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.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

VERMONT: Burlington's "Disneyfication"


SEVEN DAYS BLURT blog:
A proposed ordinance being reviewed by Burlington City Councilors could ban people from sitting on the sidewalks of five key downtown streets that feed onto the Church Street Marketplace.

The ban would also extend to sandwich board signs or other types of advertising, though it would allow any existing licensed "encumbrances" to continue until their license expires.

The Burlington City Council Monday night agreed to send the proposed ordinance to its Ordinance Committee for review. The three-member committee is chaired by Councilor Joan Shannon (D-Ward 5), and includes Councilors Sharon Bushor (I-Ward 1) and Bram Kranichfeld (D-Ward 2).
Ain't this in a kick in the pants! Indeed, the public spaces in Burlington have now become white bread fucking elitist and the city council has turned itself into a class(ism) act!

Then, there's this appalling NIMBY resolution:
On Monday, too, the council voted 10-4 to oppose the issuance of an Act 250 permit to Phoenix House to operate a 20-bed transitional house on Elmwood Avenue, just a half block from the top of Church Street. The opposition to the proposal was fueled, in part, by downtown business concerns that it would add more "undesirable people" onto the Marketplace and detract shoppers from coming to the pedestrian mall.


Here - contact your city councilors.

Photo: credit Andy Bromage/Seven Days.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Peace Tree

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace."


The Peace Tree, a blog devoted to social justice and peace activism, and to which I was graciously invited by Mark Prime as a contributor, has stopped publishing.

Mondoweiss: NPR report on West Bank expulsion order makes horror a she-said/she-said story

From Mondoweiss: "NPR report on West Bank expulsion order makes horror a she-said/she-said debating point" Here's a bit but I recommend you read the whole post.
... nowhere does Garcia-Navarro grapple with the terrible inhumanity of a regime that has kept other people stateless for 60 years, depriving them not just of civil but human rights. A military occupation that arbitrarily defines the legitimate owners of a land as "infiltrators" is unspeakable. Why is "our" U.S. government paying for the illegal expulsions?

To do Garcia-Navarro justice, the on-air report gives details curiously absent from the transcript, but holes nevertheless remain. NPR’s transcript changes many terms and the order of the actual Garcia-Navarro report that aired this morning.

I've included choice bits of the actual broadcast that were not included in the online transcript of the story below. Why were they removed? They smooth over the ugly facts of the original broadcast. I guess we should also ask Lourdes Garcia-Navarro about the alterations.

Real News Video: Training that makes killing civilians acceptable

Monday, May 10, 2010

This is Your War on Drugs

Megan McArdle in THE ATLANTIC:--
"This is our nation's drug enforcement in a nutshell. We started out by banning the things. And people kept taking them. So we made the punishments more draconian. But people kept selling them. So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders. Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better."

20 Gallons

In the time it takes to read this short sentence, another 20 gallons of crude oil will have escaped from the wrecked Deepwater Horizon well into the Gulf of Mexico.

Lena Horne 1917-2010






Sunday, May 9, 2010

Surveillance Cameras: You Are Never Alone

If George Orwell were alive, what would he write?
"It’s hard to adjust to the idea that cities — New York in particular,and Times Square most of all — are now places where unseen watchers canmonitor your every move." - City Critic, New York Times
And... who knew? The Burlington school board's Policy and Advocacy committee
"is currently writing the district’s policy on the use of surveillance cameras in schools."
(I've not seen any local media coverage about this.) Your tax dollars at work indeed, treating children as criminals. But hell, it's business-as-usual in our schools. The little buggers are groomed anyway, to be passive and unquestioning automatons, to accept being monitored by the surveillance cameras of businesses on Church Street (the major pedestrian shopping district in Burlington).

Look at this ACLU link (my emphasis in bold):

Camera surveillance systems also inevitably raise issues of racial profiling and voyeurism. Everyone has heard of the camera operators who zoom in upon women's breasts or police officers who used infrared video surveillance equipment to watch a couple engaged in romantic activity.

The bottom line is: Are cameras worth the cost in terms of money and civil liberties? Cities and states are still wasting limited security budget dollars on camera surveillance systems. In the last five years, the US Department of Homeland Security had handed out about $300 million in grants for camera surveillance systems. These funds could have gone toward hiring more experienced police officers, improving equipment for first-responders so that they can be ready to help in cases of emergency or other such security needs.

