Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's beginning to feel a lot like Easter

Today the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin reconstituted itself so it could return to living it's mission and miniistry no longer under a shadow. Good on 'em!

You may read about it at many sites (lots at Jake's place). Just read and scroll. Such joy!

Makes me almost feel I can smell chrism from here (to me, the scent of Easter).

Grant us, Lord, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in us and shed its light on those around us, and that by its brightness we may have a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal God, who led your ancient people into freedom by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Grant that we who walk in the light of your presence may rejoice in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty, everlasting God, let our prayer in your sight be as incense, the lifting up of our hands as the evening sacrifice. Give us grace to behold you, present in your Word and Sacraments, and to recognize you in the lives of those around us. Stir up in us the flame of that love which burned in the heart of your Son as he bore his passion, and let it burn in us to eternal life and to the ages of ages. Amen.

-Prayers from the Order for Evening

--the BB

Thanks for your patience with me

Sorry for my unannounced absence. No, the computer's working fine today. I worked! Shocking, I know. A friend called yesterday and asked if I could help him out. So I spent today passing out samples of candy and selling same at the New Mexico state chili championships (with rodeo) aka "Pork and Brew 2008."

Came home exhausted but had to read on events in San Joaquin. About to drag my weary but to bed.

After church tomorrow I plan to be back (ranting and raving, occasionally informing).
--the BB

Virtual Candle

Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.
--the BB

Asato ma Sad Gamaya; Tamaso ma Jyotir Gamaya; Mrtyor ma Amrtam Gamaya

Death Toll Rises in Iraq in Clashes Between Government and Shi'ite ...
Voice of America - 1 hour ago
By VOA News Iraqi authorities say the death toll from five days of intense fighting between Iraqi forces and Shi'ite militias has surged to more than 200.
US Airstrikes Aid Iraqi Army in Basra New York Times
Iraq: More US Airstrikes on Basra The Associated Press

Iraqi militia defy call to disarm
BBC News - 42 minutes ago
The radical Shia Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr has defied a call by the Iraqi government for his powerful Mehdi Army militia to lay down its weapons.

L'Armée du Mahdi résiste en Irak à l'assaut des forces du gouvernement
Le Monde - Publié depuis 1 heure
Les combats menés depuis le 25 mars par l'armée irakienne avec le soutien croissant de ses alliés américains et britanniques contre les activistes chiites de l'Armée du Mahdi, la plus puissante milice du pays, se sont poursuivis et même, dans certaines ...
Nouveau bombardement de la coalition sur Bassorah
Irak: près de 230 morts dans les combats entre miliciens chiites ... France Info


Zimbabweans Vote in Crucial Presidential Elections
Voice of America - 3 hours ago
By VOA News President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African nation since 1980, is seeking a sixth term in office. During a rally in the capital of Harare Friday, Mr.
Mugabe in final election appeal BBC News
Zimbabwe's Mugabe Seeks to Extend Rule as Vote Starts (Update1) Bloomberg

Zimbabweans queue to make their mark
Mail & Guardian Online - 2 hours ago
Eager to vote, Zimbabweans began lining up before dawn on Saturday for elections that present President Robert Mugabe with the toughest political challenge of his 28 years in power.
Tsvangirai intends engaging security chiefs SABC News
In pictures: Zimbabwe votes BBC News

Elections présidentielle et générales au Zimbabwe - Il y a 3 heures
AP | 29.03.2008 | 11:58 Les électeurs zimbabwéens faisaient samedi la queue devant les bureaux de vote pour des élections présidentielle et générales cruciales pour le président Robert Mugabe, accusé par l'opposition de préparer une nouvelle fraude ...
A 84 ans, Robert Mugabe espère un nouveau mandat au Zimbabwe Le Point
Les électeurs du Zimbabwe portés par l'espoir d'un changement

Tibet - China
Dalai Lama leads prayer for victims of Tibet unrest
Monsters and - 3 hours ago
New Delhi - Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Saturday led an inter-faith prayer meeting in New Delhi in remembrance of Tibetans who lost their lives and were injured during the recent protests in China.
Video: Tibetan monks embarrass China - 27 Mar 08 AlJazeeraEnglish
Dalai Lama says wants time for preparation of 'next life' AFP

China Promises Tibet Compensation
The Associated Press - 4 hours ago
BEIJING (AP) - Beijing will compensate victims of anti-government protests in Tibet, a state news agency said Saturday, while diplomats were taken to visit the region in an effort by China to show it has restored order.
Video: Divisions over Olympic boycott france24english

En Chine, quelques voix bravent le tabou tibétain
Le Figaro - Il y a 7 heures
Face à un Parti communiste que le Tibet renvoie à ses vieux réflexes, une poignée de Chinois bravent la censure, voire la police pour affirmer que leur pays fait fausse route. Le plus surprenant est qu'ils osent redresser la tête. ...

