Wednesday November 23 2005
I hope a good Thanksgiving is had by all!
give us this day our daily image
Heading back to the Island on the 9 o'clock ferry
gordy's image archive index
I've been shooting with the 35mm Jupiter 12 on the Leica IIIc. I've been using 1/30 and 1/15 of a second with this lens and it works great. I now have the collapsible I-50 on it. It looks so cute that way.
House of Horrors...
It sat on my PC desktop for five days.
The first day I read about it on the internet, on some site, my heart sank. White phosphorous in Falloojeh. I knew nothing about white phosphorous, of course, and a part of me didn’t want to know the details. I tried downloading the film four times and was almost relieved when I got disconnected all four times.
E. had heard about the film too and one of his friends S. finally brought it by on CD. He and E. shut themselves up in the room with the computer to watch the brief documentary. E. came out half an hour later looking pale- his lips tightened in a straight line, which is the way he looks when he’s pensive... thinking about something he'd rather not discuss.
“Hey- I want to see it too…” I half-heartedly called out after him, as he walked S. to the door.
“It’s on the desktop- but you really don’t want to see it.” E. said.
Iraq War Debate Eclipses All Other Issues
GOP Flounders as Bush's Popularity Falls; Democrats Struggle for a Voice
Losing two wars
by Steve Gilliard
How U.S. Fell Under the Spell of 'Curveball'
The Iraqi informant's German handlers say they had told U.S. officials that his information was 'not proven,' and were shocked when President Bush and Colin L. Powell used it in key prewar speeches.
thanks to Politics in the Zeros
This is a must read. A depressing read. Like all the rest isn't depressing.
by Steve Gilliard
Losing the Fear Factor
How The Bush Administration Got Spooked
Iraq's Oil: The Spoils of War
Bush as Press Assassin?
Baathist in a Mirror
Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis are trying to sort things out in Iraq. Too bad the Bush administration isn’t in on the plan.
Murtha's lips are moving, but is it the uniformed military that's really speaking?
Some more additions to my Frappr! (where did that name come from?) map. My son Robby added a picture taken across the street from where he works. He works at a restaurant across from the Keystone Ferry which goes over to Port Townsend. Joe Leahy posted a great picture of himself rowing in Prince William Sound. It looks like he is having way too much fun. There is a new map member with a picture: Gareth, who also looks like he is having way too much fun. Hi Gareth! Then there is a surprise entry from Ollie. Ollie had been married to my brother Mike. The last time I saw her was when Mike died in January of 1996. The first personal web pages I put up, that was the beginning of this Winchester House of a website, was some writing I did about that experience. The amazing thing about the web is the connections it makes. I'm always surprised when it happens. It's good to know Ollie is out there. Hi Ollie! And Michelle who used to have several blogs but has cut back. That reality thing. And a hello to Terry Nelson who is new to me. And last, and certainly not least, the mouth from Talkeetna: Jim Kloss. Jim runs one of the most amazing sites I've run across: Whole Wheat Radio. Streaming internet radio with the best independent music you will ever hear. One of the things that I've had to give up in taking care of Gerry and her Alzheimer's is that I can't listen to music. I need to have my ear peeled at all times to listen for when Gerry comes our of her room. I miss WWR. I need to put a permanent link back up to WWR. I will be back Jim!
The “Miracle” or a Mockery of Afghanistan?
A few days ago Ms. Tebelius returned to the United States from Kabul, I am writing these notes as a response to her dreadful article from inside my trampled country. As a member of RAWA, I had to be in several provinces to meet as many people as possible regarding the elections. Tebelius can enjoy the luxury of sitting in her house and so easily call the disgusting mockery of an election “the miracle of Afghanistan”, while I am crying from among the people in the hell of the Taliban and Northern Alliance (NA) terrorists and their “westernized” accomplices. Tebelius and other election observers with their bullet-proofs and body guards were in the hands of the American soldiers and Afghan agents. She might have been told about “swift spreading democracy”, “prosperity”, “complete security” and other “miracles” in our land of warlords and payees of foreign powers. On the other hand since she was selected by the U.S. government that brought Karzai and the Northern Alliance to the scene, it comes as no surprise she is not calling a spade a spade.
One of her miraculous statements is: “The Afghan people see Americans as liberators.”
