Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

All comments welcome, pro or con. Passionate ok, but let's be civil. ...Pertinent comments will be published on this blog. Air your viewpoints.


Skyline - Houston, Texas

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thinking Blogs Award

The Future was Yesterday has nominated the 3 of us for a Thinking Blogs Award. As I understand it, I have to come up with 5 blogs (with links) and explain why I keep going back to them.

Then I'm supposed to tag someone but I don't do tags. If any of the nominees would like to participate, feel free to write a post nominating 5 thinking bloggers. Update: Be sure to let the blogger know they've been nominated with a link to your post.

It would be easier if I didn't have to stop with five but I have to save a few for Worried American and Gadfly. I think I've linked to most of them here at one time or another. I'll try to focus on the blogs which combine family and politics since I have most in common with them. I'm including a couple of parents from the gay community since I have a gay son and I'm active in securing full citizenship for him and my other gay friends. One has adopted a mixed race child (my great-granddaughters and 3 of my grandkids are "mixed"). And I've featured 3 from outside the USA. That should narrow the field slightly.

There are many excellent blogs which cover the entire political spectrum but since much of my writing is focused on civil rights for all, feminism, education, medical care, and other domestic issues, I'll stick with what I know best. Worried American and Gadfly are much more knowledgeable (and vocal) on the war, the current administration, and trying to survive the next couple of years. I'll also try to spotlight blogs that our readers here may not know. Most have been personal online friends since my early days of blogging.

So, in no particular order:

Daddy, Poppa, and Me recounts the adventures of a San Francisco couple who have adopted a lovely little girl. It's part family journal, part writing about the experiences of a mixed race family (as is mine) and part political activism; especially with respect to gay rights.

Arwen (also known as West Coast Arwen) lives in Vancouver, BC and writes Rants for the Invisible People. Feminist, family oriented, and very funny. She was one of my earliest blogging discoveries.

Dana writes Mombian, a mix of politics, feminism, and her experience as the lesbian mom of a 3 year old. She and her partner have been together for 12 years. She writes a newspaper column as well as her extremely professional blog. The link is to her profile.

Kittenpie at The Further Adventures of Me is a 30 something mom who lives in Toronto, Ontario. I never know what to expect from her. She'll be writing about spiders on one post, a feminist issue the next, her opinions (quite vocal) on education, and then a list of 25 books which have made an impact (for better or worse) on society. A lovely person with a fascinating mind.

From Melbourne, Australia, Lindsay's Lobes. Lindsay is a grandfather and one of my several Australian friends over on "granny". He writes about life down under, civil rights there, the environment (Australia is experiencing a disastrous drought), and his philosophy on life in general. You may recognize him from his comments here.

He's also one of the kindest people I've ever known. He's helped me out with technical problems on the blog and the Christmas before last sent my girls a book of Australian carols and magazines about Melbourne because I'd asked him where I could find the music for the carols online. And I mustn't forget the little poems he leaves from time to time. Lovely man.

Finally (yes I can count but I couldn't decide who to leave out). I can't omit David Burke at Wandering Dave's Blog even though he isn't a political blogger in the strictest sense. He's certainly a thinker and he was a personal friend before he was a blogger.

David is a retired teacher and professional writer. I met him when I read one of his columns in our local paper. It was political satire, it was funny and sad at the same time, and I knew as soon as I read it that he was in for a rough ride from the Letters to the Editor people who wouldn't recognize satire if they fell over it. I emailed him to tell him so, he responded that the emails were already coming in, and we've been enjoying a weekly coffee date at Barnes & Noble (where my son works so we're well chaperoned) for the last year or more. We've spent hours and hours discussing family, politics, the environment, civil rights, the way our local government is headed for hell in a handbasket, you name it, we've talked (and emailed) about it. We don't always agree which makes our conversations that much more interesting. On a personal note, there have been many Tuesday mornings when our "dates" have lifted me out of the pits of despair.

His rent at the retirement community here includes free lodging and meals at all of their places in the USA and Canada. He embarked on a cross country journey in February and began his blog shortly before. His son, a talented cartoonist and computer whiz, set it up; Dave does the writing as he travels. He's seeking out the heart of North America, making friends as he goes, and staying off the beaten path for the most part. I told him he reminded me of a latter day Charles Kuralt (with camera but no t.v. cameras). He'll be on the road for about a year. In addition to the blog, they've put together maps, a forum, a column, and a podcast. At present, he's either still in Montana or on his way to Calgary, Alberta.

Darn. While I was putting this together, I thought of 2 or 3 more that I should have included but I've already cheated. I'll include them in a separate post in the next few days. They deserve awards too even if they weren't included here. They've written some very good posts and I've linked to at least one previously.

Speaking of awards, I haven't mentioned it here but "granny" was nominated for a Blogger's Choice award for Best Parenting blog. The link is over on my sidebar if you're interested and my page can be found by typing rocrebelgranny in the search bar. I don't stand a chance of course but it's a treat to be nominated and I've crept up to page 3 of 55 pages.

This was more fun that I thought it would be when I started. Many thanks to Future is Yesterday for the kind words about the "Golden Girls" as he calls the 3 of us.


