Friday, July 31, 2009
Amsterdam is not Sodom & Gomorrah
It is a much-belated response, but 25-year-old Robert Nieuwenhuijs' July 27 video reply to Fox News' description of Amsterdam as a "cesspool of corruption" has nevertheless become a hit on the video-sharing website YouTube.
[Robert Nieuwenhuijs] saw the show on YouTube and felt affronted by O'Reilly's Amsterdam-bashing. He decided to post a video reply on YouTube, calling it . He looked up numbers about drugs use from American and Dutch national surveys and made some striking comparisons.
Dit is echt zo geweldig gedaan!!! The truth about Amsterdam! Makes me proud to have been born there!
Cross posted with some edits at Antemedius and also at The Peace Tree. Hat tip to 24oranges.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Ben & Jerry's lets it drip, drip, drip
Who knew? Ben & Jerry's ice cream supported waterboarding?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Rick Wolff on TRNN: Worse is yet to come
Single Payer Activists
Following a pattern of civil resistance in Washington D.C. and around the country, citizens in Des Moines Iowa on Monday risked arrest to press for the creation of single-payer healthcare, the establishment of healthcare as a human right, and an end to the deadly practices of Iowa's largest health insurance company, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Dr. Margaret Flowers, who has herself gone to jail for single-payer in our nation's capital, was on hand to speak in Des Moines. She called me with this report. Nearly a month earlier, on June 19, 2009, Des Moines Catholic Workers had delivered a letter (PDF) to Wellmark addressed to its CEO John Forsyth requesting disclosure of Wellmark's profits, salaries, benefits, denials and restrictions on care. The letter had not been acknowledged by Monday, and the Catholic Workers and their allies decided to take action again.
Thirty people arrived in the Wellmark lobby in Des Moines and asked to see Forsyth or any of the members of the board of directors or the operating officers. They were told that none were available, and instead the police arrived. Nine of the 30 refused to leave and were arrested. Flowers did not yet know what the charges will be but suspected trespassing. The nine latest supporters of single-payer to go to jail for justice are:
Mona Shaw, Renee Espeland, Frankie Hughes (age 11), and Frank Cordaro, all from Des Moines Catholic Workers; Leonard Simmons from Massachusetts; Robert Cook; Eddie Blomer from Des Moines; Kirk Brown from Des Moines; and Chris Gaunt from Grinnell, Iowa.
These nine and others like them around the country represent, I think, the incredible potential to energize the American public on behalf of a struggle for the basic human right of healthcare, a potential being blocked by the work of activist organizations that reach out from Washington to tell the public that single-payer is not possible, rather than reaching into Washington from outside to tell our public servants what we demand.
Here's a blog from Digby acknowledging the reduction of the public option from where it started to next-to-nothing. It's not clear whether Digby thinks it would have been smarter to start with single-payer, in order to end up with a better compromise than what you get by initially proposing the weakest plan you'll settle for. But Digby argues that proposing single-payer from the start would not have given single-payer itself any chance of succeeding, and this is proven -- Digby says -- from the fact that the public option is having such a hard time succeeding.
I can't prove this is wrong. Everything Digby writes is smart and to the point. But this does omit an important factor or two. Namely: single-payer turns an obscure wonkish policy mush into a clear and comprehensible civil rights issue. Even with it blacked out and shunned by the White House and astroturfing activist groups, single-payer still has people sacrificing and going to jail for it. Nobody goes to jail for a public option.* Nobody even knows what it is. Nobody will even know whether they got it if a bill is passed until experts debate the point for them -- at which point it's too late. Making healthcare a right rather than a legislative policy energizes people, and that potential has hardly been tapped and should not be written out of consideration.
John Nichols understands this, as does Glen Ford from Black Agenda Report.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Look out for him in 6 years
Friday, July 24, 2009
Gospel Music Giant: Horace Boyer 1935-2009
I found YouTube links to two songs featuring the Boyer Brother --
You can also listen to "Going Back To God"
Well, kiss my wooden shoes!
I've decided to start a new BI series/commentary in the same vein - Well, kiss my wooden shoes! - with a Dutch Weird angle.
And here's the first installment.
News on the aftermath of Queen's Day 2009 tragedies doesn't seem go away. The story linked below is about victimhood. It's not a purely American phenomenon. In the story linked below, we learn that some Cloggies will go to great lengths to make a euro, make a euro. But this story goes beyond the stereotypical ambulance chaser, bringing it to new lows, for the actions of these people certainly do that.
TV viewers claim Queen's Day attack damages
Friday 24 July 2009
A number of people who watched tv and internet footage of the Queen's Day attack, in which Karst Tates drove his car through the crowd killing eight people, are attempting to claim damages, the AD reports on Friday.
The paper says insurance company Reaal and damages claim specialists SAP in Amersfoort have been approached by people who want to make a claim for the shocking effect of the footage. The attack, in which bodies are seen flying through the air, was broadcast live on tv.
A spokesman for Reaal refused to tell the paper how many claims had been received.
But VU University law professor Arno Akkermans told the paper: 'I have spoken to them [Reaal] about it. They say they have had many claims and are looking for advice how to deal with them.'
Lawyer Jan Wilem Koeleman from SAP told the paper: 'a number of clients have registered their intention to claim damages after seeing television and other coverage'.
But a spokesman for the Dutch victims support body Slachtofferhup said the claims were 'inappropriate' and have no hope of succeeding.
More Facebook shenanigans to benefit advertisers...
