Maine Owl has published an experimental calendar for 2009. I know it may seem late to be offering this, but it is an experiment and I really have no risk involved except for the large amount of time I spent taking photos, processing, uploading, and editing the electronic file at the pretty marvelous lulu.com.
This is a direct link to calendar purchase page: MAINE OWL 2009 CALENDAR. It is a little expensive, seeing how they print just one at a time. But some of the proceeds will go to support this blog. (If you are a recent supporter here from the "Donate" link at peacecast.us, you will be sent one of these with my compliments.)
We just received the first copies today. I'm pretty happy with how the photos printed, and I'm very picky. I think you'll find some of these suitable for framing after the calendar is finished. For example, the Bohemian Waxwings from March are stunning! These photos are an example of ones from the blog that I included in the calendar. The price of the calendar is worth having that print, if I don't say so myself!
Rachel and Richard Engel very disappointing, omit crucial context
I guess it's official. When the top progressive cable news host is unable to utter words like "blockade," "refugees," or "settlers" in describing both the recent and more extended history of the region, there really is not to be any evenhanded news channel reporting the Israel-Palestine situation. At one point Rachel Maddow suggests there is an actual "war" with opposing lines rather than a lopsided, high-tech Israeli aerial bombardment of civilian areas where "militants" supposedly are "hiding"--blended into the population. Engel sort of corrects that misimpression.
That's about all I'm going to say about Maddow's sadly uninformed "Wide world of scary" segment. I know Engel knows a heck of a lot more than he let on. I don't know about Rachel. Judge for yourself by watching HERE.
Meanwhile, there was some decent alternative media on Monday for those interested in a wider range of reporting and opinion. Here are a few links with brief quotes.
If this is not a holocaust, I don?t know what holocaust is.... As I speak to you now, I can hear them up in the sky, the pilotless jets and the warplanes, F-16s and God knows what. The warships in the sea are also attacking from the sea. And attacking who? Hamas? They are not attacking Hamas; they are attacking the people, the civilians. The civilians?I mean, I?m looking at the street right now, the main street of Gaza, Omar al-Mukhtar, and hardly you can see anyone walking there, because every single person is afraid.The Palestine Chronicle: Gaza and Israel: Interview with Amira Hass
How's life in Gaza?
HASS: It's a big prison, and it has been so for the last 18 years, because this policy is not new, it's only accumulative. Just imagine that you are confined to a place and not allowed to leave . . . ever. When you are in prison, you know you have five years, 20 years, you have a date. Even if it's forever, but it's clear. Here people don't know how long will this last and this is, I think, the main feature that dictates people's lives, and the feeling of despair and being suffocated. Nobody can really live like this. The life of a human being in the sense of building expectations, making plans, building a future, is all confined to this place. Then, of course, the fact that so many people cannot work, because Israel controls the economy by having a closure, and the Palestinian Authority helps Israel by ordering people in Ministries and not giving them work, they get the salary but don't work. So, many people don't work and feel useless, they feel nobody needs them and it also adds to the kind of despair and the feeling of being not alive, but vegetating. These are the main features, but there are also environmental hazards because of the closure and the water problem. People live in a permanent fear of existence, a very basic fear of existence. This is very much stronger than the issue of food, because there is food, very often not healthy and not nutritious, there's problem of malnutrition, but the main issue is being in prison.Counterpunch is loaded. Read THIS one first and then find the rest in the sidebar:
Before Our Very Eyes Israel's Attempted Endgame in Gaza
By JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN
The bombings were timed to cause the maximum number of "enemy" casualties. They occurred at approximately 11:20am on a bustling Saturday morning, just as schools were changing shifts and many children were either leaving for home or coming to afternoon classes; when offices were filled with their employees, and streets busy with the late morning crowds out getting lunch or on quick errands of one sort or another. The day before, Israel had opened some of the crossings into Gaza to let in another trickle of humanitarian aid. 'See how generous we are to our enemy!' they exclaim with straight faces to the international media. Each time Gaza reaches the brink of starvation and ruin, they let in just enough food and supplies to silence potential critics. Then the next round begins. It is hardly surprising. After all, this policy was outlined publicly by Dov Weisglass not so long ago when he promised that Israel would put Gaza on a punishing "starvation diet" until it saw reason and evicted its democratically elected government. Many people, including members of the Hamas government, believed that reopening the crossings to international aid signaled another brief lull in military activity, as it usually had, while the IDF General staff prepared its next offensive. In this way were the people and government of Gaza unprepared for the next day's slaughter.
