so tuesday, it was sunny and 70. yesterday, it was sleet and ice as far as the eye could see and 18. go figure. now - SNOW! it is currently 19 degrees and blizzarding (is that a word?)! i don't know if it's because i'm originally from california (where it never snowed when i was but a wee lass) or what, but i sure do love it. i've been showing it to bebe, from indoors, as he has a terribly nasty cold and high fever (which he lovingly snotted along to moi - i haven't been this sick in years). he thinks the snow flakes are little lights. i think thats a fantastic perspective.
we've sent will off for provisions and will be making veggie chili tonight.
so that's that.
onto other stuff. ridiculous stuff. stuff that i hear about and pine for the minute earlier that i didn't know about said stuff. and since i know now, i'm passing it onto you. i really thought that folks like this were nothing more than boogey man urban legends gone terribly wrong. nope. they exist. and they frighten me. a few days ago,jessikaposted this white pride commercial up:
i truly truly just don't get it.
and just when i thought it couldn't get any wierder, i was hipped to this:
little twin pop stars that are "proud of being white" (uh, can you do that without the hiltershirts?) and like to throw out a sieg heil when they play from time to time. they are calledprussian blue. now, i'm all for free speech - even when i don't agree - hell, especially then! but these gals are 13! have they really formulated this scary level of white pride all on their own? it's like fred phelps sending his 5 year old grandkid out with a sign that says "fags burn in hell." it just ain't right, ya know? if you hop on over to their link, check out the defensive racism deal in the left sidebar. what tha?!?!? defensive racism? i really need for this all to be a bad, horrible, awful joke. reminds me of the dude that used to call in every week to my radio show and go on and on about how all of these other races wanted to kill me because i have a lighter skin tone. i had news for him - we're pretty much ALL mutts at this point, skin tone being light or dark. and i for one, celebrate that. i don't feel threatened in the least.
i think this calls for a little gil scott heron, eh?
this one goes out to pam and anthony - as if my post from yesterday wasn't weird enough (poop sandwiches)! teeheeheeeeeee...
this is going to be a touch tricky, afterall - i think i'm completely "normal." i've called will to see if has any insight into my weirdness, but he says he need to think about it and call me back... what is weird, anyway? i should also say that i see the word "rules" and want to head for them-thar hills. but i shall play along. i love to play.
Here are the "official rules": Each player of this game starts with the “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.
1. i can't sleep with socks on. if i happen to nod off before removing them, they're off when i wake up - and i never remember taking them off.
2. i can't eat tapioca pudding. or drink bubble tea. texture thing. slimy wee balls. blech.
3. my favorite sammich EVER: brie, mayonaisse and tomato on toasted wheat. i can hear my arteries clog just writing this.
4. ditto on pam's bra thing. i never wore one before i got preggo - and now, well, i kinda HAVE to. lol! someday, someday...
5. diamonds are not this girl's best friend. i feel insulted by the ads.
6. i have finger toes. i can pinch with them. it's the one trait that bebe riley got from me. let the training begin!
who do i tag? hmmmmm.... only if you want to, but you know enquiring minds want to know!
and has it ever been one! the past week has been filled every emotion i've known. right now, i'm sitting on the front porch, laptop perched upon bent knees, enjoying the glorious grey drizzly day that has come to pay me a visit. i do so love grey, drizzly days!
dear friends from d.c. came in for a visit and stayed with us for two days. they just left this morning. it was so nice to catch up. they have a wee one close to bebe's age and they had quite a time together! there was much talk and breaking of bread and laughter and staying up way too late - the stuff of which life is made of, in my humble opinion.
today calls for some randoms, however, as i'am sleepy sleepy.
*grandpa is faring well. he's been moved from ccu to another room and is eating real food now. i hear he's cranky. this is a good sign. :) i'll be headed his direction at some point this week, hopefully.
*the so-called mommy wars. mama's, CUT IT OUT ALREADY! i refuse to be at war with any mommy at any given time. count me out. if you must continue this "war", i don't want to hear anything about it. we need to support one another. we need to re-direct this infighting mentality/energy to something more worthy - such as addressing the root of the discontent - whatever it may be. we ALL have enough to think/worry about - whether we stay home, work, work at home, whatever. let's celebrate this journey with one another, eh? we truly do need one another. and just for the record, let it be known that i don't sit on the couch all day watching oprah and eating bon-bon's as i sip champagne.
