HOWARD STAYS THE COURSE July 31, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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No cutting and running for John Howard it seems. He announced to day that he would continue to prime minister at least until the next election. And then he might continue after then Well at least that is the plan.
Still as has been said today this announcement marks the beginning of the next election campaign. The commentariate has written off Kim Beazley chances. We will see.
Other things being equal, this will be the second Federal Election covered here.
Should you ask, I can say that I would be against sending troops to Lebanon, since I think by doing so they will be doing the bidding of Israel and given past experience are likely to become targets.
FALSE EQUIVALENCE July 30, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Here is Moustafa’s take on the bombing and murder of women and children by the Israeli State war machine. Indifference is only distance and inhumanity, read lack of imagination and empathy for the suffering of others in the guise of dispassionate analysis.
A New York Times article saw Hizbullah as a new type of 21st Century network organization that poses a threat to State war machines, as demonstrated by Israel’s tactical retreat. Humanity help us! The fact is, in these situations as the Israeli government knows, and the British government knows, you have to open dialogue with the players, state and non-state. Dialogue has the remarkable quality of humanizing your enemy, promotes rational outcomes based on agreement, not force, and so impedes mindful and mindless murder.
Military force is still being promoted as the solution to issues, on the premise that if you completely bash one side, your will get in the word of the great leader of Western Civilization, “clarity” and submission to the preordained dystopian future. Trouble is – and what does evidence matter? – this never seems to work with civilian populations, or when it appears to, it does so by embedding misery, plighted lives and violence. To the extent that this belief is held, it is evidence we have lost our moral and ethical sense, and thus perhaps the most important ingredient of our humanity. However, I do not suggest that I am always consistent, clear and logical on this point in my dealing with others, but I do see the necessity. I will be judged by my neighbours.
So what might the intellectuals contribute to the public debate? They are often better able to see through the propaganda. And that is a very useful thing to do. Consider, Juan Cole’s analysis of Blair’s false equivalence, which goes to the essence of the conflict in Lebanon and North Israel, although it does not address the question as to why does Israel seek to destroy Lebanese democracy?
I am told, via Public Interst, that Iraq has slipped off the public radar screens, even as the killing and barbarity increases. How convenient for the great leader of Western Civilization?
HIZBULLAH – A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION July 29, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Addressing a Liberal Party meeting today, John Howard declared that Hizbullah was a terrorist organization, and implicitly declared his support and that of the Australian Government for the Israeli war crimes in Lebanon. At least Howard is reading from the same hymn book as both The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. Then he went out into the street and his car was surrounded by an angry crowd.
The Maronite President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud had a somewhat different description. He said, according to Wikipedia:
“For us Lebanese, and I can tell you the majority of Lebanese, Hezbollah is a national resistance movement. If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have liberated our land. And because of that, we have big esteem for the Hezbollah movement.”
Juan Cole states that Hizbullah are committing war crimes by sending the Kaytusha rockets onto Israel because they are so inaccurate that they cannot distinguish between civilian and military targets.
The bombing of Lebanon by the Israeli Defence Forces has demonstrated that Israel is a terrorist state. A conclusion supported by their behavior in Gaza and on the West Bank. Of course Israel is armed and bankrolled by the United States, so I suppose draw your own conclusions. It is reasonably clear that the American Government effectively gave permission for the Israeli assault, while perhaps not expecting the ensuing war would last close to three weeks, and no immediate of it ending any time soon.
As has been pointed out Hizbullah means “party of god”, not “army of god”, but in it military operation it suggests a likeness, to me at least, of the Hospitallers and the Templars from earlier times. It seems that Hizbullah, according to this report in The Guardian, is a disciplined organization, forged by war.
It seems to me that Israel’s aerial assault on Lebanon was designed not merely to destroy its economy, but also Lebanon’s democracy, because as we are told the Christian areas of Beirut have been spared. I do not believe there are too many precedents, and it is a reminder perhaps of the how democracies can be internally gutted. One case, suggested by Jacobo Timerman in The Longest War (1982), is the repeated electoral success of Juan Peron in Argentina.
