,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Saturday, April 30, 2005


The Elections in Britain

More about The B & B Team - The Coalition for War

According to polls Tony Blair and his Labour Party will emerge victorious on May 5th.

G.W. Bush won last November due to the wave of religiosity sweeping over our land and the consequent backlash over gay rights, same sex union,etc. And there was the fear factor. The terrifying events of 9/11 were milked at every opportunity. The voters paid no attention to other issues facing the country. The lack of justification for the war failed to make an impact.

For Blair it is a different story. Recent leaks of documents related to his role in the war are damaging. But Britain has done well under his leadership. The economy is robust and unemployment low. The voters are not going to rock the boat by making a change although a large majority feels that it was wrong to get involved in the war.

Following last Sundays revelations in The Guardian, the Independent has gained access to additional documents which clearly establish that Tony Blair too had made up his mind long ago in favor of attacking Iraq. Perhaps during his visit to Crawford the president and prime minister knelt down to pray and had an epiphany. We shall never know.

This is from Sunday edition of the Independent.

"Tony Blair had resolved to send British troops into action alongside US forces eight months before the Iraq War began, despite a clear warning from the Foreign Office that the conflict could be illegal.

A damning minute leaked to a Sunday newspaper reveals that in July 2002, a few weeks after meeting George Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Mr Blair summoned his closest aides for what amounted to a council of war. The minute reveals the head of British intelligence reported that President Bush had firmly made up his mind to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, adding that 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy'."

Link: Independent,UK
Tony Blair's War


Judicial appointments and the right to Filibuster

The President and his Constituency of Evangelical Christians - "A big wet kiss to the far right"?

The new attack dog of Christian zealots, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee (eyeing the White House in 2008) offered a "compromise" on the impasse about judicial appointments.

What was his offer? Limit debates to 100 hours before a straight up and down vote. Big deal. Instead of continuing with direct attempts to kill filibuster rights he just took a different tack to achieve the same end.

"But in a surprise to no one, Democrats rejected Frist's proposal within minutes. "There's no way we're going to give up our right to extended debate," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters. He repeated the colorful description he had used in his floor remarks a bit earlier: Frist's offer, he said, was "a big wet kiss to the far right."

Lost in the clamour of the conservatives are facts about judicial appointments by Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush (who has another 3.5 years ahead of him). A report titled "The Decision Making Ideology of George W. Bush's Judicial Appointees" is a must-read for those who are interested in learning more.

The authors:

Kenneth L. Manning
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth


Robert A. Carp
Professor of Political Science
University of Houston

Links to Washington Post and Univ. of Massachusetts

A big wet kiss

G.W. Bush's Judicial Appointments

"Across the ages, clergy have been interested [according to Jefferson] not in truth but only in wealth and power; when rational people have had difficulty swallowing "their impious heresies," then the clergy have, with the help of the state, forced "them down their throats." Five years later, he [Jefferson] wrote of "this loathsome combination of church and state" that for so many centuries reduced human beings to "dupes and drudges."

Attribution: Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 47. According to Gaustad, the first quotes are from a letter from Jefferson to William Baldwin, January 19, 1810; the second source is a letter from Jefferson to Charles Clay, January 29, 1815.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


"Support the Right to Arm Bears" (Bumper sticker seen in Palo Alto, California)

Slogan used by the National Rifle Association: "Guns don't kill people, people do"

Well, one cannot argue with the fact that someone has to pull the trigger. It is also indisputable that people can be stabbed to death, beaten to death, strangled to death,poisoned to death, pushed to death, drowned to death and so on.

One cannot also argue with the fact that guns make killing very easy. The following is from data base of the Center for Disease Control (CDC): "The rate of firearm deaths among children under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. American children are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die in a firearm accident than children in these other countries."

My respect for the Constitution is high and I have contempt for those who urge amendments for political expediency or for the sake of their own narrow beliefs.

The Second Amendment

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. "

There are legal arguments about the "absoluteness" of Second Amendment. No authority on the Constitution, I, but the words "a well regulated militia" jump out at me. Currently, availability of lethal firearms is not limited to such bodies; any adult without a criminal record can procure them.

High powered semi-automatic weapons and ammunition for them were non-existent when the framers of the Constitution added Second Amendment. It was a different world then.

Here are some numbers about the tolls they take. Source: Injury Facts of the National Safety Council's report, 2002 edition.

In addition to firearm deaths, we need to look at how many children and young people are hurt by guns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 1997, 2,514 children aged 0-14 were non-fatally injured by guns. In the same year, 30,225 young people aged 15-24 sustained nonfatal firearm injuries. These statistics include suicide attempts and both intentional and accidental shootings.

Who needs them and why ? They are not toys. There is clear evidence about the connection between abundance of guns and firearm related deaths and injuries in the United States. Is it because many gun owners in our country are careless about handling and storage of their weapons?

The NRA publicizes that there are many women among its members. True. On the other side of the picture is the fact that among those who favor gun control are the following organizations:

American Medical Women's Ass'n
General Federation of Women's Clubs
Int'l Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
League of Women Voters of the United States
Nat'l Council of Jewish Women
Nat'l Council of Negro Women
Nat'l Organization for Women
Women's Nat'l Democratic Club
Women Strike for Peace
Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
Women's Int'l League for Peace and Freedom
YWCA of the U.S.

North of the border, in Canada the number of gun owners is high yet firearm related deaths and injuries are comparatively much lower. Canada's restritctive requirements for purchase of guns are under attack from the conservatives.

Your Child-National Safety Council
Jeffrey A. Roth-Firearms and Violence
"Support the right to arm bears". Can't make the situation any worse.

Monday, April 25, 2005


The New Ruling Class

Blinded by Faith and Ego - Leading us down a chute

“I couldn’t afford to learn it,” said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. “I only took the regular course.”
“What was that?” inquired Alice.
“Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied; “and then the different branches of Arithmetic—Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
“I never heard of ‘Uglification,’” Alice ventured to say."
---Lewis Carroll [Charles Lutwidge Dodgson] (1832–1898), British author, mathematician, clergyman. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, ch. IX, Macmillan (1865).

Paul Krugman of MIT hits the nail on the head with his biting commentary about the Bush administration. Although an economist by training, Professor Krugman's observations about politics and society have earned his columns in The NY Times a large following.

The Oblivious Right

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The Greenspan Tango (or Shuffle)

Oracle of the Fed? No, Just Another Politicized Bureaucrat

Four years after shedding his neutrality to endorse President Bush's massive tax cuts (targeted primarily to benefit the top 1% of wealthy Americans) the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank is having "second thoughts"! The fact that even Alan Greenspan failed to remain apolitical, as his position required, is a sad commentary on our system of government.