The Future Was Yesterday said...
Me again.I screwed up the rules of The Thinking Blogger. It should have read:Those who have been tagged, should now list five blogs that they themselves find makes them think, leave a comment on that person's blog telling them they have been tagged as well as also including a link to this post (Yours), so that people can easily find the origin of this award. I apologize for my error.
Friday, April 27, 2007 12:53:00 AM
Granny said...
It's okay. I did that automatically because I try to let fellow bloggers know when I've linked to them for any reason.Then I went back to my post and updated the "rules".
Friday, April 27, 2007 1:25:00 AM
kittenpie said...
Oh, good gravy! Thank you! That is such a treat, coming from a longtime blogger I have been impressed by, although I confess that I am becoming lax about commenting lately... I will be sure to drop by all these links! Your travelling friend sounds fascinating, in particular. Thanks again, and hope all is well with you and your girls! (Lovely new pics and layout at rocrebelgranny, by the way. They are growing!)
Friday, April 27, 2007 6:57:00 PM
betmo said...
tua- somebody always has to clean up after you! :)
Saturday, April 28, 2007 8:02:00 AM
GDAEman said...
Congratulations! It's nice to see you being recognized.Re: "Parenting Blogs" I ran across one called High Tech Parent by Jadegreen. Not sure how much it covers "parenting," but it represents views of a parent.Keep up the good work.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007 7:39:00 AM

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Our Beautiful, Fragile Pale Blue Dot

Mankind's rarest view: Earth from afar

Space travelers recall what the planet looks like from above

Anousheh Ansari / AP
Iranian-American space tourist Anousheh Ansari took this photo looking down at Earth from the international space station in September 2006.

By Seth Borenstein
Updated: 3:51 p.m. CT April 21, 2007

When astronauts return from space, what they talk about isn’t the brute force of the rocket launch or the exhilaration of zero gravity. It’s the view.

And it’s mankind’s rarest view of all, Earth from afar.

Only two dozen men — those who journeyed to the moon — have seen the full Earth view.

Most space travelers, in low orbit, see only a piece of the planet — a lesser but still impressive glimpse. They have seen the curvature of Earth, its magnificent beauty, its fragility, and its lack of borders.

The first full view of Earth came from the moon-bound Apollo 8 during the waning days of a chaotic 1968. Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders put it in perspective in a documentary: “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

Some of the photos Anders took were used on posters and pins on the first Earth Day in 1970. They’ve been “an environmental staple of Earth Days ever since,” said Denis Hayes, the first Earth Day coordinator.

For Earth Day this year — at a time when perhaps some perspective is needed — The Associated Press asked space travelers to recall what it’s like to see Earth from above:

“It was the only color we could see in the universe. ...

“We’re living on a tiny little dust mote in left field on a rather insignificant galaxy. And basically this is it for humans. It strikes me that it’s a shame that we’re squabbling over oil and borders.”
—Bill Anders, Apollo 8, whose photos of Earth became famous.

“It’s hard to appreciate the Earth when you’re down right upon it because it’s so huge.

“It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water ... It’s something that many people take for granted when they’re born and they grow up within the environment. But they don’t realize what they have. And I didn’t till I left it.”
—Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 and 13.

“The sheer beauty of it just brought tears to my eyes.

“If people can see Earth from up here, see it without those borders, see it without any differences in race or religion, they would have a completely different perspective. Because when you see it from that angle, you cannot think of your home or your country. All you can see is one Earth....”
—Anousheh Ansari, Iranian-American space tourist who flew last year to the international space station.

“Up in space when you see a sunset or sunrise, the light is coming to you from the sun through that little shell of the Earth’s atmosphere and back out to the spacecraft you’re in. The atmosphere acts like a prism. So for a short period of time you see not only the reds, oranges and yellows, the luminous quality like you see on Earth, but you see the whole spectrum red-orange-yellow-blue-green-indigo-violet.

“You come back impressed, once you’ve been up there, with how thin our little atmosphere is that supports all life here on Earth. So if we foul it up, there’s no coming back from something like that.”
—John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth (1962) and former U.S. senator.

“I think you can’t go to space and not be changed, in many ways ....

“All of the teachings of the Bible that talk about the creator and his creation take on new meaning when you can view the details of the Earth from that perspective. So it didn’t change my faith per se, the content of it, but it just enhanced it, it made it even more real.”
—Jeff Williams, spent 6 months on the space station and set a record for most Earth photos taken.

“Earth has gone through great transitions and volcanic impacts and all sorts of traumatic things. But it has survived ... I’m not referring to human conflicts. I’m referring to the physical appearance of the Earth at a great distance. That it generally is mostly very peaceful (when) looked at from a distance.”
—Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon.

“I see the deep black of space and this just brilliantly gorgeous blue and white arc of the earth and totally unconsciously, not at all able to help myself, I said, ’Wow, look at that.”’
—Kathy Sullivan, first American woman to spacewalk, recalling what she said when she saw Earth in 1984.

“...From up there, it looks finite and it looks fragile and it really looks like just a tiny little place on which we live in a vast expanse of space. It gave me the feeling of really wanting us all to take care of the Earth. I got more of a sense of Earth as home, a place where we live. And of course you want to take care of your home. You want it clean. You want it safe.”
—Winston Scott, two-time shuttle astronaut who wrote a book, “Reflections From Earth Orbit.”

“You change because you see your life differently than when you live on the surface everyday. ... We are so involved in our own little lives and our own little concerns and problems. I don’t think the average person realizes the global environment that we really live in. I certainly am more aware of how fragile our Earth is, and, frankly, I think that I care more about our Earth because of the experiences I’ve had traveling in space.”
—Eileen Collins, first female space shuttle commander.

“You can see what a small little atmosphere is protecting us.

“You realize there’s not much protecting this planet particularly when you see the view from the side. That’s something I’d like to share with everybody so people would realize we need to protect it.”
—Sunita Williams, who has been living on the international space station since Dec. 11, 2006.

“I left Earth three times. I found no place else to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth.”
—Wally Schirra, who flew around Earth on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions in the 1960s.

AP writers Rasha Madkour in Houston, Mike Schneider in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and Alicia Chang in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Associated Press.


WA:Did you look at the photos and slide show? Our incredibly beautiful home. Our home, the only one we have. For how long? As if the threat of global warming wasn't enough - whether by natural cycle or man made - we have an idiot of a president desperately eager to start a nuclear war and create Armegaddon. Iran may or may not have nuclear capability but many of our enemies either have it or have access to it. Does he think the US is invulnerable or impervious to nuclear retaliation? Does he think the world can stand a nuclear war?

