some can't take it any more
This is a sad note. I was at the bank yesterday and saw a friend that I hadn't seen for awhile. She had a business here on Whidbey Island. I asked here how business was and she told me that she had sold her business and that she and her partner were moving to Panama. They didn't want to be in the US anymore. It's become a place that they no longer felt safe in. How can you live in a place where people hate you and want you dead? Not only is she a liberal, but her partner is a woman. I have always enjoyed seeing either of them in the chance encounters one has in a small community. We would laugh and exchange stories. I will miss them. They leave a hole in the community. She said that you would be suprised at the number of people quietly leaving the country. I suspect that if Bush is re-elected the number of people leaving won't be quiet. Leave early, avoid the rush.
I've been robbed by black and white photographs. Don't get me wrong, I do love a fine black and white photograph. Some of the great images of photography came out of the depression through the lenses of government funded photographers. These images are iconic. These photographers took these pictures to record a time and place but they forgot something — color. Well, they didn't actually forget color. Generally, color wasn't an option. But a few photographers did use the new Kodachrome and seeing these color images of the depression is a shock. Yes, I know that the world wasn't in black and white,no matter what my kids say. It's just that seeing these color pictures of the depression is like seeing this time and place for the first time. The first link is a New York Times link that they don't provide a blog friendly link for so it will go away soon. Don't dawdle. The second link has many, many, many, more pictures and will be around for a long while.
In our mind's eye, much of the past exists in black and white. This is particularly true of Depression-era America, in large part because of the unforgettable monochrome images created by the New Deal-sponsored photographers who traversed the country in the 1930's and early 1940's, chronicling the lives of its citizens. About 160,000 of their pictures are collected in the archives of the Library of Congress. Less well known are the roughly 1,600 of these photographs that were shot in color -- most notably by the photographers Russell Lee and Jack Delano -- using Kodachrome film, which Kodak introduced in 1936. This month, the Library of Congress and Harry N. Abrams are making a substantial collection of these images available for the first time in a book called ''Bound for Glory: America in Color 1939-43.'' As the writer Paul Hendrickson notes in his introduction to the volume, these photos give us more than just blues and yellows and reds -- they offer ''a new and complementary way of comprehending our national identity.''
A homesteader and his family, Pie Town, N.M., October 1940.
thanks to Life In The Present
America from the Great Depression to World War II
Color Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1939-1945
Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room, C. & N.W. R.R., Clinton, Iowa
thanks to Magpie
the iraqi intifada — vietnam, lebanon, and the west bank on internet time
6 US Soldiers Wounded, 22 Iraqis Killed in Holy City Fighting
by Juan Cole
My own view is that Muqtada has now won politically and morally. He keeps throwing Abu Ghuraib in the faces of the Americans. He had his men take refuge in Najaf and Karbala because he knew only two outcomes were possible. Either the Americans would back off and cease trying to destroy him, out of fear of fighting in the holy cities and alienating the Shiites. Or they would come in after Muqtada and his militia, in which case the Americans would probably turn the Shiites in general against themselves. The latter is now happening.
The Americans will be left with a handful of ambitious collaborators at the top, but the masses won't be with them. And in Iraq, unlike the US, the masses matter. The US political elite is used to being able to discount American urban ghettos as politically a cipher. What they don't realize is that in third world countries the urban poor are a key political actor and resource, and wise rulers go out of their way not to anger them.
Brutality in the gulag: what for?
by Helena Cobban
This morning, Bill the spouse and I were speculating about what the point of all the officially sanctioned brutality in Abu Ghraib prison was.
Once we accept that this was no "furtive", rogue operation, we have to understand that someone in the military chain of command--most likely the Military Intel command-- was actually, under very difficult operational circumstances, devoting quite a lot of manpower and other resources to running these sessions of organized brutality. This, in a situation where manpower is stretched incredibly thin.
Plus, by the accounts of some of the front-line perpetrators, they were given the cameras by superiors and instructed to take the photos and videos.
So what was it all in aid of?
Here is an excellent discussion of the Geneva Conventions...
