turned to stone.In ten months - the period of divine gestation - Kirkê bore a daughter from the seed of Glaukos Gnôstês (Soothsayer), whom she named Sibulla (Sibyl). When the girl was grown she traveled in many lands, and so she was called Phoitô (Wanderer). First she went to live in Eruthrai (Erythrae), where she achieved much fame for her prophecies, for when the Achaeans were on the way to Ilion, she told them that Troy would fall and that a Poet (i.e. Homer) would tell lies about the war. Later she went with the Kimmerioi (Cimmerians) to Sardô (Sardinia), where she prophesied to those long-breasted mountain Nymphs (Numphai oreskôoi dolikhomazoi) who call themselves Dianades or Ianades (i.e. the Janae, daughters of Jana), who in turn taught her many secrets, including the ways through the Underworld. [This meeting is described somewhat differently in The Janid, the mythic history of the Janae.] Then they traveled to Lake Aornos (Lk. Avernus, near Naples), the Mouth of the Underworld, where they established a home in the Great Cave (near Baiae) and she founded the oracular shrine later moved to Kumê (Cumae); among the Cimmerians she was consulted by Aeneas and Odysseus after they left Troy. Finally she went to the City of the Nymphs (Astu Numpheôn) on Samos, where she lived many years, prophesying from the Cave of the Nymphs there [probably the Spiliani cave]. Later prophetesses were called Sibyls (Sibullai) after her. Her name Phoitô reflects her parentage, for it is equipotent with Audêessa (Speaking Mortal Speech) and Kouros (Lad), that is, Kirkê and Glaukos. She was called Hêrophilê (Beloved of Hera) on Samos (where the Goddess is especially honored) because that name is equal to Gathêlos Aitherios (Ethereal), and she lived for a thousand years because Hêrophilê Aitheria is equipotent with Aiôn (Aeon). She was called Dêiphobê because that name is equal to Skotia (Darkness). She was known by this name as a priestess of both Apollo and Trioditis, a name for Artemis as the Threefold Goddess of the Road. This is all I will say about this Sibulla for now. After leaving Kirkê, Godlike Glaukos came in human form to Iasôn (Jason) and used his arts to construct the ship Argô; he himself became an Argonaut, in fact, the ship's first steersman. He traveled with Iasôn and the other Argonauts in quest of the Golden Fleece of Kolkhis (Colchis), into Aia [that is, Gaia, the Earth], his family's origin, whose king, called Aiêtês, was blood-brother of Kirkê and Pasiphaê and father of Mêdeia (Medea). (He is a king of the Underworld like Aidês [Hadês].) In the battle between Iasôn and the Turrhênoi (Etruscans), Glaukos protected himself by jumping into the sea and taking on his fish form; he was the only Argonaut to escape unscathed. Having revealed himself as a Sea Lord, he subsequently helped the Argonauts in many ways. All this took place in the generation before the Trojan War.Although he never forgot Skulla, Great-Hearted Glaukos had many wives. For example, he loved Ariadne when she was on Dia, but she and Dionysos preferred each other, and Glaukos had to give her up.Gathêlos also went to Egypt, where he used his craft and bravery to help the Pharaoh to defeat the Ethiopians. In gratitude the Pharaoh offered him his daughter Skotia (Darkness) as wife, and they were married. They lived happily in Egypt until the Pharaoh [perhaps Akhenaten, 1367-1350 BCE] introduced a new religion that was hostile to the practices of Druids (Druidôn). Therefore, Mighty Gathêlos took Skotia his queen and a large number of followers to seek the land that had been prophesied for them. (We know that Anthêdôn Gathêlos was destined for Skotia, because Gathêlos and Skotia together equal Anthêdôn.) First they went to Gotthia, where Carthage was later built. Then Gathêlos led them on to found a colony in Galicia in Spain, which is called Brigantia (near modern La Coruña) after the Goddess Brigintis (Brighid), and from there they went to Iernê (Ireland). Here Gathêlos was crowned king and his followers took the name Skotioi (Dark Ones, Scots) after the name of their queen. Some say that the entire Gaelic clan (Clan-na-Gael) is named for Gaodhal Glas (Gathêlos Glaukos), who led them into these places. Eventually the Skotioi came to the land of Hyperboreans, to Caledonia in the northernmost parts of Albion (England), where they settled. They founded the Kingdom of Skotia, also named for Gathêlos' queen.*...Click Title Link for the rest...
SPEECH BY FELIPE PEREZ ROQUE, FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, DURING THE HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCILExcellencies:Today is a particularly symbolic day. Cuba is a founding member of the Human Rights Council and the United States is not. Cuba was elected with the overwhelming support of 135 countries, more than two-thirds of the United Nations General Assembly, while the United States did not even dare to run as a candidate. Cuba relied on the secret vote for the same reasons that the United States was afraid of it.Cuba’s election epitomizes the victory of principles and truth; it stands as recognition of the value of our resilience. The absence of the United States is the defeat of lies; it is the moral punishment for the haughtiness of an empire. The election entailed a demanding assessment. Each one got what they deserved. Cuba was rewarded and the United States was punished. Each one had its history and