Wednesday, December 31, 2008


John Vanocur writes in the IHT:-

From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the Netherlands had lived through something akin to a populist revolt against accommodating Islamic immigrants led by Pim Fortuyn, who was later murdered; the assassination of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, accused of blasphemy by a homegrown Muslim killer; and the bitter departure from the Netherlands of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman who became a member of Parliament before being marked for death for her criticism of radical Islam.

Now something fairly remarkable is happening again.

Two weeks ago, the country's biggest left-wing political grouping, the Labor Party, which has responsibility for integration as a member of the coalition government led by the Christian Democrats, issued a position paper calling for the end of the failed model of Dutch "tolerance."

It came at the same time Nicolas Sarkozy was making a case in France for greater opportunities for minorities that also contained an admission that the French notion of equality "doesn't work anymore."

But there was a difference. If judged on the standard scale of caution in dealing with cultural clashes and Muslims' obligations to their new homes in Europe, the language of the Dutch position paper and Lilianne Ploumen, Labor's chairperson, was exceptional.

The paper said: "The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance."


I stop by Speeder & Earl's on Pine Street regularly for a cup of coffee and usually say 'hey' to Peter Freyne when he's been there. But recently he's been absent from his regular table by the front window. Turns out things have not gone well with Peter, as this Seven Days article explains.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


More music for the Octave of Christmas.

York Minster Choir
In Dulci Jubilo

Friday, December 26, 2008


The theme of Queen Beatrix's Christmas address was the generation gap. As in many western societies, in the Netherlands there are more and more elderly people, who live longer as never before and fewer and fewer younger people. The burden of the solidarity within generations is a heavy one, for the smaller and smaller group of younger shoulders having to bear it.

Here is the full text (in Dutch - there is also a video of the queen delivering the address on that link). Her speech was well-meant; she was relaxed and caring. It was an intensely personal address. Here is a rough transation of the last paragraphs:

The advancing of years also sees a growing experience of sadness, disappointment and setback, of people hurting each other, of indifference or impotence to improve conditions and to create better relationships. Ordeals are part of life and forms a human being: no matter how heavy, we have to learn to handle them. You see things differently with eyes that have cried.

Also in the coexistence within the close and the extended family, reconciliation and peace with each other and with ourselves is important. Every word, every gesture of forgiveness contributes to peace. It is never too late to offer a hand, to overcome mistrust or to solve a disagreement. It is never too late to love. In love you hold people.

Christmas is the celebration of God's love in the birth of His son. Every child that comes in the world, may expect warmth and security. The creation of trust and a feeling of security is on the path of parents. In the relationship between the generations there remains a need for values and traditions to life for. By learning how to deal with good and evil, conscience is formed and young people will become more stronger in life.

In a bond, each generation thinks about what offers guidance and gives a meaning to life. Generations come, and generations go, but in God's love we last forever.
(Above photo: -/AFP/Getty Images)


Rest in Peace, Eartha.

HAROLD PINTER, 1930-2008

The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington (and friend of Pinter) has written the obituary.

Very much worth a re-read now is Pinter's 2005 Nobel Prize lecture on art, truth and politics.
The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.


In this Octave of Christmas, today we celebrate the Feast of Stephen, Deacon and Martyr.

York Minster Choir
Good King Wenceslas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Maybe in Burlington, too? But with the Prog$, it's biz as usual, as Haik writes:
I have questions about whether it's even legal for a major party to hold a caucus this way. The Democrats and the Republicans in Burlington let you vote in their caucuses regardless of how you self-identify in terms of party, so long as you haven't voted in another caucus. I that think not having voted in another party's caucus is the only legal requirement for participating. I guess Jane (and assistant city attorney Gene Bergman) have a different legal opinion. If anybody out there wants to sue the Progs over this, it would certainly be an interesting legal challenge.

The context of all this exclusivity is as interesting as the exclusivity itself. Why are the Progs playing it this way in Ward 2? The simplest answer is usually the right one.

It seems to me the simplest answer is that Knodell is not running again, and the Progs have already chosen the person they'd like to replace her. The secrecy and exclusivity surrounding this caucus are probably designed to create a tightly controlled environment that will ensure the desired winner.

That and the Progs seem to take a sort of holier-than-thou attitude sometimes. Maybe they like to exclude people to a degree. It keeps them in a bubble believeing in their self-importance. Unfortunately for them, that general attitude has been eroding the party's support for years.

Bernie Sanders is a US Senator now. No Progressive will ever rise higher. I predict that at 71 years old, Bernie will win a second senate term, but with a smaller majority than he won over Tarrant. The Progs have already lost one of their four core council seats from Wards 2 and 3. If Democrat David Cain takes Ashe's seat in Ward 3, and if Kiss does not retain the corner office, there will be very little left of the original Progressive movement.

