Saturday, February 28, 2009


Ron Ledford, in an interview with Amsterdam's local TV station AT5: "I went to the coffee shop and started gettin' me some medicine."

As 24oranges explains, the TV station met (video interview, English/Dutch) Mr Ledford "at a shop downtown where he was being fitted with a free new outfit, thanks to a shop owner who met him and obviously cared about his story (unlike the hospital)."


Via Pulse:- Stop the world, I want to get off. This is a disturbing CBC documentary entitled The Disappearing Male. It is a 44 minute video about a critically important, yet seldom covered, issue facing the human species: the toxic threat to the male reproductive system by endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Via Eye On Horror we learn about Vermont's newest flick-kid-on-the block - Green Comet Pictures, "created by independent writer/director Owen Mulligan who is a low-budget horror/sci-fi film enthusiast. Owen named his film enterprise after the comet Lulin. The comet Lulin's green color comes from the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere."

Owen's directorial debut Strange Intrusions premieres on-line on April 17.


"The debate was sponsored by Democracy for America, Green Mountain Daily and the UVM College Democrats. Speaking to a packed house, candidates Bob Kiss, Andy Montroll, and Dan Smith handled a wide range of questions, from the first president they voted for, the underfunding of Burlington's pension fund, and, yes, frolf at Leddy Park."

I didn't go to it (and neither did Republican candidate Kurt Wright).

The city election is Tuesday, 3 March. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas have threatened to send members from the congregation to the Netherlands to protest the funerals of Turkish and Dutch victims of the Schiphol crash. There were no Dutch nationals among the dead. There were 9 casualties: 5 Turks, 4 Americans.

These people are relentless, aren't they? Where the hell do they get the money to travel to NL and other countries? Fred Phelps and his followers (his relatives) have been picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, saying "God hates America" for its tolerance of homosexuals. They've even threatened my small state of Vermont to protest at funerals. They threatened to protest the funeral in Hawaii of Obama's grandmother. But note: The group has threatened to protest at other events, but has not shown up. Like Geert Wilders, they crave media attention to assist in promoting their agenda, and I'll bet you all the cheese in Gouda they love it when their hate speech is reported. It's a Catch-22, really, but I do think their actions have to be reported.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Wendy Richard, who has died aged 65 of cancer, was one of the busiest television actors of recent decades. She became a household name as Pauline Fowler, the matriarch who battled on undaunted through the many upheavals of EastEnders.

Before EastEnders, she was best known as Miss Brahms, a foil to Mollie Sudgen's Mrs Slocombe on the groundbraking series, Are You Being Served?

The cast of Are You Being Served? (from left to right): Mollie Sugden as Mrs Slocombe, Wendy Richard as Miss Brahms, Trevor Bannister as Mr Lucas, Nicholas Smith as Mr Rumbold, Larry Martyn, Arthur Brough as Mr Grainger, John Inman as Mr Humphreys and Frank Thornton as Captain Peacock. (Photograph: BBC)

There are several clips featured on the Guardian.

The pilot episode of Are You Being Served. The opening scene has Miss Brahms stuck in a lift in a miniskirt. The tone had been set:

The pilot continues:

"Are you free?" The final segment:

And of course the first part of the infamous "Dear Sexy Knickers..."!


"I have been through an experience that I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares. Before this ordeal, 'torture' was an abstract word to me. I could never have imagined that I would be its victim. It is still difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways – all orchestrated by the United States government." - Binyam Mohamed in his statement after his release

"Binyam Mohamed was kidnapped, tortured, mutilated and locked up in Kabul, Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay for almost seven years because he read a satirical article on the internet."

And that satirical piece was written in 1979 by Barbara Ehrenreich, who writes in the Guardian,

With such stringent journalistic ethics in place, I was shocked to read online a Mail on Sunday article headed "Food writer's online guide to building an H-bomb ... the 'evidence' that put this man in Guantánamo." The "food writer" was identified as me, and the story began: "A British 'resident' held at Guantánamo Bay was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a 'joke' website on how to build a nuclear weapon, it was revealed last night.

While I am not, and have never been, a "food writer", other details about the "joke" rang true, such as the names of my co-authors, Peter Biskind and physicist Michio Kaku. Rewind to 1979, when Peter and I were working for a now-defunct leftwing magazine named Seven Days. The government had just suppressed the publication of another magazine, the Progressive, for attempting to print an article called "The H-Bomb Secret". I don't remember that article and the current editor of the Progressive recalls only that it contained a lot of physics and was "Greek to me". Both in solidarity with The Progressive and in defence of free speech, we at Seven Days decided to do a satirical article entitled "How to Make Your Own H-Bomb," offering step-by-step instructions for assembling a bomb using equipment available in one's own home.

As if that were not enough for a satirist to have on her conscience, the US seems to have attributed Mohamed's presumed nuclear ambitions to a second man, an American citizen named Jose Padilla, aka the "dirty bomber". The apparent evidence? Padilla had been scheduled to fly on the same flight out of Karachi that Mohamed had a ticket for, so obviously they must have been confederates. Commenting on Padilla's apprehension in 2002, the Chicago Sun-Times editorialised: "We castigate ourselves for failing to grasp the reality of what [the alleged terrorists] are trying to do, but perhaps that is a good thing. We should have difficulty staring evil in the face."

I am not histrionic enough to imagine myself in any way responsible for the torments suffered by Mohamed and Padilla - at least no more responsible than any other American who failed to rise up in revolutionary anger against the Bush terror regime. No, I'm too busy seething over another irony: whenever I've complained about my country's torturings, renderings, detentions, etc, there's always been some smug bastard ready to respond that these measures are what guarantee smart-alecky writers like myself our freedom of speech. Well, we had a government so vicious and impenetrably stupid that it managed to take my freedom of speech and turn it into someone else's living hell.

And please note, despite what Obama has said, the administration has not undertaken measures to prevent these horrors from continuing.


