Monday, February 28, 2011

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From RollingStone

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's Girlfriend and the Muse Behind Many of His Greatest Songs, Dead at 67

Rotolo inspired 'Boots of Spanish Leather,' 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right,' 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' and many more

By Andy Greene
February 27, 2011 3:15 PM ET

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's girlfriend in the early-Sixties, who walked arm-in-arm with the songwriter on the iconic cover of The Freehweelin' Bob Dylan, died February 24th after a long illness. She was 67. Rotolo was the muse behind many of Dylan's early love songs, including "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time." She was just 17 when they began dating in 1961, shortly after Dylan arrived in New York City. "I once loved a woman, a child I'm told," he wrote in "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." "I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul."

Early Bob Dylan Photos

In Bob Dylan's 2004 memoir Chronicles Volume One, he describes meeting Rotolo backstage at a concert. "Right from the start I couldn't take my eyes off her," Dylan wrote. "She was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blooded Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid's arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard."

Bob Dylan: The Rolling Stone Covers

By early 1962, Dylan and Rotolo were living together in a tiny apartment on West 4th Street. Suze came from a staunchly left-wing New York family, and played a huge role in Dylan's political awakening. When they began dating Dylan was largely apolitical and his set consisted mostly of decades-old folk songs. Rotolo took him to CORE (The Congress of Racial Equality) meetings and taught him much about the civil rights movement. "A lot of what I gave him was a look at how the other half lived -- left wing things that he didn't know," Rotolo told writer David Hajdu in his book Positively 4th Street. "He knew about Woody [Guthrie] and Pete Seeger, but I was working for CORE and went on youth marches for civil rights, and all that was new to him."

Rotolo told Dylan about the brutal 1955 murder of Emmett Till, inspiring Dylan to write his early protest classic "The Death of Emmett Till." "I think it's the best thing I've ever written," Dylan said at the time. "How many nights I stayed up and wrote songs and showed them to [Suze] and asked, 'Is this right? Because I knew her mother was associated with unions, and she was into this equality-freedom thing long before I was. I checked the songs out with her. She would like all the songs."

In the summer of 1962 Rotolo took a long trip to Italy, leaving Dylan alone and heartbroken in New York. During this period he penned "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" -- all bittersweet love songs about Rotolo. She returned in January of 1963, and weeks later Columbia records send photographer Don Hunstein to shoot the cover of The Freehweelin' Bob Dylan. The young couple walked up and down Jones Street for a few minutes while Hunstein snapped shots. "Bob stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and leaned into me," Rotolo wrote in her 2009 book A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. "We walked the length of Jones Street facing West Fourth with Bleecker Street at our backs. In some outtakes it's obvious that we were freezing; certainly Bob was, in that thin jacket. But image was all. As for me, I was never asked to sign a release or paid anything. It never dawned on me to ask."

Photos of Dylan, Johnny Cash and Miles Davis by Don Hunstein

Dylan's growing fame put enormous strain on their relationship, and she moved into her sister Carla's apartment in August of 1963. "I could no longer cope with all the pressure, gossip, truth and lies that living with Bob entailed," she wrote in her memoir. "I was unable to find solo ground -- I was on quicksand and very vulnerable." A particularly nasty fight with Suze and her sister Carla was chronicled in Dylan's 1964 song "Ballad in Plain D." "For her parasite sister, I had no respect," Dylan wrote in one of the angriest songs he ever wrote. "Bound by her boredom, her pride had to protect." In a 1985 interview Dylan said releasing the song was wrong. "It wasn't very good," he said. "It was a mistake to record it and I regret it."

By late 1963, Rotolo could no longer ignore the rumors that Joan Baez and Bob Dylan's relationship had become more than professional. They split up for good, though remained friends for a short period afterwards. During Rotolo's trip to Italy in 1962, Rotolo met film editor Enzo Bartoccioli. They married in 1970 and had a son named Luca. She lived in downtown New York her entire life, and worked as a teacher, a painter and a book illustrator.

For years Rotolo refused to discuss Dylan in interviews, but she agreed to be interviewed in Martin Scorsese's 2005 documentary No Direction Home. In 2009 she wrote a memoir entitled A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

From Buffalo News

Manny Fried, a guiding presence to area's actors, writers and social activists, dies at 97

Updated: February 26, 2011, 2:23 PM

Manny Fried, the actor, union organizer and prolific playwright who stood up to McCarthyism and served as an outspoken champion of the working class, died early Friday morning in a Kenmore nursing home. He was 97.

Even until this year, he remained a guiding presence in Buffalo's theater, literary and social activist communities and was widely regarded as the most important figure on Buffalo's theater scene. "He was a passionate, hardworking man devoted to hardworking people," said Lorrie Rabin, Fried's daughter. "He was very focused on his politics and his social beliefs. He was a man with a purpose."

Once dubbed "the most dangerous man in Western New York" for his union-organizing activities and association with the Communist Party, Fried was the subject of government investigations and public recriminations for much of his life. He was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee at least twice, in 1954 and 1964, each time refusing to answer questions posed by the committee or to give names of other suspected communists.

In a 2007 interview, Fried recalled his response to the committee's questions with a few simple sentences. "My answer will be, I will not answer. The First and the Fifth," he said, invoking constitutional amendments. "Or in other words, it's none of your business."

During the McCarthy era, he was blacklisted and prevented from working in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He found work at a Canadian company as an insurance salesman.

But Fried, whose friends described him as stoic and unwavering in his convictions, was no Willy Loman. For the rest of his life, he continued to write and speak out about the perceived abuses of the government and the plight of the working class in his plays, essays, newspaper articles and public appearances.

In 1972, he began his tenure as an English and creative writing professor at Buffalo State College, where he remained on the full-time faculty until 1983 and taught as an adjunct professor until 2008. During his time at Buffalo State, he mentored dozens of local playwrights.