What was once a thriving, inclusive coalition, has become an dying, exclusive party. That's unfortunate. But as they say, "attitude is everything" and Knodell's post clearly exemplifies the very self-rightous attitude Progressives have had for a long time. Progs will deny it, but there is a sort of "two legs good, four legs bad," ends-justify-means hypocrcisy going on there. I've felt it for many years and I'm not alone.
Pretty astute comments from Mr Bedrosian; BurlingtonPol gets the Burlington pulse, indeed!


With thanks to Moon of Alabama. Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Association.


Junger Chor Ars Musica Ochtendung - Leise rieselt der Schnee/Softly falls the snow

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


From Beth Twiston-Davies in FAITH CENTRAL
This is Mary (though I wouldn’t hazard a bet on her virginity). In drag. Part of yesterday’s “Pink Christmas” tableau in Amsterdam. Mary is played, AP informs us, by a “male entertainer” known as Wendy Mills. Unfortunately this photograph doesn’t display the laced high-heeled boots which complete her outfit, but as you might have guessed, the man just behind her to the right, draped in the silver shawl, flashing a glimpse of black leather trunks and spectacularly tacky gold rose, is supposed to be Joseph.

Christian groups have naturally objected to the five-person tableau staged in the yard of an Amsterdam nightclub, and sponsored – to the tune of 15,000 euros – by Amsterdam City Council.

The independent group Christians for Truth says: "By portraying Joseph and Mary as homosexuals, a twisted human fantasy is being added to the history of the Bible.” However, Frank van Dalen, organiser of the “Pink Christmas” (which is accompanied by a Christmas sex toy market) wants the tableau to be an annual affair, a sort of winter complement to Amsterdam’s Summer gay pride parade. He says: "Our objective is not to be offensive. This is about visibility. Van Dalen referred to a report published last month that said homophobia was an ingrained problem in Amsterdam, and that Dutch gays feel the society they live is becoming more assertive about “classical values.”
Wouldn't Benny have a fun time with this? /sarcasm/


human ecology

The Pope, speaking on issues of sexuality, argues from the position of an organisation which has a vested interested in preserving a traditional totally male hierarchy. It reflects a view, now not universally accepted, that women have no voice and no vote, where husbands take over the property and the rights of wives, and in which the woman is ceremonially handed over from her father to her husband at her wedding.

Women’s emancipation in society has been one of the chief causes of a serious rift between Church and State in many countries where the ministry of Churches has remained restricted to men. Even formerly Catholic countries now describe themselves as having a secular constitution, and signs or the rift are most noticeable in areas relating to human sexuality:

* Female emancipation
* Legalisation of contraception
* Legalisation of abortion
* Liberalisation of divorce laws
* Decriminalisation of homosexual acts
* Equal rights for women
* An end to oppression of gay and lesbian people
* Legal frameworks for gay partnerships

It would be difficult to cite any other area in which Church and State have been more out of step with each other.

This unfortunately gives the impression that the only morality of interest to the Church is sexual morality. Indeed, it would now appear that the last time the Church could ever claim to lead a moral crusade to promote human equality it was over the ending of slavery, some two centuries ago. Since then it has been the State which has been in the forefront of promoting the dignity and equality of all people, whilst the Church has maintained its traditional inequalities by arguing for an opt out from national legislation.

Clearly Church and State perceive society very differently. The State sees all people as having an equal and valid contribution to make, whereas the Church, in preserving a traditional male hierarchy, has a structure which appears more primitive and tribal.

Homo sapiens evolved the capability of operating in larger units than any other large mammal. As this happened the pattern of a clan under the headship of a dominant male required some adjustment.

With children taking many years to come to maturity, grandparents became important in helping them acquire the skills they would need for survival. And it was no longer only the breeding couples of this largely monogamous species which held the fabric of society together. A significant contribution has always been made by those who did not marry. Those who did not have the constant responsibility of feeding and rearing their own children had time to develop skills and enrich the community in other ways which would make them valuable to the whole group.

Such people were not perceived as a threat to married couples. The man who did not covet his neighbour’s wife has always been less of a danger to society than the heterosexual man who might want to tempt her away. The reason for having strict marriage laws is not because of what gay people might do, but in order to protect couples from heterosexual predators. It would therefore appear that once again the Pope has shown that the Church is out of step with society in its understanding of human sexuality. There is no danger to the species from gay people whilst 90% of people are attracted to the opposite sex. Gay people have never posed any threat to those who wish to live as heterosexual couples. They simply accept this as a valid lifestyle for those who wish to enjoy it.

Society in Britain, North America, and much of Europe is happy with this situation and has framed legislation to protect the rights of all people. By contrast the Pope is the personification of a wrong human ecology; one which fails to give rights to all people. And people wonder, seeing the Church of England’s hesitation over the ordination of women to the episcopate, whether having an Established Church which retains such an outmoded view of women has anything to commend it.