You'll also want to listen to KPFA's Flashpoints for Monday as well. And while PBS hosts Ifill and Suarez naturally were as craven towards Israel as all regular U.S. journalists are, before the Israeli Ambassador was given the last word, the segment at least had a Palestinian representative allowed to say, "These cease-fires were always broken by continuous incursions by Israel and assassinations of Palestinian activists and other Palestinian nationalists."
International law inoperative, body count over 200
After a two-month long Israeli noose strangled Gaza nearly to the point of starvation, Israel has attacked with F-16s in a devastating volley leading what may become a "prolonged Gaza op," according to the BBC.
The news barely registers here in the U.S. What we do see goes pretty much like the NECN report out of Boston I just watched on the Portland cable system:
Basically Israel, regrettably, has to attack because rockets are fired at Israeli civilians just outside the Gaza border. The Hamas-led Palestinians of Gaza are the ones intentionally targeting civilians, but the Israelis are not. Israeli General Council to New England Nadav Tamir puts it this way: "The problem is they use the population as human shields."
The Israeli claim of concern for civilian life is undermined by the little-reported blockade affecting the entire Gaza population of 1-1/2 million people. Quantities of flour, cooking gas, and chickens--all essential elements of the food supply have been squeezed to starvation levels by the blockade.
The Fourth Geneva Convention provides unequivocal law that certainly would seem to prohibit the blockade against the entire population, and certainly should open a serious investigation of the Israeli claim that only "militants" are targeted by the F-16s:
Article 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
Furthermore, from the example of NECN above, it's clear that U.S. media will hold no responsibility to report anything other than a version of events adequately friendly to the Israeli interpretation that it had no other choice but to "protect itself."
But... The "militant" police officers killed by Israel turn out to be traffic cops while on-the-scene photography shows the dead bodies of children, many of whom were in the streets at the end of a school day.
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27 December 2008
Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.
I'm sorry that I have to be one of the few in the U.S. who is concerned about these events and the suspect way they are reported to us. I'm not sanguine about the incoming Obama administration either. President-elect Obama has declared the bond between the U.S. and Israel "unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable forever."
Nobel speech was biting, invasion of Iraq was a contemptuous "bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism"
An ailing Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2005. Here is an excerpt of his message on that occasion.
PINTER: The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn?t give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.
What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what?s called the ?international community?. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be ?the leader of the free world?. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man?s land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You?re either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.
The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading as a last resort all other justifications having failed to justify themselves as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.
We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it ?bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East?.
How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they?re interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.
Playwright Harold Pinter died today. He was 78 years old.
Back in September the failed Maine Democratic U.S. Senate challenger, Rep. Tom Allen, displayed righteous outrage that the "administration and its allies in Congress" were "negligent in their responsibility to ensure that greed and market speculation not undermine America's economic stability."
Tom Allen proceeded to vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill. According to the cited story in The Coastal Journal, the bill would end "excessive compensation to corporate CEOs under whose watch the industry began to fail in the first place." Maine Owl said at the time,
The bill fails to do the things necessary to keep the economy from falling off the metaphorical cliff. Sure, it would open a taxpayer floodgate into Wall Street for a former Goldman Sachs CEO to manage as he pleases. But look, they won't pass an unemployment/health/jobs bill, they won't help individuals with bankruptcy and foreclosure (which would have a MAJOR positive effect on the crisis), they won't even discuss surcharges on millionaires or any sort of revenues to help pay. The "oversight" in the bill was a joke.
