,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Deborah Jeane Palfrey and her Ticking Time Bomb

Uneasy Nights for the Hypocrites in Washington, DC

If you believed Bill Clinton -- who "smoked but didn't inhale" -- then you gotta give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Glenn Kessler in the Post: "Randall L. Tobias, the deputy secretary of state responsible for U.S. foreign aid, abruptly resigned yesterday after he was asked about an upscale escort service allegedly involved in prostitution, U.S. government sources said."

Mr. Tobias told ABC News that "he had used the service to provide massages, not sex". Why didn't he use a licensed massage therapist ? Mr. Tobias is 65....and married.

Mr. Tobias took a leading role in promoting Bush Administration's abstinence only program overseas. It figures. There must be quite a few prominent men....and women in Washington who are spending uneasy nights.

This story, described as Hookergate by some, could have legs. There were earlier reports about Kyle "Dusty" Foggo who held a high position at the CIA. The sudden resignation of Porter Goss, who took over the helm of the CIA after George Tenet, was also alluded to involvement with high-priced call girls provided by defense contractor Brent R. Wilkes. Former Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is serving a prison sentence for taking bribes. Wilkes is under investigation.

Washington Post

Palfrey piqued fascination -- and anxiety -- by first threatening to sell phone records that could unveil thousands of clients, and then handing them over, apparently for free, to ABC News. She is scheduled to appear tomorrow in U.S. District Court in the District.


And the nights cannot be too restful for Paul Dundes Wolfowitz. The former Deputy Secretary of Defense and champion of the invasion of Iraq, is scrambling to save his job as president of the World Bank after giving his squeeze, Shaha Ali Riza (a high-level employee at the bank) a huge pay raise. Mr. Wolfowitz was engaged in fighting corruption among nations that receive funding from the bank. Currently, the program is said to be in a state of flux because of what Mr. Wolfowitz did for Ms. Riza. He is scheduled to appear before the bank's directors tomorrow (April 30th) to plead his case.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


A Young Iraqi Woman Writes about Leaving Home

Other Voices, Other Countries

Not just another woman.....the woman who has become a blogger of note, writing under the name Riverbend. Baghdad Burning, her blog has received wide attention in world press. Lately her posts had become infrequent. She wrote on Feb.20th about the Sabrine Al Janabi case. Sabrine, a Sunni, was reported to be raped by members of Shia police force and Prime Minister al-Maliki quickly began a cover up.

It was with a feeling of sadness I read her most recent post (see below) about the wall going up around the A'adhamiya area of Baghdad and her family's plans to leave Iraq.

Baghdad Burning

... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...
Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Great Wall of Segregation...
…Which is the wall the current Iraqi government is building (with the support and guidance of the Americans). It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad- let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protect' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis.

The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe. The Nazi government probably said, "Oh look- we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here- it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!" And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.

The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently- Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

On a personal note, we've finally decided to leave. I guess I've known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?

Since last summer, we had been discussing it more and more. It was only a matter of time before what began as a suggestion- a last case scenario- soon took on solidity and developed into a plan. For the last couple of months, it has only been a matter of logistics. Plane or car? Jordan or Syria? Will we all leave together as a family? Or will it be only my brother and I at first?

After Jordan or Syria- where then? Obviously, either of those countries is going to be a transit to something else. They are both overflowing with Iraqi refugees, and every single Iraqi living in either country is complaining of the fact that work is difficult to come by, and getting a residency is even more difficult. There is also the little problem of being turned back at the border. Thousands of Iraqis aren't being let into Syria or Jordan- and there are no definite criteria for entry, the decision is based on the whim of the border patrol guard checking your passport.

An airplane isn't necessarily safer, as the trip to Baghdad International Airport is in itself risky and travelers are just as likely to be refused permission to enter the country (Syria and Jordan) if they arrive by airplane. And if you're wondering why Syria or Jordan, because they are the only two countries that will let Iraqis in without a visa. Following up visa issues with the few functioning embassies or consulates in Baghdad is next to impossible.

