Sunday, March 18, 2007


Sagebrush Buttercups

I’m giving many heart-felt thanks that the spring equinox arrives on Tuesday March 20th, at 5:07 PM. You may have noticed the sagebrush buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus var. glaberrimus) blooming this week if you’ve taken the time for a stroll in the countryside. They were blooming early in the week around Salt Creek north of highway 203 and later in the week along Elk Creek Road west of Bowen Valley. Healthy looking herds of pronghorn antelope can also be found in both areas. Grass widows (Sisyrinchium douglasii) are said to be blooming in Union County and Allium tolmei, with its white or pink flowers, will be blooming soon as well.

Sisyrinchium douglasii

Allium tolmei

Other signs of life are springing forth in back yards around Baker City. Crocus is blooming here along with the violets, and the tulips won’t be far behind. The 'Tricolor' variety of crocus is a selected clone of a subspecies of a snow crocus Crocus sieberi sublimis, native to mountains of the Peleponnese. Very cold hardy, it is suitable down to zone 3.

Crocus sieberi sublimes


On the bird front, the few sage grouse that have survived the human expropriation and/or ruination of their sagebrush habitat will begin their annual booming and strutting sessions about now.
Sage Grouse

From up in the mountains south of Phillips Reservoir, Jim Lawrence reports that “The birds here are getting really fired up, in the last week many elevational migrants have shown up: White-headed woodpeckers, juncos, solitaires, western bluebirds, Cassins finch were all noticeable. Yesterday I had my first saw-whet owl, and today woke to the sound of 2 male redwing blackbirds and a varied thrush. Pretty exciting stuff!”

Again, we should all be so lucky.

Joanne Britton sends along the following: “Cheyleen Davis reports sandhill cranes at Phillips Lake and mountain bluebirds. Jim Lawrence and I saw three sandhills circling high--found them by sound. We also saw tree swallows, horned larks darting around and sitting on fence posts--a great day for birding. Maybe the best sighting for me was a large flock of white-fronted geese at the Nazarene parking lot (sorry, Wanda R., they flew as we left).

Jim is willing to go on field trips with interested people to help identify birds and work with listening and IDing by sound. Does anyone want to join us? This will depend on his availability, but April, May, and June are good months. Please pass the word to those not on the list. I'd like to hear back from you.” (You can e-mail me your interest at and I’ll pass the info on to Joanne and Jim. Also, Cheyleen is looking for native plants for a garden she and her students are putting in behind the old bank vault in Sumpter. If you have anything to offer let me know.)

My raptor count Friday on the Burnt River between Bridgeport and Unity Reservoir wasn’t all that exciting. Diversity was down with lots of red-tail hawks but not much else. The rough-legged hawks have left for their northern breeding areas, and the southern migrants haven’t appeared yet, except that I did get two turkey vultures. Joanne B. had one the same day north west of Baker City. The great horned owl is still nesting on Bridgeport Lane, and I saw only one prairie falcon and no golden eagles or accipiters. There seems to be a mated pair of bald eagles still hanging out as well as one juvenile. Also picked up mountain bluebirds and two northern shrikes. Last year there were about 250 tundra swans on the S. Fork Burnt River arm of Unity Reservoir n the 13th, but by the 16th of this year there were only 74. Did see three separate pairs of sandhill cranes along the route as well as two Say’s phoebes. Also saw four western bluebirds and many horned larks last week in the valley, plus two sandhills flying north over my house. Things are looking up!


From Indy Media: The Pentagon was the focus of a spirited Peace demonstration on March 17, 2007. The crowd in the tens of thousands heard from over 30 riveting speakers. Activist Cindy Sheehan said: “Let’s stop this b... s...These b... s.... wars. It’s for the make them rich and line the pockets of the...war criminals.” She added: “We’re the deciders. And we have decided that we want Bush and Cheney impeached...indicted...and imprisoned.”

Thousands line streets in Hollywood


Iraq war protesters to march on Pentagon after 100 arrested:

Thousands of people are expected to converge on the center of the US capital Saturday and march on the Pentagon to protest the Iraq war, following the arrest of about 100 people during an anti-war vigil the night before.


Christians Gather in D.C. to Protest War:

Thousands of Christians prayed for peace at an anti-war service Friday night at the Washington National Cathedral, kicking off a weekend of protests around the country to mark the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.


Ellsberg Joins March 19th Stop Funding the War Protest at Speaker Pelosi's Office

Daniel Ellsberg has agreed to be the lead speaker at The Stop Funding the War rally at 12 noon on Monday, March 19, 2007 in front of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district office at the San Francisco Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Avenue.