Executive Pay Limits May Prove Toothless Loophole in Bailout Provision Leaves Enforcement in Doubt
By Amit R. Paley - Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 15, 2008; Page A01
Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules.
But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision...the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts.
Listen to ice bits raining down from trees like bullets
Sunset at Salmon Club
It's hard to see the ice in the video. But you can hear it. A wedge of nearly 60-degree warm air swept through just before noon on strong wind, melting everything at once. Just then, the power went out and stayed out for four hours. Of course the sump turned off and the basement filled with water. There'll be a lot of mopping in the offices of Maine Owl. Yea! Now it looks like it's going back down to zero by tomorrow night. This is freakin' crazy!
Secretary of State furiously rewriting history of Bush war crime program while drums bang in Berkeley against a war crime lawyer
There she goes again, on NPR Morning Edition today.
Secretary of State Rice: I absolutely believed and was told that we were doing so under our treaty obligations and under domestic laws.
Well, I suppose she has to say that.
It was actually good of Michele Kelemen to bring up that U.S. authority on human rights is in doubt, especially when the Secretary attempts to hold President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to account.
But in the Rice interview, NPR missed mentioning this action against the guy on whom Rice must be depending for the opinion that American actions against its prisoners have been "legal":
Berkeley Council urges war crimes prosecution Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
(12-09) 11:19 PST Berkeley -- After an emotional, rancorous debate over torture and academic freedom, Berkeley's City Council passed a measure late Monday night imploring the United States to prosecute Berkeley resident and former White House official John Yoo for war crimes. ...
Yoo, of course, was author of many of the opinions that Rice now says she was "told" and "believed" that "we were doing so under our treaty obligations and under domestic laws."
Update:Think Progress has more, including transcript of some of her remarks.
For example, she replied, "I'm going to have to object," when Kellemen asked about the "tarnished" U.S. image.
What's going to happen to the Democrats? A 1994 collapse re-do? Voters sour quickly on this shit. The Democrats in Congress by '94 were bathed in corruption. Perhaps the Republicans had set new records by 2006, but the 1994 Democrats were pretty awful. Guess they feel the need to wrest the record back.
Back in the day Dan Rostenkowski was the prime example. He was a quintessential smoke-filled room kind of guy. In 1994, it came out that he had ghost payroll and a gift scandal to make Ted Stevens blush, all while running the Congressional Post Office like an official money laundry. They couldn't take that even in Chicago!
Twelve years of Republican Congressional rule followed. We lived in the Chicago area then and I worked in a downtown skyscraper. I knew we were in for a long, long decade during that fall and the subsequent rise of Gingrich. It was a sinking feeling then...
Nassim Taleb (author of the "The Black Swan"): illusion of stability
First h/t to Gail the Actuary at The Oil Drum for those first two graphs, excellent article & comments HERE. What do you suppose U.S. debt-adjusted real GDP is going to do now? Only through massive borrowing can total economic collapse be staved off--and then only temporarily. GDP has been supported entirely with debt for nearly a decade.
Commodities are entering a phase of wild, jagged swings, oil being a major example. This is a very bad sign for the energy picture. "Recovery" quickly could drive that spike upward again after the downswing has killed supply projects. Very, very bad.
Something is wrong with this picture. The stock markets & banking system are nothing but pretend, a confidence game. The guy interviewed on Charlie Rose sees collapse imminent and calls for a return to a capitalism where barbers & dentists cut hair and fixed teeth rather than be players.
There was an incredible statement by the quisling Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, reported in the New York Times on November 26:
KARZAI: We have no other choice, we have no power to stop the planes. I wish I could intercept the planes that are going to bomb Afghan villages, but that's not in my hands.
That's just heart wrenching and sickening. The U.S. can't stop the Taliban, so it just bombs villages (with a preference for weddings) and kills people dozens at a time. This is the definition of a tyrannical occupation.
