The House of Wisdom


Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the “House of Wisdom.”

The House of Wisdom is a prison for kids.


The U.S. military has introduced “religious enlightenment” and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.

Our Prison.

For kids.

To teach them the wisdom of submission.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to “bend them back to our will” and are part of waging war in what he called “the battlefield of the mind.”

Submission is Freedom.

The crimes of the United States of America in the last six years alone are something which we’ll never atone nor recover.


What is happening in the world today is the death knell of Empire. And Empire just can’t believe it’s true. So we take kids who throw stones at armored Humvees and throw them in the House of Wisdom to knock some sense into them.

We teach them wisdom: Hate is Love.

The 25,000 detainees now being held in U.S. facilities in Iraq include more than 820 juveniles, Stone said, most of whom are held in the House of Wisdom, which opened last month and is located at the Camp Victory military base near Baghdad’s airport. He said that six additional young people had been sent to him just yesterday, and that “the trend is towards the youth.”

Any Madison Avenue maven could have told the good General that.


I imagine to Iraqis, Americans are like the aliens in War of the Worlds. And to resist is the highest calling a patriot musters. Nobody likes an invader. They kill your dad, rape your mom and make you a slave. They take away your rebel comic books and spray their bullets like apple seeds and plant broken hearts in the blood soaked ground. They make promises they don’t keep and blame it on you. Everything they do is for your own good and what’s good for you is what’s best for them.

Invaders teach the culinary simmering of hate and the sublime art of resistance.

My favorite philosopher, George W. Bush, says God, HIMSELF, gave every single human being a gift – the right to be free. The Philosopher King says it all the time. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.

I suppose that’s how it works in the House of Wisdom. You sing the virtues of liberty and happiness in a House of bars and chains. You praise the family and the Father in a House where eleven year olds are deprived of the Mother. You promise freedom for submission. That is the genius. Wisdom is Surrender.

And the kid, after he complies and promises never to throw stones again, with threat of harsher punishment should he break his promise, is released to the open arms of his Mother in an occupied land of barbed wire, roadblocks, checkpoints, prisons and torture centers.

Other elements of Stone’s program are being developed. He said he has created a “transition-out barracks” where detainees being released discuss civics and human rights. He has also begun a “huge, expensive” Rand Corp. research study on detainee motivation and morale and has plans for a major communication campaign.

Slaves discuss freedom under the watchful eyes of their masters and they called it Democracy.

Wisdom is Submission

Submission is Freedom

And the Great Satan runs the House of Wisdom for wayward kids.


crossposted from My Left Wing

Talk Like a Pirate Day is actually… w/poll

an insideous plot by followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (may he be praised, Ra-men)!

Not only is speaking like a pirate part of the worship of his pastness, but dressing like one is important also.  Let’s face it!  We’re being forced to back-door worship (his favorite style) the great mound of pasta and sauce!

Beware!

[poll id=”

48

“]

The Steam Vent

(x-posted from PFF)

Every now and then, one simply needs to vent. Here’s mine for today, feel free to add your own!

Open Letter to Blog Owners and  Committed Community Members

I don’t give a damn about what other blogs you and your people like, or do not like.

I have NO interest in who hates who, who outed who, who is getting paid by who, who is a sock puppet, who slept with who, who you’ve banned or whether or not they deserved it. I don’t care if you have a thousand rules or no rules at all.

Blog wars remind me of watching a bunch of third graders throwing sand at each other on the playground or a bunch of little boys playing “King of the Hill”.

When I do register on a blog, it means I’ve found something interesting to read and respond to, or perhaps a place I’d want to post some work on now and then.

It does NOT imply I wish to JOIN YOUR BLOGGING COMMUNITY, or that I wish to HELP YOU BUILD YOUR BLOG,  or that I have CHOSEN YOUR BLOG OVER THE COMPETITION, OR HAVE PLEDGED MY UNDYING LOYALTY TO YOUR CAUSE!  Blogging is my hobby, not my life’s work. I am an itinerant blogger by choice.

I hang out on a blog as long as I am enjoying myself. That means as long as there are enough interesting writers, topics, and commenters from ALL sides of the issues, including an ample number of “Others” (meaning people besides straight white males.) 

As soon as it becomes clear to me I’ve landed on yet another typical all white male hierarchal blog system (where I must genuflect to the king or queen and their courts)  I am outa there. I’m getting old. My time is too valuable to waste in any more of those systems.

I don’t give a damn what direction the prevailing “clique” on any blog is leaning, and will make my own decisions about where I post and when. 

Wow, that really sounds angry, doesn’t it?  Fact is, I am not currently angry at anyone, really. (OK..maybe kos and Boo a little, still 🙂 

But I have hit the wall, it seems, in terms of getting a belly full of hearing that if I post on one blog, I shouldn’t be posting on the other..(if I had a brain, or some such message.) 

I think it’s fine to feel loyal to a blog or a blog owner, if that turns your crank. Go for it. Been there, done that myself.

But if new readers feel that also have to “choose up sides”, in order to be “acceptable” here , you’re going to lose some good folks who you might not want to lose, too.

Overall, this continual focusing on blog PERSONALITIES, over blog CONTENT, continues to mystify me. Yeah, people love meta. I do too, for entertainment now and then, in measured doses. (But keeeerist..one more 300 comment threat about Armando and/or MSOC and I will puke all over my keyboard!) 

I will not be proclaiming any website or blog my “community” ever again. Because we have not yet progressed to building online communities that do NOT require excluding a great many people. And over and over again, they are people I find incredibly interesting and valuable: people I have learned much from. 

If  “Others” are not welcome on a blog, it is not a place I care to stay for long either. If it turns out to be a blog made up primarily of straight white males ,  won’t hang around long either, because I already know all I ever wish to know about those kinds of systems and how they operate, and have long ago absorbed their overall interpretation of where my “proper place is”. Fuck that!

That’s it for now: I just needed to blow off some steam!

Your turn!

I Did Not Know That: Toby Keith Opposes The Iraq Debacle

Do you know this?

Keith doesn’t support the Iraq war — “Never did,” he says — and he favors setting a time limit on the occupation. He says he suspects civil war in Iraq is inevitable and predicts the Kurds will be the victors: “I promise you, they’ll end up with it all.”

I did not. Neither did Michael Ledeen:

It’s great to get out of the Washington culture of narcissism and spend some time with the rednecks, a.k.a. real Americans. And it’s simply great, as the encores end, and a downpour of red, white and blue confetti covers the crowd, to see Toby say “don’t ever apologize for your patriotism,” and then lift the middle finger of his right hand to the skies and say, “F*** ‘Em!”

Which, after a week of disgusting anti-Americanism in Washington [there was a big anti-war protest, and I guess, uhm, Congress performed its duties], nicely summed up our feelings.

Live and learn.

Nazi War Criminals came to the U.S. after WWII

(This is to support Valtin’s action calls)

Professor McCoy Exposes the History of CIA Interrogation

My grandfather is an Iwa Jima war veteran, and one afternoon early last fall I recorded his story at the veteran’s reunion in Texas. He rarely talked about it, although I had seen the Japanese sword he removed from a soldier. “They told us not to do that; there could’ve been (wire) triggers,” he once said. I had always wanted to ask him about why he thought he fought the war, imaging him heroically fighting to end the Holocaust. I had made a childish, yet understandable assumption.

Crossposted at Progressive Historians

A drive to Texas, a check into the hotel room, and little sleep found me having the conversation I’d waited to have with him for years. After meeting him in the lobby area and turning my tape recorder on I asked him several questions; then, I asked him a big question for me, “Were you aware of Hitler and the Holocaust?” “Not really,” he said. I was surprised. He continued, “We were aware of what Hitler was doing, but we fought the Japanese after they attacked Pearl Harbor.” Thus, he was aware of the Holocaust, but that wasn’t the main reason he fought, if at all. That makes sense since he fought at Iwa Jima, but my illusion was shattered. I had another illusion shattered months before I asked him that question.
 

