Beaver Report - Day 9
No beaver activity today. Maybe his teeth are sore. Maybe there is a pattern. The beaver started out with two days making good progress chewing on my tree. That was followed by three says of little or no activity. Then there were two more days with lots of progress. Then there has been two days of little or no activity.
What goes on here? Does the beaver work a few days, collect his paycheck and go on a binge? Does the beaver have dental problems that need taking care of? Or is the beaver just a slacker Islander like I first thought? Enquiring minds want to know.
Based on previous experience, we can assume that the beaver will be taking another day off for recovering from who knows what. That will be followed by two days of feverish gnawing. That may be enough to topple the tree. Stay tuned to find out. The tension is mounting.
The gift that keeps on giving
After lobbying by Washington, the General Assembly rejected yesterday an Iraqi proposal that the UN study the effects of the depleted-uranium shells used by US-led forces in the Gulf War.
Baghdad has insisted for years that there is a link between the depleted uranium used in armor-piercing weapons during the 1991 war and an increase in the number of Iraqis with leukemia and other kinds of cancer.
thanks to kill your tv dot com
I thought I had a strong stomach – toughened by the minefields and foul frontline hospitals of Angola, by the handiwork of the death squads in Haiti and by the wholesale butchery of Rwanda. But I nearly lost my breakfast last week at the Basrah Maternity and Children's Hospital in southern Iraq.
Dr Amer, the hospital's director, had invited me into a room in which were displayed colour photographs of what, in cold medical language, are called "congenital anomalies", but what you and I would better understand as horrific birth deformities. The images of these babies were head-spinningly grotesque – and thank God they didn't bring out the real thing, pickled in formaldehyde. At one point I had to grab hold of the back of a chair to support my legs.
I won't spare you the details. You should know because – according to the Iraqis and in all likelihood the World Health Organisation, which is soon to publish its findings on the spiralling birth defects in southern Iraq – we are responsible for these obscenities.
During the Gulf war, Britain and the United States pounded the city and its surroundings with 96,000 depleted-uranium shells. The wretched creatures in the photographs – for they were scarcely human – are the result, Dr Amer said.
thanks to Unknown News
I want to start out with my basic thesis that the Bush administration's war against Afghanistan cannot be justified on the facts or the law. It is clearly illegal. It constitutes armed aggression. It is creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Afghanistan. It is creating terrible regional instability.
Right now we are having artillery barrages across the border between India and Pakistan which have fought two wars before over Kashmir and yet today are nuclear armed. The longer this war goes on, the worse it is going to be not only for the millions of people in Afghanistan but also in the estimation of the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world and the 57 Muslim states in the world, none of whom believe the Bush administration¹s propaganda that this is not a war against Islam.
I was giving an interview the other day to the San Francisco Chronicle, and the reporter said, "Is there any precedent for the position here being asserted by Negroponte that we are reserving the right to go to war in self-defense against a large number of other states as determined by ourselves?" I said yes, there is one very unfortunate precedent. That's the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1946 where the lawyers for the Nazi defendants took the position that they had reserved the right of self-defense under the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928, the predecessor to the UN Charter, and self-defense as determined by themselves. In other words, no one could tell them to the contrary. So at Nuremberg, lawyers for the Nazi defendants had the hutzpah to argue the entire Second World War was a war of self-defense as determined by themselves, and no one had standing to disagree with that self-judging provision. Well, of course, the Nuremberg Tribunal rejected that argument and said no: what is self-defense can only be determined by reference to international law. That has to be determined by an international tribunal. No state has a right to decide this for themselves.
Clearly, what is going on now in Afghanistan is not self-defense. Let's be honest. We all know it. At best, this is reprisal, retaliation, vengeance, catharsis, call it what you want. It is not self-defense. And retaliation is never self-defense. Indeed, that was the official position of the United States government. Even during the darkest days of the Vietnam War, when former Under Secretary of State Eugene V. Rosca tried to get the State Department to switch their position, they refused and continued to maintain, no, retaliation is not self-defense. And this is not self-defense what we are doing in Afghanistan. Since none of these justifications and pretexts hold up as a matter of law, then what the United States government today is doing against Afghanistan constitutes armed aggression. It is illegal. There is no authority for this.