Fried drew on his experiences as a labor organizer for his writing, which focused primarily on the plight of working men and women. In a career that spanned more than eight decades, Fried penned more than two dozen plays, including the commercially successful "Drop Hammer" and "Dodo Bird," each of which has been frequently produced outside of Buffalo.

Emanuel J. Fried was born March 1, 1913 in Brooklyn to Austro-Hungarian immigrants. His family relocated a few years later to Buffalo, where his father operated a dry goods store on Genesee Street. He attended Schools 37 and 47 and Hutchinson-Central High School.

As a boy, Fried worked as a bellhop and elevator operator at downtown hotels, a concessionaire at Offerman Stadium and as a theater usher, shoe salesman and newsboy.

At the urging of a high school teacher, Mr. Fried wrote his first play at 14, about the prostitutes he met while working as a bellboy at the Ford Hotel at Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street.

Under the stage name Edward Mann, Fried appeared in many plays on Broadway and on national tours, including "Having a Wonderful Time," "American Way," "Crime and Punishment" and "They Shall Not Die." He worked with members of the famed Group Theatre in New York City and was a close friend of its most prominent member, the theater and film director Elia Kazan.

After moving back to Buffalo in 1939, Fried served as co-chairman of the UAW-CIO Volunteer Organizing Committee at the Curtiss-Wright airplane factory, where he worked as a template maker. On behalf of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, known as the UE, he organized workers at Wurlitzer, Spaulding Fibre, Buffalo Bolt, Columbus McKinnon, Wales-Strippit, Pratt & Letchworth, Otis Elevator and Blaw-Knox.

During World War II, Fried served with the 20th Infantry in the Pacific Theater and rose to the rank of first lieutenant before being discharged in November 1945.

He also served for a short time as director of the Buffalo Contemporary Theatre, a company that produced plays about the working class. It was at a Buffalo Contemporary Theatre variety show that he met his future wife, Rhoda Lurie, the daughter of an aristocratic Buffalo family, to whom he was married for 48 years.

The Lurie family owned the Park Lane Restaurant and apartment building on Gates Circle, once considered the nexus of Buffalo's upper-class social life. Fried made no secret that straddling the world of labor-organizing and the rarefied social atmosphere of the Park Lane was often a tenuous balancing act. That struggle, like much else in Fried's life, found its way into his writing, in pieces like the 2007 one-man show "Boilermakers and Martinis" and last year's memoir, "Most Dangerous Man."

Mindy Fried, Manny's other daughter, remembered her father as a man of ironclad will, an attribute he said came from his own parents, who struggled through hardships of their own. "He had incredible integrity, and I learned the value of standing up for what you believe in despite the odds," Mindy Fried said. "I think he suffered a lot through his life but continued to be a loving and giving person. The older he got, the more generous he became."

Darleen Pickering Hummert, Fried's longtime friend and director of Theater for Change, called him "absolutely the patriarch" of the Western New York theater world, a man who mentored dozens of playwrights and helped to create and foster several local organizations.

"He had so many different communities that he touched: Buffalo State College, the labor community, the theater community and numerous others," Hummert said. "Loyalty was his middle name."

Actress Rosalind Cramer, who worked with Fried on the Buffalo theater scene for more than 30 years, said he was "an unforgettable personality."

"He always had an idea in his head. He always wanted to do something. He always wanted to write something or perform something," Cramer said. "He made everyone that he was with feel that they were important to him. And they were."

In 2008, the Subversive Theatre Collective christened its new space, in a former factory on Great Arrow Avenue, the Manny Fried Playhouse. Kurt Schneiderman, the company's artistic director, called Fried "one of the famous subversives of Buffalo history."

As Fried's health declined over the past two years, friends visited him in his Kenmore assisted living facility during a weekly event called "Mondays with Manny," inspired by Fried's well-received performance in a 2005 Studio Arena Theatre production of "Tuesdays with Morrie." Another gathering had been scheduled for this coming Monday, a day before his 98th birthday.

Fried often boasted that he came from good stock — his mother lived to be 99 and his father 97. When anyone brought up the subject of his political enemies, most of whom passed away decades ago, Fried would often reply: "Living longer is the best revenge."

He is survived by his daughters Mindy Fried and Lorrie Rabin, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Sunday in the Chapel at Forest Lawn.

From Democracy Now

Protesters Expect 100,000 in Madison as Assembly OKs Anti-Union Bill

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly has passed Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public employees. The measure has sparked an unprecedented 11 days of protest in the capital city of Madison and across the state. Broadcasting from the Capitol Rotunda in Madison, we speak to The Nation magazine’s John Nichols. [includes rush transcript]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From Truthout

Why Monsanto Always Wins

by: Mike Ludwig, t r u t h o u t | Report
Alfalfa sprouts.
The USDA recently approved Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa. Government regulators openly rely on data and research provided by the biotech industry when approving GE technology. (Photo: tipsycat)

The recent approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa is one of most divisive controversies in American agriculture, but in 2003, it was simply the topic at hand in a string of emails between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Monsanto. In the emails, federal regulators and Monsanto officials shared edits to a list of the USDA's questions about Monsanto's original petition to fully legalize the alfalfa. Later emails show a USDA regulator accepted Monsanto's help with drafting the initial environmental assessment (EA) of the alfalfa and planned to "cut and paste" parts of Monsanto's revised petition (for more click here »)

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From The Greenbay Press Gazette

The following editorial is from The Greenbay Press Gazette, a very conservative publication.   

Editorial: Walker on target, but approach troubling

The state of Wisconsin knew last fall it was in for a political sea change when Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a GOP Assembly and state Senate were elected to power.

State residents hardly can be surprised Walker wants to take drastic actions. He said as much in the campaign, but Walker didn't make clear his plan included limiting the rights of most public employees to collectively bargain. And he should have.

