Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Haven't they heard of paper shredders?

Radio Netherlands Worldwide - A number of papers report the discoveries made by a television news-programme team who removed bin bags from outside the office of Queen Beatrix' secretarial staff.

De Telegraaf sounds almost outraged in its front-page headline, saying they "searched through the Queen's rubbish". However, it quotes an insider as saying that what was found was "not too bad".

De Volkskrant tells us the journalists lifted 24 bags of rubbish over a period of seven weeks. Among the discoveries were documents showing that the sovereign has already planned state visits up to 2011. This means that she has no intention of abdicating in favour of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in the near future.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cindy Sheehan is leaving the Democratic Party

An Open Letter to the Democratic Congress Counterpunch:

Dear Democratic Congress,

Hello, my name is Cindy Sheehan and my son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 04, 2004 in Sadr City , Baghdad , Iraq . He was killed when the Republicans still were in control of Congress. Naively, I set off on my tireless campaign calling on Congress to rescind George's authority to wage his war of terror while asking him "for what noble cause" did Casey and thousands of other have to die. Now, with Democrats in control of Congress, I have lost my optimistic naiveté and have become cynically pessimistic as I see you all caving into "Mr. 28%"

There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody King George more money to condemn more of our brave, tired, and damaged soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage. You think giving him more money is politically expedient, but it is a moral abomination and every second the occupation of Iraq endures, you all have more blood on your hands.


Congratulations Congress, you have bought yourself a few more months of an illegal and immoral bloodbath. And you know you mean to continue it indefinitely so "other presidents" can solve the horrid problem BushCo forced our world into.

It used to be George Bush's war. You could have ended it honorably. Now it is yours and you all will descend into calumnious history with BushCo.

The Camp Casey Peace Institute is calling all citizens who are as disgusted as we are with you all to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor.

We do not condone our government's violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq .

We gave you a chance, you betrayed us.

Cindy Sheehan
Founder and President of
Gold Star Families for Peace

Note the call to "figure a way out of this 'two' party system."

Lenny has a comment: Here, Sheehan is once more articulating widespread disgust and outrage with the Democrats and signposting one way to handle it. I daresay you could hold a poll tomorrow and ask if people want to leave the Dems because Cindy sez so, and no one will agree - they'll leave the Dems because they're disgusted with what the Democrats, but Sheehan is raising the argument that people should do that. There ought to be an alternative at the next Presidential election, rather than a choice between warmongering Hilary and warmongering Rudi.

The Perfect Cube

I love architecture and design. The new Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision in Hilversum is a mega-success, celebrating Dutch broadcasting and housing one of the largest audio/video archives in Europe. It's had over 100,000 visitors since it opened in December, 2006. It's now on my to-see list for my next visit.

The New York Times has an Architecture Review: Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, Encased in Glass

More photos here and here.

Related: Why Are They Greener Than We Are?

Being Christian: the long answer

Via Culture Choc (merci beaucoup!), a blog that I've discovered just north-of-the-border. The article from the Chicago Free Press points to some challenges I've had as a gay & leftist-green Christian, too, lately - explaining my faith to secular lefties, queer friends, and alternative-spirituality-seekers (Wiccans, earth worshippers, aroma therapy freaks - all good people!) It's a thoughtful article (and funny, too); I can totally relate to the writer's thoughts, so have a read :-). -

Being Christian

by Jennifer Vanasco

First published in the Chicago Free Press, May 23, 2007

We were having Margaritas, and my friend Luke paused in the middle of a tirade against evangelicals.

“Oh, wait,” he said. “Um, are you religious?”

I hate this question.

Because “Are you religious?” implies a yes-or-no answer: yes, you’re religious; no, you’re not.

I’m not comfortable in either category, so I’m never sure what to say. Do I give them the long answer? Or do I mutter “No,” which is shorthand for “I’m not evangelical or born again,” which means: “I’m not the kind of Christian you’re worried about.”

I don’t even know, honestly, about calling myself Christian. I go to church, but I think a lot of my brothers and sisters in the pews would likely be suspicious of my suspicions about dogma.

On the one hand, I went to seminary for a short time and take Christianity very seriously. On the other, I wrestle with the fundamental tenets that make Christianity what it is and not something else: the resurrection of the body; the idea that one Middle Eastern man saves every one from sin and he himself is God; the virginity of Mary; a personal God who keeps his ear open to each of our problems.

Back in the early days of Christianity, all of these things were up for grabs. I would have been comfortable being Christian then (well, philosophically comfortable. That whole martyrdom thing is another story).

Yet there is another side of Christianity. The idea that God is love. The conviction that one should practice radical compassion. The very challenging notion that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. The sentiment that individuality should never rise above working for and with the group.

This is very difficult stuff. But this is what connects me to the belief system that is Christianity. Because Buddhism, though a completely different religion on a dogmatic level, has some similar underlying beliefs, I tell people I am Christian-Buddhist, so I don’t scare them away.

I first started doing this about a dozen years ago, when I was visiting New Orleans. I still wore a cross then, so often that I would forget that it rested against my collarbone. I was being hosted by a friend, but when she took me to the lesbian bar in town, I noticed that her friends were shooting me odd looks.

“What is it?” I asked my friend finally.

She shifted feet. “They think you’re here to convert them,” she said. “That you’re not really a lesbian.”

I put the cross in my pocket.

In the minds of this pack of lesbians, Christianity equaled gay hate. In the mind of my friend Luke, who is straight, Christianity equals a shutting down of conversation.

I hate the evangelicals for that.

This, of course, is very un-Christian of me. But the Religious Right has taken something beautiful and tough and twisted it into something ugly and easy.

The most vocal segment of the Christian church at the moment has two heads: the Pope, who takes every chance he gets to try to kick out of the Catholic Church anyone who disagrees with him so as to ensure it’s “purity”; and evangelical Christianity, led by people like the late Jerry Falwell, who looked on the Civil Rights movement with disdain, called Bishop Desmond Tutu a fraud, and said that 9/11 was caused by “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians.”

As Luke pointed out, instead of approaching ideas that are new to them with compassion and curiosity, these figureheads of the Right instead try to kick these ideas—and people—out of the way by declaring that God doesn’t like it.

As if God’s likes and dislikes were as easy to discern as flavors of ice cream.