Rick Warren's nut-job pronouncements of this year are most likely due to spiked grape juice, but what's in Bishop of Rome's communion wafers?

Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

"(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed," the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration.

"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound."

The pope said humanity needed to "listen to the language of creation" to understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behavior beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God's work."

He also defended the Church's right to "speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected."
I wonder how Akinola and the GAFCONistas will react. The Lead has more comments.

Monday, December 22, 2008


She supported Hillary Clinton - the woman's woman candidate - in the presidential primary, and after HRC lost to Obama, she pushed for Hillary to be SoS. Since Hillary will probably get the job at State and leave the Senate, Kunin is pimping for Caroline Kennedy - another woman of privelege - to become the junior senator from New York. John Odum writes
So Kunin's "good argument" is threefold:

1. Kennedy's a woman (which apparently isn't enough for Kunin to argue on the behalf of Carolyn Maloney or Kirsten Gillibrand, to whom she offers only a perfunctory collective reference).

2. Kennedy is rich.

3. Kunin's perceived public need to enforce affirmative action among the Kennedy family itself.

I hope somebody has got a more sapient argument on Kennedy's behalf than this.


The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush was tortured into writing a letter of apology, his brother said today.



The Wall Street Journal has a silly interview - obviously for American consumption - with the Orléanist pretender to the French throne, Prince Jean, the Dauphin de France and Duc de Vendôme. This guy's not even on the throne, yet he has a staff of 30 to help him carry out "royal engagements." He sent a birthday greeting to the Prince of Wales, but was aghast that he received only a cursory reply from Charles' secretary. Noblesse oblige, not.
Prince Jean hopes hard work will help re-establish his family's legitimacy and allow him to serve France and its people. "I love our cathedrals, I love our wines," he explains. "And I love our peasants."



Extreme animal rights activists will be targeted by a specialist team of policemen, intelligence agents and the ministery of Justice. Dutch Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst has decided this new approach against violence by activists is needed because "they are going too far", she told de Telegraaf daily on Sunday. The minister was referring to increasingly violent actions "against directors of companies that cannot find favour in the eyes of animal rights activists."

The announcement almost coincided with an attack on the property of a senior official of the NYSE Euronext stock exchange. Two cars on the drive of his home in Wassenaar went up in flames. Euronext trades in stocks of British animal testing labs, Huntingdon Life Sciences. Responsibility for the attack has not been claimed yet, but an earlier attack in Hilversum last month was claimed by British animal rights activists.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


THE LEAD carries a letter from John B Chane, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, on Obama's choice of Rick Warren to say the invocation prayer at the inauguration.
I am profoundly disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to invite Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to offer the invocation at his inauguration. The president-elect has bestowed a great honor on a man whose recent comments suggest he is both homophobic, xenophobic, and willing to use the machinery of the state to enforce his prejudices—even going so far as to support the assassination of foreign leaders.

In his home state of California, Mr. Warren’s campaigned aggressively to deny gay and lesbian couples equal rights under the law, relying on arguments that are both morally offensive and theologically crude. Christian leaders differ passionately with one another over the morality of same-sex relationships, but only the most extreme liken the loving, lifelong partnerships of their fellow citizens to incest and pedophilia, as Mr. Warren has done. The president-elect’s willingness to associate himself with a man who espouses these views as a means of reaching out to religious conservatives suggests a willingness to use the aspirations of gay and lesbian Americans as bargaining chips, and I find this deeply troubling.

Mr. Warren has been rightly praised for his efforts to deepen the engagement of evangelical Christians with impoverished Africans. He has been justifiably lauded for putting the AIDS epidemic and global warming on the political agenda of the Christian right. Yet extravagant compassion toward some of God’s people does not justify the repression of others. Jesus came to save all of humankind, and as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pointed out, “All means all.” But rather than embrace the wisdom of Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Warren has allied himself with men such as Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda who seek to “purify” the Anglican Communion, of which my Church is a member, by driving out gay and lesbian Christians and their supporters.

In choosing Mr. Warren, the president-elect has sent a distressing message internationally as well. In a recent television interview, Mr. Warren voiced his support for the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These bizarre and regrettable remarks come at a time when much of the Muslim world already fears a Christian crusade against Islamic countries. Imagine our justifiable outrage if an Iranian cleric who advocated the assassination of President Bush had been selected to offer prayers when Ahmadinejad was sworn in.

