31 January 2007

Quote of the Day...

"Heaven is all around, Translated to sound..."

--Michael Hedges (1953 - 1997), composer, guitarist, wizard

30 January 2007

Andy Mckee" Drifting"

We saw this guy perform live last night. He is phenomenal! Absolutely amazing! My ears hear the sounds, my eyes see his hands. My brain, however, cannot make sense between the two sets of data!

Enjoy the show...

Quote of the Day...

"As a child, if someone tells you you're fucking worthless, you become fucking worthless..."

--Ozzy Osbourne

15 January 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr. . .

I Have A Dream
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial
in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963

Complete Audio Of Speech

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

03 January 2007

Revenge of the Silent Witness...

I was privately predicting that something like this would happen...


Mobile Phone Captures Iraq's Cruelty
By Patrick Jackson and Olivia Macleod
BBC News

The phone camera footage of Saddam Hussein's execution may prove to be the most controversial media disclosure from Iraq since snapshots of US guards abusing prisoners inside Abu Ghraib were published in 2004.

While those pictures were revealed in the US media, the Saddam video appears to have been a purely Iraqi affair.

As foreign news organisations downloaded it from the internet, it was already being swapped among ordinary Iraqis on their mobile phones.

The Iraqi government's own, edited version, was undermined by the ugly audio of the shouted sectarian Shia slogans.

The mobile phone, that symbol of freedom and independence, had come into its own in Iraq in the most dramatic way.

Alarming images

For many outsiders, one of the most graphic horrors of the Iraqi conflict has been the posting of beheading videos on the internet but, within the country, interactive communications rest on the phone, not the web.

Population: 26.5million
Land and mobile phone lines today: 4.6m today
Land lines in 2003: 1.2m
Part of population with internet access: 0.1%
Sources: USaid, Internet World Stats

Just 0.1% of a population of nearly 27 million has web access, according to a 2006 estimate published by Internet World Stats. By contrast, neighbouring Iran has about 100 times as many, it says.

Meanwhile, websites like YouTube and Ogrish.com positively teem with clips posted by US soldiers of their service in Iraq.

Officially, the US military confines its monitoring to scouring blogs for factual inaccuracies but there is also concern about some of the videos and stills appearing, a US military public affairs officer in Iraq told the BBC last year.

Such material, he said, might be used by America's enemies to portray US soldiers as "barbaric warmongers".

It appears that Iraq's government was similarly concerned about how the execution of Saddam would be portrayed.

"Before we went into the room we had an agreement that no-one should bring a mobile phone," Sami al-Askari, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, said afterwards.

Execution for sale

Phones are what Iraqis now have in relative abundance: since the 2003 invasion, the number of handsets has gone from 1.2m land lines to 4.6m land and mobile lines, according to the US government.

"The new handsets are reliable and widely affordable," Amer al-Harky, a 25-year-old doctor in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil, told the BBC News website.

After the February 2006 attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra, staff at the BBC bureau in Baghdad noted a surge in gory video of the conflict being swapped between mobile phones.

One clip, for instance, showed what appeared to be Shia gunmen killing a Sunni man.

On the day after Saddam's hanging, a trader in a Shia part of Baghdad told AFP news agency that his mobile phone shop was selling the gallows phone camera footage for 500 dinars (40 US cents) a time.

And for those without a mobile, video of Iraq's death squads and their victims is available to buy on DVD.

"The DVDs are not openly on sale but you can go to certain shops and buy these things for less than one US dollar," says Dr Harky.

Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who has written a biography of Saddam, recalls that "horrific" footage of political suspects being tortured under Saddam's rule was sold on tapes or DVDs in the streets after he was overthrown.


Given the interest in Saddam's own execution, how could the Iraqi authorities and their US allies have allowed a camera to enter the gallows room along with the official one?

US-based media analyst Danny Schechter, who describes the execution as a "colonial hanging", believes it was a "unique example of a total screw-up", coming after what he describes as a long procession of miscalculations by the Iraqi and US authorities.