All of this means that my closet Christianity helps no one (well, except maybe my dating life). What the world needs is more diversity in Christianity, not less. Christians need to know that being Christian isn’t an automatic Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to intolerance; gays, lesbians and others on the left need to know that “Christian” doesn’t equal “enemy.”

So Luke asked me if I were religious.

“Yeah,” I said. “I am.” And I gave him the long answer.

Jennifer Vanasco writes a weekly column. Her contact info and website can be found here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

On Memorial Day

With thanks to Anglican Resistance for's Memorial Day and the religious syncretism of the state and how we get into a really dangerous place when we start confusing our myths and our holidays.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Opportunistic Dems

AP - Iraq funding agreed by Congress

And look at this. Obama and Clinton both voted against the proposals: they know which side the nomination is buttered on.

Eli Stephens of LeftI, made a spot-on comment at on the above linked Tomb post -
As far as Clinton and Obama, the interesting thing is that both waited until the bill had already passed (that is, until enough Senators had voted "yes" to ensure its passage) before voting no. Not that there was much doubt that it was going to pass, but on the off chance that it was going to be close, it's quite possible that one or both was prepared to vote "yes" if necessary. This is standard operating procedure in the U.S. Congress. Vote for your constituents when it doesn't matter, vote for the ruling class interests when it does.

Workers unite!

As it happens, when I was in NYC recently, my friends and I talked with some of the striking workers as we walked uptown from Greenwich Village.

The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Danger and exhaustion came with the job in the decade Chen Tianyun spent as a restaurant delivery man in Manhattan.

Traffic threatened to squash his scooter like a dumpling. He survived an armed robbery. Most weeks, he toiled 70 hours so he could send money to his family in China.

And for his effort, he said he was paid a salary of $550 per month -- about $1.81 per hour.

Live on your tips, his bosses told him.

Stories like Chen's are a dime a dozen in New York City, where immigrants make up nearly half the work force and employers who ignore labor laws have long been able to count on a complicit silence from laborers thankful for a job.[...]

Chen and fellow delivery workers at the Saigon Grill, a small chain of Vietnamese cafes, filed a lawsuit seeking back pay in March. More than a dozen New York restaurants have seen similar claims in the past few months.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Brother is Watching

Update @ 2:55 pm

Today, from The Independent: Not only Big Brother, but Google is watching and wants to tell you how to run your life.

Previously, this morning I'd read this....
Radio Netherlands Worldwide Press Review -
Big Brother is watching and the Dutch do not seem to care, according to NRC Handelsblad and its sister paper The newspapers express their surprise that in spite of the introduction of all kinds of measures to monitor people's behaviour, no one appears to be bothered.

It's not just about cameras on the streets, police are allowed to stop and search people in certain areas, the authorities are sharing personal data for cross-checking purposes and young offenders could find themselves and their families under increasing scrutiny. There are no civil liberty groups springing to the defence of the rights of citizens.

Most people appear to think: "I've got nothing to hide." They trust the authorities will put things right if mistakes are made. But according to NRC Handelsblad, they are wrong. Parliament often adopts far-reaching legislation hoping that judges will make sure its not carried out to excess. As a result tramps, junkies and Moroccan youths are often the first to feel the consequences.

The Dutch National Ombudsman explains the subdued reaction, "The Dutch are pragmatic and seldom really principled."

Big Brother is watching Americans, too. If you are one of the millions of people using social networking websites such as MySpace and Friendster, be careful what you reveal about yourself.

Debunking Global Warming Myths

New Scientist gives a primer and lists the 26 most common climate myths and misconceptions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another Blazing Vermonter

I just discovered Brian McClintock's Vermont Hum (via a link on the site). Nice! It's a cheeky blog. And wowzer, Vermont Hum also carries a link to BI. Here are a few of its Top 9 Hummers of the Week

1. BURLINGTON FREE (MONEY-GRUBBING) PRESS - Gosh, it's so nice of the Free Press to offer City Marathon congrats messages in the May 28 issue. Oh, wait a minute. There's a slight charge for those messages. More than slight. A 1x2 goes for $34.50, and a 2x2 goes for, gulp, 69 bucks! Wow! The ad also states that "Larger sizes are available. Call for pricing." Call for pricing? No thanks.

2. LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS; PROPERTY TAXES STILL HIGH - No prob, Gaye. For most of us here in Vermont, our property taxes levels are too low, anyway. And, hey, Shummy, don't worry. The impeachment thing was much more important. Besides - most Vermonters are just kidding about property taxes killing 'em. It's not a big deal.

5. RANDOLPH HERALD'S DRYSDALE HITS THE BIGS - M. Dickey Drysdale joins the panel on VPR's Vermont This Week, rubbing elbows with Hallenbeck and Kinzel. Hey, how come Snarky Boy hasn't received an invite?

7. ST. MIKE'S GRADUATION - Shoot. You mean another crop of rich, spoiled out-of-state babies are leaving? That's too bad.

8. BURLINGTON FREE (MONEY-GRUBBING) PRESS PART 2 - Now they're running an ad trying to peddle Memorial Day rememberances or something like that. And they ain't free. I think I'll just bow my head and remember on my own.

For the rest, go here.

Why Bush Hasn't Been Impeached - By Gary Kamiya of - Why Bush Hasn't Been Impeached: Congress, The Media and Most of The American People Have Yet To Turn Decisively Against Bush because To Do So Would Be To Turn Against Some Part of Themselves.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Propaganda as an 'Exclusive'

UPDATE @ 2:45 pm - Tisdall and the Guardian are taking unanimous criticism on the Guardian's own pages for this story.

Juan Cole has a few comments, too (once you link to it, scroll down a bit) - I suppose I have to link to this silly article by poor Simon Tisdall in of all places, The Guardian, whom someone is using to push a sinister agenda. (...) It really is discouraging that Tisdall didn't report instead on what crazy things the US military spokesmen in Iraq told him. US military spokesmen have been trying to push implausible articles about Shiite Iran supporting Sunni insurgents for a couple of years now, and with virtually the sole exception of the New York Times, no one in the journalistic community has taken these wild charges seriously. But The Guardian?

Oh, then there's this (another Exclusive - but it's been all over the lefty blogs, too): Patrick Cockburn in The Independent -
Secret US plot to kill Al-Sadr

I dunno, I wonder if Tisdall is trying to counter-trump the fall out from the Cockburn report.

