,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Condoms and Catholics, Condoms and Bush Administration

Do Catholics practice birth control? Yes, many of them do and I don't mean the rhythm method advocated by the Catholic Church, described by some as Russian Roulette. Even in Italy the Vatican's edicts about birth control are not heeded by many.

The numbers reported in the web site of Catholicsforchoice.org make it clear that on this issue there is a wide chasm between lay Catholics and the robed officials in the Vatican. Either the officials wilfully disregard the facts or they are completely out of touch. Their position is intractable to the degree that they do not condone use of condoms even as deterrents against the spread of HIV-AIDS.
Source: www.benettontalk.com

The old men, who rule over what Catholics may or may not do in terms of the very private matter of sexual relations, remain impervious despite being rocked by numerous scandals involving priests who were exposed of involvement in both hetero and homosexual liaisons, including pedophilia.

Our president is a staunch advocate of abstention. His position is one of expediency to gain support of the so called conservative Christian groups.

LA Weekly News - June 24, 2004

  • Published on June 16 in the Federal Register, the censorious new CDC guidelines will be mandatory for any organization that does HIV-prevention work and also receives federal funds — whether or not any federal money is directly spent on their programs designed to fight the spread of the epidemic. (The CDC is the principal federal funder of prevention education about HIV and AIDS, and its head a Bush appointee). It’s all couched in arcane bureaucratese, but this is the Bush administration’s Big Stick — do exactly as we say, or lose your federal funding. And nearly all of the some 3,800 AIDS service organizations (ASOs) that do the bulk of HIV-prevention education receive at least part of their budget from federal dollars. Without that money, they’d have to slash programs or even close their doors.
  • These new regs require the censoring of any “content” — including “pamphlets, brochures, fliers, curricula,” “audiovisual materials” and “pictorials (for example, posters and similar educational materials using photographs, slides, drawings or paintings),” as well as “advertising” and Web-based info. They require all such “content” to eliminate anything even vaguely “sexually suggestive” or “obscene” — like teaching how to use a condom correctly by putting it on a dildo, or even a cucumber. And they demand that all such materials include information on the “lack of effectiveness of condom use” in preventing the spread of HIV and other STDs — in other words, the Bush administration wants AIDS fighters to tell people: Condoms don’t work. This demented exigency flies in the face of every competent medical body’s judgment that, in the absence of an HIV-preventing vaccine, the condom is the single most effective tool available to protect someone from getting or spreading the AIDS virus.
It was. therefore, a pleasant surprise to read that the president's daughter, Jenna, in her newly published book "Ana's Story" wrote about the positive role of condoms in preventing HIV/AIDS.

Washington Post - Sept.29, 2007

She's undaunted by questions touching on the politics of AIDS. She praises her father's overseas initiatives while noting that "the Clinton Foundation is doing amazing work in Africa and in Latin America" as well.

"Ana's Story" features a UNICEF-compiled list of "Ten Myths About HIV/AIDS." No. 6 reads, "Condoms don't protect you from HIV."

"A pretty obvious myth," Bush says. "Everybody knows that condoms prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS."

She loses no opportunity to lavish praise on UNICEF and those who work there. But she deflects a question about the Bush administration's combative relationship with the United Nations as a whole.

"I'm not my dad," she says. "I can tell you that UNICEF is doing incredible work."


Sunday, September 23, 2007


The Seasons: End of Another Summer

It was a good summer; it was a very good summer.


Sunflower - Carmel Valley, CA. 9/16/07
© Musafir

Dancing on the grass - TomatoFest, Carmel Valley,CA. 9/16/07
© Musafir

They got rhythm
© Musafir

Visitors from Australia at Golden Gate Bridge
© Musafir

Farmers' Market, Mountain View, CA.
© Musafir

Farmers' Market, Mountain View, CA.
© Musafir

Sand, Sea, Runner with a Dog
© Musafir

Walkers on the beach, Pajaro Dunes, CA.
© Musafir

Sunset over the Pacific
© Musafir


End of Summer

Just an uncommon lull in the traffic
so you hear some guy in an apron, sleeves rolled up,
with his brusque sweep brusque sweep of the sidewalk,
and the slap shut of a too thin rental van,
and I told him no a gust has snatched from a conversation
and brought to you, loud.
It would be so different

if any of these were missing is the feeling
you always have on the first day of autumn,
no, the first day you think of autumn, when somehow

the sun singling out high windows,
a waiter settling a billow of white cloth
with glasses and silver, and the sparrows
shattering to nowhere are the Summer
waving that here is where it turns
and will no longer be walking with you,

traveller, who now leave all of this behind,
carrying only what it has made of you.
Already the crowds seem darker and more hurried
and the slang grows stranger and stranger,
and you do not understand what you love,
yet here, rounding a corner in mild sunset,
is the world again, wide-eyed as a child
holding up a toy even you can fix.
How light your step

down the narrowing avenue to the cross streets,
October, small November, barely legible December.

--James Richardson © The New Yorker


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Bloggers for Bush - Treacly Stuff

Tinkling in the White House

So far in this month of September 49 American soldiers have died in Iraq.

Dan Froomkin writes in the Washington Post about "Bush's Battlefield Envy".
What next! But more than the president's words what struck me were the comments posted by the "mil bloggers".

Ward Carroll of military.com wrote that Bush "grew very emotional as he made a linkage between his father's service in World War II and the fact that Japan is now an ally and then said, 'I've had meetings with the prime minister of the country he fought.' He actually teared up as he said that."

" CJ," an active-duty soldier and blogger, wrote: "Being right next to him, I caught a single tear attempt to roll down his left cheek before he casually wiped it away."

Matthew Burden, a former Army officer who blogs under the name Blackfive, wrote: "The President was very intelligent, razor sharp, warm, focused, emotional (especially about his dad), and genuine."

Overall, Burden wrote: "[I]t was very cool. The President of the United States slapped my hand and called me "brutha". Top that."

" Mrs. Greyhawk" of the Mudville Gazette wrote: "It was history in the making. This alone was awe-inspiring and I did have to concentrate hard to keep from having an idiotic grin on my face thru out the meeting, especially since we were all discussing serious issues.

"Unfortunately, I did not get to say much since the President gave very long but thought provoking answers to the important questions given him [by] others."

Mrs. Greyhawk added another highlight: "I tinkled in the Whitehouse."

No, we cannot top that; shouldn't even try. But there is veteran reporter Helen Thomas to bring us down to earth.

Washington Post

In a June 14 briefing, Hearst columnist Helen Thomas asked press secretary Tony Snow if there were "any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?" Snow's response: "Yes, the President. The President is in the war every day."

Thomas said she meant "on the front lines." Snow replied: "The President."

Ya Habibi! Think how valiantly G.W. Bush served during the Vietnam war.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Alan Greenspan Joins Rank of Iraq War Critics

Wonders never cease. We, who were ridiculed for saying that the primary reason for the war in Iraq was Iraqi oil, now have a big gun on our side. No less a person than Alan Greenspan, former Oracle of the Fed, writes in his memoir "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World"
  • 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.'
This is not going to be music to the ears of families of soldiers who died in Iraq and to soldiers who are suffering from injuries. Of course, some will continue to delude themselves and swallow the hokum from those who took the nation to war.
Another Fatwa

Two years after Islamic nations went on a rampage over the Danish cartoons, Muslims are after Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks for insulting the prophet. The cartoons appeared in Nerikes Allehanda on 18th August. A fatwa has been issued. Hard to believe that majority of Muslims support the extremists who go on rampage, ready to kill for little or no reason. The Swedish government is bending over backward to appease them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Iraq - "Accentuate the Positive"


(Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen)

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

The song made famous by Bing Crosby. Source: Lyrics Collection

That is what the president and his team are doing. By now the whole world is aware of what the thrust of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker's report to the Joint Session of the Armed Services and International Relations Committees on Monday, September 10th, will be. There is not much they can say to to buttress the president's position. The Bush team went on full scale containment effort when the GAO (U.S. Government Accounting Office) report released last week made it clear that the situation in Iraq cannot be whitewashed by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.

Democratic Senator Joseph Biden's statement today, reported by NY Times, repeats what has been known for some time:

  • “This president has no plan how to win and/or how to leave,” said Mr. Biden, before whose committee General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker will testify on Tuesday. He accused Mr. Bush of putting American troops “into the middle of a civil war to maintain the status quo,” adding, “that is unconscionable, and he’s wrong.”
In recent days it began to feel as though among the Democrats some erstwhile critics of the president's war were ready to roll over. Senator Biden's remarks indicate that President Bush and the Republicans will have few, if any, converts.

  • “This is the president’s war,” he said. “Unless we get 67 votes to override his veto, there’s nothing we can do to stop this war, but we must, we must, we must protect these troops.”
The Republicans' hope is to be able to protract the war until 2008 when the new president will have to deal with the mess and the current incumbent of the White House, in his own words, will be busy giving speeches to "replenish the ol' coffers". Outwardly, Republican presidential contenders are mostly pro-Bush, pro-war. If they are unhappy about the prospect they are not going to talk in public about it. A group of men ready to inherit the mess for the sake of being president.

If a Democratic contender, man or a woman, wins the presidency, expect a sea change as the Republican hawks become critics of the war and begin to talk about casualties.

For now the White House PR machine is in full blast accentuating the positive. Their problem is that the negatives cast an overwhelmingly larger shadow over the president's pet war.


Saturday, September 08, 2007


The Seasons: September 2007

A gray morning. The dull, hazy sky is partly the result of forest fires that began earlier in the week in south Santa Clara Valley. Day time temperature lower than the level it was during most of the Labor Day weekend. It never fails; I think of the hot days in August and September as summer's parting kick.

In mid-August the annual week at the coast turned out to be unusually pleasant. The sun showed up every morning and the temperature remained below 80° F (27° C).

Beach House at Pajaro Dunes

Sunset over the Pacific I

Sunset over the Pacific II

What I am going to miss are the luscious tomatoes.....and the figs. But in a few months the wild mushrooms will begin to emerge in the forests.

Figs for lunch
Photo credit: Xerones (Flicker) © Observer/Guardian

Roast figs with Marsala and brown sugar

Nigel Slater
Observer, August 5, 2007

Dark-skinned figs, warm from the oven with a drizzle of cream is one of the most sensuous of summer desserts. Effortless to make and to eat, they are best served straight from the oven. Lucky those with their own fig tree. I have used both sweet and dry Marsala for this before now. Serves 4.

8 figs (maybe more if they are small)

a wine glass of sweet Marsala
a little brown sugar
cream to serve

Set the oven at 200°C/gas mark 6 (apprx. 330° F). Cut the stalks from the figs and slice a deep cross into each fruit, going about halfway down. Press each fruit around its middle so that it opens up like a flower (or a baby bird in its nest yelling for food). You can cut them in half if you prefer.

Place the figs in a baking dish, sprinkle over the wine and a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the fruit is meltingly tender and the edges have started to caramelise. If they haven't browned nicely then pop them under a hot grill for a minute.

Serve the fruit, pouring the pan juices over as you go and a drizzle of cream


I use honey instead of brown sugar and a few sprigs of lavender in the baking dish.

Time to think of Fall

"Leaves fell, she watched them drop off, curl down and lodge in a bed of grass, still heavy with moisture, they were falling all around her, simple and unceremonious; for a month or two at least, a cool and lovely autumn."

--Edna O'Brien, August Is A Wicked Month

Monday, September 03, 2007


Pakistan - Twilight for the General

General Pervez Musharraf, the wily president of Pakistan, is in turbulent waters, his power diminished by his failed attempt to muzzle the Supreme Court. His role as America's ally in the war against terror has suffered setbacks. Now, with the impending return of exiled former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, and reports about byzantine negotiations between the factions involved the situation is murky. Musharraf might yet succeed in remaining as president but only by conceding ground. And which party -- Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party or Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League -- will emerge on top ? Pakistan's powerful militant Islamic groups are not going to be silent spectators as the events unfold.

Corruption was rampant during both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif's premiership. Between 1988 and 1999 both Bhutto and Sharif had served twice as prime minister. Under the constitution they are prohibited from serving a third term. They have made no secret of the fact that they will seek a constitutional amendment.

The General's support has eroded among the people of Pakistan. Pakistanis are restless and want change. Records of the years when Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif ruled Pakistan give little hope for expecting a clean, democratic government. And the army would be loath to relinquish the power sharing agreement with General Musharraf. In worst case scenario, martial law could again be declared and make it possible for a military-mullah coalition to take control. Should that come to pass, it would be difficult for America to justify supporting the regime. But history is full of instances of strange bedfellows embraced by America purely for selfish reasons. What our government says often has little resemblance with what it does.

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