Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: August 2005 (Page 1 of 8)

Stampede in Iraq: 648 Dead

Good God.


At least 648 people were killed in a stampede on a bridge Wednesday when panic engulfed a Shiite religious procession amid rumors that a suicide bomber was about to attack, officials said. It was the single biggest confirmed loss of life in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.

Scores jumped or were pushed to their deaths into the Tigris River, while others were crushed in the crowd. Most of the dead were women and children, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said.

Tensions already had been running high in the procession in Baghdad’s heavily Shiite Kazimiyah district because of a mortar attack two hours earlier against the shrine where the marchers were heading. The shrine was about a mile from the bridge.


New Taiwan Typhoon

Why are hurricanes in Asia called typhoons? Got me. Nomenclature aside, a big hurricane typhoon hurri-phoon is about to lash Formosa. BBC:

Schools and other public buildings in several areas of Taiwan, including the capital, were closed on Wednesday in advance of a powerful typhoon.

Typhoon Talim is scheduled to hit the northern, eastern and central parts of the island early on Thursday.

The government has told citizens to stay away from coastal areas amid concern over possible flash floods and landslides.

Meanwhile, in related natural disaster news, the scene Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi is very, very bad.

UPDATE: Here’re some amazing photos from New Orleans.

Talim, Katrina

Twisty Skyscraper in Sweden


MALMO, Sweden (AP) — The Nordics’ tallest skyscraper was officially opened Saturday with prize-winning Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava surveying the view from the 54th floor.

With its spectacular 90-degree twist, Turning Torso consists of nine stacked cubes, each turned slightly.

“A War to be Proud Of”

Christopher Hitchens: “The case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Why, then, is the administration tongue-tied?”

Hitchens, Iraq, war

Overheard at a Party on Saturday Night

I went to a party Saturday night* and overheard an interesting snippet of conversation.

“Yeah, well,” a male voice behind me was telling his friends, “the thing is he wasn’t even all that respected in the graffiti community.”

I cocked my head and perked my ears up and, yes, that’s who they were talking about: DC’s most notorious (and recently apprehended) paint-flinging scofflaw, Borf (sample tags here.)

*Farewell, Sonya and Mike!

Borf, DC

AA Minus God

LA Times:

Eighteen years ago, Larry B. was newly sober when he got up at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and said he was troubled by the 12-step program’s emphasis on God.

Shortly afterward, someone slipped the San Fernando Valley man a note: “Have you tried SOS?”

Larry took the stranger’s advice and sought out SOS, now called Save Our Selves or Secular Organizations for Sobriety. When Larry discovered it in the late 1980s, SOS was one of the few support groups for those trying to overcome addiction without the steps or references to the higher power that are central to the AA tradition.

Because he is a nonbeliever, Larry was relieved that SOS didn’t expect him to turn his will and life “over to the care of God as we understand Him,” as described in the third of AA’s 12 steps.

In contrast, Larry, now in his late 50s, said SOS offered “the type of sobriety I could wear right off the rack, with no alterations in my lifestyle except not drinking.”

Hurricane Katrina

The Moderate Voice is blogging the news coverage of hurricane Katrina’s assault on New Orleans.

hurricane, Katrina

Reason Number 812 I Wanna Go to Japan



New Truman Capote Biopic

A new Truman Capote biopic is opening on September 30th. The film tells the story of Capote investigating and writing the classic “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood. The movie’s called “Capote,” and the trailer is promising. Philip Seymour Hoffman will play TC, and the movie also features the excellent Catherine Keener and Chris Cooper.

Capote is one of my favorite writers. He wrote stunning prose and he lived an out-sized life, once allegedly proclaiming “I am three things: An alcoholic, a homosexual, and a genius.”

His first novel, Other Voices Other Rooms, which he published at age 24, contains passages so eloquent that, if you have a single sensitive bone in your body, may well make you weep.

Such as:

The brain may take advice, but not the heart, and love having no geography, knows no boundaries: weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise and find the surface: and why not? any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person’s nature; only hyprocrites would hold a man responsible for what he loves, emotional illiterates and those of righteous envy, who, in their agitated concern, mistake so frequently the arrow pointing to heaven for the one that leads to hell.


Bizarre Lede of the Day


EZULWINI VALLEY, Swaziland (Reuters) — The king of Swaziland’s daughter was whipped by a palace official at a party of teenage virgins ahead of a festival where more than 50,000 maidens are available to become her father’s 13th wife, media said on Sunday.


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