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August 21th, 2004

Waiting to Be the Hummingbird

 

 

"The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands
of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible
empire has been set up above the forms of democracy"
Woodrow T. Wilson: 28th president of the United States 1856-1924

Hi Folks,

Here's an uplifting message I'd like to pass on from an old school friend, John Jacobs:

" There are less than three months until the election, an election that will decide the next President of the United States. The man elected will be the president of ALL Americans, not just the Democrats or the Republicans. To show our solidarity as Americans, let's all get together and show each other our support for the candidate of our choice. It's time that we all came together, Democrats and Republicans alike.

If you support the policies and character of Senator John Kerry, please drive with your headlights 'ON' during the day.

If you support George W. Bush, please drive with your headlights 'OFF' at night. "

(Thanks Pastor John, for those words of gentle wisdom in particularly difficult times.)

Kerry Saves Republican Senator's Life with Quick-Thinking 'Heimlich Maneuver'
By Kirsten Searer
LAS VEGAS SUN

On July 12, 1988, Senator Chic Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat. Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway. Just then, John Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times. The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life. (story)

(Note: Kerry might have had to do it more than four times for George W, eh? Or maybe he should have given up after three? Who can say . . . . Little did Kerry know back then that we would soon all be susceptible to the 'Dubya Maneuver' - a technique that actually lodges a chunk of bullshit in your brain. The best cure for that one, however, is the LANDSLIDE VOTE FOR KERRY MANEUVER!)

Humour Break 1 with Stephen Wright

I saw a sign at a gas station. It said 'help wanted'. There was another sign below it that said 'self service'. So I hired myself. Then I made myself the boss. I gave myself a raise. I paid myself. Then I quit.

Favourite Reader Comments of the Week

Hello Joe,
The Gnocchi worked out perfect !
Best wishes, Ranil

Hi Joe,

Here's another curio (from America) you might be able to use. (Nothing contentious here): The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse! You cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians! It creates a hostile work environment. (ed note: boom boom!) The recipes are great, we're trying the Olive, basil and Chilli pesto tonight. Great stuff, cheers, Jim Testa

(Note: " Hey Moses, where you going with those Tablets in your hand? I'm going down to Caanan Land, 'cause my donkey been shackin' up with a lawyer man." Don't forget Jim Bob: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor thy neighbor's ass, nor even thy neighbor's wife's ass . . .' or words to that effect. There are a whole heck of a lot more than ten commandments when you really look.) Compare the variations of the TEN COMMANDMENTS: Protestant, Catholic, Hebrew, The First Tables of Stone, The Second Tables of Stone, and The Ten Punishments. Download the 44k .pdf file (Acrobat required)

Joe,
I decided to introduce you to some of my friends. I hope that this doesn't constitute an infringement of copyright, in your mind/book! - " Folks, Here are some tidbits from a Newsletter by an Aussie musician I've come across: I like his message and his humor and his style, and I pass this on accordingly. Delete, read, and/or join his mailing list, if you don't like/like it. Newt W

Joe -
Love the newsletter, keep it coming. I take issue with your characterization of Kerry's war position, which sounds a LOT like how the Bushies themselves are distorting it. Kerry voted to authorize the President to use force if necessary, which I believe strengthened our negotiating position and got the inspectors back in. I think that was the right thing to do; actually going to war was a mistake and not supported by the facts as we now understand them. The fact that the knucklehead Bush and his evil henchmen abused this authorization, and treated it like a carte blanche, is the real problem. Anyway, I'm not an enthusiastic fan of Kerry, but neither am I a "well, he's the lesser of two evils" kind of guy. Kerry's not a white knight, but he's a HUUUUUUUUGE improvement over Bush & Co., despite his shortcomings. Best wishes from Atlanta,
Patrick S. Noonan

(Note: Patrick, Kerry's kind of a like an Off White Knight. I love that image of him resembling those giant walking Tree People in Lord of the Rings! Like I said, he'll do 'till a real good un' comes along. To paraphrase Henny Youngman: "If God can get penicillin out of mouldy bread, we can get something out of John Kerry."

Humour Break 2 with Stephen Wright

While I was gone, somebody rearranged all the furniture in my bedroom. They put it in exactly the same place it was. When I told my roommate, he said: "Do I know you?"

