Sunday, January 31, 2010

HM Queen Beatrix at 72

HM The Queen celebrates her 72nd birthday today. Van harte gefiliciteert!

Last night a documentary (in Dutch), made two years ago, was rebroadcast on Dutch television. Nice to see it again!

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Photo: © Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (RVD)

Friday, January 29, 2010

"The question is: Does NPR deserve underwriting support from thinking and feeling people?"

Not if you listened on Thursday to NPR's All Things Considered's disgusting and disrespectful "remembrance" of Howard Zinn, who died the day before.

Fairness & Accuracy in Media & Reporting (FAIR) has issued an important Action Alert asking people to contact the NPR ombud to ask why "All Things Considered" brought on David Horowitz to trash Howard Zinn saying, "There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect." ... Details for how to contact NPR are here.

Here's my letter to Alicia Shephard, the NPR ombud:
David Horowitz ruthlessly and verbally attacked Dr Zinn on public radio a day following his death, when people were mourning. That is disgusting behaviour for a guest on ATC and your Ms Keyes should have called him on it. As a commenter wrote on this ATC story, "The question is: Does NPR deserve underwriting support from thinking and feeling people?" A very good question, especially since Vermont Public Radio and North Country Public Radio tell us continually that their listeners are sensitive and caring people – they donate generously to underwrite NPR programming! I am writing the management at those stations, demanding them to consider dropping your expensive programming.
I included the above in my letters to VPR and NCPR management, adding,
"I urge also that you contact Ms. Shepard, Vivian Schiller [NPR's President and CEO], and Ellen McDonnell [NPR's Executive Director of News Programming] and demand NPR issue an apology to Dr Zinn's family - in national print media and broadcast it on NPR and the local stations.
Recommended: NPRCheck, a blog that monitors NPR's news programs.

Cross posted at Antemedius.

Chilcott Iraqi Inquiry • Blair denies doing secret deal with Bush at Crawford

I've been listening to Blair give testimony at the Chilcott Iraqi inquiry hearing and became nauseous. Had to turn it off (it's now finished for the day, thankfully). (Colin Murray was following it, too; maybe he has more stomach?) The only time I want to "hear" Blair again is when he'll be in the dock at The Hague! Same goes for Bush... and Obama, too, if he continues his warmongering.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No comment

After last night, no doubt his fans continue to praise the president, and his detractors vilify him. I refused to add to the diarrhea of comments on the SOTU address. I didn't listen, nor did I see any rebroadcast, so I couldn't say much, if I did. Instead, last night a dozen of my friends and I enjoyed the HD rebroadcast of my absolutely most favourite opera, Der Rosenkavalier.

Embracing the Poor

In light of the horrendous earthquake in Haiti, I am posting all of Simon Kershaw's essay - written from India, another country ravaged by poverty - appearing today in Thinking Anglicans.
As I sit typing this I can look out of the window over the city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra in India, about 100 miles south-east of Mumbai. The view comprises high-rise tower blocks, green lawns and trees, concrete and glass. It could be anywhere in the developed world (though the 30 C temperature and sun virtually overhead in a cloudless sky at noon confirm that it is not England!). But I know that just across the road, and out of sight from here, are the shacks, corrugated steel sheds, and tents that everywhere are intermingled with the lives and buildings of richer Indians and their western business partners. Pune today is a rapidly-growing city, the eighth largest in India, with half a dozen universities and growing hi-tech industrial, IT and commercial sectors.

It was in a very much smaller Pune, then spelt Poona, that in 1927 the Christa Seva Sangha made its first real home. Founded in 1922 by five Indians and an Englishman this ashram or religious community — whose name means the Community of the Servants of Christ — intended to form a life of common service and equal fellowship for Indians and Europeans. The Englishman was Jack Winslow and the community soon attracted some attention in both India and England, which enabled it to move to Poona after a few years. Winslow’s account of the Society can be read online. Originally dedicated to St Barnabas, the Society soon added St Francis as joint patron, a dedication that became more important as it adopted a formal rule and vows.

In 1927 the community was joined by a number of new recruits, one of whom was a young priest called Algy Robertson, and by 1930 there were around 30 members. Robertson was convinced that the Sangha should be a Franciscan community, but after a few years his health broke and he returned to England. Still a member of the Sangha, he became vicar of St Ives, a dozen miles north-west of Cambridge, and the vicarage at St Ives became home to several Brothers of the community as well as a refuge for visitors from Poona. There are still those in St Ives (where I have lived and worshipped for twenty years or so) who can recall the Brothers living in the vicarage and cycling around the town and to nearby villlages. In 1936, however, Robertson’s group joined with another Franciscan community in England to form the Society of St Francis, with a rule largely written by Robertson and based on the principles of the Sangha in Poona. In 1937 Robertson resigned from St Ives to move to the new community at Hilfield, near Cerne Abbas in Dorset, where he was based for the rest of his life.

The Franciscan ideal of embracing poverty and the service of the poor is one that comes swiftly to mind in the streets of modern Pune, just as it must have done in the very different Poona of the 1920s and 30s, to Francis in the thirteenth century, and just as it must have done to an itinerant preacher from Nazareth two thousand years ago. The poor are still with us, and the priority of working for the alleviation of hunger, homelessness, disease and injustice is as necessary now as it was then.

UPDATED:Howard Zinn, Teacher R.I.P.


