Saturday, March 31, 2007

Call that humiliation?

How Iran treats prisoners

How the US treats prisoners

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

Terry Jones Guardian CiF 03/31/07 - Call that humiliation? -

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe.

Continue reading "Call that humiliation?" (The comments are priceless.)


A young British friend I know writes me, "Anything that implies a fey limp wristed effeminate person annoys me, as does the assumption that every guy who likes other guys is all about anal sex or cocksucking." He's got a point.

In the push for inclusivity and diversity, you tend to see: LBGTQQIA, like a run-on sentence gone wild. But parse/spell it out and you get:


Compartmentalisation: People are pigeon-holed, but some people choose to separate themselves, too - as if they are quintessentially special - and they let you know it - publicly lugging around their emotional baggage, as if in a colostomy bag! Until the LBGTQQIA community figures out what they are, I'll just use the all-encompassing "Queer."

Queer used to be the derogatory word that was applied to homosexuals. Although the word 'gay' has defined homosexuals, some prefer the word queer since it used to be a derogatory term and by calling yourself queer there is the perception of 'reclaiming' the word as less negative. That's inherent in the pride celebrations. The same use of a negative word is when African Americans use the nigger with each other to show a rejection of previous connotations of negative connotations and reclaiming the word as a word and not as a label. The use of words formerly used in a negative context are similar, a gay person will accept being called queer by another gay person but may take offense if called that name by someone else.

This definition pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about the word queer:

"I prefer to say I'm queer because unlike the descriptors: gay, lesbian, or bisexual, queer doesn't force me to choose a gender or sexual orientation, and it allows me to indicate that I feel fundamentally out of place in a binary gender system." -- Jess Fluetsch/Queers of Faith

Queer Liberation Army/Burlington

Re: Church must be safe for gays, Archbishop Williams says

I've always wondered why it is so difficult for Anglican leaders to internalise queer equality. There is only one Anglican parish where I've been a member and truly welcomed. It's not in America, but in London, England!

To: Bishops of the Anglican Communion:
Subject: Re: Church must be safe for gays, Archbishop Williams says
From: Louie Crew
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 14:12:16 -0400 (EDT)

Exxon and many of the other biggest polluters of the environment routinely pay huge advertisement fees to tell us on the evening news about how
carefully they protect the environment.

Ask Jeffrey John how safe the church is for gays under Archbishop Williams'
archepiscopric. Ask +Gene Robinson.

Or go to a town where you are not known and introduce yourself as
lbgt to the local Anglican leadership. Move among them for a week incognito
and then ask yourself how safe Anglican space is.

LGBT Anglicans have taken to the bank Lambeth's promise to dialogue dozens
of times only to have the cheque bounce leaving us to pay -- some with
unemployment, all with increased stigma -- the fee for the Communion's
insufficient commitment to its promises.

Look at the price the Anglicans in Nigeria are asking lgbts to pay in the
church's vociferous support of fierce criminal penalties even for those who
advocate on our behalf.

Believe the Archbishop of Canterebury this time only when local lbgt
Anglicans are heard with respect and kindness by Anglicans in Abuja,
Kigalie, Kampala, Buenos Aires, Pershawar, Nairobe, Kitwe, Dhaka, Kinshasa,
Antananarivo, Nicosia.....

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has steadfastly refused to meet with
lesbian and gay leadership in The Episcopal Church, against whom the
primates have led major charges naming us anathema.

Perhaps the Archbishop's promises this time will not be cheap window
dressing. We live in hope.

Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., D.D., D.H.L.
Founder of Integrity
Chair of the Newark deputation to General Convention

Anglican Communion News Service via Anglican Church of Canada - Church must be safe for gays, Williams says:

MAR. 28, 2007 -- The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that the churches of the Anglican Communion must be safe places for gay and lesbian people. His comments come in a welcome to an interim report on the Anglican Communion's Listening Process, a commitment to listen to the experience of homosexual people. Archbishop Williams warns that the challenge to create the safe space for their voices to be heard and for their dignity to be respected is based on a fundamental commitment of the Communion.

Continue reading "Church must be safe for gays, Williams says..."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Kucinich Interview: Stop the Funding

Foreign Policy in Focus Michael Shank March 29, 2007 interviewing Dennis Kucinich:

Michael Shank: As one of the handful of Democrats that voted “No” on the Iraq supplemental bill, can you share the motivation for your decision?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: It’s very simple: the bill kept the war going. I want to see this war end. I have created, with the help of people who have worked on security and peacekeeping missions for years, a plan to end the war. It’s embodied in H.R. 1234. It would end the U.S. occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, establish a parallel process creating a peacekeeping and security force, reach out to the nations of the region and the international community for help – something we won’t get as long as we continue to occupy Iraq. That plan is much more expansive and in the course of this interview I’d be happy to go over it with you but in short, I oppose the resolution because it kept funding the war. And I say we need to end the war now. Not a year from now, not two years from now, not five or ten years from now, but now.

Shank: There has been some criticism of the supplemental’s timelines for withdrawal, i.e. that they are arbitrary. Why are timelines politically important, what message do they send?

Kucinich: I reject the idea of timelines. Now means now. If we set in motion a plan to end the occupation, close the bases, and bring the troops home, then we begin to establish the metrics of moving peacekeepers in and moving U.S. troops out. I’ve been told that such a plan would take 2-3 months to complete. But other than that, we have the capacity to get out. And I still advocate that.

Shank: And with the recent Senate vote that kept the timelines in the supplemental?

Kucinich: Let’s look at timelines and let’s look at the real budget. As we speak, the Senate said they want to create a timeline to end the war a year from now. The House advocated a timeline: by the end of August 2008. The budget that the House will pass this week contains $145 billion to keep the war going through the end of 2008 and another $50 billion to fund the war well into 2009.

Let’s talk about timelines in the context of funding because it’s funding that guides the timelines not the other way around. So now we’ve not only given the president the money to continue the war but we’re planning to give him money to keep the war going through the end of his term and into the next president’s term. What’s that about? Either we want to end the war or we don’t. If you’re for peace then you vote for peace and you vote to end the war. If you’re for peace then you can’t be voting to keep the war going and say that you are a peace advocate.

Continue reading the rest of the interview

What's hidden in the Iraq Supplemental Bill?
Deceitful Manoeuvres

By Richard W. Behan Counterpunch 03/30/07 -- George Bush's Land Mine:

George Bush has a land mine planted in the supplemental appropriation legislation working its way through Congress.

The Iraq Accountability Act passed by the House and the companion bill passed in the Senate contain deadlines for withdrawing our troops from Iraq, in open defiance of the President's repeated objections.

He threatens a veto, but he might well be bluffing. Buried deep in the legislation and intentionally obscured is a near-guarantee of success for the Bush Administration's true objective of the war-capturing Iraq's oil-and George Bush will not casually forego that. [...]

The legislation pending now in Washington requires the President to certify to Congress by next October that the benchmarks have been met-specifically that the Iraqi hydrocarbon law has been passed. That's the land mine: he will certify the American and British oil companies have access to Iraqi oil. This is not likely what Congress intended, but it is precisely what Mr. Bush has sought for the better part of six years.

It is why we went to war.

Continue reading "George Bush's Land Mine..."

