Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh, Lord. Officially... 14 Inches Of Snow...

If insanity was a color, it would be white...

I don't care what the ski bunnies would say, they are not sat frozen solid in a metal shed. Insanity would be white, wet, cold and blowing.

How horrendously miserable the past two night have been, and continues to be as I write.

Even with some advanced warnings so I could prepare I wasn't quite expecting this. Frozen solid I just didn't know what to do to keep warm and still moving. You can only curl up into a fetal position for so many hours before you need to move and stretch.
The more I stressed and became anxious knowing that I can no longer try to keep warm, it's now trying to stop from being frozen, and stop the snow from coming through the building the more ill I became.
I am physically hurting so bad and I'm so thoroughly exhausted.
What an awful nightmare this is.

Blizzard warning posted for Southern Sacramentos

A blizzard warning has been posted for the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County. The warning replaced a winter storm watch. The region includes locations such as Mescalero and Cloudcroft.

In issuing the blizzard warning, the National Weather Service said snow accumulations of four to eight inches are likely with the highest amounts expected along the western slopes of the terrain.

The blizzard warning was set to take effect at 5 a.m. Thursday and continue until midnight.

Meanwhile, a winter storm watch remained in effect for the Northern Sacramentos from Thursday afternoon through Thursday night. That includes the Ruidoso and Capitan areas. For the mountains in Lincoln County, five- to 10-inch snow accumulations are possible with locally heavier amounts on peaks and west facing slopes of the Northern Sacramentos.

The NWS said in a late morning advisory that a powerful storm was diving out of the Pacific Northwest. Cold air from the Canadian artic combined with Pacific moisture would spread heavy snow into the Land of Enchantment, creating dangerous blizzard conditions for parts of the state on Thursday.

Timing: Showers and snow should start late tonight and become occasionally heavy by Thursday morning. The snow will persist through the day with the heavier snowfall likely occurring Thursday afternoon.

Winds: Strong winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour, with gusts to 65 miles per hour, were expected to become common, creating blowing and drifting snow.

The strongest winds were anticipated for tonight through Thursday morning.

Snow levels: Will start around 7,500 feet in elevation tonight and fall to the lower elevations overnight and throughout Thursday.

Impacts: Heavy snowfall, along with blowing and drifting snow, could create very hazardous driving conditions with poor visibilities. Travel would become treacherous as temperatures fall rapidly to well below freezing.

Take precautions: A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds can lead to whiteout conditions. The NWS recommended not traveling. Those who do venture out should have a winter survival kit. If motorists get stranded, stay with your vehicle.

“The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and it's overturned the order of the soul...” - Leonard Cohen

Thursday, December 30, 2010

North Winds Will Blow And We Will Have Snow...

A severe snow storm hit yesterday, and came in with an absolute vengeance, with such fury snow was falling on my head while I sat inside the shed, yet I had no idea where it was blowing in. The sound of tree branches breaking and metal rattling made one very uneasy.
A 60 mph blizzard isn't paradise even at the best of times, this is really beyond hardship.

Trying to get ready for an impending storm isn't quite as easy when you are living in a shed instead of a home. It means making sure that all blankets and clothes are clean, because they will quickly get wet and dirty. It means sealing doors, getting additional blankets to put up on the walls and doors. It means taking preparation seriously.

Once snow starts I can't turn the washer and drier on in the house, or the heater on in the basement, because it will blow the fuses in the shed I am staying in..

So that is what I have spent days doing. Making sure my bosses medications are filled, my truck is weather proofed and plugged in, and the shed isn't going to flood, blow away or become a desolate island.

And sure enough the storm arrived and wasn't particularly shy in it's deliverance. All night long the metal and wood siding creaked and groaned under the force of the wind, wind blowing through the cracks bringing snow with it.

Looking at the 6+ inches of snow ontop of my truck didn't warm the cockles of my heart. And still.... it continued to snow, and blow. The Ski Apache lodge closed due to the severe weather, an almost unheard of event.
The blankets and towels I hung on the walls trying to decrease the amount of wind flapped around as though they were outside. The wind is finding the smallest crevice,and entering with an unbelievable force. Cold doesn't even meet this weather. These are arctic conditions.

I can't even start to imagine the type of damage done to the trailer. I dare not for it will send me into panic. I just can't see that trailer being able to weather this type of blizzard. This is mortifying.

Prayerfully within 48 hours it will have eased up and the weather will turn warm enough to start melting it all. 2010 seems to be going out with frozen determination, and a great deal of discomfort.

I am just too old to be trying to survive this kind of weather with so little protection.

The Big Chill

Blizzard brings damaging winds, snow, frigid temperatures

Blizzard conditions hit the Sacramento Mountains Thursday, blanketing the region in snow.

While a blizzard warning had been in place throughout the day, the National Weather Service said temperatures in Ruidoso during the morning and early afternoon hovered too close to 32 degrees to allow for much accumulation. But that changed later as colder winds pushed in from the west.

The dramatic turn to winter was due to a powerful storm that dove out of the Pacific Northwest. Cold air from the Canadian arctic combined with the Pacific moisture to create heavy snow and dangerous blizzard conditions. A major component of a blizzard - strong winds in excess of 35 miles per hour that can reduce visibility - was in place.

The winds that accompanied the storm Wednesday night knocked out power to a couple of thousand customers, said Clint Gardner, manager of member services for Otero County Electric Cooperative.

"It's the basic stuff that happens when you have 65 mile-per-hour winds come through," Gardner said. "It was basically from Biscuit Hill (just east of Ruidoso Downs) to Alto, and some around Bonito and

Nogal Canyon. The bulk of it was the Alto Lakes area."

The culprit for the largest outage was a tree that fell, taking out a power line.

"It was at a remote location, just one of those things. It takes a while to find it. Plus, when the snow is blowing sideways at you, it's hard to really see."

The widespread Alto outage lasted almost four hours.

The strong winds also interfered with skiers and snowboarders. Ski Apache closed Thursday because of what was described as "dangerously high winds." Init-ially, the ski mountain was shut down for the morning. A decision was made shortly after 11 a.m. to cancel the remainder of the day.