Howard Zinn has died suddenly of a heart attack in California. He was 87 years old. A tragic loss to the countless lives he touched and taught, and he remains relevant even now. The Boston Globe has a good obituary and gives a quote from his autobiography:
"From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."
Dr Zinn's last appearance on Democracy Now! was last May.
'I wish President Obama would listen carefully to Martin Luther King. I’m sure he pays verbal homage, as everyone does, to Martin Luther King, but he ought to think before he sends missiles over Pakistan, before he agrees to this bloated military budget, before he sends troops to Afghanistan, before he opposes the single-payer system, which you talked about earlier in your program. He ought to ask, “What would Martin Luther King do? And what would Martin Luther King say?” And if he only listened to King, he would be a very different president than he’s turning out to be so far. I think we ought to hold Obama to his promise to be different and bold and to make change. So far, he hasn’t come through on that promise.'
Talking about the A Young People’s History of the United States,
'...we should be honest with young people; we should not deceive them. We should be honest about the history of our country. And we should be not only taking down the traditional heroes like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt, but we should be giving young people an alternate set of heroes.

'Instead of Theodore Roosevelt, tell them about Mark Twain. Mark Twain—well, Mark Twain, everybody learns about as the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but when we go to school, we don’t learn about Mark Twain as the vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League. We aren’t told that Mark Twain denounced Theodore Roosevelt for approving this massacre in the Philippines. No.

'We want to give young people ideal figures like Helen Keller. And I remember learning about Helen Keller. Everybody learns about Helen Keller, you know, a disabled person who overcame her handicaps and became famous. But people don’t learn in school and young people don’t learn in school what we want them to learn when we do books like A Young People’s History of the United States, that Helen Keller was a socialist. She was a labor organizer. She refused to cross a picket line that was picketing a theater showing a play about her.

'And so, there are these alternate heroes in American history. There’s Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses. They’re the heroes of the civil rights movement. There are a lot of people who are obscure, who are not known. We have in this Young People’s History, we have a young hero who was sitting on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to leave the front of the bus. And that was before Rosa Parks. I mean, Rosa Parks is justifiably famous for refusing to leave her seat, and she got arrested, and that was the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and really the beginning of a great movement in the South. But this fifteen-year-old girl did it first. And so, we have a lot of—we are trying to bring a lot of these obscure people back into the forefront of our attention and inspire young people to say, “This is the way to live.”'
And at the end of that program...he sure as hell wasn't neutral about war.[my emphasis]
AMY GOODMAN: I’m telling you, the great historian, you have five seconds.

HOWARD ZINN: If you want to end terrorism, you have to stop being terrorists, which is what war is.
Today, DN! pays hommage to Dr Zinn in it's program (link - the program will be up later, so check).


From the comments: Was Howard Zinn ever on Bill Moyers' Journal? Yes, in December, 2009.


Democracy Now!'s 'Howard Zinn (1922-2010): A Tribute to the Legendary Historian with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove'is here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Barack Bush

The current resident of the White House has moved from centrist Democrat/Republican-lite to full-fledged Republican president, no different from his predecessor. Not only is he a bald-faced liar about health care, a shill for his corporate friends, and a flagitious* warmonger, he can now be called President Terminator.

*A word I just ran across today, very apt.

Honduras exonerates the coup leaders and Zelayas leaves the country

Honduras, ousted president Manuel Zelaya is due to leave the country today after President-elect Porfirio Lobo is sworn into office. Zelaya has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since returning to Honduras in September. On Tuesday, the Honduran Supreme Court dismissed all charges against six military commanders involved in the June 28th coup that removed Zelaya from office
Source: Democracy Now!

Happy Birthday Wolfgang Amadeus

For your music pleasure: Die Zauberflöte!

Monday, January 25, 2010

This is not one of The Onion's satirical stories:

The Guardian:

Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for "oral sex".

Merriam Webster's 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the "sexually graphic" entry is "just not age appropriate", according to the area's local paper.

The dictionary's online definition of the term is "oral stimulation of the genitals". "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haiti Earthquake: Cathédrale Sainte Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral) in Port-au-Prince

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti (French: Eglise Episcopale d'Haïti) is the Anglican Communion diocese consisting of the entire territory of Haiti. It is part of Province 2 of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Its cathedral, Holy Trinity (French: Cathédrale Sainte Trinité) located in the corner of Ave. Mgr. Guilloux & Rue Pavée in downtown Port-au-Prince, has been destroyed six times, including in the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

It is the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church, with 83,698 members...

Episcopal Life Online:
"Please tell our partners, the people of the Episcopal Church, the people of the United States and indeed the people of the world that we in Haiti are immensely grateful for their prayers, their support and their generosity," [diocesan bishop Jean Zaché] Duracin wrote. "This is a desperate time in Haiti; we have lost so much. But we still have the most important asset, the people of God, and we are working continuously to take care of them."

The Haitian diocese suffered greatly with the quake. A number of the diocese's 254 schools, ranging from preschools to a university and a seminary, were destroyed or heavily damaged, including the Holy Trinity complex of primary, music and trade schools adjacent to the demolished diocesan Cathédrale Sainte Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral) in Port-au-Prince.

A portion of the St. Vincent School for Handicapped Children, also in the Haitian capital, collapsed, killing between six and 10 students and staff. Many of the students are living at the camp while arrangements are being made for them to be housed elsewhere.

