Tuesday, October 31, 2006
October's Terrible Toll In Iraq - Names by Date
As I write this, it is 6:20 PM in Baghdad. Iraq Coalition Casualties web site reports that 103 soldiers have died so far in October. The list below is incomplete (pending DOD confirmation). Four of them under 20 years of age; 73 in their twenties. Ask what did they die for? What has their deaths accomplished? The WMD never existed; the Iraqi freedom turned out to be a cruel joke. Currently, we are being told that the war is against global terrorism by radical Islamics. That,too, could change. "Stay the course" has now become flexible. The soldiers keep on dying.
Peter Slevin in Washington Post, When the War Comes Home
- "COLUMBUS, Ohio
- Alone and in clusters, collars up to block the rain, thousands of people lined the streets on a gray October day in 2005 to welcome their warriors home. For 13 miles, they rose to wave, a few to salute, as the buses rolled slowly past. More than one tough Marine, homeward bound after a brutal tour in Iraq, shed a tear.
From NPR: "All Things Considered, October 30, 2006 · The U.S. military can't account for hundreds of thousands of weapons purchased to arm some 325,500 Iraqi security forces by December, according to a new report. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week that the U.S. military would beef up Iraqi forces' training. But the new data reveals weaknesses in the arming of Iraqi security forces.Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction who provided the report to Sen. John Warner, says the Iraqi security forces lack the logistics personnel they need, including mechanics, supply clerks and medics."
Monday, October 30, 2006
"Shut Up and Sing" - The Dixie Chicks Do Their Thing
Their latest political statement is the movie "Shut Up and Sing"
Filming some tough Chicks
A documentary shows they won't 'Shut Up & Sing'
By Damon Smith, Globe Correspondent | October 29, 2006
NEW YORK -- Just weeks after 9/11, Ari Fleischer, then White House press secretary, warned Americans to "watch what they say."
Beyond alarming civil-rights advocates, who recoiled from the ominous tone of his words, Fleischer's admonition was a reminder that, in some quarters at least, any voice of dissent could be construed as anti patriotic, regardless of content or context. Just ask Bill Maher -- or the Dixie Chicks, the fiery subjects of Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's rousing new behind-the-scenes portrait, "Shut Up & Sing," which premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival and opens in Boston Nov. 10.
In 2003, these massively talented Southern stars were the best-selling all-female group in North America, beloved by adoring fans and the image-conscious country-music establishment, which regarded them as their sunny, all-American ambassadors.
During a concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, however, on the eve of the Bush administration's shock-and-awe campaign in Iraq, lead vocalist Natalie Maines remarked that she was "against this war, this violence," then cheekily added she was "ashamed" that the president of the United States was from Texas, her home state. Within days her comment was circulated online, and a backlash was born.
"I think they thought that they could set an example with the Dixie Chicks, that they would crumble," says Kopple, 60, a two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker, during a conversation in New York. "But I think they had no idea who they were dealing with."
Fueled by the zeal of arch-conservative websites such as FreeRepublic.com , Maines's remark (made "on foreign soil," apoplectic fans and talking heads exclaimed, as if Great Britain were in cahoots with the Axis of Evil) quickly mushroomed into a major controversy, earning the group reams of hate mail, a nationwide radio boycott, CD burnings, even death threats. Willfully or not, the Dixie Chicks had stumbled into the ugly world of partisan politics. But instead of backing down, the makers of "Shut Up & Sing" discovered, the Chicks remained defiant.
"That's why country music got so mad at them," Kopple says of Maines and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, her musical cohorts. "They didn't toe the line, in a sense. Country music probably thought of them as very conservative [people], and when they came out like this [against the war], I guess they felt betrayed."
Cutting between then and now, "Shut Up & Sing" depicts the personal and artistic transformation this episode wreaked, for better and worse, on the lives of Maines, Maguire, and Robison. Instead of making nice with Nashville institutions like CMT and the Country Music Awards, the Chicks boldly pursued other avenues of self-expression.
Working with famed producer Rick Rubin and songwriter Dan Wilson in 2005, the Dixie Chicks ventured away from the traditional country sound -- and its marketing apparatus -- to make "Taking the Long Way Home," a mature, even defiant album overshadowed by events of the previous year and a half.
Kopple and Peck have collaborated on numerous film projects, including a doc about Peck's father, Gregory, star of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Both mention that they had wanted to profile the Dixie Chicks even before the anti war brouhaha.