"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday that his support for tax cuts in early 2001 unintentionally encouraged policies that helped swing the federal budget from surplus to record deficits.

In addition, he explicitly said for the first time that he expects tax increases to be part of any bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction."


Sunday, April 24, 2005


Tony Blair and the War against Iraq

A damaging document surfaces 11 days before the polls

Ever since Tony Blair involved Britain in the war against Iraq, there has been numerous questions raised in and outside the British Parliament about the legality of the decision. It was legal opinion by Attorney General Oliver Goldsmith that Prime Minister Blair used to support his position. However, the full report was never released despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of British citizens felt that it should be.

Now, 11 days before the polls open in England, the 13-page legal opinion submitted by Justice Goldsmith has leaked out.

The war, named "Operation Iraqi Freedom", began 9:34 PM EST on March 19, 2003 (5:34 AM local time in Baghdad on March 20). According to the leaked document, Justice Goldsmith issued his report on March 7, 2003. It expressed "serious reservations about the legality of the conflict" and spelled out six reasons why Blair could be in violation of international law. "Ten days later, he apparently changed his mind, delivering a summary to Blair declaring the war was legal - the cue for the invasion."

The timing of the leak couldn't have been worse for the prime minister. But he is an eloquent speaker, fast on his feet. He is going to survive. One question that the Goldsmith document will not answer is why did the prime minister feel the need so strongly to align himself and his nation in the unjustified war.

The Observer,UK:
"An ICM poll carried out for Vote for Peace, which campaigns for anti-war MPs in marginal constituencies, found this weekend that only seven per cent of Britons would support a US-led war on Iran without UN agreement. More than a third would not support it in any circumstances."

Blair and Iraq War


Pope Benedict XVI's role in Sex Abuse Enquiry

Ratzinger blocked release of allegations - A follow up to my post dated April 23, 2005.

A report by Jamie Doward, religious affairs correspondent of The Observer reveals that Cardinal Ratzinger ordered Catholic bishops to keep the investigations confidential "for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood"secret ".

A copy of the confidential letter sent in May 2001 has been obtained by The Observer. Cardinal Ratzinger made it quite clear where he stood on this issue.

"It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'.

Ratzinger and Sex Abuse Enquiry

Note: The Observer is a sister paper (published on Sundays) of The Guardian.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Faith Based Politics in Action

Concern for fetuses but does not acknowledge hungry and sick children

The Bush Administration, always ready to side the with the pro-lifers, has issued a directive specifically formulated to appease them and to make it more difficult for women seeking abortion as well as the physicians involved in the procedure. There is a strange disconnect between the Department of Health & Human Services' concern for fetuses and its callousness about children who need food, medicine and clothing to survive.

"David Grimes, a licensed obstetrician/gynecologist who previously worked for the abortion surveillance division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the act and Friday's instructions were medically unnecessary.

"I don't see this as a big issue. Physicians are going to do what's appropriate," said Grimes, who now practices in North Carolina. "It's all rhetoric from persons with political views they want to advance."

He said the act's definition of alive is "silly," given that it implies a fetus miscarried at 14 or 16 weeks "with no chance of survival" would be legally identified as a living person. Most medical experts agree that a fetus delivered prior to 23 weeks has little chance of survival, he said."

Politics of Fetuses


Pope Benedict XVI

Beginning of a New Era at the Vatican

New does not mean different. In his first sermon after being appointed, Benedict XVI promised "open and sincere" dialogue with other religions. What that means remains to be seen. A good example is the current occupant of the White House who declared himself as a "compassionate conservative". And I am an alien from outer space.

There has been some negative comments about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict was known, including his role during Hitler's Third Reich. That allegation lacks documentary evidence. The records, however, include some disturbing facts. Among his responsibilities as Cardinal was the leadership of the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also known as the Holy Office, the body that promulgated the infamous Spanish Inquisition.

For those who are not aware of the background, in 1478 Pope Sixtus IV issued a Bull empowering the Spanish sovereigns to set up tribunals to extirpate heresy within their realms. From then until it was abolished in 1834, the Inquisition pursued the goal of destruction of every person who was not a sincere Roman Catholic Christian. "First and foremost this meant Jews, but the Holy Office later expanded its range of victims to include Protestants, mystics, and non-conformist of every sort." (The Spanish Inquisition by Cecil Roth, published by W.W. Norton & Co.)"

Death sentence usually meant being publicly burned at a stake. It was known as Auto da Fe, Act of Purification.

We can rejoice that the murderous tribunal is no longer active although one gets the feeling that there are Christians who salivate at the thought of heretics being burned at stake.

In his own words:

On holy communion and the vote
A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia.

· Ratzinger memo to US Catholic bishops conference in Denver, June 2004

On Aids and condoms
To see a solution to the problem of infection by promoting the use of prophylactics would be to embark on a way not only insufficiently reliable from the technical point of view, but also and above all, unacceptable from the moral aspect. Such a proposal for "safe" or at least "safer" sex - as they say - ignores the real cause of the problem, namely, the permissiveness which, in the area of sex, as in that related to other causes, corrodes the moral fibre of the people.

· Ratzinger quoting, in a 1978 interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, from an Osservatore Romano article on Aids believed to have originated with him

On celibacy

Not a dogma of the faith, but something that has grown in a human way and clearly contains the dangers for those who undertake it of a headlong fall.
· Salz der Erde, 1997

On women and Anglicanism
A new situation has been brought about by two circumstances: the extending of the majority principle to questions of doctrine and the entrusting of doctrinal decisions to national churches ... Both of these are in themselves nonsensical; because doctrine is either true or not true.

· 1976, quoted in Cardinal Ratzinger

On laws
The church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection ... In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it".

· Memo to US Catholic bishops conference in Denver, June 2004

On liberation theology
In the crisis of the 1960s and 1970s, many missionaries came to the conclusion that missionary work, that is, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was no longer appropriate today. They thought the only thing that still made sense was to offer help in social development. But how can positive social development be carried out if we become illiterate with regard to God?

Gospel and social advancement go together.

· Lecture to Campania bishops, Benveneto, June 2002

I did not find any statement in which Pope Benedict condemned or mentioned the numerous cases of sexual abuse of children by members of clergy of the Catholic Church.


Postscript: After publication of this post I learned from Laurie Goldstein's report in The NY Times that Cardinal Ratzinger was involved in investigating cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests but the hearings were "secret".

"It is impossible to assess Cardinal Ratzinger's record in disciplining the priests accused over the years. The hearings were secret, and under longstanding rules, the Congregation and its staff do not release any information about specific cases, the number of cases considered, or how the cases have been handled."

