Thursday, November 29, 2007


November 30, 2007 – 3:00 pm

Williston Military Recruitment Office
166 Sycamore Street, Williston, VT
Nonviolent Civil Disobedience and Rally!


What I'm reading now:

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley

I'm one-eighth of the way through it (834 pages, it weighs a ton). The letters of those terribly well-bred aristo Mitford girls; two socialsts, Nancy and Jessica; two fascists, Unity and Diana; a gentlelesbian farmer, Pamela; and the Duchess Deborah. I've read all of Nancy's and Decca's books, so the letters, spanning eighty years, from the early part of the last century up to just a few years ago, are a fascinating, heart-breaking, at times funny (how they tease each other!), complicated personal history in themselves.

I'd heard Scott Simon's NPR interview with Charlotte Mosley and Debo last week and just had to run out and buy the book. "Their lives reflected the passions and torments of the 20th Century."

The Guardian has a good review.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I worked for nearly twenty years at Texas Heart Institute in Houston, so today's story in the Times' Science section about the end of the "feud" between two giants in cardiology medicine, Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley, is, well, heartwarming! 'Bout time, I'd say! After all, Cooley is 87 and DeBakey is 99!!!


There's a new group in town. Green Democratic Alliance. Whether you are a Green, Independent, Progressive or even, God forbid, a Democratic party affiliate, check 'em out!
To empower the peoples' majority, win elections, and defeat the status quo's attempt to split us into squabbling factions.

To further the greater green political vision of a democratic, inclusive, and sustainable society and natural world and hold those politicians we support accountable to that vision!

To be a representative voice for the voters of Burlington, and a network of support for aligned officeholders and city commissioners.
The group is working on a lot of issues that are important to Greens. Environmentally minded Democrats (Joan Shannon, Russ Ellis and Ed Adrian city councilors come to mind) might find it worth their while to make alliance with GDA. We're all concerned about sustainability and environmental justice on a local level! I've just joined up today!


I've been without a computer for going on two weeks. Thanks for friends and acquaintances, I've been able to log on to check emails, but not long enough to post on BI. Honestly, though you might have missed my rants, raves and hopes for a better world, I've enjoyed this respite from being connected. But I am glad I'll be taking delivery soon of a new Apple Macbook (always wanted an Apple!).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Today is the first UN World Diabetes Day, calling attention to the broadness of this disease all over the globe. The Alamo was all in blue. The London Eye was alight.

In Amsterdam leiden heel veel kinderen aan diabetes.


Michael Colby at Broadsides comments on the last Sunday's meeting in Barre between Congressperson Peter Welch and 100 or so of his Vermont constituents about his recent votes surrounding the continued funding of the Iraq occupation.

I was not able to attend, but recall these prophetic words of Thomas Merton.
"Very often people object that nonviolence seems to imply passive acceptance of injustice and evil and therefore that it is a kind of cooperation with evil. Not at all. The genuine concept of nonviolence implies not only active and effective resistance to evil but in fact a more effective resistance... But the resistance which is taught in the Gospel is aimed not at the evil-doer, but at evil in its source."
- from Passion For Peace


WHEN: TODAY - November 14, 2007
WHERE: City Hall, Conference Room 12
TIME: 5:30 to 7:00 pm

The Burlington Board of Health is preparing to update the Burlington pesticide ordinance. This public hearing is designated for the Board to receive testimony from all interested members of the public regarding pesticide/herbicide use in Burlington, as well as the provisions of the ordinance that regulates this use in Burlington. Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker. This hearing is not considered a debate and no action will be taken by the Board—it is solely dedicated for the Board to receive input from the public about the use and regulation of pesticides/herbicides throughout our city.

The Board of Health has limited statutory responsibility for the “prevention, removal or destruction of public health hazards and the mitigation of public health risks.” The Board of Health receives its authority from Vermont statute Title 18 as well as from several sections of the Burlington City Charter.