FACEBOOK have agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission. Click on SETTINGS up at the top where you see the Log out link. Select Privacy. Then select NEWSFEEDS and WALL. Next select the tab that reads FACEBOOK ADS. There is a drop down box, select NO ONE. Then SAVE your changes. (REPOST this on your profile to let your friends know!)
Shit, Facebook write that they "respect privacy rules," but make you jump all these loops to have it. It's all about make a buck, make a buck for the third party advertisers.
Power to the Honduran people...
RagING against the bank machine
And word is spreading about the discriminatory practice of the bank. Read it in Dutch here and here.
Karoline's photo, credit Tom Huis in 't Veld.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
[T]he issue is likely to lead to a heated political battle similar to the one in which the religious right tried to force creationism onto the curriculum. While it wasn't able to inject religious theories in to the classroom, the Texas school board did make changes to teaching designed to undermine lessons on evolution such as introducing views that the eye is so complex an organ it must have involved "intelligent design".
Other states will be watching what happens in Texas carefully as the religious right campaign seeks new ways to insert God in to the classroom after the courts limited the extent to which creationist theories could intrude on the teaching of biology. But religion is not kept out of schools entirely. Many children recite the pledge of allegiance in class each morning which includes a reference to the US as "one nation under God".
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Insanity: What Israelis really think about the settlements, the U.S. and Obama
My LTE to Seven Days has been published
Since I have Dutch-American heritage, spent my kid-teen years in New Hampshire, and have an abiding love for the history and culture of the two countries, Kevin Kelley’s article was indeed a fascinating read [“Long Before Mexican Farm Workers, the Dutch Saved Addison County Dairying,” July 1]. He could have been describing many Dutch immigrants currently living in this country who came here at the same time as the families of the Addison County farmers. However, my Dutch father (he would have been 95 years old this year), married to an American in 1947 and naturalized in 1950, was atypical. He was left-leaning politically. He joined the Dutch merchant marine to escape the stifling atmosphere of the Netherlands and was glad to leave it there.
Unsurprisingly, the (Republican) farmers in the article frown on today’s Dutch society. But surely, the problems dealing with immigration, religion, culture and the effects of a global economy in the Netherlands are the same as we have in this country. My family recognized that neither country was perfect and was fascinated by the changes on return visits to friends and family in the “Old Country.” With typical Dutch stubbornness and unwavering arrogance, the immigrants described in your article cling to retrogressive traditions brought with them from Holland that are no longer sustainable, neither in 21st-century America nor in a vibrant, modern, innovative and multicultural Holland.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Vegan streaker 'planned to attack queen'
Tuesday 21 July 2009
An animal rights activist known as the vegan streaker has been arrested on suspicion of planning to attack queen Beatrix, his lawyer Gerard Spong told the Volkskrant on Tuesday.
The public prosecution department said earlier that Peter Janssen is suspected of preparing an attack and possessing a gun. Two computers were taken from homes in Wissekerke and Vught, where the 24-year-old's mother lives.
Later the department said Janssen was suspected of planning to attack the queen because she regularly wears fur in public. The arrest followed 'extensive' testimony, the department said.
'We think the police took action on the basis of an anonymous, vague tip,' Spong told the paper. He pointed out that no gun was found during the search of the properties.
Janssen will appear in court on Wednesday.
Janssen, who was arrested earlier this year for releasing 2,500 mink on a fur farm, first hit the headlines a year ago when he disrupted filming of the Paul de Leeuw tv show, wearing only underpants.
He has also been caught streaking at the ABN Amro tennis tournament, a Champions Trophy hockey match and the Tilburg Ten Mile road race.
[Photo Peter Janssen a.k.a. the Vegan Streaker - credit ANP/Telegraaf]
Frank McCourt, R.I.P. - "I was put on this earth to write."
Monday, July 20, 2009
The Gospel Imperative to Reconcile
The seeking of reconciliation is on a far larger canvas than some bureaucratic religious arrangement. It certainly is about people and about bringing the larger society and its prejudices to be reconciled and healed with a group of people who have, for so long, been outside the acceptable and the unwelcomed.
Like Resolution D025 The Episcopal Church has recovered in C056 what it sees as this Gospel imperative, and yet done so whilst admitting the disagreement over the matter and the discernment that is still to go on. C056 is even more careful than D025, in that it is really about the gathering of liturgical resources for presentation to the next General Covention in three years time. Such is a long time to wait for any approved liturgy for same sex couples.
It baffles me that you can have pet blessing services here and there without as much as a murmur, drawing on some of the margins (or at best the often ignored) of the Christian tradition, but you cannot have blessings of gay and lesbian couples without causing a huge fuss. If that isn't an ongoing need for sorting out priorities and reconciliation, then I am at a loss for understanding such an imperative. Thus individuals in places seeking blessings should surely receive them, whilst a Church gathers such efforts up and sees what could be possible, relevant rites for such blessings.
But, of course, some are obsessed with Church bureaucracies for the sake of them, even when they don't exist. Again, if there is such a Communion structure that does not want to involve a Church that looks to bless loving relationships in all its structures, then go ahead and be excluding (as an institutional symbol of exclusion, not reconciliation at all): and it may just be an opportunity for those more organic and friendly means of establishing relationships to reassert themselves over the ambitions of the bureaucratic empire builders.
