Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

- from "Angels from the Realms of Glory" (Words: James Montgomery)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bans Lifted

"This is about equal rights, equal justice and saying to the American people, 'if you want to serve this country, if you want to give your life for this country, you may do so regardless of who you love.'" - Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Regardless of whom you kill, for that matter. (That would include oppressed queer brothers and sisters, citizens of countries with which the USA is at war or occupies illegally.) As the Senate voted today to repeal DADT, a federal appeals court has lifted the ban on military recruiting of minors in schools. That means that LBGT youth, who are harassed and abused and bullied in schools (some committing suicide), can sign up to be killed in Obama's wars.

Friday, September 24, 2010

From the fabric of shared experience...

Combat Papermakers posted this on their FB page: Israeli and Palestinian women come together to make paper and engage in a dialogue of understanding and healing...it's in London, check it out!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Max Raabe Live - Unter einem Regenschirm am Abend

Everything about this song is exceptional and the audience loves it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vermont State Police Splurge on Tasers

Is there an increased crime wave to justify this: According to GMD, Vermont State Police want to purchase 260 tasers (@ $100 thou a pop, erm, make that a zap).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Avoiding the Bigger Picture

'"Any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern to this administration," Gibbs said.' And no, he wasn't talking about Obama's Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Monday, August 30, 2010

In honor of Molly Ivins birthday (August 30, 1944)

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there." - that's from her last column, January 11, 2007.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

UPDATED: HERALD DECLARES WINNER|Breathe Deep

UPDATE

The numbers still have to be verified by Montpelier.

RUTLAND HERALD
With 260 of Vermont's 260 precincts reporting, including 73,059 votes, Peter Shumlin won the Democratic gubernatorial primary on the strength of late-reported southern Vermont votes. His margin of victory is 178 votes, with all towns and cities reporting. Deb Markowitz finished 390 votes behind Shumlin. To request a recount, the margin for victory must be within 2 percent, which is true in this race.

Peter Shumlin - 18,244 votes (25.0%)
Doug Racine - 18,066 votes (24.7%)
Deb Markowitz - 17,854 votes (24.4%)
Matt Dunne - 15,100 votes (20.7%)
Susan Bartlett - 3,795 votes (5.2%)

+++++++++++++

When I left the Racine "victory" party at the Burlington Hilton at Midnight, the Vermont Democratic gubernatorial primary results were too close to call a winner. VPR reports they now have 100% or 260 of 260 precincts reporting: Peter Shumlin 18,239 25%; Doug Racine 18,057 25%; Deb Markowitz 17,579; 24% Matt Dunne 15,100 21%; and Susan Bartlett 3,791 5% No numbers are official until the ballots reach Montpelier where they'll be counted by the state for the last time. That could take up to a few days.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Video Impressions: Sail 2010 | Amsterdam

If only I were in Amsterdam this weekend!

Via Radio Nederland Wereldomroep YouTube.



Via Volkskrant TV: A busy day for the water police.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PEOPLE MUST SEE THIS

ISRAEL DESTROYS THE VILLAGE OF AL-ARAKIB...FOR THE THIRD TIME!


A Bedouin woman sits in front of her rebuilt home in al-Araqib after it was destroyed by Israeli forces, again. (Joseph Dana photo)


Max Blumenthal:

"In the middle of the night on August 10, residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib sent a panicked text message to Israeli activists in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israeli police helicopters were buzzing overhead, surveying the scene ahead of what was likely to be a new round of demolitions." You can read Max's full report here.

Joseph Dana has also written an eloquent essay.


Max and Joseph collaborated on a video from the scene of destruction.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"You've got to be carefully taught..."

While Vermont hosted children of 3 faiths from Israel and Palestine - last week they attended a 10 day "Kids4Peace Camp" with Vermont children at Rock Point in Burlington - Max Blumenthal reported (in depth, with photos - taken by Ata Abu Madyam of Arab Negev News) on Israeli high schoolers who have helped demolish a Bedouin village of Al-Arakib, as part of their summer service indoctrination.
It is not hard to imagine what lessons the high school students who participated in the leveling of al-Arakib took from their experience, nor is it especially difficult to predict what sort of citizens they will become once they reach adulthood. Not only are they being indoctrinated to swear blind allegiance to the military, they are learning to treat the Arab outclass as less than human...

[T]he scenes from al-Arakib, from the demolished homes to the uprooted gardens to the grinning teens who joined the mayhem, can be viewed as much more than the destruction of a village. They are snapshots of the phenomenon that is laying Israeli society as a whole to waste.
Other blogger/reporters have commented on Max's story, too: Mondoweiss; PULSE (cross-posted), Helena Cobban. I doubt NPR and other corporate press in the USA would cover this as much as Max has. I first read this when I saw Max had posted it on his Facebook. While there are more horrendous actions in Palestine/Gaza for sure, this was not pleasant to read while eating dinner!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

R.I.P. John Worrell, priest, chaplain and friend in Texas

The circumstances of our lives may already have given us a simple way of living. But for most of us the call to simplicity is a call to examine the way we live, the things on which we spend our resources of money and time and strength.

Simplicity is a spiritual discipline and a spiritual goal. We can in times of privation or limited resources have our sacrifices extorted from us, as we are forced backward step by step into a simpler life. Or we can embrace an opportunity to learn new ways of living sacrificially, new ways, and spiritually richer ways, of growing closer to God as we re-order and re-arrange the priorities of things and activities in our lives. We face a new encounter with the reality of God, our need of him, and the power of his grace.
-- John Worrell on Simplicity


THE LEAD
Though he accomplished much in his long career as a working priest, John will likely be remembered chiefly as the force behind Nevertheless: A Texas Church Review - founder, publisher (along with wife Vivian), and head writer of a thoughtful publication that prided itself on being an independent voice crying for a little sanity in the Anglican Communion - no, not just in Texas ... and not just in the years before before 2003, but especially, and with hard vigor, in 2003 and beyond, until finally just a few years ago Nevertheless and other small occasional pubs like it were forced to run up the white flag and surrender (swearing many cautions to the rest of us) to the immediacy of the Internet.