My earlier post this morning @ 9:18 am:

When I read this story this morning in the Guardian, I nearly spilled my tea all over my laptop - Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq

How can a so-called left-liberal newspaper print this US right wing crap? It's just a c/p job from the DoD. The Guardian is to print media what NPR is to radio: a national propaganda machine.

Right after I read the story, I did my daily check in over at the Tomb - How could one persuade The Guardian to produce a lengthy front-page 'exclusive' based on nothing but propaganda from an unnamed US official, with no proof, and nothing but 'US officials say' all over the place?

Adieu, Jerry, Adieu

Elizabeth Kaeton at Telling Secrets writes,

Perhaps Jerry Falwell’s greatest legacy - and lasting curse - will be that he defined for the general public what it means to be "Christian" and, of course, for his "analysis" of the reason for the disaster of 9/11.

A Falwell Christian is one with a negative, narrow view of the human condition, someone who is both judging and judgmental, who grants forgiveness contingent upon a pledge of allegiance to the god of Falwell’s own imaging and conformity to a way of life strictly prescribed by Falwell’s own understanding of the will of God as revealed by his interpretation of the fundamentals of scripture.

When it is learned that someone has died, it has become as automatic to respond, "Rest in Peace" as it is to say, "God Bless You!" when someone sneezes. As a Christian, I pray that’s true for Mr Falwell. Because now, it’s certainly true for many of the rest of us.

Relatedly, Steven Charleston, former Bishop of Alaska and president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School, writes in EpiscopalCafe: Lessons from Jerry

Two theologies

John M Gessell writing in The Covenant Journal - The present crisis in the Episcopal Church (and, indeed, in the worldwide Anglican Communion) is not just about the moral status of homosexuality and its expression.
Homosexuality and scriptural authority in this perspective are wedge issues in a struggle to gain power and to preserve patriarchy in the Church. The blows to male domination which have occurred in the past fifty years threaten patriarchal control and underlie the present hysteria. The end of patriarchal power has engendered conflict, and attempts to force the Church to adopt novel theories of Scriptural authority and to adopt novel systems in its polity under the claim of historical legitimacy and of traditionalism. Those who cannot agree to this takeover are called, ironically, "revisionists."

This conflict is played out through alternative doctrines of God. Though not articulated openly, there is a face-off between the God of love and justice, and the God of judgment and wrath. Both may be found in the Old Testament. On the one hand we can read of a blazing, thunderous, blasting storm-God who strikes down in wrath all who fail to meet his demands. This jealous God of wrath is in contrast to a God of compassion, of a humane God who makes the rainbow promise not to destroy his people. This is God as rescuer, as redeemer, who is relenting and who is ever wooing his people and in whom there is plenteous forgiveness.

God as male authority figure. God as lover. Images of God have consequences that matter. The conflicting images of God profoundly inform the present debate in the Church and its sex wars. The Windsor Report seems to project a God who is judgmental, censorious, legalizing, casting down sinners to keep his Church holy and pure. This is a gospel of intolerance. On the other hand, the Episcopal Church's response to Windsor, "To Set our Hope on Christ," is deeply thoughtful, considering scripture and tradition carefully in its explanation of the Church's actions. It presents a God who is not judgmental, but forgiving, caring, accepting, loving, who seeks to bring all to himself. This God is the firm foundation of a Church that is inclusive and accepting and which calls all to God's table. At this present, the two images are remote from one another and establish unbridgeable gaps in faith.

To put the conflict in alternative terms, we can draw a circle of love and include all of God's children, or we can cast out those we dislike and of whom we disapprove.

PDF link: To Set our Hope on Christ

Saturday, May 19, 2007

In my end is my beginning

We bid adieu today to Subversive Christianity, a blog which began in February of this year and ends today. (deacon's posts will be blanked out totally by tomorrow.) Here's the last post in tribute to a wonderful blog -

This is it. The final post. Countdown's (10-9-8, 7-6-5, 4-3-2) over. Tomorrow I turn out the lights on Subversive Christianity. The Peace Calendar and the subversive links in the left sidebar will remain. The posts will go.
I've thought a lot about how to finish, and finally decided it would be good to repeat the blog's inaugural post.
So here it is.

8 Theses for the Recovery of Christianity

1. Christianity isn't the same as patriotism or civil religion. God doesn't love or protect the United States more than God loves or protects any other nation. The Cross always trumps the flag.

2. Genuine followers of Christ don't read the Bible either selectively or literally.

3. Genuine followers of Christ don't pretend that God blesses participation in warfare or any other form of institutional or personal violence.

4. If the Bible is any standard, God is a lot more worried about poverty, injustice, oppression, hatred, violence, and arrogance than about sex. We should follow God's example.

5. The Bible is a thoroughly political document (in addition to being many other things). The New Testament spells out a clear model (the Kingdom) for how people should live in community with one another. People who deny the Bible's political message generally do so because they disagree with it, not because it's not there.

6. Authentic Christianity is a scandal to the wealthy, powerful, complacent, comfortable, and privileged, because Christ teaches that riches, influence, and security corrupt. The moment Christianity becomes a faith associated with the wealthy, powerful, complacent, comfortable, and privileged, it ceases to live and takes on the character of an idol.

7. Christ was--Christ is--the Great Subverter, the Overthrower, the Cosmic Rebel, Creative Iconoclast, Countercultural Hero, and Gracious Restorer. Those of us who pledge loyalty to Him are likewise called to lives of radical subversion, holy anarchy, and gracious reconciliation.

8. The Church as the Body of Christ is also called to radical subversion, holy anarchy, and gracious reconciliation. But the Church as an institution is continuously tempted, as are all institutions, to strive for status and security. The ensuing tension is symptomatic of the ambiguity of the human condition.