We have several options; nuclear winter or nuclear holocaust: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Global destruction and deaths on a unprecedented scale: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And almost certainly THIS: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

America Burning.


The Future Was Yesterday said...
One of the reasons I still love to fly, even tho it's a nightmare anymore, is to get that sense of "being above it all." I think too many of us are guilty of thinking too small.I have tagged all three of you "Golden Girls", for "The Thinking Blogger's Award." If you wish to take part, please see this post to participate.
Thursday, April 26, 2007 8:50:00 PM
Granny said...
What a powerful post.I'm working on blog links for Thinking Bloggers. I'll be back.
Thursday, April 26, 2007 9:14:00 PM
Daniel said...
Most animals don't sh#t in their own nests. Humans do! I think there's a message in that for all of us.Namaste!
Thursday, April 26, 2007 9:46:00 PM
Kvatch said...
Years ago, just as the International Space Station project was getting under way, Boeing did a pair of television commericals that took a sort of nostalgic look at the space program. The first was about the drive to the first moon landing. Part of it was the music; part of it was the a line that said "We hoped, and we dreamed, and we looked up."The second contained quotes from astronauts, Americans and other nationalities, about how as they ascended the nations faded away until there was just the one globe.Your quotes remind me of that second commerical, but I can't ever remember seeing either without tearing up.
Sunday, April 29, 2007 9:52:00 AM
princesstea said...
on the subject of pale blue dots.this is an awesome little interpretationi found on youtube of carl sagans words.enjoy.andrea.x
Monday, April 30, 2007 7:13:00 AM
David Cho said...
Beautiful indeed.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007 10:04:00 PM

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Would You Want Your Daughter To Marry ...(One)?

See my post below, "Peace, Sharing, Respecting Differences".

Sometimes people who fondly imagine that they harbor no prejudices find to their dismay that they actually do. A common remark made regarding prejudices and preconceived perceptions of people who are different is, "Yes, but would you want your daughter to marry one?"

This question is often asked regarding persons of a different race but can apply to anyone who is different in some manner from "us" - our personal peer group.

How many of you have seen the movie, "Tim", starring Mel Gibson and Piper Laurie (a very young Mel Gibson). If you haven't, I recommend it. It is a tender and moving love story about a middle aged, professional woman who marries a very child like, somewhat retarded young man. Many of you have seen Tom Hanks in his movie, "Forrest Gump", a mentally slow young man and the love he bore for his Jennie. I recommend it also for insight into the intellectually impaired. Not everyone is an intellectual giant and even the mentally slow have all the human feelings and emotional capabilities of the rest of humanity. They are people, too, just a little different.

Being tolerant of and respecting those differences - would you want your daughter to marry a mentally slow man?

Imagine a man who is often referred to as a Forrest Gump, or that "his elevator doesn't go all the way to the top". He is mentally slow in many respects. However, he had sufficient intellectual and educational abilities to pass tests for and obtain a commercial or chauffeur's driving license to drive a city Metro bus and to memorize the city streets perfectly ; he gives the best directions to get about town that I ever heard. He is almost obsessive about maintaining responsibility, including financial responsibility. He pays bills on time, eschews careless debt, and thinks he is broke if his bank account gets below $500.00. He must be seriously ill to miss a day of work and shows up for work an hour early every day. He has perfect credit rating and drives an expensive, late model pickup truck. He is a supervisor's dream and is loved and respected by his co-workers.

He is also a housewife's dream. His fiancee (now wife) cooks when she gets home from work and he cleans the kitchen afterwards, immaculately, I might add. All appliances, cabinets and floors are spotless. He vacuums the carpets every day and picks up any disordered items. If his wife is too tired to cook or simply doesn't feel like it, he amiably orders in or takes the family out to eat. He is caring and soliticious of her and helps her in every way he can.

He is gentle, loving, slow to anger and very patient. He is loyal, trustworthy, and devoted to family and friends. On the downside, he is not mechanically minded and his 8 year old stepson sometimes has to tell him how to do things. Mechanics and electronics are a mystery to him. A childhood friend comes over to perform the necessary "honey-do" jobs about the apartment. He remains very close friends with most of his old high school classmates who are obviously quite fond of him.

In some ways he is child-like and romps and plays with children like another child. He is patient with and tolerant of children's misbehavior that usually drives other adults up the wall. He is loving and demonstrative in his affection towards children.

He is indeed mentally slow; not quite a Tim nor Forrest Gump, but is slow. He does not understand the responsibiities and duties of a husband and step-father but accepts them immediately when they are explained to him. He is learning and eager to do the right things. Everyone accepts the fact that he is slow but he is loved and respected by all. That speaks much for his character.

One of my grand daughters married this man. She said that she knew he was slow but he was kind and gentle to her and her two little ones, very good to them, responsible and dutiful, was very loving to them and she had grown to love and admire him very much. She said "even slow people can love deeply and they need love just as much as everyone else does." After a previous disasterous marriage with an abusive, irresponsible man, she appreciates her new husband's better qualities. Superior character took priority over superior intellect. She knows that they will never be wealthy but between the two of them they earn a good living. Some things are more important than a high income. She and the children are happy.

Knowing the miserable, hellish life my grand daughter and great grandchildren suffered in her previous marriage to a bright man of low character, I am very happy for her and the children in the present relationship. And yes, I wanted my (grand) daughter to marry one.


David Cho said...
Wow, a beautiful post, Worried. Thank you.
Sunday, April 22, 2007 12:54:00 AM
Daniel said...
Hey, Worried, I tips me' hat to you! If all the people in the world were like you, it would be a wonderful place.Peace!
Sunday, April 22, 2007 3:04:00 AM
Granny said...
Sunday, April 22, 2007 7:16:00 AM
Nvisiblewmn said...
The book by Colleen McCullough is even better than the movie (which was quite good).
Sunday, April 22, 2007 5:24:00 PM
betmo said...

that was a loving and insightful post. we should all take a lesson to not judge a book by its cover- but really open up and read its pages. sounds like your family did. good for your granddaughter to have the courage to marry 'one of them.'