the voting countries were well aware of it.The African countries recalled that over 2,000 Cuban fighters had shed their generous blood in the struggle against the outrageous Apartheid regime, which the United States supported and furnished with weapons, even nuclear ones.The election for Cuba came at a moment in which nearly 30,000 Cuban doctors were saving lives and alleviating the pain in 70 countries, while the United States reached that stage with 150,000 invading soldiers, sent to kill and die in an unjust and illegal war.The election for Cuba came with more than 300,000 patients from 26 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who were recovering their eyesight thanks to the cost-free surgeries performed by Cuban eye specialists. It came for the United States with over 100,000 civilians murdered and 2,500 American youths dead in a war concocted to steal a country’s oil and give away sumptuous contracts to a group of cronies of the President of the world’s sole superpower.The election for Cuba came with more than 25,000 youths from 120 Third World countries studying in its universities and colleges free of charge. It came for the United States with a concentration camp in Guantánamo, where prisoners are subjected to torture and where the official statement of the prison wardens was that the suicide of three human beings “is not an act of despair but an act of war and propaganda.”The election for Cuba came with its airplanes carrying Cuban medical doctors and field hospitals to places where there had been natural disasters or epidemics. It came for the United States with its aircraft secretly carrying drugged and handcuffed prisoners from one jail to another.The election for Cuba came with its proclamation of the prevalence of lawfulness over force, defending the United Nations Charter, demanding and fighting for a better world. It came for the United States with its proclamation of “if you are not on our side, you are against us.”The election for Cuba came with its proposal of setting aside the trillion US dollars annually spent on weapons to fight off the yearly death of preventable causes of 11 million children under the age of five years and 600,000 poor women at childbirth. In the meantime, it came for the United States with its proclamation of its right to bomb and “preemptively” wipe out what it scornfully called “any dark corners of the world” if its designs were not obeyed. That included the city of The Hague, if there were any attempts to prosecute an American soldier at the International Criminal Court.While Cuba defended the rights of the Palestinian people, the United States was the main pillar behind Israel’s crimes and atrocities.While under the striking force of Hurricane Katrina the US Government abandoned hundreds of thousands of people to their luck, most of them black and poor, Cuba immediately offered to send 1,100 doctors, who could have saved lives and alleviated their suffering.I could go on and on listing reasons until tomorrow. I just want to add that it is the Government of the United States, not its people, which does not have a seat today as a member of the Council. The American people will be represented in the others, including Cuba’s seat. Our delegation will also speak out for the rights of the American people and, particularly, for the rights of its most discriminated and excluded sectors.Now, the truth is that the United States was not alone in its gross and desperate schemes and pressures to prevent Cuba’s election. A handful of its allies followed them to the very end. The usual posse: beneficiaries of the unjust and exclusion-oriented world order, most of them former colonial metropolises, which have not yet paid off their historical debt to their once-colonies.Cuba is perfectly aware, even to its barest details, of the secret agreement negotiated in Brussels through which the European Union undertook not to vote for Cuba and then work closely with the United States against our candidature. But they failed famously. It turned out that Cuba was elected without its support and its uncomfortable ally, which they need as a policeman to guarantee its privileges and squandering opulence, could not even run as a candidate.The corridors and halls of this building are now reverberating with repeated calls for “a fresh start” and “breathing fresh air into the new Council” – precisely by those who are responsible for the manipulation, hypocrisy and selectivity that caused the Commission on Human Rights to run aground. It is fitting to point out that a fresh start cannot be built on the oblivion of what has been happening or the simulation that some sugar-coated rhetoric is a problem-solver. What we need are deeds and not words.If there is any truth to the statements by the spokespersons of the European Union and we are actually faced with a mea culpa, then we are still awaiting their rectification. Not because of Cuba. Not because they colluded with the United States to try to prevent our election. Not because they have never been able to have an ethical and independent policy towards Cuba.We are awaiting a rectification to the attitude of the European Union, which last year prevented the Commission on Human Rights from adopting an investigation into the massive, flagrant and systematic human rights violations at Guantánamo Naval Base.A rectification to the silent complicity with which they allowed hundreds