Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Iraq, The Dead of January 2006 - President and Punxsutawney Phil
His poll numbers continue to be low. He says he does not pay attention to polls but few believe that. Privatization of Social Security is down the tube; even some of his staunch supporters are concerned about the mounting budget deficit; the Abramoff scandal is casting a shadow on Republican members of Congress; Patrick Fitzgerald still following the Valerie Plame leak enquiry; and Medicare Part 'D",the Prescription Drug Plan, is a disaster for those who need it most. State of the Union is far from rosy. So, expect full scale smoke and mirrors. On the plus side, the president's conservative Christian supporters are delighted that Samuel Alito has become the newest member of the Supreme Court.
Jason Lee Bishop, 31, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Jan 01, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
Corrupt Republicans ! What Happened to the Champions of Moral Values ?
J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man
Sebastian Dangerfield, Kenneth O'Keefe, Miss Frost, Percy Clocklan, Macdoon--unforgettable characters, all.
"Relax, Miss Frost."
"I didn't want to do this. I know I didn't want to."
"Yes, you did."
"I didn't, please, didn't."
Miss Frost turned away on her side, her body choked and sobbing.
"Miss Frost, God is all merciful."
"But it's a mortal sin which I have to confess to the priest and it's adultery as well."
"Please now, Miss Frost. Take hold of yourself. This won't do any good."
"One mortal sin is the same as another."
"I'm damned. It isn't."
"Do you want me to go?"
"Don't leave me alone."
"Don't cry. God's not going to condemn you. You're a good person. God's only after people who are out and out bastards, habitual sinners. You must be sensible."
"I'll have to give your name."
"You what ?"
"Your name. I'll have to tell it to the priest."
"What makes you think that ? Nonsense."
"He'll ask me."
"Not at all."
"He will. And they'll send the priest to my mother."
"Ridiculous. The priest's only there to forgive you your sins."
"Miss Frost, you've done this before."
"And they sent the priest to your mother?"
Upon being old ...
"It's not nice but take comfort that you won't stay that way forever."
J.P. Donleavy (from The Unexpurgated Code.)..
Ireland today is quite different than the one in which Donleavy wrote The Ginger Man. One thing has not changed much though. The Catholic Church in Ireland continues to be the most repressive in Europe. Difficult to understand why the Irish allow the church to intrude so deeply into their personal lives. But there are signs of waning influence of the church.
Trivia: According to a recent report, Johnny Depp will play the lead role in a movie based on The Ginger Man. Too bad that Maggie Smith and Deborah Kerr are both past the age to be considered for the part of Miss Frost.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saints, Bigots, and Outright Fakes
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Marathoners and Mullahs in Lahore, Pakistan
Friday, January 27, 2006
Rapture - Evangelicals Heaven Bound
- Christ is going to appear," Frazier continues. "He is going to call all of his saved, all of his children, home to be with him."
- In other words, "in the twinkling of an eye," as the Rapturists often say, millions of born-again Evangelicals will suddenly vanish from the earth—just as they do in LaHaye's "Left Behind" books. They will leave behind their clothes, their material possessions, and all their friends and family members who have not accepted Christ—and they will join Christ in the Kingdom of God.
- Frazier continues. "Jesus taught his disciples that he was going to go away to his father's house, but that he was not going to abandon them, because while he was gone he was going to prepare for them a suitable dwelling place.… And when the time was right, he would come back to claim his own.… Jesus is going to come and get his bride, which comprises all of us who are born again.
Personally, I would be happy to see the Armageddon followers "vanish from the earth". I shall take my chances of being among the "left behind". Somehow the thought of spending eternity with a crowd of hard-right Republicans does not seem very appealing.
More: Gun Toting Delegate Misfires at Va. Capitol
Guns are so lovely. Good for killing and for orgasms, maybe.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Rain Clouds over the Malahat
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Google Rolled Over (or Got Rolled) In China
"No to e-mail
"Google has acknowledged that its decision to launch in China will be seen as inconsistent with its mission to make information universally accessible but believes it has little choice.
