Thursday, December 13, 2012


Bradley Manning's attorney David Coombs, 12/3/12:
"When I'm in the courtroom, I stand up and look to my right, and, I see the United States government. The United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel, I see them standing against me and Brad. And I have to admit to you, that can be rather intimidating. And I was intimidated. Especially when the President of the Unit ed States says your client broke the law. Especially when congress members say your client deserves the death penalty. I want to tell you though today as I stand here I'm no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up I know I'm not standing alone. I know I'm not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see what I am not going to affectionately call the 'truth batallion,' those who wear a black shirt. It has the word 'truth' on it, and they are behind me. And when I look there, I know that I also have unlimited personnel and unlimited resources."
Go to to learn how you can join in the struggle for Bradley Manning.

Alle Menschen werden Brüder

Saw this today on the Humor Indignado 99% Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I've never liked him, over-rated twat. One of the reasons why I think writing in The New Yorker has gone down the tubes. I see quite a few people I respect carry around books by Malcolm Gladwell. To impress? To appear informed? Do they really know? From S.H.A.M.E, Shame the Hacks who Abuse Media Ethics - a website that is new to me and well worth the read, I find:
In the vast ecosystem of corporate shills, which one is the most effective? Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies. The master of this approach is Malcolm Gladwell.
Oh, just go read the whole goddamn essay and you'll see what I mean.


British banking giants have come under fire line from the US financial authorities. HSBC will pay a record $1.9bn to settle a money-laundering probe, with Standard Chartered getting a $327mn charge for violating US sanctions against Iran.

The fine against HSBC will include $1.25bn in forfeiture, as well as $655mn in civil penalties. In an attempt to cut costs and improve profitability, HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver made the bank the matter for US probes and claims from UK clients. The lack of money-laundering controls at HSBC allowed terrorists and drug cartels access to the US financial system, according to Bloomberg.

The bank accepts responsibility for “past mistakes” and is “profoundly sorry for them,” Gulliver said.
Where exactly will the money ($2bn) go? To help America's health and education infrastructure? To helping feed, clothe and house the poor? To creating more and better jobs, etc...?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

On This Day: Wren

Architect Christopher Michael Wren was born 20 October 1632 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, England.

The design of many churches in London bare his stamp. I am more familiar with St James's, Piccadilly, as it was my parish when I lived for a year in London.
“I can hardly think it practicable to make a single room so capacious, with pews and galleries, as to hold 2,000 persons, and all to hear the service and see the preacher. I endeavoured to effect this in building the parish church of St James’s, Westminster [Piccadilly], which I presume is the most capacious, with those qualifications, that hath yet been built.”
Sir Christopher Wren

On This Day: Charles Ives

From the G. Schirmer (music publishers) website:
"Born in Danbury, Connecticut on 20 October 1874, Charles Ives pursued what is perhaps one of the most extraordinary and paradoxical careers in American music history. Businessman by day and composer by night, Ives's vast output has gradually brought him recognition as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, Ives sought a highly personalized musical expression through the most innovative and radical technical means possible."
Ives was a complex composer. He drew on a range of influences, particularly military music (his father was a US Army band leader). He also wrote for the church. This is a lovely setting for Psalm 135.

Seumas Milne: The Real Lessons of The First World War

Seumas Milne in The Guardian,  The first world war: the real lessons of this savage imperial bloodbath

"The idea that the war was some kind of crusade for democracy when most of Britain's population – including many men – were still denied the vote, and democracy and dissent were savagely crushed among most of those Britain ruled, is laughable. And when the US president, Woodrow Wilson, championed the right to self-determination to win the peace, that would of course apply only to Europeans – not the colonial peoples their governments lorded it over.

"As the bloodbath exhausted itself, it unleashed mutinies, workers' revolts and revolutions, and the breakup of defeated empires, giving a powerful impetus to anti-colonial movements in the process. But the outcome also laid the ground for the rise of nazism and the even bloodier second world war, and led to a new imperial carve-up of the Middle East, whose consequences we are still living with today, including the Palestinian tragedy."

Dealing with Nature

"...Then we ask, 'How should we deal with nature?' We should deal with nature the way we should deal with ourselves! Nonviolently. We should not harm ourselves, and we should not harm nature...Human beings and nature are inseparable. By not caring properly for either, we harm both." -from Love In Action: Writings On Nonviolent Social Change, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, October 11, 2012


A lead religious right “research” group has concluded that Dr. Sally Ride’s pancreatic cancer may be due to her being a lesbian.  They deduced this from looking at the obituaries of lesbians in San Francisco papers.  Seriously.
Dr. Ride was the first US woman astronaut. She recently died of pancreatic cancer.
The attack comes from a well-known hate group, the Family Research Institute, that’s been promoted by all the lead groups of the religious right, including the Family Research Council, the American Family Association and the Concerned Women for America.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Episcopal Church Exposes the Doctrine of Discovery

This video is intended to inform people about the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery in an effort to respond to God's direction; that we, the Episcopal Church, "act with justice what is right" (Psalm 106:3, Book of Common Prayer), and about the unjust way the Americas were settled, and the on-going consequences of those events. Resources Now Available at

Saturday, September 22, 2012


The Menil Collection celebrates its 25th anniversary today. OffCite recalls how revolutionary John and Dominique were to the Houston community before the collection was even built! I lived less than a block from the Menil, and it was my oasis from the dog eat dog of Houston life.
Before they brushed their great gray wings across an otherwise ordinary neighborhood of bungalows in lower Montrose, before their place in Houston’s history felt as ordained as the live oaks, and before Houstonians began trading stories about sightings of a thin and ethereal woman seated in front of her museum’s great paintings, there was simply a couple: John and Dominique de Menil. A pair of émigrés who fled France after the Nazi invasion with their three small children in tow. A couple whose wealth, a prominent Houstonian once told Grace Glueck for a May 18, 1986, New York Times Magazine article, was “really peanuts,” when measured on the same scales as Houston’s old oil aristocracies. A couple whose story is as much about Houston’s coming of age during a time of social upheaval as it is about their pushing a cadre of visionaries to accomplish the extraordinary wherever an institution gave them the space and freedom to act. To recall just a few of the details of this story is as much an elegy as it is a celebration.

New, helpful technologies. Just amazing, really

Meet Hector, a robot developed by Dutch company Smart Homes (with the help of a lot of partners across Europe). His task is to help dementia sufferers around the home, and as a result help them be able to live at home longer.