I have worked with former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to improve the relationship between our two countries as hawkish members of the Bush administration pushed for another war. He has spoken at the National Cathedral, which will host the president-elect’s inaugural prayer service, and I have visited with him several times in Iran and elsewhere. Iranian clerics are intensely interested in the religious attitudes of America’s leaders. In choosing Mr. Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration, the president-elect has sent the chilling, and, I feel certain, unintended message that he is comfortable with Christians who can justify lethal violence against Muslims.
Obama's advisors have mainstreamed Warren as a moderate to woo the right wing evangelicals and bigots. Bishop Chane labels Warren as a moderate, but clearly his examples show that he's an extremist. As a queer man, it's a slap in the face. But I wonder if the Democratic Party pimpin' Human Rights Campaigners who supported Barack Obama are having second thoughts and will wake up.

UPDATE: With thanks to Richard at American Leftist, here's progressive blogger Jane Hamsher of firedoglake battling it out with Rick Sanchez on CNN:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Maggie Standley, Old North End community leader has a My Turn article in the Burlington Free Press on the continuing lack of communication from the city and P&R department (what else is new?) regarding the development of Avant Garden
Naturally, I have lost some confidence in our collaboration. What we discussed wasn't carried through nor were changes run by our steering committee. In fact, it seems we were flat out ignored and perhaps mislead (being told not all the trees would be cut only the day before they were, and the land steward was present on site during the cutting). It has been hard to know how to work together under these circumstances, and if that is indeed what the city wants.
And the city has released a report on Categate. The Free Press is unaccepting and wants a complete explanation.
It cost $63,900 (including $22,000 for Cate's salary while on leave) to sort through this imbroglio over unauthorized access to e-mail, and to determine that the city waterfront operations' finances are indecipherable to a private accounting firm.

That penny tax for parks you approved in the November election? About 18 percent of the $355,000 it's expected to raise just slipped out of the coffers. The lawyers and accounting firm sucked up a bit of it.

Mayor Bob Kiss gave the council the report it asked for after the City Council president running for mayor accused the mayor of "spoon feeding" councilors information.

And once again, we don't know much except that the public process of sorting through the shenanigans of government is unruly, and we all ought to have a better understanding of the city's personnel policies.

Yet we still have no real idea what city employee Adam Cate did to launch this investigation.

And there is the little matter of how money was managed -- or mismanaged or forgotten or lost -- at the waterfront. If a private audit cannot figure it out, how will Mayor Kiss?

Perhaps the council, with the power of numbers, might want to delve into this little sideshow.

The public awaits the next report, which ought to be much more detailed than the report given Monday night by the mayor.
The City Election is fast approaching - all of a sudden it's become some sort of vendetta against all-things-Kiss? It will be interesting to see which mayoral candidate the paper supports. Maggie's piece and the editorial testify to the need for more transparency and communication from the municipal authorities.


CHRIS HEDGES Israel's 'Crime Against Humanity'
Gaza now spends 12 hours a day without power, which can be a death sentence to the severely ill in hospitals. There are few drugs and little medicine, including no cancer or cystic fibrosis medication. Hospitals have generators but often lack fuel. Medical equipment, including one of Gaza’s three CT scanners, has been destroyed by power surges and fluctuations. Medical staff cannot control the temperature of incubators for newborns. And Israel has revoked most exit visas, meaning some of those who need specialized care, including cancer patients and those in need of kidney dialysis, have died. Of the 230 Gazans estimated to have died last year because they were denied proper medical care, several spent their final hours at Israeli crossing points where they were refused entry into Israel. The statistics gathered on children—half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 17—are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.



Horses are able to recognise each other's individual neighs and match them to faces, a new study has shown.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I've been watching the fantastic series this week about the White House on C-Span.

Last night's programs were tours by presidents and first ladies, including Laura Bush (really good). There was also rebroadcast from the 1960s of Jackie Kennedy's tour. I remember watching it as a teen-ager and was struck by her shyness. After that broadcast there was much criticism of her legs! Even then I thought it was sexist.


Today marks the 60th anniversary of the most popular word game in history: Scrabble.


As a kid growing up in northern New England, my brothers and I got to see exciting animals at Wild Bill's Rare Bird and Animal Farm in Fairlee, VT. (We lived across the Connecticut River in Orford, NH .) I didn't think of mistreatment at the time, but as a young adult, I began to question the idea of caging "exotic" animals outside of their normal habitat - especially at circuses and zoos. So I'm glad to see Green Left Infoasis has linked to these stories about mistreatment of zoo elephants:
Zoos Kill Elephants, New Scientific Study Confirms

Peer-reviewed evidence validates animal advocates push for closing zoo elephant exhibits
Second Damning Elephant Report Should End Debate On The L.A. Zoo Exhibit Expansion

Humane leaders and former L.A. Zoo vet to reveal new findings at press conference tomorrow


Inane Quote of the Day
"The guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is, but whatever it is, I'm sure someone will hear it."