"We were always intrigued by them and how they had risen to that level of success," says Peck, 48, on the phone from Austin, "and the very fiery, independent spirit that had shown up way before London."
After hearing about "the comment," Kopple recalls, they were even more keen to do a film, and immediately sent over a new proposal. A few months passed, and then Kopple and Peck met with the Chicks in Los Angeles and got the green light, beating out other interested parties, including Michael Moore and "Don't Look Back" helmer D.A. Pennebaker.
"I think what we told them is that we were interested in their journey," says Peck. "We didn't have an agenda about how to portray it or a slant that we wanted to take [on the controversy]. We just wanted to experience and understand what they were going through, through their eyes."
Glimpsed in early 2004, when filming began with a bare-bones, all-female crew, the Chicks reveal themselves to be savvy strategists and hard-driving businesswomen, negotiating with a rep from jittery world-tour sponsor Lipton, managing the stinging aftermath of the radio ban on ticket sales, and posing for a provocative cover of Entertainment Weekly, adorned with some of the more hateful nicknames ("Dixie Twits," "Saddam's Angels") they'd recently acquired. Maines, in particular, is a spitfire, never hesitating to say exactly what she's thinking. Simon Renshaw, their amiably effusive manager, is a sage adviser who makes things happen. But he's no Colonel Parker: He clearly takes orders from Maines, Maguire, and Robison.
"They are women in control," emphasizes Kopple, who says she was surprised and "totally fascinated" not only by the Chicks' complete autonomy over their hard-won, often stressful careers and the richness of their family lives (all three are mothers to small children), but the intense bonds of friendship that unite them. "Sure, they argue and discuss, but when it comes down to it, they are there for each other."
When Robison gives birth, for instance, her bandmates are there with her, jubilantly taking photos and making saucy jokes with her husband. And in their obligatory interview with Diane Sawyer in 2003, tough questions are asked. Yet rather than a teary-eyed confessional, the segment is an impressive show of group solidarity, and there are no apologies.
"They don't flinch," says Peck, with obvious admiration. "And that's exactly how they feel and who they are. They don't look back, they don't have regrets."
Like Peck, Kopple says she had no expectations at the outset -- "The magic of documentary is that you don't know. You go with life and what happens" -- and that her crew had, at best, a negligible impact on the Chicks' overall demeanor and decision-making process. "We tried to let them forget we were even there, because what they were doing in their lives and the things they were figuring out and the music they were writing and the relationships they were having with their families is what" they were focused on. "I don't think we mattered."
Kopple has had a long, distinguished career as a socially conscious documentarian. She was a member of the collective that produced the harrowing 1972 anti war film "Winter Soldier," and in 1976, she won an Academy Award for "Harlan County, U.S.A.," an incisive, unabashedly militant doc about beleaguered Kentucky coal miners. She won another Oscar in 1991 for "American Dream," which trailed a group of Hormel meatpackers in their struggle for better working conditions. Other credits include "Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson" and "Wild Man Blues," a popular film about Woody Allen's tour of Europe with his New Orleans-style jazz troupe.
"The majority of the films that I do are about people who are fighting for social justice, people who are standing up for what they believe in, and people who won't be silenced," says Kopple, who in 1998 was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival. "I'm sure many of the people who'll see this Dixie Chicks film would never have thought they would be so complex, so bright, such great businesswomen and so alive."
Still, Kopple believes the cost-of-free-speech aspect may have a positive political -- and even personal -- effect on viewers of any persuasion.
"I'm hoping the people who don't agree with the Dixie Chicks, or with what they said, will see this film so they can understand where they're coming from. Because it seems like in this country, there is a real cowboy mentality: 'You're either with us or against us.' Dialogue has been lost, so we need people like this more than ever."
Damon Smith can be reached at email@example.com.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
A Walk in the Woods on an Autumn Afternoon
Rhus Ridge/Black Mountain Trail (Los Altos, CA)
A few days back JHL and went to hike at Rhus Ridge, off Moody Road, less than a mile past Foothill College.
On the return leg we met Gayla Johnson, the ultra marathoner, who was on a run wearing knee braces. She stopped to talk for a few minutes. Gayla completed the Western States 100 mile endurance run in California from Squaw Valley to Auburn .....four times. Amazing feat. This 2000 photograph shows her leaving Foresthill (62 miles from Squaw Valley).
