Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SALAAM TO THE BARREL HALF-FULL

The nations not so blest as thee,
Shall in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all. *


Today, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia began a two-day state visit to Britain.

Craig Murray comments.(Thanks for the Times cartoon.)

*The poem "Rule Britannia" by James Thomson (1700-48) was put to music by Thomas Augustine Arne (around 1740) and is sung as an unofficial national anthem.

CALENDAR REMINDER: WHAT ONE CAN DO

The Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will speak at a public forum on global poverty and the United Nations Millenium Development Goals on Friday, 2 November at 3:30 p.m. in UVM's Ira Allen Chapel. There's still time to obtain free tickets to this event.

Reserve your seats by calling the Cathedral Church of St Paul, 802-864-0471, to pick up at the event. Tickets are also available at the Hopkins Bookstore, 2 Cherry Street; Peace and Justice Store on Church Street; UVM Student Center; and the St Michael's Student Center.

Bishop Jefferts Schori will also preach and preside at the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont Convention Eucharist at St Paul's Cathdral, 2 Cherry Street, on Saturday morning, 3 November, at 8:30.

Monday, October 29, 2007

VERMONT ANTIWAR MEETING IN MONTPELIER THIS WEDNESDAY

Via BROADSIDES -

This Wednesday, October 31st – yes, Halloween night – at 6:00 pm we’re having a very informal meeting at Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café [4 Langdon @ Elm St.] to discuss what our next actions will be. Come on down for the discussion and planning. We hope to see you there.

SOME HAVE ENTERTAINED ANGELS UNAWARES

From ANGLICANS ONLINE, I was struck by two letters this week (22 to 28 October 2007).

How deep is your church's welcome?
'Behaviourally inclusive' brought to mind an occasion years ago in New Jersey when I was asked as a single man (not then being widely known as a recently partnered gay man) to join a panel discussing the congregation's outreach to various segments of the community and to involve those already members to more fully participate in programs offered.

These were the heady days of 'inclusive' — when the term, seen as politically correct, had a load of baggage I cared not to embrace. Nonetheless, I found myself using it with respect to behavior, how the members of those myriad groups within the congregation could include single folks more by how they acted than by how effusively they welcomed the same at the door. A 'zone of welcome', if you will, that opens its borders wide to truly (here’s that word) include, rather than exist at the door for form, yet which truly acts as a buffer to reinforce the existing 'in'.

'Words of Welcome to everyone present', what a refreshing change to 'Would visitors stand and. . .' There are enough places, enough time for differences. The Eucharist need not be one of them!
Hiding in plain sight
I enjoyed the editorial about visiting. (link) I just moved back to a new church where I had been a member nine years ago, so I knew what I was getting in to. It's a very cold and closed place. I was inspired to write this column for my previous church newsletter, of which I am still the editor.
The invisables
'At [Dives’s] gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores'. (Luke 16:19)

When Dives strutted out of his gate, he probably chose to make Lazarus invisible. When we examine our consciences about 'the invisibles' in our life, we usually think of street people, like Lazarus. We may have been guilty of making people invisible. We at St. James are greatly favored in that we are very seldom treated as invisibles in our world.

How do you treat your siblings-in-Christ in church on Sunday? Do you look around for your friends and jump ’em like a duck on a June bug after the service and carry on intense conversations? And are strangers invisible to you?

Or do you look around the church for people who are strangers to you and jump on them and make them welcome, really welcome, after the service?

St. James is one of the friendliest churches I've ever attended. It's pretty good — but that’s not good enough. Look for 'the invisibles', folks just like you, friends you haven't met yet — and greet them after church.

'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares'. (Hebrews 13:2)

VERMONT VETERINARIAN WINS WILDLIFE AWARD

Burlington Free Press

Shelburne resident Steven Metz, doctor of veterinary medicine and owner of the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital, received Wild in Vermont's Champion of Wildlife award Saturday.
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Q: Why did you receive this award?

A: I take care of wildlife whenever it's brought in to me by either good Samaritans or rehabilitators. I've been working with wild animals my entire career. I take care of them, and I don't charge anybody anything for them -- I consider it my obligation to the animal world. I'm fortunate enough to have a veterinary education, and I can sometimes help these creatures we coexist with on this earth and if I can do anything to help, I want to help.

Q: Why are you so passionate about helping animals?

A: We are sharing this earth with them, and we have an obligation to help them survive in spite of us, in spite of the damage we do to the environment. I think that they relate to us in a very elemental way that reminds us of our roots and our values and brings us to a level that we shouldn't forget. I feel that we can learn things from animals, and we should learn things from animals.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

LIFE'S BASIC NECESSITIES

Here are the readings (Proper 25, Year C, RCL) for the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost.

Continuing its series Age of Riches The Times today has a feature story on Max Levchin, who founded PayPal in 1998.
Mr. Levchin, who is now 32, is typical of a new generation of junior titans in Silicon Valley who might be called the prematurely rich — techies worth tens of millions of dollars, sometimes more, at an age when many others are just starting to figure out what to do with their lives.

The Internet, a low-overhead medium with a global reach, has greatly accelerated the wealth creation phenomenon, producing a larger breed of multimillionaires even younger and richer than in the past.

They are happy to be wealthy, of course, but many of these baby-faced technology tycoons often seem indifferent to the buying power of their money, at least at this stage of their lives. Instead, nearly all of them have chosen to throw themselves back into a start-up, not so much because they want a spectacular new home or a personal jet — though many of them do — but because they are in a competition with themselves and one another.
Contrast Mr Levchin's story with The lure of luxury by George Crawford in DAILY EPISCOPALIAN.
Do I find luxury a subject of intense interest? Do I want luxury? Unsure about the meaning of the word luxury (like others, including my former Commander-in-Chief, I sought some maneuvering room!), I consulted the Concise Oxford Dictionary (maneuvering room, not an ocean of choices). The Dictionary provided two definitions:
1. the state of great comfort and extravagant living. 2. an inessential but desirable item.
The first felt vaguely unchristian when I am daily reminded of people desperately in need of life’s basic necessities. I, with complete honesty, can disavow any desire to own my own island or polo pony. However, I do want nonessentials. Indeed, I think that God wants us to enjoy nonessentials because they enrich life, e.g., a good wine, aesthetically pleasing homes, and art. Poverty, thanks be to God, is not the life to which I was born nor is voluntary poverty a lifestyle to which I feel called.

Today's Gospel in the appointed readings for the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost speak to this issue, too.

Spitzer Capitulates: "Scarlet Letter" Drivers' Licenses for Immigrants

TALK LEFT - Spitzer Capitulates: "Scarlet Letter" Drivers' Licenses for Immigrants 28 October --
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has given in to the feds and agreed to water down his plan to grant drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Now, there will be a three-tier system with the undocumented getting licenses that make them prime targets for state and local law enforcment officials who want to turn them over to ICE for removal.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

WILLIAM TEMPLE, THEOLOGIAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, 27 OCTOBER 1944

James Kiefer writes in a biographical sketch:
Temple's admirers have called him "a philosopher, theologian, social teacher, educational reformer, and the leader of the ecumenical movement of his generation," "the most significant Anglican churchman of the twentieth century," "the most renowned Primate in the Church of England since the English Reformation," "Anglican's most creative and comprehensive contribution to the theological enterprise of the West." One of his biographers lists him (along with Richard Hooker, Joseph Butler, and Frederick Denison Maurice) as one of the Four Great Doctors of the (post-Reformation) Anglican Communion.

You can read more about William Temple here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

U.S. ASKS HOLLAND TO TAKE GUANTANAMO SUSPECTS

DutchNews.nl - 26 October 2007 -
The US foreign affairs department has asked the Netherlands to take over a number of prisoners from its Guantanamo Bay camp on the island of Cuba, the Parool reports on Friday.

