September 21st, 2006

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Good Morning!!

I am up and perky today.   Elaine and I have been going back and forth on this subject of courage, and have determined it is presence, and response in the moment, so, I would think each of us conveys courage many times each day.   Here is to courage, which comes from couer, heart.  May we each intend to live more and more that way.

I think the new movie on John Lennon is an important one to see right now.   Here is a comment from the NY Times.

Editorial Observer

While Nixon Campaigned, the F.B.I. Watched John Lennon

Published: September 21, 2006

In December 1971, John Lennon sang at an Ann Arbor, Mich., concert calling for the release of a man who had been given 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. The song he wrote for the occasion, “John Sinclair,” was remarkably effective. Within days, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Mr. Sinclair released.

What Lennon did not know at the time was that there were F.B.I. informants in the audience taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song. (“Lacking Lennon’s usual standards,” his F.B.I. file reports, and “Yoko can’t even remain on key.”) The government spied on Lennon for the next 12 months, and tried to have him deported to England.

This improbable surveillance campaign is the subject of a new documentary, “The U.S. vs. John Lennon.” The film makes two important points about domestic surveillance, one well-known, the other quite surprising. With the nation in the midst of a new domestic spying debate, the story is a cautionary tale.

It focuses on the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the former Beatle used his considerable fame and charisma to oppose the Vietnam War. Lennon attracted worldwide attention in 1969 when he and Yoko Ono married and held their much-publicized “bed-ins” in Amsterdam and Montreal, giving interviews about peace from under their honeymoon sheets. Lennon put to music a simple catch phrase — “All we are saying is give peace a chance” — and the antiwar movement had its anthem. Two years later, he released “Imagine.”

The government responded with an extensive surveillance program. Lennon’s F.B.I. files — which are collected in the book “Gimme Some Truth” by Jon Wiener — reveal that the bureau was monitoring everything from his appearance on “The Mike Douglas Show” to far more personal matters, like the whereabouts of Ono’s daughter from a previous marriage.

The F.B.I.’s surveillance of Lennon is a reminder of how easily domestic spying can become unmoored from any legitimate law enforcement purpose. What is more surprising, and ultimately more unsettling, is the degree to which the surveillance turns out to have been intertwined with electoral politics. At the time of the John Sinclair rally, there was talk that Lennon would join a national concert tour aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in the politics — and at defeating President Nixon, who was running for re-election. There were plans to end the tour with a huge rally at the Republican National Convention.

The F.B.I.’s timing is noteworthy. Lennon had been involved in high-profile antiwar activities going back to 1969, but the bureau did not formally open its investigation until January 1972 — the year of Nixon’s re-election campaign. In March, just as the presidential campaign was heating up, the Immigration and Naturalization Service refused to renew Lennon’s visa, and began deportation proceedings. Nixon was re-elected in November, and a month later, the F.B.I. closed its investigation.

If Lennon was considering actively opposing Nixon’s re-election, the spying and the threat of deportation had their intended effect. In May, he announced that he would not be part of any protest activities at the Republican National Convention, and he did not actively participate in the presidential campaign.

After revelations about the many domestic spying abuses of the 1960’s and 1970’s — including the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. — new restrictions were put in place. But these protections are being eroded today, with the president’s claim of sweeping new authority to pursue the war on terror.

Critics of today’s domestic surveillance object largely on privacy grounds. They have focused far less on how easily government surveillance can become an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power. “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” would be a sobering film at any time, but it is particularly so right now. It is the story not only of one man being harassed, but of a democracy being undermined.

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Ingesting -

There is an article in the October National Geographic on "The Chemicals Within Us."   It is sobering.   Here is one suggestion as to how to avoid the current problem with spinach.

Op-Ed Contributor

Leafy Green Sewage

Published: September 21, 2006

FARMERS and food safety officials still have much to figure out about the recent spate of E. coli infections linked to raw spinach. So far, no particular stomachache has been traced to any particular farm irrigated by any particular river.

There is also no evidence so far that Natural Selection Foods, the huge shipper implicated in the outbreak that packages salad greens under more than two dozen brands, including Earthbound Farm, O Organic and the Farmer’s Market, failed to use proper handling methods.