The U.S. being free of the influence of Nazi concepts and ideas after WWII is a falsehood; consequently, what shattered that illusion for me was learning that Nazi war Criminals came to the U.S. after WWII. Excuse me for saying this again, but –

Nazi war criminals came to the U.S. after WWII. The Nazi war criminal’s leader, Hitler, had found the manner in which the Church fiercely clung to its dogma and exterminated innocent people for the sake of power inspiring. In addition to feeling inspired by how the church exterminated “infidels” and “heretics” while they rigorously clung to their dogmatic, fundamentalist, and theocratic doctrine; his own plans for ethnic cleansing were reflected by the dark mirror of the U.S. extermination policy against all indigenous people.

excerpts from the book, American Holocaust by David Stannard  Oxford University Press, 1992
… despite an often expressed contempt for Christianity, in Mein Kampf Hitler had written that his plan for a triumphant Nazism was modeled on the Catholic Church’s traditional “tenacious adherence to dogma” and its “fanatical intolerance,” particularly in the Church’s past when, as Arno J. Mayer has noted, Hitler observed approvingly that in “building ‘its own altar,’ Christianity had not hesitated to ‘destroy the altars of the heathen.’ ‘, 15 Had Hitler required supporting evidence for this contention he would have needed to look no further than the Puritans’ godly justifications for exterminating New England’s Indians in the seventeenth century or, before that, the sanctimonious Spanish legitimation of genocide, as ordained by Christian Truth, in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Meso- and South America. (It is worth noting also that the Fuhrer from time to time expressed admiration for the “efficiency” of the American genocide campaign against the Indians, viewing it as a forerunner for his own plans and programs.)

The Nazi War Criminals who migrated to the U.S. after WWII had been loyal to Hitler by necessity.

Source

“After World War II, countries that were generous in accepting immigrants from war-torn Europe; countries like the United States, Australia, Canada and England, which collectively took in hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, also took in thousands and thousands of people who were implicated in the Shoah and other Nazi crimes. We know that at least hundreds and perhaps thousands of them came to the United States.”
 

“The morality of the Cold War- anything goes,” states Bill Moyers
“Anything goes” meant allowing Adolf Eichmann, a “fugitive Holocaust overseer” to remain at large in 1958.

Documents Shed Light on C.I.A.’s Use of Ex-Nazis
WASHINGTON, June 6 – The Central Intelligence Agency took no action after learning the pseudonym and whereabouts of the fugitive Holocaust overseer Adolf Eichmann in 1958, according to C.I.A. documents that shed new light on the spy agency’s use of former Nazis as informers after World War II.

  “Anything goes” also meant having a twisted working relationship between the CIA and General Reinhard Gehlen. He, as German intelligence chief during WWII, hired known Nazi war criminals.

Source
Washington D.C., February 4, 2005 – Today the National Security Archive posted the CIA’s secret documentary history of the U.S government’s relationship with General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II. At the end of the war, Gehlen established a close relationship with the U.S. and successfully maintained his intelligence network (it ultimately became the West German BND) even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals. The use of Gehlen’s group, according to the CIA history, Forging an Intelligence Partnership: CIA and the Origins of the BND, 1945-49, was a “double edged sword” that “boosted the Warsaw Pact’s propaganda efforts” and “suffered devastating penetrations by the KGB.” [See Volume 1: Introduction, p. xxix]

Elizabeth Holtzman, a congresswoman from New York and a true hero, did what the United States government would not do, or chose deliberately not to do. I don’t know which, maybe a little of both.

Source
“In fact they almost had gotten away with it but for one courageous lady named Elizabeth Holtzman, who was a congresswoman from the state of New York and who received allegations that Nazi criminals had actually come to the United States and that the United States government was doing nothing about it. Hearings were held in our Congress in 1977 and ’78. The result of those hearings was the enactment of a law now known as the Holtzman Amendment that rendered individuals who took part in Nazi crimes against humanity under the Nuremberg charter excludable from the United States.”

  To conclude, I heard a Holocaust survivor speak before having the conversation with my grandfather, which added great intensity to the anticipation I felt before asking my grandfather about his experiences during WWII. I wrote a little about the Holocaust survivor’s speech that moved my soul to tears.

“They came for the teachers first,” he said.
My mind blacked out as I saw the utility of that perverse logic.

He said that it began with bullying; first with forcing Jews to clean the streets with toothbrushes, and when it wasn’t “clean enough,” they stripped the Jews and beat them. He also talked about how all the Jews were given arm bands with the Star of David on them to identify them as Jews, so that among  many other horrendous things,  a curfew could be enforced.

They had to work for free from 7 till 7, and that being out after 7:00 P.M.  was punishable by death. He made that point before he talked about how his father courted his mother – breaking the curfew. His father literally risked his life to court his mother.

His father learned they were exterminating the Jews by following the Nazis from a safe distance to the suspected location after hearing some rumors about it; he’d spoken about the strong sense of community among the Jewish people. His father witnessed some of his Jewish friends and neighbors being stripped, being shot, and being put in a hole in the ground. He said his father couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Seems he also said that because the Nazis ran out of “room” to bury bodies, that bought him and his family some time.
I can’t remember how they protected him (the speaker as a child), seems they made a room for him. It’s coming back to me now.

His father took one brick a day from where he was forced to labor and hid the brick in his pants or coat some way, risking his life. He built a wall with those bricks to hide his family behind for the day when the knock on the door would  come early in the morning at 4 A.M., I believe he said. The speaker’s parents left him with a relative or a neighbor where he’d be safe at some point.

Memory fails, but the last thing I recall is the Holocaust survivor who spoke watched his parents be taken away in a railcar. I cried.

The Holocaust survivor’s story was fresh in my mind as I listened to my grandfather tell his story about his WWII experiences, and I couldn’t help but contemplate some things that have occurred recently; however, I kept silent about all those things running through my mind as he spoke and I listened.

I did not tell my grandfather about torture, secret prisons, immigration detention centers, or that the president has ordered people to be tortured. I didn’t want to break his heart. He may not be privy to all those things, but he has a healthy dose of good old-fashioned common sense. When I asked him if he liked our president, he looked at me like I’d just asked the dumbest question in the world. He turned his head to the side and laughed while saying, “You gotta be kidding me.” I left it at that.

The ridiculous Senator Webb

Progressives had high hopes when Jim Webb was elected. Surely this upright man would help end the war, even if he had to use military swagger to win the election. But the reality of Jim Webb’s politics has been a cruel disappointment. Jim Webb’s idea of responding to the agony of Iraq is to work relentlessly to make American soldiers more comfortable.

You see, for Jim Webb, Iraq is all about the suffering of Americans. But it is the Iraqis who are dying of cholera. It is the Iraqis who are being gunned down by Blackwater cowboys. It is the Iraqis who lack electricity. It is the Iraqis whose cultural legacy is being crushed and looted. It is the Iraqis who are being ethnically “cleansed.”

So what is Jim Webb’s solution? We need to make sure that US troops are adequately rested between tours in Iraq. This is Jim Webb’s courageous response to the agony of the Iraqi people.

Jim Webb is ridiculous, because he thinks the comfort of American troops is more important than the condition of an entire occupied nation. All the people of the Earth are human beings deserving of civilized treatment and compassion. For Senator Webb to put the American Soldier on a pedestal of special treatment is to accept the worst principles of American Xenophobia.