Watching a little football today, I could not help but notice the Air Force recruitment ads. There is a scene in one where "pilots" are shown controlling "Predator" or "Reaper" droneaircraft. This is diabolical--it is promotion of careers in dropping bombs on people's heads from half way around the world--while making your own quisling leader of the people under attack cry for you to stop. What have we become?
Obama? You better do some serious rethinking of your proposed Afghan escalation.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice trotted out to help President Bush obscure his transgressions in Iraq today on Sunday talk. The "mistaken premises" pain her, and,
Rice: I'd give anything to go back and know precisely what we were going to find when we were there. But that isn't the way that these things work. I still believe that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is going to turn out to be a great strategic achievement, not just for the Bush administration, but for the United States of America.
She also told George Stephanopoulos on ABC that during the war run-up in 2002 and 2003 within the White House, "we talked a lot about dissenting views," while largely dismissing the importance of strong contemporaneous dissent from within the State Department (that Rice would come to lead in 2005). This State Department dissent took the form of charging Bush & then Prime Minister Tony Blair of "distorting" the Iraq intelligence!
Bush and Blair 'distorted' Iraqi threat, says US weapons expert By Paul Waugh and Anne Penketh
Friday, 30 January 2004
Colin Powell's former chief weapons expert has accused Tony Blair and George Bush of failing to give an accurate picture of British and American intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Colin Powell's former chief weapons expert has accused Tony Blair and George Bush of failing to give an accurate picture of British and American intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Greg Thielman, a senior figure in the State Department until last year, told The Independent yesterday that the "political leadership" in both countries was responsible for the "distorted" impression given of the Iraqi threat. ...
In the only moment Stephanopoulos seemed to step back from the unflinching credulity he afforded Rice, he asked, "So, you think we would have gone anyway," in reply to Rice drawing a sketch of the "murderous" Saddam. To that, Rice makes a throw-away crack about not having a "luxury."
There is plenty Wallace and Stephanopoulos could have brought up if they had the desire and wherewithal to do so, including,
State Dept. dissent to intentional distortion, as noted above
Breathlessly inflammatory reports on mobile bioweapons labs, called "Hell on wheels" and "Winnebagos of Death" in America news, then presented with earnest mendacity at the U.N. by Colin Powell, but even before the war began were revealed by the weapons inspectors to not exist, and then a year later properly were attributed to a liar named "Curveball"
Endless false rhetorical juxtaposition of Iraq and al Qaeda used by officials, while the "defectors" carrying the evidence later were found to be put-up jobs care of the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, run by "The Manipulator," Ahmed Chalabi
The bottom line message throughout is the distortion of Iraq intelligence was intentional. The notion of "everybody agreed" is a canard.
Obviously this history will live in public consciousness in a manner far from the truth if the likes of Secretary Rice are allowed to be the only authors. Interviewers on ABC & Fox News are unlikely to provide any substantial corrective.
Posted by The Owl on Dec 07 at 18:14. Filed under: Iraq
This makes a fine pair from a couple of nights ago on Rachel Maddow and The Daily Show. Certainly it is confounding to hear Bush prevaricate about his "regrets" about "bad intelligence" on Iraq. Gerald laid that out well earlier in the week:
BUSH: I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.
Obviously, Bush gives a false impression of how the PR worked to game the war. The story is told in many places, including in Maine Owl HERE, and HERE where evidence Bush knew there were no WMD two months before the war is offered.
O'DONNELL: Well, blame the CIA is step number one. Blame the CIA for that slam-dunk that George Tenet said about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You have pointed out the problem with that strategy. The president has said, not just on video but also in-depth to Bob Woodward, and he said this many times that knowing what he knows now, he still would have invaded Iraq, knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
So, this is going to be an ongoing struggle over the decades. And there are many reasons why the president can't pull away from that position. One of them is very personal. And this comes out in the work of Woodward and others. He has had close encounters in military hospitals with families of soldiers who are wounded and, you know, hurt for life. He's met with the families of the dead. He cannot bring himself to say to them-we went to war for a mistake, if that mistake had not been made, your son would be alive today. [emphasis added]
The only quibble I have is that it wasn't a "mistake," it was an intentional taking of Iraq--one of the greatest transgressions of world history--a fact Bush will spend the rest of his life obscuring.