NRC/international headline: Fewer addicts stealing bikes as crime falls. Yeah, about 12 years ago, I needed cheap transportation on an extended visit to Amsterdam and naively bought for a few guilders a very used (read: stolen) bicycle from a guy outside the Wibautstraat Metro station.

Property crime in the Netherlands has been falling for years. There are fewer bicycle and car thefts, fewer burglaries, and fewer incidences of pickpocketing. The downward trend has been particularly marked since 2002.

"Frequent offenders, often junkies, sometimes commit thirty offences a day. If they go to prison for two years, the number of offences in the area in which they work can drop considerably." The number of frequently offending drug addicts has also fallen since 1995. Addicts have a low life expectancy, and there are now relatively few new addicts.


The creative 'high' of 1960s Amsterdam - my birthplace - was certainly exciting! After my high school graduation, while visiting my relatives for the summer, I attended some of these Provo 'happenings' organised by Robert Grootveld at the statue, 't Lievertje, in Spui square. (Oh, to experience those days again!) Ironically, the statue was a gift to the city of Amsterdam by a major tobacco company.

One evening, sitting with my cousin on the outdoor café terrace of the famous Art Deco American Hotel in Leidseplein, we heard a rumour that a 'happening' would take place. Everyone sat in anticipation. You could feel it in the buzz of conversation. Suddenly, we were startled by a loud crash. Had it started !?! No, a nervous waiter serving guests on the terrace had dropped his tray of drinks!

Robert Jasper Grootveld, one of the most emblematic figures of the 60s provo (provocation) movement, has died in a nursing home at the age of 76.

Grootveld was famous for the ‘happenings’ he organised on the Spui (photo), then Amsterdam’s ‘magic centre’. The anti-smoking guru would dance around in a cloud of his own cigarette smoke chanting ugh, ugh, ugh - which became one of his mantras.

Grootveld started out as a window cleaner, then turned to journalism and finally found his feet as an artist in the creative atmosphere of the 1960s. He came up with the famous white bicycle plan which has since been adopted by many cities around the world.

His lifelong devotion to the figure of Sinterklaas may go some way towards explaining his childlike pleasure in inventing such institutions as the Exotic Kitch Museum and the Expertological Laboratory, with fellow-artists and poets. In 2000, he made a present of the floating gardens he created to the city of Amsterdam.

‘He totally changed the Amsterdam street scene,’ friend and filmmaker Herbert Curiel told ANP.


RADIO NETHERLANDS:- The Dutch authorities are continuing their investigations into Wednesday's plane crash at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

[Transportation Safety] Board's chair Pieter van Vollenhoven, husband of the queen's sister Princess Margriet, has said the investigation is not expected to take very long. The plane dropped nearly vertically from the sky just before landing at Schiphol. Mr Van Vollenhoven says this may point to engine failure

Audio (Dutch) of interview with Prof. mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven.

I am impressed by his professional approach. He was surprised that 'only' 9 deaths were the result because he saw the unbelievable ravage. He speaks about the impact velocity and the way you could tell it was still fast, seeing the placement of the two engines etc. He also told that the cabin crew had 'no any escape' because all the instrumentarium in the back of the cabin smashed with an unbelievable power on the pilots. The cabin crew has had no chance for survival. All too gruesome indeed. Mr. Pieter is the right man on the right spot. And always there when needed. He is certainly an asset to the Dutch Monarchy, despite being 'only' a commoner! (Photo above of Van Vollenhoven at the crash site - courtesy Royal Images Marcel Antonisse/BV Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau ANP.)

Here is the NOS (Dutch Broadcasting Network) dossier (Dutch) on the crash.

"Wednesday's Turkish Airlines plane crash took place in an area bordering Amsterdam Airport which is dominated by farm fields and motorways. Local residents from the airport's closest towns of Zwanenburg and Haarlemmermeer told RNW's Hans-Jaap Melissen how they experienced the tragic accident."


This Sunday, 1 March, 10:00 a.m. St Paul's Cathedral Adult Forum will show excerpts from “The Power of Forgiveness,” a documentary by Martin Doblmeir that explores recent research into the psychological and physical effects of forgiveness on individuals and within relationships under a variety of conditions. This will introduce us to different ways of thinking about how we as individuals and as a church deal with transgression, pain, forgiveness, and healing. The documentary is based on the book of the same name by Kenneth Briggs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



I did not watch the Dear Leader last night. I'm not hostile to him; I just didn't expect much from the speech and couldn't get caught up in the glow. Dennis Perrin, always over the top, nails him spot-on:-
I know it's early, and that many liberals are still pinching their nipples, but for fuck sake, is this how it's gonna be every time Obama opens his mouth?

OBAMA: "I have confirmation that our brave combat pilots took out 90 suspected terrorists in Herat, and while a large number of the dead are unfortunately women and children, this necessary strike helps to ensure that Afghanistan is not a launching pad for attacks against North America."

LIBERALS: "Oh God! That voice! That posture! Such command! Such intelligence! I . . . I think I'm gonna come . . ."


Hicham Yazza in the Guardian last week - using the backdrop of the recent British university protests about Israel's re-invasion of Gaza - looked at the political awareness of students:- [N]ot only have they highlighted a rise in political awareness among a new generation raised in the shadow of the Iraq war debate, they have also exposed what has for long been a suspected but unspoken reality: rather than being the centres of learning, debate and intellectual engagement of yore, British universities are now little more than businesses purveying a product, employable students. The message is unambiguous: political engagement might be good for the mind but it is very, very bad for business.

He continues - and this could also apply to US 'educational' institutions:- Many universities have now grown to see their task as that of churning out generic, malleable clones for the consumption of ever more regimental recruiters. Students now spend their university years being bombarded with instructions on how to turn themselves into perfect job interview candidates. Countless career tutorials, taster sessions, seminars, workshops and presentations drum into students the notion that any semblance of political consciousness will damage employability – and that employability is everything. What is being lost on many is that such a shift is draining this young generation of bright, capable graduates of their essential critical instincts. The unquestioning deference to authority and the blind adherence to the party line are now seen not as impediments, but as the pre-requisites for anyone serious about getting a job with a top recruiter.