Environment - Earth Hour (10-11 PM local time Saturday)
Australia, New Zealand Lead Earth Hour Environment Campaign
Voice of America - 49 minutes ago
By Phil Mercer Australians switched off their lights for 60 minutes Saturday to mark "Earth Hour," a campaign by environmentalists to raise awareness about global warming.
Sydney Goes Dark for Earth Hour The Associated Press
US cities to dim lights for 'Earth Hour' United Press International

Arab Summit
Assad Vows to Ease Lebanese Crisis as Arab League Summit Opens
Bloomberg - 1 hour ago
By Daniel Williams March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad told today's opening session of the Arab League summit in Damascus that he would help end Lebanon's long political crisis, but the solution required the Lebanese themselves to ...
Video: Frost over the World - Arab summit - 28 Mar 08 AlJazeeraEnglish
Arab summit marked by no-shows in snub to Syria AFP

Pakistan - Netherlands
Pakistanis protest Dutch lawmaker's film
Chicago Tribune - 9 hours ago
By Toby Sterling | AP 11:33 PM CDT, March 28, 2008 AMSTERDAM - Hundreds of angry Muslims marched Friday in Pakistan and denounced a Dutch legislator's film that portrays Islam as a ticking time bomb aimed at the West.
Dutch film 'Fitna' draws muted response from Muslims Los Angeles Times
Protest in Pakistan Over Anti-Quran Film The Associated Press

International Markets
Doha Trade Deal Still Possible, Bush Says
New York Times - 11 hours ago
By REUTERS WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is willing to make agricultural concessions to reach a new world trade deal if other countries open their markets to more American exports, President Bush said Friday.
The United States and the European Union both face demands to make deep cuts in their agricultural subsidies and tariffs, but want major developing countries like India and Brazil to open their markets in exchange.

Text of Bush, Rudd News Conference The Associated Press
Rudd appeals for Aust-US customs plan ABC Online

L'ex-président d'Anjouan assigné à résidence à la Réunion
Le Point - Il y a 46 minutes
Le président déchu de l'île comorienne d'Anjouan Mohamed Bacar a été assigné à résidence samedi à la Réunion à la suite de l'annulation de la procédure judiciaire ouverte à son encontre. Il a été "transféré dans un bâtiment militaire placé sous la ...
Réunion: arrêté de reconduite à la frontière pour Mohamed Bacar et ...
Bacar relaxé TF1

Teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name. For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.
--from Prayer for Sound Government

For those who Influence Public Opinion
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--the BB

Friday, March 28, 2008

Save us and help us, we humbly beseech you, O Lord

Tibet - China
Growing Gulf Divides China and Dalai Lama
New York Times - 48 minutes ago
Ashwini Bhatia/AP Exiled Tibetans held a vigil on Friday in Dharamsala, India. Many Tibetans have fled China to find sanctuary in India.
Video: Divisions over Olympic boycott france24english
Young Tibetans, Tired of Calls for Nonviolence, Want More Action Voice of America

Rudd, Bush Urge China to Hold Talks With Dalai Lama, Supporters
Bloomberg - 3 hours ago
By Gemma Daley March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and President George W. Bush today urged the Chinese to meet with the Dalai Lama to discuss human rights in Tibet after security forces earlier this month cracked down on the ...
Video: Divisions over Olympic boycott france24english
Dalai Lama pleads for peaceful dialogue on Tibet CNN International
Police Close Muslim Quarter in Lhasa The Associated Press

"Il faudrait que tous les Etats européens reçoivent le dalaï lama" - Il y a 12 heures
Après avoir convié des journalistes étrangers pour une visite encadrée à Lhassa, Pékin invite maintenant des diplomates étrangers. Quelles conclusions en tirer sur la réponse de la Chine aux pressions internationales ? - Cela peut être un signe de ...
Tibet: départ de diplomates étrangers pour Lhassa L'Express
Le dalaï lama met en garde contre les tensions raciales La Presse Canadienne
Le Tibet, obsession impériale de Pékin, par Bruno Philip Le Monde

Opponents See End to Mugabe Era
Washington Post - 2 hours ago
By Craig Timberg HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 28 -- On the eve of Saturday's elections, many Zimbabweans say they have come to believe something that was once all but unthinkable: After nearly 28 years of unbroken power, President Robert Mugabe might lose.
Mugabe in final election appeal BBC News
Zimbabwean security chiefs "on full alert"; opposition warns of ... International Herald Tribune
Zimbabwe's election has only one winner
Poll tension grips Zimbabwe Scotsman

SA pilot still in Zim jail
Independent Online - 11 hours ago
The South African pilot arrested in Zimbabwe during a charter to fly Movement for Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai to election rallies was still in custody on Friday, the party said.
Pilot on ‘hotel fraud’ rap The Times
Charges of fraud against Jo'burg pilot withdrawn SABC News