More than 100 of the diocese's churches have been damaged or destroyed, Duracin has said.

As many as 3,000 quake survivors, including many members of the diocese, have congregated on a rocky field next to College Ste. Pierre, a diocesan secondary school that the quake destroyed. Duracin, who was left homeless by the quake, has led the effort to organize and maintain the camp, where conditions are described as grim.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti coverage is not the media's finest hour

"And in disaster after disaster, at least since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, those in power, those with guns and the force of law behind them, are too often more concerned for property than human life. In an emergency, people can, and do, die from those priorities. Or they get gunned down for minor thefts or imagined thefts. The media not only endorses such outcomes, but regularly, repeatedly, helps prepare the way for, and then eggs on, such a reaction."

The above is a quote from "Covering Haiti: When the Media Is the Disaster," by Rebecca Solnit, which appeared in CommonDreams on Friday. Recommended vis-à-vis NPR & mainstream media reporting on Haiti. It's a lengthy article covering their obsession about "looters," "panic," and "security" since the earthquake on January 12th. The article begins,
Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences.

I'm talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I'm talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from Hurricane Katrina, and they are staining themselves anew in Haiti.
I encourage you to read all of it.

The article is also featured on TomDispatch. Additionally, I recommend you read the spot-on critique at Lenin's Tomb, which rips apart the media, too.

Prince Bernhard & his SS membership

The Dutch government knew of the SS membership of the late Prince Bernhard as early as 1944, according to NRC Handelsblad.

The newspaper bases its finding on documents released by the National Archive in The Hague earlier this year. One of the documents refers to a coded telegram, dated September 1944, from Foreign Minister Eelco van Kleffens. The telegram reveals the cabinet knew Prince Bernhard had briefly joined the SS but suspected he had been unable to avoid doing so, "possibly in order to prevent something worse". In the telegram, the foreign minister instructs the Dutch ambassador in the United States not to refute claims, made by American media as of 1941, that Prince Bernhard had been a member of the SS.

Until now, it was not clear if the Dutch cabinet knew such allegations had any basis in fact. For many years Prince Bernhard remained evasive on his links with the Nazi NSDAP party and related organisations. In an interview with De Volkskrant, published shortly after his death in December 2004, the prince admitted to his SS membership for the first time. He always denied having belonged to the NSDAP.
More (in Dutch):




Jean Simmons R.I.P.

Guardian obit:
The capricious [Howard] Hughes ill-used her talent. She flourished, however, as soon as she broke free of him, becoming for more than a decade one of the dominant performers in an industry where the studio system was in decline. The first great part was playing the Roman patrician converted to Christianity in the widescreen epic The Robe (1953), the first feature made in CinemaScope. In it she acted opposite Richard Burton, and at different times she co-starred with Robert Mitchum, Spencer Tracy (she called her first child Tracy Granger), Gregory Peck, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Cary Grant, and was directed by Otto Preminger, George Cukor, Joseph L Mankiewicz, William Wyler, Stanley Kubrick, Stanley Donen and her second husband, Richard Brooks (with whom she had a daughter named Kate after Katharine Hepburn).

She appeared with Marlon Brando...
in 1955 for Guys And Dolls, the Samuel Goldwyn-produced musical in which Simmons is Sarah Brown, a Salvation Army-style reformer conned into a weekend fling in Havana by gambler Sky Masterson.

She loved the rehearsals for that film, Simmons recalled in 1988, "especially the dancing routines with Marlon trying not to step on me and choreographer Michael Kidd looking very worried".

"I got to sing," she added, "because Sam Goldwyn said, 'You might as well wreck it with your own voice than somebody else's'."

Friday, January 22, 2010


Hat Tip to The House of LeMay.

Dutch Generosity|Nederland Helpt Haïti

A small (albeit rich) country absolutely at its best!
Thursday's radio and tv campaign for victims of the Haiti earthquake raised over €41m, an amount later doubled by the foreign affairs ministry, taking the total to €83m.

Aid minister Bert Koender said earlier in the day he would double the amount raised by viewers and listeners before midnight. 'It is fantastic to see how the Dutch are helping out the Haitians,' he was reported as saying by the Telegraaf.

Following criticism from some viewers that not all the money would end up helping the people of Haiti, Koenders said the government's audit office would monitor how the money was spent. The relief programme is being coordinated by an umbrella organisation of the main Dutch charities known as SHO.

Among the fund raising efforts which took place: Jonnie Boer, three-star chef at top restaurant De Librije in Zwolle raised €4,500 selling pea soup at the town's station. One passerby paid €150 for a bowl.

"Goedenavond, 'Nederland Helpt Haïti,' u spreekt met Prinses Margriet. Zegt u het maar!"

HRH Princess Margriet, Vice-Chair of the Dutch Red Cross was a member of the telephone team taking calls from people who wished to donate. She was asked by a tv presenter how she introduced herself on the phone tonight, she chuckled and replied: "By my name but that doesn't bring about a reaction."

So, including the government's contribution, 83.448.252 as a result - and money is still flowing in.

Video: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Photo: HRH Princess Margriet. ANP COPYRIGHT

Gracious God...Surround Haiti and her people with your loving embrace

From a prayer service for Haiti, Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Washington National Cathedral), January 17, 2010:
Gracious God,
I lift my voice in prayer with all the people of the world.

