Friday, January 30, 2009


Michael Hudson:- The government’s solution, placed in its hands by the financial lobbyists, is to bail out the bankers and Wall Street while leaving the ‘real’ economy even more highly indebted. Families, businesses and government are having to spend more wage income, profits and tax revenues on debt service instead of buying goods and services. So why is the solution to this debt overhead held to be yet MORE debt? Is there not something crazy here?


Dutch carnival is approaching... and tomorrow is the birthday of the queen...

Queen Beatrix organizes a party but she doesn't feel like serving posh canapés this year but just ordinary Dutch meatballs for a change, perhaps due to the financial crisis.

Enjoy (or not). It's hilarious, bawdy Dutch humour.

André van Duin is a Dutch comedian.

"The balls of the Queen," bound to be embraced by carnival party goers...


A former US deputy secretary of state says America did ask for military help for the Iraq invasion.


Over 1,000,000 strike in France, a protest over the Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis.


To add to the North/South divide: Via Faith Central, the results of a 2008 gallup poll show that Mississippi is the most religious state; Vermont is the least.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Playmobil Security Check Point

Read the product reviews: priceless!



Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) has made a request the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for an "Environmental Leadership" designation. It is unclear how ANR deals with such requests, what the criteria are for such a designation, but we’ll find out when Vermonters for a Clean Environment and its allies meet next week with agency secretary, Jonathan Wood. Secretary Wood is new on the job and doesn't know VELCO's record.

VELCO's work in the last 5 years does not merit such an award.

If the State grants this designation to VELCO, it will demonstrate the emptiness of such a designation from the State of Vermont and complicity of State with corporations in Vermont's environmental degradation. (Examples of the troubling experience of the State with VELCO is indeed damning.)
It will reward unsustainable environmental practices, heavy-handed behavior by corporations bent on having their way, permit violations, disregard for the State's own stated policies of environmental protection, disregard for public participation in the permit process, and perpetuate the exploitative posture that is damaging Earth and her inhabitants.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Mere compliance with watered-down permit conditions does not constitute environmental leadership and does not merit an award. This is not about NIMBY; this is about caring for God's Creation and moving the State towards true stewardship of our natural resources.

Sylvia Wright, fellow parishioner at Burlington’s Cathedral Church of St Paul, a member of its Earth Care Ministry and a long-time environmental researcher/advocate has written me:
It is important and instructive for us in the faith community to understand how closely our state works with corporations to allow and even bless environmental damage and degradation. For this process, I ask for your prayers and indications of any support you can provide, such as letters to ANR, letters to the BFP, prayers, petitions, phone calls to me, phone calls to Secretary Jonathan Wood (241-3600: leave message with secretary). If you call, please relay the message that VELCO's environmental record does not merit the Environmental Leadership designation they are seeking.

The civil rights movement was a powerful community effort and movement to confront principalities and powers aligned to deny African-Americans their full humanity and their god-given civil rights. Dr. King spoke not only about civil rights but also about environmental degradation during his lifetime. As the larger faith community awakens to the need for a different model of living on Earth, we need to find ways to move beyond our different comfort levels and find ways to collectively advocate for Earth, God's Creation and our home, especially in the face of State and corporate complicity in environmental degradation. Such power structures have been supported by long-established public policy and attitudes treating Earth as a commodity for use and exploitation, but have gained the upper hand in Vermont during the last 20 years, and more egregiously in the last decade. Please join me in sending a strong message to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources that we expect them not only to enforce laws and permit conditions, but to actually teach environmental care and stewardship to those who work and do business in Vermont.
(See bottom line in bold above, or formulate your own wording when you contact ANR or write LTE’s.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics." - Aldo Leopold, 1948

Note: The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board was last fully funded in 1987!

GREEN MOUNTAIN DAILY:- Here we go again... last week the Governor proposed a budget eliminating permanently affordable housing development efforts and completely eliminating conservation investments that boost our working land economy.

The Governor proposes a 70% reduction to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Budget on top of a series of cuts over the past seven years that had already meant a more than $30 million loss.

Let's not kid ourselves. This is a direct attack on the programs that house Vermont's workforce, provide the means to save family farms, protect recreation and sensitive natural areas and stimulate the economy.

The governor warned against the drastic wholesale elimination of programs and then proceeded to do just that. He said that it was obvious that we should eliminate our conservation program during difficult economic times.

Every day it seems we are hearing about additional losses of good jobs for Vermonters. In these times we need to look what helps Vermont's economy grow!


The Independent has pulled Mark Steel's column this week. Here it is (thanks to Ten Percent):-WHERE’S MY COLUMN GONE?

Given that it takes me several months to collect together the documents needed to get my car tax, I’m amazed that anyone manages to assemble the hundreds of bits required to produce a newspaper every single day. Then something happens, such as John Updike dies, and the newspaper gets someone to write something about him, and right in the space where my own column was destined to appear. Couldn’t he have hung on for a few more hours and buggered up someone the following day? So, for anyone pining, this is what would have appeared had it not been for John Updike’s genuinely untimely death.

The BBC are right. If they broadcast that appeal for food and medicine to be sent to Gaza it WOULD be taking sides. The Israeli Defence force could legitimately say “We’ve gone to enormous lengths here to kill people, then you go and help to keep them alive. How do you square that with your remit to be neutral?”

