Monday, December 31, 2007


Green Democratic Alliance members will gather next Sunday, January 6th at 2:00 P.M. at the Department of Public Works building, 645 Pine Street @ Lakeside. This meeting is open to the public. There will be an opportunity to learn more about GDA and its activities. A board and officers will be elected.
The mission of the Green Democratic Alliance (GDA) of Burlington, Vermont is to form lasting alliances among Greens, Democrats, and Independents who are dedicated to the Green values of non-violence, grassroots democracy, social justice, and ecological wisdom.
Also on the Agenda: An Endorsement Motion - Dennis Kucinich for President in the March, 2008 Democratic Primary.

***Proost! Happy New Year!!***

Dear BI Readers --

Happy and healthy 2008 - Gelukkig en gezond 2008
and thanks for lurking, reading and commenting in 2007!

And for this midnight: Cheers! Proost! Santé! Skål! Cin cin! ¡Salud! Gesundheit!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kersttoespraak Koningin Beatrix 2007 | Queen Beatrix's Christmas Speech (on Youtube)


It's Christmas Day, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. Zalig Kerstmis|Merry Christmas!

Denise Levertov (1923–1997)

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

It's when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


From Dunglish blog --
Favourite ‘Dutch’ word for 2007 is ‘Bokitoproof’
Language fans chose the Dunglish ‘Bokitoproof’, which indicates that a zoo is gorilla-proof, as the Word of the Year 2007. For those who missed the commotion, Bokito was the gorilla that ran amok in a Dutch zoo in Rotterdam earlier this year. It beat out perfectly good Dutch neologisms such as ‘comadrinken’ (drinking yourself into a coma), ‘klimaatneutraal’ (neutral for the environment), ’slurptaks’ (tax on gas/petrol guzzling cars) en ‘lokhomo’ (gay bait).

The voting for ‘Woord van het jaar 2007′ was organised by newspaper De Pers, het Genootschap Onze Taal (linguistic association) and the Van Dale dictionary. Some 10,000 people voted and ‘Bokitoproof’ got 19% of the votes.

Another known Dunglish expression with the word ‘proof’ in it was ‘Rabo proof’, with a space, which is apparently wrong in Dutch.
(Link: Dunglish)


By Greg Gordon McClatchy Newspapers 16 December 2007

Inside a GOP effort to rig the 2002 New Hampshire elections
WASHINGTON — A former GOP political operative who ran an illegal election-day scheme to jam the phone lines of New Hampshire Democrats during the state's tight 2002 U.S. Senate election said in a new book and an interview that he believes the scandal reaches higher into the Republican Party.

Allen Raymond of Bethesda, Md., whose book Simon & Schuster will publish next month, also accused the Republican Party of trying to hang all the blame for a scandal on him as part of an "old-school cover-up."

Raymond's book, "How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative," offers a raw, inside glimpse of the phone scandal as it unraveled and of a ruthless world in which political operatives seek to win at all costs.
Raymond predicted that political dirty tricks "will only get tougher, nastier, more brutal" in coming elections.

As for his three months in a Pennsylvania prison, he wrote: "After 10 full years inside the GOP, 90 days among honest criminals wasn't really any great ordeal."
Read all of 'Inside a GOP effort to rig the 2002 New Hampshire elections'...


Well, whaddya know?

By Frank Greve McClatchy Newspapers 21 December 2007
Even doctors believe some health myths
WASHINGTON — Just because your doctor tells you to drink eight glasses of water daily doesn't mean you should, according to researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Doctors often fall for the same health myths that their patients do, Drs. Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll report in the Christmas-New Year's issue of the British Medical Journal. Among seven myths they cite is the eight-glasses-of-water one.

"There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water," Vreeman concluded after their intensive review of medical research on the subject.

She and Carroll trace the misperception to a 1945 recommendation by the Nutrition Council that Americans consume the equivalent of eight glasses of fluids daily. Lost over the years, they concluded, was the council's note that the 64 ounces called for included water contained in coffee, soda, fruits and vegetables.
No wonder we're over-fluoridated. Doctors and dentists are also trapped by the fluoridation belief system, too, but more and more are realising the importance of the new science.

Continue reading 'Even doctors believe some health myths'....


Whatever happened to Christmas?

By JOHN STEELE GORDON Wall Street Journal 21 December 2007 A Brief History of Christmas

It was New York and its early 19th century literary establishment that created the modern American form of the old Saturnalia. It was a much more family -- and especially child -- centered holiday than the community-wide celebrations of earlier times.

St. Nicolas is the patron saint of New York (the first church built in the city was named for him), and Washington Irving wrote in his "Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York" how Sinterklaes, soon anglicized to Santa Claus, rode through the sky in a horse and wagon and went down chimneys to deliver presents to children.

The writer George Pintard added the idea that only good children got presents, and a book dating to 1821 changed the horse and wagon to reindeer and sleigh. Clement Clarke Moore in 1823 made the number of reindeer eight and gave them their names. Moore's famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," is entirely secular. It is about "visions of sugar plums" with nary a wise man or a Christ child in sight. In 1828, the American Ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett, brought the poinsettia back from Mexico. It became associated with Christmas because that's the time of year when it blooms.
Continue reading 'A Brief History of Christmas'...

Friday, December 21, 2007


Last May, when I was in NYC, I attended a Sunday service at St Bart's. My late uncle was a member. When I was a teenager, during school breaks in the city, my brothers and I would attend the EYC events at that parish.
New York Times 21 December 2007 - To Keep Doors Open, St. Bart’s Opens Its Arms
Peaceable coexistence — street people and devout souls — is the prevailing vibe, and Mr. Tully is its architect.

“I came here for the risk of it,” he says. His job as rector of St. Columba’s, the largest parish in Washington, “was getting too cushy after 14 years.”

And after 14 years at St. Bartholomew’s? Cushy address, certainly, Park Avenue at East 50th, but the luster stops there. “There was a question of whether we should even be here, of whether it is too costly to be running a world-class landmark in the middle of New York City, a place where real estate is one of the religions,” he says. “We exist in a city where it takes a lot of trouble and expense — $8 million a year — to keep the door open.”

Continue reading 'To Keep Doors Open, St. Bart’s Opens Its Arms'...


