28 September 2007

Quote of the Day...

"The world has teeth and it can bite you with them any time it wants..."

--Stephen King (b.1947), from his novel The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

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27 September 2007

Nine Dead in Rangoon...

Please remember to wear red tomorrow, when you go to work or school, to show your solidarity with the People of Burma and the Saffron Revolution...


Nine Killed in Burmese Crackdown

Nine people have been killed during Thursday's crackdown on anti-government protesters in Burma's main city of Rangoon, state media say.

The dead included eight protesters and a Japanese man, identified as a video journalist working for APF News - with 11 demonstrators and 31 soldiers hurt.

The deaths came on the 10th day of protests, led by Buddhist monks.

World leaders have renewed calls for sanctions - and the US says it is beginning with 14 top officials.

President George W Bush has "made it clear that we will not stand by as the regime tries to silence the voices of the Burmese people through repression and intimidation," said Adam Szubin, director of the US treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In other developments on Thursday:

* Burma says it will issue a visa to UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who is being urgently sent to the country

* the Association of South-East Asian Nations voices "revulsion" at the killings and urges Burma - one of its members - to exercise restraint

* UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour warns Burmese leaders that they could be prosecuted for their actions

'Warning shots'

Apart from sporadic gunfire, the streets of Rangoon are now said to be quiet after six hours of clashes. A curfew is back in force.

Thursday's violence followed reports of overnight raids on six monasteries.

Witnesses say soldiers smashed windows and doors and beat sleeping monks. Some escaped but hundreds were taken away in military trucks.

At about midday (0530 GMT), tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets in an apparently spontaneous show of defiance, singing nationalist songs and hurling abuse at soldiers driving by in trucks.

Troops began firing warning shots when protesters tried to take their weapons from them, state television reported.

Witnesses said it was unclear whether the bullets were fired into the crowd or above heads.

Japan's foreign ministry confirmed that a man found dead in Rangoon carrying a Japanese passport was Kenji Nagai, a video journalist who had been in Burma for Tokyo-based news agency APF News since Tuesday.

Japan would officially launch a protest with the Burmese government over Mr Nagai's death and demand an investigation into the incident, Japanese news agency Kyodo quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura as saying.

The official toll was nine dead, though this could not be confirmed.

In unrest on Wednesday state media said one person had died, though there were unconfirmed reports of several other deaths.

Taken by surprise

The scale and growing momentum of the protests appears to have taken Burma's military rulers by surprise, says the BBC's regional correspondent Charles Scanlon.

By ordering combat battalions into the streets, they are aiming to intimidate the population while rounding up the leaders of the protest movement, he adds.

With fewer monks on the streets on Thursday, the military may have had fewer qualms about firing on the civilians, correspondents say, as monks are held in high esteem in Buddhist Burma.

Analysts fear a repeat of the violence in 1988, when troops opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing thousands.

The current protests were triggered by the government's decision to double the price of fuel last month, hitting people hard in the impoverished nation.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/27 21:35:59 GMT



Burma: The Struggle Contiunes...

Burma Protests Follow Night Raids
Thousands of protesters are back on the streets of Burma's main city Rangoon after overnight raids in which monks were reportedly beaten and arrested.
Police are reported to have fired shots at demonstrators. Witnesses said at least one person collapsed.

Witnesses said soldiers stormed six monasteries overnight, smashing windows and doors and beat the sleeping monks.

About 200 Buddhist monks were reported to have been detained during raids on two monasteries in Rangoon.

As protests resumed, only a small number of monks could be seen among the crowd. Many of the protesters were heard chanting nationalist songs.

Two members of the National League for Democracy, the party led by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, were also arrested overnight.

There were also reports of raids in the north-east of the country.

The arrests come a day after five people were reported to have been killed when police broke up protests by monks and civilians. The military government has confirmed one death.


In Rangoon, security forces have set up barbed wire barricades around Shwedagon Pagoda and Rangoon city hall, two of the focal points for the demonstrations.

The British ambassador in Rangoon, Mark Canning, said soldiers and police had stepped up their presence.

"There are truckloads of troops in a number of locations - more than there seemed to be yesterday," he told the BBC.