So the BBC needs to look at other areas in which its ‘impartiality’ could be called into question. To start with they’ll have to scrap ‘Crimewatch’, which clearly takes the side of the murdered against the interests of murderers. Maybe they could get round this by having a new balanced Crimewatch, in which the police plea for witnesses to a crime, but then the presenter says “Next tonight - have you seen this man? Because Big Teddy and his gang are desperate to track him down and do him in for ringing us up earlier. So if you have any information please call us, where Nobby the Knife is ready to talk to you in complete confidence.”

It’s impossible to be entirely neutral about anything, especially with an appeal for money. Appeals are made for injured veterans of the Second World War, but I don’t suppose they’d take them off air if they got a letter to Points of View saying “Dear BBC, I’m a Nazi war criminal but I pay my license fee just like everyone else, and as such I was appalled by the biased images of the Battle of Normandy used to promote your financial appeal. There are two sides to every story you know, and I thought you had a promise to be impartial. So come on BBC, us Kommandants watch television as well!”

Appeals have been made for victims of wars in the Congo, Darfur and Bosnia, keeping people alive and thereby undermining the aims and efforts of the armies who tried to wipe them out. But if the current stance carries on, from now on if anyone feels their block of flats collapsing on them they’ll think “I hope this is an earthquake and not an invading army or we won’t get a penny via the BBC.”

Aware of the frail logic of not showing the appeal, the BBC have made some even stranger statements to justify their decision, such as claiming they couldn’t be sure the money would ‘get through’. Ah yes that must be it. If only Gaza was like the Congo or Darfur, where the Red Cross can pop along to the village cashpoint machines, draw the money out and get Janjaweed or Hutu militias to help them search for two-for-one bargains in the local Somerfields.

Luckily for the Middle-East, the American government has been less squeamish about this question of impartiality. For example in Bush’s last year he sent Israel 2.2 billion dollars worth of military aid, and there’s no record of anyone saying “This couldn’t be seen as breaching our impartiality in any way, could it?”

The problem is that when viewers are confronted with scenes of misery and destruction, they’re bound to ask what or who caused this, and if it was done deliberately. So the BBC couldn’t remain neutral. Either they allowed the appeal that would lead to those questions being asked, or they refused it, in which case they’re suggesting they shouldn’t aid the relief of civilians who’ve been bombed, starved and slaughtered, as on this occasion their plight can be justified. And it’s decided this time to be biased not towards the impoverished but towards the impoverishers.

Or maybe they’ve been under such a barrage of complaints lately they just panicked that in the middle of the appeal the presenter might say, “Oh and by the way, I shagged David Attenborough’s grandson. Anyway, back to the lack of clean water.”


News & background:-

Dutch considered military support for US invasion

'Iraq memo' opens door to possible government inquiry

Civil servants allegedly kept minister in the dark on Iraq war

Iron curtain still down on involvement in Iraq war

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Craig Murray:- We all need to take a step back and see what kind of society we have become; in particular the Stalinist silencing of voices of dissent - even within our universities.

I have seen my past server host pull this website and my publisher pull my book, in attempts to silence my dissenting opinions. We overcame those, but they should never have happened. Now I have been telephoned by the University of Cambridge to be told that security staff will physically prevent me from entering the University of Cambridge to give a talk there.

What have we become? I have responded thus and am now off to Cambridge.
Dear Dr Elliott,

As I told you on the telephone, I was invited some weeks ago to speak this evening in a debate on the merits of the Afghan War. I learnt this morning that plans had changed due to a student occupation of a university building over University policy towards Gaza, and as the organisers of my debate were involved in the occupation, I was requested to switch my talk to the Law Faculty. I agreed to do so.

I then heard from you that the authorities had decided to exclude non-University members from the law faculty, and should I arrive to give my talk I will not be admitted; and indeed be physically prevented from entering.

I have given this some thought, and I have decided that the threat not to admit me to the University building is unwarranted.

As you may realise, I am Rector of the University of Dundee (and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law). I am not personally intending to occupy your building for longer than it takes to give a talk, and certainly intend to cause no damage. I am not a health and safety risk.

I am invited to lecture at Universities and other prestigious institutions worldwide; normally universities are urging me to come, not seeking to turn me away! I understand that a number of people are looking forward to hearing me this evening. To threaten to exclude me is a denial of freedom of speech which I find very peculiar behaviour for the University of Cambridge.

Student occupations are hardly a new phenomenon, and normally can easily be resolved through amicable negotiation. I was quite astonished to learn that Cambridge University had responded by attempting to starve the students out. To try also to ban a guest speaker seems to me likely to inflame and prolong, rather than resolve, the dispute.

It seems to me that the easiest way out of the current difficulty of my visit is for you to extend to me an invitation to speak this evening on behalf of the Faculty.

With all best wishes,

Craig Murray

JOHN UPDIKE 1932-2009

The Boston Globe has an obituary. He wrote 27 novels, 13 short story collections, books of poetry, nonfiction and essays, at least one play. Just yesterday I'd read a book review he had written recently for the New Yorker; he had contributed to the magazine since 1954.

