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February 13th, 2004

A Somewhat Something Moving Dreamlike Down a Fading Road . . .


" Plenty of antiwar activists have retreated in confusion since the capture of Saddam Hussein. Isn't the world better off without Saddam Hussein? they ask timidly. Let's look this thing in the eye once and for all. To applaud the US Army's capture of Saddam Hussein, and therefore in retrospect justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq, is like deifying Jack the Ripper for disemboweling the Boston Strangler. And that after a quarter-century partnership in which the Ripping and Strangling was a joint enterprise. It's an in-house quarrel. They're business partners who fell out over a dirty deal. Jack's the CEO. "

Hi Folks,

In my August 19th, 2003 newsletter, 'The Parable of the Dwarf and the Donkey', I included this:

"And I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again." -- Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly on Good Morning America, March 18

We're waiting, Bill. . . .

We finally got the overdue apology.
Feb 11 2004 5:17PM

Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly says he was wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that's made him more skeptical of the Bush administration as a result. O'Reilly, who has the top-rated political talk show on cable news, was confronted on ABC's `Good Morning America'' about his statement before the Iraq war that if Saddam Hussein is overthrown and there were no such weapons found, he'd apologize to the nation.
`Well, my analysis was wrong and I'm sorry,'' O'Reilly told Charles Gibson on Tuesday. I am much more skeptical of the Bush administration now than I was at the time,'' O'Reilly said. O'Reilly places the blame on intelligence officials for their pre-war assessments. I don't think there's any doubt about that George W. Bush wanted to remove Saddam,'' he said. `And in history, I believe that will be a good thing ... But I think every American should be very concerned, for their families and themselves, that our intelligence isn't as good as it should be.''
Just because he apologized didn't mean the pugnacious O'Reilly enjoyed it.
`I just said it,'' he told Gibson. ``What do you want me to do? Go over and kiss the camera?''

(Note: That's really not necessary, Bill. But you might acknowledge the hypocrisy of your catch phrase, 'The Spin Stops Here,' and how complicit you have been in one of the most murderous 'spins' in recent memory.)

"I am suggesting that all presidents, in some degree, are held captive by the inner circles of the Executive Force, their own Executive Force." Russell Kirk


The New American Century

The best allegory for New Racism is the tradition of "turkey pardoning" in the United States. Every year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented the US President with a turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year, in a show of ceremonial magnanimity, the President spares that particular bird (and eats another one). After receiving the presidential pardon, the Chosen One is sent to Frying Pan Park in Virginia to live out its natural life. The rest of the 50 million turkeys raised for Thanksgiving are slaughtered and eaten on Thanksgiving Day. ConAgra Foods, the company that has won the Presidential Turkey contract, says it trains the lucky birds to be sociable, to interact with dignitaries, school children and the press. (Soon they'll even speak English!)

That's how New Racism in the corporate era works. A few carefully bred turkeys--the local elites of various countries, a community of wealthy immigrants, investment bankers, the occasional Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice, some singers, some writers (like myself)--are given absolution and a pass to Frying Pan Park. The remaining millions lose their jobs, are evicted from their homes, have their water and electricity connections cut, and die of AIDS. Basically they're for the pot. But the Fortunate Fowls in Frying Pan Park are doing fine. Some of them even work for the IMF and the WTO--so who can accuse those organizations of being antiturkey? Some serve as board members on the Turkey Choosing Committee--so who can say that turkeys are against Thanksgiving? They participate in it! Who can say the poor are anti-corporate globalization? There's a stampede to get into Frying Pan Park. (article)

"Ask not at whom the chimp smirks, he smirks at you."


WASHINGTON, Jan.30: Two senior statesmen of the Republican Party, Paul Findley (R-IL) and Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey (R-CA), urged President George W. Bush to change drastically the neoconservative policies of unilateral war and intervention in dealing with international terrorism, saying it would help, not hinder, his re-election in November.

The Real Ground Zero

Findley deplored the thinking of the Bush administration and its advisers in combating terrorism.  He warned that they failed to recognize what "is vivid to most of the world ­ the real ground zero of terrorism is in Palestine, not Manhattan." (article)

Division of Iraq Would Likely Breed Regional Instability
Erich Marquardt

In the 16th century, the territory that now forms modern-day Iraq was forcefully overrun by the Ottoman Turks and came under direct Ottoman administration in the 19th century when it was organized into three provinces: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire fell to British forces and these three Turkish provinces were placed under British control. In 1921, Britain transformed the provinces into a new Iraqi kingdom, headed by King Faisal I. This British decision is one of the most hotly debated issues today, as much attention is being drawn to the animosity held between Iraq's Sunni Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs. (article)


Democrats Now Lead in the Presidential Race Against Bush
by Steven Thomma

WASHNGTON - If the 2004 election were today, polls suggest that President Bush probably would lose. But the election isn't until November. (article)

Three dead in bath-tub horror

February 14, 2004

Three young children taking a bath together in an apartment in southern France were killed when a hair-dryer fell into the tub, electrocuting them, paramedics said today.
The lifeless bodies of the brother, sister and their cousin, aged 2, 3 and 5, were found by the mother when she went into the bathroom to see what had happened. The accident happened late yesterday in the French Riviera city of Cannes.

