,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Monday, October 31, 2005


Texas Dodge 'em - Bush played the Alito Card

The hollow man lived up to his record
Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in the Washington Post, Oct.31, 2005, covered it well. "All The Prosecutor's Hints" summarizes the situation for those who have not paid close attention to Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference last Friday, October 28th. It is not going to make the Bushies happy but the bottom line is that for Karl Rove and others there are uneasy days and nights ahead. Fitzgerald is not done with the investigation, not yet. So, the president's move to deflect attention and resurrect his support with his core support group bought him some time but nomination of Alito is not going to protect the White House from issues that Bush and his staff would rather see buried.

Casualties in Iraq

The October death toll for American soldiers in Iraq reached 94....the highest since January of this year. It was reported by Radio Free Europe that 26 Iraqi civilians were killed during an air attack near the Syrian border. Many American don't give a damn about Iraqi civilians but let us bear in mind that the deaths of innocent civilians (collateral damage according to our non-combatant officials) have an impact on reaction of the Iraqi people.


Politics of Divisiveness - The Smirk is Back

What now, Democrats ?

Bush reenergizes the base. Battered by the Harriet Miers fiasco,the indictment against "Scooter" Libby, and dwindling support for his war, the president reacted quickly to deflect attention. As expected, his weekend at Camp David resulted in a decision about the nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. He could not afford to take any chances and he did not. The report by Fred Barbash and Peter Baker in The Washington Post covers the announcement about Judge Samuel A. Alito,Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The Democrats must oppose Judge Alito. Unlike Harriet Miers, Judge Alito comes with a paper trail--long, detailed and clear about where he stands. The president deliberately picked a candidate who would cause an uproar. Facing declining support, he badly needed an issue to rally his conservative base. He created one. Divisiveness pays. One can see the smirk.
"What does your duty demand? What does your honor demand? And what does your country demand? It is hard enough to answer the first two questions, but harder still when the nation's elected leaders are silent about the last."
--Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at U.S. Military Academy,West Point, Oct.20, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005


India - Dowry System and Bride Burning

The monster in the basement

It has been written about, talked about and condemned but brides are mentally and physically abused, sometimes killed by greedy in-laws in today's India. This barbaric practice continues despite the fact that in many respects India today is a far cry from the India that V.S. Naipaul and others wrote about. "Indian Middle Class Grows, But Ugly Tradition Persists", John Lancaster's report in today's Washington Post is about one unfortunate young woman who died at the hands of her husband and father-in-law. "NEW DELHI--Charanpreet Kaur, 19, had been married less than nine months when her husband and his family decided it was time for her to go. Trapping her in the bathroom, her husband clamped his hand over her mouth while his father doused her with kerosene, according to a police document. The father then lit a match, setting his daughter-in-law on fire. She died five days later. "

In some instances, the crimes do receive publicity and those charged end up being punished. But there seems to be a general lack of concern about the shameful system under which a bride's parents are required make payments, in cash and kind, to the groom. It is illegal to demand dowry but the custom continues unabated among all classes--rich and poor. Many highly educated young men tacitly approve of it. One gets the feeling that if it were not for some women's organizations actively involved in exposing and fighting the abuses related to dowry system the Indians would prefer to ignore it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Marine Corps Marathon

The Lure of Running 26.2 Miles

Rich Campbell's "Years ahead of competition" in the Post this morning took me back to the time when I ran marathons. Ran my first when I was 49 and over the years I have run, and completed, three of them. My times are nothing to brag about but they were good experiences. Reaching the finish line never failed to cause elation and a sense of achievement. Only those who have done it can understand the feeling.

Reading about Charles Stalzer, Margaret Hagerty and other older runners who are going to take part in the race tomorrow gives me hope that it is not too late to run another. Slower than I used to be but my knees are holding up; I can go out of the door and run 10 miles. Shall think of the participants in the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow and wish them well. May the wind be behind your back.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Libby resigns -- Charged with five counts in the CIA/Valerie Plame leak investigation

Shed no tears for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby
A report in The Washington Post reads: "Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted today by a federal grand jury after a nearly two-year investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity." "Scooter" Libby and his boss, VP Cheney, were driven by their obsession. If Karl Rove took pleasure in being a master strategist in exploiting the phobias and anger in the heartlands, Libby and the VP were true belivers; they had been working on the neocon agenda (PNAC) for a long time (letter to President Clinton). When they found themselves in positions to act they went at it with all the ferocity that was bottled up. They worked hard to bring about the war against Iraq. It was Darth Vader land and they were the masters. When they found their scenario crumbling they went ballistic. Mr. Libby will be spending a lot of time in conferences with attorneys. He has been charged with five counts in the CIA/Valerie Plame leak investigation. Win some, lose some.

Mr. Libby escaped being charged with the more serious issue of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. Reports leave very little doubt that many members of the Bush administration lied during the investigation but they were not under oath when they did so and,thereforce, cannot be charged. ("PL97-200, 50 U.S. Code Secs. 421–426 is a United States law which makes it a federal crime to knowingly reveal the identity of a covert CIA agent." Source: Wikipedia.org)

Patrick Fitzgerald, the intrepid special prosecutor was appointed by Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey. Earlier chain of events had lead to force AG John Ashcroft to recuse himself from the investigation because of his close association with Karl Rove. If Ashcroft had a hand in it then things would not be where they are today. Mr. Fitzgerald deserves the nation's gratitude for restoring faith in the justice system.

Karl Rove is not completely off the hook. Patrick Fitzgerald could decide to convene another grand jury to continue investigation of Rove and, possibly, others. But Rove and the president must have breathed a sigh of relief that his name was not on the indictment today. He is sometimes described as the "evil genius". But if Karl Rove is evil what does that make of his boss ? We know that he is no genius. For the president, self-described "compassionate conservative", who became a champion of bigotry and divisive policies, Karl Rove is a tool to be used and Rove has very ably served the president. It would be unfair to blame Rove for all the ills of the Bush administration. For that one must look at Bush and those who put him in the White House. He is their tool just as Karl Rove is his. And, like Karl Rove, he is serving them well.