Common Threads
Laurence W. Britt
Council for Secular Humanism

Analysis of seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
5. Rampant sexism
6. A controlled mass media
7. Obsession with national security
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
9. Power of corporations protected
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections (article)

Israel and Palestine Discussion

'That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.' Rabbi Hillel

One of my readers, Willie Z, sent me a very informative article by Philip Mendes arguing that the Australian Green Party adopts '. . . the supposed middle-ground position which supports a two-state solution in principle, but in practice holds Israel principally or even solely responsible for the continuing violence and terror in the Middle East (Mendes 2003). . . " I emailed Mr Mendes for permission to print an excerpt from this article and an online link so that I could direct you to it. He indicated in his reply to me that permission resided with another party, who unfortunately, didn't get back to me, but Mr Mendes did say that his article will be online sometime in September, so I will try to steer you to it at that time. Meanwhile, here are a collection of very strong opinions from Jewish writers and activists.

JEWS FOR JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS (JFJFP)

We are a network of Jews in Britain, formed in February 2002, opposed to Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people.

As well as organising to ensure that Jewish opinions critical of Israeli policy are heard in Britain, we are developing ways of extending support to Palestinian people trapped in the spiral of violence and repression, and helping Israeli groups working with them.

We believe that such actions are important in countering both rising anti-semitism and the claim that opposition to Israel's destructive policies is in itself anti-semitic. (site)

The New Anti-Semitism

The term "anti Semitism" has undergone major transformation. Until recently, those guilty of this offense were widely understood to be those who irrationally disliked Jews and Judaism. Today, however, the term is used in a far different way--one which threatens not only free speech but also threatens to trivialize anti-Semitism itself. Anti-Semitism has been redefined to mean anything that opposes the policies and interests of Israel. The beginning of this redefinition may be said to date, in part, from the 1974 publication of the book The New Anti-Semitism by Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein, leaders of the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'rith. The nature of the "new" anti-Semitism, according to Forster and Epstein, is not necessarily hostility toward Jews as Jews, or toward Judaism, but, instead a critical attitude toward Israel and its policies.

from 'Interview with Noam Chomsky'

What did it mean to be a 'Zionist' back then (1942) ? What does it mean today?

Chomsky: " Until December 1942, the Zionist movement had no formal commitment to a Jewish state. Until the state was established in May 1948, opposition to a Jewish state was within the Zionist movement. Later, the concept "Zionism" was very narrowly restricted for propaganda reasons. By the 1970s, when Israel chose expansion and dependence on the US over security and integration into the region, the concept "Zionism" was narrowed to refer, in effect, to support for the policies of the government of Israel. Thus when the distinguished Israeli Labor Party statesman Abba Eban said that the task of dialogue with the gentile world is to show that "anti-Zionists" are either anti-Semites or neurotic self-hating Jews (his examples were I.F. Stone and me), he was restricting "Zionism" to support for the state of Israel and excluding any such criticism as logically impossible. The concept "anti-Zionism" then becomes analogous to the disgraceful concept "anti-Americanism," drawn from the lexicon of totalitarianism and based on strictly totalitarian principles. By now the term has been so debased by propaganda that it is better abandoned, in my opinion. " (interview)

Interview with Mordechai Vanunu
by Sunny Miller
director of the Traprock Peace Center

Mordechai Vanunu is the Israeli who spoke the truth about nuclear weapons and spent 18 years in prison for doing that, 11 and a half years in a very small cell.

Mr. Vanuau, can you tell us about your situation now in Israel?

Vanunu: My information was about nuclear weapons secrets in Israel. That's why we revealed in 1986 to the newspaper in London, the Sunday Times. I've come out with new details, most interesting revelation about how many nuclear weapons has Israel developed in that time up to 1986. It was about 100 to 200 nuclear weapons. I also revealed Israel producing new atomic bombs like hydrogen bomb and neutron bomb. Hydrogen bomb has no justification, nor any real excuse for Israel's defense. It's a real holocaust weapon, a hydrogen bomb, and it only can be used against civilians in cities, so I revealed this information to prevent and to bring the attention of the world to what Israel is doing. And also the situation of the reactor working for forty years without any inspections from abroad, from international people or even from the Israel government, Israel parliament, even in the media - no one discussing what was going there, so all those subjects were raised by my revelation. . . . About the environmental dangers . . . it's easy to tell that the Dimona reactor also has sent into the Earth some radioactive production as a result of the nuclear radioactive activity in Dimona. Because the Dimona reactor was built in the Negev, near the Jordan border, about five to ten miles from the Jordan border. It's very close, so anything that can be (emitted) to the air can flow back to Jordan. And, also, they used to produce Plutonium to dissolve the Uranium only when the air flew toward Jordan. That was one of the conditions. When I was working there, we should asked the control room to give us permission to start dissolving uranium only when it was clear that the air flew toward Jordan's border. That was the situation. And when we dissolved the uranium after every nuclear s... now there are dissolving... materials that can also out-gas and can go to the air, and they can flow to the borders and environment around the Dimona reactor. So the radioactive materials were going outside from Dimona and also include the production of other radioactive materials. Dimona reactor sending with water that is going to the underground. They are sending water ... from the reactor that can be contaminated with radioactive materials. Full transcript downloadable in word.doc format