Posted by A deacon, by the grace of God, at 12:24 AM

Catonsville Nine

Subversive Christianity had a post up on Thursday, May 17th, commemorating the thirty-ninth anniversary of the Catonsville Nine’s famous act of civil disobedience during the Vietnam War. How appropriate to the times we live in. I post it in its entirety -

... for the fracture of good order." - Dan Berrigan

Thirty-nine years ago today, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Dan and Phil Berrigan, Marjorie and Tom Melville, Dave Darst, John Hogan, George Mische, Tom Lewis, and Mary Moylan, Roman Catholics all, entered a draft board office in Catonsville, MD, carried nearly 400 draft files out to an adjoining parking lot, and set them on fire with homemade napalm. As Dan Berrigan said, the Catonsville 9, as they came to be known, burned "paper instead of children."
This act of holy obedience/civil disobedience was, I firmly believe, one of those kairos moments in which the Eternal breaks into the temporal and human history pauses in astonishment, bestirs itself, and recommences its journey on a realigned angle. The Catonsville 9 showed the entire country, and indeed the entire world, that there were at least some North American Christians who believed that fidelity to God should trump the demands of the State. In following Jesus' way of nonviolent resistance to injustice, at great cost to themselves, these nine witnesses for peace brought the Beloved Community a bit closer to us all. Speaking personally, their prophetic action was a turning point in my life.
God grant all of us the courage and compassion to follow their example of fracturing the "good" order of our own day and our latest war.
Here are some passages from Dan Berrigan's blank-versed The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, based on the actual court transcripts.

Phil Berrigan:
We have been accused of arrogance
But what of the fantastic arrogance of our leaders
What of their crimes against the people, the poor and powerless
Still no court will try them; no jail will receive them
They live in righteousness. They will die in honor
For them we have one message, for those
in whose manicured hands the power of the land lies
We say to them
Lead us. Lead us in justice
and there will be no need to break the law...
To our bishops and superiors we say
Learn something about the gospel
and something about illegitimate power
When you do, you will liquidate your investments
take a house in the slums or even
join us in jail.

David Darst:
We felt it was fitting that this agent [napalm]
which had burned human flesh
in the war in Vietnam and in many other places
should now be poured on the records
which gave war and violence
their cruel legitimacy...
The government has chosen
to see our cry
as anarchy and arrogance
Perhaps real anarchy lies
in the acts of those
who loose this plague of war
upon a proud people

George Mische (after being chided by the prosecutor for "not sticking" to the issues):
I am trying to speak
as a human being to the jury
who I hope are human beings
and can understand us
Will the jury dare to deal
with the spirit of the law
and the issues we are talking about
If not, we can expect
no peace, no solutions
only disorder and riots
in our country and in the world

John Hogan:
I just want
to let people live
That is all

Tom Lewis (upon being asked by an attorney if he indeed engaged in the Catonsville action):
It was the response of a man
a man standing for humanity, a man
a Christian, a human being
seeing what was happening not only
in Vietnam but beyond Vietnam...
I wasn't concerned with the law
I wasn't even thinking about the law
I was thinking of what those records meant
I wasn't concerned with the law
I was concerned with the lives
of innocent people
I went in there with the intent of stopping
what the files justify
The young men
whose files we destroyed
have not yet been drafted, may not be drafted
may not be sent to Vietnam for cannon fodder
My intent in going there
was to save lives. A person
may break the law to save lives

Marjorie Melville:
We were trying to find out
our role as Christians
Was it to see people's needs
and get involved
or were we to say
Well, this is too difficult
It is too hard to know what to do
Do we stand back
or do we go in
on the side of the people and say
What can I do to help?
...I did not want to bring
hurt upon myself
but there comes a moment
when you decide
that some things should not be
Then you have to act
to try to stop those things

Tom Melville:
I hear our President confuse greatness with strength
riches with goodness, fear with respect
hopelessness and passivity with peace
The cliches of our leaders
pay tribute to property and indifference to suffering

Mary Moylan:
This is what it means to be a Christian
that you act on what you say you believe
This is what
Christ meant when He lived
We have not only to talk
but if we see something wrong
we have to be willing
to do something about it
This is my belief

Dan Berrigan:
The great sinfulness
of modern war is
that it renders concrete things abstract...
Redeem the times!
The times are inexpressibly evil
Christians pay conscious indeed religious tribute
to Caesar and Mars
by the approval of overkill tactics, by brinkmanship
by nuclear liturgies, by racism, by support of genocide
They embrace their society with all their heart
and abandon the cross
They pay lip service to Christ
and military service to the powers of death
And yet, and yet, the times are inexhaustibly good
solaced by the courage and hope of many
The truth rules. Christ is not forsaken
In a time of death some men and women
the resisters, those who work hardily for social change
those who preach and embrace the truth
such men and women overcome death
their lives are bathed in the light of the resurrection
the truth has set them free
In the jaws of death
they proclaim their love of the brethren
We think of such men and women
in the world, in our nation, in the churches
and the stone in our breast is dissolved
we take heart once more

More Impeachment News

On Wednesday Detroit became the largest city whose City Council passed an impeachment resolution, with Pro-Tem Monica Conyers presiding (she is the wife of Judiciary Commitee Chair, John Conyers) - New Momentum for Putting Impeachment on the Table

From last Saturday's meeting with Peter Welch in White River -

Some people are calling the testimony of James Comey, regarding the Dept. of Justice's pressuring former US Attorney General Ashcroft to approve illegal surveillance is being called 'the smoking gun' necessary for impeachment.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

100 + Episcopal Bishops Protest Iraqi Violence

Episcopal News Service - Expressing "deep concern" for the situation in Iraq, more than 100 bishops of the Episcopal Church have written to all United States Senators and Representatives outlining the need for "a careful and reasoned debate" to end the violence "and bring stability and a just peace to the region."
The May 16 letter was also signed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori [, Bishop Tom Ely of the Diocese of Vermont] and two former presiding bishops, the Rt. Revs. Frank Griswold and Edmond Browning.

PDF Text of the letter.

Bill Carroll of Anglican Resistance, comments:

I am glad that the bishops have consistently opposed the war. It means a lot coming from people who are institutional conservatives. They are willing to expend some leadership capital to make their opposition known.

I long for the day when all bishops will consistently lead us in opposition to all forms of capitalism, militarism, and domination. In the name of Christ.

'Teeming Left' and Proud of It

Brattleboro Reformer Editorial - 'Teeming Left' and Proud of It

Wednesday, May 16

John McClaughry, Vermont's most prominent conservative commentator, unleashed another one of his attacks on Windham County and its "hyperactive Impeachment Left," as he called us, in Saturday's Wall Street Journal.
He praised "conscientious" Democrats in the Vermont House who rejected a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

"The Vermont Impeachment Carnival of 2007 is over," declared McClaughry.