A two-part interview made in 1995:-


TWO writer/bloggers I admire have written essays recently in well-known publications in their respective countries.

Richard Seymour (Lenin's Tomb and author of the Liberal Defence of Murder), is at last on the Guardian's CiF: Obama the imperialist

I'd read Michael Colby's on his blog last week; it was featured on Counterpunch the day after the inauguration: Ready. Aim. Organize.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Some further background to this story.


While the pimping Obamablogs were jubilant last week over the swearing-in of their modest Anti-War Leader, he celebrated his inauguration as President Killer.


Next week Queen Beatrix celebrates her 71st birthday. Over the weekend there was a report on the role of the monarchy. And as in recent years, with each birthday, the question, Should Beatrix 'stay on' or abdicate?

Leidsch Dagblad (Dutch): - According to a research by a commercial marketing company called Synovate, 54% of the dutch people don't want queen Beatrix to abdicate right now.
84% think prince Willem-Alexander is ready to inherit the throne though.

The dutch people give an '8' to the queen.

84% want to maintain the monarchy, 10% are in favour of a republic.

On Saturday, KRO's In de Schaduw van het Nieuws asked (Dutch) Oranje-experts: Stay on or abdicate?, with an excellent video (Dutch).

COMMENT: I was surprised by the results of this poll. Abdication is not a dirty word in the Netherlands. It just means royal retirement. (The British example is ridiculous.) There seems no indication that Beatrix is tired or has had enough. Should she abdicate in favour of her son? Maybe if she no longer liked her 'job.' But she seems more enthusiastic than ever. On January Beatrix will become a year older, but she certainly seems 'young' to me! Zij doet 't prima toch! That said, however, most Dutch treat the queen with indifference - including most of my friends and family. And yet, thousands come out for Koninginnedag!


Apartheid and Israel in the same sentence.

Watch CBS Videos Online

This report appeared on one of the most-watched Sunday evening programs and is groundbreaking for "respected" US television journalism. However, it is flawed. It portrays Livni as a moderate (she is more interested in removing Arabs from Israel then Israelis from the the West Bank). The report fails to mention the illegality of the settlements and that half a million settlers are in East Jerusalem.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Good on those Glaswegians!

CBS News
Members of a British anti-war group occupied the Glasgow offices of the BBC on Sunday, saying they would stay in the building until the national broadcaster agrees to air a charity fundraising appeal for Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

The occupation followed criticism from lawmakers and religious leaders who said the BBC's decision not to air an advertisement from the Disasters Emergency Committee - a group of charities that includes the Red Cross, Oxfam, and Save the Children - was wrong.
Lenin's Tomb has more on the sit-in (look in the comments for first hand accounts from protesters).

The ABC has criticised the BBC refusal, too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


From the Guardian
The global reach of Obama's message of renewal is making both subliminal and not so subtle appearances in controversial advertising campaigns from Washington to Jakarta. There is the new flavour of Ben 'n' Jerry's ice-cream: "Yes Pecan!" A new Hennessy Cognac with 44 (Obama is the 44th president) on the label. There is even an Indonesian advert for a form of indigestion tablets featuring a lookalike of the man himself.

Obama's formidable marketing potential was immediately apparent on the morning after the inauguration, when thousands of extra copies of newspapers were printed across the globe to meet demand for readers wishing to keep souvenir copies. Readers of the Daily Express, however, will have noticed their front page made no reference to the new President. It was taken up instead with a full-page advertisement for a Fiat 500 which, it turned out, happened to share its first birthday with the date of Obama's inauguration. "It's a big day for firsts," the slogan said. Rival newspapers contained a simply worded advertisement for Veet, the hair removal company: "Goodbye Bush."

If Fiat and Veet sought to quirkily exploit inauguration day, other companies appear committed to tapping into the longer term marketing benefits of Obama's presidency. Pepsi has unveiled a new red, white and blue logo which has an apparent resemblance to Obama's campaign motif, as part of a longer advertising campaign centred on themes of optimism and renewal.
For instance: another blatant example

Friday, January 23, 2009


I rented the film Black Narcissus a few weeks ago. It starred Deborah Kerr. Incredible pioneering cinematography. After seeing it, I had nightmares from Kathleen Byron's performance (for real!). She died last week. Check out the scary photo of her in the Indy's obit, and you'll understand why I got the creeps.


Finally, at long last Dear Leader has spoken on Gaza
Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.
Why not a helping hand without these conditions? What the fuck is an appropriate monitoring regime? Everyone knows that the PA is a lackey of the Israelis. Why not include all Palestinians in Gaza at the table?

Further excellent comments can be found at Left I.


(Via P U L S E)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Episcope has a roundup of the National Inaugural Prayer Service at Washington's National Cathedral. I was just swept away by the Rev'd Sharon Watkins' sermon (which you can read here) and the music, which you can hear by watching a rebroadcast of the service.

The closing prayer spoken by the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church
On this radiant day we give thanks to you, o God,
for the freedom to gather united in prayer.
Strengthen and sustain Barack, our President,
that in the days to come he may lead your people
with confidence and compassion.
Grant patience and perseverance to the people of this Nation.
With malice toward none, with charity for all,
may we strive to finish the work you have given us to do
that we may achieve a just and lasting peace.
In this time of new beginnings, new ventures, and new visions,
light in us the fire of justice, and the passion for forgiveness.
Give us the strength to hold fast to what is good
that we may go forth renewed and committed to make hope a reality.