John was profoundly captured by the notion that The Episcopal Church was a place capable of having a wide, fair, giving, and intellectually honest conversation about faith and the politics of faith. (He was also less apt to confuse the two, as we sometimes are now, in our rush to keep the story going.) He was, simply, a broad churchman who did not accept the smallness one sometimes perceives in clergy - including bishops - and who never shied from pointing out both the location and remedy of faults. Upon handing over the reigns of Nevertheless to an editorial board, he noted, with a tinge of melancholy, that

... [w]e never quite succeeded in providing, as we had hoped, a place where very different views were argued out in "charitable yet rigorous" debate, at least not often. Perhaps the times had already turned to discomfort with diversity and serious exploration of important differences in a shared environment. It is also likely that our willingness, on the rare occasions when it seemed needed, to question the wisdom or fairness of our Bishops gave us a partisan reputation we had not desired ... I hope that our shared concern for the success of the Gospel and the welfare of the Church will continue and grow.

Let's remember that The Episcopal Church, like any American expression of Christian thought, was upheld by many in the last century who cared enough about her fortunes to do something to in the hope of making a lasting impact upon them. There were many who toiled with blue pencils, pica-poles, and reduction wheels to make their drafts better - who would stay up late copying, folding, applying stamps and fueling it all with cold coffee, because they loved their Church enough to sacrifice for it in ways that just made sense to them. And if today entirely web-based news-and-views organs like Episcopal Café succeed, they do well to recall their forebears in this lineage.

So farewell, John, and thanks for all the carp. We owe you.

I knew John Worrell chiefly as the celebrant of the 8 o'clock Holy Communion at my parish during my years in Houston, St Stephen's Episcopal Church on West Alabama, Houston. When the (former) rector Clax Monro retired, John was interim priest and was for a time in the running as a candidate for the rectorship of St Stephen's (it eventually fell to Helen Havens, another prophetic witness in the church). St Stephen's always attracted not renegades, but rebels who were thoughtful and challenging in their arguments for the faith. I also knew John as the chaplain for Rice University and Texas Medical Center students at Autry House. He was a good friend of the Houston chapter of Integrity.

Ken Kesselus and Robby Vickery writing a retrospective on John Worrell in the Easter 2008 issue of Nevertheless
In 1959, he came to the Diocese of Texas to serve at Beaumont's St. Matthew's Church and as Chaplain to students at Lamar State College. Shortly after arriving, a young black college student was confirmed in St. Matthew's Church. This new Episcopalian took part in sit-in demonstrations seeking desegregation of lunch counters and public facilities. A dangerous impasse threatened as city officials resisted. On the strength of their pastoral relationship, John went to a critical meeting about the crisis. Unexpectedly, he was designated as an unofficial emissary for the black protesters to business leaders and City of Beaumont officials. Along with other local clergy from both communities in the city, he aided a process that achieved a measure of justice in a peaceful manner. He came to know, practically, the reality that people with differing views could meet to reason with one another and find a good and peaceful agreement.

Similarly, after moving to Houston in 1965, he worked with an interdenominational, multi-racial group of clergy which was informally named the "Crisis Commission." They met regularly to build community and trust, strategizing how to avoid the violence and race riots that were spreading across America. Their strategies were opening conversation, learning to appreciate those on the other side, and finding the leverage to bring feuding parties together enough to at least prevent tense situations from getting out of hand.

John sought to use Autry House, which housed his ministry to students at Rice University and schools within the Texas Medical Center, as a meeting place for such gatherings. He passionately promoted processes that would put people with different perspectives at the same table, working to better understand one another. He labored to bring diversity into that holy place, seeking to sanctify it through reconciliation and understanding.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Afghan Warlogs, 2004-2010

‎"This is the equivalent of opening the Stasi files."- Julian
Assange in a press conference in London, July 26, 2010


90,000 documents leaked to Wikileaks and then to The Guardian and two other newspapers show a pattern of covering up on the part of NATO and the US.

From Wikileaks:

25th July 2010 5:00 PM EST WikiLeaks has released a document set called the Afghan War Diary, an extraordinary compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.

The reports, while written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military, also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related detail.

The document collection is available on a dedicated webpage.

The reports cover most units from the US Army with the exception of most US Special Forces' activities. The reports do not generally cover top secret operations or European and other ISAF Forces operations.

We have delayed the release of some 15,000 reports from the total archive as part of a harm minimization process demanded by our source. After further review, these reports will be released, with occasional redactions, and eventually in full, as the security situation in Afghanistan permits.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dutch court fines Trafigura €1m for exporting toxic waste to Africa

GUARDIAN
The controversial oil trader Trafigura was today fined €1m (£840,000) for illegally exporting tonnes of hazardous waste to west Africa.

A court in the Netherlands also ruled that the London-based firm had concealed the dangerous nature of the waste when it was initially unloaded from a ship in Amsterdam.

It is the first time that Trafigura has been convicted of criminal charges over the environmental scandal in which 30,000 Africans were made ill when the toxic waste was dumped in Ivory Coast.

The fine was half the amount requested by Dutch prosecutors.
The fine is symbolic, just as the one levied on Goldman Sachs is a pittance. Trafigura's fine won't help the vicims in the Ivory Coast.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"We are limited with time and can only show the very best..."


THE SMOG, which I co-produced, is an official selection for the 2010 Killer Film Fest, November 12-14 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. I am thrilled about this announcement and will attend the festival with the director, Owen Mulligan.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

QUEER VISIBILITY AND VICTORIES

In Vermont Pride Week officially kicked off on Sunday evening. There are all sorts of events going on this week. I'll be joining Integrity/Vermont (and St Paul's Episcopal Cathedral) for a pre-parade breakfast on Saturday and then we'll all head out to march at Noon.

I'm thrilled to see one of our queer activist leaders in Vermont, Lluvia Mulvaney-Stanak (former director of Outright) write in Seven Days, "There's more to our movement than matrimony." It's been a long time coming that the elites of the Vermont LBGTQ community should recognise this. [My emphasis in bold.]
Legalizing same-sex marriage was a long-overdue, critical victory in the fight for gay rights. But I fear that many members of the queer community — the ones with financial, political and social means — see marriage as the end of the fight for a safe, fair and equal Vermont. To them, I would say: You, the adult queer with your chosen family, a job and home, may be better off, but I don’t think we are.

Marriage doesn’t address the unresolved needs of the queer youth, trans people, single queers, gender-variant individuals, alternative family and relationship seekers, perceived-to-be-queer people, queer service members and their families, food, and housing-insecure queers, and many other subsectors of Vermont’s queer community.