A distorted proclamation! As we have repeatedly asserted and shown, all of the fundamentalist bands including Taliban were created, funded, and trained by the CIA turning a blind eye to the higher interest of the Afghan people and to the consequence of such sinister support to the fate of freedom and democracy in our country. Thus, the US war on the Taliban is nothing but a family fracas between the father and his rogue children. The US started the fracas by not replacing religious tyranny with democracy, by not relying on the people, but rather by siding with the NA, the very worst enemies of our people. It goes without saying that Afghans will not see as their “liberators” those who drove the Taliban wolves through one door and unchained the rabid dogs of the NA through another. How a nation “sees as liberators” those who have blown to shred not the terrorists but thousands of innocents? How can simple Afghans “see Americans as liberators” while the “liberators” are going to woo their men in the government and in the parliament to approve the establishment of the US bases on our soil for decades, which obviously goes contrary to the independence of the country? Our people say that if Americans were their liberators, they should have not allowed about 200 criminals and arch enemies of democracy to pave their way to the parliament and provincial council. After four years the people see that the “liberators'” promises for them were all lies. And bear it in mind, Ms. Tebelius, that our ruined people have no doubt that those with the disgraceful stories of Abu Ghraib cannot be their “liberators”. Do we need to recite abuses of the “liberators” in Afghanistan?
thanks to Hullabaloo
Some nice images. I was particularly struck by the series "a minor place." I lived in Japan in the late 1950s. It's sad to see buildings like this dissapearing to be replaced by concrete. Progress.
anne kathrin greiner photography
thanks to Conscientious
torture r us
House of Horrors...
The talk of the town is the torture house they recently found in Jadriya.
The whole world heard about the one in Jadriya, recently raided by the Americans. Jadriya was once one of the best areas in Baghdad. It's an area on the river and is special in that it's greener, and cleaner, than most areas. Baghdads largest university, Baghdad University, is located in Jadriya (with a campus in another area). Jadriya had some of the best shops and restaurants- not to mention some of Baghdad's most elegant homes...
and apparently, now, a torture house.
We hear constantly about these torture dungeons. Right after the war, certain areas became infamous for them. The world knows them as 'torture houses' for the obvious reasons- they were once ordinary homes, and now they've become torture centers for suspects and innocents alike. The Iraqi government conveniently calls them 'detention centers' and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior oversees and funds them.
One area which was well-known for its torture houses immediately after the war was Sadir City in Baghdad. Except they weren't called torture houses back then. The people who ran them called them 'ma7akim' or 'courts'. They would bring 'suspects' in for interrogation- often ordinary citizens- and beat and whip them for various confessions involving accusations and alleged crimes. A 'Sayid' would then come in and sentence the culprit- the sentence would sometimes involve cutting off a hand or a foot and at other times it might be death. We heard this from an aunts neighbor who was mistakenly taken in and beaten as a suspected former security agent. His family connections with influential Shia clerics in the area were the only things that got him out alive- bruised and broken- but alive.
It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature
A recent Times article pointed out that the methods for torture we used were taken adapted from tolitarian communist techniques valued not for their success in obtaining the truth but in their ability to obtain false confessions.
Apparently that wasn't really a bug, but a feature. The Times also recently pointed that even though the Bush administration was warned that one of the information sources, al Libi, was full of shit they kept on using his information to justify the war.
The Times article quoted a Defense Intelligence Report claiming that al-Libi "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" although this stretches the concept of "intentionally" somewhat.
You see, al-Libi was a fine graduate of our exciting new school of interrogation. On him we used torture techniques designed to encourage the subject to tell the interrogaters what they wanted to hear. And, miracle of miracles, he did indeed tell them what they wanted to hear.
The Salvadoran Option II
They really ought to send John Negroponte back to Iraq. It would be just like old home week:
Baghdad's Medical Forensic Institute - the mortuary - is a low, modern building reached via a narrow street. Most days it is filled with families of the dead. They come here for two reasons. One group, animated and noisy in grief, comes to collect its dead. The other, however, returns day after day to poke through the new cargoes of corpses ferried in by ambulance, looking for a face or clothes they might recognise. They are the relatives and friends of the 'disappeared', searching for their men. And when the disappeared are finally found, on the streets or in the city's massive rubbish dumps, or in the river, their bodies bear the all-too-telling signs of a savage beating, often with electrical cables, followed by the inevitable bullet to the head.