Tickets for Thursday will be honored today, Friday, according to the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Road crews in Ruidoso and Lincoln County were salting pavements on Thu


"They're doing pretty good," Albert Hernandez, the county's road superintendent said Thurs-day afternoon. Plows came out later.

But numerous accidents were reported. Swiss Chalet Hill was restricted late Thursday afternoon to 4-wheel drive vehicles.

The coldest temperatures of the season were to follow the snowstorm.

The weather service said Ruidoso would see a Friday high temperature of 29 degrees. By early Saturday the reading could slide to 11 degrees.

At Alto, the mercury was expected to dip to 8 degrees. It will be Sunday before Alto returns to above-freezing temperatures. National Weather Service meteorologist Ken Widelski said that, with ample snow on the ground, temperatures could even dip below forecasts.

New Mexico's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management reminded those venturing out Friday and Saturday that extreme cold can be life-threatening.

"Watch for signs of frostbite, which includes white or pale appearance of finger and toes, earlobes and the tip of the nose," said the department's Beverly Allen. "Hypothermia can be deadly. Hypothermia is loss of the body's core temperature and warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion."

Allen said wearing a cap or scarf can prevent the loss of 50 percent of body temperature.

With the big chill, the Centers for Disease Control cautioned about carbon monoxide exposure. The agency said a charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device should never be used inside a home, basement, garage, or near a window. And don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented. A gas oven should not be used to warm up a house.

Ruidoso assistant fire chief Harlan Vincent recommended precautions in starting a fire; risk

s increase with cold temperatures.

"Everyone stokes up the heater," Vincent said of cold snaps. "They might load up the wood burning stoves and they might plug in electric heaters. Make sure there is plenty of distance from things that can burn. And don't leave a wall heater on when you're not at home."

The Ruidoso Fire Department has responded to three chimney fires this month. Vincent said make sure creosote has not built up in the flue or chimney.

"The winter comes: the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
the white drift heaps against the hut;
and night is pierced with stars."
- Coventry Patmore

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

I have never quite understood why all the English speaking countries recognize "Boxing Day" with the exception of the United States.

Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national laws. It is observed in Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth nations that have a mainly Christian population. In South Africa the public holiday 26 December is called Day of Goodwill, in Ireland St Stephen's Day or Lá an Dreoilín, and in continental European countries the "Second Christmas Day."
For this Brit December 26th is Boxing Day no matter where I am.

I woke up to some serious ice this morning, and it's been difficult getting my body warmed up. I physically hurt so much. Yet my noon the weather had turned simply gorgeous, but quickly turned bitter cold again by 3.30pm. Trying to keep my feet warm has been impossible today. I felt as though I was walking on two solid ice blocks.

With 2010 almost behind me my mind has turned to my attempts to get into a home in 2011... in one of the worst recessions I have ever seen.

John Boyd never contacted me again about working on the house trailer,and neither have I contacted him. Jesse never contacted me as he had promised. So now I'm having to face a dilapidated house trailer not knowing how much damage has been done by rain and snow since CID shut the construction down.

For over 3 years it has felt like four steps forward and ten steps back just trying to get into a home having already paid for a home.

The New Mexico Construction Industries Division permits for the trailer repair didn't even arrive until the 29th of November... weeks after all the help I had to repair the trailer had disappeared. Prayerfully the welder will still be available. If he isn't I have no idea what I will do. I couldn't deny that I am so worried, and so scared.

I found an electric pole in, of all places, Deming. But how to bring a 30ft pole that distance is beyond me. And I need two, not one.

Praying that the cold snap will ease up and I can find a little help to forge forward in an early start.

"Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life."
- William Blake, Poetical Sketches -Winter, 1783

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010 - American dreamland?

Please see: Jan 4, 2011, Important Disclaimer

When people come to this blog the words used in the search engine are recorded. Frequently people put in Robert Huckins name into the search engine with "bankruptcy" or "felony fraud" or "Ruidoso Downs." For example, "Robert Huckins bankruptcy" or Robert Huckins, felony fraud." But this week someone put into a search engine, "american dreamland, rob huckins."

American dreamland?

I started laughing at the mere thought that a career criminal could be sought by someone who thought he'd found a dreamland either here in America or somewhere else. But clearly he has, seeing as the penalties & consequences of his criminal behavior are being paid by the victims.

I don't see Robert & Sylvi Huckins sat shivering in a metal garden shed, having lost everything.

American dreamland, well there is my chuckle for the day!

“The dark-veiled silhouette that solitary form patrolling without visible strain or vainglory a demented dreamland of fearful potential.” - Kathryn Hulme

Friday, December 24, 2010

Andrea Bocelli - Noche de Paz ( The best Silent Night )


This has been such a numbing day. Terribly sad, a sadness I couldn't shake, yet exciting knowing that my grand-children will have such joy tomorrow.

Tonight I'm so cold, but each time I found my way under the covers to get warm the tears started flowing and frustrated I got up again seeking a distraction.

Today it just seems to have been especially difficult to keep warm and I really don't know why. The snow that fell last night melted fairly quickly but I had chilled so much during the night it never left me.

I love opera, especially Andrea Bocelli, the "4th Tenor." You will never find me in my truck without one of his CD's playing. I train all the horses with Bocelli as background music. Such a talented singer. When I am truly hurting I can put on "Con te partirò" and drift off to a place so peaceful that little bothers me.

It's amazing how one singer can ease so much pain. I think the Italians say, bellisima!

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.”

Christmas Eve

On December 25, Christians around the world will gather to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Joyful carols, special liturgies, brightly wrapped gifts, festive foods—these all characterize the feast today, at least in the northern hemisphere. But just how did the Christmas festival originate? How did December 25 come to be associated with Jesus’ birthday?

The Bible offers few clues: Celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts; the date is not given, not even the time of year. The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they hear the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season; in the cold month of December, on the other hand, sheep might well have been corralled. Yet most scholars would urge caution about extracting such a precise but incidental detail from a narrative whose focus is theological rather than calendrical.