More info at


Lenin's Tomb 16 December 2007

The cracker asshole vote is probably not as large as many people outside America take it to be. For example, these cracker asshole minutemen seem to consist of a small number of Aryan supremacists and classic Western vigilantes - certainly of the variety that launched pogroms against the Irish, the Chinese, the poor from Oklahoma, labourers, communists, trade unionists etc, but much smaller than their forebears. They are capable of spotting a potential meat factory labourer or gardener with binoculars directed across cactus-strewn borderland, and such an unfortunately witnessed interloper might well end up being beaten or murdered. And the superpatriots have spread geographically from a base in conservative regions of California into Arizona and Texas, and have branches in several other states. Yet, as a movement they remain a narrow sect, eminently ignorable by national politicians. Yet, despite this, they have acquired some striking support not only from local radio 'hell-in-a-handbasket' hate programmes, but also from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2005, when his attacks on public spending caused his poll numbers to slump. With characteristic McBain-like eloquence, he has showered praise on the efficacy of the Minutemen, depicting them as conscientious citizens looking out for fellow whiteys.
Continue reading 'American Nativism Looms at Polls'...

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Not only do independent and third party presidential candiates have a problem getting the attention of the public (and the MSM), but so do Democratic and Republican candidates who are outside their respective party's power structure. It's a fluff piece in yesterday's Burlington Free Press, highlighting the "weirdo" candidates, and definitely pushes the party duopoly (as if there were no other choice). The St Michael's prof who teaches the students who gathered names and profiles of twenty-seven candidates and featured them on their website should know better to limit the choices to the DemRepubs.
"I signed in on this campaign Sept. 6, the same day as Fred Thompson," said Cap Fendig Jr., 53, of St. Simons Island, Ga., a GOP contender in the New Hampshire primary.

"Repeatedly since that day, I've e-mailed all the national network news and media organizations and have gotten not even the courtesy of a 'Thank you, we're not going to cover you.'

"I knew that entrance into that arena was roped off. I just didn't realize how tightly and how bad it was roped off."

He welcomed the attention from the students' Web site and said he believes it's responsible for some e-mailed inquiries he has received about his campaign.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Great O Antiphons

This Thursday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m., the choirs of St Paul's Cathedral, under

the direction of Mark Howe, will sing their annual Advent service of the

Great O Antiphons. Similar to a service of Lessons and Carols, this liturgy

uses old and new musical sources to illuminate biblical readings that

prophesy the coming of Jesus. The music will include Peter Hallock's setting

of the seven Great O Antiphons, as well as works by William Byrd, Ellen

Gilson Voth, Michael Fleming, and others. Festive banners designed by Judith

McManis will adorn the Nave. Come and bring a friend.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Today is Friday - funday in a lot of commercial enterprises - where employees are "encouraged" to make their workday more palatable by dressing down. As lenin writes today in Lenin's Tomb
These employers really take the fucking piss, don't they? Not content with sucking the lifeblood out of you for the working day and tacitly getting free overtime out of you (they call it 'flexibility', almost as if your free labour was a fact about your personality, something you willingly and charitably part with because you aren't one of those inflexible assholes), they have the nerve to try and structure your fun.
I know, len, it's disgusting, innit. When I moved to Houston, TX in '76 - 1976 - I worked for a Houston-based, family-owned insurance company. In Texas, they celebrated many holidays, one of which was Confederate Heroes Day, on 19 January. Employees were required on that day to go to the company cafeteria, where they were given a slice of celebration cake, emblazoned with the Confederate stars and bars. The sheet cake was baked in the kitchen by an African American cook! This day is celebrated in various guises across the South, but in Texas it was to mark the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Jeff Davis. The slices were passed out by a management employee dressed as Stonewall Jackson, another "hero."

I had recently moved to Texas from the North and was appalled by this celebration. I remember remarking to a friend from Lubbock, "But they lost, didn't they?" To which she whispered in reply, "Don't tell them that!"
Apparently, this sort of thing boosts productivity and team cohesion, but it seems more likely that it reinforces an ideological norm of cheerful willingness to be fucked around, to participate in official lies, to tolerate hypocritical wall-to-wall grins and bonhomie with people who will tomorrow be undermining you or overworking you by any means possible. Hey - you don't want to be a bad sport do you?

(I don't recall them celebrating Juneteenth with as much gusto at Great Southern Life Insurance Company.)

Ah! the memories of my time in Texas. At the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was Go Texan Day, a Houston tradition. At this insurance company, as in all over the city, employees were encouraged to dress in Western attire - jeans, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats. If an employee didn't comply with this dress code, they were arrested and thrown into "jail," down in the lobby. You'd have to make arrangements to get bailed out before you could return to work. And yet, the management was constantly reminding us in our annual employee reviews about efficency, productivity, and the company policy of no overtime.

Vermont companies are no different with their cosy employee "incentives."
Small Dog is a socially responsible company which means we have a multiple bottom line. The effect we have on our environment, community, customers and employees is just as important as maintaining our profitability.
Remember Burton's being a good guy last winter by allowing employees to take the day off and head out to Smuggs or Bolton after the Valentine's Day blizzard? Good marketing ploy. Seventh Generation even permits employees to bring their dogs to work! Arf! Arf!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Prettig Sinterklaasfeest!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style, or how the Lancôme liberals reduce their impact on the environment.

COMMENT No joke, this story did not appear in the 'Style' section of the Times, but in 'Home & Garden.' A positive impact? It's going to demand a more substantial cultural lifestyle change than giving up Zabars and Dean & Deluca imports.


By Naomi Klein, The Nation, November 29, 2007
Anyone tired of lousy news from the markets should talk to Douglas Lloyd, director of Venture Business Research, a company that tracks trends in venture capitalism. "I expect investment activity in this sector to remain buoyant," he said recently. His bouncy mood was inspired by the money gushing into private security and defense companies. He added, "I also see this as a more attractive sector, as many do, than clean energy."
Got that? If you are looking for a sure bet in a new growth market, sell solar, buy surveillance; forget wind, buy weapons.
The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidize corporations rather than regulate them, and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place.
The market, however, appears to have other ideas about how to meet the challenges of an increasingly disaster-prone world.
Bush wants to leave our climate crisis to the ingenuity of the market. Well, the market has spoken: it will not take us off this disastrous course. In fact, the smart money is betting that we will stay on it.
Read all of 'Guns Beat Guns: The Market Has Spoken'...

Many thanks to Green Left Infoasis.

Monday, December 3, 2007



“Out of Our Schools – Out of Iraq"

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend last Friday's civil action organised by the Mount Mansfield Union High School Peace Club (from Jericho, VT) at the military recruitment centres in Williston. You can read reports about it here, here, here, and here; there are photos here; and you can listen to a report here.

Think about what you can do to get involved in future civil actions. There will be more.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


November 30, 2007 – 3:00 pm

Williston Military Recruitment Office
166 Sycamore Street, Williston, VT
Nonviolent Civil Disobedience and Rally!