Except that it's not. On the same day that his piece hit the newsstands, more than 200 people gathered at Hartford High School to grill Congressman Peter Welch in an emotional two-hour meeting.

To Welch's credit, he praised the people who have worked for more than a year on the impeachment issue, and thanked them for calling attention to the Bush administration's many failures at home and abroad.

However, Welch still believes that impeachment would prolong the war in Iraq.

Few left the school feeling satisfied, save for the hope that Welch might hold another meeting on impeachment -- schedule permitting -- sometime in the future. But Welch got a firsthand look at the deep passion and commitment of the many Vermonters who want to see Bush and Cheney removed from office as soon as possible.

In between sniping at Windham County's "teeming left" and our support for "gay marriage, socialized medicine and shutting down the state's only nuclear power plant," McClaughry did manage to let the rest of America know one important thing about Vermont -- something that is lacking in the other 49 states.

"Vermonters have an abiding belief, nurtured in two centuries of town meetings, that every Vermonter deserves to be heard and every cause deserves an open vote," wrote McClaughry.

This is what has driven the impeachment movement, and every other political movement in Vermont. It took a lot of time for Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin and House Speaker Gaye Symington to come around, but eventually they gave the impeachment movement what it wanted -- a fair hearing of its concerns and a up-or-down vote.

Now it's Welch's turn. He gave Vermonters a fair chance to make their concerns heard, something that other congressmen around the nation probably wouldn't do on a Saturday afternoon. He has made it clear that he opposes impeachment, but Symington and Shumlin did also until the public pressure was unavoidable.

That's why McClaughry is wrong in saying the "impeachment carnival" is over. It's only just begun, and Vermont will continue to lead the way.

The war in Iraq won't end until the Bush administration is removed from power. Democrats think it's safer to let the electoral process run its course and win back the White House in 2008. This assumes that the 2008 election will be free of the vote-stealing and other assorted chicanery we saw in 2000 and 2004. It also assumes that there will be no "October Surprise" in the fall of 2008 that could shift support to the Republicans.

While the current Republican candidates for president are a motley and uninspiring lot, the Democrats shouldn't count on an easy victory in 2008. If they will not impeach Bush and Cheney, they must pick up the pace, investigate and put on the public records the extent of the incompetence, lies and corruption of the past six years. If their investigations follow through to their logical conclusion, it will become impossible not to impeach them.

Peter Welch's Conscience Has Fallen Off the Deep End

Brattleboro Reformer - Welch takes impeachment movement to House floor

Welch's full speech & Dan DeWalt's response is below it -
May 15, 2007

"M. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks
and that my full statement be submitted for the record. I rise to
report on an effort in Vermont that honors the tradition of
Vermonters speaking out on issues of conscience.

"Vermonters take public service, political integrity, and citizen
involvement extremely seriously. This is a tradition that dates back
to our earliest days when Vermont became the first state to ban slavery.

"With rising alarm, Vermonters have watched abuse of power and a
disregard for checks and balances in Washington over the past six
years. Vermonters have such extraordinary concern, particularly with
the prosecution of the war in Iraq, that many are now calling for the
President and Vice President to be impeached.

"Impeachment is an extreme position, but it reflects the collective
judgment of many Vermonters that believe it is necessary to alleviate
extreme circumstances. M. Speaker, I don't believe impeachment is the
answer, but I endorse the indictment of the policies of the current

"What this nation has experienced over the past six years is staggering:

• A war in it's fifth year that was justified based on false
• The politicization of our nation's top law enforcement agency;
• The cavalier disregard for civil liberties and constitutional
• No bid war contracts to well-connected friends;
• The use of signing statements to disregard the law; and,
• The denial of habeas corpus for those in U.S. custody.

"The list could go on and on. These and other transgressions have
caused some Vermonters to rise up and promote the use of impeachment
to restore accountability and curb the abuse of power.

"This impeachment movement started last year in the town of Newfane,
with a population of just 1,700, by Dan DeWalt, a selectman on the
town board. After voting for their town clerk and tax collector, and
voting whether to fund a village sidewalk project and the local
school, the town then voted on a resolution for Congress to initiate
impeachment of the President.

"The initiative that started in this one small southern Vermont town
spread to 40 towns this past March voting to pass measures urging
impeachment. My own hometown of Hartland joined this call. And I've
spoken with my neighbors — farmers, teachers, doctors, and store
owners- about their vote. What they share is an outrage about the
conduct of this Administration and its prosecution of this
unconscionable war.

"Last month, the Vermont General Assembly took up the issue. On April
20, the Vermont State Senate voted 16-9 in favor of Congress
launching impeachment. While the Vermont House of Representatives
defeated the resolution on April 25, it received 60 supportive votes.
Nearly 400 Vermonters representing 102 of Vermont's 251 towns came to
the State House that day to voice their views.

"And this past Saturday, I held a town hall meeting in Hartford to
hear from 250 impeachment advocates for over two hours.

"I applaud these citizen activists who have acted in the Vermont
tradition of taking a principled stand on issues of conscience. They
raise valid concerns about the actions of this Administration and
actions allowed to go unchecked by the previous Congress. They are
right. The concerns they have are well founded.

"However, let me be clear: opinion is divided in Vermont about
whether impeachment is the right remedy... And whether it is the
right tactic. But what motivated this effort reflects a commonly
shared view that this Administration has abused its power and pursued
horribly misguided policies.

"M. Speaker, while I disagree impeachment is the remedy, I completely
share the goal, which is to restore honest and just leadership to our

• Our oversight investigations have exposed the egregiously
substandard care for recovering soldiers at Walter Reed. We heard
about soldiers, still recovering from brain surgery, forced to wander
the grounds of Walter Reed to find the outpatient care they needed.

• Congressional oversight has documented unacceptable accounts of
political interference by the Bush Administration over sound global
warming science. As we face the greatest global environmental,
economic, and security challenge this world as ever faced, political
appointees with no scientific background were editing scientific
research with partisan pens.

• Our probes are uncovering waste, fraud, and abuse associated with
the war in Iraq on an unimaginable scale, including pallets of cash-
$12 billion in $100 bills- flown from the United States to Iraq and
distributed on the back of pick-up trucks.