The extrabiblical evidence from the first and second century is equally spare: There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christian writers such as Irenaeus (c. 130–200) or Tertullian (c. 160–225). Origen of Alexandria (c. 165–264) goes so far as to mock Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries, dismissing them as “pagan” practices—a strong indication that Jesus’ birth was not marked with similar festivities at that place and time.1 As far as we can tell, Christmas was not celebrated at all at this point.

This stands in sharp contrast to the very early traditions surrounding Jesus’ last days. Each of the Four Gospels provides detailed information about the time of Jesus’ death. According to John, Jesus is crucified just as the Passover lambs are being sacrificed. This would have occurred on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, just before the Jewish holiday began at sundown (considered the beginning of the 15th day because in the Hebrew calendar, days begin at sundown). In Matthew, Mark and Luke, however, the Last Supper is held after sundown, on the beginning of the 15th. Jesus is crucified the next morning—still, the 15th.a

Easter, a much earlier development than Christmas, was simply the gradual Christian reinterpretation of Passover in terms of Jesus’ Passion. Its observance could even be implied in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7–8: “Our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the festival...”); it was certainly a distinctively Christian feast by the mid-second century C.E., when the apocryphal text known as the Epistle to the Apostles has Jesus instruct his disciples to “make commemoration of [his] death, that is, the Passover.”

Jesus’ ministry, miracles, Passion and Resurrection were often of most interest to first- and early-second-century C.E. Christian writers. But over time, Jesus’ origins would become of increasing concern. We can begin to see this shift already in the New Testament. The earliest writings—Paul and Mark—make no mention of Jesus’ birth. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide well-known but quite different accounts of the event—although neither specifies a date. In the second century C.E., further details of Jesus’ birth and childhood are related in apocryphal writings such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Proto-Gospel of James.b These texts provide everything from the names of Jesus’ grandparents to the details of his education—but not the date of his birth.

Finally, in about 200 C.E., a Christian teacher in Egypt makes reference to the date Jesus was born. According to Clement of Alexandria, several different days had been proposed by various Christian groups. Surprising as it may seem, Clement doesn’t mention December 25 at all. Clement writes: “There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of [the Egyptian month] Pachon [May 20 in our calendar]...And treating of His Passion, with very great accuracy, some say that it took place in the 16th year of Tiberius, on the 25th of Phamenoth [March 21]; and others on the 25th of Pharmuthi [April 21] and others say that on the 19th of Pharmuthi [April 15] the Savior suffered. Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21].”2

Clearly there was great uncertainty, but also a considerable amount of interest, in dating Jesus’ birth in the late second century. By the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized—and now also celebrated—as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor). The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.

The earliest mention of December 25 as Jesus’ birthday comes from a mid-fourth-century Roman almanac that lists the death dates of various Christian bishops and martyrs. The first date listed, December 25, is marked: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae: “Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea.”3 In about 400 C.E., Augustine of Hippo mentions a local dissident Christian group, the Donatists, who apparently kept Christmas festivals on December 25, but refused to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6, regarding it as an innovation. Since the Donatist group only emerged during the persecution under Diocletian in 312 C.E. and then remained stubbornly attached to the practices of that moment in time, they seem to represent an older North African Christian tradition.

In the East, January 6 was at first not associated with the magi alone, but with the Christmas story as a whole.

So, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, we finally find people observing his birth in midwinter. But how had they settled on the dates December 25 and January 6?

There are two theories today: one extremely popular, the other less often heard outside scholarly circles (though far more ancient).4

The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations. The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. According to this theory, early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday, more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated.

Despite its popularity today, this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings, for one thing. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c. 339–397), for example, described Christ as the true sun, who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods.

It’s not until the 12th century that we find the first suggestion that Jesus’ birth celebration was deliberately set at the time of pagan feasts. A marginal note on a manuscript of the writings of the Syriac biblical commentator Dionysius bar-Salibi states that in ancient times the Christmas holiday was actually shifted from January 6 to December 25 so that it fell on the same date as the pagan Sol Invictus holiday.5 In the 18th and 19th centuries, Bible scholars spurred on by the new study of comparative religions latched on to this idea.6 They claimed that because the early Christians didn’t know when Jesus was born, they simply assimilated the pagan solstice festival for their own purposes, claiming it as the time of the Messiah’s birth and celebrating it accordingly.

More recent studies have shown that many of the holiday’s modern trappings do reflect pagan customs borrowed much later, as Christianity expanded into northern and western Europe. The Christmas tree, for example, has been linked with late medieval druidic practices. This has only encouraged modern audiences to assume that the date, too, must be pagan.

There are problems with this popular theory, however, as many scholars recognize. Most significantly, the first mention of a date for Christmas (c. 200) and the earliest celebrations that we know about (c. 250–300) come in a period when Christians were not borrowing heavily from pagan traditions of such an obvious character.

Granted, Christian belief and practice were not formed in isolation. Many early elements of Christian worship—including eucharistic meals, meals honoring martyrs and much early Christian funerary art—would have been quite comprehensible to pagan observers. Yet, in the first few centuries C.E., the persecuted Christian minority was greatly concerned with distancing itself from the larger, public pagan religious observances, such as sacrifices, games and holidays. This was still true as late as the violent persecutions of the Christians conducted by the Roman emperor Diocletian between 303 and 312 C.E.

This would change only after Constantine converted to Christianity. From the mid-fourth century on, we do find Christians deliberately adapting and Christianizing pagan festivals. A famous proponent of this practice was Pope Gregory the Great, who, in a letter written in 601 C.E. to a Christian missionary in Britain, recommended that local pagan temples not be destroyed but be converted into churches, and that pagan festivals be celebrated as feasts of Christian martyrs. At this late point, Christmas may well have acquired some pagan trappings. But we don’t have evidence of Christians adopting pagan festivals in the third century, at which point dates for Christmas were established. Thus, it seems unlikely that the date was simply selected to correspond with pagan solar festivals.