Related commentary by Alan Maass Counterpunch 03/30/07 - The Global Scramble for Black Gold:

The oil men of the Bush administration are trying to set up one of the biggest swindles in history--the great Iraq oil robbery.

The cabinet of the new Iraqi government--under pressure from the U.S. occupiers who put them in power--approved a law that would undo Iraq's nationalized system and give Western oil giants unparalleled access to the country's vast reserves.

The oil companies would be guaranteed super-profits--on a scale unknown anywhere else in the Middle East--for a period of 20 to 35 years from oil pumped out of two-thirds or more of Iraq's oilfields. Meanwhile, Iraqis would continue to endure poverty and the devastation of war while sitting atop what is estimated to be the third-largest supply of the world's most sought-after resource.

The great Iraq oil robbery isn't a done deal. Even if the law is finalized by May as expected, the major oil companies say they won't have anything to do with production in Iraq until "security" is established--and that would mean a success for the occupiers and their Iraqi puppets that the U.S. hasn't been able to achieve over the past four years since the invasion.

Still, the law underlines the importance of the scramble for oil to the U.S. empire--no matter how much George Bush and his administration deny it with claims about spreading "democracy" and making the world safe from terrorism.

Continue reading "The Global Scramble for Black Gold..."

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands

Chocolate Jesus heats up NYC

The Spoof takes a more satirical view.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

And Cala Lilies in the 'Expansive Magical Gardens'

I'm a fan of Katharine Hepburn. When I came to this country with my mother, Kate was a fellow passenger on the Nieuw Amsterdam. All her life, she was independent and thoroughly outrageous (no wonder she is a gay icon). Now, even in death, dontcha think she chortles about this hilariously O. T. T. announcement:

Curbed: On the (Rental) Market: Hepburn Slept Here

You might accuse us of unfairly overselling the Turtle Bay townhouse above by prominently featuring that photo of Katherine Hepburn [sic], its resident from 1931 until the late 1990's. In fact, we've simply rerun the image from the listing for the property, which, per Braden Keil, can be rented for $39,500 a month. Bonus broker babble: "Re-live the glamour in the one time surroundings and home of the movie star legend Katherine Hepburn, The original mirrored dressing room area retains the glitter." Natch.

Douglas Elliman Realty link for 244 East 49th Street

We all scream...

Check out Burlington Pol's recent & amusing A quick story about Texas --

I lived in Austin, Texas in 1997 and 1998. While there I worked for a small, upstart ice cream company called Amy’s. My job was to make ice cream. So one day Amy and I were chatting, and noting I was from Vermont, she mentioned her dealings with Ben and Jerry’s.

You see at that time Amy had about five shops in Austin and San Antonio, but she wanted to start selling pints of ice cream in stores, too. She told me that Ben and Jerry had stopped that from happening by threatening to pull their business from all of the area companies with refrigerated trucks if they distributed for Amy.

Continue reading "A quick story about Texas.."

Reading Haik's story, I had a Proustian moment.

As a kid growing up in the New York City suburbs, a trip to the city & Schrafft's- and their truly exotic ice creams - was a treat. After graduating from university, I moved to Houston. What do I miss most about Texas? Houston's Goode Company BBQ ? Nah. It's Spring, so I think of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and I get a hankering for a pint from that lil creamery in Brenham. Now that's truly Texan. Amy's may be based in Austin, but she's just an upstart who moved there from the Everglades. Ben & Jerry's --I'm not surprised at its treatment of Amy's in Austin. It's now owned by an Anglo-Dutch company fo'cryinoutloud! So, whaddya expect?!? The closest approximation in Vermont to my fave Texas ice cream is locally made in the Champlain islands: Island Homemade Ice Cream. I discovered it at the Burlington Bay Market creamee stand on Battery, at the intersection with College Street. Dee-lish!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"If the demonstrations continue, charges will be brought in future arrests." - T.J. Donovan Chittenden County State's Attorney

Breaking news: Boston Globe Associated Press 03/28/07 -- Prosecutor: No charges for eight arrested at Sanders' office

March 28, 2007

BURLINGTON, Vt. --No charges will be filed against eight anti-war protesters arrested after refusing to leave a district office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

"We have far more pressing problems that we need to spend our resources on," said Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan.

The eight were removed from Sanders' office, given written trespassing warnings and released after Tuesday's protest, which centered on funding for the war in Iraq.

Donovan said the protesters' behavior played a part in the decision.

"They're trying to make a statement, I understand that. I respect what they're doing. That being said, they are in violation of the law. But we take into account that they were peaceful, they were polite and they did leave once the police asked them to leave."

The demonstration was the second in a week targeting a member of Vermont's congressional delegation. Last week, six people were arrested in a similar incident at the office of U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.

If the demonstrations continue, charges will be brought in future arrests, Donovan said.

Donavan said the same thing last week about dropping the charges after the Welch sit-in. Now he's added a threat of prosecuting Vermonters who want to end this occupation in Iraq now (and, no doubt, Mr Donavan does not to be reminded - are expressing their constitutional rights as citizens). It's called civil disobedience, and it has a long history in America and around the world. If Democratic State's Attorney Donavan respects what we are doing, why didn't he join us?

A letter from a nine-year old who was also at Sanders' office yesterday:

Dear Senator Sanders,

Stop the war. What do you not understand? What about the kids in Iraq? You are sending money to kill people and you can stop this war.

If you want the war to stop like you say, then stop it now. You have the power.

I’m nine-years old and I do not stand by my Mom and Dad. I stand on my own and I have to go against this war. I am not afraid of anyone and I am only nine. You have the same choice as me and you support the war.

I’m not afraid of going with what I believe and you are supposed to listen to Vermonters like me instead of pretending and hiding. Go do your job now.

If you like the war, go fight it. It’s not fun. At least 1,000 people are counting on you.

You have kids. How would you like your kids to die because you send money to Bush? Stop doing it.

People were arrested because they had a belief. You have the power in this world but you can arrest me as much and as long as you want but I will never change my mind because what you’re doing is wrong. This war is not right.

Earlier today:

Burlington Free Press John Curran Associated Press 03/28/07: Eight arrested in war protest at Sanders' office

Identical stories ran in the Times Argus and Boston Globe.

Our action was also reported on today's Democracy Now! --
In Burlington Vermont, police arrested eight protesters yesterday after they refused to leave the offices of independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been a long-time opponent of the war but supports the spending bill.

People 'round here make a big deal about Bernie being a socialist. He is anything but. In his office yesterday, I glanced around, and who was there (not with the protesters) but the Chair of the Vermont Democratic Party.

Burlington's Board of Health to Appear on Channel 17

Members of Burlington’s Board of Health will appear on Channel 17 Town Meeting Television’s “Live at 5:25” call-in program on Thursday, March 29 from 5:25 to 5:55 p.m. The program topic is “How to Communicate with the Board of Health.”

This initial program, part of a series of programs, “To Your Health,” will introduce residents to the Burlington Board of Health members and the best way to communicate with the Board. The show will also provide viewers an opportunity to ask questions. Board members are hoping to increase community involvement on important public health issues.

Three additional taped programs in the series are scheduled for this year. Planned topics include Burlington’s pesticide ordinance, personal and family emergency preparedness, and building healthy communities.