Ratzinger on Sexual Abuse

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Oil - Lifeblood of the Industrialized World

Are we nearing the "peak" of production ?

The Guardian,UK, (4/21/05) contains a fascinating article by John Vidal. It is based on a report prepared by Colin Campbell of the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Center. Lucid and factual, Campbell describes a scenario that is causing waves. It is a wake up call from somone who knows all that is worth knowing about the business of oil .

No, we are not going to run out of oil tomorrow or the next year. But, in Campbell's opinion we are nearing the "peak" of production.

We can forget about oil prices going back to where they were a year ago or even six months ago. Are the industrialized nations (the U.S. at the top) going to change direction and make serious attempts about conservation instead of looking for new sources of production ? Fat chance. Politicians rarely take positions that are likely to be unpopular and they need to cater to the interests of their friends in the industries that benefit from high consumption. This time, however, even the movers and shakers in the oil industry are cautious about the ability to keep pace with the exponential growth in consumption, and the dwindling oil reserves.

"But the business of estimating oil reserves is contentious and political. According to Campbell, companies seldom report their true findings for commercial reasons, and governments - which own 90% of the reserves - often lie. Most official figures, he says, are grossly unreliable: 'Estimating reserves is a scientific business. There is a range of uncertainty but it is not impossible to get a good idea of what a field contains. Reporting [reserves], however, is a political act.' "

Guardian,UK-The end of oil is closer than you think

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


The Cars We Drive

And What They Tell About Us

The brutish, extra-wide Hummers make me think of the owners being mean, selfish and arrogant---typical Bush Republicans. This article from The NY Times confirms that I am not far from the truth. Too bad that some Democrats like the ugly, gas hogging monstrosity on wheels.

"Among Hummer buyers, the Republican-to-Democrat ratio was a whopping 52 to 23."

The NY Times April 1, 2005
Your Car: Politics on Wheels

IT has always been tempting to think you can figure out who a person is and what he thinks by what he drives. That subject was raised recently by Chely Wright in her country and western hit, ''Bumper of My S.U.V.,'' in which she tells of a ''lady in a minivan'' giving her a vulgar hand gesture for driving a car with a Marines bumper sticker:

''Does she think she knows what I stand for/Or the things that I believe/Just by looking at a sticker for the U.S. Marines/On the bumper of my S.U.V.?''

The lady in the minivan might not know, but some of the finest minds in market research think they do. By analyzing new-car sales, surveying car owners and keeping count of political bumper stickers, they are identifying the differences between Democratic cars and Republican ones.

Among their findings: buyers of American cars tend to be Republican -- except, for some reason, those who buy Pontiacs, who tend to be Democrats. Foreign-brand compact cars are usually bought by Democrats -- but not Mini Coopers, which are bought by almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. And Volvos may not actually represent quite what you think.

How valuable is this information? ''I think it's fun to talk about,'' the political analyst James Carville said, ''but I mean, you see a guy in a pickup truck with a rifle and a Confederate flag, and you know how he's going to vote anyway.'' But upon further reflection Mr. Carville acknowledged the value of the surveys. ''It actually does have some merit, especially when used in conjunction with other information about consumer habits. It can be a very accurate predictor.''

Last year, the Republican National Committee applied data supplied by Scarborough Research, a New York market research firm, to a range of leisure-time and consumer activities to find where it could reach potential voters with advertising. Part of Scarborough's effort was to survey 200,000 car owners about their political affiliations.

Scarborough found that Porsche owners identified themselves as Republican more often than owners of any other cars, with 59 percent calling themselves Republicans, 27 percent Democrats and the rest either calling themselves independents or declining to answer. Jaguars and Land Rovers also registered as very ''Republican'' vehicles.

Scarborough also determined that Volvos were the most ''Democratic'' cars, by 44 to 32 percent, followed by Subarus and Hyundais. But although a lot of old Volvos on the road are driven by Democrats, the customers in Volvo showrooms no longer fit the old stereotype, according to a survey of 163,000 new-car buyers last year that was conducted by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore.

As Volvo's advertising has stressed performance in addition to safety, more and more Republicans are buying Volvos. The CNW survey last year showed that Democratic buyers of Volvo cars outnumbered Republicans by only 32 percent to 27 percent.

''Volvos have become more plush and bourgeois, which is a Republican thing to be,'' said Mickey Kaus, a dual expert in politics and cars as the author of the Kausfiles and Gearbox columns for Slate. ''Subaru is the new Volvo -- that is, it is what Volvos used to be: trusty, rugged, inexpensive, unpretentious, performs well, maybe a bit ugly. You don't buy it because you want to show you have money; you buy it because you have college-professor values.''

The CNW survey, which measured political affiliation not just by make but also by model, found that a Jeep Grand Cherokee S.U.V. was more than half again as likely to be bought by a Republican than by a Democrat, at 46 percent to 28. Among Hummer buyers, the Republican-to-Democrat ratio was a whopping 52 to 23.

According to CNW's figures, staunch Democrats drive S.U.V.'s too, but they tend to prefer smaller, foreign-made ones. Republicans generally like them bigger and American-made, or at least bearing the name of an American company, even if they were built elsewhere.

The survey also found that minivans skewed blue, just as Chely Wright surmised in her song. At first glance, this might seem odd, because Republican car buyers tended to have more children -- 3.5 on average, versus 1.7 for the Democratic buyers. Explaining this apparent contradiction offers a look into the increasing exactitude marketers seem to be applying to the question of who drives what.

''You might think with all the kids, they'd want the practicality of a minivan,'' said Art Spinella, the president of CNW. But practicality was not the Republican customer's highest priority, as Mr. Spinella's company discovered by tracking the customers throughout the buying process.

''There is a certain resistance that male new-car buyers have to minivans even in a household with two or three kids,'' Mr. Spinella explained. ''For the most part, red-state households are more male-dominated when it comes to decision-making for a vehicle. In blue states, it's more of a joint decision-making process.'' Because the Democratic women get more of a say in the decision, their families end up with more minivans than S.U.V.'s.

The Democrats also tend to consider a wider range of cars before buying. ''In red states, there's more affinity to specific brands or loyalty to the same brand they had before,'' Mr. Spinella said. ''A person in a red state will start with an average of 2.5 vehicles on the shopping list. In the blue states the average is 6.''

The blue-staters, not surprisingly, are a lot more likely to put hybrid cars on their list: buyers of the Toyota Prius hybrid were Democrats by a 35 to 22 percent. Democrats in general are more fond of smaller cars (the Ford Escort and Dodge Neon both skewed blue by about 34 to 20), although energy efficiency is hardly the only reason. Besides having fewer children, Democrats tend to be younger, less affluent and more likely to live in cities where small cars are easier to park.