What I'm reading now:

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley

I'm one-eighth of the way through it (834 pages, it weighs a ton). The letters of those terribly well-bred aristo Mitford girls; two socialsts, Nancy and Jessica; two fascists, Unity and Diana; a gentlelesbian farmer, Pamela; and the Duchess Deborah. I've read all of Nancy's and Decca's books, so the letters, spanning eighty years, from the early part of the last century up to just a few years ago, are a fascinating, heart-breaking, at times funny (how they tease each other!), complicated personal history in themselves.

I'd heard Scott Simon's NPR interview with Charlotte Mosley and Debo last week and just had to run out and buy the book. "Their lives reflected the passions and torments of the 20th Century."

The Guardian has a good review.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I worked for nearly twenty years at Texas Heart Institute in Houston, so today's story in the Times' Science section about the end of the "feud" between two giants in cardiology medicine, Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley, is, well, heartwarming! 'Bout time, I'd say! After all, Cooley is 87 and DeBakey is 99!!!


There's a new group in town. Green Democratic Alliance. Whether you are a Green, Independent, Progressive or even, God forbid, a Democratic party affiliate, check 'em out!
To empower the peoples' majority, win elections, and defeat the status quo's attempt to split us into squabbling factions.

To further the greater green political vision of a democratic, inclusive, and sustainable society and natural world and hold those politicians we support accountable to that vision!

To be a representative voice for the voters of Burlington, and a network of support for aligned officeholders and city commissioners.
The group is working on a lot of issues that are important to Greens. Environmentally minded Democrats (Joan Shannon, Russ Ellis and Ed Adrian city councilors come to mind) might find it worth their while to make alliance with GDA. We're all concerned about sustainability and environmental justice on a local level! I've just joined up today!


I've been without a computer for going on two weeks. Thanks for friends and acquaintances, I've been able to log on to check emails, but not long enough to post on BI. Honestly, though you might have missed my rants, raves and hopes for a better world, I've enjoyed this respite from being connected. But I am glad I'll be taking delivery soon of a new Apple Macbook (always wanted an Apple!).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Today is the first UN World Diabetes Day, calling attention to the broadness of this disease all over the globe. The Alamo was all in blue. The London Eye was alight.

In Amsterdam leiden heel veel kinderen aan diabetes.


Michael Colby at Broadsides comments on the last Sunday's meeting in Barre between Congressperson Peter Welch and 100 or so of his Vermont constituents about his recent votes surrounding the continued funding of the Iraq occupation.

I was not able to attend, but recall these prophetic words of Thomas Merton.
"Very often people object that nonviolence seems to imply passive acceptance of injustice and evil and therefore that it is a kind of cooperation with evil. Not at all. The genuine concept of nonviolence implies not only active and effective resistance to evil but in fact a more effective resistance... But the resistance which is taught in the Gospel is aimed not at the evil-doer, but at evil in its source."
- from Passion For Peace


WHEN: TODAY - November 14, 2007
WHERE: City Hall, Conference Room 12
TIME: 5:30 to 7:00 pm

The Burlington Board of Health is preparing to update the Burlington pesticide ordinance. This public hearing is designated for the Board to receive testimony from all interested members of the public regarding pesticide/herbicide use in Burlington, as well as the provisions of the ordinance that regulates this use in Burlington. Testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per speaker. This hearing is not considered a debate and no action will be taken by the Board—it is solely dedicated for the Board to receive input from the public about the use and regulation of pesticides/herbicides throughout our city.

The Board of Health has limited statutory responsibility for the “prevention, removal or destruction of public health hazards and the mitigation of public health risks.” The Board of Health receives its authority from Vermont statute Title 18 as well as from several sections of the Burlington City Charter.

The Board of Health may recommend health-related rules and regulations, ordinances and policies. The Board of Health cooperates with local and state organizations to provide public discussion and education.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Dear Miss Manners:

To my chagrin, I learned that the erstwhile object of my affections has given me a lovely memento, also known as a social disease.

What is the proper way to alert him to this fact, as he will also need treatment? Must I do this in person? He is abroad for another week. My disgust is such that without your guidance, I have awful visions of denouncing his infidelity or blurting out bad puns.

Do not do that. Repeat: not.

It is not only that you want to remain a lady, even when dealing with someone who is not a gentleman. This is especially true when dealing with someone who is not a gentleman and who knows a great deal of personal information about you. Miss Manners recommends that you inform him in writing, so you are not tempted to say more than you should. E-mail will not do, because it so easily goes astray -- and can be forwarded. Also, you need to be able to tear up your first 10 drafts so that the one you send is simple, factual and decently worded.


By Dan Barlow Barre/Montpelier Times Argus
10 November 2007 Lawsuit asks states to hand-count votes

The article appears also in The Rutland Herald.

Related commentary can be found here and here.


Sunday, 11 November
1:30 P.M.
Aldrich Public Library
6 Washington Street

More info and what you can do at BROADSIDES

This is a public meeting and everyone with concerns about the Iraq War are encouraged to come to voice those concerns and learn what Congressman Welch is planning with his future war votes.

The Burlington Free Press print edition this morning just headlined that there would be a meeting with Welch, but online, it shows a notably different mood towards the Democratic leadership: Anti-war activists focus fury on Democrats

Obviously, the paper is a cheerleader for Peter, and that online headline tries to separate him from the rest of the wimps. The onus ain't on us. Our ire is focussed on Welch just the same, because of his continued voting, no matter how he looks at it, to support the occupation. But we've forced the war to be on the table; now that he's in 2008 re-election mode we will continue to do so.

Vermont citizen voters count, Peter; you bettah believe it! Is this meeting part of his election strategy? Or has he finally seen the light? Dems are all about strategy, it seems, but what about really, really listening to the people? I commend Michael Colby and others for pushing this conversation.

As a commenter over at BROADSIDES writes
From his campaign website, his promises in 2006 were:
* Redeployment and reduction of American troops in Iraq with a goal of bringing the majority home next year (that would be end a promise effective in 2007);
* Explicit acknowledgement that the U.S. will not maintain permanent military bases in Iraq;
* Continuing aid to Iraq for security force training and reconstruction, subject to a functioning government; and
* Intensive diplomatic efforts with neighboring countries to minimize the increasing threat of regional instability.
Give him room to respond to the questions, but keep the questions and conversation focused on concrete examples of what Welch has done in regard to these four promises. This was the basis of his success in winning against Martha Rainville, and why many people supported him when they otherwise may have been lukewarm in their support.


Just picture masking tape covering the windows at Huis ter Duin!

Dutch and English folks living adjacent to the North Sea held their breath for a few hours this week, but the storm surge brought the highest water levels since the disastrous floods of 1953.
In the Netherlands, Rotterdam Port halted all ship traffic until Friday evening. The Maeslant Barrier protecting Europe's largest port was closed Thursday for the first time under storm conditions since its construction in 1997.

