Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, May 27, 2005
Stop That Burning Itch!

We've found nothing that would substantiate precisely -- anything that you just said about the treatment of a Koran.
--Lawrence Di Rita, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, May 17, 2005

We have found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Koran down a toilet. We did identify 13 incidents of alleged mishandling of the Koran by Joint Task Force personnel.
--Lawrence Di Rita, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, May 26, 2005

Related Reading:
Easy With Eyes Closed

Modified Image: Google
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
This morning dawns with news that the pampered and mostly illiterate Saudi princes have taken a page from the Laura Bush handbook on silencing troublesome poets with their May 15th sentencing of a 56 year-old poet and author, Ali al-Dimeeni, to nine years in prison for “for sowing dissent, disobeying his rulers and sedition”.

Freedom's Envoy in Egypt

Mrs. Bush, whose poetry-free diplomatic portfolio has expanded recently, must, this morning, feel a certain Stalinist pride for her own efforts to crush the pesky thoughts of unbowed poets.
It was only two years ago, on the eve of her Saudi hand-holding hubby’s Shock and Awe opening to an illegal war begun on false pretences, that the former librarian was planning a February 12, 2003 White House Poetry Symposium on the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman entitled Poetry and the American Voice.
Thanks to an archived copy of a February 9, 2003 report published by the Casper [Wyoming] Star-Tribune stored on, my refreshed memory can state that the First Lady slipped on her steel boot after the organizing efforts of Symposium invitee Sam Hamill, poet and co-founder of Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, Washington.
On the day following his reading of a “lengthy report” on the Bush administration’s plan for a Dresden-like firebombing of Iraq operationally titled Shock and Awe, Mr. Hamill’s White House invitation appeared in the mail and he felt compelled to compose an email to friends and fellow poets:

I felt no joy…I was overcome with a kind of nausea as I read the card enclosed: 'Laura Bush requests the pleasure of your company at a reception and White House Symposium on Poetry and the American Voice’…I believe the only legitimate response to such a morally bankrupt and unconscionable idea is to reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam. I am asking every poet to speak up for the conscience of our country…we will compile an anthology of protest to be presented to the White House on that afternoon. Please submit your name and a poem or statement of conscience to the Poets Against the War Web site [and] pass along this letter to any poets you know.

Soon, more than 4,600 poets responded to Hamill’s email.
Twenty-five volunteer editors worked “virtually around the clock” to gather the submitted poems, arriving at a rate of one per minute, into a coherent form.
As quick as it takes to scan a dissenting couplet, Mrs. Bush cancelled the event and the compliant corporate press ensured the organized protest vanished as quickly as an Argentine high school student under the rule of the generals.
Meanwhile back in the illiterate and intolerant Kingdom of the sex-crazed Saudi royals, the Wahhabi-born al-Dimeeni has been joined in his prison outside Riyadh by two Saudi scholars sentenced to seven and six year jail terms.
The harsh sentences given to al-Dimeeni and the scholars have drawn “international condemnation and astonished Arab literary and reform circles for its severity.”
An indication of how al-Dimeeni will occupy his time in prison can be gleaned from his novel “A Grey Cloud”.
The novel’s hero, also jailed for dissent, describes what meets his eyes when they become accustomed to his jail cell’s gloom:

I was startled by the inscriptions on the walls, which belonged to people I know and thinkers whose books I had read.

We can take some small comfort that Mrs. Bush’s self-imposed and censored bubble is, perhaps, more intellectually isolated than Mr. al-Dimeeni’s prison cell.

Dangerous words: Easy With Eyes Closed

Photo: Reuters
Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Atrios, this morning, linked to an article, of a type that occasionally surfaces in the global press, published today by London's Independent reporting that nearly all of the most rare and valuable artifacts plundered from the Iraqi National Museum in 2003 remain missing.
According to the Independent report, the situation in Iraq is still too dangerous for Iraq Museum staffers to begin an inventory of recovered artifacts and that these few recovered objects remain sealed in storerooms.
Additionally, the Independent states the international assistance to the Iraq Museum by UNESCO and the British Museum has stalled because of the ongoing instability of Iraq.
The American press has turned one of its many blind eyes away from the story of the Iraq cultural plunder and the likely involvement of the well-connected American Council for Cultural Policy.
The European press, except for occasional, scattered reports across the continent, has also ignored the ACCP and its wealthy membership of Ancient, Oriental and Primitive art collectors.
A recent book review in the Sunday Times of London gave a taste of the Iraq Museum looting and generally pointed fingers at the likelihood of monied and connected looters.
I’ve posted on this subject many times in this space.
Though the links can be several years old the tragic story of Iraq’s cultural rape is as fresh as today’s Independent report.
Time's passage, severed Internet links and a lazy American press provide continued security to the private collections of wealthy cultural rapists.

Related links:
April 22, 2003
April 23, 2003
October 29, 2003
May 8, 2003
June 12, 2003
June 14, 2003
April 12, 2004
April 16, 2004
February 7, 2005

Photo: Jamal Said-Reuters
Monday, May 23, 2005

Regular visitors, I’m sure, have noticed that my posting stopped last Thursday.
Early Thursday evening, I received a panicked call from my elderly parents saying that their new condominium was on fire.
Northern Kentucky suffered all Thursday under the lash of some particularly violent thunder and electrical storms.
One vicious bolt apparently struck the balcony railing of one condo and shot upwards to strike and instantly ignite the roof of the building containing my Mom and Dad's beautiful unit.
In the space of a few seconds an ordinary spring evening dissolved into terror and despair.
We are grateful that no one was injured or killed but several families lost everything.
My parents were more fortunate than some as their possessions escaped unscathed but they face many months in temporary quarters as their building is essentially rebuilt.
The American Red Cross was on the scene instantly and provided vital assistance.
Also providing assistance, aside from the insurance company, are some of my parents’ wonderful neighbors and friends.
I am most grateful for their kind help in minimizing the trauma to my wonderful parents.
I shall try to return to my odd hit and miss posting schedule as soon as possible.
If you could spare my family a brief prayer I would be most grateful.

Image: sean

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