The paper says the request was made to Dutch MPs who are on a fact-finding mission at the highly controversial camp.

The request for help applies to prisoners who are being released from the detention camp but cannot return to their country of origin.

Some 800 people have been through Guantanamo Bay since its opening in 2002. The camp currently houses some 400 prisoners, 85 of whom are waiting to be released because the US no longer considers them to be a danger.

The Dutch foreign affairs ministry has told the Parool that it has not received a request from the US to take over prisoners. Until it does, the Dutch position is that the US must look after prisoners on its own territory.

The right-wing Liberal (VVD) and anti-immigration PVV parties both welcome the idea of taking over prisoners from Guantanamo. 'It will be a great day when the Netherlands has such a detention centre of its own,' PVV leader Geert Wilders tells the paper.

The Christian Democrats are less keen on the idea, the paper says.

Officially, the Netherlands considers the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay a contravention of international agreements, a point made by foreign minister Maxime Verhagen when he met US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in April.

UNILEVER STRIKE

24oranges - Hema’s famous smoked sausage is made by Unox in Oss, a disgruntled Unilever (Unox is owned by Unilever) employee told the Brabants Dagblad during the strike. Unilever ["Ons beleid is niet te spreken over onze klanten"] and Hema ["Wij doen nooit uitspraken over onze leveranciers"] have refused to comment on the comment.

Some 1,000 employees have come together in Rotterdam to try and get more say about Unilever’s future and want better working conditions, etc. All six manufacturing plants are on strike. And if the management pisses them off some more, who knows what culinary or cosmetic secrets will come out next.


COMMENT: I gotta admit that I love HEMA products; the store is the Dutch equivalent of Target. But these Dutch capitalist giants are acting like attorneys or doctors; neither will talk about or against the other - they protect their "own." So much for Unilever's claim that it is a "responsible business."

ALFRED THE GREAT, KING OF THE WEST SAXONS, 26 OCTOBER 899

Today is the Feast of Alfred, King of the West Saxons. Here are the appointed readings for use on this feast day. Via Speaking to the Soul -
We pray to you, O Lord, who are the supreme Truth, and all truth is from you. We beseech you, O Lord, who are the highest Wisdom, and all the wise depend on you for their wisdom. You are the supreme Joy, and all who are happy owe it to you. You are the highest Good, and all goodness comes from you. You are the Light of minds, and all receive their understanding from you. We love you—indeed we love you above all things. We seek you, follow you, and are prepared to serve you. We desire to dwell under your power, for you are the King of all. Amen.*
*A prayer of Alfred the Great, quoted in 2000 Years of Prayer, compiled by Michael Counsell. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. www.morehousepublishing.com

CALIFORNIA BURNING: BLOWIN' IN THE WIND

Here are a few choice comments on Lenny's short and sweet post about the California fires.
Well, according to Mike Davis, capitalism (in the shape of rampant development) was there already... See the wonderfully titled "The Case for Letting Malibu Burn" in The Ecology of Fear, which contrasts the handling of the tenement fires in LA (119 deaths, 1947-1993) with that of the Malibu fires (16 deaths between 1930 and 1996), concluding that whilst the first could be prevented if it weren't for systematic (class) racism, when it comes to over-subsidized regions such as Malibu, "periodic firestorms of this magnitude are inevitable as long as residential development is tolerated in the fire ecology of the Santa Monicas" (p. 99)
savonarola Homepage 24 Oct, 22:31 #
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Speaking as someone breathing the foul orange stuff overhead and wiping the ash off my car, I can tell you that fire prevention and land management have been underfunded by the Bush Administration even though it is cheaper than fighting wildfires. And, of course, the National Guard and its equipment is in Iraq.

The whole point in my mind is the privatization of government services, especially the military, to undermine any sense of community or obligation to one's neighbors, country, environment, etc. or the benefits of collective action. By atomizing and decoupling agencies and people from their joined sense of destiny, Constitution, whatever, the elites think they can undermine organizing or at least using a totally privatized army to turn on protesters.
Madame X 24 Oct, 23:30 #
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San Diego is not New Orleans

New Orleans is one of the poorest major metropolitan areas in the US, thus rendering it an excellent candidate for the expulsion of a lot of poor people for redevelopment after a catastrophe, and the city's affordable housing was ideally situated for destruction in the event of a hurricane

conversely, San Diego is one of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in the US, and it happened by design, as Mike Davis and others explained in Under the Perfect Sun

from the city's inception in its modern form at the turn of the century, city planning and economic development was driven by a desire to keep out semi-skilled workers susceptible to initially, radical activism, and later, unionization, and people of color (both Latinos and African Americans)

according to Davis, for much of the 20th Century, San Diego had a lower percentage of Latinos than that statewide average even though it was right across the border from Mexico

such people, as was the case during the New Deal, were considered the cause of "blight", and good government progressive types pushed planning policies that essentially created middle and upper middle income neighborhoods

city leaders consciously sought military facilities as an alternative to smokestack industries, and FDR graciously obliged during World War II

by the 1960s and 1970s, San Diego moved towards the economic model of development that we see now everywhere: suburban projects geared towards, first, middle income, and then, upper middle income people, with hostility towards any effort to meet the social needs of anyone else, and a willingness to cater to a desire for social exclusion on racial and class grounds, consistent with the city's history

San Diego, at least until recent waves of immigration, was a New South city within the boundaries of California

I could go on, but the bottom line is that San Diego is one of the places where the current model of capitalist transformation urban environments and their surrounding areas was pioneered, it influenced what subsequently transpired in New Orleans
hence, given that many of the victims of the fire lost homes in some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the US, what we are going to see in San Diego is the contrast between how the needs of predominately white, older, upper middle income people are satisfied with the greatest solicitude by the state and federal government, while the poor people of New Orleans still find themselves spread around the county in conditions of isolation
Richard Estes | Homepage | 25 Oct, 18:24 | #

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There's even some talk that Blackwater started the San Diego fire as residents had opposed the building of a Blackwater military base on some ecologically delicate land. Given what we've seen from these people and their mentors, I find such suspicion highly understandable.
Madame X | 25 Oct, 18:25 | #

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Now the talk on Fox is: Alqueada did it.
Mooser | Homepage | 26 Oct, 03:05 | #

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Now the talk on Fox is: Alqueada did it.
Mooser

Turks, Jews, Albanians, anarchists, terrorists, and even left-reformists and ecologists caused the summer fires here in Greece - according to the Greek media and some politicians.
anticapitalista | 26 Oct, 12:45 | #



Thursday, October 25, 2007

GEOFFREY CHAUCER, POET, SPIRITUAL WRITER, 25 OCTOBER 1400

Here bygynneth the Book
of the tales of Caunterbury

1: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour
4: Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5: Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
6: Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
7: Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
8: Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
9: And smale foweles maken melodye,
10: That slepen al the nyght with open ye
11: (so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
12: Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
13: And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
14: To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
15: And specially from every shires ende
16: Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
17: The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
18: That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Read the rest of the Prologue

Today we celebrate the life and writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, who died on 25 October 1400.



A collect for Chaucer and a prayer for today:

O God, who have enlightened your church by the writings of your Servant Geoffrey Chaucer: Enrich us evermore with your heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses who by their life and teaching will show to others the truth of your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.
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Blessed Lord, who hast given to mortals the gift of sexual Love, with its joys and cares and complexities and unanswered questions, and hast made known to us the duty of keeping promises and of showing justice and good will toward those about us: mercifully grant that, in our human loves, and in our choices concerning them, we may be guided by thy commandments and live according to thy will; that we and those we love may abide in thy gracious protection, and that our loves may be fitting images of the love between Christ and his Church; the which we ask through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WELCH IS LOST IN A MORAL MAZE REGARDING IRAQ

Sick and tired of progressive Democrats who don't say what they mean or mean what they say? Read on, McDuff....

