Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today, the First Sunday of Advent, at St Paul's Cathedral we prayed for all sorts and conditions close-by and far away. Then we sang this hymn
Take our fears, then, Lord
and turn them into hopes for life anew:
Fading light and dying season
sing their Glorias to you.

Speak, O God, your Word among us.
Barren lives your presence fill.
Swell our hearts with songs of gladness,
terrors calm, forebodings still.

Let your promised realm of justice
blossom now throughout the earth;
your dominion bring now near us;
we await the saving birth.
Words Dean W. Nelson (b. 1944) * Music TON-Y-BOTEL, Thomas John Williams (1869-1944)

Friday, November 28, 2008


Episcopal Café is asking readers to participate in something called the Blog Reader Project Survey.
It will take about eight to ten minutes of your time.
What a come-on. Why not participate? It's easy peasy to take part in our rushed lives. So I left this comment:
Thought it would be harmless, so I started to do this "survey," but stopped at the passport question (do I have a current one?). Huh? What does that have to do reading a blog? This is no innocuous survey. You think it's not likely to offend or provoke to strong emotion among your readers? Why would Episcopal Café support such an initiative? Very strange for a religious blog. Who is actually behind this "survey"? Did you do your research? I'm not usually paranoid, but I'm suspicious about the real purpose of these kinds of information gathering. I think you should re-think your participation. Sure, it's voluntary but this avid reader of the Café doesn't buy it.
The comments are moderated, so we'll see if mine is published. And I wonder what other readers of the Café think.


My comment was approved, with the following
Editor's note: The Blog Reader Project is well-known and widely respected throughout the secular blogosphere. It is used by all of the bloggers in the Advertising Liberally collective including the Peabody Award winning Talking Points Memo. The Cafe may, at some point, want to solicit advertising. Our preliminary research indicates that even seemingly Mom and Pop concerns want information above and beyond what Webalizer or Google Analytics can provide. Hence, the survey.
Peer-liberal blog approval or not, I find the potential use of it for advertising on the Café irksome. 'Tis the season to spend, after all. Why wasn't this stated in the 'invitation'? Does that matter to the readers? Apparently not, because people are admitting they've done the survey.


RickB at Ten Percent has an astute commentary on the agreement between Iraq and the US to remove US forces from that country. I was struck by yesterday's New York Times headline: "Iraq Approves Deal Charting End of U.S. Role" and how the reader had to search really deep in the article about the details. Of course, the head line should have read: "Iraq Approves Deal Charting End of U.S. Occupation," but as a commenter on Rick's piece notes,
I don’t know if you have seen the Justice for Iraq blog [I add the link] that has something by Sami Ramadani who says SOFA is an illusion and the American establishment want to stay in Iraq for as long as the oil is there and it is a good political vantage point. SOFA is about getting the UN out of the way and the US are arguing for a military presence.


Look at any newspaper front page in the last day or two and you'll see screaming headlines about the blood and gore in Mumbai, India. As for analysis, there's little, because most people have just not followed India closely. Those people sort of thing, mainly because what's happening is not european or USA focussed (unless, of course, they start counting westerns caught in the mess). Or maybe it's just the holiday this week and people are away eating turkey and we'll read more after they're back from quality family time. Alot of the American bloggers reactions remind me of the reactions to the Georgian invasion into South Ossetia last summer: taken by surprise and a show of ignorance about the area and its politics - and even the media did not do its homework and still (along with both major party candidates) claim it was Russia's provocation.

But on my regular/daily/favourite blog reads, they are paying attention.

Craig Murray
The attacks in Mumbai are appalling, but the truth is that to date the numbers killed are small by the standards of inter-communal religious violence in India.

But this time Westerners are involved, so there is far more media attention than when it is "Only Indians".

Lenin's Tomb goes to some length...
The shocking and depressing news from India would seem to defy any glib conclusions or slogans beyond the patently obvious - namely, that this grotesque hunting and killing of innocents is likely to succeed in (what appears to be) its principle aim of generating both a repressive response from the Indian state and a communal reaction.

Moon of Alabama has some here and here:
There was no clear target.

The major attacks were on a railway station, two big hotels, a multiplex movie theater and a bar. Two taxis were blown up. Two terrorists allegedly were at a hospital.

Of the dead only 6 were foreigners, of the wounded 7. While those hotels and the bar frequently have foreigners those numbers and the attack on the railway station and the cinema do not fit to an "attack on foreigners" scheme.

Ten Percent cites the Tomb article & points us to twitter.

And the commentator Tariq Ali chimes in, too.
The terrorist assault on Mumbai’s five-star hotels was well planned, but did not require a great deal of logistic intelligence: all the targets were soft. The aim was to create mayhem by shining the spotlight on India and its problems and in that the terrorists were successful. The identity of the black-hooded group remains a mystery.

All I can say is
Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Daily Reading for November 27 • Thanksgiving Day
Give thanks to the Lord who is good.
God’s love is everlasting.

Come, let us praise God joyfully.
Let us come to God with thanksgiving.

