Al Qaeda New Reason To Avoid Syria;
New Casino Promotes Gambling, Not Races

A surprising move by some of the most powerful rebel leaders in the Syrian war—forming an alliance with a powerful Al Qaeda group—makes any further talk of U.S. military intervention on the side of the rebels sound even more foolish.

U.S. Senator John McCain and President Obama can hardly become de facto allies of the al Qaeda Muslim terrorist movement dedicated to killing as many Americans as possible.

It becomes increasingly clear that the best course for the United States is to avoid military involvement in the Syrian mess since no vital United States interest is at stake—a “stay out” position which polls indicate is supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.

McCain and Obama and any other intervention advocates need to keep in mind also that the Soviet Union is not about to give up its powerful political and economic interests in Syria to rebel Syrians and Al Qaeda forces and any pressure that might be exerted by McCain and Obama.

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Horsemen’s Group Is Betting On Long-Shot

That plush new gambling casino recently opened in southwest Lincoln should be seen for what it is—a gambling casino masquerading as a means of somehow restoring Thoroughbred horse race courses in Nebraska.

It is primarily an effort to promote gambling on races in other parts of the country—races which are simulcast on huge screens in the new gambling casino.  As with a similar casino in Omaha, the most that might be expected would be one or two or three horse racing days a year.

Helping expose the fact that the owners are not really offering an effort to bring back Thoroughbred horse race meetings in Nebraska is the fact that to meet a state requirement of at least one Thoroughbred race a year, the new Lincoln facility this year had three horses running a race on a 200 yard “race track.”

Ironically, during a reporter’s visit to the plush new Lincoln gambling casino, a bettor could be heard shouting “Come on, No. 3!  Come on, No. 3!,” a horse which was running not in Nebraska but in a race being simulcast from the Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California.

So is it a casino devoted to promoting Thoroughbred horse racing in Nebraska or another Nebraska casino to make money selling drinks and food and promoting betting on televised races on legitimate Thoroughbred tracks like Santa Anita?  The answer seems obvious to me.

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Critics Of Cornhusker Defense Should Look At
2nd-Half Performance Against South Dakota State

One more effort to bring some perspective to consideration of the quality of the Nebraska Cornhusker football team’s defensive performance this season to date:

After the Nebraska-South Dakota State game, one of the World-Herald’s press box coach/commentators said the Cornhusker defense “stinks.”  Before he had a chance to review statistics on the Husker defense’s second-half performance against South Dakota State, Coach Bo Pelini said his team’s performance was the worst of the season.

Let’s take another look at the record, with some additional statistics which were not available to me when I commented last week:

In the second half, the Huskers held the Jackrabbits to 176 yards compared to 279 the first half.  In the second half, the Huskers sacked the Jackrabbit quarterback six times, compared to no sacks in the first half.

In contrast to the Jackrabbits’ 11 for 14 passing performance in the first half, the Huskers defense allowed 8 for 16 passing completions in the second half, with a ninth pass being intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

If that’s “stinky” let’s hope for the same kind of smell when Illinois comes to Lincoln Saturday in the Huskers Big 10 season opener.

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Marian And I—Especially Marian—Will Miss
Our “Senior Dog,” The Lovable Claire

Regular readers of my weekly column know that from time to time I end with an upbeat story about one or both of the world’s two most lovable cocker spaniels, frequently a story involving the special bond between Marian and Claire.

Today Claire, who would have been 12 in February, is in the news again, this time with the sad story of her incurable suffering being ended last Monday in what both her doctor and Marian and I agreed was compassionate euthanasia.

The lovable lady was suffering from a variety of untreatable internal maladies.

Jackie Wrieth, my assistant and one of Claire’s best friends, and I spent 15 minutes or so with her at the veterinary clinic.  She recognized us and seemed to enjoy the attention, which included a lot of ear scratching and back rubbing and a few small pieces of her favorite candy.

Dog lovers—and there are so many of you out there—will, I hope, forgive me if I recall a few favorite memories of the years Claire brightened our lives.

A Special Bond With Marian

Claire had enough love to share generous portions with a number of her acquaintances, but her special favorite was Marian.

She could be seen regularly sitting or lying outside Marian’s closed bathroom door, patiently waiting for her mistress to come out.  Or sitting or lying close to the door leading into our house from the garage, knowing that through the door sooner or later Marian would come after pulling into the garage.

Claire didn’t overlook me in spreading her attention around.  Perhaps the best example was her habit of moving quickly to me and jumping up to put both paws on my knee after I had sneezed while sitting in the family room.  This happened time after time, until Claire’s hearing faded as the years went by.

Marian said it was Claire’s concern about my possibly catching a cold, a problem which a little canine attention might help address.

Sneezes Brought Attention To Me—And Rewards For Claire

My explanation was that when Claire’s first response to one of my sneezes was greeted with a vigorous backrub, a kiss and some sweet talk, she knew a good pattern of friendship when she had established one.

We haven’t decided what to do with Claire’s ashes.  One possibility would be to spread them in the lawn in the backyard where Claire enjoyed sniffing her way through the grass—reading, as Marian described it, “The Daily Doggie Gazette” while Marian and our two-years younger cocker, lovable Charlotte, sat in the sun on the pool deck.

Incidentally, Marian has quickly decided we will not be a one-dog family for long.  We both agreed that a compliment to Claire—and a joy to us—would be to acquire another cocker to join our “junior dog” who now becomes “senior dog,” the much-loved Charlotte.

If being much loved and returning that love by bringing happiness to the lives of those you love constitutes a good life, dear Claire will be remembered for having lived a very good life indeed.

Claire’s special bond with Marian was demonstrated with their joint occupancy on a hospital bed temporarily placed in our family room while Marian sought to recover from a 2004 operation on her left ankle.

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