The Gypsy's Caravan

Monday, November 28, 2005

Allawi Claims Abuse in Iraq Worse Than Under Saddam Hussain

Iraq's former interim prime minister complained Sunday that human rights abuses by some in the new government are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein.

Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite Muslim, told the London newspaper The Observer that fellow Shiites are responsible for death squads and secret torture centers and said brutality by elements of Iraqi security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police.

"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same thing," the newspaper quoted Allawi as saying.

~ snip ~

In an interview published Sunday by The Washington Post, al-Hakim also complained the U.S. government is tying Iraq's hands in fighting the insurgency and said one of the country's biggest problems "is the mistaken or wrong policies practiced by the Americans."

We never had a real reason to go into their home and pitch a hissy fit, and we're screwing up everything we touch over there - Just bring them home!!! NOW

The full story is Here

Hattip: Juan Cole at Informed Comment

Happy Holidays Folks

Friday, November 25, 2005

Birds at the Feeder

OK, I really have no idea what kind of birds these are, but my sweetie really loves to watch them. He has his room set up so he can sit in bed, and watch the TV, and keep an eye on the birds all the while. They come in twos and threes, swooping across the yard to land on the feeder & the windowsill. Beautiful white underwings. I tried for about 15 min to get an in flight pic, but my camera is just not fast enough. In the pics that did get the flight, it's just a ghost smeared across the pic. Oh well.

This one is such a piggy!

Sunset on Thanksgiving Eve

Driving home from work on wednesday, the sun was sinking fast, and the sunset was compelling. This is one of the few farms left in the area.

You don't often find a place in Connecticut that has such a wide open (treeless) view of the horizon.

I've been waiting for this shot for months, to get the right light, and have my camera in the car - both at the same time! I may have waited a tad too long, this is darker than I wanted.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

National Family Week

Bob Geiger has a very worthy article on His Yellow Dog Blog about "National Family Week" and the callous use of empty slogans to camoflage his cuts to, well, families and veterans.

Lawn grouping Update

Here it is, all set up for this year! It's snowing this morning, but we've been promised the snow will be gone by tomorrow....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Santa Update

WHEW!!, after four days painting in between the lines, Santa is finally finished! The sleigh is white with a red "S", and the reindeer is white. My sweetheart wants an eye painted on the reindeer(now, where am I going to find a picture of a reindeer eye?)

(as always, click the picture for a bigger view)

Today the hardware goes on the back - there's an ingenious hinged, foldup support in the pattern that Hubby's going to build, and the whole set goes out on the lawn this weekend.

Next year, I'll paint the reindeer in natural reindeer colors, and the sleigh red, with a green "S". Hubby's already talking about another reindeer, too.

Link to previous Santa Updates

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Dragon Blogging

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Foggy Saturday

Last weekend I woke up to a foggy morning, and throwing some batteries in my camera, I rushed out to get some spooky pictures.

If you've hung out here before, you probably know I live in Connecticut. The farms here are so picturesque, and in the fog, they really look to me like a piece of the past come to life. Some of these farmhouses have been standing since before the revolution.

The leaves are all down, and the skyclad trees are fantastic in their stark beauty. We should be able to tell which species they are by the form of their limbs, and the bark, but even after growing up here, I can't yet. I've noticed that the Oaks and Maples have the most beautiful skyclad forms. The oaks retain their leaves, even after turning brown. I read somewhere it's a survival thing, that a stand of Oaks will do better during the winter if the leaves stay on and cut the cold wind.

This is our backyard. Some call it wetland, I call it swamp, especially when the mosquitos

wake up in the spring.

In the front "yard", the builder took down only enough trees to situate the house. After my husband bought it, he took down the few trees that threatened the house in a storm, and opened out the front, enough to grow grass. The whole lot is shaded, and only ferns, bleeding hearts and hostas really flourish. I've planted all kinds of flowering things, only to see them wither out within a couple of years.