Drawn in part from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1865

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Vermont Department of Labor's cavalier advice to unemployed Vermonters seeking departmental help to "keep trying" if no answer - hit redial, wait and try again - was brought to our attention last week.

A week later it is still the official policy of the department:
Try multiple times an hour versus once every few hours. Think of it like a radio contest and call multiple times. Hitting the "redial" button on your phone increases your chances of connecting as soon as a line becomes free
While Douglas and Obama policy makers piss on working class people, Michael Colby gives us much better advice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Sameh Habeeb, a Palestinian journalist in Gaza City, has a worthwhile blog:
Gaza Today Gaza Strip, the Untold Story. Check it out. He wrote yesterday
Eight international journalists will arrive in Gaza Tuesday, traveling via Egypt, with the mission to fact-find and record first-hand Israeli violations against the people of the Gaza Strip.

Secretary General of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate Na’eem At-Tubasi confirmed Sunday that delegation, including Arab, French, Norwegian and Italian reporters, is en route to Gaza. The delegation will be followed by an investigating committee from the International Journalist Federation, which will arrive next week.
I'll be following his story.

Thanks to Bob Feldman for the link.


Peter Carey asks, was it Robinson, Warren or Lowery? What do you think? A commenter writes - and I would agree with him (I heard all three) -
Lowery takes the cake for me. Robinson is classically prophetic and that is good, but Lowery upheld great theology, humor, blessing, scripture and cultural references, and calls to accountability while staying positive and celebrating. Robinson leaves me feeling negative. And don't get me started on Warren.


British passengers on the Titanic died in disproportionate numbers because they queued politely for lifeboats while Americans elbowed their way on, an Australian researcher believes.


Monday 19 January 2009

Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende's contuing refusal to agree to a public inquiry into events surrounding Dutch support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is beginning to look like the petulant behaviour of a stubborn teenager.

There are a number of questions which need to be answered about the Dutch position, and continually repeating the same tired arguments is not working.

There is evidence that civil servants had their doubts about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, doubts which the government of the day - led by Balkenende himself - ignored. The Dutch also ignored the fact there was no UN mandate for action. [read the rest]

Monday, January 19, 2009


Today HRH celebrates another birthday. My favourite Dutch royal! Gefiliciteerd!!


Daily Reading for January 19 • The Confession of St. Peter the Apostle and a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gracious, loving, and compassionate God of our fathers and mothers, we give you thanks for your faithful servants in every age who have struggled against injustice and oppression and who have fought to root out the evil and sin of racism and discrimination. Through witnesses such as Harriet Tubman, Absalom Jones, and Martin Luther King, Jr., we have learned the merits of self-sacrifice, courageous action, and redemptive suffering. Grant that we in this day, following their example, may continue to resist oppression in all its forms and guises. May we resolve to remain committed to do the work to which you have called each of us and which you require of us all—to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” with you, our God. Trusting in your grace and mercy, and in the power of your holy enabling and sustaining Spirit, we ask this in the name of our Liberator, your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

A prayer by Bishop Barbara C. Harris, quoted in Race and Prayer: Collected Voices, Many Dreams, edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester Talton. Copyright © 2003.

Thanks to Episcopal Café's Speaking to the Soul.


UPDATE... via THE LEAD: Obama makes it right
I'm not remotely interested in all the parties, feel-good television, MSM analysis of this weeks inauguration. But I had a feeling deep down that something like this would happen.

There was that ruckus about right-wing conservative homophobe evangelist Rick Warren's invitation to say the invocation at Tuesday's presidential inauguration. So, the Obama folks invited Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire - the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church - to "do" the opening prayer at the Obama celebfest on Sunday. HBO carried it on TV, but Robinson's part was nixed, never shown live or on the later rebroadcast.
THE LEAD has what you missed:
It is hard to know what is more surprising: that HBO passed over the invocation in both the live and rebroadcast versions or that it was posted on YouTube by Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today.
The blog, AFTERELTON got on HBO's ass to find out what really happened: a developing story; HBO says it's not responsible for the slight, but clearly a better explanation is needed.
But given that most Americans could not attend the concert, instead having to watch it on television, the decision to not broadcast the prayer is being seen by many in the GLBT community as a slight.

The exclusion of Robinson, even if unintentional, does not reflect well on the Obama administration's ability thus far to think through these sorts of nuances.
think through these sorts of nuances

You'd think with all their super marketing & planning from the campaign to victory to this week they would not have botched it, but they did indeed: purpose driven?

Meanwhile, the massacre has been paused. As people in Washington celebrate, Gazans are sorting through the rubble in search of their family members.

Friday, January 16, 2009


CCTV's Center for Media and Democracy has a bunch of programs featuring long-time Seven Days columnist Peter Freyne - well-known real journalist and political junkie - who died on Wednesday, January 6th.


A comment at Lenin's Tomb
The signature phrase of the 1960s cult classic The Prisoner [its star, Patrick McGoohan, died yesterday in Los Angeles]- "I am not a number. I am a free man!"- could have its corollary in Gaza [as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq] with the people declaring:

"We are not non-entities. We are a free people!"