"There are fire trucks, water canons positioned in a number of places - there are about three of them outside city hall. There are a number of prison vans also to be seen in certain places."

Leaflets have been circulated throughout Rangoon urging people to come out and show solidarity with the monks.

UN Debate

There are no indications yet that the military government is ready to listen to the many calls for restraint being made around the world, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting in New York and called on the military junta to show restraint - a call also made by China on Thursday.

The US and European Union wanted the council to consider imposing sanctions - but that was rejected by China as not "helpful".

Instead, council members "expressed their concern vis-a-vis the situation, and have urged restraint, especially from the government of Myanmar," said France's UN ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert.

They welcomed a plan to send UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to the region, and called on the Burmese authorities to receive him "as soon as possible".

China and Russia have argued the situation in Burma is a purely internal matter. Both vetoed a UN resolution critical of Burma's rulers in January.

Analysts fear a repeat of the violence in 1988, when troops opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing thousands.

The protests were triggered by the government's decision to double the price of fuel last month, hitting people hard in the impoverished nation.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/27 07:39:30 GMT


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Quote of the Day...

"A triviality is a statement whose opposite is false. However, a great truth is a statement whose opposite may well be another great truth..."

--Niels Bohr (1885 - 1962), Nobel laureate physicist

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26 September 2007

10,000 Stand Firm...

We knew a government crackdown was inevitable, we continue to offer Smoke and Prayers for the brave People and Monks of Burma...


Burma Protesters Defy Crackdown

Up to 10,000 Burmese Buddhist monks and civilians have defied police tear gas and live bullets on the ninth day of protests against the military rulers.

At least one monk was killed, hospital sources in the main city of Rangoon said. The government has confirmed one death, without giving details.

Witnesses described monks with blood on their shaved heads as police charged at the Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon.

Meanwhile, the UN said it was sending a special adviser on Burma to the region.

The BBC's James Robbins says Ibrahim Gambari's mission - if he is allowed into Burma - will be to urge the regime to stop using force and to start moving towards full democracy.

Mr Gambari will first brief the UN Security Council at an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening.

Permanent members Russia and China have argued that the situation in Burma is a purely internal matter.

The confrontation in Burma has become a battle of wills between the country's two most powerful institutions, the military and the monkhood, and the outcome is still unclear, the BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, says.

Analysts fear a repeat of the violence in 1988, when troops opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing thousands.

'Entirely peaceful'

The scenes of turmoil witnessed during the day ended as a night-time curfew took hold.

A statement by Burma's military government on state radio said one person had been killed and three others injured - the first official confirmation that the violence had caused casualties.

Earlier, a hospital source in Rangoon told the BBC that the monks were beaten with rifle butts, and that taxi drivers had transported the injured to nearby medical facilities.

Unconfirmed reports spoke of several dead.

The British ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, told the BBC that people had shown their determination to demonstrate, despite a number of them being severely beaten.

He said at one point there were almost 10,000 people outside the embassy.

"There was a nucleus of perhaps 1,000 monks with probably 8,000 or 9,000 civilians - many women, many students.

"They have marched in big columns throughout various areas of the city. They were entirely peaceful," he said.

Our correspondent says that for all their brutality, the security forces were clumsy. They failed to prevent demonstrators from making their way through the city and their attacks on the monks only inflamed public anger - none of which was reflected on state television.

A statement read out on air said the authorities were handling the situation "most softly to avoid incidents desired by destructive elements while protecting the people".

Large demonstrations also took place in the cities of Mandalay and Sitwei, but the security forces there reportedly did little to prevent them.

'Human shield'

A clampdown on the media by Burma's military government - which has banned gatherings of five people or more in addition to imposing a curfew - has made following the exact course of the protests difficult.

It is known that on Wednesday thousands of monks and opposition activists moved away from Shwedagon pagoda, heading for Sule pagoda in the city centre.

Others headed for the home of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Reports suggested they were prevented from reaching it but other demonstrators did gather at Sule to jeer soldiers.

Troops responded by firing tear gas and live rounds over the protesters' heads, sending people running for cover.

Monks marching to the home of Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly urged civilians not to join them and not to resort to violence.

