Burma or East Falls?

[Image: The new Burmese cap­i­tal of Naypyi­daw, pho­tographed by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press; via the BBC].


I was won­der­ing around some of the archi­tec­tur­al blogs that I read… and oops I ran into the pho­to above. This is amaz­ing. What an unpre­dictable moment. This looks like the build­ing going on just around the cor­ner where I live.

I’ll add a com­par­i­son pho­to later. 

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rosey life at stellarvisions

A lit­tle spring clean­ing at Stel­larvi­sions. We’ve moved out a bunch of clut­ter to expose more shared space that encour­ages relax­ation and conversation. 

We were able to do a pro­ject­ed pre­sen­ta­tion for a group of a dozen folks now that we have opened up the space. The col­or in the pho­to is the true hue of our west­ern evening light.

The sculp­ture next to the soon to be replaced couch is by Allan Green­berg. You can see his work at the Abing­ton Art Cen­ter, Fleish­er Art Memo­r­i­al, and var­i­ous oth­er venues in the area.

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a climate in crisis

7 7 07

Live Earth will use the glob­al reach of music to engage peo­ple on amass scale to com­bat our cli­mate cri­sis. Live Earth will bring togeth­er­more than 150 of the world’s top musi­cians for 24-hours of music from 7concerts across all 7 con­ti­nents. Live Earth will bring togeth­er anau­di­ence of more than 2 bil­lion at the con­certs and through television,radio, film, and the Inter­net. That audi­ence, and the pro­ceeds from theevent, will cre­ate the foun­da­tion for a new, mul­ti-year glob­al effort­to com­bat the cli­mate cri­sis led by Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore. Kevin Wall,Worldwide Exec­u­tive Pro­duc­er of Live 8, is pro­duc­ing Live Earth.

What do you think when you lis­ten to the morn­ing news and are told the air qual­i­ty is unhealthy?

from the weath­er channel…

How is the Air Qual­i­ty Index calculated?
To mea­sure air qual­i­ty, net­works of mon­i­tors record the con­cen­tra­tionsof the major pol­lu­tants at more than a thou­sand loca­tions across theU.S. each day. These raw mea­sure­ments are then con­vert­ed into AQI­val­ues using stan­dard for­mu­las devel­oped by EPA. An AQI val­ue iscal­cu­lat­ed for each of the indi­vid­ual pol­lu­tants in an area(ground-level ozone, par­tic­u­late mat­ter, car­bon monox­ide, sul­fur­diox­ide, and nitro­gen diox­ide). The pol­lu­tant with the high­est AQI isused as the over­all AQI read­ing for that day and is list­ed as thep­rin­ci­pal pollutant.

What do the col­or codes mean?
EPA has assigned a spe­cif­ic col­or to each AQI cat­e­go­ry to make iteasi­er for peo­ple to under­stand quick­ly the sig­nif­i­cance of fore­castedair pol­lu­tion lev­els in their com­mu­ni­ties. For exam­ple, the col­oro­r­ange means that con­di­tions are “unhealthy for sen­si­tive groups”; the­col­or red means that con­di­tions may be “unhealthy” for every­one, and soon.

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Last night was com­mu­ni­ty movie night at Sher­man Mills. The fea­ture was KOYAANISQATSI.

Title screen for Koyaanisqatsithe bombtwinkies

ko.yaa.nis.katsi (from the Hopi lan­guage), n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in tur­moil. 3. life dis­in­te­grat­ing. 4. life out of bal­ance. 5. a state of life that calls for anoth­er way of living.

Trans­la­tion of the Hopi Prophe­cies Sung in KOYAANISQATSI
“If we dig pre­cious things from the land, we will invite disaster.”
“Near the Day of Purifi­ca­tion, there will be cob­webs spun back and forth in the sky.”
“A con­tain­er of ash­es might one day be thrown from the sky which could burn the land and boil the oceans.”

I’ve seen this film more than a dozen times. It’s just as good as the first time I saw it… maybe bet­ter. Life expe­ri­ence cre­ates new nar­ra­tives and jux­topo­si­tions. Koy­aanisqat­si is the first film in a tril­o­gy. The sec­ond film Powaqqat­si is focus­es on natives of the third world. And Naqoyqat­si is about civ­i­lized violence.