The Board of Health may recommend health-related rules and regulations, ordinances and policies. The Board of Health cooperates with local and state organizations to provide public discussion and education.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Dear Miss Manners:

To my chagrin, I learned that the erstwhile object of my affections has given me a lovely memento, also known as a social disease.

What is the proper way to alert him to this fact, as he will also need treatment? Must I do this in person? He is abroad for another week. My disgust is such that without your guidance, I have awful visions of denouncing his infidelity or blurting out bad puns.

Do not do that. Repeat: not.

It is not only that you want to remain a lady, even when dealing with someone who is not a gentleman. This is especially true when dealing with someone who is not a gentleman and who knows a great deal of personal information about you. Miss Manners recommends that you inform him in writing, so you are not tempted to say more than you should. E-mail will not do, because it so easily goes astray -- and can be forwarded. Also, you need to be able to tear up your first 10 drafts so that the one you send is simple, factual and decently worded.


By Dan Barlow Barre/Montpelier Times Argus
10 November 2007 Lawsuit asks states to hand-count votes

The article appears also in The Rutland Herald.

Related commentary can be found here and here.


Sunday, 11 November
1:30 P.M.
Aldrich Public Library
6 Washington Street

More info and what you can do at BROADSIDES

This is a public meeting and everyone with concerns about the Iraq War are encouraged to come to voice those concerns and learn what Congressman Welch is planning with his future war votes.

The Burlington Free Press print edition this morning just headlined that there would be a meeting with Welch, but online, it shows a notably different mood towards the Democratic leadership: Anti-war activists focus fury on Democrats

Obviously, the paper is a cheerleader for Peter, and that online headline tries to separate him from the rest of the wimps. The onus ain't on us. Our ire is focussed on Welch just the same, because of his continued voting, no matter how he looks at it, to support the occupation. But we've forced the war to be on the table; now that he's in 2008 re-election mode we will continue to do so.

Vermont citizen voters count, Peter; you bettah believe it! Is this meeting part of his election strategy? Or has he finally seen the light? Dems are all about strategy, it seems, but what about really, really listening to the people? I commend Michael Colby and others for pushing this conversation.

As a commenter over at BROADSIDES writes
From his campaign website, his promises in 2006 were:
* Redeployment and reduction of American troops in Iraq with a goal of bringing the majority home next year (that would be end a promise effective in 2007);
* Explicit acknowledgement that the U.S. will not maintain permanent military bases in Iraq;
* Continuing aid to Iraq for security force training and reconstruction, subject to a functioning government; and
* Intensive diplomatic efforts with neighboring countries to minimize the increasing threat of regional instability.
Give him room to respond to the questions, but keep the questions and conversation focused on concrete examples of what Welch has done in regard to these four promises. This was the basis of his success in winning against Martha Rainville, and why many people supported him when they otherwise may have been lukewarm in their support.


Just picture masking tape covering the windows at Huis ter Duin!

Dutch and English folks living adjacent to the North Sea held their breath for a few hours this week, but the storm surge brought the highest water levels since the disastrous floods of 1953.
In the Netherlands, Rotterdam Port halted all ship traffic until Friday evening. The Maeslant Barrier protecting Europe's largest port was closed Thursday for the first time under storm conditions since its construction in 1997.

The magnificent photo above shows waves pounding against the lighthouse in IJmuiden, the Netherlands on Thursday, just a 20 minute drive west of Amsterdam. (Marco de Swart/Reuters)


Talk Left hit 20 million visitors this week. Congratulations!


Episcopal Life Online has a lengthy, engaging, and oftimes humourous report on the presiding bishop's visit to Vermont.

Thursday, November 8, 2007




All of the nation’s chief election officials have been named as defendants in a National Clean Election Lawsuit (N-CEL). The officials in all 50 states are being sued to block computerized vote counting.

