Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another set of casualties

Oh, this truly breaks my heart. I want to call your attention to a Time Magazine article entitled "Fallout From the War at Home". Here's what is happening:

Rates of neglect and abuse of the children of servicemen and women rose 42% within the family when the enlisted parent was deployed on a combat mission, according to a new study led by senior health analyst Deborah Gibbs of RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployments and higher levels of stress in the family, and it is this stress that is thought to play a major role in the maltreatment of children by the parent who stays home.

The current study is the first to take a comprehensive look at how deployment affects child neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Backed by funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the researchers harvested data from the U.S. Army Central Registry of 1,771 families worldwide with at least one instance of child neglect or abuse between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2004, a period during which many soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The results show that a staggering 1,858 parents had maltreated their children during that period — boys and girls in equal numbers, with an average age of 6. Nearly 10% of those parents neglected or abused their children on more than one day.
Government statistics note that in 2004, 1.1 million children (under the age of 18) were maltreated in enlisted soldiers' families. Gibbs and colleagues cite another soon-to-be-published study that found "the rates of neglect in U.S. Army families increased sharply between 2001 and 2004, reversing a decade-long downward trend."

Oh, this horrible, horrible war.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A stolen election

I've been sure since election day that the 2004 election was stolen but here's even more evidence. An Alternet article entitled "In Violation of Federal Law, Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election Records Are Destroyed or Missing" explains:

In 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, ballots and election records from 2004 have been "accidentally" destroyed, despite a federal order to preserve them -- it was crucial evidence which would have revealed whether the election was stolen.

Two-thirds of Ohio counties have destroyed or lost their 2004 presidential ballots and related election records, according to letters from county election officials to the Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner.

The lost records violate Ohio law, which states federal election records must be kept for 22 months after Election Day, and a U.S. District Court order issued last September that the 2004 ballots be preserved while the court hears a civil rights lawsuit alleging voter suppression of African-American voters in Columbus.

The destruction of the election records also frustrates efforts by the media and historians to determine the accuracy of Ohio's 2004 vote count, because in county after county the key evidence needed to understand vote count anomalies apparently no longer exists.

"The extent of the destruction of records is consistent with the covering up of the fraud that we believe occurred in the presidential election," said Cliff Arnebeck, a Columbus attorney representing the King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association, which filed voter suppression suit. "We're in the process of addressing where to go from here with the Ohio Attorney General's office."

"On the one hand, people will now say you can't prove the fraud," he said, "but the rule of law says that when evidence is destroyed it creates a presumption that the people who destroyed evidence did so because it would have proved the contention of the other side."

I don't believe for one minute that Bush fairly won EITHER election.

Tyranny, brainwashing and propaganda

Let's all give this some thought:

It is worthy of remark that a belief constantly inculcated during the early years of life, whilst the brain is impressible, appears to acquire almost the nature of an instinct; and the very essence of an instinct is that it is followed independently of reason.

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The slaughter of war

Walt Calahan sent me the following quote from a BBC article entitled "Veteran, 109, revisits WWI trench".

Mr. Harry Patch, 109 years old, the last known surviving British soldier who fought in the trenches of World War I:

"Too many died. War isn't worth one life," said Mr Patch.

He said war was the "calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings".

Global warming and storms

I want to call your attention to a CNN article called "Tropical storms doubled due to global warming, study says". Here's an excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of tropical storms developing annually in the Atlantic Ocean more than doubled over the past century, with the increase taking place in two jumps, researchers say.

The increases coincided with rising sea surface temperature, largely the byproduct of human-induced climate warming, researchers Greg J. Holland and Peter J. Webster concluded.

Their findings were being published online Sunday by Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

An official at the National Hurricane Center called the research "sloppy science" and said technological improvements in observing storms accounted for the increase.

From 1905 to 1930, the Atlantic-Gulf Coast area averaged six tropical cyclones per year, with four of those storms growing into become hurricanes.

The annual average jumped to 10 tropical storms and five hurricanes from 1931 to 1994. From 1995 to 2005, the average was 15 tropical storms and eight hurricanes annually.

Even in 2006, widely reported as a mild year, there were 10 tropical storms.

What do you want to bet that political pressure was put on the National Hurrican Center to criticize the research?

Thought for the day

Just a reminder:

Never argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Guardian published an article on Monday entitled "Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran" and in it I found this:

A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."

Now here is David Cogwell's comment on that statement:

He doesn't mind leaving office with Iraq still in limbo, however. That kind of limbo is okay for Bush, chaos and bloodshed. The other kind of limbo -- Iran being defiant, not accepting the U.S. command -- he can't tolerate. The fundamentalist mind, he likes things simple, simple to him, a rich kid who's lived a life of ease, rarely cracked a book, never had to be accountable for his failures, always had Dad to bail him out. Now Cheney, who has always been wrong about virtually everything of significance, is winning out over those who would urge ... restraint? ... how about sanity?

Here's what I think is likely (not original with me, by any means): There's going to be another "terrorist" attack within the US and the Bush administration is going to blame it on Iran. That will create support for an all out attack on Iran and it will probably be nuclear. I dearly, dearly hope I'm wrong but that's what I think is going to happen.

Survival wage

Found in the comments section of this article: "An Unlivable Minimum"

The 1968 minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, would be $9.58 today. The current minimum is 39% below that.

It's just wrong. We all know it is.

Salt water fuel

Link Metzger sent me the following video. As far as I'm concerned, this breakthrough ought to be headline news in every newspaper and on every news site in the world!

Pat Tillman

I don't know if I've blogged before about Pat Tillman's death but perhaps you've been following it on the news. This is really disturbing:

SAN FRANCISCO - Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Go read the rest of the article to find out about more information in those documents. Very disturbing, indeed.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Making peace

Here's another quote from Time Magazine:

My dream has come true. When I go back I can live in peace for the rest of my life.

-- FRED MITCHELL an 81-year-old survivor of the U.S.S. Drexler, a destroyer sunk by kamikaze off Okinawa in 1945, after shaking hands in reconciliation with a former kamikaze pilot Friday

Good point

Barack Obama

I found this on the Time Magazine "Soundbites of the Week":

I don't want a continuation of Bush-Cheney. I don't want Bush-Cheney lite, I want a fundamental change.

