N. Scott Momaday

N. Scott Momaday was born on February 27, 1934 (a birth date he shares with Ralph Nader) in Oklahoma. One of America's foremost poets, he's best known for The Way to Rainy Mountain, which is probably my single favorite long poetical work. The family name (adopted in his father's day) was originally Mamedaty, as NSM records in his memoir The Names:
At four o'clock in the morning of February 27, 1934, in the Kiowa and Comanche Indian Hospital at Lawton, Oklahoma, near the old stone corral at Fort Sill, where my ancestors were imprisoned in 1873 for having fled to the last buffalo range in the Staked Plains, I was delivered into the world by an elderly Indian Service doctor who entered my name on the Standard Certificate of Birth as Novarro Scotte Mammedaty ("Momaday" having first been entered, then crossed out).

Momaday quotes the wording of his birth certificate, which duly observes that he is "of 7/8 degree Indian blood", and which cites the 1924 Act by which the US Congress generously extended American citizenship to the descendents of the country's early inhabitants.

Momaday is interviewed in the current issue of The Seattle Review. The interview was conducted in 2003, at the poet's family home in New Mexico. Momaday recalls that he wanted to be a writer from childhood: "I said, 'Mom, I'm going to be "a writer"'". As a young adult he hung out with other literary people and admired Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, D. H. Lawrence, and Wallace Stevens.

In the interview he doesn't express a lot of political anger as an Indian, but he is
alarmed by the loss of that cultural identity. The loss of language, the loss of ceremonies, the loss of relationship with elders. All of that is happening very suddenly, and the move to urban centers, all of that is costing the Indian his cultural identity. So the Buffalo Trust was created to do something about that, to reverse that trend.

Momaday speaks of his visit to the Athabascan communities near the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge:
Small village, subsisting ... 80 percent of their diet is caribou. And what we're doing up there is upsetting the balance of nature, and interfering with the migrations of the caribou, so things are changing.

Momaday's shorter poems are collected in volumes like In the Presence of the Sun, which is also illustrated by the poet. (NSM is also - like his father Al Momaday - an artist.) Some of my favorites include "New World" (written entirely in disyllabic lines), "The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee" (a reference to NSM's Kiowa name), "Nous Avons Vu la Mer", "Rainy Mountain Cemetery", and "Prayer" (which invokes the name of his grandmother, Aho). The book also includes a series on Billy the Kid, and some delightful light poems and epigrams.

The Way to Rainy Mountain was first published in 1967-1969. Inspired by NSM's own pilgrimage, it tells the story of the Kiowas' historic migration from their original homeland in western Montana to the southern Plains. The Introduction recounts a legend surrounding Devil's Tower, Wyoming; it explains why "the Kiowas have kinsmen in the night sky" and is, I think, rather more compelling than "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". The poem itself consists of a braid of three interwoven strands of mythical, historical, and personal narrative, which gradually converge on the burial of the poet's grandmother. "If you stand on the front porch of the house and look eastward towards Carnegie, you know that the woman is buried somewhere within the range of your vision. But her grave is unmarked."

When my mother passed away almost two years ago, I went back to Connecticut to pay a last visit to the green suburban house that I grew up in. I read the first, sixteenth, and twenty-fourth cantos of The Way to Rainy Mountain aloud as a tribute to her. One of the things I love about literature is its power to remind us of the parts of our own lives, of our own selves, that we must keep alive - the almost-forgotten places, the hidden landscapes,
the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.

Tel Aviv Terrorist Bombing

The names of the victims: Itzik Buzaglo, 40, from the Galilee moshav of Mishmar Hayarden; Yael Orbach, 28, from Rehovot; Aryeh "Arik" Nagar, 36, from Kfar Sava (Kfar Saba); Ronen Rubenov, 28, of Tel Aviv.

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters writes on Israel's decision to suspend a planned prisoner exchange in protest:
Now that Sharon has frozen even the preliminary releases, the militants have all the excuse they need to declare open season on Israeli citizens again, and Abbas can blame the intransigence of the Israelis for the collapse of the cease fire. Abbas may make some preliminary noise about taking action against the militants, but in a short period of time he will lay the blame against Sharon ...

Read the whole ... well, you get the idea.

UPDATE: Are you following the story at Regime Change Iran? This great new blog deserves everyone's attention. They have the latest scoop on a possible Tehran connection.

Melissa Q&A

Melissa Etheridge answers questions in a respected New York newspaper:
QSharon Blynn, Manhattan, founder of Baldisbeautiful.org, writer, actress, model, ovarian-cancer survivor: Given society's narrow notions about what is beauty and what is feminine, how did you react when you faced losing your hair and, possibly, your breasts?

MBecause I'm a lesbian, my experi ence might be a little different from a heterosexual woman. I felt less feminine before the cancer. I am more in contact with my femininity now. When I see pictures of me bald, I realize I am more feminine with my head shaved than I've ever been. I thought this was really going to butch me up — but it didn't. It brought out my femininity. ...

QCassandra G. Perry, Manhattan, cancer-support specialist: When I saw you on TV, you said you were going to eliminate everything toxic from your life. How will you do that — and how can I?

MYou start on a small level and then you expand. The toxicity may be a relationship, stress or the kind of food you're eating — you have to look at your whole life. ...

QMary Murphy, Queens, home maker, breast-cancer survivor: Are you religious? How does breast cancer affect your spiritual life?

MI regard religion and spirituality as two separate things. I'm not reli gious, but I'm very spiritual. This cancer journey has locked in my spirituality and opened up my mind. I'm not afraid to die anymore. I understand the human spirit more, and that's separate from the human body. ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

Morning Report: February 27, 2005

Arrests, condemnation follow Tel Aviv bombing. A Friday night terrorist bombing at the nightclub "The Stage" in Tel Aviv claimed the lives of four victims. The Jerusalem Post reports: 'Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Sunday that Islamic Jihad was behind the suicide bombing on Friday night in Tel Aviv. Issuing a short statement at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting in response to the attack, which cost the lives of four people and wounded some 50, Sharon said: "The orders came from Islamic Jihad in Syria. We know this for a fact."' Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz added that 'Islamic Jihad was directly responsible for the attack, taking its orders from Syria, and that its intent was to disrupt the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.' Debka reports: 'Israeli police on maximum terror alert. From Sunday, roadblocks at town entrances, special patrols at schools at crowd centers, transport terminals against at least 50 attacks known to be planned by Palestinian terrorists.' A Washington Post article (appearing here in the San Francisco Chronicle) says: 'Palestinian and Israeli security forces arrested seven Palestinians on Saturday in connection with a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv the night before, while leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Syria asserted responsibility for the attack. Among those arrested were two brothers of the presumed bomber and the man who allegedly drove the bomber to the nightclub where he detonated explosives, killing himself and four others and wounding about 50 people, Israeli security sources said. Most of the casualties were young Israelis waiting in line to enter a karaoke bar called the Stage. Israeli security sources identified the bomber as Abdullah Badran, 21, an observant Muslim and university student from the West Bank village of Deir al- Ghusun, northeast of Tel Aviv on the so-called Green Line between the West Bank and Israel.' Arutz Sheva reports: 'Syria said Sunday afternoon that the suicide bombing Friday night in Tel Aviv "contradicts Syrian policy," harms peace efforts and "gives Israel a pretext to bash the peace process."' A news bulletin from Stratfor (subscription) says, 'Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Feb. 26 condemned the Feb. 25 Tel Aviv nightclub bombing, saying that "the Palestinian Authority will not stand silent in the face of this act of sabotage."' (various)

Russia, Iran conclude nuclear deal. Iranian regime and Russian interests found common ground in Tehran on Sunday, with the signing of a long-planned deal for the completion of the Bushehr nuclear facility. From Debka: 'Iran, Russia sign nuclear fuel deal in Tehran Sunday. DEBKAfile reports: Signing delayed 24 hours over Iran’s insistence on schedule for delivery which Moscow wanted to avoid. Russians now undertake to complete Bushehr reactor core by end of 2005. This was main point at issue in Bush-Putin summit.' (Debka)

Mubarak calls for election reform in Egypt. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has called for multiparty elections. '"The election of a president will be through direct, secret balloting, giving the chance for political parties to run for the presidential elections and providing guarantees that allow more than one candidate for the people to choose among them with their own will," Mubarak said in a televised speech at Menoufia University in the Nile Delta. Mubarak, 76, said the decision was rooted in his "full conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy."' Big Pharaoh is astonished. 'I never imagined what President Mubarak said today. He asked the parliament to amend the Egyptian constitution to allow multiple candidates to run for the presidency. This means that Muabark will have opponents running against him. Now, I am not stupid nor am I living in la la land. Mubarak's decision today came after immense pressure from the US and the current earthquakes (the purple revolution in Iraq and the Hariri revolution in Lebanon) that shook the region days ago. However, I credit US pressure as the number one reason. Condoleezza Rice cancelled a trip to Egypt scheduled for next week because of the arrest of Ayman Nour and Mubarak's failure to "change". Well, it seems that Bush turned out to be bloody serious about this democracy in the Middle East thing. ... ' Read the full post at the link. (Washington Post, Big Pharaoh)

Iranian Conversions to Zoroastrianism

Iranians living abroad are rallying to the faith of Zoroaster, this fascinating thread at Free Iran reports. Spenta launches the tread with this item:
On the 1st of August 2004 (Dei be Mehr, Amordaad 3742), we organized a conversion ceremony for a group of Iranians who desired for years to convert to Zoroastrianism (Zartoshti). The initiation took place at Radisson SAS Hotel in Norway and was performed traditionally by Zoroastrian Mobed. Participants (Nozoodan) were crying of happiness while reading the promise and the Avesta of Koshti. Relatives and friends were also gathered to celebrate their return to roots and share their joy and happiness. ...

