Friday, April 26, 2013

Pioneers in Telemedicine

by Dee Newman

Forty-three years ago a federally funded research and demonstration project I helped coordinate in southern Arizona received national media and congressional attention when it demonstrated on April 4, 1970, the feasibility of utilizing microwave transmission for mobile medical units in isolated rural areas.

The project was the brainchild of my good friend Jack Reeves. At the time Jack was the Coordinator of Resources and Planning for Arizona Rural Effort, Inc. (ARE), a five-county Community Action Agency (CAA) headquartered in Yuma, Arizona.

ARE was one of the War on Poverty programs created as part of President Johnson's Great Society legislative agenda. The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) was established in 1964 to oversee Community Action Agencies (CAAs), VISTA, Job Corps and Head Start. Its first director was R. Sargent Shriver.

In 1969 OEO selected ARE as one of 229 Community Action Agencies throughout the United States to compete for grants to address rural poverty. Jack’s FURPO (Full Utilization of Rural Program Opportunities) proposal was one of the nine funded. The grant was for two years, $150K for each year.

In order to secure the grant Jack wrote to the President, Richard Milhous Nixon, met with Senator Barry Goldwater and Representative Morris Udall and sought the support of the OEO director at the time, Donald Rumsfeld. All four men provided needed support for the project. For example, the president’s introduction to a General Motors Corporation executive was instrumental in obtaining a Chevrolet step van that would eventually house state of the art telecommunication equipment.

The R&D project consisted of a number of features, including the before mention mobile television van designed to produce radio and television broadcasting material for stations throughout the state of Arizona. Jack had persuaded radio stations in all 15 Arizona counties to air a weekly broadcast produced by our Community Action Broadcasting System (CABS). The University of Arizona’s KUAT, a PBS affiliate and the nation’s most powerful noncommercial station aired the broadcast twice a week.

Utilizing the van’s equipment (radio phone and cameras), images of patients were sent via microwave transmission from a high desert location north of Nogales in rural Pima County to doctors in Sierra Vista who were waiting to diagnose their medical needs.

While viewing the television images, Pacific Bell provided audio communications from the remote desert location to Tucson, then on to Sierra Vista via land line, allowing Ft. Huachuca (US Army) physicians to talked with the patients, the nurse, and a lab technician.

The telemedicine demonstration received national attention. Newspapers from all over Arizona covered it. It was one of AP’s top ten news stories. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley ran footage on “NBC Nightly News.”

President Nixon was briefed. Senator Paul Fannin entered a two-page account into the Congressional Record, and Representative Morris Udall (who we had interviewed on a number of occasions) authored a congratulatory letter: “The experiment you are now conducting using mobile TV might just be the ray of hope we need for some lowering of medical costs.”

Though it did not immediately launch a new approach on how we administer and provide health care to rural and remote populations, it certainly proved to be a seminal event in the effort to extend health care to all Arizonans.

Within a year General Electric got involved, wanting to demonstrate use of satellite technology to connect patients and physicians, setting up a demonstration with the Navajo Nation and the University of Arizona Medical School.

Today, the high-tech Arizona Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine has little resemblance to our primitive telemedicine demonstration back in 1970. As the leading authority on providing long-distance medical care, U of A’s telemedicine program links 180 sites across the state to provide medical care to residents of rural Arizona, tribal lands and state prisons.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act is a Hoax

by Dee Newman

I am urging everyone I know to call Governor Bill Haslam and ask him to veto HB 1191 by Holt and SB 1248 by Gresham. The Ag Bill would require anyone recording images of animal abuse to submit unedited footage or photos to law enforcement within 48 hours.

The House sponsor of the legislation State Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican of Dresden, TN, has said:
"I think what we need to do is make sure and recognize that if animals are being abused it needs to come to justice, and it needs to come to justice quickly . . . And that's the intention of this bill, bar none. No matter what anybody tells you. That's the intention of this legislation."
But, is it?

The Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act’s short reporting deadline would, in fact, force investigations to be brief and incomplete, possibly rendering them legally unindictable. It would also discourages prospective whistleblowers from coming forward out of fear of prosecution.

The intention of the bill is to prevent further prosecutions – like the 2011 prosecutions of trainer Jackie McConnell who was secretly videoed by the Humane Society applying caustic substances to the hooves of Tennessee Walking Horses and his beating of those horses to make them stand that lead to his conviction.

Mercy for Animals, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States have all appealed to Governor Haslam to veto the legislation.