True Confessions? The Amazing Tale of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

By Anthony D'Amato

The sweeping Guantanamo "confessions" of al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed rival the scope of those made in the Stalinist purge trials of the 1930s, and should equally prompt us to question the legal process in which they were made...


The Confession Backfired
By Paul Craig Roberts

The first confession released by the Bush regime’s Military Tribunals--that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed--has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D’Amato likens Mohammed’s confession to those that emerged in Stalin’s show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.


Washington exploits Guantánamo “confession” to justify its crimes
By Bill Van Auken
16 March 2007

What is largely obscured by the media’s approach is that Mohammed’s confession was extracted over the course of four years of detention and torture in secret CIA prisons, and that thousands of others subjected to similar treatment have yet to be accused of, much less tried for, a single crime.
. . . .

As for Mohammed, his confession would be ruled inadmissible in any genuine court. There is no question that he was subjected to forms of extreme torture. He was further intimidated by the CIA’s seizure of his wife and two young children, who were threatened with similar treatment unless he told his interrogators what they wanted to hear.
. . . .

In short, this is an individual who was not an Islamist and whose activities over the course of more than a decade appear to have dovetailed neatly with those of the CIA, directly serving the interests of American foreign policy.

That such an individual is identified as the “mastermind of September 11” only raises once again the essential question surrounding the still unexplained and tragic events of that day: was the US government informed in advance of the 9/11 plot and did it deliberately allow it to take place in order to provide the Bush administration with the pretext that it required to launch its already planned campaign of military aggression and conquest in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf?

It is not only Mohammed’s history as an apparent “asset” of both the CIA and Pakistani intelligence that raises this question. Any serious examination of the information that has emerged about how these attacks were prepared strongly suggests that intelligence officials in the US actively intervened to prevent the plot from being exposed and to protect those who ultimately carried it out.

Those quickly identified as the hijackers after 9/11—Mohammed Atta, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi and others—were well known to US intelligence and had been under surveillance, in some cases for years, by the CIA. Nonetheless, they were allowed to enter and reenter the US, living openly and flying on transcontinental airplanes under their own names. The latter two individuals were even given housing by the FBI’s chief informant on Islamic radicalism in southern California.

Such questions, however, are raised neither by the media nor by the Bush administration’s ostensible political opposition, the Democratic Party. On the contrary, both rallied in support of the essential aim of the administration in releasing the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed transcript: terrorizing the American people and diverting public opinion.

Particularly revealing was the response of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama of Illinois.

“Obviously, just from the confession, we see the scope of the planning that was done by al-Qaeda,” he declared on the morning television news program “Today” Thursday. “I think it just redoubles our need to make sure that we are securing the homeland...and that we are aggressive in terms of human intelligence, and really snuffing out these terrorist networks.”

To talk of the need to be “aggressive in terms of human intelligence” in relation to a case in which US intelligence officials acknowledge the use of the most extreme forms of torture, to the extent that the suspect cannot even be presented publicly, has unmistakable significance. Indeed, the entire subtext of the public discussion of Mohammed’s confession—obviously embraced by Obama—was that torture is both legitimate and necessary.

Obama went on to make the case that the Democrats demand for a withdrawal of combat troops—though by no means all troops—from Iraq was predicated on their redeployment... to Afghanistan.

“We have not followed through on the good starts we made in Afghanistan, partly because we took so many resources out and put them in Iraq,” he said. “I think it is very important for us to begin a planned redeployment from Iraq, including targeting Afghanistan.”

What emerges from this reaction to the Mohammed transcript is the bipartisan support for militarism abroad and sweeping attacks on democratic rights at home. Both major big business parties are agreed that the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan must continue and that the open-ended “war on terror” should be used to justify military aggression internationally. They also both support the use of police state powers and stepped-up spying at home to defend the interests of America’s ruling financial aristocracy. To the extent that there are differences, they are only over how well these methods have been employed and over what constitute the best tactics for accomplishing their shared goals.


The Problem with Barack Obama's Israel Pose

The significance of the World Court ruling on genocide in Bosnia
By Paul Mitchell
16 March 2007

“The aim of the West was to dismantle the state-run economy and restore the economic domination of international capital over Yugoslavia and the entire Balkan region.”

Yugoslavia was destroyed because it was one of the few remaining viable examples of socialism remaining in the world. Wealthy Capitalists live to crush the Socialist ideal.


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