Thursday, August 30, 2007

Kucinich ain't so loony on health care delivery

He's actually in the center on healthcare delivery -
"One of the greatest hoaxes of this campaign -- everyone's for universal healthcare," Kucinich said. "It's like a mantra. But when you get into the details, you find out that all the other candidates are talking about maintaining the existing for-profit system."

Why the industry and his Democratic & Republican rivals want the status quo -
"With 46 million Americans without any health insurance at all and another 50 million underinsured," Kucinich said, "isn't it really time to look at the other models that exist that are workable for all the other industrialized nations in the world? When you think about it, the only thing that's stopping us is the hold that the private insurers have on our political system . . . corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork. . ."

The hold of the healthcare industry on the top candidates is already apparent. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top recipient of campaign contributions so far from the pharmaceutical and health products industry is Republican Mitt Romney ($228,260). But the next two are Democrats Barack Obama ($161,124) and Hillary Clinton ($146,000). The top recipient of contributions from health professionals is Clinton ($990,611). Romney is second at $806,837, and Obama third at $748,637.

The top recipient of cash from the insurance industry, which includes health insurers, is another Democrat, Connecticut's Christopher Dodd, at $605,950. Romney and Republican Rudolph Giuliani are second and third, with Clinton and Obama fourth and fifth. Even though Obama is in fifth place, he still has collected $269,750 from insurance companies.

Full Boston Globe article here.

Related, also in the Globe, is new Census data on the uninsured: 47 million.

Stop this Texecution!

TALK LEFT: Texas has executed three people in the past three days.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS - Texas is the only state that applies the "law of parties" to capital cases, allowing accomplices who "should have anticipated" a murder to receive the death penalty. Kenneth Foster is scheduled to die Thursday under this provision.

E-mail the governor through his Web site:

Call the governor's opinion hotline:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Holy Spring Roll!

You're Vietnam!

After years of muddling through on your own, you've finally repaired
yourself to a point of respectability.  You would have been much better off had
people you didn't like not kept insisting on spending so much time with you.  But
those times are fading quickly and these days you're pretty sure you won't get burned.
 Star power!

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

Today in 1935

Today - seventy-two years ago, Queen Astrid of the Belgians was killed in an auto accident in Switzerland. She was popular, even in Holland - my father collected Astrid memorial postage stamps, unfortunately destroyed when his house was bombed during the 1939-45 war.

To commemorate this event and her short life, the BRMB has posted some old photos.

Wow, I bet there is a story behind the photo above, on the right, of Astrid and Leopold during a 1933 trip to the Belgian Congo. Fascinating, when you consider how the Belgians raped Africa and you see this kind of paternalistic, colonial (1930s) view of Belgium over the Congolese. These kinds of souvenir photos of the rulers with the local indigenous people are typical. We know what happened to Astrid, Leopold, and the Congo. But what did the future hold for the six children in this photograph? What were their stories? They have names, but remain nameless.

Those Pesky Iraqis

Robert Fisk -

Always, we have betrayed them. We backed "Flossy" in Yemen. The French backed their local "harkis" in Algeria; then the FLN victory forced them to swallow their own French military medals before dispatching them into mass graves. In Vietnam, the Americans demanded democracy and, one by one - after praising the Vietnamese for voting under fire in so many cities, towns and villages - they destroyed the elected prime ministers because they were not abiding by American orders.

Now we are at work in Iraq. Those pesky Iraqis don't deserve our sacrifice, it seems, because their elected leaders are not doing what we want them to do...

And now, get rid of Maliki. Chap doesn't know how to unify his own people, for God's sake. No interference, of course. It's up to the Iraqis, or at least, it's up to the Iraqis who live under American protection in the green zone. The word in the Middle East - where the "plot" (al-moammarer) has the power of reality - is that Maliki's cosy trips to Tehran and Damascus these past two weeks have been the final straw for the fantasists in Washington. Because Iran and Syria are part of the axis of evil or the cradle of evil or whatever nonsense Bush and his cohorts and the Israelis dream up, take a look at the $30bn in arms heading to Israel in the next decade in the cause of "peace".

Robert Fisk: The Iraqis don't deserve us. So we betray them...
Published: 23 August 2007 in The Independent

Monday, August 27, 2007

Something is Rotten in the Netherlands

RADIO NETHERLANDS by Eric Hesen 24 August 2007 -

In recent years, things had been relatively quiet with regard to the extreme right groups in the Netherlands. But the neo-Nazis appear to be making a high-profile comeback. And more violent than ever. Arson, vandalism and even firearms seem to be par for the course nowadays. Gradually the police and the authorities seem to be realising the danger.

In a Rotterdam court this week, eleven youths are facing prison sentences of up to two-and-a-half years for arson, vandalism and intimidation in the town of Almere. Neo-Nazi Arris de Bruin also appeared in court this month after the police discovered weapons, ammunition and explosives at his home.

According to the Anne Frank Foundation, such cases are only the tip of the iceberg. Its annual survey issued this week revealed that there were 67 incidents involving extreme right-wing groups last year, almost double the amount in the previous year. (Read all of Eric's report....)

Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus - Reciprocal Blogroll

The Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus Blogroll was organised over at TalkLeft awhile back, based on Big Tent Democrat's idea of the Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus. The list is growing.

Our newest member blog is:

Gold Star Mom Speaks Out

The Blogroll is a reciprocal link list of "Out Of Iraq Bloggers" that will be posted separately from other blogrolls and displayed on each member blog to identify them as part of the Caucus.

The Out Of Iraq Blogroll is intended to be a roll of bloggers that are:

1) Opposed to the Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill.
2) Opposed to funding Bush's Iraq Occupation Debacle.
3) Committed to getting the troops home as soon as possible.
4) Determined to end George W. Bush's Iraq and Mid-East Debacle as quickly as possible.
5) Determined to restore some sanity to the world.

All Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus members are also Guest Authors at O.O.I.B.C. where they can post or cross-post anything related to the Iraq Occupation.

The full list of Blogs is on the sidebar.

To join email:

Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle, Priests and Workers for the Deaf, 27 August

Here are the readings appointed for the Feast of Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle, priests, workers for those who are deaf.

The Episcopal Conference of the Deaf

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Homeland Security Enlists Clergy to Quell Public Unrest


Homeland Security Enlists Clergy to Quell Public Unrest if Martial Law Ever Declared


COMMENT: The vid & reports are about religious selling out to authority. No thanks. I'd rather listen to the prophetic voices of Dorothy Day, ++Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, Jr., ++Desmond Tutu, or Joan Chittister.