For example, the CDC’s 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that queer students are still twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to be bullied in our public schools. A gay Vermonter in the military, if outed, can still be dishonorably discharged, stripped of medical coverage and denied the education he or she deserves through the GI Bill. My male friend who wears a pink bike helmet around Burlington regularly hears screams of “faggot!” from passing cars. [...]

Right now, our history is being commercialized and packaged into a corporate fad. Remember how Gap made it cool to care about people dying of AIDS in Africa? Well, gay marriage looks like the next hip social cause. With celebrities taping their mouths over with “NO H8” in protest of California’s Proposition 8 gay- marriage ban and Pride, go-go boys sporting undies with “legalize gay” across their tight butts, I fear that the marriage movement is quickly becoming a fad. And what happens to fads? Maybe I will write about that on my LiveJournal or, better yet, write a song to post on MySpace.

Marriage alone can’t bring us a vibrant queer community. Think about gay neighborhoods in bigger cities, or smaller destinations such as Provincetown. What is it that makes those places feel welcoming? It isn’t marriage — Massachusetts only just legalized that. It’s visibility. It’s queer people proudly displaying rainbow flags on their businesses and homes. It’s queer people walking hand in hand everywhere (not just down the main drag). It’s queer people gathering at gay bars, events and community centers to see each other and, more importantly, be seen.
Constance McMillen gets a win...

BOSTON GLOBE (ASSOCIATED PRESS):
JACKSON, Miss. — A rural school district that canceled its prom rather than allow a lesbian student to attend with her girlfriend has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit the ACLU filed on her behalf.

The district also agreed to follow a nondiscrimination policy as part of the settlement, though it argues that such a policy was already in place.

Constance McMillen, 18, said the victory came at the price of her being shunned in her small hometown of Fulton.

“I knew it was a good cause, but sometimes it really got to me. I knew it would change things for others in the future, and I kept going and I kept pushing,’’ McMillen said yesterday.
But it's a bittersweet victory... From QUEERTY:
Technically, this falls into the "win" column: Constance succeeded in having her school confess its sins and pay her for failing one of its students (though really, it failed all of its students). And while Constance did manage to graduate from another high school a tad more accepting, and did get to dance at a number of proms, and did get to serve as grand marshal in gay pride parades, and did become a beacon of hope for all queer teens, she was also a high school senior victimized by her own school, and that's never something to be happy about.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Update on LBGTQ Gubernatoral Forum

Even with the pressure on the organisers to make last night's LBGTQ gubernatorial forum more inclusive - it morphed into an event for Democratic primary candidates. I did not attend, but Amber LeMay was there. Dennis Steele - independent candidate for Governor not included in the forum - and Radio Free Vermont have provided us with a podcast of the forum, which Shay Totten of Seven Days moderated. Typical and predictable statements from the candidates affirming LBGTQ rights, but in the long run, will they push their national party leadership to do the same?

Obama's School Reform Rules Gets Top Burlington Principal Fired

George Bush created No Child Left Behind, but Barack Obama - in his continuation of Bush's third term - is guilty of not living up to his campaign pledge to reform NCLB.

Michael Winerip, NY Times -
It’s hard to find anyone here who believes that Joyce Irvine should have been removed as principal of Wheeler Elementary School.

John Mudasigana, one of many recent African refugees whose children attend the high-poverty school, says he is grateful for how Ms. Irvine and her teachers have helped his five children. “Everything is so good about the school,” he said, before taking his daughter Evangeline, 11, into the school’s dental clinic.

Ms. Irvine’s most recent job evaluation began, “Joyce has successfully completed a phenomenal year.” Jeanne Collins, Burlington’s school superintendent, calls Ms. Irvine “a leader among her colleagues” and “a very good principal.”

Beth Evans, a Wheeler teacher, said, “Joyce has done a great job,” and United States Senator Bernie Sanders noted all the enrichment programs, including summer school, that Ms. Irvine had added since becoming principal six years ago.

“She should not have been removed,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “I’ve walked that school with her — she seemed to know the name and life history of every child.”

Ms. Irvine wasn’t removed by anyone who had seen her work (often 80-hour weeks) at a school where 37 of 39 fifth graders were either refugees or special-ed children and where, much to Mr. Mudasigana’s delight, his daughter Evangeline learned to play the violin.

Ms. Irvine was removed because the Burlington School District wanted to qualify for up to $3 million in federal stimulus money for its dozen schools.
There should be a town forum with Bernie to discuss this. The firing needs to be overturned.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The War on Aids... 29 years and counting

"Let me remind you that over the last year, the same leaders had absolutely no problem finding the money on a moment's notice to bail out their corporate friends and the greedy Wall Street bankers, yet when it comes to global health, the purse is always empty.

"A full 110 billion euros [142 billion dollars] appeared from nowhere when the Greek economy faltered earlier this year. But when it comes to universal access, the G8 chose to ignore their commitments before the crisis, and they are poised to continue to do so today."
-- Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society and organiser of the 18th International AIDS Conference which opened this weekend in Vienna

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gubernatorial Candidate Forum for Vermont's LBGTQ Community is NOT INCLUSIVE

"Democracy belongs to those who show up . . ." writes Jim Hightower in another one of his essays on civic activism - "Reassembling America's Democracy.".

Since my high school years I have been an engaged citizen and have voted in every election since I became eligible. I was pleased to read that RU12?, Outright Vermont, Vermont CARES, Samara Foundation, Vermont TransAction, and Vermont Freedom to Marry are sponsoring a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum for the LBGTQ Community.

But I have also learned from a friend in the community that this event was excluding independent candidates, i.e. only candidates from the “major” parties were to be invited to participate. This decision was troubling for me, especially since groups like RU12? and Outright exist to give voice to the voiceless and marginalised and work to encourage informed and active citizens.

It wasn't until some of the independent candidates and well known, activist members of Vermont's queer community started asking why the independents were told not to show up that the language for this event was "clarified". If it's now been changed to a "primary candidates forum," how come Republican Brian Dubie was invited? He's not facing a primary. Neither is Progressive Martha Abbott (she wasn't even invited). If the original intent was a primary debate, why didn't the sponsoring groups state that in the beginning? The clarification is in fact a major change.

It just seems hypocritical to me and downright wrong not to include -- Dennis Steele (who has reached out to the LBGT community), Cris Ericson, Em Peyton, Martha Abbott (herself a member of the community!), Ben Johnson, Ben Mitchell or Dan Feliciano -- in a 90 minute forum. (Independent and third party candidates have been included in these forums before.