REMINDER: March in Burlington Against Attacks on Gaza this Saturday - forward widely


Meet Saturday, January 17th, 11:30 AM in front of City Hall to gear up for a demonstration and march beginning at noon. Help carry huge, striking Bread & Puppet banners and figures.

Arrive at noon for the march and demonstration.

Join Vermonters and people around the world to protest the occupation and bombings of Gaza, which have killed over 750 Palestinians and injured over 3100 (as of January 9) [now over 1,000 fatalities!]. Hospitals in Gaza have little to no medical supplies and they are overflowing with victims of this humanitarian crisis. Food and water are in extremely short supply due to the blockade Israel has imposed on the people of Gaza. The United States government is complicit in this brutality, supplying military aid to Israel and endorsing Israel's actions. The bombings and killings must end! End the violent blockade and occupation of Gaza immediately!

- Israel must end the occupation and bombing of Gaza immediately,
- Stop the violence in the Middle East and end the embargo on Gaza
- The US government must end all military aid to Israel
- Israel must observe international law
- We demand that Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Rep. Welch
denounce the occupation and bombing of Gaza

Sponsors: Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel,
International Socialist Organization, American Friends Service
Committee, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Iraq
Vets against the War, Pax Christi Burlington, Peace and Justice Center

For more information contact S'ra at or 324-3073


GISHA Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

Testimony received from a parent of three children and resident of Gaza City
The situation is very hard today. I heard something from a friend that simply gives me no peace – about two families who are fighting over the identity of someone who is lying in the hospital. Since it is impossible to identify the wounded person because his face is very badly hurt, one family claims that he is their nephew and the other family says that he is their cousin. They are fighting about it because they realize that if this is not their relative, that means that their relative is dead.

I can see all of Beit Lahiya from the roof and it’s all going up in flames. There is a very big cloud over the entire northern area. Gaza is packed like a can of sardines, everything is small and crowded. People don’t understand this.

You could die anywhere in Gaza today – at home, in the street. Every place in Gaza is under attack. There is no safe place. This is what Hamas is telling people: why should you die at home? Come out and fight and at least you’ll die while defending Gaza and your home. Who can say no to such a thing?

There is no bread. I called all the bakeries in Gaza and I didn’t find even one where I could buy pitas for my children. In the end I stood in line for half an hour and got cookies. Even that was being rationed – only 1 kilo and no more. I can’t even get pitas for my children.

I’m telling you – I’m willing to come and help in Israel, in Sderot. What they are going through hurts us too but give us a chance. Just give us a chance. Don’t use our children in order to change the political reality. Do you understand that I – someone who has a respectable job and livelihood – burnt my hands while trying to heat water for my children on an open fire! My hands got burnt! Gaza is one big graveyard.

Here are other testimonies received by Israeli human rights groups.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The father of Rachel Corrie has written a commentary on the current massacre in Gaza. On March 16, 2003, Ms Corrie was killed on the Gaza Strip by an Israeli military bulldozer while trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian family's home.
I know something of the loss felt by my Israeli friend Yitzhak, whose son Arik was captured and murdered by Hamas in 1994, and by my Palestinian friend Bassam whose daughter Abir was shot and killed by Israeli solders as she walked home from school in her West Bank village in 2007.

I cannot, though, know the loss felt by Anwar Khalil Ba'lousha, whose five daughters, asleep in their beds, were killed in Gaza by Israeli bombing on Dec. 28. I haven't the courage to imagine his pain.
The U.S. must make clear that we will not support either side when it uses violence beyond its borders. We must demand that humanitarian aid as well as press and U.N. observers be permitted to enter Gaza without delay -- and that hostilities cease so that lifesaving commodities can be distributed.


I just heard Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson in Gaza, describe the situation in their compound on today’s BBC Radio 4 News at One. Three white phosphorus shells have landed there. 700 Gazans have taken refuge in the compound. He was particularly concerned about the effects of these incendiary shells on the five fuel tanks in the compound. “Words cannot discribe’ the situation, says Mr Gunnes. Richard Seymour (lenin) believes that Israel is doing everything to force the UN to abandon Gaza.
Much more importantly, it is a message to the UN to pull out. Bear in mind that UN staff have already had to suspend operations because of the risk posed by the IDF. Other aid agencies such as the Red Cross have also had to suspend crucial activities after attacks by the IDF. Eventually, the UN might well be forced to withdraw its staff entirely if it can't guarantee their safety. At that point, the UN and its few millions and scant food and supplies, will no longer be available to the civilian population. This terrorised and starving population will soon be almost completely alone.


Oh, those ‘tolerant’ Dutch. Back in the 70s I used to hang out in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. Thirty-five years on, the park hasn’t changed that much. It’s still the place to rollerblade, jog, picnic, sunbathe. The current neighbourhood plan states ‘the Vondelpark is for everyone’ (‘Het Vondelpark is voor iedereen’). And that includes homeless, druggies and drunks as Parool reports today. The ‘addicted’ (‘verslaafden,’ literally the ‘enslaved’), along with dogs, will have their own spot in the park to hang out undisturbed by police and park nazi’s. Cruising gays will also be tolerated as long as they help keep the park clean and use the special trash bins for their used condoms.