"We don't want to risk becoming irrelevant or useless due to the way that our content is blocked or filtered currently," Google's senior policy adviser Andrew McLaughlin told the BBC Radio Four's Today programme.
"We feel it is a step forward. Not a big step forward but a step forward. We understand that many people will find the decision either puzzling or objectionable," he said.
The Washington Post reported:
- Within minutes of the launch of the new site bearing China's Web suffix ".cn," searches for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement showed scores of sites omitted and users directed to articles condemning the group posted on Chinese government Web sites.
- Searches for other sensitive subjects such as exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, Taiwan independence, and terms such as "democracy" and "human rights" yielded similar results.
The Anne Turner Case - Death With Dignity
- Yesterday the UK organisation Dignity in Dying, which used to be known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said Dr Turner's story showed British law was shortening lives and called for assisted suicide to be legalised.
- "This case is truly heartbreaking," said its chief executive, Deborah Annetts. "The government must make time in parliament for the assisted dying for the terminally ill bill. Only this bill could have prevented Anne Turner from taking her life early. If this bill had been law, Anne would not have been forced to go to Zurich while she was still able to travel, for help to die. She would be alive today."
- Dr Turner, who would have been 67 today, said in an interview shortly before her death that she did not want to reach the point where she could not travel to a country where assisted suicide is legal. "I think it's dreadful that somebody like myself has to go to Switzerland to do this, which is an awful hassle," she said.
If you are not a resident of Oregon and wish to avoid being hooked up to a life support system in case of terminal illness, be sure to execute an Advance Directive. The form can be downloaded, free, from Caring Connections. AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) is another source.
How We Die : Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland,MD, Vintage Paperback
On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, The MacMillan Co.
Final Exit by Derek Humphrey, Dell Publishing
Euthanasia and the Right to Die edited by A.B. Dowling, Peter Owen, London
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Bush, Abramoff, and Photo Opportunities
- "The entire continent is involved. It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware."
- His report said that "there is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture".
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Poems on a Sunday Morning
In Fargo, North Dakota, a man
Warned me that the river might rise
To flood stage again,
On the bridge, a girl hurries past me alone,
Will she pause in the wet grass somewhere ?
Behind my eyes she stands tiptoe, yearning
for confused sparrows
To fetch a bit of string and dried wheatbeard
To line her outstretched hand.
I open my eyes and gaze down
At the dark water.
I WAS DOWN THE FIELD
I was down the field
When I returned
the front door was banging
and this was on the table
written in the dust
I BROUGHT THE BIG BOSS
TO MEET YOU
YOU CAN IMAGINE
WHAT HE THOUGHT
I chose the white jar
for the flowers
OUR BEAUTIFUL WEST COAST THING
"We are a coast people
There is nothing but ocean beyond us."
I sit here dreaming
long thoughts of California
at the end of a November day
below a cloudy twilight
near the Pacific
listening to Mamas and The Papas
singing a song about breaking
somebody's heart and digging it !
I think I'll get up
and dance around the room.
Here I go !
Birch tree, you remind me
Of a room filled with breathing,
The sway and whisper of love.
She slips off her shoes;
Unzips her skirt; arms raised,
Unclasps an earring, and the other.
Just so the sallow trunk
Divides, and the branches
Are pale and smooth.
on the pale kitchen wall,
Six spaces filled
with delicate, lonely things:
vases of miniature flowers--
lavender, pale orange and yellow;
a bronzed baby-shoe;
two jars--cranberry glass
and Dutch blue china.
Together, carefully dusted
they almost breathe.
I picked up the volumes years ago at an used book store in Menlo Park, California.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Atrocities in East Timor
- The report, key portions of which were made available to The Washington Post, also charged Indonesia with using napalm against Timorese civilians and using "starvation as a weapon of war," condemning thousands of adults and children to death in camps for displaced Timorese.
