Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Bird, A Snake and A Bat

Just getting home for the day, parked the car all secure for the night, I walk my big flat rock side walk to the porch steps to find a baby bird dead on the steps. I assume the cats left a gift, but the cats seem uninterested with such a tiny snack. Still day light I head out for the garden to inspect any new growth wanted and unwanted. With a skittish visitor warming himself on the hot soil and rocks, looking for frogs and birds that eat the bugs he laid out all his five feet straight between the rows of Kentucky Wonder Bush Beans exposing two large bulges most certainly a few frogs and maybe a bird. I have five nesting song birds in my yard, and a thrush family in a storage building. Baby starlings became a meal for sneaky snake in the spring, although I never could figure out how he got to the roof unless it was up the TV antenna to the roof vents to get the birds. But I found him one day leaving in an away direction from the house, his excreta of feathers, the chirping and scuttle noise above my bedroom had silenced. Black Snakes are good snakes to have around but tend to get the less pestive of the creatures that live near and around your house when there is a lack of true pest like rats and mice. I inspect the peppers, tomatoes do some weeding around my spinach that the heat has hindered and take another look at sneaky snake and wished him a good night with a tip on his tail he turns to grumpily say "let me be", I oblige.

Back to the house to the front door with noise with fret from the nesting sparrows in the pine above the porch and sidewalk, I scan for what the trouble might be. And there below my feet a tiny live baby bird and near him his nest lay on the ground, his parents frantic above very close I could reach out to touch them. I have a bird house hanging off the limbs of the tree, so I gather what is left of the bird nest after Tigger wollered it while he bird watched the baby and parents in *grief over the disaster*. Other types of birds must have raided the nest it was near the top and none of my cats are willing to climb such heights to reach a mean when one is readily always available. Cats are lazy that way, expending energy is expensive and conservative is the cat. Fixing the bird house to the rose trellis and comforting it with cat smelly nest is risky, but it worked. The baby sparrow has a safe secure house, it's parents still feeding it this morning obscures any warnings of touching birds or the nest as it would surely spell doom for the babies. Wondering if timing, single survivor left these birds with a choice to feed and hang on to what is left or abandon, for what reason don't matter they inspire to carry on and do not give up no matter how bad things get or how many wolves are at your door waiting for you to fall. I also wonder about the effects of pollution on the birds senses, disabling them to be proper parents.

Later a visit from my brother we retired to the wood shop for after dinner coffee and our regular brain teaser conversations about my latest wood projects, cars, tools and NASCAR . While I have a wood shop, I dream of a metal fab shop to build things like the tracking system below in the observatory links for my telescope, and other reasons like a fuel distillery. We sat without the over head lights on, two bay doors open to bring in the cool air of dusk with only the workbench over head light on. It draws fewer moths, bees and other bugs inside. But a bat had chased a moth inside, we were unaware of his presents because of his stealthy silence. But a brush near my face a blur, and a flicker of light that he reflected exposed his presents. The bat swoops up from the floor in front of me, before him swooped the moth, and just above my head my brother says "he got it". We turn the overhead lights on, just in time to witness a glimpse of a satisfied bat evacuating through the open doors.

The company of critters that co-exist in seemly peace in one acre of land, tolerant of each other, respectful even at times. Vocal even any time a complaint is to be aired by sparrows, thrush, mocking bird when cats and snakes are too near allows them a sense of freedom. Taking my mind off Parkinson mangled bodies, the last fight of a dying young woman that gave into cancer, trying minds and hearts while the soul cringes with the pain seeing such suffrage that clean air, clean waters and environments that could have supported good health. I still believe, that truth will prevail and science will teach us how. Consumerism like profanely exaggerated by industry no where as much as NASCAR, will subside into a just world. There will be some day clean waters, clean air and healthy environments for all life on earth. IF we learn how too, and how else can we learn unless someone is free to teach. The science is the easy part, getting everyone to give to change is the hard part. After all, it seems everyone works so hard to achieve a goal of having a nice car (order of importance), good fast food, and entertainment (TV) ect.... leaves little chances of good healthy lives considering what the environment endures to achieve this. What sickens me is our government's foul plays hinders such goals. Bullheaded this way, I am neva giving up on the truth. Betty Williams is a name to search today, anger lends to hate a life to live, let reside where it was born and resolve the anger with love instead, please. But search anyway you can find, tis inspiring.

The failure to stop the bloodletting in the Middle East, Exxon's record second-quarter profits and Iran's nuclear cat-and-mouse game have something in common -- it's the oil.
By Greg PalastJuly 26, 2006

I can't tell you how it started -- this is a war that's been fought since the Levites clashed with the Philistines -- but I can tell you why the current mayhem has not been stopped. It's the oil.
I'm not an expert on Palestine nor Lebanon and I'd rather not pretend to be one. If you want to know what's going on, read Robert Fisk. He lives there. He speaks Arabic. Stay away from pundits whose only connection to the Middle East is the local falafel stand.

So why am I writing now? The answer is that, while I don't speak Arabic or Hebrew, I am completely fluent in the language of petroleum.

What? You don't need a degree in geology to know there's no oil in Israel, Palestine or Lebanon. (A few weeks ago, I was joking around with Afif Safieh, the Palestinian Authority's Ambassador to the US, asking him why he was fighting to have a piece of the only place in the Middle East without oil. Well, there's no joking now.)

Let's begin with the facts we can agree on: the berserkers are winning. Crazies discredited only a month ago are now in charge, guys with guns bigger than brains and souls smaller still. Here's a list:
-- Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's approval rating in June was down to a Bush-level of 35%.