Please call and/or email the Governor as soon as possible to encourage him to veto this bill. His phone number is (615) 741-2001 and his email address is:

The following is a copy of the legislation:

HB 1191 by *Holt. (SB 1248 by *Gresham.)

Animal Cruelty and Abuse - As introduced, requires a person who records cruelty to animals as committed against livestock to report such violation and submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of the photograph's or recording’s creation. - Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 44.

Fiscal Summary


Bill Summary

AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill to require a person who intentionally records by photograph, digital image, video or similar medium for the purpose of documenting the offense of cruelty to animals committed against livestock, within 48 hours, or by the close of business the next business day, whichever is later, to:

(1) Report such violation to a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the alleged offense; and 
(2) Submit any unedited photographs, digital images or video recordings to law enforcement authorities.

A violation of this amendment is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fine only.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Corker and Alexander Vote No on Background Checks

Corker said: “I don’t understand why any senator wouldn’t want to debate these issues, but in the end, I will not support any legislation that violates our Second Amendment rights.”

Alexander said: “I voted against the so-called ‘assault weapons’ ban because it clearly infringes on Second Amendment rights, and I voted against the Toomey-Manchin amendment because it could easily evolve into a national gun registry.”

I consider both of my senators political hacks. 90% of all Americans, 80% of Republicans and NRA members wanted the very conservative Toomey-Manchin amendment on background checks to pass, and yet, my sentors voted against the amendment.

Shame on them!

The following is what President Obama said about the vote:

From Moms Demand Action

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Jack


by Jack Reeves

Thou canst not see my face,
for there shall no man see me
and live. --Exodus 33:20

HOWARD LONG HAD AND EXCEPTIONAL CONDITION: HE WAS APPARENTLY obsessed--literally to death--by the conviction that he had seen God. It would seem that his demise was in keeping with the biblical view on the matter: that no one can live if he sees God.

It is not that God struck him dead. Howard committed suicide. To the more secular--or cynical--this might mean that Howard was more insane than seer.

A single man of 50, a high school literature teacher for 26 years, those who knew him considered him reserved and introspective--but certainly not hiding a life of "quiet desperation."

But claiming to see God is not--inherently--a mental aberration. The rank and file of the rationally religious profess to see God's hand in the world; saints and sinners speak to and are avowedly spoken to by the Absolute.

However, Howard’s incident with the intangible was individual. That’s what leaves the lingering suspicion among some that he, indeed, may have stumbled on something that others have missed, or for some reason do not recognize. So it seems.

Howard and I had been friends for almost 12 years. It was in the course of consoling and assisting his mother following his death that I had the opportunity to borrow and read his journals. He had kept them for more than 40 years.

In the last days of his life he described in the latest journal an insight he had while staring at a map. He mused how the continental land masses stood out in relation to the surrounding oceans. At first blush, not an earth-shaking insight. But from this he reasoned that our perception of anything--including the perception of God--may occur in a similar context: as a figure-ground relationship.

He correlated this conclusion with a figure--actually, a picture puzzle--that is initially perceived as nonsensical. But given a clue, the mind does an unconscious flip-flop. “It’s a cow head,” he was told, whereupon he immediately recognized a bovine face. Howard noted this rather common phenomenon in his journal.

"It's just like seeing the cow," he wrote. Odd. Practically silly. But the sentence should be taken seriously. Howard Long clearly did, for they were the last words he wrote before he tied a plastic bag over his head and, in the greatest imaginable act of will, suffocated himself to death.


Carrying the journals home, I wondered if they would offer any insight into his totally unexpected suicide. None of his friends suspected that he had a dark side. But, perhaps, that is the nature of some dark sides. Whatever demon dwelled in his being, it was a shadowy dementia.

I found a quiet occasion one evening to read them. As I opened the oldest journal, I felt as if I were a voyeur, a postmortem eavesdropper prying into the privacy of a soul. The first entry was dated January 1, 1962.

Upon the ground
I collapsed in despair.
Job's comforters appeared to me.

“Why are you in such anguish?” asked Eliphaz.

--“Because I taste the bitterness of death in each moment.”

Eliphaz relied, “You have sinned.”

--“Is it sin to dread death?”

Bildad answered, “Trust God.”

--“God knows not me nor I he.”

Zophar spoke: “God is love!”

--“Does God truly love?”

Suddenly from a whirlwind a voice thundered:

“Presumptuous faultfinder! Ask of me what you will!”