I was not among the Vermonters who were arrested Monday at Peter Welch's office in Burlington. (I was obliged to care for a sick animal later that evening; otherwise I would have stayed.) But I did sign a comment note addressed to our rep in Washington asking him to vote not to continue funding the war and occupation. Michael Colby at Broadsides gives an eye-witness account of the arrest and unwelcoming attitude of staffers -
We got about three and a half minutes to quickly express ourselves to his clearly contemptuous staff member before having their office doors slammed on our faces with the declaration that we would not be allowed to speak with Peter Welch via the phone and that they had work to do. Wham! Slam! Bam!

No wonder the Iraqis are so skeptical of the so-called democracy we’re trying to export to them. Because if it looked anything like the slamming doors we saw yesterday while trying to express ourselves to our elected official, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it either.

And let’s remember that the twenty of us were there to speak with Welch and/or his staff about the issue he calls his “top priority.” Geez, I’d really hate to see the reaction we would have gotten had we come to address a lower priority of his.

But we dutifully stayed until closing time – just like we promised. And then the cops came — just like they promised. And then the negotiations began.

“What can we do to end this without arrests or incident?” asked the Burlington police officer.
---
We would leave if Peter Welch agreed to meet with us at a time, place and date of his choosing. Quite honestly, we thought it would be over and we’d soon be leaving with a promise to meet with our congressman in the near future – a meeting that became even more relevant as the news came out during our time in his office that Bush was seeking an additional $46 billion for the war.

The police and Welch’s staff huddled in the next room to discuss our offer. Calls were made to Welch’s Washington office to further contemplate the offer. We thought they were simply trying to figure out the proper scheduling.

Silly us. Because the police officer came back with the news that stunned us: “They are rejecting your offer and they would like us to arrest you if you don’t leave now.”

COMMENT Michael gives a link to the WCAX report and video clip on the sit-in - Iraq-war Protestors Target Congressman Welch . . . Again. A majority of Americans are against this war and occupation (Vermonters included) and yet, the CAX headline implies that the twenty or so citizens who assembled in Welch's office are a pain in the neck. Well, we should be - Welch's intransigence is an abomination. More protests, please - become a thorn in the side of Peter Welch. It's noteworthy, that just before the video clip (click on it, you'll see...) there's an ad for City Market, the Burlington area food co-op. I would suggest that most of the patrons of the market consider themselves Progressives or Democrats. They most likely voted for Leahy, Sanders, Kerry and Welch the last election. But they continue to live in their Birkenstock cum latte light bubble and will probably vote to re-elect Vermont's congressional delegation and the Democratic presidential nominee next time they walk into the voting booth. Wake up!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

GUARDIAN AMERICA

Today, it was announced that the Guardian has launched a new US-based newspaper - Guardian America. I'll just have a wait-and-see attitude about this foray into America. Personally, I'm pleased the new paper will adhere to the same style book as the UK version.

FEAST OF ST JAMES OF JERUSALEM, 23 OCTOBER NT

Today is the Feast of St James of Jerusalem, bishop and martyr, referred to in the New Testament as the brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Appointed readings.

ART IN FLAMES


Brand verwoest Armando Museum (ANP foto)

Email today from a Dutch friend:
The Armando Museum in Amersfoort burned down...
First time I cried when seeing a building burn! Powerless bystanders stood there and cried too.
Armando, my favourite Dutch painter... I love his trees and flags...
---
Many of his monumental works gone now...
Also some neighbouring houses (very beautiful, very posh) went up in flames.
C'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?
Thank God there wasn't any fire when Marc Mulders (royal Jubilee window New Church) exhibited many of his works there!! And the building was so nicely restored (former neo-classicist church)...
Damnit!!

Radio Netherlands -
The monumental building was destroyed by a fire in the centre of Amersfoort yesterday afternoon. It no longer served as a church but housed a museum devoted to the work of contemporary Dutch artist Armando. "Everything lost within two hours" bemoans de Volkskrant, quoting a local councillor as saying "A major museum has been lost to us. This is a very sad day for the town."

As an emotional museum director Gerard de Klein told de Volkskrant, the timing could not have been worse. Disaster struck during an exhibition that featured works by the likes of Albrecht Dürer and Jacob van Ruisdael, insured to the tune of 3 million euros: "It was the crowning achievement of our first ten years ... we had unique works on loan ... and now they're just piles of smouldering embers."

"Armando mourns the work of others" reveals AD, reporting how the artist himself was hurt most by the loss of the works on loan, which he described as "irreplaceable". But when the paper asked him if the disaster reflected one of his favourite themes, the transitory nature of life, he replied philosophically "Yes, I suppose you could see it like that..."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BEYOND THE ATHEISM-RELIGION DIVIDE

SPEAKING OF FAITH Beyond the atheism-religion divide

Krista Tippett
has a conversation with Harvey Cox, the Harvard theologian who wrote The Secular City in the mid 1960s and more recently, When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today. They discuss many topics, but two comments by Cox struck out to me particularly.

On small-scale activism
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Mr Cox: Now, as far as trying to help make the world somewhat better, we have more students involved now in soup kitchens and shelters and in tutoring kids down in the ghetto than we've ever had. They're just out there all over the place and also in various places in the world doing these things on their vacations. But it's kind of small scale. I mean, they want to do things on a small scale where they can see some real difference and have — are pretty skeptical about big scale changes the way, say, the kids in the '60s were when they thought they were really going to change the world.

Ms. Tippett: Right. They were going to change the world. Yeah. These kids are pragmatic aren't they? They…

Mr. Cox: Yes, yes. That's right. And probably smarter and wiser for it.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah.

Mr. Cox: But they're very admirable in many instances. And there is some me-too-ism. There's no doubt about that. But I don't think it's the commanding sentiment of these students at all.

On the illusions of free market capitalism
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Ms. Tippett: [...] You talked about these qualities we associate with the market with, of omniscient, omnipresence, and omnipotent.

Mr. Cox: Yeah. Even with its own rituals and its priests and its ceremonies. It's all there.[...] So it suggested to me that people need some kind of a transcended framework of values and meanings or they just can't get on with it. And we've made the market, to my mind, alas, we've made the market really kind of the great adjudicator of all these things. And it's dehumanizing. It's producing, in many people, a kind of anxiety that a consumer society produces. And it can't go on forever. The kind of economy we have is based on infinite expansion. That's what it's about. It's going to expand every year. And we live on a finite planet. So somewhere or another, there's going to be a collision or taking a little costs accounting that has to go on here.

Read the rest of Beyond the atheism-religion divide...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Here are the readings (Proper 24, Year C, RCL) appointed for the Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost. In today's Gospel reading we hear the parable about the widow's persistence before the unfair judge; our cries today are still for justice and liberation.

MICHAEL MUKASEY

Text of my letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
The question that you should ask the AG nominee is "How would you feel about these methods of 'robust interrogation' being used against US troops if captured by an enemy?" It's acceptable for the US to treat horribly the detainees at Guantánamo, but I reckon there'd be an outcry of disgust if the so-called "enemy" were to do the same thing to American citizens and this country's "partners." I read in the papers about the "grilling" members of the Senate Judiciary Cmte gave to Judge Mukasey and was appalled by their soft-ball questions and his vague answers. Let's face it, he's too much alligned with the policies of the current administration. And his ties to former NYC Mayor Guiliani would make me question his credibility. News reports quote you as saying that Mukasey's appearance before the committee was better than Gonzales' and that Mukasey will be confirmed. Why? Y'all are lawyers, so I guess y'all stick up for each other, with no moral fibre in y'alls bodies. That's why I'm thoroughly disgusted with the congressional leadership, our representatives, and your too often collusion with the actions of the current president and his cronies. Don't give me this bullshit that you are standing up for justice and democracy, because you are not, Senator. You are not at all. I am requesting that you vote not to confirm Judge Mukasey as AG.

BUT IS HE HOUSEBROKEN?


Makes the heart glad, but we'll see what happens -- ASSOCIATED PRESS - Patty Cooper sits in her wheelchair with her miniature pony, Earl, in Warren, Vt., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. The Central Vermont Community Land Trust usually has no objection to seeing-eye dogs or other service animals moving into its apartments. But Cooper's service animal is a horse of a different color: a black and white miniature pony. Now the housing organization is trying to figure out whether it can accommodate a disabled woman's new companion...


(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

CALL OUT FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AT WELCH'S OFFICE MON 22 OCT

Back in March, a number of local activists visited Peter Welch's Burlington office, to protest his votes for continuing to fund the US occupation of Iraq. Nothing's really changed, folks. Welch continues to cater to the war industry's interests and to follow the terrible Nancy Pelosi's orders.

On Monday, 22 October, 3:oo PM there'll be another sit-in at the office of Peter Welch, 30 Main Street, Ste 350.

Broadsides
In the last month, Welch has voted in favor of the “emergency” federal budget bill that included billions more for the war and voted in favor congressional resolution condemning the now infamous MoveOn advertisement. So let me simply that for you: Welch voted to give more money for war and to condemn the anti-war movement. But – almost laughably – he continues to declare that “no one is more opposed to the war” than he is. Sorry, Peter, but talk is cheap. And, as you should know by now, the votes are what matter.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Letter to the Editor: Best to knock down the Moran Plant

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS Letter to the Editor from a reader in Milton - 19 October 2007

Best to knock down the Moran Plant
It appeared that the fate of the Moran Plant was settled more or less. Burlington citizens responded to a survey on what to do with the ugly lakefront eyesore a.k.a. the Moran Plant. The majority said get rid of it. Put up a park or other space that the majority of people who live or visit Burlington can enjoy.

Now we read the plant is back on the table to become retail space (with little or no parking). A rock- and ice-climbing facility, ice rink, and boat house and/or dock. The questions I have are: How many of the 100,000 or so people in this area are rock or ice climbers? Same goes for sailboaters and ice skaters. My guess is the whole bunch would number less than 5 percent.

Speaking of skating, a few hours with a couple of ATVs outfitted with snow plows and Burlington could have a huge ice rink right on the lake. Oh, and those retail shops. The Burlington Free Press article says there would be limited or no parking at Moran park, so if you wanted to shop in one of the rapidly going bankrupt retail shops or dine at the almost always empty restaurant, you would have to park your car in the city and either walk or bus to the fabulous new facility.

I would suggest calling one of the companies that are successful at turning old buildings into rubble. I'm sure they can do the same to the Moran Plant for much less than $21 million!
Update from Waterfront Watchdogs petitioning drive:
We have over 500 signatures so far in our efforts to help get the demolition of the Moran Plant on the 2008 Annual City Election ballot! A total of 1,300 signatures is needed by the end of January of 2008 for this to be a sucess. Contact us at 802-355-5247 if you can donate some time to go door-to-door for signatures.

DEBORAH KERR, CONSUMMATE ACTOR


Deborah Jane Kerr (Deborah Kerr Viertel), actor, born September 30 1921; died October 16 2007.

Guardian
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She worked steadily, averaging one film a year, with directors of stature, and often opposite chums such as David Niven, Robert Mitchum and Cary Grant. The result was a career that sailed on rather majestically, like an elegant ocean liner, only occasionally hitting a squall or rough passage. There was little to interest gossip columnists or to shock the public and, at least on the surface, she seemed rather serene in the midst of such a frantic profession.
---
But it is as a screen actor that Kerr will be best remembered, since she had the beauty, the reserve and the inner quality that the camera loves.
---
In 1998 she was made a CBE, but said that she felt too frail to travel to London to receive it personally. In 45 films, in as many years, she seldom, if ever, gave a weak performance and certainly never gave a less than professional one.
I was astounded by her filmography. These are the films I loved; when I saw them I was coming out. (It certainly wasn't the Bye Bye Birdie-ish teenaged angst of the early 60s.) I could relate to the characters:

Tea and Sympathy
Furthermore, Mr. Anderson was employed to adapt his own play, and he has done so with a stubborn insistence on the candor and integrity of his theme. His schoolboy, an 18-year-old "off horse," is still the victim of dark suspicions of his mates. He is suspected of being unmasculine, for which his mates have a crueler name. The wife is still moved to be compassionate with her whole being toward this tormented lad. And her husband is still quite plainly something less than a bona fide man.

Still the drama is here in all its aspects—the drama of a lonely prep-school boy who finds sympathy and affection only in a woman who finds little in her man. It is a drama that teems with nuances, that clearly notes some painful facts of modern life in a stratum of society that sometimes does its children all sorts of unsuspected wrongs. And it is a drama that hints not only at some of the nastier types in boys' boarding schools but also at some of the less attractive product that is turned out by these hives of "sportsmanship."
Separate Tables
Most brilliant and true of the performers is Deborah Kerr: She makes the shy and sad young woman... come poignantly alive.

The Chalk Garden
As for the strange and distant woman who comes into their lives as a governess to handle the youngster (and as an expert on gardening in chalky soil), she is a beautifully strong and valiant lady as played by Deborah Kerr, free of the cool and prickly nature that Siobhan McKenna gave her on Broadway.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

LOCAL RADIO SHOW WITH PRESIDING BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI


Presiding Bishop (of The Episcopal Church) Katharine Jefferts Schori will be interviewed on the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV on Monday, October 22, at 9:00 A.M. EST.

The show may be heard at 550 AM and 96.1 FM for those who are anywhere near Waterbury, or by tuning in online. The shows are not at this time archived, so you will need to listen live.

The phone number, if you wish to call in during the show, is 877-291-8255.

LUKE THE EVANGELIST AND PHYSICIAN, 18 OCTOBER NT

The Lord created medicines out of the earth,
and the sensible will not despise them.
And he gave skill to human beings
that he might be glorified in his marvelous works.
By them the physician heals and takes away pain;
the pharmacist makes a mixture from them.
God's works will never be finished;
and from him health spreads over all the earth.


-- from Ecclesiasticus, the first lesson in the readings appointed for use on the Feast of St Luke.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FREE PRESS NIMBY EDITORIAL

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS Editorial: Supply, not location, is the low-cost-housing issue 17 October 2007 (my emphasis)---


The Burlington School Board resolution asking the City Council to spread low-income housing more evenly around the city adds a twist that would place more obstacles in the way of creating low-cost housing.

The School Board resolution passed Oct. 9 was part of the search for a way to reduce the concentration of students from poor families in the two elementary schools in the Old North End where much of the city's low-cost housing is found.

Low-cost housing faces enough controversies that create barriers toward serving people in real need. Too many people see such housing simply as a government handout and a magnet for people who need expensive taxpayer-funded services. Brian Pine, the city's Community and Economic Development Office assistant director for housing, is right to worry that the School Board resolution might lead the City Council to slow down efforts to add subsidized units in the Old North End.

The city planning tools for creating a diverse neighborhood of households with varying income levels is the kind of policy initiative that has a better chance of succeeding -- if at all -- in new developments. Forced attempts to change the socio-economic makeup of an existing neighborhood in a mature city near full development, like Burlington, can be cost-prohibitive and disruptive.

There are solid economic reasons low-cost housing tends to be clustered in certain parts of a community, mainly cost. The tight housing market is putting the squeeze on even solidly middle-income families.