of secret CIA flights carrying kidnapped people and the establishment of clandestine prisons right on European soil, where prisoners are tortured and harassed. So far, the European Union has hypocritically hindered the investigation and the clarification of these events.The European Union has not mustered the courage to serve exemplary sanctions on the miserable manifestations of lack of respect for other religions and customs.The European Union was an accomplice to the United States in turning the former Commission into some sort of Inquisition Tribunal against the countries of the South. We just hope that it will not happen again now.The European Union has not even acknowledged its historical debt to the nearly 100 countries – currently independent nations after years of struggle and sacrifice – which were its pillaged colonies when, fifty-seven years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, which paradoxically stated that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”Excellencies:This session can usher in a new stage in the struggle to create a real system for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all the inhabitants on the planet, and not just for the rich and privileged. A radical change will be required to that end; a real revolution in the concepts and methods that weighed down the defunct Commission.Cuba does not indulge in wishful thinking about the real willingness of the developed countries – allies of the United States – to take that significant and historical step. However, it will give them the benefit of the doubt. It will wait and watch them.Cuba can be counted upon if we work towards fulfilling the promises that have been trumpeted. If the past repeats itself and the Council becomes a battlefield again, from now on Cuba can be counted upon to turn, one more time, into a fighter in the trenches of ideas of the Third World.Cuba cannot be counted upon to turn the Council into an exclusive tribunal against the underdeveloped countries and ensure the impunity of those in the North. Nor can it be relied upon to use the Council’s suspension clause against rebellious countries or to continue using, in a politicized and selective fashion, the country resolutions to punish those that do not bow their head.Cuba cannot be counted upon to use the new universal periodical review mechanism as an instrument of new pressures and media campaigns.Nor can Cuba be counted upon to defend lies and act hypocritically.Cuba can be counted upon to fight for truth and transparency, to defend the right to independence, to self-determination, to social justice, to equality. And also to defend the right to food, to education, to health, to dignity, the right to a dignified life.Cuba can be counted upon to defend real democracy, true participation and the real enjoyment of all human rights.Cuba’s cooperation cannot be counted upon to assist the spurious mandate of any envoy, representative or rapporteur imposed through force and blackmail. Cuba can be counted upon to cooperate, on an equal footing, with the Council and its non-selective mechanisms.Cuba’s cooperation cannot be counted upon to make silence and fail to speak out against the ruthless economic blockade that we have endured for over four decades, nor can it be relied upon not to demand the return to our Homeland of five pure and courageous Cuban youths that were fighting terrorism and are currently imprisoned in US jails unjustly and illegally.Cuba’s cooperation cannot be counted upon to relinquish a single principle. Cuba will always be counted upon to uphold the noble ideal of building a better world for all.Finally, on behalf of the Cuban people, who dream, build and defend their Revolution back in our Homeland, I would like to extend a special gratitude to our Third World brothers and sisters for their decisive support for Cuba’s election as a member of the Human Rights Council – and I hereby reiterate that the Cubans will never betray the trust that you have placed in us.For those who support Cuba’s struggle for its rights, which is also the struggle for the rights of all the nations in the Third World and the progressive and democratic forces in the First World, we have a message: Until victory onwards!For those who attack Cuba and for their accomplices, we have another message: ¡Patria o Muerte!¡Venceremos!(Translated by ESTI)
On Iraq, Iran and BlairThe New York Times calls him "arguably the most important intellectual alive", yet he has needed police guards on his own campus. Andrew Stephen discusses Iraq, Iran and Blair with a man who divides opinion like no other You might think the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would be well designed, but you would be wrong. I arrived to see the legendary Professor Noam Chomsky with five minutes to spare, but it then took 20 minutes of misdirections and meanderings before I finally reached MIT's Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, where Chomsky has reigned supreme for 51 years.I arrived hot and sweaty, because I had been told by some that he did not suffer fools gladly, though others had insisted he was unfailingly courteous. People tend to have widely divergent, passionate views of Chomsky: to many he is a revered beacon of academe and politics, while critics exult in dismissing him as (take your pick) a fraud, a Zionist, an anti-Semite (he is Jewish), an off-the-chart commie, an agent of