Surround Haiti and her people
with your loving embrace
that they may be:

supported by the world in the work of rescue and recovery;
comforted as they grieve;
strengthened as they bury their dead;
healed as they tend their wounds;
restored in faith and the
hope of things unseen;
and transformed through newness of life in Christ.

Make me an instrument
of divine love, of mercy, of hope, and of new possibility.
Give me eyes to see,
ears to hear, the will to act, and a discerning and generous heart
that I may serve you and those who suffer in whatever way I am able.

In and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.
It's time to show solidarity with our Haitian neighbors. Haiti will need help for a long time.

Partners in Health is the NGO founded in Haiti in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, the celebrated physician and anthropologist who focuses on international social justice. The group’s emergency response focuses on delivering medical supplies and staff. Donate here.

You can donate to UNICEF for aid to children.

Action Against Hunger has long been involved in Haiti.

Mercy Corps is an NGO that specializes in emergency disaster relief and is deployed in Haiti.

If you want to help Haiti, and other developing nations over the long term, there is debt relief.
Contact Jubilee USA for how you can help.

The Haitian Embassy urges you to consider donating cash as opposed to in-kind donations. Visit the Haitian Embassy’s website .

For those who wish to donate through the Episcopal Church...
... there are the relief efforts of Episcopal Relief and Development.

The Episcopal Sisters of Saint Margaret are there in Haiti and are doing what they can to help out their neighbors despite their own losses and suffering.

Burlington Free Press supports repeal of IRV

Via Repeal IRV:
Burlington Free Press supports the repeal of IRV!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"The New Green Economy: Aligning Science|Education|Markets"

A friend of mine is attending the New Green Economy conference in DC. He made a "status" update on Facebook.
"... get this.. The EPA has a booth here. However, they contracted what seems to be a private marketing firm to represent them, rather than one of their own employees!!!! What does this mean?

Here's the kicker. The conference is in the Ronald Regan building - RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO EPA HEADQUARTERS!!!"

Americans 'occupy' Haiti

"The US seems to be taking charge of the Haitian relief effort. Not to everybody’s liking."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti Relief Benefit Concert - Saturday, January 23 at St Mike's

Haiti Relief Benefit Concert
Brahms Requiem.
hosted by Live From the Core and
The Green Mountain Mahler Festival
Nathaniel Lew, Conductor
Shyla Nelson, Soprano
Bread and Puppet Theatre

Saturday, January 23rd 2:00pm
Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel
Saint Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont

Free and open to the public.

Proceeds from a free will offering to benefit Partners in Health and Catholic Relief Services.

If you are a singer or instrumentalist who would like to perform on Saturday, register here.

Please spread the word. If you are in the Vermont & on Facebook, kindly repost the event details to your own pages to help get the word out. Please also forward this announcement to as many as you can, and thank you so much for your help.

Those of you who live far afield of the hills of Vermont can stay tuned, as the organisers do have camera crews coming in and plan to post excerpts of the performance on YouTube.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Contrasting stories from Haiti

NRC/international - "Parts of the capital of Port-au-Prince have descended into complete anarchy."

Dr. Evan Lyon of PIH - "no UN. no police. no US marines and no violence or chaos or anything. just people helping each other."

Bugs and Worms

Thank you, Bill Clinton! /snark/

When I read this in the Guardian today, I wanted to vomit.
"Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock."
Clinton is not the Good Samaritan.
"In close collaboration with the new UN Special Envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton, Obama has pushed for an economic program familiar to much of the rest of the Caribbean--tourism, textile sweatshops, and weakening of state control of the economy through privatization and deregulation.

In particular, Clinton has orchestrated a plan for turning the north of Haiti into a tourist playground, as far away as possible from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince. Clinton lured Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines into investing $55 million to build a pier along the coastline of Labadee, which it has leased until 2050."

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

"Martin Luther King Day has become a yearly ritual to turn a black radical into a red-white-and-blue icon. It has become a day to celebrate ourselves for “overcoming” racism and “fulfilling” King’s dream. It is a day filled with old sound bites about little black children and little white children that, given the state... of America, would enrage King," -- Chris Hedges

George Jellinek 1909-2010

The history of a people is found in its songs. - George Jellinek
R.I.P. George Jellinek
His contributions to our listening pleasure as well as informing us about opera and opera singers are what made WQXR an exemplary station in NYC and our nation!

WXQR obituary.
Jellinek created The Vocal Scene program in 1969, a year after he became WQXR’s music director. The weekly, one-hour show was devoted to opera and great opera singers. The show continued for 36 years, and was syndicated on classical stations around the country.
George Jellinek interviewed Virginia Zeani in 1993 for "The Vocal Scene." It's in three parts; here is Part I:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Governor Douglas's hands are covered with blood

A letter-to-the-editor was published today (January 16, 2010) in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. [My emphasis in bold.]

Sanctimonious war talk

Several times this week we opened our papers to see pictures of teary-eyed families wishing their loved ones good luck as they embarked for the "war" in Afghanistan. We also read the words of our governor who sanctimoniously stated the sacrifices they were making were balanced out by the just cause they were pursuing.

Where is the just cause that has resulted in innocent civilians being killed? Where is the just cause that emboldens anger, outrage, and the growth of terrorism throughout the world? Where is the just cause that lines the pockets of the private contractors using war only for their profits?

