Saturday, May 24, 2008


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Howard A. Jones, Jr., 35, of Chicago, died May 18 in Chicago from injuries sustained when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while on leave from the Iraq theater of operations. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment...

MNF: MND-C Soldier attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack 12 miles southwest of Baghdad, May 22.

From IGTNT at Daily Kos:
Helping our troops:

If you wish to assist our military and their families, consider Operation Helmet, or Fisher House. If you have frequent flyer miles, they can be donated to hospitalized veterans or their families. See Fisher House’s Hero Miles program for details. Consider sponsoring a deployed service member at Letters or care packages can make a real difference in a military person's life. To assist the animal companions of our deployed military, information is available here. Also, you could visit:

When our veterans come back home, they need jobs. Look at the programs of Hire Heroes USA and Welcome Back Veterans to see if you can help out.

--the BB

As the world turns - 5/24/2008

Myanmar cyclone meeting more about access than aid
Reuters - 2 hours ago
By Ed Cropley BANGKOK (Reuters) - It is being dubbed a "pledging conference" but Sunday's international donors' meeting in cyclone-hit Myanmar is going to be more about getting the junta to open its doors than the world to open its wallet.
Aid teams set as Myanmar leaders say "relief phase over" (Roundup) Monsters and
Donors to discuss funding Myanmar cyclone relief amid concerns ... International Herald Tribune

"Pas de temps à perdre" en Birmanie
L'Express - Il y a 3 heures
Les responsables des secours d'urgence ont déclaré qu'il n'y avait pas de temps à perdre en Birmanie pour venir en aide aux survivants du cyclone Nargis alors que la junte militaire a promis aux Nations unies d'accepter davantage de travailleurs ...
Interrogations sur le feu vert birman aux humanitaires Le Monde
Plus de 45 pays et organisations réunis dimanche à Rangoon pour la ...

South Africa
Thousands march against SAfrica xenophobic attacks
Reuters - 56 minutes ago
By Marius Bosch JOHANNESBURG, May 24 (Reuters) - Thousands of people marched through South Africa's biggest city on Saturday, calling for an end to xenophobic violence that has killed over 40 African migrants and displaced tens of thousands.
Soldier fatally shoots man as anti-foreigner violence shakes South ... International Herald Tribune
Army kills man amid S Africa unrest

Mbeki condemns xenophobic attacks
SABC News - 1 hour ago
President Thabo Mbeki has condemned the ongoing xenophobic attacks in the country and described it as uncalled for. He says the violence is a disgrace to the legacy of the liberation struggle.

Tutu told you so, Mr President
Independent Online - 3 hours ago
By Justine Gerardy Four years ago, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu caused a spluttering avalanche of indignation when he expressed fears about the situation developing in South Africa as a result of growing gaps between the rich and the poor.

Tibet - China - United Kingdom
China criticizes Britain's prime minister for meeting with the ...
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour ago
AP BEIJING: China lashed out Saturday at British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for meeting the Dalai Lama, accusing Britain of ignoring Chinese interests and interfering in its affairs.
China rebukes Brown for meeting Dalai Lama Reuters UK
China slams meeting between Brown and Dalai Lama AFP

Chinese earthquake
Int'l humanitarianism shines in rescue efforts for China's quake
Xinhua - 1 hour ago
By Li Bo BEIJING, May 24 (Xinhua) -- In the monumental rescue efforts following the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in China's Sichuan province, the international community has demonstrated a highly commendable spirit of humanitarianism by extending helping ...
China Reassesses Construction Wall Street Journal
China contains radiation in quake disaster zone The Associated Press

Bilan: la Chine parle désormais de 80 000 morts
Tribune de Genève - Il y a 3 heures
SICHUAN | 10h07 Le Premier ministre chinois Wen Jiabao estime que le bilan pourrait dépasser les 80 000 morts. 30 000 personnes sont encore portées disparues. Plus de 80 000 personnes pourraient avoir péri dans le séisme qui a ravagé la Chine le 12 mai ...
Le bilan du séisme en Chine pourrait dépasser les 80 000 morts Le Monde
Ban Ki-moon (4e en partant de la gauche) dans le Sichuan aujourd ... Libération