Some of these differences have more to do with geography than personal politics. Democrats are concentrated in port cities with more links to Europe and Asia, making them more open to foreign car companies. Republicans are more likely to be living in the heartland, where there's room for bigger cars and a tradition of loyalty to the American cars built in nearby factories.

But car buyers are also responding to the political images that come with some cars. Some foreign car companies have marketed cars as environmentally friendly, and some have at times focused on parts of the Democratic base. Saab and Subaru were the first and most visible to aim advertising at gay drivers.

Midsize and large American cars skew Republican, and so, of course, do big American pickup trucks. That may have something to do with American car companies marketing themselves through one of the great symbols of Republicanism, Nascar, which is enormously popular in the red states.

''Nascar has an American-made-only requirement for cars and a variety of other rules that discourage foreign makers from competing,'' said Steve Sailer, a conservative journalist who has analyzed the red-blue divide. ''Toyota has dipped its toe into Nascar's truck-racing series with its American-made trucks, but there isn't a lot of demand for Japanese participation.

''In truth, a lot of fans would be sore about ending the all-American monopoly. Nascar has become a covert ethnic-pride celebration for red-state whites of Northern European descent.''

All surveys found that nothing is more Republican than a big pickup. ''The No. 1 vehicle bought by millionaires is the Ford F-Series pickup truck,'' Mr. Spinella said. ''They're farmers, ranchers, contractors, independent businesspeople. They basically work for themselves and they have substantial assets.''

The Saab is a Democratic car, according to both CNW and Scarborough, which found that Saab owners were about twice as likely to be Democrats. It's an upscale car an affluent Democrat can drive without feeling guiltily ostentatious while also reveling in a different sort of status symbol, said the president of Scarborough, Bob Cohen.

''The Saab owner is not going after the obvious status symbol like a BMW,'' Mr. Cohen said. ''He wants to make a statement that he's in a small group with specialized knowledge who don't go for a safe choice like BMW, because he can get a better deal with a Saab.''

A less affluent version of that car buyer might go for a Saturn, the offbeat brand of choice for aficionados who skew heavily Democratic, by 39 to 11 among last year's car buyers. Mr. Kaus says they appeal to Democrats because they are ''clunky, Earth Shoe-like cars.''

SATURN owners were also prone to put their Democratic loyalties on display, at least according to a count undertaken by Political Bumpers, which was billed as ''an extremely unscientific'' project undertaken near the end of the presidential campaign last year.

Volunteers counted more than 1,300 bumper stickers in a half dozen states from Sept. 20 to Oct. 31 and came up with results (www.laze.net/bumpers) that roughly jibed with the much larger market-research surveys. Like the larger surveys, the Political Bumpers totals added up to within a couple of percentage points of the 51-percent-to-48 result of the 2004 presidential election.

The Political Bumpers spotters, who recorded bumper stickers in favor of or against any of the candidates in the 2004 election, found that the drivers of pickup trucks and large S.U.V.'s were overwhelmingly right-leaning. But the leader of the project, Ryan MacMichael, of Leesburg, Va., said his biggest surprise was the pronounced Democratic skew of bumper stickers on economy cars (71 percent were left-leaning) and station wagons (67 percent).

The most left-leaning models with at least a dozen sightings in Mr. MacMichael's project were the Honda Civic (80-20 left-leaning), Toyota Corolla (78-19) and Toyota Camry (74-26). The list of most right-leaning was led by another Toyota, but a midsize S.U.V., the Toyota 4Runner (86-14), followed by the Ford Expedition (76-24) and Ford F-150 (75-25).

To Mr. Spinella, those bumper stickers merely provided further proof of the most fundamental difference between the two parties.

''Democrats buy cars,'' he said. ''Republicans buy trucks.''

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Me Tarzan, You Jane

Promote Viagra and ban Morning After Pill

The moral values gang merrily marching backward. The problem is that they want to force others to join them. "Conscience clause" ! Ya, Habibi.

From The NY Times:

"Pharmacies Balk on After-Sex Pill and Widen Fight in Many States"


I quote:

Around the country, in at least 12 states, including Indiana, Texas and Tennessee, so-called conscience clause bills have been introduced, which would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraceptives if they have moral or religious objections. Four states already have such laws applying specifically to pharmacists: Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi and Georgia.

The full article: Morning after Pill

"There's a new medical crisis. Doctors are reporting that many men are having allergic reactions to latex condoms. They say they cause severe swelling. So what's the problem?"
--Dustin Hoffman

Monday, April 18, 2005


Marla Ruzicka - A death in Iraq hits close to home

This is what a friend wrote on April 17th:

"As of ten minutes ago, Iraq took on a whole different dimension for me and Brinda. The wonderful and compassionate progressive activist Marla Ruzicka was killed by a car-bomb in Iraq today. She was working to help Iraqi families put their lives back together after the carnage of the last two years. Perhaps Robert Fisk will write a fittingly eloquent tribute to Marla, if their paths had crossed in Iraq.

Brinda and I met Marla 4 years ago at the annual Green Party convention in Burlingame. Brinda wanted to campaign for Medea Benjamin's SF city-council run. Marla invited us to an all-hands party at her home. Sadly, we couldn't make it and we lost the chance to work closely with her.

She came across as a very positive, energetic and charming person. I remember she played with little Nikhil while Brinda and I ate lunch. We had several email exchanges after that and a year or two ago I met her again at a talk in Palo Alto. I remember reading an article about her and her work in Iraq in the SF Chronicle, and feeling really proud of her dedication.

Medea has written a short note about Marla on the globalexchange.org website that you can check out.

The dead and dying in Iraq are not numbers or photos to us any more. now we have a living face, a living voice, a vibrant and compassionate soul attached to this disaster. People like Marla help us believe that love and idealism still mean something here, now.

What more can I say? We are in total shock.


Iraq Car Bomb Kills American Activist

AP Iraq Car Bomb Kills American Activist

By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - A woman who led an effort to help those ravaged by violence in Iraq fell victim to the war herself when a car bomb killed her and two other people, officials said Sunday.

Marla Ruzicka, founder of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, died Saturday in the blast, which also killed an Iraqi and another foreigner, officials said. She had been in Iraq conducting door-to-door surveys trying to determine the number of civilian casualties in the country.

A skinny, ever-smiling woman with curly blond tresses, Ruzicka was untiring and undaunted as she went up against military and political bureaucracies in her effort to win help for Iraqi civilian victims of the war, and to make sure those who died were not forgotten.

"Everyone who met Marla was struck by her incredible effervescence and commitment," Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "She was courageous and relentless in pursuit of accurate information about civilians caught up in war."