Enough of the tears, enough of the loss, it is time our governor end his meaningless soliloquy and take action that will end this trail of tears. Gov. Douglas must say no to Washington's demands for more troops. By denying the machine its fuel, the machine will come to a halt.

Washington may respond by saying a governor can't do that, but Douglas must stand up to such bullying. If he is threatened by legal action, he must be willing to continue to stand up, behind bars if necessary.

To continue to pontificate about the noble cause does not serve well the citizen soldiers and the citizens of the state of Vermont. The only way Douglas can wash the blood off of his hands is by being willing to put himself on the line as well.

William Gay



Rather than relying on print media or radio/television reporting of the horror and chaos in Haiti, I find the still photos give us an intimate, better point of view. Here are two series...

Troy Livesay's flickr photostream

Boston Globe photos

Not for the faint-hearted.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More Haiti coverage and comment

Lenin's Tomb comments on shades-of-Katrina racist reporting that Haitians are making roadblocks with corpses.

Prog Gold writes that "Pat Robinson is right," but it's not what you think. Read it.

Al Jazeera has a series of photos of people waiting for aid.

Bill Quigley on Democracy Now! talks about US treatment of Haiti and its effects on the current situation there. So does Ashely Smith here, with particular emphasis on former US President Bill Clinton's past role in that country's "development," and now - never missing an opportunity to get in the limelight (shocker) - as the UN's special envoy to Haiti. In the same vein, a video broadcast by Al Jazeera, summarising the history of imperialist exploitation of Haiti and their connection to this "natural disaster."

Bill Quigley also provides a list of "Ten Things the US Can and Should Do for Haiti."

Speaking of lists, Naomi Klein comments on Democracy Now yesterday, referencing what she wrote that afternoon on her website about the Heritage Foundation's Shock Doctrine opportunities in Haiti.


I appreciate visitors and comments on posts, but I've been forced to moderate comments. Lately there have been a number of off-topic spam comments.

This blog does not allow anonymous comments. Please, no off-topic, racist, sexist or homophobic comments, either.

I know it's a pain - for you, and for me.

Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author.

Sublime Music

Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor, and his Ensemble Artaserse in concert in June 2009 in the Galerie des Glaces at the Château de Versailles. He sings Giacomelli's aria of Epitide "Sposa non mi conosci" from the Opera "La Merope." I just discovered Jaroussky after a friend on Facebook wrote that he had been to a concert last night in New York City. Truly an amazing artist!

More from the Galerie des Glaces

You can watch extracts of more Jaroussky performances here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Iraq report: Dutch PM now accepts criticism

It's all over the Dutch media in the last few days. The Dutch PM has reluctantly accepted some of the criticism of the Davids report on Dutch support for the Iraq war. But it's more about politics trumping international law. In the aftermath of the release of the report the blame game among the coalition government about lack of accountability reached near crisis proportions. So will the Davids report just gather dust on a shelf? No accountability or responsibility from Balkenende (Christian that he is) and his cronies for an immoral war, just political shenanigans to save face and avoid a political crisis. "Balkenende said this was not the right moment for a crisis..." That's shameful because the "economic problems" and the war economy are all linked.


Crisis talks

The three coalition party leaders spent most of Wednesday in crisis talks to draw up a new response to the report. In Wednesday evening's letter, the prime minister said: 'Based on what we know now, the cabinet accepts that a more adequate legal mandate would have been necessary for such an action.'

Labour's parliamentary leader Mariëtte Hamer said the new statement meant the report had been 'removed from the waste bin'.

But opposition MPs were not so easily appeased. Alexander Pechtold, leader of the Liberal democratic party D66, said he had to ask if Balkenende's initial dismissal of the report was due to 'the arrogance of power' or 'clumsiness'.

Commentators said on Thursday the new statement appeared to have headed off a cabinet crisis.

Before the parliamentary debate on the letter, Balkenende said this was not the right moment for a crisis - referring to the economic problems facing the country.
For the conclusions of the Davids report in English, click here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Diocese of Haiti

Dear Friends in Christ:

We have devastating news to share with you from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake yesterday. According to reports I have received here in Les Cayes, the damage in Port au Prince and areas around it is terrible.

There is no Cathedral. The entire Holy Trinity complex is gone. The convent for the Sisters of St. Margaret is gone. The Bishop's house is gone. College St. Pierre is gone. The apartment for College St. Pierre is still standing. Bishop no longer has a house in which to live.

In Trouin, four people were killed during a service.

In Grand Colline, the church is part of st Martin of tours is gone.

In St. Etienne Buteau the church, the rectory and the school are gone.

In Les Cayes, BTI is OK, but some people were injured trying to get out of the buildings during the quake. The rectory in Les Cayes is in very bad condition.

The Rev. Kesner Ajax
Executive Director, Bishop Tharp Institute (BTI)
8 Rue du Quai, Cayes
Tel. Office: 011-509-2286-4676
Mobile: 011-509-3445-3346
Mailing address:
100 Airport Ave
Venice Fl. 34285
Partnership Program Coordinator
Episcopal Diocese of Haiti
C/o Lynx Air
P.O. Box 407139
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33340

Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Devastating Earthquake in Haiti

For Immediate Release

DATE : 1/13/2010

Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Devastating Earthquake in

Shortly before sundown on Tuesday, January 12, a 7.0-magnitude
earthquake hit Haiti. The quake was centered about ten miles west of
Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. At least 28 aftershocks of magnitude
4.0 or greater shook the country in the hours immediately following the

Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to its Haitian partners
in an effort to determine the extent of the damage and coordinate a
swift response.