But elsewhere witnesses said civilians were shielding the marching monks by forming a human chain around them.

One BBC News website reader said: "The junta are using dirty tactics - they don't fire guns but beat people with rifle butts. The monks defiantly did not fight back."

The protests were triggered by the government's decision to double the price of fuel last month, hitting people hard in the impoverished nation.

US President George W Bush has announced a tightening of US economic sanctions against Burma.


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Quote of the Day...

"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it..."

Aung San Suu Kyi, activist, peacemaker

25 September 2007

25. September 1957...

Thank You All!

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Burma: Near Critical Mass..?

Our Smoke and Prayers are with the people of Burma...


Burma March Largest In 20 Years

Burma's largest anti-government protest in nearly two decades has taken place in the former capital Rangoon, led by Buddhist monks and nuns.

Up to 20,000 people took to the streets on the seventh day of protests calling for an end to the "evil dictatorship".

Unlike a day earlier, police barred a group of monks from entering the road that leads to the home of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The rallies began last month when the government doubled fuel prices.

BBC South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says every day the protests are growing in size - the campaign the monks began just six days ago is now openly challenging the military, urging all citizens to join in.


A huge column of demonstrators made its way through the heart of the city, following an identical route to that used during the failed anti-military uprising in 1988.

There are no exact figures but the rally was estimated to be 20,000 strong.

Our correspondent says the mood was relaxed, even euphoric, with thousands of civilians joining Buddhist monks and nuns, and chanting the key demands of this campaign - reconciliation with the opposition, the release of political prisoners and lower prices.

Apparently unsure what to do, the security forces appear to be standing back for the moment and the next act in the drama is impossible to predict, says our correspondent.

Speaking on the sidelines of a UN meeting, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said America was "watching very carefully" the protests and denounced Burma's "brutal regime".

"The Burmese people deserve better. They deserve the right to be able to live in freedom, just as everyone does."

The head of regional grouping Asean, Ong Keng Yong said he hoped the Burmese authorities would not take any strong action "and turn the protests into a big confrontation".

Ms Suu Kyi emerged tearfully on Saturday from the home where she has been under house arrest since 2003 to pray with the monks, after they were allowed through a roadblock.

But on Sunday the barricades were firmly back in place and there was a heavy security presence near the democracy icon's home to prevent a repeat protest march past.

Prayer vigils

Witnesses said the crowds formed a protective human chain, as the monks and nuns set off from Burma's most famous landmark, the revered Shwedagon Pagoda.

Some demonstrators chanted "Release Suu Kyi" as they continued to the nearby Sule Pagoda, before passing the US embassy.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ms Suu Kyi has spent 11 of the last 18 years in detention.

In 1990 her party won national elections, but these were annulled by the army and she was never allowed to take office.

On Friday, the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, which is leading the demonstrations, vowed to continue until they had "wiped the military dictatorship from the land".

The monks have urged the Burmese people to hold prayer vigils in their doorways for 15 minutes at 2000 (1330 GMT) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Scores of nuns joined more than 2,000 monks in prayer on Sunday at the Shwedagon Pagoda, before marching to the centre of Rangoon.


Quote of the Day...

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The True Axis of Evil...?

Some things for you to ponder...

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22 September 2007

Who's the Dic(k)tator Now..?

I guess one becomes what one obsesses about, enit?


How George Bush Became the New Saddam

COVER STORY: Its strategies shattered, a desperate Washington is reaching out to the late dictator's henchmen.

Patrick Graham Sep 20, 2007

It was embarrassing putting my flak jacket on backwards and sideways, but in the darkness of the Baghdad airport car park I couldn’t see anything. “Peterik, put the flak jacket on,” the South African security contractor was saying politely, impatiently. “You know the procedure if we are attacked.”

I didn’t. He explained. One of the chase vehicles would pull up beside us and someone would drag me out of the armoured car, away from the firing. If both drivers were unconscious—nice euphemism—he said I should try to run to the nearest army checkpoint. If the checkpoint was American, things might work out if they didn’t shoot first. If it was Iraqi . . . he didn’t elaborate.