The magnificent photo above shows waves pounding against the lighthouse in IJmuiden, the Netherlands on Thursday, just a 20 minute drive west of Amsterdam. (Marco de Swart/Reuters)


Talk Left hit 20 million visitors this week. Congratulations!


Episcopal Life Online has a lengthy, engaging, and oftimes humourous report on the presiding bishop's visit to Vermont.

Thursday, November 8, 2007




All of the nation’s chief election officials have been named as defendants in a National Clean Election Lawsuit (N-CEL). The officials in all 50 states are being sued to block computerized vote counting.

Plaintiffs from every state brought the suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York and maintain that current election practices, including the widespread use of computerized voting machines, are unconstitutional because they are ripe for fraud and error and effectively hide the physical vote counting process from the public, effectively denying citizens their legally protected right to cast an effective vote.

The lawsuit seeks an Order from the Court prohibiting the use of all voting machines and to force election officials to instead utilize paper ballots and to count and total all votes by hand, always in full view of the public.

Will your vote count in Vermont?

Three citizen voters - David Cole, Gary L. Gale, and Owen Mulligan - want theirs and yours to count! They are the named plaintiffs for Vermont in the N-CEL!

Today (7 November 2007), I accompanied Craig Hill of Montpelier as he presented the N-CEL Complaint and Court Summons
- on their behalf - to three top Vermont officials --

(to a representative) at the office of Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of State;

to Jim Douglas,

and to a representative designated by William Sorrell, the state's
Attorney General.

(These legal papers are being served on all fifty state governors, attorneys general and chief election officials this week.)

Also this week, all the Plaintiffs intend to file a motion for injunctive relief, asking the Court to preliminarily prohibit and enjoin the States from conducting their primaries and caucuses until the questions presented to the Court are finally determined.

The case ( Schulz, et al., v State of New York , et al. ), was filed by 150 registered voters: three from each state. The case was filed in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of New York. The case number is 07-943.

The Supreme Court has ruled twice that our right to vote consists of two parts: a) the right to cast a ballot; b) the right to know that it was counted
accurately. Elections using machines and computers are in effect “black box” elections into which the public cannot effectively look. That is why the court is being asked to forbid states to allow the use of election systems using computers or machines.

These hand marked, hand counted paper ballots (in the ballot box until the polling place closes) must always be kept in public view and in the custody of the
people from the time the election day begins until the votes are counted and publicly posted in the hours following the closing of the polling place.
This means machine-free, computer-free elections!!

From Hand Count Vermont blog --
Vermonters, it's time to wake up!!! These machines are just as prone to errors, malfunctions and software attacks as their infamous counterpart, the touchscreen voting machines.

Sure, we have paper ballots, but what's the point of using them if they are never counted and only left to collect dust...
What you should know about Vermont elections…

FACT: Currently, 94 Vermont Towns will use Diebold AccuVote-OS (Optical-Scan) machines in the next election to tabulate their votes representing more than 50 percent of the state’s registered voters. The paper ballots are fed into the machines but they are not hand-counted.

FACT: On June 28, 2006, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University (NYU) School of Law released a report by its Voting System Security Task Force on the security of electronic voting machines. The report found significant security and reliability vulnerabilities in some of the most commonly purchased electronic voting systems which included the Diebold AccuVote-OS machines used in Vermont.

FACT: The Voting System Security Task Force was composed of internationally renowned government, academic, and private-sector scientists, voting machine experts and security professionals. Their findings were peer-reviewed as well as endorsed by numerous eminent people including Howard Schmidt, who is a former White House Cyber Security Adviser and a former Chief Security Officer of Microsoft.

FACT: Overall, the Task Force identified and categorized over 120 threats to the optical-scan machines and stated, "Almost everything that a malicious attacker could attempt could also happen by accident."

FACT: It has been documented nation-wide that the use of Diebold AccuVote-OS machines has resulted in errors and malfunctions during actual elections. This includes recent occurrences in Grafton, New Hampshire; Uxbridge & Marblehead, Massachusetts; King County, Washington; and Barry County, Michigan.

FACT: Because it has been documented that Diebold AccuVote-OS machines are prone to errors and are also susceptible to software attacks, the Brennan Report highly recommends routine audits of all elections that compare the paper ballots to the electronic record.

FACT: Vermont does not require audits of its elections and only one audit has been conducted since Vermont started using optical-scan machines.

FACT: The one audit that Vermont did conduct of the U.S. Senate and Representative to Congress races in 2006 was 1.4% of each races' totals. Overall, four polling places (Barre City-District 3-3, St. Albans Town, Duxbury and Killington) were randomly chosen for the audit and only after public pressure to do so. According to the office of the Secretary of State, no questionable discrepancies were found.

FACT: The President of the American Statistical Association, which is the largest organization of professional statisticians representing 17,800 members, has stated in a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein of California that, "Effective election auditing may not necessarily be achieved by investigating a pre-specified percentage of votes or voting precincts. Thus, we urge you to replace the 2% audit requirement with audits of sufficient statistical power to assure 99 percent discovery of a potentially outcome-reversing defect in the vote tabulation."

For more info and to take action go to: Vermont's Democracy Blog - HandCountVermont!


Sponsors of this lawsuit are the We the People Foundation, a decidedly right-wing libertarian organisation whose political viewpoints I don't hold. But I do support this lawsuit. There are plenty of inequities in our voting system already: Armed gunmen; crank robocalls; poll worker bullies; racist Jim Crow tactics used to disenfranchis low-income and minority voters from exercising their right to vote. Those injustices are some of the myriad obstacles citizens face when they want to exercise their right to vote. But elections are also not fair and free if the votes are not counted properly!


Bishop Tom Ely's VPR Interview (Monday, 5 November 2007)

The Presiding Bishop's Sermon at the 175th Convention of the Diocese of Vermont (3 November 2007)

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's Sermon at St Paul's, Windsor (4 November 2007)

Additional media coverage:
Episcopal Bishop urges poverty effort, Daniel Barlow, The Rutland Herald, 3 November 2007 (The same article appeared in the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus.)
"Two thousand children across the world have died since I began speaking here today," Jefferts Schori said.

The 53-year-old presiding bishop, the first woman elected by the Episcopal Church to that position, met with supporters and fans at the Ira Allen Chapel at the University of Vermont in Burlington and put the plight of the poor and hungry around the world front and center.

For nearly two hours, Jefferts Schori spoke of the need for both the United States and its community of churches to make a concerted effort to reduce poverty and hunger and boost educational and health efforts across the globe.

