Bunny capers

To set the stage:

About thirty minutes ago I went downstairs to make me an evening snack, when I noticed a cute little bunny rabbit sitting with its back to my french doors in the middle of my (very) weedy flower bed. I’ve seen rabbits in my front and backyard before, but never had such an opportunity to photograph one as I did tonight. So I quickly ran upstairs, grabbed the digital camera, and ran back down the stairs to try and take a quick pic. By the time I opened the door, the bunny had dashed off of the flower bed and into the yard. I tried to snap a couple of photos, but – as my luck would have it – the battery to the digi was almost dead. So I ran upstairs again, recharged the battery for about sixty seconds (long enough to take another couple of pix) and then ran back down to see if the rabbit was still there. Luckily it was. So I took another pic before it ran off down the back of my building – and to my surprise there was another bunny … maybe the mother, because she was older and bigger. So I got took one more photo and hoped in the meantime that the flash I used on the camera didn’t blind them (it was close to dark outside so I had no choice).

I made my snack, then came back upstairs to check out how the pix turned out. As you’ll see from the below shot (which is the best of ’em) they didn’t turn out very good:

Real bunny

I tried to lighten it up some, because even with the flash it was still dark back there – if you look closely to the right of the tree trunk, you’ll see a bright dot; that’s the flash shining off the lil guy’s eye. The one pic I took of mama bunny and baby bunny have little dots in the pic even smaller than that one.

I know – it’s not a great photo, but I have one that I think will compensate for it:

Faux bunny

Ok – yes, it is indeed a faux bunny: it’s the one I have in my front yard. I swear it does not look that fake in natural lighting …


Federal appeals court to the NYT on 2001 terrorist fund-tracking program leak story: Turn over phone records to prosecutors

Excellent news:

NEW YORK – A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that federal prosecutors investigating a leak about a terrorism funding probe can see the phone records of two New York Times reporters.

A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in a 2-1 vote that prosecutors had a valid interest in seeing who had contacted the reporters.

“We see no danger to a free press in so holding,” Judge Ralph K. Winter wrote for the majority.

The case involved stories written in 2001 by Times reporters Judith Miller and Philip Shenon that revealed that the government planned to freeze the assets and search the offices of two Islamic charities, the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald then opened a grand jury probe into the source of the newspaper reports, claiming the reporters’ phone calls to the charities seeking comment had tipped them off about the investigation.

When the paper declined to identify its sources, Fitzgerald threatened to subpoena Times billing records from the phone company. The newspaper then filed a lawsuit seeking to block any such effort.

In February 2005, the newspaper appeared to achieve a victory when U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet ruled that the government had failed to prove that it had exhausted all other methods before resorting to the demand for phone records.

Glad to hear about this ruling, but rest assured the NYT will fight it – all the way to the Supremes if necessary. Now wouldn’t that be interesting to see?

At last, Pat Fitzgerald finally has something to smile about.

Flashback: Here’s some background on the Pat Fitzgerald-Judy Miller grudge.

(Hat tip for the AP link: Michelle Malkin)

Tuesday/Wednesday open thread

Here ya go … and I’ll add my own off topic chatter to it to get things started off:

Remember the temptation I blogged about last Thursday regarding a new Dell computer I’ve had my eye on?

I gave in on Sunday evening and ordered it. Just rec’d the tracking number for it today.

I may have it by the weekend.

It’s nothing super-fancy, but it’s got more up to date software on it than my current desktop, more memory, a flat panel monitor, better speakers, etc. I love my Dell!

I usually end up getting a new computer about every two to three years – most people I know hold on to theirs until it crashes. What can I say? I’m a computer geek at heart and when I see one I like, it’s hard to resist the urge. It’s so unfair that computer companies now offer these super duper deals on desktops …

Castro calls in sick, leaving his brother in command

What does all this mean for the future of Cuba? MSNBC’s Robert Windrem speculates:

Fidel Castro is not dead, but unlike other authoritarian regimes, Cuba already has the transition scoped out and the successor annointed: Raul Castro, the president’s younger brother and Cuba’s defense minister.

While there is often discussion and gossip both inside and outside Cuba about who among the next level of officials — Vice President Carlos Lage, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon — might succeed Fidel Castro, U.S. officials insist that Raul Castro remains the key to any succession. In addition to being the constitutionally designated successor to his brother, the 75-year-old Raul Castro is viewed as a a reluctant leader, one who is “always the better administrator … a good manager, not a great thinker.”

In several wide-ranging interviews over the past decade, U.S. officials from both the diplomatic and intelligence services describe a Raul Castro regime as one having a “very very different character with a need for a support base,” a base that they say is already in place and is both extremely loyal to him and competent. In each case, officials would speak only in return for anonymity.

However, none of that takes away from that fact that he’s a Marxist:

A Raul Castro regime would not abandon the Marxist revolution — Raul Castro was a Marxist before his brother — but is likely to be more pragmatic at least on economic reforms. However, any transition from Fidel to Raul would also be marked by jockeying for power, to be Raul’s successor. Even before this recent crisis, Perez Roque was seen as trying to undermine Alarcon. Other such disputes would no doubt surface.