Ahhh well, I've come to love ferns and bleeding hearts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Open letter to the President of the United States

Mr Bush,

It would really benefit the country, in my opinion, if you would start to pay attention to the real world results of your policies.

You pledged that if anyone in your administration was found to have a part in the Plame debacle, that you would fire them. You reneged on that pledge. You parsed words and put a fine point on your re-write pencil.

I would like to hear from you that you value justice enough that you would never pardon a felon. You refused to pardon so many people in Texas when you sat in the governor's seat. Some had evidence that may have cleared their name. To pardon a political crony at this time would send the signal that you value strong arm tactics, rule by thuggery, and may the slimiest, most corrupt soul win.

That is not the American way. That is not a moral, honorable action. That is not what I expect from the office of the President of the United States. Are you just warming the seat, or are you bringing your Christian values to grace the White House?

We will know by your actions what your values are. The world is watching, what's your next move?

SB Gypsy

Harry Reid is floating a petition to ask the president to rule out a pardon of "Scooter" Libbey. You can sign on (if you are so moved), at this webpage. I say, Give 'em Hell, Harry!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Open letter to Connecticut Senators and Representatives **

Dear Senator Lieberman,
Senator Chris Dodd,
Rep. Rob Simmons,
Rep. Nancy Johnson,
Rep Chris Shays,

I would like to call on you, as my Representatives in the Federal Legislature, to put an end to the human rights violations (torture) that is happening in my name around the world.

Preferably, in one bold voice, all the representatives of the people of Connecticut need to say, "We condemn what's happening and we demand that it stop immediately."

Because of urgency, this is not a time for commissions, hand-wringing and deal-cutting. Human lives and the credibility of the United States are on the line. We need to ensure that we are in compliance with every accepted human rights norm and that our process is so transparent that any human rights inspector would be satisfied. We should be so beyond reproach that not only the United Nations should be satisfied, but Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other nongovernmental organizations, as well. This is, after all, America.

Politicians and citizens alike have become experts in outrage over Supreme Court nominees and hurricane aid. Where's the outrage over an administration that plays shell games with congressionally funded prisons and deprives prisoners of their human rights - indefinately? What happened to the principle that every one - without exception - is innocent until proven guilty?

We need to insist that during wartime - even when the foes are skyjackers and roadside bombers - that we the people are conforming to universal standards of decency. And if we do not, we must demand change - and replace the representative, the senator and the president who refuses to change on this issue. We the people are accountable.

We are not powerless. Otherwise, we wouldn't be we the people.

The time for change is now. What will you do?

Sincerely, SB_Gypsy

This was emailed (with my correct name) to the above on 11/14/05

** most of this was shamlessly lifted from Stephen Barnes' very worthy article Damage Control: The world takes note when the United States abuses human rights — and we the people must hold our leaders accountable. Feel free to copy as much as you'd like of it, if you would like to send it to your own reps...

hattip to Shakespere's Sister

Frost on the Lamb's Ear

It's been getting colder and colder lately, and the other day I arrived at work to see most everything keeled over with the frost. This Lamb's Ear seems to take it in stride.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Santa Update

The Santa update : all the black is done. Whew! Now I just have to start filling in all the colors. (Here's the rest of the Santa and Sleigh info).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Scientific Dragon

Click the pic for a larger view

Open Letter to Senator Snowe

Dear Senator Snowe,

You will be in the discussions this week about the tax bill. I'm begging you to vote against the bill as written.

In this time of war, and when our economy is further burdened by the continuing aftermath and rebuilding after six powerful hurricanes in the last few years on the gulf coast, these funds are needed to keep our economy going.

The devastation of the gulf coast disasters prompted unprecedented cuts to needed services. In a time of war you cut the funding to our veterans hospitals and veterans benefits. Last week you voted to require the most vulnerable segments of our society to suck it up and bear the burdens of disaster and an illegal war. Now you are considering reducing further the amount that the richest ten percent of our society contributes.