Oh, to be in Boratstan (Kazakhstan)
Reading Carole Cadwalladr's delightful account of her trip to Kazakhstan in The Guardian helped to lighten up this morning's surfing in cyberspace.
"Oh, Borat has got it all wrong. Everyone I meet is in agreement on this. Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is not a totalitarian dictator; he is only moderately repressive: banning and intimidating opposition parties, jailing the odd journalist, etc. The country's national drink is not horse piss; it is fermented horse milk that merely tastes of piss. And Jew-baiting is not, actually, a national sport. It's more of a hobby, as in the phrase 'You're as tight as a Jew' or the practice of making 'a Jewish phone call' (when you get the other party to call you back on your landline).
Dilyara, a fresh-faced student of economics in the city of Karaganda, who's showing us around the place and has lived in the States, is quite clear on this. 'There's an image of Jewish people being mean and crafty and good with money but I don't think many people have actually met them. We have Jews but they tend not to announce themselves.'
And then she takes us - Steve, my travelling companion, and me - into a cafe where we have a bit of cake.
'What's it called?' I ask.
'The cake? It is known as "nigger in the foam".'
So, you see, wrong, wrong, wrong. Or, perhaps, just a little bit right. And although the sequences in Sacha Baron Cohen's new film, Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan, that purport to be in Kazakhstan were filmed in Romania, he didn't pick Romania, or Belarus, or Uzbekistan. He picked Kazakhstan.
Poor Kazakhstan. First Stalin, now Borat. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the government and its blundering attempts to first sue Cohen and then hire a Western PR firm and launch a debunking marketing offensive - although the fact that Nazarbayev is alleged to have stashed $80m in an offshore account goes some way to mitigating my feelings in this."
No pause even on Sunday. In fact the tempo is increasing. Not a tv watcher, I miss most of them -- the slanderous ads, messages full of innuendos and spin. Just reading about them makes me sick. Among the many items to be found about this very American practice, Bob Hill's column in The Courier Journal (Louisville, KY) stands out. This is what he wrote about the impressions of children in a grade school:
- Campaign ads are resonating out of the mud
- Memo To: Anne Northup, John Yarmuth, Mike Sodrel, Baron Hill, and, OK, since you're coming to town, President Bush.
- Subject: America's children.
- It's also so important in this era of declining family values that we teach our children to respect one another, to always tell the truth. That's why I carefully taped several of your political messages and took them to a local grade school to show the kids.
- You would have been pleased. Your messages are getting out. One of the children said the commercials made him sad because it reminded him of the way Mommy and Daddy behaved just before they got divorced.
- Another child said she wanted to work in politics when she grew up because people got to tell lots of lies and make fun of each other and didn't even have to go to their rooms.
- Thank you for being such role models to our future generations. I know that's just one reason why you devote so much time and money to achieve higher office.
- Commercial controversy
- I don't mean to give you full credit for helping America's children in these confused and troubled times. In fact, one of the more precocious children mentioned he had heard his Mommy talking about Rush Limbaugh criticizing Michael J. Fox for shaking so much during a commercial.
- Limbaugh had said Fox was either faking his Parkinson's disease symptoms or had not been taking his drugs. The child wondered why Mr. Limbaugh would want to make fun of a sick man -- even if he did apologize later.
- Maybe one of you could answer that? I couldn't. All I could say was maybe Mr. Limbaugh already knew quite a bit about drugs and was willing to share his expertise.
- What I do know for certain is that your thoughtful words and campaign strategies have finally united our bitterly divided country. It's hard to go anywhere and not find somebody wanting to borrow an old 7-iron.
- Some of our most angry citizens have even suggested that the best way to cure Iraqis of wanting democracy is to ship over a few hours of our political commercials.
- I won't go that far. I still believe in politics -- and the Tooth Fairy. I know when all the mud clears you'll go back to talking about honesty, integrity, the need for good role models, always doing the right thing.
- You'll be more than willing to go into schools to explain to children that sometimes you just have to tell lies and have your friends make fun of sick people to get to be a role model. They'll understand. Please don't forget your Bibles or other religious text for the swearing-in ceremonies.
- I'm Bob Hill, and I approve this memo.