She urged members of the church to invest in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a lofty measure adopted by nearly 200 nations that aims to reduce world poverty by half by 2015.
Thanks to
THE LEAD for the alert about the Herald story and for linking to BI's post on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


By Joel L. Merchant Every day diplomacy 3 November 2007
Countries, like people, make friends with others one at a time. This is a story of one failure. In fairness to an unknown visitor to our country, imagine yourself in his place. The scene is on a recent Amtrak trip between New York City and Boston. The conductor collects tickets, requests identification, folds destination stubs into seatbacks, moves on to other cars. An older man across the aisle, traveling alone, shows his passport. It is clear from their conversation he doesn’t know English.
The train is a half hour west of New Haven when the conductor, having finished her original rounds, reappears. She moves down the aisle, looks, stops between our seats, faces the person taking pictures. “Sir, in the interest of national security, we do not allow pictures to be taken of or from this train.” He starts, “I…….” but, without English, his response trails off into silence. The conductor, speaking louder, forcefully: “Sir, I will confiscate that camera if you don’t put it away.” Again, little response. “Sir, this is a security matter! We cannot allow pictures.” She turns away abruptly and, as she moves down the aisle, calls over her shoulder, in a very loud voice, “Put. It. Away!” He packs his camera.
Read all of Every day diplomacy

Monday, November 5, 2007


The Independent 5 November 2007 --
3,000 years old: the face of Tutankhamun

The true face of ancient Egypt went on public display for the first time yesterday, as archaeologists unveiled the mummy of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun.

The golden death mask of the young king, which covered the mummy, has been a familiar image around the world ever since the British treasure-seeker Howard Carter located the tomb in 1922. But, 85 years to the day since Carter's discovery, the actual face of the 19-year-old monarch was put on view in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its stone sarcophagus for display in a climate-controlled glass box.

Naturally, the face the world can now see is a lot less idealised than the lustrous and splendid golden mask. It is shrivelled and leather-like from the embalming process. But, if less idealised, it is a lot more human and exhibits one very human characteristic in particular: he might have been the lord of all he saw, but young King Tut had buck teeth. The mummified face clearly display the "overbite" which was characteristic of the Thurmosid royal line to which Tutankhamun belonged.


From It's a Dog's Life - Laika was a Russian space dog which became the first recorded living creature from Earth to enter orbit. At one time a stray wandering the streets of Moscow, she was selected from an animal shelter.

I must thank you for your responses to Saint Laika Day [link], not only at OCICBW... but on your own blogs and on other threads. I was worried that you would consider me flippant and soppy, but you all seemed to instinctively get where I was coming from. You knew I was being very serious, in deed.

Laika is one of the icons through through which I peer to contemplate Jesus on the cross. It's a gut thing rather than a worked out theology and all the more real because of that. I had thought that the story of the little dog was just a nightmare from my own childhood, but on researching this matter I found that she has become part of contemporary folklore throughout the world. I doubt if another dog has ever had so many songs and pieces of music written for and about them, both classical and popular. The number of poems concerning her is countless. And we are not just talking about people of my age and older. She is part of the culture of people born well after her iconic journey.

Of course, every day, millions of animals suffer because of human greed, viciousness and callousness. But that is the point. Through the Laika Icon we see the suffering of all God's creatures and we see Jesus dying for the sins we have committed against these innocent ones.


Johtje Vos' husband, Aart, is no close relation. "Vos" is a common enough surname in "het Gooi," around Laren, where he was from. But still, her harrowing story is amazing for a fearful time in the last century. (My aunt Betsy van Ittersum-Vos, in close-by Zeist, did the same thing.)

New York Times
Mr. and Mrs. Vos resisted the notion that they had done something out of the ordinary. Interviewed for the 1992 book “Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust,” by Gay Block and Malka Drucker (Holmes & Meier), Mrs. Vos said, “I want to say right away that the words ‘hero’ and ‘righteous gentile’ are terribly misplaced.”

“I don’t feel righteous,” said Mrs. Vos, who, like her husband, was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, “and we are certainly not heroes, because we didn’t sit at the table when the misery started and say, ‘O.K., now we are going to risk our lives to save some people.’ ”

Sunday, November 4, 2007


A Dutch friend sent me this YouTube video link of music and a photo compilation of Princess Máxima of the Netherlands.

"Great music, great video. Enjoy." -- --



Rejoice we all in the Lord, keeping holy-day in honor of all the Saints:
In whose solemnity the Angels rejoice and glorify the Son of God. - INTROIT for All Saints' Day, from the Anglican Missal

Here are the appointed readings for use on this day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


It's a weekend of celebration in Vermont. This morning nearly 350 people gathered at St Paul's Cathedral in Burlington as the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, preached and presided at the Eucharist on the Feast of Richard Hooker and the 175th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont (and the 216th of the Episcopal Church in Vermont!).

Collect for the Feast of Richard Hooker
O God of truth and peace,
who raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way,
not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Collect for the 175th Anniverary of the Diocese of Vermont
Almighty God, you have given us this Diocese in which to carry out the mission of your Church, and this time in which to comemorate its founding and celebrate its work;
Grant us so to tend this Vine,
that your reign may grow and thrive in this good land
and bring forth the fruits of your Spirit.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This weekend we are also celebrating the first anniversary of Bishop Jefferts Schori's investiture as the 26th presiding bishop of TEC (4 November 2006).

Yesterday, + Katharine held a public forum at UVM's Ira Allen Chapel on the Millenium Development Goals, which the Episcopal Church have established as a mission priority and response to global poverty. Did you know that in the time it takes to read either of the two Collects above - about 30 seconds - one child has died from the scourge of malaria?

But you wouldn't know it, if you read Sam Hemingway's report today in the Burlington Free Press, where he focussed on the dissension within the wider church (and Anglican Communion) and never mentioned the PB's presentation about the MDGs. I am pleased, however, that Sam Hemingway mentioned the wonderful program started right here in Vermont and supported by the diocese, the New Sudan Education Initiative. Too bad he didn't stick around for the rest of the presentation on the MDGs.

After nearly 40 years, I became re-acquainted with the Rev'd Hayward Crewe, the rector of St Martin's, Fairlee, where I was a member as a child and teenager - growing up across the Connecticut River, in Orford, NH. Hayward is now retired from the parish ministry; still going strong at aged 82 years! In the above photograph he is with the diocesan youth delegation at last night's convention banquet, held at the Hilton hotel in Burlington.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Speaking to the Soul

Daily Reading for November 1 • All Saints Day

This hymn was written by the Reverend Robert Lowry, D.D., a Baptist minister in New York and the editor of a number of popular Sunday school songbooks. He wrote the words to this well-known hymn when he was a pastor in Brooklyn, on a hot July day in 1864 during a severe epidemic. Dr. Lowry was thinking of the sad scenes all around him when the question arose in his mind, “Shall we meet again? We are parting at the river of death; shall we meet at the river of life?” With his heart full of these thoughts, he seated himself at his parlor organ, and both the words and the music of the famous hymn came to him as if by inspiration.