Snip, cut, toss....

After listening to this interview on Fresh Air , you'll want to cut up your credit cards and toss them into the trash bin.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

8 Arrested this Evening in Sanders' Office

I've just returned home from the citizen action at Senator Sanders' Burlington office.

We gathered in front of City Hall and walked up to the top of Church Street for the planned protest.

Around 2:30 p.m. this afternoon about 20 or so of us entered his office. The staff knew we were coming, but they were not happy at our presence. Phil Fiermonte, the Senator's Burlington outreach director, told us that the Senator was just too busy "working for the people" in Washington to speak with us. He put down a speaker phone so we could speak with Jeff Weaver, Sanders' DC chief-of-staff. Same ol' shit. Sanders was co-sponsoring various get out of Iraq bills. But Jeff would not commit to stating that the Senator would not vote for continued funding. It was strange behaviour from Fiermonte, who clearly likes to be praised for his earlier civil actions against the establishment. He would not answer questions about those times and the present situation (as a go-fer for Bernie), when asked.

During the afternoon I would guess that around 50 people came into the office to express their desire to end the war and bring the troops home NOW.

Liza Earl, one of the coordinators of today's action read an speech given last week by Republican/Libertarian Texas Congressperson Ron Paul. If only Mr Welch had the guts to speak with such eloquence.

Mid-afternoon, after getting little attention to our pleas from Fiermonte, we telephoned Sanders' office and spoke with Yehudi Sugarman, his staffperson. We asked him to communicate with Sanders that we would be available to speak with him and would stay in his office - and would he ask Sanders to keep staff at his Burlington office even after it closed - until he was finished with today's senatorial duties. He assured us that he would do so. The feeling among our group was that Fiermonte et al had kept the knowledge of our visit to Sanders office away from the Senator. When we told him we had communicated with Mr Sugarman, Fiermonte told us pointedly that it was ineffectual because he's the lowest person on the staff and never speaks with Sanders directly. To be honest, I think that the staff in DC knew we'd call and it was all set up to happen this way.

So much for democracy.

And their "appreciation" for grass-roots activism was so condescending. We are citizens and should be respected.

Just after 6 p.m., for refusing to leave the office, I was among 8 citizens who were arrested: 3 women and 5 men. (No cute cops, no strip search... after all I was disobedient.) My arrest papers tell me that I may not return to Sanders' office for one year from today (requested by Phil Fiermonte, the outreach director). That's what he says.

Peter Freyne Freynland blog: Eight Peace People Busted at Bernie's --
The antiwar protestors say Bernie the Senator should not vote for one more penny to fund George W. Bush's Iraq War.

"The Vermont delegation is united," said Weaver. "We want the war to end as quickly as possible. We're all on the same page."

As for the protesters demands, Weaver told us, "It's easy to be on the outside and criticize. We're on the inside trying to get something done."

Criticise?!? How about citizen engagement and listening to the people, Mr Weaver. As much as I disagree with Freyne's marketing for the Dems and Bernie, I think he captures the irony of Fiermonte's and Weaver's past "activism" and their current switcheroo.

WCAX-TV Channel 3 late breaking story: Eight arrested in war protest at Sanders' office

Vermont Guardian: Antiwar protestors occupy Sanders’ office --

Weaver told the group that Sanders is working to strip the bill of any provisions relating to Iran, and wanted to support the “strongest piece of legislation possible.”

Auch, and others, immediately said that wasn’t good enough.

“Peter Welch told us the same thing, and he lied,” said Auch. “I would ask that Bernie not do the same.”

Two Iraq War veterans — Drew Cameron and Matt Howard — also spoke to Weaver, urging Sanders to support the troops by stopping the war.

“Supporting the troops is empty rhetoric, and years too late,” said Howard. “I have not felt any support from our government.”

Cameron asked if Sanders would trim money in the budget slated for private military contractors.

“A contractor recently asked a buddy of mine what he was doing in Iraq if he wasn’t there to make the big bucks,” said Cameron. “What will Bernie do to stop the corruption in regards to contractor abuse?”

As Weaver got off the phone call, the thanked the protestors and said Sanders would be working to make sure that troops would be home “as soon as possible.”

To that, several people responded loudly, “No, now.”

Miami on the Lake

The sophisticated mutilation of Battery Street continues apace.

I'm sure if you follow the money, you will discover that the baddies are all connected:

Cornell Trading, Inc.
Marriot Courtyard Burlington Harbor
The Westlake Residences
CEDO Burlington
Burlington Democrats
Burlington GOP
Burlington Progressives

Democrats are Exploiting Antiwar Sentiment for Political Gain

Green Party of the United States -- Democrats are Exploiting Antiwar Sentiment for Political Gain

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders strongly criticized a proposed Democratic resolution in the U.S. calling for withdrawal by September 2008, and demanded that Congress take action to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq with legislation that would effect an immediate withdrawal.

The Green Party of the United States has opposed the U.S. war on Iraq since late 2002, when President Bush announced plans for an invasion, and has called for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for a list of high crimes and misdemeanors, including lying to the American people to justify going to war.

Continue reading "Democrats are Exploiting Antiwar Sentiment for Political Gain..."

And after you've read the above, join other Burlington and Vermont citizens TODAY in Phase Two of “Let’s Get Some Action from Our Delegation on the War” --

Citizen Sit-In and Call-In at Senator Bernie Sanders' Office to Protest War Funding
Meet in front of Burlington City Hall on Church Street at 2pm Tuesday, March 27 to plan
Walk to Bernie's Office, 1 Church Street, between 2:20 and 2:30 pm

Relatedly, Howard Zinn --

When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them. We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.

Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house, smashed everything in sight, and terrorized your children a timetable for withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If they are in fact doing the opposite - provoking civil war, hurting people, perpetuating violence - they should withdraw as quickly as ships and planes can carry them home. . .

We are not politicians, but citizens. We have no office to hold on to, only our consciences, which insist on telling the truth. That, history suggests, is the most realistic thing a citizen can do.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Citizen Sit-In and Call-In at Senator Bernie Sanders' Office to Protest War Funding
Meet in front of Burlington City Hall on Church Street at 2pm Tuesday, March 27 to plan
Walk to Bernie's Office, 1 Church Street, between 2:20 and 2:30 pm

As they say in Vershire, I'll be there if the creeks don't rise!

From the press release I received --

Inspired by a national movement called The Occupation Project and Voices for Creative Nonviolence, participants from all over the state will be asking Senator Sanders to vote no on the funding approved by the US House on Friday. Iraq Veterans Against the War, college students, members of local peace organizations, and concerned citizens are all planning on participating either by visiting Sanders' office or calling the office. They will meet in front of Burlington City Hall on Church Street at 2pm Tuesday, March 27 to plan.
They will then walk to Bernie's Office, 1 Church Street, to arrive at 2:30 pm. Participants will each decide for themselves how long they would like to stay at the office.

Last week 30 people occupied Rep. Peter Welch's office in Burlington for five hours. Despite a 35 minute conversation on speaker phone with the activists, Welch voted for the war funding. The sit-in helped bring public attention to the vote and mobilized peace activists who feel it is time, in this 5th year of occupation, to begin a nonviolent, direct action campaign to bring each and every one of the soldiers home now.

