Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What We Believe To Be True

Waaay back in April, 2004, Bohemian Mama quoted Orwell -
We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
- George Orwell, in a 1946 essay, "In Front of Your Nose"

Her post marked the first anniversary of Bush's Mission Accomplished show on the deck of an aircraft carrier. At that time, the US casualties were at 722. That's over four years ago. She commented,
This is not about what they are trying to sell us, it's about what we're buying. We don't have to go along with it. Americans' daily diet of "reality tv" doesn't seem to include actual reality. I'm long past hoping this administration will change, that someone will see the light and start telling the truth. But I'm still stuck at wondering what is going on the hearts and minds of Americans who continue to believe that all is well and that we should just "stay the course."

I've said it before and I'll say it again. True patriotism isn't repeating the government's line - true patriotism is seeing the truth, declaring it loudly and standing up for it in order to make this country stronger.

Well, that was then. Now, the resistance is broad and persistent - Iraqis don't want to be occupied. The occupation has caused a mass exodus of Iraqi's leaving their country, unlike the Middle East has seen since the Second World War - 2,000 every day. Iraqi deaths are massive - one million. US bodybags number in the 3000s, with tens of thousands wounded. Although more and more American citizens are becoming disgusted with staying the course, the Dems elected back in November strategise about 2008 (go:here). The Dick Cheney Dems and Repbus still think if we stay in Iraq, "we" will be successful; they refuse to listen or act decisively in getting us out of Iraq completly. And the Administration and Congress attempt to sell us the bullshit that it's all the Iraqis fault. Crikey! However, if Americans are looking ahead to 2008, they do have a choice with the true peace party. So do Vermonters (go:here), and so do Burlingtonians.

See also: Peace Action Committee (GPAX) of the Green Party of the United States

Bohemian Mama has this week closed up shop and now blogs as Chalkboard Insurgent. After perusing archived posts on her old blog, the new one looks like it will be prettydamngood. Check her out!

Ruth Stone

Ruth Stone's daughter, Phoebe, and I were fellow students at The Mountain School. So I'm delighted to learn that her mother has been named poet laureate of Vermont. Listen to Ruth Stone talk about her life and poetry here.

In the Next Galaxy

Things will be different.
No one will lose their sight,
their hearing, their gallbladder.
It will be all Catskills with brand
new wrap-around verandas.
The idea of Hitler will not
have vibrated yet.
While back here,
they are still cleaning out
pockets of wrinkled
Nazis hiding in Argentina.
But in the next galaxy,
certain planets will have true
blue skies and drinking water.

-- Ruth Stone

Thanks to Brian over at Vermont Hum for this excellent news!

Take Two

Long gone are Kurosawa, Renoir, and Fellini. Two other film directors - two of the twentieth century's most enigmatic - have died this week. Michelangelo Antonioni directed two of my most favourite films, Blow Up and L'Avventura. Paul Schrader, film director and screenwriter of 'Taxi Driver' has an appraisal of Ingmar Bergman.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brattleboro Reformer Editorial - Cops over a barrel

AP news update 7/29/07 - Town may seek independent investigation of Taser use [Well, doh.]
I missed this, otherwise I'd have posted it with yesterday's comment.
Cops over a barrel
Brattleboro Reformer

Thursday, July 26
Chaining yourself to a barrel planter in a vacant lot probably won't change the course of development in Brattleboro, but having police officers use a Taser on you just might.

We'll get it out of the way right now. The actions of the Brattleboro Police on Tuesday morning were excessive and totally out of line. There is no excuse to use that amount of force against nonviolent protesters.

By using Tasers against Jonathan Crowell and Samantha Kilmurray, the Brattleboro Police managed to take a small, innocuous protest against what Crowell and Kilmurray rather dramatically called "a savage and unimaginative culture of oil-dependent, industrial development," and turn it into something that threatens to harm Brattleboro's reputation even more than a few naked guys prancing down Main Street.

What's more of a threat to public order? Nudity or a police department that has no sense of what constitutes an appropriate use of force? If the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce thought nudity on Main Street was a threat to business, what about the fallout from having Amnesty International call what happened Tuesday "an outrageous use of force."

So much for the image of the quirky little town where protests and vigils are a routine occurrence. So much for live and let live and tolerance of dissent. So much for putting the trauma of the Woodward shooting behind us.

The protesters who occupied the former site of King's Bowling Center on Putney Road had a legitimate gripe. There are better uses for the last developable piece of property between the West River and the roundabout than a possible truck stop (or "travel center," in the preferred euphemism of the property's owner, Cheshire Oil Co.).

One may question why these people weren't at the Development Review Board or the Planning Commission when the first discussions about possible uses of the Putney Road were raised. But there are times when the regular pathways for change can turn into dead ends. That's where protest and civil disobedience comes in.