Thanks to Martin Wisse of Progressive Gold for the Yezza link; Martin also comments vis-à-vis the lack of protests in the Netherlands:- If you have to depend on a student loan of several (tens of thousands) of pounds to be able to study, you’ll be less likely to waste your time with political activity, especially if, as in the Netherlands, your loan or grant is made dependent on your study results. It’s perhaps no coincidence that there was little if any student protest over here against the invasion of Gaza, certainly not on the scale of the UK protests.


RADIO NETHERLANDS:- Six airplane passengers and three crew members have been killed near Amsterdam Airport as a Turkish Airlines passenger plane from Istanbul crashed, the Deputy Mayor of Haarlemmermeer, where the airport is, told the press. About fifty have been injured. At least 50 people have escaped unharmed. The plane had 135 people on board.

The Amsterdam Medical Centre says seven of the injured were brought to the hospital in critical condition.

Eyewitness report.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Helena Cobban/Just World News:-

Dennis Ross can no longer be judged to have even the minimum level of policy objectivity and neutrality that's required for this job. He served as an ambassadorial-level special coordinator for Arab-Israeli negotiations for both presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton. But since then, he has been appointed Chairman of the Board of an outfit called the Jewish People Policy Planning Instite, which has been-- as its masthead there proudly proclaims-- "Established by the Jewish Agency for Israel, Ltd." JPPPI is also headquartered in Israel.

For just some of the problems Ross's dual affiliations might cause, you can see on the current front page of its website a photo of "The Ambassador Dennis Ross presenting JPPPI's annual assessment to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert." Ross is doing this, obviously, in his capacity as Board Chair of this Israel-based body that was established by the Jewish Agency, a body that has played a key role in the leadership of the Zionist movement since well before 1948, and which enjoys very special relations with the State of Israel o this day.

For example, the Jewish Agency has been a major partner for successive Israeli governments in the building of Israel's completely illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. (As referred to quite casually in, for example, this 2005 report in the Financial Times.)

So if Dennis presents the JPPPI report to the Israeli Prime Minister today, and tomorrow he goes back to deliver a demarche from the US president on, say, Israeli settlement building-- how would that work?

More to the point, how can any of the rest of us, US citizens, have any confidence whatsoever that the "advice" Dennis Ross will be giving Secretary Clinton will be the kind of calm, objective, US-centric advice on Middle Eastern issues-- including Iran, Iraq, and quite possibly also Palestine-- that she and the rest of the administration all so desperately need?


Mayoral candidates Meet & Greet at the RU12 Community Center

The event is open to all and attendees are encouraged to ask questions and participate.

RU12 Community Center, 34 Elmwood Ave. Burlington, VT.

Thursday, February 26th, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Democratic candidate Andy Montroll, Progressive candidate Bob Kiss, and Independent candidate Dan Smith have confirmed their attendance and will be at RU12 to answer your questions and hear your concerns in one of the last campaign events before March 3rd's election. Republican Kurt Wright has been extended an invitation as well.

Candidates' websites: Andy Montroll (D) (
Bob Kiss (P) (
Dan Smith (I) (

Questions? Contact RU12 at: (802) 860-7812 or E-mail:


The FDA has released guidelines concerning journal reprints distributed to physicians that cite the off-label use of drugs and devices. Although some welcome the guidelines as a way to help clear up the issues surrounding the practice, others say they may cause confusion about what should or should not be considered promotional.

Source: AMANews (subscription required)


Over the weekend I read about this in a Front Porch Forum post by Chris Wagner, the market manager of Burlington Farmers' Market. In the Free Press today is an article alluding to that post:- Wagner said in his public letter that the market’s steering committee decided to meet with Kiss, to make sure he understood that the increases would be stressful to the vendors — particularly those just starting out. They met Friday in what Bissell called a cordial discussion.

“He was basically noncommittal,” Bissell said of Kiss. “He said he was going to talk with Wayne (Gross). It was hard to tell where he was going with it.”

“We heard the city supports the market,” Wagner said. “We were glad to have him say it, but I think we expected a little bit more.” Kiss said, “We’re at the beginning of the process, and we’ll move forward to make a proposal.” He said he would talk to Gross about the issue later this week.

Of course Bob Kiss loves 'process,' and is non-committal, although I note a hint of the usual double-speak.

Mayor Bob Kiss said the proposed rent increase from the Parks and Recreation Department is still in flux and will be resolved by late March or early April.

After the city mayoral election, you see.

No doubt the FPF post is making the rounds in the organic granola neighborhoods of Birkenstock... uhm Burlington. Already, under the Kiss administration, the Parks and Rec Dept have been under fire about their procedures. Given that, I don't think it's coincidental that news of the rent rise comes out the week before the city election.



There are very contemporary lessons to be learned from the successes of the credit union model such as being responsive to consumer loan needs and down to earth with their portfolios. Yet in all the massive media coverage of the Wall Street barons and their lethal financial escapades, crimes and frauds, little is being written about how the regulation, philosophy and behavior of the credit unions largely escaped this catastrophe.

There is, moreover, a lesson for retail credit unions. Beware and avoid the seepage or supremacy of the corporate financial model which, in its present degraded overly complex and abstract form, has become what one prosecutor called "lying, cheating and stealing" in fancy clothing.

So glad I keep my money in a Vermont credit union!



The "knowledge worker":- Counter to previous trends, the largest group settling in the Netherlands the last three years from outside of Europe is now highly educated people from India.

Most Indians live in the country's larger cities - where the majority of the technology businesses are located - particularly in Amstelveen, a suburb of Amsterdam. Indian businesses have also sprung up. Already there are 33 in and around Amsterdam, mainly front offices of large Indian companies.