So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees- the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare- stay and wait and try to survive.

On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else- as yet unknown- is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?

The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends… And to what?

It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The Warrior in the White House and U.S. Casualties

Deaf, blind, arrogant, hypocrite. All the adjectives fit President Bush -- the man who thought that AG Alberto Gonzales did a great job during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And our soldiers are dying and suffering injuries for this man! Baffling. Why do the military families remain mute ? Of course, there are families that believe in the president's war and feel that their loved ones died in a just cause. It is not known whether they constitute the majority. The ones who have had enough of the lies and utter disregard of facts in Iraq need to speak out and send a message to the president. He is likely to tune them out as he does all critics, but it would strengthen the efforts of those who are trying to bring an end to the mess. There is nothing shameful about admitting a mistake.

Troop Surge, Death Toll Surge

86 soldiers, including nine from the 82nd Airbone Division,Fort Bragg,NC,have lost their lives in this cruel month of April.

Jason R. Arnette, 24, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
William G. Bowling, 24, Army Specialist, Apr 01, 2007
Robert M. McDowell, 30, Army Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
David A. Mejias, 26, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
Eric R. Vick, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
Miguel A. Marcial III, 19, Marine Private 1st Class, Apr 01, 2007
Brian E. Ritzberg, 24, Army Specialist, Apr 02, 2007
Curtis R. Spivey, 25, Army Specialist, Apr 02, 2007
Bradley D. King, 28, Army National Guard Sergeant, Apr 02, 2007
Daniel R. Olsen, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 02, 2007
Shane R. Becker, 35, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 03, 2007
Gabriel J. Figueroa, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 03, 2007
Jerry C. Burge, 39, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 04, 2007
Joseph H. Cantrell IV, 23, Army Corporal, Apr 04, 2007
James J. Coon, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 04, 2007
Walter Freeman Jr., 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 04, 2007
Derek A. Gibson, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 04, 2007
Forrest D. Cauthorn, 22, Army Sergeant, Apr 05, 2007
Jason A. Shaffer, 28, Army Specialist, Apr 05, 2007
Jay S. Cajimat, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 06, 2007
Ryan S. Dallam, 24, Army Specialist, Apr 06, 2007
Daniel A. Fuentes, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 06, 2007
Anthony Palermo Jr., 27, Army Captain, Apr 06, 2007
Damian Lopez Rodriguez, 0, Army Private, Apr 06, 2007
Gregory J. Billiter, 36, Navy Chief Petty Officer, Apr 06, 2007
Curtis R. Hall, 24, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Apr 06, 2007
Joseph A. McSween, 26, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class, Apr 06, 2007
Joseph C. Schwedler, 27, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Apr 06, 2007
Ebe F. Emolo, 33, Army Specialist, Apr 07, 2007
Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, Army Captain, Apr 07, 2007
Levi K. Hoover, 23, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 07, 2007
Rodney L. McCandless, 21, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 07, 2007
Philip A. Murphy-Sweet, 42, Navy Commander, Apr 07, 2007
Harrison Brown, 31, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 08, 2007
Adam P. Kennedy, 25, Army Sergeant, Apr 08, 2007
Phillip I. Neel, 27, Army 1st Lieutenant, Apr 08, 2007
David N. Simmons, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 08, 2007
Todd A. Singleton, 24, Army Sergeant, Apr 08, 2007
Jesse L. Williams, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 08, 2007
Brian Lee Holden, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 09, 2007
Ismael Solorio, 21, Army Specialist, Apr 09, 2007
, Clifford A. Spohn III, 21, Army Specialist, Apr 09, 2007
Brett Andre Walton, 37, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 09, 2007
Kyle G. Bohrnsen, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 10, 2007
Raymond S. Sevaaetasi, 29, Army Sergeant, Apr 11, 2007
Jason J. Beadles, 22, Army Corporal, Apr 12, 2007
John G. Borbonus, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 12, 2007
James T. Lindsey, 20, Army Specialist, Apr 12, 2007
Gwilym J. Newman, 24, Army 1st Lieutenant, Apr 12, 2007
Cody A. Putnam, 22, Army Corporal, Apr 12, 2007
Larry R. Bowman, 29, Army Sergeant, Apr 13, 2007
Ryan A. Bishop, 32, Army Specialist, Apr 14, 2007
Joshua A. Schmit, 26, Army Sergeant, Apr 14, 2007
Brandon L. Wallace, 27, Army Sergeant, Apr 14, 2007
Robert J. Basham, 22, Army National Guard Staff Sergeant, Apr 14, 2007
Daniel J. Santee, 21, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 14, 2007
Steven J. Walberg, 18, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 15, 2007
Mario K. De Leon, 26, Army Sergeant, Apr 16, 2007
Aaron M. Genevie, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 16, 2007
Lucas V. Starcevich, 25, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 16, 2007
Shaun M. Blue, 25, Marine 1st Lieutenant, Apr 16, 2007
Jesse D. Delatorre, 29, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 16, 2007
Daniel R. Scherry, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 16, 2007
Richard P. Langenbrunner, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 17, 2007
Jason M. Morales, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 18, 2007
Wade J. Oglesby, 27, Army Corporal, Apr 18, 2007
Michael M. Rojas, 21, Army Corporal, Apr 18, 2007
Dwayne L. Moore, 31, Army Chief Warrant Officer, Apr 19, 2007
Jeffery A. Bishop, 23, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 20, 2007
William W. Bushnell, 24, Army Sergeant, Apr 21, 2007
Marlon B. Harper, 34, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 21, 2007
Christopher M. North, 21, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 21, 2007
Michael J. Slater, 19, Army Private, Apr 21, 2007
Steven R. Tudor, 36, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 21, 2007
Jeffrey A. Avery, 19, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 23, 2007
Kevin Gaspers, 26, Army Lieutenant, Apr 23, 2007
Garrett Knoll, 23, Army Not reported yet, Apr 23, 2007
Dale Peterson, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 23, 2007
© iCasualties.org

Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch - Pentagon's Lies Exposed

Washington Post

"An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when the former football star was cut down by friendly fire in Afghanistan said Tuesday a commanding officer had ordered him to keep quiet about what happened."

"Jessica Lynch, the US army private who became the heroic American face of the Iraq war when her convoy was ambushed soon after the invasion, lambasted the Bush Administration yesterday for lying about the incident.

She was testifying to Congress, along with the brother of Pat Tillman, the US Army Ranger who gave up a lucrative career as an American football star only to be killed by his own platoon in Afghanistan, and the two decried the Pentagon’s “deceit” in turning their disastrous experiences into false tales of heroism. "


Sunday, April 22, 2007


Jazz on a Cold, Gray Sunday Morning

Gerry Mulligan meets Ben Webster

Listening to the great recording orginally released in 1959 by Verve Records, reissued March 1990 under PolyGram label. Mulligan on baritone sax and Webster playing tenor sax. Cool.......YES.

© PolyGram (now part of UMG)

With Jimmy Rowles, piano ; Leroy Vinnegar, bass ; Mel Lewis, drums.

The playlist.

Chelsea Bridge
The Cat Walk
Who's Got Rhythm
Tell Me When
Go Home
In A Mellotone
What Is This Thing Called Love
Blues In B Flat

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Tulips at Fremont High School, Spring 2007

Bob Stahl's Labor of Love

Every spring the tulips in front of Fremont High School,Sunnyvale, California, become a source of visual pleasure. Passers by stop to admire them and walk around the flower beds. Motorists waiting for change of light at Fremont Ave and Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road take advantage of the stop to feast their eyes.

Recently, an article by Erin Hussey in the Cupertino Courier caught my attention and I learnt about Bob Stahl, the man who started planting the tulips when he worked as facilities manager at Fremont High.

Photographs of the tulips follow. If you have time, spend a few minutes to read what Erin Hussey wrote about Bob Stahl. It is a story of a man, his labor of love and how it turned his life around. Heart warming piece of writing.