*you about lost me today. over on anthony's blog, i read that friday's sales topped $8.96 billion. i felt a coronary aneurysm rupture coming on, but my will to live on out of spite kicked in. well, that, and bebe saying, "mommy! all done! EAT!" brought me back from the clutches of death. who would have fed bebe his snack had i kicked it?
*tooling around so much in my hometown as of late and seeing how things have changed has shocked me. where's the local video store? why does my high school look old? did my grade school shrink? i took bebe by my old house - it's yellow now, with a fancy wood fence and CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING! NO WINDOW UNITS! didn't i just live there yesterday? oh, wait - that was 15 years ago. my friend's house up the street, the one i spent hundreds of hours at, only looks vaguely familiar. as did the whole neighborhood that i rode my bike around for hours everyday. strange, this aging thing... speaking of which...
*i'm stuck at 23 years of age. i don't know how. or why. in my head, this is the age i'am. and when i see other people my age that have aged, that i haven't seen in years, i think "what happened? you've changed!" it is only when i see another 23 year old that i realize that i'm 33. but then my myspace profile says i'm 34 when i log in. i know i have a tendency to never put my exact birthdate data in when i sign up for internet things - but am i even really 33? am i 34 and i forgot? this is all compounded by the picture i carry around in my head of most everyone i know. it doesn't ever really change, no matter how often i see them - it is a still of their face from one point in time. like - in my head, my mom is 30-ish. the people i went to high school with are all still 18. you can imagine my surprise when i run into anyone unexpectedly. if i've met you within the last 10 years, you're safe. though you may be getting stuck as we speak and i won't know it for 10 more years. the plot thickens. (and no, pam - i haven't smoked anything. :) )
*i've decided that our black lab/rottweiler mixed doggie - al - if he were a person, would be an obnoxious drunken frat boy. the kind that i would make stand at the bar for several minutes before i'd wait on him. 'nuff said.
* if i were an animal, conversely, i would be a koala bear.
*and speaking of greek organizations, your's truly is now a member of alpha sigma lambda - a national honor society for old geezers such as myself that finish their degrees "late in life." see? i can fool people into thinking i'm smart! i tricked a university this time! teeheeeheeeeee...
*when i'm asking bebe what he thinks we should have for lunch, sometimes i say, "would you like a poop sandwich?" because it cracks me up when he nods yes, very excitedly. i probably shouldn't have shared that, huh? p/s -i've never really given him a poop sandwich. p/p/s - and i never will.
* have you heard the newest dylan release yet? you should. it's delicious.
but seriously, folks
here be a couple of other tidbits that have made their way to me: first, this clip of richard dawkins, author of the god delusiondoing a q&a at a women's college in virginia after speaking. there are several questioners that came down from jerry falwell's "liberal arts christian" (huh? is that possible?) liberty university to speak to dawkins. they provide a lovely dose of comic relief. it's a long clip, 60+ minutes, but worth it. extremely interesting and funny at points, to boot.
my friend jessika has been sending me these communications about oaxaca, that are being sent to her. here is the latest one:
Updates from November 25, 2006 *these are preliminary reports, there is very little possibility for communication beyond the University Radio, so names and numbers are still coming in. -aproximately 1 million people protested in the streets of Oaxaca yesterday, -La Jornada reports: more than 140 injured, 20 of those shot with bullets, 3 of them journalists 100 detained 60 dissapeared -APPO and Indymedia NYC (and other individuals in Oaxaca city) report: 3 dead : killed at the Faculty of Medicine by 6 (or 7) urban paramilitaries.