Israel may prevail militarily, or may not, but by its inhumanity and disporportionality of its response, it must, I believe lose the support of world opinion, and increasingly many may well observe that there is something rotten in the State of Israel. Healthy democracies will, by definition see through the fog of lies, half truths and propaganda. This situation is a test for us as well.
Postscript: 30 July 2006
ABC Radio National program Rear Vision has just played its take on the history of Hizbullah. You should be able to replay the program within a short time by going here.
And here we get to listen to, or see, the voice of power, and we are told the problems in the Middle East all arise from September 11, and not the other way round. Although as I recall almost none of the perpetrators of the crime of 11 September 2001 were Palestinians, and none were Lebanese. Brad DeLong:
Not One of the Twenty-Five Million People You Would Think Might Be President Someday – 28 July
Somewhat impressed with Bush’s perspicuity – just the kind of bloke, with just those intellectual skills, who ought to be leader of the Western World, Brad DeLong lays on the praise.
Here is the excerpt from the Press Conference with Blair and Bush , via Talking Points.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG;WALKING IN THE RAIN July 28, 2006Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Much of this week Sasha and Dexter were out walking in the rain. Sasha is very much a water dog where as Dexter tended in the past to awoid water. We get falls of rain but we keep water restrictions. The rain seems not to fall, or not to fall in sufficient quantity over the dam catchment areas.
Friday Ark at Modulator this week turns 97, and The Carnival of the Dogs continues at Mickey’s Musings.
THE RIGHT TO EXIST July 27, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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No one is to question the sacred tenet that Israel has the right to exist, but it seems that Lebanon does not have the right to exist, or the Palestinians do not have a right to exist. The murderers that the Israelis have shown themselves to be by their attack on Lebanon call into existence their right to exist. In a civilized societies, and let us suppose these are standards the world ought to apply, murderers are tried and then locked up.
It should be evident by now that the concept and practice of Israel is untenable. Can it nuclear weapons defend it? Can its much vaunted army defend it? They are good, like all bullies, at bashing up on civilians, killing children, “punishing” the Gazans and the Lebanese, but they are less impressive when they come up a determined enemy that can fight back, as perhaps Hizbullah is proving to be. The Sydney Morning Herald in its editorial today expressed the view that Israel will eventually prevail in battle, but I am not so sure. This assumption is based on Israeli success in the Six Day War, which is now all but forty years ago. May be they will. But should they win, what will they win?
Israel can never be at peace. It is an apartheid state and a military fortress. It must devour it neighbours, making a two state solution impossible, and in so doing negating itself. It continued existence rests on the ethnic cleansing of the original inhabitants, and the process of purging the original people, in diverse guises has continued relentlessly. In the suburbs of East Jerusalem by planning ordinances, in Gaza by creating a prison, on the West Bank by building the wall and stealing land and resources to create dispossession and impoverishment of the original inhabitants. Dispossession sets up the rationale and dynamic of asymmetric conflict.
In the Middle East, the nation states, including Israel, are the bequests of the imperial legacy following the First World War and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Egypt may be the exception. Iraq for example was created by the British, and now is being destroyed by the Americans.
Reconciliation and truth, not dominance and submission, are preconditions for peace. There needs to be recognition of the rights, grievances and experiences of all the people involved. Somehow the people of Israel have to find space for the Palestinians and the Palestinians will have to find space for the Israelis. They need to create a new political system that will enable to live together, resolve conflicts and solve problems.
I suppose it is the task of we humans not merely to question our assumptions, but to transend our histories, not that it will change us, but that in doing so we might make possible for others to live.
Here, via CommonDreams, as I anticipated, is a dissenting Israeli view.
PIN POINT ACCURACY July 26, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The Israeli spin machine was weaving the line about attacking with “pin point accuracy”. Now there are, among others reports of an attack on an ambulance and a UN border post. The BBC reports in relation to the UN post says that:
UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says. The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling nearby, diplomats familiar with the initial probe into the deaths say.. . The four unarmed UN observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, died after their UN post was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday. The UN report says each time the UN contacted Israeli forces, they were assured the firing would stop.
Israel according to the same report rejected the Secretary General’s comment that the targeting was “apparently deliberate”.
Pin point one moment, errant the next. Perhaps, like the outdated Soviet-sourced kaytusha rockets, this weapon doubtless supplied by the Americans was not a “precision-guided missile” after all.