© Musafir 4-20-07

© Musafir 4-20-07

© Musafir 4-20-07

© Musafir 4-20-07

© Musafir 4-20-07

© Musafir 4-20-07


Friday, April 20, 2007


Hail, Vermont Senators


Thank you for the courage of your convictions.

By ROSS SNEYD, Associated Press Writer 4-20-07

Vermont senators voted Friday to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, saying their actions have raised "serious questions of constitutionality."

The non-binding resolution was approved 16-9 without debate — all six Republicans in the chamber at the time and three Democrats voted against it.

The resolution says Bush and Cheney's actions in the U.S. and abroad, including in Iraq, "raise serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality, and abuse of the public trust."

"I think it's going to have a tremendous political effect, a tremendous political effect on public discourse about what to do about this president," said James Leas, a vocal advocate of withdrawing troops from Iraq and impeaching Bush and Cheney.

Vermont lawmakers earlier voted to demand an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq in another non-binding resolution.

Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington has kept a similar resolution from reaching the floor in her chamber. She argued that an impeachment resolution would be partisan and divisive and that it would distract Washington from efforts to get the United States out of Iraq, which she says is more important.

In the Senate, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie had opposed the resolution, but he was absent Friday. That left Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin in charge, and he immediately took up the measure.

More than three dozen towns voted in favor of similar nonbinding impeachment resolutions at their annual town meetings in March. State lawmakers in Wisconsin and Washington have pushed for similar resolutions.


Dismal Spring for G.W. Bush

A Steve Bell Cartoon

© Steve Bell, The Guardian, UK, 20.04.07

Mr. Bell missed AG Alberto Gonzales. His position,too, is precarious. Nicknamed Fredo by the president, in his appearance before the Senate Judicial Committee on April 19th, the attorney general gave the impression that he belonged to a home for mentally deficient rather than being at the helm of the Department of Justice. The president's efforts to win support for his pet war are not resonating with the American public. Time for circling the wagons but the White House is running out of them.

Fredo on the Ropes

Dana Milbank in The Washington Post

Gonzales had weeks to prepare for yesterday's hearing. But the man who sat at the witness table sounded like the sort of person who forgets where he parked his car.

Explaining his role in the botched firing of federal prosecutors, Gonzales uttered the phrase "I don't recall" and its variants ("I have no recollection," "I have no memory") 64 times. Along the way, his answer became so routine that a Marine in the crowd put down his poster protesting the Iraq war and replaced it with a running "I don't recall" tally.

Take Gonzales's tally along with that of his former chief of staff, who uttered the phrase "I don't remember" 122 times before the same committee three weeks ago, and the Justice Department might want to consider handing out Ginkgo biloba in the employee cafeteria.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Massacre at VTU - A Black Day in America

At least 33 people, including the gunman, dead at Virginia Technical University, Blacksburg, VA. There were two separate incidents -- two were shot dead in the first incident and 31 in the second. It is yet to be confirmed if the same gun man was involved in both.

We know what the NRA would say about this deadliest mass shooting in American history......."Guns don't kill people, People Do".

Yes, but how many people the killer would have succeeded in murdering with a sword, knife, or a stick ?

Guns make it easier to kill, don't they ? But nothing is going to change. Guns will continue to be easily available, and they will be used again and again in killings.



George Tenet's "At the Center of the Storm"

The non-existent stockpile of WMD in Iraq is going to be back in the headlines. Not welcome news for the warrior in the White House. According to Al Kamen's column in today's Post, the Presidential Medal of Freedom has not deterred former CIA director George Tenet from writing about what went on behind the scenes and his role in the neocons' war against Iraq. Some people in the Bush Administration are going to be unhappy; they emerge smelling bad. Not that Tenet's revelations were needed; they were rotten eggs to begin with. "The drums have begun sounding for the long-awaited book by former CIA director George Tenet, in which he gives his take on pre-9/11 days and on Saddam's huge cache of weapons of mass destruction."