Walker's stand during the last week of protests and upheaval has been constant:

# Wisconsin faces an estimated $3 billion-plus biennial budget deficit.

# Tough times call for tough measures.

# Sacrifices are in order.

This newspaper, which endorsed the governor in his race against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, has a tradition of supporting fiscal conservatism on the local, state and national levels. We think Walker is on target in his intention to reduce a massive projected deficit. And frankly, it's difficult to imagine every public employee union in the state would have agreed to the changes Walker seeks. Still, bypassing labor without even trying only muddies the waters.

Walker wants public employees to accept changes in pension and health care contributions already thrust onto workers in the private sector. We support the governor's insistence on taking those steps. That said, his approach casts the debate as an anti-union campaign, and not a tough-but-fair shared sacrifice.

We also are troubled Walker's budget repair bill makes an exception for police, firefighters and the Wisconsin State Patrol. When he introduced the bill, Walker said Wisconsin always has treated those groups differently from other state employees, but critics have a valid argument in that their exemption smacks of political payback for support in the fall election. If sacrifice is the measure, then it should be applied equally to all, including those sworn to uphold the law.

Walker's line in the sand between groups of public employees was drawn deeper still with his announcement Feb. 11 that he'd readied the Wisconsin National Guard to respond as needed to any unrest. This disingenuous move to put the focus on working men and women, assuming they'd act out in a violent or unruly manner, reflects poorly on the state's chief executive.

What we have seen is not violence, but rather a groundswell of protest and pro-union support, most of it peaceful — if heated — as Wisconsin's budget woes take center stage here and on the national scene. We respect the voices of those protesting peacefully, even as we can't help but wonder how many of the outraged bothered to cast a ballot during the November election.

By week's end, Walker's proposal and the reaction thereto had taken on a life of their own, serving to hamstring not only state government, but also school districts that shut their doors because of absent teachers. Wisconsin's Democratic state Senate delegation fled to Illinois Thursday to avoid taking up the measure, further intensifying this political saga.

It's clear that at some point a sense of normalcy has to be restored in Wisconsin. The lawmakers, including state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, will have to return to lawmaking. Teachers will have to return to teaching. Students should be in the classroom.

Sacrifices will be necessary as we navigate the difficult weeks and months ahead. All sides must work together to find a better way forward during these challenging times.

From Holidash

Was Alexander Hamilton President?

From Robert Reich

The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What’s Really at Stake

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin is in a showdown. Washington is headed for a government shutdown.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won’t budge. He insists on delivering a knockout blow to public unions in his state (except for those, like the police, who supported his election).

In DC, House Republicans won’t budge on the $61 billion cut they pushed through last week, saying they’ll okay a temporary resolution to keep things running in Washington beyond March 4 only if it includes many of their steep cuts — among which are several that the middle class and poor depend on.

Republicans say “we’ve” been spending too much, and they’re determined to end the spending with a scorched-earth policies in the states (Republican governors in Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey are reading similar plans to decimate public unions) and shutdowns in Washington.

There’s no doubt that government budgets are in trouble. The big lie is that the reason is excessive spending.

Public budgets are in trouble because revenues plummeted over the last two years of the Great Recession.

They’re also in trouble because of tax giveaways to the rich.

Before Wisconsin’s budget went bust, Governor Walker signed $117 million in corporate tax breaks. Wisconsin’s immediate budge shortfall is $137 million. That’s his pretext for socking it to Wisconsin’s public unions.

Nationally, you remember, Republicans demanded and received an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. They’ve made it clear they’re intent on extending them for the next ten years, at a cost of $900 billion. They’ve also led the way on cutting the estate tax, and on protecting Wall Street private equity and hedge-fund managers whose earnings are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. And the last thing they’d tolerate is an increase in the top marginal tax rate on the super-rich.

Meanwhile, of course, more and more of the nation’s income and wealth has been concentrating at the top. In the late 1970s, the top 1 percent got 9 percent of total income. Now it gets more than 20 percent.

So the problem isn’t that “we’ve” been spending too much. It’s that most Americans have been getting a steadily smaller share of the nation’s total income.

At the same time, the super-rich have been contributing a steadily-declining share of their own incomes in taxes to support what the nation needs — both at the federal and at the state levels.

The coming showdowns and shutdowns must not mask what’s going on. Democrats should make sure the public understands what’s really at stake.

Yes, of course, wasteful and unnecessary spending should be cut. That means much of the defense budget, along with agricultural subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare.

But America is the richest nation in the world, and “we’ve” never been richer. There’s no reason for us to turn on our teachers, our unionized workers, our poor and needy, and our elderly. The notion that “we” can no longer afford it is claptrap.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lamar Alexander at the Alfalfa Club

"Find the good and praise it." – Alex Haley

John Mock

John Mock, a good friend, is an incredible musician who has played on many hit records for artists such as the Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, Maura O’Connell, Nancy Griffith, Kathy Mattea and many many others. John is the musician and co-producer of Sylvia Hutton's “Cumberland Rose” single I recently featured on my Blog.

This Sunday, February 20th, John is performing a free concert of his original compositions with the Nexus Chamber Orchestra at 4:00 p.m. at the Brentwood United Methodist Church Chapel at 309 Franklin Road. No reservations necessary.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Robert Reich

Budget Baloney (1): Why Social Security Isn’t a Problem for 26 Years, and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, says in order to “save” Social Security the retirement age should be raised. The media are congratulating him for his putative “courage.” Deficit hawks are proclaiming Social Security one of the big entitlements that has to be cut in order to reduce the budget deficit.

This is all baloney.

In a former life I was a trustee of the Social Security trust fund. So let me set the record straight.

Social Security isn’t responsible for the federal deficit. Just the opposite. Until last year Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits. It lent the surpluses to the rest of the government.

Now that Social Security has started to pay out more than it takes in, Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it. This will keep it fully solvent for the next 26 years.

But why should there even be a problem 26 years from now? Back in 1983, Alan Greenspan’s Social Security commission was supposed to have fixed the system for good – by gradually increasing payroll taxes and raising the retirement age. (Early boomers like me can start collecting full benefits at age 66; late boomers born after 1960 will have to wait until they’re 67.)