Monday, April 23, 2007 6:58:00 AM

Worried said...
Thank YOU, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate your comments.
Sunday, April 22, 2007 3:54:00 AM


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Peace - Sharing - Respecting Differences.

Humans inhabit a multicultural world. We share a common humanity but also have many differences in racial appearance, religions, politics, cultures, sexual orientations, intellectual and physical capabilities. Tolerance of and respect for those differences is essential if we are to live in peace and harmony.


betmo said...
it's a sweet thought- but given our history- a long shot.
Friday, April 20, 2007 7:56:00 PM
Worried said...
So sad, so true, Betmo. All we can do is for each individual to do their part.
Saturday, April 21, 2007 9:39:00 PM
The Future Was Yesterday said...
A great idea...if practiced with common sense. "Tolerance" led directly to VT melting down.
Sunday, April 22, 2007 4:47:00 PM
Worried said...
Exercising common sense is desirable in all endeavors. I have known people so hide-bound and rigid that they could not entertain any deviation whatsoever from preconceived beliefs. I have also known people so eager to be "correct" that they bend over so far backwards that their napes touch their heels.
Sunday, April 22, 2007 11:36:00 PM



Just An Ordinary Day In Iraq—In Virginia

First, there’s shock, depression, identification with the victims and outrage that such a thing could happen here. Then comes the inevitable search for meaning, and the debate over gun laws, video games, values and more. All accomplished with a stunning lack of perspective.

For one thing, the Virginia Tech incident was not even remotely that nation’s worst mass shooting, as some media are claiming…unless, of course, you don’t consider Native Americans or African Americans to be real people. Try to recall the Indian massacres at Marias, Sand Creek, Wounded Knee and now-forgotten locales. And the death toll of black people in Tulsa in 1921 probably topped 300. Of course, soldiers are human, too, so the 3,600 or so dead at the Battle of Antietam also top the 33 dead yesterday in Blacksburg.

But let’s widen our view to the present and include the American-led war in Iraq, and then narrow it to Baghdad alone. In July 2006, 1,417 bodies wound up at the city morgue, many shot to death at point-blank range, other blown apart in a less personal manner. All dead. That’s 46 people a day murdered, day after day after day. All had families; all had immortal souls, if you believe that; all were human. While the death rate in Baghdad seems to have slacked somewhat, as Iraq Body Count blogger Lily Hamourtziadou’s weekly report concludes, “Violence in Iraq is rising at an ‘unbelievably rapid pace’, according to the Pentagon’s latest assessment of the security situation.”

None of this is supposed to belittle the horror of Blacksburg in the least. It can’t. Murder is murder, whether conducted by a deranged gunman or under the protective cover of war. Try, just try to identify with the victims at Virginia Tech and extend that to America’s minorities, America’s battered and murdered women, and to Iraq.

What is happening in Iraq is wrong. And the first response of a rational person who finds him or herself doing wrong is to stop doing it. We can’t stop everyone in the world from murdering their neighbors, but we can stop doing it ourselves.

And as for the historical murders of blacks and Native Americans, the effect of those acts is still very much with us. The victims and even the perpetrators live with collective memories of unatoned-for massacres, and for all the other thousands of deaths whose toll does not reach into double or triple digits but are not wholly forgotten. Those killings come back to haunt us in a thousand different ways, ranging from the persistence of white supremacy to the shame of America’s Indian reservations.

Blacksburg was not ordinary, but at the same time it was. While we’re searching our national souls over this, let’s search a little deeper and more broadly. Not to add to our guilt, which doesn’t much help, but to make us better people.--Alec Dubro Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:17 AM


Dem Soldier said...
Almost 200 people dead today in Iraq.As a college student, who spends around the school most of my day, five days a week, my heart is broken with these young people who have nothing to do with world's problems but a mad rat had to take their young lives. I have heard some on the right saying these students should be armed or should have defended themselves from the mentally ill person. Where did we go wrong in this country, that we can't even let the dead families have few death to mourn?
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 6:30:00 PM

Marty said...
Looks like you and me think alike. But you express it better! I posted on the carnage in Iraq which was in response to the carnage in Virginia. Lest we forget.Keep speaking out.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 6:37:00 PM

Worried said...
Thank you, Dem Soldier and Marty for your contributions.There are always questions after a tragedy like this but few answers. What protection is there against a deranged mind?Anti-gun factions cry out to ban all guns, but the simple truth is that criminals can always obtain weapons. Pro-gun factions cry out for citizens to arm themselves for protection. Shall we become so paranoid that we become an armed society and risk even more carnage from foolish or mistaken efforts at self protection? Schools should be places where our young are safe. What is the solution? I do not know.
Thursday, April 19, 2007 1:07:00 AM


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Blog Surfing

Margaret is one of my Australian visitors and another granny. She posted a before and after photo today that may not have made the rounds over here.

Or perhaps it did but it's still funny.

The Kurt Vonnegut Jr Approach to Life

As I said in an early post quoting Kurt, laughing beats crying.

After the horror of yesterday, it's hard to even think of laughter. My thoughts and prayers are with the students, faculty, staff, friends and familes of Virginia Tech. I still can't quite take it in.

I've been trying to pull myself away from the news and the Tuesday morning quarterbacking of CNN for a while by surfing some of my favorites, among them Echidne of the Snakes. She's civil, funny, and bright as evidenced by this post.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Worried is Back

I am back after a long weekend absence from the city where I was incommunicado due to the lack of computer access. I am happy to see that my partner, Granny Ann, managed to make a few posts. Everyone knows the burden under which Granny Ann is laboring at this time.


True Story of Free Speech in America

Mr. Fisk is a British subject who has lived in and reported from the Middle East for many years. He is often villified for his "pro-Arab" stance. However, as a reporter/journalist who has intimate knowledge of the conditions and events in the Middle East, it is possible and entirely probable that his reports are more factual than those of the mainstream media. The situation of the professor and also that of the American school children described in this article is an affront to us and a violation of our right to free speech. How far will this muzzling go? WA

The True Story of Free Speech in AmericaBy Robert Fisk 04/07/07
"The Independent"
-- -- Laila al-Arian was wearing her headscarf at her desk at Nation Books, one of my New York publishers. No, she told me, it would be difficult to telephone her father. At the medical facility of his North Carolina prison, he can only make a few calls - monitored, of course - and he was growing steadily weaker.

Sami al-Arian is 49 but he stayed on hunger strike for 60 days to protest the government outrage committed against him, a burlesque of justice which has, of course, largely failed to rouse the sleeping dogs of American journalism in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. All praise, then, to the journalist John Sugg from Tampa, Florida, who has been cataloging al-Arian’s little Golgotha for months, along with Alexander Cockburn of Counter Punch.

The story so far: Sami al-Arian, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian, was a respected computer professor at the University of South Florida who tried, however vainly, to communicate the real tragedy of Palestinian Arabs to the US government. But according to Sugg, Israel’s lobbyists were enraged by his lessons - al-Arian’s family was driven from Palestine in 1948 - and in 2003, at the instigation of Attorney General Ashcroft, he was arrested and charged with conspiring “to murder and maim” outside the United States and with raising money for Islamic Jihad in “Palestine”. He was held for two and a half years in solitary confinement, hobbling half a mile, his hands and feet shackled, merely to talk to his lawyers.

Al-Arian’s $50m (£25m) Tampa trial lasted six months; the government called 80 witnesses (21 from Israel) and used 400 intercepted phone calls along with evidence of a conversation that a co-defendant had with al-Arian in - wait for it - a dream. The local judge, a certain James Moody, vetoed any remarks about Israeli military occupation or about UN Security Council Resolution 242, on the grounds that they would endanger the impartiality of the jurors.

In December, 2005, al-Arian was acquitted on the most serious charges and on those remaining; the jurors voted 10 to two for acquittal. Because the FBI wanted to make further charges, al-Arian’s lawyers told him to make a plea that would end any further prosecution. Arriving for his sentence, however, al-Arian - who assumed time served would be his punishment, followed by deportation - found Moody talking about “blood” on the defendant’s hands and ensured he would have to spend another 11 months in jail. Then prosecutor Gordon Kromberg insisted that the Palestinian prisoner should testify against an Islamic think tank. Al-Arian believed his plea bargain had been dishonored and refused to testify. He was held in contempt. And continues to languish in prison.

Not so, of course, most of America’s torturers in Iraq. One of them turns out to rejoice in the name of Ric Fair, a “contract interrogator”, who has bared his soul in the Washington Post - all praise, here, by the way to the Post - about his escapades in the Fallujah interrogation “facility” of the 82nd Airborne Division. Fair has been having nightmares about an Iraqi whom he deprived of sleep during questioning “by forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes”. Now it is Fair who is deprived of sleep. “A man with no face stares at me … pleads for help, but I’m afraid to move. He begins to cry. It s a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.”

Thank God, Fair didn’t write a play about his experiences and offer it to Channel 4 whose executives got cold feet about The Mark of Cain, the drama about British army abuse in Basra. They quickly bought into the line that transmission of Tony Marchant’s play might affect the now happy outcome of the far less riveting Iranian prison production of the Famous 15 “Servicepersons” - by angering the Muslim world with tales of how our boys in Basra beat up on the local Iraqis. As the reporter who first revealed the death of hotel worker Baha Mousa in British custody in Basra - I suppose we must always refer to his demise as “death” now that the soldiers present at his savage beating have been acquitted of murder - I can attest that Arab Muslims know all too well how gentle and refined our boys are during interrogation. It is we, the British at home, who are not supposed to believe in torture. The Iraqis know all about it - and who knew all about Mousa’s fate long before I reported it for The Independent on Sunday.

Because it’s really all about shutting the reality of the Middle East off from us. It’s to prevent the British and American people from questioning the immoral and cruel and internationally illegal occupation of Muslim lands. And in the Land of the Free, this systematic censorship of Middle East reality continues even in the country’s schools.

Now the principal of a Connecticut high school has banned a play by pupils, based on the letters and words of US soldiers serving in Iraq. Entitled Voices in Conflict, Natalie Kropf, Seth Koproski, James Presson and their fellow pupils at Wilton High School compiled the reflections of soldiers and others - including a 19-year-old Wilton High graduate killed in Iraq - to create their own play. To no avail. The drama might hurt those “who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving as we speak”, proclaimed Timothy Canty, Wilton High’s principal. And - my favorite line - Canty believed there was not enough rehearsal time to ensure the play would provide “a legitimate instructional experience for our students”.

And of course, I can quite see Mr Canty’s point. Students who have produced Arthur Miller’s The Crucible were told by Mr Canty - whose own war experiences, if any, have gone unrecorded - that it wasn’t their place to tell audiences what soldiers were thinking. The pupils of Wilton High are now being inundated with offers to perform at other venues. Personally, I think Mr Canty may have a point. He would do much better to encourage his students to perform Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, a drama of massive violence, torture, rape, mutilation and honor killing. It would make Iraq perfectly explicable to the good people of Connecticut. A “legitimate instructional experience” if ever there was one.©


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922-2007

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thanks to Sometimes Saintly Nick where I found the quote.


Kurt's words are excellent advice, aren't they?
# posted by Sometimes Saintly Nick : Sunday, April 15, 2007 7:07:00 PM

The man was truly a treasure chest of knowledge, humor, and understanding of the human race in general.
# posted by The Future Was Yesterday : Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

$87,000,000 Later - Is It Working? Update

No, I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth. As most of you know, my life has been chaotic lately and my reading time has all but vanished. Eventually, I hope that will change.

Personal note: My daughter continues to hang on - I don't know how. I have a couple of posts over on "granny" with more detail but briefly, we just wait. At least the medication relieves most of the pain and for that I'm grateful.

I'm also grateful to those of you who have left comments on both blogs. The support means so much.

My girls are sleeping in for a change and I've had a little time for one of my favorite things - blog surfing. I ran across a link to a blog called "Alas, a Blog" and I couldn't resist dropping in. That name is wonderful. Maybe I should change the title of Roc Rebel Granny to "Yikes - Another Blog!!".

If you haven't read him, I strongly recommend his attitude and writing.

His latest post talks about our head in the sand administration and the abstinence only sex education program they've been shoving down our throats.

A study has been published.

The results were about what I expected. No improvement at all. Actually, I expected an increase in teen pregnancy and STD's and I imagine independent studies done state by state will support that. I've already seen a few in which the incidence of teen pregnancy/STD has risen in some of the more conservative states.

This was a government study which flew in under the radar. $87,000,000 spent to accomplish nothing except to curry favor with the extreme religious right.

We begin teaching sex ed here in the 5th grade. By the time my girls took the class, they could have taught it. We talk about everything at home. The class covered basic biology but at least it's something. Too little, too late however.

They won't learn anything more through the schools until high school. Our sex ed classes in high school are taught by Planned Parenthood (over the screams and howls of protest at school board meetings and in our local paper) and are good. Unfortunately, by the time kids are 16 or so, many of them here are already parents. Again, it's too little, far too late.

Abstinence only doesn't work. I have no problem with teaching that abstinence is the safest way to prevent pregnancy and/or STD. Of course it is. But if they think that forbidding the discussion of contraception and responsibility will stop kids from doing what many of them will do, they're even more ignorant than I thought possible.

I may be repeating myself but I'm convinced, at least as far as girls are concerned, it's all about punishment. It's the old "you made your bed, now lie in it" approach that I had hoped to never see again. They'd rather be able to say "told you so - why didn't you listen". They're convinced that knowledge will lead our kids down the path of damnation.

I know that comprehensive sex ed isn't a cureall. It's a complicated issue and there are many reasons teenage girls are moms at 15 and even younger. Not all those pregnancies are accidental by any means. Nevertheless, it's a step in the right direction.

My 14 year old Elcie attended a day long program presented by the county Mental Health Dept. here. Lots of food, fun, and games but also some excellent discussions about drug use and sex. She told me what stayed with her was the discussion of teen pregnancy. Instead of having an "expert" lecture the kids, they recruited several teen parents (both sexes) talking about their experiences and how their lives had changed. She listened. Of course she's the oldest of 3 children of teen parents and knows first hand how ill equipped they can be. She's lived with me along with her sibs since she was a little over a year old. Her parents have been largely absent for much of that time.

I hope we can break that cycle, in my family at least.

Thanks to Daddy, Poppa, and Me for including the link to Alas, a Blog on their blog roll and also for listing Is America Burning. I have several adoption and gay rights blogs in my own links. His blog covers both and is one of the best. He writes about family, interracial adoption, and gay rights and includes links to information I hadn't seen anywhere else. The love for their little girl shines through as does the fear of losing her if California suddenly goes off the rails regarding gay adoption. I don't think that will happen but the possibility always exists. It exists for me as well since my youngest son has agreed to complete raising the girls should anything happen to me.

And now I'm off topic totally but the two issues may be related since they both are the result of extremists who try to force their hate filled views on us all.

Update - Sunday morning

A couple of commenters on Alas, a Blog noted that $87,000,000 might be a relatively small price to pay for this good a talking point. I hadn't thought of that.

Actually, I find the fact that teen pregnancy per capita and divorce rates are highest in traditionally "red" states to be very a schadenfreude sort of way.Massachusetts, no doubt due to Mitt Romney's excellent example ;-), leads the way in stable marriages per capita.
# posted by Kvatch : Saturday, April 14, 2007 12:43:00 PM

I knew that and I thought it was funny as well. I thought about writing it that way but then I'd have to search out the links to back up what I said. I got lazy and left it vague.
# posted by Granny : Saturday, April 14, 2007 5:35:00 PM

As a "graduate" of that school of thought (Abstinence), as well as an escapee from the morons that teach it, I know only too well their crap. As they teach abstinence, they also do NOT teach sex education. Rather, they vilify sex as being "naughty", "dirty", and your individual sex organs are "dirty" as well. As you might expect, anything you tell a kid "don't look at" or "don't you do that now!", that's the first thing they are going to try.With no guidance, no knowledge of what to expect, the results are to be expected.
# posted by The Future Was Yesterday : Sunday, April 15, 2007 2:02:00 AM

"Just say no to sex" is about as effective as "just say no to drugs." Religious conservative seem to be stuck on recreating a world that never was. I wish the world was more like "Leave it to Beaver," too, but at some point you have to acknowldge that it isn't.If it was up to me, birth control pills would be available over the counter. There's no medical reason not to- statistically, they're safer than asprin.
# posted by ThomasLB : Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:01:00 AM

Sunday, April 08, 2007


"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust." --

Demosthenes: Philippic 2, sect. 24


I hate to say it but distrust is in large part what makes America, America. The religious distrusting each other; Citizens distrusting their leaders; Racial, social, gender, economic segments ditrusting each other. It's part of who we are, but that said, boy is it tiring.
# posted by Kvatch : Monday, April 09, 2007 2:07:00 PM

Good to hear from you. Hope all is okay.
# posted by Granny : Monday, April 09, 2007 2:37:00 PM

As I was taught in seminary: "Question everything."
# posted by Sometimes Saintly Nick : Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:34:00 PM

My father taught me many years ago to never trust a politician (specifically politicians), as all of them are "a bunch of damn liars" (paraphrasing dad, here). In his opinion, you listen objectively to what they have to say, then pick the best of a bad bunch. This came from a man who loved the democratic process and fully appreciated it. From the time I was old enough to understand, I was reminded that if I couldn't be bothered to vote, then I had absolutely no right to bitch about my elected government. It wasn't until much later in life that I fully appreciated what he taught me. Peace,Fiona
# posted by fjb : Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:21:00 PM

I was born during the post-WWI/pre-WWII era, and grew up in the Mom, the Flag, and Apple Pie mentality. I had complete trust in our representatives and our government, especially our presidents. After all, America was the "good guys". Only upon maturing and discovering how the public had been lied to, deceived, and secrets kept from us of less than honorable policies and actions by our government did the true betrayal of public trust become evident. I learned to maintain a degree of skepticism and my father's Missouri attitude of "prove it!" before swallowing whole any politician's rhetoric and line of bs.I have been accused of being paranoid. Maybe so, but I'd rather be paranoid than a darn fool sucker as I was in the past. I blush to think of the heated defensive debates in which I engaged in my younger years against "traitorous, disloyal" opponents who dared criticize my government, only to find out later that I was misled and my opponents were 100% correct.The Bush administration has perfected this deceit to a fine art and shows not the slightest remorse or shame even when publically exposed to the entire world; the lies and deceit goes on. ="It's important to realize that whenever you give power to politicians or bureaucrats, it will be used for what they want, not for what you want."-- Harry Browne =
# posted by Worried : Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:22:00 AM
Harry BrowneFrom Wikipedia, Harry Browne Born June 17, 1933 Died March 1, 2006 Occupation Writer, Politician, Investment analyst Harry Browne (17 June 1933 – 1 March 2006) was an American libertarian writer, politician, and free-market investment analyst. He was a U.S. Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000.
# posted by Worried : Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:30:00 AM

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Harry Browne pulling down a statue of Bush

David Cho said...
Interesting how you have set up the comments. the site is looking better.Distrust simply means not taking things at face value. What kvatch is talking about isn't necessarily distrust, but the us-against-them mindset - trusting "us", but never trusting "them." That is a unhealthy debilitating combinations. It would be nice if Republicans would distrust their own party leaders every once in awhile instead of blindly trusting them while always distrusting Democrats (the same goes for Democrats).
Thursday, April 12, 2007 2:17:00 AM
The Future Was Yesterday said...
Distrust, coupled with discord, is (was) the backbone of America. "Why?" is the single greatest word I ever learned.
Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:52:00 PM


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Global Warming Warnings

Climate report maps out ‘highway to extinction’

Dire predictions includes loss of species, increasing scarcity of water

Animal and plant species have begun dying off or changing sooner

than predicted because of global warming, a review of hundreds of research

studies contends. Biologist Camille Parmesan said that she worries most

about cold- adapted species, such as polar bears, which are dropping in

numbers and weight in the Artic.

Image: Pola bear
Jonathan Hayward / AP

Slide shows
Warming signals
View images from around the world that show signs of global warming.

Above the ice
View images of Greenland, where warming and shrinking glaciers are worrying scientists.

The greenhouse effect
How the Earth maintains a temperature conducive to life

Cooling the planet
Check out five far-out ideas on how to engineer a cooler Earth.

Eyeing the ice
The National Science Foundation's Tom Wagner explains why climate experts are eyeing Antarctica.

Capturing CO2
A look at carbon sequestration

Melting mountains
Data shows five areas of concern

IMAGE: 2006 Honda Civic GX
Greenest and meanest vehicles
2007 vehicle models by their “green scores.”

Energy map of America
A look at where the nation gets its energy

WASHINGTON - A key element of the second major report on climate change being released Friday in Belgium is a chart that maps out the effects of global warming with every degree of temperature rise, most of them bad.

There’s one bright spot: A minimal heat rise means more food production in northern regions of the world. [ Crops won't grow without tremendous amounts of water. With water scarcity, how can crops be grown?WA]

However, the number of species going extinct rises with the heat, as does the number of people who may starve, or face water shortages, or floods, according to the projections in the draft report obtained by The Associated Press

Some scientists are calling this degree-by-degree projection a “highway to extinction.”

It’s likely to be the source of sharp closed-door debate, some scientists say, along with a multitude of other issues in the 20-chapter draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. While the wording in the draft is almost guaranteed to change at this week’s meeting in Brussels, several scientists say the focus won’t.

The final document will be the product of a United Nations network of 2,000 scientists as authors and reviewers, along with representatives of more than 120 governments as last-minute editors. It will be the second of a four-volume authoritative assessment of Earth’s climate released this year. The last such effort was in 2001.

University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver said the chart of results from various temperature levels is “a highway to extinction, but on this highway there are many turnoffs. This is showing you where the road is heading. The road is heading toward extinction.”

Weaver is one of the lead authors of the first report, issued in February.

While humanity will survive, hundreds of millions, maybe billions of people may not, according to the chart—if the worst scenarios happens.

Click for related content

‘Major extinctions around the globe’
The report says global warming has already degraded conditions for many species, coastal areas and poor people. With a more than 90 percent level of confidence, the scientists in the draft report say man-made global warming “over the last three decades has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems.”

But as the world’s average temperature warms from 1990 levels, the projections get more dire. Add 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit -- 1 degree Celsius is the calculation scientists use—and between 400 million and 1.7 billion extra people can’t get enough water, some infectious diseases and allergenic pollens rise, and some amphibians go extinct. But the world’s food supply, especially in northern areas, could increase. That’s the likely outcome around 2020, according to the draft.