"Free movers seldom put down roots in Amsterdam":- Young Europeans who come to Amsterdam to live and work have trouble fitting in. Initially attracted by the Dutch reputation for tolerance and openness, most leave the city after little more than a year. This is because “free movers” feel excluded from Dutch society, claims Adrian Favell who is sociology professor at the University of California.

Favell is not talking about discrimination. “It’s much more subtle than that. Foreigners have difficulty breaking the social codes and can’t find their way through the Dutch bureaucratic maze. One of the people I interviewed pays 2,000 euros a month rent for his apartment whereas his Dutch neighbour one floor down pays just 250-300 euros.

“And why is that? It’s because his Dutch neighbour has been a member of a housing cooperation for years and he hasn’t. Life in Amsterdam is full of such subtle ways to exclude you and it’s one of the reasons expats tend to leave. The Netherlands has one of the smallest percentages of European residents in Europe.”

Difficulties in an international Den Haag:- At the entrance to the shop there is a recommendation for ‘haggis,’ a typical Scottish product made from sheep’s innards, oats and spices. On the shelves lie English biscuits, crisps, marmalades and countless other British products. This branch of the Thomas Green’s chain is located on the Frederik Hendriklaan in the Statenkwartier neighbourhood, the centre of The Hague’s international district. About one in three residents is of foreign extraction, but there are hardly any non-Western immigrants here.

Monday, February 23, 2009


RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE on a new Dutch government publicity campaign for foreign residents about learning Dutch :- A non-profit commercial to be frequently aired on television [starting today] shows several foreigners trying to explain something to a Dutch national - and clearly failing to do so. The subtitled spot ends with the caption "real life comes without subtitles", followed by a call to learn Dutch.

Alejandro Pintamalli: "The Dutch government and politicians press too hard for people to learn the language, which provokes a negative response. For me it has always been extremely important to learn the language-but not in this way. This kind of commercial will only backfire."

RNW tags this story: "Dutch society, immigration, integration." I'm surprised they didn't label it "those damn foreigners." More accurate would have been: "racism" and "classism."

It's a patronising one-size-fits-all advertisement, culturally insensitive. Of course, the government wants to appear helpful, but it's their way - in their myopic eyes - of Dutching the UnDutchable. The Netherlands is still a country of white privilege.


Please help spread the word-forward this to your neighbors, friends, co-workers & others in Burlington who may be interested:

The Family-to-Family Education Program is a free 12-week course for families and friends of individuals with mental illness. Topics include: major mental illnesses, new research, problem solving, communication skills, self-care, services, and advocacy. The course is taught by trained family members who have lived with this experience. Many family members describe the impact of this program as life changing.

"I have been dealing with my son's mental illness for eight years with no real knowledge of what was going on. This course was very thorough and really answered so many questions for me. It helped me realize that others have the same issues and therefore understand." - past participant

The class will be offered in Burlington on Thursday evenings starting March 5 & advance registration is required. For more info or to pre-register, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont (NAMI-VT) at 1-800-639-6480.


From TRNN:

It's old news, really. And I'll bet you all the hydrofluorosicilic acid in Burlington's water that the same kind of lobbying of "scientists" - the squelching of knowledge for profit - regarding fluoride goes on at the Vermont Department of Health, too.


We still have to see if the Burlington election officials' training scheduled for February 24 will include what was missing in the previous training to make the City Election 2009 run smoothly and without a hitch.


Dedrick Muhammad, co-author of the new report “State of the Dream 2009: The Silent Depression,” last Thursday on Democracy Now!:- "I’m glad to see that the government realizes that they have to play a role in stimulating the economy. I hope they see that their role is also to stimulate greater racial equality in this country."

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Royal jaws dropped when celebrity chef Mario Batali swore in his remarks before 400 guests at a gala dinner attended by the King and Queen of Spain, in Miami's South Beach:- "All you weasel f--- wads in the back corners, can I have 10 seconds of your time?" Batali said into the microphone, impatient that the crowd wasn't quieting quickly enough for his introduction of chef José Andrés, culinary chair of the Biltmore Hotel gala.

Jaws dropped in a glittering crowd that included Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and wife, U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, the U.S. ambassador to Spain and Julio Iglesias. Gloria Estefan, enjoying the evening with husband, Emilio, chortled.

Batali, wearing pants rather than shorts for once, went on with his introduction of Andrés, whom he called his ''favorite chef in the world,'' noting that Andrés' Los Angeles restaurant, The Bazaar, had just received four stars from the Los Angeles Times.

"The most motherf------ stars of any Spanish restaurant in the U.S.," Batali said. Those who were seated near the royal couple said the queen blanched.

The Republican governor didn't follow royal protocol, either. At the dinner, he kept leaving his seat next to Queen Sofia to greet friends at other tables - as one would at any wedding reception! - and left the event before the royal couple.

Juan Carlos and Sofia are on a visit to the US this week. They took part in the acts commemorating the foundation of Pensacola, Florida, 450 years ago.

Anyway, the first Spanish (and European) town founded in the present territory of the US was St. Augustine, also in Florida, founded in 1565. Florida was a Spanish territory from the 16th century to the 19th century (except 20 years under British rule). It was sold to the US in 1819.

The president, away in Canada perfecting NAFTA relations, also snubbed the king and queen. However, Obama phoned the King of Spain to tell him that he was sorry he would miss the royal visit to the US.


Blazing Indiscretions reached 25,000 hits this week. Joy! I send out 25,000 Shaloms and thank-yous to established, regular and new readers! Here is a post from the early days of this blog. Laugh or cry, it shows how, nearly 3 years later, things haven't changed.


Ismael Hossein-Zadeh writes in Counterpunch:- A government “of the people, by the people, for the people” would start from the goal of finding a solution to the financial crisis that is based on national interests, and then would look at the implications of such a solution for the insolvent banks. Instead, the Bush/Obama administrations start from the objective of saving the insolvent banks, and then look for a “solution” that would accommodate this objective!