Daily Reading for July 20 • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman
These slaves from Maryland were the last that Harriet Tubman piloted out of the prison-house of bondage, and these “came through great tribulation.” Stephen, the husband, had been a slave of John Kaiger, who would not allow him to live with his wife (if there was such a thing as a slave’s owning a wife). She lived eight miles distant, hired her time, maintained herself, and took care of her children (until they became of service to their owner), and paid ten dollars a year for her hire. She was owned by Algier Pearcy. Both mother and father desired to deliver their children from his grasp. They had too much intelligence to bear the heavy burdens thus imposed without feeling the pressure a grievous one.
Harriet Tubman being well acquainted in their neighborhood, and knowing of their situation, and having confidence that they would prove true, as passengers on the Underground Rail Road, engaged to pilot them within reach of Wilmington, at least to Thomas Garrett’s. Thus the father and mother, with their children and a young man named John, found aid and comfort on their way, with Harriet for their “Moses.” A poor woman escaping from Baltimore in a delicate state, happened to meet Harriet’s party at the station, and was forwarded on with them. They were cheered with clothing, food, and material aid, and sped on to Canada.
Notes taken at that time were very brief; it was evidently deemed prudent in those days, not to keep as full reports as had been the wont of the secretary, prior to 1859. The capture of John Brown’s papers and letters, with names and plans in full, admonished us that such papers and correspondence as had been preserved concerning the Underground Rail Road, might perchance be captured by a pro-slavery mob. For a year or more after the Harper’s Ferry battle, as many will remember, the mob spirit of the times was very violent in all the principal northern cities, as well as southern (“to save the Union”). Even in Boston, Abolition meetings were fiercely assailed by the mob. During this period, the writer omitted some of the most important particulars in the escapes and narratives of fugitives. Books and papers were sent away for a long time, and during this time the records were kept simply on loose slips of paper.
From The Underground Railroad: A Record Of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &C., Narrating The Hardships, Hair-Breadth Escapes And Death Struggles Of The Slaves In Their Efforts For Freedom, As Related By Themselves And Others, Or Witnessed By The Author, by William Still (1872).
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Howard Dean, M.D. Supports the War Drug
JUAN GONZALEZ: In terms of the—to get back again to other issues right now, I’d like to ask you about the continuation and expansion of the American war in Afghanistan. Do you have concerns about—that this is becoming really President Obama’s war—
HOWARD DEAN: It is.
JUAN GONZALEZ: —and the impact on our country in the future?
HOWARD DEAN: Look, again, you know—and I don’t have to say anything nice; I’m not in the administration. But I’m with Obama on his conduct of the war. I always said, when I was running against the Iraq war, that Afghanistan was different.
Let me tell you what the stakes are now. And what I find incredibly refreshing about this president is he uttered words that Lyndon Johnson never said, which is that we cannot win this war militarily. He knows that from the get-go. Here’s what’s at stake. It’s not just the Taliban. I think we could probably control the Taliban and the al-Qaeda in the Northwest territories by doing some of the things we’re already doing—drones and air power and so forth. Roughly 50 percent of the Afghan people are women. They will be condemned to conditions which are very much like slavery and serfdom in a twelfth century model of society where they have no rights whatsoever. So, I’m not saying we have to invade every country that doesn’t treat women as equal, but we’re there now. We have a responsibility. And if we leave, women will experience the most extraordinary depredations of any population on the face of the earth. I think we have some obligation to try and see if we can make this work, not just for America and our security interests, but for the sake of women in Afghanistan and all around the globe. Is this acceptable to treat women like this? I think not.
AMY GOODMAN: We just interviewed an Afghan parliamentarian, Dr. Wardak. She said the opposite. She said, yes, she agrees with you on the way women are treated, but that this is worsening the treatment, that the increased number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the huge number of troops that are coming in right now, are alienating the Afghan population.The above is an extract from an interview last week on Democracy Now! with Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont and establishment Democratic celebrity. It was also included in a post at Ten Percent, which I also recommend to BI readers for further context on the escalating, brutal war in Afghanistan.
Cross posted at Antimedius and The Peace Tree.
Photo: Ghazni protest in February against an attack on civilians by coalition forces.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Marching in the Light: IntegriTV Wraps up General Convention 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Caught Red-handed: Open Discrimination in Holland
Yesterday, DutchNews.nl ran a story which appeared in the Dutch daily AD about Albert Heijn railway station shops banning Moroccan youth from working in them.
[S]everal branches of AH To Go in Amsterdam and at the Hague's main station include the words 'No Moroccans' in bold letters on a list of times and days when extra staff are needed.If you read further, you'll see it's garnered quite a few comments.
The list was emailed to 31 AH To Go shops on June 4, the paper says. Branch managers who asked if this was correct were sent another email the same day with the text 'urgent, No Moroccans', the paper says.
AH To Go shops are small supermarkets where people can buy a sandwich or salad as well as essential supplies. Albert Heijn is part of the bourse-listed Ahold supermarket group.
That is REVOLTING.Yesterday, the site ran an editorial:
I have also seen many places where it's made clear only men or young ladies wanted. They put the AGES and AH has done that as well right in the window!
Some aspects of life here are NOT advanced.. and open discrimination is one of them.
It's not only AH there are many other areas racial discrimination is going on (for confirmation please check it with the Human Rights Organizations, the UN department of human rights/Netherlands etc).
Yes, for me also its a shocking news that very openly extreme discriminating employment policies were shown even at the window's)
Discrimination is in every human society,country and continent.It's not only here in the Netherlands.
If the political leadership doesn't realize their responsibilities to unite Dutch Nation under the motto " We are one nation with different colours and traditions",then many more incidents are knocking at our door step. Which will effect every body!
We all have to condemn any discrimination by any one including the criminal acts by any one,with out naming a particular ethnic group.