The very persons who are making obscene profits on human misery in the middle east are going to get another free ride.

Shame Shame Shame Shame Shame.

Can I say it any clearer? Shame on all of you, if you vote to further cut needed funds out of our budget. Please vote no on these tax cuts.

Thank You

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Starhawk: Ruminations on the Concept of Evil

...when we condemn the willingness to kill others in order to pursue one's own ends, we also need to acknowledge that willingness is widespread. What "ideology of evil" motivated Tony Blair to join the United States in pursuing a war in Iraq that has killed tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilians, guilty only of being born in the wrong country at the wrong time? Could he please explain to me why, if it is evil to kill civilians on a bus or in the London tubes, it is okay to kill civilians in bombing raids on major cities? Why acts that are "evil" when done by small groups of extremists are moral and good when pursued by governments and armies? The willingness to sacrifice others for one's own good is not limited to war. It is also part of the context of endemic violence woven into our current political and economic system. The UN Commission on Children tells us that six million children a year die from the policies the International Monetary Fund imposes on third world countries, that result in lack of access to health care and clean water. In a neighborhood near mine, young men kill each other in drug and gang wars born of hopelessness and despair. The very integrity of the earth's climate and life support systems are in jeopardy from global warming, while efforts to address this crucial life issue are stymied deliberately by a few defending their own economic interests.

And while this constant killing goes on, we are distracted and desensitized. Turn on the television any night of the week, and notice how our imaginations are colonized by violence. Crime shows, jewel thieves, cop shows, war stories, battle scenes march endlessly across the screen, filling our inner vision with images of mayhem, broken bodies and blood, as if we can only be entertained by vicarious pain and endlessly replayed dramas in which someone else dies and I live.

We should be shocked and horrified at the bombings. Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones with compassion and grief.

But we should also be shocked and horrified at the larger context of violence in which they take place. What would happen, how would the world change, if our hearts went out with compassion to the children of Iraq, of Africa, of the Brazilian favelas, of the inner city of Los Angeles? If we were as quick to condemn the perpetrators of endemic economic violence as we are to condemn bombers? If we were as horrified at the oil company executive who suppresses evidence of global warming as we are at the gunman?...

The essay is entitled : Pagans Reject the Idea of Evil -- How Do We Respond to Terrorism? Go and read the whole thing, it's definately worth a read.

More Dragons!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Adventure in New York

I didn't post this weekend because my husband and I went down to the City on Thursday to be in the audience for the Daily Show. Very cool, but I was a little behind... and had a busy weekend.

We drove down to the train station in New Haven, because it's $100 each way for the ride from there to Hartford. Scandalous! And you have to change trains, on top of that. We might have done it if it was just one train. The parking in New Haven is terrible. Next time we'll drive another 10 min and use the Stanford Station - Nice little station, parking right up against the building, no problem.

We got into Grand Central, and what a great job they did when they refinished the station! Everything is cleaned and repainted. There are breathtaking friezes everywhere, and the ceiling of the main mall is all done in the constellations. No trash anywhere. nice. We got into the city around 11am.

There are two problems with New York:

1. Transportation - the bus system is really cumbersome. It seems to be only for the natives. In order to get from Grand Central to the Daily Show studios, you have to go west about 10 or 15 blocks, and then north about 10 or 15 blocks. The lady at the help desk explained that we would have to take 2 buses, a dollar apiece, each way. That's eight bucks. The bus won't take money - you hafta buy a pass. Two people can share one pass, but they come in denominations of ten and twenty dollars, period. This Connecticut Yankee won't waste two bucks.

2. Bathrooms - or the lack thereof. Noone wants to let you use their bathrooms, and there are no public ones except in Grand Central, and in the bus station down the street. That's about it. Restaurants' bathrooms are only open to customers. I was ok, but...