Giles Fraser: When the US Right was not so religious

Evangelical Christians and the Republican Party may seem perfect together, but it was not always thus, writes Giles Fraser, Team Rector of Putney, in the UK.
“Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass” was [Barry Goldwater's] reaction to the founder of the Moral Majority. Goldwater famously defended abortion. “I don’t have any respect for the religious Right,” he said. “There is no place in this country for practising religion in politics. That goes for Falwell, Robertson, and all the rest of these political preachers. They are a detriment to the country.”

NLRB refuses to negotiate with its workers

National Labor Relations Board is Refusing To Negotiate With Its Employee Union - 08/23/07 - An ironic battle between the NLRB and the NLRBU union continues to unfold... Last week members of the union representing workers for the National labor Relations Board began calls for the resignation of NLRB General Counsel, Ronald Meisburg. Meisburg has refused to bargain with the union representing 1000 NLRB employees. This week the NLRBU received support in the form of an unfair labor practice complaint filed by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The FLRA serves a similar function as the NLRB as it governs labor relations between the Federal government and employees. In the complaint the FLRA alleges that the NLRB has violated federal labor law by not bargaining with the FLRA certified union.

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

God within creation from Speaking to the Soul:

The feature of Celtic spirituality that is probably most widely recognized, both within and outside the Church, is its creation emphasis. Like most children, I had grown up with a sense of awe at creation. Our earliest memories are generally of wonder in relation to the elements. Connected to these moments will be recollections of experiencing at the deepest levels a type of communion with God in nature, but there will usually have been very little in our religious traditions to encourage us to do much more than simply thank God for creation. The preconception behind this is that God is separate from creation. How many of us were taught actually to look for God within creation and to recognize the world as the place of revelation and the whole of life as sacramental? Were we not for the most part led to think that spirituality is about looking away from life, so that the Church is distanced from the world and spirit is almost entirely divorced from the matter of our bodies, our lives and the world? More...

Here are the readings (Proper 16, Year C, RCL) appointed for use on the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Doubting Teresa

It seems Mother Teresa of Calcutta had doubts and questions about her faith, which is not a bad, but a good, thing. We need to honor that. Only way to grow! To me the opposite of faith is also making an idol of being absolutely sure (which comes out of fear and ignorance).

Burlington zoning discussed on Channel 17 programs

Recently, Channel 17 has carried programs on the Burlington zoning re-write, which have audio or visual feeds.

Recent City Council meetings

Preservation Burlington's call in program on 23 August with Maurice Mahoney from Citizens for a Liveable City.

Citizens for a Liveable City press conferences on 26 July and 16 August.

Louis IX, King of France, 25 August 1270

Here are the readings appointed for use on the Feast of
Louis IX, King of France.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A picture worth $100

BARRE/MONTPELIER Times Argus August 24, 2007 --

Cell phone picture of pot leads to bust

NEWPORT — A cell phone containing photographs of marijuana plants fell into the hands of police, who found their way to its owner and his growing operation, authorities said.

Peter Ste. Marie, 22, was charged with felony marijuana cultivation after admitting to growing about 20 plants for his use, Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Locke wrote in an affidavit.

An unidentified person found the phone and looked for pictures on it that might lead to the owner. When the person saw the marijuana plants pictured, the phone was turned over to the Sheriff's Department on Aug. 13. When police activated the phone, it showed the owner's name and the name of his business, Locke said.

The finder also told police there were pot plants growing off Stevens Mills Road, in Jay, near where the phone was found, according to Locke, who found about 30 plants growing on land owned by Ste. Marie's grandmother.

Ste. Marie, who told authorities his grandmother didn't know about the marijuana plants, pleaded not guilty to the cultivation charge Tuesday and was released on $100 bail.

There's a lesson to be learned in the case, Locke said Thursday.

"I don't think I'd be taking pictures of illegal things on my cell phone," he said.

VT Dept of Health Terrorism Funds Audit, Part II

TIMES ARGUS - MONTPELIER — The state's hospital association mishandled and misspent money meant to prepare for possible biological terrorism in the state — and the Vermont Department of Health let the fiscal missteps happen — according to an audit expected to be released today.

The review by State Auditor Thomas Salmon found several troubling problems in the handling and use of as much as $900,000 in federal biological terrorism preparation grants that went through the health department and were spent by the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

In one case, more than $300 was spent on a meal for four at Aquitaine, a French bistro in Boston's South End, including $76 on drinks. State employees in a similar circumstance would be limited to spending $18.15 per meal, but similar limits did not seem to be followed in the use of the bioterrorism money.

Audit finds bio-terror funds were misspent
August 24, 2007 by Louis Porter, in the Barre/Montpelier Times Argus

Grace Paley, 'Opinionated Left-wing Lady', 1922-2007

When you write, you illuminate what's hidden, and that's a political act.

The writer and peace activist, Grace Paley, has died in Thetford Hill, Vermont.

Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed her in 1984.

Her Russian-born parents settled in the Bronx, NYC. Paley grew up in there, and later on, raised her kids in Greenwich Village.

I like how her stories caught the 'street' voices, the every-day lives of people in her neighbourhood. In the interview she talks about Hunter College English, and she did not like it. In the '30s and '40s, that school provided education for women to become teachers. The NY State qualification exams for teachers were primarily oral. The exams were designed to root out immigrant women, usually Russian, Polish and Jewish.

He Had High Hopes - An apparently disorientated man who had climbed onto the roof of the royal palace on Amsterdam's Dam square was persuaded down by police after several hours on Friday morning.

The man had been sitting on one of the statues, apparently playing a mouth organ.

Police said later the man had performed similar stunts on the spire of the city's Westerkerk. He has been taken to a clinic for psychiatric assessment.

COMMENT: Legally he's in a lot of trouble as well. Trespassing and endangering himself, the rescuers, and - as the police would tell him, a monument.

A Scary Thought

Edger has had a diary up on Talk Left for a while, take a look: George W. Obama or Hillary R. Bush?
You are being played again.
They are counting on getting your vote by default
, because they know that people are afraid that if they DON'T vote Democratic EVEN if the Democrats will not end the occupation they will end up with the rethugs back in power.

Remember all the fearmongering that Bushco did? The Democrats are now using it against you.

BUT, if they are elected next year in spite of that fact that they continue the occupation... WHAT DIFFERENCE is there between them and the rethugs?

What difference? NONE. It won't be any different from electing rethugs.

In other words by electing the Democrats next year out of fear of the rethugs, even if the Democrats won't end the occupation, EFFECTIVELY the country will have re-elected rethugs (called democrats).

As former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, speaking in Burlington last night, said, "Follow the money," and look at the policies. From her 7D interview:

S[even]D[ays]: How would you describe the state of the Democratic Party today?

C[ynthia] M[cKinney]: The Democratic Party has left many of its voters behind.

