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Rosalea Barker: Reining cats and dogs

Stateside with Rosalea Barker
Reining cats and dogs

::Dogs Bless America::
I saw a stars'n'stripes-coloured bumper sticker last week in the shape of a dog in motion--at least I think it was supposed to represent a dog in motion but it also looked alarmingly like a dog that was constipated. The words on the sticker said "Dogs Bless America."

Well, it's the beginning of the Lunar New Year this weekend, and wouldn't you just know it, our dearly beloved prez is a dog himself. So this is his year, and by golly if he hasn't lucked out and gotten an extra big helping of time in which to prove how loyal and dependable he is.

According to The People's Daily online, "this year the lunar cycle begins relatively early and will last for 385 days until Feb. 17, 2007--a phenomenon that has occurred only 12 times in more than 2,300 years between 221 BC and 2100."

This means that the year will have 13 months, with an "intercalary month between the seventh and eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar." It will also have two "lichun"--the auspicious day that marks the beginning of spring. One on Feb. 4 in both 2006 and 2007. Not just one celebration but two! This year's dog is a real party animal, it seems.

::The old and the short of it::
It would be too, too cynical of me to suggest that the President granted an exclusive interview to Bob Schieffer of CBS just because the network news and Sunday show anchor is older and shorter than the president. But it did make for some lovely pictures of them strolling in the garden.

The alternative I suggested when first drafting this column was ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and the president together, but an IED north of Baghdad has pretty much taken care of that idea. The AP's online item about the calamity that befell Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, while they were travelling with Iraqi forces, states that Woodruff would have been in Iraq through the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Schieffer is, of course, a consummate newsman, and CBS--like all the networks that sell their news shows overseas--is quite openly used by the White House as a tool of its domestic and foreign policy.

::As this extract from the interview attests:::
Schieffer: Let me just ask you this question. You say you can't deal with them [Hamas leadership]. But would it be beneficial to try to talk to them? Talk to them about moderating their stance? Or is there simply nothing to talk about?

Bush: Well, in essence I am talking to them now. I'm confident they're listening to what you've asked me and what I'm answering. And that is, for them to, you know, have support from the United States and the United States Congress and from this Administration, they must renounce their policy, stated policy, that they want to destroy Israel.

::Let's not forget our feline friends::
I was astonished to get home on Thursday to see the president actually holding a press conference in the place of his communications team. He looked like the cat who'd got the cream, so pleased was he with the result in the Palestinian elections.

Not the least part of that pleasure, I think, is that it is going to cause such a conundrum for liberals in the US. There could have been no better outcome from the point of view of the upcoming Senate and House elections because it's yet another "with them or against them" situation.

::Wang wang::
No need to memorize Chinese phrases this year when wishing folks a happy New Year. "Wang wang!" should do it. It's the equivalent of "Woof, woof!"

Funny how we all hear things so differently, isn't it?


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