The Saturday Profile Zimbabwe Rival Is a Flawed but Enduring Leader
New York Times - 1 hour ago
By CELIA W. DUGGER "No one must be killed fighting for me. We all are in the line of danger fighting for our country." MORGAN TSVANGIRAI MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, the chief rival of Zimbabwe’s authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe, drove up to a Harare ...
Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Arrives Home Voice of America
Tsvangirai back in Zimbabwe for run-off with Mugabe Reuters

Russia - China
Medvedev Says China, Russia to Play Key Role in World Security
Bloomberg - 3 hours ago
By Lyubov Pronina and Henry Meyer May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country and China will work together to shape global security even if other powers don't approve.
Video: Russia & China sign nuclear deal RussiaToday
Russia and China Attack US Missile Shield Plan New York Times

Москва не оставит большого брата в беде
НТВ.ru - 52 мин. назад
Россия и дальше будет оказывать помощь Китаю в преодолении последствий разрушительного землетрясения. Дмитрий Медведев заявил об этом на встрече с заместителем председателя КНР, Си Цзинь-пином. Дмитрий Медведев, президент России: «По моему распоряжению, в Китай вылетает новая группа самолетов Министерства обороны Российской Федерации, которая доставит ряд необходимых грузов. В том числе палатки, которые сегодня нужны для размещения пострадавших». Восемь бортов были загружены на военном аэродроме под ...
Медведев рассказал китайским студентам о "Зените" РИА Новости
Россия и Китай оформят отношения официально Утро.Ru

Texas asks state justices to overturn polygamy sect ruling
Los Angeles Times - 3 hours ago
LM Otero / AP Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mothers including Marie Steed, center, and Sarah Marlow, right, smile as they leave the Tom Green county courthouse after a ruling in their favor in San Angelo, Texas, Thursday, ...
Texas Defends Seizure of Children Wall Street Journal
Texas Tries to Reverse Court Ruling in Sect Case New York Times

Planetary science (galactic exploitation?)
Phoenix Is Ready To Conquer Mars On Sunday Night
eFluxMedia - 4 hours ago
By John Wolper After a journey of 10-months and more than 400 million miles, Phoenix is set to arrive at the Red Planet just before 8 pm EDT this Sunday, beginning its study of water and possible conditions for life in the Martian arctic.
Mars landing among most dangerous ever tried San Francisco Chronicle
Festivities to help bring Mars landing close to home San Diego Union Tribune

Excuse me, but "conquer Mars"????? Sigh. Have we learned nothing since the worship of Mars began?

Iraq Electoral Commission urges speedy poll law
Reuters - 21 hours ago
By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD, May 23 (Reuters) - Iraqi legislators must hurry up and pass a provincial elections law by the start of July if they want the vote to happen on the agreed Oct. 1 date, the head of Iraq's Electoral Commission said on Friday.
Video: US may reduce Iraqi contingent RussiaToday
Petraeus Expects to Recommend Troop Cuts Washington Post

15 bln dlrs in US Iraq spending unaccounted for: reports
AFP - 15 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon cannot account for nearly 15 billion dollars in payments for goods and services in Iraq, according to an internal audit which members of Congress blasted Friday as a "shocking" accountability failure.
US spending in Iraq ignored rules BBC News
Spending On Iraq Poorly Tracked Washington Post

U.S. Congress vs. POTUS
Farm bill becoming ‘food bill'
Sentinel-Standard - 2 hours ago
By FRANK KONKEL IONIA - Though President Bush vetoed the $300 billion farm bill Wednesday, Congress overrode the veto Thursday and this year's highly modified version of what was once simple legislation to aid small farms will soon become law.
A quick Senate session blocks Bush appointees The Associated Press
Farm Bill, in Part and in Full, Wins Passage New York Times

Syria - Israel - Iran
Damas exclut implicitement de couper ses liens avec Téhéran (presse)
Le Monde - Publié depuis 1 heure
La Syrie "rejette toute condition" préalable à ses négociations de paix indirectes avec Israël et "ne fait pas de compromis" sur ses relations avec d'autres pays, indique samedi un quotidien gouvernemental, dans une allusion à son allié régional, ...
Pour l'Iran, Israël doit restituer le plateau du Golan sans condition
Israël fixe le cadre de ses négociations avec la Syrie L'Express

Friday, May 23, 2008

Before and after work

First some morning shots (about 7 a.m.)