  • And the drums are saying that Tenet is not going to get too many Christmas cards from Vice President Cheney's office after they read "At the Center of the Storm." Folks from down the river at the Pentagon, including former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz-- a guy who's already going through a rough patch -- and former defense undersecretary Douglas Feith, might also get some heartburn.
  • Former secretary of state Colin Powell comes out fine. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was President Bush's key adviser in engineering the Iraq invasion, doesn't come out so fine. Not fine at all.
  • The White House definitely won't be overjoyed, we're hearing. Tenet even takes some shots at himself and for the first time explains his astute assurance that "it's a slam-dunk case" when Bush asked him how solid the WMD evidence was.
  • Tenet has never really explained his views on that comment. The 500-page book -- or more likely his "60 Minutes" interview on April 29, the day before the book goes on sale -- will be the first time he goes over that.
  • Tenet, who ran the CIA from July 1997 to July 2004, did the first of two days of taping last week at Georgetown University, where he's teaching.

Casualties in Iraq

The number of dead American soldiers went past 3300. The latest figure is 3303 including 55 in the first 15 days of April.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Failure of "Abstinence Only" Policy


Hypocrites, Prayers and Cold Showers * Mr. Wolfowitz in Stormy Waters

Not many will be surprised by conclusion of a national study about sex and teenagers. The "abstinence only" program was another pipe dream of conservative Christian groups embraced by the president who had, in his own words, committed "youthful indiscretions". It does not work. It never did. But don't expect them to stop the claptrap. To them "condom" is a dirty word; they are opposed to comprehensive sex education. Washington Post: "A long-awaited national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration's social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom."

"Comprehensive education means teaching about abstinence and a myriad of other topics," said spokeswoman Martha Kempner. Among them, she said: "contraception, critical thinking, one's own values and the values of your family and your religious community.

"Abstinence-only was an experiment and it failed."

Spit on the Comb, Paul Wolfowitz

A stalwart of the team that gave us the war in Iraq is in a scandal. Paul Wolfowitz, who became president of the World Bank two years ago, is facing calls for resignation because of his role in awarding a huge pay raise for his girlfriend. After reading about it, a friend commented: "Doesn't it kill you that it's always these damn self-righteous right wingers like him and Gingrich, to name just two, who are so quick to attack others for their ethics when their integrity is no better?"

  • World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz personally dictated the terms under which the bank gave what it called his "domestic partner" substantial pay raises and promotions in exchange for temporarily leaving her job there during his tenure, according to documents released by the bank's executive board yesterday.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Billy Pilgrim - "Poo-tee-weet"

Salute to Kurt Vonnegut
(November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007)

Excerpt from Slaughterhouse Five,Or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death

"All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war. And so on. I've changed all the names.

I really did go back to Dresden with Guggenheim money (God love it) in 1967. It looked a lot like Dayton, Ohio, more open spaces than Dayton has. There must be tons of human bone meal in the ground.

I went back there with an old war buddy, Bernard V. O'Hare, and we made friends with a cab driver, who took us to the slaughterhouse where we had been locked up at night as prisoners of war. His name was Gerhard Müller. He told us that he was a prisoner of the Americans for a while. We asked him how it was to live under Communism, and he said that it was terrible at first, because everybody had to work so hard, and because there wasn't much shelter or food or clothing. But things were much better now. He had a pleasant little apartment, and his daughter was getting an excellent education. His mother was incinerated in the Dresden fire-storm. So it goes.

He sent O'Hare a postcard at Christmastime, and here is what it said:

"I wish you and your family also as to your friend Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and I hope that we'll meet again in a world of peace and freedom in the taxi cab if the accident will."

I like that very much: "If the accident will."

I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.

But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then -- not enough of them to make a book, anyway. And not many words come now, either, when I have become an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls, with his sons full grown.

