A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Just in case you're in danger of being misled

Despair stalks Baghdad as plan falters
By Andrew North
BBC News, Baghdad

Trying to get into the centre of Baghdad earlier this week offered one view of how far away the Americans and Iraqi authorities are from gaining control here.
We were at the airport. Just before we were due to leave, the entrance car park was hit by a car bomb.

US troops and private security forces who guard the perimeter locked the whole area down for the next four hours. No traffic was allowed in or out.

While we waited with scores of other vehicles, mortars were fired at the airport. Fortunately for us they landed on the other side of the runway, plumes of smoke shooting into the air.

You won't have heard about any of this because at the same time a series of other far more serious attacks was taking place.

One was at the Sadriya market in the city centre, where a massive car bomb killed more than 140 people.

The Sunni extremist surge seems to be having more effect than the American one

It was placed at the entrance to a set of barriers put up around another part of the market where a previous single bomb, in February, claimed more than 130 lives.
The market blast "did not penetrate the emplaced barriers" a later US military press release helpfully pointed out, ignoring the fact that the bombers had yet again adapted their tactics with vicious perfection - setting off their device at the point where crowds congregated outside and at the very moment when they were busiest.

Bombers 'organised'

As we drove into the city, we counted six blast holes left by recent roadside bombs along just one 100-metre stretch of road.

A large patch of damaged, blackened Tarmac on a bridge spoke of another attempt to destroy a key crossing.

The Sunni extremists held to be responsible for these attacks seem to be making a mockery of the US and Iraqi security plan, which is now into its third month.
So far, their surge seems to be having more effect than the American one.

Last month alone there were more than 100 car bombings, and the number of attacks has continued at a similar rate so far this month. This indicates a high level of organisation.

This despite the fact that there are many extra US and Iraqi troops in the city now. There are more raids and patrols.

On our drive into the city, we encountered several Iraqi army checkpoints. But almost every vehicle - including ours - was being waved through.

Many new checkpoints have been set up across Baghdad.

But what is their purpose, many Iraqis ask, when they seem to stop so few people?

It is not always encouraging when they do - a couple of times we have been pulled over by Iraqi soldiers who ask us if we have any bullets to give them.

Optimism fading

Just a month ago there was a cautious - very cautious, but still real - sense of optimism among many Baghdadis that the plan was starting to work.

The daily count of bodies found around the city - mostly Sunni victims of targeted sectarian killings - had dropped off significantly.

The Shia militia of Moqtada Sadr, which was blamed for most of these murders, was largely obeying orders to put away its weapons and co-operate with the security plan.

But there is a deadly and familiar equation here.
With official security forces apparently unable to protect Shia communities, pressure is growing on the militias to do so again.

And there are signs their death squads have returned to work. The body count is creeping up again. Twenty were found yesterday.

Dealing with the car bomb is "our top priority", says US military spokesman Lt Col Chris Garver.

But as ever it is a game of cat and mouse, played with insurgents who are "very adaptive", and very well-funded.

A man arrested by US soldiers after placing a truck bomb which failed to go off told interrogators he had been paid $30,000 (£15,000) for the task.

Lt Col Garver says the US believes it is up against several "car bombing networks".

"If there was just one, we might be able to pull the string and unravel it," he says.

People still have to be patient, he warns, adding a note of optimism.

"We are still not fully staffed," he says - there are another two months to go until all the extra US troops are in Baghdad.


But there is frustration too among the Americans at the Iraqi government's lack of progress on reconciliation - ultimately the only solution to the conflict, most believe.

Key issues include the need to implement a new law on sharing oil revenues, an amnesty programme and limiting the scope of the de-Baathification process. All of these are crucial to winning over Sunnis.

The idea was that the security drive in Baghdad would create "space" for such efforts to get going. But although new laws have been drafted they are a long way from being approved.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates stepped up the pressure over these issues on his visit to Baghdad. In the meantime, the young men and women sent out here to implement President Bush's plan are paying a heavy price.

