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ANOTHER LIE January 31, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
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The lies, it seems, just keep coming in Iraq. Last week there was the story of Iraqis dressing up as soldiers and driving Sports Utility Vehicles through numerous checkpoints with seven American soldiers dieing in the attack. We are now told it was not like that at all. The Americans were captured and assassinated with bullets fired through their heads.

Now,  a resport in The Independent alleges, that the reported firefight with the extremist religious group at Najaf did not happen. Instead there was a massacre. Patrick Cockburn reports:

There are growing suspicions in Iraq that the official story of the battle outside Najaf between a messianic Iraqi cult and the Iraqi security forces supported by the US, in which 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre.

A picture is beginning to emerge of a clash between an Iraqi Shia tribe on a pilgrimage to Najaf and an Iraqi army checkpoint that led the US to intervene with devastating effect. The involvement of Ahmed al-Hassani (also known as Abu Kamar), who believed himself to be the coming Mahdi, or Messiah, appears to have been accidental.

The story emerging on independent Iraqi websites and in Arabic newspapers is entirely different from the government’s account of the battle with the so-called “Soldiers of Heaven”, planning a raid on Najaf to kill Shia religious leaders.

The cult denied it was involved in the fighting, saying it was a peaceful movement. The incident reportedly began when a procession of 200 pilgrims was on its way, on foot, to celebrate Ashura in Najaf. They came from the Hawatim tribe, which lives between Najaf and Diwaniyah to the south, and arrived in the Zarga area, one mile from Najaf at about 6am on Sunday. Heading the procession was the chief of the tribe, Hajj Sa’ad Sa’ad Nayif al-Hatemi, and his wife driving in their 1982 Super Toyota sedan because they could not walk. When they reached an Iraqi army checkpoint it opened fire, killing Mr Hatemi, his wife and his driver, Jabar Ridha al-Hatemi. The tribe, fully armed because they were travelling at night, then assaulted the checkpoint to avenge their fallen chief.

Members of another tribe called Khaza’il living in Zarga tried to stop the fighting but they themselves came under fire. Meanwhile, the soldiers and police at the checkpoint called up their commanders saying they were under attack from al-Qai’da with advanced weapons. Reinforcements poured into the area and surrounded the Hawatim tribe in the nearby orchards. The tribesmen tried – in vain – to get their attackers to cease fire.

American helicopters then arrived and dropped leaflets saying: “To the terrorists, surrender before we bomb the area.” The tribesmen went on firing and a US helicopter was hit and crashed killing two crewmen. The tribesmen say they do not know if they hit it or if it was brought down by friendly fire. The US aircraft launched an intense aerial bombardment in which 120 tribesmen and local residents were killed by 4am on Monday.

The messianic group led by Ahmad al-Hassani, which was already at odds with the Iraqi authorities in Najaf, was drawn into the fighting because it was based in Zarga and its presence provided a convenient excuse for what was in effect a massacre. The Hawatim and Khaza’il tribes are opposed to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Dawa Party, who both control Najaf and make up the core of the Baghdad government.

This account cannot be substantiated and is drawn from the Healing Iraq website and the authoritative Baghdad daily Azzaman. But it would explain the disparity between the government casualties – less than 25 by one account – and the great number of their opponents killed and wounded. The Iraqi authorities have sealed the site and are not letting reporters talk to the wounded.

In future, I suppose, we might be more sceptical before we immediately believe all that we are told, especially when the stories contain unbelieveable developments.

THE TORTURE OF HICKS? January 31, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights.
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The ABC Online report of David Hicks incarceration in Camp 6 at Guantanamo Bay appears on the basis of the report of his Australian lawyer to be torture. After five years of imprisonment, Hicks has not been charged, and he is faced with a rigged court that will, for example, allow hearsay evidence and evidence acquired under torture. It is understood that these conditions are acceptable to the Australian Government, which must be the most disgraceful and craven repudiation of basic values in Australian history.

This after all is the age of the Internet. I sent the following message to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives:

You may be aware that among the inmates of Guantanamo Bay there is one Australian, David Hicks, who along with the other prisoners has not been charged after five years. More exactly, there were charges, which were thrown out by the decision of the Supreme Court.