For the good world; for things great and small, beautiful and awesome; for seen and unseen splendors:
Thank you, God.

For human life; for talking and moving and thinking together; for common hopes and hardship shared from birth until our dying:
Thank you, God.

For work to do and strength to work; for the comradeship of labor; for exchanges of good humor and encouragement:
Thank you, God.

For marriage; for the mystery and joy of flesh made one; for mutual forgiveness and burdens shared; for secrets kept in love:
Thank you, God.

For family; for living together and eating together; for family amusements and family pleasures:
Thank you, God.

For children; for their energy and curiosity; for their brave play and their startling frankness; for their sudden sympathies:
Thank you, God.

For the young; for their high hopes; for their irreverence toward worn-out values; for their search for freedom; for their solemn vows:
Thank you, God.

For growing up and growing old; for wisdom deepened by experience; for rest in leisure; and for time made precious by its passing:
Thank you, God.

For your help in times of doubt and sorrow; for healing our diseases; for preserving us in temptation and danger:
Thank you, God.

For the church into which we have been called; for the good news we received by Word and Sacrament; for our life together in the Lord:
We praise you, God.

For your Holy Spirit, who guides our steps and brings us gifts of faith and love; who prays in us and prompts our grateful worship:
We praise you, God.

Above all, O God, for your Son Jesus Christ, who lived and died and lives again for our salvation; for our hope in him; and for the joy of serving him:
We thank and praise you, Eternal God, for all your goodness to us.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good.
God’s love is everlasting. Amen.

“Litany of Thanksgiving” from the Book of Common Worship (1993), quoted in The Wideness of God’s Mercy: Litanies to Enlarge Our Prayer, revised and updated edition, compiled and adapted by Jeffery Rowthorn with W. Alfred Tisdale. Copyright © 2007. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.
(This litany was posted today on Episcopal Café's Speaking to the Soul. Many thanks.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


In today's Burlington Free Press:

Council wants more information on Cate affair
Several Burlington city councilors want more information about the firing and reinstatement of the city's waterfront director.

The Parks and Recreation Commission reinstated Adam Cate last week after the administration of Mayor Bob Kiss fired him following a prolonged investigation
But if you go to the last bit of the Briggs article, there's this:
Kiss said that while the process was lengthy, "time can't be the measure of a successful process." He added that the Cate suspension and investigation had been a personnel issue. He said it was "certainly not political."
C'mon, how disingenuous can he get! Whether good ol' boy or not, all government personnel issues - hiring and firing (or resigning) - whether federal, state or municipal, are 'political.' An uninformed public may accept Mr Mayor's explanation. Open and transparent government in Burlington still needs work. Surely Burlington citizens deserve as much information as possible about 'Categate.'

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


"I never thought they would kill us because we were just ordinary people," says Saih. "I only realised [what they were going to do] when they began the countdown... Een, twee, drie." Three soldiers started shooting the men in the back. in partnership with NRC International:
Dutch refuse compensation for Indonesian massacre

The Dutch state will not pay compensation to a survivor and nine family members of Indonesians in the village of Rawagede who were massacred by Dutch soldiers 60 years ago because the case is too old.
The Indonesians’ attorney, Liesbeth Zegveld, told AP news service on Monday that she was surprised by the ruling. "I am surprised they dare to invoke this," she said referring to the statute in which a time limit is specified for compensation claims. "I find it unreasonable," she added.... more
The ruling sounds hypocritical to me. Sixty years is not too old. Victims of the 1939-45 war continue to be 'compensated.'

I wrote about the massacre in Java here and here.

Monday, November 24, 2008


A comment over at GMD:
Has anyone else noticed that lately the sponsorship list for NPR News / All Things Considered has included funding the the Department of Homeland Security???

I just mention it in case anyone still thinks of NPR as any kind of neutral news organization (I guess it was here that someone suggested NPR = Nice Polite Republicans).

But it still gives me the heebie-jeebies. The blurb is about how DHS is working to help employers by "confirming" the employable status of foreign workers. Uh huh. I don't think they've made those services available to the farmers of Vermont.
I'm no fan of National Propaganda Radio. I'd call the DHS 'sponsorship' an invitation for media collusion; they've done everything else in the past 8 years to push the government agenda. Not to mention any criticism of DHS by NPR could now be seen as....dissident. I wonder what the NPR ombudsperson would say.


Free giveaway newspaper De Pers reports that Dutch soldiers in the Afghan province of Uruzgan are afraid to use their guns for fear of legal repercussions.

Wim van den Burg of the military union AFMP says "There is so much uncertainty over their legal position that it leads to hesitation. That can be life-threatening".

Mr Van den Burg says that despite the fact that more than 4,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan since early this year, the cabinet still pretends the Netherlands is involved in a peace mission.

"Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan are treated differently - from a legal perspective - to their US counterparts even if they face the same combat situation".

According to De Pers, the Dutch military criminal code is behind the times.
Labour MP Angelien Eijsink will ask Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop for clarification later this week.

"I have also heard reports that soldiers are sometimes afraid to take action. There are loopholes in the law. They need to be fixed fast."