--I cried, “Help me to love my fate!”

January 4, 1962

The world in itself has no meaning. Thus we posit God: THAT to which we can relate both ourselves and the universe.

January 5, 1962

I was alone yesterday when I read Camus’ The Stranger. I slowly read the first chapter because I wanted to digest each word. Finishing it, I paced back and forth, mulling the story over in my mind. Many thoughts flooded my consciousness.

He just asks to live his life; to enjoy the simplicities--sunsets, smells.... I found myself struggling to write the last two words for I was suddenly overcome with such emotion that tears flooded my eyes, and I felt their warmness stream down my face.

In this moment, I cried for Meursault. I was also crying for myself. I wiped my eyes and took a deep breath to regain composure. Two phrases came to mind: “that dark wind blowing from my future”; “the benign indifference of the Universe.”

January 6, 1962

Today I thought more dispassionately about The Stranger. “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” I felt that I understood Camus. I recalled the affinity I felt with him when I read his words: “Man is born, struggles, and dies. He is innocent and yet he suffers. He is tormented; he is alone.” Man is, indeed, an “unhappy animal.”

January 8, 1962

Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi
O Fortune,
variable as the moon,
always dost thou wax and wane.
Detestable life,
first dost thou mistreat us,
and then whimsically
thou heedest our desires.
As the sun melts the ice,
so dost thou dissolve
both poverty and power.


Thou dost withdraw my health and virtue,
thou dost threaten my emotion and weakness
with torture.

At this hour,
therefore, let us pluck the strings
without delay.
Let us mourn together,
for fate crushes the brave. --(Carl Orff: Carmina Burana)

January 9, 1962

Life: at birth we jump from a height with a rope around our neck. Sooner or later we must reach the end....

Death always triumphs.

Man is judged, condemned, and sentenced before he is born. But the tragedy for man lies in his consciousness of his existence and of his inevitable end. This is life--my life....I am always aware of my silent and invisible Companion.

January 14, 1962

Albert Schweitzer has written that existence offers us the disconcerting spectacle of life in contradiction with itself. Freud concluded the same when he spoke of the opposing life and death instincts.

Disregarding a few areas in which human intelligence has been able to forge some degree of mathematical and chemical predictability, life is an enigma, a mystery, a paradox. It is happiness and suffering, hope and despair, purpose and absurdity.

February 3, 1962 (22nd birthday)

I am feeling more and more as though I am a man who has experienced the limitations of life without its possibilities--the limitations which have increasingly forced me to seriously contemplate the possibility of life’s great alternative.

February 4, 1962

Each day I climb Peniel.
There God and I wrestle.
At day’s end I lie
broken and beaten.

Once an angel asked me:
“What child would affront his father?”

And I shouted:
“What father does not know his own child!”

March 21, 1962

Much of life is no more than each man’s struggle with his loneliness. Our alienation is a precipice upon which we stand and peer into the dreaded abyss of the Nothing.

On rare occasions in life the grip of despair is lessened, when our loneliness is assuaged by the blending of itself with another’s. For a time we find consolation in the bleak desert of human existence as we embrace in mutual pain.

Too often we annihilate our comfort and redemption. Like the drowning person whose panic drowns the rescuer we destroy our own salvation. Then there is the guilt and the loneliness. And once again we turn back to the abyss and purposelessly await the arrival of another stranger with whom we might merge our emptiness.

April 4, 1962

Tristan and Isolde: a Spiritual Orgasm

1:15 a.m.

It is a lonely night.
I walked the streets communing with my solitude.
I could not sit alone while the floor above
creaked with the rhythm of love.
The lovers are not alone. Each has momentarily forgotten
individual loneliness in the loneliness of the other.

The mist silently bathes the chilly night air.
(Even the rain seems lonely.)
The streets are empty; the fog glows with a shekinah radiance,
opaquely passing the color spectrum.

I wonder what the lovers are doing.
Is their passion consummated? Is he holding her closely?
Perhaps she is caressing him in ecstasy and innocence.
They crossed the threshold into a physical and spiritual
paradise. Do they question the meaning of what they have share?

Like a holy communion, a man and woman sit naked
together, pondering the infusion of grace each has given and
received from the other.

At my door, I crush my cigarette on the wet step, taking a
last look at the misty canopy.

Inside, all is still and warm. I lie down and listen to the rain.
I think of the lovers and escape my pain in sleep.

