Archive for the ‘freedom’ Category

Roam If You Want To…

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

I found a cool map today that lets you map all the states you’ve visited. Here’s mine:

visited 26 states (52%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Like this? try: Triposo Travelhacks

As an afficianado of the Great American Roadtrip, I have been to every single one of these states in a car- all but five of them in my current beloved vehicle, Penny, my Honda Element. I love her. She has helped me see some awesome sights and have some incredible experiences including:
-Niagara Falls
-Mount Saint Helens
-Hungry Horse Dam
-putting my feet in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans plus
-visting lighthouses, lighthouses, lighthouses
-Snoqualmie Falls
-a giant Jolly Green Giant statue
-sharing space with tiny creatures in tidepools in California
-the biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
-the Troll in Seattle
-the Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park, complete with Matt Nathanson and Tom Petty
-meeting Matt Nathanson at the House of Blues in Chicago
-the Art Institute of Chicago
-meeting literally dozens of new people around the country who I knew only from the internet

I think buying Penny was quite possibly the smartest purchase I have ever made.

It seems quite possible that I own the Honda Element with the most miles on it in the entire world. I purchased her new (16 miles on the odometer) in late 2003, and I have 241K+ miles on her. Anyone have more?


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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Something classical and pretty

Here’s a little garden update from my pantry. All my plants are still indoors.

This Siberia Tomato plant was doing well until it started producing. At last count there are seven fruits on it. Now many of the leaves are dying although there is a new vine growing well from the base of the plant. I moved it to a larger pot a few days ago so hopefully that will save it. Any other ideas?
Siberia Tomato- Productive but Dying?

My Brandywine Tomato plant is doing quite nicely and is finally producing fruit. You can see three small tomatoes here.
Brandywine Tomatoes

I picked up two strawberry plants from Walmart and so far they are doing well. I still have a bunch to plant assuming they are not yet dead. They came in bags and are currently in my refrigerator. I have no idea what they look like.
My First Strawberry Plants

I have spearmint, five or six varieties of tomatoes, and several Little Finger carrots sprouting.
Spearmint and Tomatoes Sprouting
Little Finger Carrots Sprouting

My two habanero plants continue to thrive with lots of blossoms and tiny new fruits. No pictures of those yet. I also have onion bulbs and some potatoes that need to be planted. My major deficiency at the moment is that I need to plant lettuce/greens. I want to keep some of these indoors so I can have homegrown salad year-round.

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Posting from: Philipsburg, MT
Listening to: Anti-Flagg, Sold As Freedom

This article link was provided by Iloilo Marguerite Jones.

More than 130 die in central Italian earthquake

Weeks before the disaster, an Italian scientist had predicted a major quake around L’Aquila, based on concentrations of radon gas found around seismically active areas.

Seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani, who lives in L’Aquila, was reported to police for “spreading alarm” and was forced to remove his findings from the Internet.

Civil Protection assured locals at the end of March that tremors being felt were “absolutely normal” for a seismic area.

These people might have had an opportunity to evaluate the situation for themselves and get out before it was too late. But, thanks once again to government, they were lied to and are now dead. This is what happens when we trust and expect government to protect us instead of taking responsibility for making our own decisions.

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Dallas DNA

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT
Listening to: Morcheeba, Enjoy the Ride

Fine. You try to watch this trailer without getting emotional. Thank goodness I don’t have television, let alone cable.

I think it is important to keep in mind that this is not a show about restoring justice or making people who have been wronged whole again. When 26 years of a man’s life have wrongly been taken from him- or worse, the rest of his life- and the effects of that egregious miscarriage of justice have rippled out among the other people in his life, justice cannot be restored, that wrong cannot be undone, he can never be repaid. Some small restitution can be made to him, but the vast majority of the damage that has been done is truly irreparable.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Gomez (Live Performance in Austin at SXSW), courtesy of KEXP‘s Live Performance Podcast

As the electrons were drying on that last post, I was reading some new and disappointing albeit not surprising developments.

Despite Obama’s Vow, Combat Brigades Will Stay in Iraq

GARETH PORTER: Well, the evidence of this plan to continue to keep combat brigades in Iraq past the August 31st deadline is very clear from looking into the military planning that has been done with regard to the brigade combat teams, the basic combat organization of the US Army in Iraq for the past six years. So I basically began to talk to some of the people who’ve been close to the military planning, specifically in the US Army, over the past few months. And there’s no secret about this, in fact.

What’s happening is that the basic combat organization in Iraq, the brigade combat team, is going to be slightly revamped by adding a few dozen, perhaps more than that, officers who will be doing the advising and assistance directly with the Iraqi military and police, perhaps some other institutions, as well—it’s not clear—but they will be added on top of the existing brigade combat team, rather than having any fundamental change in the structure of those organizations in Iraq. So, what we have is the same combat potential, same combat organization, which will remain on the ground in Iraq.

Now, there will be some drawdown. There’s no doubt about that. But the promise that President Obama made on February 27th that all combat brigades would be withdrawn from Iraq, that simply is not true. It’s not going to happen.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In other words, we’re not dealing with a situation that most people associate with non-combat troops, like engineers or construction units that are involved in some kind of infrastructure work. These are actually combat units, just renamed.