An average of 80-90 Americans die each month. And US personnel have just had their tours extended by another three months.

But, as it has always been since the 2003 invasion, it is the Iraqis who suffer most.

No-one knows the exact figures, but at the end of another week of unspeakable, random carnage, hundreds more Iraqi families are grieving.

Exhaustion and despair hang over the country.

And there are no signs of change.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/04/20 12:51:58 GMT

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BQ in NY

Brady Quinn is being interviewed by the drive home show guys in New York. You have to get thru the blah-bah-blah to see the completion. He's cool under presssure.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring Game

I'm copying Mike's post from The Blue Grey Sky Blogspot because he says it pretty well.

The unique part of our day came after we left campus (after hiking around several le miles and the obligatory trip to the book store) and stopped at Elia's Mediterrenean Restaurant for dinner. Jason ordered grape leaves wrapped around a vegetarian mixture. Had one bite and backed away from his plate. The poor guy tried to make a meal of humus spread on pita bread, which he wasn't really enjoying. Luckily our hostess brought over a plate of baclava before we left and Jason finally got to chow down.

I went to South Bend... | by Mike

...and all I got was this hellacious sunburn.

Actually, that's not all I got, but I don't think I saw enough to draw any real substantive conclusions regarding the 2007 edition of the Fighting Irish. It was enjoyable to see Junior Jabbie garner offensive MVP honors following his 87 rushing yards on 13 carries, and we certainly hope Jabbie has a great season. However, Charles Stafford and Chris Olsen have demonstrated that a strong spring game performance does not necessarily portend fall stardom.

Given my limited expectations from a football standpoint, I was drawn to a weekend in the Bend by the surrounding revelry - and in these respects I was not let down. The weather was as good as it gets in South Bend. The cloudless sky, mid-70s temperature, and slight breeze combined to produce perfect tailgating weather. After a long winter, it was nice to be reminded of the simple joy of simultaneously soaking up sun and spirits.

As the morning passed, it became apparent that we could expect a Blue & Gold attendance record. The rapidly filling tailgating lots were a testament to the considerable buzz generated by the wide open QB race, the unveiling of Corwin Brown's new defense, and the return of the legendary Ara and Lou. Yet even after witnessing the multitudes outside, the number of people inside the stadium still surprised me. For starters, it was hard just finding an accessible section. At section entrance after section entrance, the ushers turned our merry band of late-arriving tailgaters away, telling us their section was full. When we finally reached the stands, I was amazed at how many people were in the upper level. This was due in part to the decision to close off some of the sections in the tunnel endzone, but the crowd still dwarfed any I had seen at a Blue & Gold game.

The announced attendance was indeed a Blue & Gold record: 51,800. I was actually expecting a slightly higher figure and would be interested to know how the students were counted, since they simply had to flash their IDs. While this figure is significantly below the totals at the Alabama and Ohio State spring games, the Notre Dame fanbase is far less provincial than that of schools whose student body is overwhelmingly composed of in-state residents. In light of the geographic dispersion of ND Nation, getting almost 52,000 to travel to a game designed to reveal little of substance speaks volumes about the excitement surrounding Irish football these days.

The real stars of the game were Ara and Lou. I was talking to my father before the game, and he was pretty fired up about Ara's return. When I found out that yesterday's game was Ara's first time through the tunnel since my father was a student, I once again thanked Charlie Weis for his efforts to bring the family together. Holtz really seemed to enjoy the game, and when a yelling Holtz ran out on the field at one point, the crowd responded with an enthusiastic "Louuuuuuu!"

I hope the experience made quite an impression on the visiting recruits, and the early returns indicate that this is the case.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oh, Cisco

Did I mention that Saturday night at Noah and Lauren's we had kind of a mini wine-tasting party? The Riesling was the big winner - the girls were unanimous, and Noah pretty much agreed. I never got around to opening my selection (Beujolais). Got me thinking about a fun wine to sneak into the Blue-Gold game on Saturday, and I think I found it.