The critical question is: When will the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency start to turn these powers, that they have under the Ashcroft police state bill, against American citizens? Clearly, that will be the next step.
thanks to Unknown News
Words that belonged to us
The president of Thebes
In the present tense
No records shall be kept
Rest assured the ones who know
In ways the rest of us
The nation is at war
We must take these steps
Our way of life will be
We understand the evil
Accordingly we will besiege
As well as those who live
Of this sacred land of ours
You must understand
We will do anything to keep
To do anything it takes
But buried things will out
It teaches this one fact
The king of Thebes himself . . .
Tiresias stumbles on the road
Leaning on his staff
“I will not kiss your fucking flag”
poem and links thanks to reading & writing
Another day of deadlines
My daughter, Katie, has a way of getting her son Mike to come to her. He is just over 2 so it might not work for an 18 year old. It might, though. She reaches out holding something he wants and, as he reaches for it, she pulls it away from him and towards herself, keeping it just our of his reach. He moves closer to her to get at what she is holding and she pulls it back towards herself until Mike is in reach.
I've been working on a project like that. Only I'm Mike. I keep thinking I'm almost finished and then, somehow, I'm not quite there. I swear that it's almost done. Maybe tomorrow.
I did finish a facelift of a site for Ace Leather Goods. The have great leather products that they make. Soft leather and tooled leather. Really good stuff. Check it out and, if you buy anything, let them know Gordy sent you.
My LOML, Zoe, does Christine Lavin's web site. Pete Fornatale does a program at WFUV, public radio from Fordham University in New York City. What is the connection, you might ask? Pete had asked Christine, who also lives in New York City, for some funny music for his Saturday show Mixed Bag with Pete Fornatale to be aired today (it's after midnight so it's Saturday but it really is still Friday for me.) Christine is swamped and asked Zoe to put something together for Pete. Zoe burned a CD's worth of funny songs for Pete. Some are local NW artists, others are gems that she has come across from outside the NW. Even a couple of Christine songs, of course. He sent Zoe a big thank you for the CD. His show is on between 5pm and 8pm (eastern standard time). WFUV is streamed so you can hear it via Windows Media Player. We will be listening to hear if he plays some of the songs she sent.
Music Industry Notes
John Alderman's new book, "Sonic Boom: Napster, P2P and the Battle for the Future of Music," is a useful correction to this new consensus. Just as it was once necessary to criticize dot-com boosters, it is now important to challenge the Net pessimists. In "Sonic Boom," John Alderman tells the cautionary tale of a rich and powerful industry that was determined not to get it -- and how it suffered the consequences of this mistake. During the late 1990s, while so many others were succumbing to dot-com hype, the music business stubbornly resisted any accommodation with the new technology. Its corporate leaders used all of their lobbying power and legal resources to attack the Net. They had the copyright laws strengthened, blocked software development and closed down Web sites. They even successfully prosecuted Napster -- one of the most popular services on the Net. Yet, despite these triumphs, all their efforts could only delay the inevitable. For while others might comfort themselves that nothing much has changed, the music industry is finally realizing -- much to its horror -- that the Net is transforming everything.
These are the music CDs that either:
thanks to MetaFilter
Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.
Nobody can see what's printed on the contract. It's too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody's eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there's only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says, "Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim it again, please. Backstroke."
And he does, of course.
thanks to MetaFilter
Beaver Reaport - Day 8
There seemed to be some fresh chips around the base of the tree but it didn't look like he did much, if anything. Maybe he's saving his strenght for a final burst. Maybe not.
HISTORY, SLAVERY, SEXISM, THE SOUTH, AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE:
On the first anniversary of the very odd election of 2000, it's hard to look back without fixating on Florida and the courts. But these absorbing soap operas should not obscure the other historical headline: the national popular vote loser nonetheless won the electoral college vote.
Is this a flaw in our Constitution? Should we scrap the electoral college in favor of direct popular vote? Practically speaking, can we do so?
Our analysis proceeds in three parts. Today, we will critique standard historical accounts of, and justifications for, the electoral college. In our next column, we will consider prominent modern arguments on behalf of the current system. In our final column, we shall show how Americans could adopt popular election without amending the Constitution.
thanks to wood s lot
The prospect of the American-led coalition expanding its "war against terrorism" beyond Afghanistan increased yesterday with reports of US warships patrolling off Somalia.
Attorney General John Ashcroft is considering a plan to relax restrictions on the F.B.I.'s spying on religious and political organizations in the United States, senior government officials said today.