Italian mozzarella scare
Singapore halts Italian mozzarella sales on scare
Reuters - 2 hours ago
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Singapore has stopped sales of all Italian mozzarella cheese made from buffalo milk after Italy on Friday ordered a recall of the product that was potentially contaminated with cancer-causing dioxin.
How Italy's 'white gold' turned sour BBC News
Fallout From the Mozzarella Scare New York Times

Cities dim lights for environment
BBC News - 2 hours ago
Residents in towns and cities around the world are preparing to turn out the lights for an hour, to highlight the threat of climate change.
New Zealand, Fiji to take part in Earth Hour for environment ... Xinhua
'Earth Hour' to plunge millions into darkness AFP

Sarkozy hit by economic woes after royal glitter
International Herald Tribune - 11 hours ago
By Crispian Balmer Reuters PARIS: Harsh economic realities caught up with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday, giving him no time to enjoy glowing reviews of his glittering state visit to Britain earlier this week.
Sarkozy makes handling error
Sunny skies ahead for US-French relations AFP

Cuba Lifts Restrictions On Personal Cellphones
Washington Post - 3 hours ago
By Manuel Roig-Franzia MEXICO CITY, March 28 -- Cuban President Ra¿l Castro lifted much-loathed restrictions on personal cellphone ownership Friday, a move that could increase the flow of political ideas and news to the isolated and information-starved ...
Cuba Allows More Cellphones New York Times
Cuba lifts cell phone ban United Press International

Consumer Spending Cools Despite Rise In Personal Income - 4 hours ago
Personal spending rose at the slowest pace in 17 months in February despite a bigger-than-expected gain in income, as consumers hunkered down amid worries over a weakening economy, bleak job picture and higher prices.
US Economy: Spending Slows, Confidence Weakens (Update2) Bloomberg
'Economy's Main Engine' Now in Idle Washington Post

White House to Seek New Fed Power to Keep Markets Stable
New York Times - 4 hours ago
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will propose on Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send swat teams into any corner of the industry or ...
If Only I Could Get the Fed's Help When I'm Bad: Ann Woolner Bloomberg
Mutual funds lose ground in 1st quarter Forbes

South Korea Plays Down Missile Test By the North
New York Times - 1 hour ago
By CHOE SANG-HUN SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea drove up tensions on the Korean Peninsula on Friday, test-firing short-range missiles off its western coast, threatening to slow down its promised disabling of nuclear weapons facilities and accusing ...
SKorea says NKorea shows no signs of firing additional missiles International Herald Tribune
North Korea Warns South Korea on Disputed Western Sea Border Bloomberg

US Has Little Influence, Few Options in Iraq's Volatile South
Washington Post - 1 hour ago
By Karen DeYoung As US warplanes attacked targets in Basra yesterday, Bush administration officials acknowledged that their hands-off strategy toward southern Iraq in recent years has left them with little knowledge of the conflicts among competing ...
Look to Basra for signs of where Iraq is headed Seattle Post Intelligencer

Remains ID'd in Iraq Kidnapping
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
The FBI on Friday identified the remains of an Austrian contractor who was kidnapped in Iraq with four Americans. FBI spokesman Richard Kolko confirmed the victim was Bert Nussbaumer, who was working for Crescent Security Group when he and the others ...
Families mourn US contractors found dead in Iraq, but feel relief ... International Herald Tribune
Family of Austrian security guard holds out hope Reuters

US Airstrikes Aid Iraqi Army in Basra Siege
New York Times - 1 hour ago - By ERICA GOODE BAGHDAD - The American military conducted airstrikes to back up stalled Iraqi forces in Basra and ...
Rift between UK diplomats and army in Basra

British jets fire on Basra militia
The Press Association - 5 hours ago
British jets have unleashed a hail of cannon fire around Basra, forcing militia to take cover as fighting in the city continued for a fourth day.
MoD admits troops abused Iraqi prisoners Reuters UK
Government admits to breaching human rights of Iraqi Baha Mousa

Irak: frappes de la coalition à Bassorah - Maliki propose un marché
Tribune de Genève - Il y a 9 heures
Bagdad - Des avions de la coalition anglo-américaine ont visé des miliciens chiites à Bassorah (sud), pour soutenir l'offensive de l'armée irakienne ordonnée par le Premier ministre Nouri al Maliki. Ce dernier a proposé de payer ceux qui livreraient ...
Irak: Maliki offre d'acheter les armes, la coalition intervient à ...
L'armée du Mahdi prend Nassirya, 120 tués à Bassorah Le Point

La ONU alerta sobre una grave crisis humana en Basora

ABC - hace 2 horas
AMMÁN. Los treinta mil hombres del Ejército iraquí que combaten desde el martes en Basora no pueden doblegar al Ejército del Mahdi. Ni el apoyo aéreo de EE.UU., ni el respaldo logístico de los británicos, ni el refuerzo de miembros de la milicia chií ...
Los civiles atrapados en Basora solo tienen agua para dos días El Periódico
Maliki amplía el ultimátum a milicias y combates agravan crisis ... Terra España

