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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How to help after Katrina? $$$$$

It will be days before the death toll is clear and weeks before all the damage is even assessed. It will be months of emergency relief and then years of rebuilding. Phenomenal and hard to comprehend. Sometimes one asks, "What can I do to help in some way?"

I've worked in disaster and conflict zones (N. American and Africa) and know that the best kind of help is money. Then everything needed can be arranged and purchased - ideally as close to the disaster as possible. Volunteers are needed, but usually not to just show up (unless requested locally).

Love, patience, tolerance, compassion, generosity, empathy... all at work too. These are good things to experience in an otherwise bad time.

In Canada, people can connect through the Red Cross.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Luis Posada Carriles Must Do Time - big time...

Luis Posada Carriles is linked to the murder of 73 people on a plane, bombings in Cuba, Iran-Contra tricks and has a record of doing such things under CIA auspices. If the US will not extradite him to Venezuela because he may end up in Cuba - how about these options:
- agreement from Venezuela that he'll be tried and if convicted, sentenced in Venezuela (which is after all where he escaped from prision)
- find a way to try and convict him in the US for his crimes (as if!)

This is a bad, bad man who represents the worst of US dirty tricks. He's actually boasted of his work. The families of those who died in the 1976 plane bombing deserve justice. The rest of us deserve some truth here.

The sister of one victim (Rosanne Nenninger) spoke about her brother's death yesterday.

All this freedom lost in the name of freedom...


Sunday, August 28, 2005

My last post on Rev. Pat - honest!

A fine piece of poetery by John Allemang, Globe and Mail Columnist (Saturday paper).

Divine Intervention

Who doesn't miss the good old days
When God wiped out salvation's strays
Without a sober second thought,
Or critics shouting, Thou shalt not?
The faith that bred Pat Robertson
May not have had much time for fun,
But when it came to games of war,
Pat learned what retribution's for:
Take out the enemies of God
Wherever they may lurk abroad,
For no Lord worth believing in
Deems shooting socialists a sin.

And yet, when Pat launched his crusade
To undertake a holy raid,
And serve the cause of true belief
By killing Venezuela's chief,
Nobody lined up at his side -
So much for pious homicide.
What suits the 700 Club
Still seems extreme, and there's the rub:
Who knows, on any given day,
Which Christians rule the USA -
The ones whose God still preaches love
Or those who kill, blessed from above?


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Canada and Cuba celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations

Many of my friends (and my mother recently) go to Cuba for winter vacations - it's perfect. Canada cold in winter - even in BC...Cuba warm always = vacation. In addition, it's reasonably inexpensive and the people are friendly, well-educated, articulate and seem to enjoy Canadians. Good health care too. One of my friends stays in the Trinidad regularly and has a circle of friends.

I smoke a nice Habana cigar with a pal every so often as well (goes well with a smooth single malt). These tobacco gems are brought back from Cuba vacationers or purchased locally here in Nelson.

Our government talks to their government - there are investments, development opportunities, cultural exchanges. Hey, Prime Minsister Trudeau and Fidel were pals (see above).

Okay now - I know the US/Cuba history thing... even lived in Miami for two years, so know the Cuban American vote thing too. I also work on behalf of some Cuban prisoners of conscience through Amnesty. It's not perfect there (although US rented Gitmo has even more illegal prisoners than Fidel does).

So what's with the cold war, the embargo, the propaganda, the imposed hardship on Cubans, the military threats? Why not thaw things out, normalize it? How long do you think it would take for people power, trade and investment to bring down the cafe-leche wall?

I fear for the Cubans when fast food, bullshit entertainment, free market etc. arrive, but something must change. Put President Carter on the job and things would change in a few years. I think he gets it.

Meanwhile, those Canadian winters will continue to be moderated with Cuban beaches, nasty big lovely cigars, rum and good food.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Superpower supersizes

Americans are getting fatter at a rate never seen before.

According to the Trust for America's Health Foundation, the obesity rate for adults rose in 48 of America's states last year. This is from a high rate in Mississippi (29.5%) to a low in Colorado (16.4%). I have a 3 comments to make...

1. Wow! That is a lot of intense eating and a lot of not moving around much.

2. What is this all about? Yes, the food and entertainment industries are amazing at getting more and more junk into our eyes, our faces, our mouths, our tummies and well... beyond. But what's the flaw here - is it a way to seek contentment, an addiction, a habit, a misguided emotional need? What do you think?

3. Our screwed up body-image deal. Okay obesity is unhealthy - it leads to limited mobility, a range of chronic illnesses and shortened life. Don't even go to health costs. Not good, although it is a free choice. On the other hand, what's wrong with not being svelte, trim, buff, hot, etc? For goodness sake, a little extra weight is simply an indication that I'm aging, not starving and at the top of the evolutionary ladder (eating wise).

I keep a little roll around the waist simply to flaunt it. My kids get sick of my rant, but the last thing I want is advertise a body that says "deprivation, hard-work, no bad choices, fitness-nut." (See GOOD ENOUGH IS GOOD ENOUGH in post below.) I might just add another 10 pounds as I enjoy fine dark red wines, lovely single malts, gooey French cheeses and locally made (Little Miss Gelato) coffee ice cream.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Creationism, evolutionism, intelligent designism, common sensism...

Enough already! Yes, I know there are those who want to get God into the education system somehow and there are a lot of Yanks (and others) who believe the universe was born a few thousand years ago, that Mary was a virgin and all that. Creationism is out of favour by anyone who is not mired in superstition. We also know that even bright scientists who aren't religious like to challenge the theory of evolution when holes seem to appear in it as the explanation for all. In comes 'intelligent design'.