Detail of pediments on South Rampart just off Canal Street

Looking north on Rampart Street

And then, at the end of the day, looking from about where I've been working toward the building where we will be working after next Tuesday (up on the 23rd floor)

Thanks for patiently waiting until I can post photos. I'll be taking more over the next few weeks.
--the BB

Last Sunday in New Orleans

Last Sunday morning I took a walk in Audubon Park and then went to Mass at St. Andrew's. I took my camera with me but to date can only download when at home. I may obtain a device to overcome that before this weekend is over, though my last attempt failed.

Here are some pics of Audubon Park:

The photos all seemed slightly overexposed so I have tweaked them a bit.

And here is proof that I really did go to St Andrew's (not that any of you really doubted it).

--the BB

More from my homeboys

W is coming to Albuquerque next Tuesday. Ugh. Moral pollution has been high enough in a state notorious for corruption (sorry, but the truth). We don't need him around.

But we do have a new ad from Martin Heinrich to run while W's in town. I hope my contribution helped make it happen.

And, on the senatorial front, Tom Udall, a NM representative running for Pajamas Pete Domenici's seat. He got another chunk of my "stimulus check." I want to stimulate a renewal of this nation, not just the economy.

There's an interview with him in the NM Independent. Here is one of two new ads from his campaign.

NM has a chance to replace both Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici this year. I think that's pretty exciting.
--the BB, blogging from his home in New Mexico this weekend!


Relámpagos y tormentas en todas partes

Let's start this weekend with a bit of Ella:

"Stormy weather" seems like a hopefully-passing theme at the moment. From the no-planes-going-anywhere in NOLA yesterday morning to the backlog of flights in Phoenix to the rain and wind and very gray sky greeting me in Albuquerque. Tornadoes here and there yesterday as well, most notably in Denver.

Monster Twister Rips Through Colorado, Killing at Least One
ABC News - 1 hour ago
By MIGUEL MARQUEZ, LAURA MARQUEZ and JONANN BRADY A monster tornado ripped through Colorado, Thursday, with wind gusts up to 130 mph flattening hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least one.
Tornado kills 1, injures 13 in northern Colorado The Associated Press
Colorado pulls together to help tornado victims

I looked out my bedroom window this morning to see how the garden is doing. The grapevines are about twice the size they were two weeks ago, the low-growing coral colored single roses are now all in bloom, and everything was bending this way and that in the wind. So I sit here and look out through double-paned windows. Wet and windy outside, dry and quiet inside.

It is oh so good to be home again for a little while.

I love seeing the bumper stickers that say "New Orleans is HOME." What a great spirit lies behind that and it warms my heart and strengthens my soul to see it. For me, obviously, it is not home. I am a western boy, a son of the soil of Central California and now a citizen of New Mexico. The central and eastern parts of the United States are part of my nation but not even remotely "home" for me. I think it's good to know and own that, as most of us have deep emotional ties to our regions. I believe in regional "flavor" and the importance of preserving it - not divisively but in mutual delight.

This is undoubtedly part of why I enjoy "locale" mysteries. [This calls to mind the day a wonderful bookstore owner referred to locale books while I was describing what I preferred and I had to ponder lo-cal for a moment. What did calories have to do with what I was discussing? Hey, I can be slow sometimes!] Most of the fiction I like has a strong sense of place. The stories cannot be placed just anywhere.

I look forward to visiting New Orleans again on vacation when I can relax and enjoy the town, getting out and about and having fun. Fun just doesn't fit the schedule well when one does business travel, as most folks can tell you. (Not talking about conventions when one attends one in five sessions and parties most of the time - I mean traveling for work.)

I did, however, stop at the Shimmy Shack Wednesday night for my glass of red wine, hamburger, and fries - and some chat with Ksusha, the Russian waitress. We talked a bit in Russian, more in French, and lots in English. Five months ago she did not speak a word of English. She hopes to spend a year in the U.S. then return home and finish university. She's had three years of French and that was the common language in which we both could speak more comfortably. Now I have motivation to work more on my Russian in the month ahead. Sweet young lady.