I am particularly concerned about Hicks following this story on ABC Online. In so far as this report is accurate, other prisoners are probably subject to similar abuse; these practices are contrary to the principles, including due process, set out in your Constitution.

In my view this is a classic example of the excesses of executive government that your founders properly and inspiringly spoke out about and were courageous in defying.

Perhaps now is an appropriate time for Congress to investigate and bring to light the full evidence in relation to Guantanamo and the other “extraordinary rendition” torture camps.

Mrs Pelosi may, or may not, be interested, but it is worth a try. It seems to me a fundamental duty of a citizen to protect and promote a fair trial under the law, independent  of any suppositions about quilt or innocence, and recognizing that “justice delayed is justice denied”. This proposition is not a question of any special knowledge or expertise, although eloquence and skill never go amiss; it a basic principle of society committed to principles of justice. The irony is that to deny such principles, especially at the unfettered dictate of the Executive is in effect to create a reign of terror.

I do not expect a reply.

 

THE MARCH IN WASHINGTON January 28, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth, US Politics.
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370961801_39f3492e3d.jpg

A large number of people attended, although there were no official estimates. Supporting marches were held in, at least, Boston and Los Angeles.

Several Democrats from Congress were prepared to attend the march and speak out against the March of Folly in Baghdad. A number of reports noted the change in climate with majority support apparently opposed to the Iraq fiasco. Of the online sites I saw, only The New York Times did not carry a report and video of the march.

Avaaz reports that the support from the global virtual marchers was well received by the marchers and some of them, including some Australians wanted to hold the flag. Symbols influence people.

Postscript:

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning used the hook of Jane Fonda’s celebrity to report the Washington March.

Avaaz reports that they carried the flags of 198 countires representing 87,000 people. You may see a familiar emblem between those of Canada, just behind Finland, and Brazil in this photo:

aussie-flag.jpg

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – FRAMING THE FAMILIAR January 27, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Awareness of the familiar is mostly taken for granted, and the total picture is seldom perceived. Insight into the ordinary might be possible by piecing together fragmentary parts. What Sasha and Dexter make of their lifestyle, it is hard to say, except that sometimes they can be caught enjoying themselves.

Dexter and Sasha enjoy their morning walk. 23 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Vision of a quicker path. 23 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Content to reflect . 23 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

We have take off! 23 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Dexter on his run up. 24 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Sasha bids her time. 24 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Mission almost accomplished. 24 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

A cockatoo stops by for a drink. 24 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

The benefits of rain. 25 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

No jumping this morning. 25 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Catching the evening sun. 26 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Having good fun. 26 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Almost home. 26 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

As always, we hope to jump on the Carnival of the Dogs and surf over to Friday Ark #123.

AUSTRALIA DAY January 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Today is also Republic Day in India – the day that marked the end of the British Empire, as much as the independence of India. By contrast, Australia in 1901 with the signing of the Federal Constitution continued to be part of the Empire, perhaps even more so as an economic union of states.

Unlike the Indians, Australia Day does not have its original in a political act of independence and nation creation but the beginning of an invasion and conquest of the indigenous people and settlement by mostly displaced from Europe. The Europeans were, originally military and naval personnel, gaolers and prisoners, later opportunists, bureaucrats, social climbers and a whole cast of human motivation, including wars, coups and economic distress.

A capacity for thorough organization, much as that needed to maintain a ship at sea, far from its home port, was a capacity and a necessity in evidence from the beginning. So the Australian Federation, rare amongst such creations to survive, evidence that it was not purely imperial in its formation, was created and maintained by political and legal skill.

Australians, like Indians, share a love of cricket, and I suppose in both cases pleasure and therapy in beating the English. Now, as is evidence by today’s game, this  from of national expression has become so easy, it has lost its appeal.

While the Egalitarian Myth was a distinguishing feature for much of Australia’s history, the truth always was that the population was composed of elites and sets of ordinary people living parallel lives subject to the redistribution of economic change and subject to prescribed roles and the determination of social class. By contrast with India where caste and class are public and overt, class in Australia is subconscious and covert, so as not to fully understood, or at least more easily misrepresented.