Na-qoy-qat­si: (nah koy’ kaht­see) N. From the Hopi Lan­guage. 1. A life of killing each oth­er 2. War as a way of life. 3. (Inter­pret­ed) Civ­i­lized violence.
‑end cred­it def­i­n­i­tion from the fea­ture film “Naqoyqat­si”.

These are films one must expe­ri­ence and talk about. 

I want MY country back.

We can start by using the New York Times to do list for this Congress.
NYT EDITORIAL Pub­lished: March 4, 2007

The Bush administration’s assault on some of the found­ing prin­ci­ples of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy march­es onward despite the Demo­c­ra­t­ic vic­to­ry in the 2006 elec­tions. The new Demo­c­ra­t­ic majori­ties in Con­gress can block the sort of nox­ious mea­sures that the Repub­li­can major­i­ty rub­ber-stamped. But pre­vent­ing new assaults on civ­il lib­er­ties is not near­ly enough.

Five years of pres­i­den­tial over­reach­ing and Con­gres­sion­al col­lab­o­ra­tion con­tin­ue to exact a high toll in human lives, America’s glob­al rep­u­ta­tion and the archi­tec­ture of democ­ra­cy. Bru­tal­i­ty toward pris­on­ers, and the denial of their human rights, have been insti­tu­tion­al­ized; unlaw­ful spy­ing on Amer­i­cans con­tin­ues; and the courts are being closed to legal chal­lenges of these practices.

It will require force­ful steps by this Con­gress to undo the dam­age. A few law­mak­ers are offer­ing bills intend­ed to do just that, but they are only a start. Tak­ing on this task is a moral imper­a­tive that will show the world the Unit­ed States can be tough on ter­ror­ism with­out­sac­ri­fic­ing its human­i­ty and the rule of law.

Today we’re offer­ing a list — which, sad­ly, is hard­ly exhaus­tive — of things that need to be done to reverse the unwise and law­less poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Bush and Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney. Many will require a rewrite of the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act of 2006, an atro­cious mea­sure pushed through Con­gress with the help of three Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, Arlen Specter, Lind­sey Gra­ham and John McCain; Sen­a­tor McCain lent his moral author­i­ty to improv­ing one part of the bill and thus obscured its many oth­er problems.

•Our list starts with three fun­da­men­tal tasks:

Restore Habeas Corpus
One of the new act’s most inde­cent pro­vi­sions denies any­one Mr. Bush labels an “ille­gal ene­my com­bat­ant” the ancient right to chal­lenge his impris­on­ment in court. The argu­ments for doing this were spe­cious. Habeas cor­pus is noth­ing remote­ly like a get-out-of-jail-free card for ter­ror­ists, as sup­port­ers would have you believe. It is a way to sort out those just­ly detained from those unjust­ly detained. It will not “clog the courts,” as Sen­a­tor Gra­ham claims. Sen­a­tor Patrick Leahy of Ver­mont, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic chair­man of the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, has a wor­thy bill that would restore habeas cor­pus. It is essen­tial to bring­ing integri­ty to the deten­tion sys­tem and reviv­ing the Unit­ed States’ credibility.

Stop Ille­gal Spying
Mr. Bush’s pro­gram of inter­cept­ing Amer­i­cans’ inter­na­tion­al calls and e‑mail mes­sages with­out a war­rant has not ceased. The agree­ment announced recent­ly — under which a secret court sup­pos­ed­ly gave its bless­ing to the pro­gram — did noth­ing to restore judi­cial process or ensure that Amer­i­cans’ rights are pre­served. Con­gress needs to pass a mea­sure, like one pro­posed by Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein, to force Mr. Bush to obey the law that requires war­rants for elec­tron­ic surveillance.

Ban Tor­ture, Really
The pro­vi­sions in the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act that Sen­a­tor McCain trum­pet­ed as a ban on tor­ture are hard­ly that. It is still large­ly up to the pres­i­dent to decide what con­sti­tutes tor­ture and abuse for the pur­pose of pros­e­cut­ing any­one who breaks the rules. This amounts to rewrit­ing the Gene­va Con­ven­tions and puts every Amer­i­can sol­dier at far greater risk if cap­tured. It allows the pres­i­dent to decide in secret what kinds of treat­ment he will per­mit at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency’s pris­ons. The law absolves Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agents and their boss­es of any acts of tor­ture and abuse they have already committed.

Many of the tasks fac­ing Con­gress involve the way the Unit­ed States takes pris­on­ers, and how it treats them. There are two sets of pris­ons in the war on ter­ror. The mil­i­tary runs one set in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guan­tá­namo Bay. The oth­er is even more shad­owy, run by the C.I.A. at secret places.