Greenspan’s commission must have failed to predict something. But what? It fairly accurately predicted how quickly the boomers would age. It had a pretty good idea of how fast the US economy would grow. While it underestimated how many immigrants would be coming into the United States, that’s no problem. To the contrary, most new immigrants are young and their payroll-tax contributions will far exceed what they draw from Social Security for decades.

So what did Greenspan’s commission fail to see coming?


Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.

Back in 1983, the ceiling was set so the Social Security payroll tax would hit 90 percent of all wages covered by Social Security. That 90 percent figure was built into the Greenspan Commission’s fixes. The Commission assumed that, as the ceiling rose with inflation, the Social Security payroll tax would continue to hit 90 percent of total income.

Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.

It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent.

If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.

Presto. Social Security’s long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved.

So there’s no reason even to consider reducing Social Security benefits or raising the age of eligibility. The logical response to the increasing concentration of income at the top is simply to raise the ceiling.

Not incidentally, several months ago the White House considered proposing that the ceiling be lifted to $180,000. Somehow, though, that proposal didn’t make it into the President’s budget.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jakob Dylan

Live at Rolling Stone: Jakob Dylan Performs "They've Trapped Us Boys"

Press Release of Senator Paul

Senator Rand Paul’s Letter of Opposition to the Patriot Act

Contact: Gary Howard: 202-224-4343
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) released the following Dear Colleague letter to his fellow Senators this morning regarding the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Dear Colleague:

James Otis argued against general warrants and writs of assistance that were issued by British soldiers without judicial review and that did not name the subject or items to be searched.

He condemned these general warrants as “the worst instrument[s] of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever w[ere] found in an English law book.” Otis objected to these writs of assistance because they “placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.” The Fourth Amendment was intended to guarantee that only judges—not soldiers or policemen—would issue warrants. Otis’ battle against warrantless searches led to our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable government intrusion.

My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that should require a judge’s warrant are performed with a letter from an FBI agent—a National Security Letter (“NSL”).

I object to these warrantless searches being performed on United States citizens. I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge’s warrant.

I object to over 2 million searches of bank records, called Suspicious Activity Reports, performed on U.S. citizens without a judge’s warrant.

As February 28th approaches, with three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire, it is time to re-consider this question: Do the many provisions of this bill, which were enacted in such haste after 9/11, have an actual basis in our Constitution, and are they even necessary to achieve valid law-enforcement goals?

The USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the wake of the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, is no doubt well-intentioned. However, rather than examine what went wrong, and fix the problems, Congress instead hastily passed a long-standing wish list of power grabs like warrantless searches and roving wiretaps. The government greatly expanded its own power, ignoring obvious answers in favor of the permanent expansion of a police state.

It is not acceptable to willfully ignore the most basic provisions of our Constitution—in this case—the Fourth and First Amendments—in the name of “security.”

For example, one of the three provisions set to expire on February 28th—the “library provision,” section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—allows the government to obtain records from a person or entity by making only the minimal showing of “relevance” to an international terrorism or espionage investigation. This provision also imposes a year-long nondisclosure, or “gag” order. “Relevance” is a far cry from the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of probable cause. Likewise, the “roving wiretap” provision, section 206 of the PATRIOT Act, which is also scheduled to expire on the 28th, does not comply with the Fourth Amendment. This provision makes possible “John Doe roving wiretaps,” which do not require the government to name the target of the wiretap, nor to identify the specific place or facility to be monitored. This bears an uncanny resemblance to the Writs of Assistance fought against by Otis and the American colonists.

Other provisions of the PATRIOT Act previously made permanent and not scheduled to expire present even greater concerns. These include the use and abuse by the FBI of so-called National Security Letters. These secret demand letters, which allow the government to obtain financial records and other sensitive information held by Internet Service Providers, banks, credit companies, and telephone carriers—all without appropriate judicial oversight—also impose a gag order on recipients.

NSL abuse has been and likely continues to be rampant. The widely-circulated 2007 report issued by the Inspector General from the Department of Justice documents “widespread and serious misuse of the FBI’s national security letter authorities. In many instances, the FBI’s misuse of national security letters violated NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, or the FBI’s own internal policies.” Another audit released in 2008 revealed similar abuses, including the fact that the FBI had issued inappropriate “blanket NSLs” that did not comply with FBI policy, and which allowed the FBI to obtain data on 3,860 telephone numbers by issuing only eleven “blanket NSLs.” The 2008 audit also confirmed that the FBI increasingly used NSLs to seek information on U.S. citizens. From 2003 to 2006, almost 200,000 NSL requests were issued. In 2006 alone, almost 60% of the 49,425 requests were issued specifically for investigations of U.S. citizens or legal aliens.

In addition, First Amendment advocates should be concerned about an especially troubling aspect of the 2008 audit, which documented a situation in which the FBI applied to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain a section 215 order. The Court denied the order on First Amendment grounds. Not to be deterred, the FBI simply used an NSL to obtain the same information.

A recent report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) entitled, “Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001-2008,” documents further NSL abuse. EFF estimates that, based on the proportion of violations reported to the Intelligence Oversight Board and the FBI’s own statements regarding NSL violations, the actual number of violations that may have occurred since 2001 could approach 40,000 violations of law, Executive Order, and other regulations.

Yet another troublesome (and now permanent) provision of the PATRIOT Act is the expansion of Suspicious Activity Reports. Sections 356 and 359 expanded the types of financial institutions required to file reports under the Bank Secrecy Act. The personal and account information required by the reports is turned over to the Treasury Department and the FBI. In 2000, there were only 163,184 reports filed. By 2007, this had increased to 1,250,439. Again, as with NSLs, there is a complete lack of judicial oversight for SARs.