The problem with political elites, as distinct from sporting and scientific elites, is the difficulty of definition. It is a paradoxical speculation no doubt that elites are crucial to the running of the country and the preservation of its democracy, in the past as now. In the current economic climate the extreme wealth of business executives does not fracture the social consensus between the workers and the bosses, I suspect, but that between the “business elite” and other elites, such as those in medicine, which has no foundation in social utility.

All countries have social divisions, but to emphasis such divisions for political purposes and not greater social equality may well lead to social collapse, from the top as much as the bottom. Fear, as the so-called “war on terror” will demonstrate, is a very poor form of social glue. Australia is challenged, as much as other nations as the world changes, not solely due to climate change.

GLOBAL PEACE MARCH January 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
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There is a chance, you have not heard about the Global Peace March to be held tomorrow Washington time. This is the opportunity for people from around the world to join in a common cause of peace with justice:

This Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Americans will march on Washington DC to demand peace and justice in Iraq and the Middle East. We can be there too, raising a global voice of solidarity — through our own worldwide virtual march. Time is short, so add your voice and join the march today!

Avaaz supporters in Washington have offered to carry real banners and placards at the US demonstration – showing how many internet marchers from all round the world are joining in. We will carry the flag of each country that generates more than 500 internet marchers, so tell your friends!

With American opposition to this war mounting, 45,000 of us from over 100 countries have already joined the call to oppose Bush’s military escalation and demand a real plan to end this war.

Can we get 75,000 – even 100,000 people from round the world to join the march before Saturday?

This could signal the rebirth of the US peace movement. We need to show them the world is on their side. Let’s bring our call for peace to the streets of power in Washington. Join the global peace march.

DEFEATING TERROR January 25, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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Juan Cole sets out his critique of the State of the Union that address the escalation and situation in Iraq, saying the ‘war on terror” was a misnomer. The British DPP , Sir Ken  MacDonald, via The Guardian, argues “There is no War on Terror”.

He says (among other comments):

“London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, ‘soldiers’. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a ‘war on terror’, just as there can be no such thing as a ‘war on drugs’.

“The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.”

There can be no justification for the indiscriminate killing of people as in suicide bombing regardless of the grievance, although I think it foolish to ignore the motivation. The situation in Iraq, for example, is appalling due to the escalating violence. If we can identify suicide bombers as criminals, so can we identify those who bomb civilian targets.

In my opinion we need a wider sense of justice and law. Coercion and punishment has, I suggest, limited utility. It should not surprise anybody that increased suicide bombings, which are as inhuman in Baghdad as they are in Tel Aviv, are the inevitable response to the fascist doctrine of overwhelming military power.

Armies, navies and air-forces have uniforms, regalia and a legitimacy based on the evils that lie beyond the perimeter of our human understanding. Of course, to suggest that in practice and in history all human beings belong to one society is to march into the sneers of the military proponents. Given a global society it should be one subject to justice and law, applying to all.

I am tired of rule by gangsters and the application of gangster justice, however it might be dressed-up.

The Director of Public Prosecutions makes reference in his comments to the threats posed to freedoms by measures taken under the pretext of the “war on terror”.

GENETIC HISTORY January 24, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment.
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It seems that males from Yorkshire have been identified as carry a Y chromosome that indicates African forebears who appear to have arrived in Britain during the Roman occupation and the building of Hadrian’s wall. ABC Online has the story (The BBC report is more interesting – and more hopeful.)

I would love to have some kind of exotic genetic history other than the staid Anglo-Saxon-Celtic and related inbreeding. Failing that, I would be interested to know which of the “seven mothers” of Europe my genes showed lineage.

LIMITS OF POLITICAL OPINION January 22, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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I posted a comment on John Quiggin’s Monday Message Board:

A similar issue of political expression concerns the British passenger who was refused from boarding a Qantas plane because he was wearing a T-shirt declaring George Walker Bush was a terrorist.To me this seems no more than a factual statement, or at least a political one.