May 19, 1962

I live imprisoned in the dungeon of self;
my existence grows more absurd each day.

While I struggle to conquer the Nothing with a fancied meaning, the marrow is being sucked from my bones and my soul from my breast.

I must live with the increasing awareness that life’s goal is death. Life is the greatest enigma, for without it death does not exist.

June 10, 1962 (daddy’s 50th birthday)

Death mocks all. It creeps in to destroy our bravest triumphs over self and existence. It mingles its reality with every joy: this shall pass away. I wake from a troubled sleep to the thought that someday I will not be alive; I must someday cease existing. Why did life become conscious of itself? Is creation’s end to contemplate its own extinction? This is absurd!

July 26, 1962


“I didn’t....”
“I know.”

“But if....”

“Haven’t I...?”

“’Tis life.”

August 3, 1962

“He who would save his life shall lose it; he who would lose his life shall save it.”

Perhaps these words are the apex of wisdom, the paradox of life which shall ultimately triumph over its contradiction. No man can save his life, for we are born to die. This is the inevitable end of all that exists.

Only the individual, with full knowledge of both the preciousness and precariousness of life, can wrestle with fate and beat it. He who would take his life into his own hands robs creation of a total victory over life.

August 11, 1962

We do not know why the processes of creation gave rise to life nor why matter evolved to the conscious level. It is as though the goal of life has been to become aware of its own existence, and then to live in fear of extinction. This is the cynical ethical ground which permeates morality.

Yet, if there is no God who takes responsibility for his own acts, and if there is no cosmic savior to whom man can turn, then creation reaches its pinnacle whenever an individual, in full awareness of this dilemma, will stand up and assert before this amoral order: “I am responsible!” This person is the crown of life, for in spite of egocentrism which acknowledges only its own will to live, and death, which mocks life itself, there is redemption in the refusal to participate in creation’s absurdity.

September 1, 1962

Oh, only to not be aware of what one is!
We must never take ourselves so seriously as to be unable to laugh at our own profundities. To do so is to fail to comprehend the finitude of all wisdom.

September 4, 1962

I am a rather lonely person. My daily bread, my daily illusion, is that someday I shall find happiness in who I am--or that I shall be able to accept what I shall never be. My life is largely my reaction to the loneliness, anxiety, and boredom that together make up my conscious hours.

September 5, 1962

The spiritual must lead to the sensual, and the sensual to the spiritual. Both must exist in tension.

October 11, 1962


The Eternal in eternity
Creation exploded forth at his word.
The Creator saw his world,
And the cosmos reverberated his edict:
“It is good.”
But the One was still alone.
He though, “I will create man in my own image.”
Beside the waters he knelt,
In his hands he formed the clay;
He breathed upon it and man became
a living soul.
He said: “It is good.”

Then the Creator stepped back into eternity.

November 22, 1962

There once lived a saint
Whose life was a living sacrifice
To God and man.

Each day was an act of worship--
Thanksgiving and service.
Thus, the saint spent himself.

Having fought the good fight
And kept the faith,
Alas, old he lay dying.

“Father,” he whispered, “unto Thee
I have committed all my life.”

A mocking voice replied:
“Not yet, not yet....”

December 2, 1962

There was once a man.
Each year an angel
Reported on his life.

“Almighty, the boy is innocent,
happy; he loves his life.”

Ten years went by.
“Almighty, he is now perplexed
and disillusioned.
Still, he hopes and strives.”

On his 30th birthday the angel
Came before God and said:
“Last year he took his life;
He died bestial and bitter.”

After a pause
The Great One spoke:
“Had he no responsibility for life?”

Am I before an impenetrable veil covering the innermost secret of creation? Is the universe both unfathomable and a surd?

January 1, 1963

I despise the peddlers of deception
Who say “to die is gain”
And cloak tragedy with delusion.

They call death “Friend”--
“A festival on the road to freedom”--
Confounding truth with lies.

Understanding neither life nor death,
These squalid panderers compromise with
The Enemy
And seat death at life’s right hand.

At death let no one console me
With pious absurdities
About someone dying in my stead,
Or disregard my dread with the empty myth:
“The best of all, God is with us.”

Have I the strength,
With clutched fist
I will curse that one,
And his Friend, my enemy,
Who since inception has
Stalked my life.

My life’s deep pain
Is that each moment
Is born poisoned.
Each day I live
In my shroud;
At night, my bed a coffin.