Protests are a way of attracting attention and rallying public opinion on important issues. They are not meant to be a substitute for working within the system to get things done, but as an adjunct.

There's not much left anymore on Putney Road to preserve. Three decades worth of development transformed farmland into a commercial strip.

Something will likely be built on the Cheshire Oil site, and it won't be a community garden or a ball field. This is still a capitalist society, and the commercial value of the property trumps whatever social value the land might have.

There still might be an opportunity for a compromise, but it just got more difficult. Through their ill-advised actions, the Brattleboro Police have conferred martyr status on Crowell and Kilmurray. And Jim Robinson, the owner of Cheshire Oil, is not likely to feel generous in the face of a threatened boycott of his gas stations and convenience stores.

One good thing may come out of this, though. The now-moribund Citizen Police Communication Committee might see a influx of volunteers to serve, and the CPCC might turn into a real watchdog for police misconduct instead of the toothless panel it is now.

We do know this: What happened Tuesday morning didn't have to happen. "All they had to do was take our water away from us and we would have been gone in 48 hours," Kilmurray told the Selectboard Tuesday night.

Instead, the Brattleboro Police turned a peaceful protest into an embarrassment for the town and a rallying point for the activists in this community. Again, it didn't need to happen and steps must be taken so it doesn't happen again.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Power of the Vermont Pigs

It’s obv to me that Sam Hemingway is pro-taser. Check out his shoddy inaccurate reporting in today's Free Press. Why doesn’t that paper's copy editor do his job?

He reports on an incident this past week involving a tasering of two "pro-environment protesters" in Brattleboro. Labeling these individuals the way he does gives the article a political slant, and shows his bias. As opposed to anti-environment protesters? Why not just write two persons, or two environment protesters?

Agenda or not, the implication is that they deserved to be tasered. In a story that was supposed to be 'just the facts.

In it's coverage, the Brattleboro Reformer calls the individuals non-violent protesters.

The Boston Globe just identifies them as two protesters

The man and the woman were planting flowers to protest the development of a truck stop on the Putney Road.

Another inaccuracy -

CBS News reported in 2004 that 70 people have died as a result of being zapped by Taser guns.

Huh, CBS News?!? That’s an outdated stat. Again, Hemingway gives a lower number to minimize the seriousness of the deaths. No where does he indicate that the numbers have increased. Amnesty International has identified over 150 taser deaths since 2001.

Sixty-one people died in 2005 after being shocked by law enforcement agency TASERs, a 27 percent increase from 2004's tally of 48 deaths, finds an Amnesty International study released today. Including 10 TASER-related deaths through mid-February of this year, at least 152 people have died in the United States since June 2001 after being shocked with the weapons.

"Despite a lack of independent research on TASER safety, police officers are using these weapons as a routine force tool -- rather than as a weapon of last resort," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "These weapons have a record that's growing longer each week -- and it's not a good one. The increasingly frequent TASER-related deaths underscore the need for an independent, rigorous and impartial inquiry into their use."

Burlington Police are thrilled with 'em:
"It's the most effective new tool to come along in the police community in the last 25 years," Burlington Police Chief Tom Tremblay said. "We have significantly reduced injuries to officers and the number of confrontations with offenders by utilizing this tool."

First off, Chief Tremblay, it's not a tool. It kills, it's a weapon. So, because the po-lice are pro-taser, there’s no debate. Actually, there was never a debate in Burlington. BPD just started using them without public discussion. Tasers are dangerous, but the false sense of safety has caused the police to use them too freely. So much for the effects of NPA community PR: TASER use replaces the humanity and compassion that good officers develop, which make it unnecessary to endanger the public with.

I wrote last November, Last summer, Burlington Police obtained tasers to use on citizens here. Seven Days newspaper reported an incident last June where a taser gun was used on a dog. No protests were made by the Humane Society, of course.
The voice of the experts?
"The times where a Taser can cause harm are very, very, very rare," said Dr. Wendy James, an emergency room doctor at Fletcher Allen Health Care hospital who has helped Burlington develop its policies for using Tasers. "I'd much rather someone be Tased than have a bullet hole in them."

Taser International claims tasers are safe, "non-lethal" or "less lethal" They even sell a consumer version (keep your family safe), with the same effective zap as the po-lice kind. (I love these euphemisms!)

Is Dr James an expert on “non-lethal” weapons? How does Heminway know this fact? How much compensation did she receive from the BPD?

Hemingway’s story does not mention that the USDOJ is studying TASER use.

Nor does he mention Tasers new "tool". From New Scientist - Taser unveils long-range and 'scatter' weapons - there's the new XREP:
The new projectile, known as XREP can be fired from a standard shotgun. A barbed electrode sticks to the target on impact. The rest of the projectile then falls away on a short tether and another spiked electrode makes a second contact point on the target. This ensures that the two electrodes are sufficiently spaced out to affect the entire body.
But Neil Davison, head of non-lethal weapons research within the peace studies department at Bradford University, UK, points to potential hazards of XREP. "It combines the well-known dangers of impact projectiles – inaccuracy, potential for serious injury – with a Taser shock four times longer than usual, which also carries an increased risk to the health of the victim," Davison says.
Davison sees a risk that targets may be hit more than once. "My overall concern with all three developments is that they would further remove the process of human interaction, negotiation and reasoning from the decision by police to use force," he says.