Mayors want to licence growing marijuana

Monday 24 November 2008

Marijuana should be grown under government licence and supplied to the 700 or so coffee shops that sell cannabis in the Netherlands, according to over 30 Dutch mayors.

This is the conclusion of the ‘cannabis summit’ on Friday at which the mayors discussed the country’s policy on soft drugs.

The mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel, said his city is prepared to run a ‘monitored pilot scheme’ to assess if a system of licenced growers reduces drugs-related crime....more
Also from Drugs - Weeding out the myths

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Not to be missed from The Independent:

Obama has surrounded himself with to Clintonista foreign policy hawks. Amazing (but not surprising) that the hawks who supported and advised Hillary in the primaries now get Obama's listening ear. Don't blame me, I voted for Nader.


The lavish hospitality of God is radically different from Martha Stewart's. As ludicrous as that sounds, it all boils down to imitating the table manners of Jesus.

Today is the Last Sunday after Pentecost, also known as Christ the King Sunday or Stir-Up Sunday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Chris Floyd's blog appears in the side-bar over at Dennis Perrin's, so it's gotta be a good read. I've been checking it out the past few weeks. Here's something the Democrats don't want to admit, but what Mr Floyd had to say recently in his post last Thursday.
So perhaps we do wrong to criticize Obama and Brown, on policy grounds, for their intention to kill more civilians and kindle more hatred and sorrow in Afghanistan. After all, we are told over and over how very intelligent these two leaders are, how well-read, how penetrating, far-seeing and deep-delving they are, especially in comparison to their fatuous predecessors. The glaringly obvious folly – in human terms, and on the moral plane – of escalating the war in Afghanistan, and possibly expanding it into Pakistan, cannot have escaped such perceptive men. Therefore, we can only conclude that their policies, like those of their predecessors, are based on altogether different considerations, ones in which the lives of the Afghan people, and the genuine security of their own people, are of little concern.

For this is the hard truth – the blood-and-iron truth – that our age has taught us so well: war is always a win-win proposition for the corporate-militarist state that has devoured the American Republic. Even if the particular conflict itself ends badly or inconclusively, it always engenders vast profits and increased power and privilege for the corporate-militarist elite -- and the temporary managers they graciously allow the American people to "choose" from a rigorously sifted, highly circumscribed menu of "viable" candidates. So it doesn't matter if this war or that war is "ill-conceived" or "badly managed" or a "serious mistake" or "the wrong war at the wrong time," or if its public justifications are based on lies or ignorance or arrogance, or if it bankrupts the treasury, beggars the citizenry, and destabilizes the world. The small, golden, coddled circle still reaps dividends of profit and dominance.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yesterday it was announced that the president-elect has chosen former senator Tom Daschle to be HHS secretary. When he was a senator, he was one of the biggest recipients of campaign donations from the health care industry. Since he left the senate, he’s had a position advising a Washington legal and lobbying firm on a number of issues, notably health care. That firm’s lobbying clients include a number of pharmaceutical companies.

Indeed, in yesterday's NYT:
Although Mr. Daschle’s work might not preclude his appointment, it could raise the possibility that the administration could require him to recuse himself from any matter related to either the Mayo Clinic or some of the clients he advised at Alston & Bird — a potentially broad swath of the health secretary’s portfolio.

No presidential administration has sought to extend its conflict-of-interest policies to previous employers as Mr. Obama has pledged to do, earning high marks from government ethics groups. Mr. Daschle’s selection reflects a clash, widely predicted by Washington lawyers and lobbyists, between Mr. Obama’s unusually sweeping self-imposed ethics rules and his desire to recruit experienced policy hands.
Change we can believe in.

In a pathetic round-table discussion last night on PBS’s Newshour, Judy Woodruff was joined by
Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, a national trade association representing health insurance providers;

Stuart Butler, vice president for domestic and economic policy at the Heritage Foundation;

Chris Jennings, former senior health policy adviser to president Clinton, now president of Jennings Policy Strategies, a health policy consulting firm;

and Uwe Reinhardt, professor of economics and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (he of managed care, which gave “consumers” a “choice,” but was controlled by insurance companies that put profits before patient care).
All these expert analysts used the current financial crisis as an explanation and excuse for preventing Obama's "desire" for real and serious health care reform. All are tied to the status quo of health care delivery in this country.

Judy Woodruff did not invite any working people, patients or physicians into the discussion mix. The Newshour's experts don't know what the citizens want, but speaking for their corporate connections, they presume to know what's best for us. Not once during the discussion was single payer mentioned.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, has introduced a bill - HR676 - for single payer, making it unlawful to sell private health insurance for benefits that are medically necessary.

57% of Americans, when asked about their choice for health care delivery, have said they want it government sponsored. (70% of Democratic primary voters want it.) Even back in August, the Democratic platform snuffed out single payer in the mix for health care reform solutions.

In the interest of a true discussion and debate, why didn’t Woodruff have representatives from the California Nurses Association or Physicians for a National Healthcare Program? Both groups have called for single payer. (Although the CNA supported Obama.) Why not include Vermont’s own Dr Deb Richter, former president of PNHP or its founders Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein?