Intolerant Burlington could learn by this example. I have heard from our city’s homeless how BPD harass them in summer, when they camp out on the beaches. There's a move to open up yet another dog park in the South End; why not a designated area for the people living in the fringes?

Source (in Dutch). Photo: Parool.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Will the real Rick Warren please stand up?

Who is Rick Warren? What is his purpose?

In this internet age it's hard to tailor your message to your audience. Everyone has ears. And even if you don't intend for a message to be public your audience may find it convenient to make it public. (And who's to say you didn't mean it be public rather than belatedly regretting your words?)

Who is the real Rick Warren? [yes, there's more]


Patrick McGoohan, the actor who played in "Secret Agent" and "The Prisoner" t.v. shows, has died.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Rev'd V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, has been invited to take part in the first main event of the inauguration - at the Lincoln Memorial - on 18 January. Personally - if clergy are to be invited to any of this party - I would have preferred Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori replace Rick Warren. She's a woman, a progressive and speaks with a strong prophetic voice for people on the fringes, which I think the new president should hear. I suspect that the invitation for Mr Warren has caused such a ruckus, that the inaugural events planners have thrown the LBGT Obama voters a bone and have included Bishop Robinson so they will quit whining and continue to vote for Democrats. See further explanatory stories in the Independent and Episcopal News Services. There are many links to other reports here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


In a British army recruitment video made three years ago, in additon to showing his racism, Mr Wales also admits his pubes are ginger.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Nearly 200,000 people protested earlier today in central London [some photos here] against the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Well-known author of books for children Michael Rosen wrote and read out a poem for the children of Gaza at the protest right after a group of children read the names of some of the children who've been killed in Gaza.
In Gaza, children,
you learn that the sky kills
and that houses hurt.
You learn that your blanket is smoke
and breakfast is dirt.

You learn that cars do somersaults
clothes turn red,
friends become statues,
bakers don’t sell bread.

You learn that the night is a gun,
that toys burn
breath can stop,
it could be your turn.

You learn:
if they send you fire
they couldn’t guess:
not just the soldier dies -
it’s you and the rest.

Nowhere to run,
nowhere to go,
nowhere to hide
in the home you know.

You learn
that death isn’t life,
that air isn’t bread,
the land is for all.
You have the right to be
Not Dead.
You have the right to be
Not Dead.
You have the right to be
Not Dead.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


The City of Burlington’s water contains 1 part per million (1 ppm) of fluoride. We keep hearing that the fluoride is diluted so much that its toxic effects are essentially diluted out. But is 1 ppm REALLY such a minute quantity as to be without any effect?

One ppm of fluoride means that every liter of water contains 1 milligram, or 1 mg, of fluoride. So, for every liter of fluoridated water you drink, whether it is in the form of water, or a beverage such as soda, coffee, juice, or beer, that is prepared with fluoridated water, you consume 1 mg of fluoride. And Brita and Pur filters do not filter out fluoride.

People also consume additional fluoride from other sources: toothpaste, processed cereals, mechanically de-boned chicken, tea (the leaves of which accumulate Fluoride), fish, and pesticides residues in wine, fruits and vegetables – all of these foods frequently contain varying levels of fluoride, sometimes several mgs per serving.

So how much fluoride do you ingest per day? Adding up the beverages you drink, the toothpaste you use, and consumption of the many foods that contain fluoride, you are likely ingesting several mgs of fluoride per day, half of which is stored in your body indefinitely, and builds up over time. And a few mgs a day is not insignificant.
So how do you control this? When your children are drinking city water, juices, brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, eating chicken, and processed cereals? The answer is you can’t, and their largest exposure is coming from the drinking water.

EPA used a “safe dose” for adults of 8 mgs per day in setting its drinking water limit, however, this dose has since been found by the National Research Council to be too high to prevent adverse health effects. A daily dose of 20 mgs of fluoride is known to cause crippling skeletal fluorosis. Safety factors of 10 are normally built in to provide the public with an adequate margin of safety. This would result in an acceptable dose of 2 mg per day, or the amount you consume in only 2 L of water.
[...Continue reading all of "Tiny Amounts"]

Monday, January 5, 2009


Burlington has fluoridated its drinking water since 1952.

In March, 2005 the Burlington Board of Health began investigations regarding the continuation of adding fluoride into the city's water. After two public forums the board voted 3-2 to continue the practice, but advised the city council to reduce the amount, which the council ordered (The amount was reduced to 1/ppm from 1.7.). Enough signatures were gathered in 2006 to have a ballot item to stop the addition of fluoride to the drinking water. That item failed at the City Election in March, 2006.

In November, 2008 the board received new information concerning water fluoridation.

Tonight, the board voted on a resolution to discontinue water fluoridaton in Burlington. Board members Fern Crete and I [I am a board of health commissioner] presented the following resolution:
In light of recent scientific developments indicating the potential for harm to certain subsets of the population, the Burlington Board of Health recommends immediately taking a precautionary stance by discontinuing the practice of water fluoridation. It is our opinion that drinking water should be pure and safe for all.