Monday, September 17, 2012

If he'd made an offensive film about Islam he'd be a hero of free speech

A teenager has been found guilty of posting an offensive Facebook message following the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.
Azhar Ahmed, 19, of Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire, was charged with sending a grossly offensive communication.
He told Huddersfield Magistrates Court he accepted the message had been "unacceptable" but had denied it was "grossly offensive".
The judge said his comments were "derogatory" and "inflammatory". [...]
The offensive message, which said "all soldiers should die and go to hell", was posted by Ahmed just two days later on 8 March.
Ahmed told the court he was only trying to make his point that many other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored and added he had no idea it would cause so much upset.
He said he replied with apologies to many people who commented on his Facebook page and when some told him they had lost relatives in Afghanistan he realised how serious it was.
"That's when I realised it was unacceptable for them to see something so upsetting and distressing, to write something like that," he added.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Americans Observing 9/11 By Trying Not To Masturbate

Seductive Beauty

Queen Paola of the Belgians celebrates her 75th birthday on 11 September. She married then Prince Albert when she was twenty-one years old. I always thought she was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. Flandersnews has a video up in English. And there are some photos from an old family album.

Photo credit: De Standaard.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Burlington Farmers Market Attempts (and fails) to Ban Political Speech in City Hall Park

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Actor John Cusack examines Barack Obama and a few issues about him -  with a bit more scrutiny than we hear from the "progressive left." Read his conversation with Jonathan Turley about the Obama administration’s "War On the Constitution."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Demand accountability this Tuesday at 6:00pm at 1 North Ave (Burlington Police Department).

This Tuesday evening come show your support for an INDEPENDENT investigation into the police brutality in Burlington.

Mayor Weinberger has let the Burlington Police investigate themselves as to whether shooting protesters performing civil disobedience on July 29th was justified. The police preliminary incident report itself is marked by many factual errors and misrepresentation and a sheer lack of accountability that many feared would be the result of having an organization with such a vested interest investigate themselves. T

Tuesday August 28th, Burlington Police Commission will receive the BPD incident report about July 29th. The meeting is open to the public.

Last week, four City Councilors (Vince Brennan, Sharon Bushor, Rachel Siegel, and Max Tracy) wrote Mayor Weinberger, demanding an independent investigation. Their request echoed many, many Burlington citizens wishes at a City Council meeting on August 13.

Here is part of their letter:

"While we are grateful to the BPD for conducting their own investigation, we hope that an independent investigation will help build public trust in our police force and provide a forum through which to answer pressing questions...

"It is our sincere hope that with a complete and independent review, we can determine the sequence of events and why actions were taken and, more importantly, how we can respond differently in the future."

Some of the questions that this preliminary action/incident report (conducted by the police themselves) did not answer and still need answering include:

■ An understanding of the kind of training officers receive to deal with “de-escalating protests.”
■ The mayor’s involvement in preparation for the protest and whether he authorized the use of “pepper spray and rubber bullets.”
■ Whether the police had exhausted methods short of force to disperse the protesters.
■ Why, as no arrests were made, the police used pellets and pepper spray.
■ Why those pellets were beyond their expiration date.
■ Whether officers removed their badges, and if so, why?
■ Whether all of the officers involved in the use of force were Burlington police officers.
■ Whether the officer who gave the order to use force was present.

Neither of our Ward 5 City Councilors, Joan Shannon nor Chip Mason, have signed on to their colleagues' letter to the mayor. Why haven't they? Don't they have questions, too? Why are they not demanding an independent review? As City Council President, why has Joan Shannon not demanded that the police incident report be presented to the full city council on the day that the police commission receives their copy?

I've seen first hand how police wrongdoing and abuse has lead to a breach of trust in other cities where I've lived. And I won't stand by and let that happen in Burlington.
With people's rights being trampled by police all over the country, it is crucial that we set a precedent that this is unacceptable in Vermont, and that Vermonters
don't just let something like this happen and then do nothing and forget about it.

Show up, pay attention, speak out on August 28.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On This Day: Sara Teasdale

Poet Sara Trevor Teasdale was born 8 August 1884 in St. Louis, Missouri.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Sara Teasdale, published in 1920

The poem was written right after "the war to end all wars." An indictment surely on the devastation of nature by humans, who would not be missed by the birds and the trees. Our disrespect towards every living thing continues in this century.

Unfortunately now we make the robins and other creatures pay too with our radiation and chemicals.

My mother's favorite poet. We read this poem at my parents' memorial service when their ashes were deposited in the ground with a cherry tree at the Vos summer house in Zeeland (NL). We read Sea Fever, by John Masefield, too, because my father had sailed ships in his career.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


On April 29th, the Occupy Burlington General Assembly issued its first demand: that Citizens Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the most bailed out bank in the world (RBS) which had recently settled for $137.5 million after being caught defrauding its low income customers, close its downtown branch and leave our city. To make this demand a reality, the local movement has been maintaining pickets four days per week in front of the branch, waving signs, unfurling banners, handing out literature, and encouraging the bank's customers to move their patronage to a cooperative, member-owned credit union. If you'd like to learn more about this campaign and help stick it to one of the world's biggest "Too Big to Fail" banks, join us at the corner of College and St. Paul Streets. They're every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4 to 5 P.M. and on Saturday mornings from 11 until Noon. Citizens Bank is Closing!

Citizens Bank's parent company, RBS, was fined in excess of $200 million for their participation in the LIBOR affair.

"There was plenty of harm and plenty of foul," says Eliot Spitzer.

Photos credit LisaAnn Oberbrunner.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

O my chevalier!

Poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on July 28, 1844 in Stratford, Essex (now part of Greater London). He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1866 and was ordained priest in 1877. He died of typhoid fever in 1889.

 A brilliant man...and so tormented both by his attraction to men and by his love for poetry.  I would have liked to have been his friend.

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

written 1877, published 1918

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


For today, two quotes from a local Vermont blog I have just discovered - a friend has posted/linked them on his Facebook. They are worth pondering.
"You ignore the cyclist making a frantic "stop/slow down" signal (left arm out straight, forearm down, waving frantically at the ground) and you maybe even hear him cry out "YOU HAVE NO SAFE PASS ! NO SAFE PASS! before accelerating around him. Then you make a panic braking/right merging movement so as to avoid a head-on collision with the oncoming maroon pickup truck."
"We have ingrained car culture so deeply in our psyches, we have assumed the risks of injury inherent in driving so completely, we don't even think about them any more."