On brutality in war
Meanwhile, the US, in whose detention facilities unknown numbers of people have met their deaths, some number of them apparently at the end of processes of what can only be called torture, has absolutely no leg to stand on as it tries to protest such behavior.
This is why, incidentally, many people in the uniformed military--people considerably higher up the chain of command than Lynndie England-- understand that it is in the interests of their own soldiers (many of whom are currently deployed in very far-flung places, in worryingly small numbers) that the norms embedded in the Geneva and Hague Conventions be as widely respected and applied as possible. General Antonio Taguba is not some kind of outlier on this issue; he represents a long-term body of very serious opinion in the U.S. Army...
Among all the many laws of war, of particular relevance in Iraq are the 4th of the Hague Conventions of 1907, the one relating to the Law of War on Land, and the third and fourth Geneva Conventions-- the ones relating to the treatment of prisoners of war and to the treatment of the civil population of a territory under military occupation. The United States is, it perhaps needs to be restated, a full party to all these Conventions.
Pentagon Admits Iraq Methods Violated Geneva Rules
Sen. Jack Reed asked Pace if a foreign nation held a U.S. Marine in a cell, naked with a bag over his head, squatting with his arms uplifted for 45 minutes, would that be a good interrogation technique or a Geneva Convention violation.
"I would describe is as a violation, sir," replied Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"As I read Gen. Sanchez's guidance, precisely that behavior could have been employed in Iraq," said Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat.
Reed later asked Wolfowitz a similar question. Wolfowitz initially tried to sidestep it, but eventually replied, "What you've described to me sounds, to me, like a violation of the Geneva Convention."
Let us not forget the lather that Americans whipped themselves into at the beginning of the war when the Iraqis held US soldiers captive and showed them on video. "It's against the Geneva Conventions!" they yelled. Let us not forget that those American captives were not hooded and were fully clothed. They were not raped nor were they tortued. And Americans have the gall to accuse Iraqis of being barbarians. Also let us not forget that violations of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes.
Plan to Get Out Now or Face a Disastrous Defeat
The disastrous course of America's war in Iraq has created a new task for the Great General Staff, in the form of more contingency planning. America needs to make sure it has a plan in the file for a fighting withdrawal from Iraq.
It is still possible the end may not come this way. We may still manage a shaky hand-off to a U.N.-designated Iraqi government, and that government might last long enough for us to withdraw with some shreds of dignity. George W. might awake some morning a new man, announce he was swindled, sack the neo-cons and bring in someone like Marine Corps General Tony Zinni, who opposed the war all along, to handle our disengagement. The Archangel Michael might appear over Mecca and convert all the Mohammedans to Christianity.
But the growing probability is that we will be driven out of Iraq by a general uprising, an intifada in which every American will be the target of every Iraqi and our boys (and, in America's Neo-Model Army, girls) will have to fight their way out in a scene like that which faced Gordon in the Sudan. It is not a pleasant prospect. It means thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of American and "coalition" casualties, many times more Iraqi casualties, and one of history's more memorable defeats, right up there with Syracuse, Waterloo and Stalingrad. The after-shocks will be severe, as regimes tumble from Pakistan through the Persian Gulf and Egypt to Britian and America itself. You can look forward to seeing the Dow at 3000, if not 300.
The pro-war crowd is finally waking up from their hypnotic trance. Bush has lost even Friedman.
by Thomas Friedman
I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post- 9/11 world, in a nonpartisan fashion — as Joe Biden, John McCain and Dick Lugar did — I assumed the Bush officials were doing the same. I was wrong. They were always so slow to change course because confronting their mistakes didn't just involve confronting reality, but their own politics.
Why, in the face of rampant looting in the war's aftermath, which dug us into such a deep and costly hole, wouldn't Mr. Rumsfeld put more troops into Iraq? Politics. First of all, Rummy wanted to crush once and for all the Powell doctrine, which says you fight a war like this only with overwhelming force. I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than Saddam. Second, Rummy wanted to prove to all those U.S. generals whose Army he was intent on downsizing that a small, mobile, high-tech force was all you needed today to take over a country. Third, the White House always knew this was a war of choice — its choice — so it made sure that average Americans never had to pay any price or bear any burden. Thus, it couldn't call up too many reservists, let alone have a draft. Yes, there was a contradiction between the Bush war on taxes and the Bush war on terrorism. But it was resolved: the Bush team decided to lower taxes rather than raise troop levels.