We all know that whatever our actions or right or wrong,positive or negative at the end we have to receive back good or bad.
We all have to become a nation a force against those elements willing to disturb peace and harmony in our country.
The focus has to be positive,constructive and productive and that's the only way to obtain positive Civic Results.
As always, the Netherlands shows the world that it is a bastion of racism underneath its image of tolerance and weed smoking. Te UB needs to step in and make the Dutch government invest at least 3% of its GDP in anti racism education in schools, universities, workplace. The culture that was at the origin of apartheid and horrors in the spice islands of Asia has a long way to go in educating its Caucasian aborigine population about accepting others. Affirmative action is the only solution: at least 10% of gov employees and professionals in firms should be of non Caucasian origin in the Netherlands for the next 2 decades. The Obama meter says that the Netherlands is 300 year away from having an Obama as a president if things remain as they are.
Thursday 16 July 2009COMMENT: "... prepared to work for such poor pay."
The AD's story about branches of Albert Heijn's To Go stores being told not to employ Moroccans is a slap in the face to children prepared to work for less than €4 an hour, says Robin Pascoe.
Supermarkets are currently engaged in yet another price war, based on the myth that food should be cheap.
And one of the results of that is pressure on wages - paying your staff as little as you can get away with and preferring cheap youngsters who earn less than the official minimum wage.
There is a reason, therefore, that Holland's supermarkets are full of teenagers doing the repetitive, physical and never-ending job of stocking the shelves or manning the tills.
Working in a supermarket is very badly paid. As a 17-year-old, you will be lucky to earn more than €3.60 an hour. No tips.
These are jobs which in the big cities at least are largely done by children from an ethnic minority background. Middle-class white kids don't want to dirty their hands for such a trivial amount.
And yet, here we have a company - a division of Dutch Rail - which has decided some of its 'to go' stores at stations should not take on any more Moroccans. And why? According to one nameless individual, customers feel threatened.
There are two main points to be made here. Imagine if the company had said no Jews, or no Blacks, or no Germans? There would have been an outcry.
But no Moroccans? Well, there has been a bit of muttering about taking action against the staff involved and about apologising. But the follow-up coverage has been muted.
And where are the MPs demanding to know why people working for a state-owned company think this is acceptable and calling for heads to roll? Nowhere, so far at least.
It's hard enough to be a Dutch teenager with Moroccan roots in foreigner-hostile Holland. And this ban is not only racist, but it's a slap in the face to a group of youngsters who are prepared to work for such poor pay.
Yeah, you can say that, as if they have a choice. I would suggest the youths are forced to take these jobs because there is nothing else for them.
Mr Pascoe has written about exploitation of workers. And he alludes to xenophobia and racism, but doesn't go deeper; he mentions neither the inherent systemic (covert) white privelege nor the growing Islamophobia throughout the country.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Insurance Exec Turned Whistleblower Wendell Potter Speaks Out Against Healthcare Industry
WENDELL POTTER: ... I was a person who was often speaking for not just the company [Cigna], but sometimes the industry. I spent a lot of time working with my colleagues at other companies on task forces and trade association committees to help develop the strategy and the tactics. So, yes, I did a lot of that. So, as a consequence, I know pretty much the game plan that they have developed and used and the talking points that they use and send out to people who they think will say the things they want them to say.Watch and listen to the rest of the interview here.
AMY GOODMAN: And what are those talking points? What is the game plan of the health insurance industry?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, the game plan is based on scare tactics. And, of course, the thing they fear most is that the country will at some point gravitate toward a single-payer plan. That’s the ultimate fear that they have. But currently—and they know that right now that is not something that’s on the legislative table. And they’ve been very successful in making sure that it isn’t. They fear even the public insurance option that’s being proposed, that was part of President Obama’s campaign platform, his healthcare platform. And they’ll pull out all the stops they can to defeat that.
And they’ll be working with their ideological allies, with the business community, with conservative pundits and editorial writers, to try to scare people into thinking that embracing a public health insurance option would lead us down the slippery—excuse me, slippery slope toward socialism and that you will be, in essence, putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor. That is—you know, they’ve used those talking points for years, and in years past they’ve always worked.
A Reading for Today
Daily Reading for July 16
I am giving Thee worship with my whole life,
I am giving Thee assent with my whole power,
I am giving Thee praise with my whole tongue,
I am giving Thee honour with my whole utterance.
I am giving Thee love with my whole devotion,
I am giving Thee kneeling with my whole desire,
I am giving Thee love with my whole heart,
I am giving Thee affection with my whole sense,
I am giving Thee my existence with my whole mind,
I am giving Thee my soul, O God of all gods.
A Celtic dressing prayer, quoted in Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Liturgical Press, 1984).
(From Speaking to the Soul.)
Albert Heijn railway station shops ban Moroccan staff
Thursday 16 July 2009
A number of railway station branches of the Albert Heijn supermarket chain have been told not to employ staff of Moroccan origin, the AD reports on Thursday.
The paper says several branches of AH To Go in Amsterdam and at the Hague's main station include the words 'No Moroccans' in bold letters on a list of times and days when extra staff are needed.
The list was emailed to 31 AH To Go shops on June 4, the paper says. Branch managers who asked if this was correct were sent another email the same day with the text 'urgent, No Moroccans', the paper says.
AH To Go shops are small supermarkets where people can buy a sandwich or salad as well as essential supplies. Albert Heijn is part of the bourse-listed Ahold supermarket group.
A spokesman for Albert Heijn's headquarters said the company was 'extremely shocked' by the news. The AH To Go branches are operated by a company called Servex, which is part of Dutch Rail (NS).