APPO supporters shot back in defense and a shoot-out took place for approximately 10 minutes There are reports that 3 more people might be killed and other sources have heard federal police officers boasting about how they had killed 13 people whose bodies would never be found. Among the targets that were burned down by demonstrators yesterday were; the Benito Juarez Theatre, the Secretary of External Relations, the Superior Tribunal of Justice, a number of banks and hotels and dozens of cars and busses. PRI radio stations have been provoking attacks by broadcasting the streets and neighborhoods where demonstrators ended up hiding out last night. They have been stressing attacks on foreigners in solidarity with APPO. -University Radio reports that Ministerial Police (under the Attorney General) have been harassing the injured people inside the hospitals, and kidnapping from in the hospitals. -some of the detained were transported to the airport and flown out of Oaxaca city -widespread teargassing and brutality -paramilitaries roaming the streets, military helicopters constantly overhead -a full-out siege expected tonight, there is a universal call for people to build barricades and then go to the University encampment where they will probably be safer
CIPO Vancouver - Mexico is organizing international presence in two primary ways: personal accompaniment of those most in danger, and a high-profile 1 week delegation to Oaxaca January 3-10th. Alongside all the donations of finances and materials, human presence is very necessary in Oaxaca right now. Please see the attached GATO proposal document to see how you might assist in these efforts. The following is a letter that was given to Vancouver filmmaker Claudia Medina, currently in Oaxaca, by the parents of a young man who was detained on Thursday Nov 23. Today, Thursday, the 23rd of November, 2006 My name is Ricardo Osorio and I am being held in a blue coloured prison cell where it is very cold with a toilet with no water. My compañero is in a similar cell beside me. There are another six males below in the first floor, and we are in the top floor. Everything began when some friends and I were walking along the highway. A man carrying a large black gun pointed it at me and instinctually I began to run since he did not identify himself nor did he show me any warrant to arrest me . Then four other men, in plainclothes reached me and started beating me worse than an animal ( I was already on the ground) They hit me on the head, my body, torso and my whole body. They threw me into a mini van, white. My friend was above me, I was bleeding heavily from wounds over my right eye, my nose, my mouth. While they were beating us they covered our heads and they continued to threaten us. They took off our tennis shoes and shirts. I could feel them hitting me with chains on the shoulders and they hit us with rocks on our hand tendons and fingers. They kept hitting our heads and stomping on our feet and hands. Finally the van stopped and they continued hitting us. They covered us in alcohol and they told us that they were going to burn us, and that they were going to go after our families. They shot at us with their weapons and threw things at us. One of them said "why don't you let me finish him off", and they said they wanted a chance to target practice. They put their guns to our heads and you could hear the trigger being pulled, , they played a strike (political) song and told us to sing it while they hit us. Our heads were still covered. I was bleeding a lot and told them that I was in a lot of pain to which they replied that they didn't care and that I was going to remain crippled. They kept hitting us with chains and they kept shooting and they kept telling us that they were going to go to our houses and kill our families. It was now night time and very cold - they took us out of the van with our heads still covered and they took us to a doctor that I recognized. They kept on hitting us and then we vomited- they gave us false names , they took us the the specialist hospital and then I finally knew where I was. They attended to us and somebody gave them my real name and I was able to get in touch with my parents. Then they took me to the police station and now my parents know where I am . I only ask that you do not abandon me or my friend Pedro Cesar Conejo Ramos. Hasta la VIctoria Siempre, Ricardo Osorio Belanes
my newest friend. as time goes on, i wonder if we were somehow seperated at birth. :) she found me over on myspace, searching for stephan smith, if i remember correctly. she lives in canada, on malcolm island - in this beautiful little place calledsointula. i will be packing up the family and moving there to join her and her family there someday. mark my words.
in my eternal struggle with how devices like computers and the internet seperate us all even further, she is yet another reason that i celebrate their purpose. would we have ever "met" had it not been for all of this? perhaps, maybe. one never does know. but... she's started a blog. she also has a friend that is currently in oaxaca and has her email messages posted up, as well as a little bit about sointula. please dogo overand read a bit and say hello. you'll be happy that you did.
completely drained and unable to form coherant ramblings as of yet. i've spent a lot of time on the road, driving to and fro to see grandpa. combined with a toddler who's rhythm has been disrupted, and other happeneings that are too tender to speak about just yet, i feel very tired. i'am still here though, and reading all of your words - even if i'm not commenting.
i hope that everyone had a beautiful holiday, even if it's roots are detestable. spending time with those we love is the one thing that is always ok in my book.