Indeed, this epidemic, which has infected more than 100 people and resulted in at least one death, probably has little do with the folks who grow and package your greens. The detective trail ultimately leads back to a seemingly unrelated food industry — beef and dairy cattle.

First, some basic facts about this usually harmless bacterium: E. coli is abundant in the digestive systems of healthy cattle and humans, and if your potato salad happened to be carrying the average E. coli, the acid in your gut is usually enough to kill it.

But the villain in this outbreak, E. coli O157:H7, is far scarier, at least for humans. Your stomach juices are not strong enough to kill this acid-loving bacterium, which is why it’s more likely than other members of the E. coli family to produce abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and, in rare cases, fatal kidney failure.

Where does this particularly virulent strain come from? It’s not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage. No, O157 thrives in a new — that is, recent in the history of animal diets — biological niche: the unnaturally acidic stomachs of beef and dairy cattle fed on grain, the typical ration on most industrial farms. It’s the infected manure from these grain-fed cattle that contaminates the groundwater and spreads the bacteria to produce, like spinach, growing on neighboring farms.

In 2003, The Journal of Dairy Science noted that up to 80 percent of dairy cattle carry O157. (Fortunately, food safety measures prevent contaminated fecal matter from getting into most of our food most of the time.) Happily, the journal also provided a remedy based on a simple experiment. When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold.

This is good news. In a week, we could choke O157 from its favorite home — even if beef cattle were switched to a forage diet just seven days before slaughter, it would greatly reduce cross-contamination by manure of, say, hamburger in meat-packing plants. Such a measure might have prevented the E. coli outbreak that plagued the Jack in the Box fast food chain in 1993.

Unfortunately, it would take more than a week to reduce the contamination of ground water, flood water and rivers — all irrigation sources on spinach farms — by the E-coli-infected manure from cattle farms.

The United States Department of Agriculture does recognize the threat from these huge lagoons of waste, and so pays 75 percent of the cost for a confinement cattle farmer to make manure pits watertight, either by lining them with concrete or building them above ground. But taxpayers are financing a policy that only treats the symptom, not the disease, and at great expense. There remains only one long-term remedy, and it’s still the simplest one: stop feeding grain to cattle.

California’s spinach industry is now the financial victim of an outbreak it probably did not cause, and meanwhile, thousands of acres of other produce are still downstream from these lakes of E. coli-ridden cattle manure. So give the spinach growers a break, and direct your attention to the people in our agricultural community who just might be able to solve this deadly problem: the beef and dairy farmers.

Nina Planck is the author of “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.’’

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Words of Sensibility -

George Schaller is interviewed by John G. Mitchell in the October National Geographic.   George Schaller, at 73, "is one of the world's preeminent field biologists."   He works to establish wildlife sanctuaries and preserves around the world.   He says,  "It is tremendously worrisome that we don't talk about nature anymore.  We talk about natural resources as if everything has a price tag."    He says about 95 percent of Alaska's North Slope has already been opened for oil leases.   Some haven't even been drilled yet, but the oil companies are trying to get into the refuge, because if they get in there, they can get in anywhere.  He asks what kind of people we are if we can't save 5%.

Mitchell asks:    Where do you think we're headed with global warming?

You can argue endlessly over how much is natural climate change and how much is caused by humans.  But the fact is, climate is changing very rapidly, and the scientific consensus is that much of it is caused by people burning fossil fuels.  If you raised the fuel efficiency of cars to 40 miles per gallon, which is perfectly feasible, and you eliminated the special deals for SUVs, each year you would save ten times as much oil as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would likely produce.  This is what's very peculiar.  We are supposed to have an educated public, but where is it?  Our schools and universities have failed to instill an environmental awareness.  Conservationists have also failed.  All you hear from some of them these days is talk of "sustainable development."

    Do you have a problem with the idea of sustainable development - finding ways to use but not deplete natural resources in national parks and reserves?

    There are certain natural treasures in each country that should be treated as treasures, and it is up to conservation organizations to fight on behalf of the special places.  Too many of these organizations have lost sight of their purpose.  Their purpose is not to alleviate poverty or help sustainable development.  Their purpose must be to save national treasures.  What are we going to do?  Invite the homeless to move into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Taj Mahal?  Those are cultural treasures.  It's the same with the Serengeti, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Virunga volcanoes with their mountain gorillas.  I've heard some conservation organizations argue that local people should have the right to manage those reserves and use them as they please.  Well, I consider that utter nonsense.  It is tremendously worrisome that we don't talk about nature anymore.  We talk about natural resources as if everything had a price tag.  You can't buy spiritual values at a shopping mall.  The things that uplift the spirit - an old-growth forest, a clear river, the flight of a golden eagle, the howl of a wolf, space and quiet without motors - are intangibles.  Those are the values that people do look for and that everyone needs.

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Creativity -

From Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

There is a vitality,
a life force,
a quickening that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one you in all time,
this expression is unique.

If you block it,
it will never exist through any medium and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is;
it is your business to keep it yours,
clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your worth.
You have to keep open and
aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time;
there is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marking and
makes us more alive than the others.

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Poem by DP Porreca -


    Divided into limitless units,
    moments, particles, to infinity
    no time at all.

    This nano-instinct, did you
    feel it, grasp its fleeting pulse
    extricate its essence?

    Figment of the imagination,
    nothing moving, wind not moving
    flag moving, only mind!

    The infinitesimal change, the
    cosmic computation, vibration
    of the string in you?

    Feel it!  An instant of existence,
    your existence, gone forever,
    and you weren't there.
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Molly Ivins on Torture -

 A Tortured Debate
    By Molly Ivins
    The Free Press

    Wednesday 20 September 2006

    Austin, Texas - Some country is about to have a Senate debate on a bill to legalize torture. How weird is that?

    I'd like to thank Sens. John McCain, Lindsay Graham - a former military lawyer - and John Warner of Virginia. I will always think fondly of John Warner for this one reason: Forty years ago, this country was involved in an unprovoked and unnecessary war. It ended so badly the vets finally had to hold their own homecoming parade, years after they came home. The only member of Congress who attended was John Warner.

    A debate on torture. I don't know - what do you think? I guess we have to define it, first. The White House has already specified "water boarding," making some guy think he's drowning for long periods, as a perfectly good interrogation technique. Maybe, but it was also a great favorite of the Gestapo and has been described and condemned in thousands of memoirs and novels in highly unpleasant terms.

    I don't think we can give it a good name again, and I personally kind of don't like being identified with the Gestapo. How icky. (Somewhere inside me, a small voice is shrieking, "Are you insane?")

    The safe position is, "Torture doesn't work."

    Well, actually, it works to this extent - anybody can be tortured into telling anything that's true and anything that's not true. The more people are tortured, the more they make up to please the torturer. Then the torturer has to figure out when the vic started lying. Since our torturers are, in George Bush's immortal phrase, "professionals" and this whole legislative fight is over making torture legal so the "professionals" can't later be charged with breaking the Geneva Conventions, Bush has vowed to end "the program" completely if he doesn't get what he wants. (The same thin voice is shrieking, "Professional torturers trained with my tax money?")

    Bush's problem is that despite repeated warnings, he went ahead with "the program" without waiting for Congress to provide a fig leaf of legality. Actually, we have been torturing prisoners at Gitmo, prisons in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan for years.

    Since only seven of the several hundred prisoners at Gitmo have ever been charged with anything, we face the unhappy prospect that the rest of them are innocent. And will sue. That's going to be quite an expensive settlement. The Canadian upon whom we practiced "rendition," sending him to Syria for 10 months of torture, will doubtlessly be first on the legal docket. I wonder how high up the chain of command a civil suit can go? Any old war criminals wandering around?

    I was interested to find that the Rev. Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition is so in favor of torture he told McCain that the senator either supports the torture bill or he can forget about the evangelical Christian vote. I'd like to see an evangelical vote on that one. I don't know how Sheldon defines traditional values, but deliberately inflicting terrible physical pain or stress on someone who is completely helpless strikes me as ... well, torture. And, um, wrong. And I've smoked dope! Boy, everything those conservatives tell us about the terrible moral values of us liberals must be true after all.

    Now, in addition to the slightly surreal awakening to find we live in a country that's having a serious debate on a torture bill, can we do anything about it? The answer is: We better. We better do something about it. Now, right away. What do we do? The answer is: anything ... phone, fax, e-mail, mail, demonstrate - go stand outside their offices or the nearest federal building in the cold and sing hymns or shout rude slogans, chant or make a speech, or start attacking federal property, like a postal box, so they have to arrest you. Gather peacefully and make a lot of noise. Get publicity, too.

    How will you feel if you didn't do something? "Well, honey, when the United States decided to adopt torture as an official policy, I was dipping the dog for ticks."

    As Ann Richards used to say, "I don't want my tombstone to read: 'She kept a clean house.'"


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First day of fall -

I just realized it is the first day of Fall.   Hoorah!!

Walter Hagen says:

"Don't hurry, don't worry. You're only here for a short visit. So be sure to stop and smell the flowers."

I agree, and while we are smelling those flowers, let us be sure and listen to Molly Ivins.  I woke this morning, knowing this has gone beyond what we can ignore.  How many times has each one of us asked ourselves what  the people of Germany were doing or thinking?   Something snuck up on them, perhaps, while they were doing something else.  I know that Jon Carroll thinks it is an over-statement to compare this country to Nazi Germany, but this is how it begins, and the way to make sure the comparison does not apply, is for each one of us to act as much as we can now, peacefully, and while smelling flowers, and now.   We cannot let Bush continue to say this country tortures.  Seeing him speak is torture enough.  
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The Bushes and Iran -

Here is the first part of an article by Robert Parry.  You can check it out further at:

   The Bushes and the Truth About Iran
    By Robert Parry
    Consortium News

    Thursday 21 September 2006

    Having gone through the diplomatic motions with Iran, George W. Bush is shifting toward a military option that carries severe risks for American soldiers in Iraq as well as for long-term U.S. interests around the world. Yet, despite this looming crisis, the Bush Family continues to withhold key historical facts about U.S.-Iranian relations.

    Those historical facts - relating to Republican contacts with Iran's Islamic regime more than a quarter century ago - are relevant today because an underlying theme in Bush's rationale for war is that direct negotiations with Iran are pointless. But Bush's own father may know otherwise.

    The evidence is now persuasive that George H.W. Bush participated in negotiations with Iran's radical regime in 1980, behind President Jimmy Carter's back, with the goal of arranging for 52 American hostages to be released after Bush and Ronald Reagan were sworn in as Vice President and President, respectively.

    In exchange, the Republicans agreed to let Iran obtain U.S.-manufactured military supplies through Israel. The Iranians kept their word, releasing the hostages immediately upon Reagan's swearing-in on Jan. 20, 1981.

    Over the next few years, the Republican-Israel-Iran weapons pipeline operated mostly in secret, only exploding into public view with the Iran-Contra scandal in late 1986. Even then, the Reagan-Bush team was able to limit congressional and other investigations, keeping the full history - and the 1980 chapter - hidden from the American people.

    Upon taking office on Jan. 20, 2001, George W. Bush walled up the history even more by issuing an executive order blocking the scheduled declassification of records from the Reagan-Bush years. After 9/11, the younger George Bush added more bricks to the wall by giving Presidents, Vice Presidents and their heirs power over releasing documents.

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Since when -

Since when can't we wear a sign that says, "NO WAR."    What is going on?    The code is more than pink.   


Anti-war protesters disrupt Golden Gate Bridge traffic

Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, September 21, 2006


(09-21) 11:50 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- About 40 peace activists, many of them dressed in pink and flashing peace signs, slowed traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge this morning and got into minor clashes with police.

No one was arrested during the hour-and-a-half protest -- organized by the anti-war group Code Pink as part of International Peace Day -- but bridge authorities did confiscate signs and banners they said would distract drivers and slow traffic even more.