Hizbullah is routinely characterized as a “terrorist organization”, but the evidence from the two week bombing campaign of Lebanon is that Israel can accurately be described as terrorist state, that is, in accordance with a strict definition it is seeking to achieve political objectives by using military terror against civilian populations. Of course, it is possible to add the behavior in Gaza and the West Bank as further evidence.
I do not understand why the Israeli war crimes go unreported in the mainstream media that I hear and see.
SIMPLE QUESTION July 24, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Reflecting upon the death and destruction wrought on Lebanon, and there is no equivalence in magnitude by Hizbullah: What do you have to do before you are indicted as a war criminal?
Why have the newspapers and much of the media decided to look the other way because Israel is involved and the United States Government is implicated?
The only excuses available are variants on cowardice.
The Israelis have planned their actions, including as I recall providing a presentation to the Americans1., making their moral culpability greater. On this basis, and with their considerable advantage in military power – air, ground and sea – as the make the idea of asymmetical warfare almost irrelevant. And yet we are told, via Yagil Levy in Haaretz, that the decision to open “Lebanon War II” was a rushed one in response to a cross border raid by Hizbullah in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two captured.
A major difference from 1982 is the absence of the Soviet Union, who Syria could rely on to supply arms, and it is significant that what amounts to outdated technology compared to what the Israelis are given, the Kaytusha rockets, are still being used.
Haaretz reports on the demonstrations held over the weekend in Australia and New Zealand, something that to my knowledge was not done yesterday at least in The Sydney Morning Herald. There were it seems counter demonstrations by Ukrainian demonstrations in Kiev. I suspect that Israel is losing the struggle for world opinion as others can see the obscenity of the bombing in Beirut and elsewhere.
Finally, I observe it is risible for the US Secretary of State to presume to engage in peace diplomacy.
Footnote: 1. Tim Dunlop has a reference for this here
PROTESTING THE BOMBING OF LEBANON. July 23, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The bombing of civilian targets, such as Beirut Airport, roads, bridges and housing clearly constitutes a war crime, but governments, not least the Australian Government, and newspapers appear to accept the unacceptable. I am not surprised by George Walker Bush’s callous irresponsibility, and given his record I should have expected it.
The Israeli Government appears to think that it can do anything without regard to humanitarian principles, provided the spin is in place, and it always is. To act in such a disregard, to place deliberate lying above truth, for any government places them at the same level as the Nazi Government, for example, regarding the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. To make this comparison objective it would be necessary to draw attention to what is similar and different.
I know that people will recoil at the suggestion, not least because the people involved are Jewish, often descendant from those who have experienced concentration camps, gas chambers and pogroms, but that history does not give Israel the right to inflict similar inhumanity on others. Rather, I would expect that rather than callousness exhibited by the strange personality of the President of the United States(although Juan Cole suggests that he has been kept out of the loop – “Yo American Democracy!”), Israelis might be inclined to be more empathetic than is typical among other human beings. My knowledge of what happened to European Jews rests heavily on Peter Singer’s Pushing Back History.
I am wondering why Israeli protests against the actions of their government have been so muted. As in any explanation there are probably a number of contributing reasons. One might be distance from the events of history. I see the reports of the recent deaths of Israeli soldiers and note their ages – twenty-one, twenty and nineteen. I am reminded of the plaques on the trees in Kings Park, Perth. My own grandfather was a survivor of the First World, and one of six or seven boys, of which all but three were killed in that war. I do not know their names, or where they died. This small personal vignette is more typical than it is unusual.
A second contribution, I suggest, is the development of fortress Israel with a predisposition to use of military force, in which Israel is overwhelmingly superior, due significantly to the arming by the Americans, evidenced by the recent reports of supplying advanced military technology to provide the “pin point accuracy” the spin doctors are claiming. Relying on military power, the Israelis have not avoided the trap of exercising it to achieve other aims in the West Bank and Gaza, along with other techniques such as planning laws to expand their control and settlement of Arab communities. The Israelis have become colonizers, with the colonizers mentality toward the subject people.