• And through our oversight and subpoenas, we are vigorously seeking
to expose and investigate the peddling of faulty intelligence the
Administration presented in their case for war. We must demand to
know whether the Administration's active dissemination of bad
intelligence was premeditated with the intention of deceiving the
American people, or was it reckless and cavalier, done to justify a
decision to go to war that had already been made?

"At every corner, step by step, Congress is methodically peeling back
the layers of deception and deceit, holding this Administration
accountable. We must get the facts and follow the facts. And that is
exactly what is being done.

"M. Speaker, this pursuit of impeachment has consequences to real
lives and real people.

I measure every decision I make here in Congress based on whether it
will hasten or delay an end to this war. Nothing illustrates this
urgency more than a phone call I received before a recent trip to
Iraq. The call was from a mother in the town of Brattleboro who lost
her son in this terrible war. She so desired closure over her son's
death, that she asked to accompany me to Iraq so she could see where
her son had died. It was a stark reminder that there is no greater
challenge we face than ending this war.

"I also submit for the record a letter that was read at the Hartland
town meeting from Lisa Johnson of Essex Jct. about the death in Iraq
of her son Captain Pierre Piche'.

"I am proud of the Vermonters pushing for facts, prodding for
accountability, and demanding oversight.

"As I travel around the state, meeting with Vermonters, I also hear a
sense of optimism: it is the optimism that comes from Congress
restoring the checks and balances that had for too long been lost and
an optimism from seeing a Congress finally getting down to making
progress with new priorities and a new direction for this country.

"Thank you M. Speaker."

Dan DeWalt's response:

Welch's Citizen Appeasement Speech

Peter Welch spoke on the floor of the U.S. House today explaining to the Congress why Vermonters in ever greater numbers are calling for impeachment. While it is good for members of Congress and for those who watch C-Span to hear about our sentiments, a speech is a miserable substitute for action.

Congressman Welch wants to end this war yesterday he says, but he has thus far only voted to further fund it. Impeachment will divide the Congress and only prolong the war he says, but he cannot point to a single action of Congress that has taken one step to even slow the pace of the occupation.

Welch thanks impeachment activists and says that while he opposes impeachment, he supports the indictment that we make against the Bush administration. He can’t have it both ways. The prosecutor doesn’t thank the grand jury for their hard work, agree with their call for indictment, and then toss it in the trash on his way out of the courthouse. But that is exactly what Peter Welch is doing and some people will try to tell us that we should be grateful to him for doing it.

Impeachment is the only Constitutional tool that we have left in the toolbox that could actually block
this administration from furthering their reckless military stance. Impeachment is the only workable
remedy that could help to redeem us in the eyes of the rest of the world.

This Democratic Congress has betrayed us. They pull at some dried skin of a reeking onion, but
they refuse to investigate the rot that is spreading from its core. “Look, “ they say, “we snipped those brown edges of the skin, it’s a fine onion again. Aren’t we good cooks?” A mere 40 Senators could prevent any further funding of this war, providing only a way to pay for withdrawal, but there are not yet 40 Senators who are brave or principled enough to do so.

While Welch waits for the Republicans to magically join the Democratic war (non) strategy and then convince this President to change his mind, a handful of his colleagues have already called for impeachment investigations against Dick Cheney. It is sad that our Congressman is content with so little. It is as whimsical for him to think that he’s taking steps to end this war as it is for the President to think that he’s winning it.

Our Congressman is not yet convinced that we represent the views of an overwhelming number of
Vermonters. He will be disabused of this notion in the coming days and weeks. There will be petition and post card drives that will give notice of just how many we are.

We are fed up with vacuous leadership. We are fed up with excuses. We are above all fed up with mediocre rhetoric masquerading as substance. This is a call for civil obedience to the Constitution by those who have sworn to defend it. It may well be the last call before massive civil disobedience is seen as the only way left to get our government to become once again “for the people”.

Warrior Royals

Prince Henry of Wales won't be going to Iraq. Good reason to bring the rest of 'em home now, you'd think.

The government has other reasons.
Why give him the celebrity treatment? I've never understood why, in 2007, the royals still train their children to be military warriors. Just imagine if Harry had spoken out against this immoral and illegal war. (As if...) The royals are too tied in with the Establishment, which has given Harry excuses before, when he's played soldier of a
different sort.

It is hard enough luck being a monarch, without being a target also.
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

There are shams and shams; there are frauds and frauds, but the transparentest of all is the sceptered one. We see monarchs meet and go through solemn ceremonies, farces, with straight countenances; but it is not possible to imagine them meeting in private and not laughing in each other's faces.
- Mark Twain's Notebook

I wish I might live fifty years longer; I believe I should see the thrones of Europe selling at auction for old iron. I believe I should really see the end of what is surely the grotesquest of all the swindles ever invented by man-- monarchy.
- [Mark Twain] Letter to Sylvester Baxter of Boston Herald, 1889

Strip the human race, absolutely naked, and it would be a real democracy. But the introduction of even a rag of tiger skin, or a cow tail, could make a badge of distinction and be the beginning of a monarchy.
- Mark Twain's Notebook

Monarchy has speech, and by it has been able to persuade man that it differs somehow from the rattlesnake, has something valuable about it somewhere, something worth preserving, something even good and high and fine, when properly "modified," something entitling it to protection from the club of the first comer who catches it out of its hole.
- Mark Twain - unpublished letter on the Czar, 1890

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

NATO Considers Rapid Reaction Force To Help Big Oil

RickB at Ten Percent has an important post up today, which deserves to be read in full -

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.-


Jamie Shea, director of policy planning in the office of Nato’s secretary-general, said the proposal may mean sending Nato forces to Africa, Asia and the Middle East to protect oil companies’ facilities.
“In Nato, we are looking very actively at using our maritime resources,” Shea told a conference in London on Monday. He said Nato wanted to “see how we can link up with oil companies”.
Shea said he had so far discussed the issue with Royal Dutch Shell and BP, respectively the world’s second- and third-largest Western oil companies by market value.-

Our Environmental Footprints

Jeffery St Clair disagrees with his co-editor, Alexander Cockburn, over at Counterpunch - The Earth is Warming, We Did It, Gore Won't Solve It
Here's where my skepticism comes in. Humans have contributed to global warming, but seem utterly incapable of solving. Al Gore offers rhetoric not solutions. He had his shot for eight years and his administration couldn't even come up with an alternative energy policy. Kyoto was a hollow half measure, weakened even further by the Clinton administration, and Gore didn't even try to push that through the US Senate. Three strikes and you're out, Al Gore places most of the blame on individual consumption and not on corporate rapaciousness and the capitalist system that is driving nearly every environmental crisis, including climate change. You will search his essays, books, speech and films in vain for any sustained critique of corporate behavior. Instead, he offers the tired neoliberal approach of tax incentives and carbon credits that rewards those with the most blood on their hands.
The Independent, always a beacon of environmental reporting, has this -

Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming

Eurovision 2007

Americans go apeshit for the Grammys in February, but in May Europeans get their turn with the Eurovision Song Contest. I couldn't care a rat's ass for either, but whenever I'm in the Netherlands in May and Eurovision comes around, it's like Super Bowl Sunday.