It's apparent -- both from this story and from reports by human rights groups (note the date on that one) -- that the U.S. and U.K. embassies have been aware for some time that Iraq's Ministry of the Interior has been turned into what the old National Guard used to be in El Salvador, or the Presidential Intelligence Unit in Guatemala, or the National Directorate of Investigation in Honduras, which is to say: death squad central.
And it's more than a bit noteworthy that something like this was predicted -- boasted about, really -- by anonymous Pentagon sources earlier this year:
The Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. . . . One military source involved in the Pentagon debate . . . suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."
Walter Bird (1903-1969)
Although Bird was particularly well-known for his black and white portraits, these fabulous colour photographs from the 1930s, which combine portraiture, fashion and advertising, illustrate his mastery of a newly available colour process, Vivex. Vivex was a variant of the Carbro process, developed by Dr D A Spencer FRPS at the Colour Photographs (British & Foreign) Ltd factory in Willesden. Marketed between 1931-39, it enabled photographers, like Bird, to produce colour prints of high quality and rich intensity.
Portrait of a woman, about 1935
thanks to Conscientious
There has been a major political shift in Israel. There are great cries of how this is going to bring peace. I doubt that. Sharon isn't going to give up what he has gained. But it will make for some big changes. What those changes are only time will tell.
Sharon to quit Likud and form centrist party
· Frustrated Israeli leader will force early elections
· Former Labour chief Peres expected to give support
Sharon's Critique of the Authoritarian Likud Party
by Juan Cole
So how delicious it is that Sharon has left the Likud because it is too fascistic even for him! The party's highly authoritarian politburo was an albatross around Sharon's neck. Its strident insistence on continuing to steal Palestinian land and never trading land for peace would have accelerated the engorgement of the West Bank by Israel and the consequent transformation of Israel into a binational state. You can't annex the West Bank without getting a couple of million Palestinians into the bargain. The very hard line Likudniks would deal with that prospect by just ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, but Sharon is enough a man of the world to know that the US (and especially Condi), the European Union, and the Muslim world would never put up with that Milosevic-like war crime.
Israel's political earthquake
Ariel Sharon's split with the Likud, and the rise of Labor leader Amir Peretz, have turned Israeli politics upside down. Will the new order help bring peace with the Palestinians?
Israel has entered one of the stormiest political seasons in its history, even by the standards of its fractured, tempestuous governing structure. On Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his departure from the ruling Likud Party, returned his membership card and called for an early general election, perhaps in March. Widely described by Jerusalem's political pundits as "an earthquake," Sharon's move is redrawing the country's political map.
thanks to The Analog Photography Users Group
corruption r us
What is it about the Republican party that makes them so corrupt?
Corruption Inquiry Threatens to Ensnare Lawmakers
The Justice Department has signaled for the first time in recent weeks that prominent members of Congress could be swept up in the corruption investigation of Jack Abramoff, the former Republican superlobbyist who diverted some of his tens of millions of dollars in fees to provide lavish travel, meals and campaign contributions to the lawmakers whose help he needed most.
The investigation by a federal grand jury, which began more than a year ago, has created alarm on Capitol Hill, especially with the announcement Friday of criminal charges against Michael Scanlon, Mr. Abramoff's former lobbying partner and a former top House aide to Representative Tom DeLay.
thanks to The Huffington Post
firedoglake has been covering this.
The Deal That Shook Washington
The Scanlon deal, which will be detailed more fully in court on Monday, isn't just any old agreement between a target and federal prosecutors.
In a town that is rife with rumor and innuendo over which shoe will be the next to drop, Michael Scanlon coming to an agreement with the Feds is sure to make more than a little ripple. This is a tidal wave of DC political possibilities, and it threatens knock out a lot of high powered lobbyists, politicians and deal makers.
Scariest Words in Washington: Cooperation and Plea
In that position "at the intersection of political power and lobbying influence," Mr. Scanlon had contact with a lot of highly placed politicos. Most of them Republicans feeding at the trough. And you can be sure that he knows where a few skeletens are buried -- and is willing to talk about them -- or he wouldn't be getting a deal.
The Scanlon Plea Hat Trick
I spent a few hours last night researching the "speech and debate clause" to explain how significant Scanlon's plea is to the prosecution of members of Congress involved in the Abramoff mess. And I woke up to find that Bloomberg has beaten me to the punch. (Darn! Hate it when that happens.)