And then I suggest the preponderance of Israeli military power has lead to asymmetrical warfare in the form of suicide bombing which seeks the weakest target regardless, so a university cafeteria or American troops giving out lollies to Iraqi children are suitable targets. I suspect faced with such outrages the ground has cut off beneath the feet of those who protest the current inhumanity and criminality of the Israeli state in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
Reflecting on the state of the Middle East, that America and Israel are exhibiting the policies of failed states. Contemporary Iran, the new bogeyman of Middle East politics, is very much the embodiment of failed US policies beginning with the coup in 1953. The gated community of Israel eats its own history. The ideals of the American Republic and of the Israeli founders are being trashed in the broken cities and roads of Lebanon, and the deaths of people, not least children.
I do not see how, but let us believe that International Law will eventually prevail. The International Criminal Court has only been in existence since 1992.
RAIN BUT NO WATER STORAGE July 22, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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It always seems to be the case that we get rain, and then are told that it has not fallen in the dam catchment areas, so the water restrictions continue. I have often commented that we should move the dams and the catchment areas, which I suppose means in practice that we all get water tanks. I have not done anything about this proposal, other than to think it a good idea.
The situation is reported by ABC Illawarra on Friday, 21 July 2006:
Recent rain across the Illawarra region has done little to boost dam levels. In the past few days, 15 to 20 millimetres of rain has fallen in the Illawarra catchment area.
Alison White from the Sydney Catchment Authority says while the rain has stabilised dam storage levels, residents still need to monitor their water use. “Avon Dam this week is sitting at 33.4 per cent of capacity, that’s down 0.3 of 1 per cent since last week, and Nepean Dam, which is linked to Avon Dam via a tunnel, is sitting at 69 per cent of capacity and it’s gone up 0.5 of 1 per cent since last week,” she said.
Meanwhile, level one water restrictions are being lifted across the Shoalhaven today, after significant rainfall over the past month. The city has been on the water restrictions since May 15.
The acting director of Shoalhaven Water, Bill Tomkinson, says council’s drought management team met on Monday and decided the Shoalhaven’s water supply is in a very healthy condition. “We’ve had very good rains on the coast, well above 30 per cent above average, we’ve had reasonably good rain in the catchment, the catchment is fairly damp now, so any rainfall that we do get produces some good run-off and that’s been producing some good flows in the Shoalhaven River, and that’s enabled us to pump from the river over the last six weeks – all our dams are 99 per cent full,” he said.
Water, I always believed would be a public good, requiring public management, but yet influenced by individual behavior. It turns out this does not seem to be the case. We are talking semantics and definitions, but if not a public good what is it?
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – TALES ALONG THE TRAIL July 21, 2006Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Sasha and Dexter were out most days, even though it rained through the week. For all I know every day has different smells. Since at one point, if photos are to be believed Dexter had lost his tail, but this proved to be illusory.
Friday Ark at Modulator turns 96 this week, and I have to suppose that they are back from their honeymoon at Mickey’s Musings while the Carnival of the Dogs plays on.
ANOTHER FINAL SOLUTION July 20, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Gentle aside to the Israeli murders: If you want the Final Solution put your prisoners in gas chambers, then they will not represent bargaining chips to be exchanged for Israeli soldiers. The added bonus, you will not have to murder Lebanese children. Unfortunately you would not have then a pretext for your repeated reign of terror and murder. The events of 1982 are of course now forgotten.
None of this could happen without the consent of George Walker Bush, and those around him. It is transparent that he has no sense of responsibility.
The murder in Lebanon, and at a much lower level within the borders of the Israeli state, represents a considerable, and perhaps welcome diversion from the events in Iraq – another Final Solution that did not quite work as anticipated.
It is hard to work out what all the indiscriminate murder and trashing of the Lebanese infrastructure has as its purpose and rationale. According to The LA Times it is about neutralizing the potential influence and impact of Iran. Yet according to these views expressed in Deutsche Wella, Hizbullah is a best an irritant, a pin prick.
Still the Israeli murderers are happy. George Bush is happy. The innocent are suffering. I dare not wish to speculate what the consequences of these crimes will give rise to.
When will the all perpetrators of war crimes be brought to account?
Postscript: 21 July 2006:
Here is a discussion of the issues related to war crimes from the BBC.