Close the C.I.A. Prisons
When the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act passed, Mr. Bush tri­umphant­ly announced that he now had the pow­er to keep the secret pris­ons open. He cast this as a great vic­to­ry for nation­al secu­ri­ty. It was a defeat for America’s image around the world. The pris­ons should be closed.

Account for ‘Ghost Prisoners’ 
The Unit­ed States has to come clean on all of the “ghost pris­on­ers” it has in the secret camps. Hold­ing pris­on­ers with­out any account­ing vio­lates human rights norms. Human Rights Watch says it has iden­ti­fied near­ly 40 men and women who have dis­ap­peared into secret Amer­i­can-run prisons.

Ban Extra­or­di­nary Rendition
This is the odi­ous prac­tice of abduct­ing for­eign cit­i­zens and secret­ly fly­ing them to coun­tries where every­one knows they will be tor­tured. It is already ille­gal to send a pris­on­er to a coun­try if there is rea­son to believe he will be tor­tured. The administration’s claim that it got “diplo­mat­ic assur­ances” that pris­on­ers would not be abused is laughable.

A bill by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Edward Markey, Demo­c­rat of Mass­a­chu­setts, would require the exec­u­tive branch to list coun­tries known to abuse and tor­ture pris­on­ers. No pris­on­er could be sent to any of them unless the sec­re­tary of state cer­ti­fied that the country’s gov­ern­ment no longer abused its pris­on­ers or offered a way to ver­i­fy that a pris­on­er will not be mis­treat­ed. It says “diplo­mat­ic assur­ances” are not sufficient.

Con­gress needs to com­plete­ly over­haul the mil­i­tary pris­ons for ter­ror­ist sus­pects, start­ing with the way pris­on­ers are clas­si­fied. Short­ly after 9/11, Mr. Bush declared all mem­bers of Al Qae­da and the Tal­iban to be “ille­gal ene­my com­bat­ants” not enti­tled to the pro­tec­tions of the Gene­va Con­ven­tions or Amer­i­can jus­tice. Over time, the des­ig­na­tion was applied to any­one the admin­is­tra­tion chose, includ­ing some Unit­ed States cit­i­zens and the entire detainee pop­u­la­tion of Gitmo.

To address this mess, the gov­ern­ment must:

Tight­en the Def­i­n­i­tion of Combatant
“Ille­gal ene­my com­bat­ant” is assigned a dan­ger­ous­ly broad def­i­n­i­tion in the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act. It allows Mr. Bush — or for that mat­ter any­one he choos­es to des­ig­nate to do the job — to apply this label to vir­tu­al­ly any for­eign­er any­where, includ­ing those liv­ing legal­ly in the Unit­ed States.

Screen Pris­on­ers Fair­ly and Effectively
When the admin­is­tra­tion began tak­ing pris­on­ers in Afghanistan, it did not much both­er to screen them. Hun­dreds of inno­cent men were sent to Git­mo, where far too many remain to this day. The vast major­i­ty will nev­er even be brought before tri­bunals and still face indef­i­nite deten­tion with­out charges.

Under legal pres­sure, Mr. Bush cre­at­ed “com­bat­ant sta­tus review tri­bunals,” but they are a mock­ery of any civ­i­lized legal pro­ceed­ing. They take place thou­sands of miles from the point of cap­ture, and often years lat­er. Evi­dence obtained by coer­cion and tor­ture is per­mit­ted. The inmates do not get to chal­lenge this evi­dence. They usu­al­ly do not see it.

The Bush admin­is­tra­tion uses the hoary “fog of war” dodge to jus­ti­fy the fail­ure to screen pris­on­ers, say­ing it is not prac­ti­cal to do that on the bat­tle­field. That’s non­sense. It did not hap­pen in Afghanistan, and often in Iraq, because Mr. Bush decid­ed just to ship the pris­on­ers off to Gitmo.

Pris­on­ers des­ig­nat­ed as ille­gal com­bat­ants are sub­ject to tri­al rules out of the Red Queen’s play­book. The admin­is­tra­tion refus­es to allow lawyers access to 14 ter­ror­ism sus­pects trans­ferred in Sep­tem­ber from C.I.A. pris­ons to Guan­tá­namo. It says that if they had a lawyer, they might say that they were tor­tured or abused at the C.I.A. pris­ons, and any­thing that hap­pened at those pris­ons is secret.

At first, Mr. Bush pro­vid­ed no sys­tem of tri­al at the Guan­tá­namo camp. Then he invent­ed his own mil­i­tary tri­bunals, which were right­ly over­turned by the Supreme Court. Con­gress then passed the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act, which did not fix the prob­lem. Some tasks now for Congress:

Ban Taint­ed Evidence
The Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act and the reg­u­la­tions drawn up by the Pen­ta­gon to put it into action, are far too per­mis­sive on evi­dence obtained through phys­i­cal abuse or coer­cion. This evi­dence is unre­li­able. The method of obtain­ing it is an affront.

Ban Secret Evidence
Under the Pentagon’s new rules for mil­i­tary tri­bunals, judges are allowed to keep evi­dence secret from a prisoner’s lawyer if the gov­ern­ment per­suades the judge it is clas­si­fied. The infor­ma­tion that may be with­held can include inter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods, which would make it hard, if not impos­si­ble, to prove tor­ture or abuse.

Bet­ter Define ‘Clas­si­fied’ Evidence
The mil­i­tary com­mis­sion rules define this sort of secret evi­dence as “any infor­ma­tion or mate­r­i­al that has been deter­mined by the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment pur­suant to statute, exec­u­tive order or reg­u­la­tion to require pro­tec­tion against unau­tho­rized dis­clo­sure for rea­sons of nation­al secu­ri­ty.” This is too broad, even if a pres­i­dent can be trust­ed to exer­cise the pow­er fair­ly and care­ful­ly. Mr. Bush has shown he can­not be trust­ed to do that.

Respect the Right to Counsel
Soon after 9/11, the Bush admin­is­tra­tion allowed the gov­ern­ment to lis­ten to con­ver­sa­tions and inter­cept mail between some pris­on­ers and their lawyers. This had the effect of sus­pend­ing their right to effec­tive legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Since then, the admin­is­tra­tion has been unceas­ing­ly hos­tile to any lawyers who defend detainees. The right to legal coun­sel does not exist to cod­dle ser­i­al ter­ror­ists or snarl legal pro­ceed­ings. It exists to pro­tect inno­cent peo­ple from ille­gal imprisonment.

Beyond all these huge tasks, Con­gress should halt the fed­er­al government’s race to clas­si­fy doc­u­ments to avoid pub­lic scruti­ny — 15.6 mil­lion in 2005, near­ly dou­ble the 2001 num­ber. It should also reverse the griev­ous harm this admin­is­tra­tion has done to the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act by encour­ag­ing agen­cies to reject requests for doc­u­ments when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Con­gress should cur­tail F.B.I. spy­ing on non­vi­o­lent anti­war groups and revis­it parts of the Patri­ot Act that allow this practice.

The Unit­ed States should apol­o­gize to a Cana­di­an cit­i­zen and a Ger­man cit­i­zen, both inno­cent, who were kid­napped and tor­tured by Amer­i­can agents.

Oh yes, and it is time to close the Guan­tá­namo camp. It is a despi­ca­ble sym­bol of the abus­es com­mit­ted by this admin­is­tra­tion (with Congress’s com­plic­i­ty) in the name of fight­ing terrorism.

Bush… Promises Aid

The head­lines I read in my evening sur­vey of the news was a grim reminder of what this man has wrought on my beloved country.
He sur­veys the damage.
He promises…

a young woman goes to war

I scan the front page and this image sits above the fold. This is a young woman being hugged by her dad. He has to go to work and she has to go to Iraq. She is 18.

George Bush too much for this nation to bear. 

i want an iphone!

Ok. I have to have one. Not because it’s anoth­er amaz­ing­ly designed prod­uct by Apple. Not because it has a mul­ti­touch inter­face. Not because it can also play my itunes, audio books, music videos, and Com­e­dy Cen­tral shows. No, for only one sin­gle thing… access­ing my voice­mail with­out hav­ing to lis­ten to each mes­sage in suc­ces­sive order. 

I know it took me awhile to write this post. I had to count to 100 a few times to get myself under con­trol. Apple has again com­bined tech­nolo­gies and cus­tomer need to cre­ate an inno­v­a­tive prod­uct. Now if they can get the price to some­thing I can afford.

Haven’t heard any­thing about the iphone yet? Been under a rock? Check it out at http://www.apple.com

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