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Subi
Subi Memorial





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 persevered.

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 anguished yelps.

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.





Moti 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.

Moti Sighting
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
at
 any price.

Running streams.
Catnip on the hills.



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2014 Tangents Turkey Music Tour trip summary + photos
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Advertisement on wall of Nardis jazz club in Istanbul where 2014 Tangents Turkey Music Tour saw Turkey's most famous jazz musician, drummer Okay Temiz,  among 11 world class concerts in 16 nights.. 

Songlines Music Travel
(click for details)

Shares the Tangents philosophy that nothing beats experiencing music at its source.

2015 Trips:

Cuba - The Music of Cuba
May 2-16, 2015

Morocco - Gnawa Festival
May 14-18, 2015

Borneo - Rainforest Festival
August 2-11, 2015

Romania - At Home with the Gypsies
August 15-23, 2015

Colombia – NEW TRIP
August 2015*

India – Rajasthan Musical Adventure
October 17-28, 2015

Senegal – Never Mind the Mbalax
November 20-29, 2015



Click to make contribution to MECA that provides emergency aid to children and families in Gaza

Gaza Facts
Click above to get the real 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).

Gaza Corner
Click above for Archive
(Archive does not view in Google Chrome)


Saturdays 11p on Tangents, 91.7 fm SF, kalw.org

This 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.

Gaza Corner 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.

NBC News Alters Account Of Correspondent’s Kidnapping
In Syria
(By Ravi Somaiya, C.J. Chivers and
Karam Shoumali, NY Times, 4/15/15)

NBC's Conduct in Engel Kidnapping Story
Is More Troubling Than The
Brian Williams Scandal
(Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 4/16/15)

combined excerpt:

Throughout 2012, numerous American factions were pushing for U.S. intervention in Syria to bring down the regime of Bashar Assad, who throughout the War on Terror had helped the U.S. in all sorts of ways, including torturing people for them. But by then, Assad was viewed mostly as an ally of Iran, and deposing him would weaken Tehran, the overarching regional strategy of the U.S. and its allies. The prevailing narrative was thus created that those fighting against Assad were “moderate”
with the leading one dubbed “the Free Syrian Army.”


As it turns out, the “moderate” “Free Syrian Army” was largely a myth according to Greenwald. By far, the most effective fighting forces against Assad were anything but “moderate,” composed instead of various Al Qaeda manifestations and even more extreme elements.

In December 2012 – as the pro-intervention cause was strengthening – a group of six journalists working for NBC News, including its star international reporter Richard Engel, was kidnapped inside Syria. They were held for five days, threatened with death, treated inhumanely, and forced to record a
video in which Engel was made to call for an end to U.S. involvement in Syria. Scrawled on the walls of the room where the video was recorded was graffiti of pro-Assad messages along with well-known Shiite references.


Journalists working for NBC including Richard Engel on far left held in detention during an elaborate kidnapping ruse by Syrian rebels. 
Click photo for video.


The obvious intent was to make it appear that these NBC journalists had been kidnapped and mistreated by Shiite forces associated with Assad.

Once they were released, Engel quickly gave numerous interviews including the  "Today" show just hours  after emerging. Engel 's unequivocal narrative was that the captors were aligned with Assad and that he was rescued by anti-Assad forces. That then became unquestioned fact on NBC.

Engel appeared on the
Rachel Maddow show on December 21.

Engel described how the rebel commander heroically tried to sacrifice his own life to save the journalists, but to no avail: the “pro-government forces” brutalized, tortured and threatened the reporters and even executed some of the rebels."

The ordeal ended, Engel said, only when his pro-government captors accidentally ran into a rebel checkpoint, where the rebels heroically killed some of Assad’s forces and freed the journalists, treating them with great compassion.

Three days earlier, in a
December 18 appearance on Maddow's show, Engel – after describing how brutal and inhumane his captors were – actually linked them to both Iran and Hezbollah in response to a question from David Gregory.

There were ample reasons at the time to be suspicious that this was a scam (perpetrated on (not by) Engel and his fellow captives) to blame Assad for the abduction. There was skepticism expressed by some independent analysts – although not on NBC News. According to Glenn Greenwald the brilliant political science professor and blogger As'ad AbuKhalil, (angryarab.blogspot.com was highly skeptical from the start about the identity of Engel’s captors.

AbuKhalil himself examined the video and wrote:

"I looked at the video and it is so clearly a set up and the slogans are so clearly fake and they intend to show that they were clearly Shi’ites and that they are savages."

As it turns out, that seems to be exactly what happened. On April 15
Engel posted a new statement on the NBC news website where he wrote:

“The group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia” and that “the group that freed us” – which he had previously depicted as heroic anti-Assad rebels – actually “had ties to the kidnappers.”

Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

Nobody can blame Engel – a courageous reporter, fluent in Arabic – for falling for what appears to be a well-coordinated ruse.

But the same is most certainly not true of NBC News executives. In writing his new account, Engel does not mention the most important and most incriminating aspect of the New York Times reporting: that NBC officials knew at the time that there was reason to be highly skeptical of the identity of the captors, but nonetheless allowed Engel and numerous other NBC and MSNBC reporters to tell this story with virtually no questioning.

The NY Times states that “Mr. Engel’s team was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.” That rebel group is “known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade” and is “led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj.”  NBC executives knew that this was at least very possible even during Engel’s kidnapping, and yet the NY Times states:

"NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events."

In other words, NBC executives at least had ample reason to suspect that it was anti-Assad rebels who staged the kidnapping, not pro-Assad forces. Yet they allowed Engel and numerous other NBC and MSNBC personalities repeatedly and unequivocally to blame the Assad regime and glorify the anti-Assad rebels, and  to link the kidnapping to Iran and Hezbollah, all with no indication that there were other quite likely alternatives.

NBC refused to respond to the NY Times and The Intercept's questions about that.

Greenwald believes this Engel story is about what appears to be a reckless eagerness, if not deliberate deception, on the part of NBC officials to disseminate a dubious storyline which, at the time, was very much in line with the story which official Washington was selling.

Greenwald Update:

About this story, Professor AbuKhalil emailed this comment:

"This is a culture: they all were part of a charade to promote and champion the Free Syrian Army when that very army was kidnapping innocent Lebanese Shi’ites and killing people on sectarian grounds."

He also passed along an email from a Western correspondent based in the region, asking not to be identified, who said: “Everybody knew that it was a Sunni group tied to the [Free Syrian Army] that had kidnapped [Engel] from the moment it happened: people were talking about it in South Turkey, journalists, opposition people.”

Yet Richard Engel in his April 15th mea culpa states that once he learned from the NY Times that the kidnapping may have been an elaborate ruse he "spoke to multiple U.S. law enforcement and intelligence sources who had direct knowledge of our case. They all said they did not doubt our story back in 2012 or anytime since."

(Dore note: which suggests Engel's intelligence sources are lying or maybe not so intelligent.)

As noted above, Engel claimed repeatedly that the anti-Assad rebels killed some of his pro-government captors when rescuing him. He stated the same thing in a Vanity Fair article he wrote recounting his kidnapping. But as the New York Times notes, Engel now acknowledges that he never saw a body.