yesterday, grandpa told me that he wouldn't recover, that he just knew it. i told him that i love him and that i know he's tired and that i will be ok. that i will miss him terribly, but understand if he needs to go. he's still hanging in there, but barely. his heart rate has dropped dangerously low several times while i was there yesterday, but sprung back up. he's developed an infection that is causing a fever, though they aren't certain where. he's still in ccu. i'm thankful that i've had this time with him over the last several days, to be able to talk to him, feed him ice, rub his arm and make him laugh. bebe likes to tell "paw paw bob" that he loves him and they trade off making silly faces at one another. it has to be one of the sweetest things i've ever seen. i didn't have time like this with grandma, her death was so sudden and unexpected. it is something that still haunts me to this day.
so for now, fare thee well. i'll be back with more later. you can count on it. xoxoxoxox
something i always think about this time of year, thanks to howard zinn...
Why I Hate Thanksgiving
By MITCHEL COHEN
With much material contributed by Peter Linebaugh and others whose names have over the years been lost.--MC
The year was 1492. The Taino-Arawak people of the Bahamas discovered Christopher Columbus on their beach.
Historian Howard Zinn tells us how Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. Columbus later wrote of this in his log. Here is what he wrote:
"They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of sugar cane. They would make fine servants. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
And so the conquest began, and the Thanotocracy -- the regime of death -- was inaugurated on the continent the Indians called "Turtle Island."
You probably already know a good piece of the story: How Columbus's Army took Arawak and Taino people prisoners and insisted that they take him to the source of their gold, which they used in tiny ornaments in their ears. And how, with utter contempt and cruelty, Columbus took many more Indians prisoners and put them aboard the Nina and the Pinta -- the Santa Maria having run aground on the island of Hispañola (today, the Dominican Republic and Haiti). When some refused to be taken prisoner, they were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail for the Azores and Spain. During the long voyage, many of the Indian prisoners died. Here's part of Columbus's report to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain:
"The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone." Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and in return he would bring them "as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask."
Columbus returned to the New World -- "new" for Europeans, that is -- with 17 ships and more than 1,200 men. Their aim was clear: Slaves, and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But word spread ahead of them. By the time they got to Fort Navidad on Haiti, the Taino had risen up and killed all the sailors left behind on the last voyage, after they had roamed the island in gangs raping women and taking children and women as slaves. Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold." The Indians began fighting back, but were no match for the Spaniard conquerors, even though they greatly outnumbered them. In eight years, Columbus's men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, dying as slaves in the mines, or directly murdered, or from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, over 3 million Indian people were murdered between 1494 and 1508.
What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots. Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered. And the gold, slaves and other resources were used, in Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism. Karl Marx would later call this "the primitive accumulation of capital." These were the violent beginnings of an intricate system of technology, business, politics and culture that would dominate the world for the next five centuries.
All of this were the preconditions for the first Thanksgiving. In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early, as Columbus had set it in the islands of the Bahamas. In 1585, before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village.
The Jamestown colony was established in Virginia in 1607, inside the territory of an Indian confederacy, led by the chief, Powhatan. Powhatan watched the English settle on his people's land, but did not attack. And the English began starving. Some of them ran away and joined the Indians, where they would at least be fed. Indeed, throughout colonial times tens of thousands of indentured servants, prisoners and slaves -- from Wales and Scotland as well as from Africa -- ran away to live in Indian communities, intermarry, and raise their children there.
In the summer of 1610 the governor of Jamestown colony asked Powhatan to return the runaways, who were living fully among the Indians. Powhatan left the choice to those who ran away, and none wanted to go back. The governor of Jamestown then sent soldiers to take revenge. They descended on an Indian community, killed 15 or 16 Indians, burned the houses, cut down the corn growing around the village, took the female leader of the tribe and her children into boats, then ended up throwing the children overboard and shooting out their brains in the water. The female leader was later taken off the boat and stabbed to death.
By 1621, the atrocities committed by the English had grown, and word spread throughout the Indian villages. The Indians fought back, and killed 347 colonists. From then on it was total war. Not able to enslave the Indians the English aristocracy decided to exterminate them.
And then the Pilgrims arrived.