I laugh at my own madness and
Hope that by embracing death
I shall bar its defeat in life.
“Plaudite, amici, comoedia finita est!”


A powerful and surprising black portrait. The theme of death verily permeates everything, as an obsession. Written 40 years ago, he had borne these bleak visions all his life.

I peruse the rest of the journals. Each year seemed to repeat the same themes that he had recorded in 1962 and 1963. I was curious as to what he had been thinking in the last months of his life. I found the 2004 journal and began reading.

The entries of the first month were much like those of earlier years. One sentence, written on July 4, was particularly revealing: “I must avoid self-inflected death as the ultimate resolution of my life....”

July 5, 2004


Diaphanous clouds across the moon
Gossamer ghosts, chased
   As by invisible cosmic spirits
     Through this bewitching black void.

A silhouetted pine thrusts
     Upward its boughs to
Heaven’s inky vault,
   And Orion rings its nettle crown
     In reciprocating spender.

Jasmine and pine and
     The assonant scents of summer hover
In this moon-bathed wood,
     Shadowy images lit, singularly frozen in
       Muted luster.

In this still-life night
     I muse of my being and all being
And why and how and when
   It all did begin
     And whither its end.

And in this silent sanctuary I believe
     I can see,
In this epiphany,
     The face of the One Great Face
Behind the mask.

What a contrast! I reread the poem. I was struck by its lack of cynicism; it was devoid of the anger that was so transparent in the older entries. Indeed, it had a ring of redemption, even revelation! Is this the poem of a mad man?

The July 6 entry recorded the figure-ground and cow’s head reflections.

July 7, 2004

I recall today another perceptual puzzle, where one sees either a lovely woman or a silhouetted hag, depending on which background mentally dominates: the black or the white. What does this indicate about reality?

July 9, 2004

The physical universe: does it exist only as figure against ground?

July 10, 2004

We ask the wrong question: “Who created the universe?” presumes that at one time it did not exist, that it was created ex hihilo. Ex nihilo nihil fit--from nothing, nothing is produced.

Does a billiard ball striking another cause the second to move? Is this a misperception of the laws of motion? Perhaps the second ball moves according to these laws ‘on its own’--only indirectly by the kinetic energy of the first ball’s impact. It’s as credible as the prevailing perceptual presumption!

July 17, 2004

This epiphany!
The One Great Face behind the mask!!

July 19, 2004

Figure-ground, yin-yang, mind-matter. Do these constructs point to the indivisibility of God and creation? God is everything creation is not.

July 21, 2004

God, it would seem, is the background of existence, of the world. Concomitantly, God’s existence is contingent upon figure. Are the universe and God co-constituted and co-extensive? “Without the world God is not God.” --Hegel

July 22, 2004

I am awestruck by the probability that creation may not be the mask concealing the Great Face. Rather, the creation is the sine qua non of our perception of God. Everything that exists, even to quantum particles, is the REFLECTION of the Great Mirror ‘behind’ it all. Without the universal foreground we do not see, indeed we cannot see, the Mirror!

4:04 a.m.

Can one see God and live?

4:45 a.m.

Am I my own executioner?!!! (Donne)

6:35 a.m.


I lay the jounal down and walked outside. The sky was clear, the stars brilliant.  The Milky Way unfurled a star-spangled tapestry across the heaven and Venus burns against the celestial canopy.

Was Howard Long insane? Had he struggled with his demon death until he took arms against his sea of troubles and ended them? So many questions unanswered.

Did he sense, even three four decades ago, that he had a “dark wind blowing from the future”? Was his tragic end inevitable?

Perhaps he was lucid--only he dared to climb Peniel too high and there, in sober sanity, saw from that never-before-mounted summit the reality toward which our faiths and philosophies only point.

For Howard Long, the painful pilgrimage of his life and spirit has ended. And, perhaps, along his personal Damascus Road he gained rather than lost his sight. Does he now see his Maker face to face?

Notwithstanding any avowed revelation of the divine, it begs the question of monotheism: is it thus that "Quos deus vult perdere prius dementat?" (Those whom God wishes to destroy He first makes mad.)

Arguably, so it seems.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters Dead at Age 87

I remember watching the following clip of Jonathan Winters with Jack Paar back in 1964 and laughing my ass off . . . The man was a genius.

"The Stick" 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Obama vs. Social Security

Social Security is not driving the deficit, therefore it should not be part of reforms aimed at cutting the deficit.  