When asked why he was selecting an economic team of neoliberal economists who played critical roles in bringing about the current financial meltdown, President Obama gave a most bogus, obfuscating and, uncharacteristically stupid, reason: “I have to choose from the pool of experts who know how financial markets work.”

Yes, Mr. President, they certainly know how Wall Street financial giants work. The problem is that they are disguised lobbyists of those financial giants.

The substance of Mr Hossein-Zadeh's essay is that the rescue schemes being forced upon us and willingly approved by our congressional representaties are actually copycats of the Hoover administration.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


GREEN LEFT INFOASIS:- There are plenty of good reasons we should be doing away with capitalism: its brutal class oppression, its undemocraticness, its enrichment of the few at the expense of the many, its constant drive toward war and empire, just to name a few. But one extremely urgent reason, which is related to all those other reasons, is its inherent tendency toward environmental degradation. With animals, plant life, oceans, forests, and the very ecological basis of human survival threatened, we have to act now to reverse the course we're on.

What we need to be doing, as a society, is halting growth, reigning in production and redirecting it toward meeting need and ecological sustainability. But look at our current predicament. The exact opposite is occurring. Politicians and corporate elites are scrambling to find a way to actually stimulate more growth to 'save the economy'. That's the wall we're up against. Capitalism must grow or die. Slowing of growth and slumps make the system unhealthy and could mean a crisis of global proportions like the one we're currently experiencing. Obviously, infinite growth on a planet of finite resources is completely unsustainable.

Through our labor, we interact with and transform nature. But under capitalism, our labor is controlled and directed by a capitalist. The things we produce are the property of the capitalist to be sent to market. The goal of the capitalist is to create profit and every capitalist has to constantly be striving to expand markets and profits. If they cannot or will not, they'll go under and be replaced by a capitalist who will. By eliminating the capitalist and the dictatorship of profit from the equation, it will be possible to take our economic lives into our own hands and re-orient the way we interact with nature. By liberating ourselves from wage slavery, we'll be in a position to also liberate the Earth from the grip of capital.

We desperately have to make need, quality of life, and ecology the priorities of society. But capitalism looks at human labor and nature and sees how much money they can be converted into. It will not guarantee success, but only by doing away with capitalism and moving to a classless economic democracy controlled by the associated producers do we have a chance of dealing with ecological crises in a humane and sustainable way.

GLI is one of my favourites in the blogsphere. It's been on my sidebar nearly as long as I've been blogging. Please do yourself a favour and check it out!


GLH reports on how 30 states have signed deals with several major US banks (also being bailed out) to distribute unemployement benefits on debit cards, rather than by check. Fees apply for this "benefit," too. Vermont has not entered any official discussions with banks, but is reviewing unemployment debit card programs. Now's a good time to complain about this scam to the governor and your state legislators.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The Internet and social network sites (c.f. Facebook) are just tools and don't replace the one-on-one real time interactions with real people, which I prefer.

Even in the hustle of my current life in Burlington, Vermont, I may be lonely (who, me?!?), but I am never frightened by being alone. As a student at The Mountain School I discovered the joys of reflection and meditation - whether among my friends at daily silent morning meetings or feeding the pigs! I continue to practice that transcending discipline in meditation, doing yoga in my house, walking a dog in my neighborhood, kayaking out on the lake, biking on the trail along the waterfront to the causeway, or hiking in Lamoille County up from the Mountain Road to Sterling Pond and Spruce Peak. Do I make sense?

Neil Swidely in The Boston Globe Magazine:
I'm sitting in a pew near the back of St. Anne's Church in Fall River, a soaring structure of Vermont blue marble that could rival a lesser European cathedral. It was built in the late 1800s, when the southeastern Massachusetts mill city's French Canadian community was big enough to warrant a church able to seat 2,000. On this blustery afternoon, the crowd is more like a tenth of that. The priest is talking, but the lousy PA system makes it hard to hear what he's saying. So I'm doing what I've done before in this situation: trying to keep my young daughters occupied by whispering for them to study their surroundings -- the exquisitely carved red-oak woodwork near the high ceiling, the enormous pipe organ in the rear balcony, the colorful stained-glass windows on every wall. With its combination of architectural grandeur and crumbling-plaster fatigue, the place is like Venice in the unforgiving light of morning, rather than the soft-lit romanticism of night. It's honest and beautiful.

Then I hear an odd chirping. My eyes follow my ears to a pew to my left and behind me, where a guy with slicked black hair and dark glasses is sitting. He's chewing gum and wearing one of those Bluetooth cellphone attachments in his ear.

Hey, man, I'm bored, too. But, c'mon, take that infernal thing out of your ear. Say a prayer. Collect your thoughts. Or just do what my 4-year-old is doing and stare at the ceiling.

Did I mention it was Christmas Day Mass?

Not long ago, I was sitting in the "quiet study" section of my local public library when a middle-aged woman wearing an annoyed expression plopped down in the green upholstered chair next to my table, her teenage daughter in tow. She flipped open her cellphone and dialed her daughter's therapist. After giving the therapist's secretary her full name and slowly spelling her daughter's -- loud enough for every soul in that wing of the library to hear -- she said, "We have an appointment for next week, but I want to know if he has any availability before that. She is really not doing well."

I looked up from my laptop, incredulous that a mother could be so blase about violating her daughter's privacy, not to mention library decorum -- and convinced that the therapist and the daughter must have no time to discuss anything besides mother issues.

Now, I know what you're going to say. There have always been boors blabbing in places where they should be quiet, blithely ignoring the shushes from librarians or the stares from fellow elevator passengers while behaving as though they're the only ones whose problems matter. Bad manners are bad manners, irrespective of technology, right?

Yes, only technology has vastly expanded this bad behavior, eroding much of society's stigma against it, and making it everybody's problem. But here's the real point: It is dulling our very capacity to ever be alone, or alone in our thoughts.
What's fueling this? Neil Swidely goes on to explain,
"We've gone from an American ethic that championed the lone guy on a horseback to an ethic of managing multiple data streams," says Dalton Conley, a sociology professor at New York University and author of the new book Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety. "It's very hard for people to unplug and be alone -- and be with the one data stream of their mind."