"The agency has already disbursed emergency funding to the Diocese of
Haiti to help them meet immediate needs such as providing shelter, food
and water, and stands ready to support their ongoing recovery as they
rebuild their ministries," said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal
Relief & Development. "As communication improves and recovery plans
develop, Episcopal Relief & Development will continue to provide

Interim Director for International Programs Kirsten Muth commented, "We
are committed to a long-term response and recovery effort with our
partners in the Diocese of Haiti. It is one of the largest and perhaps
most socially engaged dioceses of the Episcopal Church with an extensive
network of schools and health services."

"In addition to other programming, the agency has supported the Diocesan
Development Program for many years through a central Development Office
and network of 28 development agents, all of whom have received training
in disaster response and management," Muth continued. "We know that in
the wake of this disaster, these community agents will use this training
to coordinate their efforts with local authorities."

While the full extent of the damage has yet to be determined,
preliminary reports show that Port-au-Prince has suffered severely.
Recent estimates indicate that at least three million people have been
affected by the earthquake. In addition to the destruction of
innumerable homes, many major structures have been reduced to rubble
including the presidential palace, the UN peacekeeper compound and the
nation's Diocesan headquarters.

"Even under 'normal' circumstances, Haiti struggles to care for her 9
million people. The nation is the poorest in the western hemisphere,
and this latest disaster will set back many recent efforts at
development," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in a
statement Wednesday morning. "I urge your concrete and immediate
prayers in the form of contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development,
who are already working with the Diocese of Haiti to send aid where it
is most needed."

To donate to the Haiti Fund, visit
or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal
Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please
put "Haiti Fund" in the memo line of all checks. In addition, Episcopal
Relief & Development is preparing a bulletin insert, which will be
available on its website.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and
development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an
independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from
Jesus' words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving
the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and
ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens
communities today to meet tomorrow's challenges. We rebuild after
disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight
poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Contact: Tyla Fowler

(800) 334-7626, ext. 6311

Brian Sellers-Petersen

Director of Church Engagement

Episcopal Relief & Development


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Symbol of Resistance

Miep looks like a pack mule. She goes out nearly everyday in search of vegetables, and then cycles back with her purchases in large shopping bags. She’s also the one who brings five library books with her every Saturday.
-- Anne Frank July 11, 1943
Last week we read about the death of Freya Gräfin von Moltke. Last night it was reported that Miep Gies, another symbol of resistance, has died.

From the Anne Frank Foundation
Miep Gies, the last surviving and best known helper of Anne Frank and the people who shared her hiding place in an Amsterdam canalside house, has died in Hoorn on 11 January at the age of 100. Right until the end Miep remained deeply involved with the remembrance of Anne Frank and spreading the message of her story. Every day she received letters from all over the world with questions about her relationship with Anne Frank and her role as a helper. “I’m not a hero’, she once said, “It wasn’t something I planned in advance, I simply did what I could to help.” Miep Gies leaves a son, a daughter in law and three grandchildren behind.
In her own words,
'I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more - much more - during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.' -- Miep Gies on her website
For the BBC report, click here.
Photo copyright Anne Frank Stichting.
Cross posted at Antemedius and The Peace Tree.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Boston Globe profiles Bernie Sanders

I don't always agree with Bernie Sanders. Local media categorise him as a far-left socialist. He's more like a European democratic socialist. This profile appeared in the Globe on Friday, January 9th:
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has spent his career trying to remake American capitalism in a more Scandinavian image. His favored targets of late have been top finance regulators he considers far too deferential to Wall Street. Last year, Sanders spent five months trying to block a new Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman before securing promises from Gary Gensler to aggressively fight market excesses.

Now Sanders is aiming at the top of the regulatory pyramid, putting a hold on the renomination of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, whom he blames for the country's financial collapse as a "key architect of the Bush economy.''. . .

Congress's only self-described socialist, the 68-year old Sanders gives the appearance of having stepped in from a tornado and speaks as though still trying to be heard over the noise.

His voice may finally be breaking through. Over 16 years in the House, his lonely crusades - which amount to a lifelong campaign to remake American capitalism and social policy - were usually received as little more than glitches in an otherwise well-functioning two-party system. Since his 2006 election to the Senate, however, Sanders has found that a junior senator's single vote is enough to keep him in the middle of things. . .

Sanders disappointed liberal allies who had counted on him to mount a one-man stand against the Democrats' health care bill for omitting a public insurance plan. Sanders, who had introduced an amendment to create a single-payer plan, had initially threatened to oppose any such bill without a public option. . .

Sanders eventually secured $10 billion to expand a national network of rural medical clinics that he calls "perhaps the most significant and least-known public health program in America.'' (The Senate bill had one perk just for Vermont: $600 million to cover the state's previous expansion of its Medicaid program.). . .

"He deep down believes he can change American politics,'' said Larry Sanders, the senator's older brother and a county councilor in Oxford, England, representing the Green Party. "He's not afraid of being boring and making the same points for 20 years.''

A longtime critic of mainstream media, Sanders controls the flow of his own information. He wrote radio ads for his congressional campaign with friends around his kitchen table. Before being elected mayor of Burlington in 1981, Sanders developed educational film strips about New England history - and one 30-minute documentary about Socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs - for sale to local schools.