But I'm going to outline the issue anyway, because it is worth the detail to understand how significant this plea deal is going to be for the DoJ in going after the whole of the conspiracy -- wherever it reaches into the halls of Congress.
by David Halberstam
I consider this an essential book. I lived throught the 50s. I was 6 years old at the beginning of that decade. The 50s was one of the most important decades of the 20th century. So much came together then that is taken for granted now. Halberstam covers it well. Fast food didn't exist before the 50s. Rock and roll, suburbia, the pill, computers, situation comedies, Castro, space satellites all hapened in the 50s. The chain motels (think Holiday Inn), the civil rights movement (when blacks stopped moving to the back of the bus), the television game show, massive military expenditures, frozen foods, all took form in the 50s. It's a decade portrayed as mild mannered but the social change during that decade formed the rest of the 20th century. Halberstam captures all these threads.
The 50s was the beginning of many things. I have the feeling that we are seeing the beginning of the end of that remarkable chain of events.
You can get used copies at Alibris. You might even check out your local used book store. That's where I got mine.
A million martyrs await the call
But before we succumb again to the hysterical warnings of our leaders it is worth seeking a cold-eyed measure of this new enemy they would have us fight. Iraq and Iran are very different. Iran is nearly four times the size of its neighbour and six times the size of Britain. How could an already undermanned American army expect to control such a huge territory?
Nor will those already fabled “surgical strikes” by the US Air Force deliver a decisive blow to Iran’s growing nuclear capability. Iran’s nuclear plants are already well hidden across its huge land mass. And all that a partial strike will do is unleash an unstoppable war without significantly damaging the enemy’s capability.
Iran’s population at 70 million is three times that of Iraq’s and it has one of the youngest populations in the world. Iran’s standing army is estimated by the CIA to be 520,000-strong, but each year 817,000 17-year-old Iranian boys are potentially available for military service. That is an awful lot of martyrs or suicide bombers.
thanks to Antiwar.com
groundhog day or groundhog hour or groundhog minute
In Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" he wakes up and it's the same day over and over and over. A continual never-ending, repeating reality. With Gerry's Alzheimer's the repeat can be in minutes.
"Where do I go?" "Why didn't you tell me?" "I didn't know that!" "I've only been here two days." "Where do I live?" "I'm afraid. My knees are shaking and I'm shaking."
Gerry increasingly doesn't know where she is. She has lived with us for a year. A couple of days ago she was taking clothes out of her dresser and looking for a box to put them in because she thought she had to go back to Connecticut. She moved out here from Connecticut over 10 years ago. She thinks she has only been here for two days. She thinks she has to go back to where ever her home is. We sold her house this summer.
She can't be left alone. She becomes very agitated and fearful if she thinks she will be left alone. If Zoe is sleeping I have to stay in the house or Gerry will be upset. Not to mention that she might wander off. Luckily we haven't had that happen, yet. I've been her primary care giver. I give her her meds and cook her meals. She has become very dependent on my being close by. Even if I leave the house to run errands and Zoe is with her she keeps asking "When will Gordy be back?" It's scary having someone that dependent on me.
Zoe knows we don't have long to go before we have to find a home for her. She is still reluctant and for good reason. The people in Gerry's world are becoming more and more indistinct. Two days ago she told me she had a younger brother named Jay. He was 10 years younger than she was. She said he was about 30 and in the next minute she said he just graduated High School. Gerry is 81 and Jay died about 20 years ago. Then she talked about an older brother she doesn't have. Then Joan, Jay's wife, called. Gerry talked to her but didn't know who whe was. Gerry still knows us but I think that is becaues we are with her all the time. Zoe feels, and I agree, that once Gerry moves into a home the she will start forgetting us.
Then there is the fear. The irrational, overwhelming fear. Sometimes furing the day but always when the sun goes down. Uncovered windows are very scary. "They can look in!" We cover them up at night. "Are the doors locked?" is asked over and over again. We "block" the door with a music stand. It helps Gerry.
We never know from minute to minute what is going to happen.
I updated the Political Blogs section. A few were deleted, YBLOG ZA moved, and new ones were added: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal, Clusterfuck Nation, firedoglake, Hullabaloo, James Wolcott, Magpie, The Huffington Post, The Washington Note, TPM Cafe, Whiskey Bar. Now to update the rest.