See my related post from June.
AI's multimedia dossier on TASERS
AI's News dossier on TASERS

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married)

This one's for the folks over at Vermont Renewal.

(H/T to MadPriest & episcopalooza)

PBS Tonight - Palast on 'NOW': 'The fix is in' for 2008

Tonight (Friday July 27): Catch Greg Palast on 'NOW'.

It furthers the story Palast first busted open for Britain's BBC Newsnight, the scheme to attack voters of color - the 'Blue' ones.

Palast lays out the latest evidence never before televised.

8:30pm Eastern. Check local listings.

Beat out dat rhythm on a drum

Here's a bit of summer sizzle for y'all....

The incomparable and seductive Pearl Bailey singing Beat out dat rhythm on a drum from Carmen Jones. I heard Pearlie Mae sing it earlier this week on BBC R3 and just had to do a search!

Hazelton Law Tossed

TalkLeft: A Pennsylvania judge has declared unconstitutional the Hazleton law banning the undocumented from living or working within city limits.

And a good thing. Then - in opposition to hazealotry? - there's New Haven.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Issue is Gay Marriage

That's what Vermont Dem lege leaders Shumlin and Symington say. They've called for a commission to study how Vermonters feel about it.

Of course, I'm queer, and I'm for gay marriage, but why now? And why, after a mediocre 2007 legislative session? I think it's a political stunt. Why to the hets always use queer folk as a way to get votes?

Note to Gaye and Peter: Check out the Vermont Freedom to Marry Taskforce site poll results.

Though I'm pleased to see that my own state rep Johanna Donavan, and Episcopalians (former Gov) Phil Hoff and the Revd Nancy Vogele are on the commission.

Holland's Black Page in History: Dutch Police Action in Indonesia

"I didn't shoot them, but I tortured them and I beat them up. I put them in the sun till they fell down. I was never told to do it - you just grow into it. Isn't it terrible? They didn't tell me to torture people, that was my own doing. I wanted to do my job well."

RADIO NETHERLANDS, in a program first broadcast in 2005 - 60 years on: the Dutch 'police action' in Indonesia - tells the stories of four former soldiers who tortured and killed Indonesian prisoners in the war of decolonisation, after Indonesia declared its independence in 1947. All the years since, they remember how they had to live in silence and shame with the secrets. They call for the Dutch government to accept some measure of responsibility for what they say they were ordered to do. Click here to read the story - and listen!!. There are two links to listen - one at the top of the page (shorter program on Quicktime) and another mid-way down (longer -Real Audio).

COMMENT: My father traveled frequently by ship to the Dutch East Indies in the 1930s as a youthful merchant marine cadet. I always asked him what it was like living in Indonesia. He didn't talk much about his experiences there, except to say that the colonisation of the Indies was not a proud moment for his country. The 400 years of occupation were full of brutality, cruelty and stupidity, he told me. Although my father didn't return to the Indies after WW II, he told me that most of the vets from the 1947-49 police actions maintained that they were sent there to liberate their land from the Japanese and also from the republican army, and that they won it. To the world, World War II was the yardstick of Dutch bravery (small country fighting Nazism). When one thinks of war crimes, the German atrocities immediately come to mind, but the Dutch have never admitted what they did in the Indies was a war crime.

There had been a silence about the Dutch in Indonesia, until the vets began confessing publicly that the mission was wrong and acknowledging the victims of the police actions. Listening to these men, it is unclear to me that telling these stories heals. Does the truth set you free? American and British soldiers can learn lessons from these stories, howver. They are doing in Iraq exactly what the Dutch forces did in Indonesia. Will it take 60 years of soul searching for Americans to confess about the war crimes they have done in Iraq?

You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Early this morning I was hiking the trails with two dogs in Ethan Allen Park. I love these early morning jaunts. Apart from the dogs' panting, there was birdsong. I came away humming the Lennon song, Blackbird. So, here's a treat from the phenomenal King's Singers -

St James the Apostle

Today is my Feast Day: St James the Apostle

Merciful God,
whose holy apostle Saint James,
leaving his father and all that he had,
was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ
and followed him even to death:
help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world,
to be ready at all times to answer your call without delay;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Via OREMUS - James the son of Zebedee and his brother John were among the twelve disciples of Our Lord. They, together with Peter, were privileged to behold the Transfiguration , to witness the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (P 1:29) and the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and to be called aside to watch and pray with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His death.