A Steve Bell cartoon from The Guardian,UK.

Edited 5:15 PM Oct.28, 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Letter in The Guardian,UK, From A Vietnam Veteran

About war, deaths and profits
Mr. Arnold Stieber of Grass Lake, Michigan, writes: "War is, at best, the failure of leaders to solve problems. At worst, war is a massive money-generating machine with no regard for life. It's all in the numbers." The full text of his letter is in The Guardian, Oct.27,2005.

And Steve Bell's "More Sacrifices will be required"


Harriet Miers Fell on the Sword for Her Boss

For the Democrats it is a "Good News, Bad News" situation
The news about Harriet Miers' decision to fall on the sword to save her boss from further embarrassment didn't cause much surprise. Such an eventuality was mentioned in recent days by a few pundits. Fred Barbash in the Post writes: "While the decision was a blow to the Bush administration, the move also may defuse a major controversy for the White House as it confronts possible indictments stemming from the disclosure of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame."

The Democrats played this one right....mostly. However, they have no cause to rejoice. Yes, the president ended up with a bloody nose but he is not out for the count. It is a given that the next nominee coming down the pike will be of a different breed. He or she will not be one without records and the records will please even the most hard-nosed among the conservative Republicans. It is extremely doubtful that the Democrats will be able to muster enough support to block the confirmation. So, instead of a George Bush groupie who probably would have made decisions to please her former boss, the new member of the Supreme Court will be a strict "constructionist" as the president interpretes the word when he praises Justices Scalia and Thomas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Casualties of War and Champions of War

Mourn for the dead and ask yourself what did they die for
The total has crossed the 2,000 mark. See list (names and dates). "War hath no fury like a non-combatant" , wrote C.E. Montague (1867-1928), British soldier, author, journalist. A sad reminder of the tremendous waste of lives in the war that we got into because of lies, deception and the obsession of a few. Known non-combatants: President G.W. Bush, VP Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Where they lived, where they died. Today's Washington Post contains detailed map and charts. Also see Josh White and Ann Tyson's report "Military has lost 2,000 in Iraq".

On October 25th the AFP reported that according to a WSJ poll, "For the first time, a majority of Americans believe the war was "the wrong thing to do".

The president, of course, is still a champion of the war. The costs have been too high for him to survive the firestorm that will erupt following an admission of a wrong decision.

Total injured: 15,220.

And the forgotten ones--Iraqi civilians. Minimum 26,690 Maximum 30,051. These figures are from Anti-war.com, much lower than the Britsh medical journal Lancet's report which mentioned more than 100,000 dead. In recent months more civilians have been killed by insurgents than by military actions. Still, the majority of civilian deaths is attributable to military actions. That could change if the insurgents continue their random atrocities.

".....any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne ( 1572-1631) Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions ,1623

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


The Enigma of Condoleezza Rice

It is Blind Ambition, Not Color Blindness
Eugene Robinson" in his column in the Washington Post "What Rice Can't See" asks "How did she come to a worldview so radically different from that of most black Americans? Is she blind, is she in denial, is she confused -- or what?". Perhaps there is a more simple explanation--she is driven by ambition and in her world there is no place for anything else. Somewhere along the way she left Titusville and hitched her star to conservative Republicanism. Over the years, as her party turned more and more to the right, she moved lockstep with it and cultivated those who were in positions of power. The strategy paid off for her. She has been well rewarded. She is not going to risk losing it all by getting involved with rights and needs of blacks.

Monday, October 24, 2005


A Wise Old Man Who Served Bush 41

Brent Scowcroft speaks out
Fascinating. In the online edition of The New Yorker (10/31/05) Amy Davidson discusses Jeffrey Goldberg's article on the former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft. "Breaking Ranks - What Brent Scowcroft tried to tell Bush", Jeffrey Goldberg's piece will be available in the print edition. On October 16th Glen Kessler of the Post wrote of Brent Scowcroft's critical remarks about the Bush administration in London's Financial Times. At that time Mr. Scowcroft "declined a request for interview" with the Post. However, a close friend of H.W. Bush, the president's father, Scowcroft spoke openly with Jeffrey Goldberg. He talked about policies of the current administration as well as the personalities who shape them. His comments about ideological difference between "realists" and "transformationalists" are revealing and apt to cause ripples.

First, it was General Colin Powell who finally admitted regret in September about his UN speech to gain support for the war against Iraq. Then last week his former chief of staff, Col. Larry Wilkerson issued a harsh statement, criticizing the administration's Iraq policy. Now it is Brent Scowcroft. But the neocons go merrily marching on.


Sunday, October 23, 2005


Iraqis and The Ministry of Defence Poll

"Millions believe attacks against British troops justified"
The report in the Post by John Anderson and Steve Fainaru "Four were slain by mob last month" gives credibility to the item in The Sunday Telegraph (UK) about a secret poll conducted by the Ministry of Defence. According to the poll majority of Iraqis support insurgents' actions against coalition forces. This makes a hole in all the hyperbole from President Bush and high ranking officials regarding support from Iraqi civilians. How do they feel about attacks against coalition forces as well as claims for improved infrastructure and security in the country ? The answers are revealing but not surprising. Incidentally, 329 American soldiers have died in Iraq since May 31st when VP Cheney declared that the insurgents were "....in their last throes". Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties.org

Excerpt from the Sunday Telegraph report:

"The secret poll appears to contradict claims made by Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, who only days ago congratulated British soldiers for "supporting the Iraqi people in building a new and better Iraq".

Andrew Robathan, a former member of the SAS and the Tory shadow defence minister, said last night that the poll clearly showed a complete failure of Government policy."

When coalition (mainly US) forces continue to kill innocent Iraqis during military operations against insurgents, we cannot expect support from Iraqis. It is easy to to describe such casualties as "collateral damage" but that does not heal the wounds of surviving family members. There is bitterness and hatred. We are a long way from winning their hearts and minds.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Prince "George" Without His Machiavelli

If Wishes Were Horses
And Death Toll Mounts for U.S. Soldiers

At the end the president could turn out to be right. "There's some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining," Bush said. "But the American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to." Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker write in the Post of "A Palpable Silence in the White House". Hard to think of Bush without Karl Rove. Could happen but let's not rush into counting the chickens before they are hatched.