Here's the deal: evolution theory is well proven and no one should seriously think the Bible describes literal creation. (Of course you can if you choose too - you can also believe that you will win tonight's lottery and that Reality Shows are real.) Yes there are more theories to test... more to learn. Scientists - start your motors!

As for the complexity of nature and all and the feeling one might have that there must be a purpose and perhaps an original cause for all this...well, we each get to ponder that one for ourselves. I suspect that whether it's a grand play or a random unfolding, my opinion won't change the outcome much. I certainly don't need to know in order to live a good life.

Here's the thing about education: whatever you do down there in the US, don't let people who base their beliefs on old books, superstition and their version of divine faith lift this up to the level of an educational debate. It's not - science continues to learn (even explores design) and religion continues to be whatever one chooses to make of it. Mixing not good.

Wikipedia note on ID

Monday, August 22, 2005

Living in a co-housing community

Common House from the gardens

I live in a The Middle Road Community near Nelson, British Columbia Canada. It's a co-housing community on 50 acres of land with 12 homes and a beautiful common house (community building). Each household owns its own piece of land and house and shared ownership of common land, roads, etc.

Co-housing was developed in Scandanavia and has grown in North America the last 10 years. It involves some simple principles and is non-ideological. Put simply, we have privacy and our own space/homes, but we share some facilities and a helluva lot of fine community life. In our case that means a Saturday potluck, a Wednesday meal where one house cooks for everyone else and annual New YEars, Thanksgiving, Solstice events. Our Common House has hosted birthday parties, dances, bar mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, poker games, concerts, painting, yoga and lately... a whole lot of teenage gatherings (can't be sure what all goes on there).

What's it like for me? We named our road and community THE MIDDLE ROAD and that says it. It's not a commune, but it's much more than a neighborhood. As our punk rocker babysitter said 1o years ago..."Ohhh, I get it. It's like you're a bunch of old hippies and now you have some money." Kind of.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

What's with these non-real blogs?

I'm pretty new to this and like to hit the NEXT BLOG button at the top right and see what else is out there. What is with all these blogs that are gibberish or that are a product or service listed randomly? Is this advertising? Is it someone's waste of space?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

An interesting reunion - war and peace

I'm involved in an event in Nelson, BC Canada in 2006 that will bring together people who left America during the Vietnam war years and moved to Canada... and those who helped them. Most of these people came as war resisters - some as draft evaders, some as deserters and surprisingly, the majority were women who emigrated to live in a more peaceful country. (Some of this immigration is happening today too.)

This event will feature prominent speakers (including Naomi Klein, Tom Hayden and Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) and a concert for peace. The Vietnam Veterans of Canada are holding a separate national event in Nelson at the same time. Rather than being in conflict, we are working with them to co-host the concert and to hold workshops that will give war resisters and vets a chance to meet and learn from each other's stories. They have more in common than you might first imagine...

Some feel that too much has already been written, said, felt, argued and fought over around the Vietnam War. I believe that for my generation (boomers), it's just under the surface of our collective experience - especially with the current political climate.

It fascinates me that the Vietnamese, who lost up to 2 million people and still suffer the effects of agent orange and unexploded ordinance, seem to have come to peace with their conflict. So have some US soldiers - the Friendship Village Project for example. Maybe it's time for those on this side of the Pacific to look back together and honour the men and women and the horrible choices many had to make.

I'll keep you posted on this event.

(Note: I was actively opposed to the Vietnam War and oppose the US war in Iraq today. That said, I'm capable of trying to work for peace without choosing sides and lobbing hate back and forth. Give peace a chance...)


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Big Picture....Small Picture

I spend a lot of time watching world events, interpreting them through a lens based on human rights, respect and tolerance...sometimes righteous anger. I have a basic belief that we won't solve the issues of our time (war, our environment, poverty, lack of freedom...) without struggling for basic rights for every human being. These days my mind is on Palestine & Israel, Guantanamo Bay (and other off-the-legal-map prison sites) and Darfur (where I once worked).

Meanwhile, on the simple human homefront, I recently attended a high school reunion (that's a post itself) and learned that at least 5 of my classmates are not alive. I learned that two good friends have cancer (one unlikely to survive) and today another friend's mother died.

Big picture: it's worth the effort to work for what's right - I have no choice in fact.

Small picture: we're each going to die in a blink of time - love, family, friends and compassion for our fragility is the focus I want to keep. Enjoy our time...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Iraq war has no effect on bomber targets?

After the awful events in London in July - one part of the media/political fixation seems to be on rhetoric around: "Does the UK involvement in the Iraq occupation make us a target?" The two simplistic views include:

- Tony Blair's: These are bad bad people and it has nothing to do with our military involvement in Iraq - don't even say it! and

- The other: No one would ever hurt us if we only stayed out of Iraq.

My take is wiser than both - honest... Of course the UK involvement in Iraq increases the liklihood of them being targetted. El Queda has even stated this a number of times. Same goes for attacks on Spain and the Australian embassy in Indonesia. So if Tony wants to go to war, he might try saying, "Yes, it puts us more at risk, but I believe we have to accept that risk to fight terrorism, blah, blah, blah."

Those who think no violence would occur if only they pull out of Iraq might try, "We believe it's wrong to be there, want our troops to come home... and it might even reduce the risk of attacks in Britain."

Meanwhile - no weapons of mass destruction, no quick-war, no peace in Iraq on the horizon and no acknowledgement that the Iraq invasion (so far) has made the world a less safe place. For Iraqis of course (including women and kids) and for the US and their partner nations (thousands dead or wounded already) As well, Iraq is now a breeding place for those unemployed, angry and confused young men who believe killing innocent people is some kind of holy gesture. (Religion at work again... but that's another story.)

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