STRANGER a DAY : 2004
Since January 1st, 2004 Roark Johnson has been photographing strangers, people he doesn't know, once a day, every day. He's using an 8X10 Deardorff. Unlike Roark, it's a camera that commands attention, respect and awe. Join him and come back weekly as he risks being rejected by those faces he wants so much to photograph.
thanks to coincidences
Taking a portrait a day with a 35mm camera would be an accomplishment. Taking these with a camera as big and bulky as an 8x10 is pretty amazing. An 8x10 contact print is a thing of beauty. The web could never show the subtleties of tone that are characteristic of a large contact print.
by Kurt Vonnegut
Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.
But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
Some of my younger readers may not be familiar with Kurt Vonnegut. I would urge you to try reading one of his books. After you read about Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians, you will never look at a plumber's helper the same way again.
A Crude Shock
by Paul Krugman
So far, the current world oil crunch doesn't look at all like the crises of 1973 or 1979. That's why it's so scary.
The oil crises of the 1970's began with big supply disruptions: the Arab oil embargo after the 1973 Israeli-Arab war and the 1979 Iranian revolution. This time, despite the chaos in Iraq, nothing comparable has happened — yet. Nonetheless, because of rising demand that is led by soaring Chinese consumption, the world oil market is already stretched tight as a drum, and crude oil prices are $12 a barrel higher than they were a year ago. What if something really does go wrong?
Let me put it a bit differently: the last time oil prices were this high, on the eve of the 1991 gulf war, there was a lot of spare capacity in the world, so there was room to cope with a major supply disruption if it happened. This time there isn't.
One of my favorite blogs about photography has some tasty pictures up...
An American Archeology of sorts
Each and every little item tells a story. A story of a memory in somebody's life, a story of some part of somebody's life, or maybe a story of a gift not wanted and thrown away. By taking photos documentary-style I am trying to avoid getting in the way, to make sure that it's the items that tell the story and not the photos.
So long, civilization
Jane Jacobs looks at what modern life has done to cities, farms and economies, and she doesn't like what she sees
Dark Age Ahead
By Jane Jacobs
There's no writer more lucid than Jane Jacobs, nobody better at using wide-open eyes and clean courtly prose to decipher the changing world around us. So it's heartening that even in her late 80s, in a book whose title hints at common sense giving way to broad-brush gloom, she studies the economy by lifting up a chair.
"Turning a chair upside down for a clue to its provenance, I found a label reporting 'Made in Canada,' " Jacobs writes of a visit to a Toronto suburb where jobs are increasing even though conventional economic wisdom says they shouldn't. "A prowl among offices in industrial parks might suggest further grist for import replacing and innovation."
That sort of dogma-free inquisitiveness sharpens everything that Jacobs has written since 1961's "The Death and Life of Great American Cities." In her new book, "Dark Age Ahead," Jacobs visits her old thematic haunts -- the way cities work, the way economies work, the shakiness of too much "accepted" wisdom -- to bring back an ominous new message: Lazy thinking and a lack of accountability could combine to unhinge many of the advances that fuel our modern life.
thanks to reenhead
I first read Jane Jacobs 40 years ago. I've read her books since. She always makes me think. If anyone would like me to think some more you could go to my wish list and buy it for me. Or, if you are the the mood for some thinking yourself, you could get a copy at your favorite bookstore or here:
I'm afraid that the fixie below is not mine. It is a Nishiki, though. My fixie project is currently on a back burner. Between my trip to DC and NYC and my new job, I've not had time to paint the frame. But I have been riding. I've been riding every day to work in Freeland. It's just a little under 5 miles, with a *big* hill in between. That could be considered part of the fixie project. I'm getting my legs and lungs ready for fixed riding. It has been good getting back on the bike. At 59, I've been taking it slowly the last couple of months, but it's amazing how fast the legs are coming back. Having a *big* hill helps. It's fun being comfortable on the bike again. The fixie below is from fixed gear gallery. I visit it every day. If you like looking at bikes, you might visit it, too.
iraq — despair
For the best analysis events in Iraq, go to Juan Cole.