The proposal would loosen one of the most fundamental restrictions on the conduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and would be another step by the Bush administration to modify civil-liberties protections as a means of defending the country against terrorists, the senior officials said.
The attorney general's surveillance guidelines were imposed on the F.B.I. in the 1970's after the death of J. Edgar Hoover and the disclosures that the F.B.I. had run a widespread domestic surveillance program, called Cointelpro, to monitor antiwar militants, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others, while Mr. Hoover was director.
C-SPAN and Afghan women
Last night Zoe called to tell me about George. She had been watching a program when the news scrolled across the bottom of the screen. The program was a Senate hearing being broadcast on C-SPAN. Hillary Clinton was leading the hearing, titled Discussion on the Future of Afghan Women. Hillary and some other women Senators were asking questions of a group of Afghan women. Zoe was pretty excited about the show and asked me to look it up on the web to see if they had a list of the women.
It also seems that much of what C-SPAN broadcasts is archived. You can listen to and see their live broadcasts via streaming video and audio. An incredible resource.
I added to my Bill Evans comment below. It seems that Waltz for Debby, the second album released from this session, was also on EMusic.com.
Those coming from BookNotes will find the Bill Evans Trio comments below the Beaver Report and the Robert Fisk article. Enjoy.
Beaver Report - Day 7
My beaver buddy got a lot accomplished this morning or last night. I haven't seen him yet, so I'm not sure if he's a night beaver or a morning beaver.
He has taken a lot off the left and some more off the right. He seems to be done with the front and is working around to the back.
Uncle Sam--War Criminal
Robert Fisk: We are the war criminals now
We are becoming war criminals in Afghanistan. The US Air Force bombs Mazar-i-Sharif for the Northern Alliance, and our heroic Afghan allies – who slaughtered 50,000 people in Kabul between 1992 and 1996 – move into the city and execute up to 300 Taliban fighters. The report is a footnote on the television satellite channels, a "nib" in journalistic parlance. Perfectly normal, it seems. The Afghans have a "tradition" of revenge. So, with the strategic assistance of the USAF, a war crime is committed.
Now we have the Mazar-i-Sharif prison "revolt", in which Taliban inmates opened fire on their Alliance jailers. US Special Forces – and, it has emerged, British troops – helped the Alliance to overcome the uprising and, sure enough, CNN tells us some prisoners were "executed" trying to escape. It is an atrocity. British troops are now stained with war crimes. Within days, The Independent's Justin Huggler has found more executed Taliban members in Kunduz.
The Americans have even less excuse for this massacre. For the US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, stated quite specifically during the siege of the city that US air raids on the Taliban defenders would stop "if the Northern Alliance requested it". Leaving aside the revelation that the thugs and murderers of the Northern Alliance were now acting as air controllers to the USAF in its battle with the thugs and murderers of the Taliban, Mr Rumsfeld's incriminating remark places Washington in the witness box of any war-crimes trial over Kunduz. The US were acting in full military co-operation with the Northern Alliance militia.
Over the past 50 years, we sat on our moral pedestal and lectured the Chinese and the Soviets, the Arabs and the Africans, about human rights. We pronounced on the human-rights crimes of Bosnians and Croatians and Serbs. We put many of them in the dock, just as we did the Nazis at Nuremberg. Thousands of dossiers were produced, describing – in nauseous detail – the secret courts and death squads and torture and extra judicial executions carried out by rogue states and pathological dictators. Quite right too.
Yet suddenly, after 11 September, we went mad. We bombed Afghan villages into rubble, along with their inhabitants – blaming the insane Taliban and Osama bin Laden for our slaughter – and now we have allowed our gruesome militia allies to execute their prisoners. President George Bush has signed into law a set of secret military courts to try and then liquidate anyone believed to be a "terrorist murderer" in the eyes of America's awesomely inefficient intelligence services. And make no mistake about it, we are talking here about legally sanctioned American government death squads. They have been created, of course, so that Osama bin Laden and his men should they be caught rather than killed, will have no public defence; just a pseudo trial and a firing squad.
It's quite clear what has happened. When people with yellow or black or brownish skin, with Communist or Islamic or Nationalist credentials, murder their prisoners or carpet bomb villages to kill their enemies or set up death squad courts, they must be condemned by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and the "civilised" world. We are the masters of human rights, the Liberals, the great and good who can preach to the impoverished masses. But when our people are murdered – when our glittering buildings are destroyed – then we tear up every piece of human rights legislation, send off the B-52s in the direction of the impoverished masses and set out to murder our enemies.