Arriving in Baghdad has always been a little weird. Under Saddam Hussein it was like going into an http://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.giforderly morgue; when he ran off after the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003 put an end to his Baathist party regime, the city became a chaotic mess. I lived in Iraq for almost two years, but after three years away I wasn’t quite ready for just how deserted and worn down the place seemed in the early evening. It was as if some kind of mildew was slowly rotting away at the edges of things, breaking down the city into urban compost.

Since 2003, more than 3,775 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, while nearly 7,500 Iraqi policemen and soldiers have died. For Iraq’s civilian population, the carnage has been almost incalculable. Last year alone, the UN estimated that 34,500 civilians were killed and more than 36,000 wounded; other estimates are much higher. As the country’s ethnic divisions widen, especially between Iraq’s Arab Shia and Arab Sunni Muslims (the Kurds are the third major group), some two million people have been internally displaced, with another two million fleeing their homeland altogether. Entering Baghdad I could tell the Sunni neighbourhoods, ghettos really, by the blasts in the walls and the emptiness, courtesy of sectarian cleansing by the majority Shias. The side streets of the Shia districts seemed to have a little more life to them.

Read the rest HERE

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Admiral Fallon: "Petraeus is a Chickensh*t"

Well well well, WTF do we have here...?

There's nothing like a proper military for keeping folks honest, enit?


U.S.-IRAQ: Fallon Derided Petraeus, Opposed the Surge

By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Sep 12 (IPS) - In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon's mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on develop his own alternative to Petraeus's recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.

The enmity between the two commanders became public knowledge when the Washington Post reported Sep. 9 on intense conflict within the administration over Iraq. The story quoted a senior official as saying that referring to "bad relations" between them is "the understatement of the century".

Fallon's derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander's personal distaste for Petraeus's style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to the sources.

The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.

In a highly unusual political role for an officer who had not yet taken command of a war, Petraeus was installed in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, in early February just before the Senate debated Bush's troop increase. According to a report in The Washington Post Feb. 7, senators were then approached on the floor and invited to go McConnell's office to hear Petraeus make the case for the surge policy.

Fallon was strongly opposed to Petraeus's role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq adopted by Bush in December as putting his own interests ahead of a sound military posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia -- the area for which Fallon's CENTCOM is responsible.

The CENTCOM commander believed the United States should be withdrawing troops from Iraq urgently, largely because he saw greater dangers elsewhere in the region. "He is very focused on Pakistan," said a source familiar with Fallon's thinking, "and trying to maintain a difficult status quo with Iran."

By the time Fallon took command of CENTCOM in March, Pakistan had become the main safe haven for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda to plan and carry out its worldwide operations, as well as being an extremely unstable state with both nuclear weapons and the world's largest population of Islamic extremists.

Plans for continued high troop levels in Iraq would leave no troops available for other contingencies in the region.

Fallon was reported by the New York Times to have been determined to achieve results "as soon as possible". The notion of a long war, in contrast, seemed to connote an extended conflict in which Iraq was but a chapter.

Fallon also expressed great scepticism about the basic assumption underlying the surge strategy, which was that it could pave the way for political reconciliation in Iraq. In the lead story Sep. 9, The Washington Post quoted a "senior administration official" as saying that Fallon had been "saying from Day One, 'This isn't working.' "

One of Fallon's first moves upon taking command of CENTCOM was to order his subordinates to avoid the term "long war" -- a phrase Bush and Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates had used to describe the fight against terrorism.

Fallon was signaling his unhappiness with the policy of U.S. occupation of Iraq for an indeterminate period. Military sources explained that Fallon was concerned that the concept of a long war would alienate Middle East publics by suggesting that U.S. troops would remain in the region indefinitely.

During the summer, according to the Post Sep. 9 report, Fallon began to develop his own plans for redefine the U.S. mission in Iraq, including a plan for withdrawal of three-quarters of the U.S. troop strength by the end of 2009.

The conflict between Fallon and Petraeus over Iraq came to a head in early September. According to the Post story, Fallon expressed views on Iraq that were sharply at odds with those of Petraeus in a three-way conversation with Bush on Iraq the previous weekend. Petraeus argued for keeping as many troops in Iraq for as long as possible to cement any security progress, but Fallon argued that a strategic withdrawal from Iraq was necessary to have sufficient forces to deal with other potential threats in the region.