The Coffee Memorial Blood Center in Amarillo, Texas, is working with area hospitals to reduce unnecessary blood transfusions in an effort to address low blood supplies. The Northwest Texas Healthcare System has tapped a company with a Web-based program that can analyze whether or not patients should have received a blood transfusion, helping to educate staff on blood use. The Baptist St. Anthony's Health System is using Cell Saver, a device that collects patients' blood during surgery and prepares to pump it back if needed.

This idea is nothing new. When at St Luke's in Houston, already Texas Heart Institute had developed ways to save blood during surgeries. Fortunately, some doctors have been educated about efficiency in transfusion medicine. The days of only whole blood transfusion are over.


Today, the much ado headline on NPR's World news site belies the actual facts: Iran Has Enough Uranium For Single Atomic Bomb, with the following "story"
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran has produced close to 1,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium. If that material were to be enriched further, experts say it would probably be enough to make a single atomic bomb. The achievement is largely symbolic at this point.
My emphasis in bold.

If you click "listen now" to Mike Shuster and Steve Inskeep, on today's Morning Edition, these words and phrases stand out:
"If that material were to be enriched, it would probably..."

"that sounds kind of frightening"

"largely theortetical"

"theoretically" [I counted that word used three times.]

"symbolic figure"

"If they so chose, they maybe could go on to enrich it in a bomb"

"a theoretical threshold"
But the general sense, very subtly presented, in their exchange is that Iran should not be trusted. Moon of Alabama blog gives some further examples of false, sensational reporting by the MSM.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008



According to reports in the Dutch media, many attacks on gay and lesbians are carried out by young immigrants. But the recent report shows that only 15 percent of the perpetrators are non-native. René van Soeren of the Dutch organisation for gays and lesbians, COC, says he is not surprised by these findings.

The COC is getting signals from its own community that - in the Netherlands' bigger cities in particular - these crimes are indeed very often committed by people from an immigrant background. But in the rural part of the country, which is the larger part, they're mostly perpetrated by native people, Mr Van Soeren says.... more


In a yet another Burlington Free Press PR puff piece yesterday it is claimed the Centers for Disease Control has named Burlington as America's healthiest city [sic] The CDC would never in a million years state this; the article is pure City of Burlington interpretation with the Free Press acting as its mouthpiece.

Nowhere in that article will you read that toxic waste products continue to be added to our drinking water.

Yes, Safe Water Advocates of Burlington are back, under new leadership.
Come One, Come All, to the Website Launch Party for SWAB VT (Safe Water Advocates of Burlington, Vermont), at Bite Me Organic Pizzeria, 457 St. Paul St., on Wednesday from 6 to 9! Slices are buy-one, get-one-free. The Itinerary is as follows:

6:00: Sign the petition to End Water Fluoridation!
6:30: Documentary Showing: "Professional Perspectives"
7:00: Campaign Leaders explain the nature of SWAB VT's campaign to end water fluoridation, clarify the volunteer opportunities, and hold a Q&A session about fluoridation and the What's In Our Water? campaign.
8:00: makes its Debut!

Please, invite three friends to this event, and show up yourselves! The space is small but we want it to be cozy! We can't wait to see you and get this party kicked off right!

Wishing you well,
Carlie, Kevin and Geoff of SWAB VT: Advocating for your right to safe tap water.


LENIN'S TOMB Obama's two constituencies
Obama's appointments, the only major policy signals he can make at the moment, thus far reflect his commitment to the Wall Street constituency rather than to those worst off in American society. Thus, we have endless Clinton-era appointments, Senator Clinton offered the position of Secretary of State (which reports say she has accepted), Republicans offered top posts (it looks as if Robert Gates has been begged to stay on as Secretary of Defense) and a right-wing scumbag from the Chicago boss politics scene and the Democratic Leadership Council named Rahm Emmanuel made chief-of-staff. Thus far, organised labour hasn't got a look-in as far as appointments are concerned, but representatives of corporate America saturate the economic advisory board. Selecting Clinton as Secretary of State indicates that Obama intends to run a hawkish foreign policy, and it also demonstrates that he genuinely wasn't all that upset about the Clinton team's endless race-baiting and crazed smears in the primary. The vast majority of Obama's voters will already have cause for grave disappointment.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


VERMONT INTERFAITH POWER & LIGHT Newsletter November, 2008
At a ceremony in October, a new array of solar panels was dedicated at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, given by the
White Flowers Foundation and the children of church member
Ann Flowers in honor of Ann's 80th birthday. Bishop Thomas
Ely was present to celebrate with the family, the congregation,
and church's rector, the Rev. Beth Hilgartner. The Bishop
spoke of every solar panel being "a sign of our commitment to
a sustainable future for this planet..." The photovoltaic panels
are connected to the power grid, and on sunny days, the electric
meter now runs backwards, giving the church credit for the
power used at night and on cloudy days.
I attended St James's, Piccadilly when I lived in London. In September, Reuters did a short video about churches and carbon footprints and it includes a look at St James's and its photovoltaic panels. Have a look here.