James and John were apparently from a higher social level than the average fisherman. Their father could afford hired servants, and John (assuming him to be identical with the "beloved disciple") had connections with the high priest. Jesus nicknamed the two brothers "sons of thunder", perhaps meaning that they were headstrong, hot-tempered, and impulsive; and so they seem to be in two incidents reported in the Gospels. On one occasion, Jesus and the disciples were refused the hospitality of a Samaritan village, and James and John proposed to call down fire from heaven on the offenders. On another occasion , they asked Jesus for a special place of honor in the Kingdom, and were told that the place of honor is the place of suffering.

Finally, about AD 42, shortly before Passover (Acts 12), James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (who tried to kill the infant Jesus--Matthew 2), nephew of Herod Antipas (who killed John the Baptist--Mark 6--and examined Jesus on Good Friday--Luke 23), and father of Herod Agrippa II (who heard the defence of Paul before Festus--Acts 25). James was the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom, and the only one of the Twelve whose death is recorded in the New Testament.

James is often called James Major (= greater or elder) to distinguish him from other New Testament persons called James. Tradition has it that he made a missionary journey to Spain, and that after his death his body was taken to Spain and buried there. at Compostela. His supposed burial place there was a major site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. [James Kiefer, abridged]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

After the Offense

Fascinating, moving, and insightful program today on THE STORY about life for sex offenders after they've left jail. Listen here.

A portion of the description-
Tom Coles, who lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, has invited sex offenders into his own home. Unlike many, Tom believes in the possibility of redemption. Guest host Scott Jagow talks with Tom about how he got into his work helping to rehabilitate sex offenders, and what he has gained from it.

One of Tom's residents is Khris Page. Khris served 10 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct with children. He talks to Scott about how this living arrangement, combined with the rehabilitative programs he's in, help ensure that he will never offend again.

COMMENT: It's one story of many like it that go unheard. People are connected by the stories they tell. This is a very human story - the two men give the story heart - and I'm glad it's being told.

On Eco-Profits

Two excellent articles I recommend - by two talented enviro-writers:

Derek Wall, the Male Principal Speaker for the Green Party of England and Wales - The climate for profits

George Monbiot - Green consumerism will not save the biosphere

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday reading...

I spent the weekend house-sitting down on the water. So far, one of the most gorgeous Vermont weekends this summer. I took advantage of it yesterday - lawnchair, cool drinks, and the Sunday Times. Always a week's amount of reading. After I tackled the crossword, I found a 10-page feature in the Magazine deflating juvenile sex offender myths that was both disturbing and showed the complexities of the issue.
The significant controversy isn’t whether there is a problem; it’s how to address it. In other words, when is parental or therapeutic intervention enough? What kind of therapy works best? And at what point should the judicial system get involved — and in what ways?

[Robert] Longo and other experts have increasingly advocated for a less punitive approach. Over the past decade, however, public policy has largely moved in the opposite direction. Courts have handed down longer sentences to juveniles for sex offenses, while some states have created tougher probation requirements and, most significant, lumped adolescents with adults in sex-offender legislation.

TalkLeft has started a discussion.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Europe's Creative Capital

So much is happening in Amsterdam... Old world style with modern stylish touches!

Good bye, Tammy Faye

“We’re all just people made out of the same old dirt, and God didn’t make any junk.”

Tammy Faye Bakker, the televangelist and gay icon with emotive eyes, is dead.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Spanish Police raid over controversial cartoon

GUARDIAN - Spanish police were ordered to raid newsagents across the country yesterday to remove copies of a satirical magazine deemed to have offended the country's royal family by publishing a cartoon of the heir to the throne having sex.

The cartoon on the front cover of El Jueves magazine showed Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia in the midst of an ardent session of love-making.

A speech bubble issuing from the prince's mouth makes a joke about the amount of work done by the royal family and a government decision to give families €2,500 (£1,680) for each new child.

"Do you realise what it will mean if you get pregnant?" the prince asks. "This is going to be the closest thing to work that I've ever done."

A judge at Spain's national court yesterday ordered police to impound all copies of the magazine, arguing that it contravened a law that prevents Spaniards from being "rude or insulting" about King Juan Carlos or his family.
It's all here...

I don't see much of the Western or US press or liberal blogs covering this story, though the Free Press hid it in some short world news stories in the back pages of today's print edition. But in an internet search, I found that the cartoon-in-question is now for sale on eBay.

ejh at The Tomb - It is all right for cartoons to risk provoking hatred against Muslims but it is not all right for cartoons to risk provoking laughter against princes. Read the rest... there's more to this story than just the free speech issue.

Bush's intestinal exam

Thanks to MadPriest.

Friday, July 20, 2007

earth's crammed with heaven - the sacred and mystical are right here

If we cannot see God in everything - dead goats, drunken yobs, spring buds, morning birdsong, car noise, powerstations and scaffolding on the front of Chartres - then we are not looking hard enough.