The December 25 feast seems to have existed before 312—before Constantine and his conversion, at least. As we have seen, the Donatist Christians in North Africa seem to have know it from before that time. Furthermore, in the mid- to late fourth century, church leaders in the eastern Empire concerned themselves not with introducing a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, but with the addition of the December date to their traditional celebration on January 6.7

There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem, the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. This view was first suggested to the modern world by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years.8 But they were certainly not the first to note a connection between the traditional date of Jesus’ death and his birth.

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar.9 March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception.10 Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.d

This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.”11 Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.

Augustine, too, was familiar with this association. In On the Trinity (c. 399–419) he writes: “For he [Jesus] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.”12

In the East, too, the dates of Jesus’ conception and death were linked. But instead of working from the 14th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, the easterners used the 14th of the first spring month (Artemisios) in their local Greek calendar—April 6 to us. April 6 is, of course, exactly nine months before January 6—the eastern date for Christmas. In the East too, we have evidence that April was associated with Jesus’ conception and crucifixion. Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis writes that on April 6, “The lamb was shut up in the spotless womb of the holy virgin, he who took away and takes away in perpetual sacrifice the sins of the world.”13 Even today, the Armenian Church celebrates the Annunciation in early April (on the 7th, not the 6th) and Christmas on January 6.e

Thus, we have Christians in two parts of the world calculating Jesus’ birth on the basis that his death and conception took place on the same day (March 25 or April 6) and coming up with two close but different results (December 25 and January 6).

Connecting Jesus’ conception and death in this way will certainly seem odd to modern readers, but it reflects ancient and medieval understandings of the whole of salvation being bound up together. One of the most poignant expressions of this belief is found in Christian art. In numerous paintings of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary—the moment of Jesus’ conception—the baby Jesus is shown gliding down from heaven on or with a small cross (see photo of detail from Master Bertram’s Annunciation scene); a visual reminder that the conception brings the promise of salvation through Jesus’ death.

The notion that creation and redemption should occur at the same time of year is also reflected in ancient Jewish tradition, recorded in the Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud preserves a dispute between two early-second-century C.E. rabbis who share this view, but disagree on the date: Rabbi Eliezer states: “In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; on Passover Isaac was born...and in Nisan they [our ancestors] will be redeemed in time to come.” (The other rabbi, Joshua, dates these same events to the following month, Tishri.)14 Thus, the dates of Christmas and Epiphany may well have resulted from Christian theological reflection on such chronologies: Jesus would have been conceived on the same date he died, and born nine months later.15

In the end we are left with a question: How did December 25 become Christmas? We cannot be entirely sure. Elements of the festival that developed from the fourth century until modern times may well derive from pagan traditions. Yet the actual date might really derive more from Judaism—from Jesus’ death at Passover, and from the rabbinic notion that great things might be expected, again and again, at the same time of the year—than from paganism. Then again, in this notion of cycles and the return of God’s redemption, we may perhaps also be touching upon something that the pagan Romans who celebrated Sol Invictus, and many other peoples since, would have understood and claimed for their own too.16

1. Origen, Homily on Leviticus 8.
2. Clement, Stromateis 1.21.145. In addition, Christians in Clement’s native Egypt seem to have known a commemoration of Jesus’ baptism—sometimes understood as the moment of his divine choice, and hence as an alternate “incarnation” story—on the same date (Stromateis 1.21.146). See further on this point Thomas J. Talley, Origins of the Liturgical Year, 2nd ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991), pp. 118–120, drawing on Roland H. Bainton, “Basilidian Chronology and New Testament Interpretation,” Journal of Biblical Literature 42 (1923), pp. 81–134; and now especially Gabriele Winkler, “The Appearance of the Light at the Baptism of Jesus and the Origins of the Feast of the Epiphany,” in Maxwell Johnson, ed., Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000), pp. 291–347.
3. The Philocalian Calendar.
4. Scholars of liturgical history in the English-speaking world are particularly skeptical of the “solstice” connection; see Susan K. Roll, “The Origins of Christmas: The State of the Question,” in Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000), pp. 273–290, especially pp. 289–290.
5. A gloss on a manuscript of Dionysius Bar Salibi, d. 1171; see Talley, Origins, pp. 101–102.
6. Prominent among these was Paul Ernst Jablonski; on the history of scholarship see especially Roll, “The Origins of Christmas,” pp. 277–283.
7. For example, Gregory of Nazianzen, Oratio 38; John Chrysostom, In Diem Natalem.
8. Louis Duchesne, Origines du culte Chrétien, 5th ed. (Paris: Thorin et Fontemoing, 1925), pp. 275–279; and Talley, Origins.
9. Tertullian, Adversus Iudaeos 8.
10. There are other relevant texts for this element of argument, including Hippolytus and the (pseudo-Cyprianic) De pascha computus; see Talley, Origins, pp. 86, 90–91.
11. De solstitia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis domini nostri iesu christi et iohannis baptistae.
12. Augustine, Sermon 202.
13. Epiphanius is quoted in Talley, Origins, p. 98.
14. b. Rosh Hashanah 10b–11a.
15. Talley, Origins, pp. 81–82.
16. On the two theories as false alternatives, see Roll, “Origins of Christmas.”
a. See Jonathan Klawans, “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder?” BR 17:05.
b. See the following BR articles: David R. Cartlidge, “The Christian Apocrypha: Preserved in Art,” BR 13:03; Ronald F. Hock, “The Favored One,” BR 17:03; and Charles W. Hedrick, “The 34 Gospels,” BR 18:03.
c. For more on dating the year of Jesus’ birth, see Leonara Neville, “Fixing the Millennium,&rd; AO 03:01.
d. The ancients were familiar with the 9-month gestation period based on the observance of women’s menstrual cycles, pregnancies and miscarriages.
e. In the West (and eventually everywhere), the Easter celebration was later shifted from the actual day to the following Sunday. The insistence of the eastern Christians in keeping Easter on the actual 14th day caused a major debate within the church, with the easterners sometimes referred to as the Quartodecimans, or “Fourteenthers.”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Over

As far as I am concerned Christmas 2010 is now over.