Two last bits of miscellaneous blather:

I do loves me some quiet. My home is quiet. I live in a quiet neighborhood (barking dogs and an occasional motorcycle are the random noise, with kids playing in the street now and again, a sound I enjoy) and, as noted above, I have double-paned windows. When nothing else is going on, the major noise as I sleep is a very quiet tick as the battery-powered clock on the wall advances. The apartment in Louisana is never quiet. There is a combination of the fountain in the courtyard that goes day and night (and sometimes fountains are NOT relaxing, much as I love them), the air conditioning (which is a good thing), one very noisy refrigerator, and several other things that are ongoing. It is never quiet, not for a second. This is not really a big complaint - I do fall asleep almost instantly and the noise does not keep me up. It is one of those experiences that tells me something about myself. I really, really like quiet. And that tells you all you need to know about why I have had no inclination whatsoever to walk a few blocks after work and visit Bourbon Street. It's rather nice at noon, however.

Finally, one part of blogging that I miss is the "Oremus" posts with prayer requests. There have been so many calls for prayer in the past four weeks and I have, mostly, not been passing them on. Somehow, when I am feeling physically exhausted, I don't feel up to the challenge of the gracious phrasing that I strive for and even the old cut and paste feels harder to do. I want folks who get prayed for to feel gently embraced and lifted up and it's probably too self-centered to say I prefer to be in a certain emotional and spiritual space to post prayer requests. So this is part apology and part self-chiding to get over myself and share the prayers. I also don't want to miss folks. This I can say: when I read the calls for prayer, I pray. My bedtime prayers are filled with names from blog posts. Will try to do better about sharing.

That's the Friday morning check-in!
--the BB

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Travel day

I arose at 5:15 central daylight time, as is my current wont (though definitely not my want) and got to work at 7:00  though it took 20 minutes to get me into the building.  My security badge quit working some time last Thursday.  It got me into the building that morning but not out of it again that evening.  Since then I have to surrender my driver's license each morning and be signed in.

At 12:30 I caught a taxi to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and was duly in place way before my flight.  We had thunderstorms today in NOLA.  Planes are not fueled until at least 6 minutes have passed since the last lightning strike in the area.  They were also hoping for a break in the storm.  We were, to say the least, delayed.  In fact, we were allowed to get off the plane and reboard rather than stay cooped up for an hour or more.

I not only missed my connection in Phoenix but the flight after that.  The last flight of the day from Phoenix to ABQ usually would leave at 8:55 but there have been storms all over today and most of the flights here in Phoenix have been delayed too and so my flight, the only one left today, is slated to leave at 9:45, which would put it into Albuquerque just a bit before midnight.

You alert readers!  You noticed that I typed "here in Phoenix."  Yes, that is where I am right now, using the Skyport's wireless connection.  By my watch, which is still on Central Daylight Time, it is now 10:47 pm.  I just remembered that Arizona does not observe daylight savings time so here it is only 8:47.  Tell that to my body.  My body is going to feel as though it is getting to bed no sooner than 1:30 am NOLA time.

No phone calls Friday morning, please.


I believe we call it "revisionism" when people re-write history to match some later perspective.

Yesterday while eating my lunch in the break room at work, where CNN plays endlessly, I saw Senator Clinton playing to Florida with her "every vote must count" schtick. I wanted to puke, because for all the noble sentiment (and yes, I believe every vote should count in a democracy) her phony stance on Florida and Michigan now does not match the past. She wants to change the rules in the middle of the game or, if you will, she wants to play Calvinball with the primaries.

It seemed rather like wrapping oneself in the flag when under the flag is a tissue of hypocrisy. All the crowd sees is the flag, the noble things we find easy to support.

Check out JLFinch's tour of what happened that got Florida into this situation. It does not read well for Senator Clinton. Slate is quite devastating:
On Aug. 25, when the DNC's rules panel declared Florida's primary date out of order, it agreed by a near-unanimous majority to exceed the 50 percent penalty called for under party rules. Instead, the group stripped Florida of all 210 delegates to underscore its displeasure with Florida's defiance and to discourage other states from following suit. In doing so, the DNC essentially committed itself, for fairness' sake, to strip the similarly defiant Michigan of all 156 of its delegates three months later. Clinton held tremendous potential leverage over this decision, and not only because she was then widely judged the likely nominee. Of the committee's 30 members, a near-majority of 12 were Clinton supporters. All of them—most notably strategist Harold Ickes—voted for Florida's full disenfranchisement. (The only dissenting vote was cast by a Tallahassee, Fla., city commissioner who supported Obama.)
This new-found passion for Florida votes is pure bullshit.
--the BB

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gitmo ain't going away anytime soon either

David Kurtz reports at TPM:

In the course of his investigation, the IG interviewed 450 FBI agents who were detailed to Gitmo at one time or another. Nearly half reported witnessing or hearing about "rough or aggressive treatment of detainees, primarily by military investigators."
Catalogued behavior (if you have the stomach for it).
--the BB

FISA is not going away (and neither am I)

Bmaz concludes:
Boehner screams and cries to get immunity for Bush, Cheney and the telcos while denying citizens the very rights he brandishes like a peacock. Insulting money grubbers lining their own pockets indeed. Pretty much summarizes the whole Bush/Cheney regime. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are wrong to permit these people to slip off the hook; let's make sure they know what we think of that.