From Rosedale to Ramallah - Neta Golan's story
BBC Radio 4

Neta Golan is a young Canadian Jewish woman who has crossed over to the other side of the Middle East conflict. Neta's family emigrated to Israel from a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood of Rosedale in Toronto when she was nine. Her father told her "Israel is our only country now". She once shared her family's attitudes towards Arabs as obstacles to a greater Israel. Then Neta Golan began to change her way of seeing the Palestinians. She helped launch the International Solidarity Movement, an organisation that uses peaceful means to protect Arab rights and protest against the occupation of Palestine. Neta now lives permanently in the West Bank. She's married a Palestinian and in the spring of this year she gave birth to her first child. Neta Golan is blunt in her appraisal: Israel has never come to terms with the Holocaust and the failure to do so means that history repeats itself save it is the Palestinians who are oppressed and murdered. Under the guise of the Oslo accords, Israel has been building dozens of new settlements in the West Bank, all of them mini-recreations of European ghettos: walled communities surrounded by hostile territory. But the difference, she says, is that it is the Jews who are choosing to create these 'new ghettos,' rather than being forced into them by European anti-Semitism. Her views and the frankness with which she delivers them have made Neta a target of hate among right wing Israelis.
Listen on-line -
Real Player Streaming Audio

Humour Break 3 with Stephen Wright

My dental hygienist is cute. Every time I visit, I eat a whole package of Oreo cookies while waiting in the lobby. Sometimes she has to cancel the rest of the afternoon's appointments.

Pro the Con

On Loathing Bush
Victor David Hanson

(Excerpts:)
" But what is not explicable in terms of rational disagreement is the Left's pathological hatred of George W. Bush. It transcends all contention over the issues, the Democratic hurt over the Florida elections, and even the animus once shown Bill Clinton by the activist Right. From where does this near-religious anger arise and what does it portend? . . ."

" What is it about Bush that elicits such hatred, that galvanizes even usually mindless rock stars, self-indulgent Hollywood actors, lethargic ex-presidents and vice presidents, and hypocritical Democratic senators to embrace such canonical fury? Why was the Left content to make fun of Ford's clumsiness, Reagan's forgetfulness, and George Sr.'s preppiness, but now calls George W. a Nazi and worse still? Why are there forthcoming novels and plays that discuss the assassination of George W. Bush? Why did we not get a Reaganwacked, a Reaganworld, a Lies of Ronald Reagan - a similar vast industry of paperback pulp equating Reagan with evil incarnate? . . "

" . . Similarly, Bush's Christianity seems evangelical and literal. It comes across as disturbing to liberals of the country who see religion as a mere social formality at best, useful for weddings and funerals, perhaps comforting at Christmas and Easter of course, but otherwise a potential threat to the full expression of lifestyle "choices." . . (if you can bear more, here it is: (full article)
(thanks again to Willie Z)

A VERY Good Reason to Loathe Bush

A little more detail about that 'disturbing evangelical Christianity' - The Religious Right (incredible piece of writing, too!)

The Covert Kingdom
Thy Will be Done, On Earth as It is in Texas
By JOE BAGEANT

" . . . For liberals to examine the current fundamentalist phenomenon in America is accept some hard truths. For starters, we libs are even more embattled than most of us choose to believe. Any significant liberal and progressive support is limited to a few urban pockets on each coast and along the upper edge of the Midwestern tier states. Most of the rest of the nation, the much vaunted heartland, is the dominion of the conservative and charismatic Christian. Turf-wise, it's pretty much their country, which is to say it presently belongs to George W. Bush for some valid reasons. Remember: He did not have to steal the entire election, just a little piece of it in Florida. Evangelical born-again Christians of one stripe or another were then, and are now, 40% of the electorate, and they support Bush 3-1. And as long as their clergy and their worst instincts tell them to, they will keep on voting for him, or someone like him, regardless of what we view as his arrogant folly and sub-intelligence. Forget about changing their minds. These Christians do not read the same books we do, they do not get their information from anything remotely resembling reasonably balanced sources, and in fact, consider even CBS and NBC super-liberal networks of porn and the Devil's lies. Given how fundamentalists see the modern world, they may as well be living in Iraq or Syria, with whom they share approximately the same Bronze Age religious tenets. They believe in God, Rumsfeld's Holy War and their absolute duty as God's chosen nation to kick Muslim ass up one side and down the other. In other words, just because millions of Christians appear to be dangerously nuts does not mean they are marginal. . .