But today, Olmert's poll numbers among Israeli voters have more than doubled to 78% as he does his bloody John Wayne "cleanin' out the varmints" routine. But let's not forget: Olmert can't pee-pee without George Bush's approval. Bush can stop Olmert tomorrow. He hasn't.
-- Hezbollah, a political party rejected overwhelmingly by Lebanese voters sickened by their support of Syrian occupation, holds a mere 14 seats out of 128 in the nation's parliament.

Hezbollah was facing demands by both Lebanon's non-Shia majority and the United Nations to lay down arms. Now, few Lebanese would suggest taking away their rockets. But let's not forget: Without Iran, Hezbollah is just a fundamentalist street gang. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can stop Hezbollah's rockets tomorrow. He hasn't.

-- Hamas, just days before it kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers, was facing certain political defeat at the hands of the Palestinian majority ready to accept the existence of Israel as proposed in a manifesto for peace talks penned by influential Palestinian prisoners. Now the Hamas rocket brigade is back in charge. But let's not forget: Hamas is broke and a joke without the loot and authority of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah can stop these guys tomorrow. He hasn't.

Why not? Why haven't what we laughably call "leaders" of the USA, Iran and Saudi Arabia called back their delinquent spawn, cut off their allowances and grounded them for six months?

Maybe because mayhem and murder in the Middle East are very, very profitable to the sponsors of these characters with bombs and rockets. America, Iran and Saudi Arabia share one thing in common: they are run by oil regimes. The higher the price of crude, the higher the profits and the happier the presidents and princelings of these petroleum republics.

This Thursday, Exxon is expected to report the highest second-quarter earnings of any corporation since the days of the Pharaoh, $9.9 billion in pure profit collected in just three months -- courtesy of an oil shortage caused by pipelines on fire in Iraq, warlord attacks in Nigeria, the lingering effects of the sabotage of Venezuela's oil system by a 2002 strike... the list could go on.

Exxon's brobdingnagian profits simply reflect the cold axiom that oil companies and oil states don't make their loot by finding oil but by finding trouble. Finding oil increases supply. Increased supply means decreased price. Whereas finding trouble -- wars, coup d'etats, hurricanes, whatever can disrupt supply -- raises the price of oil.

A couple of examples from today's Bloomberg newswire are:
"Crude oil traded above $75 a barrel in New York as fighting between Israeli and Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces in Lebanon entered its 14th day... Oil prices rose last month on concern for supplies from Iran, the world's fourth largest producer, may be disrupted in its dispute with the United Nations over its uranium enrichment ... [And, said a trader,] 'I still think $85 is likely this summer. I'm really surprised we haven't seen any hurricanes.'''

In Tehran, President Ahmadinejad may or may not have a plan to make a nuclear bomb, but he sure as heck knows that hinting at it raises the price of the one thing he certainly does have -- oil. Every time he barks, 'Mad Mahmoud' knows that he's pumping up the price of crude. Just a $10 a barrel "blow-up-in-the-Mideast" premium brings his regime nearly a quarter of a billion dollars each week (including the little kick to the value of Iran's natural gas). Not a bad pay-off for making a bit of trouble.

Saudi Arabia's rake-in from The Troubles? Assuming just a $10 a barrel boost for Middle Eastern mayhem and you can calculate that the blood in the sand puts an extra $658 million a week in Abdullah's hand.

And in Houston, you can hear the cash registers jing-a-ling as explosions in Kirkuk, Beirut and the Niger River Delta sound like the sleigh-bells on Santa's sled. At $75.05 a barrel, they don't call it "sweet" crude for nothing. That's up 27% from a year ago. The big difference between then and now: the rockets' red glare.

Exxon's second-quarter profits may bust records, but next quarter's should put it to shame, as the "Lebanon premium" and Iraq's insurgency have puffed up prices, up by an average of 11% in the last three months.

So there's not much incentive for the guys who supply the weaponry to tell their wards to put away their murderous toys. This war's just too darn profitable.

We are trained to think of Middle Eastern conflicts as just modern flare-ups of ancient tribal animosities. But to uncover why the flames won't die, the usual rule applies: follow the money.

Am I saying that Tehran, Riyadh and Houston oil chieftains conspired to ignite a war to boost their petroleum profits? I can't imagine it. But I do wonder if Bush would let Olmert have an extra week of bombings, or if the potentates of the Persian Gulf would allow Hamas and Hezbollah to continue their deadly fireworks if it caused the price of crude to crash. You know and I know that if this war took a bite out of Exxon or the House of Saud, a ceasefire would be imposed quicker than you can say, "Let's drill in the Arctic."

Eventually, there will be another ceasefire. But Exxon shareholders need not worry. Global warming has heated the seas sufficiently to make certain that they can look forward to a hellacious -- and profitable -- season of hurricanes.
Greg Palast is the author of the just-released New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Go to

Have Good Day wishing these reads were not necessarily needed but hey the truth is just that, the truth.

New Orleans and Lebanon

Last Friday, July 21, in downtown New Orleans more than a hundred demonstrators from a wide range of organizations protested US diplomatic and financial support for the Israeli siege of Lebanon and Gaza. The demonstration linked local issues with the current horrors in the Middle East. "Gaza, New Orleans and Lebanon, People die while Bush looks on," was one of the chants.

Link to some of the radio coverage of the demonstration:

Hear Left Turn Magazine founding editor Bilal El-Amine reporting from Southern Lebanon at:

More news from Lebanon and Palestine at:

See more information about New Orleans Palestine Solidarity, including a new short film by Roxane Assaf about the Arab community in New Orleans at

Check out the newest Palestinian hiphop from New Orleans at


Willful Blindness

By Marjorie Cohn

submitted to portside July 24 by the author

Something in Tennessee that effects the entire nation, Frisking Frist over HCA.

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