Rescued from a kill shelter in Manteca, Petey Pumpkinhead III entered
our lives 7 years ago. Abused by a previous owner he was skittish and
nippish. That changed with love, affection and attention.
He was a majestic furry orange tabby. His coat emitted a perpetually
lovely fragrance. He had the sexiest strut with an ever present erect
tail and endearing behind.
Petey had simple needs. Belly rubs topped the list. He loved resting in
his backyard igloo. He would prance out when I entered the yard and
open wide for belly rubs and rolly polly.
He bonded with Klimey who also was rescued from a shelter. Klimey loved
licking Petey and taught Petey how to love back. They were inseparable.
Petey-Weedy (as we called him) evolved into the sweetest and most
gentle of companions. When hungry, he would jump into bed and
delicately place his paw on my face. No histrionics, just a love tap
and breakfast was on.
He loved sleeping inside the space between my legs or alongside the
curve of Clara's thigh. His body language suggested the most delicious
of dreams. He also had the squeakiest yawn when awakened.
Petey had a ravenous appetite and wore his weight well. That changed
last October when he dropped 2 pounds in short order and was diagnosed
with congestive heart failure.
He continued to lose weight but his sweet demeanor never changed.
Although not a lap cat during his youth, lately I would place him in my
lap in the back yard and we would stay together for long periods. These
were cherished moments. Klimey would join us and stay by Petey's side.
Strong medication was required every 8 hours to dissipate the fluid in
his lungs. No matter how much lasix was dosed, it could not stay on top
of the progression of his heart disease.
Last week Petey hit a low point and could hardly breath. He hadn't
eaten for 2+ days. We upped the lasix and he recovered miraculously.
His breathing appeared normal and he started eating - but only food
fresh out of the can. He ate more than he had in months. He had playful
sparring sessions with Klimey, tons of rolly polly and belly rubs, his
tail was erect and he slept next to my face the other day.
Today he had a good appetite in the early afternoon. I didn't see him
the rest of the day. When the thunder rumbled and the rain came pouring
down I went outside.
He was in the igloo. I tipped it and he ran inside. But something was wrong.
His breathing was labored. Petey could not catch his breath. He had
breathing attacks before and I had feared the worst, yet Petey always
An hour or so later when Clara came home, Petey's condition had
worsened. When he walked from under a table to lie down in the litter
box that was an alarming signal. I picked him up and he let out a cry.
Petey went under the bed where Klimey was and continued to make
We left him alone. Petey soon emerged and we put him in a blanket by the heater.
He wanted to be left alone.
Petey-Weedy barely could walk and stumbled out the bedroom and down a
few steps to the cat door. Somehow he pushed himself through. The igloo
was two feet from the door.
We let him be.
An hour later Clara checked on Petey.
His fur was gorgeous. His body still warm.
But Petey had passed.
He never made it to the igloo.
has been missing since Sept 2014. On Jan 23, 2015 while walking in McClaren Park
a cat resembling Moti emerged on a tree branch above a
thicket of bushes. This brightened our hearts as Clara and I imagine Moti as a feline Tarzan. Clara wrote the below poem before we confirmed the cat was not Moti.
by Clara Hsu
Who sits on a branch
above a field of thorns?
My cat. My cat.
Who listens to his names
and twitches his ears?
My cat. My cat.
His looks have changed since autumn
from living wild and eating mice.
We’re trespassing his kingdom
that can’t be bought
Catnip on the hills.
Songlines Music Travel
(click for details)
Shares the Tangents philosophy that nothing beats experiencing music at its source.
Borneo - Rainforest Festival
August 2-11, 2015
Romania - At Home with the Gypsies
August 15-23, 2015
Colombia – NEW TRIP
India – Rajasthan Musical Adventure
October 17-28, 2015
Senegal – Never Mind the Mbalax
November 20-29, 2015
Cuba - New Year Celebrations
December 30 2015-January 13, 2016
Click link above to get facts about Gaza, a collaborative project by
Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area (JVP-BA) and the Council on
American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA).
Click above for Archive
Saturdays 11p on Tangents, 91.7 fm SF, webcast at kalw.org
weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the
mainstream media followed by music from the relevant cuountry or culture.
was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the
humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade
imposed by Israel since 2006. Gaza Corner has evolved to include
the Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.
Click headlines below for full stories.
Killing Gets Easier
(David Shulman, Opinion,
The New York Review of Books, 5/29/15)
This is How We Fought in Gaza:
and photographs from
Operation "Protective Edge (2014)
(links to full 242 pg PDF file report at the breakingthesilence.org website)
David Shulman opinion excerpt:
Rescuers looking for survivors and bodies at the Qassam Mosque in the Neuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, 8/9/14
(Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)
In early May, Breaking the Silence,
the organization of Israeli ex-soldiers that is by now well known for
its meticulous independent accounts of IDF operations, published a report
on the Israeli army’s campaign in Gaza last summer. The report revealed
that the large number of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side
was a consequence, among other things, of military tactics and orders
explicitly adopted by the IDF.
Israelis like to think that their army holds to high moral standards,
and they react badly to hard evidence that shows this is not the case.
There has been particular outrage at the suggestion that there is
anything wrong about the new “Gaza rules” and the high civilian body
count. Most Israelis simply, and simplistically, blame Hamas for the
fighting and its cost, which they also see as the natural result of
fighting in the thickly populated urban space of Gaza.