Go read the whole thing at the link.

Saddam's Half-Brother Captured

Sab'awi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti, a half-brother of Saddam Hussein on his mother's side and a close aide to the deposed dictator, has been captured, Iraqi officials said. CNN reports:
Sab'awi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti was No. 36 on the U.S. military's Iraqi 55 Most Wanted List, and one of only 12 people on the list who remained free.

A half-brother on Hussein's mother's side, al-Tikriti held many positions in his regime, the latest being that of Hussein's personal adviser.

There is evidence that al-Tikriti was financing insurgents in the post-Saddam era, an Iraqi intelligence official told CNN.

His son, Omar Sab'awi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, was known as a high-ranking Ba'athist and was active in the "General Union of Iraqi Students and Youth." ...


Matrix Dominatrix

That famous photo of Condi Rice can be found here at Instapundit. Kesher Talk has a good roundup. I think Judith is too kind to the Washington Post's idiocy, but the quote from Aaron is a must-read.

The Manolo, he is posting here.

The Nir Rosen Peace Plan

Guest blogging at Michael J. Totten's place, Jeremy Brown deconstructs Nir Rosen's piece in the New York Times Magazine about the Kurds, Iraq, and oil.
Rosen is trying to induce in you, the reader, the idea (and you are to think it was your own) that as bad a man as Saddam was, things are going to get much worse than ever in Iraq. And very soon. Why focus on the Kurds? Because they are the most closely allied with the U.S. And because people have a tendency to, well, like them ...

Read Jeremy's post as a study in the kind of critical reading we all ought to be doing with the MSM. And read it to the very end - for its final, chilling paragraph.

False Hope vs. No Hope

Iraq the Model has a fascintating response to Big Pharaoh on the different ways a population can be demoralized by a fascist regime. Very important information in both of these posts; go read and learn.

Why the Pope Is Not Like the Commandant of the Marine Corps

Great post on the Pope's illness by Michael Novak at The Corner.

Is there no end

... to the corruption and depravity of the United Nations?

Go read this post at the Redhunter.

Calling Joseph

Big Pharaoh has a dream.
I have a dream. I am obsessed with this dream. Everyday I search the news for any indication that my dream will ever come true. It is my euphoria, my ecstasy. Ohhhh, how sweet is this dream. If it came true, it will resemble a massive earth quake that will shake the Middle East. I believe it will have greater effects than the purple fingers revolution in Iraq or the Hariri revolution in Lebanon.

Now, for just a couple minutes, let us forget reality and imagine if we actually saw the below sequence of headlines:

Millions march through Tehran demanding freedom

Riots all over Iran

Student protesters occupy Tehran TV station

Government of Iran losing control

CNN’s Christian Annampour: These riots and demonstrations exceeds what we saw in 1979. The Revolutionary Guards of Iran fired live ammunition on the rioters to disperse them but the throngs are getting bigger and bigger.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech promising reform and free elections. Students call for the government and the cleric based council to step down.

Iranian regime falls ...

Read the rest of the dream at the link. Then help make this dream a reality.


Melissa: Bald is Beautiful

Melissa Etheridge performed hairless at the Grammy Awards, but unlike Sinead O'Connor's early gesture of rebellion, Melissa's scalp carried a serious message: survival.
While officially a tribute to the late Janis Joplin, many saw the bald-headed Etheridge -- in her first appearance since being diagnosed with breast cancer -- as a symbol of empowerment, not only for female rock musicians, but also for the millions who have suffered from breast cancer.

Read about it at CNN.

"Lebanon United Against Syria"

Photos of the Lebanese demonstrations posted by Stefania at Free Thoughts.

IRI Catches "Mole", Worries Over Protests

A new bulletin from Debka reports:
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal: A high-placed Iranian mole has been caught in Iranian president Mohammed Khatami’s office in Tehran.

Hossein Marashai, head of Iran’s cultural heritage council, was caught using a sophisticated US-manufactured listening-long-distance-transmitting device at top-level Iranian leadership meetings. DEBKAfile’s sources calls this the deepest foreign intelligence penetration in all 26 years of Iran's Islamic regime.

I don't care to dwell on the likely fate of Hossein Marashai at this hour; but I will be praying for him and his family. Let us hope his service in the cause of freedom will not be in vain.

On a brighter note, the cause of freedom seems to be marching forward - and it's been marching through the streets of Tehran lately, according to this thread on Free Iran:
From an Iranian Student:
I am receiving confirmed reports of protests in Alameh university campus in Tehran, now.

BBC Persian language service confirms the reports and posted a news story in Persian language on this.

A group of students are on strike in Tehran to ask for freedom of expression and release of all political prisoners.

They are protesting against the closure of newspapers, imprisonment of outspoken professors!

They demand support from the free world and the US! They support hunger strike of political prisoners. ...
Visit Regime Change Iran for updates.

If they can keep it up for six hours or more, the regime will have a real problem on its hands:
In a recent secret report to the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps pointed out that were a demonstration or rebellion to last more than six hours in Tehran, the security apparatus would no longer be able to control the situation.

"Society is in an unstable state. Were certain sensitive locations in Tehran to 'explode' under these circumstances, and the capital sink into chaos, if uprisings continue unabated and grow larger for more than six hours in Tehran, the situation would become uncontrollable", the report said.

The Iranian capital has been the scene of numerous clashes between people and State Security Forces over the past few months.

The Iranian regime has stepped up repression throughout the capital over the past year to combat any outbursts against the state.

Clashes have also erupted elsewhere in Iran in recent weeks. Iranian Kurds and security agents clashed heavily on Friday in three towns in western Iran, leaving dozens injured and hundreds arrested.

The disruption occurred after SSF agents used force to disperse demonstrations taking place simultaneously in the towns of Sardasht, Saqqez, and Baneh in protest against severe fuel shortages in the area, eye-witnesses reported. ...

Read the whole story at Iran Focus for full details. Hey, I wonder how that "secret report" got out ... our friend Hossein Marashai, perhaps?

Morning Report: February 24, 2005

It's all about oil. In a series on "The Second Front" (i.e. Southeast Asia), Wretchard explores the role of Saudi money in anti-US operations, including projected Cole-like naval operations and the recently discovered plot to assassinate President Bush: 'As Little Green Footballs notes, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the US citizen charged with conspiring to assassinate President Bush, was not simply "a former Virginia high school valedictorian" the regular newspapers make him out to be. The "high school" he attended was a Saudi funded madrassa called the Islamic Saudi Academy.' (Belmont Club)

Fatah legislators approve new cabinet. Debka reports: 'After two rejections, Palestinian legislature finally confirms PM Qureia’s third cabinet lineup by majority of 54 to 12 with 2 abstentions. All 17 ministers are new faces unassociated with Arafat’s corrupt administration.' (Debka)

Syrian terrorism in Iraq. Hammorabi provides details on the Syrian regime's involvement in terrorism against Iraq, citing captured terrorists Adam Doma and Anis al-Essa: 'Some were arrested in Mosel and Baghdad including Arabs from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen and others. Adam Doma (42 years) from Sudan confessed that he received training in Syria under the supervision of Syrian Intelligence officers. He confessed that he beheaded 10 Iraqi civilians by his own hands. ... Anis Al-Essa is a Syrian who works as an officer in the Syrian Intelligence Security. He was arrested with Doma ...' (Hammorabi)

Robert Lawrence: Space pioneer's memory honored. Astronaut selectee Maj. Robert Lawrence would have been the first African-American astronaut to fly in space, had not a tragic training accident cut short his career in 1967. MSNBC features his story. Like the thirteen women originally selected for service in the Mercury program (collectively known as the Mercury 13), Lawrence is a name that deserves to be better known. (MSNBC)


Hundreds Dead in Iran Earthquake

The known death toll continues to rise in an earthquake that struck near Zarand, Iran. CNN reports:
Rescuers in central Iran searched for survivors Tuesday after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake flattened villages and killed at least 270 people.

Iranian officials told state-run television that at least 950 people were injured in the quake, which struck near Zarand, a city of about 135,000 people in Kerman province.

AP via Fox News reports:
A powerful earthquake toppled mud-built homes and flattened villages in central Iran on Tuesday, killing at least 270 people and injuring 950, officials and state-run television said. A senior official said the death toll could top 350. TV footage showed residents frantically digging through piles of debris looking for loved ones following the 6.4-magnitude earthquake, which struck at 5:55 a.m. While homes made of mud collapsed, buildings of cement appeared not to sustain heavy damage. Survivors pleaded for help finding the buried: "What a catastrophe. Please help us," one said. Rain was hampering rescue efforts. The quake's epicenter was on the outskirts of Zarand, a town of about 15,000 people located 35 miles northwest of Kerman ...

More information and discussion is posted on this thread at Free Iran.


Ha'Aretz: Sharansky's Influence

Israeli official and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky is profiled in this article in Ha'Aretz, which examines the influence of Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy" in American and Israeli circles. President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have cited the book as a major ideological influence. As Ha'Aretz' Yoav Stern explains:
The basic principle of the theory is simple. Terror and war stem from the existence of tyrannical regimes that deny their peoples' liberty. In order to maintain their regimes, the tyrannical rulers must direct the anger of the masses to an external enemy - and lead them to war. The toppling of these tyrannical regimes, not by force but rather by means of economic and public pressure, will lead to the expansion of the circle of free democracies - which do not fight one another.

Read the article at the link.

Reminder: Iran Regime Change Petition

If you haven't done so yet, please take a moment to read and sign this petition. It addresses the commonality of interests that Richard Perle spoke of so eloquently when he said, "There are two issues, but a single policy toward Iran would advance both purposes."

Even as we sit here, the islamist entity is working to develop nuclear weapons to destroy Israel, blackmail America, and threaten Iran's Arab neighbors. The United States or Israel may soon have no choice but to act in their own defense and crush the regime's nuclear capabilities before it is too late. A "surgical strike" alone, however, would do nothing to advance the cause of the Iranian people, who have no quarrel with Israel or America but whose lives would be made even more wretched in the internal crackdown that would surely follow such an attack.

Therefore, this petition argues, it is in the common interests of the US, Israel, and the people of Iran that any action against the regime not be limited to a surgical strike, which would merely "wound the beast", but must rather encompass a comprehensive regime change leading to a free and democratic Iran. This petition is officially endorsed by the Iranian dissident site Activistchat.com and currently carries almost 1,000 signatures. Make sure yours is one of them.

Read and sign the petition here:
True Security Begins with Regime Change in Iran

Bush on Iran: "The Time Has Arrived"

"The results of this approach now depend largely on Iran," Bush said. "The time has arrived for the Iranian regime to listen to the Iranian people and respect their rights and join in the movement toward liberty that is taking place all around them." - President Bush, in an AP story quoted at Free Iran

Iranian freedom activists have been anxiously watching the political scene for signs that the President will support their struggle. Now, it seems increasingly clear that Washington's policy will turn toward the promotion of a free and democratic Iran. Most observers and activists agree that an Iraq-style invasion is neither necessary nor desirable in the case of Iran; rather, regime change in Tehran can be achieved through other means. There is strong, and growing, resistance to the regime. Diplomacy, of course, is always the first recourse: diplomatic pressure should be brought to bear against the islamist entity to allow a referendum on the current rulers. However, it is unlikely that any amount of persuasion will convince the mullahs to accede to a referendum, or to quietly step down in the event of a "no confidence" vote from the Iranian people. In that eventuality, other methods - such as economic sanctions and support for internal resistance movements - may be enough to bring down the regime's house of cards. In that event, what will be needed for the post-IRI era will be humanitarian aid, security support, and guidance in the establishment of liberal, democratic institutions.

Like so many things these days, this should be high on the agenda of America's so-called "liberals" - but it is not.

Melissa Etheridge: Lucky

Cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge has an interview on Dateline NBC:
“When I got home from my surgery, in the bedroom, there was a beautiful flower arrangement. And all it said was, ‘In sickness and in health.’ You know, and she meant it. There were days upon days where I couldn't make a sound. Where she would tell me she loved me, and I couldn't even tell her that back. And she would say, ‘I know you love me. And I love you.’ And she would just lay there. Because you can't move. Every cell in your body is aching.”

Melissa talks about breast cancer, love, show business, and baldness; her wife Tammy Lynn Michaels joins the interview. Read it all at this link: MSNBC: Melissa Etheridge interview

Anti-Syria Protest in Beirut

Direct from CNN:
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Chanting "Syria out," thousands of people packed the streets of Beirut to protest the presence Syrian forces in Lebanon -- and the influence they believe Syria has on the Lebanese government.

They had the support of President George W. Bush who, at a speech in Brussels Monday, called on Syria to "end its occupation of Lebanon."

"The Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in a democratic, independent Lebanon," he said. ...

CNN: Anti-Syria Protest in Beirut, Lebanon

MSNBC: How soon is soon?
(AP) BEIRUT, Lebanon - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters shouted insults at Syria and demanded the resignation of their pro-Syrian government in a Beirut demonstration Monday, marking a week since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. ...

In Damascus, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Syria will “soon” take steps to withdraw its army from Lebanese areas in accordance with a 1989 agreement. It was not clear whether that meant Syria would completely leave Lebanon as demanded by the international community.

Moussa spoke after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Syria itself has made no announcements about troop withdrawals.

MSNBC: Lebanese Protesters Demand Syria Out

ITM: The Mideast Tsunami
Omar at Iraq the Model checks in on the Lebanon demonstrations - and the ones in Egypt:
It seems that the demand on freedom and democracy in the ME is increasing even faster than we expected. Obviously the effects of the Tsunami of Jan 30 in Iraq and the September 11 of Lebanon have already started to play their role in shaping the region.

Meanwhile, there were demonstartions in Egypt (photo here) asking Mubarak to step out and calling for elections rejecting a 5th term for the president that has been ruling the country with emergency law since 1981 after the assassination of president Anwar Sadat. The slogan held by the demonstrators was "Kifayah" which means "enough is enough".

Go to the post for links and photos:
ITM: Tsunami

Live from the Land of the Pharaohs
... Big Pharaoh says he's never seen anything like it:
I have to admit that I never witnessed such unprecedented demonstrations in Egypt. Here the figure of the president is revered and no one dares to cross this red line. The president in Egypt is like the pope to Catholics or the Imam to Shias, he's infallible and he's eternal. This is the reason why I am very surprised that the issue of Mubarak's fifth term is actually being discussed inside and outside Egypt. ...

GM adds, however, that he sees no current alternatives to Mubarak. Read the whole post:
Hundreds Tell Mubarak 'Enough'

Stay tuned: Dreams Into Lightning will keep you posted on the revolution in the Mideast.


Campaign to Save Terri Schiavo

Fifteen years ago, Terri Schiavo became mentally incapacitated when her heart stopped beating. Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, now wants to end her life support; in essence, as Terri's parents and supporters explain, allowing her to die of starvation and dehydration.

There's a campaign underway to save Terri Schiavo. Sherri at Straight Up With Sherri has been working very hard on putting together some information on the Schiavo case, and organizing people to take action. There's also the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation and Terri Schiavo News. Terence P. Jeffrey at the Washington Times and Nat Hentoff at the Village Voice are on the case. Go visit Sherri's blog, and find out what you can do.

Audre Lorde

Last Friday, February 18, marked the birthday of American poet Audre Lorde (1934-1992). Lorde was born Audrey Geraldine Lorde, the daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean island of Cariacou. As a black lesbian, her life and work were informed by her activism; her battle with cancer often put her at odds with the medical establishment as well. A short bio can be found at the Audre Lorde page at Lambda.net.

Audre Lorde wrote many exquisite poems; my favorites include "Memorial II" (dedicated to her first love, Genevieve, who took her own life); "Now That I Am Forever with Child"; "Rites of Passage"; "What My Child Learns of the Sea"; "Coal"; "Father Son and Holy Ghost"; and "Father the Year Has Fallen", one of several poems on the theme of motherhood. (I think this last poem also invokes Christian imagery.) Lorde's memoir, Zami, tells of her ambivalent relationship with her loving but overbearing mother in compelling detail. Her writing in both prose and poetry is spellbinding.

Audre Lorde lost her battle with cancer in 1992. Her last poems speak compellingly of the struggle: "Today Is Not the Day", she writes defiantly; and
New Year's Day 1:16 A.M.
and my body is weary beyond
time to withdraw and rest
ample room allowed me in everyone's head
but community calls
right over the threshold
drums beating through the walls
children playing their truck dramas
under the collapsible coatrack
in the narrow hallway outside my room ...

how hard it is to sleep
in the middle of life.

Hunter Thompson Dead, Suicide Suspected

Hunter S. Thompson, the iconic counterculture journalist who brought us the classic "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", is dead at age 67 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to news reports.