My oldest daughter got the flowers arranged for my mother yesterday, I paid my insurance, and all gifts for the children are present (no pun intended) and accounted for. Everyone is, again, working in emergency services this Christmas holiday so I am going to curl up into a ball and watch movies in this shed the entire day of the 25th.
Well, unless I get roped into cooking Christmas dinner for my boss.

Yesterday was a real strange day.

I took several brand new dress coats and pants to the dry cleaner back in September for my boss, and asked for alterations done and dry cleaning. I have had an awful time trying to find those dress coats and pants. So yesterday I ran around like a chicken with it's head cut off trying to locate a seamstress who no longer works for the dry cleaning business.

The fact that I have been asking for these items for 3 months doesn't seem the least unusual. The fact that no-one, neither the dry cleaner nor seamstress, phoned us didn't phase anyone. The fact that it seems the alterations are STILL not done is so frustrating. I came back without them. Of course.

Then we wonder why businesses go out of business so quickly in the land of manana.

A gun store wrote to my boss advising him that they were going out of business and he needed to pick up a $1,000 gun he had on consignment. So we had to phone around looking for that businessman.

My boss had left a new jacket at the racetrack casino. I went looking for it. It was not to be found anywhere.

From 9.30 am until 3.30 pm my truck motor was never turned off but for short periods. I drove the length and breadth of Lincoln County trying to round up missing clothes, guns, prescriptions, everything BUT a partridge in a pear tree.

By 3.30 pm I was so exhausted and in so much pain I could barely drag the bags of fertilizer I purchased for the golf putting green out of my truck, and I thanked God that the weather was so gorgeous.

I suspect that millions of people are giving thanks that once again Christmas - such an overwhelming time during a recession - has been conquered one way or another. But just as many are in jeopardy of losing their homes, losing their jobs, walking on thin ice fearing that the whole lot is going to give way under their feet. I have two daughters who are walking that path. Barely making it, the fear of losing everything precariously close.

So this year I feel blessed, relieved, that Christmas is over. Now I have to face the new year and get that trailer house and barn finished. I just can't handle yet another winter homeless and I pray that doesn't sound too selfish.

Christmas, my child, is love in action." ~ Dale Evans

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four Days To Christmas

With all Christmas presents taken care of my daughters and I gave a HUGE sigh of relief. The only pressing thing I now have to do in the next four days is try to get flowers to my mother before Christmas Day, in a country that has almost come to a standstill due to the snowstorms, and pay my truck insurance.

My heart is in my stomach with stress and worry.

The roping horse my boss purchased was sent to Tulerosa - which was an absolute blessing. Had it come here I would have had to move so much more of my property out of the feed room just to get hay inside.

All of the race horses were liquidated and at least two of them went to Tulerosa to be re-trained as roping horses.

I can't believe the difference 3 years has made.

3-4 years ago the horse industry was rockin n' rollin though we kept getting that awful feeling that a full blown recession was on the horizon. Still, money was changing hands and even those of us who speculated that we were in for a rough time didn't have enough information to know for sure.

How much different life and my future would have been had Robert & Sylvi Huckins not stolen the building fund. How much easier it would have been to weather this hard hitting financial storm.

Jan and I sat at the Lazy J discussing the financial instability. Looking back at the many factors in life that can make and break you. I'll have to admit that through my pain and hardship, heartache, I have had the opportunity to help some I wouldn't have been able to help had I been in a home with creature comforts.

Maybe that is a cold hard truth. Helping others go through hardships may be our lot in life. Life gets very confusing sometimes.

It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart." ~ Marjorie Holmes

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Is The Loneliest Number

Getting through the Christmas holidays is so much harder than I ever anticipated. Emotionally I am so drained, and keeping any hope of having a home seems so far removed from reality. The migraines have become so bad I just don't seem to be able to focus.

The snow started to melt yesterday, and was replaced by... mud. A lot of it. It wasn't long before muddy paws were all over the bed and inside the truck. Despite being a bit chilly the weather was terribly nice for December. Still, I didn't stay outside. I just wanted to hide from the world. Curl up into a ball and make everything disappear.

My boss bought a roping horse, so early this morning I started moving boxed belongings to one corner of the stall hoping that I could safely panel that area.

England is getting beaten something unbelievable at a time when the British government has brought in a 20% increase in VAT (tax). The fact that I am sat here with my mothers money missing, when she should have been able to spend Christmas with her family, is simply mortifying me.

Each day I get closer and closer to the reality of never seeing my mother alive - ever again.

Everything seems to be held by a delicate thread, and all the efforts I made to get through this winter seem to have been weighed down with more circumstances beyond my control.

Instead of trying to face the world with a forced smile and lighthearted jokes I no longer want to face anyone. Hiding the stress and pain is just too much.

“When we truly realize that we are all alone is when we need others the most” - Ronald Anthony

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter White At Last?

But perhaps not for long...

The weather forecast is predicting that we will back to warmer weather by Monday. Hopefully so.

Waking up to a few inches of snow was a bitter-sweet experience and I wasn't too sure of I should be thrilled for the ski resort or mortified for myself.

Yesterday afternoon my oldest daughter phoned and told me that the money order from Robert Huckins had arrived. Decembers payment arriving the 16th? He's certainly paying on a more regular schedule. Maybe he found the stash of money he's been hiding and one of these days he'll be so overcome with remorse and repentance he'll send me the $79,000 and just go away.

That post would be titled, "A Miracle."

Meanwhile the State of New Mexico Corrections Department gave me a summary of what he still owes.
After deducting this money order for $456.66 he now has a balance due that he owes me of $79,003.38.

There again, he has a home and his life goes on without a care in the world.Therefore, don't let sinners take courage to think they will be favoured like the thief on the cross; for we see on the other side, they may be like the hardened one, and reproach death itself. - Elias Hicks

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snow On The Horizon..