For the benefit of Senator Webb, I shall paraphrase Shylock’s speech from “The Merchant of Venice”

>>
I am an Iraqi. Hath not an Iraqi eyes? Hath not an Iraqi hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the
same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed
and cooled by the same winter and summer, as an American is? If you prick us,
do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we
not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.
<<

There will be no rest for the Iraqis, Senator Webb, until this evil war is ended. Your solicitude for our troops is an absurd distraction from America’s criminal neglect of the victims of our brutal occupation.

Pirate Party: Mirth and Madness

Today is “Talk Like a Pirate Day”…which would explain why everyone’s staring at my booty….. 😉  Consider your timbers shivered, and enjoy pillaging the following, collected from the vast reaches of the seven seas internet…..

Pirate Terror Warning System from this link

Most people don’t know this, but when all this terrorism nonsense became all the rage, Cap’n Slappy assigned his good friend, “Ol Chumbucket” to the task of developing the Department of Pirateland Security. He examined all of the intelligence reports and came up with this color coded scheme to keep all pirates everywhere anxious and awaiting certain doom. The code is as follows:

  * Code Off-White (parchment): There are terrorists everywhere. You can’t see ’em but they are everywhere and they are planning to terrorize you with their terror. But before they can terrorize you, we are going to build up your terror by telling you to buy Duct Tape and Bottled Water. Do you feel the terror? Because you SHOULD!
  * Code Dingy Yellow: Yep. That be a terrorist alright. Time to start running around screaming and wetting yerself! Now that you are moist and stinky, yer best defense is to play dead. Ah! YOU BREATHED! That Means we move to…
  * Code Orangish Yellowish Brown: Alright. The terrorist has seen you move and is attacking you personally. Didn’t I tell you NOT to breathe? How many rolls of Duct Tape did you buy? That’s not NEARLY enough! Oh, yer in for it now, me buck-o!
  * Code Brown with Corn Clusters: Ye went and soiled yerself, didn’t ye? Well, who’s going to care? Yer already mortally wounded what with yer guts hanging out and being down to yer last drops of blood. If ye had taken it more seriously when we were at code Off-White…well…so, it all would have happened anyway, but ye would have had more Duct Tape! Then, perhaps we could have duct-taped yer guts in! But, NO! Ye had to make the jokes, didn’t ye?
  * Code Black: Yer already dead! What were you thinking? Yer as dead as John Paul Jones! What’s the point of having a color coded system if yer going to be all DEAD? Can we use yer left-over Duct Tape?

link: pirate personality test

link: pirate name generator

link:Pirate Translator

Top Ten Pickup lines for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day

(Also from talklikeapirate.com.)

10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

8. Come on up and see me urchins.

7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

6. I’d love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?

4. How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …

1. Prepare to be boarded.

Top Ten Pickup Lines for the Lady Pirates

10. What are YOU doing here?

9. Is that a belayin’ pin in yer britches, or are ye … (this one is never completed)

8. Come show me how ye bury yer treasure, lad!

7. So, tell me, why do they call ye, “Cap’n Feathersword?”

6. That’s quite a cutlass ye got thar, what ye need is a good scabbard!

5. Aye, I guarantee ye, I’ve had a twenty percent decrease in me “lice ratio!”

4. I’ve crushed seventeen men’s skulls between me thighs!

3. C’mon, lad, shiver me timbers!

2. RAMMING SPEED!

…and the number one Female Pirate Pick-up Line:

1. You. Pants Off. Now!

Please, no crackers for Polly…do not rec this essay.

without further ado, t’ floor be yours

~73v, over and out

The Morning News

First, a public service announcement-

The Pastafarian Service Council wants to remind you that today,
September 19th, be Talk Like A Pirate Day.

As Slushy the Polar Bear says-
“Only you can prevent Global Warming.  Arrgh.”

The Morning News is an Open Thread.  Any resemblence to any other essays at any other sites is due to my inherent laziness and outstanding unoriginality.

From Google News U.S.

1 Democrats May Stall Mukasey Confirmation
U.S. News and World Report
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Although President Bush’s nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey has won bipartisan praise, key Senate Democrats have indicated that his confirmation will not go forward unless the White House turns over documents related to the investigation of the firing of a number of US attorneys. The partisan confrontation threatens to overshadow Bush’s effort to reach out to Democratic senators — as the White House refuses to link cooperation on the nomination with the investigations. The New York Times says on its front page that the warning came from “two Democrats who will have a powerful say over whether Mr. Mukasey gets confirmed — Senators Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Charles E. Schumer of New York.”

NBC Nightly News also noted “some Senate Democrats are threatening to hold up his confirmation hearings until the White House answers new questions about those fired US Attorneys.” Roll Call, under the headline “Mukasey Faces Slow Sailing,” says “a showdown between Leahy and…Bush over largely procedural matters could turn what is widely seen as a relatively noncontroversial nomination into a political lightning rod for both parties.” And similarly, the Los Angeles Times reports on its front page that Leahy “made it clear that Democrats considered access to at least some of the long-sought administration documents as essential to their evaluation of Mukasey’s fitness to lead the Justice Department.”

The Hill, meanwhile, says Schumer “suggested that Democrats should not insist on getting a reply to their subpoenas before agreeing to a Mukasey hearing.” In fact, says the AP, later yesterday, Leahy “said he had been assured by White House counsel Fred Fielding that the Senate panel would get at least some answers to its questions about Gonzales’ conduct in the Bush administration’s wiretapping program and interrogation methods.” The Wall Street Journal also reports “an administration official said the White House was working with Sen. Leahy. ‘The president certainly would hope that… political issues or extraneous issues don’t come in the way of swift confirmation of someone who’s so qualified,’ the official said.”

2 State Dept. Official Blocked Inquiries, Congressman Says
By DAVID STOUT and BRIAN KNOWLTON, The New York Times
Published: September 18, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 – A top House Democrat began an inquiry today into accusations that the State Department inspector general repeatedly interfered with investigations into fraud and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, including defects in construction of the huge United States embassy in Baghdad, and put loyalty to the Bush administration ahead of his duties to American taxpayers.

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent the inspector general, Howard J. Krongard, a 14-page letter spelling out accusations, which he said came from several current and former employees of that office, who documented their charges with e-mails.

Mr. Waxman wrote that the staff complaints followed Mr. Krongard’s testimony on July 26 to the House committee. Some of the accusers have sought “whistleblower” status, which protects government employees who report malfeasance from being punished for doing so, Mr. Waxman said.

Statement From State Department IG
By The Associated Press via The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 18, 2007; 7:04 PM

From Google News World

3 Sarkozy announces pension plans in drive to cull sacred cows
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, The Guardian via Guardian Unlimited
Wednesday September 19, 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday fired the opening shot in his first major battle to modernise France, announcing potentially explosive pension reforms while hoping to avert the kind of strikes that once paralysed the country and brought down governments.

The French president, who swept to power in May with a mandate to cull the sacred cows of France’s costly state sector, yesterday began with the divisive issue of special retirement privileges for state workers. In a hard-hitting speech, he said France’s generous social security system was “financially unsustainable” and he would axe the special deals which allow some employees at state-controlled companies to retire as early as 50 on highly favourable terms.

For decades, unions have fiercely defended the special packages offered to employees such as train drivers, utility workers and even theatre staff at the Comédie Française. Mr Sarkozy wants the 500,000 eligible workers to forfeit the deals. But previous governments’ efforts to axe the special retirement deals have triggered massive street protests forcing two administrations in the 1990s into retreat. In 1995 workers paralysed the country and brought down Jacques Chirac’s first government over the issue.