According to paramedics, it appeared the children had been bathing alone and one of them had started playing with the hair-dryer. The device fell into the water, which conducted an electric shock of 220 volts.

The mother was taken to hospital suffering emotional trauma.

(Note: My deepest sympathy to the poor mother to whom this tragedy has happened. It will be hard reading for many of you but I am re-printing it anyway in the spirit of a 'wake-up call' to others so that everyone can check their bathrooms NOW and remove anything that could lead to something like this.)



" God transcends spirituality in the establishment of a marriage and manifests himself (or is it herself or itself) as primarily a sexual being . . ."

God, Marriage and Sex
By John Brand, D.Min., J.D.

(John Brand is a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry veteran of World War II. He received his Juris Doctor degree at Northwestern University and a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry at Southern Methodist University. He served as a Methodist minister for 19 years.)

We all know that a marriage can be annulled if it is not physically consummated.

I asked the following of a Roman Catholic priest I happen to know. Assume that a betrothed couple complies with all church ordinances and doctrines prior to their marriage. Assume further that the pair then gets married by an ordained priest in compliance with all church requirements. They received God's blessings given in this Churchly Sacrament.

Then assume that there was no sexual consummation of the union in which God was a participant. Considering all those facts, can the party who believes herself or himself to be injured then request and receive a Church-approved annulment? Without hesitation, the priest said, "Yes." . . .

. . . we are left with a rather startling conclusion. Neither dogmas nor rituals nor the fact that marriage is a Sacrament are of any consequence. What is important in sanctifying a marriage is not God but the fact of physical penetration. The conditions under which the consummation takes place is of no significance. (article)


The hidden history of Muhammad Ali
By David Zirin

FILM FOOTAGE of Muhammad Ali is used to sell everything from soft drinks to cars. The image we are spoon-fed is the improbably charismatic boxer, dancing in the ring and shouting "I am the greatest." The present Muhammad Ali is also a very public figure, despite his near total inability to move or speak. His voice has been silenced by both his years of boxing and Parkinson's disease. This Ali has been embraced by the establishment as a walking saint. In 1996, Ali was sent with his trembling hands to light the Olympic Torch in Atlanta. In 2002, he "agreed to star in a Hollywood-produced advertising campaign, designed to explain America and the war in Afghanistan to the Muslim world."

Ali has been absorbed by the establishment as a legend ­ a harmless icon. There is barely a trace left of the controversial truth: There has never been an athlete more reviled by the mainstream press, more persecuted by the U.S. government or more defiantly beloved throughout the world than Muhammad Ali. There is now barely a mention of this Ali, who was the catalyst for bringing the issues of racism and war into professional sports.

The mere thought of athletes using their insanely exalted and hyper-commercialized platform to take stands against injustice is now almost unthinkable.(article)

(thanks to stefan abeysekera.)


US Denies Travel Visas to Grammy-Nominated Cuban Musicians

HAVANA - The United States refused to grant visas to world-renowned Cuban musicians who were invited to Sunday's Grammy music awards, Cuban officials said.

Ibrahim Ferrer, the 76-year-old singer from the Grammy-nominated Buena Vista Social Club, was dumbfounded to learn that, according to the Cuban Music Institute, the United States invoked a law that applies to terrorists, drug dealers and dangerous criminals to deny him a visa. (article)




I loved this track fragment I found on the web so much that I ordered the CD. I don't know why - sometimes I'm drawn to the strangest things in music. This song, although rough-as-guts, has something magical - almost Gregorian chant-like, a deconstruction of song combined with innocence that my intuition tells me will hold a lot of inspiration. Listen for yourselves.