Plaintiffs from every state brought the suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York and maintain that current election practices, including the widespread use of computerized voting machines, are unconstitutional because they are ripe for fraud and error and effectively hide the physical vote counting process from the public, effectively denying citizens their legally protected right to cast an effective vote.

The lawsuit seeks an Order from the Court prohibiting the use of all voting machines and to force election officials to instead utilize paper ballots and to count and total all votes by hand, always in full view of the public.

Will your vote count in Vermont?

Three citizen voters - David Cole, Gary L. Gale, and Owen Mulligan - want theirs and yours to count! They are the named plaintiffs for Vermont in the N-CEL!

Today (7 November 2007), I accompanied Craig Hill of Montpelier as he presented the N-CEL Complaint and Court Summons
- on their behalf - to three top Vermont officials --

(to a representative) at the office of Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of State;

to Jim Douglas,

and to a representative designated by William Sorrell, the state's
Attorney General.

(These legal papers are being served on all fifty state governors, attorneys general and chief election officials this week.)

Also this week, all the Plaintiffs intend to file a motion for injunctive relief, asking the Court to preliminarily prohibit and enjoin the States from conducting their primaries and caucuses until the questions presented to the Court are finally determined.

The case ( Schulz, et al., v State of New York , et al. ), was filed by 150 registered voters: three from each state. The case was filed in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of New York. The case number is 07-943.

The Supreme Court has ruled twice that our right to vote consists of two parts: a) the right to cast a ballot; b) the right to know that it was counted
accurately. Elections using machines and computers are in effect “black box” elections into which the public cannot effectively look. That is why the court is being asked to forbid states to allow the use of election systems using computers or machines.

These hand marked, hand counted paper ballots (in the ballot box until the polling place closes) must always be kept in public view and in the custody of the
people from the time the election day begins until the votes are counted and publicly posted in the hours following the closing of the polling place.
This means machine-free, computer-free elections!!

From Hand Count Vermont blog --
Vermonters, it's time to wake up!!! These machines are just as prone to errors, malfunctions and software attacks as their infamous counterpart, the touchscreen voting machines.

Sure, we have paper ballots, but what's the point of using them if they are never counted and only left to collect dust...
What you should know about Vermont elections…

FACT: Currently, 94 Vermont Towns will use Diebold AccuVote-OS (Optical-Scan) machines in the next election to tabulate their votes representing more than 50 percent of the state’s registered voters. The paper ballots are fed into the machines but they are not hand-counted.

FACT: On June 28, 2006, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University (NYU) School of Law released a report by its Voting System Security Task Force on the security of electronic voting machines. The report found significant security and reliability vulnerabilities in some of the most commonly purchased electronic voting systems which included the Diebold AccuVote-OS machines used in Vermont.

FACT: The Voting System Security Task Force was composed of internationally renowned government, academic, and private-sector scientists, voting machine experts and security professionals. Their findings were peer-reviewed as well as endorsed by numerous eminent people including Howard Schmidt, who is a former White House Cyber Security Adviser and a former Chief Security Officer of Microsoft.

FACT: Overall, the Task Force identified and categorized over 120 threats to the optical-scan machines and stated, "Almost everything that a malicious attacker could attempt could also happen by accident."

FACT: It has been documented nation-wide that the use of Diebold AccuVote-OS machines has resulted in errors and malfunctions during actual elections. This includes recent occurrences in Grafton, New Hampshire; Uxbridge & Marblehead, Massachusetts; King County, Washington; and Barry County, Michigan.

FACT: Because it has been documented that Diebold AccuVote-OS machines are prone to errors and are also susceptible to software attacks, the Brennan Report highly recommends routine audits of all elections that compare the paper ballots to the electronic record.

FACT: Vermont does not require audits of its elections and only one audit has been conducted since Vermont started using optical-scan machines.

FACT: The one audit that Vermont did conduct of the U.S. Senate and Representative to Congress races in 2006 was 1.4% of each races' totals. Overall, four polling places (Barre City-District 3-3, St. Albans Town, Duxbury and Killington) were randomly chosen for the audit and only after public pressure to do so. According to the office of the Secretary of State, no questionable discrepancies were found.

FACT: The President of the American Statistical Association, which is the largest organization of professional statisticians representing 17,800 members, has stated in a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein of California that, "Effective election auditing may not necessarily be achieved by investigating a pre-specified percentage of votes or voting precincts. Thus, we urge you to replace the 2% audit requirement with audits of sufficient statistical power to assure 99 percent discovery of a potentially outcome-reversing defect in the vote tabulation."

For more info and to take action go to: Vermont's Democracy Blog - HandCountVermont!


Sponsors of this lawsuit are the We the People Foundation, a decidedly right-wing libertarian organisation whose political viewpoints I don't hold. But I do support this lawsuit. There are plenty of inequities in our voting system already: Armed gunmen; crank robocalls; poll worker bullies; racist Jim Crow tactics used to disenfranchis low-income and minority voters from exercising their right to vote. Those injustices are some of the myriad obstacles citizens face when they want to exercise their right to vote. But elections are also not fair and free if the votes are not counted properly!


Bishop Tom Ely's VPR Interview (Monday, 5 November 2007)

The Presiding Bishop's Sermon at the 175th Convention of the Diocese of Vermont (3 November 2007)

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's Sermon at St Paul's, Windsor (4 November 2007)

Additional media coverage:
Episcopal Bishop urges poverty effort, Daniel Barlow, The Rutland Herald, 3 November 2007 (The same article appeared in the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus.)
"Two thousand children across the world have died since I began speaking here today," Jefferts Schori said.

The 53-year-old presiding bishop, the first woman elected by the Episcopal Church to that position, met with supporters and fans at the Ira Allen Chapel at the University of Vermont in Burlington and put the plight of the poor and hungry around the world front and center.

For nearly two hours, Jefferts Schori spoke of the need for both the United States and its community of churches to make a concerted effort to reduce poverty and hunger and boost educational and health efforts across the globe.

She urged members of the church to invest in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a lofty measure adopted by nearly 200 nations that aims to reduce world poverty by half by 2015.
Thanks to
THE LEAD for the alert about the Herald story and for linking to BI's post on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


By Joel L. Merchant Every day diplomacy 3 November 2007
Countries, like people, make friends with others one at a time. This is a story of one failure. In fairness to an unknown visitor to our country, imagine yourself in his place. The scene is on a recent Amtrak trip between New York City and Boston. The conductor collects tickets, requests identification, folds destination stubs into seatbacks, moves on to other cars. An older man across the aisle, traveling alone, shows his passport. It is clear from their conversation he doesn’t know English.
The train is a half hour west of New Haven when the conductor, having finished her original rounds, reappears. She moves down the aisle, looks, stops between our seats, faces the person taking pictures. “Sir, in the interest of national security, we do not allow pictures to be taken of or from this train.” He starts, “I…….” but, without English, his response trails off into silence. The conductor, speaking louder, forcefully: “Sir, I will confiscate that camera if you don’t put it away.” Again, little response. “Sir, this is a security matter! We cannot allow pictures.” She turns away abruptly and, as she moves down the aisle, calls over her shoulder, in a very loud voice, “Put. It. Away!” He packs his camera.
Read all of Every day diplomacy

Monday, November 5, 2007


The Independent 5 November 2007 --
3,000 years old: the face of Tutankhamun

The true face of ancient Egypt went on public display for the first time yesterday, as archaeologists unveiled the mummy of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun.

The golden death mask of the young king, which covered the mummy, has been a familiar image around the world ever since the British treasure-seeker Howard Carter located the tomb in 1922. But, 85 years to the day since Carter's discovery, the actual face of the 19-year-old monarch was put on view in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its stone sarcophagus for display in a climate-controlled glass box.