The BBC web site has a report (Bush plagued by domestic issues) on the same subject by Matt Frei of its Washington bureau.

In other news, death toll in Iraq is nearing the 2ooo mark. Latest count: 1992.


Thursday, October 20, 2005


Greece, Off the Beaten Path

A walk on Pindos Mountain with a gentle giant. Yassiou Kostas.
Most travelers to Greece visit the islands and stay near the coast. I wanted to see the real Greece, not tourist resorts overrun with people on holiday. Found a British company that offered walking tours through Zagoria Villages in the Pindos Mountain range up north.

I flew from SFO to Heathrow. Had lunch in the City with a friend, spent the night in a hotel near Gatwick Aiport and the next day boarded a flight from Gatwick to Preveza. At Preveza I met Kostas Vaseleiou, the guide, and other members of the group--all from England. Preveza is located at the tip of an inlet of the Aegian Sea.

Bay at Preveza ©RS

We crossed the inlet on a ferry and a small bus took us up to the picturesque village of Monodendri at the mouth of Vikos Gorge, the starting point of our walk. Monodendri is well known for the Monastery of Saint Paraskevi which stands on the edge of the gorge.

Hotel at Monodendri ©RS

At the monastery on the edge of Vikos gorge ©RS

Tina Averoff (extreme left) joined the group to take photographs for the Epirus Foundation of Greece. She walked with us all the way to Tsepelovo.

Monodendri to Vikos (through Vikos Gorge)

The Vikos Gorge is over 3,000 ft deep at certain points. It was not difficult to go down when we began our walk at Monodendri but a different story at the other end when we had to climb out to the village of Vikos. The first glass of beer felt good. I needed it.

The accommodation was rustic and the food nothing to rave about.

Going down Vikos Gorge ©RS

At Vikos ©RS

Vikos to Papingo

We had to return to the gorge and then climb back to reach Papingo.

Back to the Gorge ©RS

Goats lined up on the ridge. They caused a lot of pebbles to shower down to the trail.

Vikos River ©RS
Crystal clear but didn't see any fish.

Rest stop on the uphill trail to Papingo ©RS

Arrival at Papingo ©RS

At Papingo the food was more authentic and better than the other places where we spent our nights. The local goat cheese and olive oil were excellent. The rooms,too, were comfortable.

Dinner time at Papingo ©RS

It was the feast day of Saint Constantine, Costas' patron saint. Kostas' wife, Madelon and one of her friends (a Spanish woman) who worked as an interpreter in the EU Secretariat,Brussels,drove up from Kipi to join us for dinner.

At that time I was considering walking the Pilgrim's Route established by the Crusaders, 480 miles from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. She told me about the Spanish author Paulo Coelho and his writings about the route and gave me other useful information. I still think of doing the walk but time is running out. Thousands of people from all over ther world walk the route for various reasons. Shirley MacLaine did it and wrote a book about her experience. My interest has nothing to do with pilgrimage. The mother of all long distance walks is the 2175 miles Appalachian Trail. Most of the through hikers do it northbound, from Georgia to Maine. I'm digressing; back to Zagoria Villages in Greece.

Madelon and Kostas ©RS

Papingo to Astraka (Mountain Hut)

Rulla ©RS

Rulla, wife of the inn keeper at Papingo, and her dog walked with us to Astraka. On the uphill trail Rulla and I were ahead of the pack. She chattered in Greek and pointed to various landmarks. Didn't understand the words but we got along well with sign language. After we reached Astraka, her dog started limping. Kostas said it was probably bitten by an adder. Rulla and the dog left to return to Papingo before it got dark.

Astraka Mountain Hut ©RS

The hut remains closed during winter and spring. We were the first group to arrive there that summer. The place was damp and cold. We put the mattresses from bunk beds out to air them but didn't do much good. There was no electricity. The toilet facilities were primitive. Some of us elected to use the outdoors. The hikes we took during the day were good but the two nights we spent there were far from pleasant. The caretaker and his wife showed up and fixed dinner. Fried chicken. Drank a lot of ouzo and retsina to make the evenings bearable.

During our stay we walked to Dragon Lake and Astraka Peak.

Dragon Lake at foot of Gamilla Peak ©RS

On Astraka Peak ©RS
Astraka to Tsepelevo

Enroute Tsepelovo ©RS
Trudging through snow ©RS

Had to walk a couple of miles through snow. It was slow and tiring. Beyond the snow, the trail was rocky.

Kostas and Tina during stop for lunch ©RS

Tsepelovo ©RS
Largest of the Zagoria villages. Our group was accommodated in two separate houses. We gathered in the only restaurant in the village. Food was sort of blah...fried chicken, again, but met an interesting British couple, Effie and Roy Hounsell, permanent residents of Koukoúli, a village nearby. Roy was writing a book about their experiences. Their plans included setting up a bed and breakfast place. ("The Hamlet" is now open for business and offers four rooms.)

Village restaurant, Tspelovo ©RS

Madelon, Effie & Roy Hounsell in foreground.

Tsepelovo to Ioannina

We were driven by bus to Ioannina. Took a boat to the island in the middle of Lake Pamvotis and checked into a lovely bungalow for our last night's stay. In the evening we took the boat back to Ioannina for dinner. Great mezzes.

Island in Lake Pamvotis ©RS

Breakfast, last morning ©RS

After breakfast we went to Ioannina by boat and then by bus to Preveza to catch our flight.

Final drink at Preveza Airport ©RS

It was cold and drizzly when we landed at Gatwick. Quite a change from the warm, sunlit place we left behind a few hours ago.

Next day I caught a flight for SFO from Heathrow. "Baghdad by the Bay", as the late Herb Caen described San Francisco, was a welcome sight from the window of the plane. I was home.