George Bush, referring to shoe-thrower and hero Muntadar al-Zeidi
Yeah, who knows what the "beef" is of someone yelling "This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."? It's a mystery.
Yeah, Mr Prez, indeed, people heard it and have demanded Mr al-Zeidi's release.

Not only does Bush's reaction show his cultural ignorance, but it also shows his insensitivity to the plight of Iraqis after six years of occupation and the arrogance of a warmonger.

If you've got a Facebook account, you can join a group, as I have done, to support the journalist. Type Muntadar al-Zeidi in a search on that site and follow the link.

UPDATE @ 4:36 PM (h/t Ten Percent): Al-Zaidi Remanded Into Custody After Court Appearance

Monday, December 15, 2008



Of course, if any American tried the same thing, the penalty would be severe, since attacking the imperial manager is a serious felony. Not to worry. American journos, especially those covering the White House, are too well conditioned to ever make an al-Zaidi move. Their job is to kiss and polish the president's shoes, not throw their own.

As the AP headline put it, "Bush's Iraq-Afghan farewell tour marred by dissent." Marred. Yep, that pretty much sums up our domestic media mindset. Meanwhile, American liberals are enjoying a mighty laugh over the shoe toss. Were the same to happen to Obama, libs would be the first to scream foul, angered by the lack of foreign respect for the Leader of The Free World, especially from ungrateful Iraqis, who don't have the decency to finance their own submission, as Obama repeatedly points out.


Episcopal Bishop Tom Ely was on VPR's noontime Vermont Edition today and spoke about the current happenings in the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church and the various initiatives of the diocese of Vermont (effecting the MGD's, support for the church and people in El Salvador and the Sudan, environmental activism, "being the church," etc.).

Friday, December 12, 2008


DENNIS PERRIN, writing from his home state of Michigan
The prospect of a GM or Chrysler collapse has added more tension to this part of Michigan, a place where working people are already being squeezed if not steamrolled by what passes for the economy. I've never seen anything like it in my life, and I suspect it'll get worse. I hope not. I don't know how much more negative weight people around here can endure.

I've never considered myself a Marxist or a communist -- indeed, I've had many nasty fights with those who do. But looking around at the devastation, which isn't hard to find, I can see how one could succumb to the Marxist urge. I thought that the Army radicalized me, which it did, for a time, anyway; but this shit is something else. No wonder mainstream outlets like The Christian Science Monitor are calling on Obama to save capitalism. Being very class conscious, American elites understand how the unmasked face of capital can affect the desperate and powerless. The worker occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago is a warning shot from below. The people above don't want to see more of that.

Let's see how serious Obama's proposed "public works" project ultimately is. I'm not sure where he'll get the money. Perhaps the Saudis and the Chinese can help rebuild parts of Detroit, without doubt the poorest, most decimated city I've ever been in. I've yet to visit Gaza, so my perspective is limited. But a drive through Detroit reveals some pretty ghastly images, and will shatter your car's suspension if you aren't meticulous behind the wheel. The vast number of craters and potholes makes it seem like someone went on a bombing spree, which, in a fiscal sense, is pretty much the case. If GM and Chrysler fold, the bombing will intensify, turning swaths of southeastern Michigan into an economic Afghanistan. Somehow, I doubt the locals will consider that a "good war."


Toujoursdan of Culture choc and Counterlight have posts up about a proposed UN Declaration of Human Rights for LBGTs. They direct us to read UK gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell's Guardian CiF article
It will be the first time in its history that the UN General Assembly has considered the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights.

Although it will not be binding on the member states, the declaration will have immense symbolic value, given the six decades in which homophobic persecution has been ignored by the UN.

If you want to understand why this decriminalisation declaration is so important and necessary, ponder this: even today, not a single international human rights convention explicitly acknowledges the human rights of LGBT people. The right to physically love the person of one's choice is nowhere enshrined in any global humanitarian law. No convention recognises sexual rights as human rights. None offers explicit protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The USA, naturally, is against. The main sponsor - Canada - and most of the EU countries have come on board. Counterlight writes
It has some surprising support from countries like Mexico, Ecuador, Guinea-Bissau, and Israel.

The Vatican, in league with the Islamic countries, is leading the opposition, to no one's surprise.
The USA is not endorsing the resolution, and neither is Australia.
Curiously (or not), our leftist comrades in Cuba and Venezuela are silent on this resolution.

It is strange that this is stirring not a peep of notice in the press, not even in the gay press.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


"We stand today at the threshold of a great event." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Real News/Guardian: Archival footage of UN the day the Declaration of Human Rights was approved.


Thursday 11 December 2008

Actress and animal rights activitist Pamela Anderson, in Amsterdam to open this year's Miljonair Fair, has written to queen Beatrix urging her to turn her attention to the plight of farmed mink, reports the Telegraaf.