4 Syria, NKorea Deny Nuclear Cooperation
By ALBERT AJI, The Associated Press via The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 18, 2007; 4:42 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria and North Korea denied Tuesday they are cooperating on a Syrian nuclear program, and they accused U.S. officials of spreading the allegations for political reasons _ either to back Israel or to block progress on a deal between Washington and Pyongyang.

A front-page editorial in the government newspaper Tishrin also criticized the United States for failing to condemn a Sept. 6 Israeli air incursion, which it called a violation of international law.

Details of the incursion remain unclear. Israel clamped a news blackout on the raid, while Syria said only that warplanes entered its airspace, came under fire from anti-aircraft defenses and dropped munitions and fuel tanks to lighten their loads while they fled.

5 US agrees further British withdrawal from Iraq
Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Black, The Guardian via Guardian Unlimited
Wednesday September 19, 2007

Britain is poised to announce significant cuts in the number of troops in southern Iraq following an upbeat assessment by US and British military officials in London yesterday.

This was the message from defence officials last night following talks between ministers and General David Petraeus, the American military commander in Iraq.

Amid concern about the mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran over Iraq and nuclear issues, Gen Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Baghdad, also kept up the pressure on Iran, saying its repeated calls for dialogue with the US were irrelevant as long as it continued supporting Iraqi militias and played what Mr Crocker called a “lethal and damaging” role.

6 Monks brave teargas and gunfire to challenge generals’ grip on Burma
Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor, From The Times
March 19, 2015

Buddhist monks marched in protest in Burma yesterday in the biggest show of defiance for a decade against the country’s repressive and tenacious dictatorship.

The marches, in Rangoon, the capital, and at least four other places brought to a head a month of protest against the junta. Despite the presence of large numbers of police and civilian militiamen supporting the Government, most marches were peaceful, if tense.

However, the increasing presence on the streets of monks, after the suppression and arrest of civilian demonstrators last month, will add greatly to the discomfort of one of the world’s longest-surviving military governments.

Yes, that’s right- March 19, 2015.  I guess we know now what happens after cskendrick’s diary.

From Yahoo News THE TOP STORIES

7 Diplomatic convoys curtailed in Iraq
By ROBERT H. REID and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writers
59 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – The United States on Tuesday suspended all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting public outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the U.S. Embassy’s security provider Blackwater USA.

The move came even as the Iraqi government appeared to back down from statements Monday that it had permanently revoked Blackwater’s license and would order its 1,000 personnel to leave the country – depriving American diplomats of security protection essential to operating in Baghdad.

“We are not intending to stop them and revoke their license indefinitely but we do need them to respect the law and the regulation here in Iraq,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told CNN.

8 Democrats won’t temper Iraq legislation
By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 2 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – After weeks of suggesting Democrats would temper their approach to Iraq legislation in a bid to attract more Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared abruptly Tuesday that he had no plans to do so.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

“There (are) no goals. It’s all definite timelines,” he told reporters of the planned legislation.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

9 Elder Bush backs McCain’s pro-war stance
By JIM DAVENPORT, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 5 minutes ago

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Former President George H.W. Bush backs John McCain’s efforts to increase support for the Iraq war in a new video, a telecast that aides to both men say shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement of McCain’s White House bid.

On Monday night, the former president appeared in the video shown at South Carolina’s military college, The Citadel, during the final stop of the Arizona senator’s “No Surrender” tour.

“The bottom line is we must persevere; we must not surrender; we must not quit and run away. God bless our troops and everyone involved in the ‘No Surrender’ rally there in Charleston,” Bush said, according to a transcript of the video provided by the McCain campaign.

10 Fed slashes interest rates to buffer economy
By Mark Felsenthal, Reuters
1 hour, 7 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Tuesday slashed U.S. interest rates by a hefty half-percentage point in a bold bid to shield the economy from a housing slump and financial turbulence, sparking a big rally on Wall Street.

The unanimous decision by the central bank’s policy-makers took the benchmark federal funds rate, which governs overnight loans between banks, down to 4.75 percent, its lowest since May of last year. The Fed also cut the discount rate it charges for direct loans to banks by a half-point to 5.25 percent.

It was the first cut in the federal funds rate — the Fed’s main tool to influence the economy — since June 2003 and the first half-point cut since November 2002.

11 Recalled Mattel toys topped U.S. legal lead limits
By Diane Bartz, Reuters
2 hours, 5 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Toymaker Mattel Inc’s recent recalls involved toys that had nearly 200 times the amount of lead in paint as allowed by U.S. law, the company said in a letter released to a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

The largest U.S. toymaker recalled millions of Chinese-made toys in August and September due to hazards from small powerful magnets and lead paint. Mattel’s Fisher-Price unit recalled about 1.5 million toys because of excessive lead paint on the products based on popular characters from “Sesame Street” and “Dora the Explorer.”

“The reported noncompliant lead levels in paint, so far, range from just over the applicable standard to about eleven (11) percent or 110,000 parts per million,” Mattel’s letter to the U.S. House subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer Protection.

12 Russia warns against Iran war
by Karim Talbi, AFP
Tue Sep 18, 4:32 PM ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia expressed apprehension Tuesday over the possibility of a war with Iran evoked by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who again urged tougher sanctions to halt Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasised Russia’s “concern” over “multiple reports that military action against Iran is being seriously considered. It’s hard to imagine what that could do to the region.”

Kouchner, on a visit to Russia, meanwhile called for “working on precise sanctions” and added that France and Russia had differences on the issue.

13 China and Russia spying at Cold War levels : US spy chief
by Stephen Collinson, AFP
2 hours, 37 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Chinese and Russian spies are stalking the United States at levels close to those seen during the tense covert espionage duels of the Cold War, the top US intelligence officer warned Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell raised the specter of a new era of clandestine intelligence wars during a House of Representatives hearing on a contentious new law on warrantless wiretapping.

McConnell said in written testimony that US undercover agencies must simultaneously battle traditional state foes and Al-Qaeda, as it tries to infiltrate US territory to pull off spectacular terrorist attacks.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Emailed

14 Researchers say many languages are dying
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 1 minute ago

WASHINGTON – When every known speaker of the language Amurdag gets together, there’s still no one to talk to. Native Australian Charlie Mungulda is the only person alive known to speak that language, one of thousands around the world on the brink of extinction. From rural Australia to Siberia to Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying, researchers said Tuesday.

While there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks, according to linguistic experts struggling to save at least some of them.

Five hotspots where languages are most endangered were listed Tuesday in a briefing by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the National Geographic Society.

From Yahoo News World

15 Japan: Forward Into the Past
By BRYAN WALSH, Time Magazine
Tue Sep 18, 5:35 PM ET

It was fitting that the first official day of campaigning for the presidency of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – and at least temporarily, the prime ministership – should come Sept. 17, on keiro no hi, or “Respect for the Aged Day.” Japan’s political old guard, shunted aside under just-resigned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is back with a vengeance, and the consensus pick to be the next leader of Japan is a 71-year-old veteran who was rejected last year in part because he was considered too elderly. Yasuo Fukuda, an LDP Diet member who’d disappeared into the background in recent years, leads LDP Secretary-General – and erstwhile front-runner – Taro Aso in the polls. More importantly, Fukuda has the support of influential factions of LDP legislators who will almost certainly prove dominant when the party convenes to pick a new leader on Sept. 24.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the immediate aftermath of Abe’s sudden resignation on Sept. 12, it was Aso – the conservative, high profile ex-Foreign Minister – who had the inside track. A comic book-loving populist – his most recent book was titled Awesome Japan – Aso had finished second to Abe in last year’s LDP presidential election, and generally scored well with the public. But like a radioactive bomb, Abe’s departure was so disastrous that it contaminated anyone near him, particularly Aso, who reportedly knew of the Prime Minister’s coming resignation days before it was announced.

