Saturday, May 29, 2004

Finger Lickin' Good?

Ted Rall gets it right again in his latest cartoon.

Juneau's biennial Celebration is next week, and our daughter is in one of the many Tlingit dance groups. Looks like it'll be pretty cool, and I'll try to post a photo or two.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dave Dellinger

Democracy Now (again) has a very moving piece on the life-long non-violent protester Dave Dellinger, who just died. Remarkably, it appears that Dave's books are out of print and difficult to find. One seller apparently still has a few copies of his autobiography, From Yale to Jail.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Jimmy Massey

Democracy Now came through with a great interview of Marine staff sergeant Jimmy Massey today. Massey discusses how his platoon quite routinely killed innocent civilians at checkpoints, and the effect this had on him. If you can't listen to the link, you can also read the transcript.

The rain has finally arrived here in Juneau, just in time for my new gardens. Check out the clouds at the new weather link at the bottom right of the page.

Friday, May 21, 2004

What would Jesus do?

From the latest torture news in the Washington Post (expletives reinserted):
"Do you pray to Allah?" one asked. "I said yes. They said, 'Fuck you. And Fuck him.' One of them said, 'You are not getting out of here health[y], you are getting out of here handicapped. And he said to me, 'Are you married?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'If your wife saw you like this, she will be disappointed.' One of them said, 'But if I saw her now she would not be disappointed now because I would rape her.' "

He said the soldiers told him that if he cooperated with interrogators they would release him in time for Ramadan. He said he did, but still was not released. He said one soldier continued to abuse him by striking his broken leg and ordered him to curse Islam. "Because they started to hit my broken leg, I cursed my religion," he said. "They ordered me to thank Jesus that I'm alive."

The detainee said the soldiers handcuffed him to a bed.

"Do you believe in anything?" he said the soldier asked. "I said to him, 'I believe in Allah.' So he said, "But I believe in torture and I will torture you.' "


Rumsfeld and gang have said that the Geneva Conventions are outdated and "quaint." My guess is they don't like this part:
Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Bequeathing Democracy

Editorial cartoonist and commentator Ted Rall has been penning some pretty strong cartoons since the torture scandal broke out. I can appreciate the guy's moral outrage, especially when newspapers want to go ho-hum on page three about every atrocity we commit, like our latest wedding slaughter, a mere 45 human beings killed by your tax dollars.

On the home front, much more peaceful. Bought three yards of topsoil for the garden, and will wheelbarrow it around back later. My neighbor remarked that my raised bed frames look like large coffins right now, and she's right.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Hersh exposes Rumsfeld

I just have to join every blog in the universe and point to today's new Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker:
The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of √©lite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.

Not that I care that Rumsfeld's decision hurts our "effectiveness," but it'll be good if all this news can reaffirm the international illegality of torture.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Kurt

I've always enjoyed reading Vonnegut, though I haven't read a novel of his in years. At 81 the guy still makes me laugh. His latest article is worth a look.
I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas

Here in the Mendenhall Valley, another gorgeous clear day. Still not too many bugs, temperatures in the mid sixties. Perfect for my daughter's seventh birthday party, and perfect for picking dandelions. I helped a friend the other day pick some of the ten quarts of dandelions he wanted to make five gallons of dandelion mead.

Friday, May 14, 2004

As India, so the U.S. ?

One of my favorite political writers, Arundahti Roy, has an article this morning about the recent defeat of India's right-wing, neo-fascist government. If we are lucky she'll be writing about the defeat of our own right-wing, neo-fascist government in a few months.

Not much happening in the valley today, except for smoke. Backyard burn piles are an unfortunate tradition in town, kept alive by high landfill prices, lax regulations, and our psuedo-pioneer libertarian mountainman spirit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Day three, la tee dee

If you read the comment section to the first post you can see that my dear mother (Montana) is my first reader to comment. She referred to blogs as globs, or blurgs, which I thought was pretty funny. Makes me wonder if anyone has a glob blog. Alas, it appears so.

As so sagely predicted by me, Bush is using the decapitation of the American contractor to switch "from defense to offense." No similar outcry has been heard about U.S. soldiers beheading Iraqis, like one of our under-reported concientious objectors talks about:

"Going home on leave in October 2003 provided me with the opportunity to put my thoughts in order and to listen to what my conscience had to say. People would ask me about my war experiences and answering them took me back to all the horrors-the firefights, the ambushes, the time I saw a young Iraqi dragged by his shoulders through a pool of his own blood, the time a man was decapitated by our machine gun fire and the time my friend shot a child through the chest."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Gardening

Another rare beautiful day...plus payday, so that means we can buy the wood and topsoil needed to make our raised bed vegetable gardens. That's the general recomendation for living in a Northern rainforest. Helps warm the soil and keep out slugs, plus it's easy then to install hoop covers to extend the season a bit.

On the news front, the web sites are all screaming about the American contractor beheaded on videotape. Not sure what this will mean, except a couple days away from focusing on the torture scandals, at least until new photos are released.

Monday, May 10, 2004

First Post

Okay, here I am, sitting in my house in the Mendenhall Valley. The photo is misleading, not showing any houses. The Valley is the closest thing to a regular city neighborhood in Juneau, full of middle-income housing and trailer courts. Consequently, it gets a bit of a bad rap from the coastal dwellers and downtown gentrifiers, but it's considered a notch above the Lemon Creek area (blessed with the dump, several smokestacks, and the prison).

Not much news to report. Weather's good, with a rare five days of sunshine predicted. Bush and his buddies are still dealing with the torture turmoil.

For those of you who think the torture scandal was the work of just a few assholes, here's a Guardian article that indicates it was the result of a special training program, designed and implemented by a large number of assholes.