Which is to say, there is a new post up about FISA and Congress.

--the BB

Universities fire employees for moral turpitude, don't they?

I know it's an old-fashioned way of putting things, and it's vague, and I would be among the first out the door for my dirty mouth, but still and all....

Emptywheel brings us the news (read it all here):
After significant efforts, Senator Whitehouse has finally gotten the Administration to declassify the fourth of the four outrageous opinions John Yoo wrote to justify the warrantless wiretap program (the other three Pixie Dust provisions basically allow the President to write his own laws). This one pertains to the exclusivity provision of FISA, which states clearly that FISA was the "exclusive means by which electronic surveillance ... and the interception of domestic wire, oral and electronic communications may be conducted."

Here's what that purported genius, John Yoo, did with FISA's exclusivity provision:

Unless Congress made a clear statement in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that it sought to restrict presidential authority to conduct warrantless searches in the national security area -- which it has not -- then the statute must be construed to avoid [such] a reading.
The University of California, through its law school, continues to employ Mr. Yoo.

I cannot imagine enabling the Bush administration as a morally neutral action.
--the BB

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Meme

I saw this at Padre Mickey's; he saw it chez Caminante. Something different for a Wednesday night, so here goes!

“What we have below is a list of the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing users.
Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.”

My results are below. How about you?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair

The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations

American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West

The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

I may add that there are some books I read for school but then re-read on my own for my own purposes and they are firmly shown as having been read on my own, as that counts for far more. Perhaps I should also add that there are a number of these book on my shelves that I have still not gotten around to.
--the BB

Word from Myanmar

The Archbishop of Myanmar wrote a letter. You can read part of it at The Lead or all of it here.
...the Church of the Province of Myanmar formed a relief committee on Wednesday 7 April 2008 and immediately sent out 4 teams to survey the affected areas. 3 of these teams returned, reporting general damage but little loss of life. The full extent of the damage in the Delta region, however, is still emerging. The team that was sent to what appears to be the worst affected area has confirmed widespread damage and extensive loss of life. In some places, entire villages have been devastated, with few if any survivors. In other places, survivors have huddled together in makeshift shelters awaiting aid. Travel in that area is very difficult, and villages are often in very isolated and remote areas, accessible only by boat. We have already sent a medical team to some parts of the most affected area, meeting both medical needs and distributing relief supplies. We plan to send a second one in the next few days.

--the BB

I can't keep up these days...

... but Marcy Wheeler has several posts on torture and the Department of Justice:

Out of Scope: The DOJ IG Report
The scope of DOJ's IG report on torture says as much as the rest of the conclusion: when DOJ appealed to the National Security Council to resolve the problems created by CIA's and DOD's use of torture, those appeals went nowhere.

DOD and Torture Declassification Timing

As it turns out, yes, the sudden (partial) responsiveness had started two weeks earlier, on March 28. That means DOD first sent its declassification comments to DOJ just three days before Daniel Dell'Orto declassified John Yoo's torture memo.
CIA Once Again Buries Information on Abu Zubaydah’s Torture
While there are surely other reasons why the CIA destroyed the torture tape, one thing the destruction of the tapes did was to eliminate one key piece of evidence that led the CIA's own IG to conclude that the CIA's interrogation methods were cruel and inhumane.

Well, over the course of the DOJ's IG investigation into interrogation techniques, the CIA once again prevented investigators from accessing information--this time in the form of an interview of Abu Zubaydah--that would contribute to a conclusion that interrogation treatment was cruel and inhumane. In a footnote, DOJ's IG report reveals that it interviewed High-Value Detainees at Gitmo, but that CIA refused to let DOJ's IG to interview Abu Zubaydah.
Marcy is the ever-terrific emptywheel.
--the BB

I love the men and women of Vote Vets

h/t to The News Blog (and other spots where I have seen this).