Ruzicka, 28, of Lakeport, founded CIVIC in 2003 and was instrumental in securing millions of dollars in aid money from the federal government for distribution in Iraq.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt., said it was Ruzicka's idea to put a special fund in last year's multibillion-dollar foreign aid bill to help Iraqis whose businesses had been bombed by mistake or as collateral damage.

"She was constantly calling us to say (lawmakers were) moving too slowly," he said by telephone on Sunday. "Just from the force of her personality, we decided to take a chance on it."

Ruzicka's parents said they were notified of her death just hours after the explosion. U.S. Embassy officials publicly released Ruzicka's name

"We've been very worried about her but we know better than to tell our children not to do anything. We were supportive and just reminded her to be careful," said her mother, Nancy Ruzicka.

She said her daughter had left her a telephone message the night before her death that said, "Mom and dad, I love you. I'm OK."

"She cared about people and gave people her love and help," Nancy Ruzicka said. "I'll remember the love she spread around the world and the good ambassador that she was for her country."

Leahy remembered Ruzicka as a fiery young woman who came into his office about two years ago seeking federal money to aid civilians.

Leahy said $10 million was added to the foreign aid bill last year for that purpose and another $10 million has been set aside for next year. The money was being distributed by government aid workers with Ruzicka's help, he said.

Leahy said he would speak about Ruzicka on the Senate floor Monday, and possibly help plan a memorial service for the woman in Washington.

"I said to her father this morning, 'A lot of people spend their whole lives and do not begin to accomplish what she's done,'" Leahy said.

Human Rights Watch said Ruzicka had been set to leave Iraq within a week when she was killed.

In an essay she sent to the New York-based group a few days before her death, she explained the significance of her work counting Iraqi casualties.

"A number is important not only to quantify the cost of the war, but to me each number is also a story of someone whose hopes, dreams and potential will never be realized, and who left behind a family," Ruzicka wrote.

Ruzicka got her start working for non-governmental organizations 10 years ago at the San Francisco-based human rights group Global Exchange.

Medea Benjamin, the group's director, said Ruzicka was a "pretty, peppy, vivacious young woman who wanted to learn about the world." Ruzicka worked on projects ranging from AIDS in Africa to the travel embargo against Cuba, she said.

"It's a terrible tragedy and a tragic irony that somebody who devoted her life to helping the victims of war would herself become a victim of war," Benjamin said.

Ruzicka campaigned for civilian victims in Afghanistan in 2002. That work helped produce precedent-setting legislation in Washington, sponsored by Leahy, authorizing aid to Afghans who suffered losses in U.S. military operations.

When the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, Ruzicka was already in Baghdad with Code Pink, said Jodi Evans, co-founder of the women's anti-war group.

Other activists decided to return to the United States to talk about how the Iraqi people were affected by the invasion, but Ruzicka made a commitment to stay, Evans said. She founded the group CIVIC that year.

"Marla thought she would be more effective staying, because once the bombs started falling, people would be hurt and she needed to help them get their lives back together," Evans said.

Even as fighting continued to rage in sections of Baghdad in mid-April 2003, Ruzicka arrived back in the Iraqi capital, set up office in an unprotected hotel and soon was a regular visitor to the city's makeshift newsrooms, encouraging media interest in the civilian-casualty story.

"Spread the word - it will be what we make of it," she e-mailed friends as she began her Iraq work.

Ruzicka is among several foreign aid workers killed in Iraq. Others included Margaret Hassan, a British aid worker who was abducted in Baghdad in October and later shown on video pleading for her life, and four workers for a Southern Baptist missionary group who were trying to
find a way to provide clean water to people in the northern city of Mosul.


Associated Press Special Correspondent Charles J. Hanley contributed to
this story from New York.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Mandarins of Morality and the "God" Card

Taking down the barrier between Church and State, one brick at a time

And doing so with glee. There are two articles in The NY Times about the cynical shenanigans of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee. While Tom DeLay's efforts to seek cover under religion come as no surprise (he is the epitome of the proverbial "snake oil salesman"), one would have expected better from Dr. Frist.

Part of the editorial in the NY Times (4/16/05)reads:

"We fully understand that a powerful branch of the Republican Party believes that the last election was won on "moral values." Even if that were true, that's a far cry from voting for one religion to dominate the entire country. President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so."

From what we know about our president, it would be futile to expect him to take a rightful position. He, too, is quite adept at playing the God card.

Links to NY Times:
Bill Frist's Religious War

Get Tom DeLay to Church on Time

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Great Movies on Video

A few classics and some that are of more recent vintage

"Great" is a matter of opinion. I think they are great. You might not agree.

Warning: These films do not contain scenes of mindless violence; you will not see cars going over cliffs and bursting into flames; buildings being blown apart, and people being killed at random.

All The Kings Men (1949)

Posted by Hello
Based on Robert Penn-Warren's Pulitzer Prize winning novel (1946) about the rise and fall of a politician in the Deep South. Broderick Crawford gave an outstanding performance as Willie Stark and won an Oscar. John Ireland made an impression in a secondary role.

Starring: Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, John Ireland, John Derek, Joanne Dru
Directed by: Robert Rossen
Produced by: Robert Rossen

Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)
French - Cleo de 5 a 7 (with sub-titles)

Corrine Marchand as Cleo Posted by Hello

A typical Agnes Varda film. Portrait of two hours in the life of pop singer Cleo Victoire (Corrine Marchand) as she restlessly awaits the results of a cancer test. "With a distinctly feminist take on the French New Wave films of the early 1960s, Varda's film examines Cleo's banal yet extraordinary afternoon as she traverses Paris, bouncing back and forth between various men, intercepting and avoiding friends, enemies, superstitions, chance, and eventually love. The camera follows at breakneck speed as Cleo's existential ennui pulls her through Paris. Lively characters populate Cleo's journey, ranging from a tough female cabdriver, Cleo's mothering assistant, her blasé boyfriend, and finally a talkative and intriguing stranger, a young soldier (Antoine Bourseiller) spending his last hours in Paris before shipping off to war. As Cleo's perspectives are completely rearranged by the specter of possible illness, Varda describes a world of life, possibilities, and love."

"Private Confessions" (English Version, 1999)

Pernilla August Posted by Hello

When Ingmar Bergman stopped directing movies his favorite actress Liv Ullmann took over. They were lovers and lived together for some years. Based on an autobiographical book (about his parents) by Bergman, this is a movie that powerfully depicts a woman's search for love, her battle with her religious convictions, and the weakness of the man who failed to provide the support that she needed to escape a loveless marriage.