Bob Hill's column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Reach him at (502) 582-4646 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this column, and read his blog and previous columns, at www.courier-journal.com/bobhill.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
When We Wake Up On November 8, 2006
What would we find as we digest results of the midterm elections ? The map dominated by "red", Republican, states as in 2004? Although the headlines read "Republicans facing 'electoral hurricane' in face of centrist Democrat push", the report filed by Julian Borger from Knoxville,TN, in The Guardian mentions possible scenarios:
- What if ..? The Capitol Hill scenarios
- Democrats win the House of Representatives alone
- This would put a serious dent in the last two years of the Bush presidency. Democrats would be able to put forward their own legislation and control the federal budget. They would also take over the chairs of the powerful House committees, armed with power of subpoena, allowing them to launch investigations into the Iraq war and other presidential decisions taken in the first six Bush years.
- Democrats win both the House and Senate
- They would have total control of the legislative agenda, forcing the president to accept it or use his veto. The Senate can launch its own investigations, which are taken more seriously. It has the additional power of ratifying treaties and confirming judicial nominations and cabinet appointments. With control of both houses, the Democrats could bring the Bush presidency to a virtual halt. George Bush would be a lame duck.
- The Democrats fail to capture either chamber
- It would stun the party and plunge it into even deeper despair and defeatism, triggering an all-out fight between its competing power centres. The Bush White House would be given a new lease of life at home and abroad, and the president's influence over his party would be reasserted.
It is an uneasy time for us all -- Democrats and Republicans.
Return of the Mudslingers - Campaign 2006
They are back
"The Year Of Playing Dirtier" - Excerpts:
Rep. Ron Kind pays for sex!
To Nelson, that doesn't even qualify as negative campaigning.
"Negative campaigning is vicious personal attacks," he said in an interview. "This isn't personal at all.
By 2006 standards, maybe it isn't.
When the news is bad, the ads tend to be negative," said Shanto Iyengar, a Stanford professor who studies political advertising. "And the more negative the ad, the more likely it is to get free media coverage. So there's a big incentive to go to the extremes.
The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters. The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending more than 90 percent of its advertising budget on negative ads, according to GOP operatives, and the rest of the party seems to be following suit. A few examples of the "character issues" taking center stage two weeks before Election Day:
Friday, October 27, 2006
Mad Dogs and Mullahs
A Disgusting Man
Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilali, is Mufti of Australia's largest mosque. "Mufti" means a Muslim scholar who interprets the shari'a (The code of law based on the Koran). Sheik al-Hilali made it clear that when it came to stupid, bigoted statements he was not going to let Rev. Pat Robertson take the front seat. Take a deep breath. Speaking at his Lakemba Mosque, this is what he said about women:
But when it comes to adultery, it's 90 per cent the women's responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction. It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying. It's she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay jail. (laughs).
"Then you get a judge, who has no mercy, and he gives you 65 years.
"But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, scholar al-Rafihi says: 'If I came across a rape crime – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.' Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it."
"If you take a kilo of meat, and you don't put it in the fridge or in the pot or in the kitchen but you leave it on a plate in the backyard, and then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats eat the meat, you're crazy. Isn't this true?
"If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.
"If the meat was covered, the cats wouldn't roam around it. If the meat is inside the fridge, they won't get it.
"If the meat was in the fridge and it (the cat) smelled it, it can bang its head as much as it wants, but it's no use.
"If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she's wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don't happen.
His supporters are no less disgusting. Where are the enlightened Muslims ? Why do they remain largely silent ? Pat Robertson and his ilk may have their supporters but here in America they face a lot of ridicule when they open their mouth to utter hateful, nonsensical opinions.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Beat the Drum Slowly
Women Against War
BEAT THE DRUM SLOWLY is a grass roots movement to record all women everywhere on the peace anthem, "She Came Riding Up Slowly". Music has the ability to reach across all lines quickly and communicate. This song seeks to reach beyond political and religious affiliations to the most powerful and influential group on the planet:
I, for one, have had enough: thousands of years of war and atrocity in the name of Power and God. Women are half the population of the world. We know children are born with no inherent hatred for race, religion or country. And yet we raise them to believe there are reasons to kill. What if none of us did that anymore?
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Iraq - President's Secret Plan
The Bill Mitchell cartoon says it all.
CNN - Bill Mitchell
A Strategic Retreat or Strategy for Retreat
"Stay the course" ! Who said that ?
