Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

Langston Hughes

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Published on Friday, October 6, 2006 by
What the Amish are Teaching America
by Sally Kohn

On October 2, Charles Carl Roberts entered a one-room schoolhouse in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He lined up eleven young girls from the class and shot them each at point blank range. The gruesome depths of this crime are hard for any community to grasp, but certainly for the Amish — who live such a secluded and peaceful life, removed even from the everyday depictions of violence on TV. When the Amish were suddenly pierced by violence, how did they respond?

The evening of the shooting, Amish neighbors from the Nickel Mines community gathered to process their grief with each other and mental health counselors. As of that evening, three little girls were dead. Eight were hospitalized in critical condition. (One more girl has died since.) According to reports by counselors who attended the grief session, the Amish family members grappled with a number of questions: Do we send our kids to school tomorrow? What if they want to sleep in our beds tonight, is that okay? But one question they asked might surprise us outsiders. What, they wondered, can we do to help the family of the shooter? Plans were already underway for a horse-and-buggy caravan to visit Charles Carl Roberts’ family with offers of food and condolences. The Amish, it seems, don’t automatically translate their grieving into revenge. Rather, they believe in redemption.

Meanwhile, the United States culture from which the Amish are isolated is moving in the other direction — increasingly exacting revenge for crimes and punishing violence with more violence. In 26 states and at the federal level, there are “three strikes” laws in place. Conviction for three felonies in a row now warrants a life sentence, even for the most minor crimes. For instance, Leandro Andrade is serving a life sentence, his final crime involving the theft of nine children’s videos — including “Cinderella” and “Free Willy” — from a Kmart. Similarly, in many states and at the federal level, possession of even small amounts of drugs trigger mandatory minimum sentences of extreme duration. In New York, Elaine Bartlett was just released from prison, serving a 20-year sentence for possessing only four ounces of cocaine. This is in addition to the 60 people who were executed in the United States in 2005, among the more than a thousand killed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. And the President of the United States is still actively seeking authority to torture and abuse alleged terrorists, whom he consistently dehumanizes as rats to be “smoked from their holes”, even without evidence of their guilt.

Our patterns of punishment and revenge are fundamentally at odds with the deeper values of common humanity that the tragic experience of the Amish are helping to reveal. Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done in life. Someone who cheats is not only a cheater. Someone who steals something is not only a thief. And someone who commits a murder is not only a murderer. The same is true of Charles Carl Roberts. We don’t yet know the details of the episode in his past for which, in his suicide note, he said he was seeking revenge. It may be a sad and sympathetic tale. It may not. Either way, there’s no excusing his actions. Whatever happened to Roberts in the past, taking the lives of others is never justified. But nothing Roberts has done changes the fact that he was a human being, like all of us. We all make mistakes. Roberts’ were considerably and egregiously larger than most. But the Amish in Nickel Mines seem to have been able to see past Roberts’ actions and recognize his humanity, sympathize with his family for their loss, and move forward with compassion not vengeful hate.

We’ve come to think that “an eye for an eye” is a natural, human reaction to violence. The Amish, who live a truly natural life apart from the influences of our violence-infused culture, are proving otherwise. If, as Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” then the Amish are providing the rest of us with an eye-opening lesson.

Sally Kohn is Director of the Movement Vision Project at the Center for Community Change and author of a forthcoming book on the progressive vision for the future of the United States.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

UN food expert: ICC should probe Israel


Courtesy Bethlehem Bloggers: Voices from the Bethlehem Ghetto

What I've been mixing lately (not necessarily in this order)

Electro Disco (D Ramirez Remix) Plump DJs

La Part Des Anges (Siberian Sun remix) Fred Baker & Vincent Gorczak

In Silence (Ron Van den Beuken remix) Randy Katana

No More Fucking Rock 'n Roll A*S*Y*S*

Deep Sam Sharp

Mainline (4 Strings Turntable remix) 4 Strings

Dirty Cash (Dirty South remix) Mind Electric

Love You More Armin van Buuren featuring Racoon

Sex N Money Paul Oakenfold featuring Pharrell Williams

Identify Me Mark Dynamix & Jaytech featuring Andy Love

Friday, October 13, 2006

Criminal incompetence

You know things are going wrong when a key member of the UK Government establishment openly admits that Britain's presence in Iraq is only making the situation in that country worse.