Alexander Cockburn at CounterPunch has a brief summary of the ongoing Middle East war, which refers to 1982 and provides context for my reference.
The “Final Solution” is of course a reference to what otherwise, at least in English, is known as the Holocaust, and their is a range of reference here, including one paper that deals with the various visions of the World War II leaders.
We now are all members of the same global village, and the events in the Middle East may well have a impact on us, distant though we consider ourselves to be. Therefore we are not merely disinterested observers. I doubt, and history seem to testify, that a workable solution will not be forged by blood and terror, but rather by justice and humanity.
WAR CRIMES July 19, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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There are, we are told, about 25,000 Australians in Lebanon, and given the bombing of Beirut Airport, as well as the roads and bridges in the country, and the limited number of vessels available to ship them out, most of these people are still trapped in a Lebanon of diminishing possibilities and a significant refugee crisis, (via the LA Times).
Furthermore, we are told that Israel would not suspend its military aggression against civilian and other targets to allow for the passage out of Australian citizens. Therefore, has Israel by attacking Lebanon in effect uncompromisingly attacked Australia? This would be the same contention in relation to the effect of the Bali bombing. I would not be making this suggestion if, for example, the Israelis had sought – I do not know how – to track down and incapacitate the trucks, or other vehicles, used to launch missile strikes, or more practically sought dialogue with Hizbullah.
As it is, Israel stands accused of war crimes, representing a bitter irony given the Nuremburg Trials are one basis for this indictment. A small part of the murderous evidence in photographs is available here.
Juan Cole makes the case for war crimes.
Rami G Khouri, of The Daily Star, is seeking to get back to his Beirut home, in a remarkedly measured report, so as to stand against the Israeli assualt.
SECOND ANNIVERSARY July 18, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Today marks the second anniversary of this blog. Time to celebrate with a cup of tea. Has this blog got better? Has it got worse? Or is it simply irrelevant?
ISRAELI AGGRESSION AND MURDER July 18, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Given the support of the United States, it seems that Israel is able to do what it likes regardless of the consequences. The Supreme Court of the United States recognizes International Law, but apparently the Government, in particular, the Executive does not.
At least two observations can be made. The fact that Israel has chosen to smash up the infrastructure of multi-cultural Lebanon speaks about the mentality of the Israeli Government. What problem to Israel does a prosperous Lebanon offer? In fact, I would expect many Israelis would consider this outcome to be a form of future security.
Hizbullah may be extremists, but they were prepared to support the Palestinians. It seems to me this widened war has been conducted on the basis of faulty intelligence. Apparently, the Israelis did not appreciate the rockets that Hizbullah had available.
It occurs to me the behavior of the Israelis might accurately be described as fascist – the presumption that some people will only understand murder and the exercise of superior military force. Fascism did exist among the Israeli Jews, as I remember reading much to my surprise prior to the Second World War as it did elsewhere. It seems that migrants from Russia brought with them a much more aggressive form of Judaism.
For other, and better informed comments see Juan Cole. The msm is mostly, in my opinion, worse than useless other than in reporting events but not providing the framing context. To illustrate this point consider what Juan Cole has to say about Bush’s overheard comment and what is reported in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Israel, premised on a single religion,and the corollary of ethnic cleansing, seems to me to be fundamentally flawed, not withstanding its democratic expressions and institutions.
Kathleen Christison has an analysis of the behavior of Israel.
END OF MIDDLE CLASS DEMOCRACY? July 16, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Paul Krugman, via Democracy Now! addresses the issue of the new class war in which the incomes of the very, very rich have increased, and median incomes have remained static. There is now a new Gilded Age. The Plutocracy is again in the ascendant with class differences and barriers. Paul Krugman reviews the statistics of income distribution and the evidence of real estate on Long Island and along the Connecticut shore. The major observation: “most people are not sharing in economic growth.” Krugman asks: “What does the polarisation of income do to our society?” He see at least two major implications – the increased liklihood of corporate corruption and increasingly polarized electoral process.
Why has this happened? It occurred to me it might have something to do with the fall of the Soviet Union on the basis that was the most significant development in the past thirty years. There may be other explanations, but how would this work? And Tarig Ali has the explanation the ABC program Rear Vision: The History of Democracy (Part 2). The argument follows this general outline.