● In 2006 the National Research Council's published report entitled “Fluoride in Drinking Water” identified vulnerable subsets of the population who may be at an increased risk from the toxic effects of fluoride. These subsets include infants, diabetics, kidney patients, and those with impaired thyroid function.
● Following the NRC's report the American Dental Association recommended that infants (0 -6 months of age) not receive fluoridated water.
● In 2008 the National Kidney Foundation discontinued its support of community water fluoridation and stated that kidney patients should be notified of the potential risks from fluoride exposure.
● The chemical being added to Burlington's water supply is Hydrofluorosilisic Acid. It is a highly toxic industrial byproduct of phosphate fertilizer manufacturing. There are virtually no human health effects studies on these fluorosilicate compounds.
● The intended purpose of adding fluoridation chemicals to the water is to provide a medical benefit to the consumer by preventing tooth decay. While we do not use the public drinking water as a medium for delivering other medications, it is our opinion that fluoride should be no exception. As with any other drug, fluoride has side effects.
● It is the opinion of the Burlington Board of Health that the public water supply should be safe for all Burlington residents with emphasis on infants, kidney patients, diabetics, and those with impaired thyroid function.
This time the resolution to remove fluoride from the city's drinking water passed 3-2. The Board will send its recommendation to the city council.


From SWABVT: the media advisory on the board's vote.

Further reading: I referred to the National Research Council: Fluoride in Drinking Water in my motion last night.


We’ve all heard about the NIMBY mentality prevalent in our neighborhoods and towns. Gated communities have sprung up all over this land: press a secret code, and you’re in; if you don’t pass the security gate, you’re out in the cold. Even if you live in a condominium, you have to prove you're legitimate, so your neighbors will know you’re not a stranger intruding on their turf.

So, picking up on debates and discussions on a few neighborhood Front Porch Forums, the Free Press reports that Burlington's restricted/residential parking is increasing its scope to neighborhoods around the city. It started out up on the hill, on the streets with swankiendas near UVM and Champlain College. The proponents may live in an exclusive area of Burlington, but our city is not River Oaks or Short Hills or Scarsdale. Oh! the tyrrany of the "nice neighborhood"! The program - let alone its expansion - approved in neighborhoods by the DPW commission is fraught with bureaucratic problems. It should never have been considered in the first place, or allowed to expand.

Nobody owns our streets - they are public thoroughfares (not privatised streets), for use by all sorts and conditions to travel on or stop along the way.

Former mayor Peter Clavelle refused to sign the petition for restricting parking on his street for that reason. I bet the 60% who said yes to the petition for the scheme on South Union Street couldn’t tell you what it meant in detail - probably just thought it was a "good idea" for "our" neighborhood. But not for the city, no sirree. The proponents who screamed for restricted parking show a selfishness which again pits residents against college students. I asked a resident of South Union Street and a Champlain College student who lives a few doors away from Peter Clavelle how he found out about the resident parking stickers. He told me he "found out" by having received a ticket for parking in front of his apartment, which, in order to get reversed, he had to prove to the police authorities that he was a bona fide resident - not of Burlington - but of South Union Street!

Shame on the city administration and DPW in catering to the chosen fews and not doing what they're supposed to do: work for the common good of all Burlington.


The legend, lest it be a true story, tells of how the late mathematician, Professor Haim Hanani, asked his students at the Technion to draw up a plan for constructing a pipe to transport blood from Haifa to Eilat. The obedient students did as they were told. Using logarithmic rulers, they sketched the design for a sophisticated pipeline. They meticulously planned its route, taking into account the landscape's topography, the possibility of corrosion, the pipe's diameter and the flow calibration. When they presented their final product, the professor rendered his judgment: You failed. None of you asked why we need such a pipe, whose blood will fill it, and why it is flowing in the first place.

Regardless of whether this story is legend or true, Israel is now failing its own blood pipeline test. As Israel has been preoccupied with Gaza throughout the entire week, nobody has asked whose blood is being spilled and why. Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. Even if Israel wiped Gaza off the face of the earth, killing tens of thousands in the process, as a Chechnyan laborer working in Sderot proposed to me, one can assume that there would be no protest.

They liquidated Nizar Ghayan? Nobody counts the 20 women and children who lost their lives in the same attack. There was a massacre of dozens of officers during their graduation ceremony from the police academy? Acceptable. Five little sisters? Allowed. Palestinians are dying in hospitals that lack medical equipment? Peanuts. Whatever happened to the not-so-good old days of Salah Shahadeh? When we liquidated him in July 2002, we also killed 15 women and children. At least back then, moral qualms were raised for a moment.

Here lie their bodies, row upon row, some of them tiny. Our hearts have turned hard and our eyes have become dull. All of Israel has worn military fatigues, uniforms that are opaque and stained with blood and which enable us to carry out any crime. Even our leading intellectuals fail to speak out on what havoc we have wreaked. Amos Oz urges: "Cease-fire now." David Grossman writes: "Hold your fire. Stop." Meir Shalev wants "a punitive operation." And not one word about our moral image, which has been horribly distorted.

The suffering in the south renders everything kosher, as if the horrible suffering in Gaza pales in comparison. Everyone is hungry for revenge, and that hunger is excused by the need for "deterrence," after it was already proved that the killing and the destruction in Lebanon did not achieve it....