It was just one afternoon in a jazz club forty years ago.
Since my stereo receiver is down to one channel, I haven't been listening to my vinyl and CDs that I know so well. That should change soon. I hope. I have been exploring EMusic.com instead. I have been finding many gems that I had missed the first time around. These three albums are over 40 years old but I am discovering them for the first time. Their power to amaze has not dimished with their age.
The August 13, 2001, issue of The New Yorker had an article on this session, written by Adam Gopnik. Unfortunately it is not on the web.
Exactly forty years ago this summer, on June 25, 1961, three young jazz musicians--the piano player Bill Evans, the bass player Scott LaFaro, and the drummer Paul Motian--went down to a New York basement, smoked, yawned, joked a bit, and got to work. The trio played thirteen songs, most of them slow:"My Romance,""I Loves You, Porgy," and even a waltz from the Walt Disney movie "Alice in Wonderland." The music they made was recorded, and was released later that year by a small independent label called Riverside. The albums title was "Sunday at the Village Vangard." Later in the year, another record from that afternoon was released, called "Waltz for Debby," after one of the songs. Since then, the same two and half hours has been repackaged and released and remastered and reconsidered, in albums called, among other things, "The Village Vanguard Sessions." and "At the Village Vanguard."
Bill Evans had played on Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" in 1958. By 1959 he has discovered the great bass player Scott LeFaro and formed a trio with Paul Motian on drums.
On that Sunday afternoon in New York in 1961, the trio played five sets, about two and a half hours' worth of music. The numbers ran between five and ten minutes a turn. In the first three sets, knowing that the machines were running, they didn't repeat numbers, playing a lilting "Waltz for Debby," a hushed "My Foolish Heart," a floating "Alice in Wonderlans," and an up-tempo "My Romance." Then for the first time that day, Evans played "I Loves You, Porgy." In the last set, the run back over numbers from the first few sets. By then, it was late, a long day's hard work, and they finished with a number by LaFaro, a strange 9/8 Zen thing called "Jade Visions." Throughout the recordings, you hear the crowd noise: glasses tinkle and conversation goes on, a counterpoint of forty-year-old flirtation and talk. Orrin Keepnews said, "I remember listening to the tapes and saying, 'There's nothing bad here!' Normally, you can cut one or two things right away, and there was nothing bad."
Two weeks later, on July 6, 1961, Scott LeFaro was driving Route 20, a back road in those days, to his parents place in Geneva, upstate. The car skidded and hit a tree, and he was killed instantly.
Get a copy of this article at a library.
Listen to the music. It's truly classic. It's truly beautiful. At the Village Vanguard is a compilation of Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby. Paul Motian, in the New Yorker article mentions that "I got one hundred and thirty-six dollars for the famous legendary record, one hundred and ten for the gig, and one hundred and seven for the second record."
EMusic.com also has, among other recordings of Bill Evans, the 12 disc set of "The Complete Riverside Recordings," the 9 disc set "The Complete Fantasy Recordings," and the 8 disc set of his last recording "The Last Watz."
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
I woke up this morning to...
What do I care? I work at home and don't have to go anywhere. Which is good...
My friend Scott Marrs, who lives in Minneapolis, would laugh since they seem to have 7 feet at this point. That, and it's raining now and the snow is going fast.
Beaver Report - Day 6
I'm happy to report that my beaver buddy is back at work in spite of the snow. Apparently my comments about his being a slacker has spurred him to new efforts.
He has taken off more on the left.
After weeks of dropping subtle and sometimes broad hints suggesting a connection between the anthrax attacks and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, federal government officials have reluctantly begun to admit that "domestic" terrorists are the likely suspects in the anthrax-laced letters that have been sent to media outlets and Democratic congressmen.
Mainstream media reports have identified the suspected culprits as "extremists." If you've watched the mainstream media tiptoe around the harsh truth for the past ten years and label our most deadly homegrown terrorists as "militias," "anti-government groups" and "freedmen," you'll know we're talking about White supremacist groups and individuals.
Even a cursory review of the tenets of these organizations reveals that whatever the differences between them, they are all united first and foremost by their common belief that Blacks, other non-Whites and Jews are inferior to Whites, rather than by their hatred of the federal government.
During the past ten or so years, the federal government and the media have shown a curious reluctance -- even after the Oklahoma City bombing -- to identify and emphasize the role of White supremacists as the single most important terrorist threat on our domestic soil. After Timothy McVeigh was arrested in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing, there was no mass detention of crew-cut-wearing White guys known to be associated with White supremacist groups. Media reports regularly emphasized McVeigh's anti-government views, but not his adherence to the tenets of White supremacy.
Where is the war against White supremacist terrorism that by all rights should have been waged after Timothy McVeigh and his accomplices killed hundreds of innocent men, women and children in Oklahoma City? Or after Eric Rudolph set off deadly bombs at several abortion clinics and at Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta, killing two?
If the FBI, the ATF and the full law enforcement resources of our government after five years still haven't found Eric Rudolph -- suspected of hiding out in our own North Carolina Smoky Mountains -- why should we be confident that our military can find Osama bin Laden in the forbidding mountains and caves of Afghanistan?
thanks to Unknown News
A federal appeals court yesterday struck down a lower court ruling that expanded protest-free zones outside two New York state abortion clinics and prevented the use of sound amplifiers during abortion protests.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Judge Richard Arcara went too far when the Buffalo jurist decided in April 1999 to greatly expand protest-free zones that had earlier been limited to 15 feet.
“That’s wonderful news. I’m very gratified,” said Christopher Ferrara, a lawyer for the American Catholic Lawyers Association Inc. He said it had become impossible to protest from so far away.
Cheryl, from Unknown News, commented on the above article...
And yet, people attempting to peacefully protest the war, the thief in the White House, or anything else non-rightwing in nature are herded into "First Amendment zones" up to and over one mile away from the object of protest.
Why aren't abortion protestors given the same treatment? Of course, we all know the answer to that one! --Cheryl
Not only has Washington ignored increasing evidence of Northern Alliance brutality, say critics, but the Bush administration has gone so far as to signal its approval for whatever Alliance commanders decide to do with captured Taliban troops.
In fact, that signal has been: better dead than alive. That policy was made clear from the start when President George W. Bush said he wanted suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."
"Well, the president's policy is `dead or alive.'" Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joked last week with reporters. "I have my preference."
thanks to Unknown News
thanks to The Liberal Arts Mafia
It appears that the phrase "Busy as a beaver" is a bunch of crap or the phrase actually implies that the person being referred to is a slacker. The beaver didn't even show up Sunday or Monday to finish the job. I know Mondays can be hard but let's show a little initiative! There were signs of more chewing this morning but it wasn't as much as had been done previously. Maybe it's just an Island thing. Our beavers must run on Island time just like the plumbers and electricians when you need them.
Twelve years after Soviet fighters were forced to withdraw in humiliation, armed Russian troops are back in Afghanistan, raising curiosity and some anxiety in the capital over the possible role of international peacekeepers
On Tuesday, Russian newcomers, armed with rifles and in camouflage uniforms, guarded half a dozen Russian military trucks in a field in Kabul's posh Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.
So the resistance at Kunduz and Kandahar are a part of the game. Perhaps, like in the case of Saddam Hussein, the Americans would not like the Taliban to die. Some sort of threat from the Taliban would be in America's interests. After all, the US needs the terrorist bogey to justify its presence in the Central Asian region. The Americans would now like to use the Taliban the way they are using Saddam Hussein as a symbol of terrorism in the oil-rich Gulf region. They will need the Taliban in the Central Asian region to keep their troops stationed there, in Afghanistan and in Pakistan to supervise an uninterrupted oil flow from the region. You may still have a caricaturised version of the Taliban holding out in certain pockets of Afghanistan.
The surviving Taliban might, off and on, even issue threats to America so that the Americans can justify their stay in Afghanistan. After all, Bush Senior had let American troops stationed close to Mecca, the nerve of the West Asian oil flow. Now Bush Junior will ensure the oil flow from the Central Asian region.
THE war on terrorism is to be extended to three new countries as soon as the campaign in Afghanistan is over.
Targets linked to Osama Bin Laden in Somalia, Sudan and Yemen will be at the top of the hit list, according to senior sources in London and Washington.
Tony Blair and President George W Bush have agreed that the momentum created by the anti-terror coalition's successes must be maintained with swift action elsewhere.
"We have the wind at our backs and we don't want to lose it," said a senior Washington source.