President Bush and his aides are annoyed that people keep misinterpreting his Iraq policy as "stay the course." A complete distortion, they say. "That is not a stay-the-course policy," White House press secretary Tony Snow declared yesterday.
Where would anyone have gotten that idea? Well, maybe from Bush.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
14 Days Before Midterm Elections
It is "the Iraq war", stupid * Death Tolls - Johns Hopkins Study
Those who took the nation to war on deception and lies are dodging, weaving. and changing the message but nothing seems to be working. The tide has turned. The Democrats, who had meekly fallen in line behind them, are the beneficiaries of the backlash.
"In a Sea of Uncertainty, We All Have an Anchor" by Shankar Vedantam in the Post makes interesting reading.
Although the debate over the study has been largely driven by the political implications of the number of Iraqi casualties, psychologists say the fact that many people find the new number hard to digest is a perfect example of anchoring.
Previous estimates had put the number of Iraqi casualties at 30,000 to 50,000. Once that number was anchored in people's minds, it was a foregone conclusion that most people would find it very difficult to accept a much larger number.
"It could be malicious and deliberate or innocent and just wrong, but the fact that the administration had set an anchor is what makes the new number seem implausible," said Max Bazerman, who studies human decision-making at Harvard Business School.
It is important to remember that the psychological phenomenon does not tell you what the correct number of casualties in Iraq really is. But it does say that even if the 650,000 number is accurate, we are likely not to believe it.
Is the Veil (Hijab) Mandated In the Koran
Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed * Contraceptive Coverage - Court Rules Against Catholic Employers
Washington Post: "While the veil issue has exacerbated tensions between non-Muslims and Muslims, it has also sparked passionate reactions within Muslim communities. Some Muslim leaders have accused Straw, Blair -- who called veils a "mark of separation" -- and others of demonizing Muslims, but others have said they have raised an important issue that has no clear consensus among Muslims."
Is Head Cover For Women Mandatory In Islam ?
by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D - Islamic Research Foundation International,Inc.(IFRI)
Hijab (head cover) for Muslim women is not mandated in the Qur’an. If it is, it is only the subjective interpretation of an ayah (verse) on the part of the reader. Hence, many Islamic scholars say that according to hadith, a woman should cover her whole body, except her face and hands. The majority of Muslims do not know in which hadith this is mentioned. A very limited number of Muslims know that this is in Sunan Abu Dawud. The English translation of Sunan Abu Dawud is in three volumes. Again, nobody ever mentions that it is in Volume Three. Actually, it is in Volume 3, Book XXVII, Chapter 1535, and Hadith number 4092, titled: "How Much Beauty Can A Woman Display?" For the benefit of the readers, the exact hadith is reproduced below:
(Go to the IFRI link for the complete text.)
This article was printed in the April 1998 issue, Volume 19, No. 3 of "The New Trend" publication.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. When dealing with a "disobedient wife," a Muslim man has a number of options. First, he should remind her of "the importance of following the instructions of the husband in Islam." If that doesn't work, he can "leave the wife's bed." Finally, he may "beat" her, though it must be without "hurting, breaking a bone, leaving blue or black marks on the body and avoiding hitting the face, at any cost."
Such appalling recommendations, drawn from the book "Woman in the Shade of Islam" by Saudi scholar Abdul Rahman al-Sheha, are inspired by as authoritative a source as any Muslim could hope to find: a literal reading of the 34th verse of the fourth chapter of the Koran, An-Nisa , or Women. "[A]nd (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them," reads one widely accepted translation.
A Defeat For Catholic Employers in New York State
Good news. Although the plaintiffs in this case plan to pursue an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the chances of the justices taking this up are slim.
New York Law Journal:
Health Law Requiring Plans To Offer Birth Control Upheld
"ALBANY - The Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the constitutionality of a women's health act that pressures some religious-affiliated employers to either offer their employees a prescription plan that includes contraceptive coverage or deny their workers any drug coverage at all.
In Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany v. Serio, 110, the Court rejected the claims of 10 faith-based organizations and refused to exempt them from a key provision in the Women's Health and Wellness Act. The ruling makes it difficult, but not impossible, for an individual or group to avoid on religious grounds a neutral law of general application.
- John Caher can be reached at email@example.com.
