Friday, October 30, 2009

TRNN: Clock Ticking in Honduras

The Real News Network:-- For the past four months, ever since the military coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya from power in Honduras, the oligarchy has been accused of purposefully delaying to make it to the scheduled election of November 29th. But now, with only one month to go, it looks likely that no more than a handful of countries will recognize the elections unless Zelaya is immediately returned to power. Al Giordano, who has been extensively covering Honduras since the coup for Narco News, shares his belief that the latest attempt to negotiate Zelaya's return will not work, and that there are some inside the coup resistance in Honduras that are hoping to take advantage of election day to do more than just boycott the vote.

On the Anglican Non-Response to the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

"Anglican niceness and cowardice is at its worst when it remains silent when confronted with legislation which is in contravention of Anglican policy and will criminalise and dehumanize a group of people recognized as requiring equality in western society. When will Anglican leaders find the courage to denounce the Ugandan legislation?"
Indeed, we have heard neither from the PB or the ABC.

Shocking, appalling, worse: and so is the silence, especially when some Anglican Bishop Stanley Ntagali thinks locking gay people up for a period of time is a better alternative, apparently compassionate when the Churches are leading the campaigns against the existence of gay people, a man inspired by his national President congratulating Anglican bishops last August for their campaign against gay people.
Changing Attitude
You would have expected the Anglican Church in Uganda, those responsible for implementing Anglican Communion policy and those with supportive links to Uganda to have issued strong statements condemning the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Lesbian and gay Ugandans now face the very real danger of being subjected to draconian legislation and more intense public vilification. Changing Attitude is in contact with a number of lesbian and gay Ugandan Anglicans who are terrified by the prospect.

On behalf of Inclusive Church and Changing Attitude, Giles Goddard joined me in writing to the Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Uganda and the bishops of Bristol, Sodor and Man and Winchester, the three English dioceses linked to Uganda. The letters have just been posted so no replies have yet been received.
Political Research Associates (PRA), a progressive think tank devoted to supporting movements building a more just and inclusive democratic society, called on Rick Warren to denounce the proposed antigay law in Uganda.
[JayV edit: Link] In March 2008, U.S. evangelical leader Rick Warren told Ugandans that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia, has just completed a report for PRA, to be released in mid-November, investigating the US right-wing evangelicals' outreach in Africa and related efforts to destabilize mainline Protestant denominations and their LGBT rights programs and policies in the United States.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Craig Murray: UK and USA sent prisoners to Uzbek to be tortured

Craig Murray is a British political activist, former ambassador to Uzbekistan and current Rector of the University of Dundee.

A night of horror!

Midnight Roadkill, a 4 minute horror short I helped produce, received good coverage today in the Burlington Free Press, in conjunction with the Vermont Horror Film Festival. MRK premieres at the festival tomorrow:

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 7:00pm - Midnight
Outer Space Cafe
208 Flynn Avenue
Burlington, VT
Midnight Roadkill will also have its Internet premiere on Dead-Fi's YouTube channel on Halloween!

Photo: courtesy Dead-Fi Productions.

"Yee Haw" it ain't

From The Texas Observer, a cool story about an up and coming talented Texas musician!
... The mixture of ancient Chinese symbols and modern American rock illustrate Yang’s uniqueness: he’s a rock guitarist and self-proclaimed Asian cowboy, a fan of barbeque, high school football and all things Texan, but also a lover of Mozart and Brahms, a violin virtuoso thriving in America’s most elite conservatory. While this rare blend of elements might seem contradictory, it’s actually the key to his exuberant personality. His versatility isn’t a shortcoming; it’s his chief attraction.

Yang’s exposure to classical music began in the womb—his mother played for the Austin Symphony—but his love for it was not congenital. “I hated it,” he says of his first few years. “I was 3-years-old when my mom shoved a violin in my hands, you know, it’s like the Asian rule, and I remember hating it and thinking, ‘Man, it doesn’t even sound good.’”

At his first recital, when he was 4, he turned and faced a corner while he played. “My ass was facing the audience the whole time,” Yang says. To get him to practice, his parents would bribe him with M&Ms. Even so, it was a struggle: “Past 30 minutes I’d always cry and shout, ‘Why do I have to do more?’”

HRH Princess Margriet to open Liberation Museum in Zeeland

The museum is in Nieuwdorp, where my grandfather taught school! Zeeland Blog has the announcement (Dutch) of the opening and an interesting linked YouTube video from "Cineac Oud Sabbinge," about what happened during Liberation around Oud Sabbinge, a few km from Wolphaartsdijk, where my uncle was the village doctor!

Princess Margriet will open the Liberation Museum of Zeeland (Dutch) tomorrow, Friday October 30.

The Battle of the Schelde is focus of the museum. This forgotten battle, which took place 65 years ago during the liberation of The Netherlands, between September and November 1944, had large parts of ths island of Walcheren inundated at the cost of a great many military and civilian casualties.

The battle was a key to the liberation of The Netherlands and the end of WWII.

The ambassadors of Canada, Great Britain, Norway and France, as well as veterans, will be in attendance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell...

And the whackos still complain how far to the left Obama is.

The Democrats - as the War Party - have their priorities all fucked up. They don't want honest, real health reform because it's too expensive, and yet they approve the spending of billions on weapons and troops in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

How crazy and schizo this country is: Matthew Shepard's mother was present today as the president signed the $680 billion defence budget bill (including $170 billion for war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan). A landmark hate crimes bill is a rider to it. LBGT groups hailed its passage, but they don't ask you or don't tell you to complain that it's tagged to a bill that will fund war crimes and killing. War is a fucking hate crime! Oich!