Here's the rosters for Saturday. Looks like the Blue team has a lot of starters on offense, and the gold tean has a lot of starters on defense. Does that mean Demetrius Jones and Jimmy Clausen are ahead in the quarterback derby? I don't have a clue. One fun thing is that Ara and Lou will both be on hand as honorary coaches.

Blue Team Roster

2-Darrin Walls, DC;
3-Demetrius Jones, QB;
5-Armando Allen, HB;
6-Ray Herring, DS;
7-Jimmy Clausen, QB;
8-Raeshon McNeil, DC;
11-David Grimes, WR;
17-Geoff Price, P;
19-George West, WR;
23-William David Williams, DC;
24-Brandon Erickson, WR;
25-Munir Prince, DC;
26-Travis Thomas, HB;
28-Kyle McCarthy, DS;
29-Jashaad Gaines, DS;
31-Sergio Brown, DS;
32-Luke Schmidt, FB;
33-Nate Whitaker, K;
36-Dex Cure, FB;
36-Alex Lough, ILB;
38-Nick Possley, WR;
41-Nikolas Rodriguez, HB;
42-David Costanzo, WR;
43-Mike Anello, DC;
46-Michael Planalp, TE;
48-Steve Quinn, ILB;
52-Joe Brockington, ILB;
53-Morrice Richardson, OLB;
54-Anthony Vernaglia-OLB;
61-J.J. Jansen, LS;
69-Neil Kennedy, NT;
82-Robby Parris, WR;
86-Michael Talerico, TE;
89-John Carlson, TE;
92-Derrell Hand, NT;
93-Paddy Mullen, DE;
94-Justin Brown, DE;
97-Kallen Wade, DE

Blue Team Coaches

Honorary Head Coach: Ara Parseghian
Offense: Michael Haywood, Ron Powlus, Shane Waldron
Defense: Bill Lewis, Jappy Oliver, Patrick Graham
Honorary Assistant Coaches: Brian Boulac, Joe Yonto
Honorary Captain: Ross Browner

Gold Team Roster

1-D.J. Hord, WR;
4-Gary Gray, DC;
9-Tom Zbikowski, DS;
12-Zach Frazer, QB;
13-Evan Sharpley, QB;
15-Leo Ferrine, DC;
16-Justin Gillet, QB;
20-Terrail Lambert, DC;
21-Barry Gallup, WR;
22-Ambrose Wooden, DC;
24-Leonard Gordon, DS;
27-David Bruton, DS;
29-Jake Richardville, WR;
34-James Aldridge, HB;
35-Kevin Smith, ILB;
35-Joe Bizjak, K;
37-Junior Jabbie, HB;
38-Wade Iams, DC;
39-Ryan Burkhart, K;
39-Kevin Brooks, TE;
40-Maurice Crum, ILB;
41-Scott Smith, ILB;
42-Kevin Washington, OLB;
43-Eric Maust, P;
44-Asaph Schwapp, FB;
45-John Leonis, DB;
45-Kris Patterson, WR;
47-Mike Narvaez, FB;
49-Toryan Smith, ILB;
57-Dwight Stephenson, Jr., DE;
59-Chris Stewart, NT;
80-Richard Jackson, WR;
84-Will Yeatman, TE;
85-Sam Vos, WR;
88-Konrad Reuland, TE;
90-John Ryan, OLB;
91-Xavier Burton, P;
96-Patrick Kuntz, NT;
98-Trevor Laws, DE

Gold Team Coaches

Honorary Head Coach: Lou Holtz
Offense: Rob Ianello, Bernie Parmalee, Kevin Loney
Defense: Corwin Brown, Brian Polian, LeRoy Knight
Honorary Assistant Coaches: Foge Fazio, Tony Yelovich
Honorary Captain: Tony Rice

Green Team Roster (can play on both teams)

51-Dan Wenger, OG/OC;
55-Eric Olsen, OG;
63-Jeff Tisak, OT;
67-Thomas Bemenderfer, OC/OG;
71-Bartley Webb, OT;
72-Paul Duncan, OT;
73-Matt Carufel, OG;
74-Sam Young, OT;
77-Mike Turkovich, OG;
78-John Sullivan, OC

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Catching Up

Janett and the kids and I have fallen blog silent this week. I don't know why. We have such interesting lives and thoughts to share. Janett and the kids might have wandered off to my space or u tube or somewhere. I don't do that stuff, but I have been e-mailing a little.