SD: The Republican Party?

CM: The Republican Party has left many of its voters behind.

SD: What is your view on the role of third-party politics?

CM: I’m given the example of the Abolitionist Party that didn’t win a single election but was right on the issue of slavery and affected the course of American politics for the better. Not many people at the time would have associated themselves with such a movement; of course that doesn’t mean that the abolitionist movement wasn’t necessary, and it certainly was right...

SD: Speaking of Bush, is there one word you would use to describe him?

CM: Impeachable.

SD: How do you feel he has handled the Iraq war?

CM: His first mistake was starting it.

SD: What would you have done differently?

CM: I would have changed the name and mission of the Department of State to the Department of Peace and eliminated war as any viable option for U.S. planners. The role and the mission of the Pentagon would change, too, for the promotion of our country as a responsible global partner and the peaceful protection of U.S. interests around the world. I would stop arms transfers and I would respect democratic elections. It is not just the Iraq war that Bush has mishandled. It is the American people and the legacy of our great country that has been mishandled by this presidency.

I used to be an active Democratic Party supporter, but now I'm a Green... the only viable peace party (the Dems are just as warmongering as the Rethugs).

St Bartholomew, Apostle, 24 August NT

Here are the readings appointed for for use on the Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle.

Borrowed from SPEAKING TO THE SOUL - Prayer and meditation have an important part to play in opening up new ways and new horizons. If our prayer is the expression of a deep and grace-inspired desire for newness of life—and not the mere blind attachment to what has always been familiar and “safe”—God will act in us and through us to renew the Church by preparing, in prayer, what we cannot yet imagine or understand. In this way our prayer and faith today will be oriented toward the future which we ourselves may never see fully realized on earth.

From Contemplation in a World of Action by Thomas Merton (Doubleday, 1971).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Green Party of Vermont host Cynthia McKinney in Burlington

All smiles after tonight's Cynthia McKinney event in Burlington.

Craig Hill makes an appeal: Run, Cynthia, run! (as a Green!).

Cynthia and Bruce Marshall, co-chair of Green Party of Vermont.

Cynthia takes a question from the audience.

Cynthia signs a copy of American Blackout, a documentary about voter disenfranchisement and Cynthia's congressional campaign in Georgia.


Cynthia with the Greens!

Cynthia McKinney & GPV co-chair, Owen Mulligan.

Still smilin'...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Quelle surprise.

Commentary: Bush's rationale for Iraq war keeps changing:

With Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker scheduled to report to Congress on what the surge has accomplished on September 11, we learn that the White House political aides actually will write the promised assessment.

This week we saw two President Bushes in action. In a news conference in Canada, he acknowledged that while security has improved somewhat thanks to the surge, the Iraqis have made little progress toward meeting the benchmarks. Two days later, speaking at the National VFW convention in Kansas City, the president spoke at length about the need to stay the course in Iraq indefinitely.

He pleaded for the patience he said is needed to win in Iraq, and surprisingly put forward the example of the Vietnam War and our withdrawal from there after 10 years and 58,249 dead American troops as a reason why we must stick to our guns in Iraq.

He trotted out his administration's now shopworn fear tactics...Read the rest of this commentary from McClatchy

Pilger: The War on Democracy

John Pilger's documentary on the US assault on Central & South American democracy is up on GoogleVid over at The Tomb . Go:view.

More John Pilger - A commenter over at The Tomb suggested listening to Pilger, speaking at Socialism 2007 Conference in July. Worth it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

'I have always had a relationship with Greens...' - Cynthia McKinney

(Blogger's host was down most of the morning, otherwise I'd have got this post up earlier! Oops!)

Cynthia McKinney comes to Burlington on Thursday - 7 PM, Contois Auditorium, City Hall - and will be in Montpelier on Friday - 9 AM in the State House cafeteria.

In anticipation of her visit to Vermont, McKinney was interviewed this week by Seven Days. (I could have done without 7D's headline, though.) Honestly, the fixation - no, obsession - that Democrats and the MSM have with Nader + Greens = Spoiler, and now extending that to McKinney, is getting tiresome. A Cynthia McKinney candidacy wouldn't spoil anything. (The Dems and Repubs have already done that.) She would offer the American voter a choice. The paper's readership - some would say eclectic - is basically Democratic Party members, with a few Progs thrown in. My hope is that they will want to come to all the Vermont events and listen to Cynthia! There are enough disgruntled Dems (and Progs) in our state who might just like what she has to say.

SD: Considering your growing association with the Green Party, what has attracted you to it?

CM: I have always had a relationship with Greens: from my very first campaign for the Georgia Legislature, to the campaign anticipated by many people in 2008. After I spoke out against George Herbert Walker Bush’s decision to bomb Baghdad in 1991, I spoke on the floor of the Georgia House against that decision. My colleagues got up and walked out on me and I was vilified all over the state. My patriotism was questioned and I was compared to Julian Bond. Honestly, that was the beginning of real outreach to me by peace groups all over the country, and women’s groups who felt my position was right.

SD: How would you describe the state of the Democratic Party today?

CM: The Democratic Party has left many of its voters behind.

SD: The Republican Party?

CM: The Republican Party has left many of its voters behind.

SD: What is your view on the role of third-party politics?

CM: I’m given the example of the Abolitionist Party that didn’t win a single election but was right on the issue of slavery and affected the course of American politics for the better. Not many people at the time would have associated themselves with such a movement; of course that doesn’t mean that the abolitionist movement wasn’t necessary, and it certainly was right.

SD: Many Americans were angered when Ralph Nader ran for president on the Green Party ticket in 2000, and blame him for President Bush’s being elected. What would you say to those voters?

CM: The assertion is made only by those who don’t know what happened in the 2000 election, or by those who want to dissuade people from looking for alternatives to the lack of representation they have now. First of all, nearly 100 percent of blacks who were registered to vote in Florida actually showed up and voted on Election Day to send a message to Jeb Bush. The mobilization was massive. Thousands of their votes were not counted. Democrats had only to defend their right to vote and demand that their votes be counted. That did not happen.

Read it all here

Burlington Front Porch Forum Posting re: BOH Action on Pesticides

By Jean Markey-Duncan posting to Burlington's neighbourhood Front Porch Forum -

Tue, 21 August 2007

Recently the Board of Health approved a request by a popular lawn care company to be allowed to apply additional chemicals within the Buffer Zone neighborhoods bordering the lake. The company, which touted itself as an expert in the field, convinced the Board, made up of citizens like you and me, that the chemicals they were asking to apply were safe.

After receiving a number of complaints from residents claiming the company was not adhering to the requirements of the pesticide ordinance, the board reversed its decision to allow the additional chemicals.