The insanely high wind today whipped up and quickly got out of control. With serious storms bearing down on New Mexico it's not an impossibility that here in Ruidoso we may see snow in the next 24 hours. After work I started getting ready for that materializing.

Keeping anything clean, including bedding and clothes, has become an exercise of frustration. Everything quickly gets covered in a substantial amount of dust, or if the weather is wet, mud. Maybe I should change my name to "Gypsy Rose Lee."

I can't wait for Christmas to be over so I can face this nightmare head-on again. If the Lord called me home tomorrow it would be a miracle to spare me so much heartache, a selfish emotion I know, but one so sincerely made.

For whatever reason the Lord seems to think that I shall remain here and struggle through this mess so I smile and thank Him for the courage I must get from Him, for I have none left of my own.

I still have to return to Tulerosa to pick up the remaining supplies, the second and last load, I bought months ago but can't find the heart to ask Jan and Mike to find the time to spend another day hauling this close to Christmas. Neither have I been near my property in weeks fearing that I won't be able to handle a disheartening sight.

Sometimes this all feels so hopeless and I feel so helpless..

My boss wants another riding horse so I phoned an ad. today but was a little relieved when the owner said that it had been sold. Had he bought it where on earth would he put it? I have cardboard boxes, suitcases and so much property in the stall and paddock and nowhere to move it to.

Moving my personal belongings and professional equipment has become good enough for a sit com. But there is nothing I can do but fret and worry about a trailer house that I couldn't even get dried in before the first snow storm of the winter, and wonder how I'll get through this one.

Santa, all I wanted for Christmas was the home I bought and paid for. Is that too much to ask for?

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. - Maya Angelou

Sunday, December 12, 2010

When We Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse

Trying to just take one day at a time has lulled me into a catatonic state and I'm having a difficult time trying to keep the motivation going. A few days ago I spoke to the welder and after the Christmas holidays, the Lord willing, I'll be able to raise the funds to put 20 hours of work per week into that property.
The economy is rocking me something awful. You can't be a victim of crime left homeless, trying to recover from such a horrendous loss, in the midst of a recession with the economy crumbling around you. It's a double jeopardy that beats you within an inch of your life.

The warm houses around me with Christmas decorations and families waiting to unite is a comfort so far out of my reach that it has spiraled me into such sadness. I'm so painfully homesick for my "home" and being able to see my mum. Each day I have to fight tears, and each night I return to a numb state bewildered at how to correct this nightmare. Even when I promise myself to hang in, stop worrying, stop stressing in the light of day, sleep brings night terrors of and despair.
The mild winter weather has become my biggest blessing and one that I don't take for granted, for most of the country is being blasted by the Alberta Clipper.

But, the economy is hurting many and one doesn't have to be a homeless victim of crime to know that reality. So how bad is it? And how bad could it get? A friend sent me this article.

The Wall Street Pentagon Papers: Biggest Scam In World History Exposed - Are The Federal Reserve’s Crimes Too Big To Comprehend?

By David DeGraw, AmpedStatus

The Wall Street Pentagon Papers: Biggest Scam In World History Exposed - Are The Federal Reserve's Crimes Too Big To Comprehend?What if the greatest scam ever perpetrated was blatantly exposed, and the US media didn’t cover it? Does that mean the scam could keep going? That’s what we are about to find out.

I understand the importance of the new WikiLeaks documents. However, we must not let them distract us from the new information the Federal Reserve was forced to release. Even if WikiLeaks reveals documents from inside a large American bank, as huge as that could be, it will most likely pale in comparison to what we just found out from the one-time peek we got into the inner-workings of the Federal Reserve. This is the Wall Street equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.

“One benefit of being poor is that it doesn't take much to improve the situation” - Anon

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Australian Rallies

Protests will be held around the world today against the detention of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Demonstrations are planned in the capitals of Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Peru to demand Assange's release, the re-establishment of the WikiLeaks domain name and the restoration of Visa and Mastercard credit services to allow supporters to donate money to the whistleblowing site.

A statement on the Spanish-language website Free WikiLeaks said: "We seek the liberation of Julian Assange in United Kingdom territory." The website called on protesters to gather at 6pm (17.00 GMT) in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville and three other Spanish cities.

It also calls for "the re-establishment of the WikiLeaks ( internet domain," and the restoration of Visa and MasterCard credit card services to enable the "freedom to move money" because no one has "proved Assange's guilt", nor charged WikiLeaks with any crime.


This particular blog is attracting up to and beyond 100 readers per day. The total readership is now well into the thousands and growing at an incredible rate.

When I first started it the idea was to keep a diary of day-to-day details of a recovery process, showing how painfully difficult it was for a victim of fraud and embezzlement in America to recover, without any safety nets in place. Giving specifics instead of allowing people to make up fallacies. It was to clarify a situation in a region given to gossip, lies and deception.
I truly believed that the ONLY thing needed to destroy deception .. is truth.

I can write a whole lot better than I can speak. My fingers on a keyboard don't stammer and stutter, they don't feel embarrassment. I was never born to be a "speaker" that is for sure. And I would probably die to protect the freedom of speech that goes into the written word.

I am a professional in the horse industry. But my interest in international politics is deep and sincere. I never expected to include socio-political matters within this blog, because no matter which side of the fence you are on you are going to alienate someone.

But some things just became too big not to include. If the topic was on my mind it found it's way to this blog. And typical of my personality it takes a long time for me to research and know the facts of any situation, but when I make a decision based upon facts I make no bones about it.

My sincere gratitude to John Wilkes and his British and American counter-parts.

John Wilkes was an 18th-century journalist and popular London politician. In 1771, that great lover of liberty, John Wilkes, and a number of printers challenged the law that prohibited the reporting of Parliamentary debates and speeches, kept secret because those in power argued that the information was too sensitive and would disrupt the life of the country if made public. Using the arcane laws of the City of London, Alderman Wilkes arranged for the interception of the Parliamentary messengers sent to arrest the printers who had published debates, and in doing so successfully blocked Parliament. By 1774, a contemporary was able to write: "The debates in both houses have been constantly printed in the London."