The chained CPI, deceptively portrayed as a reasonable cost of living adjustment, is a cut to Social Security benefits that would hurt seniors.
That's why I created a petition to President Barack Obama, which says:
Mr. President, the chained CPI is a cut to Social Security benefits that would hurt seniors—it's an idea not befitting a Democratic president. If you want to reform Social Security, make the wealthy pay their fair share by lifting the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes.
There are several sensible reforms to Social Security that should be considered to help make it sustainable, including lifting the ceiling on income subject to Social Security from $113,700 to $200,000 or more, as well as instituting a 1% raise in the payroll tax rate, a rate that hasn't changed in over 20 years.
Both of these reforms would go a long way toward protecting the long-term health of Social Security, but neither should not be conflated with efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit.
–Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor
This petition was created on, the progressive, nonprofit petition site. is sponsored by MoveOn Civic Action, which is not responsible for the contents of this or other petitions posted on the site. Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor didn't pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the list.

Sydney's 3-Minute Fiction

The following is my good friend Sydney Reichman's submission to round 10 of NPR's Three-Minute Fiction. NPR asked folks to submit a short story in the form of a voice mail message.

"She’ll Know Where to Find Me When Iʼm Gone"   

by Sydney Reichman

Sydney, this is Monroe. Whiddlerʼs gone. Heʼs done left us. He ainʼt coming back. Found him in his old van. Been eatinʼ some canned sardines and saltines. Must have been workinʼ on a song too cause he was laid over his ole guitar. Pages scattered everywhere, bits of poetry and lyrics. He was more Tom Waits than the man himself, but he wadnʼt gonna do nothinʼ with ʻem ʻcept sing ʻem to the few still come around. He could barely play no more nohow since all yʼalls land savinʼ and sculpture ruint all his body parts and strung ʻem into a situation that just wadnʼt gonna end right, if you know what I mean.

We took all his sculpture; the cherry, catalpa, and ironwood, even the sassafras and sourwood. Piled ʻem up into this beautiful form. And then he lit it all. It was ʻbout last September Harvest Moon, and it was a helluva show. Broke my heart in two. Hell, he taught me everything I know about wood. But he seemed all o.k. and easy with it.

Whiddler was a vision against the flames and that orange gibbous moon. His face would keep changing into one century and then another. He looked like some Eastern Monk, then some Indian warrior. He looked like himself but as a boy, Huckleberry Finn, old and young and burning in hell and at peace. It was the damdest thing I ever witnessed.

Whiddler knew things most people didnʼt and he didnʼt believe in god neither. For a third grade education, Iʼd say he was more scientist than ignorant, more artist than sharecropper for sure. And he could let go better ʻn anybody I knew. At one point, I did see him crack though. He said he didnʼt belong to that world of buy and sell. Said you didnʼt either but you were still waiting in line even though he wished you wouldnʼt. Still wanting people to ʻpreciate your lifeʼs work. I think he found good humor in that one. Like I said, he just knew things.

I guess he loved you ʻbout as much as he could love anybody, but seems he kinda hated you too. Mostly for hanginʼ on and lovinʼ that damn piece of scraggly land you two spent a lifetime savinʼ. Yʼall did make it gorgeous, cause I remember it as a logged to death, swamp of a briar patch. Said he had to do somethinʼ with his life, and that was ʻbout as good as any. Cause I know better than that. He gave so many of us a chance out here in these woods. Taught us to make a livinʼ with our hands, and did if for the pure act of givinʼ. Made him old though, to work so hard for everyone else and not get nothinʼ ʻcept maybe the satisfaction of givinʼ yourself away.

Somethinʼ happened a little strange. The Dollar Boys came up from Alabama to claim the ashes and get his stuff. But no one could find the ashes. They cremated him right away but nobody knows nothinʼ ʻbout it. We went back to his van and right there where I just know it wadnʼt there before, was a note written in his handwritinʼ and in somethinʼ that had the look of pokeberry juice sayinʼ, “She'll know where to find me when Iʼm gone”. Donʼt know if that means anything to ya, but just thought it might.

Well Hon, Iʼm real sorry. If you ever need anything, give us a call.

From Tribe of Heart

2nd step: Putting the Happy in Happy Meat
The animal-exploiting industry, partnering with large corporatized charities, works to convince the public that their products come from happy animals.
2nd step: Putting the Happy in Happy Meat from Tribe of Heart on Vimeo.

From The New Yorker (A Profile of John Mackey)

There are a number of reasons to not shop at Whole Foods, but the best reason is John Mackey, its founder and C.E.O.