the CIA, Mossad, the KGB, MI6 and so on. The world is so split between Chomskyites and anti-Chomskyites that there is even a book called The Anti-Chomsky Reader.My anxieties, though, turned out to be groundless. I was greeted by a softly spoken man in a speckled green pullover who could have been a decade younger than his 77 years, and who showed immediate empathy. "It's a crazy building," he said. "Can you imagine the point of having a faculty office with angled walls where you can't even put a bookcase or blackboard?"Hardly a minute has passed in the last half-century, it seems, when Chomsky has not been pouring out ideas and passions. He has published more than 100 books, ranging from his seminal 1957 work on linguistics, Syntactic Structures, to this year's Failed States: the abuse of power and the assault on democracy, which deftly turns the Bush administration's description of countries such as Afghanistan on the US itself. Linguistics is hardly my field, but I had tried in advance to get a feel for just how important his academic work is. I knew that his basic theory, put exceedingly simply, is that language is not something merely picked up by children in the course of growing up, but that we all come into the world with a linguistic framework embedded in our brains. My further research faltered, though, when the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy told me his work had evolved so that the "grammaticality" of a sentence could be explained by the theorem: X-NP1-V-NP2-Y->(1)X-NP2-be+enV-by+NP1-Yx. Then a friend who has a doctorate in linguistics came to my rescue: "Chomsky redid linguistics the way Freud redid psychology," she explained in an e-mail. That was enough for me to place the man's academic standing in context.And so, that settled, to politics. We spoke about Iraq and Afghanistan, about Blair's Britain ("I guess if the country's going to blindly follow US orders it's going to inherit the threats that come with that"), about how Messrs Bush, Blair, Straw and others were war criminals and why America is a failed state. But we began with the story dominating the media that day: the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. Chomsky was not joining in the triumphalism."He was certainly a leading gangster and I don't think there's many people outside of his village in Jordan that mourn him. He's had a horrible role that was basically created by the Iraq invasion, which we can't escape responsibility for. He had a loose connection with al-Qaeda, mostly symbolic, with each trying to exploit the other. But that whole system which we call al-Qaeda is not an organisation, it's a network of networks, a lot of loosely interconnected people. What the effects [of killing al-Zarqawi] will be in the massive terrorist apparatus that's been created by the Bush-Blair invasion, one can only guess. The invasion was an enormous stimulant for terrorism, as was anticipated."Mastery of detailChomsky's unremitting clarity and his seeming mastery of detail somehow defy interruption or argument, but they are wondrous to behold. When we talk about Bush, Blair and co being hauled before the War Crimes Tribunal, I mention Milosevic and he switches subjects without pausing. The case against the Bush administration is stronger, he insists, than that against the late Serb president. "Remember, the Milosevic Tribunal began with Kosovo, right in the middle of the US-British bombing in late '99 . . . Now if you take a look at that indictment, with a single exception, every charge was for crimes after the bombing."There's a reason for that. The bombing was undertaken with the anticipation explicit [that] it was going to lead to large-scale atrocities in response. As it did. Now there were terrible atrocities, but they were after the bombings. In fact, if you look at the British parliamentary inquiry, they actually reached the astonishing conclusion that, until January 1999, most of the crimes committed in Kosovo were attributed to the KLA guerrillas."So later they added charges [against Milosevic] about the Balkans, but it wasn't going to be an easy case to make. The worst crime was Srebrenica but, unfortunately for the International Tribunal, there was an intensive investigation by the Dutch government, which was primarily responsible - their troops were there - and what they concluded was that not only did Milosevic not order it, but he had no knowledge of it. And he was horrified when he heard about it. So it was going to be pretty hard to make that charge stick."And Saddam Hussein? "Saddam Hussein is, of course, a leading monster, but he is being charged right now with crimes he committed in 1982 - with having killed about 150 Shiites after an assassination attempt in 1982. Well, 1982 is a pretty important year in US-Iraqi relations. That's the year in which Ronald Reagan removed Iraq from the list of states supporting terrorism, so that the US would be able to provide their friend Saddam with large-scale aid. Donald Rumsfeld had to [go to] Iraq to tie up the agreement. That included the means to develop weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, and so on."A large point of that was to punish Iran. The weapons that were provided by the United States and Britain and Germany and Russia and France and plenty of others were supporting Iraq's aggression. The US and Britain and those others were supporting it, so why aren't they in the