"Egg McMuffin or Buster the Bunny"

Reflecting on the wisdom of his party's choice of Howard Dean for its leadership role, Joshua Gibson at BlueOregon expresses his feelings at the DNC Chair's initial refusal to allow the press to quote, or even paraphrase, his words at the debate with Richard Perle in Portland:
But this is the final straw, the nail in the coffin, the end so final that it requires cliche. Dean would dare to appear in a forum named for a great champion of open-meetings laws and forbid the press even to "paraphrase" his statements? We are led by a man so afraid of the press that he'll go to absurd lengths to protect himself from them. How, exactly, is this different from Bush's own fear of the White House Briefing Room? Sure, I understand why Dean's afraid. He knows that if he slips up and says something monumentally stupid (and he's smart enough to know that he probably will) the press will run the hell out of it. He knows he's up against the articulate and intellectually staggering Richard Perle.

Understandable, I suppose, from a man whose two most famous quotes are "Sit down and shut up!" and "Yeeaaarrgh!".

It's not just that Dean doesn't have faith in his own ability to give a competent performance at a debate; he thinks it's the press's job to protect him when he embarrasses himself.
But, not only does his maneuver stink of the petty despot that lurks in his shrivelled grey heart, but it was also incompetent. He had to backpedal and let them cover it anyway. He must have realized, at some point, that the story was going to be about the blackout itself.

Except, of course, that it wasn't. The story of the Richard Perle / Howard Dean debate was the shoe-throwing idiot who kept howling that Perle was a "lying m*****f***er".

But perhaps the shoe-thrower was an aberration? Tim Graham at The Corner writes that this fellow is not without his supporters. Citing the DNC blog "Kicking Ass", he notes:
As participants chewed over the recent debate between Dean and Richard Perle in Oregon, which was interrupted by a screaming heckler throwing a shoe at Perle, one DNC blogger wished for an army of cussing shoe-tossers:

Rose, for a minute you would think I was there! Lying MF this, MF that…. Shoes are flying. They had to carry the guy out, and has he was going, he was still calling Perle a MF liar! Other people objected to his lies as well, but it would have beeen really neat if as soon as one person was dragged out, another would start up. Like Crickets.

So Joshua Gibson should take heart: Dean's request for a media blackout on the debate with Perle has been all but forgotten. But Gibson may still be right about Howard Dean when he writes:
Progressives should be ashamed to have supported this man. The party shold be ashamed to have promoted him. And our politicians should fear what horrific damage this man is about to do to our chances of electoral victory.

Go read Joshua's excellent post at the link.

Peggy Noonan Gets It

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan has an excellent piece on the power of blogs. Go check it out. Thanks, Peggy. (Hat tip: DFME.)

Michael Rubin: Will Washington Support Democracy in Iran?

Writing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Michael Rubin asks whether the Bush Administration will support democracy in Iran. Read the article at the link - also check out the discussion at the Free Iran forum.

Winds of Change: Van Gogh Killing Was Organized

Dan Darling at Winds of Change is feeling vindicated as a Norwegian report on the Theo van Gogh killing concludes:
The killing of Theo Van Gogh was not the work of a lone fanatic but rather the deliberate work of an ad-hoc group of al-Qaeda supporters that viewed the world within the context of the network's global jihad.

Read the whole thing at the link.

VDH: The Victories So Far

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of the impressive victories against fascism achieved by the Bush administration to date in this article on Unsung Victories. The decisions to ignore Arafat and to withdraw from Saudi Arabia generated a lot of noise from academics and Middle East "experts", but they have proved to be wise choices:
As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully naïve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.

What to do next? Read the article at the link to find out.

Morning Report: February 20, 2005

Iraqi police arrest suspected Zarqawi ally. On a day marred by deadly terrorist attacks against Iraqis, Iraqi police arrested a man believed linked to terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 'Iraqi police arrested Haidar Mulaqatah during a raid in the Maffaraq area of western Baquba, about 30 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province', according to this CNN report. In a separate raid, another suspected terrorist was captured: 'Harbi Abdul Khudier Hammudi, who served as a colonel in the old Iraqi air force, is a leader of the Salafist Jihadist terrorist group and is believed to have been involved in several attacks against coalition forces, including the bombing of an Iraqi national guard convoy last year, police said. Another leader in Hammudi's group, Faris Addula Younis, was also captured in the raid, police said.' The arrests came amid a string of homicide attacks on Irai Shi'ites timed to coincide with the Shi'a festival of Ashoura. (CNN)

Syrian allies and foes headed for showdown in Lebanon. In the wake of the Valentine's Day assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the Syrian-backed regime in Lebanon appears to be heading toward a major confrontation with its opponents. Debka reports on recent developments, including Syria's distribution of weapons and a call by Walid Jumblatt and others for the pro-Syrian regime to step down. 'The resignations of president Emil Lahoude and the Karame government were forcefully demanded by the opposition leader, Walid Jumblatt, head of the Lebanese Druses who speaks for a rare multiethnic coalition made up of his own community, Christian factions endorsed by Maronite Catholic Archbishop Nasrallah Sfeir, and Sunni Muslims led by the dead billionaire’s oldest son, Bahaa Hariri, with the blessing of the Sunni Muslim Mufti of Lebanon.' Debka predicts: 'The sparks will fly in earnest when government and Syrians move into aggressive mode to crush the opposition, which will become increasingly inflamed by multiplying leads to Syria and its Lebanese minions as Hariri’s assassins. Our sources report that US, French and Israeli intelligence have already gathered solid evidence that General Rostum Ghazallah of Syrian military intelligence orchestrated the murder on orders from Damascus with the aid of Lebanese general intelligence and its chief General Jamil al-Sayad. The Damascus-backed government in Beirut and its masters has no intention of going quietly. Bashar Assad desperately needs the political and economic benefits he extorts from Lebanon to prop up his regime. Monday, February 21, presidents George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac meet in Paris. With Lebanon at the forefront of their agenda, they will have to look hard at some tough questions. How to handle the situation if Assad orders his Syrian troops in Lebanon to march on Beirut in defense of his puppet government? And worse still, what if the full weight of the Syrian army is sent across the border to squash the uprising? Will the two Western leaders dispatch a joint US-French force to repulse the Syrian onslaught?' Chrenkoff has lots more. (Debka, Chrenkoff)


Peretz on the Left

Yet another excellent article by The New Republic's Martin Peretz has been making the blogospheric rounds. Not Much Left has been picked up by Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, and elsewhere.

But The Belmont Club really does the article justice:
Paradoxically, dogmatism is rooted in relativism more than in the belief that real truth is discoverable. For as long as the truth is believed to be "out there"; it will be sought. When its existence is doubted none will venture into the dark.

Wretchard touches on something Peretz' TNR colleague Leon Wieseltier explored in his excellent piece on George Orwell, "Aspidistra":

Here is Orwell in 1942, in "Looking Back on the Spanish War," reflecting on the lies of wartime:

This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. ... I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that 'the facts' existed and were more or less discoverable.

Orwell plainly regards the eclipse of objective truth as a decline and a danger.

That's just it: so many liberals have internalized the message "certainty=fascism" that they cannot indulge in certainty even in their opposition to fascism. (And yet, somehow, there is no room for doubt in their hostility toward President Bush.)

There's so much to like about Peretz' article, and Wretchard's commentary, but unfortunately I've got to close up shop for the night. Go and read.

Iraq Update

"Proof that they're losing." Desperate terrorists have abandoned their failed plan of thwarting the Iraqi elections, and are falling back on their other failed plan of trying to provoke a civil war, says Mohammed. Mohammed sees good progress in the important business of building bridges between Coalition and Iraqi security forces. He notes with approval the use of keychains with hotline phone numbers for counter-terrorism tips by citizens, and adds that a website for that purpose would be helpful too. The Iraqi media, for their part, are playing an important role in combating terrorism, often at great risk. And perhaps not surprisingly, a syrian connection emerges ... read the rest at the link.

Janeane Garofalo and Riverbend are among his guilty pleasures, but Mister Ghost at IBC does a good job of holding down the fort. Read about fifteen-year-old HNK's bad dream, Ahmed's depressed musings, and Iraqi guest students ... and see the latest picture of Aya.

Army journalist Sminklemeyer is In Iraq for 365, and he wants to share the experience with you. Go to the current posts link, and read about his running partner, Iraqi military graduations, and the kid with cancer on his tongue. Also, the blogger gets a friendly reminder (and a souvenir) from a Milwaukee cop while stateside.


Morning Report: February 18, 2005

Bombers target Shia worshipers in Baghdad. Three bombers, striking two mosques and a religious procession, killed more than 27 people in Iraq Friday. According to the AP report on Fox: 'In the first explosion, the bomber entered the vestibule of al-Khadimain mosque in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood as worshippers inside knelt in prayer before detonating his explosives, said one witness, Hussein Rahim Qassim. Shortly afterward, a bomb ripped through the Al Bayaa mosque in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in western Baghdad. Fifteen were killed in the first explosion, and ten in the second, an official at Baghdad's al-Yarmuk Hospital said on condition of anonymity. Less than an hour later, a homicide bomber blew himself up as a procession of Shiites marking Ashoura passed by, killing two and injuring eight, according to Iraqi police Lt. Waed Hussein. Shiites packed into mosques Friday to mark the eve of Ashoura, the 10th day of the Islamic holy month of Muharram and the holiest day of the year for them.' (AP via Fox)

Protestor throws shoe at Perle. During a debate in Portland's Schnitzer Auditorium, Howard Dean and Richard Perle exchanged views and barbs; Perle also dodged a shoe thrown by a protester. (CNN)


Dean - Perle Debate

Well, I'm kicking myself quite soundly tonight because for just 25 bucks I could have gone to watch Richard Perle debate Howard Dean tonight at the Schnitzer. In any case, I'll post any information about this event that I can find.


I've just received my beautiful, two-inch-wide, Give Fascism The Finger button from CafePress, and it's now proudly displayed on my backpack. Got yours yet?

My next Physics exam is a week from today and I've got to make sure I know all about capacitors and inductors by then. Posting will be light to moderate. There's a ton of stuff I want to write about and I won't be able to get to all of it, but this blog won't come to a standstill either.

I've ordered an upgrade for my 17" PowerBook, which should be coming in within the next week. That'll allow me to get more done, faster and more easily. Also I'm focusing on sharpening up my computer skills because I am going to try to get into the IT line of work this year; so that means I'll be reading up on workplace applications like Excel and PowerPoint, learning the ropes of my OS X and Win XP systems, and maybe getting to know a thing or two about HTML and Unix. We'll see how it goes.

Morning Report: February 17, 2005

Lebanon asks for foreign help in Hariri case. The Lebanese government has asked for foreign assistance in investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, VOA reports. Hariri was killed in an apparent suicide bombing in Beirut on Monday, which claimed the lives of 14 other people as well. The Lebanese leader was seen as a symbol of popular resistance to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Syria is widely suspected in the blast, and the United States has recalled its ambassador to Syria in protest. (VOA)

Iraq election update. From Debka: 'Shiite United Iraqi Alliance’s 140 lawmakers hold secret ballot Friday on premiership nominee. Top members failed Wednesday to choose between al Daawa’s Jaafari, who pledges to ask US troops to stay, and secular Iraq National Congress leader Chalabi. Kurds will back winner in return for presidency.' (Debka)

Sunnis admit election boycott was a blunder. The Command Post carries an article from the Guardian indicating that Iraqi Sunnis who boycotted the January 30 election now regard the boycott as a mistake, and see value in participating in the political process: '"Our view is that this election was a step towards democracy and ending the occupation," said Ayad al-Samaray, the assistant general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic party. He said unnamed Sunni leaders blundered in depicting the election as a deepening of the occupation.' Full story and comments available at link. (Command Post, Guardian)

Testimony on security issues. The Belmont Club critiques the testimony before Congress of various officials regarding strategic threats to the United States. 'All in all, the intelligence briefings painted a picture of an enemy that had not yet realized its power potential. It had been stayed, but not fatally wounded. On the contrary, if it could overcome its disorganization and mend fences with enablers it could become even more dangerous.' Wretchard concludes that 'of the testimonies is that Rumsfeld alone, of all the witnesses, articulated a complete grand strategic view. In particular, he understood that the threat, so well described in component by the representatives of intelligence and finance, menaced the world  as a whole and not simply the United States and that it had been emerging over a long period of time.' (Belmont Club)

Varying accounts of Iran blast. Last Wednesday, an explosion shook the southern Iranian city of Dailam, Bushehr province, in the vicinity of a nuclear facility. Beyond that, there seems to be little agreement as to what happened. Free Iran news carries a roundup of media reports and commentary. (Free Iran)


RLS: No Tears for Eason Jordan

Roger L. Simon (and that's Roger L. Simon, the blogger) will not be weeping for the recently deposed Eason Jordan:
... It is hard to find sympathy for Jordan, although a great many in the "MSM" do. This is a man who was willing to overlook the evils of Saddam so that his reporters in Iraq would be safe. Or so he claimed. How about telling the truth about Saddam from the outside? Evidently he wasn't interested in something so obvious. The people of Iraq were irrelevant to him. Only CNN and his own career, it seems. ...

Apropos Valentine's Day, Roger also offers his thoughts on Eason Jordan's love life. Read the whole post here:
Roger L. Simon: A Moral Issue

And we may gain some insights into the culture of CNN by reading about the network's role models (hat tip: Little Green Footballs).

Armanious - Garas Killings: "Money, Not Religious Extremism"

Religious hate was probably not the motivating factor in the murder of a New Jersey family of four last month, according to law enforcement authorities.

Tom Troncone of NorthJersey.com, writing about the horrific slaying of Hossam Armanious, Amal Garas, and their two daughters in Jersey City a month ago, reports:
"We're getting somewhere that hopefully is going to give us a clear indication as to what the motive is," said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio. "And once you have motive, that helps lead you to the people involved."

DeFazio still won't discuss the intricate details of the case or explain why investigators are leaning toward a financial motive for the killings. But he did provide a glimpse into the probe, which has included assistance from an FBI profiler.

"The FBI does not think that, based on the information gleaned from the scene, it's based on religious extremism," the prosecutor said, without elaborating.

For full details, as well as the reactions of Armanious and Garas family members and other members of the Coptic community, read the article at NorthJersey.com.


Freedom and Peace

R. J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii has made a strong case for the thesis that the promotion of democracy is the promotion of peace, and that a free world is a peaceful world. Please go visit his website here.

Thanks to Diane for this link.


German Pilot, Passengers Thwart Iran Extradition

Many thanks to Spenta for translating this Persian news item from Peykeiran at the Free Iran message board:
Pilot of a Luftansa flight from Frankfurt to Tehran refused to take off and return an Iranian woman to Iran!

According to a report from the Women's 8th of March Organisation, dozens of Iranian and Afghani activists from the organisation, activists from the German Leftist groups, and members of other Iranian opposition groups, participated in a protest action to stop the deportation of an Iranian woman political refugee at Frankfurt airport. They notified passengers of this inhuman act, and asked them to refuse to fly on the flight. As a result of this unified action, the pilot of the Lufthansa Frankfurt to Tehran flight, in solidarity with the protestors, refused to takeoff. According to other reports some of the passengers also supported this protest action. The German police arrested the protestors, including many memebrs of the 8th of March Women's organisation and German groups, many of whom are still detained. Today the German police was not successful in deporting Zahra Kameli. This action showed again that with united and aggressive international action the impossible can be made possible.

Zahra Kameli, who faces certain death if deported to Iran, is still alive because of the actions of decent people. There is hope. Read the story, with Spenta's comments, at the link. And keep working for Zahra Kameli - and the thousands of prisoners of conscience, as well as the millions of ordinary citizens still held hostage by fascism in the Middle East.

Iraq Update

Iraqi leader loses two sons, guard. 'A few days ago, Mithal Al-Alusi; an Iraqi politician and the head of the "Hizb Al-Umma Al-Iraqiya" or the (Iraqi Nation Party) survived an assassination attempt when a group of terrorists attacked him in front of his house but his two young sons and his guard were killed in the attack.

The brave politician, despite his tragic loss made very strong statements during an interview he gave to RFI "Radio free Iraq".

Al-Alusi: Again, the ghosts of death are going out. They are ready to kill a person, ready to kill the peace, ready to kill the victory of Iraqis and their right to life. Again, henchmen of the Ba'ath [Party] and dirty terrorist gangs, Al-Qaeda and others, are going out convinced that they can determine life and death as they desire. Iraq will not die.

My children, three people [in all] -- one of my bodyguards and two of my children -- died as heroes, no differently from other people who find their heroic deaths. But we will not, [I swear] by God, hand Iraq over to murderers and terrorists. ... '

Read the rest, and Omar's comments, at Iraq the Model.

Ali on America's mistakes. The third Fadhil brother, responding to a post by Michael J. Totten, takes a look at what he sees as America's mistakes: 'When I say America here, I mean the administration or the people they chose to help Iraqis in their transformation to democracy. While I agree that many regular Iraqis are still misled and have some anti-American feelings as a result of decades of brain washing, I cannot but wonder why should Americans chose such people and trust them in serious issues when there are so many Iraqis who do not suffer from such problems. ... In my mind such mistake comes from two places; first from underestimating Iraqis and thinking that the only Iraqis that are willing to cooperate are those who can be bought in different ways, even if what they were asked was for their own country's good. And second because it seems that Americans themselves have a mixed feeling about what's happening in Iraq. They think that somehow they did something wrong to Iraqis while liberating them since it meant occupying their country and thus they think it's perfectly natural that even those who cooperate with them should have hostile feelings towards America. It hurts me because it wastes so much valuable time, effort, money and most importantly lives and also because it shows that Americans don't think highly of Iraqis.' Read the whole post at the link.

Iraqi forces foil attack in Abu Mustafa. Small Town Veteran (hat tip: Mrs. Greyhawk) reports that Iraqi forces outsmarted the terrorists in the town of Abu Mustafa, south of Baghdad: 'Iraqi security forces foiled a trap set for a local security patrol by 40 terrorist in the village of Abu Mustafa south of Baghdad. After a confrontation between the two sides, the terrorists fled to a near by school. The Iraqi security forces among other forces pursued the terrorists and surrounded the school. The ensuing gun battle resulted in the killing of 12 terrorists and the arrest of 30 more. ...' Read it all at the link.

Let's blogroll!

Jeff draws a lesson from Mother Nature while steeling himself for a confrontation with a psycho. Let's hope the laws of karma work their magic on the vermin who did this.

Mamamontezz unfurls the new flag of Howard Dean's party. (Readers of the lavender persuasion shouldn't take the polychromatic theme amiss ... it's an allusion to Reverend Jesse Jackass's "rainbow" outfit.)

Auntie Cracker has a chat with her mom about a serious subject.

The Democrats have a new leader ... but what about the NAACP? Chris Muir has an idea.

Chapter 4 of "Pacific Memories" is up.

"And so, reluctantly ... " our hero leaves New Zealand.



Posting will be sporadic over the next week while I get caught up on school and other stuff. Morning Report will make occasional appearances.

Morning Report: February 11, 2005

US: No talks with North Korea. The United States continues to refuse bilateral talks with the newly-declared-nuclear North Korea, according to this CNN report. 'White House press secretary Scott McClellan said North Korea would have plenty of opportunities to raise issues directly with the United States if it agreed to resume six-party talks. Those have been on hold since Pyongyang withdrew last year.' The six-party talks included the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan, and Russia. Debka says: 'White House plays down North Korea claim of nuclear weapons, calls for return to multi-nation disarmament talks but rules out concessions. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources: Administration has no real proof that Pyongyang really has manufactured nuclear bomb although it has enough plutonium. Its announcement may be bluff. No indication nuclear test ever conducted. Kremlin concurs with this skeptical view'. (CNN, Debka)

Death of a playwright. Arthur Miller, America's foremost playwright, has died. The reclusive writer died at his Connecticut home Thursday night of heart failure, at the age of 89. Miller was the author of the classics "All My Sons", "The Crucible", and "Death of a Salesman", (CNN)


Shahna Lax

I believe I mentioned Shahna Lax without providing a link.

I believe I'll correct that oversight now:
Shahna Lax at Tribe of the Winds
Crestone Artisans Gallery

Why do they hate us?

The Redhunter brings up some excellent points in this post on Condi Rice. I don't have much to add to what Tom has said (go read the post), but I especially want to highlight his observation
We need to hold the Administration to their word; reform of Saudi Arabia and the various gulf states is just as important, and perhaps more so, than dealing with Syria and Iran. It is not by accident that the most pro-American population can be found in Iran, and the most anti perhaps in Saudi Arabia. The most popular explanation that I have seen is that the Iranians appreciate American opposition to their hated mullahs, while the Saudis hate the U.S. for proping up their corrupt leadership.

The BBC, of course, has it exactly backwards; Rice doesn't represent the "same old" State Department, she represents a new and tougher one, and one that's closer to the President's views. The fact that she also has more personal charisma than Powell makes her that much stronger as a stateswoman - and it is exactly this subtle strength that will be needed when dealing with the Europeans.

(Can anyone say "soft power"?)

How an Italian Blogs

This just in, courtesy of Stefania:
One of the Italians held hostage by terrorists - along with the heroic Fabrizio Quattrocchi - has started his own blog. It's in Italian, but be sure to drop by (even if your Italian is rusty) and pass on this link to your friends:
Salvatore Stefio

And don't forget to drop by Stefania's blog, which is bilingual.

"Death To America" Day

Iranian freedom activists marked the anniversary of the islamist revolution in Iran with civil disobedience:
Millions of Iranians inflicted, today, another heavy slap to the face of the shacky and unpopular Islamic regime by boycotting its "celebration of the 26th anniversary of revolution" by staying home or afar from the official gatherings.

In Tehran, the regime was not able to bring more than 70 or 80 thousands of professional demosntrators or forced employees of the government. The Capital's inhabitants are over 12 Millions.

Thousands of homes had shut off their lights from 09:00 PM on Wednesday while hundreds of maverick Iranians sized the occasion in order to get into the streets and bring down many of the regime's electrical propaganda tools in southern, western and eastern parts of the Capital and in cities, such as, Shiraz, Hamedan and Esfahan.

Slogans were shouted from roofs against the regime and its leaders by calling an end to the rule of the Islamic regime.

Iranians will be shuting off again their home's lights this evening from 09:00 PM.

SMCCDI had called for such Civil Disobeidance Actions in a statement read by opposition radios, such as KRSI, and during a NITV special program, with the presence of the Movement's Coordinator and responsibles of other opposition groups, such as, Payvand e Iranian, Marzeporgohar and Iranian Jewish Federation. The NITV special long programing took place just few hours before and ended by 05:00 PM of Wedenesday.

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera-on-the-Thames gave its version of events:
Tens of thousands of Iranians have braved blizzards to attend rallies marking the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The government had urged people to turn out to show support for its nuclear programme amid pressure led by the US. ...

North Korea Says It Has Nukes

CNN reports:
World leaders expressed concern on Thursday that North Korea will quit six-party nuclear disarmament talks and will "bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said North Korea is risking further world isolation "because everyone in the international community, and most especially North Korea's neighbors, have been very clear that there needs to be no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula in order to maintain stability in that region."

More on this as it develops.

Bush's Mystery Bulge: Hearing Device or Defibrillator?

Emily at Strangechord cites an article about the unidentified bulge in President Bush's jacket during the television debate. Robert Nelson, an imaging specialist, told the New York Times he thought the pictures of Bush looked suspicious, and offered to help the Times investigate. The Times ultimately dropped the story, saying it could not take the story beyond "speculation".

I think it's pretty clear that there is something under Bush's jacket, and I wish the White House had been more forthcoming with its explanations. For my part, I think the "hearing device" theory is a bit farfetched, partly because it would be foolish for Bush to do something so rash (and risk exposure), and partly because the President's lackluster performance during the debate didn't give the impression that he was getting any kind of expert help. But I would like to know the story behind that bulge.

Another possibility - and I think a more plausible one - is provided by this thread, citing (of all things) Indymedia. This scenario has the President wearing something called a LifeVest portable defibrillator. Look at the photographs of the LifeVest and at the pictures of President Bush - especially the one taken at Crawford in 2002, where the President is wearing a T-shirt and is nowhere near a debating podium. (By comparison, the shape of the hearing device shown in the other story is a poor match for the shape of the bulge under the jacket.)

While I'll be glad to concede Emily's contention that the New York Times is hopelessly biased in favor of Bush, I think they made the right decision in holding off on the story. There does seem to have been something under the President's jacket in that famous photo, and Bush's critics were justified in asking questions - but as even the Fair piece tacitly acknowledges, there's very little to suggest that the bulge was caused by a listening device.

In fact, I think the Indymedia report is probably true ... and no, I never thought I'd find myself saying those words either.


They shoot journalists, don't they?

While some in the American MSM fantasize about being the targets of assassinations, for Iraqi journalists this threat is all too real.

Abdul Hussein Khazaal was gunned down by masked terrorists on Wednesday - along with his three-year-old son. Khazaal was a television correspondent for al-Hurra ("The Free"), the US-backed, Arabic-language voice of freedom in the Middle East. Although some islamist clerics have denounced the station as "propaganda", President Bush sees the station as a way to "cut through the hateful propaganda that fills the airwaves in the Muslim world".

The name of Abdul Hussein Khazaal should be rememberd among the rolls of freedom's martyrs.

CNN: Abdul Hussein Khazaal

The Doctor and the Greedy Chief

Many thanks to Jeff Strang, and old Green Party comrade of mine and a Peace Corps veteran, for forwarding this story.
His name intrigues people, his story inspires them.

Introducing 'Doctor' Abio Ayeliya, 23, an Eastern Oregon University freshman from Ghana.

His is a story of perseverance and the selfless concern of a former teacher Izaak Edvalson, a 1998 graduate of EOU.

Ayeliya attends Eastern because Edvalson, a former teacher in the Peace Corps, has given him the chance of a lifetime. Edvalson donated $15,000 of his own money and has raised another $10,000 to cover Ayeliya's first two years of expenses at Eastern.

It is a remarkable story, one that started when Edvalson met Ayeliya while working in the Peace Corps in Ghana from 1999 to 2001. There, in the northern village of Chiana, Edvalson received the type of attention he was not used to.

As a teacher Edvalson was bothered by students who were constantly asking him for things. They did so because they think Americans have everything, Edvalson said.

Villagers nicknamed him Wolongope. Translation: the greedy chief.

Ayeliya was among those who came around. However, he was different. ...

Read the rest here: Club Ghana.
Then go here: Wolongope.


Trina Schart Hyman

Trina Schart Hyman, who died last November, was my favorite illustrator growing up, and come to think of it, she still is. She used to do cover illustrations and border art for the children's magazine Cricket, which my sister and I read as kids. (The margins had a delightful cartoon called "Cricket and Ladybug".) Fortunately, my parents saved all the old copies of Cricket, and I was able to salvage them from the basement last year - they're sitting in a box by my desk right now, more than 60 issues dating from 1974 to 1979.

Trina created a rich and seductive fantasy world for such classics as "Sleeping Beauty", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Saint George and the Dragon", "Peter Pan", and "The Golem". I never outgrew my enjoyment of children's books, and especially her art. It's passionate, frightening, romantic, and magical.

This bio gives a little background about her life:
Trina was born on April 8, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Margaret Doris Bruck and Albert H. Schart. She grew up in a rural area of Pennsylvania learning to read and draw at an early age. She credits her mother for instilling in her the joy of books by reading to her from the time she was an infant. She spent a whole year wearing a red satin cape that her mother had made for her because her favorite story was Little Red Riding Hood. 
“I figured out at four years old that somebody had made the pictures in my books and though I didn’t know what these people were called, I knew I wanted to be a book illustrator. . . . I began to make books from my own stories and drew pictures to illustrate them. “

“It was always very clear to me—and to everyone else, too—exactly what I would do when I grew up. I would be an artist, and I would be the sort of artist who made pictures that told stories. It wasn’t until the seventh grade that I learned about the word illustrator, but when I heard it, I knew that that was me.”

... Although she skipped first grade, Trina never felt like she was a good student, preferring to doodle rather than do the assigned work. It wasn’t until she enrolled at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art in 1956 that she blossomed. 
“Suddenly, I was not only allowed to draw all day long, I was expected to! I was surrounded by other artists all day, and we talked, ate, lived and dreamed about art. It was as though I had been living, all my life, in a strange country where I could never quite fit in—and now I had come home.”

In 1959, she married mathematician and engineer, Harris Hyman, and they moved to Boston where he had gotten a job. She continued studying at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts.

I know Harris; as it happens, we go to the same shul - although I haven't been going as regularly as I should lately, or I probably would have learned of Trina's passing earlier. They had a baby girl, Katrin, in 1963, and went their separate ways in 1968. Harris is a nice fellow, and he and Trina remained on good terms; Harris told me his daughter (from a later marriage) would refer to Trina as her "fairy godmother".

Trina was a low-tech kind of person:
Distrustful of technology, Trina proudly admits to not owning a “mind-destroying, soul-sucking” television, or any other convenience remotely technological. Making a solemn vow at the time of her daughter’s birth, she chose instead to fill their home with hundreds of good books and took the time to read them. She credits this practice with teaching her daughter to read at the age of four.

Good for her! My parents didn't forbid television, but they did ration it strictly. Most evenings we'd sit in the living room, all four of us, and read aloud. "Family reading" was a sacred institution in our house. We'd each take a turn reading from a young-adult book, or, later, a regular novel or classic. This did amazing things for our reading, speaking, and listening skills, and I'll always consider it one of the biggest gifts Mom and Dad gave us. My father, I remember, had an excellent reading voice. (In his later years, I believe he spent some time as a volunteer reader for some kind of audio books. So perhaps even now someone is out there listening to my father read.) We read Lucy M. Boston (the Green Knowe books), Susan Cooper ("The Dark Is Rising" series), Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King. (Yes, really. Mom was a big Stephen King fan.) There was a lot more, too, but those are the ones I remember.

I've always had a bit of a luddite streak myself, although plainly I have a geeky side too. I'll always trust the intimacy of tangible objects - books, handwritten letters, and so on - in a way that I will never feel comfortable with electronic communications. But enough about me; back to Trina.

Moving beyond drawing European characters, Trina went on to illustrate "The Fortune Tellers" (set in her son-in-law's native Cameroon) and "The Serpent Slayer: Stories of Strong Women". In her later years she suffered from arthritis, which made it difficult for her to work; and from cancer, which finally claimed her life on November 19, 2004.

I never got to meet Trina, although I did mail her an enthusiastic fan letter as a young adult, which she was kind enough to answer. (I still have Trina's letter, along with the autographed copy of her autobiography, "Self-Portrait: Trina Schart Hyman" that she sent me.) After selling my parents' house last year, I splurged a little and bought an original of one of her works from Child At Heart Gallery - a woman with piercing eyes and flaming red hair, holding a glowing sphere in her hands and standing against a dramatic, dark background. I like to imagine that it represents the secret, Divine spark, which we all share, but which too often we keep hidden. When we hold it the right way, it shines.

Trina Schart Hyman links:
Child At Heart Gallery
Trina Schart Hyman biography
tribute from Open Fields School
Cricket Magazine
Reading Room: Remembering Trina Schart Hyman
The Horn Book: Trina Schart Hyman
LiveJournal: Trina Schart Hyman thread
Powell's Books: The Sleeping Beauty

Thanks to my dear friend Blanche in San Francisco for passing the news.

Morning Report: February 8, 2005

Sabah: Support for woman president in Iraq. In the February 7 English edition, al-Sabah reports: 'In unprecedented, bold and democratic step, political and diplomatic sources expected that candidate of presidency for coming stage is a woman. Meanwhile, political sources confirmed that the real winner of elections is Iraqi people, who got rid of Saddam's hegemony and dictatorship. ... As-Sabah's ran a poll on choosing Iraqi woman for presidency position stemming from democratic concept in newborn Iraq. Nominations concentrated on three names: Naziha al- Duleimi , who occupied minister position for a first time in Iraqi history . She was within Iraqi government following events of 1958 . In the meantime, Safiya al- Siheel nominated herself for presidency position in the coming Iraqi government. She is now an Iraqi ambassador to Egypt. Son Col Jabook nominated herself for position of minister of defense in the interim government.' (Al-Sabah English)

Sharon, Abbas call truce. News media reported that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared a truce at today's (Tuesday) summit at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt: 'Abbas said: “We have agreed on halting all violent actions against Palestinians and Israelis wherever they are.” Sharon made a similar pledge: “Today, in my meeting with chairman Abbas, we agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere, and, at the same time, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere.”' Debka points out that Hamas has rejected the accord: 'Hamas leader Osama Hamada in Damascus: We are not bound by Sharm declarations.' (MSNBC, Debka)

Rice honors Holocaust dead, ignores Arafat's tomb. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Yad VaShem, Israel's memorial to the victims of the Nazi regime, but had no time in her busy Mideast tour to acknowledge the dead terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. Unlike many previous political figures, 'Condoleezza Rice made no acknowledgement of Yasser Arafat's grave when she met the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah on Monday before concluding a whirlwind trip to Israel and the PA' according to the Jerusalem Post. However, as Arutz Sheva reports, Dr. Rice 'opened her Israel visit today with a tour of the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.' She also called on Israel to make "hard decisions" in choosing its future course in its relations with the Palestinians. (JPost, Arutz7)


We said we'd go. We didn't say we'd be nice.

The US attended an "anti-terrorism conference" in Saudi Arabia, but refused to put on a friendly face for representatives of the IRI regime in Tehran. In fact, Frances Townsend had some harsh words for the islamist entity. This Agence France-Presse story reports that
Delegates from the United States and archfoe Iran engaged in a "heated" exchange at a counter-terrorism conference in Saudi Arabia, the local media reported but a US official insisted the encounter was "professional."

(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs, which turns 4 today. Happy birthday LGF!)
"The exchange that took place in the first general assembly was a professional one reflecting differences in views between the US and Iranian delegations," a US embassy spokesperson in Riyadh told AFP. But the English-daily Saudi Gazette said the Iranian and US delegations at the closed-door conference were reportedly "locked in a heated exchange... when the issue of what constitutes terrorism arose." Diplomatic sources told AFP that Saturday's address by US Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend had prompted the head of the Iranian delegation to give a speech in response. There were no details on the content of his speech.

Read the whole thing at the link. Go Frances Townsend!

Morning Report: February 7, 2005

Erekat: Israel, Palestine to announce cease-fire. A recent news report from CNN states that Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has said Palestinian and Israeli leaders will announce a cease-fire at tomorrow's (Tuesday) summit at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. 'Under the agreement, Israeli troops will halt incursions into Palestinian territories and Palestinian officials will urge all Palestinian factions to halt their attacks on Israel, Palestinian officials said. Erakat's statement came hours after leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to travel to Washington for separate meetings with President Bush. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- after talks with leaders from both sides -- said this is the most promising time for Mideast peace in years.' Debka reports: 'Rice announces Abbas and Sharon to go to White House in spring. At Ben Gurion airport, she disclosed a US security coordinator Lt. Gen. William Ward will be deployed to work with Palestinians, Israel, Egypt and Jordan on improvement of security in region. Rice ended two days of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah Monday. DEBKAfile adds: General is former head of stabilizing force in Bosnia.' The BBC profiles Ward: 'Gen Ward gained a master's degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor's in political science from Morgan State University before he was commissioned as an officer in 1971. His military service includes several overseas tours. He was a brigade commander in Mogadishu, Somalia, when two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. Nineteen US soldiers died during the now infamous subsequent rescue operation. For a year until October 2003 he commanded the Nato Stabilisation Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina. He has also toured in South Korea and Germany.' (CNN, Debka, BBC)

Debka: NATO to begin presence in Israel. Also from Debka: 'DEBKAfile’s Eilat sources report visit Sunday by NATO naval officers at Israeli Red Sea port and neighboring Aqaba in Jordan and inspection of their naval base installations. Sources expect NATO warships to begin docking in Eilat early next month, first instance of NATO sea cooperation with US as well as Israel and Jordan in Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba.' (Debka)

ITM: New tyranny "not that easy". Refuting earlier reports of an alleged statement by Sistani endorsing Shari'a law in Iraq, Omar reports: 'I chose to wait until the next news hour and of course until I chill out a little bit after the disturbing news and then I heard this update on the story "Haider Al-Khaffaf, a senior Sistani's aide says that no such statement was released". And going back to Friday's news, another senior aide of Sistani said from Kuwait that "the future constitution of the country is an issue that is left for the National Assembly to deal with".' Omar (agreeing with Baghdad Dweller) also sees a parallel with last year's infamous Resolution 137, which would have imposed Islamic law, and which was soundly rejected by the Iraqis. Omar also points to a system of checks and balances: 'there are rules and regulations that govern the writing of the constitution and these were agreed on by almost everyone (with a few reservations though) but there is a general agreement on these rules, and anyway, passing any legislation will require the approval of 2 thirds of the assembly's members.' The Belmont Club's analysis concludes that 'The question of whether it was right to deal with Chalabi or Allawi may in the end be dominated by the issue of whether it was right to trust the Iraqi people to select its leader. If that judgement is correct it is possible to be wrong in all else; if wrong nothing will avail.' (Iraq the Model, Belmont Club)

Barney Frank on Eason Jordan. Michelle Malkin recently spoke with Rep. Barney Frank (D - Massachusetts) on CNN official Eason Jordan's questionable allegations regarding US troops and reporters. Malkin writes: 'Rep. Frank said Eason Jordan did assert that there was deliberate targeting of journalists by the U.S. military. After Jordan made the statement, Rep. Frank said he immediately "expressed deep skepticism." Jordan backed off (slightly), Rep. Frank said, "explaining that he wasn't saying it was the policy of the American military to target journalists, but that there may have been individual cases where they were targeted by younger personnel who were not properly disciplined." Rep. Frank said he didn't pay attention to the audience reaction at the time of the panel, but recalled that Sen. Dodd was "somewhat disturbed" and "somewhat exercised" and that moderator David Gergen also said Jordan's assertions were "disturbing if true." I have a call in to Sen. Dodd's office and sent an e-mail inquiry to Gergen.' (Michelle Malkin via Instapundit)

France bans Iranian anti-regime rally. Iran Focus reports that French authorities have withdrawn their approval for a pro-Iranian rally in Paris, under pressure from the islamist regime in Tehran. 'Iran's main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, issued a statement today condemning the French government's decision to ban a peaceful protest by Iranian exiles in Paris against the dictatorship ruling Iran, despite prior approval. ... The NCRI revealed from sources from within Iran that France gave into the demands of the Iranian regime to secure economic deals for French companies, adding that Tehran was spreading its dictatorship thousands of kilometres to the heart of Europe.' (Iran Focus via Free Iran)



Wednesday night I got to watch the President's State of the Union speech with some folks from College Republicans and the Washington County (Oregon) Republicans. There were a couple dozen of us there: women in skirts and neat makeup, men in neckties and crisp haircuts, and, well ... me. I don't get a chance to go to the CR meetings on campus because they're on Thursday nights and they conflict with my yoga class; so this was a too-rare chance to hang out with other Republicans, which I did. A very nice young woman named Lucy gave me a lift there and back, as I'm still wheel-less for the time being.

Thursday I got my Physics exam back. Didn't do quite as well as I'd hoped, but still scored 10 points above the class average. I had a screaming headache on the day of the exam and made a lot of dumb mistakes. (Memo to self: the static charge on the INTERIOR of a conductor is zero. On the surfaces, it'll gravitate toward wherever there's an opposite charge nearby ... grrrr ...)

Thursday night I went out with a couple of friends and met the artist Shahna Lax, who does amazing work in what she calls "Judeo-Islamic art", combining Muslim and Jewish motifs. She's based near Taos, New Mexico. We met up at the coffee shop at Powell's Books, made a lot of noise, and then went on to the Blue Moon for a drink and a bite to eat. Of course I didn't bring up politics; I'm "out" as a Republican to my friends, but with new acquaintances from the left-leaning arts crowd I leave it alone. (It doesn't exactly enhance my dating life, either. But I digress.)

Friday I picked up a box of "business cards" with my name and address, along with this blog's title and URL. So now I have something to give out to friends when I casually let it drop that I "keep a little web page". The cards look really sharp - Office Depot did a nice job on these.

I'm working my way through the BBC's 'Hamlet' on DVD for the second time, and I'll probably view it a few more times this week. See, the Beeb are good for a few things! This production is 3 hours and 42 minutes long, but it's worth every minute. Amazing how every time you watch Shakespeare, you can feel as if you're watching it for the first time. I like the way Prince Hamlet channels his dead father, with Ophelia playing the same role to him that Hamlet himself did for the elder Hamlet's ghost. Hope to post something on Hamlet later.

My latest obsession is Myst, the classic computer game now in its fourth installment. Each new Myst game is prettier, fancier, and gloriouser (yes, dammit, that's a word) than the last. I've played the first game (now out as RealMyst, with real-time movement), Myst 3 "Exile", and Myst 4 "Revelation", which is just incredible. Still haven't gotten Myst 2 "Riven" yet, but that's only a matter of time. And of course there are the books!

And on a much less glamorous note, I've got to get some more housecleaning and, yes, homework done today. Will post again soon. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, go check out Jeff's post about a world that lives very close to ours.

Liberation Blog Death? Not a chance.

So, you might be wondering whether things are going to get a bit more low-key here at Dreams Into Lightning. Isn't it time to end the honeymoon? Turn down the passion a little? After all, we've just celebrated Iraq's first free election, and this blog has been running for almost 10 months now ... that's a long time in "blog years". You might be thinking that this relationship of ours has been getting cozy, comfortable ... and not very exciting. Not that the spark is gone, why no, not at all, it's just that the novelty isn't quite there anymore. Oh, a new posting every now and then, sure, to keep the magic alive. But even that might be, well ... an anti-climax.

Is that what you've been thinking? Well, perish the thought. Times may change, but Dreams Into Lightning is only just getting warmed up. There will be no Liberation Blog Death around here - the excitement is just beginning. We're going to keep up the heat on the political front and continue fighting fascism wherever we see it. But we're also going to branch out into culture, the arts, and other fun stuff. Oh, there may be occasional dry spells (as when yours truly has to study for an exam), but the party is just getting started.

So fret not, gentle reader ... the best is yet to come.


"There's just right and wrong and following your heart of hearts."

Jeff Simmermon takes stock in the wake of the Iraqi elections, in this incredibly eloquent post:
... I’ve had a guilty taste in my mouth since the inaugural protest’s cocktail of adrenaline and pepper gas wore off. I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that while the right is wrong, the left might not be right either. I looked around those protests and saw legitimately angry people who were well-fed and intentionally scruffy. Not to be presumptuous, but I didn't detect sadness and suffering ringing the eyes of most protestors. People were angry, loudly vocal, and legitimate in the depth of their feeling...but I didn't see anyone from the middle East. While I would guess that many people there had travelled, I doubt any of them had an Iraqi stamp in their passports.

This is not to discount the suffering felt by thousand of families and friends connected to those lost in the war.

Ever since I got ready to leave America, I've felt the country wobbling out of balance, like world events have been spinning out of control and America is right there at the center pulling the levers. I’ve needed the comfort that comes from answers and been really jealous of the righteous sense of stability that the religious right and Bush supporters and other stupid white people seemed to have. I took refuge in a knee-jerk liberal identity for a long time, but now it's threadbare and not as comfortable as it once was. ...

Go read the whole thing here: And I Am Not Lying, For Real - Iraqi Elections. Jeff's color scheme unfortunately makes the quotes from Iraqis a little difficult to read - use your cursor to highlight these passages, because you won't want to miss a word. Jeff, thank you for your honesty and courage.

Hat tip: the incomparable Plan 9. Thanks, Tanna.