GARETH PORTER: Well, that’s exactly right. I mean, it’s not even that there is going to be military advisers who will be out in the field, you know, with the Iraqi units, which I think everyone understood would be the case. When they decided to call these now—they’re renaming the brigade combat teams the “advisory and assistance brigades.” So, I mean, that’s the—it’s the sleight of hand administratively that is being used now to cover the fact that essentially nothing has changed except the addition of, as I say, a few—a relative handful of advisers who will be added to the structures that already exist. But it’s not just people out in the field advising. It’s going to be the same infantry units. The same infantry companies that exist today in Iraq will still be there when the United States is supposedly bringing its combat troops or its combat brigades home.

Gee, where have we seen this kind of Orwellian bullshit doubleplusgood rhetorical fertility supplement before? Maybe George W. Bush and his “enemy combatants” who he decided were not subject to the Geneva Conventions? Maybe Bill Clinton who wanted us to believe he was smart enough to be president, but not smart enough to know what “is” means or what “sexual relations” are?

This is simply insulting to the intelligence of American citizens.

And not only are we not really leaving Iraq anytime soon, Obama has also announced that there will be a troop surge in Afghanistan.

Remarks by the President on a New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

I’ve already ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops that had been requested by General McKiernan for many months. These soldiers and Marines will take the fight to the Taliban in the south and the east, and give us a greater capacity to partner with Afghan security forces and to go after insurgents along the border. This push will also help provide security in advance of the important presidential elections in Afghanistan in August.

At the same time, we will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country. That’s how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home.

For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. And those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change. The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity. And later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan security forces.

So another 4000 on top of the extra 17000 that were already authorized. And it’s not just government troops who will be surging.

Contractors surge to Afghanistan

The military buildup in Afghanistan is stoking a surge of private security contractors despite a string of deadly shootings in Iraq in recent years that has called into question the government’s ability to manage the guns for hire.

In recent online postings, the military has asked private security companies to protect traveling convoys and guard U.S. bases in troubled southern provinces such as Helmand and Kandahar. Also, if truckers hired to transport fuel for the military want protection, they can hire their own armed guards, the military says.

The Bush administration expanded the use of such companies with the onset of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because it could save the military time and money.

However, the practice lost much of its appeal with Congress after September 2007, when five guards with what was then called Blackwater Worldwide (the company recently changed its name to Xe) opened fire in a crowded Baghdad square and killed 17 Iraqis.

Those killings followed a 2006 incident in which a drunken Blackwater employee fatally shot an Iraqi politician’s bodyguard.

Now, as President Obama plans to send more U.S. personnel to Afghanistan to boost security and diplomatic efforts, more contractors are preparing to deploy, too. Still, questions remain as to how these private forces are managed, when they can use deadly force and what happens if they break the rules.

Flying Spaghetti Monster help us all. May Afghanistan, especially, be touched by His Noodly Appendage.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Laura Veirs, Ocean Night Song on Radio Paradise

Obama has now spent two months in office. Let’s take a look at how that’s paying off for pro-peace voters who helped put him in power.

First, the body counts:
620 civilian deaths in Iraq since Obama took office
Reference: Iraq Body Count, sum of min data in CSV incidents file from 20 Jan-26 Feb 2009 plus recent events 27 Feb-19 Mar 2009

30 United States forces killed in Iraq since Obama took office
Reference: DoD Confirmation list hosted by icasualties.org, confirmed deaths 22 Jan-16 Mar 2009

Again, the above numbers aren’t even necessarily up to date due to the lag in gathering and verifying data before reporting it.

What started out as a campaign promise to withdraw American troops from Iraq in sixteen months has morphed into a new plan from Obama to draw down troop levels in Iraq to 35000-50000 troops come the end of August 2010 and not complete withdrawal until the end of 2011- nearly two years after he took office.

The war dead are, of course, only a small part of the story. There are many more survivors than dead, and many of those survivors are damaged physically or mentally. For a little view of how Obama will deal with those survivors- at least those who will be returning to the United States- we need only look at his recently abandoned plan to soak private insurance companies for treatment of soldiers suffering combat-related injuries. He has no intention of doing any more to make whole those who serve under his command than the very least he can get away with.

While at least planning to draw down troop levels somewhat in Iraq, Obama is simultaneously acting to escalate conflict in Afghanistan. He has already approved deployment of an additional 12000 troops to Afghanistan by the first of July. Even more troop deployments beyond that are expected as part of a new Afghanistan strategy expected to be announced in the near future.

I have a question for those peace activists who punched their ballots for Obama. Is this the change you were voting for?

I hope some of you will consider whether the effort you put into getting the bastard of your dreams into office is really worth it. Think what good could be done by channeling the time and effort and money that goes into campaigning for these candidates who will eventually sell you out into more direct issue-oriented efforts. It’s just a pity to think of it.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Love and Rockets, Kundalini Express on WTMD

I have been living in jealousy of you fuckers in warmer areas- not because of your warm weather per se, but rather because of your warm weather’s tendency to encourage botanical growth. Screw that! I have been nursing along some tomato plants that were looking pretty sorry in the deep of winter. I wound up adding a space heater and a fluorescent light to the room they were in, and I also hacked back A LOT of dead foliage in recent weeks. It has all paid off.

Today I went to take a photo of the tiny beginnings of a tomato on one of these plants. Much to my surprise, I discovered from the photo that there are at least THREE tomatoes on this plant.

Winter Tomatoes

My goal this year is to be canning salsa made from my own tomatoes.

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