Who Are Parents? (from PHILOSOPHY OF THE WORLD)

(PHILOSOPHY OF THE WORLD, recorded at Fleetwood Studios, Revere, Massachussetts on March 9, 1969, was one of Frank Zappa's favorite albums. Rolling Stone's 1996 'Alt-Rock-A-Rama' book ranked it among "The 100 Most Influential Alternative Releases of All Time," "The Greatest Garage Recordings of the 20th Century," and "The 50 Most Significant Indie Records." The Shaggs -- sisters Dorothy, Helen, and Betty Wiggin -- hailed from the culturally disconnected backwater of Fremont, NH. Having never seen a live rock band, but having heard their favorite songs on the radio, these hothouse siblings formed a trio playing two guitars and drums. In 1969 they recorded PHILOSOPHY. The Shaggs are a touchstone of unpretentiousness. Their music is earnest, authentic, and refreshingly guileless. Hacked-at chords, missed downbeats, out-of-socket transitions, blown accents, and accidental convergences abound. And yet -- it all works! The Shaggs' lost-chord wonderland has an internal logic that transcends the conventional relationship between ability, technique, and originality. PHILOSOPHY... crowns the Wiggin sisters as the legendary, if unwitting, Queens of Outsider Music. (CD link)




You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Pure Democracy:
You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.
Representative Democracy:
You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
Pure Capitalism:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
Real World Capitalism:
You don't have any cows. The bank will not lend you money to buy cows, because you don't have any cows to put up as collateral.
Pure Socialism:
You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You all take care of the cows. The government gives you all the milk you need.
Bureaucratic Socialism:
Your cows are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs the regulations say you need.   
Pure Communism:
You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.
Real World Communism:
You share two cows with your neighbours. You all bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need".  Meanwhile, no one works and no one gets any milk.
Russian Communism:
You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the black market.
You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.   
You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.
You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.
You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.
Pure Anarchy:
You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbours try to take the cows and kill you.
You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them. 
You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
Political Correctness:
You are "associated with" (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallocentric, warmongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.
(Thanks to Liz Van Dort)

(serves 2-3)

2 potatoes, peeled and cut in fine slices
1 sweet potato. peeled and cut in medium slices
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 tbles black mustard seeds
1 tble tumeric powder
5 tbles curry leaves
2 tbles freshly ground coriander
1 tble freshly ground cumin power
1/2 teas red chilli flakes (or fresh red chilli)
2 cloves garlic, chopped finley
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
safflower or peanut oil
milk to cover
2 tbles butter (or ghee)
salt and black pepper

Heat oil and butter in pan. Do not allow the butter to burn. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli flakes (or fresh chilli) and the onions and saute a couple minutes until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for one minute. Add the ground spices and fry for 2 minutes. Add the sliced potatoes and sweet potatoes and stir until they are coated in the spices and bright yellow. Add enough milk to just barely cover the potatoes. Bring to the boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer on low heat and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir once during cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To cook the rice, wash 1 cup of rice. Add it to 2 cups of water in a pan, and let stand for 30 minutes. Bring the rice to a boil, cover, reduce to very low and cook for approx 15 minutes. Check to see if the rice is tender. If so, turn off the heat and let set for another ten minutes. If the rice isn't tender, cook for another 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat and let rest.

1 lime leaf, shaved very finely
1/2 cup of peanuts, roasted until golden in a frying pan, medium grind in a mortal and pestle, with a little salt added.
Sweet mango chutney
Hot lime pickle, with oil.
Yogurt with fresh banana slices cut into it.
Fresh basil, Vietnamese basil and coriander leaves.

To assemble: Use a large white plate. Place about a cup of rice into a cup, press firmly and then turn the moulded rice into the centre of the plate. Spoon some curry over the rice and garnish with basil, Vietnamese basil and coriander leaves. Scatter some of the crushed peanut powder around the plate. Dot about ten drop of the lime pickle oil carefully on the plate for an attractive presentation. (You can also sprinkle some of the crushed peanuts on the yogurt-banana side dish.)

Lalla, The Poetess
"I am a somewhat something moving dreamlike down a fading road . . ."

Lalla Arifa, born in 1335 AD, is a controversial figure. The Hindus regard her as the reincarnate whereas the Muslims, a perfect mystic saint. The Hindus say that her name was Lal Ishwari born of Hindu parents and remained absorbed in meditation and praise of God. The Muslims hold that she was averse to the Hindu religion, embraced Islam at the behest of Syed Husain Samnani, disliked the Pundits and the Brahmins.

She is called by several names in Kashmir: Lal Vaid, Lalla-Ji, or Lalla-Ishwari. In fact she was the light of Kashmir who benefited both communities, Hindus as well as Muslims. Both love and respect her.

Lalla Arifa was lost in spiritual wonderment; walked about naked; fought against her self; and renounced the world. Her teachings gave a new lease of life to thousands of people. She was a blessed soul and could move the hardest hearted man. Lalla Arifa was a poetess and sang of spiritual and divine bliss.

Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims affectionately call her "Mother Lalla" or "Granny Lalla". She is also called "Lalla yogeshwari".

"I didn't trust it for a moment,
but I drank it anyway,
the wine of my own poetry.

It gave me the daring to take hold
of the darkness and tear it down
and cut it into little pieces." 
(Naked Song, by Lalla ; translations by Coleman Barks. Athens, GA : Maypop Books, c1992.)  


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