Friday, November 14, 2008


"I was convinced we'd have a revolution in [the] US and I decided to be its leader and prevent it. I'm a rich man too and have run with your kind of people. I decided half a loaf was better than none - a half loaf for me and a half loaf for you and no revolution." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Update: check out Lance Selfa's Who made the New Deal?


An environmental activist in the UK has won the right to have the use of pesticides in England and Wales reviewed.

Georgina Downs has suffered from reactions to pesticides since she was a child. A high court judge's ruling will force Environmental Secretary Hilary Benn to start a review of their use.
A High Court judge said award-winning Georgina Downs had produced "solid evidence" that rural residents had suffered harm from crop spraying with toxic chemicals. He ordered the Government to reconsider how to protect the health of countryside communities.

Miss Downs, who lives on the edge of farm fields near Chichester, West Sussex, launched her independent UK Pesticides Campaign in 2001 and was recently named a "woman of the year". To support her campaign, she collected evidence on DVD from other rural residents reporting health problems including cancer, Parkinson's disease, ME and asthma they believe could be linked to crop spraying.

This is welcomed news, even on this side of the pond. Burlington's Board of Health has been reviewing the city's pesticide ordinance for well over a year. There is unanimous agreement of the board that the ordinance should be changed to make Burlington pesticide-free.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Apologies for the self-promotion, but I'm thrilled that Episcopal Café's THE LEAD high-lights a post I made earlier this week.
Jay... makes a point about resolutions that each of us should bear in mind...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's all the talk of Dutch media this week, but 52-year old news. It's about a political and royal scandal surrounding the role of Greet Hofmans, a faith healer, who became a confidante of then Queen Juliana and
sparked a marital crisis at Soestdijk Palace. Prince Bernhard leaked the story to the German press to force the Dutch government to take action and remove a potential threat to the monarchy. However, it took a second government commission as well as threats against the life of Greet Hofmans by former resistance fighters to persuade the queen to break all ties to the controversial faith healer.

There was talk of divorce and betrayal. What's been revealed this week were the death threats.

However, Juliana never stopped loving Bernhard, and the unSaintly Bernhard never stopped loving himself. The couple remained married for almost seventy years. I recall an interview with royal correspondent, Maartje van Weegen, where Juliana grabbed Bernhard's knee and asked, "We didn't do that bad, did we?" After the abdication in 1980, the couple seemed to become closer and had a mutual admiration for each other, despite Juliana's worsening Alzheimers. has a background article on the Hofmans case here

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Photo: Marc Mulders - glas-in-loodraam voor het Oranjefonds

A Dutch friend has written me
This never hit the press.
The Orange Fund (Willem-Alexander & Máxima's wedding fund) commissioned Marc Mulders to make this stained glass window at their premises at Utrecht (at the Utrecht stately avenue/"mall" the Maliebaan). Our good man who designed the Silver Jubilee Window in Amsterdam...
Fascinating with that light falling through it.
It was unveiled by the couple Dec. 2007. They must love his work.
I hope they will commission him to make a work for one of the palaces once. Of course they will... The Orange artistic taste is impeccable.
Oranje Fonds window.

And yes, I was blown away by Mulders' Silver Jubilee window when I was in Amsterdam in 2000.


As reported today in Telegraaf (Dutch)
'Ja wy kinne'
Nederlandse roots van Obama
AMSTERDAM - Zou de aankomend president van Amerika eerst nog Ierse roots hebben, een andere zoektocht naar de stamboom van Barack Obama leidt naar... Nederland
Well, it's already claimed the president-elect has Irish roots. But now are the Netherlands an Obamanation, too? His step-father was from Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies) and Obbema is a Frisian word, but this has gotta be a hoax. There was a similar (Dutch) report last February in Volkskrant.


God knows there were a slew of resolutions - 7 in all, and that doesn't include the courtesy ones - at the recently completed 2008 Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. I’ve always questioned the purpose of resolutions at these conventions. This was my first time as a delegate from my parish, but I’ve also been a delegate at conventions in another diocese. Mostly I find resolutions are just puffed up words that make the promoters and delegates feel good and think they’ve done something noteworthy. Usually these pithy expressions get hidden away in the diocesan journal and forgotten forever.

At this year’s convention “A Resolution to Help Prevent Phosphorous Pollution in Water Bodies” passed easily.
RESOLVED, That the 176th Convention of the Diocese of Vermont agree with Resolution D046 of the 2003 General Convention urging dioceses, parishes and communicants to regard water resources as precious, to encourage all to become active stewards of water resources, and to promote the education of congregants in faithful stewardship of Earth's resources; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the 176th Convention instruct the Diocese of Vermont, parishes and communicants to seek alternatives to phosphorous-laden fertilizers for use on diocesan, parish and communicants’ properties, and to use phosphorous only when soil tests indicate that it is needed for proper soil-plant health.
Resolution 6 was entirely in keeping with the bishop’s address and convention theme: "Tending God's World – NOW!" Bishop Tom Ely said
I believe it is imperative that we take seriously the crisis of global climate change as a spiritual as well as a practical matter, accept the sacrificial life style changes needed, and make our homes and churches a blessing for God’s creation.
Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to participate in this ministry - Christ’s ministry of global reconciliation - which is the missio dei, the Mission of God. The reconciling work needed in order to sustain the future of our planet is inherent in every dimension of our mission and ministry - locally and beyond.
If the bishop, clergy and delegates really took the keynote and forum speakers' - environmentalist/author Bill McKibben's and Middlebury College activist Sierra Murdoch - empowering words seriously - solutions to mitigate the effects of global warming - I hope that members of Vermont’s parishes will transform the words of the resolution into (sacrificial) action. Everything is environmental now.


Vermont election results can be found here in various formats.

From vt.Buzz
Independent Anthony Pollina finished second in the governor's race over Democrat Gaye Symington by 257 votes. Of course, both of them are well behind Republican Jim Douglas, by like 100,000 votes.

The results offers some interesting fodder. To wit:

- Pollina discounts the fact that his 21 percent of the vote showing is less than the 25 percent he received in 2002 in the lt. gov. race. You'll recall, too, that during the campaign he made note of that 25 percent and said that if those 25 percent bring a friend, he'll win. Well, the 56,564 people who voted for him in 2002 don't seem to have many friends. He had 69,791 votes this time.

- Symington pointed out that every Republican governor in the country won re-election last week, a suggestion that incumbency prevailed over the Obama wave in all governor's races, not just here. Except that there were only a few Republican governors up for election this year - Vermont, Utah, North Dakota and Indiana - and those other states are hardly Obama-friendly in the way Vermont is. Vermont, I would venture to guess without even checking, is the only state where the Democrat came in third in the governor's race.

- Progs took it on the chin in the congressional race. Thomas Hermann came in fourth, after winner Peter Welch and independents Mike Bethel and Jerry Trudell.
Liberty Union Party has lost its minor party status. To maintain it, a party has to garner at least 5% of the vote (not including the vote for Congress).
So what does this mean? Not a lot. The Liberty Union Party doesn't have to bother with a primary in the next election and might get invited to fewer debates, though they were not on a lot of people's invite list this year
Also on the debate-ignore list were Sam Young, Cris Ericson, Tom O'Connor, Larkin Forney, just to name of few of the candidates who took the initiative to gather signatures and get on the ballot. What the Buzzer hardly mentions is the power of money.


Brattleboro Reformer Glenn Adams Associated Press 11 November 2008
The nearly 327,000 Vermont voters who cast ballots accounted for 66 percent of the state's eligible voters. Of those, 29 percent -- also a record -- did so via early and absentee ballots, according to Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz. Last Tuesday's turnout percentage of eligible voters falls short of the 1992 figure, she said.

But this year's raw participation figure was higher than in the 2004 presidential election, when 314,220 people cast ballots.

While voter participation by absentee ballots was heavy if not a record in all three northern New England states, it did not translate into record turnouts.

"What was interesting to me was that our (town) clerks were reporting that they thought it was going to be much higher. In part, that was because they had such an overwhelming demand for early ballots. Election Day in Vermont began weeks before Nov. 4. So it wasn't as busy as it could've been," Markowitz said.
Find out how New Hampshire and Maine did here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are


The title is from a post over at MAD PRIEST

Kensington and Chelsea Council decided on Tuesday night that Grade II listed St Jude's Church in Collingham Road, Earl's Court, which was built in 1870, should be transformed into a training centre for up to 200 would-be theologians. But the application has drawn letters of objection from 25 households which surround the Victorian building. Many are concerned that students will increase the numbers of visitors to the nearby communal gardens.

Another Courtfield Gardens wrote: "The influx of so many people to our quiet residential square, even if they are theology students, is not welcome."
I lived on the same street and would pass by St Jude's daily en route to my bus stop. It's typical of small and struggling London churches, trying to survive and also reach out to others.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NOVEMBER 5, 2008


AMY GOODMAN Ralph Nader, welcome. Your thoughts on this election?

RALPH NADER: Thank you, Amy. Well, obviously we all congratulate Barack Obama. We wish him well. But the precursor to his election has not been very encouraging, and he has repeatedly taken up the positions of the corporate supremacists, not just his latest vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, but a whole string of votes and policy positions. He opposes single-payer health insurance. Well, the HMOs and the insurance companies do, too. He wants a bigger military budget. So does the military-industrial complex. His idea of a living wage on his website is $9.50 an hour by 2011. That would make it less than it was in 1968, adjusted for inflation.

He matched McCain in the third debate, belligerent—belligerency for belligerency, toward Russia, toward Iran, more soldiers in Afghanistan, supporting the Israeli military repression and occupation and blockade of Gaza and the West Bank. And virtually nothing about 100 million poor people in this country. That’s why I really fault him, that he played the Clinton linguistic game by talking constantly about the middle class and not mentioning the word “poor.”

And we expect more of him. And I don’t think he has a public philosophy of where corporations must operate in this country. How? Under what rule of law? Under what regulation? Under what vulnerability to litigation in the courts? He’s proud of tort reform, supports the nuclear industry, supports the coal industry. So we’re really talking about just more of the same, in terms of the corporate domination of Washington.

I detected no concern, no quaking of concern, among the drug industry, oil, gas industry, nuclear, coal industry, Wall Street, over his probable election in the last few weeks. Usually, when they’re really worried about a politician, they will issue warnings. But Barack Obama has raised far more money than John McCain from Wall Street interests, corporate interests and, above all, corporate lawyers. And the question to be asked is, why are they investing so much in Barack Obama? Because they believe he’s their man. So, prepare to be disappointed, but keep your hope up.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph Nader, you go now from being a presidential candidate to what you have always been, and that is a citizen activist. What are you going to do about it?

RALPH NADER: Well, first of all, we’ve got a website called, which is designed to test whether there’s support in this country to build strong Congress action groups in every congressional district. Certainly, we know the outlines of it. We take the many long overdue future directions in our country, that are on our website,—just go to the “issues” page—and, of course, it’s many of the familiar ones: living wage, full Medicare for all, solar energy, energy efficiency, peace advocacy, reduce the bloated military budget, put in a whole public works program, transform the tax system to tax what we like the least or dislike the most, like securities speculation. All of these and others can be a package of reform and redirection, spearheaded by laser-like Congress action groups with full-time staffs in each congressional district. That’s a tall order, but we have to try to aspire to it, because Congress is the pivot institution now. If you can turn Congress around, which is the most powerful branch of the federal government under the Constitution, you can turn the federal government around. So if you’re interested in a preliminary examination of this effort, just log into

November 5. 2008 from Tarek Milleron on Vimeo.

The November 5th Movement

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


FOR THE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS, I've been phone banking for the Gaye Symington for Governor campaign and am impressed by Gaye's dedication to Vermonters and good government. If you remain uncertain, please take two minutes and read the column, "Courage Outside the Comfort Zone," found here.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Tomorrow I will go to a polling station in Princeton, N.J., and vote for Ralph Nader. I know the tired arguments against a Nader vote. He can’t win. A vote for Nader is a vote for McCain. He threw the election to George W. Bush in 2000. He is an egomaniac.

There is little disagreement among liberals and progressives about the Nader and Obama campaign issues. Nader would win among us in a landslide if this was based on issues. Sen. Barack Obama’s vote to renew the Patriot Act, his votes to continue to fund the Iraq war, his backing of the FISA Reform Act, his craven courting of the Israeli lobby, his support of the death penalty, his refusal to champion universal, single-payer not-for-profit health care for all Americans, his call to increase troop levels and expand the war in Afghanistan, his failure to call for a reduction in the bloated and wasteful defense spending and his lobbying for the huge taxpayer swindle known as the bailout are repugnant to most of us on the left. Nader stands on the other side of all those issues.

So if the argument is not about issues what is it about?

Those on the left who back Obama, although they disagree with much of what he promotes, believe they are choosing the practical over the moral. They see themselves as political realists. They fear John McCain and the Republicans. They believe Obama is better for the country. They are right. Obama is better. He is not John McCain. There will be under Obama marginal improvements for some Americans although the corporate state, as Obama knows, will remain our shadow government and the working class will continue to descend into poverty. Democratic administrations have, at least until Bill Clinton, been more receptive to social programs that provide benefits, better working conditions and higher wages. An Obama presidency, however, will make no difference to those in the Middle East.

I can’t join the practical. I spent two decades of my life witnessing the suffering of those on the receiving end of American power. I have stood over the rows of bodies, including women and children, butchered by Ronald Reagan’s Contra forces in Nicaragua. I have inspected the mutilated corpses dumped in pits outside San Salvador by the death squads. I have crouched in a concrete hovel as American-made F-16 fighter jets, piloted by Israelis, dropped 500- and 1,000-pound iron-fragmentation bombs on Gaza City.

I can’t join the practical because I do not see myself exclusively as an American. The narrow, provincial and national lines that divide cultures and races blurred and evaporated during the years I spent in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Balkans. I built friendships around a shared morality, not a common language, religion, history or tradition. I cannot support any candidate who does not call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to Israeli abuse of Palestinians. We have no moral or legal right to debate the terms of the occupation. And we will recover our sanity as a nation only when our troops have left Iraq and our president flies to Baghdad, kneels before a monument to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi war dead and asks for forgiveness.

We dismiss the suffering of others because it is not our suffering. There are between 600,000 and perhaps a million dead in Iraq. They died because we invaded and occupied their country. At least three Afghan civilians have died at the hands of the occupation forces for every foreign soldier killed this year. The dead Afghans include the 95 people, 60 of them children, killed by an air assault in Azizabad in August and the 47 wedding guests butchered in July during a bombardment in Nangarhar. The Palestinians are forgotten. Obama and McCain, courting the Israeli lobby, do not mention them. The 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza live in a vast open-air prison. Supplies and food dribble through the Israeli blockade. Ninety-five percent of local industries have shut down. Unemployment is rampant. Childhood malnutrition has skyrocketed. A staggering 80 percent of families in Gaza are dependent on international food aid to survive.

It is bad enough that I pay taxes, although I will stop paying taxes if we go to war with Iran. It is bad enough that I have retreated into a safe, privileged corner of the globe, a product of industrialized wealth and militarism. These are enough moral concessions, indeed moral failings. I will not accept that the unlawful use of American military power be politely debated among us like the subtle pros and cons of tort law.

George Bush has shredded, violated or absented America from its obligations under international law. He has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, tried to kill the International Criminal Court, walked out on negotiations on chemical and biological weapons and defied the Geneva Conventions and human rights law in the treatment of detainees in our offshore penal colonies. Most egregiously, he launched an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated evidence we now know had been discredited even before it was made public. The president is guilty, in short, of what in legal circles is known as the “crime of aggression.”


Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires character, courage, integrity-- not expediency, accommodation and short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an "undivided Jerusalem," and opposed negotiations with Hamas-- the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored "direct negotiations with Hamas." Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote "Anti-semitism today is the persecution of Palestinian society by the Israeli state."



With all of this year's local media attention given to Brooke Bennett the Burlington Free Press links Ms Bennett's accused murderer to Larkin Forney, a candidate for state senator in Chittenden County who's
running to bring public attention to flaws in the criminal justice system -- and to let the world know he's no pedophile.

He knows his background may scare off some voters, but he figures honesty might win him some votes in the race for one of six at-large seats representing Vermont's most populous county.

"All my skeletons are out in the open, while other people continue to deny theirs," he said.
His name appears with 13 others on Tuesday's ballot, under the Justice for Vermonters party label. In his campaign literature, he says diagnosed sexual predators and pedophiles should be sent to prison for life; marijuana should be legalized; and U.S troops should be withdrawn from Iraq.
For the Free Press, sensationalism sells. I've met Larkin Forney and plan to vote for him. He's a long-shot, for sure, but he's dedicated to democracy and his message is one which should be heard.


MATT GONZALEZ, Ralph Nader's vice presidential running mate writes
On the street when I am approached by an Obama/Biden volunteer or someone who tells me they’re voting for Obama, I usually ask “What about the FISA vote?” And each time I hear in return “What’s that?” Or if I say, “You know he supports the death penalty,” I usually hear in response, “No he doesn’t.”

At what point will there be intellectual honesty about what is
People are voting for Obama because they find him to be an engaging public speaker and like his message regardless of his history of being part of the very problem he professes to want to fix. Most people don’t want the actual facts to interfere with the desperate hope that he is everything they want him to be.

Do you really want to vote for someone who has already voted to take away your civil liberties because of some vague wish that he’ll act differently as president? Obama himself, speaking of Sen. Hillary Clinton, made a remark that could just as easily apply to him, and, unwittingly makes the case for why no one should vote for him: “We can’t afford a president whose positions change with the politics of the moment. We need a president who knows that being ready on day one means getting it right from day one.” (Salem, OR, 3/21/08).

If voting for war appropriations and taking away civil liberties was bringing us closer to a more democratic and egalitarian society, well, I would advocate it. But it isn’t doing that.

What is your breaking point? At what point do you decide that you’ve had enough?

What do they have to do to lose your vote?


Back in September, 2007 The New York Times had a commissioned puff piece marketing Burlington's waterfront, which I discussed here. Yesterday's travel section featured Burlington again as a get-away venue - for 36 hours. There are some photos, too. Typical of the Times to focus on all the trendy places where out-of-towners may spend their cashed in 401(k)s. I guess it's the personal opinion of author Katie Zezima, but she leaves out an awful lot of other delights of Burlington. (How do certain restaurants get reviewed and others don't?) I guess it's because I live here; I am aware of the places she highlights, but the Burlington she describes is a tourist one that most residents don't experience or don't connect to. (Just as when I lived in Houston, London or NYC, I only visited touristic sites with relatives or visiting friends.)

She describes a nice little known oasis just three minutes' walk from my home.
Not sure of the time? Find out at the Burlington Earth Clock, a 43-foot-wide sundial at Oakledge Park and Beach (end of Flynn Street) made of slabs of granite from local quarries. Stand in the middle and look toward the mountains; the stones in front of you represent where the sun sets during equinoxes and solstices. On the other end of the park is a studio-size treehouse, suspended among nine large trees. It’s a childhood fantasy come true.
No doubt city councilors will praise this article (as they did the one in 2007). I guess I should be prepared to see lots of out-of-state license plates in my neighbourhood. No wonder Kiss and the councilors are urging us to vote yes tomorrow on the $5.5-million bond issue for a 3-year upgrading of Burlington's rundown streets. Fuck the tax payers: Gotta keep those tourists coming into our city so they can avoid the bumps on Flynn Avenue as they drive down to connect with nature!

Sunday, November 2, 2008