Many people in the peace movement say the supplemental funding restrictions do not go far enough to ensure the end the occupation of Iraq. As Representative Dave Zuckerman said at the Burlington peace rally on Saturday, 'half the troops home in a year and a half' was not the rallying cry of campaigns last fall. The American electorate was promised something better. We will ask Bernie to be a strong voice for Vermonters and to vote no on the supplemental.

Many of the speeches on the floor of the US House last week began with, "If only we knew then what we know now, we never would have approved the war." That is a poor excuse and we will not tolerate that same excuse in regards to this funding vote. We know now that with this supplemental funding, a thousand more US soliers will be killed and thousands more wounded. We already know that with this supplemental funding tens of thousands of Iraqis will be killed. We already know there will still be many US troops in Iraq come September 2008. Let's vote against it now.

If you would like any more information on the Sanders Office Sit-In and Call-In please contact Liza Earle at or 802-434-2054 or 802-310-1943.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Two hundred years ago today, on 25 March 1807, the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed in Britain. It was not until 1833 that the slave trade was abolished in Britain.

We dehumanised people and our capacity to enslave continues.

Abolitionists and Freedom Fighters

O living God, God of all the earth,
send down the Spirit of your son, Jesus Christ;
heal our wounded hearts;
make peace in the place of conflict;
grant love in the face of revenge;
build hope where fear prevailed;
establish trust across our divisions.
Let the light of truth disperse the shadows,
and the dawn of justice banish hatred,
that our lives may be saved,
our land restored,
Africa set free
and the love of God be known in joy for all.

-- Bishop Peter John Lee, Diocese of Christ the King, South Africa

Music for a Sunday

I heard the great Frankie Laine sing Sunny Side of the Street on Parky today and found a vid of him. Frankie Laine died last month, aged 93. He was born the same year as my mother. Mom was a musician in her own right (she played drums) and thought Frankie was one of the best song stylists around.

Palm oil trade is wiping out one of our closest relatives

The Observer 03.25.07 Five years to save the orang utan

The Orang Utan, one of man's closest and most enigmatic cousins, could be virtually extinct within five years after it was discovered that the animal's rainforest habitat is being destroyed even more rapidly than had been predicted.

A United Nations report has found that illegal logging and fires have been overtaken as the primary cause of deforestation by a huge expansion of oil palm plantations, which are racing to meet soaring demand from Western food manufacturers and the European Union's zeal for biofuels.

Continue reading "Five years to save the orang utan..."

In his zeal for biofuels, Bush's wooing of Brazil's Lula will effect the Amazon rainforests, too.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Remember the Gang of Four

Remembering the Gang of Four by Richard Estes American Leftist 3/23/07 --

Of course, the timetables are not binding upon the President, as he now has the funds to continue to do as he wishes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, even, when the mood strikes, Iran, assuming, of course, that they survive the Senate, which is doubtful.

Who made this victory for the proponents of perpetual war in the Middle East possible? It's shocking, and should never be forgotten:

With Democrats holding 233 seats and Republicans with 201, Democrats were able to afford only 15 "no" votes. Accordingly, Pelosi, and her leadership team spent days trying to convince members that the bill was Congress' best chance of forcing Bush to change course—an argument that was aided when they added more than $20 billion in domestic spending in an effort to lure votes.

They got a breakthrough Thursday when four of the bill's most consistent critics said they would not stand in its way. California Democrats Lynn Woolsey, Diane Watson, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters said they would help round up support for the bill despite their intention to personally vote against it because it would not end the war immediately. "Despite my steadfast opposition, I have told the speaker that I will work with her to obtain the needed votes to pass the supplemental, but that in the end I must vote my conscience," said Rep. Diane Watson, D- Calif.

Is there any need to comment upon such self-serving personal and political expendiency? No doubt all four forcefully went about the task of persuading others to vote for the bill, because, if they failed, they would have then faced the prospect of drawing straws to determine who would be required to vote against their conscience for Pelosi. Rarely has there been such a compelling example of the much maligned situational ethics associated with some Californians.
Woolsey, Watson, Lee and Waters, the Gang of Four that rescued funding for the President's wars in the Middle East, while keeping their own voting records scrupulously clean. The Iraqis and the Afghans will have to liberate themselves, as there is no prospect that the American political system will relinquish its grip upon their countries. A revolt within the US military is possible, probably more so as a consequence of this vote, but remote.

Continue reading "Remembering the Gang of Four..."

Burlington Voter Power 2006 General Election Report

I serve as Secretary of Burlington Voter Power, a local voter outreach organization. It has just released its 2006 General Election Report. --

Burlington Voter Power (BVP) conducted a total of 19
voter registration drives beginning in May of 2006 and
ending in October of the same year.

Voter registration drives were conducted at the Post
Office on Elmwood Avenue, the City Market, the Church
Street Marketplace, Community College of Vermont
(CCV)and Burlington High School.

A total of two hundred twenty-nine (229) Burlington
voters were registered with two hundred twenty-eight
(228/99%) of those being successfully added to the
official City of Burlington checklist.

One hundred seventy-seven (177/78%) of the voters
registered by BVP turned out to vote for the November
2006 General Election held on Tuesday, November 7th,
while fifty-one (51/22%) did not.

BVP printed brochures and created a website: to help educate
voters about their voting rights and other information
such as location of polling stations, voting by
absentee ballot and so on.

BVP also conducted get-out-the-vote calls on the
Tuesday before the election and mailed
reminder-to-vote postcards to those that registered
with BVP without a phone number.

Report Summary:

19 voter registration drives over a six month period
229 Burlington voters registered
228 voters added to Burlington’s checklist (99%)
177 voters registered by BVP cast a vote (78%)

Please consider a financial donation to help
Burlington Voter Power continue voter outreach efforts
for future elections. Burlington Voter Power is a
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Welch to Vermonters: Drop Dead

The original on which the above headline is based can be found here.


I spoke this afternoon by phone with Tricia Coates at Welch's office.

Mr Welch is voting YES for the Iraq Supplemental: Continue to Fund a Hopeless Situation Until A Date Uncertain .

Part of Welch's statement --

While not the bill I would have written, it is a bill I will support because it finally puts us on a path to end this unconscionable war.

Yadda, yadda. Same inaccurate crap that the bill stands for something. Mr Welch just ignored the pleas of concerned Vermonters who gathered in his office yesterday, and threw his moral compass into Lake Champlain.

Mr Welch has neither the balls nor the conscience to do the right thing

Well, I joined the group of 30 that gathered at the Peace & Justice Center yesterday and marched down to 30 Main Street to ask Congressperson Welch NOT to fund the war. Got there about 1 p.m.

Get this: His staffperson, Tricia Coates, said Mr Welch had not made up his mind, but "was working hard to stop the war." We were welcomed to his new offices with plates of choccy chip cookies and pleasant banter from Ms Coates, as she scribbled notes to give to her boss.

We asked to speak by phone to Mr Welch. Were told he was busy on the floor voting on consecutive bills, which could take up to one or two hours to complete. (He was voting for tax breaks for Katrina funding - so I guess that's okay - to ask him to leave and come talk to us NOW would have been like asking him to be against Motherhood and Apple Pie.)