Last year, Sanders began working with muckraking director Robert Greenwald on weekly Web videos designed to build a national constituency around his issues. . .

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snowy Britain

The caption on the BBC website says: The winter whiteout conditions affecting the UK are clearly visible in this striking image received by the University of Dundee Satellite Receiving Station. It shows almost all of the country covered in a white blanket of snow and ice. Photo by NEODAAS/University of Dundee.

Friday, January 8, 2010

UPDATED: Vermont Yankee tritium leak threatens ground water


Maggie Gunderson wrote yesterday on GMD about the news of a tritium leak at VY. What's particularly troubling is this:
... the quote from VY's report to NRC detailing the tritium wedge moving toward the Connecticut River, especially
"The presence of tritium in station air compressor condensate and manholes (Storm Drain System) has been identified since 1995... leakage of tritium to ground water beneath the site will be transported by natural ground water gradient to the Connecticut River." (Page 51)
The problem with tritium is that it is chemically identical to water. This means that the tritium cannot be filtered out of the water like the other radioactive isotopes may be filtered from reactor water or other contaminated water.


The Rutland Herald today quotes concerns by nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson (Maggie's husband)
who served on the special Oversight Panel that examined Vermont Yankee's reliability last year, said there likely was a plume of contamination under the reactor, and that concentrations of the tritium were likely higher in locations other than the well.

Gundersen noted that Entergy officials told his committee there was no underground tanks of piping that would have contained radioactivity, calling into question the accuracy of their reports.

"The Oversight Panel specifically asked about underground pipes and tanks, but we were stonewalled by Entergy. Tritium is a sign of a leaking pipe or tank. Entergy told the panel that they had no buried tanks or pipes containing radioactivity. This is an indication that a radioactive plume is moving under the VY site," Gundersen wrote in an e-mail.

Gundersen said the committee was very concerned about underground radioactive contamination at the site.

Yesterday's Hits

Wow, yesterday was a record indeed. BI had 596 hits

with visitors coming mostly from a gay UK celebrity messageboard thread.
Man on run after committing criminal damage to a donkey. With his penis.

onthehushhush 22:24, arf, barf, reply
maybe he'd had a glass too many?
sgtpeppersstoneyhardcoreband 10:20

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

IRV - Let's Do the Numbers

A referendum whether to continue IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) in Burlington's mayoral elections will be on the March 2nd Town Meeting Ballot.

Watch the video below... an analysis of the 2009 Burlington mayoral election, which was an IRV election. Watch closely as the narrator does the numbers count for that election. Do you think tallying up the results is confusing? I know it's confusing! - I was in Contois Auditorium last March as the results were brought in from all 7 wards and "counted." Have you ever been tricked by a shell game?


Back in 2000, a lesbian couple in Tunbridge, VT celebrated the then-new Vermont civil unions law by marketing "Gay Pride Ale" ("The beer to come out for"). I tasted it and it was just plain dreadful - the brew is no more, thankfully. Now, 24oranges reports Dutch vintners are promoting a wine product marketed expressly for a gay clientele.
...the idea of a ‘Chardongay’, which isn’t even a Chardonnay but a mix of Chenin Blanc and Colombard, while the red version (getting confused now) is straight Cabernet Sauvignon, pun intended, just sounds, well, blah. Vinamis, the company who thought this up apparently couldn’t find an acceptable cheap Chardonnay (bless you). And since we’re driving through cliché-ville, what about a rosé? It’s coming out later, as well as the bubbly.
Bottoms up!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Blizzard of 2010

After the storm: On January 4th I took these photos.

"Lakeside," my neighbourhood.

View of the lake from Ledge Road.

Om, on Pine Street.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The shameful torture at Guantánamo continues

You can disregard Dear Leader's promise from January '09. Jeff Kaye/Fire Dog Lake reports that a US military spokesman has confirmed that the military currently tortures prisoners at Guantánamo under policies explicitly approved by President Obama and to which "the politicians dutifilly saluted," even "liberal pragmatists" like Sen. Diane Feinstein. How can these people live with themselves?

UPDATED: Nazi resistance leader Freya von Moltke dies in Vermont


R.I.P. Freya von Moltke

NORWICH -- Freya von Moltke, a prominent member of the Nazi resistance in World War II, has died at the age of 98, her son said.

Von Moltke, who was born in Germany but had lived in Vermont since 1960, died Friday after suffering a viral infection, her son Helmuth von Moltke told the Lebanon Valley News.

In her writings after the war, von Moltke described her life in the resistance with her husband, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, who co-founded the anti-Nazi Kreisau Circle and was executed for his activities.


The Kreisau Circle included several dozen clergy members, economic experts and diplomats. Freya von Moltke hosted meetings in 1942 and '43 at the family estate at which the group discussed plans for the democratic Germany they hoped would follow the collapse of the Third Reich.

In 1943, the group established contact with Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the German military resistance, and supported his failed attempt on July 20, 1944, to assassinate Hitler with a bomb.

Helmuth von Moltke was arrested in January 1944 for warning a friend that he was about to be arrested. He was executed a year later for treason.

In 1947, Freya von Moltke left Europe for South Africa, where her mother-in-law had been born. She worked as a social worker but grew troubled by the apartheid regime and returned in 1956 to Germany, where she began publicizing the activities of the Kreisau Circle.