[The Western Powers, who had been imperial powers argued that imperialism broughtg democracy and civilization. The process of decolonization took place in the context of the Cold War, a competition in the social systems of communism and capitalism. The newly decolonized countries had the option of adopting the Soviet Model. Tarig Ali suggests the fall of Soviet Union affected the internal working vitually in the entire Western World. There was no longer a interest to promote democracy in its own countries. With no enemy challenge the social order or captialism could follow its "natural order". In most of the Western World difference between centre left and centre right has become non existence. Ideology of capitalism has assumed dominance with democracy getting weaker and weaker.]
The times have suited John Howard. We have witnessed the increased use of polarized issues to swing the maginal seats. The skills of propaganda have not changed since Goebbels, and they demonstated their efficacy then. It is surprising that people will vote against their best interests and believe in the illusion of prosperity.
The implications and ramifications for Australian society will be very significant if the next election is fought on the basis of the Industrial Relations legislation and the Labor Party loses.
GLOBAL WARMING July 15, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Let us hope that the wildfires in California are not a portent of bush fires in our next summer.
I heard that the severity of theses fires was due in part to the global warming. Global warming is said by some to a more accurate description than Climate Change, since I suppose the planet seems to be getting warmer rather than colder, which presumably would be global cooling.
FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – SIGNS OF ANXIETY? July 14, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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At his check-up at the Vets this week, the Vet commented that he saw evidence of anxiety in Dexter’s behavior, with the implication as I understood the report that this behavior was general and not situational. By being anxious, a dog is more likely to be dangerous. I suppose it is catch 22. Dexter tends to be reactive, so I try to avoid as much as possible to avoid other people and dogs. This means that he is not given the opportunity to socialize.
I have tried to look at this week’s photos for evidence of anxiety. There is not much evidence I can see with regard to Sasha.
The counter at Friday Ark, at Modulator, reaches 95 this week, while the Carnival of the Dogs plays on at Mickey’s Musings. I always prefer to click-on to the photos to enlarge them.
THE DARK SIDE July 13, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Scott Lehigh reports in the Boston Globe that “the dark side”, so coined by Richard Bruce Cheney is all about believing what you want to believe.
When you close down dissenting voices, who might know otherwise, the whole system works a treat, and then you invade a country causing countless deaths to innocent people.
“Oh brave new world, . . .”
I recommend watching the PBS Frontline program.
MUMBAI BOMBING July 12, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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This story is getting coverage in the prominent US papers, and elsewhere, including the BBC, but in a secondary role. It is apparently so un-New York.
I cannot but think that coming almost on the anniversary of the London Bombings is significant.
Hopefully there will be no retaliatory actions taken against Indian Muslims. The major Kashmiri groups have denied any involvement. The Maharastra police seem to have had inkling that some such action was in the planning stages.
Where the Mumbai bombing is different from Madrid and London is that explosives were lodged in luggage racks, and they do not seem to have involved suicide bombers.
HOWARD AND COSTELLO July 12, 2006Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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The ground has shifted, as evidence to me by the tone of Costello’s replies I heard on News Radio this morning. I then to agree with Tim Dunlop, who characterizes Howard as a dead duck, but said the relationship between Howard and Costello is now irredeemably broken.
Costello may in a sense be back in his box, but Howard is now we are told locked into a position where he cannot resign, and ride off into the sunset. So who is suffering from hubris? At the next election does Howard then claim that he will continue as long as his party wants him in the leadership position – the indispensable man of Australian politics.
I am inclined to believe that a deal was done in 1994, and that seems to me the most sensible way to resolve leadership issues. All the talk from both candidates about their party colleagues is just bunkum, as is all the talk about the talent in the Liberal Party, and of what there is, much of it is in the backbenchers – and I wonder how that works.
The ball is now in Howard’s court. What will he do? What should he do? The problem is that Howard does not have an alternative life plan, and prime ministers have relevance problem once they leave the job. I expect Howard to doggedly cling on.
I think that Costello is right about the smooth transition stuff, because it was an awful mess last time following the departure of Menzies, compounded soon after by the unusual death of Harold Holt.
And we all thought it was going to be the Abbott and Costello show.