Finally, I wish to remind my colleagues that one of the many ironies of the rush to advance the PATRIOT Act following 9/11 is the well-documented fact that FBI incompetence caused the failure to search the computer of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui. As FBI agent Coleen Rowley stated, “the FBI headquarters supervisory special agent handling the Moussaoui case ‘seemed to have been consistently almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents’ efforts” to meet the FISA standard for a search warrant, and therefore no request was ever made for a warrant. Why, then, was the FBI rewarded with such expansive new powers in the aftermath of this institutional failure?

In the words of former Senator Russ Feingold, the only “no” vote against the original version of the PATRIOT Act,

“[T]here is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”

I call upon each of my Senate colleagues to seriously consider whether the time has come to re-evaluate many—if not all—provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Our oath to uphold the Constitution demands it.


Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From The New York Times

Common Cause Asks Court About Thomas Speech

Published: February 14, 2011

WASHINGTON — Discrepancies in reports about an appearance by Justice Clarence Thomas at a political retreat for wealthy conservatives three years ago have prompted new questions to the Supreme Court from a group that advocates changing campaign finance laws.

When questions were first raised about the retreat last month, a court spokeswoman said Justice Thomas had made a “brief drop-by” at the event in Palm Springs, Calif., in January 2008 and had given a talk.

In his financial disclosure report for that year, however, Justice Thomas reported that the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal group, had reimbursed him an undisclosed amount for four days of “transportation, meals and accommodations” over the weekend of the retreat. The event is organized by Charles and David Koch, brothers who have used millions of dollars from the energy conglomerate they run in Wichita, Kan., to finance conservative causes.

Arn Pearson, a vice president at the advocacy group Common Cause, said the two statements appeared at odds. His group sent a letter to the Supreme Court on Monday asking for “further clarification” as to whether the justice spent four days at the retreat for the entire event or was there only briefly.

“I don’t think the explanation they’ve given is credible,” Mr. Pearson said in an interview. He said that if Justice Thomas’s visit was a “four-day, all-expenses paid trip in sunny Palm Springs,” it should have been reported as a gift under federal law.

The Supreme Court had no comment on the issue Monday. Nor did officials at the Federalist Society or at Koch Industries.

Common Cause maintains that Justice Thomas should have disqualified himself from last year’s landmark campaign finance ruling in the Citizens United case, partly because of his ties to the Koch brothers.

In a petition filed with the Justice Department last month, the advocacy group said past appearances at the Koch brothers’ retreat by Justice Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia, along with the conservative political work of Justice Thomas’s wife, had created a possible perception of bias in hearing the case.

The Citizens United decision, with Justice Thomas’s support, freed corporations to engage in direct political spending with little public disclosure. The Koch brothers have been among the main beneficiaries, political analysts say.

From Organic Consumer Association (A Must Read)

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, Jan 27, 2011
Straight to the Source

"The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must." - Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America's organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it's time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for "coexistence" with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

In a cleverly worded, but profoundly misleading email sent to its customers last week, Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and "seed purity," gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the "conditional deregulation" of Monsanto's genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa. Beyond the regulatory euphemism of "conditional deregulation," this means that WFM and their colleagues are willing to go along with the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa; guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S.

In exchange for allowing Monsanto's premeditated pollution of the alfalfa gene pool, WFM wants "compensation." In exchange for a new assault on farmworkers and rural communities (a recent large-scale Swedish study found that spraying Roundup doubles farm workers' and rural residents' risk of getting cancer), WFM expects the pro-biotech USDA to begin to regulate rather than cheerlead for Monsanto. In payment for a new broad spectrum attack on the soil's crucial ability to provide nutrition for food crops and to sequester dangerous greenhouse gases (recent studies show that Roundup devastates essential soil microorganisms that provide plant nutrition and sequester climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases), WFM wants the Biotech Bully of St. Louis to agree to pay "compensation" (i.e. hush money) to farmers "for any losses related to the contamination of his crop."

In its email of Jan. 21, 2011 WFM calls for "public oversight by the USDA rather than reliance on the biotechnology industry," even though WFM knows full well that federal regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) do not require pre-market safety testing, nor labeling; and that even federal judges have repeatedly ruled that so-called government "oversight" of Frankencrops such as Monsanto's sugar beets and alfalfa is basically a farce. At the end of its email, WFM admits that its surrender to Monsanto is permanent: "The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well True coexistence is a must."

Why Is Organic Inc. Surrendering?

According to informed sources, the CEOs of WFM and Stonyfield are personal friends of former Iowa governor, now USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and in fact made financial contributions to Vilsack's previous electoral campaigns. Vilsack was hailed as "Governor of the Year" in 2001 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and traveled in a Monsanto corporate jet on the campaign trail. Perhaps even more fundamental to Organic Inc.'s abject surrender is the fact that the organic elite has become more and more isolated from the concerns and passions of organic consumers and locavores. The Organic Inc. CEOs are tired of activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions. Several of them have told me this to my face. They apparently believe that the battle against GMOs has been lost, and that it's time to reach for the consolation prize. The consolation prize they seek is a so-called "coexistence" between the biotech Behemoth and the organic community that will lull the public to sleep and greenwash the unpleasant fact that Monsanto's unlabeled and unregulated genetically engineered crops are now spreading their toxic genes on 1/3 of U.S. (and 1/10 of global) crop land.

WFM and most of the largest organic companies have deliberately separated themselves from anti-GMO efforts and cut off all funding to campaigns working to label or ban GMOs. The so-called Non-GMO Project, funded by Whole Foods and giant wholesaler United Natural Foods (UNFI) is basically a greenwashing effort (although the 100% organic companies involved in this project seem to be operating in good faith) to show that certified organic foods are basically free from GMOs (we already know this since GMOs are banned in organic production), while failing to focus on so-called "natural" foods, which constitute most of WFM and UNFI's sales and are routinely contaminated with GMOs.