'Nothing is less sexy than a fur coat,' Anderson wrote. 'I hope my appearance at the Miljonair Fair will help people to realise you can create a look that kills without murder and that no-one should support gassing, strangling or electrocuting animals. Especially not for a luxury item.'

The Miljonair Fair is a trade show for luxury goods that takes place every year in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Bravo! Episcopalians are not fundamentalist Southern Baptists-in-vestments. John Chane, the Bishop of Washington, has written a letter to his diocese about the proposed formation of a new "Anglican" province in North America, and clearly, forcefully puts the case why it's doomed to fail. Read it all here. Some salient points:
... We face our share of problems in the Episcopal Church, but wholesale defections to a movement committed to denying gay and lesbian Christians the birthright of their baptism is not one of them.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wisely did not invite any of the bishops consecrated to serve in the Nigerian, Ugandan, Rwandan or Kenyan incursions into the United States to last summer’s Lambeth Conference. Nor did he invite bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which broke from the Anglican Communion almost 130 years ago. Williams seems unlikely to reverse course now. He knows that the leaders of the proposed province have been working, overtly and covertly, to undermine the Episcopal Church for almost a decade, so what was a front page story to the editors of the New York Times was old news to him. It would be folly for the Archbishop to even consider recognizing a non-geographical province because it would unleash chaos in the Communion, with theological minorities in every jurisdiction seeking to affiliate with likeminded Anglicans in other provinces. Unfortunately, the Archbishop has contributed to the confusion and anxiety the leaders of the proposed province have sought to foster by meeting on numerous occasions with Duncan and his allies. These meetings have bestowed an unwarranted sense of legitimacy on those who seek to deconstruct the Anglican Communion.

What Duncan and Minns propose – that Duncan become the Archbishop of a newly minted non-geographical province with the support of GAFCON primates such as Peter Akinola of Nigeria and Henry Orombi of Uganda – is a rejection of the respectful diversity and generous orthodoxy that defines the Communion. It is a repudiation of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in our communal life. It flies in the very face of what it truly means to be an Anglican. For Minns to suggest that he is leading a “new reformation” is ludicrous and demeans the historicity and value of the real Reformation as we know it and live it. The movers of the proposed new province embarrass themselves, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion by the self-serving media coverage they have worked so hard to achieve. The news of the proposed province appears at a time when more than 28 million Americans are living on food stamps, one out of every 10 new mortgage holders is facing foreclosure, unemployment is at its highest level in decades, the auto industry is “tanking” and the real danger of deflation or a possible depression looms large on the horizon. In the global south, millions live on $1 a day, and wars, ethnic and religious violence, poverty and the AIDS epidemic continue to wrack the African continent. To learn in this context that Duncan, Minns and their allies think that the most important issue facing the church is the sexuality of the Bishop of New Hampshire suggests a level of self-absorption that is difficult to square with the teachings of Christ. And to learn that the New York Times considers the complaints of these deposed, retired and irregularly consecrated bishops to be front page news suggests a fixation on “culture wars” reporting that deprives readers of a true sense of the challenges facing the church in this country.


"How much are your rights worth?"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The Burlington intifada against Burton Snowboards continues.

In Sydney an Australian artist has designed a line of 30 Islamic surfboards to bridge the cultural and religious divide in that country. Burton could take the lead in America and develop similar designs for snowboards. Now wouldn't that just please all those overparenting moms & dads in Burlington - progressive diversity-lovin' Al-Jazeera watching boarders - who were pissed off mightily about the Playboy bunnies? Redemption for bad-neighbor Burton, finally?! But wait, the Defenders Council of Vermont and zionists in South Burlington would have a field day.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Sunny von Bülow, 76, has died. When my uncle was a patient at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC, his room was next to hers. Was she ever the focus of society drama! Her life and the film about the Claus von Bülow trial - Reversal of Fortune with Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close - was sheer parody.
A 1985 article in Vanity Fair described their life together. Typically Sunny rose around 11, phone her mother for an hour, was chauffeured to her exercise class, did a little shopping, had lunch, changed into her pyjamas, and watched television with Claus. Occasionally she appeared at parties, fabulously gowned. She went to bed early, sharing a bed with Claus and their four Labradors.


“This never happens — to take a company from the inside,” Ms. Mazon said. “But I’m fighting for my family, and we’re not going anywhere.”
This is encouraging. This kind of action can force the incoming administration to take a more radical action than it would like to.

In Factory Sit-In, an Anger Spread Wide

The above headline is from the MSM paper of record, which has not usually been keen on reporting labour issues in a favourable light.

And the workers' action received tacit approval from Obama.
At a news conference Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama said the company should follow through on its commitments to its workers.

“The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned,” Mr. Obama said, “I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”
Encouraging, mebbe. But I ain't getting my hopes up. CounterPunch Diary has an updated list of "Honeymoans from the Left".