Lordy, Lordy! The way some automobile drivers behave, it's like they're playing chicken with cyclists. I've seen it. "I double-dare you, sonofabitch," they seem to say to the cyclists. (While they play with their iPad app or text "Honey, I'll be late for dinner, because this guy on a bike is slowing me down!" ) :(

I respect cyclists on the road. I guess it's from my experience bicycling in The Netherlands (where there are real bike paths). I used to get miffed by the stupid bicyclists on roads in Burlington - the "share the road" graphics on the lane and signs advising that bikers can use the complete lane. Tap, tap, tap. Hurry the fuck up! Now I realise it's a way for us to slow down, too. I mean, I left Houston because of the dog-eat-dog, frenetic pace. Burlington's rush hour is a nanosecond compared to Houston's. Yeah, slow down, Jay. Now, if only the cyclists would take off their ear pieces and listen to what's going on, and realise they are driving vehicles (cyclists are not pedestrians according to Vermont law) and should stop at 4-way stop signs, too. Grrr.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On This Musical Day: Dawn Upshaw

Dawn Upshaw, soprano, was born 17 July 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee.

I remember seeing several musical notables during the twenty-three years I lived in Houston. I had the wonderful opportunity to see her in Rosenkavalier with HGO in 1995. Three stars in one evening: Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw and Suzanne Mentzer. (Craig Gallagher, who was choirmaster at St Stephen's Episcopal Church, where I was a member, recruited Suzanne to sing with the choir when she was at the HGO Studio - I was in the choir then, too.)

Her singing of Barber's Knoxville Summer in 1915 is just lovely.

I adore Barbara Cook, but my next-favourite rendition of Glitter and be Gay from Bernstein's Candide is Upshaw's.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On This Day: Clement Clarke Moore

Clement Clarke Moore was born July 15, 1779 in New York City; he grew in the family home in Elmhurst, Queens. This professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia College had great effect on New York City. The neighborhood "Chelsea" is still named for his family estate, which he inherited from his mother's father and later divided and developed. He gave an apple orchard as land to develop the General Theological Seminary. He helped Trinity Church organize St. Lukes in the Fields. And, of course, children around the world who celebrate Christmas, know and love his poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (better known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

And he's buried at Trinity Church Cemetery (155th St & Broadway). (This is why I love the history of New York City.) My maternal grandfather's grave is right next to his, a few yards from the towering wall at the cemetery’s western border.

There's apparently a hundred-plus year old tradition, too. I've never done it, but I'd like to do it. In December (sometimes on St Nicholas Day, sometimes on Christmas Day morning) children from the Church of the Intercession have sung hymns and processed down the the hill in the cemetery to the grave for the recitation of A Visit from St Nicholas.

Friday, June 1, 2012


What is wrong with the President sitting in a room, looking at lists and portraits of people—a Somali man, a seventeen-year-old girl, an American citizen—and deciding whom to kill? That, according to long and troubling articles in both the Times and Newsweek, is a job Barack Obama has assigned himself. His aides, notably John Brennan, his counter-terrorism adviser, portray it as a matter of taking responsibility—if we are going to assassinate someone, or call in a drone strike to take out a camp in Yemen, the President should make the call—as if our only alternative were some sort of rogue operation, with generals or C.I.A. agents shooting at will. But responsibility involves accountability, which is something, in this case, that appears to be badly lacking. Obama has not taken on a burden, but instead has given the Presidency a novel power. - Amy Davidson, The President's Kill List, in The New Yorker.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The End is Near...??

Finally a backlash against urban hipster foodies? I've training and a certificate in patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu. My brother is a professional chef. I abhor the elitist food trends just to make a buck. So I appreciate the seriousness (and humor) of this article from Slate: The Great GoogaMooga and elitism: What Brooklyn’s food festival says about foodies.

"So much of the festival seemed designed to congratulate those self-satisfied consumers who act like they deserve a Congressional Medal of Honor for spending $10 on a bratwurst. ... a crowd gathered to watch celebrity chef April Bloomfield butcher a pig, as if she were Hemingway diagramming a sentence."
and this...
‎"The trend toward locally, ethically sourced ingredients prepared thoughtfully is a good one... But foodies’ focus on ingredient and chef pedigree has morphed into an aesthetic cult for the wealthy, in which status trumps sustainability."
Very telling...
"Bloomfield makes food for rich people to excrete."
Now, go devour your breakfast pain au chocolat.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Skateboarders use their boards as signs in Montréal.

Photo courtesy of Tim Cast, whose live stream from Montréal you can watch here.

Live streaming by Ustream

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Manifestation de Casseroles

Génial! "Manifestation de casseroles sur la rue Fabre, le 19 mai 2012. C'est tous les jours, partout, à 20h." Make a musical clanging sound! Spreading through Montreal neighbourhoods to support the 2012 Quebec student strikes. Zut alors!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Per Juliet Buck, blogger and activist (via Facebook): "South Burlington City Council just voted AGAINST basing the F-35 in Burlington by a vote of 4-1!!!!!!!!!! So this is what winning one feels like?"

A victory indeed. Juliet and the other activists have struck a blow against the evil jets of Lockheed Martin. The Feds, of course, can do whatever they want, but after years of propaganda and misinformation, the victory is that four city officials said NO!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's Starting

Holy Shit. Bond set at 1.5 million dollars each. Official press release.

This is the weekend prior to the start of the Nato Summit in Chicago. The terrorists were charged under the ridiculous Illinois terrorism statutes. They were accused of making molotov cocktails and other incendiary devices. Trumped up charges to create fear among the citizen protesters? But it looks like an FBI sting operation. Could very well be another Reichstag. There's no way to know, for sure.

But one thing we do know for sure. They are lucky..............once the NDAA is in effect there'll be no bond, no habeas corpus rights, no nada. But, the so called Patriot Act took care of most of their Constitutional rights already. Why do you think 9/11 occurred?

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

These PS 122 5th graders from Astoria, Queens chose to study fluoridation as a class research project. At a rally with Queens councilor Peter Vallone in Manhattan last Tuesday, they urged the New York City Council to stop endangering their health by adding fluoride chemicals into their bodies via the water supply. (See this link with video.) No one asked them, they said. Any legislator who claims they can't understand fluoridation isn't as smart as a fifth grader who does her homework!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nine Tons and What Do You Get?

A Mayan temple built from 9 tons of chocolate, that's what. The small white and dark chocolate Alpine village that our Superior class at Le Cordon Bleu made in our course work was nothing compared to this monument! From designboom:
quinza [sic] specialty foods has created the world's largest chocolate sculpture: a replica ancient mayan temple weighing 18,239 pounds.

the chocolate temple will be on display at the quinza institute of chocolate and pastry in irvine, california, USA from june 4th until the date of december 21st, 2012 upon which the mayan calendar ends and the massive dessert sculpture will be destroyed.

More, with photos at QZNA.COM.
Image © qzna specialty foods.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Burlington's Embarrassing Regulations

Ridiculous bureaucracy.

What heppened to this couple is an embarrassment to the city.