The Tragic Fall of an once Proud Newspaper

Miss Run Amok and "All The News That's Fit to Print", Not

Tina Brown's comments in the Post, "Seeing Right Through The Times's Transparency", cannot be disputed. The failure of NYT to exercise control over a rogue reporter (self-described Miss Run Amok!) is a mystery. Why was she allowed to continue as a loose cannon after her reports about Saddam Hussein's WMD were proven to be false ? Those in charge of running the NYT are still behind her. Perhaps they have good reason for doing so; perhaps their hands are tied.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


A Bully Squirming - The Table has Turned On Tom DeLay

uHe had it coming


It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. Warmed the cockles of my heart to read that a warrant has been issued for arch bully Tom Delay, aka the Hammer, aka the Exterminator. The report in Washington Post by Susan Gamboa of Associated Press reads: "AUSTIN, Texas -- A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Rep. Tom DeLay, requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges". He might froth at the mouth about vengeful prosecution but he will have to go through the motions required under our legal system.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Harriet Miers - Finally a Paper Trail Surfaces

Anti-abortion Position Comes to Light

What will be her argument as she tries to wiggle through this? The Washington Post report by Charles Babington and Fred Barbash "Miers backed abortion ban in 1989" leaves no doubt about her position.
"Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers agreed in 1989 that she would "actively support" a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban abortion except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother." It is doubtful that her views have changed since 1989. But one really didn't need a paper trail. It became clear some time back (after publication of the treacly letters and notes that she sent over the years to G.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush that this Bush groupie could never do anything to displease her hero.


Evelyn Waugh* Paul Scott* Henning Mankell

Authors Past and an Author Present
The first time I read "Brideshead Revisited" I couldn't put it down. Got caught in this novel about people and places that had nothing in common with my bacground. Perhaps that was what made it so interesting. Of course, Evelyn Waugh's wonderful prose was part of the magic. I returned to it in the eighties after watching Granada Television's adaptation (1982) of the novel. Superb production, as most of them are. Recently, I went back to the book--for the third time. Don't think I'll be around to read it again. I went through it in a leisurely manner and savoured it as much as I did when I read it the first time.

Chapter I
" 'I have been here before', I said; I had been there before, first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were creamy with meadowflower and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest."

"I am not I: thou are not he or she
They are not they"

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)

The Raj Quartet, Paul Scott's saga about India in the final years of British rule is in a different league. Mr. Scott came from a humble background and it took him a long time to gain recognition. He went to India in 1943 as an air supplies offer and served in India and Malaya. The first volume of The Raj Quartet appeared in print in 1966. The final volume was published in 1974. The book brought him fame. It was made into a serial by Granada Television. The production did full justice to the book. For me, it revived the sights, smells and sounds of India I knew.

Some, including the author Salmon Rushdie, criticized Mr. Scott's depiction of India and Indians. I thought that the book came quite close to accurately describing the conditions that existed. That Paul Scott was able to capture the nuances during his brief stay in India and able to write about them with such clarity speak a lot about his talent. It was not an easy thing to do.

Paul Scott died in 1978 from cirrhosis of the liver. He was 58. His last years were plagued by his drinking problem. Shortly before his death he received the Booker Prize for "Staying On", a novel about an English couple who decided to remain in India after the end of the British rule.

"This is a story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs."
--The Jewel in the Crown, 1966; part one of The Raj Quartet

A fellow blogger, fogdux, wrote on October 9th about Henning Mankell, the Swedish author of mysteries. Her tribute to this gifted writer leaves nothing to add. I discovered Mankell a few years back and voraciously went through all the Kurt Wallander books that the library had. There was one that I didn't like--"The Dogs of Riga". Mankell's latest book, "Before the Frost" features Linda Wallander, Kurt's daughter, as a detective. I am looking forward to reading it.

"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."


Slash and Burn, Cut and Run

The White House on Tenterhooks

Online edition of the NY Times,which made a mockery of its motto "All the news that's fit to print",is carrying an Associated Press report about the ongoing investigation of CIA/Valerie Plame leak by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald. "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's CIA-leak inquiry is focusing attention on what long has been a Bush White House tactic: slash-and-burn assaults on its critics, particularly those opposed to the president's Iraq war policies."

Monday, October 17, 2005


How We Are Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq

More collateral damage - Kill them, kiss them

A few ragheads here, a few ragheads there. The AP report in the Post reads:BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two western villages, killing an estimated 70 militants near a site where five American soldiers died in a weekend roadside blast, the military said Monday. Residents said at least 39 of the dead were civilians ."

More than 50% of the total casualties reported to be civilians who happened to be in the area where the military action took place. As in the past, we can expect the deaths of civilians to be confirmed with the usual expressions of regret.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Kashmir - Tragedy in the Disputed Territory

Politics Prevails Over Aid to Earthquake Victims

Makes one weep. A stark example of man's inhumanity to man. It is the decades old enemity between India and Pakistan over territorial rights in Kashmir that is preventing medical and other forms of assistance from reaching villages on the Pakistani side of the border. More than 38,000 dead according to latest reports. From Dan McDougall's report in The Observer "'We are desperate for heavy machinery: drills, backhoes, anything that can help remove the debris and perhaps save lives,' said Abdul Qayyum, a Bagh schoolteacher. 'The government should send heavy machinery so we can get bodies or save those who are still alive. If they can't help us, then let the Indian army over the border. They are only kilometres away. What is more important - politics or lives? We can hear the call to prayer from their mosques floating across the line of control. Their buildings are standing - they can help us.'


Deadline Oct.28th - All Eyes on Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald

Is the noose closing in ?

The grand jury for the CIA/Valerie Plame leak investigation by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald is due to expire on October 28th. Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to announce his decision by that date whether or not to prosecute any of the people involved. For some of the players it must be an agonizing time. The special prosecutor and his office succeeded in preventing the investigation from turning into a circus. For that alone Mr. Fitzgerald and his staff are worthy of praise. What a difference when compared with Ken Starr who was in charge of the Clinton investigation ! His office leaked like a sieve and he revelled in appearing before TV cameras. The Washington Post is carrying an excellent summation of the background by Howard Kurtz.