A policy that would create low-cost housing in existing higher-rent neighborhoods makes little sense. Creating a low-cost home in such a neighborhood would require a much greater subsidy than in some other areas of the city. Targeting areas with relatively cheaper housing costs allows those doing the necessary subsidizing -- often with taxpayer dollars -- to get the most for their money.

Also, few people living in a neighborhood of single-family homes are likely to welcome seeing apartments go up in their midst because such buildings would be out of character with what's already there.

For most people who have trouble finding a home they can afford -- different from a home they like that they can afford -- the chief issue is availability, not location. North Street resident Mary Davis put that concern succinctly when she told the Free Press, "It could be anywhere. Just get it to where people can actually afford to live in Burlington."

While the School Board's action might be well-intentioned, the vision behind the resolution is disturbingly utopian, creating a Burlington where each neighborhood reflects the broad diversity -- social, economic, cultural, racial and ethnic -- of the entire city. Solutions to real-world problems are rarely found in utopia.
COMMENT: Always loyal to it's corporate and developer interests, the Free Press is dead wrong. Integrating affordable housing in all parts of the city, not segregating it in certain areas only, is not utopian at all. It is a moral issue to keep our neighborhoods diverse and representative of the whole range of people who make up our communities, rather than create pockets of privilege and pockets of the poor.

Targeting areas with relatively cheaper housing costs allows those doing the necessary subsidizing -- often with taxpayer dollars -- to get the most for their money. What the Freeps is really saying: "those" people don't deserve the housing - not with our taxes!

The other message is: NOT IN WESTLAKE! The developers of that hotel and condo project at Battery and Cherry Streets had agreed to build units of affordable housing behind the development; they are petitioning the city now to renege on that agreement and put up commercial property in that space. And it's all related to the still undecided zoning rewrite which favours the rich cat developers' pockets. Contact your ward councilors, especially the immoral Prog and Republicans!

I have no clue what Councilors Shannon or Keogh plan in response to Ward 5 consituents. TONIGHT people in Ward 4/7 can get up and speak directly to the four city councilors those wards (Ellis, Wright, Decelles, Gutchell) at the 7pm NPA meeting. There will be the usual open forum and councilors report.... 7 pm, Hunt Middle School Library. Channel 17 will be there, so what is said tonight will air across the city within days. If you live in these wards, please be aware of this opportunity to speak up!

Related: Burlington Free Press article published 15 October 2007: Affordable housing: How much is too much?.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MCKINNEY AS A GREEN????


No kidding.

Last month, Cynthia McKinney asked the US Greens not to consider her as a candidate of the party. It's been quite a dance she's been playing. But last Sunday it was announced that Ms McKinney will appear on the California primary ballot as the Green Party candidate.

IF IT'S A LOSING PROPOSITION, COUNT POLLINA IN

If It’s a Losing Proposition, Count Pollina In.

By Michael Colby Broadsides 15 October 2007

---
As we all should know by now, Pollina-the-placeholder is being called upon once again to step up and lose for a coalition of Progressives and Democrats who apparently can’t find the energy, creativity or vision to find anyone with a real chance of taking on Republican Governor Jim Douglas. Cue the laugh track. Or, if you’re in the Governor’s office, cue the “Hail to the Chief” music for another two years.

While Pollina is certainly loving all the attention he’s getting of late, I’d recommend he not get too used to it. Because the real Democratic Party players aren’t going to let this story go on for much longer. Why? They still despise Pollina for his clumsy romp upon the political landscape for the past twenty-plus years, a romp that has him either snuggling or bashing the Dems depending on what’s best for one person: Himself. Principles? Forgetaboutit.

You’ve got to hand it to Pollina, though, because he’s certainly made a nice political career out of losing. I mean, think about it, the guy has lost every political campaign he’s run since 1984 and he’s still considered a viable candidate in 2008. But I think that says as much about Pollina’s acceptance of losing as it does about the political culture in Vermont – especially the way the mainstream media – and now the blogosphere — covers it.
Read all of If It’s a Losing Proposition, Count Pollina In...

HILLARY THE HAWK

Clinton would use violence against Tehran

By Suzanne Goldenberg The Guardian 15 October 2007

Hillary Clinton today moved to secure her position as the most hawkish Democrat in the 2008 presidential race, saying she would consider the use of force to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear programme.

In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine intended as a blueprint for the foreign policy of a future Clinton White House, the Democratic frontrunner argues that Iran poses a long term strategic challenge to American and its allies, and that it must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons.
---
The article, the latest in a series of position papers from the leading Democratic and Republican contenders for the White House, offers a glimpse at Ms Clinton's efforts to appeal to Democrats seeking a repudiation of the current regime's world view when they begin voting in primaries next January, as well as to the broader electorate that will vote in November 2008.

It arrives only days after Ms Clinton was severely criticised by her Democratic rivals for backing a Senate resolution calling on the US government to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the elite division of Tehran's military, a terrorist entity.

The measure has been argued strenuously by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, and other neocons, but such a sweeping designation does not appear to have the support of the state department.

Ms Clinton was the only Democratic candidate to support the resolution, and her rivals said her vote could help the Bush administration make a future case for war against Iran.

Unlike the five other candidates to sketch out their vision of foreign policy to date, Ms Clinton gave little indication of her comprehensive world view.

Read all of Clinton would use violence against Tehran

BODY PARTS


Via an email from an acquaintance --

The human body is a machine that is full of wonder. This collection of human body facts will leave you wondering why in the heck we were designed the way we were.

Scientists say the higher your I. Q., the more you dream.

The largest cell in the human body is the female egg and the smallest is the male sperm.

You use 200 muscles to take one step.

The average woman is 5 inches shorter than the average man.

Your big toes have two bones each while the rest have three.

A pair of human feet contains 250,000 sweat glands.

A full bladder is roughly the size of a soft ball.

The acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve razor blades.

The human brain cell can hold 5 times more information than the Encyclopedia Britannica.

It takes the food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.

The average human dream lasts 2-3 seconds.

Men without hair on their chests are more likely to get cirrhosis of the liver than men with hair.

At the moment of conception, you spent about half an hour as a single cell.

There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.

Your body gives off enough heat in 30 minutes to bring half a gallon of water to a boil. Could it be that the population increase in the world is the reason for global warming?

The enamel in your teeth is the hardest substance in your body, and your teeth start growing 6 months before you are born.

When you are looking at someone you love, your pupils dilate, they do the same when you are looking at someone you hate.

Blonds have more hair than dark-haired people.

Your thumb is the same length as your nose, and I bet you are placing your thumb on your NOSE, aren't you? I DID AND IT IS...

LATIMER, RIDLEY & CRANMER 16 OCTOBER 1555, 1556

If you will build a glorious church unto God, see first yourselves to be in charity with your neighbours, and suffer not them to be offended by your works. Then, when ye come into your parish-church, you bring with you the holy temple of God; as Saint Paul saith, ‘You yourselves be the very holy temples of God:’ and Christ saith by his prophet, ‘In you will I rest, and intend to make my mansion and abiding place.’

O heavenly Father, the author and fountain of all truth, the bottomless sea of all understanding, send, we beseech thee, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, and lighten our understandings with the beams of thy heavenly grace. We ask this, O merciful Father, for thy dear Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.*
Today we celebrate the feasts of three Anglican bishops and martyrs for their faith.
Here are the appointed readings for use on this day.

*Via Speaking to the Soul - From The Second Sermon on the Card by Hugh Latimer and a prayer by Nicholas Ridley, both quoted in 2000 Years of Prayer, compiled by Michael Counsell. Copyright © 1999.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"PEACE" PRIZES

"Peace" Prizes by jesseray - General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle - 12 October 2007 --
In light of Al Gore's recent winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, I'd like to put up a few choice descriptions of recent winners. Here's last month's Rock Rap Confidential profile of Gore:
DEAD EARTH WALKING... Al Gore's biggest hypocrisy isn't the fact that, after two decades of telling us how to raise our kids, on July 4 one of his offspring was yet again arrested for drug possession.

Gore's biggest hypocrisy isn't even the fact that he started an anti-rock witch hunt via Congressional hearings and the PMRC in the 1980s and then was a front man for the July 7 Live Earth concerts at which Madonna and the Beastie Boys-artists attacked as scum by the PMRC, starting with Mrs. Gore--performed.

Nor is Gore's most devious double standard the fact that the rightwing group Focus on the Family-spiritually and structurally a part of the PMRC-opposes Earth Day.

No, Al Gore's biggest hypocrisy is that he portrays himself as an environmentalist at all. Gore is a major shareholder of Occidental Petroleum, one of the world's worst polluters. He is pro-nuclear war (ask the Japanese what that does for the environment), having voted for the first-strike MX missile after promising he wouldn't. Al Gore says nuclear power is the solution to climate change and he's backed both Gulf wars, which have done untold damage to the ecosystems we all need to survive. He is an avid supporter of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), whose founder John Bryson is the head of major polluter Southern California Edison. NRDC helped ram through Gore's pet project NAFTA, which has undermined environmental standards throughout the western hemisphere. When WTI Corporation, financed mainly by major Gore contributor Jackson Stephens, wanted an operating permit for a hazardous waste incinerator located near an Ohio elementary school, Gore as vice-president did not object. The permit was issued.

As for global warming itself, Gore worked to derail the international Kyoto Protocol by making sure it wasn't submitted to the U.S. Senate for approval.

Al Gore works the same hustle that Bono does. He describes himself as a leader who reveals important new dangers, then fronts for the people and institutions who've caused the problem in the first place.

We don't need to be told that global warming exists. We already know that. We need to actually solve the problem but we can't because we let someone like Al Gore speak for us while he co-opts our culture, a culture that he said as a Senator that he hates and wants to destroy.
Read all of "PEACE" PRIZES...

TERESA OF AVILA, REFORMER AND CONTEMPLATIVE, 15 OCTOBER

Speaking to the Soul - The soul that truly loves God loves all good, seeks all good, protects all good, praises all good, joins itself to good people, helps and defends them, and embraces all the virtues: it only loves what is true and worth loving.

Do you think it possible that one who truly loves God cares, or can care, for vanities, or riches, or worldly things, or pleasures or honours? Neither can such a soul quarrel or feel envy, for it aims at nothing save pleasing the Beloved. It dies with longing for his love and gives its life in striving how to please him better.
-- Teresa of Avila, quoted in The Joy of the Saints: Spiritual Readings throughout the Year, edited by Robert Llewelyn (Templegate, 1988).


Here are the readings appointed for use on the Feast of Teresa of Avila.

The Psalm in Today's Readings

Psalm 42:1-7 Page 643, BCP

Quemadmodum

1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks, *
so longs my soul for you, O God.

2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; *
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
while all day long they say to me,
"Where now is your God?"

4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things: *
how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,

5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, *
among those who keep holy-day.

6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?

7 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

CHASING ILLUSIONS IN VERMONT, TOO?

Two contrasting opinion pieces in today's Burlington Free Press about a Vermont that's going, going, gone? What kinds of values are important to you? You decide.

Burlington's Oasis Diner has been sold to new owners who want to make it a New York-style deli; the author bemoans the city's gentrification and its growing class divide.
I love Burlington and Vermont in general because it is unique, and it loves to be so. Or so it seemed. There is a trend making its way through Burlington and Chittenden County. It has culminated with the sale of the Oasis Diner. I began thinking about how when Oasis closes there will be no place in Burlington to get an old-fashioned, blue collar breakfast. No place where the waitresses still call you "sweetheart," or "dear" no matter how old you are or how well they know you.
---
The problem is, Burlington itself is undergoing the same transformation. Burlington is being sold to the highest bidders and being turned into a New York-style city. From the palatial homes popping up all over South Burlington to the Boston-area condo prices in Burlington itself, the city is transforming into a pale version of what it was.

It is becoming more and more difficult to live here on a modest salary. The diversity of people that made Burlington so unique and captivating is quickly thinning. High housing costs are pushing many people to the outskirts of Chittenden County. This is all fine if you don't mind Burlington becoming another Boston suburb like Andover, or like White Plains in New York.
The writer might want to consider supporting the
World Citizens Party of Burlington, Citizens for a Liveable City, and Waterfront Watchdogs.

On the other hand...

A flatlander transplant writes a bare-knuckled rant about nudity in sin sick, soul-less Brattleboro and its effects on his Vermont family values.
Just over a month ago my wife and children came home from a ride to Brattleboro and told me they saw something strange, a naked man on a bike. I thought they must have been mistaken but I was assured by my children that the man was in fact naked. And then the newspaper and television reports come to find out it's legal to be naked in the city of Brattleboro. Maybe it's just how I was raised, (which to my kids is known as the olden days) but running around naked in the streets in public would have landed you a free ride to a hospital for some psychological evaluation when I was a kid in Connecticut. But not today in Brattleboro, where I witnessed for myself on Friday in a Burger King parking lot a naked man get out of his car in broad daylight and walk to the trash can and throw a minuscule amount of paper away.
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I always thought that someday I would move to Vermont, then in 2000 I bought some land in Grafton and started to build our family home. But with judges letting convicted child abusers and pedophiles out after serving little or no time because of the lack of rehabilitation available in our prison system for them, and the state of Vermont being one of four states left not to pass Jessica's law, seemingly without a single care about our children and the victims, and the sick little city of Brattleboro and it's people who allow this, and its City Council members who condone this, I used to think being called a flatlander was insulting, but now I could not be more proud of it. I am sick of the state in which we live.
The article has received quite a few comments already. One person correctly writes that public nudity is completely legal in Bratt and ... in the whole state. Another's is..
Brattleboro is simply getting a clue and realizing there's nothing "indecent" about the natural human form, and is trying to catch up with reality. A reality which most of Europe realized long ago. They laugh at our insanely puritan and conservative view on the human body. And our hypocrisy... since it's ok to show blood and guts and people getting their heads blown off, but show so much as a nipple and somehow our children's eyes are burned out and they're going to hell.

TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Today's Gospel Reading

Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."


COMMENT What's always struck me about this reading is the Samaritan who returned to give thanks, who was - as Jesus says - a foreigner (and considered an outcast in that society).

Today in his sermon the Dean of St Paul's in Burlington talked about a flyer posted on the stairwell of his daughter's apartment house in Montpellier, France. He and his wife had been to visit her last week...she's an American - a foreigner in that land - doing an international grad student internship. The flyer read:

"Support each other"
"Be kind to one another"


And I think of the debates in this country surrounding the marginalised and those considered foreign in our city, state, country, and on the planet. (How can one be a foreigner on the planet?)

I would also add to that flyer the phrase, "Only connect..."

Here are the readings (Proper 23, Year C, RCL) appointed for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

PRINCESS MÁXIMA, WORLD CITIZEN


"Identity" has already for some years been an item in the Netherlands. Princess Máxima, the spouse of the heir-apparent, recently and unwillingly put some oil on the fire that refuses to go out. (See my earlier post.)
World citizens?

As an indication of her world citizenship, Princess Máxima pointed to a signpost outside her house the gives the distance to all the most important places in her life; Buenos Aires, New York, Brussels, The Hague and Wassenaar.

She's got some nasty criticism. Almost every day there are articles, LTE's, and polls about her speech. Toby Sterling, an American living in Amsterdam, chimes with his humourous opinion of this recent Dutch media navel gazing.
What she probably meant is that this is a multicultural society, with recent immigrants from many places mixing together with 'native' Dutch (native as in Germanic/Scandinavian/Frisian/Spanish/Celt/Pict/Gaullic/Roman) _ who themselves are divided into many categories (Rich/Poor _ Catholic/Protestant/Secular _ Homosexual/Heterosexual _ Randstand/Countryside _ politically right or left: SGP/PVV/VVD/CDA/D66/PvdA/SP/GL/PvdD _ etc., etc.).
---
If we're going to call this "the Dutch identity," why don't we just throw in all the rest of the cliches, including cheese, clogs, bikes, dikes and windmills, as long as we're at it?

The reality is that, on reflection, Maxima was totally right.
---
All Maxima really demonstrated is that this country is a little high strung about its identity right now; and she walked right into the tripwire.

If she had said _ "all Dutch should share the ethos that made this country one of the richest and most powerful in the world in the 1600s. Long live the VOC (Far East Indies Company) spirit!" _ a lot of people would have jumped down her throat too.
---
You can think of Dutch society as a "melting pot" or a "salad bowl," but either way the idea that it's some Aryan civilization is untenable. People resist it, but that's because they're dreaming of good old days that never existed, or chasing an illusion.

I think Máxima was speaking for the marginalised, but also about the inter-connectedness of all people. Indeed, we may connect to a "place," but we are also "of the world." I have certainly connected with the places and people where my life has brought me. Bloom where you are planted, as the 60s peace poster reminded us. I recall a quote from Sister Joan Chittister, the Benedictine nun from her interview on the radio program Speaking of Faith.
In the United States, we've lived on a very, very large ice cube that's melting now. The world is coming in, the boundaries are going down. What we're about now is the unification of the world. That means that the whole world is not going to come to us; we have to be prepared to walk with the rest of the world on the path it knows.


Related: Radio Netherlands Amsterdam Forum program on Dutch multiculturalism

DUTCH DRUG POLICY CURBED

Guardian reporting about Friday's announcement to ban "Majic Mushrooms" in The Netherlands. Talk Left discusses the ban.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

CALENDAR NOTICE: MARCUS BORG COMING TO BURLINGTON 21 OCTOBER

Best-selling author and Jesus scholar Marcus Borg will present “The Split Personality of Religion: Promoting Peace or Inciting Violence?” on Sunday, October 21 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at Champlain College Gymnasium. The author of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (1984) and The Heart of Christianity (2003), Dr. Borg will examine the ways in which religion has sometimes countered conflict, sometimes intensified conflict in the name of God. Admission is free, but tickets are required, and seating is limited. Please call 802-862-1898 or email secretary@christchurchburlington.org to request tickets or order online here. Co-sponsored by Christ Church, Presbyterian and Champlain College.

SHOCK DOCTRINE

Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine is an exploration and exposé on how free market capitalism exploits crises (tsunamis, wars, terrorist attacks, earthquakes or hurricanes) to accelerate its agenda and overwhelm its opponents. It also hints at ways to resist. I've not read the book, but plan to do so. Lenny has a review: The Perfect Crime.

Here's Ms Klein talking about her book -
















TUTU IS OFF TO LAKE WOBEGON COUNTRY AFTER ALL

This news, from MadPriest --
Less than a week after it was revealed that Tutu's appearance at the University of St. Thomas was nixed over comments deemed offensive to Jews, the university's president announced Wednesday he had made a mistake by disinviting Tutu.

"I have wrestled with what is the right thing to do in this situation, and I have concluded that I made the wrong decision earlier this year not to invite the archbishop," the Rev. Dennis Dease said. "Although well intentioned, I did not have all of the facts and points of view, but now I do."

PHILIP, DEACON & EVANGELIST 11 OCTOBER NT

Here are the appointed lessons for the Feast of Philip, Deacon and Evangelist.
In the sixth chapter of Acts, we read that the Apostles commissioned seven men in the congregation at Jerusalem to supervise the church's ministry to the needs of its widows and other poor. (This is generally considered to be the beginning of the office of Deacon in the Church, although the Scriptures do not use this term in referring to the original seven men.) Two of these have gained lasting fame. One was Stephen, who became the Church's first martyr. The other was Philip... Read more here...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

NEW BLOGS

On the sidebar are a few new blogs I like. Check them out, if you have a hankering for good writing (or photos).

Broadsides - the SnarkyBoy aka Michael Colby's new site/blog

Craig Murray - Well, his site was down for a few weeks, due to legal wranglings from his hosting provider, but now he's back up. Go:welcome him back!

DutchPhotoDay - lovely photos of NL

General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle - the owner of this blog posts frequently at Lenin's Tomb

Scholars & Rogues

EPISCOPAL PRESIDING BISHOP COMING TO BURLINGTON IN NOVEMBER; WILL HOLD PUBLIC FORUM ON GLOBAL POVERTY & UN MDGS

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

IT WAS ONLY A DUMB ANIMAL


Last Sunday, MadPriest featured a comment I made (referring to the moose murder in Burlington at the end of September) on his earlier post about the shooting of a grizzly bear in Idaho. (Numerous comments were made about both posts.)

Here's MP on Vermont's huntin' culture -

COMMENT: I did some back reading on this in the BURLINGTON PRESS archives. The blood lust of the inhabitants of this place makes Vlad The Impaler seem squeamish. Evidently, the authorities issue just over 1000 permits for moose murdering every year. So sought after are these licences to kill that 90% of those who apply are not drawn out of the hat. The only reason why these people apply for the permits is because they like killing stuff. That is not a good reason for killing stuff.

A suggestion. Why don't the Americans send all these psychopaths over to Iraq where they can kill stuff to their hearts content. Then all those young people in Iraq who either don't like killing stuff or who are bored with killing stuff could go home to their loving parents. Unless, that is, their loving parents have gone off to Iraq to kill some stuff.

Molly's Last Crusade

Texas Observer Molly's Last Crusade Editoral 5 October 2007 -
Molly Ivins can’t be turning over in her grave. She was cremated. Given what’s happened in Iraq, her ashes probably haven’t yet settled into the Hill Country hardscrabble. We’re partly to blame, and it’s time to make amends by doing what she asked.

The Observer published her last column on January 26, five days before she died, under the headline “Enough Is Enough.” One of her last mortal acts was declaring an “old-fashioned newspaper crusade” to halt the Iraq madness. “Every single day,” she wrote, “every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. ... Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. ... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’”
---
It’s time to take the bit and pull as Ivins asked. Bang pots and pans. But also let those members of the U.S. Senate who are enabling Bush’s lunacy know it’s past time to back off from this war.

Real all of Molly's Last Crusade...

Columbus & Blackwater

Broadsides: Columbus & Blackwater by Micheal Colby 8 October 2007 --
Sorry, but it’s Columbus Day and I can’t stop thinking about Blackwater. And I finally figured out why: They’re one in the same. Columbus was the original rogue mercenary and Blackwater is simply the modern perfection of what he started: bullies running roughshod on foreign soil in the pursuit of obscene profits and the complete subjugation of the native people. So, Happy Blackwater Day!

But, don’t worry, the Bush administration has got the whole Blackwater thing under control. With a straight face and all the confidence in the world that the American public remains in a deep slumber, the Bush team announced on Saturday that they would be sending members of the State Department to monitor the activities of the Blackwater thugs. And the mainstream media ran with the story – sans laugh track – as if it really was a solution.

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Relatedly, go here and here.