I’ve become very aware of how every object I handle has been made by people. People with lives and sorrows. People who have worked in designing my computer, laboured in the sunshine building my house, laughed as they assembled this train i’m riding in, picking the hops that went into my beer. And all of that is sacred and magical - not to be dismissed as mara or mere earthly stuff. There’s a wonderful Browning quote that glows true:

earth’s crammed with heaven
and every common bush afire with god
but only he who sees
takes off his shoes

-- Alistair Appleton -- Do Buddhists Watch Telly?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Genome survey may help HIV patients

NEW SCIENTIST- A small genetic mutation in the section of human DNA that codes for immune proteins appears able to reduce the amount of HIV in the body by an average of 90%, new research suggests. Scientists say the finding points to new ways in which vaccines might one day help boost immune protection against the virus.

Read about it here.

Not so fast, Ms Spaulding

While visiting a friend recently, I read about the proposed bottling operation in East Montpelier [“Montpelier Environmentalists Question Water-Bottling Scheme,” June 6]. Where I live, in Michigan, we’ve been dealing with the negative impacts of water mining since Nestle started pumping several years ago. The water should be maintained for the benefit of all — we are a Public Trust state — but instead the pumping has lowered lake levels and turned a nearby stream into mud flats. Citing the negative environmental impacts to the surrounding, interconnected water system, citizens brought and won a suit against Nestle. The judge ruled that the company would have to stop pumping within 30 days of the ruling. Sadly, it’s been appealed and every day hundreds of thousands of gallons are stolen. Citizen movement to defend groundwater has coalesced around the belief that we can’t tolerate this de facto privatization of the commons.

Single-serving boutique water puts convenience ahead of good stewardship and isn’t the answer to our water needs. Public water is a service maintained and kept affordable for everyone — not just those who can afford to spend two dollars per bottle. The bottling industry preys on our gullibility; the result is windfall profits. It’s not as rigorously tested as publicly owned tap water, and is as much as 1000 times more expensive per serving. Let’s drink from the tap. The bottles can’t be recycled and require up to 1000 years to biodegrade. Is it worth it? Vermont, stand up for the water.
Holly Wren Spaulding
Spaulding is a founding member of Sweetwater Alliance, a Michigan-based citizen organization dedicated to water issues.

Every brand has its market and acquiring local "brands" are key to Nestlé Waters' global growth strategy. Nestlé own Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Ozarka, to name a few bottled waters sold in the USA. In effect, that local water you drink is profit for a company based in Vervey, Switzerland. (It's no accident that Nestlé have a monopoly in infant formula, too, but that's the topic of another post.)

I've written about water as a public resource here. 70% of those chic plastic water containers are tossed in dumps and landfills - not good stewardship.

But.... not so fast, Ms Spaulding, in your praise of tap water -

There's dangerous levels of fluoride in it. A National Assessment of Tap Water Quality shows 260 detected contaminants (141 unregulated) in the public water supply serving millions per day.

Check out the TWQD Vermont Report.

We'll See...

I'm sick of Auntie Beeb lying to us, frustrated with National Propaganda Radio and its cousin, Propaganda Broadcasting System. (I do watch AlJazeera on line, though.) Slick don't cut it for me - I want thoughtful independent content taking on the power voices - free from government or corporate propaganda edited as news - so we'll see about this one. It could become just another liberal wankfest. From lookin' around the site, it's been in the plans for a few years. Geeks who worked for Howard Dean are handling the design for the internet funding plea. Check it out for yerselves: The Real News.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NL: A Season of Dutch Arts in the Berkshires

This summer, in an unprecedented creative partnership, MASS MoCA, Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute of Art, Shakespeare & Company and the Colonial Theatre will present a showcase of vibrant works of art from the Netherlands...through August 2007. Check out the programs.

A few weeks ago I saw Netherlands Dance Theater II perform Simple Things, but I'll be be back for more before NL closes in August.

El presidente, el presentador

RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE - Across Latin America, presidents are increasingly turning their backs on traditional propaganda methods and producing their own radio and television shows instead. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez started the trend - but he's no longer the only Latin American leader turned radio host. Bolivia's Evo Morales and Ecuador's Rafael Correa have recently followed his example.

Full article here.

The American Ruling Class

Via Lenin's Tomb, with thanks.

Some pointedly apt comments over at The Tomb:
My other favourite scene is the one where Lapham and one of the kids reads through a front page article of the New York Times: "An official source said... an official source said...a government source said... This is like an unofficial official government mouthpiece!"

[Not unrelatedly, this made me vomit: NY Times - The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age.]

Another Tomb commenter:
Isit really a question of compassion to recognise that the people who do the stuff that keeps the rest of us alive and healthy - cleaning up our shit and what not - actually require particular skills to be able to do it. And often they have to deploy their skills under much less propitious circumstances than the fabled brain surgeons, who don't have clueless and hoostile 'supervisors' scrujtinising their every move. Getting things done within those kinds of constraints takes real skill, not to mention the budgeting and bargaining skills people need to survive on these well below 'poverty line' 'wages'.