All The News That's Fit to Print ! The NY Times

One of the journalists involved is Judith Miller of the NY Times. David Corn's column in The Nation includes the following:

"So much for without fear or favor. This is an awful acknowledgment for the nation's leading paper. Taubman and Jill Abramson, a managing editor, called the situation "Excruciatingly difficult." It was worse. As I've written before, Jayson Blair bamboozled his editors; Judy Miller handcuffed hers. If a deal could have been reached a year earlier, the Times would not be as embarrassed as it is today. No wonder, as the paper reports, when Miller made a post-release speech in the newsroom, claiming a victory for press freedoms, her colleagues "responded with restrained applause."

"When the Times reporters interviewed Abramson and asked her what she regretted about the paper's handling of the Miller case, she replied, "The entire thing." That was a refreshing shot of candor. But Miller's account and the paper's extensive take-out do not totally clear the air. They leave the impression that we're still not getting all the news that ought to be fit to print."


" I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see."
---Alice In Wonderland

Saturday, October 15, 2005


For or Against Harriet Miers - Democrats In A No Win Situation

Choice between the proverbial "A Rock and a Hard Place"

Charles Babington writes in the Washington Post that : "While the turmoil on the right offers Democrats a tantalizing opportunity, party strategists said, it also will confront them with a difficult choice: Confirm a conservative with close ties to President Bush, or oppose her and join ranks with hard-right activists who historically are their arch enemies." Yes, a difficult decision to make. Anywho nurses the thought that Ms Miers, Bush Groupie No.1, is going to disappoint him is out of touch with reality. No, if confirmed, Harriet Miers will enable the president to include her, along with Scalia and Thomas, as a "strict constructionist". We know what that means.


Rutabaga and Other Root Vegetables

Earth's bounties during the cold weather

Rutabaga as gourmet fare in expensive restaurants in Washington DC ! The Washington Post article by Walter Nicholls has a link to interesting recipes. Don't know about gussified rutabaga but some of us who dabble in cooking have always recognized the merits of this and other root vegetables. Simply roasting root vegetables mixed with olive oil, a dash of Herbes de Provence or cumin powder will produce a hearty, healthy, flavorful dish. Enjoy it with a soup made from roasted Acorn squash or orange-flesh sweet potatoes (yams), accompanied by rustic bread and a light red (Rhone style) wine. A great supper on a chilly evening. If a vegetarian meal is not your thing, broil some sausages, slice them in 1" pieces and serve on a platter to accompany the vegetables.

This is how I do it. About 1/2 lb. of each would be enough for four plus leftover.

Celeriac (Celery Root)
Fennel bulb
Beet root
Red Onion
Salt and black pepper
Herbes De Provence or Cumin powder

Peel, cut into bite size pieces. Dice the onion, mince the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, Herbes De Provence, a dash of cumin powder, salt and coarse ground black pepper. Mix well. Bake in 375 deg. oven for 30/35 minutes (until soft, not mushy). If desired, drizzle extra virgin olive oil before serving.
Herbes De Provence

1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon summer savory
1/2 teaspoon lavender
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon oregano or basil
1/4 teaspoon sage

I exclude bay leaf.


Bush And A Vision of Apocalypse

The Cowboy Against The Evil Empire

Robin Wright in the Post wrote about the ongoing efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program. "The second is what punitive action Iran's international critics could take if the country fails to comply. U.S. officials have been tight-lipped about the specifics of Rice's talks." Nothing new. It was,however, an item in The Guardian that made me gasp. The evil empire scenario with all its arrogant declarations. The surprise was that Saudi Arabia, a close ally (the rulers if not the people) of the Bush administration was a target! And Pakistan, despite its proven role in export of nuclear technology to the evil ones, is no longer so-- there can be no better example of "My enemy's enemy is my friend". The Empire Strikes Bush, Dan Froomkin's May 16th column in the Post is a good one to visit.

One wonders if the scenario is part of the Born Again Christians' Rapture (Second Coming) thing. Maybe they are tired of waiting and want to resort to a catalyst. I'm being facetious but one can never tell what they are thinking of.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Harold Pinter Gets His Due


A pleasure to read that Harold Pinter won the Nobel for literature. Peter Marks' article in The Post : "In its announcement, the Swedish Academy said it was recognizing a dramatist "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under the everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms." Well said.

Harold Pinter was born in 1930 and is married to Lady Antonia Fraser, the renowned author of historical fiction. The home page of Harold Pinter.org contains the following:

"Pinter's interest in politics is a very public one. Over the years he has spoken out forcefully about the abuse of state power around the world, ........................"


Injured U.S. Soldiers

They deserve better
I read The Post article For Injured U.S. Troops, 'Financial Friendly Fire' with a sense of bewilderment. On top of the pain and, in some cases, physical limitations, injured soldiers are facing financial hardship due to arbitrary bureaucratic procedures. Excerpt from Donna St. George's report: "But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing."

Where are the officials who sent them to Iraq? Do something.

The Death Toll

According to icasualties.org, the total for U.S. soldiers is now at 1966.

"For me war has become a flat, black depression without highlights, a revulsion of the mind and an exhaustion of the spirit.
---Ernie Pyle (1900-1945), American journalist who covered World War II.

Ernie Pyle died from sniper's bullets in Ie Shima, Japan, 18th April 1945.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


The President's Video Conference with Troops in Iraq

A Staged, orchestrated event

The deception continues. Deb Riechmann's report in The Washington Post stated: " It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution." No wonder. Watching the news clip on CBS' web site it felt as though El Jefe was wearing a prompting device (remember the mysterious bulge). In the absence of proof let us assume that he managed without such aid. However, there were reports that the event was "choreographed". Jim VandeHei wrote in the Post that: "Before the president spoke via a video link, his event planners handpicked 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry and one Iraqi soldier, told them what topics the president would ask about, and watched them briefly rehearse their presentations before going live." " ISN SECURTIY WATCH (13/10/2005) - President George Bush in a carefully orchestrated event on Thursday was told by handpicked US troops in Iraq that Iraqis were eager to vote in Saturday's referendum on a draft constitution."