- "The commission finds that the government of Indonesia and the Indonesian security forces are primarily responsible and accountable for the death of 100,000 to 180,000 East Timorese civilians who died as a result of the Indonesian military invasion and occupation," said the report by the East Timor Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, set up by the United Nations and East Timor in 2001.
The panel recommended that countries and companies that provided military support to Indonesia during the 24-year occupation, including the United States, Britain and France, pay reparations to those whose rights were violated. It also urged U.N. members to deny travel visas and freeze the assets of senior Indonesian officials, including former Gen. Wiranto, the armed forces commander in chief in 1999.
- A spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment, saying the report had not yet been formally presented.
Talk about Saddam Hussein and the Kurds !
Friday, January 20, 2006
Witch Hunting at UCLA
Oppose Samuel Alito -- Yes, the Democrats must
The confirmation hearings amply illustrated that when one party dominates Congress (it does not matter which party) the process becomes a mockery. The nominee dodged and weaved through the hearings. Senator Biden (D-Del),who did his own share of blathering during the hearings, was right in saying that:
- " Supreme Court nominees are so mum about the major legal issues at their Senate confirmation hearings that the hearings serve little purpose and should probably be abandoned, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden said Thursday.
- "The system's kind of broken," said Biden, a member of the Judiciary Committee considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito.
- "Nominees now, Democrat and Republican nominees, come before the United States Congress and resolve not to let the people know what they think about the important issues," such as a president's authority to go to war, said Biden.
"....kind of muddled" ! That was an understatement. No wonder he gave up on his grand plan to privatize Social Security. He wanted Americans to buy a pig in a poke; they saw through him.
`I think I should understand that better,' Alice said very politely, `if I had it written down: but I can't quite follow it as you say it.'--Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Today Pornography, Tomorrow War Critics, then "Liberals"
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up."
---Pastor Martin Niemoller (there are slightly different variations of what he said)
Now the moral values gang is after Google. An Associated Press report in the Post reads: SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Bush administration, seeking to revive an online pornography law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, has subpoenaed Google Inc. for details on what its users have been looking for through its popular search engine.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Speaker Hastert's Game Plan for Lobbying Reform - Wide Loopholes
Excerpts from Jeffrey Birnbaum's article in the Post:
- The plans offered by Republican leaders yesterday would change two of the three areas of law or regulation that govern lobbyists' behavior: the congressional rules that limit gifts to lawmakers and the laws that dictate the amount of disclosure that lobbyists must give the public.
- A third major area -- campaign finance laws -- would go untouched, an omission that amounts to a gaping loophole in efforts to distance lobbyists from the people they are paid to influence.
“Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it's set a rolling it must increase.”
---Charles Caleb Colton (English sportsman and writer, 1780-1832)
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Oregon's Death With Dignity Act Prevails - Viva Oregonians
- The ruling struck down one of the administration's signature policies regarding what President Bush calls the "culture of life" and lifts the last legal cloud over the state's law, which is unique in the nation. It also frees other states to follow in Oregon's footsteps, unless Congress acts to the contrary.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Reed Swaying in the Wind and Victory for Michelle Bachelet
Reed said he helped close an illegal casino in Texas and prevented casinos from coming to Alabama. "Many marriages and lives were saved" and "many children were spared the consequences of gambling because of the work I did."
But, he added, "if I had known then what I know now, I would not have done that work."
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Mushrraf in the Middle
---A Middle-Eastern maxim
Saturday, January 14, 2006
India's Girl Deficit - Gender Based Foeticide
- The practice is common among all religious groups - Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, and Christians - but appears to be most common among educated women, a fact that befuddles public health officials and women's rights activists alike.
- "More educated women have more access to technology, they are more privileged, and most educated families have the least number of children," says Sabu George, a researcher with the Center for Women's Development Studies in New Delhi, who did not participate in the study. "This is not just India. Everywhere in the world, smaller families come at the expense of girls."
