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May 05, 2006


Guess they aren't going to get my sunflower seeds. But I'm glad for them. Very glad.

"I imagine it would be odd to be a Uighur in Albania."

Interesting choice. On the one hand, still undoubtedly the most primitive, stilling crawling out of the middle ages, country in Europe.

On the other hand, under Hoxha, it was the only country in Europe that doggedly followed crazed Maoism, so they've gone from one formerly Maoistic country to another. Odd, that.

Better than Guantanamo, though, so long as they don't somehow wind up in Albanian prison.

There is a kind of viticulture renaissance happening in Albania, a Balkan land. California obtained, via an exclusive Viennese horticulturist a Croatian zinfandel, whose lineage was mysterious until molecular bioscience identified the plant source of CA's now famous zinfandels lay in either Greece or Albania. The zinfandel plant in Croatia is known as "Crljenak Kastelanski", though it is obscure there, and rare; whereas in CA it was the basis of 1980s viticulture, and now remains a significant variety.

Some images: coastline">http://www.kastela.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=222&Itemid=73"> village
English language page at same Croatian commentary on the discovery of the origin of zinfandel, involving Croatia, Albania, Greece:

Technical notes.

The Dutch language description of grants from Europe funding 3,000 hectare vineyard restoration in Albania.

Better than planting watermelons with a diner plastic spoon in a sun bleached nondescript camp in the Caribbean; rather Albania has the cooler clime of a locale more resembling that in which the delicate European Vitis vinifera, the winegrape family of the distinctive premium varietals, does best. Although one of the most impoverished sections of Europe, perhaps a reasonable compromise if one is balancing a future in agrarian western China versus the past recent four years at Guantanamo.

Your diligence bore fruit for a few detainees, hilzoy. Call it habeas populaire.

1. The prisoner who told of the garden isn't among those released. I'm not sure what happens now that 5 of the 9 prisoners at Camp Iguana have been sent home. Joy for their friends, then loneliness worse than before, I'd guess. Maybe, though, the government is just doing this in stages, and The Gardener will be out soon as well.

2. DOD said in its http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2006/nr20060505-12980.html>press release that "[o]ur key objective has been to resettle the Uighurs in an environment that will permit them to rebuild their lives." I take this to mean that they will not be imprisoned in Albania. Indeed, the phrase 'rebuild their lives' suggests that someone at DOD has more of a conscience than has previously been shown. No one should tell Mr. Steele.

This administration has built up quite a track record of freeing people (or, in Jose Padilla's case, bringing unrelated charges) just in time to render their appeals moot, thereby preventing the courts from finding their conduct illegal or unconstitutional.

Same thing happened with the British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay: for a while they were dangerous terrorists/al-Qaeda sympathisers who could only be "released" if the UK government were willing to jail them indefinitely, and then suddenly, just as their cases were to come to the attention of an American court, they could be released.

The odd thing is - or I suppose it's not so odd - that even though both Bush and Cheney have repeatedly and publicly lied about the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, claiming that they are all "bad men", "taken on the battlefield", "enemies of the US" (actually, after years in Guantanamo Bay, the latter may be true, but who could blame them?). These statements have been made publicly, and have been publicly shown to be lies - not least by the willingness of the US government to release these prisoners whenever it looks like they'll get into legal hot water over holding them.

Yet they're never challenged on these particular lies, though they're among the most flagrant and most publicly-disprovable - and frankly, the most openly evil: to lie the US into a war of aggression is wrong, but to bear false witness against prisoners helplessly and absolutely in your power is straightforwardly evil.

What is the distinction between the five released to Albania and the four left behind? They've all been admitted to be innocent, right? Did Albania decide five was enough and nine was too many to take?

I guess the answer for two of them is that they had a court case coming up Monday, but what about the other three?

I'm happy for the Uighurs. One would think that my opinion of the Bush administration would not drop another level on this news, yet even when it does good, it sows evil. Any luck getting the "capable of repetition yet evading review" exception to mootness to hold here?

I can't believe I voted for this bunch of, to borrow a phrase, moronic brownshirt f**ks in 2000. Please forgive me.

Here's the DOJ motion to dismiss the case as moot. Excerpt:

Petitioners are being housed at the National Accomodation Center for Asylum Seekers in Tirana, which is operated by the Albanian Interior Ministry in conjunction with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Petitioners are being provided food, clothing, financial assistance as appropriate, and telephone access, and can apply for a work permit should they wish to seek employment. As applicants for refugee status, petitioners are free to travel around Albania, and once refugee status has been granted will be free to apply for travel documents permitting overseas travel.

Katherine -

For some reason that sounds to me like the deal Starling offered Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

Mm, fava beans.

Insofar as that has meaning beyond an attempted pop reference, meaning OMG, the lawnmowers outside the building are driving me crazy! -- ok, beyond meaning that -- ok, about Albania -- ok, y'know, I have no thoughts, now, beyond the lawn-mowers.

I really hate summer. Evil yellow eye.

I want Slart, now.

Slart? Please read? I summon you.

I find it hard to be too overjoyed when 30% of the prisoners at Guantanamo are in the same situation as the Uighurs. Especially given the reality that the government did this to avoid accountability and with no opportunity for support or planning for the Uighurs.

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