Note: Originally published 4:35 PM Oct.13,2005, edited and republished 7:59 PM Oct.13,2005


The President Makes A Scripted, Orchestrated Appearance

This post deleted by author. Edited version under "President's Video Conference with Troops in Iraq"


Elfriede Jelinek - Controversial author back in the news

Violent Pornography? Certainly not
Knut Ahnlund, a member of the Swedish Academy, resigned in protest over last year's award for literature to Elfriede Jelinek ! Luke Harding in The Guardian wrote: " It was not clear last night why Ahnlund waited a year before delivering his tirade against Jelinek, who failed to turn up to collect her prize at last year's ceremony. But there was suspicion that the academy member is also unhappy about the latest choice for the 2005 Nobel prize for literature, who will be named tomorrow." Note: British playwright Harold Pinter has been named the winner of this year's award.

Knut Ahnlund described Ms Jelinek's works as "whingeing, unenjoyable, violent pornography". That there is an element of violence in pornography, enjoyable or otherwise, is indisputable but Ms Jelinek's works are not pornographic. I did not know of Elfriede Jelinek until I read about her about a year ago when she won the Nobel for 2004. I watched video of the film "The Piano Teacher", based on Jelinek's novel. Thought that it was great and I blogged about it on November 8, 2004. The books, however, were disappointing. I read "The Piano Teacher" translated by Joachim Neugroschel, and "Lust" , translated by Michael Hulse. Found them boring. It was like reading police reports. Michael Haneke, director, and Isabelle Huppert in the leading role made "The Piano Teacher" a fascinating movie. The book failed to come close. Perhaps it was the translation.

I respect Elfriede Jelinek for speaking out about sexual violence against women and for her position on Bush's war. Her play "Bambiland" is a scathing indictment of the war against Iraq.


The Third Way - The Path Back for Democrats

Become Republican "Light" ?
Not a "Deaniac" or adherent of "take no prisoners" policy, but the thought that Democrats can return to power only by adopting strategies that brought success to Republicans makes me feel like throwing up. David Broder in the Post wrote about the "Politics of Polarization", a study produced by, Elaine Karmack and Bill Galston, two former staff members of the Clinton White House. The 64-page report is full "polling data and political advice". The path recommended is the political center. So far so good. Then comes the argument for "moral values" and that raises a red flag. There is so much hypocrisy about what the Republicans and conservative Christians say and what they practice that one should think twice before taking that tack. It is a slippery slope.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Reading the President's Body Language

Blinks, Wiggles, Shrugs and Shifts

Where are you Smirking Chimp ? The Post article by Dana Milbank cries out for your pithy comments. For a while it seemed as though we, Bush critics were pissing against the wind. The wind has shifted. More and more such items are beginning to appear in mainstream media. The NY Times can run with Judy Miller.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Blogging as Therapy - If it works, why not ?

Yuki Noguchi's article, "Blogs as Cyber-Catharsis" in the Post made me think of the people I know who have been using blogs to reveal their innermost thoughts and experiences. I, of course, do not have the data collected by Ms Noguchi. She has been writing about the blogosphere and related subjects for some time. Based on my personal experience of being a somewhat discriminating reader of blogs I am inclined to be on the side of those "who consider it a form of therapy" . Ms. Noguchi wrote that ".....although some psychologists question the use of the Internet for therapy, many now use it to chronicle intensely personal experiences, venting confessions in front of millions of strangers who can write back."

Psychologists, even with good intentions, cannot be fair and impartial on this issue. While there is the risk of attracting weirdos--they are out there--one can easily prevent comments from readers in the blogs. The downside of that is it would block not only slimy people but those whose comments might actually have a positive effect....for both.

While I myself have not posted intensely personal details in my blog, I admire those who do. It takes courage and confidence. If they find release and satisfaction from posting their thoughts, may the force be with them.


The Pesky Reporters - The President Got Hot Under the Collar

Photo Opportunities Are No Longer Fun

Good for a laugh. Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in the Post (Photo Op Bites Back) described an exchange between El Jefe and Matt Lauer. How the situation has changed! This would have been unthinkable a year ago when most of the journalists covering the president did not dare challenge the strict management of news under the iron hands of the president's minions. Talk about control. They were the masters. That was then. Now the reporters no longer feel cowed by the president. They have found chinks in his armor. More power to them.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Victims of Natural Disasters - Largely the Poor

Tsunami, Katrina, and now Earthquake in South Asia, Flooding and Landslide in Guatemala

Reports about the earthquake that devastated parts of northern Pakistan mention more than 20,000 dead and countless who are homeless. Indian territories escaped major loss. The number of dead greatly exceeds Katrina's toll. In Guatemala, many victims will never be found and accounted for. There is something that jumps out of the reports and photographs---most of the victims belong to the lower end of the income scale....the "have nots".

John Lancaster, The Washington Post wrote: "The damage was said to be heaviest in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where the area's communications minister, Tariq Mohammed, told the Associated Press that "more than 30,000 people have died." That figure was considerably higher than other official estimates and could not be independently confirmed."

Krissah Williams' report about Guatemala in the Post mentioned "At least 640 dead, many missing"

"Guatemalan officials said they would abandon communities buried by landslides and declare them mass graveyards, according to the Associated Press. Many of the missing apparently will simply be declared dead, and the ground they rest in declared hallowed."

Bigots see the hand of God in natural disasters. They talked about retribution for sinful New Orleians. Now the holy rollers might see the earthquake as punishment for atrocities committed by Islamic Jihadis. Give them time, they will come up with cause for the suffering of the Guatemalans.

The earth's restlessness is easier to understand. There are explanations for earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding. Nevertheless, it seems that the burden of suffering falls disproportionately on the poor. It is because of the areas where they live, the kind of housing which they can afford, and what they do for livelihood.

The San Francisco Bay area, of which I am a resident, is considered high risk because of close proximity to earthquake faults. Minor temblors are common and the seismologists talk about the "big one" that is going to hit. If and when a major earthquake takes place in this area the profile of victims will be markedly different.