Naturally, the face the world can now see is a lot less idealised than the lustrous and splendid golden mask. It is shrivelled and leather-like from the embalming process. But, if less idealised, it is a lot more human and exhibits one very human characteristic in particular: he might have been the lord of all he saw, but young King Tut had buck teeth. The mummified face clearly display the "overbite" which was characteristic of the Thurmosid royal line to which Tutankhamun belonged.


From It's a Dog's Life - Laika was a Russian space dog which became the first recorded living creature from Earth to enter orbit. At one time a stray wandering the streets of Moscow, she was selected from an animal shelter.

I must thank you for your responses to Saint Laika Day [link], not only at OCICBW... but on your own blogs and on other threads. I was worried that you would consider me flippant and soppy, but you all seemed to instinctively get where I was coming from. You knew I was being very serious, in deed.

Laika is one of the icons through through which I peer to contemplate Jesus on the cross. It's a gut thing rather than a worked out theology and all the more real because of that. I had thought that the story of the little dog was just a nightmare from my own childhood, but on researching this matter I found that she has become part of contemporary folklore throughout the world. I doubt if another dog has ever had so many songs and pieces of music written for and about them, both classical and popular. The number of poems concerning her is countless. And we are not just talking about people of my age and older. She is part of the culture of people born well after her iconic journey.

Of course, every day, millions of animals suffer because of human greed, viciousness and callousness. But that is the point. Through the Laika Icon we see the suffering of all God's creatures and we see Jesus dying for the sins we have committed against these innocent ones.


Johtje Vos' husband, Aart, is no close relation. "Vos" is a common enough surname in "het Gooi," around Laren, where he was from. But still, her harrowing story is amazing for a fearful time in the last century. (My aunt Betsy van Ittersum-Vos, in close-by Zeist, did the same thing.)

New York Times
Mr. and Mrs. Vos resisted the notion that they had done something out of the ordinary. Interviewed for the 1992 book “Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust,” by Gay Block and Malka Drucker (Holmes & Meier), Mrs. Vos said, “I want to say right away that the words ‘hero’ and ‘righteous gentile’ are terribly misplaced.”

“I don’t feel righteous,” said Mrs. Vos, who, like her husband, was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, “and we are certainly not heroes, because we didn’t sit at the table when the misery started and say, ‘O.K., now we are going to risk our lives to save some people.’ ”

Sunday, November 4, 2007


A Dutch friend sent me this YouTube video link of music and a photo compilation of Princess Máxima of the Netherlands.

"Great music, great video. Enjoy." -- --



Rejoice we all in the Lord, keeping holy-day in honor of all the Saints:
In whose solemnity the Angels rejoice and glorify the Son of God. - INTROIT for All Saints' Day, from the Anglican Missal

Here are the appointed readings for use on this day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


It's a weekend of celebration in Vermont. This morning nearly 350 people gathered at St Paul's Cathedral in Burlington as the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, preached and presided at the Eucharist on the Feast of Richard Hooker and the 175th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont (and the 216th of the Episcopal Church in Vermont!).

Collect for the Feast of Richard Hooker
O God of truth and peace,
who raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way,
not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Collect for the 175th Anniverary of the Diocese of Vermont
Almighty God, you have given us this Diocese in which to carry out the mission of your Church, and this time in which to comemorate its founding and celebrate its work;
Grant us so to tend this Vine,
that your reign may grow and thrive in this good land
and bring forth the fruits of your Spirit.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This weekend we are also celebrating the first anniversary of Bishop Jefferts Schori's investiture as the 26th presiding bishop of TEC (4 November 2006).

Yesterday, + Katharine held a public forum at UVM's Ira Allen Chapel on the Millenium Development Goals, which the Episcopal Church have established as a mission priority and response to global poverty. Did you know that in the time it takes to read either of the two Collects above - about 30 seconds - one child has died from the scourge of malaria?