From their "business as usual" perspective, successful lawsuits against GMOs filed by public interest groups such as the Center for Food Safety; or noisy attacks on Monsanto by groups like the Organic Consumers Association, create bad publicity, rattle their big customers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Costco, Supervalu, Publix and Safeway; and remind consumers that organic crops and foods such as corn, soybeans, and canola are slowly but surely becoming contaminated by Monsanto's GMOs.

Whole Food's Dirty Little Secret: Most of the So-Called "Natural" Processed Foods and Animal Products They Sell Are Contaminated with GMOs

The main reason, however, why Whole Foods is pleading for coexistence with Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and the rest of the biotech bullies, is that they desperately want the controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods and crops to go away. Why? Because they know, just as we do, that 2/3 of WFM's $9 billion annual sales is derived from so-called "natural" processed foods and animal products that are contaminated with GMOs. We and our allies have tested their so-called "natural" products (no doubt WFM's lab has too) containing non-organic corn and soy, and guess what: they're all contaminated with GMOs, in contrast to their certified organic products, which are basically free of GMOs, or else contain barely detectable trace amounts.

Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as "natural."

Unprecedented wholesale and retail control of the organic marketplace by UNFI and Whole Foods, employing a business model of selling twice as much so-called "natural" food as certified organic food, coupled with the takeover of many organic companies by multinational food corporations such as Dean Foods, threatens the growth of the organic movement.

Covering Up GMO Contamination: Perpetrating "Natural" Fraud

Many well-meaning consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as "natural," and those nutritionally/environmentally superior and climate-friendly products that are "certified organic."

Retail stores like WFM and wholesale distributors like UNFI have failed to educate their customers about the qualitative difference between natural and certified organic, conveniently glossing over the fact that nearly all of the processed "natural" foods and products they sell contain GMOs, or else come from a "natural" supply chain where animals are force-fed GMO grains in factory farms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

A troubling trend in organics today is the calculated shift on the part of certain large formerly organic brands from certified organic ingredients and products to so-called "natural" ingredients. With the exception of the "grass-fed and grass-finished" meat sector, most "natural" meat, dairy, and eggs are coming from animals reared on GMO grains and drugs, and confined, entirely, or for a good portion of their lives, in CAFOs.

Whole Foods and UNFI are maximizing their profits by selling quasi-natural products at premium organic prices. Organic consumers are increasingly left without certified organic choices while genuine organic farmers and ranchers continue to lose market share to "natural" imposters. It's no wonder that less than 1% of American farmland is certified organic, while well-intentioned but misled consumers have boosted organic and "natural" purchases to $80 billion annually-approximately 12% of all grocery store sales.

The Solution: Truth-in-Labeling Will Enable Consumers to Drive So-Called "Natural" GMO and CAFO-Tainted Foods Off the Market

There can be no such thing as "coexistence" with a reckless industry that undermines public health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. There is no such thing as coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union. Why? Because in the EU there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor GM consumer food products on supermarket shelves. And why is this? Because under EU law, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to choose GMOs; while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are safety-tested and labeled. Of course the EU food industry understands that consumers, for the most part, do not want to purchase or consume GE foods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald's and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the concept expressed by a Monsanto executive when GMOs first came on the market: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

The biotech industry and Organic Inc. are supremely conscious of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by out-of-control chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont - the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress.

Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) recently introduced a bill in Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don't hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right to know what's in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy media coverage and elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent. Perfectly dramatizing the "Revolving Door" between Monsanto and the Federal Government, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, formerly chief counsel for Monsanto, delivered one of the decisive votes in the Citizens United case, in effect giving Monsanto and other biotech bullies the right to buy the votes it needs in the U.S. Congress.

With big money controlling Congress and the media, we have little choice but to shift our focus and go local. We've got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.

The Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, has just launched a nationwide Truth-in-Labeling campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans.

Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure giant supermarket chains (Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, Safeway, Supervalu, and Publix) and natural food retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to voluntarily implement "truth-in-labeling" practices for GMOs and CAFO products; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances - similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local and state government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we must attempt to gather sufficient petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. If you're interesting in helping organize or coordinate a Millions Against Monsanto and Factory Farms Truth-in-Labeling campaign in your local community, sign up here:

To pressure Whole Foods Market and the nation's largest supermarket chains to voluntarily adopt truth-in-labeling practices sign here, and circulate this petition widely:

And please stay tuned to Organic Bytes for the latest developments in our campaigns.

Power to the People! Not the Corporations!

Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grammy Awards: Best New Artist

Esperanza Spalding | Chamber Music Society

Happy Valentine's Day


by Dee Newman

Love is something for which all of us yearn.
It is complete, transcendent, pure and free,
A gift, demanding nothing in return,
Bound not by any measure or degree.
Neither to be thanked, nor to be praised,
Love offers care, affection, and goodwill.
With no wish or need for them to be raised,
True love seeks only other’s cups to fill.
Though it’s immeasurable and endless,
Much like the light from the heavens above,
The source and sum of human happiness
Comes more from giving than receiving love.
        So, when our feelings seem hurt and denied,
        Is it love that bleeds or our wounded pride?

From The Kiss 1961 and Other Poems of Passion and Love

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ann Coulter: 'There Should Be More Jailed Journalists' (VIDEO)

Ms Coulter needs to be institutionalized. The woman is seriously emotionally disturbed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

From The White House Blog

"It was the moral force of non-violence"

President Obama speaks on the situation in Egypt following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, saying the U.S. supports the Egyptian people and stands ready to assist as the country moves towards a genuine democracy.

From The White House Blog

White House White Board: Austan Goolsbee on the National Wireless Initiative

Posted by Jesse Lee on February 11, 2011 at 07:00 AM EST

In this White House White Board, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explains the National Wireless Initiative. This plan will help America win the future by building a 21st Century infrastructure.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Will our fears become reality?

For too many years, administration after administration, the United States has been two-faced – lecturing the world, especially the middle-east, on democracy, while offering support to dictators.

A pro-American dictator has never and will never guarantee us protection from extremism. In fact, our past support of repressive regimes has created the very radicalism and terrorism against us we wish to prevent.