The sponsors are still getting what they want: a forum with the "major" Democratic party candidates. RU!2? Exec Director Kara De Leonardis writes (the same text appears on all the sponsoring organisations' websites to promote the "clarification"), its "purpose as a forum for candidates facing the primary on August 24th."

The event on July 19 - for all RU12?'s and the others' feigning 'open-ness' - is still a Democratic party event. Vermont Democrats always assume that they've got the Queer Vote, and yet nationally - every time after an election, real LBGT rights and demands are ignored. And this time the premiere Vermont Queer Groups have fallen into that trap.

To write that they'll hold a forum with all the candidates closer to the date of the general election is like throwing the dog a bone hoping he'll be satisfied. Besides, the event is one of the kick-offs for Pride Week, when there will be a captive audience of queer folk assembled in Burlington for all the festivities. Fat chance that people would travel in October for an 'all-candidates' forum.

The correct thing to do would still to have the open forum with all the candidates. Otherwise RU12?, Outright Vermont, Vermont CARES, Samara Foundation, Vermont TransAction, and Vermont Freedom to Marry are not representing the Queer Community at all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Earth Charter celebrates 10 years

Today is the 10 year jubilee of the Earth Charter declaration at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Earth Charter Commissioner, Leonardo Boff at the EC+10 celebrations: "If you can't change the world, you got to change yourself. Start with respecting all living things. With an attitude that acknowledge the intrinsic value of every living being."

The Earth Charter is a declaration of ethical principles for a fair,
sustainable and peaceful world.

There are 16 principles in the charter. Burlington city council has endorsed the charter. Yet, it still continues to fluoridate its drinking water and allow toxic environmental pollution by allowing the application of pesticides/herbicides, violating this principle,

6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
c. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
d. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

UPDATED: The Wedding


TRH Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel

UPDATE


After the wedding, there was a cruise on the Royal Barge (my favourite part on the SVT live stream), the Crown Princely couple arrived at the Royal Palace and from the balcony there was a THANK YOU.



The King and Crown Princess have given short speeches to the crowds gathered at Leijonbacken. The King led the crowd in a traditional Swedish 'four cheers' for the couple.

Victoria, with her new husband by her side, gave a short but touching speech to the crowd.

"Dear friends," she began, "I would like to start by thanking the Swedish people for giving me my Prince."

"We, my husband and I, are so incredibly happy and grateful that so many of you want to be here and celebrate with us."

"This is the absolutely greatest days of our lives so far."

"To feel your support means more for us than you could ever believe."
People really loved the fact that she started her speech with "Kära vänner" [Dear Friends]. So do I.

Video courtesy SVT.

+++


It's official!



The Swedish Royal wedding
of Crown Princess Victoria, 32, and 36-year-old Daniel Westling, took place at Stockholm Cathedral in the Swedish capital.

Follow the festivities here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

THE DRUG OF THE NATION

"T.V. is the reason why less than ten percent of our nation reads books daily ... Why most people think Central America means Kansas ... Socialism means unamerican ... And Apartheid is a new headache remedy," - Michael Franti

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Radio Netherlands: Is the World Cup too expensive for Africa?

"The investments were budgeted at a few million. The real cost will be a thousandfold; 3 to 5 billion. And that in a country where a large part of the population still lives in deep poverty."



(Apologies for the lousy embedded video obtained from RNW's site.)

See this related report from Democracy Now! (an interview made prior to the start of the matches) - Raj Patel on How South Africa Has Cracked Down on the Poor and the Shack Dwellers’ Movement

Burlington Local: Get outta my way!

Good turn out for the Burlington City Council Ordinance Cmte meeting last night!

70 or so folks were there... The Ordinance committee has decided to reject sitting ban ordinance passed to them and pursue a community awareness resolution instead.

Recap: Sharon Bushor (I) proposed the above action that the cmte followed, Bram Kranichfeld (D) said he'd like to scrap the ordinance altogether, and still will feel that way unless Sharon's plan shows a real need, and Joan Shannon (D) seemed reluctant to go along with the Bushor plan, appearing to be more satisfied with the proposed ordinance. They will re-evaluate in the Fall.

Local Vermont: Soup, Glorious Soup!

Did you know...?

For the past fourteen years, the Full Ladle Soup Kitchen has been a rich and rewarding ministry for many at Christ Church, Montpelier. Every Wednesday, the Soup Kitchen serves a nutritious noon meal to 65-85 guests from the community.

(From the Mountain E-News of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

David Brower must be wincing from the grave

Sierra Club Foundation writes "Enough is Enough!" and urges people to write Obama to stop coastal oil drilling. Today Jane Hamsher has an excellent post up at FDL:
Josh Gerstein has an article in Politico on the massive silence coming out of the enviros on the BP oil catastrophe, which has been notable ever since the rig collapsed. This weekend the groups took out an ad in the Washington Post, not to criticize the administration for their response, but to praise the President for putting a hold on a drilling project in Alaska:

“President Obama is the best environmental president we’ve had since Teddy Roosevelt,” Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope told the Bangor Daily News last week. “He obviously did not take the crisis in the Minerals Management Service adequately seriously, that’s clear. But his agencies have done a phenomenally good job.”

If they aren’t saying anything negative, it’s because they believe there’s nothing to criticize:

Asked if Sierra Club has any concerns about the administration’s response to the spill, [Sierra Club's Dave] Willett said, “Overall, we’re satisfied with the cleanup and recovery effort.”

[...]

These groups have demonstrated by both their action and inaction that they do not deserve that public trust. Unlike the Center for Biological Diversity, fawning groups like the Sierra Club have been successfully manipulated both by corporate money and by partisan gamesmanship. They’ve become such complete Washington DC creatures that they don’t know how to be advocates from the outside any more — their primary function is to give political cover in the midst of a PR battle. They have abdicated the role of non-partisan watchdogs, and the public should find new organizations independent of party control in which to place their trust.
While the SC may push for clean energy, however, as the the FDL link shows, big money and access to governmental power corrupt. The Sierra Club is included (implicit) in that equation. David Brower must be wincing from the grave.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

People are determined to save Gazan lives

From Press TV
The next Freedom Flotilla will be much bigger than the first one, the head of a non-governmental organization says.

Yasser Qashlaq, the director of the Free Palestine Movement, said on Thursday that up to 50 ships could join the Freedom Flotilla II, the International Middle East Media Center reported.