I think of how useless the Dresden part of my memory has been, and yet how tempting Dresden has been to write about, and I am reminded of the famous limerick:

There was a young man from Stamboul, Who soliloquized thus to his tool: "You took all my wealth And you ruined my health, And now you won't pee, you old fool."

And I'm reminded, too, of the song that goes:

My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there. The people I meet when I walk down the street, They say, "What's your name?" And I say, My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin..."

And so on to infinity.

Over the years, people I've met have often asked me what I'm working on, and I've usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.

I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, "Is it an anti-war book?"

"Yes," I said. "I guess."

"You know what I say to people when I hear they're writing anti-war books?"

"No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?"

"I say, 'Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?' "

What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.

And even if wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death."

© Dell Publishing

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Kurt Weil, Ute Lemper, .......and Deaths In Iraq


Rainy morning in April. The weather forecast turned out to be right. Woke up to sound of rain.

Don't know why I pulled out an old cassette of Kurt Weil's music. But Ute Lemper is a pleasure to listen to. Others have recorded Weil's songs -- I know of Lotte Lenya and Marianne Faithful. They are good; not as good as Ute Lemper.

Kurt Weil did not write about the war in Iraq but "Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar/ oh don't ask why/ oh don't ask why/ for we must find the next whiskey bar/ for if we don't find the next whiskey bar/ I tell you we must die..." made me think of the soldiers dying there.. The wounded don't receive much publicity ; 45 dead so far in this cruel month of April. Among them 20-year old David N. Simmons, 20, Army Private 1st Class, of Kokomo,Indiana. The deaths have no effect whatsoever on Bush and Cheney. John McCain has decided that his success in the 2008 presidential election lies in being an out and out supporter of the war. Then there is Joseph Lieberman. Do they sleep well at night?

See: Three Generals Spurn the Position of War 'Czar' (Washington Post)

The War's "trickle down" Effect

It was inevitable. The billons of dollars being spent to continue the president's pet war are beginning to impact local and State government programs which depend on Federal aid. "DENVER — The cost of the Iraq war is filtering down to state and local budgets, forcing cuts in transportation funding, Medicaid, education and other federally subsidized programs, according to analysts and lawmakers."

Summit Daily News
April 8, 2007


Just how big that impact has been is unclear. What state lawmakers do say is that the $456 billion already spent or appropriated for the war could have gone a long way toward helping them balance their own budgets.

In Colorado, lawmakers expect to lose about $200 million in federal funding for the next fiscal year, forcing the state to cut back on programs that receive federal money.

“These are funds that we aren’t going to receive. Low Energy Assistance Program, $9.8 million, gone. Head Start, $3.7 million, gone. Child Care and Development Block Grant, $1.1 million. Community Development Block Grant, $13.5 million. Special Ed, $8.8 million,” House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, said during a debate Thursday over a state resolution opposing the escalation of the war in Iraq.

According to the Colorado Municipal League, Bush’s proposed 2008 budget includes only a 1 percent increase in nonmilitary and homeland security programs.

The league said the budget proposal cuts Community Development Block Grants nationwide by $735 million, education by $1.5 billion, the Individuals with Disabilities Education act by $291 million, and $107 million from Head Start. Social Services block grants would be cut nearly in half to $1.2 billion, and Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance would see a $400 million cut.

The league said funding for the Department of Homeland Security would be slashed, including a 63 percent cut for training and exercises, while federal assistance to state and local law enforcement would be cut by more than half. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund would be cut $312 million over the previous year.

Sen. Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge, said 24 hospitals in Colorado risk losing federal funding after Bush issued an executive order changing the definition of public hospitals to reduce Medicaid spending, cutting $128 million in federal aid that could force a major hospital in Denver to close. The Colorado Legislature is debating a resolution asking Bush to restore that funding.

Keller said the state also is losing about $48 million in federal funds for transportation, money the state was promised.

She said the cost of the war is trickling down to local governments, with cuts to federal funding for homeland security.

“We’re bearing the brunt of the federal cuts. There’s no other reason than the war,” Keller said.