- Like China, India has encouraged smaller families through a mixture of financial incentives and campaigns calling for two children at most. Faced with such pressure, many families, rich and poor alike, are turning to prenatal selection to ensure that they receive a son. It's a problem with many potential causes - from social traditions to the economic burden of dowries - but one that could have strong social repercussions for generations to come.
Den of Thieves
Are Speaker Hastert's hands clean ? He must have had blinkers on not to be aware of what was going on in his shop.
Friday, January 13, 2006
A Bumper Year for Wild Mushrooms
I cook risotto with chanterelles. Chanterelles, with diced potato, onions and thyme, also make excellent soup. You can add cream to give it richness; I use Half and Half. They are great, simply sauteed in butter with chopped chives and put on toasted french bread. And always good with eggs--scrambled or in an omelette.
Keith Jarrett - piano
Gary Peacock- bass
Jack DeJohnette - drums
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Need a laugh - read "Alito's agenda"
Andy Borowitz in Newsweek:
- The judge said that if confirmed as a justice of the United States Supreme Court, "I will continue my practice of not owning an agenda book and not knowing what I am doing."
- But just as Alito appeared to have satisfied Senate Democrats on the agenda book issue, Sen. Edward Kennedy produced the most dramatic moment of the day by holding up an agenda book allegedly owned by Alito that the senator claimed to have bought on eBay. Reading from it, Sen. Kennedy said, "It's right here, as plain as day: 'Monday, 9 AM: Pick up dry cleaning. 10 AM: Pass litmus test.'"
- Elsewhere, Iran announced plans to enrich uranium, and Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to enrich himself.
And so it goes.
"Government For the People"---the 'K' Street People
- In years past, when the House has recessed for its winter break, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has decamped for warmer climates and a sailing trip to the Caribbean with some of the city's top lobbyists, including Henry Gandy of the well-connected Duberstein Group and Timothy McKone of SBC Communications.
- Over the summer, they discussed a trip for this year as well, Boehner said yesterday, but last week the lobbyists weighed anchor without him, content to communicate by telephone while the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee rushed to Washington for a high-stakes run to succeed Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) as House majority leader.
- The annual vacation, dubbed a "boys' trip" by detractors, points to an issue underlying the current House leadership race: Both Boehner and his rival for majority leader, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), have extensive ties to the same K Street lobbying world that stained DeLay's reputation and spawned the Abramoff corruption scandal.
- Both camps this week have been pointing to the other's well-documented connections and activities, some of which are the stuff of legends. They include Blunt's failed effort to insert a provision benefiting Philip Morris USA into the massive bill creating the Department of Homeland Security and Boehner's distribution of checks from tobacco concerns in 1995 to lawmakers on the House floor. Also of note are both men's prodigious fundraising activities, some of which involve individuals and clients with ties to Abramoff.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
A dark side of India - Female Infanticide
- "Sex selective abortions have been banned in India for more than a decade."
- "Although doctors in India must not tell couples the sex of a foetus, in practice, some just use coded signals instead, our correspondent says. "
- "Last year the well-known religious leader and social activist, Swami Agnivesh, began a campaign across five northern and western states against female foeticide. "
- "There's no other form of violence that's more painful, more abhorrent, more shameful," he said.
Paradoxically, the BBC report goes on to say: "The sex ratio is so skewed in some states, men cannot find brides."
Indian men who support female foeticide are probably the ones who also insist on virgin brides when they get married. The way things are heading they will face the need to import women--if any are available and willing to marry them.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Iran and Nuclear Weapons - Did CIA provide them blueprints for a bomb ?
"In fact, just as President Bush and his aides were making the case in 2004 and 2005 that Iran was moving rapidly to develop nuclear weapons, the American intelligence community found itself unable to provide the evidence to back up the administration's public arguments. On the heels of the CIA's failure to provide accurate pre-war intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the agency was once again clueless in the Middle East. In the spring of 2005, in the wake of the CIA's Iranian disaster, Porter Goss, its new director, told President Bush in a White House briefing that the CIA really didn't know how close Iran was to becoming a nuclear power.