A spokesman for the NS apologied to 'everyone affected' and said measures are being taken at Servex. But he did not say what would happen to the staff responsible for the emails.
'Servex is responsible for personnel policy but must meet our guidelines,' he said.
The Telegraaf quotes an anonymous AH To Go worker as saying 'there are already enough young Moroccans working here'. 'It could be threatening for customers,' he told the paper.
The Dutch anti-discrimination bureau said it had written to Albert Heijn asking for an explanation and was considering further action.
The bureau is also concerned about the different age limits set for various branches. For example, the Alkmaar and Rotterdam Alexander AH To Go stores only want staff aged 16 and 17 while in Utrecht they must be older than 19.
This too is against Albert Heijn policy, the spokesman said.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tell Media: Include Single-Payer in Healthcare Debate
Please Distribute Widely!Add your name to FAIR's petition to the TV networks at:
Reforming the dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system is a major issue in the news these days. The goal of the reform efforts, we're told, is to expand coverage to the uninsured and to reduce costs. But what many experts and citizens see as the most sensible solution to these problems is kept out of the discussion by the corporate media.
Let's send a message to the TV networks: The insurance lobbies and many politicians don't want to talk about single-payer national health insurance. But that makes it all the more important that the media do.
And then help us spread the word: please forward the link to the petition to your contacts; email this page to your friends and "share" the petition through social networking websites such as Facebook and Digg.
Standing with Disney Workers
I love what Bp Robinson said, because his words respect the dignity of the workers who have cared for the delegates.
Elizabeth Kaeton was there, too, and reports that a "somber," lower-level Disney management type accepted the petition. Embarrassing for Disney to get bad PR from this action, no doubt. I suspect the corporate big-wigs are just smiling with relief back at headquarters: Phew! there was no strike!!
But, if the workers had decided to go on strike or had been in the midst of one, what would TEC do/have done? It could have got real ugly quickly. Would the clergy and lay delegates have still supported the workers?
What is TEC's and Integrity's policy when vetting convention locations? Before a booking confirmation, do they investigate how the workers' rights are respected by the corporations/municipalities that own/manage the hotels and convention halls? What about assurances of a liveable wage for workers?
From Integrity's blog
You’ve all heard about Disney’s support for LGBT – they’ve were even subject to a nine-year boycott by ultra-conservative American Family Association because of their ‘embrace of the homosexual lifestyle’. But their embrace no longer encompasses their employees – LGBT or straight.
Today Convention was invited to join a rally and march organized by the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, Disneyland Hotel Workers and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) to fight unfair conditions for workers.If I were to book into one of the Disneyland hotels across the street – just a standard room for one person for one night – it would cost me $310-$425 plus tax. This is not cheap accommodation. Someone earning minimum wage would have to work between 48 and 66 hours just for a room – no food, no tickets. The 2150 employees of the three Disneyland Hotels have been working without a contract since February 2008. These are the people who clean the rooms, cook the meals and carry the luggage. They’re the ones doing the grunt work that makes the magic possible.
Even though Disney earned $1.46 billion in the first half of 2009, and its CEO made $30.6m, Disney plans to reduce benefits for their lowest paid employees. We all know health insurance keeps costing more – but Disney wants its employees to start paying for family coverage, and it wants to reduce full-time positions, thus forcing employees to accept positions with no benefits and no rights.
Several bishops joined the rally at the beginning, including Jon Bruno and Sergio Carranza from Los Angeles who prayed for and blessed the assembled crowd which included workers from other hotels and hospitality businesses in the area. After over a thousand people marched from the Anaheim Arena to the Disneyland gates, they were addressed by both Bishop Gene Robinson and Bishop Barbara Harris who said honest workers should get honest wages, honest benefits and honest opportunities to support their families.
Caroline Hall for IntegrityUSA
Yesterday, I blogged about this action, as soon as it was announced.
Photo credit: Integrity
From the Mouths of Israeli Soldiers: Testimonies on Gaza Abuses
From Joseph Dana, the first of over thirty YouTube videos that Breaking the Silence will be releasing this week:
Word is indeed getting out: Joseph has more updates here. You can subscribe to his posts on his blog!
This is important for Americans - to understand what has happened, Share the stories with President Obama and your member of Congress and ask him/them - Is the US funding human rights abuses in Gaza? - by going here.
The Tortured, Homophobic Logic of His Grace, The Bishop of Durham
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
French Revolutionary Comedy
Disney Be Faithful... to Your Employees (Updated)
From Anaheim, California - Elizabeth Kaeton blogs at TEC General Convention & will participate today in an action to show solidarity with hotel and convention workers.
This afternoon at 4:30, I will join hundreds of other Episcopalians here at Convention as well as other religious leaders from the area in supporting the Prayer Vigil and March organized by the group "Disney Be Faithful," representing 2150 employees of the three Disneyland Hotels: Paradise Pier, Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel.
These workers clean the rooms, cook and serve the food, wash the dishes, and carry the luggage.
Disney wants to take away from its employees union family health insurance. They also want to take away full-time jobs, forcing many into positions with no health insurance at all, no vacation and less than full rights.
Disney's net income in the first half of the Fiscal Year 2009 was nearly $1.46 billion. In Fiscal Year 2008, Disney CEO Robert Iger made $30.6 million.
When I signed up to march last Monday, I was approached by one of the organizers with a request I agreed to but I'm still processing.
"Mother," he said (as I winced), "would you stay with us at the end of the march? We're asking some of the clergy to anoint the workers, and it would be wonderful to have you with us."