A few of the group sat quietly, respectfully reciting names of the dead and their ages, alternating between Iraqi and American victims.

The repetition of the names became almost a soothing sound of a meditative mantra, but then it hit me that most of the people named were so young, in their early twenties.

Finally at 3:30 the congressperson got on speaker phone to chat with the group.

Several of the protesters pleaded with him not to fund. He had not made up his mind and would not give a reason why he was indecisive.

Welch cried out that he had always been against the war, but he wanted to assure the funds were there for the troops safety.

"You're just talking out of both sides of your mouth," said a UVM student pointedly.

How can someone who was elected by Vermonters as an anti-war candidate...still want to approve $124 billion in an "emergency spending bill" to fund the continuing murder?

The emergency is that the soul of America is at stake!

As several of the protesters pointed out, if Mr Welch votes for the bill, he is complicit in murder.

I would have stayed, but I had to leave at 4:00 p.m. to go to a board of health meeting.

I did get to meet some fine, but frustrated and angry people today. The protesters ranged in age from young students in their early twenties to the white haired ladies in their 70s or 80s who gather at the top of Church Street for the silent vigil every day at 5 p.m. There was a group of Orange County folks who car-pooled up to the protest. Turns out we have mutual friends in the area (I went to high school over in that county and recently owned a house in Vershire.) Got to meet Snarky Boy. He has a few things to say about what happened on March 21, 2007.

Snarky emailed me this evening to say that around 7:00 p.m. 6 people were escorted out of the building and arrested.

Here's the Burlington Free Press story.

In his remarks, however, Welch appeared to be leaning toward supporting the measure, saying it might be the best way for Congress to mandate a quick, orderly troop withdrawal from Iraq.

"What my decision will be based on is my judgment, and I'll have to make this judgment as to whether voting for or against the bill is going to hasten the day when we can end this war," Welch told the group.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Folks are meeting at noon TODAY in front of the Peace & Justice Center, 21 Church Street, Burlington, then heading to Congressperson Peter Welch's office for a little demand that he support the Waters/Woolsey legislation that cuts off the funding for the war NOW.

I hope to see you there.

Thanks to SnarkyBoy for the tip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This little light of mine....

Thanks to Mad Priest for this - as a queer Episcopalian, I can relate and agree with MP's comment below. But I don't share his cynicism (he calls his post Christian when it suits). The current treatment of my church toward me and my fellow queer folk doesn't even compare to the behaviour of my government in its murderous occupation of Iraq. I've been a bundle of nerves all weekend alright. But watching the video of the service at the Washington National Cathedral and reading the service leaflet (linked below) have given me time to reflect and ponder my own complicitness in this travesty.

I urge you to watch the video. Especially significant to me was the spot-on witness of Pastor Raphael Warnock of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. If you do anything, listen to him! Move your cursor up to 36:40.

Washington National Cathedral (photos, video, service leaflet): Christian Peace Witness for Iraq Service.

Well, here's Mad Priest's post --
Over two hundred Christians were arrested this weekend after protesting on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Thousands of Christians prayed for peace at an anti-war service on Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, kicking off a weekend of protests around the country.

The Christian Peace Witness was organized by a broad cross section of Christian denominational peace groups. Involved were prominent religious leaders and peace activists, including Jim Wallis, Celeste Zappala, Bernice Powell Jackson, and Raphael Warnock.

After the service at the Cathedral participants marched with toward the White House and gathered in Lafayette Park.

About 100 people crossed the street to demonstrate on the White House sidewalk. Police began cuffing them and putting them on buses to be taken for processing.

Protest guidelines require demonstrators to continue moving while on the White House sidewalk.

"We gave them three warnings, and they broke the guidelines," said Lt. Scott Fear. "There's an area on the White House sidewalk where you have to keep moving."

Police said 222 people had been arrested by Saturday morning.

Full story at EKKLESIA.

COMMENT: These figures are not quite correct. At least 10% of the demonstrators would have been gay and, of course, they are not to be treated as full Christians according to Anglican Church guidelines.

When Al Gore was Veep The Green Imposter

Jeffrey St Clair Counterpunch -- The official version of the political battles over the environment in the late 1990s goes something like this:

As the Republican Visigoths swept into control of the 104th Congress, in January of 1995, trembling greens predicted that not an old-growth tree, not an endangered species would be spared. The Republicans' threats were terrible to behold. They proposed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. They vowed to establish a commission to shut down several national parks; to relax standards on the production and disposal of toxic waste; to turn over enforcement of clean water and air standards to the states. They uttered fearsome threats against the Endangered Species Act. They boasted of plans to double the amount of logging in the National Forests.

Then, the official myth goes on, the president, Gore and the national greens fought off the Visigoths.

Read it all and cringe.

Time for Impeachment, Mr Welch

Attention grabber, innit, Mr Welch?

As fucking if our esteemed Congressperson Welch (and his D cronies - independent Sanders is a member of the Democratic congressional caucus - in the Vermont delegation) should listen up.

Mr Welch, why don't you have the cojones to get on board with your colleague, Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)?

Thanks to RickB/Ten Percent for the transcript of the video --

Rep. Dennis Kunich (D-OH)- My fellow Americans. We are in an interesting condition in this country, where we are told to take impeachment off the table, and keep on the table a U.S. military attack against Iran.

This really calls for a new thinking. It calls for us to reconsider very deeply the moment that we’re in – where our Constitution is being trashed, where international law is being violated, where our hopes and dreams for the education of our children, for the health of our people, for housing, for our veterans, are being set aside as we go deeper and deeper into war.

We need a whole discussion in America. And with your help, we’re about to have one.

This past week, in the Congress of the United States, I noted that the administration has threatened aggressive war against Iran. This is a violation of the UN charter. Charters are treaties. Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States says that treaties are the law of our land, the supreme law of our land.

It’s illegal to threaten aggressive war against another nation. Iran has no ability to attack us. And they do not have the intention to attack the United states.

We are at a moment in human history where we have to make a decision whether we are going to go deeper into war, or whether we are going to take a stand on behalf of peace.

I determined a long time ago to take that stand on behalf of peace. And I want to enlist you and enroll you in taking that same stand.

We cannot let this administration go any deeper into this journey, into destroying democratic governance, trashing our Constitution, forgetting the very purpose of this nation. America was never meant to be a nation forever on the warpath. It was meant to be a nation which also had the capacity to “Promote the General Welfare.”

We need to reevaluate the direction of this administration by looking at its conduct in office, by determining whether it has faithfully followed the laws of our nation.

I’m prepared to start that process. I began this week with a speech on the floor of the house, which warned the administration that its actions toward Iran already constitute a case to ask the question about impeachment.

So I’m asking you, what do you think? Do you think it’s time?

Relatedly, Dem Leaders Nix Iran Provision To Focus On Iraq Withdrawal Bill

Thanks to RickB at Ten Percent for the go girl photo.

Monday, March 19, 2007

They say that falling in love is wonderful

.... and how could you not...with Betty Hutton, who has died at age 86.

She was irrepressible in Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Annie Get Your Gun.

Lloyd Schwarz on Fresh Air has a remembrance.

Go Gurl!