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Letting the good times roll is no longer the case in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam has long been famed for its relaxed approach to prostitution and soft drugs, making the Dutch city one of the most popular destinations for tens of thousands of Britons on stag and hen parties.

But all that may be about to change. As part of a major 'clean-up' of the city centre, the local authorities yesterday unveiled plans to close half of the brothels and the little coffee shops where cannabis can be bought and smoked, prompting warnings that they will cost the city dear as visitors head elsewhere... Read the rest here.
The city centre is too crowded. To dissuade motorists from driving into the city, the authorities have imposed a € 5.- per hour on-street parking fee. (Bring back the Provo's White Bicycle Plan?) RNW has an earlier story on how A'dam is becoming a provincial backwater. I was last in A'dam in April. Rarely do I venture into the centre and explore areas in the South and Jordaan.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


What a travesty! This makes me fuckin' ill! I just read this on Martin Wisse's blog
Jean Charles de Menezes, murdered by police now more than three years ago is once again denied justice, as the coroner in the inquest to his death ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing:
The family of Jean Charles de Menezes walked out of his inquest yesterday as the coroner ruled the jury was forbidden from considering whether he was unlawfully killed.

Sir Michael Wright said he did not believe the testimony justified him allowing them to return a verdict which was tantamount to accusing police officers of murder or manslaughter.

As the De Menezes family and their supporters walked out the coroner said he knew the jury's hearts would go out to the dead man's mother, Maria Otone de Menezes. "But these are emotional reactions, ladies and gentlemen, and you are charged with returning a verdict based on evidence," he said.
Craig Murray is also pissed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Panel warns biological attack likely by 2013

WASHINGTON—The United States can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study being briefed Tuesday to Vice President-elect Joe Biden. It suggests the Obama administration bolster efforts to counter and prepare for germ warfare by terrorists.

"Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," states the report, obtained by The Associated Press.
Left I on the News is excellent in tearing apart news stories and thinks this one's a lot of hokum.
"Likely"? That's not a scientific term, but according to another report, the opening sentence of the summary says such an attack "is more likely than not," which says there's at least a 51% chance of such an attack.
Talk about blatant fear-mongering. My guess is these sensational stories sell a certain mind-set to the public, when they're not being trampled to death at mall entrances ('tis the season to patriotically spend).

Edger at the OOIBC writes
Boo! The boogeymen are out to get you.

This story is all over the left blogs today, and most of what I read is people lapping it up as easily and thoughtlessly as the 26 percenters lapped up all of Bush's years of Rovian manipulations, and using it as justification for "pragmatic" hide their heads in the sand denial of Barack Obama's obvious militarist tendencies and full intentions to continue the war on terror memes and determination to militarily dominate the earth while blaming the blowback on "terrists" on behalf of the corporatocracy that rules America.
Today NPR featured this story in its news, too. Along with coverage about "India's 9/11" over the holiday weekend, was the story of this report. ("Report: WMD Attack Inevitable Before 2013"). WMD? WTF! Haven't the media pushed this before?

Before that NPR Day-to-Day segment came an afternoon staple on our local NPR station: The Story, which talked about what happened in Mumbai and then lead into a story told by a man who'd been on a plane hijacked by PLO sympathisers back in the 1970s ("A Tourist and Terrorists").
He talks with Dick Gordon about what it was like to find himself in the middle of an international terrorist incident long before the world was so familiar with terrorism.
These kinds of programs just put terrorist=damn Arabs/Palestinians in peoples' minds. Whether it's intentional, I don't know, but it makes me question media's pushing a particular narrative - that of fear - more and more.


At Buck House, for the Queen. Go figure.

Which makes me wonder: What talents does the new SoS-elect have? During the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton was caught in front of an open microphone, singing the national anthem totally off key. Maybe she'll take up the triangle.


The staunchly Roman Catholic Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg has refused to sign the law legalising euthanasia. He has explained his position in a radio message to the country. It's caused a constitutional crisis. The government plans to strip the GD of his powers. Personally, I think he should have abdicated in favour of his son, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume (what a hunk!). I wonder what Henri's father, Grand Duke Jean, thinks of all this.


Thankfully, Haik's got a post up today covering the continuing Categate saga and the future mayoral candidates.


tim, a buddy at Green Left Infoasis has started Feet Meet Fire. As he wrote me in an invitation email
It is dedicated to linking to news, views, and info about pushing Obama to the 'Left' and demanding that his administration makes good on his rhetoric and promises of 'change'.
As with a lot of lefty blogs, FMF is adding accountability to the mix. There is a difference between the 'decent' left and true, dontcha know? "Progressives" who voted for the Dear Leader and who don't hold his feet to the fire or do anything (activism, anyone?) about Obama's center-right focus have no business calling themselves progressive.