Latin America
Betancourt : Bogotá veut un échange-express
Ouest-France - Il y a 39 minutes
L'otage franco-colombienne serait en très mauvaise santé. Le gouvernement colombien demande aux Farc de la relâcher contre la libération de guérilleros. L'état de santé d'Ingrid Betancourt « préoccupe » le pouvoir colombien. C'est ce qui aurait motivé ...
Colombie: Bogota propose un échange pour libérer Ingrid Betancourt Edicom
Betancourt : Bogota propose un échange de guérilleros Le Figaro

Ofrece Colombia recompensa a rebeldes que liberen a Betancourt
La Crónica de Hoy - hace 9 horas
El presidente colombiano Alvaro Uribe Vélez ofreció hoy millonarias recompensas e incentivos jurídicos para buscar que los rebeldes que tienen a la secuestrada Ingrid Betancourt liberen a la líder política. En declaraciones a reporteros un día después ...
Salud de Ingrid Betancourt es "extremadamente delicada": Bogotá W Radio (Mexico)
Inviable, propuesta de Uribe para liberar rebeldes presos: fiscal ... La Jornada (México)

Hoy será enterrado ecuatoriano caído en ataque a campamento FARC
Milenio - hace 14 horas
Las relaciones entre Ecuador y Colombia se mantienen en tensión tras la incursión militar colombiana para bombardear un campamento guerrillero ubicado en una inhóspita zona de selva en el lado ecuatoriano. Quito, Ecuador.- Hoy será enterrado el cuerpo ...
Ofrece Ecuador apoyo legal a familia de Franklin Aisalia El Porvenir
Ecuador desea restablecer nexos con Colombia y rechaza presencia ... AFP

Arab Summit - Damascus
Siniora: la Syrie est responsable du blocage politique au Liban - Il y a 7 heures
BEYROUTH - Le Premier ministre libanais, Fouad Siniora, a accusé vendredi la Syrie de jouer "un rôle prépondérant" dans le blocage politique au Liban, sans président depuis quatre mois, à la veille de l'ouverture du sommet de la Ligue arabe à Damas, ...
Le sommet arabe de Damas en partie boycotté
Le Point
Damas, une capitale sous haute surveillance L'Orient-Le Jour
Une véritable "guerre froide" paralyse la Ligue arabe Le Monde

Lebanon's Prime Minister Skips Damascus Summit, Blasts Syria
Bloomberg - 1 hour ago
By Daniel Williams March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora blamed Syria for his nation's long political stalemate in explaining his country's refusal to attend the Arab League summit opening today in Damascus.
Lebanese PM attacks 'meddling' Syria
ABC Online
Lebanon boycott underlines divisions ahead of Arab League summit Times Online

SIMI leaders planned terror strikes
Sahara Samay - 1 hour ago
New Delhi/Indore, Mar 29: The arrested top SIMI leaders were believed to be planning major terror strikes in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and tourist spots in Goa while the police said that the banned outfit once considered floating a dedicated group ...
SIMI investigators focus on missing terror links Hindu
SIMI leadership was planning big Economic Times

NATO - Canada - Afghanistan
Harper dampens expectations ahead of NATO summit
Globe and Mail - 7 hours ago
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to dampen expectations Friday that all of Canada's demands on Afghanistan will be met during next week's NATO leaders summit in Romania.
Relief in Afghanistan coming soon: PM
Canada foresees new NATO assistance in Afghanistan Reuters Canada

When Thou hadst fallen asleep in the flash as one mortal, O King and Lord, Thou didst rise again on the third day, raising up Adam from corruption, and abolishing death: O Pascha of incorruption! O Salvation of the world!
--Friday of Renewal Week, Pentecostarion

Thou didst ascend the Cross, O Jesus, Who didst descend from Heaven. Thou camest unto death, O Immortal Life. Thou camest unto those in darkness, O Thou Who are the True Light. Thou camest unto the fallen, O Resurrection of all. O our Light and our Saviour, glory be to Thee.
--Friday of Renewal Week, Pentecostarion

--the BB

4005 too many

HRH the Prince of Turnovo - updated


The Friday cat bloggers are out en masse today, so the contrarian here provides an alternative. Not fluffy, but we present the titular heir to the Bulgarian throne, HRH Prince Kardam of Bulgaria, Prince of Turnovo (as the heir is styled), Duke of Saxony.