The story unfolds over a period of decades and begins in 1925 "as the 36-year-old Anna Bergman (Pernilla August) confesses to an elderly priest (von Sydow), that she is having an affair. He advises her to break it off and tell her husband the truth. Each scene is essentially an encounter: between Anna and her husband, her lover, best friend, or the priest. As the story moves forward in time and then, dramatically, backwards to when Anna was 18, we come to understand the ways in which honesty, love, loyalty, and sexual passion play different roles at each stage of one's life. Bergman seems to be suggesting that "the truth" is not only relative, it is constantly changing. "

Starring: Max Von Sydow, Pernilla August, Samuel Froler
Directed by: Liv Ullmann
Produced by: Ingrid Dahlberg

Lantana (2001)

Anthony LaPaglia and Kerry Armstrong Posted by Hello

A gem from Australia.

"Plagued with grief over the murder of her daughter, Valerie Somers (Barbara Hershey) suspects that her husband John (Geoffrey Rush) is being unfaithful to her. When Valerie disappears, Detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) attempts to solve the mystery of her absence. A complex web of love, sex and deceit emerges-drawing in four related couples whose various partners are distrustful and suspicious about each other's involvement. With its myriad, entangled affairs LANTANA deftly suggests an atmosphere of doubt and deception and shows the ruinous effects these dispositions can have on people and their relationships."

Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake
Directed by: Ray Lawrence
Produced by: Jan Chapman

Insomnia (Norwegian, with sub-titles, 1999)

Stellan Skarsgard Posted by Hello

The American version (2002) with Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary Swank is very good but I give the edge to the Norwegian one.

"Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (BREAKING THE WAVES, GOOD WILL HUNTING) gives a compelling performance as Jonas Engstrom, an exiled Swedish city detective working in Norway who travels to the small coastal town of Tromso in order to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. When he makes a fatal mistake in the investigation, however, his own conscience, coupled with the insomnia caused by the 24-hour summer sunlight of northernmost Norway, sets Engstrom on the path to insanity. Director Erik Skjoldbjaerg creates palpable tension in this strong, subtle film."

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Maria Bonnevie, Frode Rasmussen, Gisken Armand
Directed by: Erik Skjoldbjaerg
Produced by: Petter J. Borgli, Tomas Backstrom, Tom Remlov

Friday, April 15, 2005


"Axis of Weevils" - Beetles and Our Leaders

Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi, and Agathidium rumsfeldi

Great honor; quite appropriate.

"They are synonymous with American power, conservatism and the projection of military might. Now the names of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have gained a second, somewhat less formidable connotation: two scientists have named a species of beetle after America's paramount triumvirate."

The Guardian-Axis of Weevils

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Asparagus, Asperges, Asparagi

"........a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

Asparagus Gratin Posted by Hello

This is the season when asparagus is plentiful and the price is right. We, in the San Francisco Bay area, are fortunate to get fresh, succulent asparagus from the San Joaquin Delta. The following recipes are simple, take very little time and taste delicious.

The bottom (tough) ends of asparagus spears should be trimmed, discarded.

The recipes call for preparing the asparagus by parboiling or steaming (preferred). To retain the flavor, texture and color, avoid overcooking. Add salt to the water. I steam them for about 4-5 minutes then put them in an ice bath to prevent softening further. If you are boiling them, about 3-4 minutes should be enough...and be sure to drop them in the ice bath (a large enough container with cold water and ice cubes). The stalks should be tender and crisp, not limp.

Asparagus Gratin with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
(From Lidia's Italian Kitchen)

24 medium-size asparagus spears (about 1.5 pounds) steamed or parboiled -- see above
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoon plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (the yellow part of the skin only)
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, toss the cheese, bread crumbs and lemon zest until blended
Preheat the broiler
Arrange the asparagus stalks in a single layer in a baking dish
Drizzle the asparagus with melted butter
Sprinkle an even layer of the bread crumb mixture over it
Broil about 4 inches from the heat until the top is golden brown--about 3 minutes

Asparagus stir fried with Five Spice Powder, Hoisin Sauce and Soy Sauce
(Musafir's kitchen)

1 lbs Asparagus stalks steamed (or parboiled) - see above - cut in 1" pieces
1 small onion diced in 1/2" pieces
A few stalks of scallion cut in 1/2" pieces
1 dried red chili pepper
2 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
1-1/2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil (optional)

Heat the oil in a non stick pan
Add red chili pepper
Add diced onion and stir for a few minutes until onions turn soft and golden
Add Five spice Powder
Add Hoisin Sauce and stir until all ingredients are coated
Add scallion
Add Soya Sauce and mix
Reduce heat and cook for a few minutes
Remove from stove, add Sesame Oil and mix
Serve with rice or noodles

Note: Five Spice Powder, Hoisin Sauce, Soy Sauce and Sesame oil available in Oriental grocery stores.
East-West Asparagus Salad
(Narsai David's KCBS Kitchen)

1 lb pasta (penne or ziti)
1-1/2 lb Asparagus, previously steamed or parboiled (see above), cut into 2" pieces
4 scallions chopped with green tops
1 red onion sliced into thin half-moons
4 tablespoon pickled red ginger (cut into thin strips)
1 cup Narsai's Hoisin dressing (see below)

Cook pasta until "al dente".
Drain and chill immediately under cold water and then drain again
In a large bowl toss pasta and asparagus with remaining ingredients

The dressing

1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime (or lemon) juice
2 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
2/3rd cup salad oil

Mix all except the oil and sir until blended (blender could be used at low speed). Then add oil and blend again.

Note: I do it manually and it works.
Pickled red ginger available in Oriental grocery stores

Listening to:
Waltz For Debbie
Bill Evans--Piano
Scott LaFaro--Bass
Paul Motian--Drums
Riverside Records


The Third Reich, the atrocities

And the deafening silence of the German Nation

A few weeks ago I saw the movie "Downfall" which depicted the final days of Adolf Hitler and his inner circle in the bunker as the Russians were closing in on Berlin. Bruno Ganz has received a lot of praise for his performance as Hitler. Deservedly so. But this is not a review of the movie. It is about my reaction to it.

History of the Third Reich, Hitler and his key aides has been well documented. We know that they were murderous thugs blinded by hatred for the Jews and obsessed with establishing reign of a master race. While the film does not try to completely hide their role, it treats them kindly. Hitler and members of his inner circle appear to be decent human beings!

Questions continue to be raised about the silence and complicity of the German people. An article by Luke Harding in The Guardian (UK) about the concentration camp in Belsen made me think that while the scale might be different atrocities against hapless people continue in different parts of the world; unjust wars still take place. There is apathy, there is ignorance, and there is an overwhelming tendency to look the other way---just as the Germans did during the Third Reich.