Meanwhile, the movement, in cooperation with Reporters Without Borders, is organizing a new mission to send educational supplies to the children of the besieged Palestinian territory. Qashlaq said a ship would depart from Lebanon within a week.
Yeah, people are determined and stand in solidarity, but not if the Quisling Abbas can help it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How Do We Respond As People of Faith to the Gulf Oil Spill?


Join members of VT Interfaith Power & Light, St. Paul's Earth Care Ministry, Quaker Meeting, Ohavi Zedek and other faith groups for an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2 Cherry Street, Burlington. As the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico continues, we’ll come together for a time of prayer, reflection and readings. We'll pray for the Earth Community suffering from this catastrophe, and for wisdom, hope and courage in this challenging time.

Contact for more information: info@vtipl.org or sknight@gmavt.net

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quote of The Day

"Christianity is dying in Western Europe, even in Spain and Ireland. It is not exactly in robust health in the United States either with church membership and attendance declining across the board, especially among the young. The moral authority that Christianity once enjoyed among non-Christians eroded away long ago by scandal, hypocrisy, and identification with right wing reactionary politics (just ask the Spanish Catholics). Though Africa now has the embattled convert's fervor, it is not unreasonable to think that the same process of decline could happen there too. There are times when I think the Christian religion should die in order that the Christian faith might continue. But, a lot of babies would be lost with that bath water, perhaps too many to make the sacrifice worthwhile."
- Doug Blanchard/Counterlight's Peculiars in a much broader, lengthy essay, The Perils of Episcopalianism - "on the current tensions between the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury," - well worth the read in its entirety.

A Lesson from the Gulf Oil Spill: We Are All Connected (and There Is No Escape)

Katharine Jefferts Schori's career as an oceanographer and university lecturer (a B.S. degree in biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University) preceded her studies for the priesthood (an M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific) and her election as bishop of Nevada in 2000. Since June 2006 she has been the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

She writes recently in the Huffington Post
"The original peoples of the North American continent understand that we are all connected, and that harm to one part of the sacred circle of life harms the whole. Scientists, both the ecological and physical sorts, know the same reality, expressed in different terms. The Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) also charge human beings with care for the whole of creation, because it is God's good gift to humanity. Another way of saying this is that we are all connected and there is no escape; our common future depends on how we care for the rest of the natural world, not just the square feet of soil we may call "our own." We breathe the same air, our food comes from the same ground and seas, and the water we have to share cycles through the same airshed, watershed, and terra firma.

"The still-unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is good evidence of the interconnectedness of the whole."
To read the full article go to Huffington Post.

Raw footage of Mavi Marmara/Free Gaza Flotilla attack

Cultures of Resistance director Iara Lee, an American citizen, was part of a media contingent on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on May 30-31 when it was attacked by the Israeli commandos. The Israelis confiscated the camera equipment and communications technology of passengers on board. but Lee was able to smuggle out about an hour's worth of raw film footage.

Watch it, pass it on. Not for the fainthearted, but necessary to watch if you want to know the truth of what happened in attack. I am curious if the corporate media here and abroad will cover this film (there was a press conference yesterday at the United Nations in NYC.) This is no fake Hollywood terror/action film gussied up with CGI; this is real.

Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara, May 31st 2010 // 15 min. from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.



Shortly after returning home, Iara Lee wrote an Op-Ed about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here to read the article. Yesterday she was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vermont Responds to Free Gaza Flotilla Massacre

Sam Mayfield writes on her blog,
"In response to this assault, dozens of people gathered in Burlington, Vermont on May 31 to mourn the dead and to express their sadness and outrage over Israel’s blatant lack of respect for international law.

"Two days later more than fifty citizens visited Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s office to insist that the US government not remain silent about the mishandling of innocent people in Gaza and the West Bank, humanitarian aid workers and human rights activists by the Israeli government anymore. Citizens stated that "The US is alone in our support for Israel" and demanded that the Senator not be complicit in Israels crimes against humanity any longer. Citizens also demanded an end to military aid to Israel."
Sam also made a video report.

Immortalised by Google


When Grandmère Mimi made her state visit to England last year we met up in Yorkshire and visited the quaint village of Lastingham for lunch.

After our meal, Mimi and me went to have a look in the church. On the way back to the car, we were Googled and have been immortalised on their street view function.

Judy would've been 88 years old today

On YouTube, Judy Garland is remembered by those who knew her best in this 1972 documentary.



All 7 parts of the documentary are here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Love that Bob (Newhart)!

Interviews with friends of Bob Newhart at an event celebrating 50 years in show business at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in North Hollywood on June 2, 1010.



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Democracy Now! discusses Helen Thomas

Democracy Now! - June 8, 2010

JAMES ABOUREZK: Well, Helen has gotten more coverage over this than the killing of the nine Turkish aid workers who were killed by the Israeli commandos. I don’t really understand that disparity in coverage, but I kind of know how that goes, because I’ve been the target of Israeli propaganda myself over the years.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that her comments, for which she apologized, were problematic?

JAMES ABOUREZK: No, I don’t, to be very honest with you. If you understand what Helen was trying to say, is that there are Palestinians sitting in refugee camps all over the Middle East who cannot get back into Israel yet. Ashkenazi Jews from all over Europe are able to come freely, and from America, too, and I think that’s what she was referring to. They’re calling Helen a racist. There’s no way that she’s a racist. She never has been, never will be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

UPDATED: Helen Thomas Retires | Helen Thomas has nothing to apologise for.


UPDATE: Thomas has announced her retirement.

My reaction: Oof! Shock. Dismayed. Unbelievable. But she can say whatever she wants now. She covered the White House since JFK.

"[Helen Thomas'] comments [telling Israelis to leave Palestine and "go home" to Europe] do not reflect a desire to see Israel/Palestine judenrein, but rather an ominous sense of what a dangerous place Israel has become, and will only increasingly be, for its people," - Jack Ross, Mondoweiss



_________________

My original post from this morning.

From PULSE
The question posed at the end of the short clip is "Does Helen know that Jews lived in Israel way before the Holocaust?" The glaring fact of course is that before WWII and 1948, there was no modern state of Israel. It was Mandate Palestine: a land that was populated by a thriving Palestinian population, the majority of whom were driven out in their hundreds of thousands, with a great number murdered, by the zionist thugs who later established the state of Israel. This Prussia of the Middle East is propped up by gargantuan amounts of US military aid, refuses to make peace with its neighbours who have offered recognition of 1967 borders via the Saudi Peace Plan, has continued to encroach upon Palestinian land, regularly attacks its neighbours in assaults that kill hundreds, flouts international law, continues to build illegal outposts on stolen land, and has refused to define its borders to this day.