As I write this, the future of Egypt is uncertain. If we allow our fears of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism to cause us to falter in our support of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement, the people of Egypt (especially the young people) will see us, once again, siding with a repressive regime against them and it will, most certainly, turn our fears into a reality.

Live Feed MSNBC 

From Vimeo

Two Very Distinctly Different Offerings from Vimeo

A SUMMER HOME from Justin Kane on Vimeo.

Daisy Lowe from shaggz02 on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From Current TV

Keith Olbermann to Host Major New Nightly Primetime News and Commentary Show on Current TV

Keith Olbermann, the acclaimed broadcaster and writer whose verbal pyrotechnics and moral passion have outraged, informed, and dazzled viewers of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" for the past eight years, is bringing his slashing wit, analytical eye, and distinctive commentary to Current Media, the Emmyu00ae and Peabody Award-winning TV and digital media company that was founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and is now distributed in more than 75 million households around the world. The news was announced today in New York.

In addition to executive producing and hosting a new nightly primetime news and commentary show, Keith Olbermann will also serve as the company's Chief News Officer and will have an equity stake in Current Media.

The new show will air weeknights in primetime beginning later in 2011.

Keith Olbermann's show will lead a programming slate on Current that includes original and acquired TV series aimed at a broad adult audience. Current features compelling stories about everyday heroes and ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and takes you to sometimes dangerous and always intriguing places. Current shines a light on controversial subjects, tackling hot issues of the day in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way. Current engages its viewers by sparking debate and discussion, and via interactive formats that allow viewers to inform its stories.

“ In a world where there are fewer and fewer opportunities to hear truly distinct, unfettered voices on television, we are delighted to provide Olbermann with the independent platform and freedom that Current can and does uniquely offer.” - Al Gore, Chairman and co-founder of Current Media

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sylvia Hutton

My good friend, Sylvia Hutton, just released a new recording (a single) called “Cumberland Rose,” written by Craig Bickhardt and Jeff Pennig. The recording is now available for download to your computer, cell phone, iPod or other listening devices.

Go to: and click on the “View” button under “Cumberland Rose.”

Sylvia has sung "Cumberland Rose" for a number of years in live concerts (including a memorable performance at the Opry House back in 1998), but until now she had never recorded this beautiful and plaintive song of love and loss set along the Cumberland plateau in East Tennessee.

She once sang "Cumberland Rose" for me at sunset beneath an unbelievably beautiful sky as Roy (her husband) and I sat alone in an amphitheater over-looking the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado that I will never forget.

Sylvia signed with RCA Records as a solo artist in 1979. She recorded for RCA until the end of 1987. During that 8 year period she charted 13 Top Ten and Number 1 songs and sold more than 4 million records.

A few of Sylvia’s hit songs include Tumbleweed, Drifter, Snapshot and Nobody. In 1982, "Nobody" was awarded BMI Song of the Year and Sylvia was named “Top Female Vocalist” by the Academy of Country Music (ACM). She also was a Grammy nominee for "Best Female Vocalist" that same year.

Several years after Sylvia stop touring and retired from the spotlight, she began to write and record music under her own record label – Red Pony Records. Her first independent album, The Real Story, was with guitarist and co-producer John Mock. The album features a range of songs – from intimate ballads to the up-tempo title song, "The Real Story."

Her second album, Where in the World, was released in 2002, marking the culmination of an 11-year musical collaboration between her and John Mock. Four of the eleven songs were penned by her long time friend and co-writer, Craig Bickhardt. Craig and her have recorded, co-written and performed with each other since 1984.

In 2002 Sylvia also released her first Christmas album – A Cradle in Bethlehem.

Since then, Sylvia has been a life coach, helping individuals working in the music industry – singers, songwriters, musicians, recording artists, and music industry professionals. She also coaches individuals who work at non-profit agencies. She is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), the Tennessee Coaches Alliance (TCA), a graduate of The Hudson Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. and a graduate of Leadership Music.

Monday, February 7, 2011

From The New Yorker

The Apostate

Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

by Lawrence Wright

On August 19, 2009, Tommy Davis, the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International, received a letter from the film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis. “For ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego,” Haggis wrote. Before the 2008 elections, a staff member at Scientology’s San Diego church had signed its name to an online petition supporting Proposition 8, which asserted that the State of California should sanction marriage only “between a man and a woman.” The proposition passed. As Haggis saw it, the San Diego church’s “public sponsorship of Proposition 8, which succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California—rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state—is a stain on the integrity of our organization and a stain on us personally. Our public association with that hate-filled legislation shames us.” Haggis wrote, “Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.” He concluded, “I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.”

Haggis was prominent in both Scientology and Hollywood, two communities that often converge. Although he is less famous than certain other Scientologists, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, he had been in the organization for nearly thirty-five years. Haggis wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2004, and he wrote and directed “Crash,” which won Best Picture the next year—the only time in Academy history that that has happened.

Davis, too, is part of Hollywood society; his mother is Anne Archer, who starred in “Fatal Attraction” and “Patriot Games,” among other films. Before becoming Scientology’s spokesperson, Davis was a senior vice-president of the church’s Celebrity Centre International network.

In previous correspondence with Davis, Haggis had demanded that the church publicly renounce Proposition 8. “I feel strongly about this for a number of reasons,” he wrote. “You and I both know there has been a hidden anti-gay sentiment in the church for a long time. I have been shocked on too many occasions to hear Scientologists make derogatory remarks about gay people, and then quote L.R.H. in their defense.” The initials stand for L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, whose extensive writings and lectures form the church’s scripture. Haggis related a story about Katy, the youngest of three daughters from his first marriage, who lost the friendship of a fellow-Scientologist after revealing that she was gay. The friend began warning others, “Katy is ‘1.1.’ ” The number refers to a sliding Tone Scale of emotional states that Hubbard published in a 1951 book, “The Science of Survival.” A person classified “1.1” was, Hubbard said, “Covertly Hostile”—“the most dangerous and wicked level”—and he noted that people in this state engaged in such things as casual sex, sadism, and homosexual activity. Hubbard’s Tone Scale, Haggis wrote, equated “homosexuality with being a pervert.” (Such remarks don’t appear in recent editions of the book.)