dock next to Saddam Hussein?"I mentioned the hanging by Iraq of my then colleague on the Observer, Farzad Bazoft - and my feelings when a deputation of US senators went to Baghdad soon afterwards to see Saddam, and one of them told him that his regime's main problem with the west was media perception. Chomsky did not miss a beat. "That was April 1990, a few months before the invasion of Kuwait. It was a high-level senatorial commission led by Robert Dole, who was the next presidential candidate for the Republicans, to convey President Bush's greetings and to assure him that the United States had their best wishes for him and that he should not pay attention to the carping in the media because we have this free-press thing here . . . They were grovelling, and that was a couple of months before the invasion [of Kuwait]."It's worse in Britain, he says. "Jack Straw, in 2002, was wailing about Saddam Hussein's atrocities - and right before that he turned down an application for asylum from an Iraqi dissident who had escaped the torture chambers. And he turned it down with a letter saying that [the man] could be sure that if he went back to Iraq he would be treated properly by their justice system." He likes the description of Blair's Britain, he tells me, as pillion rider on the American motorcycle.And Afghanistan? "I think Afghanistan, if we look at it, is one of the most grotesque acts of modern history. There's a lot of reinvented fables about it. But the war was undertaken explicitly on 7 October  with Bush's announcement that unless the Taliban handed over to the United States people who the US suspected - not knew, but suspected - were involved in 9/11, then the US would bomb the people of Afghanistan."Admiral Boyce, I think it was, the British commander, then announced a change in the war aims after about three weeks of bombing. He said that the bombing of Afghanistan would continue - I wish I could remember the exact words, but it was something like 'until the people of Afghanistan overthrow their government'. They bombed Afghanistan with the knowledge that there were about five million people, according to their estimates, who were at serious risk of starvation."So he believes that the attacks on Afghanistan were worse than those on Iraq? "Every crime is distinct. I mean, is it worse than invading South Vietnam in 1962? Is it worse than the Russian invasion of Afghanistan?"Understand the crimesWhich brings us back to war-crimes trials. Did he seriously envisage Bush and Blair in handcuffs at The Hague? No: charging them would be symbolic. "What was important about the Nuremberg trials was not that they hung however many people it was, but that the German population were given the proper means to understand what the crimes were. I want their crimes to be fully understood, to be in elementary school textbooks, and ensure that those of our countries which tolerated these crimes should look themselves in the eye."Then we move on to Iran, and Chomsky's methodical deconstruction of US and British policies there. In American eyes, he says, there's only one event in US-Iranian history in the past half-century. "That's 1979, when Iranians committed a crime: they threw out a tyrant installed by a US-British military coup, and they took hostages. And they had to be punished."Well, did anything else happen in the last half-century or so? Yes. The US and Britain overthrew the parliamentary government, installed a brutal tyrant, supported him right through the years of torture and violence. As soon as he was overthrown they turned to supporting Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians - many with chemical weapons provided by the US and others. Right after that they imposed sanctions which have crushed the population."That means that for over 50 years the US and Britain have been torturing the people of Iran." Yet they remain defiant, Chomsky says, and for that they have to be punished. "Starting in the summer of 2003, two interesting things happened. First, all of a sudden, the reason for invading Iraq was not weapons of mass destruction. It was to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East and the world . . . But the other thing that happened which has been little noticed is that there was already the beginning of building up a government media campaign about Iranian nuclear weapons."And as Bush's popularity declined, the intensity of this campaign increased. Maybe it's just coincidence, but I don't think so. In fact, the Iranian alleged nuclear weapons are now providing a pretext which will be used for a permanent US presence in Iraq. They're building the biggest embassy in the world in Baghdad which towers over everything, they're building military bases. Is that because they intend to get out and leave Iraq to itself? No. If you're staying in Iraq you have to have a reason. Well, the reason will be that you have to defend the world against Iran."Admiration and hatredBy now Chomsky's assistant is knocking on the door and leaving it ajar, a signal that time is nearly up with the man the New York Times has called "arguably the most important intellectual alive today". The leading monitor of academic journals says he is the most cited authority in the world today: yet that blend of admiration and hatred, of reverence and revulsion, runs as powerfully as ever through the US bloodstream when his name comes up.Stanford's Professor Paul