Thomas has nothing to apologize for. It is the Israeli regime, the illegal settlers (check out this charmer) and their enablers who owe the world -- particularly Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians -- an apology and restitution. At most, her choice of words may have been unqualifiedly quick and injudicious, particularly in the ill-advised choice of words `go home'. But `despicable', `beyond disturbing' and Judeophobic? The attempts to discredit her -- which include rightwingnut calls for her resignation -- are overblown. She'll probably win even more fans with her courage, and her regret for causing offence is in stark contrast to the unremitting racism and unstinting support for ethnic cleansing and expulsion from the Israel-at-any-cost camp, from whom there is no apology.
Paul Jay, Senior Editor of The Real News Network has a new blog on Canada.com, one of Canada's busiest news websites. This is an excerpt from his most recent blog post, "IN DEFENSE OF HELEN THOMAS - on apologizing to apologists."
Her apology was not enough to stop calls for her head from those who have wanted to shut Thomas up for years.

Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's press secretary, led the call in an e-mail Friday to the Huffington Post saying Thomas' comments amount to "religious cleansing."

"She should lose her job over this," Fleischer wrote. "As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling."

Perhaps Fleishcher should also add that he is someone who knows something about apologies . . . being the leading apologist for the Bush administration as their war led to the deaths of at least one million Iraqis.

But Lanny Davis, former special counsel to and White House spokesman for President Bill Clinton, went even further than Fleischer. He issued a statement on Sunday saying Thomas, "has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot."

Now, Davis should know something about apologies and apologists as well. TheHill.com reported that Davis led a lobbying effort against deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on behalf of Honduran business leaders. This is in defense of a regime that came to power in an illegal coup and is killing journalists and activists. Hmmm . . . defending those that kill activists . . .

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Finally!

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS, Saturday, June 5, 2010:
Two former employees of a now-closed Vermont slaughterhouse have been charged with animal cruelty for the excessive shocking of calves with an electric prod, prosecutors said Friday.

The state Attorney General’s office issued arrest warrants for Christopher Gaudette, 37, and Frank Perretta, 51, both of Grand Isle.

The charges stem from revelations last November at the Bushway Packing Inc. slaughterhouse in Grand Isle, where hidden-camera video taken by the Humane Society of the United States showed days-old calves being dragged, kicked and shocked as they were loaded off a truck and taken to slaughter.
A justice of sorts. The struggle continues. Animal rights activist Deb Loring who's been working round the clock on this issue tells me that "they did actually charge one of the owners. There are three owners, two are re-opening and one has left the state. It's the one who left, who was on the video, that is being charged."

Read the full article here.

We Shall Overcome

"It seems appropriate."
Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd, sings a classic to protest the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I was raised on songs like this one and my activism was nurtured by them!



Saw this over at PULSE (Thanks!) PULSE have been working around the clock to counter much of MSM's biased and/or flawed coverage of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. I suggest BI readers go there and spend some time reading PULSE's important reporting! The site is listed to your right on the sidebar.

Here's more by Mr Waters:
“Over the new year 2009-2010, an international group of 1500 men and women from 42 nations went to Egypt to join a Freedom March to Gaza. They did this to protest the current blockade of Gaza. To protest the fact that the people of Gaza live in a virtual prison. To protest the fact that a year after the terror attack by Israeli armed forces destroyed most of their homes, hospitals, schools, and other public buildings, they have no possibility to rebuild because their borders are closed. The would be Freedom Marchers wanted to peacefully draw attention to the predicament of the Palestinian population of Gaza. The Egyptian government, (funded to the tune of $2.1 billion a year, by us, the US tax payers), would not allow the marchers to approach Gaza. How lame is that? And how predictable! I live in the USA and during this time Dec 25th 2009-Jan3rd 2010 I saw no reference to Gaza or the Freedom March or the multi national protesters gathered there. Anyway I was moved, in the circumstances, to record a new version of ” We shall overcome”. It seems appropriate.

Roger Waters

Friday, June 4, 2010

THE SMOG

A man struggles to survive as a mysterious and highly toxic smog plagues the city turning those exposed into murderous maniacs known as "smoggies."

A short horror film by Owen Mulligan.
Shot in Vermont on a micro-budget.
DeadFi Productions

I am one of the co-producers.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Interview: Naomi Klein on oil spill

Frustration is growing among residents of the US Gulf of Mexico coast over the pace of efforts to combat the growing oil spill in the region. Author and activist Naomi Klein has been visiting the state of Louisiana. She told Al Jazeera that patience is running very thin. Video, via The Real News Network.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Four Freedom Awards 2010

The Four Freedoms Medals are presented each year to men and women whose achievements have demonstrated a commitment to those principles which President Roosevelt proclaimed in his historic speech to Congress on January 6, 1941, as essential to democracy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.
On Saturday, May 29, HM The Queen and TRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima will attend the awards ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk, Middelburg, in the province of Zeeland. FDR's ancestors were from the province. In odd-numbered years the awards are presented in Hyde Park, New York.

The 2010 laureates are listed here.

President Roosevelt's 1941 speech can be read here.

Also this weekend, HM The Queen will attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the American War Cemetery at Margraten on Sunday, May 30th on occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Liberation from Nazi occupation. The ceremony at Margraten always takes place the Sunday before Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

UPDATE: Willem-Alexander visits Goes today...

UPDATE
Here's an article about the visit. And the video:


__________________________
From the front page of the Ruilwinkel, and exchange shop in Goes (Zeeland);nearby is the birthplace of my father and in the same town is Wolphaartsdijk, where my uncle was the village doctor.

Donderdag 27 mei krijgen we hoog bezoek in de Ruilwinkel.
Kroonprins Willem Alexander komt 's morgens naar de ruilwinkel voor een werkbezoek. Het zal een besloten bezoek zijn.
Burgemeester van der Zaag en Gedeputeerde van Waveren zullen ook aanwezig zijn bij dit voor de ruilwinkel toch heel bijzondere moment.


I'll post the group photo, after it's released today.

Yes, in May 2009 the Ruilwinkel was recipient of an "Appeltje van Oranje."

Here are two very, very nice videos by Goes TV (the station films interviews by local youth). The interviews are in Dutch, but clearly the volunteers are proud of their important work and this recognition!

Before they left to travel to The Hague...



The volunteers' reactions after the ceremony give us an idea what happens to an honored group when they go to the ceremony.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Burlington: Surprising News...

From Haik's blog.
And from the “I didn’t see that coming” files: Former Ward Four school commissioner Jane O’meara Sanders is selling Colodny’s and moving Burlington College a click north to the Catholic Diocese at 351 North Ave. I wonder if she gets to keep the link from the chain of Saint Peter that Pope Pius IX gave to Bishop De Goesbriand.

Hey! Hay!

Watch this video: A cool solution to clean up the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, May 24, 2010

TRNN video: 'But my Mom doesn't have papers'



I recommend that you look at the Context links on the right hand side of this link.

Video: The Real News Network

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Humble Bicycle for Commuting

"Just an ordinary Wednesday morning in April 2010 at around 8.30 am.In Utrecht (Netherlands), a third of all trips are by bicycle. This is one of the busiest junctions in Utrecht a city with a population of 300,000. No less than 18,000 bicycles and 2,500 buses pass here every day. ... (Video is 4 times faster than reality, 8 minutes condensed to 2.)"



And a h/t to Branko Collin of 24oranges
... the participants are weavingin and out in almost perfect harmony. The effect is positively hypnotic.

I am given to understand that what makes this video by Mark Wagenbuur special is that the main form of transportation in it is the humble bicycle. As a result the video has gone viral among treehuggers


Yeah, I can imagine that they are indeed. In the Netherlands bicycling is part of the fabric of life. People ride to work in work clothes; in the USA people bike mainly for recreation and keeping fit.

I recognise this intersection in Utrecht. Notice most of the bikers don't wear helmets.

When I moved to Houston in the mid-1970s, my main mode of transportation to/from work was my bicycle. I didn't buy a car until I was nearly 30 years old! Ha!

Burlington's love affair with cycling began 20 years ago with the opening of its seven-mile lakefront bike path -- and the city is proud of its status as the "healthiest city in the U.S." in recent "best of..." rankings. To promote a paradigm shift in alternative transportation, this past week Burlington and other Vermont towns participated in the Way-to-Go Commuter Challenge, promoting carpooling, telecommuting, bicycling, walking or taking the bus as an alternative to just using an automobile -- also sending a message for legislators and the state government to provide more transporation options.

Texas Textbooks Decison

You can read the blow-by-blow of what happened yesterday in The Texas Observer.

But Steve Benen in the Washington Monthly says it best:-
At its core, this is not just a travesty for academic integrity and students in Texas, but it's also a reminder of what's gone horribly wrong with the twisted right-wing worldview. These state officials have decided they simply don't care for reality, so they've replaced it with a version of events that makes them feel better. The result is an American history in which every era has been distorted to satisfy the far-right ego.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Winners Queen's Day 2010 Video Competition

This year the Queen visited Zeeland on Queen's Day but it was celebrated in villages and cities all over the country.

'Hoe beleef jij Koninginnedag 2010?' How do you experience Queen's Day 2010? - the theme of the video competition - was an idea of The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima of The Netherlands.

The winning videos can be seen on its YouTube channel.

My three favourites:

In the pouring rain, a young boy started playing his recorder before 9 A.M. He was still playing at Noon!



Queen Beatrix, HRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima receive gifts from admirers in Middelburg.



Chalk drawings done by children show the atmosphere on Koninginnedag in the village of Lonneker, a few miles north of Enschede (Province of Overijsel).





The winners have been invited to Noordeinde Palace and will also get a tour of the Royal Mews.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Historical Find: Lighting that fire with a sex toy


New York Daily News
The world's oldest sex toy was more than just a feel-good aid. The 30,000-year-old siltstone phallus doubled as a tool to ignite fires.

The racy relic was found in a cave in Germany and is being studied at the University of Tubingen there, according to Independent Online.

The find was a rare one since examples of masculinity from that period are unusual to stumble upon, although female-inspired works of art are rather common.

The prehistoric phallus, which has marks where it was obviously used for striking against flints, also features carved rings around one polished end. Researchers say it's easy to see what it was used for.
Photo: University of Tübingen

The Great Global Kiss

Yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). There were events around the world to honor the day. The Amsterdam daily Parool has picked a kiss at the Homomonument at the Westermarkt as its photo of the day.



Photo acknowledgment: Elmer van der Marel for Parool, May 18, 2010

Everyday Exposure to Pesticides Linked to Hyperactivity

Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2010:
A team of scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University have discovered that exposure to organophosphate pesticides is associated with increased risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the study focused on 1,139 children from the general U.S. population and measured pesticide breakdown product levels in their urine. The authors conclude that exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides, at levels common among U.S. children, may contribute to a diagnosis of ADHD.

“Previous studies have shown that exposure to some organophosphate compounds cause hyperactivity and cognitive deficits in animals,” says lead author Maryse F. Bouchard, a professor at the University of Montreal Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and scientist at the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center. “Our study found that exposure to organophosphates in developing children might have effects on neural systems and could contribute to ADHD behaviors, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.” Marc Weisskopf, PhD, ScD, another study author told Reuters, “What this paper specifically highlights is that this may be true even at low concentrations.”
... MORE

Monday, May 17, 2010

Middelburg 17 May 1940 — the Forgotten Bombardment



Wis[s]e Words:
On 10 May 1940 the Germans invaded the Netherlands and Belgium on their way to France. As they had tried more or less the same thing in the First World War the French strategy was to meet them halfway, moving into Belgium and the Southern Netherlands to stop them. As you know this wasn’t quite succesful, but some French units (including French Moroccan units) managed to get as far as Breda before retreating westwards into Zeeland. This was the reason why the Dutch surrender on the fifteenth did not include Zeeland, as that was occupied by French troops. The slow withdrawal of the French meant that on the 17th Middelburg was near the frontline, with most inhabitants fortunately evacuated already as a precaution. That day a combination of aerial and artillery bombardment by the Germans broke the last resistance in Zeeland, with the last French soldiers already having disappeared into Belgium.

