"Some of your bosses have told us that they can't support anything with the name 'School of the Americas' on it. Our proposal addresses this concern. It changes the name."

- Colonel Mark Morgan, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation

This article asks whether the U.S. is a state sponsor of terrorism. At issue is the operation of a terrorist training facility at Fort Benning, Georgia whose graduates have been involved in the deaths of tens of thousands of [Latin] American civilians. More information on WHINSEC can be found at the official site above and at SOA Watch's website. My take on the campaign to close the school is that the school is being blamed for atrocities that would have happened whether those involved were trained by or in the U.S. or not. Perhaps it would be more effective to seek to establish accountability for human rights violations among the myriad commanders, warlords, and governments in the hemisphere through, I don't know, some sort of International Tribunal? (Like the one the U.S. refuses to support for reasons other than the values embedded in our Constitution...)

Naturally, WHINSEC's charter and curriculum would require more than cosmetic changes in order to support a commitment to human rights - but that commitment, rather than more pressure to close any one facility, is what is needed.


Here is the most illuminating article I've yet read about the competing views in the Muslim world about what has been happening. Warning: it ain't optimistic for our chances to win any wars against terror.


Friday was Satan's birthday (observed) in which a gathering of celebrants munched on hot chili and goo-goo cluster brownies, partook of frankincense and Air Fresh'ners, visited the basement of terror, the bloody murder WC, the haunted back yard, and put up with howling spirits who spake in foul tongues. In the end, the robots saved the day. (And the wise man profited from following his star)

Saturday was a day of thanksgiving. The sourness of the many cranberries and the bitterness of the bourbon were easily surpassed by the sweetness of everything else. Thanks!


A good short appraisal of our response to terrorism, especially important for those who believe that anyone who expresses doubt over the effectiveness of warfare in stopping terror is a traitor.


I went to MT Laurel (a "new urbanist" development) today to check out their 'town architect.' As he describes it, his job is to make sure all the choir members are singing the same piece of music. In this case, the choir members are houses and the music is "I'm a cute little town." The subject of the lecture was the influence of English Arts & Crafts style on Birmingham's architectural heritage. The reasons for that influence in 1900 are clear, but the reasons to mimic it now are less so. More compelling is the climatic and social sensitivity he talked about in relation to front porches. But, as I walked around, I didn't see a lot of porches that invited relaxation or interaction with the streets. I did admire the effort to preserve or relocate existing trees. My general impression is that the landscape is awkward, but uses great materials while the architecture is competent, but perhaps a bit careless with materials and too cute with paint colors.


Thank you for your patience. I am back at GMT-06:00 now, a seven hour move that required seventeen hours of elapsed travel time. When I got home I found very little that has changed. Here's a brief run-down on new things in Birmingham:

1. Three Starbucks Coffee shops, a net gain of three since I left.
2. Stainless steel columbarium niches have been put in place.
3. City Council elections have soured former mayor Arrington on politics.
4. All the ATMs have brighter screens and the option of EspaƱol.
5. DART buses ply three routes through the city center at 10 minute intervals until midnight!
6. Fewer teachers, more students, lower budgets, more trailers - and the education governor is in office.
7. Flags everywhere.