What's fueling this? Conley says it's anxiety borne out of a deep-seated fear that we're being left out of something, somewhere, and that we may lose out on advancement in our work, social, or family lives if we truly check out. "The anxiety of being alone drives this behavior to constantly respond and Twitter and text, but the very act of doing it creates the anxiety."

This is particularly true among young people, mainly because they don't know life when it wasn't like this.
H/T to The Lead for alerting me to the Globe essay.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TWO STORMS international editorial: Perfect storm in the Dutch economy.

While the common folk grapple with the economic problems, a vacationing Dutch royal family is stuck in Lech am Arlberg, Austria. Due to heavy snowfall Lech has become unreachable since the town has been hit by a severe winter storm. I don't think the royal vacationers need to worry about lack of food, beverage or a nice hot sauna.

They remain en famille at their chalet/hotel, untouched by the "perfect" storm at home.

© Dutch Photo Press, Patrick van Katwijk


Not front page news.

Buried inside (p. 4B) today's Vermont section of the print edition of the Freeps:-VERNON — Engineers at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant are still trying to stop a pipe from leaking slightly radioactive water.

Vermont Yankee spokesman Rob Williams says there have been several attempts to fix the gasket in the 4-inch pipe in the reactor’s clean-out system, but all have failed.

The company announced last month that the leak had been discovered. At one point, it leaked about 3,600 gallons of water a day. The water isn’t released into the environment.

Williams says engineers will attempt this week to reinstall a sealant.

Neil Sheehan of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the pipe now leaks about one-tenth of a gallon a minute.

Sheehan says one option would be to shut down the plant and install a new valve.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


O frabjous day! Charity's blog is three-years old today. Galumph on over and wish SR many more candles.


On Sunday, I wrote about the taser death in Lakewood, Calif which happened late Saturday night. Today RickB (Ten Percent) made an apt comment on my post:
Pepper spray and Taser! This is lazy violent police work, if someone honestly thinks deputies are doing everything right when a naked man dies during arrest then you have internalised the police state and are a submissive herd animal sleepwalking into slavery.
Here's an UPDATE on the Lakewood death from a local watchdog group.

It never ends. Also in California, on Friday there was another taser death, "the sixth to occur after the use of Tasers by San Jose police since 2004." Thanks to Chris Floyd, who comments
The Taser has simply added another deadly refinement to the fun and games. Whereas in the old days the San Jose police probably would have been content with just clubbing a prisoner with batons, now they can whip out a handy-dandy ray-gun and shoot him full of electricity as well. Sure, sometimes the suckers die -- but because the ray-gun is not, ostensibly, a lethal weapon, the deaths can always be written off as an unintended consequence caused by an unknown pre-existing condition or something.

Of course, you can sometimes get a "pre-existing condition" from, say, being clubbed into bloody goo by batons -- or, as in a recent case of my personal knowledge, being handcuffed from behind and having your face slammed repeatedly into a concrete floor by a five or six deputies for the heinous crime of "sass." But it's best not to delve too deeply into these matters. After all, the Taserers and clubbers are only trying to keep us safe from terrorists -- sorry, from criminals. And as our entire bipartisan political class has taught us -- and keeps teaching us every day -- brutality, torture and murder should never be prosecuted if they are committed by government officials in the name of "security."


From WaPo/AP (12 February 2009): TORONTO -- Canada's federal police will no longer use stun guns against suspects who are merely resisting arrest or refusing to cooperate _ saying the guns can cause death.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


ASSOCIATED PRESS:-- Inmates at the Des Moines County jail in Burlington may have to begin paying for toilet paper. The county is facing a more than $1.7 million deficit in this year's budget and the Board of Supervisors gave department heads the option of cutting costs or facing the possibility of unpaid furloughs or layoffs.


Executions have been taking place since the human species has been placed on earth. The use of a firing squad has been commonly used in times of war. Now, a bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire legislature to restore executions by firing squad. The sponsor of the bill argues that this form of execution is humane. I don't know where this legislator's moral compass has gone, but no form of capital punishment is humane!


PRESS-TELEGRAM Long Beach, CA:-- A man running naked on a quiet Lakewood street died after sheriff's deputies shocked him with a Taser gun, authorities said Sunday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Art Spencer said Lakewood deputies responded to a disturbance call in the 5700 block of Silva Street at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.

Spencer said deputies found a "very large" man running naked in the street and acting irrationally.

Deputies tied to calm the man but he remained belligerent, Spencer said. When he advanced at them in a threatening manner, Spencer said deputies used pepper spray and at least one Taser stun gun to subdue him.

Shortly after the man was handcuffed, deputies realized he was not breathing and began to administer CPR, Spencer said. The man, whose identify has not been released, was pronounced dead at a hospital.


"My four days of imprisonment are nothing compared to the months and years of siege on Gaza, which is nothing else than forced imprisonment. The Gaza Strip is a different form of concentration camp."

Philip Rizk 4 days Egypt imprisonment from philip rizk on Vimeo.

philip rizk Gaza Siege from philip rizk on Vimeo.

You can now read Philip Rizk's blog.
"[M]y interrogators stole all my old email addresses and blogs, my domain name..."


The military have been kicking this around even under Bush. As you'll see on the Real News Network clip above, Barney Frank has been raising holy hell about it for quite some time. However, with the failing economy, will our Dear Leader and his supporters in congress cave in?

Then, there's this from BBC News: US army 'wants more immigrants'.


There's a surprise towards the'll make you smile, and Lord knows, we need a lot more of that now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Update: It's a hoax, apparently. The real Kadima website is at kadima dot org dot il


On the face of it, the recent Burlington Free Press story is a non-story, but certainly a last-ditch effort at dirty politics in an otherwise uneventful campaign. Tempers escalated in the Burlington mayoral campaign this week when a Bob Kiss surrogate - the city's Chief Administrative Officer Leopold - accused Democratic candidate Andy Montroll of a conflict of interest in his role as a member of the city council's finance committee. Mr Montroll was pissed - rightly so; meanwhile Mayor Kiss stood idly by and said it was a "misunderstanding." A few have judged the merits of the Briggs story, but the damage has been done. Voters will decide anyway on March 3rd in the Instant Run-off Voting mayoral city election.