"Yesterday Maj Williams said the local German population must have been aware of the camp's existence. 'The nearest railway was 5km away in the town of Bergen. Prisoners then had to walk [to the camp]. The people of Bergen must have known,' he said."


Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The wonderful, fascinating world of bloggers - Kindred Spirits

Raves, rants, musings, erudite opinions, or just blowing off steam

This post is about fellow bloggers whose sites I visit, some more frequently than others. A few are not very active--haven't posted in recent weeks. Nevertheless, I think their sites are interesting. They are what I call "Kindred Spirits". The list is somewhat eclectic and includes members of academe, students and housewives. Among them a blithe spirit from Lahore,Pakistan (currently attending college in Minnesota); an Iraqi who just completed his dissertation for an architectual degree and writes passionately about what is happening in his country; and a young Iraqi woman, author of Baghdad Burning who has been mentioned in The NY Times and The Guardian,UK.

Prof. Juan Cole is another well-known personality. There is a photographer who publishes fascinating digital images from Bangalore,India, and another who does so from a place near Austin,TX. A young man in Norway who writes about himself, his friends and his family. The subjects cover the gamut from politics to pasta, sexuality to struggle with mental depression. There are retirees and job hunters.

Most of them are in the United States. The common thread that runs between us is perhaps our distaste for the Bush Republicans, the "red state" bigots and what they are doing to our country. There is the blogger from Ft.Lauderdale,FL, without whose encouragement I wouldn't have dared to write about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

In my list, women outnumber men. That is fine. "A woman has given me strength and endurance, admitted." (D.H. Lawrence)

In some way or other the authors of these blogs made an impact. I say to them: Stay well and keep publishing. Whether you think so or not,the contents are meaningful. Time is a factor but I hope to find other kindred spirits in my journeys through cyber space.

A World of Chaos
Baghdad Burning
Dilettante's Diary
Dutched Pinay
Jeans Voice
Jesus' General
Juan Cole
Mindful Things
raed in the middle
Ronnie LoBello
Tony Hatfield
Where two or more are gathered
Zezrie's Ponderings

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
---Elie Wiesel

Monday, April 11, 2005


Myths about Media

Independent ? Not by any acceptable standard

Fellow blogger has a great post (On Why I don't watch TV, April 10th) about the media in the United States.

Dilettante's Diary

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Champions of Doomsday Worshippers

"A Culture of Death, Not Life" Frank Rich in The NY Times 4/10/05)

"When those leaders, led by the Bush brothers, wallow in this culture, they do a bait-and-switch and claim to be upholding John Paul's vision of a "culture of life." This has to be one of the biggest shams of all time. Yes, these politicians oppose abortion, but the number of abortions has in fact been going down steadily in America under both Republican and Democratic presidents since 1990 - some 40 percent in all. The same cannot be said of American infant fatalities, AIDS cases and war casualties - all up in the George W. Bush years. Meanwhile, potentially lifesaving phenomena like condom-conscious sex education and federally run stem-cell research are in shackles.

This agenda is synergistic with the entertainment culture of Mr. Bush's base: No one does the culture of death with more of a vengeance - literally so - than the doomsday right. The "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins all but pant for the bloody demise of nonbelievers at Armageddon. And now, as Eric J. Greenberg has reported in The Forward, there's even a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late. Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million. "

Culture of Death

Saturday, April 09, 2005


Rabble Rousers - Where are the "Moderate" Republicans ?

Conservative Republicans doing what they do best
Justice Kennedy under attack
Ethics Impasse - Tom DeLay

From today's Washington Post:

"Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Justice Kennedy

"NOW THAT Congress is back in town, it's time to fix the impasse that has turned the House of Representatives into an ethics-free zone. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) has said he wants to meet with the ethics committee to rebut what he calls "fiction and innuendo" about his travel and other activities. But, thanks in large part to Mr. DeLay, the ethics committee isn't functioning. It's frozen because the five Democrats on the evenly divided panel have, understandably, balked at operating under rules dictated by the House GOP majority, contrary to the panel's bipartisan tradition."

Tom DeLay

"As falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls"
---Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays


Hate Crimes in Northern California

Not a regular viewer, almost by chance I caught this excellent program last night on KQED, San Francisco---the local PBS station. The documentary film leaves viewers with the certain feeling that the bigots and fanatics are in the minority; they will not prevail.

Those who do not live in Northern California, can access KQED.com to watch clips of the film. Will Durst hosted it, supported by a very able team.

Following from KQED.com, San Francisco.

Sylvia Guerrero mother of Gwen Araujo

Posted by Hello

"What would you do if hate hit your town? All too frequently we hear stories of hate violence from vandalism to harassment to murder. Most of us would like to do something. And the good news is — we do. Not In Our Town, Northern California, looks at five communities over a five year period as they take action when their neighbors are targets of bigotry.

Intolerance and hate come in many forms, but the models of response and prevention share a common theme. This urgent and hopeful documentary not only chronicles the pain of the victims of hate violence, but offers new ways for community leaders and ordinary citizens to band together when hate happens here."


Not In Our Town, Northern California: When Hate Happens Here looks at five communities dealing with deadly hate violence over a five-year period. Together, the stories reveal that whether the motivation is racism, anti-Semitism, or crimes motivated by gender or sexual orientation, hate is the same. But Californians are finding innovative ways to respond when hate happens here.

From the state capital to the center of San Francisco, from the shadow of Mt. Shasta to the suburbs of Silicon Valley, community leaders and ordinary citizens have found new ways to see through controversy and difference to create a safe place for all residents.

After a transgender teen is killed by local youth in the Silicon Valley suburb of Newark, high school students, residents and civic leaders struggle to deal with a brutal and preventable crime; Sacramento mobilizes after the worst anti-Semitic arson attacks in the California capital's history; Redding citizens find new strength in diversity after a prominent gay couple is murdered; the Shasta County town of Anderson joins forces to make their values clear when a cross is burned on an African-American family's lawn; and the San Francisco Public Library turns the mutilation of gay-themed books into an opportunity for creative community action. "

KVIE-6, Sacramento -- Thu, April 21, 2005, 10pm
KTEH-54, San Jose -- Thu, April 28, 2005, 10pm
KRCB-22, Rohnert Park -- Tue, April 12, 2005, 9pm
KIXE-9, Chico -- Tue, April 12, 2005, 8pm"

Thursday, April 07, 2005


A Walk through Yorkshire Dales

The Dalesway - Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere (James Herriot Country)

They have right of way Posted by Hello

I took UAL flight from San Francisco to Heathrow, transferred to a Manchester flight, caught a train (right at the airport) for Ilkley--the town where I began my walk on Dalesway.

