,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Friday, May 29, 2009


End of AIPAC As We Knew It

Obama and the Middle East

Jonathan Marcus in BBC News wrote:
President Obama has backed off from his stated positions on various issues. He is not the first president to cave in to expediency. Some call it pragmatism. It would be interesting to see if he holds firm on this very thorny one.

Would the hard-liners in Israel allow Netanyahu to accept the new American policy? We can expect Israel to crank up the threat from Iran. And we must not forget about fanatics in Hamas. Would they try to sabotage the negotiations in which Mahmoud Abbas is engaged? What the new American position demonstrates is that the powerful AIPAC failed to have its way, and that is something to cheer about.

Regardless of how it plays out, Obama Administration's position has been clearly and unequivocally announced about one of the primary points of dispute -- construction of settlements in the West Bank.

BBC News

The US wants a halt to settlement building. Now.

Mr Netanyahu seems to have at least half got the message.

He is trying to devise some sort of compromise whereby Israel will remove outposts seen as illegal even under Israeli law, but will continue to build in existing settlements to cope with what Israeli spokesmen call their "natural growth".

But this "natural growth" argument is not getting any traction in Washington.

The message has been repeated again and again; no settlement building - period.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Northern California - Late Spring 2009


Morels * Wild Flowers

25 days away from summer solstice, and sweaters still needed in the evening. Meadows in the foothills still show patches of green, and wild flowers are in bloom in many of the preserves that dot the San Francisco Bay area.

Morels are rarely found here. Foragers head for fire-ravaged areas in the Sierras where one can find a lot if the timing is right. A few weeks back a friend and I joined a group of foragers led by a man who knows all about wild mushrooms. The location where he took us was in the vicinity of South Fork of Yuba River.

Two good specimens
© Arani Sinha

And another
© Musafir

Arani found one
© Musafir

Happy Forager
© Musafir

Back at home
© Musafir

The morels were not in the best of condition -- many of them beginning to get dry -- and there were many other foragers trudging up and down the hills. But we didn't return empty handed.

Wild Flowers, and a Bird

Redwing Blackbird, Arastradero Preserve
© Musafir

White Coat Mallow, Arastradero Preserve
© Musafir

Close up of Mariposa Lily, Sierra Azul
© Musafir

Crimson Columbine, Sierra Azul
© Musafir

Ithuriel's Spear, Sierra Azul
© Musafir

Fairy Lantern, Sierra Azul
© Musafir

Venus Thistle surrounded by droplets from mist, Purisima Creek
© Sarbajit Ghosal

California Hedge Nettle, Purisima Creek
© Musafir

It felt wintry when we hiked at Purisima Creek on Sunday, May 24th.

Yellow Lupine, Purisima Creek
© Musafir

Wild Iris, Purisima Creek
© Musafir

Lunch break under redwood trees, Purisima Creek
Align Center© DM

Trudging up Harkins Ridge, Purisima Creek
© DM

On Harkins Ridge Trail, Purisima Creek
© Sarbajit Ghosal

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Credit Cards - Caveat emptor

Brace for Reinstatement of Annual Fees * The Coburn Amendment

Faced with legislation that would severely restrict them from abusive practices, the same wonderful people who had been ripping off consumers for years with sky high interest rates, penalties and late fees, are huddling to come up with plans to make up for lost revenue.

Reports indicate that credit card users who do not carry a balance but pay off their monthly bills on time might be hit with annual fees!

Are consumers going to roll over and accept the fees? Some would. At one time such fees were common. But in today's America the climate is different. Americans are aware that one of the primary factors for the current economic crisis was lack of oversight by our government that permitted the financial industry to run amok. There is very little good feeling about the large banks that issue credit cards.

Fight back. One way -- the preferred solution -- for those who can afford it and do not carry balance on their credit cards would be to use debit cards. And look for credit cards issued by small, regional banks. Of course, when the small banks are gobbled up by large ones then you will have to start all over again. Still, don't passively accept the fees that might soon be foisted on you by the major issuers of credit cards.

Nancy Trejos in The Washington Post

Have Gun, Will Visit National Parks

Trust a Republican, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, to attach an amendment to the credit card legislation to permit carrying loaded guns at national parks. The NRA is happy. It would be interesting to see whether the amendment would be in the final version that President Obama signs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


A Vengeful Government in Sri Lanka


Slaughter of Tamil Refugees among Coconut Palms

Although foreign journalists are barred from reporting the military operations against Tamil Tigers, the scant details coming out leave no doubt about brutal attacks against refugees fleeing from the combat zone.

The beautiful, green island nation has now earned a place among other countries which carried out mass slaughter of a section of their population to achieve political and/or military objective.

Guardian UK
Oxford Analytica: "SIGNIFICANCE: The humanitarian crisis triggered in recent weeks both reflects past ethnic grievances underlying the protracted conflict and is fuelling new ones. More than 1 million Tamil people have now been displaced, with many thousands reportedly killed in high-intensity fighting this year."

And the world remains a bystander.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Afghan Civilian Casualties

A Few Ragheads here, a Few Ragheads there

An area (there are many) where there has been no change in tactics followed by the Obama administration is the deaths of Afghan civilians in attacks against militants. Just as they took place under President Bush, civilian casualties continue under President Obama. The Taliban could be benefiting in recruiting every time innocent civilians die. But that is not going to stop the killings. Somehow deaths of villagers in far away Afghanistan do not have any impact on American military strategy. They are expendable in our war against terror.

In expressing her regret, Secretary of State Clinton sounded no different than Ms Rice when she held that position.

Voice of America.com reported:
Yes, no doubt the issue would be discussed during visits to the White House by Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Zardari of Pakistan. One can be certain that despite public statements -- sound bites -- nothing would change.

U.S. Casualties in Iraq

After declining for a few months, the number of U.S. casualties spiked up in April. 19 soldiers died in Iraq.

What did they die for? Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The Iraqis now have an elected government that we approve of. The internecine violence between the Shias and the Sunnis is not going to end anytime soon.


Afghanistan Civilian Casualties Iraq Obama Karzai Zardari Hillary Clinton

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