The following is perhaps the best profile of "the evangelist for healthy eating that sells sausages, ice cream, and beer."

Food Fighter

Does Whole Foods’ C.E.O. know what’s best for you?

by January 4, 2010

John Mackey at a store in Austin, Texas. To
John Mackey at a store in Austin, Texas. To “the people that really dislike us,” he says, “Whole Foods is a big corporation, so they think that we’ve crossed over to the dark side.” Photograph by Dan Winters.

From Democracy Now (Foodopoly)

Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America from Monsanto to Wal-Mart

Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, joins us to discuss her new book, "Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America." Hauter tackles the corporations behind the meat, vegetables, grains and milk consumed by millions every day — including some of the most popular organic brands. "Foodopoly" details how a handful of large corporations control the nation’s food production in ways that limit how small farms operate and how ordinary people make choices in grocery stores. And in the wake of the recently passed provision dubbed by critics as the "Monsanto Protection Act," Hauter also discusses the new report by Food & Water Watch, "Monsanto: A Corporate Profile."

Friday, April 5, 2013

From Mother Jones (Monsanto's Man)

| Thu Apr. 4, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, a recent Senate bill came with a nice bonus for the genetically modified seed industry: a rider, wholly unrelated to the underlying bill, that compels the USDA to ignore federal court decisions that block the agency's approvals of new GM crops.

I explained in this post why such a provision, which the industry has been pushing for over a year, is so important to Monsanto and its few peers in the GMO seed industry. (You can also hear my talking about it on NPR's The Takeaway, along with the senator who tried to stop it, Montana's Jon Tester, and see me on Al Jazeera's Inside Story.)

Which senator pushed the rider into the bill? At the time, no one stepped forward to claim credit. But since then, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has revealed to Politico's ace reporter David Rogers that he's the responsible party. Blunt even told Rogers that he "worked with" GMO seed giant Monsanto to craft the rider.

The admission shines a light on Blunt's ties to Monsanto, whose office is located in the senator's home state. According to OpenSecrets, Monsanto first started contributing to Blunt back in 2008, when it handed him $10,000. At that point, Blunt was serving in the House of Representatives. In 2010, when Blunt successfully ran for the Senate, Monsanto upped its contribution to $44,250. And in 2012, the GMO seed/pesticide giant enriched Blunt's campaign war chest by $64,250.

Blunt is also a magnet for PAC money from the agribusiness industry as a whole, OpenSecrets data shows. In 2012, agribiz PACs gave him $51,000—more than any other industry save for finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE). In 2010, the year of his Senate run, agribiz PACs handed him over $243,000, more than any other besides the FIRE and energy industries.

The senator's blunt, so to speak, admission that he stuck a rider into an unrelated bill at the behest of a major campaign donor is consistent with the tenor of his political career. While serving as House whip under the famously lobbyist-friendly former House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) during the Bush II administration, Blunt built a formidable political machine by transforming lobbying cash into industry-accomodating legislation. In a blistering 2006 report, Public Citizen declared Blunt "a legislative leader who not only has surrendered his office to the imperative of moneyed interests, but who has also done so with disturbing zeal and efficiency."

In a profile of Blunt published the year before, the Washington Post's Thomas B. Edsall wrote that Blunt had "converted what had been an informal and ad hoc relationship between congressional leaders and the Washington corporate and trade community into a formal, institutionalized alliance." According to Edsall, Blunt's relationship to the DC lobbying scene rivaled that of DeLay's, who would later be hounded out of the House after being indicted for ethical lapses. Edsall writes:
Both "Blunt Inc." and "DeLay Inc." reflect the growing importance of commanding multimillion-dollar funds and having reliable loyalists in Washington's lobbying community. Blunt and DeLay are fundraising powerhouses. Their political organizations use multiple fundraising committees, have rewarded family members and have provided an avenue to riches for former aides now in the private sector.
Blunt's connections to lobbyists extend to his family. His wife, Abigail Blunt, serves as head of US government affairs for the processed food giant Kraft. In 2012, the Hill placed Abigail Blunt on annual its list of "top lobbyists." That same year, Kraft joined Monsanto in shoveling cash into the effort to defeat California's Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of GMO ingredients in food. Monsanto led donors in the effort with more than $8 million; Kraft chipped in nearly $2 million.