Having been born into a Southern Pentecostal/Baptist family of many generations, and living in this fundamentalist social landscape means that I gaze into the maw of neocon Christianity daily. Hell, sometimes hourly. My brother is a fundamentalist preacher, as are a couple of my nephews, as were many of my ancestors going back to god-knows-when. My entire family is born-again; their lives are completely focused inside their own religious community, and on the time when Jesus returns to earth---Armageddon and The Rapture.

Only another liberal born into a fundamentalist clan can understand what a strange, sometimes downright hellish family circumstance it is---how such a family can love you deeply, yet despise everything you believe in, see you as a humanist instrument of Satan, and still be right there for you when your back goes out or a divorce shatters your life. As a socialist and a half-assed lefty activist, obviously I do not find much conversational fat to chew around the Thanksgiving table. Politically and spiritually, we may be said to be dire enemies. Love and loathing coexist side by side. There is talk, but no communication. In fact, there are times when it all has science fiction overtonestimes when it seems we are speaking to one another through an unearthly veil, wherein each party knows it is speaking to an alien. There is a sort of high eerie mental whine in the air. This is the sound of mutually incomprehensible worlds hurtling toward destiny, passing with great psychological friction, obvious to all, yet acknowledged by none . . . (full article)

SUCKERS FOR JESUS
Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers

How have the Christians, "the religious right," been persuaded to cast their lot with the Republican party? How does one convince millions of devout Christians to accept a secular political-economic philosophy developed and articulated, in large part, by atheists? How does one, in addition, enable this same multitude of Christians to disregard how their political "allies" are taking cash out of their pockets and redistributing it "upward" from the middle class and the poor to the already wealthy, at the cost, in addition, of impoverishing essential social services, aid to the poor, and placing a crushing debt upon future generations? And finally, how are these Christians persuaded that the moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are somehow consistent with aggressive foreign wars, the increased enrichment of the wealthy, the denial of relief to the poor, comfort to the afflicted, education for the young, and employment for the jobless.? No small accomplishment. But the political geniuses of the Radical Right who have captured the Republican party, have brought it off. They had to. For without the inclusion of the Religious Right in their coalition, they would lack the "foot soldiers" ­ the votes ­ that are essential to their political power. (article)

(Note: Honk if you think Jesus should get the Medal of Honour, posthumourously, of course. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Boom Boom! Batman.)

Humour Break 4 with Stephen Wright

Right now I'm having amnesia and deja-vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.

IN MELBOURNE

Vanstone says GO - UN says NO 
ASRC - Working With Asylum Seekers
 
" On the same day that the Immigration Department (DIMIA) delivered rejection letters to over 17 Iraqi individuals and families in Victoria, the United Nations have refused to repatriate Iraqi refugees on the basis that it is not safe. The Iraqi Immigration Minister has also called on countries not to return Iraqi refugees becasue of security, housing and employment concerns. The United Nations has stopped convoys of Iraqi refugees trying to return to Iraq from Iran because of deteriorating security. "Security is a major concern," a UN refugee agency spokeswoman said. The UN also said convoys from Iran have also been stopped, because there is a shortage of homes to house refugees. "Crossings into both the south and the north of the country have been suspended," the UNHCR said in a statement to the BBC. These rejections follow the Minister Vanstone's announcement about reprocessing the Temporary Protection Visas issued to Iraqi refugees who were released from Detention Camps at Woomera, Port Hedland and Curtin three years ago.
 "These families are already living with a high degree of anxiety and distress. "While Australian are glued to television with joy watching the Olympics, Iraqi families are glued to television news broadcasts watching with fear, hoping for a glimpse of loved ones or news of cessation to the bombing and shooting, " says Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. " Just as these families are recovering from the imprisonment in the detention camps and trying to get on with their lives, the Ministers has dropped this bombshell that they are refused further protection and must return to war-torn Iraq . . . . These decisions will be appealed. These are bullying tactics used by the department to scare people, when there is no possibility of return.
There are no flights to Baghdad and it is extremely dangerous to travel by bus from Jordan. DIMIA are playing with these people lives."
  Pamela Curr - ASRC Campaign Coordinator 0417517075

 

SIEV X MEMORIAL

On the 19th of October 2001, the SIEV X, a tiny fishing boat bound for Australia, sank in international waters, in Australia's border protection surveillance zone, and 353 people died: 146 children, 142 women and 65 men. Fearing death in their countries of birth they believed they would find freedom and peace in Australia. They believed in Australia. Family members awaited their arrival in Australia They were so close and they wanted to be Australian citizens.