I suppose that every political statement will be offensive to someone. On that basis Qantas should not carry newspapers and magazines that have political content, on the basis that somebody may be offended by a headline. Would the T-shirt have been considered potentially offensive if it posed a question, rather than made a statement? What is offensive in this matter, is that a person is being stopped from expressing an political opinion in what in essence is a public space.

I think that Qantas would have been wiser to wait until the offence was caused, which probably would not happen, and then deal with the situation. As it is, it is the company that looks foolish, not the passenger.

There is no doubt a counter-argument. It is just that I cannot quite see what it might be. What are the limits to political expression? For example, public servants should not be political, but that does not mean that they should not allow the expression of political opinions from the public. I certainly think that racist comments are unacceptable and offensive in public sphere despite any weasel words about “political correctness”.

I am puzzled and open to suggestions. Past experience suggests contrary opinions will not be forthcoming.

This effort probably belongs in the same category as my rebuke of the spammers.

RESEARCH: DOG OWNERS ARE HEALTHIER? January 21, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Miscellaneous.
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Sometimes it is not so much the research, as the way in which the research is reported. For example, the BBC has a report that suggests that there is evidence that dog owners lead healthier lives than non-dog owners, including cat owners.

Now the reason for this conclusion is not known for certain. The report notes:

Dr Deborah Wells reviewed dozens of earlier research papers which looked at the health benefits of pet ownership.

She confirmed that pet owners tended in general to be healthier than the average member of the population.

However, her research suggested that dog ownership produced more positive influence than cat ownership.

As well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, she said dog-owners suffered fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems.

There was also the suggestion that dogs could aid recovery from serious illnesses such as heart attacks, and act as ‘early warning’ to detect an approaching epileptic seizure.

Dr Wells said the precise reason for the benefits was not totally clear.

And of course we can speculate. For example, the ownership of dogs for most people involves taking them out.

Nonetheless, speculation is not evidence.

And then there is Graucho Marx, who observed (via Collen’s Corner) :

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

 

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – SUN, SHADE AND SHADOW January 19, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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When I remember to take water with me, the dogs relish it when we stop.Sasha got her own back at me for tying her up in the sun. I suppose the primary sense for dogs is smell, and the scent of other dogs is one they seem especially interested in. Sasha took a diversion and now I have a sore knee.

Dexter and Sasha find shade. 13 January 2006.Posted by Picasa

Ready to move. 13 January 2007Posted by Picasa

Orienting. 15 January 2007Posted by Picasa

Catching the morning sun. 15 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Shadow play. 15 January 2006.Posted by Picasa

Triple-play. 15 January 2007. Posted by Picasa

Pause along the way. 16 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Nobility of spirit. 17 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Warm walk in the morning. 16 January 2006.Posted by Picasa

Opportunity to lie down. 17 january 2007.Posted by Picasa


Now this is better. 18 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Something of interest. 19 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

As always we will seek to catch the Carnival of the Dogs and step on board with Friday Ark#120. These photos should enlarge when clicked on.

ISRAELI BANDSTAND January 18, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Israel-Palestine.
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ABC Online is reporting that various politicians, including Great White Hope, Steel Rudd, are getting on the anti-Moslem, pro-Israeli bandwagon.

Was is it that no one will stand up for the Palestinians? They actually are the people that are being oppressed. Since the barbarous assault by Israel on Lebanon how can they retain favor amond civilized people?

One plausible explanation, however intemperate the translation of the remarks appears to be, are they are the comments of a young person raging against “dying of the light” of justice.

IRAN IN THE GUNSIGHTS January 17, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy.
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The war criminals, we are told, are about to attack Iran. Any pretext will work. The assault on Iran is a ploy to defect attention from their failures in Iraq, for the short term until the next US Presidential election. Iran will not retaliate.

The argument is that this ploy worked in Iraq with respect to confusing in the minds of many the significance and role of Saddam and Osama with respect to the crimes committed in the US on 9 September 2001. It worked once, it can work again.

If true, the killers want to keep on killing. Why should anyone be surprised?

These comments are loosely based on the thoughts of Paul Craig Roberts in CounterPoint. “Voodoo economics” was the coinage associated with George Walker Bush. Magic alone will not stop killers, but revealing and propagating their plans might.