But you wouldn't know it, if you read Sam Hemingway's report today in the Burlington Free Press, where he focussed on the dissension within the wider church (and Anglican Communion) and never mentioned the PB's presentation about the MDGs. I am pleased, however, that Sam Hemingway mentioned the wonderful program started right here in Vermont and supported by the diocese, the New Sudan Education Initiative. Too bad he didn't stick around for the rest of the presentation on the MDGs.

After nearly 40 years, I became re-acquainted with the Rev'd Hayward Crewe, the rector of St Martin's, Fairlee, where I was a member as a child and teenager - growing up across the Connecticut River, in Orford, NH. Hayward is now retired from the parish ministry; still going strong at aged 82 years! In the above photograph he is with the diocesan youth delegation at last night's convention banquet, held at the Hilton hotel in Burlington.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Speaking to the Soul

Daily Reading for November 1 • All Saints Day

This hymn was written by the Reverend Robert Lowry, D.D., a Baptist minister in New York and the editor of a number of popular Sunday school songbooks. He wrote the words to this well-known hymn when he was a pastor in Brooklyn, on a hot July day in 1864 during a severe epidemic. Dr. Lowry was thinking of the sad scenes all around him when the question arose in his mind, “Shall we meet again? We are parting at the river of death; shall we meet at the river of life?” With his heart full of these thoughts, he seated himself at his parlor organ, and both the words and the music of the famous hymn came to him as if by inspiration.

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel-feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?

Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever
All the happy, golden day.

Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.

At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Saviour’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.

Soon we'll reach the silver river;
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.

From A Treasure of Hymns by Amos R. Wells (Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, c1914).


Don't forget to Vote! Harris County elections are this Tuesday, November 6.


A Reminder that Daylight Savings Time will end on Saturday, November 3. Please set your clocks back one hour.


TALK LEFT -- House Passes Thought Crimes Bill and No One Notices?
On the same day last week that the House passed the Ammonium Nitrate bill, it also passed HR 1955, titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. The vote on this bill was 404 to 6. Meaning even progressive Democrats voted for it.

This is a thought-crimes bill, aimed at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts, including those expressed on the Internet, of American citizens.


Poll Shows Vermonters In Favor of Impeachment
Burlington, Vermont - October 31, 2007

This year's Town Meeting Day addressed an issue far broader than the local school budget -- should Vermonters call for the impeachment of the president and vice president? Thirty-seven towns voted yes.

A poll conducted for Channel 3 News posed the same question to 400 likely voters. 61 percent said they would be in favor of Congress beginning impeachment proceedings against President Bush. Thirty-three percent opposed it, and six percent were not sure.

The numbers for Vice President Cheney were slightly different. Sixty-four percent favor impeachment, while 31 percent oppose it.

"I'm really overjoyed by this," said Jimmy Leas, a South Burlington lawyer who has been a vocal advocate of impeachment. "Your poll really shows that here in Vermont, nearly two-thirds of the public understand we have a serious problem, and the way to address this is to remove the officials who are usurping power."

"The impeachment results are somewhat surprising, frankly, to me," political scientist Eric Davis said. "Even though their terms are ending in a little bit more than a year, a majority of Vermonters don't want to even see them remaining in office until January 20, 2009."

Vermont's legislature took up the impeachment issue last spring. The Senate passed a resolution calling for the president's impeachment, but a similar effort failed in the House.

Constitutionally, only Congress can impeach an executive. Congressman Peter Welch has said he does not support the impeachment of Bush or Cheney. He spoke at a town hall meeting on the issue in May, and argued impeachment would be a distraction and hamper Congress's efforts to end the war.

Leas said the effort isn't over.

"The founding fathers decided we could have a Congress that's just as corrupt as the president and it's up to the people to get involved and take action," he said. "And this poll shows the people understand this. They don't like the direction this country is going."

Some historical perspective on just how rare impeachment is: Congress has impeached only two presidents in the country's 231-year history - Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached.