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Friday, January 23, 2009

Another good day...for human rights over false security

This week President Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay detention center. In addition, the order formally:

1. Bans torture and inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees by requiring that the Army field manual be used as the guide for terror interrogations.

2. Closes the CIA’s secret prisons and ends the Bush administration's CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods that have included abhorrent procedures like water-boarding.

3. Provides the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all U.S.-held detainees.

4. Establishes an interagency task force to lead a systematic review of detention policies and procedures and a review of all individual cases.

(Thanks to Ruth for the summary.)

Perhaps now we'll see the Harper government here in Canada finally act to bring Canadian citizen Omar Khadr home. He was illegally incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay at 15 years old and has given his youth to imprisonment, torture and deprivation. It will be so interesting to have an US administration with more liberal principles, political transparency, and a stronger human rights agenda than Canada. Let's turf Harper as soon as we can, fellow Canucks...

For information on Khadr, check here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A fresh morning...

View of sunrise from our current living room window (Hawaii)

Oh what a fine day for America and the world. May it set the tone for the cloudy times ahead... I was so pleased to hear President Obama speak to the world as well as the American people. I'm tired of hearing about expectations and the fact that he can't meet them - of course that's true. But what is needed most in the world today is a change of tone, a change of heart, a coming together, inner strength... all those good things that help me feel positive and not give up.

Okay, enough of me. Here's Elizabeth Alexander's poem from the inauguration. IMeant to be read aloud if you have time for it again. I love it...

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Moving along

Kate Winslet. Read on and it will make sense.

I had an epic travel journey last week - it took me five days to get from Vancouver to Nelson (usually a one hour flight or 8 hour drive). Three days of weather related flight delays, which led me back to the same airport hotel each night "Hello again Mr. Ockenden!".

Then I got smart and flew to Kelowna (half way home) to rent a car and drive the last four hours.
Not so smart after all... All the major highways then closed for two days due to avalanches. So I sat for two days (at my mother's place) making her very happy) before driving home. Meanwhile, flights had begun to land... without me.

One day at home and we drove back to Vancouver to put my daughter on plane for a five month trip to South America (Lima first) and then we leave for Hawaii a day later.

Okay, I know with that last sentence you lost all sympathy for me. I understand. And will post some sunset and rainbow photos soon. Please don't hate me - you could channel your winter-blues resentment to Seraphine instead- she got to go to Costa Rica after all.

On the news front, some very brief (and opinionated) insights:

- Israel has a right to defend itself and Hamas rockets launched into civilian areas is just plain wrong, BUT from a humanitarian and international legal point of view, it can be easily argued that Israel has committed war crimes and atrocities in the past few weeks. More than 800 dead, mostly civilians... shooting at UN workers, preventing the Red Cross from doing its work... and more. Shame.

- President Elect Obama says he'll definitely close the illegal US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, but it will take longer than he thought. I believe him, but hope people keep reminding him to act so that it doesn't get lost. If the US can stop its policy of torture, illegal detention and extraordinary rendition... it will go a long way to regaining faith from its friends (me for one).

- Kate Winslet (finally the photo makes sense) won two Golden Globes last night. Am I the only one who absolutely loves her work? (If so, please give me a call !)


Saturday, January 03, 2009

And the haiku prize winner is....

Thanks to each of you for your haiku entries (see below) There were several from Zee - a poet in every moment.

The poems were read once again, appreciation was offered (in spirit at least) and Anna then pulled a name at random (there are no accidents of course).

The winner of the lovely West Kootenay 2009 Scenic Calendar is...



Send your mailing address and the prize will be on its way Cheri.

A New Year Dream (and music to move to...)

Thanks to my friend Mitch for directing me to this Amnesty International music video.

Oh yes, someday we need the suits in the United Nations dancing and voting with their hearts. Watch and comment if you'd like to.

May we all live in peace with ourselves and each other. May each child grow up safe, respected, fed, free and loved.

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