Preparations are under way in all three countries. [read more]
thanks to BookNotes
President Bush's prime purpose now is gearing up America for a wider war. "It's not over. It's not over," he told Newsweek, concerned that the people might think otherwise. "Afghanistan is just the beginning," he roared to an audience of soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "America has a message for the nations of the world. If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist."
Though Iraq may not be the first place that comes under fire, it's by far the most sensitive, and now the president, talking to Newsweek, gives Saddam his warning: let the UN arms-inspectors back in, or face the consequences.
The American mood will tolerate this, perhaps demand it. Not long ago, speculation about the Iraqi option was linked to an anxious need for incontrovertible proof of al-Qaida connections. Now, the test is becoming looser. What looks like a speedy victory in Afghanistan is galvanising US ambitions to be the world's super-enforcer, whatever the problems, for a global cause Americans believe in more clearly than they've believed in anything since the second world war. It's hard to identify a single voice that might be loud enough to stop it.
If this recession is like every other American recession since World War II, that optimism is fully merited. The problem is that there's mounting evidence it's not. This time around, it wasn't a change in consumer spending that brought the economy to a standstill; it was largely a change in business spending. As anyone who has picked up a financial page in the last year knows, the story of the 1990s is that company after company bet heavily that consumers would purchase huge amounts of goods and services in the future, particularly in areas related to information technology (IT). Businesses raised vast amounts of capital, bought and sold equipment at a frenzied pace, and dramatically increased their productive capacity--only to discover that every other business was doing the same, thus increasing the nation's overall productive capacity far beyond what consumers could realistically support. When that became apparent, businesses literally stopped investing in new equipment, and the economy--whose growth in the late '90s had been driven in part by a surge in investment--suddenly and dramatically faltered.
Cutting interest rates in the middle of this type of economic slowdown, as Greenspan did this year, won't help much. As long as companies feel they already have too much equipment, no amount of interest rate cutting will induce them to buy more. And cutting rates before such a slowdown begins in hopes of staving it off--as Greenspan did in 1998--may even be counterproductive. Low interest rates at the tail end of a long boom can encourage businesses to binge on new equipment when they already have too much. Then, when the optimism finally fades, companies must shed even more productive capacity. Some companies retire equipment; others merge or go out of business. Either way, the adjustment is more painful than it would otherwise have been.
Blood, tears, terror and tragedy behind the lines
So this is what it's like to be on the losing side in the American-Afghan bloodbath. Everywhere it was the same story of desperation and terror and courage. An American F-18 soared above us as a middle-aged man approached me with angry eyes. "This is what you wanted, isn't it?'' he screamed. "Sheikh Osama is an excuse to do this to the Islamic people.''
I pleaded with yet another Taliban fighter a 35-year-old man with five children called Jamaldan to honour his government's promise to get me to Kandahar. He looked at me pityingly. "How can I get you there,'' he asked, "when we can hardly protect ourselves?''
The implications are astonishing. The road from the Iranian border town of Zabul to Kandahar has been cut by Afghan gunmen and US special forces. The Americans were bombing civilian traffic and the Taliban on the road to Spin Boldak, and Northern Alliance troops were firing across the highway. Takhta-Pul was under fire from American guns and besieged by the Alliance. Kandahar was being surrounded.
From Mazar-e Sharif in the north and Herat in the west to Jalalabad in the east, bands of looting and pillaging mujahedin have set to bickering among themselves, like so many lions worrying over too little kill. And many U.N. officials and aid workers expect them to start ripping out each other’s throats at any moment. Security in most of the country is so bad that the United Nations and most nongovernmental organizations refuse to return, even to areas they had regularly visited even just a year ago, in the middle of the Taliban’s shooting war. And when the Northern Alliance tried to extend its writ farther last week, into areas held by tribal mujahedin and remaining Taliban allies, around Maidan Shahr, just under 20 miles from the capital, they were not only beaten back at first, but gave up some ground in the retreat.
As a leatherneck ex-general waded into one of the world's toughest theaters of battle - Israeli-Palestinian truce talks - there were indications America might have to wait for both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to pass from the scene before a lasting peace can ever be forged.
New U.S. Middle East peace envoy Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general well-versed in thorny mediation, faces a formidable boot camp in his first crack at persuading the prime minister and the Palestinian Authority chairman to agree to steps aimed at quelling 14 months of nonstop bloodshed.