Prince Kardam was born in Madrid, eldest son of Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria and Doña Margarita Gomez-Acebo y Cejuela. The monarchy had been abolished in Bulgaria before Prince Kardam's birth. On July 11, 1996, he married Doña Miriam Ungria y López, a gemologist and historian. [Wikipedia]

At age six, Kardam's father Simeon, became Tsar of Bulgaria and reigned as Simeon II from 1943-1946. After over five decades in exile, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and was democratically elected and became Prime Minister of Bulgaria (2001-2005) - something hitherto unprecedented in history. When not addressed as a reigning monarch, he is known as Simeon of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His family name indicates that he is related to Queen Elizabeth as "Windsor" is an English-sounding replacement name for Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Although deposed, Simeon never abdicated and is thus the only living person to bear the title Tsar.

The royal children were educated in the Lycée Français in Madrid. Prince Kardam's siblings are Kyrill, Prince of Preslav; Kubrat, Prince of Panagiurishte; Konstantin-Assen, Prince of Vidin; and Princess Kalina of Bulgaria. Kalina is, perhaps, the wild child of the family, who dresses and behaves with flair and idiosyncrasy (perhaps the only European princess to shave her head, then dye her hair orange after it grew out). The family is said to be close and warm. As heir, Kardam was baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church, though his siblings are baptized Roman Catholic.

Kardam is presumably named for Khan Kardam, Ruler of Bulgaria from 777 to 803.

He and Princess Miriam have two children, both born in Madrid: HRH Prince Boris of Bulgaria (b. 12 October 1997) and Prince Beltran of Bulgaria (b. 23 March 1999).

I just love this photo with Prince Boris sticking out his tongue and Prince Beltran running off with the garden hose. Too cute!

He received his bachelor's degree in International Economics and Philosophy from Clark University in the USA in 1986. Three years later, he received a Master's degree in Agricultural Economics from Penn State University. [source]
Alas, I have no videos of the princely family. But here is a video of Tsarevets Castle in Veliko Turnovo. Were the monarchy still in place in Bulgaria, Prince Kardam might be living there instead of Madrid. (Needs a bit of restoration though.)

And a tour of Veliko Turnovo with Bulgarian music:


I forgot the bonus photo collage.

Ще се видим утре.
--the BB

Ya son 87 banderas

A visitor from Paraguay has brought the virtual flag collection to 87. ¡Bienvenido! Me alegro que nos haya visitado.

90% of the roughly 7 million people of Paraguay speak the indigenous language of Guaraní. How cool is that?

Paraguay is one of two landlocked nations in South America and is nestled amid Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Now for some travel not just in miles but years, to the 50s (complete with cheesecake for johnieb). Trio Los Paraguayos:

Paraguayan Harp: Guarania Medley by Harpist Mariano Gonzalez

Vaqueros dance Cachaca !!! This is Paraguay !!!
Paraguayan Sunday Rodeo Fiesta (Jineteada). After the rodeo games cowboys dance the traditional Cachaca or sit on their horses watching. Filmed in remote rural location.

Thanks for joining me on today's little travelogue.
--the BB

You need to go enjoy the weather

It's true. I need to get out more. To grab life by the tail.

"Correct me if I am wrong," he said, "but am I right in supposing that it is a very Blusterous day outside?"

"Very," said Piglet, who was quietly thawing his ears, and wishing that he was safely back in his own house.

"I thought so," said O-wl. "It was on just such a blusterous day as this that my Uncle Robert, a portrait of whom you see upon the wall on your right, Piglet, while returning in the late forenoon from a-- What's that?"

You scored as Owl!

ABOUT OWL: Owl is considered highly educated because he can spell his own name (WOL) and he can even spell Tuesday... although he doesn't always get it right. Owl is a good sort, really, although he can be a bit of a stuffed shirt, and he tends to overlook the smaller details in life - like the fact that his bellpull is actually someone's tail.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are confident and you feel capable of dealing with whatever life throws at you. You know that you can handle just about everything... mostly because you know how to delegate the job of actually handling things to the people around you. You aren't one of those Bisy Backsons, who rush around trying to do everything at once. You prefer to stay at home and reflect on life, rather than go out and live it.

Sometimes, you know, you need to stop waiting for things to come to you and go out and get them. You need to go enjoy the weather, smell the fresh air, and pay attention to the little people in your life. They may not be as great as you... but maybe they could use your help.

Thus the Deep and Meaningful Winnie the Pooh Character Test.

You may take the test here.

It's all that Kaeton Woman's fault.

--the BB

The Friday Five

Diane had her answers up today, so I will join in the game.

What are five things you would want to do with a million dollar deposit in your bank account?

1. I love the game of choosing where to distribute 10% off the top. I am connected to three congregations, the mission in Oakland, California, my parish in Albuquerque and its mission in next-door Corrales. They would be my starting point, and I would like to do something for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and Episcopal Relief and Development.

2. I would like to help get a Democrat in the White House and Martin Heinrich as my Representative in NM-01 and Tom Udall as Senator in place of Pete Domenici.

3. I want a staff: which really means paying folks to clean my house weekly and a part-time admin person to keep me organized. What a difference that would make! I am godawful in both these areas.