And consider the civil liberty costs of video surveillance systems. Video surveillance technology will only grow more sophisticated. There will come a day when the cameras will be routinely linked with other technologies in attempt to instantly identify you and me via face recognition, RFIDs, or other technologies. Do we want a society where an innocent individual can't walk down the street without being considered a potential criminal? Do we want a society where people are comfortable with constant surveillance?

Recommended video (Quicktime): Its Eyes, filmed on location in New York's Chelsea Market and Harlem - treating "surveillance cameras as a biological organism slowly taking control of our urban space."

Real News Video: "Dead end for New Labour"

Good analysis on The Real News Network from Leo Panitch. I like his style and he has no pretensions. It's far better than what you'd hear on PBS or NPR or read in the US corporate media.

"Labour Party will have to split before it can be renewed":

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Feast of Julian of Norwich, Contemplative


Lord God, who in your compassion granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Today is the Feast Day of Julian of Norwich, one of my most favourite spiritual writers and saints. She celebrated God and Nature. If you don't know much about her, why don't you read a bit.
Her book is a tender meditation on God's eternal and all-embracing love, as expressed to us in the Passion of Christ.

She describes seeing God holding a tiny thing in his hand, like a small brown nut, which seemed so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it did not crumble before her eyes. She understood that the thing was the entire created universe, which is as nothing compared to its Creator, and she was told, "God made it, God loves it, God keeps it."

She was concerned that sometimes when we are faced wiith a difficult moral decision, it seems that no matter which way we decide, we will have acted from motives that are less then completely pure, so that neither decision is defensible. She finally wrote: "It is enough to be sure of the deed. Our courteous Lord will deign to redeem the motive."

A matter that greatly troubled her was the fate of those who through no fault of their own had never heard the Gospel. She never received a direct answer to her questions about them, except to be told that whatever God does is done in Love, and therefore "that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."
And you can read more about her here!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Firsts in the British Parliament

At least something positive from yesterday's British elections:

Caroline Lucas won the Green Party's first seat.

Two Labour candidates, Shabana Mahmood and Yasmin Qureshi became the first women Muslim MPs.

Otherwise, Richard Seymour/Lenin's Tomb says "Oh, what the fuck?" Oh, and George Galloway was trounced by the Labour candidate.

That Remembrance Day Disruption


I think the idea of a bomb attack crossed everybody's mind in the flash of a second at that moment, and I didn't even hear that "bom, bom". It's also neglected that the one part of the crowd got frightened by the panic of the other part of the crowd. My initial fear was getting trampled and trapped in this "stampede" as well as what was going to happen next...
Terrifying.
- a witness to the Remembrance Day disruption
It's not as if people were in a moving crowd initally. They were still, silent, in an almost meditative state on what was happening in front of the monument. Just look at the Remembrance ceremony at about 01:13:32 on this (Silverlight) video.

Then bam! A mass exodus, but to where? I'm sure there are psychological studies of crowds that would confirm what happened was real.

Many people, of course, had the tragic attack at last year's Queen's Day celebrations in Apeldoorn on their minds.

I recall feeling the terror in the mid 1990s, when I was in Amsterdam for Queen's Day. My Dutch friend and I ventured into the center of the city - what was to be our first and last time. We were nearly crushed by a crowd that was moving along the Reguliersbreestraat (between the Munt and Rembrandtplein), packed like sardines. I was never so scared in my life; got separated from my friend and could not see his head (he's taller than I am). In the middle of all of this was a man in a wheelchair, pleading to be taken away. This was just across the street from the famous Tuschinski cinema. It was stifling, I could hardly breathe. I never even thought of a bomb attack. What if... !! I was afraid that I would lose my footing, fall down and get trampled. Fortunately we eventually got out of that narrow strip of street and made it to the Rembrandtplein, which was just as crowded, but had more room. From there we recovered to the quieter Amsterdam-Zuid residential district.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

UPDATED: Remembrance and Liberation

UPDATE: Panic during Remembrance Day ceremony

Dozens of people were injured after panic broke out during the Remembrance Day commemorations on Amsterdam's Dam square on Tuesday evening when a man began shouting during the two minutes silence.

The man has been arrested but the motive for his actions is still unclear, a police spokesman told Nos tv.

Most of the injured had either broken bones or scrapes and bruises received when parts of the crowd began moving following the shouts. At least one safety barrier fell during the crush.





_____________________________


This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Liberation in the Netherlands after WWII by the Canadian, Polish, British and US soldiers.