The streets of Miami might be filled with Cuban-Americans understandably delighted over the possibily that Fidel will either remain too sick to stay in power or die shortly, it remains to be seen what the reaction in Cuba will be to his brother Raul assuming the reins for the time being. I don’t mean to sound like a pessimist, but I don’t hold out much hope that a Raul Castro regime would be much different than a Fidel regime. But who knows? Maybe a Raul Castro regime would be the spark that lights the flame of revolution for new leadership in Cuba.

Time will tell.

Mel Gibson’s defining moment

One of the big stories buzzing around in the MSM and blogosphere the last couple of days has been that of actor/director Mel Gibson who, according to TMZ.com, was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunk driving. In the process of his arrest, it’s been alleged that Mr. Gibson made some incredibly disparaging remarks towards two law enforcement officers, and some eye-opening -shall we say less than charitable – remarks about Jews. Via TMZ.com:

TMZ has learned that Mel Gibson went on a rampage when he was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunk driving, hurling religious epithets. TMZ has also learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department had the initial report doctored to keep the real story under wraps.

What was allegedly said during Gibson’s arrest?

TMZ has four pages of the original report prepared by the arresting officer in the case, L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee. According to the report, Gibson became agitated after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway and told he was to be detained for drunk driving Friday morning in Malibu. The actor began swearing uncontrollably. Gibson repeatedly said, “My life is f****d.” Law enforcement sources say the deputy, worried that Gibson might become violent, told the actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated. As the two stood next to the hood of the patrol car, the deputy asked Gibson to get inside. Deputy Mee then walked over to the passenger door and opened it. The report says Gibson then said, “I’m not going to get in your car,” and bolted to his car. The deputy quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.

TMZ has learned that Deputy Mee audiotaped the entire exchange between himself and Gibson, from the time of the traffic stop to the time Gibson was put in the patrol car, and that the tape fully corroborates the written report.

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?”

The deputy became alarmed as Gibson’s tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?”

A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, “What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”

We’re told Gibson took two blood alcohol tests, which were videotaped, and continued saying how “f****d” he was and how he was going to “f***” Deputy Mee.

Gibson has apologized in general for the remarks, but did not confirm or deny what he was alleged to have said about Jews.

Why does any of this matter? It probably would barely register on the news meter had it been just about any actor other than Mel Gibson, but Gibson stirred up a firestorm of controversy in the Jewish community over his film The Passion of the Christ (2004), which Jews felt was an unfair Biblical portrayal of them and blatantly anti-Semitic. No doubt what fueled such speculation about this movie even prior to its release was the fact that Gibson’s father was and is a Holocaust denier. Before the movie was released, Mr. Gibson repeatedly denied in so many words that he was ‘cut from the same cloth’ as his father on that front yet at the same time refused to publicly condemn his father’s remarks.

I, like many who went to see The POTC and sat numb at the end of it with tears streaming down my face, defended Gibson from charges that the disputed parts of The POTC meant he was a bonafide anti-Semite.* The fact that he wouldn’t condemn his father’s comments, I thought at the time, was merely an indication that he felt it was a personal family matter best dealt with by talking to his father directly and privately. I felt confident that if the Reverend Billy Graham could comfortably endorse The POTC, that it in no way should be considered an anti-Semitic film.

I still don’t think it was an anti-Semitic film, but I do now believe that Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite and as a result of the disgraceful comments he is alleged to have made during his arrest, those who argued that Gibson was following in the footsteps of his father when production of The POTC started now have one more reason to believe that he specifically set out to target Jews with the film. Not only that, but any fence-sitting Christian who was moved by the movie may now be having second thoughts about what they saw. True, Gibson didn’t set out to change the world with his movie, but he isn’t stupid and knew – as a deeply religious man – the impact a movie of that magnitude could and eventually did have on believers and non-believers alike. In fact, he banked on it – in more ways than one.

Even if Gibson hadn’t directed The POTC, knowing his feelings about Jews now will make it difficult – if not impossible – for fans (former?) of the star to sit through past Gibson films like the Lethal Weapon series, Mad Max, What Women Want, The Patriot, Braveheart, etc. There are certain things Hollywood actors/singers can say that reasonable people, in turn, can disagree with and move on from, while continuing to enjoy that artist’s work. But once that actor or singer crosses a certain line, it’s hard for them to recapture the glory they once had as a Hollywood celeb. Just ask Gibson’s Lethal Weapon co-star Danny ‘I support Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez‘ Glover, who lost a deal to be the spokesman for MCI because his bizarre statements of support for dictators like Castro, what it feels like to watch your star fade after you show your true colors.

I suspect that after this, Hollywood will not – nor will those who defended Gibson from charges of anti-Semitism over The POTC – want to have much, if anything, to do with whatever Gibson touches in the future.

This is, sadly, his defining moment.

Update: MSN News has confirmed that the police report did indeed initially contain all of what Gibson said – including the anti-Semitic remarks.

*Note: I didn’t write about The POTC here at the blog, but defended it on a political message board I frequent.