4. I hate moving and would thus stay where I am but I would like to do some things with my home: (a) build a patio and ramada in the back yard and install drip irrigation in the garden; (b) interior decorating, including paint for some color on the walls and a bit more furniture, chiefly bookshelves; (c) clean up and organize the garage with a workbench and organized tools and storage.

5. Travel.

I would enjoy retirement without financial anxieties, write my books, indulge my creative urges, cook and entertain more often.

--the BB

What's happening in Iraq?

I just thought that with all the news about Iraq manifesting as a mess, we might need a map of the provinces to keep the news sorted out in our minds. I keep forgetting what is where, so as a public service I have imported this map. You may click to enlarge it for more detail.

The large pale green section in the west is Anbar province. You know, the one that showed how much progress we've made because it has been so calm. What gets overlooked is that it had calmed down prior to the surge, so is irrelevant to the surge arguments. Nonetheless, it's a huge chunk of turf. The tribal leaders have a lot to say about what does or does not happen there. Lots of stories there but I won't try to dig them up now.

The pale purple province in the center of the eastern part of Iraq is Diyala province, and it is in the news these days. Just to the left of Diyala is Baghdad, right in the center of things. Wasit province and the city of Kut are south of Diyala.

The one where lots of action is going on these days is Basra (or Basrah), the pale green coastal province in the southeast, a strategic location, and the city of Basra.

Here is some detail for cities from the central to the southeast region:
South of Baghdad you can see Hillah, east of Hillah you can see Kut. Heading south from Kut and slightly to the east you will see Nasiriyeh, and in the SE you will see Basra.

Now, let's see what Juan Cole has to tell us:
People are asking me the significance of the fighting going on in Basra and elsewhere. My reading is that the US faced a dilemma in Iraq. It needed to have new provincial elections in an attempt to mollify the Sunni Arabs, especially in Sunni-majority provinces like Diyala, which has nevertheless been ruled by the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. But if they have provincial elections, their chief ally, the Islamic Supreme Council, might well lose southern provinces to the Sadr Movement. In turn, the Sadrists are demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, whereas ISCI wants US troops to remain. So the setting of October, 2008, as the date for provincial elections provoked this crisis. I think Cheney probably told ISCI and Prime Minister al-Maliki that the way to fix this problem and forestall the Sadrists oming to power in Iraq, was to destroy the Mahdi Army, the Sadrists' paramilitary. Without that coercive power, the Sadrists might not remain so important, is probably their thinking. I believe them to be wrong, and suspect that if the elections are fair, the Sadrists will sweep to power and may even get a sympathy vote. It is admittedly a big 'if.'

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki continues to refuse to negotiate with the Mahdi Army militiamen, and said, "They have no other choice but to surrender." He did extend the deadline for them to surrender heavy arms from 3 days to 10, and promised monetary rewards to those who complied. Al-Maliki said he was unconcerned with political parties, but that he could not abide armed gangs that interfered with the work of the government. He was referring to the Mahdi Army.

Clashes continued between government troops and the Mahdi Army on Thursday in Basra and other cities in the south for the third straight day. Some 45 are said to be dead in Kut, the capital of Wasit province, and US helicopter gunships are said to have killed 60 in Hilla south of Baghdad.

On Friday morning, there are reports of clashes in Nasiriya and Mahmudiya.
He goes on to share reports from multiple sources indicating that downtown Basra is a ghost town, good prices are exorbitant, and "Water, electricity and medicine were said to be lacking for people in Basra." There were demonstrations against al-Maliki in Baghdad until a curfew was put into place. The Green Zone has been under mortar fire (and attacks are becoming increasingly accurate with the US Embassy a clear target). The factions in parliament are all over the place on what should or should not be done.

McClatchy, which has been steadfast and thorough in reporting what happens on the ground, has a long litany of events in the ongoing civil war. You can read it all at Juan's place and I recommend that those interested in what transpires in Iraq check there often. You may scroll down for earlier information.

Here are the headlines today:
President Calls Battles in Iraq a 'Defining Moment'
Washington Post - 50 minutes ago
By William Branigin President Bush today called the Iraqi government's battle against Shiite Muslim militias a "defining moment in the history of a free Iraq" that shows a commitment to "even-handed justice," and he vowed continued US help for the ...
[Defining what, exactly: "intransigent stupidity"?--the BB]
Bush says Iraq faces 'defining moment' in violence Reuters
US Planes Attack Militia Strongholds in Basra Fighting New York Times

In pictures: Iraqi violence
BBC News - 1 hour ago
A wave of violence has continued for a fourth day in Iraq, as government and coalition forces crack down on Shia militias in Basra and other cities.