Add another 1.8 degrees and as many as 2 billion people could be without water and about 20 percent to 30 percent of the world’s species near extinction. Also, more people start dying because of malnutrition, disease, heat waves, floods and droughts—all caused by global warming. That would happen around 2050, depending on the level of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.

At the extreme end of the projections, a 7- to 9-degree average temperature increase, the chart predicts: “Up to one-fifth of the world population affected by increased flood events ... “1.1 to 3.2 billion people with increased water scarcity” ...”major extinctions around the globe.”

Despite that dire outlook, several scientists involved in the process say they are optimistic that such a drastic temperature rise won’t happen because people will reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.

“The worst stuff is not going to happen because we can’t be that stupid,” said Harvard University oceanographer James McCarthy, who was a top author of the 2001 version of this report. “Not that I think the projections aren’t that good, but because we can’t be that stupid.”

[Wanna bet? We (our government and major corps, especially the energy giants) have already been that stupid! WA]

© 2007 The Associated Press.

Wow. Great blog entry.A while back, media reform expert Robert McChesney had a guest speaking about Global Climate Change on his MediaMatters radio program. Bob said, something to the effect, that he has difficulty dealing with the subject of global climate change, because the discussion inevitably leads to depressing feelings associated with contemplating our own extinction.

As I listened to McChesney, I heard the words, and understood them. But on Saturday, April 7, I felt the words and was reminded of his comment. Listening to the DemocracyNow! podcast for April 6, they included the following: A new United Nations report on climate change warns that global warming could cause more shortages of food in Africa, more severe weather events in Europe and the United States, the decimation of coral reefs and the disappearance of the ice caps.and the following:A new study in the journal Science is predicting rising temperatures here in this country will likely result in a permanent drought throughout Arizona and the Southwest by the year 2050.While listening, I realized that I was a little nauseated; this is a common response to thoughts of one's tenuous mortal jeopardy. In this case, it's all of humanity's mortal jeopardy.
# posted by GDAEman : Monday, April 09, 2007 7:43:00 AM
Take Action:Submit Comments to have the polar bears listed under the Endangered Species Act due to the loss of their icy habitat to global warming.LINK for Commenting
# posted by GDAEman : Monday, April 09, 2007 8:03:00 AM

It would take far too much space to list all the species that have gone extinct during the past 100 -150 years, and especially those that have died out since mankind proliferated around the globe. Some people say that the loss of certain animals, plants and insects does not matter, that humans are not dependent on them. In addition to making the world a poorer place for our descendents if all these species are lost, we have no accurate knowledge of how our dependency is interconnected. Many of our modern medicines are synthesized chemical properties of medicinal plants. We do not know what properties some of the plant extinctions may hold and are thereby lost to our benefit. Mankind has caused the extinction of too many species through his actions and now global warming exacerbates the rate.>>>

"Before the time of humans, species went extinct at the rate of about one species per million each year. Today, that rate has accelerated to about 10,000 species per million per year. An estimated 27,000 species of all kinds, primarily insects and plants, go extinct each year in the rain forests. In the last 600 years, out of 51,000 vertebrate species, 337 of them have become extinct.More than 11,000 plant and animal species face extinction in the near future, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Will the extinction of many currently endangered species lead to the extinction of humans? This is a question that we will probably not know the answer to until it is much too late. We must act now while we still have time to save endangered species.More Modern Extinctions" links: .
# posted by Worried : Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:14:00 PM Post a Comment

Links to this post:
See links to this post
Global Climate Change: Mortal Jeopardy Came across a good blog entry at Is America Burning blog on the recent UN report on Global Climate Change.[1] It has some interesting links to multi-media information. A while back, media reform expert Robert McChesney had a guest ...
posted by GDAEman @ Saturday, April 07, 2007 11:00:00 AM

Progressive Traditionalist said...
Hello, Worried.I find reporting of these matters to be highly skewed, either to one side or the other. Every story seems to be either a doomsday scenario or a pollyanna tale. The truth lies somewhere in between.To my knowledge, there have been people diligently at work trying to solve the problem of CO2 pollution since around 1987. And quite likely, even before then.For example, I recently worked on a power plant that made use of a spray dryer absorber (SDA) to capture CO and other pollutants in a slush of CaO, which converts the material to calcium carbonate and other substances. This is but one of several techniques. Such things have been around for awhile, but they aren't widely used in the US, ie practically unknown.That's what's spurring the latest round of power plant construction, that these techniques which have been developed, primarily in Japan and Europe, might be incorporated into domestic power plant design. And the science is developing rapidly. For example, the use of target specific ionic liquids (TSILs) have been around for a long time to controll emissions for other contaminants, but only recently have TSILs been designed to work with CO2 pollution.They're not telling the good news. In that same report from MIT, I see where it says that, in 2050, we will have many more coal-fired plants, but significantly less CO2 pollution from them.Similarly, I have to question why I hear so much about people wanting more wind and solar power plants, yet not hardly a whimper about hydroelectric power, which is an even more efficient technology. I receive newsletters from Rainforest Action Network, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and others, and they, one and all, oppose coal power without telling the whole story, advocate wind and solar power, and remain conspicuously silent about hydro power. Which leads me to believe that I am reading a propaganda statement rather than a serious and well-balanced position. I've already tuned out the Sierra Club, primarily due to their position on carbon sinks.
Thursday, April 12, 2007 5:24:00 AM
Progressive Traditionalist said...
That is, the SDA structure captures CO2, not CO, although this is not its primary purpose.&btw, heat from that power plant is piped in to an ethanol plant just down the road from it.
Thursday, April 12, 2007 5:28:00 AM

Thank you, PT, for your usual factual and informative comments. It is good to be informed about these efforts.WA