Robert Grosseteste, Philosopher, Scientist and Bishop of Lincoln, 9 October 1253

Here are the appointed readings for use on the Feast of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln.
The pastoral charge [does not] consist merely in administering the sacraments, chanting the canonical hours, celebrating masses -- though even these are not properly done by hirelings --; it consists also in feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, covering the naked, receiving guests, visiting the sick and those in prison. By the doing of these things is the people to be instructed in the holy duties of an active life

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Iraq Body Count: "A Very Misleading Exercise"

Medialens 3 October 2007 --
The mainstream media are continuing to use figures provided by the website Iraq Body Count (IBC) to sell the public a number for total post-invasion deaths of Iraqis that is perhaps 5-10% of the true death toll.
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As numerous studies over many decades have shown, it is quite simply the structural role of the corporate media to defend established power by minimising, as far as possible, public perception of the costs to civilians of US-UK state violence. This role has not suddenly changed in regard to Iraq. On the contrary, media performance on Iraq has been a text book example of a corporate propaganda system acting to protect allied elite interests.
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And yet this is currently the standard line in mainstream reporting, part of a wider attempt to present the occupation as a well-intentioned effort to achieve peace and democracy, rather than conquest and control.

Many thanks to Green Left Infoasis.

Leahy abdicates his responsibility

Vermont's Sen. Patrick Leahy talks tough about justice, but then backs down.

Progressive Gold --
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that after the warcrimes of Iraq and Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, after the warrantless wiretapping of its own citizens, and the theft of an election, that the congressional Democrats would be taking a long, hard look at any candidate for Attorney General that Bush might’ve nominated. A reasonable person might consider that the very fact that Bush, a known criminal and liar, nominated him or her should be sufficient to put a confirmation on indefinite hold.

You’d be wrong.

This is the man, Michael Mukasey, that the Democrats have agreed is a fit person to be potentially in charge of of the impartial administration of federal justice and to be the arbiter of the legality of all executive actions:the judge who took away habeas corpus.
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Those who want actual change in America aren’t going to find it via any Democrat.

Either Dems’ve been pressured (it’s not just hippies get wiretapped) or they really do not give a shit anymore for anything except short-term political self-interest or they’ve just gone “Oh, it’s only another 15 months, what the hell, saves hassle”. Any one of those reasons is enough to prove they’ve totally abdicated their responsibility to their country.

An electorate that allows their Democratic representatives to continue to cave in to Bush and the far-right, over and over again, and who then continue to donate to and vote for them, deserves everything it gets as a consequence. America was a great political experiment, once. It’s very sad to anyone who believes in liberty and equality to see it fall apart like this.

Preach to every creature

Speaking to the Soul Preach to every creature --
Francis led a life of exceedingly great joy and a life of constant praise of God, a life of blessedness in the midst of the fecund goodness of God’s creation, celebrated most forthrightly by his “Canticle of the Creatures.” As a citizen of the peaceable kingdom, transported there by his vision and his prayers, Francis could thereafter call every human, however different or distant, and each of the creatures of nature,however alien to human sensibilities, his brother or his sister. He could be a troubadour of a higher order, constantly rejoicing with friends and foes alike, and with birds and oxen and even wolves and worms. The mandate of Christ had claimed Francis’s soul profoundly: to preach the Gospel to every creature. This he made remarkable efforts to do, in deed most often and in word whenever necessary.*

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*From “The Spirituality of Nature and the Poor: Revisiting the Historic Vision of St. Francis” by H. Paul Santmire, Ph.D., in Tending the Holy: Spiritual Direction Across Traditions, edited by Norvene Vest. Copyright © 2003

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rowan Williams speaks out on Iraq

BBC

"The Iraq conflict has wreaked 'terrible damage' on the region - far more than has been acknowledged, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Dr Rowan Williams said 'urgent attention' was needed to stabilise the country.

[...]Dr Williams also said he regards any further 'deliberate destabilisation' of the region - such as action against Syria and Iran - as 'criminal, ignorant...and potentially murderous folly'.

Referring to US political advisers, he added that 'we do hear talk from some quarters of action against Syria, or against Iran'.

'I can't understand what planet such persons are living on when you see the conditions that are already there. The region is still a tinderbox,' Dr Williams said.

Earlier, the archbishop said 'events of the last few years have done terrible damage in the whole of this region'.

He said many people 'do not see the cost in human terms of the war which was unleashed'.

Dr Williams concluded: 'Security that will enable these people to return to Iraq depends on a settlement for the whole of that country guaranteeing the liberty and dignity of every minority.'"

New Central Texas gorge open to public


When I lived in Texas, I would frequently travel up to Canyon Lake in the Hill Country, so this story fascinates me.

Houston Chronicle/Associated Press New Central Texas gorge open to public 5 October 2007 -
CANYON LAKE — The formation of canyons, done with the flow of water over rock and time, is generally a practice in patience. But not here.

A torrent of water from a bloated Canyon Lake sliced open the earth, exposing rock formations, fossils and even dinosaur footprints in just three days. To protect Canyon Lake Gorge from vandals, it's been open only to researchers since the 2002 flood, but on Saturday, it opens to its first public tour.

"It exposed these rocks so quickly and it dug so deeply, there wasn't a blade of grass or a layer of algae," said Bill Ward, a retired geology professor from the University of New Orleans who started cataloguing the gorge almost immediately after the flood.

The gorge, which emerged where a nondescript valley covered in mesquite and oak trees once was, sits behind a spillway built as a safety valve for Canyon Lake, a popular recreation spot in the Texas Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin.

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Canyon Gorge site
Photo with geological labeling
Google map of spillway and gorge
(AP Photo/Joe Mitchell)

William Tyndale, Translator of the Scriptures, Martyr, 6 October 1536

Here are the readings appointed for use on the Feast of William Tyndale, Translator of the Scriptures, Martyr.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Scientific Conference on Monarchies in the EU


From the Dutch anti-monarchy Republicans (Republikeinen) there's an announcement of a conference on 19 October 2007 sponsored by the Law Faculty of the University of Leiden: EU Monarchies in perspective. You can register to watch it for free, too.

From the outline of the conference:
The process of European integration started in earnest in 1957. This process has both formal and informal consequences for the constitution of the member states. This conference will focus in particular on the position of the non-elected heads of state (as found in the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg). The principal question is how these consequences can be interpreted from a multi-disciplinary perspective (constitutionally, historically and religiously).
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On the one hand, the process of European integration could cause a gradual erosion in the sense of national citizenship and the underlying nationalism of a member state. This in turn may weaken the natural base of the monarchy in member states, particularly if the monarchy is closely connected with national sentiments. Occasionally, this nationalism has an almost transcendent dimension (for instance “God, Fatherland and Orange” in the Netherlands). Will European integration be strong enough to evoke comparable sentiments?

On the other hand, the process of European integration could bring about a nationalistic backlash which would strengthen the position of the monarchies. Such a reaction is imaginable if citizens are fearful that integration will negatively affect their sense of socio-economic and socio-cultural security.

In this scenario, citizens prefer the sense of security of the nation state, traditional nationalism and its transcendent sentiments. In analyzing these tendencies, it’s interesting to pay attention to the differences between member states. In Flanders, for instance, national sentiments are non-monarchal or even anti-monarchy. In the Netherlands on the other hand national sentiments and Monarchy go hand in hand. During the conference these questions will be addressed, as well as questions on how EU monarchies relate to EU constitutional principles, past, present and future.

Archbishop Tutu Banned for Criticism of Israel

Muzzle Watch Archbishop Tutu barred by U. of St Thomas because of criticism of Israel 3 October 2007 -
Rumors have been circulating for some time that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was banned by the University of St Thomas in Minnesota because of statements he made that some consider anti-Semitic. Now it’s official: winning the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t protect you from charges of anti-Semitism if you criticize Israeli human rights violations. Neither, apparently, does being one of the most compelling voices for social justice in the world today, or even getting an honorary degree from and giving the commencement address at Brandeis.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sputnik


Not only is today the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, and a day to recognise the resistance in Myanmar/Burma, it is also the fiftieth anniversary of the fight of Sputnik, the first human-made satellite.

More at BBC.

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With thanks to Louie Crew .