Signs of a Negotiated Settlement in Najaf
But Clashes Continue at Kufa, Karbala
by Juan Cole
az-Zaman: The Coalition and Muqtada al-Sadr exchanged letters via mediators during the past thirty-six hours, which may be fateful. Signs of flexibility were apparent in Muqtada's response to ending the crisis, assuming that the American side would accept negotiations on the basis of his spokesman, Qais al-Khazali. At the same time, the new American-appointed governor of Najaf intimated that there is a possibility that any criminal proceedings against Muqtada al-Sadr may be suspended if his militia stood down, disarmed, and left Najaf.
A statement issued by Muqtada's office in Najaf suggested that he would end his insurgency in the Shiite south on condition that the Americans agree to direct negotiations with him, a demand that the US had rejected up until this point.
The grand ayatollahs of Najaf clearly anticipate a major blow-up if these final negotiations fail. They have sent their wives and children to stay with relatives outside Najaf, but are remaining in the city themselves. The four grand ayatollahs include Ali Sistani, Muhammad Sa'id al-Hakim, Bashir al-Najafi, and Muhammad Fayyad.
US Ordered Spanish to Bring in Muqtada 'Dead or Alive'
Spanish Command predicted "Large-Scale Military Response"
by Juan Cole
The new Spanish Minister of Defense, Jose Bono, is drawing the curtain from some of the events of early April when the US authorities in Iraq decided to attempt to arrest Muqtada al-Sadr in the wake of his self-identification with Hamas. It appears that at first the Coalition Provisional Authority and the US military command approached the poor Spanish about carrying out the arrest of Muqtada. The Spanish were in charge of Kufa and Najaf, where Muqtada is based.
The post-Franco, post-fascist Spanish military must have been absolutely astounded and disgusted by the Texan demand that they deliver Muqtada to the US "dead or alive." And, they immediately refused. Obviously, if the Spanish had taken the US bait and carried out the arrest, their forces would have faced the full fury of the Sadrists, who are capable of quite a lot of fury. This whole episode strikes me as shameful and cowardly on the Americans' part. It seems obvious that Bush, who must have made the decision to launch the largely unprovoked attack on Muqtada, was hoping to make the Spanish the fall guys. (Two pieces of evidence point to Bush: 1)We now know he was the one who ordered that "heads must roll" at Fallujah, so these major military campaigns are his idea; and, 2) the phraseology "take him dead or alive" is distinctively his.)
Blair's perversity does him harm and Iraq no good
A handover to the UN is now the only way to meet this crisis
Iraq is near meltdown. The White House and Downing Street seem transfixed in a state of denial, incapable even of damage limitation. The UN - the last best chance - is on the brink of walking away from Iraq, leaving Bush and Blair to reap the whirlwind they have sown.
Iraq inhabits a political and legal void with a foreign force failing to keep basic order. A few days ago, supply convoys carrying food for US forces couldn't get through to Baghdad, leaving troops on hard rations. Americans and their troops have long been barricaded in, apart from heavily armoured sorties. Western journalists can no longer operate: as Jonathan Steele eloquently described, even the most battle-hardened are holed up, relying on Iraqi journalists' reports. Showing a western face is too dangerous.
On June 30, the fabled handover of sovereignty is to take place. In Washington they are clinging to the mantra that this marks a turning point, with no reason why things should get better. It's only six weeks away, but there is still no plan, not a single piece of paper yet describing exactly what powers are being transferred to whom. Who will these 10,000 prisoners belong to? How much of the oil revenues will flow directly into the interim government? Who will the new government be?