Official site: The American Ruling Class

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Pinnacle? Hardly. Milestone? Better. Actually it's a Sitemeter stat for a visitor today on this blog:

Visitor's Time Jul 17 2007 1:51:41 pm
Visit Number 5,000

Y'all just keep comin' back now, ya hear?

CIA treads on the Dutch

Just one more absurd example of American don't mess with us exceptionalism:

24oranges - Armed American security agents are actually participating in the annual ‘Nijmegen Vierdaagse’ (International Four Day Marches Nijmegen) under cover to protect the American military. The Dutch are perplexed as this is perfectly illegal, but the Dutch government probably enjoys being walked all over (pardon the pun) by the Americans. Although almost 4,600 men and women from 17 different countries are being protected by armed Dutch security services, the Americans apparently felt the need to protect the 65 American men and women participating in the event.

Read the rest here.

Powered by the Sun

In 2005, St James's Church, where I was a member when I lived in London, installed photovoltaic panels allowing the parish to generate electricity from sunlight.
‘As a church, this expresses our commitment to solidarity with poor and marginalised people,’ said Revd Dr Charles Hedley of St James’s.

‘Africa is the poorest continent on earth and produces the least CO2, but her people are also the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Knowing this, we cannot just bemoan climate change, but must do something.

‘It has been a real opportunity to think global and act local.’

Read more about how SJP went green here and here.
St James’s presented the work as an educational project – to make visitors and people in the local community think about renewable energy and climate change...

Monday, July 16, 2007

What about a Green challenge to Welch??

This was originally posted on 7/11/07, but now I'm bumping it up to further discussion (and make it easier to locate). Happy to see the Vermont Green Party is using the graphic (I borrowed it from Snarky Boy.)What better way to the show Greens as the alternative to the Demflack beholden to corporate crooks, loan sharks, union busters, environmental destroyers, and monopolists! Besides, as the post directly below shows, it's been a Green weekend.

Snarky Boy writes a lot about Peter Welch. He's even suggested that the sweet talkin' guy may be a one term guy.

The "liberal/progressive" Common Dreams is awash with comments about a possible Sheehan vs Pelosi knockabout. But in Vermont the word is out about a challenge to Peter Welch. But that's coming from the mainstream impeachment crowd, who tend to be a bunch of disaffected Dems or Progs. The Greens, in contrast, offer an alternative - the only anti-war party, and Greens have called for impeachment. Greens champion public services, human rights, social justice and environmental protection - all important platforms that would garner wide support for a Green candidate among Vermonters. Any serious, sane Vermont Green up for it?

Check out the Vermont Green Party!

Green Party Meeting Coverage

Green Party press release MONDAY 7/16/07 (released hours ago) - Green Party Meeting Highlights

OpEd News July 15, 2007 - Consider joining the Green Party

Via Green News and Opinion, here are links to media coverage from the weekend:

Reading Eagle

Times Leader

Centre Daily

Boston Globe

Philadelphia Enquirer

Other news via Google search -

Various Google News links "Green Party convention"

Nominations Open for 20 Best Green Blogs

The Daily (Maybe) has the info on how to nominate your faves.

Here's last year's best 100 list .

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bill Moyers: Tough Talk on Impeachment

Sunday afternoon UPDATE: Follow the discussion atTalkLeft here.

You can watch Bill Moyers Journal: Tough Talk on Impeachment here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lead Poisoning Averted

Good to read in today's Free Press that an alert health department employee spotted a potential health problem in a toy charm with high lead levels sold at Fletcher Allen's gift shop.

As a commissioner on Burlington's Board of Health, I'm glad that the city's Code Enforcement office has strict standards for environmental hazards. The board continues to support the city's lead abatement education program as it effects rental properties, though that nationally recognised effort has lost full funding.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Iraq veterans: "...the entire war is an atrocity".

Update below.

Lenin's Tomb has a good post up today: Iraq veterans: "...the entire war is an atrocity" -
In a very wide-ranging and in-depth piece of reporting, Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian of The Nation have interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq war. The results are devastating.
Read all of lenny's post here.

Update: Several of the soldiers appeared today on Democracy Now!

Well, doh, Springfield!

VtBuzz buzzes - One Vermont campaign is over faster than you can say Cowabunga, baby. Our Springfield has won the chance to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie, beating out all those other states with lesser Springfields... read it all here.

Like Terri Hallenbeck, I've never seen the Simpsons. Springfield has been deprived for years; it can now proudly call itself depraved. :-P

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

US Greens meet this weekend

Ralph Nader (and Cynthia McKinney) will be at the Green Party national convention this weekend. John Walsh, on Counterpunch: Will the Greens seize the moment?