16 Sadr’s Freeze Greeted With Skepticism
By CHARLES CRAIN, Time Magazine
Tue Sep 18, 5:35 PM ET

On Monday the Pentagon, in its quarterly Iraq report, noted the obvious: Iraqi politicians’ “indecisiveness and inaction” are sapping what little credibility the government has left. But the refrain in Washington that Iraqis just need to try harder is belied by Iraq’s intractable realities. In Baghdad’s neighborhoods it’s not clear that Iraq’s nominal leaders – even some of the most vociferous and provocative among them – can control the violence and foster national reconciliation even if they wanted to.

In late August Shi’ite politician and militia chieftain Moqtada al-Sadr announced a “freeze” of his Mahdi Army militia. American officials hailed it as a rare act of statesmanship from the volatile cleric. But in Ghazaliyah, on the Sunni-Shi’a faultline in western Baghdad, American officers are dubious that the announcement will make much difference. “There’s more than one militia in my northern [area of operations],” said Lieutenant-Colonel James Nickolas, who commands U.S. forces in Ghazaliyah. He conceded that, in the wake of the Sadr announcement, there had been a decrease in activity by rank-and-file members of the Mahdi Army. But Nickolas said it’s uncertain if the most dangerous elements of the militia – the so-called “special groups” that American officials say receive money, weapons and training from Iran – still take direction from Sadr.

17 China draws back from role as ‘all-weather friend’ to Zimbabwe
By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers
Tue Sep 18, 4:34 PM ET

BEIJING – China acknowledged Tuesday that it has slowed investment in Zimbabwe , a longtime African ally teetering on economic collapse, in a sign that it may be heeding Western demands that it quit backing regimes considered despotic.

The withdrawal of economic support from Zimbabwe’s largest investor and only major global backer is a serious blow to Robert Mugabe , an 83-year-old liberation hero who has clung to power in Zimbabwe for nearly three decades.

Chinese officials had dismissed a British news report in late August that said China had suspended investment projects in Zimbabwe .

18 Karzai pleads with Canada: Don’t pull out troops
Reuters
Tue Sep 18, 4:25 PM ET

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai pleaded with Canada on Tuesday not to withdraw its 2,500 troops when their mission ends in early 2009, saying to do so would only help deliver his country back to the Taliban, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

Karzai made his comments to a special meeting of all Canadian reporters based in Afghanistan.

“The presence of Canada is needed until Afghanistan is able to defend itself, and that day is not going to be in 2009,” a story on the Globe Web site quoted him as saying.

19 Indian left asks govt to delay nuclear deal 6 months
Reuters
32 minutes ago

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s main communist party asked the government on Tuesday not to pursue a controversial nuclear deal with the United States for six months and warned of a political crisis if it went ahead.

The fresh threat from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), came on the eve of a second meeting of a joint panel formed to resolve differences between leftist parties and the government over the agreement.

The row has destabilized Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 3-year-old coalition, which is shored up by leftist parties, and analysts have said that early elections — normally due in early 2009 — are likely.

20 HIV prevention could save millions in Africa: study
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters
1 hour, 18 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Using drugs to prevent HIV infection could prevent as many as 3 million new cases in Africa if it was done right, researchers predicted on Tuesday.

A daily pill would not even have to prevent infection all the time to have this effect, if it was given to the right people with the proper counseling, the team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and at Imperial College London said.

“If you do it right, you can prevent lots of infections,” Pittsburgh’s Dr. John Mellors, who helped direct the study, said in a telephone interview.

21 Musharraf ready to give up army post
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 18, 1:14 PM ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf will resign as army chief and restore civilian rule if lawmakers re-elect him president in a vote expected by mid-October, officials said Tuesday.

The government hailed the decision as a democratic watershed, but the opposition said it would be illegal for Musharraf to run in uniform and threatened a boycott of the vote that could prolong Pakistan’s political instability.

Government attorney Sharifuddin Pirzada announced Musharraf’s intent in a statement to Supreme Court judges deliberating the military leader’s eligibility to seek a new five-year term.

From Yahoo News U.S. News

22 Charges against Marine in Haditha case dropped
AFP
Tue Sep 18, 4:38 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A Marine Corps officer accused of failing to properly investigate the alleged massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha has been cleared of wrongdoing, the military said Tuesday.

A statement released from the Marines Camp Pendleton base in southern California said all charges against Captain Lucas McConnell stemming from the Haditha investigation had been dropped.

The charges against McConnell had been dropped following a ruling by Lieutenant-General James Mattis, commander of the US Marine Corps Forces, who was last week named by the Pentagon as head of the US Joint Forces Command.

23 Maryland court strikes down same-sex marriage
By Jon Hurdle, Reuters
Tue Sep 18, 6:06 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Maryland’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that marriage is between a man and a woman, overturning a lower court ruling and dashing the hopes of nine same-sex couples who wanted legal protection for long-term partners.

The state’s appeals court, in a 4-3 decision, said the state has a legitimate interest in maintaining heterosexual marriage as the institution that allows procreation and the traditional family structure.

“Our task … is to determine whether the right to same-sex marriage is so deeply embedded in the history, tradition and culture of this state and nation that it should be deemed fundamental,” the court wrote in a 244-page opinion. “We hold that it is not.”

24 More charges filed in W.Va. torture case
By TOM BREEN and SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER, Associated Press Writers
22 minutes ago

LOGAN, W.Va. – Prosecutors filed amended felony charges Tuesday in the case of a woman tortured for days in rural West Virginia, changes that mean the six defendants could face life in prison if convicted.

Graphic details of the crime were described in court for the first time. Carmen Williams, the woman’s mother, left a hearing in Logan County Magistrate Court in tears after listening to the allegations.

Magistrate Jeffrey Lane referred the case against Frankie Brewster, 49, to a grand jury for action. She owns the home where the suspected assault took place. In addition to charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and giving false information to police, the prosecutor filed three counts of misdemeanor battery against Brewster and dropped a charge of unlawful wounding.

From Yahoo News Politics

25 Blackwater fight tests US view of Iraq
by Olivier Knox, AFP
Tue Sep 18, 5:16 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The red-faced US government on Tuesday pleaded for patience from Baghdad as a private US security firm’s role in a deadly gun battle tested US claims that war-torn Iraq is a sovereign nation.

The White House, the Pentagon, and the US State Department were grappling with how to curb the damage from Sunday’s clash in which Blackwater contractors apparently killed civilians, fueling anti-US sentiments in Iraq.

A top Iraqi judge has said Blackwater could face trial over the incident, in which some of its guards, who were escorting US embassy officials, opened fire in a Baghdad neighborhood, killing 10 and wounding 13.

26 Tug-of-war over Iraq intensifies in Congress
By Susan Cornwell, Reuters
Tue Sep 18, 7:07 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The tug-of-war over Iraq policy intensified in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, as Democrats renewed their efforts to step up troop withdrawals while an influential Republican senator offered a compromise.

A week after Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus announced gradual troop reductions in Iraq through next summer, Senate Democrats seeking a faster pullout pledged to hold a vote soon on a proposal they think is their best chance to influence the course of the war.

Sen. James Webb, a Virginia Democrat, is proposing that U.S. troops should spend as much time at home as they did abroad on their previous tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

27 Top Democrat renews call for White House documents
By Thomas Ferraro, Reuters
Tue Sep 18, 7:12 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday publicly renewed his call for long-sought White House documents but did not threaten to delay President George W. Bush’s attorney general nominee to force cooperation.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said information about the administration’s domestic spying program and firing of federal prosecutors would help prepare for confirmation hearings for Michael Mukasey, whom Bush nominated on Monday to replace Alberto Gonzales as chief U.S. law enforcement officer.