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney appeared Saturday, March 17, at the protest at the Pentagon. Her remarks are here.

It's hard to believe, but now the Democrats are full partners in George Bush's wars.

And by funding his wars, the Democratic Congress is explicitly complicit.

Complicit in war crimes! Complicit in torture! Complicit in crimes against humanity! Complicit in crimes against peace!

In 1957, Dr. King observed that "Both political parties have betrayed the cause of justice."

And so it must be repeated today.

Our beloved America is dividing again into two Americas. Our struggle is for nothing less than the soul of our country.

We want an America that is respected in the commonwealth of man; we want our values to shine like a beacon throughout the world.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Promise of the Dems

From Fragments, Or: Promise of the Dems, I --
It’s important to remember that most of the Democrats who were victors in the 2006 elections did not run positive campaigns. They simply ran against the fiascos and bungles and corruption that have taken place under the Bush administration, promising nothing except that they were not the bastards who got the country into Iraq. But as Mike Davis notes, “the irony of the anti-war vote [is] that it elected Democrats who are under no obligation to actually end the barbarous US occupation” (1). It should come as no surprise, then, that this congress does not possess any concrete goal or even outlined program; rather, it is aiming to ensure the Presidency in 2008: in a word, ‘centrism’.

Friends, it's worth your time to read all of it here.

Edger, who comments with me at TalkLeft, talks about the DemCave-in here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Breastplate

In the Anglican tradition, this hymn is used at ordinations. But on this day, especially, it is one of my all-time favourite hymns --
I bind unto myself today

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spicèd tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgment hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort
and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of
friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Words: attributed to St. Patrick (372-466);
trans. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), 1889
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) St. Patrick's Breastplate (1902) and Gartan (verse 6)

Some Listening Campaign

SnarkyBoy on listening to the people 3/16/07 - The Dems and the Progs seem to have nothing but contempt for grassroots politics and meeting and greeting the people they’re pretending to lead. Why else would they get in such a huff over Douglas holding public meetings with the people? And why else would they run like cockroaches from the left’s rather impressive grassroots showing on Town Meeting day that managed to get nearly 40 towns to stand up and do what the Dems & Progs are too afraid to do: Demand an end to the war and the impeachment of Bush?

And judging by the gallivanting by the Republicans last night – several elected officials and a couple high-level appointees to boot – at Charlie O’s, these fellas enjoy hanging with the people and being real. As opposed to the Dems at McGillicuddy’s who were still in their ties and jackets and seemingly just wanting to pretend to be near actual people (as long as they didn’t get too close or try to share their popcorn). Can you say: Stiff? I knew you could.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A spark to pierce the dark

But such brilliance! Here's the inimitable Elaine Stritch - still goin' strong at 82 - for your mid-week musical pleasure.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Raising Kids IV

News24/South Africa - Oprah's a tough school matron:

Johannesburg - The rules at Oprah Winfrey's ultra-posh school at Henley-on-Klip near Johannesburg are apparently so strict they make a reformatory look like a holiday resort.

That's the word from upset parents, who say the school rules make it difficult for them to keep contact with their children.

They would have aired their concerns during a satellite link-up with the chat show queen a week ago, but that was cancelled at short notice by the school's management body.

Meanwhile the school seems to have made the rules even stricter. Until now, the girls could receive visitors every fortnight, but parents can now only visit them once a month.

The Von Trapp Dutch Connection -- The Von Trapp family, made famous in the musical The Sound of Music, spent several months during World War II hiding in the Dutch town of Warmond, near Leiden, according to writer Miep Smitsloo.

Smitsloo says she made the discovery while researching for her book, Het Tolhuysch (The Toll House). The Von Trapps fled Austria, after it was annexed by Hitler in 1938, and ended up in America.

Smitsloo said the Von Trapps stayed with a family called Menten, whom they knew through the Salzburg festival.

Volkskrant story in Dutch.

Raising Kids III

What happens to the children when their parents are swept up in an immigration raid?

The photo is from the above-referenced Globe story.

Raising Kids II

BBC -- The Netherlands has come top of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries.

The US and UK are rated last.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Raising Kids

I had no idea they were still around. NY Times - Manhattan’s Littlest Soldiers

The Knickerbocker Greys is an organization for children ages 6 to 16, and it has been something of an Upper East Side institution since 1881 — though the typical response of most people in the neighborhood upon the mention of its name is, “Good God, does something like that still exist?”

Last summer, an article in a publication put out by the Social Register (Good God, does that still exist?) made note of the Greys’ 125th anniversary and described it as “a kind of Junior R.O.T.C. or Scouts with, if you like, a more pronounced military bent.”

I could have been a cadet. I know, hard to believe. I grew up as a kid in the same social milieu in NYC. Now look at me. My maternal uncle was in the Greys about 90 years ago (he died last September at aged 96 years). Which one of the current crop of Greys will grow up just like some of the students in Lindsay Anderson's If.....?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Daylight Come Harry Belafonte at 80

BBC World Service - Harry Belafonte talks to Stephen Evans on The Interview.

I recommend you listen to the whole interview. It's brilliant. He certainly has not sold out his humanity. He praises Fidel Castro, of course. Says he knows him well and has had heated debates with him. Of course, but I daresay, Habañeros don't get that chance.

BBC News - Harry Belafonte at 80 has a real story to tell.

He dismisses the appointment of Condoleezza Rice and before her, Colin Powell, to positions of genuine power in George W Bush's administration.

He has described them as "house slaves", and doesn't feel their presence has helped his cause in any way.

"He puts them there in the service of power. They are quite powerless - powerless - powerless," he says.

"They are extensions of George W Bush, Condoleezza Rice is revered nowhere. She has influence over a nothingness."

Does she not make even one millimetre of difference, I asked. "She makes a difference for the worse," Belafonte replied.

Harry Belafonte, despite the rhetoric, does not come over like an ideologue but as a man with righteous anger. He's open to argument. His mind remains alert and curious. Intelligence, curiosity and openness to argument shine out. He's up for disagreement and debate.

I haven't a cue!

The Guardlian - Subliminal messages do leave a mark on the brain, say scientists.
Using brain scanners, they found we often record images we are not even aware of having seen.
The study shows how subliminal advertising, banned in the UK but still legal in the US, might work.

But Bahador Bahrami, a neuroscientist at University College London, who led the work, also found a way to get around the messages, showing that the brain's susceptibility to subliminal messages alters as it works harder. "If the brain is busy ... it can filter out those subliminal things," said Dr Bahrami, whose research is published today in Current Science. His study challenges an assumption of psychology - that attention and consciousness go hand in hand. "We knew the brain responds to subliminal messages but we don't know whether that response is automatic or is affected by whether the brain pays attention."

The false promises of advertising. And Chomsky always refers to toothpaste (using sex to sell toothpaste) when speaking of electoral campaigns.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Don't mention it

YahooNews - CROSS RIVER, New York (AP) - A public high school has suspended three students who disobeyed officials by saying the word "vagina" during a reading from a well-known feminist play.

The honour students, Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson, included the word during their reading of "The Vagina Monologues" because "it wasn't crude and it wasn't inappropriate and it was very real and very pure," Reback said.

Their defiant stand is being applauded by the play's author, who said Tuesday that the school should be celebrating, rather than punishing, the three juniors.

An uproar reaction by parents and other students have caused the school to rescind the suspension, but the suspension never should have happened. Ridiculous

Naked fitness!

A new NL blog I've discovered - 24oranges - files this as "weird" - What the hell do they know? I've done naked yoga! I call it body freedom!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Are you free Mr Humphries?

Groundfloor perfumery, stationery and leather goods


John Inman, better known as Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries on Are You Being Served? (1972-1985)and Grace and Favour (1992) has died.

Bless him. I'm gutted. He was brilliant. RIP, John mate, you made loads of people smile and laugh. Mollie, Wendy and Frank are still with us.

Such a wonkish crime

God help us. Not only is it silly, but such a diversion. Not to rain on Jeralyn's and Jane's parade (liberal Democrats of firedoglake kind frothing at the mouth over Fitz!), but here's....

Martin Wisse - The Scooter Libby trial was about the least important of the crimes the Bush administration has committed, just like the "cash for honours" scandal is about the least important of Blair's crimes, but they are also the only crimes recognised as such by the political establishment and the media in both countries. It has always been that way; Nixon stumbled over Watergate, a tawdry coverup of a failed burgle attempt, not over waging a secret war against Cambodia and Laos.

The opposition, such as it is, in both countries is loath to attack the government on the real crimess because they're just as complicit in them and/or want to be able to pursue similar policies once they're in power. Hence the focus on wonkish, minor crimes rather than the reality behind those crimes.

Dutch Provincial Elections

The elections were yesterday, March 7. I like to follow news about them. I have a strange family. Two of my cousins have been involved in local and provincial politics, but on opposite sides. One has been a VVD (conservative) member of her town council. Her sister has been the PVdA (Labour) party representive for her town in the Utrecht provincial council. And a distant relative (by marriage) was mayor of the fourth largest city in The Netherlands. So, maybe it's in my genes to be active in politics, too.

Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep - The biggest winner in the vote, however, was the left-wing Socialist Party (SP) which built on its success in the general elections in November 2006, where it almost tripled its number of seats in the lower house of parliament.
Turnout was a near record low for the vote at just over 46 percent. This added to the uncertainty and tension for the government parties. The vote itself was for the provincial layer of government, which sits between the central government and the local municipalities.

Martin Wisse - Now what makes this provincial election special is that there is a real chance that, for the first time in parliamentary history, the governmental parties may lose their majority in the Eerste Kamer [Senate]. If this happens, it may indeed turn into a roadblock for the government's plans. Of course, even with a majority, the opposition first needs to be united to stop such plans and with the rightwing VVD and the leftwing SP as the largest opposition parties, that may be difficult.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Burlington City Election 2007 - Official Results

Okay. So you can see it now. Turn out was one of the lowest in over 20 years. Out of 29,958 registered voters, 5,072 votes were cast. 18.8%! The Annual City Election results, provided by the City Clerk's office, are in a pdf here.

Green racers I was following:

Hillary Weeks received 344 votes out of 355 cast and won the Inspector of Election spot in Ward 3. That's 96.9%. Hillary is the first Green elected in Burlington! She received one vote less than Progressive Tim Ashe, who was running for the City Councilor spot. (He beat Independent Loyal Ploof.)

René Kaczka-Vallière was the candidate for Ward 5 City Councilor and received 131 votes (16.5% of 792 cast). René's Thank-you -

I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who cast their ballot for me and the Green Party. Tonight you made history by voting for three Green candidates in Burlington. The biggest gain was electing Hillary Weeks in Ward 3 for Inspector of Elections. Although uncontested, Weeks 344 votes indicate citizens are ready to vote Green if they are given that choice on a local level. In Ward 5, I received 131 votes. Each and every vote was result of the incredible volunteer and financial support the campaign received. As a campaign, we raised over $1000 and had over 1111 first-time visitors to Amazing! You can now expect great things from the Green Party as we continue to grow in the Green Mountain State.
A total of 754 votes were cast in the Ward 5 Inspector of Election race. Owen Mulligan received 208 votes (27%).

Scoot, Scoot, Scooter

"Progressive" US bloggers have had a field day recapping the Libby guilty verdicts. Ever since last summer, at the lead up to the indictment, they've been saying that that a Libby trial & verdict would bring the end of Bushdom. As fucking if.

I agree with The Tomb -

All this tells you a lot about how things are done in Washington. The criminal enterprise that Wilson tried to expose is left well alone, while his wife made redundant, and he is repeatedly attacked and slandered by stampeding hordes of buffoons. Libby goes down because he was caught telling fibs to protect his masters, but no one cares who he was protecting or why, and no one will try to find out. The Iraq war will, on some estimates, cost between $1 trillion and $2 trillion by the time it's finished. It looks as if the imperial strategy is failing badly and is causing some alarm in segments of the American ruling class. However, no one in the current administration will suffer serious or permanent damage as things presently stand - the costs of empire are largely externalised to its victims - and quite a lot of people close to the administration have done rather well out of the venture. The Democrats are still largely convinced of the legitimacy of the effort, are determined to support it more intensely and may even try to take it further afield. They will appreciate this conviction because it hurts the Republicans, as it should. But they would no more seek further indictments or probe further into the issues than they would participate in a daisy-chain of arse-kicking, since one runs the risk of establishing troublesome precedents. So it's all coming down on Lewis Libby. According to Libby, he got the name 'Scooter' because his Daddy noticed how fast he could move across his little crib when he was a baby. He has a new crib to scoot around in for a few years.

And, who forged the Niger documents in the first place?

Vermont Town Meeting Ballot Questions

Vermont Guardian - Vermont: 36 towns call for impeachment probe of president

[...] Additionally, 22 towns approved a measure calling for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq: Bristol, Calais, Cornwall, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Hardwick, Jamaica, Jericho, Johnson, Marshfield, Middlebury, Newfane, Peru, Plainfield, Plymouth, Rockingham, Roxbury, St. Johnsbury, Townshend, Waldon, and Woodbury. [...]

In Middlebury, where Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, is the town moderator voters approved both the impeachment and troop withdrawal measures. Douglas, ironically, was the chairman of Bush’s 2000 election committee and 2004 reelection committee in Vermont.

Burlington Free Press -- Voters say no to new 9/11 investigation

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Burlington City Election ToDaY

UPDATE @ 8:10 P.M.

Hillary Weeks was elected to the position of Inspector of Election in Ward 3 with a total of 344 votes out of a total of 462 ballots cast making her the 1st Green elected in the history of Burlington and the 1st female Green elected in the history of Vermont.

It was cold, frigid day, with temps never getting above the 8 mark. I was out at Ward 5/Burlington Electric Department helping out René Kaczka-Vallière and the Burlington Green Party table.

The preliminry results are here.

The balance of power [on City Council] is now: 3 Republicans, 2 Independents, 4 Progressives, and 5 Democrats.

Charity has an earlier report, where I'm pictured and mentioned.

The ballot item for another 9/11 investigation lost citywide by a 2/1 margin.