This is the week of Herdenking en Bevrijding - Remembrance and Liberation - and of my birthday, on May 5th. Yesterday, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, HRH Princess Margriet and Pieter van Volenhoven will attend the Remembrance ceremony at the Canadian War cemetery in Groesbeek, where more than 2,300 young Canadians have found their final resting place. This evening, HM and TRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima will attend the Remembrance service for the people who have fought and died during World War II at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, after which HM and The Prince of Orange will lay a wreath at the National Monument on Dam Square.

About 16 years ago, I think it was. I was on holiday in Holland. On May 4th, my cousin's then-boyfriend (a pilot) took Agnes and me up in his plane as a birthday gift. (She celebrates her birthday two days after mine.) We took off from Lelystad airport and flew over the Ijsselmeer, over Marken and Volendam and down over the woods of 't Gooi to Hilversum and over the Loosdrecht lakes and back to the airport. As soon as we landed it was nearly 8 o'clock and time for the two minutes of silence observed throughout the country.

So there we were, on the tarmac, quietly sitting in the small airplane - windows open - and all I felt and heard was the soft, free wind blowing.

Kent State Murders - 40th Anniversary

Dead: Allison Krause - Age: 19, William Schroeder - Age: 19, Jeffrey Miller - Age: 20, Sandra Scheuer - Age: 20. They were the four students killed on the Kent State campus in Ohio on May 4, 1970, during a Vietnam war protest. The National Guard opened fire.

Monday, May 3, 2010

90210

LOS ANGELES TIMES: - Two members of Congress, Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), called on Halliburton on Friday to provide all documents relating to "the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring, and inspection of the cementing work" by May 7.

Today is World Press Freedom Day

May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day, with special focus on freedom of information and the right to know. Here's Jonathan Groubert's conversation on Radio Netherlands' program, The State We're In, with Mike Bonanno (real name Igor Vamos) of the Yes
Men
, the culture jamming duo who pull elaborate, funny and sometimes
disgusting stunts on international corporations to draw attention to
injustices.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

A lovely photo that captures Queen's Day 2010.

"Koningin Glimlach!" ["A queen's smile"], sent into PZC by Jos Zanders.



"U heeft ons en het land Koninginnedag teruggegeven." ["You have given back Queen's Day to us and the country."] - Queen Beatrix to all the people in Zeeland after the completion of the festivities in Middelburg on Queen's Day, April 30th.

Hedges: No One Cares

"The roots of mass apathy are found in the profound divide between liberals, who are mostly white and well educated, and our disenfranchised working class, whose sons and daughters, because they cannot get decent jobs with benefits, have few options besides the military... And for this reason the poor have little interest in the moral protestations of liberals. We have lost all credibility. We are justly hated for our tacit complicity in the corporate assault on workers and their families..." - Chris Hedges

Nanosilver Migrates Out of Fabric in Study

Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2010:

Researchers have found that silver nanoparticles can migrate out of fabrics that have been treated with the particles for its antibacterial properties when it is exposed to simulated perspiration, raising concerns about human exposure to nanosilver through skin absorption. This is the first study to use artificial sweat to mimic the conditions of human skin, however it is not clear if the silver materials in sweat would be absorbed through human skin.

Silver has long been used as an antiseptic to reduce bacterial growth on skin, however recent advances in nanoscience (the science and manipulation of chemical and biological materials with dimensions in the range from 1-100 nanometers) led to the development of silver nanoparticles. Due to their small size, these nanoparticles are able to invade bacteria and other microorganisms and kill them, and silver nanoparticles (or nanosilver) are now widely impregnated into a wide range of consumer products, including textiles such as socks, sportswear, underwear and bedding, vacuums, washing machines, toys, sunscreens, and a host of others.[...]

The researchers conclude that as nanotechnology becomes increasingly prevalent in consumer products, the potential for exposure to nanoparticles increases. Yet, little is known about how these silver materials may interact with people’s bodies. There is concern that the the tiny particles may be more toxic than other, larger-sized and more traditional types of silver compounds, as the smaller particles could be more easily absorbed and distributed throughout the body.

... MORE

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 13:31-35

At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
I have always loved the Gospel reading for the Fifth Sunday of Easter. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Just think what it would mean if the Church, Christians, faithful Christians really took those words to heart! As the priest said in Sunday's homily, if we had love for one another, we might not have had the Inquisition; might not have had the Crusades; might not have had a Hitler. If find if I am hurt by people close to me, irritated by the foibles and idiosyncrasies of my friends or family - I love them but don't particularly like them at a given moment - I remember Christ's words and act as if I loved them, I realise how silly and selfish I have been!