-- Democratic Presidential candidate BARACK OBAMA comparing his foreign policy approach to rival Sen. Hillary Clinton's in a campaign speech in Concord, N.H. yesterday. Obama and Clinton have been sparring over the issue since the Democratic debate Monday

Right. I want a fundamental change too. Don't know if Obama is the one to give it to us but I certainly agree with him on this statement.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Plan for Peace Day 2007

Paul Rogers sent me a link for the Peace One Day website. Here's a video that tells about it:

I'm thinking about the commitment I want to make. Perhaps we can have a special meditation sitting dedicated to peace at the Center on that day.

Quote of the week

From Sojourners again:

"Not surprisingly, the poll data showed that white evangelicals were somewhat more permissive toward torture than other religious groups."

- from a New York Times report on the Evangelical Declaration Against Torture, which states in part: “We renounce the resort to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, call for the extension of procedural protections and human rights to all detainees, seek clear government-wide embrace of the Geneva Conventions, including those articles banning torture and cruel treatment of prisoners, and urge the reversal of any U.S. government law, policy or practice that violates the moral standards outlined in this declaration.”

Something to think about

“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

I think a lot of us are appalled at the way Michael Vick tortured dogs and executed them in horrific ways when they didn't fight well enough. Here's someone's comment I found that makes an important point:

Many people are outraged by the recent story about Michael Vick and the alleged grotesque and cruel treatment of dogs. Those same people will then sit down and eat a chicken or steak or ham dinner and never consider the suffering that is on their plate. Animals on factory farms are beaten, shocked, debeaked, imprisoned in cages or pens, artificially impregnated, milked dry, forced to lay eggs to exhaustion, denied any natural activity (including bonding with their offspring), and then executed.

When you eat meat, you become complicit in the torture.

If you believe the meat you eat comes from animals who are humanely raised and slaughtered, please read Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. What I learned there was a true eye-opener. I have no objection to eating meat if the animal is raised in such a way that it is able to live according to its natural instinct and is painlessly slaughtered and not subjected to psychological terror in the process. But that's not what happens in the meat industry. Even if the animal (like grazing cattled, perhaps) lived a largely "happy life", being transported to the slaughter house is a nightmare. And the assembly line slaughter houses are such that the animals see other animals being tortured and killed and hear their screams. Animals are supposed to be stunned before slaughter but the workers are under such time pressure that this often doesn't happen properly and the the terrified animals are skinned alive.

Here's a brief review of Animal Liberation on the Amazon site:

I read excerpts from this book flipping through it in a bookstore. I got so sick that I sat down in the floor and leaned up against the wall. I couldn't stand to read any more. Oh, what we do to animals in the name of...what reason is good enough?

I did much the same. Finally I forced myself to buy the book and read it all the way through.

Most people are completely ignorant of the way society actually treats animals. I beg everyone who reads this to inform himself or herself.

Special hospice care worker


Here is a very moving story that both Matt Huculak and Cynthia Burgess sent me this morning:

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) -- Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

I hope there's a cat with me when I die. What a wonderful way to go.

And I really commend the Steere House Center for adopting Oscar in the first place. That shows enlightened thinking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Jesus is a liberal

I just found an interesting website entitled Jesus Is A Liberal and I invite you to take a look. Here's an excerpt from the Home Page:

We created this website because we believe the historical, Biblically documented teachings of Jesus Christ clearly show that Jesus is a Liberal. His philosophy, based in compassion, equality, inclusion, forgiveness, tolerance, peace and - most importantly - love, is 100% Liberal.

For 20 years we have seen the growing domination of the radical right wing evangelicals on TV, on the radio and in the news, newspapers and magazines and in politics - claiming to own a virtual monopoly on Jesus. They have redefined what He meant and used His name to advance their radical right wing social, business, governmental, political and military agenda - or as President Bush calls it their just and righteous Crusade. We strongly object and disagree.

We reflect the views of over 150 million Liberal, Progressive, Tolerant and Independent thinking Christians, Catholics, and others of all spiritual paths, religions and traditions in the USA and Canada. Together, we reject the radical right wing Republican evangelicals' claims that they alone represent the will, expression and blessing of Jesus Christ. We believe it is high time someone stand up for the Liberal, Progressive, Tolerant and Independent thinking majority's position that any plain reading of His words, any genuine interpretation of His intent, outline a Liberal, Progressive, Tolerant, Loving and holistic world view.

I get very tired of the fundies. This website is refreshing just because of its existence.

Wednesday cat blogging

Harriet Finlay

Sorry folks! I just can't wait until Friday to show you the newest member of my family who was adopted yesterday. Harriet was abandonned with her six little kittens and taken in by the Humane Society of Tulsa. She was on display at Woodland Central Animal Hospital where I take my dog every day for day care. I knew when the kittens were old enough that they would be easily adopted but I also knew that it would be hard to find a home for the mother. She has tugged at my heartstrings for weeks now.

Harriet is being isolated in the guest room while the other cats get used to her scent and sounds. She is very sociable and wants very much to join the others. But this needs to go slowly!

It's hard to get a picture of Harriet because she won't be still but you can be sure I'll try. More on Friday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Truly biting snark

Take a look at this one. I heard him deliver this line and promptly snorted:

Things not looking good for President Bush. His approval rating has dropped so low the only thing he's above now is the law.

--Jay Leno

A good call

Thank goodness there are still some people around with compassion and good sense. I'm referring, of course, to the new article up on the CNN website entitled "No charges for doctor in Katrina hospital deaths". Here's part of what it says:

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- The doctor at the center of an investigation into four patients' deaths after Hurricane Katrina said everyone must remember the "magnitude of human suffering" after the storm to assure that no health care worker is ever "falsely accused in a rush to judgment."

"Today's events are not a triumph, but a moment of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the storm," she said after a grand jury decided Tuesday not to pursue criminal charges against her.

Pou and two nurses -- Cheri Landry and Lori Budo -- were arrested in July 2006 after a 10-month investigation into the deaths at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center.

Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti charged the trio with second-degree murder. The charges against Landry and Budo were recently dropped.

Pou, Landry and Budo denied the charges, and their attorneys have said they acted heroically, staying to treat patients rather than evacuate.

The investigation revealed that four patients, ages 63 to 93, were given a "lethal cocktail" of morphine and midazolam hydrochloride, both central nervous system depressants, Foti said.

None of the patients had been prescribed the drugs by their caregivers, and none of the accused treated the four before the injections, Foti said.