The Green Party has written a letter to Michael Moore about his movie Sicko. Nader has an article up on Counterpunch about the film. Walsh responds.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

25th Anniversary of Vermont Pride

Yesterday - 07/07/07 - might have been a lucky day for hetero couples who tied the knot, but in Vermont - despite the progress made with civil unions legislation - queers are still treated as separate and unequal.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

All Saints/Pasadena Rector Calls for Investigation into Impeachment of the Vice President

It is significant that a rector of one of the largest Episcopal parishes in the US - Ed Bacon at All Saints - has called for the Justice Department to investigate impeachment of the vice president in a sermon last Sunday.

I'm pleased to see that mainstream - even liberal/progressive - churches are waking up --

No siree, he doesn't soft-soap it at all. I'm no expert on Anglican homiletics, but the build up or lead up (what ever they'd call it at GTS) to the call for impeachment is a brill exposition by a person of deep faith - calling us to "look at what is at stake," to be "stewards of the fragile dream of democracy." Click here to read it or follow along as you watch the vid. Pretty damn good stuff, IMHO.

But here's Ed Bacon -


What I am about to say has been long in coming. But I want to invite you into a conversation about it. I have been deeply troubled by the state of our nation and its flaws. I have been deeply troubled by how the behavior of the current Vice-President of the United States has expressed the erosion of democracy and has exposed the flaws in our country’s life.

Vice-president Cheney publicly embraced the violation of the Geneva Conventions when, on a talk radio program, he said he was not troubled by our forces using “waterboarding” — the simulated drowning of detainees to force them to talk. He has ordered the destruction of the visitor logs to his residence. These are presidential records the law requires him to preserve and protect. He has held secret meetings with energy executives to craft an energy policy that does not alleviate oil dependence. I believe he has been the motor leading our country through fabricated intelligence into this disastrous, illegal, immoral, and unjust war based on lies. He has expanded Executive powers at the expense of our system of checks and balances under the “unitary executive theory”. And now he is using and abusing his power to make secret what is the rightful knowledge of U. S. taxpaying citizens. He has refused to provide his office’s documents to the National Archives and Records Administration as provided by law. He then made the insane claim that the Vice-President is not “an entity within the executive branch.”
So I have come to believe that for the sake of the soul of America and its addiction to the mentality of collateral damage – both of people who get in our way and the collateral damage of the Constitution when it gets in our way – that the United States Congress should authorize and direct the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of the Vice-President.

As a teenager I learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr that all human beings are interconnected, interwoven, and interdependent. We really are not free until all are free for that which unjustly incarcerates another incarcerates me. Whatever oppresses someone else oppresses me. When I do violence to another through perpetuating poverty, bigotry, occupation or war or genocide, that corrupts me and my soul. It corrupts the soul of a nation.
Thanks to Susan Russell and Bill Carroll for the heads-up.

Friday, July 6, 2007

But what about Jersey tomatoes?

NEW SCIENTIST - 'Tis the season in Vermont for organic tomatoes, so it's good to know they're healthy for you.

UBE meets in Houston

The Union of Black Episcopalians has been meeting in Houston. BARBARA KARKABI writes in the
HOUSTON CHRONICLE [my emphasis] -
When one is oppressed, all are oppressed, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church told church members Wednesday.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted the irony of holding a "reconciliation Eucharist" on the Fourth of July, a day the nation celebrates freedom.

"The reality is that reconciliation and freedom go hand in hand," she told Houstonians and members of the Union of Black Episcopalians in a morning service at downtown's Christ Church Cathedral. "The irony is that freedom, reconciliation and the reign of God are all around us, and yet none of them is fully known or experienced — not yet."
Read all of the Chron article here.

Betty Conrad Adam, Canon Theologian at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, whom I met years ago when we both worked in the Texas Medical Center - she was a lay chaplain at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital - blogs about the gathering here, here & here.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

STREAMING VIDEO: Natural, Happy Gardening with the Burlington Board of Health!

Part of a series, "To Your Health," Burlington Board of Health's "Natural Gardening" show - taped on June 26th - is now on-line as a streaming video.

Click and scroll down to Special Events and click - Burlington Board of Health - "Natural Gardening" (the last on the list) to view the video.

The program reviews the city’s pesticide & herbicide ordinances, give tips on natural lawn care & gardening & features a Burlington residential garden which is maintained with no toxic chemicals.

In addition, there is a program podcast (audio only).

I'll keep y'all updated with airtimes on Channel 17, too.

The Day After

With thanks to MadPriest - But you can't fool all of the people
all of the time

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Who's an American?

Appropriate for this day [borrowed from Undernews] -


1600s Most of various tribes scattered throughout the continent didn't know whether they were Americans as there was no one to tell them

1774 Continental Congress leaves it to each state to decide who shall be a voting citizen

1776 Full citizenship to white male property owners, with six states granting it to all white males whether they had property or not. Some states had higher property qualifications than others and some even required membership in a specified religion.