With the militant Islamic Hamas aching to avenge Israel's weekend assassination of its top military commander Mahmoud Abu Hanoud - an urge underscored by a Monday suicide bombing in Gaza that killed the attacker and wounded two Israeli Border Policemen - Sharon pointedly reiterated his bottom-line demand for a week of absolute calm before any Israeli implementation of the Mitchell Commission recommendations for an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who dispatched his old comrade-in-arms Zinni to the Middle East, has strongly hinted that Sharon's pre-condition of seven days of quiet is one of the obstacles blocking the path back to the negotiating table.
I reorganized and updated my Music section.
I was looking at Honeymoon Lake, from my deck, Friday and noticed something odd at the base of one of the alders.
I had seen some trees that had been felled by beaver around the lake but they all looked old. Nothing recent. This had happened during the night or early morning. To the right of these two alders is a small clump of around 10 small alders. Two of those had been chewed down.
Saturday they returned. Another couple of chewing sessions and the tree will be down.
No more tree chewing today. Maybe beavers take Sunday off too.
The Poster Police
Then: Knock, knock ... unexpected guests at Brown's Duke Manor apartment. Opening the door, she found a casually dressed man, and a man and woman in what appeared to be business attire. Her first thought, she says, was, "Are these people going to sell me something?"
But then the man in the suit introduced himself and the woman as agents from the Raleigh office of the U.S. Secret Service. The other man was an investigator from the Durham Police Department.
"Ma'am, we've gotten a report that you have anti-American material," the male agent said, according to Brown. Could they come in to have a look around?
thanks to MetaFilter
Victorious warlords set to open the opium floodgates
'The Taliban order on poppy-growing was false,' Ali said. 'It hurt many farmers that they could not grow poppies. Now I will earn money again.'
Now, with the Taliban ban on poppy- growing lifted, it would appear that Afghanistan is facing a return to those days. The main Nangrahar opium bazaar of Ghani Khel has reopened for business. Afghan opium traders arriving in the Pakistani city of Peshawar claim 100 of the market's 300 stalls now sell opium blocks stockpiled during the ban. The same is true of Kandahar, where the city's main opium bazaar escaped the US bombing.
'All our evidence is consistent. They are replanting in a major way,' said Bernard Frahi of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention located in Islamabad.
For Afghan farmers it is a simple choice. A farmer can earn £6,000 for a hectare of opium, compared to just £34 for wheat
The Okefenokee Orchestra, Walt Kelly
It's time for that Pogo Christmas classic Deck us all with Boston Charlie. There is even a RealAudio link with Beverly Mills singing the first verse.
It is sung to the tune of Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Duck us all in bowls of barley,
Zoe, Katie, and I were off to see the Harry Potter movie yesterday. They still have long lines at the little Oak Harbor Theater. Great movie. Yes, we're Harry Potter fans waiting for the release of book five, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". I've even signed up at Amazon for notification of when they will be accepting pre-orders. I'm lost!
Back to Reality World
Most Americans get their news from TV. And what they see is heartwarming — a picture of a nation behaving well in a time of crisis. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans have been both resolute and generous.
But that's not the whole story, and the images TV doesn't show are anything but heartwarming. A full picture would show politicians and businessmen behaving badly, with this bad behavior made possible — and made worse — by the fact that these days selfishness comes tightly wrapped in the flag. If you pay attention to the whole picture, you start to feel that you are living in a different reality from the one on TV.
thanks to BuzzFlash
The US comes out of its closet
The United States has in fact - since the end of the Second World War - pursued a brilliant, even witty, strategy. It has exercised a sustained, systematic, remorseless and quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good. But at least now - it can be said - the US has come out if its closet. The smile is still there, of course (all US presidents have always had wonderful smiles), but the posture is infinitely more naked and more blatant than it has ever been. The Bush administration, as we all know, has rejected the Kyoto agreement, has refused to sign an agreement which would regulate the trade in small arms, has distanced itself from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Biological Weapons Convention. In relation to the latter, the US made it quite clear that it would agree to the banning of the biological weapons factory on American soil. The US has also refused to ratify the proposed International Criminal Court of Justice. It is bringing into operation the American Service Members Protection Act, which will permit the authorisation of military force to free any American soldier taken into International Criminal Court custody. In other words, they really will "send in the Marines".