Eurovision 2007 was held last weekend.

Loyalty to one's country always plays a role in viewers' picks, but, as Martin Wisse explains, this year's BBC coverage of the contest was bigotry run amok.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Oil Guzzlin' GewGaws in Houston

Yesterday was the 20th annual Art Car Parade in Houston.
Art Cars or art mobiles usually begin their lives as an older or used vehicle (car, truck, van, bus, jeep, golf cart, etc.). The owner of the car decides they want to alter their automobile, not necessarily converting what's under the hood (unless it is a lowrider.)* but instead transforming the exterior/ interior of the car. To what degree and how this transformation is made is entirely up to the imagination, skills and resources of the car owner.

As the Chron reports, it's now become a corporate parade.

COMMENT: The Art Car Parade's origins were definitely iconoclastic and countercultural and gave Houston's alternative art scene a chance to show off their creativity. It made life in Houston funky and tolerable for me. But it's weird to see something like this happen in the current era of global warming. Houstonians love their cars, but what about the pollution these old klunkers cause? There was no mention of alternative vehicles in the Chron story.

Saturday's Impeachment Confab with Welch

I didn't make it but Peter Freyne did.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The injustice reeking under our noses

Garret Keizer Burlington Free Press - Let's hear it for the UVM 12

The UVM 12 are in a whole different league. Thank God, they aren't on a whole different planet. That's where middle-class activism tends to go these days, especially when it's hoping to get off on the cheap. Let's talk about polar bears in the Arctic or lamas in Tibet, anything but the injustice reeking under our noses -- anything that won't raise the taxes or put a crimp in the fun.

And I want the UVM administration to make good on its promise to study their issue further. What the strikers demanded is exemplary for any institution that calls itself the University of Vermont: exemplary of what Vermont as a whole must do if it wants to be worthy of its constant self-congratulation; exemplary of what it means, in the best sense, to be an educated human being.

Background story on the strike

Homophobia in Burlington

Vandals have smashed windows at RU12? Queer Community Center on Elmwood. The police are calling it a hate crime. The story was inside the Vermont section in the Free Press. The story merited front page coverage. Systemic homophobia is alive and well in Burlington. It will be interesting to see if there is a follow-up story on the BPD investigations and how much priority they will give to it.

COMMENT: The paper labels RU12? as a 'gay advocacy' group. From the comments on this story, some people think advocacy is deplorable. But all too often the queer community has been shunned by the hetero's. Who's going to stand up for injustice and systemic homophobia? RU12? is actually an education and community center for all of Burlington. I would encourage str8 Burlington to check out the activities there, drop in, listen to the stories of the members, become an ally, and connect on a human level.

and this...

The Vermont Attorney General's Office has decided not to pursue an appeal of a judicial ruling that dismissed hazing charges against a University of Vermont fraternity [...] stemm[ing] from a so-called "Brokeback Mountain" party in March 2006 in which pledges were allegedly taunted with homophobic language.

You will recall the hoopla about Judge Edward Cashman in January, 2006, but I see no one callng for the resignation of Judge Charon True or Attorney General William Sorrel.

COMMENT: By True's action and Sorrel's inaction, they're allowing systemic homophobia to continue in Vermont.

Much Beloved Daughter

Educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman and you educate a community.

2007 marks the centenary of Li Tim-Oi, the first Anglican woman priest. I didn't know this: we share the same birthday.

She is one of my heroes; I had the good fortune to meet this gentle, humble soul when she came to Houston in the late 1980s.

Tim-Oi's birthday commemoration comes nearly 31 years after the Episcopal Church voted at its 65th General Convention to open all three orders of ordained ministry to women.

Today, the ordination of women is widely -- but not universally -- accepted in the Episcopal Church. An entire generation, both in chronological age and in terms of their membership in the Episcopal Church, has known nothing but a church in which women serve as priests.

Christina Rees writes today about her in the Guardian.
After Li Tim-Oi died in 1992, her sister established a foundation in her honour that gives grants for training Anglican women in the developing world. Over 200 have been trained so far.

The Li Tim-Oi Foundation has been relaunched as It Takes One Woman.

Here's Rees writing about her visit to east Africa, where some of the woman ITOW has helped -
Every woman I met was challenging her own culture about practices that they believed clashed with the Christian gospel. They were also bravely challenging their own churches where they met collusion with harmful practices and colleagues turning a blind eye to behaviour contributing to the spread of HIV/Aids. In addition to their Christian work, many of them were teaching people in their communities ways of becoming economically self-sufficient. I came away convinced that these women hold the key to ending traditions and practices which are damaging to women and that they are uniquely placed to help end the spread of HIV/Aids.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Welch's Strategy is Immoral

Burlington Free Press - Welch backs compromise to fund war

"Americans want a new direction in Iraq," Welch said in a speech on the House floor early Thursday afternoon. "The time has come to bring our troops home, with their heads held high, honored for a job well done." [...] Welch, who has vowed in the past not to support legislation that would provide additional war funding, defended his support for the compromise measure as a tactical way of maintaining pressure on President Bush to change his position on the war.