Sadly. however, there is a bigger problem than the hijinks of a political campaign.

Much greater concern to Burlington voters is this: the choice for the next mayor of Burlington may be decided for them before they've even had a opportunity to vote. There are serious technical, procedural and ethical questions about how the city will handle the mayoral IRV election. Voters will have two ballots, one is IRV for mayor and the other is for referendum items and other candidate races. After voting, each will be deposited by voters in separate voting machines. Normally, at the start and end of voting, election officials are required to sign off on a print out from the voting tabulator machine, at the beginning to show that the machine's "memory card" is at "zero," and at the end to show the number of votes cast. That will happen with the non-mayoral ballots, but won't be possible with the IRV ballots. And that's the big deal about this election. A important step in accounting for the integrity of the election will not happen, as described by Owen Mulligan, Ward Clerk for Ward 6, in an email he sent to two reporters at Seven Days newspaper [my emphasis in bold]:--
Subject: Mayoral Election Concerns

Ken and Shay,

I'm writing to you because as an election official in Ward 6 I have a concern about the way this election will be handled. Last time we had an IRV election, I was not a Ward Clerk but I believe the issue was probably the same then and for some reason no one brought it up or maybe they did...I don't know.

Anyway, my intention here with this email is just to let you know what my concern is and then if you feel it warrants further investigation or reporting, then so be it.

I will try to explain, but this is not easy to do non-verbally so hopefully you will get the point I'm trying to make:

At the polls and before we open them for voting, we always check each tabulator machine to make sure there are no ballots in the ballot box..that is for the actual ballot box that holds the paper ballots and also the electronic ballot box being the "memory card" that is sealed into the tabulator machine.

To check the memory card to make sure there are no electronic votes on the card we do an opening print out which will have all the races and all the candidates being at zero showing there are no votes cast. We then as election officials sign off on this print out from the machine if all races are pre-set at zero votes. This is an important print out..all the elected officials must sign off on it. We do this for every election and for every tabulator machine that is used.

My concern is, and I do not feel comfortable as an election official running the election this way, is that on the IRV machine I have been informed that we will not be able to do a print out or even an end of night print out from the machine at the polls. So essentially a huge step in the process of election integrity has been removed and centralized at City Hall. The way it is now, I'm supposed to turn on the machine and have people vote without ever being able to get a print out letting me know that the races are pre-set to zero votes on the memory card.

City Hall does a check on each memory card before they are sealed just like every election before they are delivered to each polling location, the difference this time is we are not able to do that print out at each polling location and check the "electrnoc ballot box" to make sure the races are pre-set at zero. There is nothing for us to sign off on and we are supposed to blindly trust the memeory card that City Hall has provided us. I do not feel this is responsible and it does not sit well with me. I'm going to have a bad taste in my mouth for the whole election day. I just can't ignore the fact that a whole step has been removed because the machines do not have the technology to do a print out for IRV programming.

If either of you feel like dicussing this or feel that it warrents any attention please let me know. I think the voters deserve to know and steps should be taken to make sure the next time we have an IRV election that print outs will be possible. At this point in time and esp. with all the issues Burlington has had with elections, we should not be removing steps in the process of election integrity.

I absolutely support IRV, but I do not support the way the city is running the IRV election. The technology to do print outs is somehting that should have been checked into before we ever made a transition to IRV or if that technology is available then why don't we have it?.

Owen Mulligan
Ward 6 Clerk
Owen tells me that Shay Totten responded in a disinterested email that he would not pursue Owen's concerns in a 7D story; Ken Picard has at yet not replied.

Something is indeed rotten at Election Central, 139 Church Street, Burlington, Vermont. Burlington voters should be enraged as I am that the integrity of our City Election 2009 is at stake.

Friday, February 13, 2009


RNW reports from Amsterdam
The international World Press Photo jury has selected a photo by US photographer Anthony Suau as photo of the year 2008. It shows an armed police officer searching a deserted home in the state of Ohio.

Pistol drawn, the officer was searching the house to make sure the residents had moved out, after they had been evicted having failed to keep up with their mortgage payments.

The black and white photograph was part of TIME magazine's Tough Times in Cleveland report on the effects of the credit crunch.

Dutchman Roger Cremers clinched the first prize in the Art and Entertainment category. His winning entry in colour features two visitors to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp. Dressed in the same track suits, the two men are seen from the back taking photographs of a monument on the site.


Please speak up for the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, which is threatened with a draconian 70% funding cut! This essential program helps hundreds of our farms stay in business, provides thousands of Vermonters get and keep decent housing and conserves thousands of acres of land.

If you know the value of affordable housing, farms, or land conservation in our state, your voice can make a difference.

- you or someone you know have struggled to find a home you can afford
- you're an employer who sees how housing costs hurt your staff
- you value Vermont's working landscapes, open spaces and commitment to agriculture and locally grown food.

... you can help by coming to Montpelier on February 26 (we can arrange for transportation), contacting your legislators, or writing Letters to the Editor. Free advocacy training is available next Wed., Feb. 18, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

To sign up or for more information, contact Julia Curry at Champlain Housing Trust, 861-7378 or

Thursday, February 12, 2009


NYT ScienceTimes
Blowing your nose to alleviate stuffiness may be second nature, but some people argue it does no good, reversing the flow of mucus into the sinuses and slowing the drainage.

Counterintuitive, perhaps, but research shows it to be true.


Via PULSE-- Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s “institutional statement” calling for the divestment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Teach this stuff in schools and you'll get arrested or fired!
"If the words 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' don't include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn't worth the hemp it was written on." - Terence McKenna

In 1916, the U.S. Government Dept. of Agriculture predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down.

"Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica." - Abraham Lincoln (from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany)

For thousands of years, 90% of all ships' sails and rope were made from hemp. The word 'canvas' is Dutch for cannabis.

Hemp fuel is non-toxic, biodegradable and does not contribute to sulfur dioxide air poisoning.... more facts.
For info closer to home: Vermont Alliance for Intelligent Drug Laws

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Her Majesty The Queen of Australia will make a private donation to a fundraising appeal helping the victims of Australia's worst-ever wildfires that may kill more than 200 people, Buckingham Palace said. All well and good; it's called Noblesse Oblige PR.

Given that Britain ruled Palestine in the years 1920-1948 and provided arms to support Israel's December-January massacre of Gazans, I wonder if HM donated to the Gaza Appeal of the Disasters Emergency Committee; three of its 13 member agencies receive royal patronage: Help the Aged, The British Red Cross and Save the Children Fund UK.

Whenever there's a crisis, famine, tsunami, hurricane, flooding, earthquake, or other natural disaster, the Queen sends a condolence letter or a surrogate royal to show concern. But what about "tragedies" done in Her Majesty's name or supported/contributed by Her Majesty's Armed Forces?

But tell me, can you say Elizabeth is non-political?

Last April she organized a party for Israel's birthday, too, by inviting two of the community’s biggest charities the use of Windsor Castle for a special anniversary dinner: the UJIA and the JNF. 300 guests attended the celebration, the first major Jewish — “and kosher” — event to be held at Windsor Castle, in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh.

A JNF spokesperson said dinner guests would be raising funds for both organisations, the first time they had worked together on such a scale. “We are so grateful to the Royal Family for giving us the opportunity to celebrate Israel’s anniversary, and for allowing us to stage this wonderful event in Windsor Castle.”

How's that fawning for you?

The Windsor Castle dinner was part of a series of celebrations in Britain to mark the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary.


Well, good on Helen Thomas. I just saw the clip on Democracy Now! and noticed how Obama is condescending to Thomas on her first official question at a press conference - and she doesn't miss a beat and continues with her question about Israel's nuclear weapons. But, Obama, ever the slick politician, obfuscates and fails to answer her (or is he just clueless?).

Regarding the accolades given Obama's intelligent, mature, coherent answers (the opposite of 43's butchering of the English language), y'all might want to read Perrin today:

Comments across the libsphere echoed the same sentiments. Obama may be in the pocket of private interests, has already killed civilians in the Near East with plans for more bloodshed, is playing three-card Monte with torture and rendition, but holy jeebus, he sure do talk good! Liberals are so easily pacified. Small wonder why Obama's inner-circle doesn't give a fuck what they think. When their leash is yanked, most libs will meekly follow, whatever their disappointment in or confusion about their masters.


The Real News Network interviews pseudo-leftists Katrina vanden Heuvel and Victor Navasky of The Nation. They speak nonsense. This is why I don't read that mag anymore: Vanden Heuvel co-opts with the Right and Navasky is just a has-been.


Philip Rizk's friend and fellow journalist, Ben White, has a Guardian CiF column today: Abducted in Egypt

Via the Facebook group for Philip:

Event: 2nd Free Philip Rizk Protest at the Egypt Embassy, Washington DC
"Make noise for Phil!"
What: Protest
Host: Support and Prayer for the Safe Release of Philip Rizk
Start Time: Friday, February 13 at 11:30am
End Time: Friday, February 13 at 1:00pm
Where: 3521 International Ct. Nw

To see more details and RSVP, follow this link.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Some people say I dress too gay!
On the anniversary of Carmen Miranda's birth. She would have been 100 years old today --

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Blossom Dearie died on Saturday at age 82.


An Egyptian-German journalist/activist, Philip Rizk, has been kidnapped by Egyptian secret police.
He previously worked on aid projects with Canon Andrew White, special envoy to the Middle East for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Eyewitnesses said he was bundled into a white van with no licence plates, which then sped off.

The German embassy has been informed of his detention and is trying to locate him.
Lenin's Tomb has more information and news update links. Helena Cobban knows Mr Rizk and has written
I don't know how much aid the German government gives the Egyptian government. But I imagine it's a lot. Egypt is the top recipient of US aid after Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Why should the governments of any democracies give aid to a government that treats nonviolent social activists like Philip or thousands of others also detained in Egypt without any hint of due process as harshly as this?
There is a Facebook group in support of Mr Rizk, which I've joined.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


From the start, we knew Emmanuel=trouble right there in Potomac City, didn't we?

Friday, February 6, 2009


Go:check this out!>>> BurlingtonUnderground -- a new site up and running to catch the all the events - bands, singers, venues - surrounding Burlington's flourishing and diverse music scene.
Live music is the heart and soul of Burlington, and the primary facet to our website. It is our hobby, mission, and civic responsibility to maintain that.


Katherine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church gives a modest and humourous answer to the question "why should I be an Episcopalian?"

With thanks to Peter Carey for this link.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Dennis Perrin reviews The Liberal Defense of Murder.
Richard Seymour, who oversees Lenin's Tomb, has delivered the best indictment of liberal warmongering to date, and just in time, too, as it appears we're about to enter another period of humanitarian barbarism led by a Democratic president.


THIS is not an example of "community policing" (thanks to Lotus).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Good interview of Richard Seymour Lenin's Tomb/author of The Liberal Defense of Murder by George Galloway:

MARCH 3, 2009


This coming Friday, February 6, St Paul's Cathedral will be part of Burlington's monthly ArtWalk, inviting people to visit “The Light in the Darkness”: a show of icons (egg tempera with gold leaf on panels) and to meet the artist, Vermont iconographer Zachary Roesemann. The ArtWalk Reception will run from 5 to 7:30.


C'mon, this hockey puck has been kicked around the rink enough. We all knew that Ben Stein is a fuckwit, but UVM President Dan Fogel embarrassed himself even more in his attempt at damage control.