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel-feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?

Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever
All the happy, golden day.

Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.

At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Saviour’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.

Soon we'll reach the silver river;
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.

From A Treasure of Hymns by Amos R. Wells (Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, c1914).


Don't forget to Vote! Harris County elections are this Tuesday, November 6.


A Reminder that Daylight Savings Time will end on Saturday, November 3. Please set your clocks back one hour.


TALK LEFT -- House Passes Thought Crimes Bill and No One Notices?
On the same day last week that the House passed the Ammonium Nitrate bill, it also passed HR 1955, titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. The vote on this bill was 404 to 6. Meaning even progressive Democrats voted for it.

This is a thought-crimes bill, aimed at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts, including those expressed on the Internet, of American citizens.


Poll Shows Vermonters In Favor of Impeachment
Burlington, Vermont - October 31, 2007

This year's Town Meeting Day addressed an issue far broader than the local school budget -- should Vermonters call for the impeachment of the president and vice president? Thirty-seven towns voted yes.

A poll conducted for Channel 3 News posed the same question to 400 likely voters. 61 percent said they would be in favor of Congress beginning impeachment proceedings against President Bush. Thirty-three percent opposed it, and six percent were not sure.

The numbers for Vice President Cheney were slightly different. Sixty-four percent favor impeachment, while 31 percent oppose it.

"I'm really overjoyed by this," said Jimmy Leas, a South Burlington lawyer who has been a vocal advocate of impeachment. "Your poll really shows that here in Vermont, nearly two-thirds of the public understand we have a serious problem, and the way to address this is to remove the officials who are usurping power."

"The impeachment results are somewhat surprising, frankly, to me," political scientist Eric Davis said. "Even though their terms are ending in a little bit more than a year, a majority of Vermonters don't want to even see them remaining in office until January 20, 2009."

Vermont's legislature took up the impeachment issue last spring. The Senate passed a resolution calling for the president's impeachment, but a similar effort failed in the House.

Constitutionally, only Congress can impeach an executive. Congressman Peter Welch has said he does not support the impeachment of Bush or Cheney. He spoke at a town hall meeting on the issue in May, and argued impeachment would be a distraction and hamper Congress's efforts to end the war.

Leas said the effort isn't over.

"The founding fathers decided we could have a Congress that's just as corrupt as the president and it's up to the people to get involved and take action," he said. "And this poll shows the people understand this. They don't like the direction this country is going."

Some historical perspective on just how rare impeachment is: Congress has impeached only two presidents in the country's 231-year history - Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The nations not so blest as thee,
Shall in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all. *

Today, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia began a two-day state visit to Britain.

Craig Murray comments.(Thanks for the Times cartoon.)

*The poem "Rule Britannia" by James Thomson (1700-48) was put to music by Thomas Augustine Arne (around 1740) and is sung as an unofficial national anthem.


The Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will speak at a public forum on global poverty and the United Nations Millenium Development Goals on Friday, 2 November at 3:30 p.m. in UVM's Ira Allen Chapel. There's still time to obtain free tickets to this event.

Reserve your seats by calling the Cathedral Church of St Paul, 802-864-0471, to pick up at the event. Tickets are also available at the Hopkins Bookstore, 2 Cherry Street; Peace and Justice Store on Church Street; UVM Student Center; and the St Michael's Student Center.

Bishop Jefferts Schori will also preach and preside at the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont Convention Eucharist at St Paul's Cathdral, 2 Cherry Street, on Saturday morning, 3 November, at 8:30.

Monday, October 29, 2007



This Wednesday, October 31st – yes, Halloween night – at 6:00 pm we’re having a very informal meeting at Montpelier’s Langdon Street Café [4 Langdon @ Elm St.] to discuss what our next actions will be. Come on down for the discussion and planning. We hope to see you there.


From ANGLICANS ONLINE, I was struck by two letters this week (22 to 28 October 2007).

How deep is your church's welcome?
'Behaviourally inclusive' brought to mind an occasion years ago in New Jersey when I was asked as a single man (not then being widely known as a recently partnered gay man) to join a panel discussing the congregation's outreach to various segments of the community and to involve those already members to more fully participate in programs offered.

These were the heady days of 'inclusive' — when the term, seen as politically correct, had a load of baggage I cared not to embrace. Nonetheless, I found myself using it with respect to behavior, how the members of those myriad groups within the congregation could include single folks more by how they acted than by how effusively they welcomed the same at the door. A 'zone of welcome', if you will, that opens its borders wide to truly (here’s that word) include, rather than exist at the door for form, yet which truly acts as a buffer to reinforce the existing 'in'.

'Words of Welcome to everyone present', what a refreshing change to 'Would visitors stand and. . .' There are enough places, enough time for differences. The Eucharist need not be one of them!
Hiding in plain sight
I enjoyed the editorial about visiting. (link) I just moved back to a new church where I had been a member nine years ago, so I knew what I was getting in to. It's a very cold and closed place. I was inspired to write this column for my previous church newsletter, of which I am still the editor.
The invisables
'At [Dives’s] gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores'. (Luke 16:19)

When Dives strutted out of his gate, he probably chose to make Lazarus invisible. When we examine our consciences about 'the invisibles' in our life, we usually think of street people, like Lazarus. We may have been guilty of making people invisible. We at St. James are greatly favored in that we are very seldom treated as invisibles in our world.

How do you treat your siblings-in-Christ in church on Sunday? Do you look around for your friends and jump ’em like a duck on a June bug after the service and carry on intense conversations? And are strangers invisible to you?

Or do you look around the church for people who are strangers to you and jump on them and make them welcome, really welcome, after the service?

St. James is one of the friendliest churches I've ever attended. It's pretty good — but that’s not good enough. Look for 'the invisibles', folks just like you, friends you haven't met yet — and greet them after church.

'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares'. (Hebrews 13:2)


Burlington Free Press

Shelburne resident Steven Metz, doctor of veterinary medicine and owner of the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital, received Wild in Vermont's Champion of Wildlife award Saturday.
Q: Why did you receive this award?

A: I take care of wildlife whenever it's brought in to me by either good Samaritans or rehabilitators. I've been working with wild animals my entire career. I take care of them, and I don't charge anybody anything for them -- I consider it my obligation to the animal world. I'm fortunate enough to have a veterinary education, and I can sometimes help these creatures we coexist with on this earth and if I can do anything to help, I want to help.