“Earl of Sandwhich . . .You shall either die of the pox or on the gallows

John Wilkes . . . That sir depends on whether I embrace your mistress or your politics”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ron Paul : Lying is Not Patriotic

WikiLeaks and Assange arrest a testing time for rule of law

What is always entertaining in these causes celebres is the flexibility – hypocrisy if you prefer – on display in all quarters

Tucked away in the latest batch of high-minded WikiLeaks revelations in today's Guardian is a perfect example of the triumph of cock-up over conspiracy, of the lowbrow over the lofty. I refer to the popularity of US sitcoms like Friends and Desperate Housewives in steering impressionable Saudi youth away from jihad and into the arms of David Letterman.

Who says? Well, another of the familiar crop of American diplomats whose cable traffic to Washington was downloaded and given to the media via WikiLeaks. So, they would say that, wouldn't they?

Except that the US had blown $500m – say £300m – in funding the al-Hurra Arabic TV news channel, only to find that popular cable channels like MCB4 and Rotana were actually doing the biz with subtitled sitcoms and movies that embody heroic American virtues like honesty over greed or hypocrisy and respect for the rule of law.

It's going to be a testing time for honesty over hypocrisy and the rule of law now that Julian Assange is detained in custody awaiting extradition proceedings to Sweden with a possible rival bid lodged by the US, where prosecutors are scratching their heads for some way of being able to charge him for the damage they say he's done.

The Guardian's editorial grapples manfully with the issue today and – after some on "the one hand, on the other hand" discussion in the paper's familiar tradition – ends by warning that, whatever excesses WikiLeaks may have committed, the US government must not follow authoritarian regimes like China or Iran in the covert use of cyber-attacks to curb its activities. Freedom of speech is never an unqualified right, but if the US wants to act it should do so openly via the law.

That seems an unanswerable conclusion, one worth restating as allegations surface – unsupported by much evidence so far – that the US state department, Pentagon or even White House must be co-ordinating the "patriotic hacker" attacks on internet companies and sites that have been helping keep the WikiLeaks operation airborne after the likes of Amazon and eBay pulled their own plugs.

The US has never been an easy place to keep too much secret for long – remember how the Reagan administration's illegal sale of weapons to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan Contras was exposed? – which is why the 9/11 conspiracy theorists have been wasting their time.

So whatever has been going on will probably surface in due course. Fortunately, the Obama administration has been pretty level-headed so far, leaving the "hang 'em high" nonsense to the Republican right, plus Joe Lieberman. In any case, whatever Assange did, he didn't do it on US soil, so they will have a problem with any extradition proceedings which look overtly political.

That would be true even in Britain, whose much-criticised extradition treaty with the US is deemed too favourable to American requests on flimsy grounds. Hence the powerful defence made again by today's Daily Mail on behalf of Gary McKinnon, the geeky London computer hacker whom the Pentagon wants jailed for exposing the weaknesses of their security codes. Whatever McKinnon may – may – have done is trivial in comparison to the embarrassment caused by Assange.

It is the Mail that makes another interesting point I have not seen elsewhere, namely that US attempts to extradite Assange may be much harder from Sweden, whose US extradition treaty is more favourable to defendants than would be the case here, especially where there are allegations of political motive.

So Assange's lawyers, who usually sound a bit naïve on radio and TV, might yet conclude their client would be safer in Stockholm than appealing against his detention and the European extradition warrant all the way to the UK supreme court. By the same token US government lawyers might realise that they had better get their rival bid in quickly.

The Swedish dimension adds piquancy to an otherwise relentlessly high-minded, policy-orientated public controversy. It is the Desperate Housewives or the Friends side of the story that pulls in punters who might otherwise not be watching the BBC News Channel or al-Hurra.

Reading Esther Addley's account of the sexual allegations made by two Swedish women against Assange – and the Mail's lengthier investigation yesterday – will lead to doubts about the idea that the CIA is manipulating their complaints.

What is always entertaining in these causes celebres is the flexibility – hypocrisy if you prefer – on display in all quarters. Some progressives who might normally be expected to express alarm over rape allegations are happy to dismiss these as politically motivated.

Assange himself emerges as distinctly untransparent by the standards he sets others. Newspapers like the Times, which initially condemned the leaks, rushed on Monday to print the one about key US global infrastructure targets, which papers like the Guardian had long since decided could not be justified in the public interest.

It was ever thus and hypocrisy is a charge easily levelled against most of us. The more secretive and autocratic a regime (it's Libya's turn this morning) the uglier its two-faced diplomatic manoeuvrings, as reported to US diplomats.

By this test, the US has emerged fairly well from the Wiki deluge, its public positions less divergent than most from what it turns out to have been saying in private. As with the banking crisis the damage done is to its reliability and credibility as a secure repository of valuable information (or dollar holdings).

That Britain was fearful of what Libya's Muammar Gaddafi might do to UK interests – notably oil and gas – if Abdelbaset-al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, was not released seemed pretty obvious at the time, though the waters were muddied by the Whitehall-Holyrood dimension and outraged US public opinion to which Washington had to pander.

The row should serve as a useful reminder – though it won't – that Britain sometimes asserts its national interest despite certain US displeasure and that sometimes governments have to cut deals with awful people to keep their own citizens safe and warm. They rarely enjoy it.

Both in the law courts and the wider public arena this controversy will run on, less for what significant information the leaks have revealed but for the processes involved and the role/functioning/regulating of the global internet in our fragile, wired world.

The Wiki row shows – yet again – how vulnerable modern society is to disruption through information networks, both from those who seek to promote dissemination at all costs and those who seek to deny it.

Are officials who shared their thoughts with US diplomats in repressive societies now being hunted down? Unlike the fate of Julian Assange, that is one thing we are unlikely ever to learn. Will the glorious freedoms the internet both provides and enhances be better entrenched or weakened as a result?

That we will discover. What we know already is that the internet is like the proverbially priceless Ming vase being carried across a slippery floor.