Here's their home site.
--the BB


China Seeks to Relocate 12 Million Quake Survivors (Correct)

Bloomberg - 47 minutes ago
By Eugene Tang and William Bi May 20 (Bloomberg) -- China will relocate more than 12 million people made homeless by the country's deadliest earthquake in 32 years as the threat of rain heightened concern disease will spread.

Ma, New Taiwan President, Calls On China to Embrace Democracy
Bloomberg - 1 hour ago
By Tim Culpan May 20 (Bloomberg) -- President Ma Ying-jeou urged China in his inaugural speech to move toward democracy and allow Taiwan a larger international role, testing his relationship with a government that claims sovereignty over the island.

Iraqi forces enter Sadr's Baghdad bastion
Reuters - 45 minutes ago
By Wisam Mohammed and Adrian Croft BAGHDAD, May 20 (Reuters) - Iraq's army moved on Tuesday to take control of Baghdad's Sadr City, power base of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, in another step to stamp government authority over areas previously ...

40000 troops told of fall deployment
Baltimore Sun - 3 hours ago
By David Wood | Sun reporter WASHINGTON - The Pentagon alerted about 40000 active-duty and National Guard soldiers yesterday that they will be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the fall, a sign that the military expects hard fighting to continue ...
New Troops in Iraq Will Keep Number at 140000 Washington Post

Highlights of Senate Iraq war funding bill
The Associated Press - 3 hours ago
Highlights of a Senate bill to pay for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring. The House passed companion legislation last week after an unusual coalition of anti-war Democrats and Republicans unhappy with domestic ...
The Senate Revisits Iraq New York Times

Saddam Henchman Trial Resumes In Iraq
Sky News - 51 minutes ago
The trial of Tariq Aziz, a senior figure in Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, has re-started in Iraq. Aziz, who served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Saddam, is facing the death sentence over the execution of 42 Baghdad merchants in ...

Birmanie: la junte consent à entrouvrir ses frontières à l'ASEAN - Il y a 19 heures
La Birmanie a décrété trois jours de deuil national. Elle a également donné son feu vert à ses voisins d'Asie du Sud-Est pour coordonner l'aide étrangère aux 2,4 millions de sinistrés du cyclone Nargis, qui a également fait 134'000 morts ou disparus. ...

Dernière offre du Qatar, le temps presse pour le Liban
La - Il y a 28 minutes
DOHA (Reuters) - Les médiateurs de la crise libanaise ont présenté une proposition de dernière minute aux parties réunies à Doha, où le temps presse afin de parvenir à un accord avant le départ annoncé à l'étranger du Premier ministre qatari. ...

South Africa: Pogroms Expose Citizens' Ugly Insularity - 3 hours ago
WHILE it is well and good to blame the government for not having proper policies in place to deal with SA's refugee crisis, the violence against foreign Africans is a reflection of something far uglier.
South Africa moves to quell xenophobic attacks Reuters South Africa

Zimbabwe scoffs at plot fantasy
BBC News - 43 minutes ago
Zimbabwe's ruling party has poured scorn on opposition claims that the military is plotting to assassinate its presidential candidate using snipers.

Israeli officials estimate Gaza cease-fire close
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour ago
AP JERUSALEM: Israeli aircraft launched two strikes on Palestinians Tuesday, killing a 13-year-old boy and an unidentified man, Palestinian doctors said.
Israeli strike kills Palestinian in Gaza Reuters
Fresh Israeli airstrike kills Jihad militant Xinhua

Pakistan to release 99 Indian nationals
Hindustan Times - 1 hour ago
The two countries resumed their composite dialogue with both the Foreign Secretaries discussing various bilateral issues including terrorism, Kashmir and CBMs.

Myanmar mourns for 78000 cyclone victims
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Myanmar began three days of mourning for some 78000 cyclone victims Tuesday, after its ruling junta appeared to relent to foreign pressure to allow more outside help for its storm survivors.

A Prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

--the BB

Monday, May 19, 2008


It's 9:19 p.m. and I am falling asleep at the dining room table. Time for some sleep.

Catch y'all later.
--the BB


Chris in Paris notes today:
Oil closes at $127.05. Would "lower taxes and less regulation" help here too?

--the BB

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A very belated but genuine welcome

I did not mean to slight our first Azeri guest but have so little time to blog these days that I had to wait a while. Welcome!