I was initially taken aback. 'Anoint' he said. What did he mean, really? Did he mean anoint with holy oils or just extend a hand in blessing?
I wanted to make certain I had a correct translation from his Hispanic, Roman Catholic culture to my progressive Western European, Anglo-Catholic understanding.
So, I asked.
"While we are marching," he said softly, "some of the people from Disney will be standing along the sidelines, filming us as we pass by. They will use that film as evidence to get us fired or to have our positions eliminated or downsized."
"You may not be aware, Mother," he said politely, "that for the workers, this Prayer Vigil and March is a big risk. We need to be anointed for the work of justice, after this event, so that we will find the strength to go back to our jobs. Just a little sign from God that He will continue to be with us after the support of this event."
"We know you have probably not brought your oils with you to this place, so we will have some for you. Will you help us? It would mean so much to some of us for a woman to anoint us for the work of justice."
"Anointed for justice."
I continue to find myself deeply moved by that request. There is something that strikes a cord of authenticity with the core values of what the church professes to be, but often is not.
I ask you, wherever you are, to pray with me and for me, that I may be a worthy vehicle of an anointing of God's healing and enabling power upon these workers.
Pray that we may catch a glimmer of God's justice promised of the Realm of God for these workers and their families.
The Reasons for the Action today:
Disney be faithful!
Disney is Faithful to its Shareholders:
• Disney’s net income in the first half of Fiscal Year 2009 was nearly $1.46 billion.
• Disney’s leaders are among the highest paid in the world. In Fiscal Year 2008, Disney CEO Robert Iger made $30.6 million.
Disney, Be Faithful to your Employees:
• Disney wants to take away our union family health insurance. We will be forced to pay up to hundreds of dollars per month for family health insurance. Many families will lose their insurance.
• Disney wants to take away full-time jobs and forcing many of us into “casual regular” positions with no health insurance at all, no vacation, and less than full rights.
Disney, its your turn to be faithful to us!
"Allons enfants de la patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé ...."
Private insurance is bad for your health
If an insurer is invested in, or does business insurance with, pharmaceutical firms, such an insurer has motive, opportunity and fiduciary duty to promote its investment property’s drugs over others that may be cheaper, more effective, and safer. Apparently, no laws prohibit this. Such an insurer has same motives to ignore, or not even look for, problems with drugs made by its investment properties. Such an insurer might also work to discredit, prohibit, or not authorize traditional natural unpatented drugs, herbs, vitamins, minerals and supplements.
An insurer invested in pesticides or bio-tech firms has a huge motive to ignore the harms and risks of pesticides (in typical cigarettes or elsewhere) and Genetically Engineered foods, and to fail to advise proper prevention such as avoidance of toxics and synthetics, and the use of organics.
With whatever control private insurers have over HMOs, hospitals, doctors, etc., one has to worry that patients may not receive proper medical diagnoses if medical staff avoids even looking for body burdens of industrial chemicals or radiation. It is hard to imagine how proper care can be administered if certain causes of illnesses are not sought or found.
What we have with private, investor insurers is a “company doctor” situation like in the old coal mine towns where a doctor finds that a miner has “a cold,” not black lung disease caused by unsafe work conditions.
Not a day goes by without reports that some natural thing, or people’s “behavior,” or natural plants (like tobacco), or “faulty” genes, or bad diet, or something,causes such-and-such problems. We only hear about industrial causes when a problem becomes too big to cover up.
The biggest hurdles the people face are corporatized mainstream media (including “public” broadcasting) and “public” ... officials who have gone AWOL from their duties to serve the public but who serve, instead, and above all, those insurers and any or all of their investment properties.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
"He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.' "
Mending Wall, by Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,H/T to Lenin's Tomb. This post is motiviated by lenin's post today and a comment.
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Donald Reeves: 'A Very Dangerous Man'
Cross-posted at Antimedius and The Peace Tree.
In The Times (UK) - a Murdoch paper! - yesterday, there's a profile of Donald Reeves, former vicar at the landmark St James's Church - designed by Christopher Wren - in London's West End, promoting his new book, Memoirs of a Very Dangerous Man. I was a member of SJP for a year in 1999; although Reeves was no longer vicar, his mark on the parish was evident in its inclusiveness in celebrating other faith traditions and in its social justice ministries to the marginalised in greater London. St James's, Piccadilly continues to do good work with asylum seekers. In 1999, we were actively assisting Albanian and Bosnian refugees to adjust to life in a strange city and battling with the increasingly hostile UK authorities to prevent their deportations. One Sunday evening, I joined fellow SJP friends to hear Reeves give a talk at Westminster Abbey about his work, just starting to take root in the Balkans.
So, this post is an appreciation of Donald Reeve's life and work.
(I learned some facts about his earlier life in yesterday's article, too.)
Excerpts from the Times's Turbulent priest who now builds bridges in the Balkans
When Donald Reeves, then Rector of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, was told that Margaret Thatcher had described him as “a very dangerous man”, he remembers being “rather pleased . . . it felt like a natural title”. With it he became part of the prominent Anglican tradition of “troublesome priests”, apt to turn their critical fire not only on the world around them but also on the Church that employs them.Before his work in Kosovo, he was in Bosnia:
And yet the man who enjoyed excoriating Thatcherite political views and episcopal complacency in the 1980s, emphasises his role these days as peacemaker rather than as trouble- maker. Through the Soul of Europe project that he co-directs, Reeves spends much time in the Balkans, attempting to build durable trust between communities only nominally at peace after terrible conflicts.