She moved to Vermont to live with Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a Dartmouth College professor and social philosopher who had fled Germany after the rise of the Nazis. After Rosenstock-Huessy died in 1973, she dedicated herself to promoting his works and those of her late husband.

Her transcriptions of her husband's letters were published in German in 1988 as "Letters to Freya 1939-1945." Her memoirs, "Memories of Kreisau and the German Resistance," were first published in 1997.

After the fall of communism in 1989, the von Moltkes' former estate was chosen by the German and Polish governments as the site of a reconciliation Mass between the two nations. It is now used as a youth center and meeting place to promote European integration.

Von Moltke gave her blessing to the establishment of the Freya von Moltke Foundation for the New Kreisau to support the work being done at the estate.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at the Norwich Congregational Church, associate pastor the Rev. Mary R. Brownlow said Sunday.
I've always been amazed by the courage of the resisters against the Nazi regime of whatever cultural or political stripe - aristocrats or Anarchists, Communists or Social Democrats or whatever - who acted at enormous personal risk.

In 1989, the Geschwester-Scholl-Preis, a literary prize named after Sophie and Hans Scholl, was awarded posthumously (link in German) - in the presence of Freya von Moltke - to Helmuth James von Moltke for "Briefe an Freya 1939-1945 " ("Letters to Freya 1930-1945"). You can also read the New York Times review of that book here.

For further reading, I recommend "Berlin Diaries 1940-1945" the posthumously published diaries of Marie Vassiltchikov, who was secretary to Adam von Trott and knew many people in the July 20th plot.

Photo: Freya von Moltke - Wikipedia Creative Commons/HopsonRoad


On Tuesday, January 5 the Guardian had an editorial, "In praise of... Freya von Moltke":
She dedicated much of the six and a half decades of post-war life she would enjoy to chronicling the German resistance, in lectures and books, and in her later years she supported the conversion of Kreisau into a centre for European reconciliation. A woman who lived and sacrificed through her country's darkest years, was keen to bequeath the promise of a brighter future.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

UPDATED - "Truly an Amazing Storm!": Vermont's Biggest Ever!

UPDATED: Actually, Vermont's biggest snow fall occurred in 1947: over 50 inches in one storm. But this was definitely Burlington's biggest snow fall from 7 a.m. Saturday, January 2nd to 7 p.m. January 3rd.

Read all about it in the Burlington Free Press: Biggest Vermont snowstorm ever!

Matt Sutkoski in the BFP Weather Rapport blog:
UPDATE: 2 p.m. Sunday: This storm has now become easily the largest snowstorm ever witnessed in Burlington in more than 120 years of record keeping. National Weather Service warning coordinating meteorologist Scott Whittier in South Burlington said the storm dumped 31.8 inches of snow.
And it's not over yet, folks. He said snowfall has intensified in the Champlain Valley, so we have at least several hours of snow yet to come, along with several inches of snow on top of the record.
Truely an amazing storm.

Chicago cop tasered unconscious diabetic 11 times

A Raw Story report:
Police officers from two Chicago suburbs are being sued after one of them allegedly Tasered a man having a diabetic seizure because the diabetic involuntarily hit the officer while being taken to an ambulance.

Prospero Lassi, a 40-year-old employee of Southwest Airlines, filed the lawsuit (PDF) with a federal court in Chicago last week, following an April 9, 2009, incident in which Lassi was taken to hospital following a violent diabetic seizure -- and being Tasered 11 times while unconscious.

That day, Lassi's roommate found the man on the floor of his apartment having a seizure and foaming at the mouth, according to the statement filed with the court. The roommate called 911 for help, and police officers from the Brookfield and LaGrange Park police departments arrived to help with the situation.

As police officers were helping the paramedics move Lassi to an ambulance, Lassi -- still in the midst of the seizure and described as "unresponsive" -- involuntarily smacked one of the officers with his arm.

"Reacting to Mr. Lassi’s involuntary movement, one or more of the [officers] pushed Mr. Lassi to the ground, forcibly restraining him there," the complaint states. "[LaGrange Park Officer Darren] Pedota then withdrew his Taser, an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt a person’s control over his muscles, and electrocuted Mr. Lassi eleven times.
Worse, the other police offers present stood by and watched and failed to intervene, as Mr Lassi was being tasered.

No Justice In The War on Terror

Jeremy Scahill, who's written extensively about the mercenary Blackwater, reported on December 31st that a federal judge has dismissed charges against Blackwater employes for their massacring seventeen people in Iraq. Charges were dismissed because their testimony was taken under duress and could have caused them to lose their jobs.

Here's Craig Murray:
Yet evidence given by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during hundreds of torture sessions, including over a hundred sessions of waterboarding, is admissible in the US, torture apparently not being duress like the threat of losing your job.

The US is at the same time going through more angst about the underpants bomber. Get this into your heads; people want to kill you because as a nation you behave in a murderous and arrogant way. That does not justify a terrorist in killing innocent civilians; but killing innocent civilians did not seem to bother the Blackwater boys, or the US armed forces who kill innocent civilians every single day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

PULSE: 20 Top Global Media Figures of 2009

"[O]ur criteria for choosing media figures included people/publications/publishers who have shown a commitment to challenging power, holding it accountable, highlighting issues pertaining to peace and social justice and producing output that encourages critical thinking and questions conventional wisdom."

Kudos to the the top-20 global media figures of 2009!