 

I journeyed out to sea in my mind last night
and I wondered...
I wondered if humans are worth as much as animals I wondered if people could feel the emotion of the cage
I wondered, if we had come here as unwanted livestock, if there had been
just one sheep on the SIEV X, would people see the truth about asylum seekers?
I wondered if they could imagine children as lambs, would they then shed tears?
If only the press had cared as much for them as those sheep...
I wish we had been born sheep instead of scapegoats
I wish it was not better to be a dumb animal than to be human here.

~Mohsen Soltani~

www.sievxmemorial.org

TWO MOVIES

11/09.01 September 11

You may have heard about this film project but I recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet seen it as it is now available for rental on DVD. It is incredible.

11 short films. 11 minutes, 9 seconds, one frame. 11 different directors from 11 different origins and 11 different cultures.11 gestures of peace.

911 in Plane Site
JUST RELEASED IN THE US

This movie presents actual film from that fateful day and careful analysis focusing on the Pentagon and the two World Trade Center buildings. By slowing down the actual news feeds that day from networks like CNN, FOX, the BBC and others, what you see is quite different from what most people saw in "real time" that day. . . " One particular interview that brought gasps from the audience and many looking around with shock etched on their faces was an interview conducted - live at the time - by FOX News. This intense interview with Mark Burnback, an employee of FOX News, contains the following narrative, paraphrased: Burnback was close to the path of the second plane and had a good long look at what he describes was not a commercial airliner. The plane that hit the second tower had no windows, Burnback was very clear about that. The plane had some kind of blue logo on the front near the nose and looked like a cargo plane. This point was driven to the viewer several times along with the comment from this FOX employee that "this plane wasn't from around here or anything you'd see take off from the airport." (more) (thanks to Stephen Ross)

Humour Breaks 5-9 with Stephen Wright

I made wine out of raisins so I wouldn't have to wait for it to age.

I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.

I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.

Even snakes are afraid of snakes.

RECIPE

Polenta Dolce, With Fresh Basil

(I've decided to officially christen this dish 'Polenta Dolce' as I have never seen this method of mixing fresh corn with polenta before so I guess I must have stumbled onto something original. In this variation, I combine it with fresh basil - but fresh parsley, or other fresh herbs would also be interesting.)

1 cup of cornmeal
4 cups of boiling water
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
50-75 grams butter
bunch of fresh basil, chopped finely
salt
1 -2 cup of corn kernals (either cut from a 2 cobs of freshly cooked corn, corn kernals from a can will suffice, in a pinch.)

You can prepare the ears of corn in several ways. Either cook them on a charcoal grill or completely in the oven, What I do, if I don't have the inclination to start a charcoal fire is to place the 2 ears of corn in a small pan and roast in a very hot oven until the kernals just start to to brown. I finish them off on top of the stove by just placing them on the open flame of the burners until they get nice and slightly char-grilled. Don't let them dry out. Keep turning them. Or you can simply boil them normally in hot water until ready. When they're done, hold them over a large plate with a pair of kitchen tongs, and slice all the kernals off. Set aside. (Or you can used canned corn kernals - I do every now and then and it still tastes great.) Boil the water. In a small bowl, mix the corn meal with a little cold water until is dissolves and then add it slowly to the boiling water, stirring over medium-low heat until a wooden spoon can stand up in it unassisted. Warm up the corn kernels, in a little butter, and add to the polenta, along with the rest of the butter, the chopped basil and the parmesan cheese. Stir well. Correct seasoning with a little salt and black pepper. Serve hot and soft from the pan or else turn out onto a wooden board and let cool a little and firm up and then cut into serving slices.

Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond


 As for life, I'm humbled,
I'm without words sufficient to say
 
how it has been hard as flint, and soft as a spring pond,
both of these and over and over,
 
and long pale afternoons besides, and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest, still unhatched
 
though warm and watched over by something I have never seen -
a tree angel, perhaps, or a ghost of holiness.
 
Every day I walk out into the world to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
It suffices, it is all comfort - along with human love,
 
dog love, water love, little-serpent love, sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers. There is hardly time to think about
 
stopping, and lying down at last to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,
 
and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves. As for death,
I can't wait to be the hummingbird, can you?


 ~ Mary  Oliver ~

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