In his resignation letter, Haggis explained to Davis that, for the first time, he had explored outside perspectives on Scientology. He had read a recent exposé in a Florida newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times, which reported, among other things, that senior executives in the church had been subjecting other Scientologists to physical violence. Haggis said that he felt “dumbstruck and horrified,” adding, “Tommy, if only a fraction of these accusations are true, we are talking about serious, indefensible human and civil-rights violations.”

Online, Haggis came across an appearance that Davis had made on CNN, in May, 2008. The anchor John Roberts asked Davis about the church’s policy of “disconnection,” in which members are encouraged to separate themselves from friends or family members who criticize Scientology. Davis responded, “There’s no such thing as disconnection as you’re characterizing it. And certainly we have to understand—”

“Well, what is disconnection?” Roberts interjected.

“Scientology is a new religion,” Davis continued. “The majority of Scientologists in the world, they’re first generation. So their family members aren’t going to be Scientologists. . . . So, certainly, someone who is a Scientologist is going to respect their family members’ beliefs—”

“Well, what is disconnection?” Roberts said again.

“—and we consider family to be a building block of any society, so anything that’s characterized as disconnection or this kind of thing, it’s just not true. There isn’t any such policy.”

In his resignation letter, Haggis said, “We all know this policy exists. I didn’t have to search for verification—I didn’t have to look any further than my own home.” Haggis reminded Davis that, a few years earlier, his wife had been ordered to disconnect from her parents “because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago when they resigned from the church. . . . Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them.” Haggis continued, “To see you lie so easily, I am afraid I had to ask myself: what else are you lying about?”

Haggis forwarded his resignation to more than twenty Scientologist friends, including Anne Archer, John Travolta, and Sky Dayton, the founder of EarthLink. “I felt if I sent it to my friends they’d be as horrified as I was, and they’d ask questions as well,” he says. “That turned out to be largely not the case. They were horrified that I’d send a letter like that.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011


"Be the change you want to see in the world"

From Nashville Arts Magazine

A poem by my good friend, Sydney Reichman, called Tennessee was published in the February Issue of Nashville Arts Magazine.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The following post was inspired by a visit to the Blog: Writerquake

The 1950 film, Harvey, is based on Mary Chase's 1944 Pulitzer prize winning play of the same name, starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull. The story is about a man whose best friend is a pooka named Harvey – in the form of a 6 foot 3 and 1/2 inch tall white rabbit.

Part 1

Here are a few of my favorite lines from Harvey:

Elwood P. Dowd: I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I'm with.

Elwood P. Dowd: Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Veta Louise Simmons: Myrtle Mae, you have a lot to learn, and I hope you never learn it.

Elwood P. Dowd: You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space, but any objections.

Dr. Chumley: Fly specks, fly specks! I've been spending my life among fly specks while miracles have been leaning on lampposts at 18th and Fairfax!

From HumaneMyth

 Happy Cows: Behind the Myth

In order to maintain uninterrupted milk production, cows are forced year after year to go through an endless cycle of pregnancy and birth, only to have their calves immediately taken from them. Cows and calves cry out for each other as they are separated.

All forms of dairy farming involve forcibly impregnating cows. This involves a person inserting his arm far into the cow’s rectum in order to position the uterus, and then forcing an instrument into her vagina. The restraining apparatus used is commonly called a “rape rack.”

Half of all calves born are male. Of no use in milk production, they are sent to veal-producing operations or directly to auctions where they are sold and slaughtered when they are just a few days old. Male calves used for veal production suffer a crude castration process and are killed after 4 months spent in small crates or pens.

After just 4 to 6 years, dairy cows are “spent” from being forced to continuously produce milk. Often weak and ill, they endure transport to auction and slaughter, both of which are traumatic for these gentle animals. If allowed to exist free of exploitation and slaughter, cows can live 25 years or more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

From Survival International

Uncontacted Tribes

From Art Beat

‘Last Tango in Paris’ Star Maria Schneider Dies

Maria Schneider, the French actress whose sex scenes with Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris” set a new standard for explicitness onscreen, died on Thursday in Paris. She was 58.

A spokesman for her agency, Act 1, said that she had died after a long illness but provided no other details.

The baby-faced Ms. Schneider was only 19 when the Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci chose her above a hundred other actresses for the role of the free-spirited, mysterious Jeanne in “Last Tango” because, he once said, she seemed “like a Lolita, but more perverse.”

In the film, Jeanne enters into a brief but torrid affair with a recently widowed American, played by Brando. Their erotically charged relationship, played out in an empty apartment near the Bir Hakeim Bridge in Paris, shocked audiences on the film’s release in 1972, especially a scene in which Brando pins Ms. Schneider to the floor and, taking out a stick of butter, seems to perform anal intercourse on her. The Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an X rating.

The role fixed Ms. Schneider in the public mind as a figurehead of the sexual revolution, and she spent years trying to move beyond the role, and the public fuss surrounding it. “I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol,” she told The Daily Mail of London in 2007. “I wanted to be recognized as an actress, and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown. Now, though, I can look at the film and like my work in it.”

The famous butter scene, she said, was not in the script and made it into the film only at Brando’s insistence. “I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci,” she said. “After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

Ms. Schneider later appeared opposite Jack Nicholson in “The Passenger” (1975), directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni, and she went on to work with important directors like René Clément in “The Baby-Sitter” (1975) and Jacques Rivette in “Merry-Go-Round” (1981), but her film career remained a minor one after the early 1970s, in part because of a turbulent personal life that included drug abuse, at least one suicide attempt and messy affairs with both men and women.