Fallon's presentation to Bush of the case against Petraeus's recommendation for keeping troop levels in Iraq at the highest possible level just before Petraeus was to go public with his recommendations was another sign that Petraeus's role as chief spokesperson for the surge policy has created a deep rift between him and the nation's highest military leaders. Bush presumably would not have chosen to invite an opponent of the surge policy to make such a presentation without lobbying by the top brass.

Fallon had a "visceral distaste" for what he regarded as Petraeus's sycophantic behaviour in general, which had deeper institutional roots, according to a military source familiar with his thinking.

Fallon is a veteran of 35 years in the Navy, operating in an institutional culture in which an officer is expected to make enemies in the process of advancement. "If you are Navy captain and don't have two or three enemies, you're not doing your job," says the source.

Fallon acquired a reputation for a willingness to stand up to powerful figures during his tenure as commander in chief of the Pacific Command from February 2005 to March 2007. He pushed hard for a conciliatory line toward and China, which put him in conflict with senior military and civilian officials with a vested interest in pointing to China as a future rival and threat.

He demonstrated his independence from the White House when he refused in February to go along with a proposal to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, as reported by IPS in May. Fallon questioned the military necessity for the move, which would have signaled to Iran a readiness to go to war. Fallon also privately vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch, implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy.

A crucial element of Petraeus's path of advancement in the Army, on the other hand, was through serving as an aide to senior generals. He was assistant executive officer to the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Carl Vuono, and later executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Henry Shelton. His experience taught him that cultivating senior officers is the key to success.

The contrasting styles of the two men converged with their conflict over Iraq to produce one of the most intense clashes between U.S. military leaders in recent history.

*Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June 2005.


18 September 2007

Colin Steele McRae, MBE (1968 - 2007)

Family Tribute to McRae and Son
Colin McRae's father has spoken of the family's sadness over the death of the rally ace and his five-year-old son.
Mr McRae, 39, his son Johnny, friend Ben Porcelli, 6, and Graeme Duncan, 37, died following a helicopter crash in Lanarkshire on Saturday.

Jimmy McRae said it was "unbelievable" that his son and grandson's lives had been taken "so prematurely".

He issued his statement a few hours before police began removing the bodies of the four from the crash site.

Mr McRae snr said that his grandson's friend Ben was a "great buddy" and that Mr Duncan was a close friend of Mr McRae since school.

Speaking on behalf of the family, he added: "It is with much sadness and regret that we have to make this statement.

"It is unbelievable that Colin and Johnny's lives have been taken so prematurely and in such a tragic manner.

"Colin was a great son, a loving husband to Alison and a fantastic father to Johnny and his big sister Hollie.

"Johnny was a great wee guy, spending every spare minute with his dad, and even at this early stage it looked like he had the potential to carry on the family dynasty."

He said the family's thoughts were "very much" with the families of Ben and Mr Duncan.

"Ben was a great buddy of Johnny's and they had always spent a lot of time together both in and out of school," he added.

'Role model'

He said Mr Duncan, who lived in France, was back in Lanark on holiday.

"We are thankful for the overwhelming number of messages of support we have received from all around the world," Mr McRae Snr said.

"Colin was very much an inspiration and role model to motor sport fans the world over."

In a statement, Ben's father Mark and mother Karen, said: "We are absolutely devastated with the loss of our son Ben following this terrible accident.

"He was a charming, fun-loving and caring wee boy - the best boy in the world who enjoyed great times with his wee pal Johnny. It is just so tragic that their lives have been cut so short.

"Our thoughts also go out to the McRae and Duncan families."

Formal identification is expected in the next few days.

Ch Supt Tim Love from Strathclyde Police said the crash was not survivable and it was very difficult to tell the aircraft had been a helicopter.

Air accident investigators have started searching the helicopter crash site near Mr McRae's home.

The Scottish Subaru Impreza Owners' Club have been leaving tributes at the entrance to the house.

About 40 firefighters attended the accident which happened in woods just north of Lanark at 1600 BST.