Arrogant, indifferent, contemptuous of international law, both dismissive and manipulative of the United Nations, this is now the most dangerous power the world has ever known - the authentic "rogue state", but a "rogue state" of colossal military and economic might. And Europe - especially the United Kingdom - is both compliant and complicit, or as Cassius in Julius Caesar put it: we "peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves".
These are reported in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz. Sharon repeatedly claims that peace talks can't proceed unless there is not violence on the side of the Palestinians and then he attacks the Palestinians. When are we going to see no violence on the side of the Israelis? It takes two to untangle.
If new U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni had any illusions about the elusiveness of the task that awaits him when he arrives Monday in the region on his cease-fire mission, they would have been rapidly extinguished by the bloody three-day prelude to his visit, in which 12 Palestinians and one Israel have been killed.
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the prevailing view is that the killing of Abu Hanoud is an attempt by Sharon to provoke Hamas into a revenge attack in order to thwart the new American initiative. "The assassination of Abu Hanoud thus places the Hamas leadership in a quandary - if they react with a powerful revenge attack, they will damage Arafat in his talks with Burns and Zinni. But if they fail to react, Hamas' prestige will be hurt," writes Ha'aretz Palestinian affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein.
Senior PA officials, writes Rubinstein, were making a concerted effort over the weekend to calm Hamas leaders, "asking them to exercise restraint, at least in the coming days, to show the Americans and world public opinion that the Israelis are the ones carrying out violent acts and trying to bring about a deterioration in the situation."
Five Palestinian children on their way to school were killed on Thursday when an IDF booby trap exploded under them. They were members of the al-Astal family - Muhammad Naim, Akram Naim, Anis Idris, Omar Idris, and Muhammad Sultan - two sets of brothers and a cousin, residents of the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The explosive apparently was a bomb placed on what the army suspected to be a path routinely used by Palestinian activists - not, as was first reported, an unspent tank shell accidentally left behind.
Placing booby traps in populated areas or on routes that children and innocent civilians are likely to use cannot have any other result - any more than can firing from tanks in these areas. Earlier in the week, a Palestinian woman and her two children were injured by tank fire near the site where the five boys were killed.
The expression of regret voiced by Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer over the killing of the innocent children can not be a substitute for a vital change in the IDF's concept of what fighting tactics are acceptable in the territories. These methods have already caused a high number of deaths among innocent children and civilians during the year of intifada. The latest incident in Khan Yunis did not arise from a mistake or from negligence, but is derived from an outlook that says harming innocents during attacks on enemies is simply unavoidable. Only a broad and diligent investigation of the tragic circumstances here - without any more whitewashing or dodging of facts - plus the trial of those responsible, might bring about a change in this outlook. It will at least suggest that in addition to the defense minister's
Vanished victims of Israelis return to accuse Sharon
The people who disappeared - during and after the massacre - are the forgotten victims of Sabra and Chatila. Almost every family in the camps has a relative or friend among the disappeared.
What is crucial is that they disappeared while in the hands of the Israeli army, during an operation under the direct control of Israel's then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon, now Prime Minister.
The fate of the disappeared of Sabra and Chatila will come back to haunt Sharon when a Belgian court hears a suit brought by their relatives alleging his involvement in the massacres.
Overlooked for almost two decades, the disappeared now seem likely to emerge as a key element in the efforts of 40 Lebanese and Palestinians who lost relatives in the massacre to bring Sharon to trial for war crimes committed when, as Defence Minister, he had overall responsibility for the IDF.
A suit filed in a Belgian court in June - under legislation that allows Belgium to prosecute foreigners for war crimes regardless of where they were committed - charges that Sharon had command responsibility in the massacre.
'In international law, command responsibility - also known as indirect responsibility - is more severe than the direct responsibility of those who actually do the killing,' says Chibli Mallat, one of three lawyers representing the plaintiffs. 'Whether in the Yugoslav massacres or in Germany or Japan in World War II, those who sat at the top, often miles away from the death camps, are more responsible than those who pulled the trigger.'
There is no doubt that those who oppose the US are responsible for terrorist atrocities. We have only to look at the World Trade Center. We can also look at innocents being killed in Israel by Palestinians. The terrorism will not end, however, until we recognize that the US and it's friends have been responsible for much more terrorism which continues with no slowing down. Of course the US is against the International Criminal Court of Justice. It knows that too many US citizens could be brought to trial, and rightfully so, for war crimes.