Janett and I went to see Lauren and Noah's house in Champagne this week end. A flipped Cape Cod on a quiet street off a busy street. Perfect. Lauren's dad is a handy guy and finished up on a few rough edges the seller didn't take care of, but it appears the house will be trouble free. The kitchen is the biggest room downstairs and the entire second floor is a family/play room. A fun house, perfect for visiting.

I guess not having posted in the last week, I didn't mention Easter. Services at Willow were excellent. Bill Hybels is the real deal, a genuine disciple. He is moving that church in so many directions at once, I know the demands must be strenuous. I'm sure the elders encourage and assist him to delegate as much as possible, but he's the one with the burning vision. How do you delegate that? The best the visionary can do is inspire and he sure does that.

Then we had brunch at Steffy and Mark's. Janett missed church to cook, and the chow was great. Kimmy and Ross were there lending a certain elegance to the festivities. Stephy and Mark just barely finished redecorating the kitchen in time for the party, and it looked really nice. Jason and Dee were there. Dee was so cute, she's on one of those diets that allow you to eat one thing but not another, so she had to pick and choose. Mark's mom was in town but left right after brunch. Janett tells me she (Donna) has had some worrisome news about her health - as did Lauren's mom in the past week. We'll keep everyone in our prayers.

The Blue Gold game comes up at ND next week. We'll talk about that next time.

Friday, April 06, 2007

That playlist is fun

I thought I'd add a little authentic American music so I found Wildwood Flower by Maybelle Carter and the Carter Family. That's about as authentic as you can get. But right there, the next selection, was the version done by Reese Witherspoon for the Johny Cash movie. Her performance was so true I downloaded her version instead. She's so cute.


Pierre Joseph Proudhon said provocative things like "Anarchy is Order" and "Property is Theft". From earlier anarchists he inherited the sense that government was a devise used by the wealthy to preserve their rights of ownership in a post feudal society. In this context government would be a hindrance not an aid in the pursuit of justice. In a sense government, while posing as an arbiter of justice was another class of exploiters. Better to have no government than the corrupt enforcers of the privilege of property. (Anarchism) He perceived that labor and owners would always struggle over how to allocate the benefits of production, and he knew the only way labor could obtain enough of the proceeds to live anything better than a life of meager sustenance was to organize into unions (syndicalism) to confront the owners by withholding their labor. (In Proudhon's time of the mid nineteenth century he observed this to be true for agrarian workers as well as factory workers). Proudhon's student Georges Sorel, coined the phrase "direct action" emphasizing that the confrontation must be between the owner and the workers, not between political representatives (which would have been indirect action.)

The capitalists of today don't want or need the American worker in their factories. They'd prefer to move their plants half way around the world and employ coolie labor. For the relatively few jobs left to be done in America they need to import illegal aliens who are desperate enough to work for less than half of what an American worker would require. The American worker has lost his leverage in this environment, and that wasn't an accident.

Meanwhile, the bourgeoisie today, as they did in Proudhon's time, scoff at the idea that committees of workers could handle the complex tasks of government. They insist it's better to entrust those duties to a class of professional politicians. They insist on believing their interests are best served by Bush and Clinton rather than an earnest principled advocate like Dennis Kucinich.

Surely, it seems impossible to even imagine how the workers can reestablish their power to influence their own conditions. But when the thieves and exploiters have twisted and corrupted the economic order until it collapses in a heap, the workers won't have a choice but to make that determination

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

No new message but

how do you like the new layout? and the music? Janett helped me.