So, we set out walking, ... and walking ... and walking. We figured we'd find a nice place to eat lunch on the way - after all, this was the city, and there are restaurants everywhere, right? Well, everywhere around the Station, anyway. We walked... and the neighborhood kept getting very slowly nastier, and the buildings smaller, and the restaurants turned into little hole in the wall affairs (with no bathrooms - LOL).

Finally, we found the Daily Show studio. 'Cool,' I thought, 'we'll find somewhere around here to get lunch'. We went around the block, and finally settled in to the only sit-down restaurant in the area,(5010 Club) and the food was scrumptious! We told the waitress we were going to be there for awhile, and we just wanted to take our time. Seafood Fra Diavolo - Yummy!

We finished lunch around 2:30, and decided to spend an hour at the pub across the street from the studio. Not so nice, but whiskey is whiskey, I guess. I like it with no ice. It's a little like drinking fire.

So, around 3:30, we went across the street and got in line. By that time, there were about 30 people there before us. The doors open around 5. I brought my book. I must say, they have the whole thing down pat - they come out at 4:30, and give out the tickets, (they overbook, so if you live in town, you can get on the end of the line on the day you are scheduled, and they will give you VIP tickets for another day - no waiting in line, front row seats...) We were front and center, with only one row between us and the stage area. For a new studio, I was surprised at how scruffy it was, but you don't see that thru the camera. The backdrops look much more substantial on camera, too. Everything was smaller and closer together than it seems on tv. The whole studio could have fit into the restaurant where we ate lunch, and there were 200 people in there. The seats were not scrunched together either.

It was neat to see them use the cameras and other gear that I learned to use in the TV course I took at Pasadena City College. The cameras were pretty much the same, except they had teleprompters on them. That was cool to see: it's a horizontal computer screen that has the words in mirror image, with a two way mirror above, so you're shooting thru the mirror, which is tilted and aimed at the subject.

First the guy comes out that I call the cheerleader. He's there to get us all whipped up. He did a good job, got us yelling, then stopped and talked to someone in the audience, just to make us feel at home. Then more yelling, and jokes (we both were hoarse by the end of the show).

Then Jon Stewart came out, and did a pre-show warmup. The man is just such a cool dude.

The plan was, after the show, we were going to get a cab back to the station, and hop on a train. Well, the cabs in NYC do not stop for you if you're on the street at night in a bad neighborhood. Damn! More walking...

(click the pics for large size ones)

Monday, November 07, 2005

another fine joke

My friend from Oregon sent me this:

Subject: girls night out

Why females should avoid a girls night out after they are married!

The other night I was invited out for a night with "the girls." I
told my husband that I would be home by midnight, "I promise!" Well, the hours passed and the margaritas went down way too easy.

Around 3 a.m., a bit loaded, I headed for home. Just as I got in the door, the cuckoo clock in the hall started up and cuckooed 3 times.

Quickly,! realizing my husband would probably wake up, I cuckooed another 9 times. I was really proud of myself for coming up with such a quick-witted solution, in order to escape a possible conflict with him.

(Even when totally smashed... 3 cuckoos plus 9 cuckoos totals 12 cuckoos = MIDNIGHT!)

The next morning my husband asked me what time I got in, and I told him "Midnight". He didn't seem peeved at all.

Whew! Got away with that one!

Then he said, "We need a new cuckoo clock."

When I asked him why?, he said, "Well, last night our clock cuckooed three times, then said, "Oh. s..t.", cuckooed 4 more times, cleared it's throat, cuckooed another 3 times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, and then tripped over the coffee table and farted."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Posse Comitatus Act

The Washington Post has a commentary on the Posse Comitatus act, Wake-up call which details the brewing controversy. The emperor wants the power of the military to police the home front. He has militarized our society far more than any of his contemporary predecessors.

If he gets his way, we'll have military directing traffic, military on every street corner, we'll have military building our roads and military busting down our doors, just to check if everything is being done the right way. We'll all be in the military, because there will be no other jobs around.

Read the article, Walter Williams explains it better than I.

Hattip: Old White Lady

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