After a meeting with Mukasey, Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said he had also talked with White House counsel Fred Fielding. Leahy said he took Fielding at his word that he would work to provide the committee with “the information and documents that we need.”

28 Thompson won’t rule out Fla. drilling
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 2 minutes ago

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson seemed taken by surprise when asked Tuesday about oil drilling in the Everglades, apparently unaware it’s been a major Florida issue.

Before answering, he laughed at the question.

“Gosh, no one has told me that there’s any major reserves in the Everglades, but maybe that’s one of the things I need to learn while I’m down here,” Thompson said after talking over state issues with Gov. Charlie Crist.

Thompson, who has called for seeking U.S. oil resources wherever they exist, was asked by an Associated Press reporter whether that included drilling in the Everglades.

29 Romney targets gay marriage in new ad
By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 37 minutes ago

DES MOINES, Iowa – Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is launching a radio ad touting the strength of his opposition to gay marriage.

Romney, who has come under criticism from conservatives for his past support of some gay rights issues, says he is the only major GOP candidate backing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“Not all Republican candidates agree, but defending marriage is the right thing to do,” Romney says in the 60-second spot to begin airing Wednesday.

From Yahoo News Science

30 NASA Begins Hunt for New Astronauts
Tariq Malik, Staff Writer, SPACE.com
Tue Sep 18, 3:15 PM ET

Astronaut hopefuls with the right stuff have a fresh chance to reach for the International Space Station and, ultimately, the moon, thanks to a new NASA hunt for qualified spaceflyers.

The U.S. space agency announced Tuesday that it is accepting applications for its 2009 Astronaut Candidate Class. Would-be spaceflyers have until July 1, 2008 to apply, the agency said.

“They would begin duty at the Johnson Space Center in August 2009,” NASA spokesperson Katherine Trinidad told SPACE.com of the new astronauts. Based in Houston, Texas, the Johnson Space Center (JSC) is home to NASA’s space shuttle and ISS mission controls, as well as its astronaut corps.

31 Africa facing flood crisis
AFP
Tue Sep 18, 3:36 PM ET

DAKAR (AFP) – Forecasters were predicting Tuesday further downpours in the coming days over much of Africa, where at least 270 people have already died from flooding and one million are affected.

“We anticipate that the situation will worsen,” said Elizabeth Byrs from the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), adding that heavy rains were forecast in west Africa between 18 and 24 September.

Torrential rain described as the worst in 30 years had resulted in floods stretching “from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea,” Byrs said. Fears of outbreak of waterborne diseases have also been heightened.

32 Malaysians take last tests before blast off into space
by Nick Coleman, AFP
Tue Sep 18, 11:05 AM ET

STAR CITY, Russia (AFP) – The two candidates to become Malaysia’s first man in space underwent final exams on Tuesday before one is selected to blast off on October 10 to the International Space Station (ISS).

“I’m very sure of the training given me and I’m ready,” Faiz Khaleed, one of the two candidates, told journalists at Russia’s Star City training centre outside Moscow.

“It’s been a wonderful and interesting experience to train here with professional cosmonauts,” he said before entering a mock-up of the Soyuz rocket that will head to the ISS from Russia’s Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan.

33 Help on climate impact as important as emissions cuts: expert
AFP
Tue Sep 18, 2:28 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) – Helping poor countries adapt to climate change is as vital as curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, a top scientist said Monday as a UN panel unveiled a massive report on global warming’s impacts.

The 1,000-page assessment on the effects of climate change had been completed as a draft and released in summary form by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in April.

Martin Parry, a British expert who co-chaired the IPCC group behind the study, said Africa, small island nations, the Arctic and Asia’s sprawling mega-deltas are the regions most at risk this century.

34 Peruvians get sick from apparent meteorite crater
By Teresa Cespedes, Reuters
Tue Sep 18, 5:55 PM ET

LIMA (Reuters) – Dozens of people living in a Peruvian town near Lake Titicaca reported vomiting and headaches after they went to look at a crater apparently left by a meteorite that crashed down over the weekend, health officials said on Tuesday.

After hearing a loud noise, people went to see what had happened and found a crater 65 feet wide and 22 feet deep on an uninhabited plateau near Carancas in the Puno region.

Experts from Peru’s Geophysical Institute are on their way to the area 800 miles south of Lima to verify whether it was a meteorite.

35 Stem cells show potential to repair lungs in mice
By Ben Hirschler, Reuters
Tue Sep 18, 10:11 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – British researchers have successfully implanted lung cells grown from embryonic stem cells into the lungs of mice in a move that may one day provide treatments for humans with severe breathing problems.

Until now, stem cells have been seen as a promising avenue for conditions like diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, but respiratory ailments have not featured because of the highly complex nature of lung tissue.

Sile Lane of Imperial College, London, said the new research was a significant advance, although it would be many years before the technology was ready for testing on people.

And now a Pirating Song-

Are you ready kids?
Aye, aye captain.
I can’t hear you…
Aye, aye captain!
Ohhh……
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Sponge Bob square pants.
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he.
Sponge Bob square pants.
If nautical nonsense be something you wish.
Sponge Bob square pants.
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish.
Sponge Bob square pants.
Ready?
Sponge Bob square pants, Sponge Bob square pants,
Sponge Bob square pants, Sponge Bob…… square paaaaaants.
Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hack, cough, cough.  Arrgh.

Shiver me timbers, piratin’ be thirsty work.  Where’s me grog?  Arrgh… |¿|| (‹¶

Typhoon Wipha: Two million evacuated

A quick first post from the stormchaser world. 

The east coast of China is getting hit today:

Typhoon Wipha slammed into the coast south of Shanghai early Wednesday as authorities moved 2 million people following forecasts it would be the most powerful storm to hit eastern China in a decade. 

http://www.cnn.com/2… 

Haven’t seen too much on traditional media yet.  Waiting to see if they pick it up with the US morning news cycle — no mention of it on CNN-TV or BBC, thus far. 

The reason China is taking it seriously:

officials said it would be the most destructive storm to hit the Shanghai area in years if it followed a course northward that would take it just west of the city.

The report adds that the two million were evacuated because their housing could not stand up to the winds.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

State of the Onion IX

Art Link
Red Neon

On Gender

extraordinary – weird
unconventional – odd
exceptional – queer
peculiar – strange
gifted – outlandish
outstanding – bizarre
special – eccentric
curious – atypical
unusual – abnormal

Why is “normal”
the objective?

There is
a broad horizon
of possibility
for the human
condition.

Rather than circling
our wagons
to protect and defend
only one or two
or even just a few
acceptable ways
of living,
shouldn’t we
begin the exploration
of those other
possibilities?

Why isn’t it possible
to expand  the definition
of woman
and expand the definition
of man,
while simultaneously allowing
people to claim neither
or both or even
to develop
whole new categories
of gender?

What does
society have
to lose?
What does
society have
to fear?

Once again, I  ask:
Why is normality
the objective?

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–November 9, 2005

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

Shrill Dispatches From The Bent And Rusty Tubes

I think I’m going Puritan. Everywhere I look I see Degradation and Degeneracy, and a foul slippage into the primordial sludge of Apathy. Oh sure, you say, give us another laugher, Dubious One. Ah, but I insist- I haven’t been only looking in the mirror this time, gang. I have been gazing out across the narrow fissure of All These Bent Tubes, and verily I say to thee it is a Waste Land, with no shining sword of justice to smite the raging masses.