1781-89 Articles of Confederation accept in principle that the central government should regulate Indian affairs.

1789 Secretary of War is placed in charge of Indians

1790 Naturalization of foreign 'free white persons' permitted. Women carried the legal status of their husbands.

1795 Naturalization denied free whites unwilling to give up foreign titles of nobility

1812-21 Six western states join the union with full white male suffrage. Four of the original states abolish property requirements

1830 Indian Removal Act passes Congress, calling for relocation of eastern Indians to a territory west of the Mississippi River. Cherokees contest it in court, and in 1832, the Supreme Court decides in their favor, but Andrew Jackson ignores the decision. From 1831-39, the Five Civilized tribes of the Southeast are relocated to the Indian Territory. The Cherokee "Trail of Tears" takes place in 1838-39.

1853-56 United States acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands through 52 treaties, all of which it will subsequently break.

1856 North Carolina becomes the last state to abolish the property requirement. Previous barred Catholics and non-Christians are enfranchised and in a few states even immigrants not yet naturalized are allowed to vote.

1857 Under Dred Scott decision, no black person can be a U.S. citizen.

1858 Stephen Douglas debates Abraham Lincoln, arguing that "I believe the government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity for ever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men. . . instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races." Lincoln disagrees.

1866 Civil Rights Act declares all persons born in the U.S. - except Indians - to be natural citizens

1869 Territory of Wyoming grants women suffrage in state elections

1870 15th Amendment is passed: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." South deals with the amendment by instituting polls taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses that limit the vote to the offspring of the formerly enfranchised. Naturalization of black immigrants (but not Asians) is permitted.

1871 Residents of the District of Columbia lose the right to vote for mayor and city council as a territorial form of government with appointed governor is installed

1871 - General Sheridan issues orders forbidding western Indians to leave reservations without permission of civilian agents.

1874 Supreme Court rules that it is not unconstitutional to deny women the right to vote.

1875 Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and "Mongolian" prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers

1878 Chinese are ruled not eligible for naturalized citizenship

1882 Chinese Exclusion Law suspends immigration of laborers for ten years. Late 19th century exclusion from naturalization includes prostitutes, convicted felons, lunatics, polygamists and persons likely to be a 'public charge' Early 20th century exclusion from naturalization includes anarchists, communists, and the illiterate.

1902 Chinese exclusion is extended for another ten years.

1904 Chinese exclusion is made indefinite

1915 Eleven states have given women the right to vote

1918 Servicemen of Asian ancestry who served in World War I receive right of naturalization

1919 American Indian soldiers and sailors receive citizenship.

1920 The 20th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, is ratified

1923 Asian Indians ruled not eligible for naturalized citizenship.

1924 Congress gives the right to vote to original Americans, the Indians.

1940 Congress passes Nationalities Act granting citizenship to all Native Americans without diluting tribal authority.

1941 After declaring war on Japan, 10,000 Japanese-Americans along Pacific Coast states and Hawaii are rounded up and interned in Department of Justice camps.

1943 The Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed. The annual immigration quota for Chinese is set at 105.

1945 The War Brides Act permits immigration of Asian spouses and children of American servicemen in the war.

1946 Luce-Celler bill grants right of naturalization and small immigration quotas to Asian Indians and Filipinos

1949 5000 highly educated Chinese in the U.S. granted refugee status after China institutes a Communist government.

1952 One clause of the McCarran-Walter Act grants the right of naturalization and a small immigration quota to Japanese.

1957 Utah becomes the last state to permit Indians to vote

1965 Immigration Law abolishes "national origins" as basis for allocating immigration quotas to various countries - Asian countries now on equal footing.

1974 Residents of the District of Columbia regain the right to vote for mayor and city council lost over a century earlier but still lack voting representation in Congress or real power over their budget and criminal justice system.

Distress Signal

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Queen and my Cousin: Gala Opening in Den Haag

The photo above shows HM Queen Beatrix entering through an art installation created by my cousin, Susanne Bruynzeel, a graduating student at the Royal Academy of Art/Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunst in The Hague. On Saturday, June 30, the Queen opened the senior students' Final Exhibit [link in Dutch], which also celebrated the Academy's 325th anniversary. The KABK (founded in 1682) is the oldest in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe.

Congratulations, Susanne!

Monday, July 2, 2007

China Charade

Vermont, a bastion of progre$$ive capitalist enviro-politics, has formed an alliance with China, a flawless model for human rights and environmental justice. VERMONT SNARKY BOY comments.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

53% of Americans insist on a third party

Americans felt the same way back in 1996, when Ross Perot got 8.3%.
Look at the most recent CBS News poll.

No doubt you've heard of the Green Party.

TalkLeft has a discussion.