Monday, October 23, 2006
One Soldier Plans a Road Trip Around America
Colonel Tom Vail * Iraq * Casualties * Garry Trudeau
From The Observer (Guardian). October 22, 2006
How Iraq Came to Haunt America
Colonel Tom Vail is planning a road trip around the United States. It is his last, sad duty before returning to his family from eastern Baghdad. For when the commander of the 4th Brigade of the 101st Airborne arrives back in the States, it will be with videos of the memorial services held in Baghdad for each of his fallen soldiers to give to the families of the dead men.
He knows that some of the families will not want to see him, and he understands. Grief works in different ways, he says. For others, however, it will be an opportunity to talk, to learn something, he hopes, of the inexplicable nature of their children's deaths.
So, when he has a moment, when he is not driving round the battlefield that is eastern Baghdad, Vail examines the map and plans his flights and his car hire. And he wonders at the reception he will receive - a messenger of death, bringing the war back from Iraq to the home front.
For when Vail and his soldiers return, it will be in the knowledge that the United States that they are going home to is not the one that they left. That in their year-long absence a seismic shift has occurred in support for the war in Iraq. And that the deaths that Colonel Vail must carry back with him to grieving families - deaths that once seemed to Americans to be a necessary cost - now seem to the majority a dreadful and pointless waste.
See Doonesbury's War for Garry Trudeau and stories about injured veterans.
Till he knows that too many people have died."
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Sunday, A Gary Snyder Kind of Sunday
A few days back my friend JHL forwarded an item that appeared in The Writers' Almanac of October 19th. It took me to a poem by Gary Snyder, one of my favorite poets in America. It was timely, fitted my mood as she thought it would.
The web site includes an audio link. Give it a try.
A hill, a farm,
A forest, and a valley.
Half a hill plowed, half woods.
A forest valley and a valley field.
Sun passes over;
Two solstices a year
Cow in the pasture
A farmhouse built of wood.
A forest built on bones.
The high field, hawks
The low field, crows
Wren in the brambles
Frogs in the creek
Hot in summer
Cold in snow
The woods fade and pass.
The farm goes on.
The farm quits and fails
The woods creep down
Stocks fall you can't sell corn
Big frost and tree-mice starve
Who wins who cares?
The woods have time.
The farmer has heirs.
Here is another that I like. Now 76, Gary Snyder lives in the Sierra foothills.
A Walk--Gary Snyder
Sunday the only day we don't work:
Mules farting around the meadow,
The tent flaps in the warm
Early sun: I've eaten breakfast and I'll
Take a walk
To Benson Lake. Packed a lunch,
Goodbye. Hopping on creekbed boulders
Up the rock throat three miles
Puite Creek --
In steep gorge glacier-slick rattlesnake country
Jump, land by a pool, trout skitter,
The clear sky. Deer tracks.
Bad place by a falls, boulders big as houses,
Lunch tied to belt,
I stemmed up a crack and almost fell
But rolled out safe on a ledge
and ambled on.
Quail chicks freeze underfoot, color of stone
Then run cheep! away, hen quail fussing.
Craggy west end of Benson Lake -- after edging
Past dark creek pools on a long white slope --
Lookt down in the ice-black lake
lined with cliff
From far above: deep shimmering trout.
A lone duck in a gunsightpass
steep side hill
Through slide-aspen and talus, to the east end,
Down to grass, wading a wide smooth stream
Into camp. At last.
By the rusty three-year-
Ago left-behind cookstove
Of the old trail crew,
Stoppt and swam and ate my lunch.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Democrats Closing "The God Gap"
Faith as Political Weapon * An Evening with Amanpour
Some at Democratic Party headquarters are taking an under-the-radar approach to religious outreach and are reluctant to divulge all the party's plans and advisers.
"Our focus is not in putting someone behind a pulpit," said Leslie Brown, the DNC's "faith in action" coordinator. But after conducting polls, meeting with state party chairs and undertaking an "internal education," Democrats are building a "message-driven machine," Brown said.
"We want to talk about things in ways we can relate to the faith community," said Rep. Clyburn, who heads the Faith Working Group. "I don't talk about the environment just as keeping things green, I talk about it in terms of stewardship."
But while recent polls suggest evangelicals may be growing disillusioned with Republicans, many are still reluctant to pull the lever for Democratic candidates, said the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
"Simply using 'faith language' won't redound to the benefit of any candidate, Republican or Democrat, without some authenticity there," Cizik said.
"When evangelicals think about the reputation of the Republican Party, which isn't too good right now, at least it does have a record of reaching out to those voters and it does have a record on Capitol Hill of at least trying to carry water for their issues," Cizik said.