Last night in Texas, "the nation's busiest death penalty state"

Andre Bios, Iraqi War veteran and brother of Reginald Blanton, speaking on Tuesday morning with Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous on Democracy Now! -
Amy Goodman: Andre, you’re about to visit your brother. Are you going to be, if in fact he is executed, one of the witnesses to the execution?

Andre Bios: Yes, I am. It was one of the things that I did not want to do, but he has been requesting over and over again for me to be there ...

And the reason why I didn’t want to witness what was getting ready to happen to my brother is because it’s like a slap in my face from my own country, you know? His constitutional rights were violated, but yet I can go overseas and fight in another country to uphold peace, liberty, for them to have, but I can’t uphold peace, liberty and equality for my own brother.
Reginald Blanton was executed on Tuesday, Oct. 27th, injected with poisonous chemicals considered too cruel to use on dogs, and pronounced dead at 6:21pm.
On death row since 2001, Blanton was the 19th prisoner to be executed this year in Texas, the nation's busiest death penalty state. He was the third from Bexar County.

The family of Garza said in an interview about a week prior to the execution that they hoped it would bring them closure.

His attorneys filed two last-minute appeals to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court and Blanton also requested a commutation of his sentence. All were denied.
Six more men in Texas have execution dates in 2009.

Cross posted at The Peace Tree.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Burlington's 'telecom tussle' goes national

Dave Gram/Associated Press:-

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A public option for phone, cable and Internet seemed like a good idea when this Vermont college town launched Burlington Telecom four years ago.

Now top city officials are under fire to explain a $17 million debt and whether taxpayer dollars are subsidizing an enterprise usually left to the private sector.

Burlington has touted its telecom system as one of fewer than three dozen "fiber-to-the-home" cable systems in the country, with gigantic capacity and superior speeds for Internet transmission. One of the hottest debates in its brief history came last year when Burlington Telecom decided to continue carrying the English-language version of the Qatar-based network Al-Jazeera.

The new telecom tussle has unfolded in recent weeks after city officials revealed that Burlington Telecom had borrowed $17 million from the city's "pooled cash" in the past two years but had not paid it back within the 60 days required under its state license.

The administration of Mayor Bob Kiss has come under attack by critics who say the mayor's office failed to keep the City Council adequately informed of Burlington Telecom's troubles and kept the public in the dark.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Via Vermont Interfaith Power & Light there are a number of events in our state for the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CLIMATE ACTION: OCT. 24:

Many events will be happening across Vermont and the
world on this day of action which is sponsored by the
group The aim is to get the
attention of world leaders, to send a message to them
before their meetings in Copenhagen in December, to
convey the urgency of signing a strong climate agree-
ment. The level of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere
is almost 390 parts per million. Leading scientists say
350 ppm is the safe upper limit for life on Earth.

In Vermont, here are some of the events happening on
10/24. For contacts and more info, go to: Vermont Interfaith Power & Light.

BARRE/MONTPELIER: Bike ride to raise funds for the
bike path (for less car dependence) starting at 1 pm;
public officials will speak about bike path plans.

BRATTLEBORO: Centre Congregational Church will
show the film "Renewal" on Fri., Oct. 23, 7 - 9 pm, with
potluck snacks & desserts, readings and music at 6:30.

On 10/24, there's a march & rally from 11 am - 1 pm.

BURLINGTON: The “Dear World Project Walk” and “Human 350 Aerial Photo” will begin at 2 p.m., meeting at the UVM Davis Center west entrance (lakeside). The silent walk (with walkers distributing original art and information) to City Hall Park will be starting at 3 p.m. from the photo shoot, when the bells from UVM’s Ira Allen Chapel and Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery begin tolling 350 times (for 50 minutes). Some of the downtown churches will also be ringing their bells. Walkers please wear black (or something dark). To find out more about the walks, contact Cami Davis A prayer vigil will begin at City Hall Park at 3 p.m. People may send prayers, even if they can’t attend the vigil, to Betsy Hardy and may contact her to find out more about the vigil. A reception and speakers at the Firehouse Gallery will follow. Everyone: Set your phone alarms to 3:50 p.m. when we “wake up” to the climate crisis.

CHARLOTTE: Charlotte Congregational Church will have prayers, readings, music and bell-ringing from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. Contact: Bethany Myrick From 7 – 10 pm, Transition Town will sponsor a dance at the church.

GREENSBORO/HARDWICK: Tour of homes using renew-
able energy start at 8:45 am, ending at Green Mountain
Monastery, Greensboro, with a lunch of soup and bread.

Later, 350 minutes of local music starts at 3:50 pm at
Hazen Union School.

LINCOLN: At Metta Earth, there will be 350 minutes of meditation and walks in the garden, tea and food, from 10 – 3:50, ending with a group photo. Contact:

MANCHESTER: 350 people meditate on the town green
for 35 minutes.

MIDDLEBURY: Events will happen on the Middlebury Town Green, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. It begins with VISION 2020 – ideas for growing a sustainable future, followed by a 350 dish potluck at noon, collection of 350 non-perishable food items for the food shelf, 350 minutes of drumming and more. Contact:

NORTH POMFRET: Collection of 350 non-perishable
food Items by the Congregational Church, to be donated
to local food banks, and an evening program at 7 pm.

A tour of homes using renewable energy will begin at 8:45 am. The last stop on the tour will be the Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro where a light lunch of soup and bread will be served (please bring your own cup, bowl, spoon). To register, contact Nancy Nottermann After the tour, 350 minutes of local music will begin at 3:50 pm at Hazen Union School.