When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The story goes that the Pilgrims, who were Christians of the Puritan sect, were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They had fled England and went to Holland, and from there sailed aboard the Mayflower, where they landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.
Religious persecution or not, they immediately turned to their religion to rationalize their persecution of others. They appealed to the Bible, Psalms 2:8: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." To justify their use of force to take the land, they cited Romans 13:2: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."
The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area.
In 1636 an armed expedition left Boston to attack the Narragansett Indians on Block Island. The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next, destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again.
The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.
Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England over the next few years. It is important to note: The ordinary Englishmen did not want this war and often, very often, refused to fight. Some European intellectuals like Roger Williams spoke out against it. And some erstwhile colonists joined the Indians and even took up arms against the invaders from England. It was the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. And, in the end, the Indian population of 10 million that was in North America when Columbus came was reduced to less than one million.
The way the different Indian peoples lived -- communally, consensually, making decisions through tribal councils, each tribe having different sexual/marriage relationships, where many different sexualities were practiced as the norm -- contrasted dramatically with the Puritan's Christian fundamentalist values. For the Puritans, men decided everything, whereas in the Iroquois federation of what is now New York state women chose the men who represented the clans at village and tribal councils; it was the women who were responsible for deciding on whether or not to go to war. The Christian idea of male dominance and female subordination was conspicuously absent in Iroquois society.
There were many other cultural differences: The Iroquois did not use harsh punishment on children. They did not insist on early weaning or early toilet training, but gradually allowed the child to learn to care for themselves. And, they did not believe in ownership of land; they utilized the land, lived on it. The idea of ownership was ridiculous, absurd. The European Christians, on the other hand, in the spirit of the emerging capitalism, wanted to own and control everything -- even children and other human beings. The pastor of the Pilgrim colony, John Robinson, thus advised his parishioners: "And surely there is in all children a stubbornness, and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride, which must, in the first place, be broken and beaten down; that so the foundation of their education being laid in humility and tractableness, other virtues may, in their time, be built thereon." That idea sunk in.
One colonist said that the plague that had destroyed the Patuxet people -- a combination of slavery, murder by the colonists and disease -- was "the Wonderful Preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Providence for His People's Abode in the Western World." The Pilgrims robbed Wampanoag graves for the food that had been buried with the dead for religious reasons. Whenever the Pilgrims realized they were being watched, they shot at the Wampanoags, and scalped them. Scalping had been unknown among Native Americans in New England prior to its introduction by the English, who began the practice by offering the heads of their enemies and later accepted scalps.
"What do you think of Western Civilization?" Mahatma Gandhi was asked in the 1940s. To which Gandhi replied: "Western Civilization? I think it would be a good idea." And so enters "Civilization," the civilization of Christian Europe, a "civilizing force" that couldn't have been more threatened by the beautiful anarchy of the Indians they encountered, and so slaughtered them.
These are the Puritans that the Indians "saved", and whom we celebrate in the holiday, Thanksgiving. Tisquantum, also known as Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian nation. Samoset, of the Wabonake Indian nation, which lived in Maine. They went to Puritan villages and, having learned to speak English, brought deer meat and beaver skins for the hungry, cold Pilgrims. Tisquantum stayed with them and helped them survive their first years in their New World. He taught them how to navigate the waters, fish and cultivate corn and other vegetables. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicines. He also negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, head chief of the Wampanoags, a treaty that gave the Pilgrims everything and the Indians nothing. And even that treaty was soon broken. All this is celebrated as the First Thanksgiving.
My own feeling? The Indians should have let the Pilgrims die. But they couldn't do that. Their humanity made them assist other human beings in need. And for that beautiful, human, loving connection they -- and those of us who are not Indian as well -- paid a terrible price: The genocide of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, what is now America.
Let's look at one example of the Puritan values -- which were not, I repeat, the values of the English working class values that we "give thanks for" on this holiday. The example of the Maypole, and Mayday.
In 1517, 25 years after Columbus first landed in the Bahamas, the English working class staged a huge revolt. This was done through the guilds. King Henry VIII brought Lombard bankers from Italy and merchants from France in order to undercut wages, lengthen hours, and break the guilds. This alliance between international finance, national capital and military aristocracy was in the process of merging into the imperialist nation-state.