Its handling, he said, showed a refusal to listen to advice and a willingness to risk sectarian violence in Iraq.

However, concealed cameras at executions are nothing new, US strategy analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies says.

"This is not something that governments are likely to prevent unless they have great experience and certainly this government obviously didn't," he told the BBC News website, recalling how a US reporter secretly photographed an execution in 1928 with a camera strapped to his ankle.

Mr Cordesman points out that the execution had to be conducted at short notice in a way where it "could not become the subject of terrorism, there couldn't be rescue attempts and witnesses had to be rushed in with very little preparation".

"This is wartime, it is a situation where the Iraqi government is in considerable disarray and you are operating in a region where Western standards, to put it mildly, don't apply," he says.

Simon Henderson suggests that the desire of some Iraqis to see footage of Saddam's execution owes much to the brutalisation of society under his rule.

This, after all, was a man who used to take his own sons Uday and Qusay to witness torture sessions.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/03 09:11:43 GMT


Take Me Out Coach!

This is a most interesting development! Wasn't he Bu$h's chosen boy?
Perhaps he can convince a member of Halliburton's board to make a sacrifice and take the position...


Iraq's PM Longs To Leave Office
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has made clear he dislikes being the country's leader and would prefer to leave the job before his term ends.

In an extensive interview with a US newspaper, Mr Maliki said he would certainly not be seeking a second term.

A compromise choice, his tenure has been plagued by factional strife within both the country and government, and rumours the US has no faith in him.

"I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term," he said.

"I didn't want to take this position," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I only agreed because I thought it would serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again."


Mr Maliki, a stalwart of the Shia movement which led the resistance to Saddam Hussein, was sworn in as prime minister for a four year term last May after Sunni and Kurd parties rejected the Shia alliance's first nominee.

It followed four months of political deadlock.

He has since been undermined by sectarian tensions within his majority Shia alliance, as well as opposition from Sunni Arab politicians who say he has not done enough to dismantle Shia militias.

The manner in which Saddam Hussein was executed has also increased the pressure on Mr Maliki's government.

Correspondents say mobile phone footage showing the former Iraqi leader being taunted as he went to the gallows will make it very hard for Baghdad to convince Sunni Arabs that his execution was not just an act of retaliation against their community by Shias.

Iraq's National Security Adviser, Mouwaffaq al-Rubai, said the shouting was "unprofessional, disgusting and shouldn't have happened".

"This was supposed to be a uniting event between Shia and Sunni," Mr Rubaie told Sky TV, adding that Iraq's government would punish those found to be involved.

As protests continued against Saddam Hussein's execution, the Sunni Baath Party announced it had appointed his former deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, as its new leader.

Amid the controversy, the US military spokesman in Iraq, Maj-Gen William Caldwell, said the execution would have been handed differently if the US had been involved.

He said US forces had handed "physical control" of Saddam Hussein to Iraqi officials shortly before the execution and all US personnel had left the prison.

Clashing with Washington

Mr Maliki has had a tense relationship with the US.

Late last year, the New York Times published a memo from the White House national security adviser which contained a withering analysis of his leadership.

It described him as "a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so" although President George W Bush has subsequently stated that Mr Maliki has his full backing.

Mr Maliki has made his own impatience with Washington clear, accusing the US of failing to provide adequate equipment and training to Iraqi forces.

He repeated his criticism in the Wall Street Journal, saying US-led forces and the Iraqi army had been too slow in responding to the insurgency.

"This gives the terrorists a chance to hit and run," he said. "What is happening in Iraq is a war of gangs and a terrorist war. That is why it needs to be confronted with a strong force and with fast reaction."

In the interview, conducted a week before Saddam Hussein was executed, Mr Maliki told the paper he had faith that peace would eventually be restored to Iraq.

"I have a strong hope. If I didn't have hope, I wouldn't be here today."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/03 14:25:54 GMT