The Daily Show covers the same ground in a way only The Daily Show can. They're the only ones who can make a "puppy chipper" funny.
Posted by The Owl on Dec 05 at 11:54. Filed under: Iraq
"Members of an all-woman battle area clearance team, trained by Norwegian People's Aid, search for cluster bomblets in a field near the town of Tibnin in south Lebanon, November 26, 2008." (REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho)
As a U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton voted against banning use of cluster munitions in civilian areas
For his part, Obama voted for such a measure against cluster bombs in that Senate vote on September 6, 2006.
Today in Oslo, 100 nations of the world signed the anti-cluster-bomb treaty. The insufferable Dana Perino yesterday offered this shameful exchange in response to a question from Helen Thomas about why the U.S. and several other rouge military powers are boycotting it.
Q [Helen Thomas] Yes. Is the President going to sign the anti-cluster bomb treaty? Apparently this is --
MS. PERINO: Right, this is a treaty that was passed out of the U.N. Security Council several months ago. We said then that, no, we would not be signing on to it. And so I think that the signing is actually -- we did not participate in the passage of it, and therefore we're not going to sign it either.
Q Why not?
MS. PERINO: What I have forgotten is all the reasons why, and so I'll get it for you. (Laughter.)
The absolute worst thing there is the press corps thinking this is all very funny. Nobody is there to back up Helen. Who the hell cares about the world's civilians being ripped up by these horrors rained upon them by America and its clients?
Certainly not Ms. Clinton. She has displayed unflinching hawkishness in supporting Israel after its heinous sewing of "a million cluster bombs" (according to an Israeli commander) in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. It will be interesting to see how the Obama administration approaches these questions of morality versus military expedience. I'll be watching and hoping but so far I am extremely troubled by what the future portends.
Sadly, I did not know she was ill. My strongest memory of Odetta is a concert she gave at the First Parish Church on Congress Street in Portland on winter solstice, 1990. (I'm pretty sure it wasn't 1991.) That was incredible. She will be missed...
RICE: "I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don't think many informed people doubted that." (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)
RICE: "We need to be ready for the possibility that the attack against the U.S. could come in some form against the homeland, not necessarily on the battlefield against our forces. And I think there, too, is an area where the American people need to be better prepared by our leadership. ... It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side." (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)
RICE: "I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it's a question of timing and tactics...We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions." (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002)
Of course they belong to Susan Rice, President-elect Obama's choice for the key foreign policy post of U.N. Ambassador. News fluff suggests, "Rice has spent her career studying how to prevent violence by alleviating poverty, curing disease and addressing climate change."
Fair enough, except the liberal hawk part is left out.
Awesome site during our travels in New Brunswick, Canada
Looks like the Bush-friendly Harper government is about to leave in the wake of the economic meltdown.
The only reason the Conservative Party led by Harper was ever able to gain power as a minority is because the opposition to it was divided. In the wake of Liberal Party arrogance and scandal (see "Sponsorship scandal" HERE), it's standing sank, creating an opening for the Conservatives to slip in with only 36% of the vote in early 2006.
In recent elections, the Conservatives seemed to maintain the minority government. But the economic crisis has overtaken Canada too. Conservative reluctance to pass economic stimulus appears to have driven former enemy opposition parties--Liberal, New Democratic, and Bloc Qu?b?cois--into coalition to put an end to Harper's regime.
Maine Owl is a news, comment & nature photography blog. The Owl is proprietor. He is a long-time peace & justice activist now residing in the Bangor, Maine area. Ms. Owl occasionally blogs here as Tammy. Our team also is enhanced by Gerald, formerly of Turn Maine Blue and now of the smashing blog Dirigo Blue.