The young workers of London took their revenge upon the merchants. A secret rumor said the commonality -- the vision of communal society that would counter the rich, the merchants, the industrialists, the nobility and the landowners -- would arise on May Day. The King and Lords got frightened -- householders were armed, a curfew was declared. Two guys didn't hear about the curfew (they missed Dan Rather on t.v.). They were arrested. The shout went out to mobilize, and 700 workers stormed the jails, throwing bricks, hot water, stones. The prisoners were freed. A French capitalist's house was trashed.
Then came the repression: Cannons were fired into the city. Three hundred were imprisoned, soldiers patrolled the streets, and a proclamation was made that no women were allowed to meet together, and that all men should "keep their wives in their houses." The prisoners were brought through the streets tied in ropes. Some were children. Eleven sets of gallows were set up throughout the city. Many were hanged. The authorities showed no mercy, but exhibited extreme cruelty.
Thus the dreaded Thanatocracy, the regime of death, was inaugurated in answer to proletarian riot at the beginning of capitalism. The May Day riots were caused by expropriation (people having been uprooted from their lands they had used for centuries in common), and by exploitation (people had no jobs, as the monarchy imported capital). Working class women organizers and healers who posed an alternative to patriarchal capitalism -- were burned at the stake as witches. Enclosure, conquest, famine, war and plague ravaged the people who, in losing their commons, also lost a place to put their Maypole.
Suddenly, the Maypole became a symbol of rebellion. In 1550 Parliament ordered the destruction of Maypoles (just as, during the Vietnam war, the U.S.-backed junta in Saigon banned the making of all red cloth, as it was being sewn into the blue, yellow and red flags of the National Liberation Front).
In 1664, near the end of the Puritans' war against the Pequot Indians, the Puritans in England abolished May Day altogether. They had defeated the Indians, and they were attempting to defeat the growing proletarian insurgency at home as well.
Although translators of the Bible were burned, its last book, Revelation, became an anti-authoritarian manual useful to those who would turn the Puritan world upside down, such as the Family of Love, the Anabaptists, the Diggers, Levellers, Ranters, and Thomas Morton, the man who in 1626 went to Merry Mount in Quincy Mass, and with his Indian friends put up the first Maypole in America, in contempt of Puritan rule.
The Puritans destroyed it, exiled him, plagued the Indians, and hanged gay people and Quakers. Morton had come over on his own, a boat person, an immigrant. So was Anna Lee, who came over a few years later, the Manchester proletarian who founded the communal living, gender separated Shakers, who praised God in ecstatic dance, and who drove the Puritans up the wall.
The story of the Maypole as a symbol of revolt continued. It crossed cultures and continued through the ages. In the late 1800s, the Sioux began the Ghost Dance in a circle, "with a large pine tree in the center, which was covered with strips of cloth of various colors, eagle feathers, stuffed birds, claws, and horns, all offerings to the Great Spirit." They didn't call it a Maypole and they danced for the unity of all Indians, the return of the dead, and the expulsion of the invaders on a particular day, the 4th of July, but otherwise it might as well have been a Mayday!
Wovoka, a Nevada Paiute, started it. Expropriated, he cut his hair. To buy watermelon he rode boxcars to work in the Oregon hop fields for small wages, exploited. The Puget Sound Indians had a new religion -- they stopped drinking alcohol, became entranced, and danced for five days, jerking twitching, calling for their land back, just like the Shakers! Wovoka took this back to Nevada: "All Indians must dance, everywhere, keep on dancing." Soon they were. Porcupine took the dance across the Rockies to the Sioux. Red Cloud and Sitting Bull advanced the left foot following with the right, hardly lifting the feet from the ground. The Federal Agents banned the Ghost Dance! They claimed it was a cause of the last Sioux outbreak, just as the Puritans had claimed the Maypole had caused the May Day proletarian riots, just as the Shakers were dancing people into communality and out of Puritanism.
On December 29 1890 the Government (with Hotchkiss guns throwing 2 pound explosive shells at 50 a minute -- always developing new weapons!) massacred more than 300 men, women and children at Wounded Knee. As in the Waco holocaust, or the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia, the State disclaimed responsibility. The Bureau of Ethnology sent out James Mooney to investigate. Amid Janet Reno-like tears, he wrote: "The Indians were responsible for the engagement."