He is currently most engaged in Kosovo, talking to local Serbs and Albanians, seeking to “dismantle the fear each has of the other” and to break down the isolation of minorities — in this case the Serbs, and their ancient religious institutions, living under armed guard.
Progress was uneven and inconclusive, as Reeves and his colleagues experienced how deeply rooted was the mutual suspicion and resentment of communities where, within such recent memory, co-existence had been replaced more or less overnight by murderous hatred. They had to listen patiently to “raw memories” and accept that there could be “no short cuts, no quick fixes”.Reeves's work to enliven a nearly-dead London parish:
But persuading anyone from the various communities to engage at all was an achievement in itself, a crucial first step in peace-building that others had failed to try. He is scathing about the official peacekeepers, the cynical UN and EU bureaucrats “with their expat salaries and weekends in Vienna” who feel two years in Bosnia is good for their CV.
But it was his next appointment, to be vicar of St James’s Church in Piccadilly in 1980, that would really make his name. It was not, at first, an auspicious place, known for society weddings but with little evidence of a congregation rooted in the community: “On my arrival,” he said, “I could see no justification for keeping the church open.”
But gradually he turned it into a thriving institution, closely linked to locals, rich and poor, and, above all, a place for the exploration of ideas.
“Jesus wasn’t exactly into garden parties, He was regarded as a nuisance,” Reeves says. “The churches shouldn’t be creating little managers of sectarian communities but should be places of dissent.” His own dissenting challenge to Thatcherism was overt. He sparked lively debate by preaching against the invasion of the Falklands, and he helped the miners’ wives during their husbands’ bitter strike. But debate across boundaries was encouraged — invited speakers included Norman Tebbit as well as Tony Benn, non-believers as well as believers. And, in anticipation of later work in the Balkans, he began to explore the idea of peace-building, inviting Chinese and Russian visitors. Bishop Trevor Huddleston, a veteran campaigner against apartheid, who lived in the St James’s vicarage for many years, was another significant influence.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Jensen: Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
- Derrick Jensen
These books by Jensen have been recommended to me by a friend :"The Culture of Make Believe," "EndgameL Vol. 1 & Vol.2," "Strangely Like War," "Welcome to the Machine," and his favorite title - which might be my next book to read, "As the World Burns: 50 Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial."
For all of Jensen's works go here.
St Lawrence Seaway: the workers remember
50 years ago this summer, the first freighters slipped through the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Seaway realized a decades-old plan to open Great Lakes ports to vessels in the Atlantic Ocean.There's a good interview linked in the story, focusing on the people who built the Seaway. It's an example of what's good about public radio local programming. NPR could learn a thing or two from NCPR.
I lived in Houston for over twenty years and still never cease to be amazed at what happens in the Lone Star State. A few weeks ago, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, there was police violence against LBGTs in Fort Worth. Now there is this ridiculous - and most likely illegal - police behaviour in west Texas:
At about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of June 29, the five men were placing their order at the Chico's Tacos on Montwood when the two men made their public display of affection, sparking the ire of two contracted security guards at the restaurant, police and witnesses said. After the group sat down, the security guards told them "they didn't allow that faggot stuff to go on there," and made them leave, de Leon said.This story gives new meaning to the state's tourism slogan used for over twenty years, "Texas: It’s Like a Whole Other Country.” Why don't they just follow Gov. Rick Perry's advice and secede, goddamit!
An officer arrived at the restaurant about an hour later, after police received five calls, including from the security guards and de Leon. The men were told to leave the restaurant and had anti-gay slurs directed at them while they waited for the police.
"I went up to the police officer to tell him what was going on and he didn't want to hear my side," de Leon said. "He wanted to hear the security guard's side first."
The officer informed the group it was illegal for two men or two women to kiss in public, de Leon said. The five were told they could be cited for homosexual conduct - a charge the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas. That same year, the city of El Paso passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by employees of the city and by businesses open to the public.
"The security guard received a complaint from some of the customers there," Carrillo said. "Every business has the right to refuse service..."
Briana Stone, a lawyer with the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, disagrees. She said city ordinance protects people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in public places, including Chico's Tacos. Perhaps more troubling, she said, is that the police officer chose not to enforce that ordinance and may have contributed to discrimination.
"This is such a blatant refusal to uphold the law on account of discrimination," she said. "The result is devastating. The police department is allowing that and even participating in it by refusing to enforce an anti-discrimination ordinance, which is what their job is."
Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said businesses can ask patrons to leave for lewd conduct, but those standards would have to apply to all customers.
"If a straight couple wouldn't have gotten kicked out for it, a gay couple shouldn't," she said. "That's general jurisprudence."
Rachel Maddow on the Republicans' "C Street House"
These in the "C Street House" use King David as a model, but don't mention Jonathan! Ha!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I've been picked up (UPDATED!)
Y'all know how many gazillion blog posts are made in the Internet? Well, this is a first for me. My blog post on Antemedius, "Public Radio Programming Pushes Commercial Banking in Poor Communities," was picked up by The Chicago Sun Times News Group and published in the Post Tribune.
UPDATED MONDAY AFTERNOON
Saturday's post, "When will they ever learn?" on Antemedius (and cross posted on Blazing Indiscretions and The Peace Tree) has also been picked up and posted on Independence Day by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Incidentally, also on the 4th of July... (UPDATED)
'Incidentally, also on the 4th of July, Israel continues to imprison a former U.S. Congressperson and Presidential Candidate, Cynthia McKinney. A fact which has barely been reported in the U.S. media, much less described as an "act of defiance to the United States."'