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special representative, was sent to Iraq to ease the passage to democracy much against his will. With his arm twisted by Kofi Annan and George Bush, he reluctantly agreed but warned of the risk of ensnaring the UN in this ill-fated US/UK adventure. As the murder of its previous envoy showed, the UN is unloved in a country that suffered 12 years of corruptly administered UN sanctions. Brahimi warned that the US would never hand over enough power to make a truly independent UN intervention possible. He was right. Now, according to Tony Blair's close advisers, he is about to walk away from Iraq, leaving Britain and America alone to stew after June 30.
The Israeli Torture Template
Rape, Feces and Urine-Dipped Cloth Sacks
With mounting evidence that a shadowy group of former Israeli Defense Force and General Security Service (Shin Bet) Arabic-speaking interrogators were hired by the Pentagon under a classified "carve out" sub-contract to brutally interrogate Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, one only needs to examine the record of abuse of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israel to understand what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld meant, when referring to new, yet to be released photos and videos, he said, "if these images are released to the public, obviously its going to make matters worse."
According to a political appointee within the Bush administration and U.S. intelligence sources, the interrogators at Abu Ghraib included a number of Arabic-speaking Israelis who also helped U.S. interrogators develop the "R2I" (Resistance to Interrogation) techniques. Many of the torture methods were developed by the Israelis over many years of interrogating Arab prisoners on the occupied West Bank and in Israel itself.
thanks to Life In The Present
As long as the plan contains the magic term 'withdrawal', it is seen as a good thing
Ilan Pappe warns that Israel is heading for disaster
The day after the assassination in Gaza of the Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, Yuval Steinitz was interviewed on Israeli radio. Steinitz is the Likud chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee in the Knesset. Before that he taught Western philosophy at the University of Haifa, where his epistemological world-view was shaped by romantic nationalists such as Gobineau and Fichte, who stressed purity of race as a precondition for national excellence. The translation of these European notions of racial superiority to Israel became evident as soon as the interviewer asked him about the government's plans for the remaining Palestinian leaders. Interviewer and interviewee giggled and agreed that the policy will be, as it should be, the assassination or expulsion of the entire current leadership: namely, all the members of the Palestinian Authority - about forty thousand people. 'I am so happy,' Steinitz said, 'that the Americans have finally come to their senses and are fully supporting our policies.'
On television, Benny Morris of Ben Gurion University repeated his support for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, claiming this as the best means of solving the conflict in Palestine. The New York Times and the New Republic were among the many stages on which Morris was invited to rehearse his views.
Opinions that used to be considered at best marginal, at worst lunatic, are now at the heart of the Israeli Jewish consensus, and disseminated by establishment academics on prime-time television as the only truth. Israel in 2004 is a paranoid society led by a fanatical political elite, determined to bring the conflict to an end by force and destruction, whatever the price to its society or its potential victims. Often this elite is supported only by the American administration, while the rest of the world watches helpless and bewildered.
it's a boy!
But we already knew that. Yesterday the families trooped up to Oak Harbor to see my new grandchild. (Everyone else thought they went to see Jenny and William's new son.)
Evan Everett Valdez was born at 6:09pm, May 10. It was a late but easy delivery. Mother, child, and father are doing well. I will put up a page of pictures tonight.
Evan Everett Valdez
That's my baby holding her baby
William — one proud dad
Robyn — the new sister
Evan, Robyn, and Michael — my three grandkids
There is no shortage of articles on this, but you only need one — Seymour Hersh's second installment.
CHAIN OF COMMAND
How the Department of Defense mishandled the disaster at Abu Ghraib.
by Seymour Hersh
In his devastating report on conditions at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, Major General Antonio M. Taguba singled out only three military men for praise. One of them, Master-at-Arms William J. Kimbro, a Navy dog handler, should be commended, Taguba wrote, because he “knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI”—military intelligence—“personnel at Abu Ghraib.” Elsewhere in the report it became clear what Kimbro would not do: American soldiers, Taguba said, used “military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.”
The postings will be short today. I have to leave for work soon. Maybe more tonight. I have another couple of pages of the journal of my trip to DC and NYC up.
Gordy and Madelane's Great Pilgrimage
Observations and Digressions
New pages: Day 2 and Day 3.
water fountain behind the Capitol building