I hope that if I'm ever trapped in a disaster and doomed to die horribly that some compassionate health care worker will give me a lethal cocktail. Those women did the right thing and society has no business prosecuting them.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why we must leave Iraq

Please read an article entitled "Why We Must Leave Iraq ASAP".

Here's a powerful excerpt:

Democratic principles do not allow our government to take by unprovoked force a people’s natural resources just because we find it in our “vital self-interest” to do so. The war for oil rationale argues that it is ok to put self-interest ahead of democratic principle when it is necessary for our survival.

First off, war for oil is not in the least necessary for our survival. Second, even if it were, the idea that survival is more important than retaining the integrity of one’s principles is highly controversial and ought to be subject to considerable debate before being acted upon.

Consider the Trade of the Classroom of Children: If a gun was pointed at your head in a class room of children and you were given a gun and told to kill them or die, what would you do? Murder of children is against your principles. Is survival worth it to you if you must become a mass-child-murderer to do so?

I would venture to say that at least 50% of the people would say that under such circumstances they would cling to the integrity of their principles in death rather than kill to survive.

So if oil is really necessary to the survival of America as a nation, we should all be aware that we are killing tens and tens of thousands of children to survive. This is what we are choosing to do, without a doubt, because, the rationale goes, we think it is necessary to our survival. If we survive, however, we will no longer be a democratic nation. We will be a child murdering one, instead. So long as we fail to retract our troops, this is what we have become.

Although our elected leaders all believe that taking control of oil is good for America, none dare say so because they know it is an indefensible violation of our democratic principles. Our elected leaders simply think that the integrity of our democratic principles is not really that important where the amount of killing done and the amount of oil stolen can be covered up with false political rhetoric. No other rationale explains their silence on the theft of Iraqi oil.

Sadly, these politicians not only sin against democracy in trading principle for self-interest, they gravely mistake whose interest the oil will really serve.

The fourth awful, horrendous truth is that the control of oil achieved by the war in Iraq will not be American-it will be private, corporate control by a tiny, elite, incredibly rich portion of our population who are themselves an enemy to American democracy.

We, the people, are being so used by the exploitative rich. Why don't we see it?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rising seas

Here's a CNN article about the rising sea level:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Don't worry too much, for now, about rising seas caused by melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica. The big threat this century could come from small thawing glaciers, researchers reported Thursday.

Even though these glaciers contain only 1 percent of the water tied up in the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, they could account for 60 percent of an anticipated rise in the world's sea level by the year 2100.

Sea-level rise is seen as a key consequence of global warming, and much of the concern has focused on the big ice sheets that contain the vast majority of the world's ice.

Researchers writing in the online journal Science Express estimate melting glaciers, which are located all over the globe including in the tropics, could add between 4 and 10 inches to world sea level this century.

While this may not sound like much, consider that some 100 million people live within 3.3 vertical feet of sea level, said Mark Meier of the University of Colorado-Boulder, a lead author of the study.

"If we had almost a foot (of sea-level rise) just due to the small glaciers, add that to the amount due to the ice sheets, which could be appreciable by 2100, and add to that the ocean warming which will cause it to expand in volume, then we get a rise that we can't ignore," Meier said in a telephone interview.

Even a tiny amount of sea-level rise can make a vast inland incursion of water in flat coastal areas, as much or more than 100 times the distance inland as the height of the rise, he said.

We are completely screwed.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The party of family values still AGAIN

The Rev. Coy Privette

What is it about Republicans? Do they think sex outside of marriage is somehow okay if they pay for it? But if a Democrat has sex for free with another consenting adult that is somehow horrible?

Yeah, you know what I'm going to say. It's not the sex; it's the hypocrisy:

KANNAPOLIS --Coy Privette, a retired Baptist pastor, conservative lawmaker and outspoken advocate for Christian groups, was charged Thursday with paying a prostitute for sex acts.

The 74-year-old Cabarrus County commissioner was arrested at his home in Kannapolis early Thursday. He appeared before a Rowan County magistrate on six misdemeanor charges and was released on a promise to appear in court Aug. 22. He did not return e-mails or calls to his cell and home phones, and no one answered the door at his Kannapolis home.

Privette, a prominent Republican with a 30-year career, is one of the state's most vocal opponents against alcohol sales and legal gambling. He also serves on the State Baptist Convention of North Carolina and as president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina.

Listen up, you precious and judgmental conservatives. Just shut up about everybody else's sex life until you can discipline your own, okay?

Balancing your carbon footprint

I just found out about an organization called TerraPass:

The first step you can take to fight global warming is to reduce your carbon footprint through conservation. Drive less. Turn down the thermostat. Buy locally produced goods.

Then use TerraPass to reduce your carbon footprint all the way to zero.

When you buy a TerraPass, your money funds renewable energy projects such as wind farms. These projects result in verified reductions in greenhouse gas pollution. And these reductions counterbalance your own emissions.

Of course, global warming is too big a problem for a handful of people to solve on their own. It's a global problem that requires action on a global scale.

But entrepreneurial groups are leading the way. City and state governments, forward-looking businesses, and enthusiastic citizens are banding together to show that a sustainable future is possible today.

Every TerraPass member has taken a simple positive step to fight global warming. Every TerraPass purchase is a vote for innovation, efficiency, and clean energy. Together, we have eliminated over 380 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Be part of a group that is driving change today.

If you, for example, take a flight that is 6,000 miles, your TerraPass purchase would cost $9.95. TerraPass partners with Expedia.com so if you book a ticket with them you can buy your TerraPass at the same time.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Henry (hiding in closet)
Photo by Ellie Finlay

Just a little comic relief

"Metal collars and chain..." LOL

Blaming Hillary

Another great Keith Olbermann commentary:

Health care and overhead

Did you know this?

Medicare has 3 percent overhead costs, private insurance has 20 percent overhead costs.

I found it here. (Worth reading)

Suspend Michael Vick

By now I hope the allegations against Michael Vick regarding animal cruelty have come to your attention. Here's an article published by the Humane Society urging Vick's suspension from playing professional football:

The Humane Society of the United States renewed its call for the NFL to immediately suspend Michael Vick, citing a huge negative response from Americans who are appalled by the dogfighting allegations in a 19-page federal indictment against Vick and three co-defendants.

HSUS officials appeared on numerous television and radio programs this week alongside football commentators, attorneys, and others. Widespread condemnation of the dogfighting activities Vick is charged with is reverberating on the airwaves and in newspapers across the country.