Las fuerzas de la coalición prestan apoyo aéreo al Ejército iraquí ...
Terra España - hace 2 horas
Aviones de combate de las fuerzas de la coalición prestaron hoy ayuda al Ejército iraquí en los combates que libra en la ciudad meridional de Basora contra milicianos fieles al clérigo chií Muqtada al Sadr, que estallaron el pasado lunes. ...
Bagdad, 'ciudad muerta'
Bush dice que la ofensiva de Basora es un "momento definitivo ... La Vanguardia

Irak: poursuite des combats entre miliciens chiites et forces de ...
La - Il y a 44 minutes
Quatre personnes ont été tuées vendredi dans une frappe aérienne américaine dans le quartier chiite de Sadr City à Bagdad, où de nouveaux tirs de roquettes et de mortiers ont visé vendredi la "Zone verte" hautement sécurisée de la ville. ...
Irak: Maliki offre d'acheter les armes, la coalition intervient à ...
L'armée du Mahdi prend Nassirya, 120 tués à Bassorah Le Point

Miles de seguidores del clérigo Moqtada Sadr exigen la renuncia de ...
La Jornada (México) - hace 7 horas
Bagdad, 27 de marzo. Miles de seguidores del clérigo radical chiíta Moqtada Sadr se manifestaron hoy en Bagdad para exigir la dimisión del primer ministro iraquí, Nuri Maliki, quien prometió continuar la ofensiva contra los milicianos, ...
Autoridades iraquíes decretan el toque de queda en Bagdad La Crónica de Hoy
Aviones de EU atacan Basora Univisión

Dday has some comments about all this at Digby's Hullabaloo:
Before I go I just have to post about the situation in Iraq, which would be funny if it didn't involve mass death. First the Prime Minister went down to Basra to personally direct the fighting like a miniature Commander Codpiece, and he defiantly gave the ultimatum that all Mahdi Army officers must disarm within three days. After the Mahdi Army replied by, well, kicking the Iraqi Scurity Forces in the teeth, the deadline is now ten days.
I'm guessing that US-led forces joined the battle because the Iraqi forces were failing miserably, as we've seen about 25 other times in this misbegotten war. And this doesn't just include air cover, which we've been giving all along, but armor forces. And we're in the lead.
"Drawn in" like one is drawn into quicksand. Or perhaps a quagmire.

Baghdad Bush can go on all he wants, but I hope something else doesn't get lost. For two years, these Iraqi security forces, the ones who consistently get routed on the battlefield and defect to the other side and generally provide a pretext for our troops having to continue to return to battle, were organized by DAVID PETRAEUS, who now walks with angels, I'm told. We shouldn't forget this.
Josh Marshall at TPM has this to say (and his whole post merits a read):
The clearest analysis I've read is Fred Kaplan's short piece in Slate, which explains that this is not so much the Iraqi 'government' standing down an outlaw 'militia' as a face off between two militias, one of which happens to control the government. Labels aside, this seems to be al Maliki's attempt to break the Mahdi Army, possibly because Iraq is soon to hold regional elections and Maliki's supporters fear the Sadrists will do too well in the southern port city of Basra.

Fred doesn't say this, but I wonder myself if this isn't also an effort of Maliki (now allied with what used to be SCIRI) to crush the Sadrists while he still has the power of the US military behind him. Most accounts I've seen suggest that Sadr actually has more popular support than Maliki and his supporters, at least among the Shia population. It must not be lost on Maliki and his supporters that a Democrat may succeed President Bush and that that new president may be much less likely to prop up his government with American money and military might. So perhaps best to crush opponents now, with the help of the US military, in advance of that less certain future.
I especially like this note from Josh, pointing out what Bush does not want us to notice:
As an aside, President Bush is saying that Iran is, in the words of the Times, "arming, training and financing the militias fighting against the Iraqi forces." Perhaps that's true. But it's hard not to note that the Badr Organization (formerly the Badr Corps), which Maliki has allied himself with, is the outfit that was actually created in Iran under the tutelage and financing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. So this at least seems like a rather partial take on what's occurring.
The New York Times chimes in, JAMES GLANZ and STEVEN LEE MYERS reporting:
The violence underscored the fragile nature of the security improvements partly credited to the American troop increase that began last year. Officials have acknowledged that a cease-fire called by Mr. Sadr last August has contributed to the improvements. Should the cease-fire collapse entirely, those gains could be in serious jeopardy, making it far more difficult to begin bringing substantial numbers of American troops home.

Although Sadr officials insisted on Thursday that the cease-fire was still in effect, Mr. Sadr has authorized his forces to fight in self-defense, and the battles in Basra appear to be eroding the cease-fire.


But in another indication that parts of the south were slipping from the government’s hands, a major oil pipeline near Basra was struck with a bomb around 10 a.m. on Friday, igniting a huge fire, said Sameer al-Magsosi, a spokesman for the Southern Oil Company. Before the recent security gains, the southern pipelines had been frequent targets of insurgents, smugglers and militias, but few strikes had been recorded in the past year.


One protester in Sadr City, Wissam Abdul Zahra, 27, made it clear that despite the wider implications of the Basra assault, he viewed it as a simple matter of local politics and power.

