Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Earth Charter celebrates 10 years

Today is the 10 year jubilee of the Earth Charter declaration at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Earth Charter Commissioner, Leonardo Boff at the EC+10 celebrations: "If you can't change the world, you got to change yourself. Start with respecting all living things. With an attitude that acknowledge the intrinsic value of every living being."

The Earth Charter is a declaration of ethical principles for a fair,
sustainable and peaceful world.

There are 16 principles in the charter. Burlington city council has endorsed the charter. Yet, it still continues to fluoridate its drinking water and allow toxic environmental pollution by allowing the application of pesticides/herbicides, violating this principle,

6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
c. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
d. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Max Blumenthal goes inside the tea party

I've been waiting for this to become available in its entirety.

Max Blumenthal goes inside the Tea Party from Ram Bam on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

UPDATED: The Wedding

TRH Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel


After the wedding, there was a cruise on the Royal Barge (my favourite part on the SVT live stream), the Crown Princely couple arrived at the Royal Palace and from the balcony there was a THANK YOU.

The King and Crown Princess have given short speeches to the crowds gathered at Leijonbacken. The King led the crowd in a traditional Swedish 'four cheers' for the couple.

Victoria, with her new husband by her side, gave a short but touching speech to the crowd.

"Dear friends," she began, "I would like to start by thanking the Swedish people for giving me my Prince."

"We, my husband and I, are so incredibly happy and grateful that so many of you want to be here and celebrate with us."

"This is the absolutely greatest days of our lives so far."

"To feel your support means more for us than you could ever believe."
People really loved the fact that she started her speech with "Kära vänner" [Dear Friends]. So do I.

Video courtesy SVT.


It's official!

The Swedish Royal wedding
of Crown Princess Victoria, 32, and 36-year-old Daniel Westling, took place at Stockholm Cathedral in the Swedish capital.

Follow the festivities here.

Friday, June 18, 2010


"T.V. is the reason why less than ten percent of our nation reads books daily ... Why most people think Central America means Kansas ... Socialism means unamerican ... And Apartheid is a new headache remedy," - Michael Franti

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Radio Netherlands: Is the World Cup too expensive for Africa?

"The investments were budgeted at a few million. The real cost will be a thousandfold; 3 to 5 billion. And that in a country where a large part of the population still lives in deep poverty."

(Apologies for the lousy embedded video obtained from RNW's site.)

See this related report from Democracy Now! (an interview made prior to the start of the matches) - Raj Patel on How South Africa Has Cracked Down on the Poor and the Shack Dwellers’ Movement

Burlington Local: Get outta my way!

Good turn out for the Burlington City Council Ordinance Cmte meeting last night!

70 or so folks were there... The Ordinance committee has decided to reject sitting ban ordinance passed to them and pursue a community awareness resolution instead.

Recap: Sharon Bushor (I) proposed the above action that the cmte followed, Bram Kranichfeld (D) said he'd like to scrap the ordinance altogether, and still will feel that way unless Sharon's plan shows a real need, and Joan Shannon (D) seemed reluctant to go along with the Bushor plan, appearing to be more satisfied with the proposed ordinance. They will re-evaluate in the Fall.

Local Vermont: Soup, Glorious Soup!

Did you know...?

For the past fourteen years, the Full Ladle Soup Kitchen has been a rich and rewarding ministry for many at Christ Church, Montpelier. Every Wednesday, the Soup Kitchen serves a nutritious noon meal to 65-85 guests from the community.

(From the Mountain E-News of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

David Brower must be wincing from the grave

Sierra Club Foundation writes "Enough is Enough!" and urges people to write Obama to stop coastal oil drilling. Today Jane Hamsher has an excellent post up at FDL:
Josh Gerstein has an article in Politico on the massive silence coming out of the enviros on the BP oil catastrophe, which has been notable ever since the rig collapsed. This weekend the groups took out an ad in the Washington Post, not to criticize the administration for their response, but to praise the President for putting a hold on a drilling project in Alaska:

“President Obama is the best environmental president we’ve had since Teddy Roosevelt,” Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope told the Bangor Daily News last week. “He obviously did not take the crisis in the Minerals Management Service adequately seriously, that’s clear. But his agencies have done a phenomenally good job.”

If they aren’t saying anything negative, it’s because they believe there’s nothing to criticize:

Asked if Sierra Club has any concerns about the administration’s response to the spill, [Sierra Club's Dave] Willett said, “Overall, we’re satisfied with the cleanup and recovery effort.”


These groups have demonstrated by both their action and inaction that they do not deserve that public trust. Unlike the Center for Biological Diversity, fawning groups like the Sierra Club have been successfully manipulated both by corporate money and by partisan gamesmanship. They’ve become such complete Washington DC creatures that they don’t know how to be advocates from the outside any more — their primary function is to give political cover in the midst of a PR battle. They have abdicated the role of non-partisan watchdogs, and the public should find new organizations independent of party control in which to place their trust.
While the SC may push for clean energy, however, as the the FDL link shows, big money and access to governmental power corrupt. The Sierra Club is included (implicit) in that equation. David Brower must be wincing from the grave.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

People are determined to save Gazan lives

From Press TV
The next Freedom Flotilla will be much bigger than the first one, the head of a non-governmental organization says.

Yasser Qashlaq, the director of the Free Palestine Movement, said on Thursday that up to 50 ships could join the Freedom Flotilla II, the International Middle East Media Center reported.

Meanwhile, the movement, in cooperation with Reporters Without Borders, is organizing a new mission to send educational supplies to the children of the besieged Palestinian territory. Qashlaq said a ship would depart from Lebanon within a week.
Yeah, people are determined and stand in solidarity, but not if the Quisling Abbas can help it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How Do We Respond As People of Faith to the Gulf Oil Spill?

Join members of VT Interfaith Power & Light, St. Paul's Earth Care Ministry, Quaker Meeting, Ohavi Zedek and other faith groups for an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2 Cherry Street, Burlington. As the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico continues, we’ll come together for a time of prayer, reflection and readings. We'll pray for the Earth Community suffering from this catastrophe, and for wisdom, hope and courage in this challenging time.

Contact for more information: info@vtipl.org or sknight@gmavt.net

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quote of The Day

"Christianity is dying in Western Europe, even in Spain and Ireland. It is not exactly in robust health in the United States either with church membership and attendance declining across the board, especially among the young. The moral authority that Christianity once enjoyed among non-Christians eroded away long ago by scandal, hypocrisy, and identification with right wing reactionary politics (just ask the Spanish Catholics). Though Africa now has the embattled convert's fervor, it is not unreasonable to think that the same process of decline could happen there too. There are times when I think the Christian religion should die in order that the Christian faith might continue. But, a lot of babies would be lost with that bath water, perhaps too many to make the sacrifice worthwhile."
- Doug Blanchard/Counterlight's Peculiars in a much broader, lengthy essay, The Perils of Episcopalianism - "on the current tensions between the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury," - well worth the read in its entirety.

A Lesson from the Gulf Oil Spill: We Are All Connected (and There Is No Escape)

Katharine Jefferts Schori's career as an oceanographer and university lecturer (a B.S. degree in biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University) preceded her studies for the priesthood (an M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific) and her election as bishop of Nevada in 2000. Since June 2006 she has been the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

She writes recently in the Huffington Post
"The original peoples of the North American continent understand that we are all connected, and that harm to one part of the sacred circle of life harms the whole. Scientists, both the ecological and physical sorts, know the same reality, expressed in different terms. The Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) also charge human beings with care for the whole of creation, because it is God's good gift to humanity. Another way of saying this is that we are all connected and there is no escape; our common future depends on how we care for the rest of the natural world, not just the square feet of soil we may call "our own." We breathe the same air, our food comes from the same ground and seas, and the water we have to share cycles through the same airshed, watershed, and terra firma.

"The still-unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is good evidence of the interconnectedness of the whole."
To read the full article go to Huffington Post.

Raw footage of Mavi Marmara/Free Gaza Flotilla attack

Cultures of Resistance director Iara Lee, an American citizen, was part of a media contingent on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara on May 30-31 when it was attacked by the Israeli commandos. The Israelis confiscated the camera equipment and communications technology of passengers on board. but Lee was able to smuggle out about an hour's worth of raw film footage.

Watch it, pass it on. Not for the fainthearted, but necessary to watch if you want to know the truth of what happened in attack. I am curious if the corporate media here and abroad will cover this film (there was a press conference yesterday at the United Nations in NYC.) This is no fake Hollywood terror/action film gussied up with CGI; this is real.

Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara, May 31st 2010 // 15 min. from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

Shortly after returning home, Iara Lee wrote an Op-Ed about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here to read the article. Yesterday she was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vermont Responds to Free Gaza Flotilla Massacre

Sam Mayfield writes on her blog,
"In response to this assault, dozens of people gathered in Burlington, Vermont on May 31 to mourn the dead and to express their sadness and outrage over Israel’s blatant lack of respect for international law.

"Two days later more than fifty citizens visited Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s office to insist that the US government not remain silent about the mishandling of innocent people in Gaza and the West Bank, humanitarian aid workers and human rights activists by the Israeli government anymore. Citizens stated that "The US is alone in our support for Israel" and demanded that the Senator not be complicit in Israels crimes against humanity any longer. Citizens also demanded an end to military aid to Israel."
Sam also made a video report.

Immortalised by Google

When Grandmère Mimi made her state visit to England last year we met up in Yorkshire and visited the quaint village of Lastingham for lunch.

After our meal, Mimi and me went to have a look in the church. On the way back to the car, we were Googled and have been immortalised on their street view function.

Judy would've been 88 years old today

On YouTube, Judy Garland is remembered by those who knew her best in this 1972 documentary.

All 7 parts of the documentary are here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Love that Bob (Newhart)!

Interviews with friends of Bob Newhart at an event celebrating 50 years in show business at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in North Hollywood on June 2, 1010.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Democracy Now! discusses Helen Thomas

Democracy Now! - June 8, 2010

JAMES ABOUREZK: Well, Helen has gotten more coverage over this than the killing of the nine Turkish aid workers who were killed by the Israeli commandos. I don’t really understand that disparity in coverage, but I kind of know how that goes, because I’ve been the target of Israeli propaganda myself over the years.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that her comments, for which she apologized, were problematic?

JAMES ABOUREZK: No, I don’t, to be very honest with you. If you understand what Helen was trying to say, is that there are Palestinians sitting in refugee camps all over the Middle East who cannot get back into Israel yet. Ashkenazi Jews from all over Europe are able to come freely, and from America, too, and I think that’s what she was referring to. They’re calling Helen a racist. There’s no way that she’s a racist. She never has been, never will be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

UPDATED: Helen Thomas Retires | Helen Thomas has nothing to apologise for.

UPDATE: Thomas has announced her retirement.

My reaction: Oof! Shock. Dismayed. Unbelievable. But she can say whatever she wants now. She covered the White House since JFK.

"[Helen Thomas'] comments [telling Israelis to leave Palestine and "go home" to Europe] do not reflect a desire to see Israel/Palestine judenrein, but rather an ominous sense of what a dangerous place Israel has become, and will only increasingly be, for its people," - Jack Ross, Mondoweiss


My original post from this morning.

The question posed at the end of the short clip is "Does Helen know that Jews lived in Israel way before the Holocaust?" The glaring fact of course is that before WWII and 1948, there was no modern state of Israel. It was Mandate Palestine: a land that was populated by a thriving Palestinian population, the majority of whom were driven out in their hundreds of thousands, with a great number murdered, by the zionist thugs who later established the state of Israel. This Prussia of the Middle East is propped up by gargantuan amounts of US military aid, refuses to make peace with its neighbours who have offered recognition of 1967 borders via the Saudi Peace Plan, has continued to encroach upon Palestinian land, regularly attacks its neighbours in assaults that kill hundreds, flouts international law, continues to build illegal outposts on stolen land, and has refused to define its borders to this day.

Thomas has nothing to apologize for. It is the Israeli regime, the illegal settlers (check out this charmer) and their enablers who owe the world -- particularly Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians -- an apology and restitution. At most, her choice of words may have been unqualifiedly quick and injudicious, particularly in the ill-advised choice of words `go home'. But `despicable', `beyond disturbing' and Judeophobic? The attempts to discredit her -- which include rightwingnut calls for her resignation -- are overblown. She'll probably win even more fans with her courage, and her regret for causing offence is in stark contrast to the unremitting racism and unstinting support for ethnic cleansing and expulsion from the Israel-at-any-cost camp, from whom there is no apology.
Paul Jay, Senior Editor of The Real News Network has a new blog on Canada.com, one of Canada's busiest news websites. This is an excerpt from his most recent blog post, "IN DEFENSE OF HELEN THOMAS - on apologizing to apologists."
Her apology was not enough to stop calls for her head from those who have wanted to shut Thomas up for years.

Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's press secretary, led the call in an e-mail Friday to the Huffington Post saying Thomas' comments amount to "religious cleansing."

"She should lose her job over this," Fleischer wrote. "As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling."

Perhaps Fleishcher should also add that he is someone who knows something about apologies . . . being the leading apologist for the Bush administration as their war led to the deaths of at least one million Iraqis.

But Lanny Davis, former special counsel to and White House spokesman for President Bill Clinton, went even further than Fleischer. He issued a statement on Sunday saying Thomas, "has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot."

Now, Davis should know something about apologies and apologists as well. TheHill.com reported that Davis led a lobbying effort against deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on behalf of Honduran business leaders. This is in defense of a regime that came to power in an illegal coup and is killing journalists and activists. Hmmm . . . defending those that kill activists . . .

Sunday, June 6, 2010


BURLINGTON FREE PRESS, Saturday, June 5, 2010:
Two former employees of a now-closed Vermont slaughterhouse have been charged with animal cruelty for the excessive shocking of calves with an electric prod, prosecutors said Friday.

The state Attorney General’s office issued arrest warrants for Christopher Gaudette, 37, and Frank Perretta, 51, both of Grand Isle.

The charges stem from revelations last November at the Bushway Packing Inc. slaughterhouse in Grand Isle, where hidden-camera video taken by the Humane Society of the United States showed days-old calves being dragged, kicked and shocked as they were loaded off a truck and taken to slaughter.
A justice of sorts. The struggle continues. Animal rights activist Deb Loring who's been working round the clock on this issue tells me that "they did actually charge one of the owners. There are three owners, two are re-opening and one has left the state. It's the one who left, who was on the video, that is being charged."

Read the full article here.

We Shall Overcome

"It seems appropriate."
Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd, sings a classic to protest the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I was raised on songs like this one and my activism was nurtured by them!

Saw this over at PULSE (Thanks!) PULSE have been working around the clock to counter much of MSM's biased and/or flawed coverage of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. I suggest BI readers go there and spend some time reading PULSE's important reporting! The site is listed to your right on the sidebar.

Here's more by Mr Waters:
“Over the new year 2009-2010, an international group of 1500 men and women from 42 nations went to Egypt to join a Freedom March to Gaza. They did this to protest the current blockade of Gaza. To protest the fact that the people of Gaza live in a virtual prison. To protest the fact that a year after the terror attack by Israeli armed forces destroyed most of their homes, hospitals, schools, and other public buildings, they have no possibility to rebuild because their borders are closed. The would be Freedom Marchers wanted to peacefully draw attention to the predicament of the Palestinian population of Gaza. The Egyptian government, (funded to the tune of $2.1 billion a year, by us, the US tax payers), would not allow the marchers to approach Gaza. How lame is that? And how predictable! I live in the USA and during this time Dec 25th 2009-Jan3rd 2010 I saw no reference to Gaza or the Freedom March or the multi national protesters gathered there. Anyway I was moved, in the circumstances, to record a new version of ” We shall overcome”. It seems appropriate.

Roger Waters