But it's worse than that. Deep in the bowels of the CIA, someone must be nervously, but very privately, wondering: "Whatever happened to those nuclear blueprints we gave to the Iranians?"
State of War, by James Risen
Additional comments by Julian Borger, The Guardian.
"The operation, codenamed Merlin and approved by the Clinton administration, was intended to send Iranian scientists down a technological dead end, according to this account. They would spend years building a warhead which would fail to detonate. Instead, Risen writes, the operation may have helped Iran to "accelerate its weapons development" by extracting important information from the blueprints and ignoring the flaws."
And in Foggy Bottom "Rice Says Patience With Iran Waning", the Washington Post
"The bigger they are, the harder they fall"
- "Rep. Tom DeLay (Tex.), one of the most powerful and feared Republican leaders in Washington, abandoned his quest to regain his House majority leader post yesterday, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about the growing corruption and campaign finance scandals linked to his office.
- DeLay's announcement in his home town of Sugar Land ends his decade-long tenure as a legislative juggernaut and conservative ideologue who revolutionized the relationship between power and money in Washington. It also cleared the way for a leadership contest that could further shake up the House GOP team going into an uncertain election year. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) said Republicans will choose a new majority leader and other officers the week of Jan. 30, when members return for President Bush's State of the Union address."
Saturday, January 07, 2006
The Televangelist and the Engineer - Candidates for Padded Cells
"You read the Bible: This is my land, and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going to carve it up and give it away, God says no, this is mine," he said.(BBC)
Whew....this guy was a contender for the presidency in 1988 ! Those of us who do not think highly of President Bush are lucky that the reverend is not in the White House.
But the reverend is in good company...President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (he holds a doctorate in engineering and transportation planning). The Seattle Times " WASHINGTON — The television evangelist Pat Robertson and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not agree on much, but both suggested Thursday that the severe illness of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was deserved."
Washington Post: "White House Denounces Robertson's Remarks on Sharon"
Fundos--Christians, Muslims--have the same mindset. Intolerant, arrogant people with warped visions.
Friday, January 06, 2006
How are things in President Bush's Iraq
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
- 2006...Here we are in the first days of 2006. What does the ‘6’ symbolize? How about- 6 hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity? Or… 6 hours of waiting in line for gasoline that is three times as expensive as it was in 2005? Or an average of six explosions per day near our area alone?
- People buy black market gasoline because for many, waiting in line five, six, seven… ten hours isn’t an option. We’ve worked out a sort of agreement amongst 4 or 5 houses in the neighborhood. According to a schedule (which is somewhat complicated and involves license plate numbers, number of children per family, etc.), one of us spends the day filling up the car and then the gasoline is distributed between the four or five involved neighbors.
- I know for most of the world, highly priced gasoline is a common concern. For Iraqis, it represents how the situation is deteriorating. Gasoline and kerosene were literally cheaper than bottled water prior to the war. It’s incredibly frustrating that while the price of petrol is at a high, one of the worlds leading oil-producing countries isn’t producing enough to cover its own needs.
- There is talk of major mismanagement and theft in the Oil Ministry. Chalabi took over several days ago and a friend who works in the ministry says the takeover is a joke. “You know how they used to check our handbags when we first walked into the ministry?” She asked the day after Chalabi crowned himself Oil Emperor, “Now WE check our handbags after we leave the ministry- you know- to see if Chalabi stole anything.”
- I guess the Iraqis who thought the US was going to turn Iraq into another America weren’t really far from the mark- we too now enjoy inane leaders, shady elections, a shaky economy, large-scale unemployment and soaring gas prices.
- Goodbye 2005- the year of SCIRI, fraudulent elections, secret torture chambers, car bombs, white phosphorous, assassinations, sectarianism and fundamentalism… you will not be missed.
- Let us see what 2006 has in store for us.