RUTLAND: Sustainable Rutland’s members have been planning a number of actions including 350 minutes of prayer, a light bulb exchange – to give away 350 CFL bulbs, a 350 clothespin give-away to encourage air drying, 350 minutes of environmentally-themed videos showing at a Rutland coffee shop, and more. Contact:

SOUTH BURLINGTON: A dance party at Higher Ground will be simulcast to locations all over, with the music starting at about 9 pm. Two bands, Spiritual Rez and Barefoot Truth will play. For more information, go to: Kathryn Blume will be MC for the event. You can watch a video to find out more at:

Other events happening around the state on 10/24 include actions such as climbs of Mt. Abe, Camel’s Hump, and Snake Mt.; garden work parties in Putney and Burlington; climate action festivals in Waitsfield, Cavendish, and more. Go to to see a list of actions with names of contact people.


Faith communities in eleven+ Vermont towns plan
to ring bells on Oct. 24th to sound an alarm about the
climate crisis and the urgent need for action to avert
it -- to save God's creation. To date, we know that bells
will ring in Barre, Bennington, Bethel, Burlington,
Charlotte, Greensboro, Killington, Montpelier, Northfield,
Randolph and Tunbridge. We encourage more churches
to join in so bells will ring throughout the state. People of
faith are called to care for creation. Here's a way to alert
people to the need to step up and take this responsibility.

In Burlington at 3:50PM St. Paul’s Cathedral, First United Methodist, College St. Congregational, and First Congregational, and the Firehouse Gallery will all ring bells for several minutes.


People who want to participate in the prayer vigil in
Burlington on 10/24 but can't be there in person can
send prayers to VTIPL ( for inclusion.

Anyone may send a prayer and children's prayers are
especially welcome- on creation, animals, plants, climate,
landscape, people affected by the climate crisis, or any-
thing on this general theme. We invite houses of worship
to include this notice in their bulletins.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't mess with Helena Cobban

The Weekly Standard's Goldfarb smears Helena Cobban (one of the best journalists and analysts on contemprary ME affairs) and she replies to the assault.
So here's the thing that Michael Goldfarb and people of his ilk really don't seem to understand: For the vast majority of the people on God's earth today, Palestinians are just as fully human as Jewish people, and just as deserving as Jewish people of our compassion and our understanding.

That, it seems to me, is the true value of the "human rights" approach to world affairs. To understand that no one bunch of people, however described-- "Jewish", or "Arab", "American", "Burmese", "Georgian", "Muslim", or even "Quaker"-- is deserving, at a deep level, of any more deep human concern than any other people. To understand that all "peoples", as such, have made wonderful and distinctive contributions to the expression of full human flourishing, and that--even more importantly-- all human persons, whichever of these groups they self-affiliate with, are equally deserving of our concern and our objective judgment regarding their actions.

Bush motivates protests in Montreal yesterday...

"He has nothing to offer," said Helen Hannah, a colourfully dressed member of the Raging Grannies.

"He stands for modes of torture, modes of warfare and modes of lying that don't represent the way most Americans and most Canadians want to face the world -- we don't believe in those things."

Andre Gravel said Bush was a bad president who was incompetent on many levels, including his handling of the environment, the wars in the Middle East and the economy.

The conflicts Bush waged in Afghanistan and Iraq have destabilized world peace, he added.

"I am in favour of (his) right to speak," Gravel said.

"But we have the right to protest against him.

"Everything he did was negative."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vermont Happenings: "Secret Lives, Public Officials"

Apart from the news that corporate warmonger/murderer General Dynamics - 4th on POGO's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database - is moving its Burlington offices to suburban Williston (not far enough!), the recent political bombshells about the city administrations in Burlington and Montpelier have been the talk around the water coolers and in coffee-bars since last week. Shay Totten's Fair Game column in today's Seven Days newspaper brings us up to date on the City Hall shenanigans around the state:

The financial scandals embroiling Montpelier and Burlington have some striking similarities. No, it’s not just that the administrations of both cities are liberal — if not downright progressive.

Rather, key administrators opted to keep their money troubles — and the strategy to get out of those fiscal pickles — a secret from citizens.

In Montpelier, Mayor Mary Hooper and City Manager William Fraser, in collusion with city councilors, kept hidden from the public an overpayment to a contractor that will cost taxpayers $400,000 to remedy. It may have already caused water rates to rise. They kept the information to themselves for three years.

During that time frame, Hooper ran for reelection unopposed. She’s up again in March. Want to bet she’ll see a challenger this time?

In Burlington, a top aide to Mayor Bob Kiss is on the hot seat after it was revealed that he authorized a $17 million loan from the city’s checkbook to keep fledgling Burlington Telecom afloat.

Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold told “Fair Game” that it was he, and he alone, who decided to extend the money to BT in early 2008. He loaned it in anticipation of receiving a new round of financing from outside investors. The deal never materialized because of the global financial meltdown, and the city’s checkbook became the bank.

“It was me, and I’m not ashamed of it,” said Leopold. “I still believe it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, you can always find things you could have done differently, but this was prudent and the taxpayers are not at risk.”

Leopold said refinancing BT’s current debt could cost about $1.1 million in fees, and he hoped to refinance the old debt and the cost of the remaining build out all at once. That process has taken longer than anticipated.

Leopold said he did brief city and state officials about BT’s finances, and the use of the loan, as far back as December 2007 and again last fall. Still, there is no explicit OK on record from the board of finance or the city council to loan the money, which is what irks many councilors and the public.

I never knew the phrase “checks and balances” means the guy in charge can request the loan and write the check.

Leopold’s actions also protected Mayor Kiss during a spirited four-way race for mayor this March. Wonder if voters would have been as likely to back Kiss for a second, three-year term if they had known the full details of the $17 million loan?