Today's the day to vote. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find out where to vote in Burlington, look here.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Humiliation transformed into glory: the push from prophetic voices

From the Presiding Bishop's sermon at Executive Council meeting in Portland, Oregon --
On Friday I went over to Good Sam hospital to visit John Scannell. I took the MAX and the Portland Streetcar for the first time. I've actually never lived in this city, and my previous forays around here were always by car. I found a remarkably clean and efficient system, not just conventional public transit, but with some amazing adaptations. You know, there are hooks to hang your bicycle from if you want to commute a longer distance than just on MAX. There are electric ramps that permit wheeled vehicles like strollers and walkers and wheelchairs to get on the train more easily. And at some point I was looking out the window and I noticed just how many electric wheelchairs there are on the streets of Portland – far more than I see in New York or in Las Vegas or any other city in this country. I saw people going about their daily business in a city that takes accessibility very seriously. In some very important way, the need to use a wheelchair has gone from a major problem to an accepted challenge in this city. The city as a whole has adapted to the needs of a few, in the sense that the whole is better off when the few are encouraged and enabled to live full and equal lives. As the Philippians writer says, a body of humiliation has been transformed into a body of glory. The city has taken the needs of a part of its population so seriously that it has moved beyond mere words of welcome to deeds of welcome.

Now, I imagine that the adaptation required in this city wasn't easy, that it involved a series of struggles over how much it would cost, and who would be inconvenienced, and even why should we bother. And I imagine that a piece of the process had to do with the legal requirements of the Americans with Disability Act. Sometimes systems need legal sanctions before they will respond. Whatever's been involved, however, this city has become a beacon of light and hope for the differently abled, and it's had something to do with the push that's come from prophetic voices.

Full text


A lot of bloggers feature sidebars of lists. Ya know, those irritating Amazon wish lists. You'll sometimes find 'em on neocon or progressive neoliberal consumerist blogs. "Not only do I deserve your attention, but but I want you to buy me something!" Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Thanks to Martin Wisse, I saw today this: Ex-hippy ageing baby boomer pseudoleftist Joe Klein has run a little checklist of what exactly is a leftwing extremist.

Klein's a joke, that's for sure. Not only is he silly, but very negative.

Here's a list, considered extremist in America (the Kleiniacs would not approve), but so much more positive.

Here's one you can either cry or laugh about.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Democratic Party Hegemony in Burlington's Ward 5 NPA

N.B. This is a re-edited post (3/3/07, Saturday afternoon @ 2:45 p.m.)
First off listen to the podcast of the Ward 5 City Council candidate program on Channel 17 here. (The photo to your left is from that broadcast.)

Then look at Burlington Free Press 3/1/07 Ward 5 City Council candidates: In their own words.

You never can tell with John Briggs, but he gives a fair assessment of the Ward 5 City Council candidates in his Burlington Free Press article on Thursday, March 1.

I attended the Ward 5 Neighborhood Planning Assembly Meet the Candidates Night on Tuesday, February 29. Local Ward 5 resident bloggers Peter Freyne and Alex of Rip and Read were there, too. Just read their callous and smug posts about the NPA meeting here and here and you will see how entrenched the Democratic hegemony is in Ward 5. These guys are rarely critical of their party; they are infact laptop courtiers of the mainstream Dems. It's true that Ward 5 has been solidly Democratic for years. Ask any long-term resident and they will tell you. In recent memory only Richard Kemp, a Progressive, was able to win a race for City Council.

But my beef is really about how the NPA meeting on Tuesday was organised and chaired.

The Neighborhood Planning Association meetings in Burlington are supposed to be non-partisan. But if you had been in Ward 5 on Tuesday, you'd have thought you were at a Neighborhood Democratic Assembly meeting.

Take a look at the Agenda (my emphasis in bold) --

7:00 Introduction
Introduction and Ground Rules We will start at 7pm SHARP. Please note that we will adhere closely to all time limits.

7:05 Open Forum
Announce upcoming community events or suggest a topic for a future NPA meeting. Please limit yourself to 2 minutes per announcement.

7:15 Police Update
Lt Scott Davidson will bring us up to date on current Police activities or concerns in the South End

7:25 School Board update
School commissioners Amy Werbel and Fred Lane will bring us up to date on the school budget process and discussions of socio-economic integration.

7:30 City Council Update
Joan Shannon and Bill Keogh will let us know what is under discussion in the City Council.

7:40 Community Development Block Grant Process
Ita Meno will outline the Neighborhood Development Block Grant process and invite grant applicants to work with her in the process. Qualified applications will be voted on during the March Ward 5 NPA meeting.

7:50 Zoning re-write process
Joe McNeil and Andy Montroll will present information and answer questions about the zoning re-write process.

8:10 Meet the Candidates - City Council candidates
Rene Kaczka-Valliere, Joan Shannon and Basil Vansuch are invited to introduce themselves and answer your questions. Inspector of Election candidates - Owen Mulligan and Elisa Nelson are invited to introduce themselves and answer questions.

When I arrived at the meeting, Elise Nelson, an NPA Steering Committee member, was chairing the meeting. She is also a Democratic candidate for Ward 5 Inspector of Election. Joan Shannon, the incumbent Democratic City Councilor and candidate was doing a Q&A about the zoning rewrite. City Attorney Joe McNeil and City Councilor Andy Montroll had been invited to do a presentation about re-write. They were no-shows. I don't know what their excuse was, but how convenient for Joan, a member of the council's Ordinance Committee and how advantagious for her as a candidate for city council to give her take on the re-write. I don't know how long she had been speaking, but after I arrived she spoke about it for about 15 to 20 minutes.

I assume, too, that she and Bill Keogh, the other Ward 5 city councilor, gave their city councilor reports. That spot was given 10 minutes on the Agenda, so figure Joan had 5 minutes. (I was on the SC for the Ward 5 NPA for a year. Rarely did each city councilor attend the meetings; if they did it was usually around election time.)

Then came the Meet the Candidates forum. Blogger Alex called it a "debate," but it really was an introduction presentation by each candidate with an informal Q&A. At this point, Elise Nelson handed the chair over to Roger Marshall, another SC member. Independent candidate Basil Vansuch was not present. So, Rene Kaczka-Valliere, the Green Party candidate, was first up. Roger told him he had 3 minutes. Rene gave his presentation and went a minute over his alotted time. When Joan got up to do hers, Roger told her she had 4 minutes.

Do the minute math - 5+20+4=29 for Joan. Rene was allotted only 3 minutes. Joan clearly had the monopoly and the advantage. The chairs, Elise and Roger were clearly unfair in their management of the meeting. Was this inequity predetermined?

Does all this really matter to Joan, Bill, Elise, Roger, Peter and Alex? I doubt it.

If I had been on the SC, this would never have happened.

I have no personal quibble with Joan. I like her. She's a very genuine person. She's one of the very, very few local Democratic Party leaders who is sensitive to environmental issues. If only she'd think about switching to the Greens!

But the advantage given to Joan, as incumbent and Democratic candidate at this Candidate Night, was clearly a set-up against Rene. He will probably lose in Tuesday's election, that's how Democratic this ward is. Listen, I used to vote Democratic all the time, but then I wised up. The Dems think there is no other choice but them; they expect "liberal" or "progressive" voters to vote Democratic. But Rene's gracious and honest presentation of a Green alternative indicates to me that he is on the winning side.