Robinson wrote in the New York Review of Books that Chomsky has a "maddeningly simple-minded view of the world", while Marxist-turned-neo-con pundit David Horowitz, co-editor of The Anti-Chomsky Reader, describes him as the "ayatollah of anti-Americanism". Chomsky even figured on the list of targets of Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, and he is frequently given police protection, even on the MIT campus, though he insists he does not seek it.He says, however, that when he takes his grandson to a baseball game he enjoys being part of mainstream America: "It's my country," he told me, with what I thought was just a hint of defensiveness. His latest book, though, defines his country as a failure. There are three main criteria for failed states, he says: unwillingness or inability to protect its citizens from violence, insistence that they are not answerable to international law or to any external consensus, and failure to implement true democracy.The Bush administration, he believes, "has got no interest, or very little interest" in protecting American citizens from terrorism - containers coming into US ports, for example, are not inspected properly - "but the most serious threats are literal threats to survival, the threats of nuclear war and of environmental destruction". And Bush is not protecting Americans against those either.Showing scant respect for international law or external consensus, too, has a pedigree in the US going back over almost two centuries of expansionism. "There's a lot of outrage about the Bush Doctrine, but what about the Clinton Doctrine? It said that the United States has the right to undertake unilateral use of force to protect key markets, resources and investments."The third crucial sign of America's failure, he says, is that "there's a huge gap between public opinion and public policy. Both political parties are well to the right of the population on a host of major issues, and the elections that are run are carefully designed so that issues do not arise."But Americans still voted overwhelmingly for either Bush or Kerry in 2004, didn't they? "I don't know if you watched the presidential debates. I didn't but my wife [they have been married since 1949] did. She has a college PhD and taught for 25 years at Harvard and is presumably capable of following arguments. She literally couldn't tell where the candidates stood on issues, and people didn't because the elections are designed that way." By whom? "The public relations industry, because they sell candidates the same way they sell toothpaste or lifestyle drugs." Who are their masters? "Their masters are concentrations of private capital which invest in control of the state. That funds the elections, that designs the framework."That was all very well. But if we could wave a magic wand what would be the first thing President Chomsky would do? "I would set up a War Crimes Tribunal for my own crimes, because if I take on that position [I would need] to deal with the institutional structure and the culture, the intellectual culture. The culture has to be cured."The clearly much-practised assistant has knocked three times now, but Chomsky moves on to the "Fissban" treaty, "which would place the production of fissile materials under some kind of international control, so that then anybody could get access to them for nuclear power but nobody could use them for nuclear weapons. Unless that treaty is passed, the species will almost certainly destroy itself."The US, he explains, is willing to have a treaty "as long as it's not verifiable". The matter came to a vote in a UN committee in November 2004 and the result was 147-1 in favour, with two abstentions, he says. "The one was, of course, the United States. The abstentions were Israel, which reflects that they have to vote for the US - and the other was Britain. So it's more important [for the Blair government] to be a spear-carrier than to save the species from destruction."Pillion passengerAnd so we had come full circle, back to Britain the pillion passenger. By the time the assistant knocked a fourth time, I was starting to leave. In the corridor outside I spotted a board crammed with squiggles and formulae every bit as impenetrable as that encyclopaedic explanation of Chomsky's work. It was precisely because he can plumb such academic depths, I mused as I wended my way back across the Charles river to Boston, that nobody should blithely dismiss Chomsky's political views as those of a crackpot.In fact, a thought came to me that will probably not only seem heretical to many Chomskyites but will also outrage the White House enough to get me sent to Guantanamo: what struck me was that even though Chomsky was brought up in a thoroughly Jewish household, went to Hebrew schools and camps and had what he calls a "visceral fear" of Catholics in childhood, there was something profoundly Christian about the thrust of his message to me that morning.He loathed violence and aggression, that was clear; yet he sought vengeance only in a symbolic sense. Though passionate, he did not seem bitter. Maybe I saw him on a good day. But if there's one virtue of the US to which Chomsky repeatedly returns it is its unique tolerance for free speech. And what better example of that could there be than to listen to a Hebrew-speaking, self-proclaimed libertarian socialist preaching the virtues of Christian pacifism in Bush's America of 2006?