Ron Paul Calls Wikileaks Heroes

Charging Julian Assange could be unconstitutional

The due process clause rules out prosecuting WikiLeaks' founder – a non-US citizen – for extraterritorial offences

There's been lots of talk about US authorities prosecuting Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, but it has posed a big question: Assange did all his leaking while remaining outside of the United States, so is it constitutional to extend America's criminal laws to activities beyond its shores?

It's well established that the due process clause places limits on such sweeping assertions of power. For example, when foreign monopolies manipulate prices overseas, it's not enough to show that they have hurt American consumers. Courts insist on evidence that they had fair notice that American anti-trust laws would govern their activity.

Up to now, these constitutional requirements have been developed most elaborately in anti-trust and other areas, which involve civil damages, not criminal punishment. But due process is even more important in criminal procedure, where the Constitution has always held America to more demanding standards.

This basic point has been missed because cases like WikiLeaks are relative novelties. During the first two centuries of the American republic, the justice department only prosecuted extraterritorially for crimes involving recognition that American law was in play – offences that involved direct dealing with the American government or crimes like piracy that were universally condemned by all nations. It was only in the 1980s, and especially since 11 September 2001, that the United States has increasingly used the criminal law as a weapon abroad.

As a consequence, courts are only beginning to grapple with the fair notice problem. In 2003, for instance, the second circuit considered whether due process allowed the United States to prosecute Ramzi Yousef, a non-citizen, for hijacking a Phillippines airliner en route to Japan. The court allowed the proceeding to go forward: given that Yousef's hijacking was a test run for a similar attack he planned for the United States, he should have "reasonably anticipate[d] being haled into court in this country".

But, on the surface at least, Assange could not be charged under a similar rationale. He does not seem to be planning to enter the United States anytime soon. His actions undoubtedly damaged the interests of the United States, but this is true of countless foreigners who release information about America in foreign countries. Surely, it would be unconstitutional for American criminal law to threaten prosecution against every foreigner in the world who denounces the United States?

The Espionage Act of 1917 is the most frequently cited authority for a criminal prosecution. In its 90-year history, it has only once been used against a foreign citizen for an extraterritorial violation. That was in 1985. The case involved Alfred Zehe, who had transmitted classified information about US anti-submarine warfare to the East German government. In defending himself in court, Zehe did not raise any constitutional objections, and so the district judge did not consider them in convicting him. Since Zehe didn't appeal, no higher court has ever ruled on the crucial due process questions.

But that doesn't mean that the justice department should proceed as if the due process clause didn't exist. Unless it can uncover clear and convincing evidence that Assange could reasonably foresee liability under American law, it should not give way to the passions of the moment and launch a criminal prosecution.

Julian Assange cast as common enemy as US left and right unite

Growing clamour sees Republicans and Democrats demanding action against WikiLeaks founder

The outcry against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is intensifying in the US, drawing a rare degree of consensus from politicians and pundits who have collectively cast him in the role of a common enemy.

In the past few days the calls for action against Assange have grown steadily louder and more shrill, with leading Republicans labelling him a terrorist, and top liberal Democratic politicians, albeit in more moderate language, also calling for his prosecution.

The highly unusual bipartisan hounding of Assange has led some free speech campaigning groups to warn of a "chilling effect," in which the threats of legal action are already having an impact on the open spirit of the internet.

The most extreme attacks have come from prominent Republicans including Sarah Palin, who has likened Assange to an al-Qaida operative; Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, who called him a "hi-tech terrorist"; and Newt Gingrich, who called him an information terrorist and said he should be arrested as an "enemy combatant" .

Assange was also attacked by leading Democrats such as Dianne Feinstein, who said he should be charged under the US espionage act, and John Kerry, who has called for the law to be changed to allow a prosecution of the WikiLeaks website.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington and author of Necessary Secrets, said the cross-party baying put the Obama administration in a difficult place. "There is a huge amount of pressure on them to do something about WikiLeaks."

This week Joe Lieberman, the independent senator who has long been an opponent of WikiLeaks, widened the net when he accused the New York Times of an "act of bad citizenship" by publishing versions of the US embassy cables and called on the justice department to hold a "very intensive inquiry" into whether the paper had committed a crime.

Schoenfeld and other experts on the US first amendment think it highly unlikely that a prosecution will be brought against the New York Times – no news outlet has ever been charged under the espionage act and the supreme court ruled out such an action against the same newspaper over the leak of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

The Times is keeping its head down for the moment, saying only that "We believe that our decision to publish was responsible journalism, legal, and important to a democratic society". It has also published a long explanation of why it went ahead with the embassy leaks.

So far key Obama administration figures have adopted a more temperate tone than much of the swirling debate around them. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has called the embassy cables "moderate" in their seriousness and said arguments that they had damaged national security were "fairly significantly overwrought".

The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has played a double game, threatening to take "aggressive steps" against disseminators of the cables while emphasising the positive worth of an open internet.

Eric Holder, the US attorney general, who will have the final decision on whether to prosecute, has said he will do everything he can to hold WikiLeaks accountable, but has not specified what that would mean.

"Whether or not new laws are passed to further curb freedom of speech, there is already a chilling effect," said Steve Rendall of the media watchdog Fair.

There is already evidence that some people who were willing to donate to WikiLeaks in support of the site's freedom of information work have now stopped doing so for fear of being arrested as terrorist funders .

Bloggers pointed out that if Feinstein's desire to wield the espionage act against WikiLeaks were followed through, it would have a powerful deadening effect on mainstream media outlets' efforts to report on national security matters.

However, some at the coal face of internet publishing say that they are unfazed by the current furore. John Young, whose website has published about 60,000 classified and non-classified documents over the past 14 years, believes the storm will pass.

"This is just typical arm-waving and yelling. If anything, this will just further wind people up to oppose authority and send in more documents."

We have the greatest opportunity the world has ever seen, as long as we remain honest -- which will be as long as we can keep the attention of our people alive. If they once become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors would all become wolves.- Thomas Jefferson