Update: things have gone from silly to ridiculous.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The legal mind

Here's an excerpt from a paper I'm writing. Well it's one of a number that I'm writing at the moment, but I'm hoping to actually complete this one for publication! This is only a first draft but feel free to be as critical as possible...

There exists in the world two streams of intellectuals who have an interest in social issues. Those who see things through the prism of law, and those that do not. For present purposes I will limit myself to those who see things through the prism of law. To the legal mind, everything has a legal formulation. It is true that the law is principally designed to faciliate the fair and equitable arbitration of disputes. However, the legal mind will contend that even in the absence of a dispute all human transactions, be they commercial or civil, personal or criminal, have a legal character. Which is to say, basically, that the law has something to say about every human endeavour. Even when there is a black hole where there is no clear 'law' guiding a certain activity (the treatment of stateless persons is a good example), there is nevertheless the chatacterisation of 'negative law' (or so the legal mind would argue). Negative law is the concept that although a certain activity is not regulated by the law, it is nevertheless recognised by the law in some way in so far as that activity is either not 'illegal' or is 'not lawful'.

Immediately you can see the problem with this way of thinking. It's totally pre-fabricated. Further, in 'the real world', persons do not exactly characterise their actions on the basis of whether they are legal or illegal, or whether the law allows or prohibits certain activities. If you seek illicit substances for example, you might know how much of a certain illicit substance will put you behind bars if you are caught. But your main consideration is trying to obtain this substance without getting caught, because getting caught would mean going to jail and going to jail is not a good thing.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Some statistics

Israeli and Palestinian Children Killed Since September 29, 2000

121 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 786 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

Chart showing that approximately 5 times more Palestinian children have been killed than Israeli children
Israelis and Palestinians Killed Since September 29, 2000
Chart showing that 3 to 4 times more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis.

1,084 Israelis and 4,171 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.

Israelis and Palestinians Injured Since September 29, 2000

7,633 Israelis and 30,670 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.

Chart showing that Palestinians are injured at least four times more often than Israelis.
Daily U.S. Assistance to Israel and the Palestinians
Chart showing that the United States gives over 26 times more assistance to Israel than to Palestinian development organizations.

The U.S. gives $15,139,178 per day to the Israeli government and military and $232,290 per day to Palestinian NGO’s.

UN Resolutions Targeting Israel and the Palestinians

Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none.

Chart showing that Israel has been targeted by over 60 UN resolutions, while the Palestinians have been targeted by none.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
Chart showing that Israel is holding over 8000 Palestinians prisoner.

1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 9,599 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.

Demolitions of Israeli and Palestinian Homes

0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 4,170 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since September 29, 2000.

Chart showing that 2202 Palestinian homes have been destroyed, compared to one Israeli home.
Israeli and Palestinian Unemployment Rates
Chart depicting the fact that the Palestinian unemployment is around 4 times the Israeli unemployment rate.

The Israeli unemployment rate is 8.9%, while the Palestinian unemployment is estimated at 25-31%.

New Settlements Built (March 2001 - July 2003)

60+ new Jewish-only settlements have been built on confiscated Palestinian land between March 2001 and July 11, 2003. There have been 0 cases of Palestinians confiscating Israeli land and building settlements.

Chart showing that Israel has built at least 60 new Jewish-only settlements on Palestinians land.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Peaks District

Here are some pics from a recent visit to the Peaks District.


English breakfast in Rugby

Rugby town church

Chatsworth House