She stayed out of taking sides in the current conflict in Iraq but mentioned the out of control situation; talked about the grand mothers of Africa who are taking care of millions of babies whose parents have died of AIDS; and expressed her concern about the dwindling role of international reporting as media organizations reduce their coverage of world events. She feels that today, more than ever, it is important for people to be aware of what is happening in different corners of the globe.
Over the years Amanpour had one-on-one interviews with leaders in many countries. When asked who she would like to meet most, Amanpour said "Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong II". If a reporter succeeds in meeting them it could very well be Christiane Amanpour. She is bright, dedicated, passionate.....and she has moxie.
Friday, October 20, 2006
This is from Times of India:
- LUCKNOW: Muslim scholars and clerics in Uttar Pradesh have expressed diverse opinions over the court verdict on Imrana that sentenced her father-in-law Ali Mohammed to 10 years in jail for raping and attempting to murder her last year.
- While some clerics including those representing the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) have welcomed Thursday's order of the Muzaffarnagar district court, there were others who feel that young Imrana, mother of five children, was still not entitled to live with her husband Noor Ilahi.
- "After being raped by her father-in-law, Imrana ceased to remain Noor Ilahi's wife. Instead she acquired the status of Ilahi's mother. So irrespective of the court order, the Shariat would not permit her to cohabit with Ilahi," Maulana Imrana, who heads the Shariat court in Muzaffarnagar, told reporters.
- "The court verdict could not override the view of the Shariat and according to that Ilahi must leave Imrana."
- Said AIMPLB member and head of the Lucknow-based Firangi Mahal Islamic seminary Maulana Khalid Rashid: "I welcome the court verdict and it must be followed in true letter and spirit."
- While declaring Islam favours capital punishment for rapists for whom it prescribes stoning to death, he, however, did not elaborate on the key question of letting Imrana stay on with her husband.
- "That is a question which I am not empowered to decide, it can be dealt with only by a Darul-Qaza, which is the highest Islamic court."
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Dirge of October - Names By Date
What did they die for and how many more must die ?
Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties
Chase A. Haag, 22, Army Corporal, Oct 01, 2006
Mario Nelson, 26, Army Sergeant, Oct 01, 2006
Denise A. Lannaman, 46, Army National Guard Sergeant, Oct 01, 2006
Justin D. Peterson, 32, Marine Captain, Oct 01, 2006
Christopher B. Cosgrove III, 23, Marine Reserve Lance Corporal, Oct 01, 2006
Aaron L. Seal, 23, Marine Reserve Corporal, Oct 01, 2006
Raymond S. Armijo, 22, Army Specialist, Oct 02, 2006
James D. Ellis, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Oct 02, 2006
Satieon V. Greenlee, 24, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 02, 2006
Justin R. Jarrett, 21, Army Specialist, Oct 02, 2006
Joe A. Narvaez, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Oct 02, 2006
Michael K. Oremus, 21, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 02, 2006
Joseph W. Perry, 23, Army Sergeant, Oct 02, 2006
Kristofer C. Walker, 20, Army Specialist, Oct 02, 2006
Daniel Isshak, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Oct 03, 2006
Jonathan Rojas, 27, Army Staff Sergeant, Oct 03, 2006
Dean Bright, 32, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 04, 2006
Timothy Burke, 24, Army Specialist, Oct 04, 2006
Christopher O. Moudry, 31, Army Staff Sergeant, Oct 04, 2006
George R. Obourn Jr., 20, Army Specialist, Oct 04, 2006
Edward M. Garvin, 19, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 04, 2006
Benjamin S. Rosales, 20, Marine Corporal, Oct 04, 2006
Nicholas A. Arvanitis, 22, Army Corporal, Oct 06, 2006
John Edward Hale, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 06, 2006
Bradford H. Payne, 24, Marine Corporal, Oct 06, 2006
Brandon S. Asbury, 21, Army Sergeant, Oct 07, 2006
Carl W. Johnson II, 21, Army Corporal, Oct 07, 2006
Lawrence Parrish, 36, Army National Guard Sergeant, Oct 07, 2006
John Edward Wood, 37, Army National Guard Specialist, Oct 07, 2006
Shane R. Austin, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 08, 2006
Timothy Fulkerson, 20, Army Specialist, Oct 08, 2006
Stephen F. Johnson, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 08, 2006