Q: Why are you so passionate about helping animals?

A: We are sharing this earth with them, and we have an obligation to help them survive in spite of us, in spite of the damage we do to the environment. I think that they relate to us in a very elemental way that reminds us of our roots and our values and brings us to a level that we shouldn't forget. I feel that we can learn things from animals, and we should learn things from animals.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Here are the readings (Proper 25, Year C, RCL) for the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost.

Continuing its series Age of Riches The Times today has a feature story on Max Levchin, who founded PayPal in 1998.
Mr. Levchin, who is now 32, is typical of a new generation of junior titans in Silicon Valley who might be called the prematurely rich — techies worth tens of millions of dollars, sometimes more, at an age when many others are just starting to figure out what to do with their lives.

The Internet, a low-overhead medium with a global reach, has greatly accelerated the wealth creation phenomenon, producing a larger breed of multimillionaires even younger and richer than in the past.

They are happy to be wealthy, of course, but many of these baby-faced technology tycoons often seem indifferent to the buying power of their money, at least at this stage of their lives. Instead, nearly all of them have chosen to throw themselves back into a start-up, not so much because they want a spectacular new home or a personal jet — though many of them do — but because they are in a competition with themselves and one another.
Contrast Mr Levchin's story with The lure of luxury by George Crawford in DAILY EPISCOPALIAN.
Do I find luxury a subject of intense interest? Do I want luxury? Unsure about the meaning of the word luxury (like others, including my former Commander-in-Chief, I sought some maneuvering room!), I consulted the Concise Oxford Dictionary (maneuvering room, not an ocean of choices). The Dictionary provided two definitions:
1. the state of great comfort and extravagant living. 2. an inessential but desirable item.
The first felt vaguely unchristian when I am daily reminded of people desperately in need of life’s basic necessities. I, with complete honesty, can disavow any desire to own my own island or polo pony. However, I do want nonessentials. Indeed, I think that God wants us to enjoy nonessentials because they enrich life, e.g., a good wine, aesthetically pleasing homes, and art. Poverty, thanks be to God, is not the life to which I was born nor is voluntary poverty a lifestyle to which I feel called.

Today's Gospel in the appointed readings for the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost speak to this issue, too.

Spitzer Capitulates: "Scarlet Letter" Drivers' Licenses for Immigrants

TALK LEFT - Spitzer Capitulates: "Scarlet Letter" Drivers' Licenses for Immigrants 28 October --
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has given in to the feds and agreed to water down his plan to grant drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Now, there will be a three-tier system with the undocumented getting licenses that make them prime targets for state and local law enforcment officials who want to turn them over to ICE for removal.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


James Kiefer writes in a biographical sketch:
Temple's admirers have called him "a philosopher, theologian, social teacher, educational reformer, and the leader of the ecumenical movement of his generation," "the most significant Anglican churchman of the twentieth century," "the most renowned Primate in the Church of England since the English Reformation," "Anglican's most creative and comprehensive contribution to the theological enterprise of the West." One of his biographers lists him (along with Richard Hooker, Joseph Butler, and Frederick Denison Maurice) as one of the Four Great Doctors of the (post-Reformation) Anglican Communion.

You can read more about William Temple here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The US foreign affairs department has asked the Netherlands to take over a number of prisoners from its Guantanamo Bay camp on the island of Cuba, the Parool reports on Friday.

The paper says the request was made to Dutch MPs who are on a fact-finding mission at the highly controversial camp.

The request for help applies to prisoners who are being released from the detention camp but cannot return to their country of origin.

Some 800 people have been through Guantanamo Bay since its opening in 2002. The camp currently houses some 400 prisoners, 85 of whom are waiting to be released because the US no longer considers them to be a danger.

The Dutch foreign affairs ministry has told the Parool that it has not received a request from the US to take over prisoners. Until it does, the Dutch position is that the US must look after prisoners on its own territory.

The right-wing Liberal (VVD) and anti-immigration PVV parties both welcome the idea of taking over prisoners from Guantanamo. 'It will be a great day when the Netherlands has such a detention centre of its own,' PVV leader Geert Wilders tells the paper.

The Christian Democrats are less keen on the idea, the paper says.

Officially, the Netherlands considers the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay a contravention of international agreements, a point made by foreign minister Maxime Verhagen when he met US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in April.


24oranges - Hema’s famous smoked sausage is made by Unox in Oss, a disgruntled Unilever (Unox is owned by Unilever) employee told the Brabants Dagblad during the strike. Unilever ["Ons beleid is niet te spreken over onze klanten"] and Hema ["Wij doen nooit uitspraken over onze leveranciers"] have refused to comment on the comment.

Some 1,000 employees have come together in Rotterdam to try and get more say about Unilever’s future and want better working conditions, etc. All six manufacturing plants are on strike. And if the management pisses them off some more, who knows what culinary or cosmetic secrets will come out next.

COMMENT: I gotta admit that I love HEMA products; the store is the Dutch equivalent of Target. But these Dutch capitalist giants are acting like attorneys or doctors; neither will talk about or against the other - they protect their "own." So much for Unilever's claim that it is a "responsible business."


Today is the Feast of Alfred, King of the West Saxons. Here are the appointed readings for use on this feast day. Via Speaking to the Soul -
We pray to you, O Lord, who are the supreme Truth, and all truth is from you. We beseech you, O Lord, who are the highest Wisdom, and all the wise depend on you for their wisdom. You are the supreme Joy, and all who are happy owe it to you. You are the highest Good, and all goodness comes from you. You are the Light of minds, and all receive their understanding from you. We love you—indeed we love you above all things. We seek you, follow you, and are prepared to serve you. We desire to dwell under your power, for you are the King of all. Amen.*
*A prayer of Alfred the Great, quoted in 2000 Years of Prayer, compiled by Michael Counsell. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


Here are a few choice comments on Lenny's short and sweet post about the California fires.
Well, according to Mike Davis, capitalism (in the shape of rampant development) was there already... See the wonderfully titled "The Case for Letting Malibu Burn" in The Ecology of Fear, which contrasts the handling of the tenement fires in LA (119 deaths, 1947-1993) with that of the Malibu fires (16 deaths between 1930 and 1996), concluding that whilst the first could be prevented if it weren't for systematic (class) racism, when it comes to over-subsidized regions such as Malibu, "periodic firestorms of this magnitude are inevitable as long as residential development is tolerated in the fire ecology of the Santa Monicas" (p. 99)
savonarola Homepage 24 Oct, 22:31 #
Speaking as someone breathing the foul orange stuff overhead and wiping the ash off my car, I can tell you that fire prevention and land management have been underfunded by the Bush Administration even though it is cheaper than fighting wildfires. And, of course, the National Guard and its equipment is in Iraq.