I attended the commission meeting and listened to the company's representative offer embarrassing "circular" excuses for why they may not have been in compliance with the ordinance but Alan Sousie, the head of the commission, was quick to see through the excuses. Board members responded quickly and appropriately by voting to reverse their previous decision to allow the additional chemical applications in the buffer zone; furthermore, they agreed to fine the company for its failures. This sends a strong message that our Board of Health is serious about protecting the health of the citizens of Burlington .

This action is a big step in the right direction and I applaud the Board for its courage. What is now needed is an extensive educational campaign about lawn chemicals. An educated citizenry will help the Board design proper ordinances and will also help with enforcement.

Unfortunately, most people believe if a chemical is on the market, it is safe. In fact, this simply is not true. Go to the EPA website, and you will not find any claim that a chemical has been proven safe. The homeowner innocently hires professional lawn care companies or purchases products like 4 Step Lawn Care programs thinking they are benign. The EPA has categorized the chemicals in these products among other things, as possible carcinogens, suspected endocrine blockers, and neurotoxins. Additionally the "inert" ingredients that carry the target chemical can, in fact, be more dangerous than the target chemical itself.

Sadly, children are particularly at risk. A National Cancer Institute study warns that, "It is prudent to reduce or, where possible, eliminate pesticide exposure to children, given their increased vulnerability and susceptibility. In particular, efforts should be focused to reduce exposure to pesticides used in homes and garden and on lawns and public lands, which are major sources of exposure for most children."

As a person trained in plant and soil science, I am not anti-chemical by any means but I am convinced that our desire for the "perfect" lawn is responsible for putting many millions of unnecessary pounds of unsafe chemicals into the environment at the expense of our health. Our Board of Health is doing its best to keep us safe but they need our support. Let's educate ourselves, make informed decisions about our own chemical use, and help the board create and enforce good ordinances that put the health of the community first.

COMMENT: Jean is a concerned citizen and is proud of the Board's collaborative work as volunteer citizen commissioners working diligently on public health issues. I like her point about education, which we have collectively decided is a priority. I am on the BOH and voted against granting the initial permit with another commissioner (first paragraph). The motion by me to fine the company was indeed approved unanimously. But there is still work to do... onward through the pesticide fog!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Watching you watching me

WASHINGTON — Next time you go to the airport, there may be more eyes on you than you notice.

Specially trained security personnel are watching body language and facial cues of passengers for signs of bad intentions. The watcher could be the attendant who hands you the tray for your laptop or the one standing behind the ticket-checker. Or the one next to the curbside baggage attendant.

They're called Behavior Detection Officers, and they're part of several recent security upgrades, Transportation Security Administrator Kip Hawley told an aviation industry group in Washington last month. He described them as "a wonderful tool to be able to identify and do risk management prior to somebody coming into the airport or approaching the crowded checkpoint."

The officers are working in more than a dozen airports already, according to Paul Ekman, a former professor at the University of California at San Francisco who has advised Hawley's agency on the program. Amy Kudwa, a TSA public affairs specialist, said the agency hopes to have 500 behavior detection officers in place by the end of 2008.

Read the rest, from McClatchy.

Have a nice day.

First hit the pets, then the people

Andrew Lindzey writes about the relationship between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence -

First hit the pets, then the people

“If any passages in holy scripture seem to forbid us to be cruel to brute animals,” wrote St Thomas Aquinas, “this is . . . to remove man’s thoughts from being cruel to other men, lest through being cruel to animals one becomes cruel to human beings.”

Leaving aside Aquinas’s questionable interpretation of scripture, the assumed link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence has found wide resonance in Western society. Thinkers as diverse as Pythagoras, St Augustine, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and many others have all advanced similar views.

The evidence?

There are two principal kinds of evidence...

In a control-group study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and Northeastern University, 153 individuals prosecuted by the MSPCA between 1975 and 1986 were tracked for 20 years — ten years before the abuse, and ten after. Seventy per cent who had committed violent crimes against animals also had — or went on to have — criminal records for violent, drug, or disorder crimes.

Compared with their next-door neighbours, those who abused animals were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people. The FBI now places animal cruelty on its list of risk indicators and warning signs for future violence.

The second piece of evidence comes from research on domestic violence. In situations where women or children were abused, so, invariably, were their animals. In 1981, a study by the RSPCA reported that 83 per cent of families with a history of animal abuse had also been identified by social services as at risk from child abuse or neglect.

In 1983, a study of those receiving services for child abuse from the New Jersey child-protection agency found that animals had also been abused in 88 per cent of pet-owning families. Extensive “triangling” took place within families, whereby pets were mistreated as a means of hurting another member of the family. Further US research in 1995 suggested that 71 per cent of battered women in a shelter asserted that their violent partner had harmed, or threatened to harm, the family pet.

Two pioneers in the field, Frank Ascione and Phil Arkow, argue that “Violence directed against animals is often a coercion device and an early indicator of violence that may escalate in range and severity against other victims.”

What to do?

None of this shows that people who are cruel to animals will always be violent to humans. There is no simple cause and effect. Rather, cruelty to animals is one of a cluster of potential or actual characteristics held in common by those who commit violence or seriously anti-social acts. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, identifies animal cruelty as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders.

In the light of this accumulating evidence, what should be done? The first course of action should be humane education by parents and teachers. Macho acts of violence to other creatures are not a normal phase of development, and, unless checked, can form pathological traits. Teaching young children respect for living creatures is a large civilising task, but, lamentably, it has no place in the National Curriculum, and is seldom undertaken by schools. By their example, or lack of it, parents crucially influence children’s propensity to violence.

The second point is the need to address and report incidents of abuse. Clergy are now well aware of this obligation in relation to children, but are reluctant to act in relation to animals. Yet, since clergy are one of the few professional groups whose work involves home visits, they are often (like it or not) in key front-line positions. Cross-reporting among professionals is now increasingly common, and it is a mistake to leave any case of abuse, child or animal, unreported. Under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, all who keep animals have a “duty of care”.

The third course of action concerns our theological vision of our place in creation. The idea of the interdependence of creation is now commonplace, but when it comes to articulating its practical significance, theologians and preachers are often mute. It is as if we can speak of creation only in generalities, always emphasising the differences between “them” and “us”. One result of this split thinking is that we fail to see the common patterns of violence in which we are caught — both as abusers and the abused.

A beleaguered animal protectionist was once confronted by an angry person wanting to know how she dared work for animals while there was still cruelty to children. “I’m working at the roots,” she replied.