Al-Jazeera English has an interview with Mairead Maguire from an Israeli jail. She and McKinney were fellow passengers on the supply ship.
When will they ever learn?
I first heard Where have all the flowers gone? in my high school German class in 1964 (remember Vietnam?).Yeah, PP&M, Baez, Kingston Trio they've all sung it, but Dietrich's extraordinary rendition is the best IMNSHO! Ausgezeignet! Pete Seeger preferred the German version rather than his English version; especially the lyrics. Seeger said often that the German version sings better.
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind,Cross posted at Antemedius and The Peace Tree.
wo sind sie geblieben?
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind,
was ist geschehn?
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind,
Mädchen pflückten sie geschwind.
Wann wird man je verstehn,
wann wird man je verstehn?
Sag mir, wo die Mädchen sind …
Männer nahmen sie geschwind.
Sag mir, wo die Männer sind …
Zogen fort, der Krieg beginnt.
Sag, wo die Soldaten sind …
Über Gräbern weht der Wind.
Sag mir, wo die Gräber sind …
Blumen wehn im Sommerwind.
Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind …
Mädchen pflückten sie geschwind.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
NPR's Ombudsman won't talk with Greenwald about torture (Update I, II & III)
NPR's Ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, wrote a column last week justifying NPR's policy of using euphemisms such as "enhanced interrogation tactics" -- while barring the use of the word "torture" -- to describe the interrogation tactics used by the Bush administration. I wrote a critique of that column which was widely cited, and the comment section to her column was filled with hundreds of angry criticisms -- many times the number of comments her column typically attracts (usually in the range of 10-20). As a result of all that, last week I extended an invitation to Shepard to discuss her column with me on Salon Radio, and was told by an NPR representative that she would respond to the invitation by Monday.
Yesterday, we received Shepard's response: no. According to the Salon intern who tenaciously pursued Shepard all week and spoke with her yesterday:
I just got off the phone with Alicia Shepard. She declined to have an interview, or to go on Salon Radio. To quote, she thought "misleading things" were written about her on Salon, and said "I don't want to get into a shouting match." As for what the "misleading" statements were, she didn't clarify.[...] Revealingly, after my interview invitation was extended to her last week, Shepard did appear for a five-minute segment on an NPR program -- On the Media -- to discuss her column with an NPR host. There's only so much an interviewer can accomplish in a five-minute segment, and that's particularly true when one is an NPR host interviewing a fellow NPR employee about an NPR management policy. That said, the interviewer -- Bob Garfield -- did a very good job of asking some of the key questions (though there are many others I'd like to ask her). As a result, even with those constraints, the emptiness of Shepard's rationale quickly became evident. The segment can be heard here (or by clicking PLAY on the player below) and is recommended. The comment section to the interview is filled with NPR listeners furious at the NPR policy and Shepard's defense of it. It's not hard to see why Shepard is eager to avoid being questioned adversarially, outside of NPR, about her position.
Comment: I've been following this discussion/debate closely. I read Ms Shepard's lame excuses (and she's a journalism professor, too!). I've read the comments at NPR. Today I learned about Ms Shepard's refusal. "Vermont's NPR Station" and North Country Public Radio (both of which have award-winning local programming I enjoy) are always asking for money, but donations cannot be earmarked to local programming. So, next time my local public radio stations ask for a hand-out, I'll tell 'em, don't expect any dosh from me until they - as an affiliate - tell NPR to clean up its act.
UPDATE I Simon Owens was kind enough to email me the link of his exclusive interview with Glenn Greenwald about the Shepard's refusal to appear on Greenwald's radio show and her reasons for turning down his interview request:
The Important Bits
But doesn’t a person have the right to refuse an interview? After all, some have refused to go on shows like the O’Reilly Factor because they felt like they wouldn’t be given a fair platform to present their views, and many that have gone on such shows have come out regretting it. Greenwald seemed to agree that there are certain circumstances in which it would be practical to turn down an interview request, but he said that when you opine on controversial topics you should make a reasonable effort to respond and engage with your critics or those you criticize.Check out - and bookmark or even tweet Simon's blog - Bloggasm for more of his writing. I've added it to my list of 'Indispensable blogs.' :-)
“That doesn’t mean you have to go and confront every single person,” he said. “If you’re inundated with requests I think it’s fair to pick and choose based on audience size and other factors, but it was pretty clear that I was the primary critic in this regard. I played a large role in spawning the controversy in the first place. I think it was pretty cowardly and irresponsible for her not to being willing to address it.”
This story won't go away.
Greenwald notes "NPR's "torture" ban and its Ombudsman's incoherent defense of it has now turned into a significant controversy for NPR -- and rightfully so..." and links to posts by Huffpost, the Owens piece (see Update I above).
UPDATE III - Monday July 6th
Well, I see that FAIR has also chimed in on Shepard's refusal to chat with Greenwald
Daft Dutch Drivers
From Radio Netherlands
A woman driver had a close shave when she reversed on a bridge as it opened to allow boats through. De Telegraaf prints a photograph of her little blue car teetering on the edge of the Haringvliet Bridge on the A29 motorway near Rotterdam. The bridge had already been raised four metres into the air when the bridge master noticed the woman’s precarious position. The driver was able to escape from the vehicle without assistance, but the police had to rescue her dog from the back of the car. Police have decided to let her off for driving through a red light. “She’s had enough punishment,” said a police spokesperson.
[Photo credit: Autosnelwegen.nl]