So, go:hop on over, leave a comment if you wish and spread the word. I've added Feet Meet Fire to my sidebar of daily reads. Onward!


Via Mad Priest:

From THE LOCAL (Sweden):

Swedish men come second only to the French in a study of the state of European members, a new study has shown.

A comparative study of more than ten thousand men in 25 EU countries sees the well-hung Swedes pull up just short of their counterparts in the land of the baguette and the coq gaulois.

According to the study, an erect French penis stretches to an average of 15.48 centimetres (6.09 in). The average Swedish member trails the leader by a short head, crossing the finishing line at 15.36 centimetres. At the other end of the spectrum, men in Greece - the linguistic home of the phallus - get the short end of the stick, measuring in at just 12.18 centimetres.

The head of the Institute of Condom Consultancy, Jan Vinzenz Krause, claimed French letters really were something to write home about.

"We observed during a two month test that men in France use a significantly higher number of large condoms than men in Greece," he said in a statement.

Krause added that it was vital for men to wear condoms that best suited their size requirements.

"It is the same as the fact that we have different sized feet and wear shoes that fit us."

Monday, December 1, 2008


You ain't gonna hear this on the mainstream media outlets, and you sure as hell didn't hear this tonight on the PBS Newshour or Democratic Party pimpin' blogs. Godless Liberal Homo gives a resounding D to the foreign policy 'team' announced by the Dear Leader today
Obama's national security team is rather disturbing, to put it mildly. The two marquee nominations, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense are absolutely execrable. Neither has sound judgement on foreign policy in general and especially on matters of war and peace. Both are dishonorable, rightist war mongers who should never hold any office in government. Their support of the Bush agenda of endless war is downright sickening. Read it all...
All I can say is contact your congressperson.



From Episcopal Café:
The Diocese of Washington's fifth annual online Advent Calendar supports the Bokamoso Youth Program of Winterveld, South Africa. Each day from December 1 through Christmas, visitors can open one of the calendar’s windows to find links to a daily meditation, the daily office and a videotaped interview with one of the scores of young people who have benefited from Bokamoso’s work.


LETTER from the Episcopal Presiding Bishop on World AIDS Day 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The first day of December is marked as World AIDS Day, and has been observed since 1988. Episcopalians join billions of people around the world to remember the devastation caused by the AIDS pandemic over the past generation, and to recommit to ensuring a future without AIDS for generations still to come. As our church year begins, it is especially appropriate to remember, pray, and work together to alleviate the suffering inflicted by this disease and its consequences.

As Episcopalians, we understand that we are part of a body that has AIDS – both the Body of Christ and the larger body of the family of God. More than half of our worldwide Anglican Communion lives in countries destabilized by epidemic rates of HIV infection, including several dioceses of The Episcopal Church. Parish communities in the United States have been responding to HIV and AIDS for more than 25 years.

In the United States, this year’s commemoration comes in a moment of transition for American democracy. A new President and new Congress will shape this nation’s response to HIV/AIDS at home and around the world. Many significant challenges face America’s leaders in the coming years.

We must find ways to build on successes in fighting HIV and AIDS in the developing world. American leadership since 2003 has brought life-saving treatment to more than 1.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (in contrast to 50,000 in 2002), while supporting more than 33 million counseling and testing sessions and providing prevention services for nearly 13 million pregnant women. Still, more than 6,000 people continue to die each day as a result of the pandemic, and infection rates in some of the hardest-hit places continue to grow. Earlier this year, Congress and the President pledged significantly increased funding, and renewed strategies, for the global fight against AIDS. It will be up to the new Congress and Administration to keep the promises that have been made by their predecessors.

The incoming Administration of President-elect Obama is soliciting suggestions from citizens for national priorities in the year ahead at I urge all Episcopalians living in the United States to ask President-elect Obama and his Administration to make the fight against AIDS at home and around the world a priority, even in difficult economic times. The security and well-being of the world depends on health and healing for all. You can join your voice with those of other Episcopalians who will take action in the months and years ahead to advocate for strong U.S. responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic by signing up for the Episcopal Public Policy Network at

I commend to Episcopalians the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition,, a grassroots group that has been working in Episcopal communities for more than two decades to support caregivers, give guidance on prevention, and advocate for a more compassionate AIDS policy. In particular, I draw your attention to the online quiz NEAC has developed for Episcopal communities to commemorate this World AIDS Day.

Christians around the world marked the First Sunday of Advent yesterday as a season of hope and expectation, remembering that the “Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). On this World AIDS Day, I pray that the God who tents with humanity will raise us up to work together to make the divine dream of healing and abundant life for all creation a reality – may your kingdom come, O Lord, and speedily.

Your servant in Christ,
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church