The seven-week operation known as “Protective Edge” (Tzuk Eitan,
“Steadfast Boulder,” in Hebrew) was a violent conflict aimed at
stopping rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. According to the United
Nations, some 2,200 people were killed, of whom 1,492, or more than two
thirds, were civilian. The overwhelming majority of these were
Palestinian. (The Israeli military recorded the deaths of sixty-six
Israeli soldiers and six Israeli civilians in the conflict.)
The evidence presented in the Breaking the Silence report can be
summarized relatively simply: soldiers briefed by officers before they
went into Gaza were instructed to avoid all risks to themselves even at
the cost of certain, possibly substantial, civilian casualties. In
practice, this meant they shot at everything that moved in their zone
of combat, including animals and, inevitably, civilians who for
whatever reason could not get out in time. This point is a weighty one.
The army delivered warnings to civilians to evacuate areas slated for
attack; usually these took the form of leaflets or text-messages to
cell phones, but there was also the Israeli invention called “a knock
on the door”—a small missile or shell shot at a building as a warning
that heavier shelling was about to begin. Civilians who failed to heed
such warnings were, according to the army briefings, fair game. They
were not supposed to be there.
The difficulty with these measures is by now well known and has been
discussed at some length. At times the interval between the knock on
the door and severe or total destruction was so short—measured in
minutes or even seconds—that there was simply no time for civilians to
get out. Moreover, such warnings are largely meaningless unless there
is a corridor of safety for evacuees fleeing the battle zone and some
provision for their survival once they get beyond the immediate threat,
as the prominent human-rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, wrote last summer
while the battles were still raging. Such measures were, in general,
absent during last summer’s fighting. Many civilians certainly died in
a desperate attempt to reach safety; some troubling cases are
documented in the report.
For the sake of comparison, we might recall the Israeli army’s
traditional rules of engagement, taught to generations of recruits. A
potential enemy can, we were told, be killed if he has a weapon, an
apparent intent to cause harm, and a realistic capability of doing so.
“Gaza rules” were far more lenient, as many of the Breaking the Silence
interviews state directly:
What were the rules of engagement?
There weren’t really any rules of engagement, it was more protocols.
The idea was, if you spot something—shoot. They told us: “There aren’t
supposed to be any civilians there. If you spot someone, shoot.”
Whether it posed a threat or not wasn’t a question, and that makes
sense to me. If you shoot someone in Gaza it’s cool, no big deal.
The same approach—massive fire, sometimes uncontrolled or
indiscriminate—held true at much higher levels of operation, as in the
destruction of buildings, indeed of entire neighborhoods, such as
Shuja’iyya in the central zone and Khuza’a in the far south, either by
ground artillery or from the air. The heavy civilian casualties on the
Palestinian side included some five hundred dead children. Destruction
of homes and infrastructure in Gaza was immense, some of it clearly
meant to teach a lesson, or to take revenge, or to create a passable
illusion of military victory or some form of deterrent against future
The findings of the report—including the results of the fighting and
the orders that brought them about—are nothing very new. What is more
striking is how they suggest the impressive persistence and, indeed,
continual intensification of practices that have occurred over the last
three or four decades. Significant change lies only in the fact that
the acts in question now reflect deliberate and explicit policy of a
systemic nature coming down from the top. The Israel army once claimed
to hold, nominally at least, to moral considerations of an entirely
different order than those officially adopted last summer. Now, even
that pretense seems to be gone.
How did we get to this point? It’s important to remember that Gaza has
a history that goes back far beyond last year, and that Hamas rule
there developed as part of the longue durée, or the lethal dialogue, of
Israeli-Palestinian relations, including the last forty-eight years of
Occupation and in large measure, because of Israeli’s policy of
colonizing the West Bank, including the massive theft of land, the
disenfranchisement of millions of Palestinians, an entrenched regime of
state terror, and the lack of meaningful legal recourse to those living
under the Occupation. It will also reflect Israel’s adamant refusal to
To my mind, the true significance of the Breaking the Silence report
lies just here. There is a sinister link between the conduct of the
army in Gaza last summer and the system now firmly in place on the West
Bank—despite attempts by the government (and large sections of the
electorate) to deny any such connection. Three recent examples may
suffice: (only one is posted for this excerpt)
• On May 17, 750 olive saplings were uprooted and savagely destroyed,
undoubtedly by settlers, on Palestinian land east of the Etzion
settlements in the south Hebron hills. The land is privately owned by
the Abu Shanab family. Destruction of Palestinian olive trees is a
routine event in the south Hebron hills; I have seen the results
myself, near the village of Twaneh and elsewhere. One needs to bear in
mind that many Palestinian herders and small-scale farmers subsist
largely, even primarily, on olives, and the ancient trees themselves
are often treated as beloved members of the family—hence, I suppose,
the settlers’ delight in uprooting them. It goes without saying that no
attempt has been made by the police or the army to find the
perpetrators of this wanton act.
If Palestinians—all of them—are the enemy; if they are different enough
from Israelis to be seen as a separate (lower) category of human
beings; if their civilian casualties don’t really count for much (to
say nothing of the now notorious posts from last summer in Israeli
social media actually celebrating these deaths); if official Israeli
policy is based on maintaining the cruel system of the occupation
indefinitely, denying elementary human rights to Palestinian residents;
if the Prime Minister allows himself to speak even of Israeli Arabs,
citizens of the state, as constituting a threat to the domination of
the Jews and the rule of the Israeli right, as he did on the day of the
recent election—if all this is now acceptable public discourse inside
Israel, then killing more of them will become easier and easier and
look less and less like the crime it is.