It is doubtful whether Hamas will be cut down to size as a result of this wretched war. Yet, the face of the state has been cut down to size, as have civilian elites who are apathetic and scared. The "peace camp," if it ever existed, has been cut down to size. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz authorized the Ghayan killing, regardless of the cost. Haim Oron, the leader of the "new left-wing movement," supported the launch of this foolish war.

Nobody is coming to the rescue - of Gaza or even of the remnants of humanity and Israeli democracy. The statesmen, the jurists, the poets, the authors, academe, and the news media - pitch black over the abyss. When the time comes for reckoning, we will need to remember the damage this war did to Israel: The blood pipeline it laid has been completed.
The above linked quote is from an opinion piece - not in the New York Times, not from National Public Radio (I would venture to say you'd not read it in any of the major media in America or Britain) - but written by Gideon Levy in Haaretz, an Israeli newpaper.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Sign The War Crimes Petition Already!
Edger at Docudharma, Saturday, January 03, 2009

Don't expect me to or even ask me to tell you why you should sign the petition.

You already know why you should sign the petition. You don't need me or anyone else to tell you why you should sign the petition.

Petition BadgeClick the Badge to read and sign the Formal Petition to Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.
Get BadgeClick "Get Badge" to get the html code and post the badge on your blog or website so other people can find and sign the petition too.

There is no more debate on these matters. The only people who want to continue debating these matters are war criminals who want to be let off the hook and supporters of letting war criminals off the hook. [Read all of Edger's post here.]

Docudharma Tag: petition for a special prosecutor
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.


Israeli troops cross border into Gaza

Richard Seymour reports on today's protest in London. 10,000 in Amsterdam.

Photo courtesy Indymedia NL.
There were other protests today around the world.


A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage – Herbert Hoover
TIMES ARGUS January 3, 2009
BERLIN – Say goodbye to "Food Stamps." Say hello to "3Squares VT."

The well-known Food Stamp program got a new updated name Friday, and Vermont Gov. James Douglas was on hand for the launch, standing in front of three tables of food at Shaw's Supermarket Friday afternoon. The state's expanded nutrition program was symbolized by the display of foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner, underscoring the new name and "3Squares" focus on healthy eating.

Enrollment in the program currently stands at 31,000, or more than 12 percent, of Vermont's approximately 250,000 households. Those households represent more than 61,000 individuals in the state.
Good that the program is being expanded. The Douglas admin claims the new name gives emphasis to good nutrition. My guess it's a move away from the stigma of applying for food stamps. "I'm off to the store for my 3 Squares." I think these new-fangled names just confuse people. Vermonters just want a program that works.

Friday, January 2, 2009


The Elfstedentocht or Eleven Cities Tour celebrates its 100th anniversary today. When it happens - only 15 times in its history - it's a grueling 200 km ice skating race.
What makes an Eleven-Cities Tour win so unique is the fact that the race cannot be held on anything like a regular basis. Dutch winters are usually too mild to allow thick enough ice to form for outdoor skating. For this reason, alternative races are organised in Austria or Finland. However, Dutch enthusiasts maintain that there is nothing like participating in the tour when it is held in Friesland.
A few of my Dutch cousins have skated it. The Prince of Orange - registered as W. A. van Buren - participated in 1986.
"It has be minus ten degrees for at least seven nights in a row for the event to go ahead," says a spokesperson in Friesland in De Telegraaf. He warns people to stick to official ice rinks, as the ice on the lakes is not safe. He could be right, as on New Year's Day the body of a 58-year-old man was found by his friends under the ice. And four people were saved from certain death by the quick thinking of a local man who used his surfboard to reach a group that had fallen through thin ice after he heard their calls for help.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Yet another insult to women: Obama chooses a sexist pastor for his Inaugural
Rick Warren is a male supremacist. He’s a man who picks and chooses his Bible verses to buttress his preferred beliefs. Selecting him, of all people, to deliver the Inaugural invocation is yet another insult to the millions of women who voted for Obama, trusting — despite the sexism of the campaign — that Barack Obama would prove to be a champion of equality.

It’s not as if we have a shortage of Christian ministers in this country. Obama could have chosen a progressive, like Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, thus sending a powerful message of religious faith twinned with social justice.
I thought Bishop Jefferts Schori would have been a far better choice, too.

Thanks to Godless Liberal Homo for the link to the Reclusive Leftist post.

HELEN SUZMAN 1917-2009


Helen Gavronsky, politician: born Germiston, South Africa 7 November 1917; Lecturer in Economic History, University of Witwatersrand 1944-52; MP (United Party) for Houghton, Republic of South Africa 1953-61, (Progressive Party, later Progressive Reform Party and Progressive Federal Party) for Houghton 1961-89; Honorary Fellow, St Hugh's College, Oxford 1973; Honorary Fellow, London School of Economics 1975; Honorary DBE 1999; Honorary Fellow, New Hall, Cambridge 1990; President, South African Institute of Race Relations 1991-93; Member, South African Human Rights Commission 1996-98; married 1937 Dr Moses Suzman (died 1994; two daughters); died Johannesburg, South Africa 1 January 2009.


(Thanks to Lenin's Tomb.)