First hit the pets, then the people by the Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, in Church Times (Church of England newspaper), 17 August 2007

See my previous post on the Centre.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Business Class Maneuvres

And I don't mean for legroom, although if some on the City Council have their way, an attempt may be made at tonight's meeting to reverse the vote on August 6th about the zoning amendment on the 12' setback. Apparently, some city councilors were not pleased. Also, the vote made on Amendment 38 on the building area may be up in the air. Who's influencing whom? What are we the taxpayers paying these people for? Who's colluding with whom?

HINT from today's GANNETT paper -

The online edition talks about a 'zoning hearing' tonight, but the print edition headline screams a voice for business. John Briggs puts citizens last. Council President Wright puts businesses first. Ex-Prog, ex-CEDO head, ex-corporate development mayor Clavelle puts in his two cents.

Bernard, Abbot of Clarivaux, 20 August 1153

Here are the readings appointed for use on the Feast of Bernard, Abbot of Clarivaux.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Cruisin' Music - Eagles: How Long

Go:here and click How Long. I'm fixin' ta git it 'n go cruisin' down the hi-way. Yes, siree.

Zoning Rewrite, Cont'd...

Here's my LTE in today's Burlingon Free Press --
It's a no-brainer. The best you can do is to take decent and principled stands on Burlington as a truly healthy and livable city. The idea of the zoning rewrite as a socially responsible act -- rather than being merely a marketing tool or a grandiose reflection of neo-capitalism -- means doing it with soul and decency.

Zoning can be achieved in many ways other than those sought by the typical developer. But to understand this and deal with it, one must free the debate from the rhetorical grasp of those who see a city's future primarily in economic -- rather than ecological or humanistic -- terms.

Certainly issues of ecology, both natural and human, need to be raised to the same level as present considerations of economics. The hope, and I believe the reality, is that in the long run, a zoning rewrite constructed on integrity and honesty will stand in stark contrast to the Ashe-Decelles-Knodell-Wright amendments -- politics based on windfalls of corporate cash which manipulation, cynicism and dishonesty provide access to.

Councilors Joan Shannon and Russell Ellis, listening to concerns of resident constituents, have introduced amendments that are ecologically and human-sensitive and merit full council support. At minimum, political integrity means standing firm against individuals for whom a pet cause -- a zoning variance benefiting developers, for example -- constitutes a litmus test for their support and being willing to accept the cost in doing so.

Vos is treasurer of the Green Party of Burlington

It's not the last word on Burlington's zoning "development", by no means -More letters need to be written! I see the folks in Wards 4&7 are concerned, too.

On Thursday, 16 August, Citizens for a Liveable City held a press conference to discuss the on-the-record review and developer bonuses segments of the proposed ordinance. Channel 17 will broadcast it on Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 12:00am, 5:00am, or 11:00am.

I was there as a bloggie activist and took a few snaps of CLC members Devin Colman, Sandy Baird, Maurice Mahoney, and Ed Wynant

National Homeless Animals Day

Every pet has its day -- even the homeless ones. That day is today, National Homeless Animals Day.

Green Mountain Animal Defenders will be tabling on Church Street today from 11:30-3:30 P.M. and will hold a Candlelight Vigil tonight at 7:30 P.M. on the lawn of Burlington's Unitarian Church, Pearl Street (across from the top of Church Street).

More nformation about today's GMAD events.
These events publicize dog and cat overpopulation's overwhelming magnitude, and increase public awareness of the millions of dogs and cats killed in shelters annually for lack of homes and to emphasize the importance of spaying and neutering companion animals.

McKinney Expands Vermont Tour

More Green news... Mark your calendars:

The Green Party of Vermont will be hosting former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney at events in Burlington and Montpelier. McKinney made history when she became the first African American woman to represent Georgia in the United States House of Representatives in 1992. McKinney will be visiting Vermont to speak about voter disenfranchisement, the Iraq War, Impeachment and her plans for 2008.

Thursday, August 23rd at 7:00 P.M.
Contois Auditorium, City Hall, Burlington
Free & Open to the Public

(to help retire the campaign debt accrued from her 2006 congressional run for office)

5:30-6:30 P.M.
884 South Prospect, Burlington
Tickets: $25
Info: 802-355-5247

Friday, August 24
9:00 A.M.
State House Cafeteria
Suggested Minimum Donation $25
Info: 802-355-5247

William Porcher Dubose, Priest, 18 August 1918

The readings appointed for the Feast of William Porcher DuBose, Priest, are here.

SPEAKING TO THE SOUL - There are two tasks before us as students and teachers of Christianity. The first is to know and understand our sources. To begin with, we must know our Old Testament as we have never known it before, if we are to take part in the new interpretation of our New Testament that the times demand. For each time must have its own living interpretation, since the interpretation cannot but be, in half measure at least, relative to the time. If the divine part in it is fixed, the human is progressive and changing just in so far as it is living.

We must cease to treat the phraseology, the forms, definitions, and dogmas of Christianity as sacred relics, too sacred to be handled. We must take them out of their napkins, strip them of their cerements, and turn them into current coin. We must let them do business in the life that is living now, and take part in the thought and feeling and activity of the men of the world of today.

--- From High Priesthood and Sacrifice by William Porcher DuBose, quoted in A Year With American Saints by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber. Copyright © 2006. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Padilla Verdict Reached

José Padilla has been found guilty.

Democracy Now! - An Inside Look at How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla

WSWS - A travesty of justice

Edgeing - So I Remember Ev'ry Face - Of Ev'ry Man Who Put Me Here

More on McKinney's Burlington Appearance

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post
"An Evening with Cynthia McKinney in Burlington":

A fundraising reception for McKinney will be held at 884 S. Prospect Street in Burlington from 5:30-6:30 P.M. before the event with a required minimum donation of $25.

From the Green Party of Vermont press release I received, announcing the event and reception:

Nationwide Greens are holding fundraisers for McKinney to help retire the campaign debt accrued from her 2006 congressional run for office and are hopeful she will
seek the Green Party nomination for President in 2008.

So, the $25 (or more) requested donation will help defray those costs. Dig deep, folks!

More from the press release -

On May 25, McKinney participated in a 23-minute
interview on Radio Station WBAI. The hosts asked her
about the possibility that she may seek the Green
Party presidential nomination. She said, “With the
failure of the Democratic Congress to repeal the
Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military
Tribunals Act, I have to seriously question my
relationship with the Democratic Party. The idea has
not been ruled out. All the current Democrats running
for president support the principle of potential
military action against Iran; none of them is for
impeachment of the President. They can’t speak for me.
I am open to a lot of ideas in 2008.”

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW - for only 6 days from today - You can download or play that archived WBAI interview here. Scroll down to Rise Up Radio - Friday, May 25, 2007 11:00 am Once you click on play, move your cursor up to 26:26 to listen to Cynthia. But you may just want to download it. The woman has soul.

Check out All Things Cynthia McKinney.

Let's call God Allah

More on Muskens, related to my previous post. His appeal to all believers to make a conciliatory gesture to Muslims by calling God Allah. The Netherlands is a diverse country. Muskens remarks cause a stir among people of all spiritual stripes, but it's also part of a discussion on what's Dutch. Lots of navel gazing going on. I still think some Dutch have tiny minds.

USA General Strike on September 11th

Thanks to RickB @ Ten Percent.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Health experts bare teeth on fluoride

The POLITICO - Health experts bare teeth on fluoride ---

More than 600 scientists and health experts are urging Congress to halt the addition of fluoride to public drinking water until the controversial treatment is proven safe.

In a strong statement Thursday [9 August 2007], the health professionals called upon lawmakers to stop fluoridation in communities across the nation until their safety concerns are reviewed at congressional hearings. The group, the Fluoride Action Network, cited fresh scientific evidence that fluoridation, long promoted to fight tooth decay, is ineffective and carries serious health risks

No hearings on fluoridation are currently planned before any Senate or House committee.

Among the petitioners is Arvid Carlsson, 84, a Swedish scientist best known for his work with the neurotransmitter dopamine and its effects in Parkinson's disease and a co-recipient the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine. “Fluoridation is against all principles of modern pharmacology,” he said. “It's really obsolete.” ...more

Picard writes about Burlington's z-z-z-zoning furore

Update Below: Action Alert!

Ken Picard, Seven Days, reports on the pro/con points of the "on the record" review amendment to Burlington's zoning revamp.

Citizens for a Liveable City - Come to our next Press Conference, Thursday, August 16, 2007, at 1:30pm at Battery Park in Burlington!

Special discussion on On-The-Record-Review and Developer Bonuses

The next City Council scheduled meeting is August 20th, 2007. Set your calendars!
Expected topics to include:

Downtown Bonuses
On the Record Review
How to Measure Building Height
Restoration of the Waterfront Enterprise Zone
Elimination of View Corridors

The Green Party of Burlington endorses the CLC.

Two Women, Two Obits

Both these women came from completely different backgrounds. But in their lives-lived-out they each helped the dispossessed and marginalised. Oh, the diversity of humanity! I have a feeling they would have got along fine.

NY Times - Irene Morgan Kirklady - civil rights pioneer who challenged segregation on interstate buslines, pre-Rosa Parks, in 1944.
When the bus grew crowded, the driver told her to give her seat to a white person. Mrs. Morgan refused, and when a sheriff’s deputy tried to take her off the bus in Saluda, Va., she resisted.

“He put his hand on me to arrest me, so I took my foot and kicked him,” she recalled in “You Don’t Have to Ride Jim Crow!” a 1995 public television documentary. “He was blue and purple and turned all colors. I started to bite him, but he looked dirty, so I couldn’t bite him. So all I could do was claw and tear his clothes.”

Independent - Brooke Astor

As a friend emailed me, "The British appreciate a good doyenne. In the US the coverage has been minimal. I wish someone would print the famous mugging story. 'I don't believe we've been introduced. I'm Mrs. Astor.'"

Saint Mary the Virgin, 15 August NT

The readings appointed for the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin are here.

Today I've been meditating on the unexpectedly radical message that lies behind the poetry of the words in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55):

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

VT Dept of Health Terrorism Funds Audit

Where and how does the DoH spend its money? The audit has been underway since April, but the story was in today's Free Press.
"We've got some important lessons to learn from this audit," Moffatt said. "I think the state auditor's office is helping us work through those lessons. The most important thing is we, the Health Department, take very seriously the responsibility for the strict monitoring of these precious resources, be they state or federal." ...

There is some question about appropriate accounting of how the money was spent," Gibbs said.

What lessons? What's going on?

Thabault said that since 2004 the Health Department had received $5.7 million in grants as part of the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program.

This money is given to second-tier funded sub-recipients

Recently there was the announcement that the tech assistance program for Town Health Officers was being cut from the departmental budget. These programs are crucial to the smooth running of public health programs in smaller cities and rural towns.

An Evening with Cynthia McKinney in Burlington

More Green news... Mark your calendars -The Green Party of Vermont has organised an evening with former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to take place on Thursday, August 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at Contois Auditorium, City Hall, in Burlington-

McKinney made history when she became the first African American woman to represent Georgia in the United States House of Representatives in 1992. McKinney will be visiting Burlington to speak about voter disenfranchisement, the Iraq War, Impeachment and her plans for 2008.

Followed by Q&A from the audience. Free and open to the public. Please Download a (pdf) poster, make copies and put them up in your local hang-outs around the state! Thanks!

What's in a Name?


The Roman Catholic Bishop of Breda Tiny Muskens has made the headlines today with his appeal to all believers to make a conciliatory gesture to Muslims by calling God Allah. The Protestant newspaper Trouw [link] places the appeal on its front page.

Trouw writes that on last night's television programme Network [video link] Bishop Muskens pointed out that Allah is the Arabic word for God. The bishop explained that he had worked for eight years in Indonesia. "There God is called Allah during the Mass. Why don't we do this as well?" Bishop Muskens says he doesn't expect much approval for his idea within the short term. "But I'd be interested to see how it is in another hundred or two hundred years."

Why don't Muslims call Allah God?

De Telegraaf also places the bishop's controversial appeal on its front page, along with the reaction of the Council of Dutch Protestant Churches, which says it has no intention of even thinking of the suggestion. The Chairman of the Council, Gerrit de Fijter, says it is true that Allah is the Arabic word for God, but "We're not in Indonesia or another land, we're in the Netherlands where we call Him God."

He also says that he "wants to continue using the word God in relationship to the Father, the son Jesus and the Holy Ghost, and if we say Allah this isn't possible." De Telegraaf interviews Christian Democratic MP Liesbeth Spies, who says using the word Allah isn't in accordance with Dutch tradition. She says: "You can also turn it around. Why don't Muslims call Allah God?" However, the spokesman for Roman Catholic bishops in the Netherlands. Pieter Kohnen, says Bishop Muskens' proposal might not be a bad idea. "We've been looking for the right words to describe God's greatness since time immemorial. Muskens has made an interesting suggestion."

COMMENT: Some Dutchies have tiny minds.

The Suicide of Capitalism

Texas Observer The Suicide of Capitalism by Molly Ivins 28 July 2006 (yes, last summer) - -

It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism—it will be destroyed by its own internal greed. Greed is the greatest danger as we develop an increasingly winner-take-all system. And voices like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page encourage this mentality by insisting that any form of regulation is bad. But for whom?