We need a map, of course. Well, it is I, after all. And I love maps. This should help y'all locate Azerbaijan in your mind's eye or in the South Caucasus, should you chance to head that way.

The capital of Azerbaijan is Baku, the language is Azerbaijani (a Turkic tongue), the predominant religion is Shi'ite Muslim.

The Ministry of Tourism provides us with this video introduction to the country.

Great Dances of Azerbaijan Republic: Land of Fires.



The video quality on these dances is poor but one still gets the music and the moves.

--the BB

Sunday night geography blogging

Among the many features to fall through the cracks while I am off working there is the weekly geographic exploration.

Given how little I know about Louisiana (and the extreme navigational anxiety I go into when I don't have a map or know how places are related to each other), it seems like a good idea to take a look at Louisiana and New Orleans.

I would hope that we all remember enough from elementary school (or the newcasts following hurricanes Katrina and Rita) to know that Louisiana is on the Gulf Coast, whether we can name its neighbors correctly or not.

Here is a map of the state that you can click to enlarge. I looked at several and was not happy until I had one with Thibodaux, in honor of Grandmère and Grandpère. It just wouldn't do to show a map leaving this important town out. (Head about 8 o'clock from New Orleans and you'll find it. If you do not use clock-directions, then go west and a bit south.)

The defining realities of New Orleans, I venture to assert, are Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River meandering along on the south. Most of NOLA is below water level, which is why levees and pumps are so vitally important. When they fail, the city is in a world of hurt, as was so disastrously illustrated when the city flooded.

Photo courtesy of the Florida Baptist Witness. Walter Johnson, then a student as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, took the photo. I work one block below Canal Street and the building where we work had four feet of flooding. It took 17 months to restore the first floor of the building. There are regions of NOLA that had far more than 4 feet of flooding.

The pink section to the right of where I work is the Vieux Carré (or French Quarter). Bourbon Street is three blocks from the work site. No, I don't hang out there. In fact, I took a walk one lunch hour for the exercise and ventured 3 blocks up Rue Bourbon and then back again. That - and driving through a few blocks to deal with all the one-way streets and no-left-turn signs - is the extent of my hanging out in the FQ.

As you can see, I live in an apartment in River Ridge, just below where Earhart Parkway terminates (for those who know the area). I can walk to the Shimmy Shack from my apartment and did so Friday night after work. The Shimmy Shack is a local watering hole and eatery; lively and pleasant. I am told that they have a Russian waitress (and two Russian cooks) but she was not on duty that night. And here I had practiced saying "U vas yest krasnoye vino?" (У вас ест красное вино? - Do you have red wine?) Wound up ordering a double shot gin and tonic, followed by a pastrami and swiss sandwich.

First semester Russian student who did not quite finish the semester, so please don't hold me to proper Russian orthography. I think that was correct but would not swear by it.

Thanks to Ginny S. I have learned about Rouse's supermarkets, which are all over once you know to look for them. I pass a couple on the way home each evening; very convenient. They are quite upscale. For you SF Bay Area folks, they are rather like Andronico's only more spacious.

I usually end geographic posts with videos and music. The first one tonight is somber: a drive through the Lower Ninth Ward following Katrina and general information on what happened. We all need to know this story. It is almost 16 minutes long. You can get the idea in the first several minutes.

Kirstin told me about the ministry St Anna's has with the musicians of NOLA. Here is a video about bringing the music back (16m 33s).
Extended performance by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis in New Orleans supporting the Musicians' Village by Habitat for Humanity.

Music video by SONOMA (Spirit of New Orleans Music Alliance). The video is complete with scenes from around the French Quarter and Jackson Square.

It's a love song to the city of New Orleans featuring the vocals of Ms. Romy Kaye backed by Craig Cortello on guitar.

Here is a song composed by Sedrick Fuliga on the USS Nimitz and performed by him on this video, a plaintive offering for the people of NOLA in the immediate aftermath.

Note the recurring "But there's hope and strength in their eyes."

Tonya Boyd-Cannon and the New Orleans Office of Film and Video bring us this conclusion for tonight: "Rise, My Child."

Peace be upon this city and its people!

Mimi, that sweetie from the swamps, gets all mushy and serenades me.
--the BB

¿Qué dijo?

From Brave New Films:

I once believed he had integrity and that he stood for something, one of those rare GOP politicos I felt I could like. Pfft. Not any longer.
--the BB