Andy Bromage in Blurt/Seven Days: Burlington Couple Busted For Gardening Structures in Front Yard
"We want to control our own food as much as we can," says Rooney, who lives on South Willard Street near Champlain College. "Sustainable living. We live in Vermont. Grow your own food. All that stuff —– we believe in all of it."

But last month, the couple got a notice from the Burlington Code Enforcement Office that their gardening structures were a code violation and would have to come down to avoid penalties. The code office received anonymous complaints — three of them — about the homemade hoop houses.

Rooney says he was told that, under city zoning regulations, hoop houses qualify as "stable structures" and that the couple's raised garden beds qualify as "retaining walls" — both of which require permits from city hall. So does a two-foot-high metal fence that lines the garden to keep out hungry rabbits.

"This is ridiculous," Rooney says on a recent spring day.

Rooney and Dorn are master gardeners, certified through classes at the University of Vermont Extension School and hours of apprenticing. Their front yard on South Willard Street, a well-heeled part of town with stately colonial homes, has been turned into an urban gardener's paradise — with bountiful gardens, peach, apple and pear trees, and strawberry beds alongside the steps that lead up a slope to their front door.

But to at least one neighbor, the hoop houses are an out-of-place eyesore. Rooney says he doesn't know who made the complaint. He called one neighbor to inquire about it, but says he never heard back.
Urban agriculture is alive and well in the Intervale, why not allow it in other neighborhoods? City council, are you listening? As a friend remarked after reading this story, "What a great example for others in a tight economy: grow your own healthy food! Beat the high cost of quality nutrition! Find your own solutions, in a cold climate!"

Friday, May 11, 2012


Now comes Obama, saying precisely what Cheney said, only this time the heavens parted, earth trembled, the cosmos aligned in a more progressive direction. It didn't matter that this was Obama's personal, not political, opinion. Nor was the fact that Obama leaves gay marriage to the states particularly troubling. Indeed, facts meant relatively nothing to the faithful. It was all about feeling, projection, wishful thinking. In other words, nothing's changed. As with everything he says, Obama's statement was calculated. He conferred with pollsters, advisers, and handlers before taking the Cheney step, knowing full well that his liberal base would come crawling. (You have to love the bit about consulting his "neighbors," as if he was weeding the backyard and struck up a gay marriage conversation with the woman next door while she hanged her laundry to dry.)

Wait, there's more...
Now, you might point to Obama's murderous foreign policies, his expansion and strengthening of the surveillance state, his aggressive support for the Drug War, his coddling of corporate power, etc., and wonder how his gay marriage stance mitigates all that. Well, it doesn't.

As recent polls have shown, a large percentage of liberals support many of Obama's horrid positions, particularly his increased use of drones (which are coming to a city near you). Obama's reelection image is Warrior President, tougher than Romney, ballsier than the entire GOP. Mix in some pseudo-populist rhetoric, rail against the very corporate forces that keep him in power, play the gay marriage hand right down the middle, and a second term is all but inevitable.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


The sun is shining and we're getting back to one of the things which makes this movement so amazing, occupying public space, with outdoor General Assemblies in City Hall Park!

New and Important: GA's are moving to Saturdays 12 Noon to 1:30 P.M., immediately after the bank picket (in front of Citizen's Bank, the recipient of the biggest amount of bailout money) and coinciding with the Farmers Market so as to facilitate maximum turnout.

Facebook link

On This Day: "Oh, the humanity and all the passengers screaming around here."

On May 6, 1937 in Lakehurst, New Jersey. the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its landing. That voice on the audio and video reports has haunted me since the first time I heard radio reporter, Herbert Morrison, describe the accident.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bevrijdingsdag|Liberation Day

Yesterday was Remembrance Day, today is Liberation Day in the Netherlands, with more ceremonies and festivities around the country.

Today is also my birthday (OLVG, A'dam, 5 mei 1948). This morning I drank coffee from a special commemorative mug, a gift I received in 1995 from my cousin Marianne: "50 Jaar Bevrijd! 5 mei 1995". Nothing could be better.

Tonight HM will attend the annual open air concert in Amsterdam which thousands of people enjoy too, sitting in their boats or standing along the Amsterdam canals (as well as it will be broadcasted, of course).

Here is the link to the official site of the 4 & 5 May Committee. It's a shame it's not in English; though there is a small note telling us that a translation is coming, today it is a bit late for that! In 1995 when I was in Arnhem for a liberation concert, there were thousands of Canadians in the country, veterans of Liberation. So it wouldn't have been a bad idea to have a French translation, too.

Herded into Cattle Trucks

During the Occupation, thousands of Amsterdam Jews were herded into cattle trucks. Destination: Westerbork. Final destination: concentration camps. Would you walk the Amsterdam-Westerbork trail?
“The people sheltering me had made a hiding place in a big cupboard. I ran there. My foster mother put a plank with clothes on top. Then I heard men in heavy boots coming up the stairs. I thought I’d get a bayonet through me any second. I was amazed when they left again.”
Edith herself managed to escape the train journey. Over 60 of her relatives, though, and her mother and half-brother were taken to Westerbork and later were killed in Auschwitz or Sobibor. “My mother was taken to Auschwitz on the last train… bitter, very bitter,” she says.

Two Minutes Silence

Last night at the Dam Square, Amsterdam. Dodenherdenking|Remembrance Day ceremonies to remember all n the Kingdom who have died in wars and peacekeeping missions since the beginning of the Second World War. HM Queen Beatrix and TRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima attended the solemn ceremony at Dam Square/Amsterdam. And as I have every year, I observed the silence at 8:00 pm, too. It's quite a moving ceremony in the Dam Square. I can recall it, too, especially when I was younger, visiting relatives.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


This is the 2,000th post for Blazing Indiscretions! And what a better way than to celebrate this anniversary:

On April 29, 1977, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas ordained its first woman priest, Helen Havens. In 1981 St Stephens parish at Woodhead and W. Alabama, Houston - where I was a member - was the first church in the Diocese of Texas with the vision to call a woman rector. Guess who? From the parish history pages:
Clax [Monro, the rector at the time] appointed Bob Evans to chair a search committee and the work began. Members visited other churches to hear their candidates, and received recommendations from parishioners. Helen Havens, an assistant at St. Francis, was recommended and some members of the committee were alarmed. The idea of a woman rector was very new. In fact, there were not women rectors in the Diocese of Texas and very few in the United States. Three members of the committee agreed to meet the prospect and were quickly convinced that she was the best choice. After numerous meetings, debates, and prayers, the vestry finally and miraculously recommended that the church call Helen Havens. The Vestry vote was close, but favorable, and Bob Evans and Sidney Mitchell called on Bishop Benitez to request the call.