It is so discouraging to watch this country become less and less fair—“justice for all” seems like an embarrassingly archaic tag. Republicans have rigged the “lottery of life” in this country in ways we don’t even know about yet. The new bankruptcy law is unfair, and the new college loan rules are worse. The system has been stacked so that large corporations have an inside track over small businesses in getting government contracts. We won’t see the full consequences of this mean and careless legislation for years, but it’s starting to affect us already.

Read the rest of "The Suicide of Capitalism"...

And not so much as an antidote, rather, a counter to the manipulation of our greed and fears - accepting things as they are, go:read -- Bill Carroll's sermon for last Sunday.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Seminarian and Witness for Civil Rights, 14 August 1965

Here are the readings appointed for the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Seminarian and Witness for Civil Rights.

Speaking to the Soul: Like the early Christian witness, Daniels could write, “We are beginning to see as we never saw before that we are truly in the world and yet ultimately not of it.” He was sickened by signs saying “White Only,” but uncomfortable as well with making too “smart” an answer to a segregationist. He wrote: “We are beginning to believe deeply in original sin—theirs and ours.”

In the midst of this ambiguity, the reality of hatred remained, along with the possibility of death. Shortly after writing his report, Daniels was struck down by a supremacist’s bullet. An instinctive reaction led Daniels to throw himself in front of a young black woman when a white man aimed a rifle at her. Yet instincts are the product of prayer and a commitment to justice made long before the event. Daniels seems to have understood that his commitment might require the highest price. He also knew that the way of life can conquer the powers of death. He had written not long before: “A crooked man climbed a crooked tree on a crooked hill. Somewhere, in the mists of the past, a tenor sang of valleys lifted up and hills made low. Death at the heart of life, and life in the midst of death. The tree of life is indeed a Cross.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Green Left Infoasis Interview with Derek Wall

Worth your attention - Tim at Green Left Infoasis has an extensive interview with Derek Wall, green activist, writer, economist, and currently the Principal Male Speaker of the Green Party of England and Wales. Thanks Derek & Tim!

Greenwash: The editorials urge us to cut our emissions. The ads urge us to raise them

Guardian - George Monbiot Tuesday 14 August 2007:

The editorials urge us to cut emissions, but the ads tell a very different story
I am sorry to be crude, but however else I try to say it, the phrase "lying bastards" comes to mind. In March, I claimed that the [UK] government was fudging its figures on cutting carbon emissions and that it was due to miss its targets for renewable energy. It denied the charges, claimed its cuts were " correctly quantified" and suggested I had got my facts wrong. Yesterday, the Guardian published a secret briefing by civil servants admitting that the government's programmes are way off track and urging ministers to try to amend them not with new investments but through "statistical interpretations of the target".

While no expense is spared in expanding motorways, airports and thermal power stations, every possible tactic is used to frustrate the programme for installing renewable power. The reason is not hard to fathom: big business has invested massively in constructing old technologies and wants to maximise its returns before switching to the new ones. It also demands the hyper-mobility which enables its executives and its goods and services to go anywhere at any time.

Continue reading "The editorials urge us to cut emissions, but the ads tell a very different story"

Big study in the Big Thicket, Texas

Oh! I'd be there in a New York minute, if I could.... this sounds cool. Well, hot, actually - given the August heat in Texas!

Thicket of Diversity

Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, 13 August 1667

Here are the readings appointed for the Feast of Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Still Cruisin' After All These Years

Saturday was a picture-perfect, pristine, Vermont late summer's day to head down to Rutland and the state fairgrounds for the Beach Boys concert. Help Me Rhonda!

The boys sang non-stop for two hours. More than thirty songs. Not a one was a dud in their disoography. My friends, Peg and Bob, and I arrived in plenty of time to enjoy a tailgate picnic before the show started. Lots of tropical shirts and beachballs and dance, dance, dancing! A delightful afternoon with good friends, good food and good music.

Queueing for fries.

1967 Mustang

The Beach Boys arrived in vintage cars

In we go....

Waiting for the show to begin.

Who's that standing on the stage?

The audience members bumped & tossed beach balls up and down all over the grandstand.

Takin' a break...

UVM and Burliington's housing crisis

The Free Press has an editorial today about Vermont Interfaith Action's inspired proposal to the University of Vermont to build affordable housing for its staff. On one thing they agree: keep students on campus to free up rental housing downtown. But true to the BFP's consumerist tendencies, it's all about marketing to parents to send their darling children to UVM so they can enjoy the boondoggle monstrosity of a student life centre. Scant attention to a socially repsonsible mission.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

The readings appointed for 11 Pentecost are here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Clare, Abbess of Assisi, 11 August 1253

The readings appointed for the Feast of Clare, Abbess of Assisi, are here.

From Speaking to the Soul - Letter 2 of Clare of Assisi -

What you hold, may you [always] hold,
What you do, may you [always] do,
and never abandon.
But with swift pace [and] light steps
stir up no dust,
go forward:
securely, joyfully
and swiftly
on the path of prudent happiness.

Friday, August 10, 2007

LBGT Debate - Gay rights took the spotlight in Los Angeles Thursday when the Democratic Party's leading presidential candidates gathered for a televised forum sponsored by a gay-themed cable channel Logo.

The unprecedented two-hour event featured Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, former senator John Edwards and others, who are all anxious to win political support in the gay community.

COMMENT: Who woulda thunk it? I had no idea there was to be a debate only for LBGT folk. Delightful [sarcasm]. Thanks to Talk Left for the heads up. The debate was sponsored by Logo TV & Human Rights Watch, a predominately white middle class gay "activist" group with close ties to the Democratic Party. It's definitely not a queer group. It's focus is to push for programs that would just mainstream LBGT folk into the American middle class culture of a hetero-type marriage, of mommoms and daddads - the consumerist apple pie culture. Note "...and others" in the story. Those other candidates were Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Bill Richardson. Kucinich and Gravel were the only candidates that came out for same-sex marriage. It should be noted that the Democratic Party does not endorse same-sex marriage in its platform. The Green Party supports universal marriage rights.

You can view parts of the debate on Logo TV here.

Symbols of health at war

As if there isn't enough enmity in the world. Johnson & Johnson has filed a suit against the American Red Cross in a New York federal court, claiming the drugmaker owns the rights to the red cross on commercial products. The suit said the nonprofit relief organization licensed the cross to sellers of retail products, violating a century-old sharing agreement between the two. The Red Cross's CEO called the suit itself "obscene." J&J said it tried for months to resolve the issue with the Red Cross but those efforts failed.

Donate Blood!