“We are expressing our freedom to defend the rights of our brothers in Basra under the pressure of Maliki and the Badr brigades.” he said. “They want to knock down the Sadrists before the provincial elections.”

This little post clearly does not explain much but at least y'all have some idea of what is going on.

Digby pointed me to Kevin Drum's helpful summary of who the players are in the current mess.
--the BB

We don't want your stinking money

We were once so smug that people wanted our dollars. Well, the chickens of Republican fiscal policies (not the theoretical ones, the actually practiced ones) are coming home to roost.

John Aravosis at Americablog directed my attention to this sad (for Yanks) news from Reuters:
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar's value is dropping so fast against the euro that small currency outlets in Amsterdam are turning away tourists seeking to sell their dollars for local money while on vacation in the Netherlands.


That's because the smaller currency exchanges -- despite buy/sell spreads that make it easier for them to make money by exchanging small amounts of currency -- don't want to be caught holding dollars that could be worth less by the time they can sell them.

John comments:
It's frightfully embarrassing. And it so encapsulates what the Republicans have done to our country over the past 8 years. The almighty dollar is now no better than a third world currency you've never even heard of.

--the BB

Heart thread - 3/28/2008 - updated

We have some major prayer requests to consider today.

Our beloved Fluffy Snuggles (Eileen the Episcopalifem) just this week found she was pregnant then had surgery as it was ectopic with complications and so has been taken on an immense biological and emotional rollercoaster. As the news appeared at OCICBW:

Hi All

I am writing briefly from my phone. I had to have emergency surgery yesterday morning. The pregnancy was ectopic and one of my tubes ruptured and had to be removed

I was in a lot of pain yesterday but after the surgery I am doing pretty well. I'll be in hospital until tomorrow.

I'm more relieved than sad, at this point - conflicted as I was.

My son is taking it hard, but so far, I am doing ok.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Sent from my iPhone
We hold Eileen and her family in our hearts and prayers. I was too bummed to post this yesterday (sorry).

Sheila asks our prayers for her father's transition. Also from OCICBW:

Dear MadPriest,

Would you and yours say a prayer for my father? He's dying of esophageal cancer. Hospice and my mother are taking care of him at home, but he may be slipping away even as I'm writing this. They stopped giving him food and drink a day or so ago because it hurt him too much to try to swallow. I'm flying down there on Sunday - had to line up wheelchairs to help me get through the airports, but I think I can make it. My son is being confirmed on Saturday by the bishop, so I had to wait until after that - the usual crazy timing, of course. I haven't seen my parents in many years, and we thought he would last until Sunday, but this afternoon Mom said that he wouldn't wake up fully, that he kept falling asleep when she tried to talk to him. He seems as comfortable as he can be, has pain medication, and all his papers are fully in order for Mom, so I think maybe he is just letting go. I sure would like to see him one more time, but I understand if he just wants to rest now. He's been through awful times this past year. I would appreciate any prayers you can offer for both of them and for my sister and her daughter who are there, too.

Thanks a lot, MP,

For Sheila's father and all her family, may grace and love abound.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin... a vision becoming reality
What is before us at this moment, in early 2008, is an opportunity of amazing magnitude. It is ours to celebrate the love of Jesus Christ through the Episcopal Church here, at home, in our diocese. It is our vision, yours and mine, to create a diocese that welcomes all, blessed by the gifts of all, accepting – welcoming, actually! – our differences. We wish not to be known as rich or poor, clergy or laity, black or white, conservative or liberal: we wish to be people of God, here, all of us.

Join us! We wish to be in communion with one another, humbly thankful for one another as God’s beloved creation.

They have their Special Convention tomorrow to reconstitute a functioning Episcopal diocese. This evening they will have a reception with the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies followed by a healing service. Please hold them in your prayers that those who wish to live God's love may do so without fear, coercion, or deception. They have, on many levels, to begin again after the grand theft ecclesia attempted by

For Those in Trouble or Bereavement
O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servants for whom our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their soul with patience, comfort them with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Mission of the Church
Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For a Church Meeting or Convention
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the Diocese of San Joaquin for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

For the Unity of the Church
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

That We May Be Cleansed by the Fire of Love
Almighty and most merciful God, kindle within us the fire of love, that by its cleansing flame we may be purged of all our sins and made worthy to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Build Us into One Church
Gather us or scatter us, O Lord, according to your will. Build us into one church: a church with open doors and large windows, a church which takes the world seriously, ready to work and to suffer, and even to bleed for it. Amen.
—Hungarian, source unknown

From Grandmère Mimi I learned of this:
Blogger Kate Morningstar said...

My Dad's in hospital as of yesterday. I thought it would be a very short stay, and he'd die in the next few days. But there's something they can do that will make him more comfortable and able to breathe, without fixing the problem. They're saying, after they've done it, they're planning to send him home early next week. It will still be soon.

--the BB