Of course, it's all part of Welch's strategy. (One hopes the Vermont voters will open their eyes enough to recognise his political posturing.) Welch says Americans want a change of course. No they don't - they want us out of Iraq (so do the Iraqis). He wants to honor the troops for a job well done. That's Welchspeak for supporting the troops. (He doesn't want to lose the pro-war Vermont Dem voters - you know, the chickehawk Keogh types - when he's up for re-election.) Peter Welch says he's against this war, but his vote yesterday still affirms a commitment to fund an immoral and illegal war and occupation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Iraqi Production [or Profit] Sharing Agreements = End of the Iraqi Nation

I've been aware of the Iraqi PSAs for a long time, but the real story of bush and cheney's, with the corporatist ruling duopoly parties' conivance, has rarely been covered in the MSM.

Thanks to Edgeing - I have written many times before that those PSAs, developed by Cheney's "Energy Team" (whose members cheney will still not reveal), was written and approved by Washington Insiders before we invaded Iraq in 2003. For anyone believing that such an agreement, a deal made and sealed prior to the invasion of Iraq was made for the benefit of the Iraqis, I have a small bridge in Fallujah I can sell you at a very cheap price.

That is precisely why cheney went to Iraq to order Maliki not to recess parliament for two months, as he was previously warned that should those PSAs not be signed by June 30th Maliki's government will be cast out and another government willing to give away the country's oil put into place

Quoting Mother Jones -
The Iraqi oil deal set to go before the country's parliament next month could spell the end of the country as a nation state, and signals a major Bush victory in the war. The proposed law not only opens the door to the big international oil companies, but offers them lucrative contract deals, and even a place on the national oil board that will run the industry.

Iraqi Union Set to Strike over Oil Law

And let's not forget, our Vermont congressional delegation supported this as a benchmark in the Iraqi Occupation supplemental funding bills.

Iraqi Parliament to USA: Get the fuck out of here...

Via Ten Percent - On Tuesday, without note in the U.S. media, more than half of the members of Iraq’s parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country. 144 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal, according to Nassar Al-Rubaie, a spokesman for the Al Sadr movement, the nationalist Shia group that sponsored the petition.-

I remember Anthony ‘the getaway’ Blair saying we were there because the ‘democratically’ elected Iraqi govt. wanted us there, well now they have voted for a timetable for withdrawal. So we’ll be leaving then? Huh?

Real Presidential Debates? As if!

The Washington Post opposes real debates. They want the debates modeled on American fucking Idol!

Undernews - [The Washington Post, which can't stand things getting out of its control, produced this editorial on the recent presidential debates, an editorial that neatly ignores the fact that Gravel and Kucinich best represented the views of a majority of Americans on Iraq and that Ron Paul was the most interesting person in the GOP lineup. Leaving aside the perverse anti-democratic presumption that candidates should be judged by how much money they raised, debates are not polls. They are, for want of a better term, debates and the last thing one wants in a debate is three or four people all trying to say the same thing better than the others. The minute you get a Gravel, Paul or Perot into the debate, the discussion becomes real, which, of course, this is precisely what the Washington Post doesn't want]

Democrats Play Snuff Politics on Single Payer

Typical innit? -

The Dems, along with the Repubs, want to
the corporate health insurance industry. They don't realise, as the majority of Americans do, that there is a better way.

Physicians for a National Healthcare Program

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Cityscape III: New Yorkers, Signs & Symbols

Fifth Avenue Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fifth Avenue Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

42nd Street Grace Building

Park Avenue St Bart's Choir and Chancel

Union Square A Woman's Plea & Washington Square Park Sign

Cityscape II: New Yorkers, Signs & Symbols II

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Lexington Avenue Entrance (from my hotel room)

New York Public Library - 42nd Street side

Fifth Avenue Balloons

Fifth Avenue After the Parade

Fifth Avenue Takashimaya Department Store

Fifth Avenue 'Salute to Israel Day' Parade

Fifth Avenue Protest

Central Park West Outside the Park

Central Park West The Woman Has Class (My favourite of the lot.)

Bryant Park Behind the Library

Cityscape I: New Yorkers, Signs & Symbols I

Thompson Street Greenwich Village Outside Lupa

Washington Square Park One Person's Protest

Fifth Avenue, New York Public Library Lion

Park Avenue St Bart's Nave Ceiling

Park Avenue Springtime Yellow

Washington Square Arch (Detail)

Park Avenue South Saigon Grill Delivery Workers' Strike

Washington Square Park A Happy Couple

Fifth Avenue Metropolitan Museum of Art (Detail)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Fifth of May

On 5 May, the Dutch celebrate Liberation Day, Vermonters GreenUp, the Mexicans enjoy pescador borracho (which I did last night at Rocque). This morning, I'm off to NYC for a double whammy long weekend celebration. A friend graduates from NYU on Monday and today is my birthday! Actually, my birth certificate says I was born on 5 mei at 5:20 a.m. in the Sint Anna Paviljoen at the Onze Lieve Gasthuis (hospital) in Amsterdam. I'll return next Wednesday. Tot ziens!
Here's a song for you which shows my age!

Friday, May 4, 2007

The GOP's Darker Motives

The Texas Observer on the Texas voter i.d. bill.

The Scam of Carbon Offsets

Queen Elizabeth II, currently in this country for a state visit, may have done a bit of carbon trade-offs on her flight to America, but Derek Wall, of the UK Green Party, writes that these kinds of environmental schemes are a con -

Carbon offset sounds promising but the Green Party is critical of how it works in practice. We would echo many of the criticisms of the Durban group, which suggest that the framework within which present policy works is both ineffective and biased toward the interests of elite groups.

First, some schemes are simply fraudulent and are at best based on dubious accounting. For example, if you fly carbon is emitted today but by planting a tree is absorbed over decades (and released if the tree dies). Strong legislation is needed to make sure that carbon is actually off set, often it is not.

Second, some schemes involving taking land out of the hands of local people in developing countries who often practice a low carbon and ecologically sensitive lifestyle. Plantar SA in Brazil have received and Chris Lang has produced evidence of abuse of local people for carbon offset in Uganda.

Third, it allows the relatively prosperous to continue polluting while shifting the burden on to poorer citizens. It reduces guilt without tackling the fundamental problem of moving to a low carbon economy.

Using carbon offset as part of the calculations for carbon reduction nationally is particularly problematic. We need to cut carbon not continue producing it. Carbon offset can be related to the weakness inherent in the Stern approach which while based on good intentions, fails to look at the need for structural change and tends to ignore the political context necessary for meaningful action.

Durban Group for Climate Change