Traditionally, in summer, there's a shortage of blood on the hospital shelves, as today's Burlington Free Press story explains. I've added a comment (scroll down to see), explaining the reasons to screen blood donors, why blood banks don't draw blood from paid donors, but particularly about the ARC's double standard against gay and bisexual men being permanently deferred from donating blood.

It is important to have blood on the shelf. Even if you don't agree with the ARC's homophobic screening, don't let patients' blood needs go lacking - it's a good deed to donate blood! The ARC blood donor center in Burlington is at 32 N. Prospect St. Telephone: 1-802-660-9130.

In my nearly 20 year career in blood banking, I've seen how the blood is used to help pediatric and adult cancer and cardiac patients. I also organised bone marrow registry drives in conjunction with blood drives.(Facts about cellular therapies.)

American Association of Blood Banks Blood Donation FAQ

Relatedly, the Mayo Clinic debunks some myths about organ donation and transplant.

Laurence, Deacon, and Martyr at Rome, 9 August 258

The readings appointed for the Feast of Laurence, Deacon and Martyr, are here.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Brideshead Remade

There's a new film version of Brideshead Revisited that's just been completed. Yeah, I can imagine Michael Gambon in the role played by Olivier, but for the life of me, cannot picture Emma Thompson as Lady Marchmain. Ben Whishaw may be delicious, but Anthony Andrews is Sebastian. (Jude Law was originally cast.) The original television production is incomparable, so why the remake? Even if the directors of the new adaptation want to honor the 1981 version, I say leave it the hell alone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Illuminated Life

This summer has been full of crossover moments where the seemingly mundane have become sacred to me. I've been using Joan Chittister's Illuminated Life as a resource and frame for weekly spiritual practice. Just in case that sounds too churchy or too pious, please know that her goal is to support us where we are as a people fully engaged with a very demanding and complex world. She believes that to lead a spiritual life is not to withdraw or escape (no cloistering here), but to live a full life. Reading Chittister has given my soul a jolt!
Souls die from lack of reflection. Responsibilities dog us and tell us we're too involved with the "real" world to be concerned about the spiritual questions. But it is always spiritual questions that make the difference in the way we go about our public responsibilities. Marriage, business, children, professions have all been defined in ways that keep contemplation, but no one needs contemplation more than the harried mother, the irritable father, the ambitious executive, the striving professional, the poor woman, the sick man. Then, in those situations, we need reflection, understanding, meaning, peace of soul more than ever.

Religion is about rituals and morals and systems, all of them good but all of them incomplete. Spirituality is about coming to consciousness of the sacred in the secular. It is in that consciousness that perspective comes, that peace comes. It is in that consciousness that a person comes to wholeness.

55 Amendments! still under review

Burlington Free Press gives highlights of last night's City Council meeting, at which the proposed zoning ordinance was discussed. [my emphasis] -
Those who came to speak were given a two-minute limit, complete with a timer giving green, yellow and red lights based on the amount of time remaining. The time limit upset some residents who argued that they should have more opportunity to comment on such a lengthy set of amendments with potentially far-reaching consequences.

"This thing is gonna be a nightmare," said Loyal Ploof,[former mayoral candidate, friend of Green causes, and] a resident of the Old North End. He also cautioned against a proposal that would reduce the number of parking spaces required for a small area of the city; a move some have said has been done to allow a Community and Economic Development Office project to go forward.

"Stop giving CEDO a blank check," Ploof said.

Rene Kaczka-Valliere [Green Party of Burlington interim chair] described the importance of the view corridor -- relating an anecdote about his childhood trips to Burlington, getting off the interstate and cresting the hill on Main Street, seeing the view of Lake Champlain.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Burlington City Council - Zoning public comment

Yes, the city council meeting was tonight. The Free Press stressed the importance of this meeting - it was to allow public discussion on the zoning rewrite. Varying times were announced. Was it 6:15 PM per the Free Press article? 7:00 PM? Who knew? The City Council wants public input, but it's as if the local media is in cahoots with our esteemed councilors in giving out shit information. The fine residents of Burlington are confused enough about the details of the proposed zoning ordinance, so why insult them more?

So, the room was packed tonight.
The roster for public comment was so full that the council president made a ruling: a two minute limit per speaker. The draft zoning ordinance is incredibly long, detailed, and confusing for any resident to understand - and the council seems bound to rush the voting and not seriously listen to residents. At this writing, the votes were not made.

The majority of the two dozen or so speakers were alarmed at the environmental impact of the proposed zoning changes. Yeah, I was there - along with 3 other Green town committee members - Owen Mulligan, Vermont Green Party co-chair and Burlington resident was present. Above is a photo of René Kaczka-Vallière, interim Chair of the Green Party of Burlington. He spoke eloquently about driving up from Brattleboro as a youth to Rockpoint summer camp and how he was overwhelmed by the unobstructed lake view from the top of Main Street [an amendment to the draft zoning ordinance allows for taller buildings closer to the street and blocked views of Lake Champlain]. Maurice Mahoney, of Citizens for a Liveable City commented on the council's rush to judgment. A representative from Vermont Interfaith Action spoke in support of an inclusionary clause for affordable housing. And several people wanted room for the Women's Rape Crisis Center's new building. I had an opportunity to comment, too -

My name is Jay Vos, a resident of Ward 5 and a town committee member of the Green Party of Burlington. You can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where you are. I thank the City Council for finally allowing your fellow citizens of Burlington to comment on the zoning rewrite.

It’s a no-brainer, folks.

The best you can do is to take decent and principled stands on Burlington as a truly healthy and liveable city. The idea of the zoning rewrite as a socially responsible act – rather than being merely a marketing tool or a grandiose reflection of neo-capitalism – means doing it with soul and decency. Zoning can be achieved in a lot of different ways other than those sought by the typical developer. But to understand this and deal with it, one must free the debate from rhetorical grasp of those who see a city’s future primarily in economic – rather than ecological or humanistic – terms. Or to put it in another way, I would rather see a more ecological footprint analysis reflected in the rewrite. Certainly issues of ecology –both natural and human – need to be raised to the same level as present considerations of economics.

The hope, and I believe the reality, is that in the long run, a zoning rewrite constructed on integrity and honesty will stand in increasingly stark contrast to the Knodell-Wright-Ashe-Deselles amendments, whose politics are based on the windfalls of corporate cash which manipulation, cynicism and dishonesty provide access to.

Councilors Shannon and Ellis - members who have listened to the concerns of constituent residents and sought their advice – have introduced amendments that are ecologically and human-sensitive and merit the full council’s support. At minimum, political integrity means standing firm against individuals for whom a pet cause - a zoning variance benefiting developers, for example - constitutes a litmus test for their support and being willing to accept the cost in doing so.

I'll give an update tomorrow from the local press reports.