Why? Hell, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the extra cheese on the pizza tonight, that’s all. Maybe it’s the bad mood from an idyllic workday gone suddenly and irrevocably Sideways, but I doubt it. No, I think it’s the whiff of Playing, of Making it, of Becoming Somebody among hordes of nameless, faceless losers who are doomed to life in pitiful anonymity. And no, of course I’m not immune. What do you think this is, anyway? A stylistic exercise? A noble experiment? A meaningful analysis of the Way Things Are? A… a… pyrrho impression?


No. It’s a half-baked gonzo ripoff, and pointless to boot, but you all knew that right away anyway. I just felt like shitting on anyone with an impulse to become a Mover and Shaker in this nasty, spiteful universe of ours. Yes, wherein to become somebody, you stomp on a road of bones of nobodies, for the sake of another notch in the belt, feather in the cap, or forelock-tugging nod of approval from People Who Matter. Well fuck them, and fuck anyone who wants to impress them, for giving in to the craven and weak impulse of Belonging, of yearning for Acceptance among gangs of life-adulterating whorehoppers. They don’t want You, they only want to use you, baby, and then toss you out on your ass for six months before slumming their way back again for one last screw.


It’s learned behavior, I’ve seen and heard it a thousand times. Thought I’d be immune to its awful effects by now- thought I’d be able to turn the other cheek and immerse my face in a mask of cynical cool, but Noooooooo, my conscience still pecks at my heart like a vulture, clawing away each last grain of immunity until all I have left is a Festering Sore of Wretched Shame, pulsating with the endless beat of Guilt. Oh yes, Guilt. That nagging affliction of the coddled and pretty around the world, that embarassing rash on the body politic of Meaningful Action. Repulsive, of course, but simultaneously contagious, and near-fatal when taken with severity, or imposed by the Pious.


What? What the fuck does that even mean, Mister? Here you are jabbering about Immoral Impulses when you should be fast asleep, preparing your mind and body to get up at Oh-Shit-Thirty along with the rest of the newly-yuppified Masses. That’s right, pal, no eschatological extemporization for you. You got off that bus years ago, and there won’t be another one coming your way until the end- you better believe it.


I know, I know, but I can’t stop. The bubbling hatred I periodically feel for the importunate few has overflown the porcelain yet again, but this time to a disturbingly toxic degree. It’s everywhere, man, and the smell’s starting to get to me. I don’t know what else to do- my colleagues can’t help me, my family just shakes their heads in sorrowful shame, and my friends have long since given up trying to deal with my intemperate impulses. What gives?


Well, yeah, I’d thought of projection, too, but really, I kicked that bastard away a long time ago, and I know his symptoms when he comes around. No, it’s gotta be something worse. I’ve gone through the twelve steps, but I think there must be a few more corollaries in there, or maybe some footnotes that I missed, because Something is Still Wrong and I can’t shake it, for the life of me. I’ll have to come back to it- I have comments to respond to diaries to post and approval to seek and-


OH MY GOD. It IS me. I have been looking in the mirror this time, and there is no fucking blue pill or red pill or any kinda pill that will save me now!!! Ah, Jesus God, how long? How long will my being get sucked away by these vile Tubes, how long until they are forcibly Yanked out and life begins to gush back to me again? Who can say? Not me, and not anyone else either, for that matter. Something is still rotten in Denmark, gang, but the Danes haven’t got long to figure out what it is. If Mr. Jones couldn’t grok it, then flip the switch and hit the big red button, man, cause it’s a mystery to all now.

[poll id=”

47

“]

The constancy of tides


Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. iv. 43

There are some things that will always be constant. Things infinite in the sense that it is beyond imagining a time ahead in which such things do not occur or exist. The tide is one of these things.

I know of a river where the water looks like thickened latte on most days. The confluence of salt water tide into fresh water river creates an almost viscous liquid and I wonder, when I dream of this river, if the water still feels like cold distilled syrup.

“An estuary is a semi-enclosed coastal body of water which has a free connection with the open sea and within which sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water from land drainage.”

PRITCHARD, D. W. 1967. “What is an estuary?”

The technical term for the Coquille River is “Drowned River Mouth Estuary”

A drowned river mouth estuary is a bountiful place, full of biological oddities of nature, some prehistoric, some not.  Several creatures and plants survive very well in the nutrient and oxygen-rich environment of a river or bay where salt and fresh water meet.  On the larger side, think of seals and fish, of birds and amphibians. Marsh plants do well; though they are delicate ecologically, they are so adapted to the changing content of the water and the different mineral stew of the river sediment, that changes seasonally with the tides do not affect their survival unless there is drought. Such plants do well as long as man doesn’t attempt to reclaim too much of the shoreline or discard too much garbage in the mouth of the marsh. To our undiscerning human eyes, marshy, swampy areas often look aesthetically like so much waste land, layered with decayed and rotting flora, and dry grasses and reeds that rise out of the changing levels of the water.

Over the course of European man’s encroachment on the Pacific coast, such swamps have historically been used as our private recycling centers.  A marsh wasteland is a rich place, though, and there are dozens of wealthy, though endangered ones on the Oregon south coast. In 2005, Congressman Peter De Fazio was instrumental in securing funds to protect marshlands, and in particular, the Bandon Marshlands adjacent to the Coquille River Bridge, by making certain that road improvements scheduled for the area included a critical restoration and rehabilitation project for the marshes surrounding the Coquille River, the bridge and the stretch of Highway 100 through the marshlands.

The tidal wetlands restoration project, made possible by the road improvements, will be the largest estuary wetlands restoration ever undertaken in Oregon, opening up more than 400 acres of diked former tidelands on the refuge to provide essential habitat for juvenile salmonids, including federally listed coho salmon. Migratory birds, particularly waterfowl and shorebirds, will greatly benefit from the restoration. The restoration project will also help protect against degradation numerous cultural resources sites of importance to the Coquille Indian Tribe, including remnants of a historic Indian fishing camp that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and considered to be one of the most important cultural resources sites in Oregon.
The Nature Conservancy Applauds Congressional Support for Oregon’s Bandon Marsh Wildlife Refuge

To maintain a navigable river means housekeeping the waterways of deadheads (submerged cut logs too long in the river and saturated enough to lurk below the river surface) and wind damage that floats down the river from farms and forests upstream.

There is irony in the term “Drowned River Mouth Estuary”, if only for me. My father drowned on this river, near those critical marshland by the Coquille River bridge in 1969, after spending almost two decades moving up and down this water route, from salt water to fresh and back again.  Many days he and I crossed the river bar to the ocean, as we towed log rafts out to sea. The inevitableness of dragging debris to sea, only to have the tide return it to shore, hangs around my mind sometimes. I never questioned it out loud as a kid, but I often wondered why we towed those logs to sea, when I thought they would in fact return on the next incoming tidal current.  I guess my dad knew the flow of the eddies and currents, and that the direction of the wind would likely drive the abandoned debris to more southern reaches of the shore away from the river mouth. I assume this to be the case, though I will never know. There was always so much debris to clear after every flooded early Fall and through a long drenched winter.

That syrup of the Coquille is the mix of things fresh and salty, muddy and dense, liquid and solid sediment.  Fresh water is less dense than salt water and when the two meet, wherever they meet because you never really know from one tide to the next where the margin will be between river outflow and tidal incursion, fresh water slides over salt water.  On rainy days, that fresh water is filled with debris and mud from erosion upstream and the river flow comes down with force against the incoming salt tide. The resultant sedimentary debris that floats to the bottom of the river changes the under tide pattern of the salt water layer and the bottom of the river is a mercurial and ever changing map, the topology of which is never stable in depth or breadth.