The whole point in my mind is the privatization of government services, especially the military, to undermine any sense of community or obligation to one's neighbors, country, environment, etc. or the benefits of collective action. By atomizing and decoupling agencies and people from their joined sense of destiny, Constitution, whatever, the elites think they can undermine organizing or at least using a totally privatized army to turn on protesters.
Madame X 24 Oct, 23:30 #
San Diego is not New Orleans

New Orleans is one of the poorest major metropolitan areas in the US, thus rendering it an excellent candidate for the expulsion of a lot of poor people for redevelopment after a catastrophe, and the city's affordable housing was ideally situated for destruction in the event of a hurricane

conversely, San Diego is one of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in the US, and it happened by design, as Mike Davis and others explained in Under the Perfect Sun

from the city's inception in its modern form at the turn of the century, city planning and economic development was driven by a desire to keep out semi-skilled workers susceptible to initially, radical activism, and later, unionization, and people of color (both Latinos and African Americans)

according to Davis, for much of the 20th Century, San Diego had a lower percentage of Latinos than that statewide average even though it was right across the border from Mexico

such people, as was the case during the New Deal, were considered the cause of "blight", and good government progressive types pushed planning policies that essentially created middle and upper middle income neighborhoods

city leaders consciously sought military facilities as an alternative to smokestack industries, and FDR graciously obliged during World War II

by the 1960s and 1970s, San Diego moved towards the economic model of development that we see now everywhere: suburban projects geared towards, first, middle income, and then, upper middle income people, with hostility towards any effort to meet the social needs of anyone else, and a willingness to cater to a desire for social exclusion on racial and class grounds, consistent with the city's history

San Diego, at least until recent waves of immigration, was a New South city within the boundaries of California

I could go on, but the bottom line is that San Diego is one of the places where the current model of capitalist transformation urban environments and their surrounding areas was pioneered, it influenced what subsequently transpired in New Orleans
hence, given that many of the victims of the fire lost homes in some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the US, what we are going to see in San Diego is the contrast between how the needs of predominately white, older, upper middle income people are satisfied with the greatest solicitude by the state and federal government, while the poor people of New Orleans still find themselves spread around the county in conditions of isolation
Richard Estes | Homepage | 25 Oct, 18:24 | #


There's even some talk that Blackwater started the San Diego fire as residents had opposed the building of a Blackwater military base on some ecologically delicate land. Given what we've seen from these people and their mentors, I find such suspicion highly understandable.
Madame X | 25 Oct, 18:25 | #


Now the talk on Fox is: Alqueada did it.
Mooser | Homepage | 26 Oct, 03:05 | #


Now the talk on Fox is: Alqueada did it.

Turks, Jews, Albanians, anarchists, terrorists, and even left-reformists and ecologists caused the summer fires here in Greece - according to the Greek media and some politicians.
anticapitalista | 26 Oct, 12:45 | #

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Here bygynneth the Book
of the tales of Caunterbury

1: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour
4: Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5: Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
6: Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
7: Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
8: Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
9: And smale foweles maken melodye,
10: That slepen al the nyght with open ye
11: (so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
12: Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
13: And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
14: To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
15: And specially from every shires ende
16: Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
17: The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
18: That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Read the rest of the Prologue

Today we celebrate the life and writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, who died on 25 October 1400.

A collect for Chaucer and a prayer for today:

O God, who have enlightened your church by the writings of your Servant Geoffrey Chaucer: Enrich us evermore with your heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses who by their life and teaching will show to others the truth of your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.
Blessed Lord, who hast given to mortals the gift of sexual Love, with its joys and cares and complexities and unanswered questions, and hast made known to us the duty of keeping promises and of showing justice and good will toward those about us: mercifully grant that, in our human loves, and in our choices concerning them, we may be guided by thy commandments and live according to thy will; that we and those we love may abide in thy gracious protection, and that our loves may be fitting images of the love between Christ and his Church; the which we ask through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Sick and tired of progressive Democrats who don't say what they mean or mean what they say? Read on, McDuff....

I was not among the Vermonters who were arrested Monday at Peter Welch's office in Burlington. (I was obliged to care for a sick animal later that evening; otherwise I would have stayed.) But I did sign a comment note addressed to our rep in Washington asking him to vote not to continue funding the war and occupation. Michael Colby at Broadsides gives an eye-witness account of the arrest and unwelcoming attitude of staffers -
We got about three and a half minutes to quickly express ourselves to his clearly contemptuous staff member before having their office doors slammed on our faces with the declaration that we would not be allowed to speak with Peter Welch via the phone and that they had work to do. Wham! Slam! Bam!

No wonder the Iraqis are so skeptical of the so-called democracy we’re trying to export to them. Because if it looked anything like the slamming doors we saw yesterday while trying to express ourselves to our elected official, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it either.

And let’s remember that the twenty of us were there to speak with Welch and/or his staff about the issue he calls his “top priority.” Geez, I’d really hate to see the reaction we would have gotten had we come to address a lower priority of his.

But we dutifully stayed until closing time – just like we promised. And then the cops came — just like they promised. And then the negotiations began.

“What can we do to end this without arrests or incident?” asked the Burlington police officer.
We would leave if Peter Welch agreed to meet with us at a time, place and date of his choosing. Quite honestly, we thought it would be over and we’d soon be leaving with a promise to meet with our congressman in the near future – a meeting that became even more relevant as the news came out during our time in his office that Bush was seeking an additional $46 billion for the war.

The police and Welch’s staff huddled in the next room to discuss our offer. Calls were made to Welch’s Washington office to further contemplate the offer. We thought they were simply trying to figure out the proper scheduling.

Silly us. Because the police officer came back with the news that stunned us: “They are rejecting your offer and they would like us to arrest you if you don’t leave now.”

COMMENT Michael gives a link to the WCAX report and video clip on the sit-in - Iraq-war Protestors Target Congressman Welch . . . Again. A majority of Americans are against this war and occupation (Vermonters included) and yet, the CAX headline implies that the twenty or so citizens who assembled in Welch's office are a pain in the neck. Well, we should be - Welch's intransigence is an abomination. More protests, please - become a thorn in the side of Peter Welch. It's noteworthy, that just before the video clip (click on it, you'll see...) there's an ad for City Market, the Burlington area food co-op. I would suggest that most of the patrons of the market consider themselves Progressives or Democrats. They most likely voted for Leahy, Sanders, Kerry and Welch the last election. But they continue to live in their Birkenstock cum latte light bubble and will probably vote to re-elect Vermont's congressional delegation and the Democratic presidential nominee next time they walk into the voting booth. Wake up!!