It also helps fuel ongoing speculation that Kiss is clueless and Leopold is really running the city.

Burlington and Montpelier aren’t alone in their secret shenanigans. As I noted recently in “Fair Game,” the Winooski School Board ran afoul of the state’s open-meeting law when it decided in an email exchange to “protect” the children from Pres. Barack Obama’s speech to schoolkids.

Recently, too, the weekly Waterbury Record took its town select board to task for holding subcommittee meetings without telling the public, or even keeping minutes of the meetings. Sheesh.

In the Winooski and Waterbury cases, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said that, while there was a violation of law, they were honest mistakes. An intentional violation of Vermont’s open-meeting law is punishable with a $500 fine.

It isn’t the first time the Record has caught the Waterbury select board running afoul of the law, notes editor and publisher Maria Archangelo.

As with all these cases, perhaps there’s more intent than meets the eye?

Telecom Turmoil
Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss said he supports a full, independent audit of Burlington Telecom’s finances, among other steps, to reinstate confidence in the venture.

Kiss outlined these fixes to the city council before a special meeting Tuesday night. [Click here for Shay Totten's report from that session on Blurt: The Seven Days staff blog].

The audit request comes on the heels of an extensive war of words between the Kiss administration and David O’Brien, the state’s public service commissioner.

The public flap erupted after “Fair Game” first reported that BT borrowed $17 million from the city after years of promises that it wouldn’t rely on taxpayer money to be viable. O’Brien said it was “the most irresponsible utility behavior” he’s seen in his seven years as commissioner.

CAO Leopold, who OK’d the city loans to BT without explicit approval from the board of finance or the city council, will recommend several refinancing options to councilors by their November 16 meeting, Kiss said. The financing plan could include an immediate repayment of the $17 million.

Funny timing.

In a letter to city officials on Friday, O’Brien’s department urged BT to repay the city loan immediately and stop taking more cash from taxpayers.

City officials say O’Brien either doesn’t talk to his own staff or, worse, he wants to deliberately sabotage BT.

“The tone of urgency of the letter is ironic since the DPS has known about the city’s use of pooled cash since November 2008,” the usually quiet Kiss fired back in a prepared statement. “This is a public relations ploy consistent with Mr. O’Brien’s inaccurate and unwarranted statements about BT’s finances. His remarks undermine public confidence in BT and increasingly appear to be a strategy to close BT down.”

Oh, come on. The only folks who might like to see BT shut down would be Comcast. And I don’t recall seeing the giant telecom company on O’Brien’s holiday party guest list last year — you know, the one “Fair Game” wrote about? In his Stowe condo, O’Brien rubbed elbows with Jay Thayer, the head honcho from Entergy Vermont Yankee.

Queen City taxpayers are being invited to a special council-sponsored city hall forum about BT on Thursday night. There, voters will finally have a chance to give city councilors a piece of their minds.

Imagine that, letting the public weigh in.

"As Maine goes, so goes the nation..."

A heartfelt plea for marriage equality in Maine. It's going to be a tight vote.

Thanks to dantojours at Culture Choc.

Song for a Wednesday

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: Anglican Humour Division

Apart from the old news about Anglican priests swimming the Tiber (it's been happening for 25 years and I don't really give a damn), there's this from Ruth Gledhill in Times Online:
A Church of England vicar has said that he is fed up with officiating at cremations where Tina Turner is played as the bodies of people with no hope of resurrection are “popped in the oven”.

The Rev Ed Tomlinson, 35, said he wondered why he bothered as mourners listen to ear-splitting songs and bad poetry during cremations. He feared that his presence at funerals was “pointless” and said he had a hundred better things to do with his time.

Father Tomlinson is vicar of St Barnabas’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, a “Forward in Faith” parish that rejects the ministry of women priests.

Writing on his blog in a post titled “death of death” he said: “In the last few years it has become painfully obvious that many families I have conducted funerals for have absolutely no desire for any Christian content whatsoever.
I don't really give a damn about this, either. But I do think it's funny. We had a nice memorial service in Holland for my parents back in 1995. I used a modified BCP service, readings were in Dutch and English, and I added poems by Sara Teasdale (favourites of me mum's) and John Masefield's poem about "going down to the sea in ships." My father was in the Dutch Merchant Marine, and I thought it was apt. We ended by placing their co-mingled ashes by a cherry tree. My cousin and I planted the tree and his little boys watered it. Afterwards we had tea and Zeeuwse Bolussen bought by my aunt at the local bakery! Geweldig!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

His surname is "Justice." I like that.

William Wayne Justice, a federal district judge who ruled on ground-breaking class-action suits that compelled Texas to integrate schools, reform prisons, educate illegal immigrants and revamp many other policies, died Tuesday in Austin. He was 89. [...]

In a 1998 column in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Molly Ivins made what she called the “painfully obvious point” that Judge Justice had lived up to his name, saying he “brought the United States Constitution to Texas.”

The same year, Lino Graglia, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News, “He has wreaked more havoc and misery and injury to the people of Texas than any man in the last 25 years.”

If Judge Justice seemed high-handed, it was partly because he believed that the founding fathers had wanted judges to seize and command the higher ground. Perhaps not surprising, people reacted with hate mail, death threats, ostracism and bumper stickers demanding his impeachment.

“The plain fact of the matter is that the majority is sometimes wrong,” Judge Justice declared in an interview with The New York Times in 1982.

Frank R. Kemerer, who wrote “William Wayne Justice: A Judicial Biography” (1991), said in an interview on Wednesday, “He had a transcendent value, which was to advance human dignity and provide a measure of basic fairness.”

Grits for Breakfast remembers William Wayne Justice.

Burlington Free Press supports the "rewards" of the war drug

Read the disgusting pro-war spin here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today is the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Nun, 1582

A Saint whose writings I admire indeed.

Via Speaking to the Soul, here's something I strive for (if only I could!), this, from a fine excerpt from Interior Castle:
But no, sisters, no; what the Lord desires is works. If you see a sick woman to whom you can give some help, never be affected by the fear that your devotion will suffer, but take pity on her: if she is in pain, you should feel pain too; if necessary, fast so that she may have your food, not so much for her sake as because you know it to be your Lord’s will. That is true union with his will.

So ask Our Lord to grant you this perfect love for your neighbour, and allow His Majesty to work, and, if you use your best endeavours and strive after this in every way that you can, he will give you more even than you can desire. If the opportunity presents itself, try to shoulder some trial in order to relieve your neighbour of it.

FDA Commish: restore Americans' faith in the much-maligned agency

"Q. How do you make regulatory science a critical part of innovation?

A. I think, as a nation, it is critically important that we strengthen our commitment to regulatory science to make it a robust and respected discipline in the broader scientific enterprise. This is the key to ensuring that recent scientific discoveries which hold such promise are actually translated into new therapies and treatments."
Well, Margaret Hamburg, M.D. and the FDA could start by stopping influence of ADA dental industry lobby on local dentists who sing the "we support water fluoridation" mantra without knowing or accepting the emerging, new scientific facts on the risks of fluoride! Call for investigatory tests on the toxic effects of fluoride on men, women and children! Fluoride is a drug, after all!

Slightly O/T but here's a Media Critique: Dr. Hamburg's interview was in cnnMoney/Fortune. Funny, that. Why not in science or health? In keeping with the business angle, CNN could run a story about this recent, enlightening news: JADA Study Proves Fluoridation is Money down the Drain. I bet you 2.7 ppm of Hydrofluorosilicic acid that the M$M won't touch the story.

Thank you... for reading this post! It's at The Peace Tree, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Land of Chavez and Dudamel

Francisco Dominguez in the Guardian,
As Latin Americans witness the return of dictatorship – with Honduras suffering political executions, widespread repression and condemnation from human rights organisations about curtailing of press freedoms – it seems a strange time for the media to repeat opposition allegations that Venezuela is becoming a tyranny.

Venezuela is far from the "dictatorship which has a facade of democracy" described by General Raúl Baduel, who has been accused of corruption. What kind of tyranny oversees a 70% increase of participation in presidential elections, as Chávez has, or the government holding 13 free and fair elections in 10 years?

Of course, Venezuelan society and democracy is imperfect. One example is that corruption remains a very real problem. Opponents have tried to use this issue to disparage the government, though it pre-dates the Chávez era. It is therefore ironic that when measures are taken to tackle it, as is the case in legal prosecutions, these are cited as examples of a clampdown on political freedoms. Many Chávez-supporting politicians are under investigation and it paints a distorted picture to focus only on prosecutions against those opposed to Chávez.

Taking the two most prominent cases of those aligned with the opposition. With Baduel, the military prosecutors investigating the disappearance of more than $18.6m in 2006 and 2007 while he was minister of defence have decided to prosecute. He has had all the rights to a defence lawyer and transparent trial, yet so far his defence has not produced any evidence to counter the charges of corruption.

Manuel Rosales, infamously a signatory to the decree backing the 2002 military coup against Chávez, is one of the most notorious cases. He has allegedly been unable to show the source of millions of dollars in assets both in Venezuela and abroad. He fled to Peru and requested political asylum, but being given asylum by Peru is not proof of innocence. Recently Bolivia nearly broke diplomatic relations with Peru for granting asylum to three ministers from a previous government charged with responsibility for the October 2003 massacre in which 67 people were killed by the Bolivian army.

What cannot be said of Venezuela is that the right to protest is threatened. This year alone, the opposition have staged dozens of marches free from state harassment. On numerous occasions opponents and marchers have been invited to address the nation from the National Assembly.

In contrast, it was only 20 years ago that protests were met by brutal repression in Venezuela, with the Caracazo massacre by state security forces leaving 276 dead according to official figures and up to 3,000, according to claims, once mass graves were uncovered.

The opposition's hostile views of the Chávez government dominate the Venezuelan media. But that is not the reason why some radio stations were recently closed. These were operating illegally without proper licences and continued to refuse to comply with the law. More than 200 radio stations, most of which identify with the opposition, that were also operating irregularly but did renew their franchises continue to operate freely.

Respect for democracy is intrinsic to the particular model being followed by the Chávez government. It does not resort to violence – it wins elections. In contrast, it is noteworthy that the notable elements of the Venezuelan opposition have broadly sympathised with the illegal de facto government of Micheletti in Honduras. Maybe in Honduras we have a serious glimpse of what "democracy" would have been like in Venezuela had its violent attempts to overthrow Chávez been successful?

Matt Taibbi on those Nobel Prizes

It’s hard to believe, but there have been sillier moments in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize than this recent fiasco involving Barack Obama — it’s just so hard to remember them when you’re rolling around on the ground and spitting up greenish foam in a state of shock, as most of us were this past weekend as the news of Obama’s amazing award rolled over the airwaves.

The Nobel Peace Prize long ago ceased to be an award given to people who really spend their whole careers agitating for peace. Like most awards the Prize has evolved into a kind of maraschino cherry for hardcore careerists to place atop their resumes, a reward not for dissidence but on the contrary for gamely upholding the values of Western society as it perceives itself, for putting a good face on things (in Obama’s place, literally so).
... That's just the beginning. The whole article is worth a read.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cristoforo Colombo goes down

Caracas, October 13, 2004--Yesterday in Caracas, on what used to be celebrated in Venezuela as the day of the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, a group of young men and women tore down the statue of the 15th Century explorer during this national holiday that was renamed the Day of Indigenous Resistance.

The statue was located in downtown Caracas atop a 30 foot high pedestal. Protestors used thick yellow climbing ropes to bring down the 100 year old statue of Columbus and dragged the remains through downtown Caracas and towards the Teresa Carreño theatre, where hundreds of indigenous people presented their cultural songs and dance to each other and other supporters commemorating October 12. The protestors intended to ask indigenous people to bring Columbus to trial after 512 years.
Related: Buffy Sainte-Marie on Democracy Now! today.

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: You can see it on YouTube. “My Country ’Tis of Thy People You’re Dying” was my—I wanted to give people Indian 101 in six minutes. It’s a long song. But Indian 101 has never been presented to the North American public, let alone anywhere else.

    [singing] My country ‘tis of thy people you’re dying.
    Now that the longhouses breed superstition
    You force us to send our toddlers away
    To your schools where they’re taught to despise their traditions.
    Forbid them their languages, then further say
    That American history really began
    When Columbus set sail out of Europe, and stress
    That the nation of leeches that conquered this land
    Are the biggest and bravest and boldest and best.
    And yet where in your history books is the tale
    Of the genocide basic to this country’s birth…
Native American people, we know about it, you know, the US, Canada, etc. But the public doesn’t know what really happened. They’re not aware of the genocide that happened in the Americas. They’re not aware of how these things can happen without their knowledge. And see, I think—I don’t know. I think that there’s a core of people in the Americas who are real good people who want to do the right thing, only they just don’t get the information that would help them to become knowledgeable enough to truly be of support and value to people who are trying to spotlight individual issues from here to here, yeah.

Dutch Web Design: HEMA Humour!

It's making the rounds. A Dutch friend emailed me this link. Don't do anything (don't click on products). Just wait and see what happens. Very cool web design. It's obv the guy at HEMA has time on his hands, but he put it to good use!

I love HEMA, too! Even if I don't return to the US with anything from the store, I love spending an hour there just to look around and see what's new. But over the years I have purchased some really handy items. Usually practical stuff for the kitchen or bath.

I did a search on 24oranges blog posts on the HEMA. Which proves to me it's really a cool store. First up is their ad campaign for end of Ramadan; then their design contest campaign (nice!); and the Paris store {"the store Dutch expats miss the most"). But Americans would just not understand if HEMA opened up a store here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Gary Ruskin, Green Change- Did Obama bring peace to Iraq? No. He continues to station 124,000 U.S. troops there, with tens of thousands deployed perhaps indefinitely.

Did he bring peace to Afghanistan? No. He has escalated the war there, and is part responsible for the scores of civilian deaths that have occurred there. He has done this despite that most Americans now believe the Afghan war is "not worth fighting."

Has Obama done anything singular to stop the worldwide crisis of climate change? No. He has spent little or no political capital on the climate crisis, and still refuses to publicly commit the U.S. to strong actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Did he beat the swords of the giant U.S. defense budget into plowshares of peace? No. In fact, he will soon approve the largest defense bill in our nation's history.

Has he brought home the troops scattered across the world stationed to maintain our empire? No.

Has he stopped our nation's scandalous weapons trade? No. The U.S. has expanded its weapons trade. We now supply 2/3rds of the world's foreign armaments.

Did Obama sign the cluster munitions treaty to ban cluster bombs, because 98% of cluster bomb casualties are children? No. The U.S. has not signed the cluster munitions treaty.

Has Obama brought home the army of mercenaries we have stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan? No. He has expanded the ranks of these mercenaries to 250,000.

Howard Zinn, Truthout- I was dismayed when I heard Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on wars in two countries and launching military action in a third country (Pakistan), would be given a peace prize. But then I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel Peace Prizes. The Nobel Committee is famous for its superficial estimates and for its susceptibility to rhetoric and empty gestures, while ignoring blatant violations of world peace.

Yes, Wilson gets credit for the League of Nations - that ineffectual body which did nothing to prevent war. But he also bombarded the Mexican coast, sent troops to occupy Haiti and the Dominican Republic and brought the US into the slaughterhouse of Europe in the first World War - surely, among stupid and deadly wars, at the top of the list.

Sure, Theodore Roosevelt brokered a peace between Japan and Russia. But he was a lover of war, who participated in the US conquest of Cuba, pretending to liberate it from Spain while fastening US chains around that tiny island. And as president he presided over the bloody war to subjugate the Filipinos, even congratulating a US general who had just massacred 600 helpless villagers in the Phillipines. The Committee did not give the Nobel Prize to Mark Twain, who denounced Roosevelt and criticized the war, nor to William James, leader of the anti-imperialist league.

Oh yes, the Committee saw fit to give a peace prize to Henry Kissinger, because he signed the final agreement ending the war in Vietnam, of which he had been one of the architects. Kissinger, who obsequiously went along with Nixon's expansion of the war with the bombing of peasant villages in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Kissinger, who matches the definition of a war criminal very accurately, was given a peace prize. . .

The Nobel Peace Committee should retire, and turn over its huge funds to some international peace organization which is not awed by stardom and rhetoric, and which has some understanding of history.

Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in l976: I am very disappointed to hear that the Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama. They say this is for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples, and yet he continues the policy of militarism and occupation of Afghanistan, instead of dialogue and negotiations with all parties to the conflict. . . Furthermore, I believe the Nobel Committee has not met the conditions of Alfred Nobel's will where he stipulates it is to be awarded to those who work for an end to militarism and war, and for disarmament. This is not the first time the Nobel Peace Committee in Oslo has ignored the will of Alfred Nobel and acted against the spirit of what the Nobel Peace Prize is all about. Giving this award to the leader of the most militarized country in the world, which has taken the human family against its will to war, will be rightly seen by many people around the world as a reward for his country's aggression and domination.

H/T to Undernews.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Roadkill Prayer

For all animal lovers! Really! En route to work, a passing motorist holds a funeral for a squirrel hit by a car... the Roadkill Prayer.
So, I turned around and drove back. I parked. I got out and searched through the trunk, coming up with some cardboard and a plastic lid with which to move his body. As I moved toward his body, one squirrel was trying to move his body, little legs widespread, pushing the body toward the curb with great difficulty. I paused as a truck approached, put my hand up to indicate slow down, and waived the driver around. I turned back to the body. He, for he was clearly male, was dead. I was relieved for that much for his own sake and for mine, as I do not know what I would have done if he were still alive and suffering ever so slowly to death from crushed innards. His right-hand eye was popped clear out of its socket. His teeth were pushed clear forward nearly out of his mouth, blood beginning to dry on his lips. I stooped down and scooped his furry tan-and-black body onto the hard plastic lid using the piece of cardboard. I moved his body to the side of the road beneath a three evergreen trees.

I placed his body on the ground, resting his paws in his breast, and having no spade with which to dig, I did my best to cover his body with earth using the plastic lid which I’d used to move his body. And with one squirrel on the ground to my left observing, another nearby in a tree chattering, and the third to my right up another tree, I made the Sign of the Cross, paused with them for a moment of silence, and then raising my hands in the orans position, I chanted aloud a version of my “Roadkill Prayer”:

Blessed are you, O God of all creation, we give you thanks for the life of this squirrel, your creature. Now receive him into your eternal care where he might enjoy you forever according to his estate; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I closed with the Sign of the Cross. Yes, it all felt a little silly at near 8:00 AM on a workday morn. A man was mowing his law across the street. What must he have thought as I stood there praying with three very twitchy squirrels momentarily still? Another Bay Area freak?

But the gesture was profoundly right. I was changed. It is as if scales began to fall from my eyes just a bit. Who pauses to mourn a squirrel? To think anew about how we drive without care of our surrounds and those who inhabit them with us? There are countless millions of these pesky rodents. Yet, this squirrel was a fellow creature, a unique creation of flesh and blood whom God declared “good, indeed, very good.”
With thanks to Episcopal Cafe. Cross posted at The Peace Tree.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dutch MPs vote against staying in Afghanistan

Apparently, the Dutch parliament has outmanoeuvred the foreign minister in the center-right government. If only our warmongering US congressional representatives would do the same with Obama and his administration--and listen to the American people!


MPs voted by a large majority to pull Dutch troops out of Afghanistan as planned in August 2010 during a debate on Tuesday night.

The motion, drawn up by Labour and ChristenUnie from the ruling coalition, was not supported by the biggest coalition party, the Christian Democrats.

Labour introduced the motion following hints from CDA foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen last week that the Netherlands may stay after the planned withdrawal date.

According to the Volkskrant, Verhagen is furious at his coalition partner parties' action. The US and Australia are keen to keep the Dutch involved in the southern province of Uruzgan and pressure is mounting on them to stay.

The Netherlands has some 1,500 soldiers on active service in the southern region of Uruzgan. In total 21 Dutch soldiers have been killed in the province since the mission began in 2006.

Guffaw of the Day

This morning, on exiting our Socialist City Market-our local co-op-I saw an advertisement posted on the foyer notice board:


"Gimmick Yoga," more like.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The plight of millions of unemployed and the folly of gifts to spenthrift banks

"The politicians and the media can be counted on running to protect the banks in their hour of need. While tens of millions of people losing their jobs or their homes is just an unfortunate aspect of the modern economy, the collapse of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, or Bank of America is a tragedy that our elites just can't fathom.

So, be prepared to endure many more years of high unemployment, under-employment and declining real wages. Upwards of two million people are likely to lose their homes in 2010 and 2011. But the good news is that the economy is recovering and the banks are alright."

Vincent van Gogh Letters

At the Van Gogh Museum tomorrow, HM the Queen will open (Dutch) a special exhibit of over 900 letters written to and from the artist Vincent van Gogh.

The letters project is result of 15 years of research by the Museum and the Huygens Institute of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. They tell the fascinating story of Vincent and the close bond with his brother and confidant, Theo. After October 8, the English translation of the letters will be available on-line.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Real News video - summary of this past week’s events in Honduras

From the Real News Network – as usual putting corporate media to shame on Honduras.

Last surviving member of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising has died

With thanks to RickB at Ten Percent.

Tributes have flowed for Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Jewish Ghetto uprising, who died on Friday aged 87. The revolt broke out in protest at the mass transportation by the Nazis of Jews from the ghetto to concentration camps. With about 60,000 people still in the ghetto’s walls, young Jewish fighters battled for nearly a month against German troops.

Mr Edelman, then aged 23, took command of the struggle after the deaths of other leaders and fought until the end when the Nazis brutally finished off the uprising by razing the ghetto. Mr Edelman escaped through the sewers and participated the following year in the city-wide Warsaw Uprising, which also ended in tragedy when Stalin banned the advancing Soviet armies from aiding the Poles.

“He reached a good age. He left as a contented man even if he was always aware of the tragedy he went through,” said Wlady slaw Bartoszewski, a former Polish foreign minister. “I don’t want to say he was irreplaceable. Nobody is. But there are few people like Marek Edelman.”

Mr Edelman was born in the Soviet city of Gomel before moving to Warsaw in the late 1920s. His parents both died when he was young and he was left to make his own way. When the war started, he co-founded the Jewish Combat Organisation and became its last leader in the ghetto uprising.

Later, Mr Edelman told a biographer: “Humanity has decided that it is more beautiful to die with a gun in your hand than without. So, we went along with this decision.”

After the war, most of Poland’s surviving Jews emigrated to the new state of Israel. But Mr Edelman stayed behind and became a leading cardiologist. He refused to leave even during the Communist party’s 1968 anti-Semitic purge when he temporarily lost his job. To the annoyance of many Zionists, he remained to the end a faithful Jew and a Polish patriot.

From the 1970s, Mr Edelman supported the growing anti-communist protests in Poland and later become a staunch backer of the Solidarity movement. After the fall of communism, he became a revered figure – an icon of Poland’s Jewish heritage and of the country’s repeated struggles for freedom.

World Animal Day

Today is World Animal Day and Animal Welfare Sunday.

Some liturgical churches also celebrate October 4th as the Feast of St Francis of Assisi with blessings of animals. Writing in the Church Times from the UK, Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics:
The Church of England has spent decades in liturgical renewal, but does not offer even one prayer for animal welfare. We pray as if God were uninterested in the millions of other species. There is, of course, plenty of sensitivity for the misnamed “our environment”, but when it comes to confronting our responsibilities to individual crea­tures, official publications fall silent.

A classic example was when the Church of England published prayers this summer for those suffer­ing from swine flu. Here was an opportunity to also remember the thousands of pigs suffering appalling conditions, since their maltreatment was one of the causal links to the disease from which human beings now suffer. In the words of one scientist at the United States Food and Drug Ad­min­istration, “high-density inten­sive animal operations” are “hotbeds for pathogens”.

Some note of penitence that our gastronomic greed might have helped land us in the mess in the first place would have been wholesome.
Thanks to Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul offering a perfect reading meditation for today from Ask the Animals: Spiritual Wisdom from All God’s Creatures by Elizabeth Canham
The Hebrew Scriptures offer many poetic images of creation and the Creator’s purpose and joy in all that comes to be. As each new phase of creation unfolds, God proclaims, “It is good.” And when humanity arrives on the scene, the Creator entrusts the care of all that has been made into our hands.

Animals especially invite our attention and honor because their essential nature is mostly devoid of the kind of pretense we have learned to practice in cultural and religious life. If they are angry, they express anger; when joy fills them, they live their joy; and when danger approaches, they recognize it for what it is and take action. Animals express deep care for their young, know how to find and enjoy food, accept their limitations, and live in harmony with the rhythms of day and night, times and seasons.

My love for animals was a gift from my mother, who tenderly lifted earthworms from harm’s way, though she feared their wriggling bodies. This love that my mother taught me was kept underground for many years as I defended an infallible Bible and the Sovereign God who authored it. My spiritual journey has led me away from this early, rigid approach to Scripture, but my joy in the sacred text increased as I learned to allow the various writers to inhabit their own time and culture. With this fresh understanding of Scripture, I also learned to read from God’s “other book”—creation. I now understand how St. Anthony could point to the rugged mountains surrounding his cave-dwelling and answer a philosopher who asked how he would pray without a copy of the Scriptures, “Creation will be my book.”

In the last few years, animals have increasingly arrested my attention and taught me more about the Creator. When I have preached or offered retreats, I have felt compelled to share stories of animal encounters to illuminate Scripture. Many I speak with have a tenuous relationship with organized religion, often because they have felt abused by a church that used the Bible moralistically and denied the value of personal experience and questions. They have turned to God’s other book, preferring time in the midst of creation to pew-bound Sunday mornings. Others who have remained in the church ask why we have often been so self-focused that we have failed to recall and receive the wisdom of the whole created order. Both groups know that each of us, through animal encounters, may deepen our relationship with the Source of all Being. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anne Frank on YouTube

A first...A 13 year old Anne Frank is filmed, seen leaning over her balcony in Merwedeplein in July, 1941 to get a good look of the bride-to-be next door.

Many thanks to RickB, who writes
[I]t’s very effective, ties her into the here and now which will hopefully help keep the message alive, the lesson of the Holocaust is that this must never happen again to anyone.
The Anne Frank House has also established a YouTube channel.
[It} shows existing and new images about Anne Frank, including excerpts from interviews with Otto Frank and witnesses like Miep Gies, as well as previews of the virtual museum of the Anne Frank House, soon to be opened to the public. With this Anne Frank Channel, people around the world will be able to explore the life and significance of Anne Frank through unique images. Would you like to stay up to date? Subscribe to this channel.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dutch F-16 attack on Afghan civilians

While plans are being made for the presence of Dutch military forces to be removed from Afghanistan next year, Radio Netherlands reports today that a Dutch F-16 jet has killed Afghan civilians during a strike against the Taliban. Typical of Western military reactions to these kinds of killings, the Dutch commander in that country has blamed the Taliban, regretted the civilian deaths and has called for a thorough investigation. We'll see about that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Challenging US officialdom

With all the sabre rattling and threats from our government towards Iran, the MSM journalists aren't doing their job, so leave it to Juan Cole to provide us with "Top Things You Think You Know About Iran That Are Not True." Go:read, s.v.p.

Vermont Labor News: Workers get entitled back pay

Burlington Free Press reports today that 272 Vermont-based immigration workers will get $1.5M in back pay. They were misclassified & not paid proper prevailing wage they were legally entitled to receive.