The Bishop was concerned about St. Stephen's choice and took the unusual step of requiring the Vestry to reconsider its vote. The Vestry met again and voted with a greater majority to sustain its original vote. Messrs. Evans and Mitchell met again with the Bishop who was still concerned and again asked the Vestry to reconsider its action. At this, Bob Evans said that he would comply, but that he wanted the Bishop to explain to the Vestry why he wanted another vote. This ended the matter, and Helen Havens was called to St. Stephen's. The first woman to be called as rector to a parish in the Diocese of Texas, Helen began her ministry with us on Thanksgiving Day, 1981.

Friday, April 27, 2012


People should wake up, but I won't hold my breath; after all, we live in the United States of Complacency where the latest CD by Justin Bieber and the most popular episode of House is more important than our civil liberties.

Wired: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2013 Elections "Coverage" Neither on PBS nor NPR

Well duh, of course you won't. But I don't think people really care, they just accept this as a matter of course. This is an interview with Robert McChesney by Paul Jay on the money game, the "horse race," and the corruption. From The Real News Network, from which PBS and NPR could learn a whole lot.

More at The Real News

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Etan Patz

Authorities in New York City have closed off a street in SoHo, one of the trendiest consumerist shopping areas in the world, to search for a child who disappeared nearly thirty years ago. (Link: New York Daily News.) The media would have us believe that this displays America's regard for human life. Then I think immediately about our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Photo credit: Bryan Smith for The New York Daily News.


The first Earth Day was celebrated on 22 April 1970.  I was "there," but oh gosh! with these anniversaries, I realise that I'm getting older! That was 42 years ago!
... [I]t activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.

Today, read Juan Cole: Earth Day means nothing if We Don’t Limit Carbon Emissions

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Prague Spring?

Tens of thousands of Czechs have staged one of the country's biggest protests since the fall of communism, marching in Prague against spending cuts, tax rises and corruption, and calling for the end of a centre-right government already close to collapse.

Police estimated between 80,000 and 90,000 workers, students and pensioners marched through the capital on Saturday to rally in Wenceslas Square. Chanting and whistling, the crowd held banners reading "Away with the government" and "Stop thieves".

Does this sound familiar, or what?
"This government is devastating state structures and is demeaning the unprotected with its asocial reforms," Jaroslav Zavadil, the head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, told the crowd.

Could this mean another Prague Spring?

Friday, April 20, 2012

"We are the next generation of Americans."

Burlington High School sophomore Jacques Okuka, at yesterday's student-organised direct action against systemic racism at BHS:

"We've been experiencing racism since I first came to America. I've been talking to teachers and nothing's been happening."

"We are the next generation of Americans. If we're going to make a change it's got to come from us, not from our teachers and our parents."

Yesterday morning I went to the demonstration to show solidarity with the brave Somali Bantu and Congolese students. Their action reminded me of Greensboro 1960.


Freedom of religion was granted to the Jews of New Amsterdam on 20 April 1657.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Today's Burlington High School Action Against Racism

Brave Somali Bantu and Congolese high school students, who have self-organized a one day boycott of Burlington High School, were protesting this morning in front of the school against the systemic racism there. The power elite of the school admin and Burlington school board have decided to tackle the racism slowly and on their terms, rather than listen to the concerns of the students. I was present for about an hour in solidarity with the students.

BHS students chanting "we didn't fail the school, the school failed us.".

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Systemic Racism in Burlington, Vermont

"The data [from nearly 26,000 traffic stops made over a two-year period by police in Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski and the University of Vermont] showed “statistically significant disparities” between black and white male drivers across all four departments. Black drivers in Burlington and South Burlington were twice as likely as whites to be pulled over. In South Burlington, the rate at which black drivers were searched after a traffic stop was five times higher than for white drivers."

At last Monday's City Council meeting (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS):
On the hot seat was Burlington schools Superintendent Jeanne Collins, who endured sharp questioning from Ward 3 City Councilor Vince Brennan on her commitment to equity.
Lindsay Reid, a former Burlington school district employee, said she was not satisfied with Collins’ responses: “She persists in protecting the delicate ego of white teachers at the expense of students and families that face discrimination.

Reid, who is originally from Burkino Faso, agreed with Brennan that it is time for new leadership in the school district. So did Jeanine Bunzigiye, an immigrant from the Congo and a former home-school liaison for Burlington schools. Many immigrant and refugee families are weary of talking about problems and want better academic outcomes for their children, she said. “I think they really want to see some action,” Bunzigiye said.

During public comment, about 10 speakers said the school district has a long way to go to eradicate racism. Reuben Jackson, a teacher at Burlington High School, said the district has made some notable efforts to address its historical homogeneity, but needs to go much further before students and staff reach real comfort levels."

There is a student walk out at Burlington High School tomorrow. They want us to show up in solidarity for the walk out at 8:00 A.M., so probably show up at 7:00. The students specifically asked for Occupy Burlington to come out. Let's not disappoint.

We need to unite the 99% to make the social change that will benefit all of us. The Burlington School Board holds the power to the leardership of the Burlington School District.

An open letter from Rabbi Joshua Chasen, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue. (Please share it with others via e-mail as well. ~ thanks. )

Racism is a disease of the soul, intractable, insidious. Most of us white people, myself included, do not understand the depth of this problem. We have a problem of racism in our schools because we have a problem of racism in our city, our country and world.

Twenty years ago, there were few people of color in Burlington and Vermont, and it was difficult to get a hearing for complaints about racism. Now, in part because we have welcomed to town many refugees of color, there is a greater willingness to hear about the effects of persistent racism. But, let's face it: there is still a hope in the hearts of many in our community that Vermont will stay as white as the driven snow. We won't. We're not.

Our schools are where these issues tend to surface first. Our teachers are challenged to work with children of a variety of backgrounds, styles of learning, levels of previous education. Let us recognize the challenge that they face and stand with them in their efforts to educate all of our children. The Diversity and Equity Task Force Report contains many helpful suggestions about how to move forward. It is not an attack on the competence of our teachers.
It does recognize the persistence of racism throughout our society, including our schools. Still today, too many teachers tell children of color to ignore racist insults, suggesting that they were not intended to be racist. Still today, children of color are fearful in our schools. Students who are classified as ELL (English Language Learners) hear the debate about the Diversity and Equity Task Force Report and feel that they are being called "stupid." Surely that is no one's intent, but it is what is happening.

We have come to a moment of truth in our neck of the woods, a time when we must acknowledge that we no longer are mostly European in origin; a time when we must celebrate our multi-racial, multi-cultural society. The change is not easy. Nothing is gained by calling each other "racists" or "anti-teacher." We always must seek strong leadership in such times, but nothing is gained by scapegoating each other.
Let's keep our eyes on the prize, the well being of all of our children. When a child of color is humiliated by a racist comment, the well being of every child in our city is diminished, as is the well being of every one of us of all ages.

This message must come from every pulpit in town. Each one of us is created in the image of God. Instead of focusing on the low level of language competence of children who have landed here after harrowing journeys out of violence and civil wars, let us focus on our own cultural competence, our capacity to be comfortable enough with other cultures so that we can create real social equity.

Not an easy task, by any means. Let us be grateful to the men and women who choose to take on this challenge in our schools. And let us hold every last one of us accountable to the fulfillment of the historic promise of our country to be a place where every child is given an equal chance to fulfill his or her dreams.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Yes, it was On This Day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" on 16 April 1963 while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail,"

This was nearly 50 years ago! Reading this letter when I was a sophomore in high school made an impression on me by changing my life and opening up my eyes to economic injustice and systemic racism, not just the little acts of meanness.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Vermont has joined the growing number of states with public water systems that are switching from chlorine to chloramine as a water disinfectant. In April 2006, the Champlain Water District, which serves 68,000 people in Chittenden County, began adding ammonium sulfate to the chlorine, creating chloramine. Almost immediately, some water district customers complained about skin, digestive and breathing problems after using the water but nothing was done about it.

Recently in Seven Days newspaper there was an article about the introduction of the chloramine additive to the water in Grand Isle.


Burlington residents can get informed and get involved... and put a stop to the chloraminization of Burlington water before the authorities decide what they think is good for us. Join through Facebook... CHLORAMINE FREE BURLINGTON!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Q&A With Jesse Jackson: "What has been your biggest disappointment?"

"Many have fought for and even lost their lives to end segregation, to win the right to vote. It disappoints me to now have to cajole people to register and to vote." - Jesse Jackson, in an interview with The Guardian.


What keeps you awake at night?

"Reflecting on the unfinished business of the civil rights journey."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Russia Today
A 77-year-old Greek man has committed suicide in central Athens by the nation’s parliament, shooting himself with a handgun in apparent financial desperation.

Eyewitness reports say that the man shouted “So I won’t leave debts for my children” before turning the gun on himself.

Also this is telling us something. And it can happen here, too. When will people wake up!

Prior to the downturn Greece had the lowest suicide rate in Europe at 2.8 for every 100,000 inhabitants. However, this figure has now almost doubled, with police reporting over 600 suicide cases in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Attempted suicides are also on the up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On This Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech on 3 April 1968 at at the Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee.

The next day he was assassinated.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Obama's Reward

Barack Obama's wallet was pilfered on Friday while he was glad handing his supporters at a campaign event at the UVM Gutterson Field House. There's a reward amounting to 1% of the take from the event to the person who turns in the culprit and returns the wallet.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Solidarity with Trayvon Martin and his family

Burlington: Hundreds rally in solidarity with the cause of Trayvon Martin. This evening on Church Street at the City Hall steps. Citizens - high school students, parents, city officials - spoke about institutional racism that exists in Vermont.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Example of Shock Doctrine At Work or Fuck Morality. It's All About Profits for the 1%

Paul Jay at The Real News Network interviews Gerry Epstein: 'Banking "Technocrats" Undermine Democracy.' How, in Europe and the US, bankers (in a blatant bit of Orwellian language, a.k.a 'technocrats) take control of the political process. Epstein and Jay discuss a secret letter (now leaked) written by the European Central Bank last September,
... it gave very direct instructions, you could say, to then prime minister Berlusconi about privatization, lowering pensions, changing hiring and firing, regulations and laws—all things one would think should be the outcome of the political process within Italy.

All the interview is thoughtful and provocative for all of us to ponder.
Read the text here.


More at The Real News

I liked especially this (my emphasis in bold):
EPSTEIN: Yeah. In Italy, the letter from the European Central Bank to the Berlusconi government said, you have to pursue privatization of public services. And this includes water, privatization of water. And, in fact, just months before, there had been a referendum in Italy about privatization of water, and the voters had rejected it. And now the so-called independent technocratic European Central Bank is coming in and telling them to overthrow what the people have decided and engage in privatization.

Another important goal of these kinds of so-called technocratic policies is to gut labor protection laws. In Italy there are strong protections for—in terms of hiring and firing. And what they're trying to impose are these so-called labor flexibility, with the idea that this is going to generate more economic growth and more employment. But as David Howell from the New School for Social Research, Dean Baker, and others have shown, labor flexibility does not lead to more employment and more economic growth; it just leads to lower wages and higher profits.

JAY: The other thing that seems to be very much in target or focused on is pensions in all countries, the idea, I guess, of lowering pension age and qualifications. Why is that such a big issue in Europe?

EPSTEIN: Well, it's such a big issue in Europe because that's—for two reasons. One is it's a big liability of the government, and so there is a big—a high degree of budget impact on that. But the second is trying to undermine the power of labor and forcing workers into the hands of the banks. So if you reduce public pensions, not only do you make it so that workers have to take any job they can get to support themselves and work longer, but it also gives more room for private pension plans. And as we know from the debate over privatizing Social Security here in the United States, that's been one of the long-term goals of finance. Indeed, the general push of all of these policies is to gut the welfare state as much as policy and return all of these kinds of protections to profit-making opportunities for banks and other private companies.

JAY: Is part of what's happening here—if you look at sort of the underlying economic forces at play here, I mean, one part of it is—and we've talked about this on The Real News quite a bit—the willingness and desire of various elites and financial elites to take advantage of the crisis to undo social policy, New Deal type things in the U.S., welfare safety net in Europe, and all that, and take advantage of sort of the weaker hand of labor and people during this crisis is one thing. But is there also another part of this, which is there's just so much capital with nowhere to go, that because of this unequal distribution of wealth and income, this massive amount of capital in very few hands, and the real economy not a great place to invest in, so what you need to do is pick apart what's—there is of the public sector as a place for this capital to go to? Is that part of what's going on here?

EPSTEIN: Yeah, I think that's a good—I think that's an important aspect. They're trying to destroy all of the publicly provided markets to find new markets in, particularly, a period of slow growth. And in a particular a period when they're actually pushing austerity, the size of the overall pie isn't going to grow much, so they have to chip away at previously protected parts of it.

Part of what is so evil about this whole approach is the transformation, the distortion of language that is part of it, the use of the term technocrat to hide the fact that Trichet, that Monti, Draghi, all of these people have very, very close ties to the big banks. Most of them worked at one time or another for Goldman Sachs or other big financial firms. We have the same kind of thing, of course, in the United States, where we had Larry Summers, who works for the financial sector and makes millions of dollars doing so, being put forward as a quote-unquote "technocrat". We have the Federal Reserve that has engaged, as you know, in all kinds of backdoor bailouts of the financial sector again seen as sort of a technocratic solution, but we see the revolving door between the Federal Reserve and the private financial sector, using the term fiscal consolidation for gutting public services and generating unemployment. All of this is Orwellian language, which is meant to obscure what is really going on, which is the takeover of democratic control, which, as you said, is already undermined by money, and putting it firmly in the hands of the financial sector.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seven Days Biases

Seven Days, Burlington's "alternative" weekly, has become mainstream. (This move to bland, yuppie-liberal-hipster reporting has been going on ever since I moved to Burlington ten years ago.) The letters below call attention to the paper's anti-alternative biases. Kevin Kelley's article they critique concerns the recent city council candidates from Ward 3.
What I found instead was a biased article giving a voice to only the candidates with major party affiliations and marginalizing the independent candidates, Franco Salese and Ron Ruloff.

At a time when so many people are disappointed with the performance of the major parties, one might think this journalist would have offered a window into the ideologies of the alternative independent candidates. Not only did Mr. Kelley fail in that regard, he additionally referred to these two individuals as “long shots.” Does Mr. Kelley have any statistical data to back up this assertion?

I watched the Ward 3 debates on public access, and from them I learned that candidate Salese is more than just an “Alpine ski coach” “offering a little bit for everyone.” Mr. Salese stated a long list of professional credentials, as well as concrete solutions to many of the transparency concerns voiced by his constituents.

Through these debates I also learned that Ron Ruloff is not just a man who lives in his car. He offered an informed perspective on the city’s financial situation. Did Kelley not tune in? Did he not interview these candidates before sending this article to press? I must assume that Kelley either failed in his journalistic responsibilities or that he views non-Progressive and non-Democrat ideologies as unworthy of print. Additionally, referring to candidate Ruloff as just a guy who lives in his car truly perpetuates a problem in this country: that the homeless are voiceless and irrelevant. Overall, irresponsible journalism permeates this article.

The other letter was written by Ron Ruloff, one of the independent candidates.
I was never interviewed by Kevin J. Kelley or anyone else for the article on the Ward 3 city council race. My views and positions go far beyond stating, to paraphrase your “reporting”: “I live in a truck.” (Which is a statement I never made to you.) You had a reasonably good photo of me, but you might have said you failed to contact me for the article, rather than portraying me as a meaningless entity surviving in an old motor vehicle on the streets.

Your liberal-radical left bias is showing. The Dems and the Progs, with their self-serving, politically correct and anti-Semitic rant, are “objectively” reported as the front-runners. They’re just brainwashed yuppies with a rant: I invited all of them in person to debate me on my show, “Radio Free Brooklyn,” and none showed. None wanted to subject their views to any sort of rational analysis.

Remember, it was the Dems and Progs on the council who paid no attention to the city’s deteriorating finances over the past six or seven years because they’re “volunteers.” Remember, it was Bob Kiss the Progressive who introduced total secrecy into the mayor’s office and an authoritarian form of city government, and who has been allowed to skate free of criminal charges although he illegally diverted some $17 million in city funds. And the same people who are friends of Kiss and Clavelle should be allowed to stay in office? Sure, because of the backing of propaganda sheets like Seven Days, which carefully covers up all liberal malfeasance.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Songs from Wartime

Vera Margaret Welch, who performs as Vera Lynn, celebrates her birthday today. She was born 20 March 1917 in East Ham, Essex, England. She is still going strong at 95 and is regarded with great affection in Britain, particularly by veterans of World War Two.

More a song of defiance is this one about the First World War Sung by Chumbawamba, I'd never heard it until this week. And it rings true today.

Monday, March 19, 2012

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I'm back!

I'm back among the blogging. Hooray!

On February 17, I received an email from Blogger, announcing that Blazing Indiscretions was no more.
Your blog at has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: SPAM. In accordance to these terms, we've removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible.

Very little information was given about SPAM, but I did find out that Blogger had an automatic SPAM detection mechanism. Surely mine wasn't guilty - at least I thought so. But after clicking away to obtain more information (very badly organised by Blogger), I was able to find out that I could request a review for reinstatement. And fortunately I am registered as a contributor to other blogs - Blazing Indiscretions was listed as deleted, and the reinstatement button was a click away. I gave them my contact info with my request, was told that I'd hear back within 15-20 hours. Nothing, Nada, Zilch came back. And each time I tried to resubmit, all I saw was the date of my request, with no resubmit button. Friend bloggers commiserated with me on my loss. I checked out other blog hosting sites as I considered resurrecting BI. Last Friday, after randomly checking my Dashboard - amazingly, I was able to resubmit a reinstatement request. On Saturday...
Hello, We have received your appeal regarding your blog Upon further review we have determined that your blog was mistakenly marked as a TOS violator by our automated system and, as such, we have reinstated your blog. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused in the meantime and thank you for your patience as we completed our review process. Thank you for for understanding. Sincerely, The Blogger Team

So I'm back, but Blogger should not leave account holders hanging for such a long time. And they could provide better and faster ways to get information on that faulty automatic spam detection, which I had been told sometimes has "false positives."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mark Rutte, the coddling Prime Minister

Mark Rutte is a wimp. As in the Republican Party in the United States, the Netherlands has its racists and bigots in political leadership positions, too.

Prime minister Mark Rutte has refused to comment on a website set up by the anti-immigration PVV to record complaints about central and eastern Europeans in the Netherlands, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

Asked to react to the initiative during a Thursday evening debate on the European Union, Rutte said it is not up to him to comment on positions taken by individual political parties.

New poll up today at "Should the prime minister distance himself from the PVV's anti-Pole website?"

‎"Distance himself..."?? Well, isn't that just nice and dandy. Rutte should denounce Wilders' and the PVV's bigotry from the rooftops of the Binnenhof and the Knight's Hall and not take these people seriously (no decent person would). He should have done it a long time ago. And the media (including should not coddle these idiots, either, but they won't because they are enablers, too.

"Strumming my pain with his fingers..."

Roberta Flack was born 10 February 1937 in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

02.02.2002 - 02.02.2012 :)

Precisely ten years ago Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Argentinian-born Máxima Zorreguieta were married.

Here is a NOS TV special about W-A & M., watched yesterday by more than 2 million people (Dutch, English, and Máxima sings a song in Spanish at about 45 minutes.)

Get Microsoft Silverlight
Bekijk de video in andere formaten.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Animal devocalization is morally reprehensible

Just when I think the human race can't get any more loathsome, I learn of a new way we've figured out to torture and mistreat our fellow beings on this planet. This should be absolutely banned, vets who do this should lose their license, and dog owners who subject their pets to this maiming should be fined out the wazoo.
The Truth about Devocalization
How is devocalization done?
Vocal cord tissue is cut using one of two methods: through a surgical incision in the neck or by inserting instruments through the mouth. The veterinarian may use a scalpel, scissors, biopsy tools or laser. The result is the same: Soft tissue is cut, subjecting animals to surgical risks and potential complications that may compromise them for life or result in a terrible death.

If you want your dogs not to bark, spend time with them and train them properly - if you arent willing to do that, consider not having pets.
Devocalization is illegal in Massachusetts and Warwick, RI. Act NOW to ban it in NY State and protect animals from lifelong suffering or agonizing death—common outcomes no matter how skilled the vet or how the tissue is cut.

When will they ever learn?

Taylor Marsh has a guest piece at Informed Comment/Juan Cole, "The Party's Over": 'There’s a reason Obama reelect doesn’t have a slogan. All they’ve got is a question: Are you in?... Pres. Obama can’t find a reelection slogan because his 2012 campaign boils down to the reality that “hope and change” has been reduced to “Republicans are worse.”' (Read her explanation here.) I don't disagree with Marsh, but she's just now realising this? Doesn't she remember the Clinton and Kerry campaigns? Establishment corporatist Democratic Party politicos have used that fear slogan before and the stupid voters just fall for it. Fucking liberals and the so-called left have only themselves to blame if they do it again in 2012.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I've been busy with work, so this is kind of late. My take on SOTU: Obama drones or The Voice of the Hypocrite is Heard Across the Land.
Ralph Nader did an interview this week on DN! - talking with Amy Goodman about the president's speech. I still like this guy, I don't care what other people say.
Imagine Obama never mentioning the Occupy movement. Imagine Obama never mentioning the Occupy Wall Street movement, the main citizen awareness movement to be coupled with his alleged concern with Wall Street abuses. And yet he talks about advancing human dignity for all people abroad, and he never talks about a major human dignity initiative, the Occupy initiative, based on peaceful resistance to oligarchy and plutocracy. He’s a political coward. He’s got to repair back to the Oval Office and ask himself why he can’t stand for the people in this country who are really aware and trying to improve our democracy and advance justice and make government and corporations accountable.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Today, January 17, is the 51st anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous farewell address in which he warned of the rising power of the military...

Monday, January 16, 2012

On This Day II

Different from the previous post on this day, but an admirable woman all the same. Last week I brought you the inimitable Sophie Tucker. Today we honor another loud mouth artiste.

Ethel Agnes Zimmermann was born 16 January 1908 at 26-5 4th Street in Astoria, Queens. She is better know as Ethel Merman. I had no idea about this bit of trivia about her: Though her father had grown up in the Dutch Reform tradition, she grew up in a strict Episcopalian household.
"Let's go on with the show...."

And what a team The Muppets and Merman make in this video clip!

On This Day

O Taste and See

The world is
not with us enough
O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Denise Levertov was born in 1923 in suburban London. Her father, an Anglican priest, had grown up and been educated in the Hassidic tradition. Her mother was Welsh. Levertov began writing at a young age; she sent some of her poems to T.S. Eliot when she was just 12 years old--and received a letter of encouragement in reply. She moved to the US in 1947 and became a citizen in 1955. She was greatly influenced by the Black Mountain poets. Levertov became Christian in 1984, converting to Roman Catholicism in 1989. She died in 1997.

I still have the original copy of my senior year high school English paper, a critique of O Taste and See, my favorite of all the poems by Denise Levertov. Many more of her poems may be found here.
Photo of Denise Levertov by The Luce Studio, courtesy of New Directions.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some of These Days

Sonya Kalish (Соня Калиш), better known as Sophie Tucker, was born 13 January 1886 in Tulchyn, Ukraine. Her family immigrated to the US when she was an infant, where they opened a restaurant. She was singing for tips by 1903. You'll enjoy all of these:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The puppeteers are starting to squrm

Chris Wallace interviews Mitch McConnell about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director.
WALLACE: What’s your problem with an agency that would protect consumers from mortgage lenders, from debt collectors and student lenders?
MCCONNELL: Yes, here’s the problem: this new agency answers to no one, absolutely no one — another unelected czar. We’ve got a bunch of those in the White House. We don’t need any more of them. And the only way we can incentivize the administration to change this agency which isn’t subject to oversight by Congress, doesn’t get its money from Congress, answers to literally to no one — it’s one individual who could bring down the banking system in this country if he chose to, has unlimited power. No one has that kind of power.

I doubt Wallace corrected McConnell -- such is the state of our lazy MSM; Talking Points Memo did. The CFBP was created by congress, which stipulated that it have a director. TPM goes on to say
...[I]t’s simply a lie to say that the CFPB director has unlimited power and is subject to no oversight. As we explained last week, the CFPB, unlike any of the other federal financial system regulators, can have it’s rules struck down by a vote of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a panel composed of the heads of the bank regulatory agencies, the Treasury Secretary, and the Federal Reserve Chairman. No other financial regulator is subject to this sort of check. Theoretically, the FSOC could veto each and every rule that the CFPB makes.

Michael Hastings on war journalists

‎"I went into journalism to do journalism, not advertising. My views are critical but that shouldn’t be mistaken for hostile – I’m just not a stenographer. There is a body of work that shows how I view these issues but that was hard-earned through experience, not something I learned going to a cocktail party on fucking K Street. That’s what reporters are supposed to do, report the story." -- Michael Hastings

Read about Michael Hastings and his new book on the Afghan war in Glenn Greenwald's latest.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Charles Addams' Hundredth

Charles "Chas" Samuel Addams was born 7 January 1912 in Westfield, New Jersey.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

UPDATED: Stephen Lawrence murder verdict

UPDATED 4 January: The murderers Dobson and Norris have been sentenced today: story in the Guardian.

The racist murder of Stephen Lawrence happened 18 years ago. I remember the news reports - this was before internet - I had followed it via my subscription to the mailed edition of the Guardian Weekly. The Guardian today reports that finally there is a conviction and two men have been found guilty.
The case was one of the most famous unsolved murders in Britain. An 18-year fight for justice by Lawrence's parents led to a public inquiry which uncovered blunders by the Metropolitan police, blamed on institutional racism, which allowed his killers to escape justice.

Lawrence, 18, was murdered on 22 April 1993, as he and a friend waited for a bus in Eltham, south-east London.

They were attacked by a group of five to six white youths who shouted: "What, what, nigger?" and then rushed towards them.