Along the bottom, the current moves mud and sludge that piles up in drifts with every tidal exchange between fresh and salt water. The Army Corps of Engineers has for many decades come to the Coquille to dredge the bottom. If this visit doesn’t occur on a reasonably regular basis, the Coquille would grow shallow, too shallow for the draught of lumber barges or deep draught ships, though there are fewer of these now.  The river bar of the Coquille is still the most dangerous on the Oregon coast, second only to the Columbia River bar.  The area between the north and south jetties is narrow and the incoming Pacific Ocean tide is so fierce that the cresting bar waves are never predictable. Factor in a wind that is almost constant and you have the mariner’s perfect fatal nightmare. Cape Blanco just to the south of Bandon has been clocked as one of the windiest places on earth (as mentioned in an earlier essay, The Big Blow).

My father worked on the Port of Bandon tugboat as first engineer in the 1950’s; the captain of the boat was one of my dad’s old Alaska buddies from the late 1930’s, so the job was a good fit for my father. 

The Port of Bandon tug operated out of the marina in Bandon near the mouth of the Coquille. This port was a less than majestic port, but truly functional as a midcoast center and terminal for lumber shipping operations and a healthy fishing industry. Those days are gone; the old Moore Mill machine shop and the city dock, I believe, are both removed or renovated to suit more tourist-oriented attractions.  “Touristification” has been the fate of most coastal Pacific towns as timber and fishing fail. I often wonder how many people are still familiar with the term “gyppo logger” and if there are any left. I remember nights at 9 pm in the summer when my dad would take me to the city dock to watch the trawlers return with their catch.  Huge halibut, ugly creatures, and red snapper, so prehistoric seeming, and tons of salmon the size of which seem to dwarf the fish tossed around at Seattle’s Pike Place Market now. I was a child and all things were bigger then.

The Oliver Olson barge ran aground on the south jetty of the Coquille River in 1953 and from what I remember of the story, it was because the barge operator refused to wait for the Port of Bandon tug to pilot it to sea from the mill upriver.  Andy, the captain of the Port of Bandon insisted wisely on the window of tide that granted a safer passage of a fully loaded barge across the bar. The Oliver Olson started out, but as she attempted the bar crossing, the currents pushed her south and hard against the outcropping of piled basalt rocks of the Coquille’s south jetty.  Dumped timber was everywhere – out to sea, upriver, washed up on the beaches.

Most of the timber was salvaged; the barge was a loss. They stripped her down and sliced her steel hull horizontally at around midpoint about 6 to 8 feet above the water line. The remains of the Oliver Olson form the base of a newer extension of the south jetty into the Pacific; the hull, filled with more basalt and cement, can still be seen at low tide if you float too close to the jetty as you cross the Coquille bar.  This bar is still a dangerous thing. Three well known natives of Bandon, friends of my parents, stalwarts of the community, highly familiar with the treachery of the Coquille, drowned in a capsized vessel as they came home across the bar several years back. There are some things that will always be constant.

The syrup of the river seems visually thick but it is actually a cold, cold water. The river runs high in the winter and spring and the surrounding fields and valleys upstream flood every year. I remember many days each year when schoolmates of mine were not at school because they were trapped in their houses in little dairy farms nested in those tiny valleys off of the river. You either had a boat to cross your farm pasture to get to the main road and hope that it was not also flooded, or you stayed home to sandbag the milk house and barn.  The Coquille used to rise so fast that it wasn’t uncommon after a really bad spring rain to see bloated cow corpses floating out to sea past the docks of the marina.

When I was ten, my father took me upstream on the river just down from a little hamlet called Riverton. The word “hamlet” wasn’t exactly how I thought of it back then – I think my mother’s disparaging term was “wide spot in the road”. In those days, Riverton had a ferry crossing that would get you over to a rural road on the other side of the river to another place called Randolph. The old ferry would handle only a couple of cars if I recall. There were tow cables stretching across the river and an old diesel engine that manipulated the pulley and the ferry maneuvered back and forth between the banks solely on the judgment and grace of the old ferryman.  The last time I went to Riverton, the ferry was not there and the road that dropped down to the landing was overgrown with grass. Not a trace to show a common way across. The old storefronts were there. But there was no visible evidence of a rural commerce once unfettered by modern technology and time.

If you are on the Coquille in the summer, and as long as you travel far enough upstream a mile or so from town or the 101 highway bridge, and away from the ocean wind, you can imagine yourself on a very miniature version of Huck Finn’s Mississippi.  It is hot and buggy as the syrupy water slowly flows by banks covered in brush and alder, low scrub salal and pine trees.  People two hundred years ago, numbering in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, walked on these low banks and high banks, gathered reeds and hunted deer, fished for the fresh water fish upstream and salmon downstream, ate salal berries for health and nutrition. The Miluks, with their own hamlets of timber and woven grasses, traded with other tribes, the Hanis, the Athabaskans, the Dine. They were massacred by miners and settlers, or relocated to the Suislaw reservation and were inevitably disenfranchised from all.  The land carries a memory of these footsteps, I’m sure.

There are sacred spots on the Coquille, though no language known carries the original stories and memories anymore.  The legends have been diluted by time and ignorance. A commercial glaze has been applied to appeal to tourists and gamblers.  At Bullard’s Beach state park on the Coquille, near the 101 bridge, ancient bones in ancient graves were found in 1969. I remember this event, not very publicized due to the academic nature of the dig, as the first time I realized that what I was familiar with was not what had always been. I guess I got “history” then, as some get “religion”.

Due south of that dig a couple of months later, perhaps two or three football fields in length away from the Indian burial site, in some dark spot on the Coquille my father drowned, an early dark evening in October 1969. It was very stormy and windy that day and my father was upriver some from the marina securing log rafts to pilings just off the banks of the Coquille near the bridge.  Near the 101 bridge and the marsh lands that are now a protected wildlife sanctuary.  In those days, there were wooden billboards stuck down in the mud of the smelly marshlands advertising everything from local motels to Lucky Strikes. 

That dark spot of the drowned river estuary called the Coquille, or “little shell”, based on what I remember of the tidal flow and the fresh water push, is where fresh and salt most often meet. His boat was a 28 foot diesel outboard and was never found, though the Coast Guard dragged the area for a few days in the attempt to determine what had happened.

I think of that boat a lot nowadays, when I haven’t for decades.  There is something about the story that to me has no ending.  It may be because the boat was never found; there was no real closure in the determination of how my father drowned. He was an excellent swimmer, had survived crabbing in the Aleutians in winter, fishing out of Dutch Harbor in the summer season, and working in the Todd Shipyards for many years from the mid 1930’s until the 1950’s.  To drown on a stormy river, and not the result of a bar crossing accident, or the swamping of forty foot waves in the Gulf of Alaska – this stalls my mind. In my dreams I am the Wizard of Oz and I give the right gift to everyone, I make everything complete, I offer closure for the most pedestrian of foolish desires. Even mine.  I dream I go back and drag the river and find the boat. I see the boat in that sediment, that muddy stew of time and tide. I don’t dream that it gives me answers, I dream that it puts the period at the end of the sentence that now ends with a question mark.

The wound of the question may heal; the scar left behind will always be there. There are some things that will always be.

I’ve always lived near water. In twenty-some moves in my life, in three different coastal states, I’ve always either seen water from where I live or I could walk to it.  It haunts me and I have fallen in love with it and I cannot leave it behind. There are elements of both ephemera and immutability in the sediment of the Coquille and that is my dad’s true grave. The tide comes in and out and the river bottom ever changes.

There are some things that will always be constant.

Again, a nod to Norman Maclean.

(All photos unless otherwise cited are permissable Use granted by the Oregon State Archives
Photos by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives, Copyright 2002
)

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