Sam Gardiner believes “the pieces are being put in place”. 

SPAM AND SPAMMERS January 17, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
1 comment so far

To whom it may concern:

Whoever you are let me assure you that you are wasting your time and my time. I know you are not interested in feedback, and you are hoping for the one lucky hit. How much rubbish do have to send out to achieve that?

I delete spam without looking at it. So go away. You are not welcome here.

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY January 16, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Modern History.
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Martin Luther King stood on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963, and at the prompting on a supporter gave his “I have a dream” speech and became a political giant in the eyes of many who were not there that day, and for many who were not Americans.

At this time Americans are celebrating Martin Luther King Day. The irony – what would Hegel or Marx make of it? – is that the Ronald Reagan signed the legislation establishing the legal holiday in honor of Dr King. The Boston Globe has the story.

IMPEACH BUSH January 15, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, calls for Congress to impeach Bush. Roberts, writing in CounterPunch, asks:

When are the American people and their representatives in Congress and the military going to wake up and realize that the US has an insane war criminal in the White House who is destroying all chances for peace in the world and establishing a police state in the US?

Americans don’t have much time to realize this and to act before it is too late. Bush’s “surge” speech last Wednesday night makes it completely clear that his real purpose is to start wars with Iran and Syria before failure in Iraq brings an end to the neoconservative/Israeli plan to establish hegemony over the Middle East.

Paul Craig Roberts joins the repeated calls from Brad DeLong for impeachment. It seems to me that all Presidents have sworn to uphold the Constitution, and if they fail to do so, they should be impeached.

However, I think impeachment is unlikely. There is no vendetta against Bush as that arraigned against Clinton. However, the domestic spying allegations, including by the CIA and the military on the domestic population strike me as very serious.

Murdering people, including American soldiers, overseas is a President’s wont. 58,000 American military personnel died during the Vietnam Engagement, not counting those Vietnamese killed, and some proportion of those numbers were due to the maneuvering to withdraw with honor.

We shall see.

BUSHWACKING January 14, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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I was begining to think that the dear old ABC Online had it in for Bushie. He looks dreadful in this picture. But it seems there is an explanation in part, which can be read here. Still it is not clear why the spin doctors refused to let the photographers take pictures in the usual manner.

Any of us can actually go to the Whitehouse site and listen ( or read) to the Bush radio address. I would not describe his speech as “hitting back” so much as advancing an absurd, contradictory proposition. Some of us are still wondering, why the invasion and occupation was needed in the first place.

Here is part of what Bush said in his speech on 10 January 2007, from the Whitehouse site:

“A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced. … To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.”

The big change is not the escalation, and what appears to be a change of tactics to concentrate on Baghdah and Anbar Province employing urban warfare, but that the Iraq Government has been given more responsibility and will, we are told, be held to account. It would be more credible if the proposals in that case were generated by the Iraqi Parliament and announced by the Iraqi Government. Still we must face the realities of the continuing presence of the occupying power.

I was intrigued by the analysis of the Bush speech by a “non-verbal communication” expert and dance professor at the University of Maryland:

“There was not a moment of heartfelt or gut-level rhetoric. Last night George Bush stilled his usual side-to-side rocking, reduced his smirk to an almost-unchanging grimace and read his speech as a recitation of mere facts.

“What he said mattered little for his case; he ran through the homilies and platitudes without belief. This speech was all about conveying intention without serious rationale. As he read the monitor, only the merest of shifts took place; it was as if he was running a marathon and he needed to preserve all his energy for the long haul; no point in conveying any expression or communicating any real information.

“At one point he stated that the mistakes ‘rest with me.’ It was a moment of profound disconnection; he almost edged away from the words and his mouth grimaced a little more. When he damned the Iraq Study Group with faint praise, his eyes blinked rapidly; a little too obviously disingenuous.

“It reminded me of an alcoholic father who comes home after a binge and tells the family that they must leave the house and move because they have not paid the bills.”

I guess when you get into non-verbal communication it is an excuse to tackle the man, and not the man with the ball. Just remember Bushie is only trying to be president, and he is not even an actor. Richard Bruce Cheney has all the moves – and all the players.