Users of the rally champion's official website www.colinmcrae.com were greeted by a black screen on Sunday with no information available.

Mr McRae was Britain's first rally world champion in 1995 and is the son of five times British rallying champion Jimmy McRae.

He admitted to enjoying the adrenaline rush of activities such as bungee jumping and was a keen pilot.

Wider fame

Nicky Grist, his co-driver since 1997, said: "Colin was always regarded as being a bit of a risk-taker in cars, but when it came to flying a helicopter he was a totally different man.

"The one thing he always told me, he said 'You don't mess about with a helicopter. They are bigger and better than I am and you have to drive them as such'."

Mr McRae had moved to Monaco in 1995 but as his family grew up he spent more time back at his home in Lanarkshire. He and his wife Alison bought the 17th Century Jerviswood House.

Rev Bryan Kerr, minister of Lanark Greyfriars Church and a neighbour of the McRae family, said: "A lot of people have been stunned by this and our thoughts go out to all of the families affected.

"This will be hugely devastating, particularly in such a small community. You just don't expect these things to happen on your doorstep especially when it is someone who is so well known and well liked in the town.

"The town's ministers have spoken to each other and special prayers will be offered for all those affected by the tragedy and remembering those who are working on the rescue efforts and trying to piece together what happened."

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Colin McRae was an outstanding Scottish sportsman of international stature and achievement.

"His death is a great tragedy, and my thoughts and condolences are with all the families and friends bereaved by this terrible accident."

Video games

Mr McRae's brother Alister also enjoyed success as a driver, winning the British Rally Championship in 1995.

Circuit success led to further fame through Mr McRae's endorsement of a series of rally video games.

'Colin McRae: DiRT' was the title for the latest instalment of the games series which launched this year on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Stars from the world of motor sport have been paying tribute to Mr McRae.

Friend and Formula One ace David Coulthard, said: "He and Alison were good friends and I cannot imagine either without the other.

"He was fearless, flamboyant, blindingly quick in the car.

"We had some great times and his passing is a terrible blow for the McRae family and everyone who came in contact with him."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/16 16:28:14 GMT


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Quote of the Day...

"Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man's life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world..."

--Harry Chapin (1942 - 1981), singer-songwriter, humanitarian, Congressional Gold Medal Laureate

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17 September 2007

Two Turds In the Bowl...

Just in case you've forgotten exactly what our situation is...here's a little reminder:

Please! Somebody flush, now!


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15 September 2007

Quote of the Day...

"Mother dear, may I go downtown Instead of out to play, And march the streets of Birmingham In a freedom March today?"

"No baby, no you may not go, for the dogs are fierce and wild, And clubs and hoses, guns and jail Aren't good for a little child".

"But mother, I won't be alone. Other children will go with me, And march the streets of Birmingham To make our country free".

"No baby, no you may not go, For I fear those guns will fire. But you may go to church instead And sing in the children's choir.

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair, and bathed rose petal sweet, And drawn white gloves on her small brown Hands, And white shoes on her feet.

the mother smiled to know her child Was in a sacred place, But that smile was the last smile To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion, Her eyes grew wet and wild. She raced through the street of Birmingham Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick, Then lifted out a shoe. "O here is the shoe my baby wore, But, baby, where are you?"

--Dudley Randall (1914 - 2000),"Ballad of Birmingham"

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11 September 2007

Quote of the Day...

"Shall we give up our homes, our country, bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead, and everything that is dear and sacred to us, without a struggle? I know you will cry with me: Never! Never!"

--Tecumseh"Panther Crossing the Sky" (c.1768? - 1813), Shawnee Nation

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10 September 2007

A Message From Leonard Peltier...

o: Leonard Peltier Supporters

From: Leonard Peltier and Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee kindly requests that you please forward this annoucement in its entirety, please do not modify, edit, remove or add to this annoucement. Please refer to Note Section, after Leonard Peltiers' message for Leonard's address and additional information.


Toni Zeidan-Co-director LPDC

A Message from Leonard Peltier:

Greetings My Relatives,

You know I was just thinking there should be a degree one could receive for having expertise on doing prison time. I think I would be called Professor Peltier, PhD. with 30 years tenure. A friend of mine said once, PhD where he is from stands for post hole digger. I think I would at this time, embrace being a post hole digger, although I don't relish the thought of fencing anything in after being fenced in myself for 30 + years.

On being imprisoned, I want to touch on that subject a bit. There are some who have voiced their opinion in one way or another, that I should give up after all these years of trying to win my freedom. Aside from the oppressors who put me here, some of them are people who were at times, part of the
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; others, on the fringes. My answer, to put it in a simple, colloquial phrase, that anyone can understand, .it ain't gonna happen! There are many reasons, both physical and mental, spiritual and social. The number one reason is that there aren't any women in here.
That should cover the social. Eh!

Another reason, is that the struggle is not just about me. It's about life on earth, the struggle to survive, the onslaught of destructive technology, wealth mongering, by those who see the common man as nothing more than expendable beings to further their personal quest for power and affluence. I am here because, as a common man, along with other common men, I chose to try to stop the exploitation of my people. I know the Creator sent other common men at other times and other places and to other races to do the same. I am honored to be among common men. I know they tried to cause us to
separate from alliances by color, religion, and geographic locale but our struggle is the same. It's against people taking more than they need. In my culture it is taught that you should not take more than you need. In Christianity, Buddhism, and Zen, as well as most other spiritual teachings, it is taught that gluttony is a sin. Violation of this teaching is the reason for global warming, and the reason for world wars, including the war in Iraq at this time.

Because of people who always seek to take more than they need, my people have suffered greatly. They are the poorest of the poor yet most still cling to the original teachings. They have fought for several generations for the exploitation of our land, illegal occupation of our land, unjust treatment in the U.S. judicial system, and most of all, government lies and liars that
have led the American people to believe all this exploitation and violation of treaties is in their best interest. I watch TV from time to time, and I notice there are those who try to make the wars like a war between religions. I tell you my relatives, it is only a ruse to get young men to die for those who crave wealth and power over the common man.

If the many denominations of religions would stand together as one against the violation that jeopardizes life itself, it would make a major difference throughout the world. Today, more than any other time in history, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. I may, by now, have written more than you care to read. But, from where I sit myself, it's
the best I can do. The Defense Committee that bears my name struggles to help enlighten people of events and needs of people in jeopardy. I don't use the word struggle lightly. Aside from trying to raise money for attorneys and
office expenses, etc., we raise money for food and clothing for needy people on reservations in urban areas. In my world, the poor are common. I am honored to be one of them, to represent them from time to time, though it be from afar. We as Native People look to the Creator's greatest manifestation
for teachings, Mother Earth and her system of nature, along with personal visions, from time to time. In that, we see grass though encased in concrete, pushing its way through the cracks. We see the trees and water break down the structures of man that imprison them. We see everywhere, all life trying to follow the original instruction given by the Creator. If I were a blade of grass, I would grow out of here. If I were water, I would flow away from here. If I were a ray of light, I would bounce off these walls and be gone. However, I am not and unless I, at some future time, receive my freedom that was unjustly taken in the same manner as was the freedom of so many Native People before me. I can only leave here through my paintings, written words, and some other forms of communication that are sometimes available. I am in my 60's now. If I end up spending all my days here, and my last breath rides on the wind, and the moisture of my body flows to the sea, and the elements of my being make the grass grow and the trees flourish, make no mistake they can kill my body but they can't kill me. I am a common man.

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee will continue working on my behalf and towards my freedom unless you the supporters tell me to close down the Defense Committee. Having said all this, I wish to ask you, if you can in any way help us, meaning the Defense Committee, send any donation to :

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

3800 N. Mesa


El Paso, Texas 79902

Pease do so, it is a common cause. If my case stands as it is, no common person has real freedom. Only the illusion until you have something the oppressors want. Back to being a post hole digger.. I'd rather be a free post hole digger than Professor Leonard Peltier, PhD.

May the Creator bless you with all you need.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, who never gave up
All my relations,

Leonard Peltier

20. January 2009: The End of an Error

Please visit JohnnaRyry's Broomwagon!

06 September 2007

Luciano Pavarotti (1935 - 2007)

Today finds the Muses silent and weeping...


Obituary: Luciano Pavarotti

With a 300 pound frame and a personality as powerful as his vocal chords, Luciano Pavarotti had one of the world's finest voices, which he delighted in sharing with the masses.

Pavarotti's own life story compared with those of the most colourful operatic characters he brought to life. His great loves included food, football and family.

The son of a baker and a cigar factory worker, young Luciano was raised just outside Modena, the first boy born in the apartment block for 10 years, and thus treated like a young prince by a flock of adoring women.

His mother recognised the quality of young Luciano's singing voice and, in 1955, Pavarotti began his musical studies under the guidance of maestro Ettore Campogalliani. In 1961, he won the prestigious Achille Peri prize for singing.

International Superstar

The same year saw his professional debut in Italy, as Rodolfo in a widely praised performance of La Boheme, and soon his soaring tones could be heard in opera houses across Europe.

Pavarotti enjoyed a fortuitous introduction to British audiences in 1963 when his idol Giuseppe Di Stefano fell ill, and Pavarotti replaced him at the London Palladium.

The performance was broadcast to 15 million viewers and the young star was signed by Decca, heralding a prodigious recording career.

His La Scala debut took place in 1965, the same year he went on tour with Australian soprano Joan Sutherland. Pavarotti remained forever grateful for what he learned from her about vocal technique and breathing.

He made his debut at his beloved Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1968, and was an international superstar within five years.

For more than 40 years, Luciano Pavarotti cut a most distinctive figure in the operatic world. His rare combination of power and quality marked him out from his peers.

Three Tenors

His vast physique enabled his perfect pitch to reach the back of the opera house, but he was also capable of light, delicate phrasing.

At Covent Garden in 1966, playing Tonio in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, Pavarotti was tricked by his conductor and became the first tenor to hit all nine high C's of the first aria.

In 1990, with his fellow tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, Pavarotti took opera out of the concert hall and into the stadium when he performed at the World Cup closing ceremony in Rome. He also made Puccini's Nessun Dorma forever his own.

Pavarotti joined Domingo and Carreras again under the Eiffel Tower as part of the 1998 World Cup celebrations. This concert was televised to an estimated two billion people, a world record.

In his later years, Pavarotti's fluctuating weight contributed to poor health. He began to eschew the hard graft and variety of opera, in favour of the easy money of mass concerts.

Criminal Investigation

Increasingly poor performances and a bitter divorce robbed Pavarotti of his deity-like status in his native country.

Earning up to £100,000 for each stadium event, he had been forgiven for his rock-star indulgences.

But a career of off-stage dalliances culminated in the desertion of his wife after 35 years of marriage to live with a woman half his age. He later married Nicoletta Mantovani, and the couple had a daughter.

His first wife's divorce demands prompted a criminal investigation into the tenor's taxes and his Italian citizenship.

Pavarotti escaped conviction, but television cameras recorded his handing over a cheque for £3m to the Italian finance ministry as part of an ongoing settlement, and he was branded a traitor to Italy.

His former manager added his voice to the criticism. After 36 years at the tenor's side, Herbert Breslin parted company with Pavarotti and wrote in a book that he was tired of "being pushed around".

Charity Works

Pavarotti's generosity was recognised by others, though. His annual Pavarotti and Friends charity concert brought performers from the Spice Girls to Bono to his hometown Modena, and he created a music centre for children in Bosnia.

In 1981, he launched the Pavarotti International Voice Competition, in order that fresh talent could be heard.

In 2004, the tenor spent the best part of the year giving what he called a farewell celebration tour. It encompassed 40 concerts that took him from Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East and North and South America.

But his increasingly fragile health forced him to cancel many of these planned dates. In 2006, he was diagnosed with a malignant pancreatic tumour.

Although some opera "purists" did not regard him as one of the great tenors, Pavarotti did more than anyone to make opera accessible and fun, by sharing his huge voice and personality with huge audiences.

And his lifestyle was as flamboyant as the characters he played. Luciano Pavarotti was a true maestro for the masses.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/06 07:51:51 GMT


01 September 2007

Quote of the Day...

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion..."

--Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (b. 1935)