Bush administration chalks up another achievement

Personal bankruptcies rise 11% in one quarter
First there was data about the disparity between the rich and poor. The wealthy became wealthier, thank you Mr. President. The number of people at poverty level went up. One cannot blame the president for not being honest. He did say before he was elected "This is an impressive crowd. The haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base." (Al Smith Dinner, Waldorf Astoria 10/19/2000). The Census Bureau reported in August that overall there were 37 million people living in poverty, up 1.1 million people from 2003.

Now we learn from Michele Singletary's column "When bankruptcy becomes personal" in The Washington Post that:

"The overall quarterly increase was fueled by consumer Chapter 7 filings, which rose 17.7 percent, to 362,481 from 308,028, for the second quarter of 2004. Under Chapter 7, a person's assets are liquidated, except those exempted by law, and debts are wiped away. Such cases are usually simple. The average filer doesn't even appear before a judge.

"This recent surge in bankruptcy petitions is largely attributable to consumers scrambling to file before the new, tougher Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 takes effect Oct. 17.

The new act was tailor made to benefit corporate America. There is no doubt that it will do so. Those facing bankruptcy can pound salt.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


A Turbulent Autumn in Foggy Bottom

Ah, the hubris - Frist and DeLay are not alone

"Hubris on the Hill", Ruth Marcus' column in The Washington Post makes good reading. She wrote about the ethical problems facing Bill Frist and Tom DeLay. They invited trouble, especially DeLay whose arrogance greatly exceeded that of Dr. Frist's. They have no one to blame but themselves. There are others on both sides of the aisle in Congress who suffer from monumental egos. The White House and Cabinet offices do not lack them either. It is the nature of the beast. Politics and humility do not mix.

The death toll of American soldiers nearing the 2000 mark. The hubris of a handful of people created the mess that is Iraq. They continue to offer platitudes and keep the spectre of terrorism alive to justify their miscalculation.

Then there is the controversial nominee for the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Despite the brouhaha the president is confident that Harriet Miers would be confirmed. Don't see the Republicans going to the extent of voting against her. There is too much at stake. After all the president has delivered on most of the issues close to the heart of the conservatives. The president is hurting on several fronts. David Broder in The Washington Post wrote about "Bush's Fraying Presidency". If his support continues to drop then Republican members in the House and Senate will suffer from the domino effect. Last thing they want. So, they might have doubts about her fitness but they will vote to confirm Harriet Miers. I strongly suspect that Ms. Miers will follow the playbook of Justices Scalia and Thomas....the president's favorites.


Friday, October 07, 2005


G.W. Bush - New Cold Warrior or Creator of Red Herring?

Terrorists here, terrorists there, terrorists lurking everywhere

The president read a long speech on October 6th. He needs to boost the sagging polls and the speech writers went all out to assist him. The cold war was mentioned in context with Islamic terrorism. We have a new cold warrior fighting the good battle, defending us from the evil doers.In a report titled "Bush Says 10 Plots by Al Qaeda Were Foiled" The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Susan B. Glaser commented about the vagueness of the threats mentioned in the speech.

"Most of the plots were previously reported in some form; a few were revealed yesterday. The White House had never before placed a number or compiled a public list of the foiled attempts to follow up the Sept. 11 attacks, but it offered scant information beyond the location and general date of each reported plot -- making it difficult to assess last night how serious or advanced they were or what role the government played in preventing them."
"Faulty Logic"

Editorial in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune reads in part:

"Myers' view, which Bush immediately quashed, overflowed with common sense and practical wisdom. Bush's Cold War construction overflows with faulty logic; it tries to make Islamic radicalism fit a familiar -- and therefore comforting war-justifying -- mold that doesn't work."

"The great error of nearly all studies of war... has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics..."
---Simone Weil

Thursday, October 06, 2005


El Jefe read a speech---a long one

The Same Old Refrain

The speech writers gave it their best shot. No easy task but 40 minutes can cover a lot of ground. It did. There were some good one liners. But how did the speech play in Peoria? The President and his staff say that they do not pay attention to the polls. Some people believe them. The drop in support indicated by the polls, however, cannot be poo-poohed away. They know it and we know it.

So they resurrected the old standbys.
Threat of terrorism was the focal point. The fact is that Iraq became a hot bed of Islamic terrorists only after we went there to destroy the non-existent WMD. After that fizzled out the stated reason for our presence became establishment of a free democratic society. Plans to set up a hand-picked Iraqi government failed; the factional disputes among Shias, Sunnis and others make it clear that a stable government in Iraq is a long way off.

Saddam Hussein was an indisputable tyrant but Iraqis lived in a secular society in which women were not required to wear hijab and were free to work alongside men. The new Iraqi constitution reflects the influence of Islamic scriptures. Women's rights are in danger.

Two and half years after the war began, in Baghdad the residents do not have regular supply of power and water.

The speech might temporarily succeed in shielding the president from criticism about the mess created in Iraq and problems at home--the mounting deficit due largely to his lopsided tax cuts and the war in Iraq, the rising energy costs, and funding for reconstruction of New Orleans--but they are not going to go away.


The Women of Pakistan Cannot Be Silenced

General Musharraf - Classic case of Foot in the Mouth

If it were not for the cruel facts President Musharraf's PR efforts to put a lid on increasing number of reports about rape victims and lack of rights of Pakistani women would have been funny. Yasmeen Hassan's open letter to President Musharraf in today's Washington Post will only make things more unpleasant for General Musharraf. He is still reeling from his infamous statement during an interview on September 12th.

"You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."

The General tried to deny saying it but he was being recorded. The audio transcript can be heard on the Post's web site.

Yaa Habibi !

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Keep Oregon Free - Gonzales v. Oregon 04-623

Bush Administration Against State's Rights

They tried but failed in the Terri Schiavo case. Now the zealots in Washington are at it again. The conservatives who championed State's Rights in the past have turned about-face and are now arguing before the Supreme Court to overrule Oregon's Death With Dignity Act. Their case rests on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), that it was being violated by physicians prescribing drugs to terminally ill patients who requested such assistance in dying.

The Washington Post is carrying a report by Charles Lane, "Supreme Court Holds Hearing On Assisted Suicide Case" that includes questions raised by the justices.