While acknowledging that Vick has the right to his day in court, The HSUS is disturbed by the message the NFL and the Falcons are sending by letting Vick continue to play under such serious allegations of animal cruelty.

Yesterday, The HSUS urged their online advocates to
send the NFL a strong message: dogfighting is a gruesome act that should not be condoned by allowing Michael Vick to continue playing professional football.

The campaign has generated more online actions, more quickly, than any other campaign for the organization (only Hurricane Katrina responses numbered higher). Animal advocates generated a wave of activity that shut down the organization's website for large portion of both Wednesday and Thursday.

The NFL claims that it is waiting to see whether Vick is convicted or not before taking any disciplinary action, but The HSUS calls on the league to stop sitting on the sidelines. If it does nothing but wait for the legal process to run its course, The HSUS argues, then the NFL's internal code of conduct is entirely meaningless.

It is standard practice in the professions for people to be suspended pending conviction as the result of serious accusations regarding ethical violations.

Please take action and contact the NFL and INSIST that Vick be suspended.

By the way, here is a fact sheet on dog fighting.

UPDATE: Here's another article with lots of links and all the details about the case that you could need:

Time to Bench Vick

Both tragic and inspiring

I just learned about Michelle Gardner-Quinn. Here's what an article from The Boston Globe has to say:

Michelle Gardner-Quinn wanted to make protecting the environment her life’s work. As a young college student, she traveled to Costa Rica, Brazil, and South Africa to study nature in its purest forms. She was an avid supporter of Al Gore and his warnings about global warming. And last October, as a senior at the University of Vermont, she wrote a class essay expressing the joys of “digging in the earth,” and her “strong connection to the natural cycles of creation.”

Two days after she submitted her paper, the 21-year-old was kidnapped, brutally raped, and strangled to death.

Here's the essay:

I believe in upholding reverence for all life. I believe that humanity has a responsibility to the earth and to the life that we share our experience with.

As a child, I found joy digging in the dirt, examining the miracle of life. Everything creepy-crawly was fascinating to me, and I spent countless hours in my backyard exploring what wonders lay beneath. Although some people might be repulsed by this notion, these creatures did not represent slimy pests to me. Rather, such experiences in the natural world taught me about the diversity of life that could be found in any microcosm. I felt attuned with the cycles of life, my favorite being the spring. During these budding months, I could watch the egg sacks of praying mantises as they opened or collect robin-blue egg shells that had fallen from the nests. This was where I felt a strong connection to the natural cycles of creation. This connection has inspired awe in me that I feel strongly to this day. It is a feeling deep within me that has inspired my passions and pursuits as an environmentalist.

As I grew older, I discovered that this reverence for life was not shared by all of humanity. Rather than respecting the natural world as a community of life, the environment has been valued in terms of the resources that could be exploited. Industrialization has turned life into an industry, and systematically destroys the essential diversity that provides richness to the human experience. Our self-inflicted ecological crisis has reached such a point that we no longer endanger isolated bioregions. So many toxins have been spewed into the atmosphere as a result of our industrial greed that the climate of our planet is changing at an alarming rate. Climate change threatens all life forms by altering fundamental natural cycles, giving little time for evolutionary responses. These detrimental impacts are visible today as polar bears lose their habitat of sea ice, the sex of sea turtle eggs is skewed, whales have less krill to feed on, and coral reefs are bleached, to cite just a few examples. Climate change also has a detrimental impact on cultures and humanity’s well-being as more people are becoming environmental refugees. Little is being done to curb this crisis, and, within our lifetime, the ecological functioning of planet earth will be forever altered. I believe that my connection to all life forms prevents me from sitting back and watching this catastrophe.

I believe that we should understand our place in our regional ecosystems and communities, as well as pledge our allegiance to the earth as a whole. I believe that all creatures, whether they are found in my backyard or halfway around the globe, should not suffer as a result of human greed. The reality of climate change is here and now; it is the environmental battle of our generation and generations to come. In honor of all life, I am dedicating myself to preventing this worldwide ecological crisis.

Whenever I see a baby these days, my heart sinks because of the world that child will be inheriting. It has often been said that each person is entitled to his or her own opinions but not to his or her own facts. The facts are clear: we are destroying the earth's ability to sustain human life (and the lives of many other species as well.) How can people really believe that short term profits are worth that sacrifice? Our children will rise up and curse our name. And they will be right.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Chickenhawk" by Roy Zimmerman

I read today that Karl Rove has an 18 year old son. So is he signing up? (Yeah, right.)

Quote of the week

Sojourners sent me this:

These things matter. It is not about party; it's about eyeballs. And there are sights that need seeing.

- Dee Davis, director of the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky, on presidential candidate John Edwards' tour of rural American poverty. (Source: NPR)

Thursday hope blogging

Here's some thing very hopeful from an article entitled "Mandela and ‘The Elders’ Aim to Save the World":

JOHANNESBURG — The Elders, a new alliance made up of an elite group of senior statesmen dedicated to solving thorny global problems, unveiled itself today [July 18, 2007] in Johannesburg. The rollout coincided with founding member Nelson Mandela’s 89th birthday.

After a grand entrance, Mandela, the former South African president, announced the rest of the Elders.

The members include Desmond Tutu, South African archbishop emeritus of Cape Town; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Mohammed Yunus, the Nobel laureate and founder of the Green Bank in Bangladesh.

The group plans to get involved in some of the world’s most pressing problems — climate change, pandemics like AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, violent conflicts.

It was an extraordinary gathering; a who’s who of famous international leaders, with enough emotion to move some of them to tears.

Under a large white futuristic dome, British billionaire Richard Branson and rock star Peter Gabriel, who conceived the idea for the Elders, gathered enough star power to change the world, or at least that’s the hope.
“Using their collective experience, their moral courage and their ability to rise above the parochial concerns of nations, they can help make our planet a more peaceful, healthy and equitable place to live, ” Branson said. ” Let us call them ‘global elders,’ not because of their age but because of individual and collective wisdom.”

If anyone can turn things around, this bunch can. Let us hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

Reliquishing power - or not

Will George Bush really vacate the White House in 2009? Here's a concern that's interestingly now gone mainstream. Check out this excerpt from an article entitled "Vice president hurts GOP's chance to retain White House" by former diplomat Dan Simpson:

There is also the late-at-night, eerie concern that Mr. Bush has in his head some sort of scenario where, for reasons of national security - real or drummed up - the 2008 elections will have to be postponed and he will get to stay on.

My suspicions have at their base the feeling I have that, given their operating style now, this bunch will not leave the White House easily in 2009.

Let us also remember what Bush did in May:

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.

The “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive,” NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive…

The directive loosely defines “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”

When the President determines a catastrophic emergency has occurred, the President can take over all government functions and direct all private sector activities to ensure we will emerge from the emergency with an “enduring constitutional government.”

Right. So how do you ensure an "eduring constitutional government" by suspending the Constitution? The whole thing is both sickening and very worrying.

The other war

The Tulsa Peace Fellowship sent me an article entitled "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness" by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian originally published in The Nation. Here's the part I want you to see:

"I'll tell you the point where I really turned," said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. "I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg.... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn't crying, wasn't anything, it just looked at me like--I know she couldn't speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?... I was just like, This is--this is it. This is ridiculous."
Sergeant Mejía recounted an incident in Ramadi in July 2003 when an unarmed man drove with his young son too close to a checkpoint. The father was decapitated in front of the small, terrified boy by a member of Sergeant Mejía's unit firing a heavy .50-caliber machine gun. By then, said Sergeant Mejía, who responded to the scene after the fact, "this sort of killing of civilians had long ceased to arouse much interest or even comment." The next month, Sergeant Mejía returned stateside for a two-week rest and refused to go back, launching a public protest over the treatment of Iraqis. (He was charged with desertion, sentenced to one year in prison and given a bad-conduct discharge.)

Why do we wonder that they hate us?

I really recommend reading the whole article if you have time. It's an eye-opener.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I just did a web search on the word "extremism" and here's something I found:

What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.

--Robert F. Kennedy

Madison warned us

James Madison

I simply do not understand why the so-called "patriots" of the political right seem to take no notice of what the Founding Fathers had to say about our government. The article I want to share withyou this morning is called "King George W.: James Madison’s Nightmare". Here's part of what it says:

George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the “foreign entanglements” that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

With the “war on terror,” Bush has asserted the right of the president to wage war anywhere and for any length of time, at his whim, because the “terrorists” will always provide a convenient shadowy target. Just the “continual warfare” that Madison warned of in justifying the primary role of Congress in initiating and continuing to finance a war-the very issue now at stake in Bush’s battle with Congress.

In his “Political Observations,” written years before he served as fourth president of the United States, Madison went on to underscore the dangers of an imperial presidency bloated by war fever. “In war,” Madison wrote in 1795, at a time when the young republic still faced its share of dangerous enemies, “the discretionary power of the Executive is extended … and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.”
Because “[n]o nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,” Madison urged that the constitutional separation of powers he had codified be respected. “The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war … the power of raising armies,” he wrote. “The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them.”

We are no longer the nation our Founding Fathers had in mind. It is tragic.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

All Hail the Prophetic Gut!

Just watch it:

Ou sick health care system

The article I want to share with you this morning is called "Health Care vs. the Profit Principle". Here's how it gets started:

Our health care system isn't designed to make people healthier: It is designed for extracting money from the vulnerable and putting it into the pockets of the rich.

It's always nice to see the President take a principled stand on something. The man formerly known as "43," and now perhaps better named "29" for his record-breaking approval rating, is promising to battle any expansion of government health insurance for children -- and not because he hates children or refuses to cough up the funds. No, this is a battle over principle: private health care vs. government-provided health care. Speaking in Cleveland this week, Bush boldly asserted:

"I strongly object to the government providing incentives for people to leave private medicine, private health care to the public sector. And I think it's wrong and I think it's a mistake. And therefore, I will resist Congress's attempt ... to federalize medicine...In my judgment that would be -- it would lead to not better medicine, but worse medicine. It would lead to not more innovation, but less innovation."

Now you don't have to have seen "Sicko" to know that if there is one area of human endeavor where private enterprise doesn't work, it's health care. Consider the private, profit-making, insurance industry that Bush is so determined to defend. What "innovations" has it produced? The deductible, the co-pay, and the pre-existing condition are the only ones that leap to mind. In general, the great accomplishment of the private health insurance industry has been to overturn the very meaning of "insurance," which is risk-sharing: We all put in some money, though only some of us will need to draw on the common pool by using expensive health care. And the insurance companies have overturned it by refusing to insure the people who need care the most - those who are already, or are likely to become, sick.

I once tried to explain to a Norwegian woman why it was so hard for me to find health insurance. I'd had breast cancer, I told her, and she looked at me blankly. "But then you really need insurance, right?" Of course, and that's why I couldn't have it.

This is not because health insurance executives are meaner than other people, although I do not rule that out. It's just that they're running a business, the purpose of which is not to make people healthy, but to make money, and they do very well at that.

We really need to do something. And if we keep on doing what we ARE doing, we're just going to get more of what we've got.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Violence is a disease

I want to bring you an excerpt from the latest letter to the Diocese from the Bishop of Newark:

Forty years ago this week, the city of Newark erupted in five days of violence, which claimed the lives of 26 people, caused millions of dollars of damage – and sullied the reputation and fabric of life in this city for at least the next generation. The reasons for the rebellion/riot/revolution are many and multivalent, and we need to keep sorting through the stories and evidence -- for our learning and healing. Yet at its root, I believe that the violence of 1967 emerged from a toxic combination of fear and frustration.

The fear was of the other – separated by race and culture and history, and an insidious legal and economic system that was organized to maintain the separation. The frustration boiled over as more and more people felt that there was no way to break through the fear, and fear’s manifestation of racism, economic inequality and the devil knows what else.

Much attention has been devoted to enumerating the sequence of events of 1967 -- and uncovering new evidence, and evaluating mistakes and misjudgments. That is important and necessary work. But there is a subliminal danger in thinking that violence is limited to situations and places where the fear and frustration quotient is especially high; places we have been told to stay away from – inner city neighborhoods, the West Bank, Iraq and Afghanistan.

But violence does not have such obvious boundaries. It turns out that violence is one of our most serious cultural diseases. While most of us recognize that violence is a disease that needs curing, it is perhaps less obvious for us to realize that we have been taught – for at least a millennium, that violence is the cure to the disease. We retaliate. We punish. We seek vengeance – done with permission and in the expectation that it will make things better.

It doesn’t.
We are called to stand with Christ in that place between our violence and our victims. Sometimes that means standing between our own ego, which wants to retaliate – and our Christ-nourished soul, which yearns for humanity’s full freedom. We have had many examples of prophets and saints who have stood in that place – Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr.; and I would add my college music professor Henry and my sister Andrea. Their words and actions -- by intention, instinct or grace, have helped to provide us – for an instant or a lifetime, with a vision of freedom.

Of course, the Religious Right would not agree. Sometimes I wonder if they read the same Bible I do.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Requiem for a cartoonist

I have been meaning to post something about Doug Marlette since I heard news of his death last Tuesday on the radio. This is from a CNN article published today:

(CNN) -- Last week was a very good week for corrupt politicians, dirtbag dictators, pompous preachers, deadbeat dads, corporate suits, bloated bureaucrats and hypocrites from all walks of life.

They got a reprieve when 57-year-old editorial cartoonist and novelist Doug Marlette died when the pickup truck he was a passenger in hydroplaned and struck a tree on a back road in Mississippi.

Thus, the Pulitzer Prize-winner's poignant pen was silenced.

During four decades as a cartoonist appearing in Charlotte, Atlanta, New York, Florida and Oklahoma newspapers, as well as in syndication across the country, Marlette built a career as an equal-opportunity offender. He skewered Bill Clinton as easily as George Bush, Ross Perot as effortlessly as John Edwards; it's not too farfetched to think that Mullah Omar and Jim Bakker might have found common ground in believing Marlette was an evil, vicious, godless rodent of a man.

In his work, Marlette was indiscriminate in trying to give voice to justice and to offer unbending support for the underdog. His spirit, he often said, was forged in the South he grew up in, where he was anti-war and
anti-racism in a community grappling to come to terms with both Vietnam and civil rights in the 1960s.

His funeral was held Saturday, July 14, in a small, stone church outside Marlette's hometown of Hillsborough, North Carolina. The church is across the street from cornfields and farmland filled with hay bales, and not far from the site of the old textile mill where his grandparents worked in the 1930s.

The Red Clay Ramblers, a band Marlette collaborated with to score the musical version of his comic strip, "Kudzu," played "I'll Fly Away" to an overflowing crowd of friends, family and followers.

As a southerner myself, I loved Kudzu. And it was a huge honor to have Doug Marlette creating cartoons for the Tulsa World. His interview with Rich Fisher on Studio Tulsa is a delight. I actually haven't read his novels but now I think I must.

Rest in peace, Mr. Marlette. You will be greatly missed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

R.I.P. Lady Bird

Charlotte Alexandre sent me this marvelous picture of Lady Bird Johnson. I wanted to pass it on to you.

Racism today

This is a topic we typically don't like to think about but we really need to. The article I'm quoting is called "The Reality of Race: Is the Problem That White People Don't Know or Don't Care?" by Robert Jensen. Here's part of what it says:

A recent study exploring white peoples' understanding of the black experience in America reveals that whites still drastically underestimate the cost of being black because they don't want to know or can't face the consequences.
Given all the data and stories available to us about the reality of racism in the United States, if at this point white people (myself included) underestimate the costs of being black it's either because (1) we have made a choice not to know, or (2) we know but can't face the consequences of that knowledge.

On #1: To choose not to know about the reality of a situation in which one is privileged in an unjust system is itself a moral failure. When a system is structured to benefit people who look like me, and I choose not to listen to the evidence of how others suffer in that system, I have effectively decided not to act by deciding not to know.

On #2: If I do know these things but am not willing to take meaningful action to undermine that unjust system, then my knowledge doesn't much matter. Again, I have failed in moral terms.In either case, white people have incentives to underestimate the costs of white supremacy, to avoid facing our moral failing. Rather than suggesting whites "suffer from a glaring ignorance about what it means to live as a Black American," it's more accurate to point out that we whites typically choose to turn away from (1) the information readily available to us, or (2) the consequences of the information we do possess.

Much the same argument could be made about men's assessment of the cost of being female in a patriarchal culture; or the way in which affluent people view the working class and poor; or how U.S. citizens see the rest of the world. In each case, there's a hierarchical system that allows some to live in privileged positions while consigning others to subordinate status. The systems are unjust, and hence the advantages for the privileged are unjust. There's no shortage of data and stories available to those of us in the privileged positions if we want to struggle to understand the lived experience of those without those privileges. If we willing avoid learning about that experience, or we know about it but fail to organize politically to change those systems, then we are responsible for the systems' continued existence.

That's quite an indictment. But we need to ponder it. It's so easy to take the position of "benign neglect".

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Ellie Finlay

Leno at his best

Take a look:

Well now more problems with this Vitter guy. You gotta go on his website, he's like Mr. Religious, Mr. Family Values. Well now a second madam has come forward and told the Associated Press that he was also a customer at her brothel. This guy was cheating on his hooker with another hooker.

--Jay Leno

Kudos to Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "Flynt to Capitol Hill Hypocrites: ‘Payback’s a Bitch’". Here's part of what it says:

Watch out, philandering politicos: Larry Flynt is hot on your heels. The Hustler impresario is as tenacious as an irate pit bull in his latest crusade to expose hypocrisy on Capitol Hill, and his efforts have already borne fruit in the form of Louisiana Sen. David Vitter’s confession that he patronized “D.C. Madam” Debra Jean Palfrey’s escort service in 2001-and, according to Flynt, that exposé may well be just one of many to come.

Flynt held a press conference Wednesday at his Hustler headquarters in Beverly Hills to field questions about the Vitter case and to drop tantalizing hints to the assembled reporters about other promising leads generated by his June 3
advertisement in the Washington Post offering $1 million to any reliable source who could provide “documented evidence of illicit sexual or intimate relations with a Congressperson, Senator or other prominent officeholder.” Currently, he has “twenty-some investigations going that all look good,” almost all resulting from sources who responded to the Washington Post ad, and many of them about “high-ranking Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and the House.” In fact, Flynt said, his team has received more responses from the Post ad than it had from earlier, similar initiatives, including his effort against critics of President Clinton during the 1998 impeachment hullabaloo. “I don’t know if there’s something in the air, or if it has to do with election year,” he mused.

The self-styled porn baron promised to vet all the cases carefully and stressed that he doesn’t care about politicians’ sex lives as such. “If I got one important thing to say here,” Flynt said, “this is not a witch hunt.” Rather, his mission is to expose those in power who publicly profess to lead a particular kind of life (and, as in Vitter’s case, attempt to
legislate how others should conduct their sex lives) while contradicting their own moral codes in private. To Flynt, politicians like Vitter are hypocrites who shouldn’t be allowed to represent their people in government. “Unfortunately, we have too many of these guys in Congress,” he said, “and I’m gonna do my part to get them out of there.”

May he succeed richly.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Christian extremists disrupt Hindu senate invocation

Okay everybody. Here's the First Ammendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now let's look at what happened today:

Today was a historic first for religion in America's civic life: For the very first time, a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber — only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Christian right activists.

The three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, and who apparently traveled to Washington all the way from North Carolina, interrupted by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began."This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), serving as the presiding officer for the morning, immediately ordered them taken away — though they continued to yell at the Hindu cleric as they were headed out the door, shouting out phrases such as, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!"

The cleric, Rajan Zed of Reno, Nevada, was visibly nervous and uncomfortable as he then delivered the morning prayer. But to his credit, he soon regained his footing and was able to make it through in a dignified fashion.

Want to watch it? Here you go:

The party of family values still AGAIN

Look folks, I think prostitution ought to be decriminalized, okay? But the Republicans don't:

(CNN) -- A day after four of Sen. John McCain's top political strategists stepped down, the co-chairman of his Florida campaign was arrested Wednesday for allegedly offering an undercover police officer money for a sex act, Titusville police said.

Florida state Rep. Bob Allen faces charges of solicitation for prostitution after he was arrested in a Titusville city park that had been under surveillance, police said.

He allegedly offered an undercover police officer $20 for the unspecified act. His attorney, Philip Lupo of Titusville, said the charge was a second-degree misdemeanor.

Allen told CNN affiliate WFTV the incident was "a very big misunderstanding."

"This is a very gross mistake, a very big mistake," he said, adding that this is what the judicial system is for.

Allen said he helped build the park, and was there looking around.

"Looking around." Yeah, right.

UPDATE: Get this: The undercover police officer in question is male. Can you say "hypocrisy"? See, I knew you could.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bush administration suppressed important health reports

Unbelievable. Take a look at this excerpt from a New York Times article entitled "Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised":

WASHINGTON, July 10 — Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.

The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.

When asked after the hearing if that “prominent family” was the Kennedys, Dr. Carmona responded, “You said it. I didn’t.”

In response to lawmakers’ questions, Dr. Carmona refused to name specific people in the administration who had instructed him to put political considerations over scientific ones. He said, however, that they included assistant secretaries of health and human services as well as top political appointees outside the department of health.

And there's more if you have time to read the whole article.

Hat tip to Joe at AMERICAblog.

The Constitution on Church and State

Take this quiz:

You'll learn a lot if you don't already know this stuff. And it's important in talking to fundamentalists. And people who insist that the United States was founded as a "Christian nation".

Fundamentalism on the march in Oklahoma

I got an email from Jim Huff today through the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance and I thought it would be good for you to see what it says:

FYI - You have only seen the tip of the “political ice berg”.

Those concerned about the eroding of the distinctly American principle of Separation of Church and State, need to check this website.
www.reclaimoklahoma.org. Saturday, July 14th on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University a conference of 800-1,000 will continue the efforts to reclaim Oklahoma for the “truth of America’s Christian Heritage.” This is why the religious
conservatives are having great success in Oklahoma and the nation. It’s why Democrat and Republican candidates buy into this version of U.S. history. The religious conservatives put their money and their energy where their objectives and concerns ARE. Read their files on U. S. history: U.S. House 1853 confirmed that the USA is a “Christian Nation”; Lower and State courts have ruled that the USA is a “Christian Nation.”

I will be attending the conference. I have paid my fee and registered. I want first hand insight into what the legislators, teachers, pastors and citizens are being told. Even though it is after July 1st, if you register online it is still $30.00. The November 2008 elections and the tsunami on Oklahoma’s state constitution are on their way.

Jim Huff

I checked out the website. Very disturbing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oh, the party of family values again

But, of course, IOKIYAR. (It's okay if you're a Republican.)

When Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana confessed to "a very serious sin" on Monday night, Debra Jean Palfrey was not about to forgive him. Sin is one thing; but Palfrey believes Vitter — a proponent of the "sanctity of marriage" — should fess up if that sin was a crime as well. After all, she notes, prostitution is a legal offense for both purveyor and consumer. And as the so-called "D.C. Madam" whose escort service Vitter says he used, Palfrey says the agency she ran was merely one-half of the alleged equation. "Why am I the only person being prosecuted?" she told TIME over the phone. "Sen. Vitter should be prosecuted [if he broke the law]" Palfrey has been battling prostitution-related charges in federal court in Washington, and became a celebrity of sorts in May when ABC's 20/20 ran a story on her service "Pamela Martin & Associates." So far, one State Department official has resigned in connection with the scandal.

No comment.

WCC comments on Pope's declaration

Well, well, well. Take a look at this excerpt from the article entitled "WCC deputy general secretary comments on the document issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith":

"Each church is the Church catholic and not simply a part of it. Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it. Each church fulfils its catholicity when it is in communion with the other churches."

This affirmation, made by the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which met in Porto Alegre Brazil in February 2006, reflects the common struggle of the 347 WCC member churches in fellowship as they seek to make visible their unity in Christ.

To recall this statement, contained in the document "Called to be the One Church: An invitation to the churches to renew their commitment to the search for unity and to deepen their dialogue", seems appropriate in view of the "Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the church" issued by the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today.

I'm glad the response was so swift.

UPDATE: Here's something I just found:

I do not deny that there are differences between the Churches, but I say that we must change our way of approaching them. And the question of method is in the first place a psychological, or rather a spiritual problem. For centuries there have been conversations between theologians, and they have done nothing except to harden their positions. I have a whole library about it. And why? Because they spoke in fear and distrust of one another, with the desire to defend themselves and to defeat the others. Theology was no longer a pure celebration of the mystery of God. It became a weapon. God himself became a weapon!

+ Athenagoras I, 1969.

Wouldn't it be nice if the whole world would just shut up about God for a while?

Today's remarks by the Pope

You will all remember how I was horrified when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. Here's why:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -- The Vatican on Tuesday said Christian denominations outside the Roman Catholic Church were not full churches of Jesus Christ.

A 16-page document, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict used to head, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a "wound" since they do not recognize the primacy of the Pope.

But the document said the "wound is still more profound" in the Protestant denominations -- a view likely to further complicate relations with Protestants.

"Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress ... it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to them," it said.
Ratzinger was elected Pope in April 2005. The document is his second strong reaffirmation of Catholic tradition in four days, following a decree on Saturday restoring the old Latin Mass alongside the modern liturgy.

Quite frankly, I'm insulted. And I'm sure millions of non-Roman Catholics will feel the same way. So much for the ecumenical movement.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some good news about some cats

I don't know if it ever came to your attention that the six-toed cats on the old Hemmingway property were threatened with explusion but they were. Now it appears they can stay after all. The article is from CNN and it is entitled "Six-toed Hemingway cats can stay, city says". Here's part of what it says:

KEY WEST, Florida (AP) -- City officials have sided with Ernest Hemingway's former home and its celebrated six-toed felines in its cat fight with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Key West City Commission exempted the home from a city law prohibiting more than four domestic animals per household.

About 50 cats live there.
The new ordinance reads in part, "The cats reside on the property just as the cats did in the time of Hemingway himself. They are not on exhibition in the manner of circus animals. ... The City Commission finds that family of polydactyl Hemingway cats are indeed animals of historic, social and tourism significance."

It also states that the cats are "an integral part of the history and ambiance of the Hemingway House."
The cats are descendants of a six-toed cat given as a gift to the writer in 1935. All carry the gene for six toes, though not all display the trait.

Finally a little common sense on the matter.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bush SO doesn't get it

Frank Ford sent me an article entitled "Bush, the Revolution and the Iraq War: The President Fails American History, Again" and here's how it gets started:

On July 4th, 2007, President Bush compared the U.S. struggle in Iraq with the American Revolution. He reminded his audience of West Virginia Air National Guard personnel and their families that the first July 4th celebration in 1777 took place in the midst of "a bloody and difficult struggle that would not end for six more years before America finally secured her freedom." Although "it is hard [today] to imagine the Revolutionary War coming out any other way," he said, "at the time, America's victory was far from certain." He then turned to the war in Iraq. "You're the successors of those brave men," he told the crowd. "Like those early patriots, you're fighting a new and unprecedented war." He commended them for "showing that the courage which won our independence more than two centuries ago is alive and well here in West Virginia."

What makes the American Revolution an inspirational example to people everywhere is that the first Americans were, like the Iraqis today, trying to end an occupation. Bush never got it, even though he pointed out that in 1777 "we were a small band of freedom-loving patriots taking on the most powerful empire in the world." Today it is the Iraqis who are "taking on the most powerful empire in the world" and our own military that constitutes the occupation. This is the stark and obvious analogy between the American Revolution and the Iraq occupation and it does not bode well for U.S. military success.

The American Revolution jettisoned foreign rule and subjection to the English throne. It should not be surprising to Americans that other peoples want to free themselves from occupation and foreign rule. Being a colony and suffering foreign troops on our soil infuriated our ancestors and would infuriate most of us today.

Why is this so hard to get? It's the utter stupidity of the war mongers that baffles me.

Arctic ponds disappearing

I so pity the poor animals. Take a look:

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Ancient ponds in the Arctic are drying up during the polar summer as warmer temperatures evaporate shallow bodies of water, Canadian researchers said on Monday.

They said the evaporation of these ponds -- some of which have been around for thousands of years -- illustrates the rapid effects of global warming, threatening bird habitats and breeding grounds and reducing drinking water for animals.

For the past 24 years, researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, have been tracking ponds at Cape Herschel, located on the east coast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, formerly the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Last year, when they went back to check, some of these 6,000-year-old ponds had vanished.

"We were surprised. We arrived in early to mid-July and the ponds we had been monitoring were dry. Some of them had dried up completely. Some were just about to lose the last remaining centimeters of water," said Marianne Douglas, director of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute at the University of Alberta.

"It's really interesting to see how quickly it is happening. We could see this trend had started a while ago but at no time did we expect it to accelerate," said Douglas, whose work appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Douglas said a study of the fossilized sediments in these pools of water -- which are less than 6.6 feet deep -- showed climate changes beginning as long as 150 years ago.

The researchers had thought these ponds were permanent. But change has come rapidly.

And it's going to continue. The ecosystem is in grave difficulty.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Ugly American

Oh my. This is so embarrassing. I am truly ashamed to be an American sometimes. Take a look:

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- In a joke that made Brazilians cringe and forced the U.S. Olympic Committee to apologize, a USOC worker scrawled "Welcome to the Congo!" on a board in the organization's Rio de Janeiro media center for the Pan American Games.

Rio's O Globo newspaper published a photo of the message on its front page Saturday, and ran a headline saying the joke was "full of prejudice." The message was condemned in a nation extremely sensitive about being compared to less-developed countries, especially by Americans -- who often are perceived as arrogant by Brazilians.

The controversy occurred as American athletes arrived in Latin America's largest country to compete in the event that starts Friday.

The USOC issued a "deep apology to the people of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro" in a statement Saturday, and said the worker who wrote the phrase was disciplined and is no longer a member of the U.S. delegation to the games.
On Rio's Copacabana Beach, Brazilians said it reinforced their belief that Americans frequently stereotype other countries.
The newspaper also produced a full-page graphic showing a map of the globe, pointing out that the Congo is in Africa and an ocean away from Brazil. The graphic included bright red arrows and a headline in English and Portuguese, saying "Watch and Learn."

But will we?

Our religious heritage

Frank Ford sent me an article entitled "The American Ideology" by Samir Amin. It makes for interesting reading. I particularly want you to see the following paragraph:

The particular form of Protestantism that found its way to New England continues to shape American ideology to this day. First, it facilitated the conquest of the new continent by grounding its legitimacy in scriptural reference (biblical Israel's violent conquest of the promised land is a constantly reiterated theme in North American discourse). Later, the US extended its god- given mission to encompass the entire globe. Thus North Americans have come to regard themselves as the “chosen people” — in practice, a synonym for the Nazi term, Herrenvolk. This is the threat which we are facing today. And this is why American imperialism (not “Empire”) will be even more brutal than its predecessors, most of whom never claimed to have been invested with a divine mission.

Samir Amin is an Egyptian now living in Senegal who was educated in France. He has produced an impressive list of political writings.

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