Once upon a time, there were presidents with rhetorical skills, who gave thereby the impression they had political skills and were able to exercise political judgment. Teddy has, he states, been in the United States Senate for forty-two years, and with the Kennedy name he exhibits the Kennedy style, which may explain his longevity. Here he is pre-empting the Bush speech, via Truthdig and You Tube:

FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – SUMMER ARRIVES January 13, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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The dogs are starting to respond to the warmer weather, while the temperature is not hot it is enough to casue a level of discomfit to the dogs. The photos provide the evidence. So now I have to start taking water with me.

Response to warmer weather. 07 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Enjoy Sasha! 7 Januray 2007Posted by Picasa

Dexter is pleased?08 January 2006.Posted by Picasa

Sasha decides to sit it out. 08 January 2007. Posted by Picasa

No worries. 08 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Something above. 08 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

I’ll take what shade I can get. 09 January 2006.Posted by Picasa

I will just take a rest. 10 January 2006.Posted by Picasa

Standing among “barren rocks”. 10 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Just a moment. 11 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Having a good time? 11 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

Sun,shadow and tongue. 11 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

 

Sasha cools off. 11 January 2007.Posted by Picasa

I was too tired to complete this dog blog last night, and now I find myself hurrying to finish so I can take the dogs out – something which I have never been able to say before.

As usual, even at this late time, we will atempt to board Friday Ark#121 and join the Carnival of the Dogs at Mickey’s Musings.

These photos are cross-posted at my almost parallel Duckpond site.

THE GREENING OF BAGHDAD January 11, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
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Bush announced that he was launch war on the civilian population of Baghdad. The Green Zone will be incrementally increased, as gated communities gradually replace the existing city.

Robert Fisk says it is “the March of Folly”. I dunno. The Romans reduced Carthage to rubble. We are about the witness the ‘birth pangs” of a new Baghdad – and incidently the death and suffering of thousands more people. They have been reduced to misery so more violence, death, injury and destruction will only serve to put them out of the present circumstances and transform their lives.

What do you need to qualify as a war criminal?

FIVE YEARS January 11, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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Today makes the fifth year of the Guantanamo Bay imprisonment without trial, abduction holding, and torture facility. The LA Times runs the testament of Jimah Al-Dossari:

I AM WRITING from the darkness of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo in the hope that I can make our voices heard by the world. My hand quivers as I hold the pen.

In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets — one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other.

At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life. They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers. They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on one hand and the Crescent on the other. They have beaten me unconscious.

What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates. These are verifiable facts witnessed by other detainees, representatives of the Red Cross, interrogators and translators.

During the first few years at Guantanamo, I was interrogated many times. My interrogators told me that they wanted me to admit that I am from Al Qaeda and that I was involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States. I told them that I have no connection to what they described. I am not a member of Al Qaeda. I did not encourage anyone to go fight for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have done nothing but kill and denigrate a religion. I never fought, and I never carried a weapon. I like the United States, and I am not an enemy. I have lived in the United States, and I wanted to become a citizen.

I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, “I do not need you to thank me.” I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.

But, why, after five years, is there no conclusion to the situation at Guantanamo? For how long will fathers, mothers, wives, siblings and children cry for their imprisoned loved ones? For how long will my daughter have to ask about my return? The answers can only be found with the fair-minded people of America.

I would rather die than stay here forever, and I have tried to commit suicide many times. The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed. I am hopeless because our voices are not heard from the depths of the detention center.

If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that there are hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo suffering the same misfortune. They have not been charged with any crimes. They have not been accused of taking any action against the United States.

Show the world the letters I gave you. Let the world read them. Let the world know the agony of the detainees in Cuba.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that David Hicks far from been a naive venturer was a hardened Al Qaeda activitist according to a certain Colonel Davis. I suppose  the failure to set up “due process’ as described in the Old American Constitution (the 1798 model) and faiure to present charges may be attributed to incompetence. It is the nature of gangsters and gangster justice. David Hicks it is alleged by the prosecution is a learned Arabic scholar.

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