At Ilkley, I spent the night at Riverside Hotel on the bank of River Wharfe, a few hundred yards from the Old Bridge--the starting point.

The weather was kind. It rained the week before my walk and the week after I completed it. But during the six days when I walked on the trail there were just a few sprinkles.

For a major part of the distance, The Dalesway follows rivers--River Wharfe and then Lune, Kent, and Dee.

Day 1: Ilkley to Burnsall (Coniston)

Old Bridge at Ilkley Posted by Hello

The signpost at the Old Bridge reads "Bowness 73 miles" (at Bowness the sign reads "Ilkley 81 miles"!). With detours I estimated that I walked about 90 miles.

Left Ilkley soon after a hearty breakfast. The breakfasts at B&B's were always good; I cannot say the same about dinners. For lunch I carried sandwiches prepared by the B&B or stopped at one of the local pubs.

A few miles down the trail, near Bolton Pritory, I met two guys (Ken and Ivan) from Sheffield who were doing the walk to raise funds for a local charity. We walked most of the Dalesway together the next five days although, except at Bowston, we did not stay at the same B&B.

Ruins of Bolton Priory Posted by Hello

The history of Bolton Priory, goes back to the 12th century. The Black Canons of the Order of St. Augustine sheltered here at Bolton, where they pursued a life of service and worship. Today, the Priory Church still serves the local community as a place of worship.

Ken and Ivan near Bolton Priory Posted by Hello

Field of wild garlic Posted by Hello

After reaching Burnsall we stopped for a few pints and then parted company. Ivan and Ken went on to Grassington, about four miles further, while I checked in at the B&B where I was booked.

Day 2: Burnsall to Low Raisegill (15.5 miles, more like 18)

Near Kettlewell Posted by Hello

The plan was to rendevouz with Ken and Ivan at Grassington next morning at 10:00. However, I overslept and missed the deadline. By keeping a fast pace I was able to catch up with them near Kettlewell. Ken had ankle problem and that slowed them down.

Lunch break at Kettlewell Posted by Hello

With Ken near Buckden Posted by Hello

Stopped for lunch and a few pints at Kettlewell and then on to the trail. On the way to Buckden we met Tom and Sheila Morris from Nottingham and walked together. A year later Tom and Sheila visited San Francisco. JHL and I took them for a walk through the Marina to Fort Point.

Ken and Ivan were booked at an inn in Buckden while my lodging was at Low Raisegill, five miles further. We planned to meet on the trail next morning but I didn't see them until I got to Dentdale.

The travel company's instructions were incorrect about the location of the B&B. So, instead of a left turn I turned right, crossed the bridge at Hubberholme and walked for almost a mile and a half before I found someone to ask about my destination. Turned around and went all the way back past Hubberholme to Low Raisegill Farm. I was pretty beat up by the time I got there and had no energy to walk back to the well-known George Inn for drinks after I had my shower.

Day 3: Low Raisesgill to Dentdale via Pennine Watershed (13 miles)

Low Raisegill Farm B&B Posted by Hello

Dent Head Viaduct Posted by Hello
The most demanding day of the walk as I traversed the High Moor, past Langstrothdale, Yockenthwaite and Oughtershaw Hall. I would not like to do it on an overcast, rainy day. Very bleak landscape. The Cam House was a welcome sight because I knew that the hard part was coming to an end. Didn't see Ken and Ivan although there were other walkers following the route. A tough day. There was not that much of an altitude gain but there were numerous patches of boggy peat which required considerable extra walking. Could not be completely avoided. All the walkers had mud up to their knees when we reached Dentdale.

On top of the moor the Pennine Way crosses Dalesway at Cam High Road built by the Romans in 1st Century AD. The view of massive Dent Head Viaduct appeared soon. The popular scenic train ride between Settle and Carlisle passes over the Dent Head Viaduct.

Met Ivan and Ken in the evening at the Sportsman's Inn. Ken was limping; his ankle problem had gotten worse. The Sportsman's Inn served good food and beer. We were there until closing time and then staggered to bed.

Day 4: Dentdale to Sedbergh (11 miles)

Patches of heather on the hills Posted by Hello

Narrow footbridge over River Dee Posted by Hello

A pleasant day. We stopped for lunch alongside River Lune and continued on to Sedbergh. Sedbergh School is attended by children of well-to-do families. Not quite Eaton or Harrow, it has a reputation of being one of the top public schools. Saw students playing cricket which reminded me of the time when I was an active participant in the game.

Again, at Sedbergh we got together in the evening for drinks. I had dinner with the owners of the B&B.

Day 5: Sedbergh to Bowston (16 miles)

Holme Croft B&B, Sedbergh Posted by Hello

Near Crook of Lune Bridge Posted by Hello

Long day. Scenic, mostly flat.

All of us were booked at Kent Dene B&B, managed by Joan and Russell Jamieson. It was the best among the B&B's. Great pasta; unlimited red wine; and wonderful hosts. After dinner, Russell Jamieson drove us to town to try the local brews.

Day 6: Bowston to Bowness-on-Windermere

Joan Jamieson,Ivan,Ken,Russell Jamieson Posted by Hello

After a delicious breakfast we left Bowston with heavy hearts. Felt as though we were leaving friends we had known for a long time.

Joan Jamieson bidding us goodbye Posted by Hello

Russell and Joan now live on the island of Crete (Greece). They bought a farm house and fixed it up. Happy--gardening, learning Greek and folk-dancing.

Last leg, nearing Bowness-on-Windermere Posted by Hello
Ken's ankle problem had gotten worse. I carried his pack to Bowness. Arrived at Bowness before noon. My hotel was just a couple of hundred yards from the end of the trail. I invited Ken and Ivan for a pint before they left for city center to meet Ivan's son who was going to drive them back to Sheffield.

End of Dalesway Posted by Hello

Fairfield Hotel, Bowness-on-Windermere Posted by Hello


After spending the night at Bowness-on-Windermere I took a train to Newcastle to meet relatives who lived in Sunderland. After a few days it was time to head for home. Train from Newcastle to Manchester; flight from Manchester to Heathrow; and then Heathrow to San Francisco. It was a good trip. As it always does, the view of San Francisco Bay warmed the cockles of my heart as the plane prepared to make the final approach for landing.


The trip was booked through a British company that specializes in walking tours. It provided maps, guide book, route instructions, and made arrangements at B&Bs for overnight stay during the walk.

I found The Dalesway Companion by Paul Hannon to be much better, easier to follow, than the guide book (The Dalesway by Anthony Burton) provided by the travel company.

".....the universal desire to see a little bit further,
before the surrender to old age and the blank certitude
of death."
---Graham Greene (1904-1991)

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