There were also two minor collisions on the northbound side of the highway during the protest, which began at 8 a.m., according to Golden Gate Bridge police Capt. Mike Locati. He said he could not definitively link the fender-benders to the political action, but told protesters "I could probably attribute them to ... you folks."

The crowd of men, women and children -- who ranged in age from 8 to 78 -- and one pink-clad dog gathered at both ends of the bridge, many of them sporting letters pinned to their shirts that spelled out slogans such as "NO WAR." But police officers said the group -- which was offered a permit to carry small signs, but not until after 10 a.m. -- would have to remove the letters or be arrested.

"How can we be a danger to traffic at 10 a.m., but not at 8 a.m.?" asked Sam Joi, adding that they insisted on the earlier hour to catch rush-hour drivers. "It's like saying you can flyer an empty parking lot, or hold a concert with no music."

As Locati talked to the protesters on the south end of the bridge, two California Highway Patrol officers unfurled a chain of handcuffs in front of a CHP van. About a dozen uniformed CHP and Golden Gate Bridge officers were milling around.

"I really feel strongly about ending the war (in Iraq)," said 17-year-old Cecily Bauer, who said she is homeschooled in Albany.

"Oh wonderful," she added as she caught sight of the long line of handcuffs. "I've never seen anything like this before. ...They're trying to intimidate us."

Most people complied with authorities' demands, giving their signs to police officers who searched the protesters as they entered the bridge. Instead, the group flashed peace signs with their hands to passing traffic; many drivers honked and waved peace signs back.

Five women, however, hid the "NO WAR" letters under their clothes and pinned the signs to their chests after the groups from both sides met in the middle of the bridge.

A few minutes later, two Golden Gate Bridge bicycle officers noticed the signs and pedaled over. One of the officers -- who would only identify himself as badge number 13 -- ripped one of the signs from a woman' hands, tried to unpin the sign from another woman's chest and began exchanging words with protesters Toby Blome, Joi and several others.

"Give it to me," the officer said. "We told you no signs and you did it anyway. Give it to me now or you'll be arrested."

"Are we living in a fascist state or a democracy?" asked Blome.

Soon, three Golden Gate Bridge Transportation and Highway Authority cars pulled up and blocked the right lane of traffic. Locati got out of one of the cars and asked the protesters to move along, threatening to arrest them for loitering if they didn't.

"You could arrest them but it wouldn't be popular," Locati said to a CHP officer quietly as the protesters decided whether to stay. Technically, CHP officers must arrest people on the bridge, though bridge police do have the authority to detain people.

In the end, the protesters moved on, unfurling a sign over the east side of the bridge momentarily on the way back to their cars.

"Everything went fine," said Locati.

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A core of love -

This comes from Heron Dance today.


SHE HAD FOUR children in five years. The most significant thing that happened to her life, she told us, was losing one of those children to cancer when he was five years old. “I don’t talk about this very easily,” she said, looking down and speaking very quietly, “but it was pivotal for me. It changed my life—jelled it in a profound way. I have an image that comes to mind about that time. It’s of a white fire roaring through my life and burning out what was superficial, frivolous or unimportant and leaving a core of … I don’t think there’s any other word for it than love. A core of love. It’s hard to convey what that means.”

Sandra Mardigian, as quoted in The Cultural Creatives by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D.

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Evening -

The night is warm.   The stars are shining.   All day, leaves were falling, honoring this first day of fall.

We went tonight to the MV Library to hear a talk on the new De Young Museum.   It was fascinating to hear the history of the old and the new.  I better understand what the architect was trying to do, though I still wonder why each of the 7200 panels need to be different, and I understand that the idea is to give the effect of leaves on trees.  Each leaf is unique, each tree, and, therefore, so is each panel.   Certainly, the landscape architecture is magnificent, and the whole, inside and out, is quite an achievement.    We have an amazing collection of art in San Francisco.  I am now going to make more effort to visit our museums.

Jane and I worked hard today, and I discovered that I need to go more deeply into my experience, so I am going back through the blog.  It is not so painful for me this time.  It doesn't seem like it happened to me.  It just is, and now is now, and it is a lovely evening, and I am tired and soon to bed.  The kittens are already asleep.