Sunday, January 27, 2008


In This Issue:



With the unrelenting cold and snowfall this month, my feeders are crowded
with some of our winter resident birds looking for a life-sustaining
handout. Among the more common birds here are house finches, the
introduced house sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, mountain and black-capped
chickadees, pine siskins and American goldfinches. Their grim situation
has afforded me an enhanced opportunity to photograph a few of them, so
I will share them with you.

Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) were a very rare occurrence where I grew up in California, and I really don’t remember seeing any until I lived part-time in west central Utah, where they were referred to by my neighbors as wild canaries.

Male American Goldfinch in Winter Suit at Nyger Thistle Feeder.

Goldfinches eat seeds from members of the sunflower family, like dandelions and ornamental sunflowers, introduced weeds, as well as seeds and buds from birch and elm (among others). They can often be found feeding in clumps of teasel in winter and will usually eat from feeders containing fresh nyger thistle seed. The bird in the photo above is beginning to lose some winter feathers where his summertime black cap is coming in (breeding plumage).

Another irregularly occurring finch, the pine siskin (Carduelis pinus,
photo below) aggressively seeks out thistle feeders in winter. Its
normal fare ranges from the seeds of weeds to those of birch, alder and
various conifers . Its narrow, pointed beak is particularly suited to
these chores. They are common in some years, and absent, or nearly so,
in others.

Pine Siskin above shows typical yellow lining of wing primary feathers.

The most common finch around Baker City feeders in winter is the house finch, Carpodacus mexicanus (below). The large powerful beak makes quick work of eating larger seeds and berries, but it is also a valuable feeder on smaller weed seeds as well.

Male House Finch (above) with typical red "forehead" and breast above brown streaked belly and flanks.

The handsome dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis, photo below), the common Oregon variety of which is named the Oregon junco, can be attracted by throwing “wild bird seed” millet mixes out on the ground or on a flat open feeder placed on a pole or attached to the house by a window. It is usually found in open woods in the spring and summer seasons. Other varieties, such as the slate-colored junco, also appear here. They normally have gray, rather than buffy, sides.

Dark-eyed “Oregon” Junco with typical black "hood," buff brown flanks and white belly.

Along with the mountain chickadee shown in the last blog, the back-capped chickadee sometimes finds its way to Baker City feeders. Like the Mountain, it is friendly/fearless to the point of foolishness, and its sprightly acrobatics and handsome suit, cheer up the most dreary winter day. It closely inspects trees and shrubs looking for insects and berries, often hanging upside down from branches, but forages for seeds as well. At feeders it likes black-oil sunflower seeds and suet.

Back-capped Chickadee (above) with typical buffy flanks, lacks the white "eyebrow" seen on the mountain chickadee.

Another bird that may be found lurking around feeders is the sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) It is our smallest Accipiter:i.e., raptors with long tails and short-wings. They are very quick and agile in their pursuit of small birds through trees and shrubs. Parents teach the young to catch birds in flight by tossing food to them in mid-air. These raptors will also catch small birds thrown to them by humans, not that anyone would do that. The bird pictured below thins out the non-native house sparrow population around my place, but they are not too picky about which small bird species they select for dinner.

Young Sharp-shinned Hawk--looking good and ever wary.

Lastly, below is a picture of our smallest falcon, the American kestrel (Falco sparverius). Falcons generally exhibit purposeful, powerful and fast flight with somewhat narrow and pointed wings. This bird used to be called sparrow hawk, but normally feeds on small rodents and larger insects like grasshoppers. They can be found with bobbing tail onpowerlines or hovering over potential prey in open areas. It nests in cavities excavated by woodpeckers or other cavity like spaces, including those found in the walls of old barns. This one was suffering the cold winds on a cloudy New Year’s Day at Ladd Marsh (2008).

American Kestrel enduring a bitter cold wind on New Year's Day.

(I had hoped to show more cacti at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,
but this blog is already too lengthy so I will do them next time.)


Between January 15th and 19th, during the siege of Gaza, Israeli State terrorists killed at least 28 Palestinians and injured about 90 more, most of whom were civilians. 115 Palestinians have been killed since world leaders gathered for Bush’s farcical Annapolis “peace talks” in November of 2007. Israel accomplished these deeds with tanks, rockets, and American supplied F-16s against un-armed or lightly armed people. This killing spree was in response to the firing of primitive and inaccurate homemade Kassam rockets at the nearby town of Siderot in Israel. From the beginning of the 2nd intifada in September 0f 2000, to the 19th of January, 2008, 10 or 12 Israelis had been killed by the firing of these rockets (figures differ). No one had been killed this year, and only 2 people had been killed in 2007.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, since the beginning of the 2nd intifada:

“3534 Palestinians Civilians have been killed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) forces in the OPT. [OPT = Palestinian Occupied Territories]

A further 928 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in armed clashes in the OPT.

11300 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Intifada.

13450 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the West Bank territory since the beginning of the Intifada.

Over 800 of the dead were children, 142 were women.

Israeli state terrorists killed 372 of these people, many of whom were innocent bystanders, while attempting extra-judicial assassinations of people they said were involved in various “crimes” of resistance to Israeli occupation. There is no right to a kangaroo court when Israel makes you a suspect in the occupied territories.

On the other hand, Palestinians have killed 705 Israeli civilians and 325 Israeli security personnel during the same time period.

Checkout Ali Abunimah on “Democracy Now” :
<”The United States is complicit. And, by the way, Amy, this is another
setback for the Bush Doctrine. The people of Gaza have been the victims
of an experiment by the Bush administration and Israel, where, first of
all, they had a democratic election [Hamas won! Chris]. The US and Israel didn’t like that
result, so they tried to overthrow Hamas using Contra-style militias
and using a starvation siege. Hamas turned the tables on them and got
rid of those militias. So they decided to tighten the siege on the
people of Gaza, and the people of Gaza decided to break out of it
themselves.”> Ali Abunimah

Palestinians surge into Egypt after knocking down Israeli built ghetto fence reminiscent of the Berlin Wall (Al Jazeera photo)

“Gazans are still subject to the control of the Israeli military which retains the ability and right to enter the Gaza Strip at will. Furthermore, Israel retains control over all of Gaza's public utilities, airspace, sea shore, and borders, including Gaza's border with Egypt. It is Israel that both sets and collects Gaza's taxes and customs [and often withholds them from the Palestinians-Chris]and controls its population registry. It controls Gaza's international relations, whether or not they can open a seaport or an airport, and continues its military activity along the GazaStrip's coastline. Taken together, these powers mean that all goods, services and people entering or leaving Gaza are subject to Israeli control.”
Quote above from: Q&A: The Occupation in Law

Gazans bring supplies back to their open-air prison from Egypt after knocking down one of Israel's border walls. ( photo)


1) True or False—The West Bank and Jerusalem are occupied by Israel, but the Gaza Strip is no longer occupied.

2) True or False—Israel’s ongoing, open-ended occupation is legal.

3) True or False—Israel’s ever-expanding settlements on occupied Palestinian land are legal.

4) True or False—The Palestinians and Hamas have the right to defend themselves and to resist Israel’s occupation and war crimes.

Since the beginning of the second Intifada in September of 2000, to the end
of 2007, Israel has killed around 3500 civilians (estimates vary),
including over 800 children. The Palestinians have killed 234 Israeli
civilians and 39 children.

5) True or False—Killing civilians and children is legal under international law.

During the same period, often using US supplied rockets and aircraft, Israel
killed 272 Palestinians during attempted extra-judicial assassination
attempts, including the wheelchair bound former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

6) True or False— Extra-judicial assassinations, aka, “targeted killings,” are legal under international law.

7) What is it called when Israel punishes the entire population of Gaza for the actions of a few resistance fighters?

8) True or False—Under the Geneva conventions, collective punishment by occupiers is illegal.

9) True or False—The U.N. Human Rights Council recently blasted Israel for the siege of Gaza.

10) How often does NPR’s Israel reporter, Linda Gradstein, offer a report on the conflict that isn’t biased in favor of Israel?

11) True or False—The population densities of the Nazi controlled Warsaw Ghetto (at its worst) and the “Beach” (Life’s a Beach!) Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip are about the same.

12) True or False—Most Americans could give a rat’s ass whether Palestinians suffer or die as a result of US and Israeli criminal behavior. Many are more concerned about the money they have to spend to drive around in their tank-like pickups than they are about the death and destruction our weapons and foreign policy spread around the globe.

Answers: 1 FALSE, 2 FALSE, 3 FALSE, 4 TRUE, 5 FALSE, 6 FALSE, 7 Collective punishment, 8 TRUE, 9 TRUE, The resolution, adopted by a vote of 30-1 in Geneva, called for "urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by the occupying power, Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territory.", 10 NEVER, she seems to be incapable of offering and objective undistorted report!, 11 TRUE, population density for both was/is around 1 person for each 130 square feet (10x13 foot rectangle). 12 TRUE Americans are brainwashed and otherwise misled by the mainstream media, their political leaders who are in the pocket of the Israel Lobby, their religious leaders who are enthralled by fantasies and the holocaust industry, and by a politicized educational system. Many have been led to believe that their most noble roles are to consume as much as possible, be otherwise entertained, believe in and pray to an invisible friend, and blame the victims.

For discussion of questions 1-6, see: Q&A: The Occupation in Law

Our current financial crisis, a follow-up act to the savings and loan
scandal and the technology bubble-bust, has been brewing since the late
90’s, and became inevitable during the reign of King George W. Its
roots have been nourished by the deregulation dogma begun in the Carter
administration and made a holy writ during the union busting regime of
master salesman and heartless bully, Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton, the
face of the Democratic Leadership Council, along with his financial
advisor and Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs,Citigroup,
etc.), all but turned over the economic reigns to Wall Street, while
loosening conflict of interest regulations that had helped to keep the
financial scampsters on a long leash. War criminal George W. Bush
ignored the housing bubble while increasing the national debt by over
$3.5 TRILLION, or 62%, in 7 years. The 2006 trade deficit was double
that of 2000, the year Bush stole the Presidential election, and during
his time in office, over 3 million good manufacturing jobs have gone
overseas. Under G.W., energy prices have skyrocketed, credit card debt
has increased by almost half, total household debt, credit card and
mortgage, as a percent of the market value of total household assets is
at a new high, foreign-held debt has doubled, while the dollar is in
steep decline. The popping of the housing bubble, during which Wall
Street banker/traders made millions selling bad loans, and the ensuing
credit crunch, has left us in an ever-deepening financial crisis which
could lead to a variety of the “stagflation” we experienced in the
‘70s, if not a 21st century version of a depression. Bush and Congress
have concocted an inadequate and poorly targeted stimulus package that
will likely prove to be more politics, psychology and style than the
effective long-term reform necessary for rescuing the economy. There
are few politicians left in Congress who possess the sense of fairness,
compassion, intelligence and courage needed to reign in the bankers and
traders on Wall Street with new regulations.

Here are some interesting articles concerning the financial upheaval:

“Is This the Big One”
From Information Clearing House

Even the far-right Op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal conceded Greenspan's culpability in Saturday's edition…..

The Wall Street Journal admits that a new “structured debt” market was created to package dubious subprime liabilities (from “no doc”, no collateral, “bad credit” loan applicants) and sell them to hedge funds, insurance companies and foreign banks as if they were precious jewels. TheWSJ avers that this is the way that “smart people” “exploit” the opportunities from lavish “capital flows”.

But was it “smart” or criminal?

Fortunately, that question was answered this week in an extraordinary outburst on cable TV by market-insider and equities guru, JimCramer. In Cramer's latest explosion, he details his own involvement in creating and selling “structured products” which had never been stress-tested in a slumping market. No one knew how badly they would perform. Cramer admits that the motivation behind peddling this junk to gullible investors was simply greed. Here's his statement
Cramer Rages on Banks: 'Where's the SEC?!'
<”(We used to say) “The commissions on structured products are so huge let's JAM IT.” (note “jam it” means foist it on the customer) It's all about the 'commish'. The commission on structured product is GIGANTIC. I could make a fortune 'JAMMING THAT CRUMMY PAPER' but I had a degree of conscience---what a shocker!--We used to regulate people but they decided during the Reagan revolution that that was bad. So we don't regulate anyone anymore. But listen the commission in structured product is so gigantic. (pause) First of all the customer has no idea what the product really is because it is invented. Second, you assume the customer is really stupid; like we used to say about the German bankers, 'The German banks are just Bozos. Throw them anything.' Or the Australians 'M O R O N S' Or the Florida Fund (ha ha ) “They're so stupid let's give them Triple B (junk grade) Then we'd just laugh and laugh at the customers and Jam them with the commission...That's what happened; that's what happened....Remember, this is about commissions, about how much money you can make by jamming stupid customers. I've seen it all my life; you jam stupid customers.”
See the whole damning confession on

Trillions of dollars in structured investments (CDOs, MBSs, an ASCP) have now clogged up the global economic system and are dragging the world headlong into recession/depression. Cramer's confession is a candid admission of criminal intent to defraud the public by selling products which people--within the financial industry---KNEW were falsely represented by their ratings. They sold them simply to fatten their own paychecks and because there is no longer any regulatory agency within the US government that curtails ilicit activity.”
Economics Journalist Robert Kuttner on the “Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression”: “This is the Result of Rightwing Ideology and the Political Power of Wall Street

Amy Goodman: The solutions now—the Fed interest-rate cut, the stimulus package—is this enough, Robert Kuttner?
ROBERT KUTTNER: No, it’s not the beginning of enough. And I think the place to start is to recognize why this recession is different from all other recessions. This began and is continuing with a collapse in credit markets, and the collapse in credit markets is, in turn, the result of deregulation gone nuts. And it’s a repeat of a lot of things that happened in the 1920s, where there was too much speculation with too much borrowed money and a complete lack of transparency. The regulators, the public had no idea of what these bonds that had been created out of subprime mortgages really contained, what they were worth. The people who packaged them were not subject to any kind of regulatory scrutiny.
. . . .
This did not just happen. This was not an accident. This was the agenda of business, particularly Wall Street, going back thirty years. And if you look at the history of this, the Great Depression discredited free-market ideology, because it was such a colossal practical failure. Nobody in the 1930s could argue with a straight face that free markets worked.

And so, we had a whole mixed economy, a regulatory structure invented during the New Deal, that really lasted thirty or forty years. By the ’70s, for a variety of reasons, big business had recovered a lot of the political power that it had lost in the Depression. And both parties, beginning with Carter, continuing with Clinton, became enablers of the kind of deregulation that finally has come home to roost in this crisis. So now we’re learning, painfully, for a second time a lesson that we never should have had to learn twice, that markets don’t regulate themselves. Markets, left to their own devices, create grotesque inequality, ruin the environment and ruin the economy. And we’re seeing that unfold.
. . . .
. . . they need to hang this around the necks, not just of the Republican Party, not just around George W. Bush, but around the whole conservative ideology, because this economic mess is the gift that’s going to keep on giving, unfortunately, for years to come, of rightwing ideology put into practice in its most extreme form since Reagan. And that message, I think, has to keep getting out. This did not come out of thin air. This was not like a comet striking the earth. This was the result of rightwing ideology and the political power of Wall Street taking over the economy

Robert Reich | Darker Days Ahead?
<According to Robert Reich in Newsweek,
"Think the last few days have been bad for Wall Street and the rest of the world's markets? Hang on, things are probably going to get worse, says Robert Reich, President Clinton's former secretary of Labor and author of the recent book 'Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life.' According to Reich, who currently teaches public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, the United States might even be headed toward a depression.

Hard Times A-Coming

Neither Supply-Side Theory Nor Keynesian Remedies Can Save Us Now

Also, from a new film, "Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony," aka ("this is the way empires end”)
or view it at:
America – A Bankrupt Empire


January 23, 2008
U.S. War Costs In Iraq Up: Report
(Reuters) - . . . . "Funding for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities in the war on terrorism expanded significantly in 2007," the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released on Wednesday. War funding, which averaged about $93 billion a year from 2003 through 2005, rose to $120
billion in 2006 and $171 billion in 2007 and President George W. Bush has asked for $193 billion in 2008, the nonpartisan office wrote. . . . . Since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Congress has written checks for $691 billion to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and such related activities as Iraq reconstruction, the CBO said.


From ICH:
Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq 1,168,058
Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America'sWar On Iraq 3,932

Documenting How the Busies Lied the Country into War
The Center for Public Integrity web site documenting the lies that the Bush administration used to destroy so many lives:

NY Times article on CPI's "False Pretenses" site:


Well, the media finally mentioned Kucinich the other day—when he dropped out of the “race” for president. Due to lack of media attention, many people didn’t even know he was running. Part of the solution is public financing for election campaigns, instant runoff voting, and reform of the primary system with something like regional primaries. We don't need the media and a small fraction of the American electorate telling us who will appear on the final ballot.

Wildflowers will be in next blog.

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