Twentytwo people died in the bombardment, which could have been much higher had there been no evacuation. The material devastation however was enormous, with most of the historical centre — some parts dating back to around 800 CE — destroyed. Some 253 houses and 320 shops and other business buildings were destroyed, as well as another 18 or so public buildings, including the old abbey and the city hall. The evacuation may have saved lifes, but it also meant there were few people other than the voluntary fire fighters available to extinguish the many small fires that the bombardment started; much of the damage therefore was done by fire rather than explosion. That it was such nice, warm, dry spring weather didn’t help either…

Unlike Rotterdam the bombardment was not intended as a terror bombardment, but a tactical decision to break the remaining resistance in Zeeland. The Germans supposed that Middelburg was were the French units had their headquarters and allegedly also believe there were artillery and anti-aircraft guns in place in the city, which was not the case. These reasons for the bombardment do not excuse the crime of course, but do make the bombardment more understandable than that of Rotterdam.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

UPDATED! Blogs News/Update

Ten Percent has moved to HERE (I've updated my blog list on the side bar, too.) And my favourite Cajun who writes at Wounded Bird is taking a much needed rest.

UPDATED! Another milestone, fancy that!

Oh, and here's a "traffic report" I received from Sitemeter this weekend on visits to Blazing Indiscretions!

Visits

Total ....................... 50,000
Average per Day ................. 49
Average Visit Length .......... 4:20
This Week ...................... 341

Can Journalism Be Saved?

If you are troubled by the downward spiral of print, television and radio journalism, listen to this presentation by Robert McChesney and John Nichols at PULSE - Can Journalism Be Saved?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Greece & Thailand and Where Else?

COUNTERLIGHT
Let's remember that so many of the proposed financial aid plans for countries like Thailand and Greece are about rescuing investors who lost their bets. They certainly aren't about helping the people who actually live there. Some line is trotted out about their governments being irresponsible and corrupt, and that's probably true (true for the increasingly plutocratic USA and Europe), but why punish the people, who had to live under those governments, with austerity measures in the middle of the worst global depression since the 1930s?[...]

I raise my old socialist question again, whose economy is it?

Friday, May 14, 2010

R.I.P. Burlington's Spirit of Generosity

Yesterday, I wrote about the proposed ordinance changes against street people and Burlington's Phoenix House. Here's my comment on the Blurt/Seven Days post:
"I've said it before to my friends here (and I'll say it again): Burlington is a small town pushing hard to be a city. And if you read all the accolades Burlington has received in the PR "Best of..." categories, you'd think we were the most hospitable, liveable place in North America! We're not! As I read the whining comments on here, hardness of heart comes to mind. You've lost that spirit of generosity that has made Vermont great!

"When I lived in London ten years ago, I might have been irritated by the constant panhandlers, but recognised that this is part of life in a big city. Actually, I stopped frequently outside my neighbourhood tube station and talked with the people who sat there ("Spare some change, sir?") and heard their stories. Turns out the majority were human! Fancy that! And several friends I made had once been among the working class, laid off unemployed (one pay-check away from poverty), and were struggling to find food for their own families. (With the new ConDem government it will get worse!)

"The memo accompanying this resolution was written by police chief Schirling. He heads up that same force that sends deputy officers as department liaisons to NPA meetings, encouraging citizens to act as block wardens and report on citizens' "undesirable" activities in neighbourhoods. So much for friendly, community policing.

"I'm actually more concerned about the despicable NIMBY resolution against Phoenix House. "The Other America" is alive right in our own backyard.

UPDATED: Abuse of a Dutch boy's privacy

UPDATE from DutchNews.nl
The nine-year-old boy who survived Wednesday's air crash in Tripoli is to be flown back to the Netherlands on Saturday, Ed Kronenburg, who is in charge of the Dutch crash team in Libya said on Friday.

[...]

In the meantime, the Libyan authorities have taken steps to improve security around the boy to ensure his privacy.

The Telegraaf newspaper caused disbelief on Friday morning by publishing a short phone conversation made with the boy via a doctor's mobile phone. Deputy prime minister André Rouvoet called the paper 'shameless'.

In a statement, the newspaper stressed the reporter had said nothing about the accident or the fact the boy's parents were killed.
The boy's relatives are en route to Tripoli, according to (Dutch) Volkskrant.

_________

That Telegraaf obtained the phone number of the boy's room and was allowed to interview him is appalling enough. But other papers are also showing photos of the boy in his Tripoli hospital room.

He is featured in the lead photo of this series in Parool. He's already got his own website! (In Dutch media, the full names of alleged criminals are never released, but his full name was given.)

Why did hospital staff allow this breach of privacy? (In the USA there are patient privacy policies in place, e.g. hospitals are prohibited to release names of patients who are members of my parish to the clergy.) Why did the Dutch embassy officials allow this violation of a vulnerable child, a minor? (Were these photos taken before or after his relatives arrived in Tripoli? Were they aware of the interview, did they give permission?)

I see now in today's Parool that the Foreign Affairs ministry has stated the telephone interview was "evil."

Telegraaf has issued a statement that the paper never intended to "abuse the patient."

Thinking about the new use of "curated."

Last month Green Mountain Daily reported the Burlington Free Press VTBuzz blog "is curating (their word) a six part exploration of the gubernatorial candidate websites."



Not so fast, BFP. The use of the word is not as "newfangled" as you thought, and you certainly didn't coin it. As I read today on JEREMIAH'S VANISHING NEW YORK:--
I like thinking about how words are used and how they travel virally through groups of people. Words like "Doucheoisie," and prefixes, too, like "Celebu-." And now, thanks to a few blog posts about the opening of Mast bookshop on Avenue A, I'm thinking about the word "curated" and what it means these days.

[...]

The Times actually did a whole story about this word in 2009. They wrote that curate:

- "has become a fashionable code word among the aesthetically minded, who seem to paste it onto any activity that involves culling and selecting."
- "is code for 'I have a discerning eye and great taste.'"
- is "an innocent form of self-inflation."
- "can be good for one’s image and business."

"Pretentious?" asked the Times, "Maybe. But it’s hardly unusual for members of less pedigreed professions to adopt the vernacular of more prestigious ones."

So the use of "curate" is aspirational, which does put it in the same league as "artisanal." And that makes some people nervous because it signals to consumers something very specific. It signals "exclusivity" and is meant to attract people who yearn to be in the club. It may also repel people who find the use of such words pretentious and exclusionary.

In addition, museum curators really aren't happy about it.
Photo: source
via Jeremiah's.