The two met while Abigail Blunt was serving as a prominent lobbyist for tobacco giant Philip Morris in the early 2000s. Their relationship drew controversy in 2002 when then-Rep. Blunt "unsuccessfully tried to insert a measure benefiting Philip Morris into the 475-page bill creating the Department of Homeland Security," as the Washington Post reported at the time. Throwing a bone to Big Tobacco in a homeland security bill is about as bold as larding a funding bill with a rider that grants legal protection to novel GM crops.

And Blunt's son Andy Matt, now the US auto industry's top lobbyist, served as governor of Missouri in the mid-aughts. During his tenure there, Gov. Blunt earned the praise of the state's powerful biotech industry, which is anchored by St. Louis-based Monsanto. He was honored with an "Award for Leadership Excellence" by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), an industry group led by Monsanto and its peers.

If Sen. Blunt plans to continue carrying Monsanto's water in the Senate, the company will have gained the allegiance of a wily and proven political operator.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Here's Two Thumbs Up for Roger Ebert


A statement from Chaz Ebert

CHICAGO, April 4, 2013 -- Chaz Ebert issued the following statement Thursday about the passing of her husband, Roger Ebert, a day after he celebrated 46 years as a film critic:

"I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger -- my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I've lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.

"Roger was a beloved husband, stepfather to Sonia and Jay, and grandfather to Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph. Just yesterday he was saying how his grandchildren were "the best things in my life." He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life.

"We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.

"We are touched by all the kindness and the outpouring of love we've received. And I want to echo what Roger said in his last blog, thank you for going on this journey with us."

A Leave of Presence

Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter.  However you came to know me, I'm glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.

Typically, I write over 200 reviews a year for the Sun-Times that are carried by Universal Press Syndicate in some 200 newspapers. Last year, I wrote the most of my career, including 306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles. I must slow down now, which is why I'm taking what I like to call "a leave of presence."

What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

At the same time, I am re-launching the new and improved and taking ownership of the site under a separate entity, Ebert Digital, run by me, my beloved wife, Chaz, and our brilliant friend, Josh Golden of Table XI. Stepping away from the day-to-day grind will enable me to continue as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and roll out other projects under the Ebert brand in the coming year.

Ebertfest, my annual film festival, celebrating its 15th year, will continue at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, my alma mater and home town, April 17-21. In response to your repeated requests to bring back the TV show "At the Movies," I am launching a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter in the next couple of weeks. And gamers beware, I am even thinking about a movie version of a video game or mobile app. Once completed, you can engage me in debate on whether you think it is art.

And I continue to cooperate with the talented filmmaker Steve James on the bio-documentary he, Steve Zaillian and Martin Scorsese are making about my life. I am humbled that anyone would even think to do it, but I am also grateful.

Of course, there will be some changes. The immediate reason for my "leave of presence" is my health. The "painful fracture" that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on.

At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.

I'll also be able to review classics for my "Great Movies" collection, which has produced three books and could justify a fourth.

For now, I am throwing myself into Ebert Digital and the redesigned, highly interactive and searchable You'll learn more about its exciting new features on April 9 when the site is launched. In addition to housing an archive of more than 10,000 of my reviews dating back to 1967 we will also feature reviews written by other critics. You may disagree with them like you have with me, but will nonetheless appreciate what they bring to the party. Some I recruited from the ranks of my Far Flung Correspondents, an inspiration I had four years ago when I noticed how many of the comments on my blog came from foreign lands and how knowledgeable they were about cinema.

We'll be recruiting more critics and it is my hope that some of the writers I have admired over the years will be among them. We'll offer many more reviews of Indie, foreign, documentary and restored classic revivals. As the space between broadcast television, cable and the internet morph into a hybrid of content, we will continue to spotlight the musings of Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales, as well as the blog "Scanners" by Jim Emerson, who I first met at Microsoft when he edited Cinemania. The Ebert Club newsletter, under editor Marie Haws of Vancouver, will be expanded to give its thousands of subscribers even bigger and better benefits.

For years I devoutly took every one of my tear sheets, folded them and added them to a pile on my desk. The photo above shows the height of that pile in 1985 as it appeared on the cover of my first book about the movies published by my old friends John McMeel and Donna Martin of Andrews & McMeel. Today, because of technology, the opportunities to become bigger, better and reach more people are piling up too. The fact that we're re-launching the site now, in the midst of other challenges, should give you an idea how important and Ebert Digital are to Chaz and me. I hope you'll stop by, and look for me. I'll be there.

So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies.