,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Friday, March 28, 2008


Bush: "a defining moment" in Iraq" - Into the Valley of Death

The Commander-in-Chief aka The Decider

© Steve Bell 2007

"WASHINGTON(Associated Press) President Bush said Friday that the flare-up in violence in oil-rich southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad presents "a defining moment in the history of Iraq" as the government there seeks to root out Shiite militias.

Bush made clear that the United States stands firmly behind Iraqi security forces and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "He made the decision to move and we'll help him," the president said."

Listed below are the names of 29 American soldiers who gave their lives so far in the month of March for the president's "defining moment".

Christopher S. Frost, 24, Air Force Staff Sergeant, Mar 04, 2008
Jose A. Paniagua-Morales, 22, Army Corporal, Mar 07, 2008
Phillip R. Anderson, 28, Army Sergeant, Mar 10, 2008
Donald A. Burkett, 24, Army Specialist, Mar 10, 2008
Ernesto G. Cimarrusti, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 10, 2008
David D. Julian, 31, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 10, 2008
Torre R. Mallard, 27, Army Captain, Mar 10, 2008
Robert T. McDavid, 28, Army Corporal, Mar 10, 2008
Scott A. McIntosh, 26, Army Corporal, Mar 10, 2008
Shawn M. Suzch, 32, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Mar 10, 2008
Laurent J. West, 32, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 11, 2008
Juantrea T. Bradley, 28, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 12, 2008
Dustin C. Jackson, 21, Army Specialist, Mar 12, 2008
Tenzin L. Samten, 33, Army Private 1st Class, Mar 12, 2008
William D. O’Brien, 19, Army Specialist, Mar 15, 2008
Lerando J. Brown, 27, Army National Guard Specialist, Mar 15, 2008
Michael D. Elledge, 41, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 17, 2008
Christopher C. Simpson, 23, Army Specialist, Mar 17, 2008
Gregory D. Unruh, 28, Army Sergeant, Mar 19, 2008
Tyler J. Smith, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Mar 21, 2008
II, Thomas C. Ray, 40, Army National Guard Sergeant, Mar 22, 2008
David S. Stelmat, 27, Army National Guard Specialist, Mar 22, 2008
David B. Williams, 26, Army National Guard Sergeant, Mar 22, 2008
George Delgado, 21, Army Private, Mar 23, 2008
Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, Army Private 1st Class, Mar 23, 2008
Christopher M. Hake, 26, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 23, 2008
Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, Army Specialist, Mar 23, 2008
Joseph D. Gamboa, 34, Army Staff Sergeant, Mar 25, 2008
Gregory B. Rundell, 21, Army Specialist, Mar 26, 2008


Thursday, March 27, 2008


Hubris and 'The Enemy Within'

Come November who are we going to blame? This time, Ralph Nader and the Supreme Court will not be the ones.

What is happening between the Democratic front runners is ugly and harmful for the party. A few months back retaking of the White House looked like an almost sure thing. It is becoming less and less so. While HC and Obama are engaged in destroying themselves and the chances of winning the presidency, John McCain is taking full advantage of it and moving ahead. Hear him chortle?

Let's face it. The chances of another Republican president, who has recast himself as a Bush clone, are very real. McCain might not have the support needed in Congress to continue the divisive, reactionary policies of G.W. Bush. That, however, is small consolation for us who have been waiting for the Bush presidency -- a dark chapter in our history -- to end.

Researching the phrase "the enemy within", I came across items about the late cartoonist Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo. Interesting.
Listening to: As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls
---Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays (ECM Records, Feb.2000)

Monday, March 24, 2008


Sunday, Bloody Sunday

The death toll goes up and up in Bush's War * Wild Flowers

No, this isn't about John Schlesinger's great 1971 film based on the story by Penelope Gilliatt.

On Easter Sunday the death toll for American soldiers in Iraq reached 4,000. A landmark? Depends on one's view of the war. To those of us who were against the war long before the first pair of boots landed on the ground, it is a tragic waste of human lives, most of them under 30 years of age. To the president and his cohorts who cooked up the war and sold it to the American people, it is just a number that does not mean anything. Expect the usual platitude about bravery, patriotism, etc.

"I can't stop asking why? The more I think the more I cry."
---Pfc. Ryan J. Hill

Wild Flowers at Coal Mine Creek

Went for the traditional Easter Sunday walk with a group of friends. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. The wild flowers have started to bloom. The wood duck, reported to be found at the lake, was not seen but we had a good walk and returned to Palo Alto for lunch. Fried chicken, steamed artichokes accompanied by a mayo/mustard dip, french bread and cheeses. We enjoyed a bottle of Margaux and a Sauvignon Blanc. To cap it all, there was a home made Tiramisu. By that time we were ready for a nap.

©Musafir - March 23, 2008

Indian Warrior
©Musafir - March 23, 2008

©Musafir - March 23, 2008

At the swing on Toyon Trail
©Musafir - March 23, 2008

Shooting Star
©Musafir - March 23, 2008

Hound's Tongue
©Musafir - March 23, 2008

Alongside Lake Trail

©Musafir - March 23, 2008

à votre santé

©Musafir - March 23, 2008

"Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home -
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome."
----Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Spring, 2008: How Green is the Valley !

"The Sun is at its lowest path in the sky on the Winter Solstice. After that day the Sun follows a higher and higher path through the sky each day until it is in the sky for exactly 12 hours. On the Spring Equinox the Sun rises exactly in the east travels through the sky for 12 hours and sets exactly in the west. On the Equinox this is the motion of the Sun through the sky for everyone on earth. Every place on earth experiences a 12 hours day twice a year on the Spring and Fall Equinox." © Montana State University

Spring has arrived. Here in San Mateo (California), the temperature is still rather cool. But sunny days and blue skies are going to stay with us, and the coolness will keep the valley green longer. The late rains would probably mean good display of wild flowers in another month or so.

Easter is a few days away. On the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq the president, who took us there, bragged about what he did. Death toll for soldiers 3992. The cost in dollars? Mind-boggling.

Looking west from Lower Crystal Spring Reservoir
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

Lower Crystal Spring Reservoir
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

Meadow, south of Lower Crystal Spring Reservoir
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

Happiness is a grassy meadow
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

Looking south toward Upper Crystal Spring Reservoir
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

To the north, downtown San Francisco from Tournament Drive, Hillsborough
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

Looking down from Parrott Drive
©Musafir - March 17, 2008

Cherry Blossoms - Tournament Drive, Hillsborough
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

Foliage at Tournament Drive, Hillsborough
©Musafir - March 16, 2008

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes , and the grass grows by itself."
---Zenrin Kushu

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The War Goes On


Iraq War Veterans * Countdown for Bush Presidency

Coverage of the war and soldiers had receded to back pages as the surge succeeded in reducing the number of casualties. Yesterday, Steve Vogel of the Washington Post reported on a gathering of Iraq war veterans at Silver Spring, MD.

War Stories Echo an Earlier Winter

Grim-faced and sorrowful, former soldiers and Marines sat before an audience of several hundred yesterday in Silver Spring and shared their recollections of their service in Iraq.

The stories spilled out, sometimes haltingly, sometimes in a rush: soldiers firing indiscriminately on Iraqi vehicles, an apartment building filled with Iraqi families devastated by an American gunship. Some descriptions were agonized, some vague; others offered specific dates and locations. All were recorded and streamed live to the Web.

The four-day event, "Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan -- Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations," is sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War and is expected to draw more than 200 veterans of the two wars through tomorrow. Timed for the eve of the fifth anniversary of the war's start next week, organizers hope the soldiers' accounts will galvanize public opposition.

For some of the veterans speaking yesterday, the experience was catharsis.

Former Marine Jon Turner began his presentation by ripping his service medals off his shirt and tossing them into the first row. He then narrated a series of graphic photographs showing bloody victims and destruction, bringing gasps from the audience. In a matter-of-fact voice, he described episodes in which he and fellow Marines shot people out of fear or retribution.

"I'm sorry for the hate and destruction I've inflicted upon innocent people," Turner said. "Until people hear about what is happening in this war, it will continue."

Yes, there were pro-war soldiers.

The War President

This from the man who dodged Vietnam:

War hath no fury like a non-combatant.
---C.E. Montague


Monday, March 10, 2008


Casualties In Iraq

Bush's War * Et tu, Spitzer!

As the presidential candidates try to bring their opponents down by capitalizing every misstep, accentuating the negative in every speech and, in the process, proving that behind the facade they are all cut from the same cloth, one issue that appears to have receded into the background is the war in Iraq that was foisted on us in 2003 by the Bush administration.

Last week, the Senate held a hearing about costs of the war. Do not expect much from it. McCain blithely talks about a "hundred-year war". Soldiers are still dying. With the deaths of five soldiers in Baghdad today the total number of U.S. casualties is nearing 4,000.
  • BAGHDAD, March 10 (Reuters) - Five U.S. soldiers were killed and three others wounded in a bomb blast in central Baghdad on Monday, the U.S. military said, in the worst single attack on U.S. forces in Baghdad in months.
Most of our elected representatives have moved on to other matters. Deaths in Iraq no longer receive the attention they deserve.....except by the families of soldiers. But they,too, appear to meekly accept the situation. Some of them believe that the deaths are for a noble cause; others remain silent out of a sense of futility about their ability to do anything to stop it; voices of those who speak out against the war are not loud enough.
"They say: 'Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make of them'."
---Archibald MacLeish (The Young Dead Soldiers)


Eliot Spitzer

The last thing the Democrats needed was a scandal involving a prominent politician. But it happened and now the inevitable fallout will take its course.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Hail, Vermont

"Crimes against our Constitution"

Applause for the people of Brattleboro and Marlboro, Vermont, who approved resolutions to indict President G.W. Bush and Vice President R.B. Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution".
An empty gesture? Perhaps, but it was courageous of the citizens of Brattleboro and Marlboro.
"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing."
---Edmund Burke

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Think Trillions - Cost of Bush's War

Numbers behind the smoke and mirrors * Paris Book Fair and Muslims

One trillion means twelve zeroes -- 1,000,000,000,000. Read Bob Herbert in the NYTimes, think about the waste of our money and the lies that lead to the unjust war in Iraq.

The $2 Trillion Nightmare

On Thursday, the Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer, conducted a public examination of the costs of the war. The witnesses included the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz (who believes the overall costs of the war — not just the cost to taxpayers — will reach $3 trillion), and Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

Both men talked about large opportunities lost because of the money poured into the war. “For a fraction of the cost of this war,” said Mr. Stiglitz, “we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more.”

Mr. Hormats mentioned Social Security and Medicare, saying that both could have been put “on a more sustainable basis.” And he cited the committee’s own calculations from last fall that showed that the money spent on the war each day is enough to enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start for a year, or make a year of college affordable for 160,000 low-income students through Pell Grants, or pay the annual salaries of nearly 11,000 additional border patrol agents or 14,000 more police officers.

What we’re getting instead is the stuff of nightmares. Mr. Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia, has been working with a colleague at Harvard, Linda Bilmes, to document, among other things, some of the less obvious costs of the war. These include the obligation to provide health care and disability benefits for returning veterans. Those costs will be with us for decades.

Mr. Stiglitz noted that nearly 40 percent of the 700,000 troops from the first gulf war, which lasted just a month, have become eligible for disability benefits. The current war is approaching five years in duration.

“Imagine then,” said Mr. Stiglitz, “what a war — that will almost surely involve more than 2 million troops and will almost surely last more than six or seven years — will cost. Already we are seeing large numbers of returning veterans showing up at V.A. hospitals for treatment, large numbers applying for disability and large numbers with severe psychological problems.”

The Bush administration has tried its best to conceal the horrendous costs of the war. It has bypassed the normal budgetary process, financing the war almost entirely through “emergency” appropriations that get far less scrutiny.

Hypocrisy of Muslim Countries
  • A book fair in Paris has become the subject of controversy with several Muslim countries announcing boycotts because the guest of honour is Israel.
  • Saudi Arabia has become the latest to withdraw, following Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.
  • The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Isesco) has also urged its 50 members to pull out from the fair, which starts on 14 March.
  • Isesco said Israel had committed crimes against humanity in Palestinian areas.
Is Israel guilty of "crimes against humanity"? Yes, of course, it is. And it has been aided and abetted by the United States for geo-political reasons.

But look at the roster of accusers. None of the Muslim countries involved can claim to be exempt from human rights abuses. Like the United States -- guilty of "extraordinary rendition", waterboarding and other shady acts that are yet to be reported -- the Islamic countries consider themselves to be untainted. It is a laughable position to take. They are like the proverbial ostriches with heads buried in the sand.

Monday, March 03, 2008


The Hague to Mazar-i-Sharif

Fitna * Female Foeticide * End of the Chanterelle Season

There they go again. Fitna, a film made by Dutch MP Geert Wilders has riled up Muslims because it criticises Islam! It is a long way from The Hague to Mazar-i-Sharif (Tomb of the Chief) in northern Afghanistan but didn't take long for the mob to appear there. The BBC reported:

"On Sunday, hundreds of Afghans took to the streets in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to protest against the film.

Demonstrators burned Dutch flags, and called for the withdrawal of Dutch troops from the Nato force."

Some Muslims are touchy about the Koran. Takes very little to incite them to go on rampage, ready to kill and burn. But where would we be if all countries prohibit critical books and articles about the Koran or making films that question or criticise its teachings?
India - Female Foeticide

The Indian Government has taken a positive step against selective, gender-based, abortions. The cash incentive is expected to reduce the number of such abortions.


The Indian government today announced a scheme to pay poor families to give birth to and bring up girls in an attempt to stop families nationwide aborting an estimated half a million female foetuses a year.

Families in seven states are set to benefit from cash payments amounting to 15,500 rupees (£193) to keep and bring up their female children.

Ministers say more than 100,000 girls could be saved in the first year. In India ultrasound technology coupled with a traditional preference for boys, who are seen as future breadwinners, has led to mass female foeticide.

Last of the Chanterelles

©Musafir March 2, 2008

Beauties, but found only a few of them. The soil felt dry when I walked in the woods yesterday afternoon. With most of the rains behind us, the season for chanterelles is ending in this part of the San Francisco Bay area. It will be November before I go foraging for wild mushrooms. In the meantime, we can look forward to a show of wild flowers. The rains in February created the right conditions for good displays.

Apart from occasional wintry showers
And frosts some nights to spoil our flowers,
Winter's done.

--David Curtis (Perthshire, Scotland, 2002)

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