Sunday, April 08, 2007


Easter Sunday 2007 - Poems of Brian Turner

The Holy Week ended. Perhaps the only good news was the release of the 15 British sailors and marines by Iran. The war in Iraq and its terrible toll (3275 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqis dead) have become major concerns for Americans. The unjust war that our nation was conned into cries out for an end. But not going to happen. The neocons hatched the plot for war long before 9/11. Bush, Cheney and others put it into action when Americans were in shock and vulnerable. Now they will not, cannot, admit their role in the mess that they created. Many more will die.

Further reading:
Cheney Sticks to His Delusions
How Bogus Letter Became a Case for War
The Secret Downing Street Memo

Baghdad, of course, has become a familiar name to Americans. But other Iraqi cities in the theatre of war (Fallujah, Najaf, Mosul, Kirkuk, Balad,Bequba, Basra, Samarra among them) are not that well known. Came across poems by American soldier Brian Turner in NPR's web site.


The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulfull call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.

Najaf 1820

Camel caravans transport the dead
from Persia and beyond, their bodies dried
and wrapped in carpets, their dying wishes
to be buried near Ali,
where the first camel
dragged Ali's body across the desert
tied to the fate of its exhaustion.

Najaf is where the dead naturally go,
where the gates of Paradise open before them
in unbanded light, the blood washed clean
from their bodies.
It is November,
the clouds made of gunpowder and rain,
the earth pregnant with the dead;
cemetery mounds stretching row by row
with room enough yet for what the years
will bring: the gravediggers need only dig,
shovel by shovel.

From Here, Bullet. Copyright 2005 by Brian Turner.

List of soldiers who died in Iraq in the first 7 days of April.

Jason R. Arnette, 24, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
William G. Bowling, 24, Army Specialist, Apr 01, 2007
Robert M. McDowell, 30, Army Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
David A. Mejias, 26, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
Eric R. Vick, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 01, 2007
Miguel A. Marcial III, 19, Marine Private 1st Class, Apr 01, 2007
Brian E. Ritzberg, 24, Army Specialist, Apr 02, 2007
Curtis R. Spivey, 25, Army Specialist, Apr 02, 2007
Bradley D. King, 28, Army National Guard Sergeant, Apr 02, 2007
Daniel R. Olsen, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Apr 02, 2007
Shane R. Becker, 35, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 03, 2007
Gabriel J. Figueroa, 20, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 03, 2007
Jerry Clark Burge Jr., 39, Army Staff Sergeant, Apr 04, 2007
James J. Coon, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Apr 04, 2007
Jason A. Shaffer, 28, Army Specialist, Apr 05, 2007
Anthony Palermo JR., 27, Army Captain, Apr 06, 2007
Joseph C. Schwedler, 27, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Apr 06, 2007


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The Tax Man Cometh - Where Our Money Goes

Guns and Butter

It is that time of the year. April 17, the deadline for filing tax returns, is nagging those who have yet to begin the process. Of course, there are those who filed early and already got their refunds -- lucky them.

As President Bush and Congress face off over appropriations for his pet war, cover of The New Yorker, (copied below) reminds us where our money --- a great chunk of it goes. When it comes to Defense budgets we are Number 1, unquestionably the 500 lb. gorilla towering over the rest of the world. Some interesting facts:

How does it compare against other nations? Back in 2005, it was reported in Jane's Defence Industry Weekly:
  • Defence expenditure in the US will equal that of the rest of the world combined within 12 months, making it "increasingly pressing" for European contractors to develop a "closer association" with the US, corporate finance group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says.

Take a look at major member nations of the European Union. The numbers (in US Dollars) were reported in February 2005.
Institute for Security Studies, European Union

United Kingdom 49 Billion - Percentage of GDP 2.4 (2003)
France 40 Billion - Percentage of GDP 2.6
Germany 29.7 - Percentage of GDP 1.5
Italy 17.5 - Percentage of GDP 1.9

Total for 15 European Union member countries was 126.94.

Percentage of GDP for the United States was 3.7



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