Derek W. Jones, 21, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 08, 2006
Jeremy Scott Sandvick Monroe, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 08, 2006
Robert M. Secher, 33, Marine Captain, Oct 08, 2006
Phillip B. Williams, 21, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 09, 2006
Julian M. Arechaga, 23, Marine Sergeant, Oct 09, 2006
Jon Eric Bowman, 21, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 09, 2006
Shelby J. Feniello, 25, Marine Private 1st Class, Oct 09, 2006
Shane T. Adcock, 27, Army Captain, Oct 11, 2006
Nicholas R. Sowinski, 25, Army Sergeant, Oct 11, 2006
Justin T. Walsh, 24, Marine Sergeant, Oct 11, 2006
Gene A. Hawkins, 24, Army Sergeant, Oct 12, 2006
Johnny K. Craver, 37, Army Lieutenant, Oct 13, 2006
Thomas J. Hewett, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 13, 2006
Kenny F. Stanton Jr., 20, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 13, 2006
Leebenard E. Chavis, 21, Air Force Airman 1st Class, Oct 14, 2006
Joseph M. Kane, 35, Army Staff Sergeant, Oct 14, 2006
Charles M. King, 48, Army 1st Sergeant, Oct 14, 2006
Timothy J. Lauer, 25, Army Specialist, Oct 14, 2006
Keith J. Moore, 28, Army Private 1st Class, Oct 14, 2006
Jonathan J. Simpson, 25, Marine Sergeant, Oct 14, 2006
Jr., Lester Domenico Baroncini, 33, Army Sergeant, Oct 15, 2006
Stephen Bicknell, 19, Army Private, Oct 15, 2006
Joshua Deese, 25, Army 1st Lieutenant, Oct 15, 2006
Jonathan E. Lootens, 25, Army Sergeant, Oct 15, 2006
Mark C. Paine, 32, Army Captain, Oct 15, 2006
Brock A. Babb, 40, Marine Reserve Sergeant, Oct 15, 2006
Joshua M. Hines, 26, Marine Reserve Lance Corporal, Oct 15, 2006Christopher E. Loudon, 23, Army 2nd Lieutenant, Oct 17, 2006
Note: The total todate for October is reported to be 74. The list represents deaths confirmed by the D.O.D.
Total since beginning of the war: 2785
President admits comparison with Vietnam
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Bloody October In Iraq
The Baker Mission * Surprise Around the Corner ?
- A radical change in US policy over Iraq after the November elections appeared increasingly likely yesterday after reports that a bipartisan commission headed by a Bush family confidant will recommend an approach to Iran and Syria for help or a withdrawal to bases outside Iraq.
- The Iraq Study Group is chaired by James Baker, who was the first President Bush's secretary of state. It is not due to deliver its findings until after the congressional elections on November 7 because of their potentially explosive political impact, but the panel's proceedings have been leaked to the press.
- In recent interviews, Mr Baker said the group has taken no firm decisions but made it clear that the current US strategy was no longer an option. "There'll probably be some things in our report that the administration might not like," Mr Baker predicted in a TV interview. He said: "Our commission believes there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run'."
- He made it clear he believed there should be approaches to Iraq's neighbours, including those the White House has accused of fomenting the insurgency. "I believe in talking to your enemies," he said. "Neither the Syrians nor the Iranians want a chaotic Iraq ... so maybe there is some potential for getting something other than opposition from those countries."
- In a BBC interview yesterday, the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, expressed support for such a move, saying it would "be the beginning of the end of terrorism".
- Mr Baker has also suggested that the US might have to give up its long-term war aim of democracy across the Middle East. Instead he suggested that the US define success as achieving "representative government, not necessarily democracy".
- According to leaks published first in the New York Sun and then in the Los Angeles Times, the Iraq Study Group, which has consulted 150 outside experts including Syrian and Iranian representatives, is focusing on two broad options.
- One is entitled "Stability First" and it would involve focusing the military effort on pacifying Baghdad while attempting to draw some insurgent groups into the political process and opening talks with Syria and Iran.
- The second has been called "Redeploy and Contain", pulling US troops back to bases outside Iraq and conducting military operations from there in support of Iraqi government forces.
- However they were spun, both would represent a measure of defeat for President Bush, but with a American death toll fast approaching 3,000, the new report may reflect a realisation he has no choice.