This case will exemplify the importance of the crucial "swing vote" in the current Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Justice O'Connor is not likely to be there when the case is decided. It was she who raised a very pertinent question.

"O'Connor immediately challenged Solicitor General Paul Clement, asking if federal drug laws also prevented doctors from participating in the execution of murderers." (Reported by Gina Holland of the Associated Press).

From what is known about Harriet Miers and her affiliation with a fundamentalist Christian church, if she wins confirmation to the Court her vote would most probably be against Oregon.

Summary of the background.

The Death With Dignity Act was passed by voters in Oregon in 1994, and three years later they voted against repeal. Since then 208 terminally ill patients (mostly suffering from cancer) have elected the option.

The Bush administration has been after Oregon's Death With Dignity Act for a long time. The former Attorney general Ashcroft took a personal interest in it. Religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, vehemently opposed the act. Ashcroft tried to annul the law in 2002 because "it depended on an improper use of medication by doctors and violated federal drug laws". His order was overruled by an appeals court. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is continuing the battle, State's Rights be damned.

An editorial in today's NY Times ended with the following:

"The impact of today's case will be felt beyond Oregon. The Bush administration's position has discouraged other states from enacting assisted suicide laws. But the Supreme Court should make clear that Oregon, and all states, have the right to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with a maximum of dignity and a minimum of pain."

The prospects for such a decision emerging from the Court are very slim.

The Brits take an enlightened position on Euthanasia

While faced with increasing intrusion of religious beliefs in all aspects of our life we are surrendering to bigotry, across the Atlantic in England things are moving the other way. Rights of citizens to have more control over end of life decisions are being liberalized.

The Guardian,UK, "Church Ends Taboo on Mercy Killings" January 16, 2005.

The Guardian,UK, Doctors' Leaders drop opposition to euthanasia, June 30, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Judith Miller's 85 Days in Prison

The Dark Labyrinth of Her Mind

There were doubts about her motives and hints that reasons other than "protecting her source" made her decide to remain silent and go to prison. Today's Washington Post carries a report "Lawyer Casts Blame on Reporter for Time in Jail" by Carol D. Leonnig that sheds some light but does not fully explain the circumstances. Perhaps Ms. Miller went to prison to benefit from the "tell all" book that is supposedly in the works. As the reporter who contributed a series of stories about Saddan Hussein's non-existent WMD which the NY Times management was guilty of publishing without checking facts, Ms. Miller will undoubtedly create a partly fictional account of her role in the Plame affair.


What Makes Harriet Miers Tick

Will She Maintain or Destroy The Supreme Court's Delicate Balance ?


El Jefe pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Harriet Miers was a possibility but not at the top of the list of most of the pundits who ventured to express their opinions about a possible nominee. Initial reactions indicate that Conservatives are more unhappy than the Democrats. That, however, is not enough to feel good about the nominee. The Conservatives' ire could be part of the plan. Remember El Jefe's stated admiration for Scalia and Thomas ? It is hard to believe that he changed his position and risked displeasure of his core constitutency, especially the Christian right, by picking a person who would be radically different. A tiger does not change his stripes. G.W. Bush remains an opportunistic, hypocrite. Either he has reason to be assured that Ms. Miers will deliver by siding with Justices Scalia and Thomas or he decided to avoid a brutal, long drawn-out confirmation process by nominating one who could sneak by without causing a fire storm. He has enough problems on his desk to discourage him from adding another.

As he always does in such unrehearsed settings, during the press conference this morning the president butchered the English language but spoke strongly about the nominee. He also disparaged polls. That must be taken with a grain of salt. The White House does pay attention to polls.

The problem with the nomination is that Ms. Miers' positions on various issues remain unknown. She never held a judicial position--there is no public record of her beliefs and opinions. Details of her work in the White House will be protected under "executive privilege". The perfect stealth candidate.
It is only after she takes her seat on the court that we shall really find out what makes Harriet Miers tick.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


October - Dylan Thomas, Wales and the San Francisco Peninsula

October In Wales

The first day of October. Thought of the poem by the late Dylan Thomas. "Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,......"

Great poem. For us in the San Francisco Peninsula frosty fingers are unheard of in October. October means sunny, bracingly cold days and blue skies. After unseasonably cool days during most of the second-half of September, we had our Indian summer. During the last few days the daytime temperature climbed over 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). JHL and I hiked the 7.5 mile Los Trancos trail a few days back and felt the heat. We were tired and sweaty but it felt good. Buckeye Creek was almost dry but that will soon change. Today is noticeably cooler.

Back to Dylan Thomas and October in Wales that he described so powerfully. There is beauty and there is harshness. The Welsh must be hardy people to cope with such stark autumn.

"Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

Shut, too, in a tower of words, I mark
On the horizon walking like the trees
The wordy shapes of women, and the rows
Of the star-gestured children in the park.
Some let me make you of the vowelled beeches,
Some of the oaken voices, from the roots
Of many a thorny shire tell you notes,
Some let me make you of the water's speeches.

Behind a post of ferns the wagging clock
Tells me the hour's word, the neural meaning
Flies on the shafted disk, declaims the morning
And tells the windy weather in the cock.
Some let me make you of the meadow's signs;
The signal grass that tells me all I know
Breaks with the wormy winter through the eye.
Some let me tell you of the raven's sins.

Especially when the October wind
(Some let me make you of autumnal spells,
The spider-tongued, and the loud hill of Wales)
With fists of turnips punishes the land,
Some let me make of you the heartless words.
The heart is drained that, spelling in the scurry
Of chemic blood, warned of the coming fury.
By the sea's side hear the dark-vowelled birds."
Dylan Thomas died young, at 39. Among his works, the magical "A Child's Christmas in Wales" and the unforgettable "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" .

"I first saw the light of
day in a Glamorgan villa,
and,amid the terrors of the
Welsh accent and the smoke
of the tinplate stacks, grew
up to be a sweet baby, a
precocious child, a rebellious
boy, and a morbid youth"

---Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914-1953)

For those who are interested in learning more about Dylan Thomas, the BBC's web site is a treasure trove.

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