In 1970, the town of Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts held, as it does each year, a Thanksgiving Ceremony given by the townspeople. There are many speeches for the crowds who attend. That year -- the year of Nixon's secret invasion of Cambodia; the year 4 students were massacred at Kent State and 13 wounded for opposing the war; the year they tried to electrocute Black Panthers Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins -- the Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.
Frank James, who is a Wampanoag, was selected. But before he was allowed to speak he was told to show a copy of his speech to the white people in charge of the ceremony. When they saw what he had written, they would not allow him to read it.
First, the genocide. Then, the suppression of all discussion about it.
What do Indian people find to be Thankful for in this America? What does anyone have to be Thankful for in the genocide of the Indians, that this "holyday" commemorates? As we sit with our families on Thanksgiving, taking any opportunity we can to get out of work or off the streets and be in a warm place with people we love, we realize that all the things we have to be thankful for have nothing at all to do with the Pilgrims, nothing at all to do with Amerikan history, and everything to do with the alternative, anarcho-communist lives the Indian peoples led, before they were massacred by the colonists, in the name of privatization of property and the lust for gold and labor.
Yes, I am an American. But I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving. I have been accused of wanting to go backwards in time, of being against progress. To those charges, I plead guilty. I want to go back in time to when people lived communally, before the colonists' Christian god was brought to these shores to sanctify their terrorism, their slavery, their hatred of children, their oppression of women, their holocausts. But that is impossible. So all I look forward to the utter destruction of the apparatus of death known as Amerika -- not the people, not the beautiful land, but the machinery, the State, the capitalism, the Christianity and all that it stands for. I look forward to a future where I will have children with Amerika, and they will be the new Indians.
In memorium. Lest we forget. The First Thanksgiving
From the Community Endeavor News, November, 1995, as reprinted in Healing Global Wounds, Fall, 1996
The first official Thanksgiving wasn't a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children, an anthropologist says. Due to age and illness his voice cracks as he talks about the holiday, but William B. Newell, 84, talks with force as he discusses Thanksgiving. Newell, a Penobscot, has degrees from two universities, and was the former chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Connecticut.
"Thanksgiving Day was first officially proclaimed by the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual green corn dance-Thanksgiving Day to them-in their own house," Newell said.
"Gathered in this place of meeting they were attacked by mercenaries and Dutch and English. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building," he said.
Newell based his research on studies of Holland Documents and the 13 volume Colonial Documentary History, both thick sets of letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the king in England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years in the mid-1600s.
"My research is authentic because it is documentary," Newell said. "You can't get anything more accurate than that because it is first hand. It is not hearsay."
Newell said the next 100 Thanksgivings commemorated the killing of the Indians at what is now Groton, Ct. [home of a nuclear submarine base] rather than a celebration with them. He said the image of Indians and Pilgrims sitting around a large table to celebrate Thanksgiving Day was "fictitious" although Indians did share food with the first settlers.
andthenthere's always burroughs and his thanksgiving prayer, just for good measure...
At around 11:30 p.m., CSOs asked a male student using a computer in the back of the room to leave when he was unable to produce a BruinCard during a random check. The student did not exit the building immediately.
The CSOs left, returning minutes later, and police officers arrived to escort the student out. By this time the student had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, at which point the student told the officer to let him go. A second officer then approached the student as well.
The student began to yell "get off me," repeating himself several times.
It was at this point that the officers shot the student with a Taser for the first time, causing him to fall to the floor and cry out in pain. The student also told the officers he had a medical condition.
i want played at my funeral. if you've never heard them, you should anyway. and you can. here. now. before i'm worm food. or worm ashes, as i'd prefer.
now don't go freaking out. i'm fine. really. i was just thinking about this today on my way to visit my grandpa in the hospital. i also decided several years ago, that i want to be dressed ridiculously funny for the visitation. i want the last laugh.
i can't find vid for the last one, so the lyrics will have to suffice...
they were digging a new foudation in Manhattan and they discovered a slave cemetary there may their souls rest easy now that lynching is frowned upon and we've moved on to the electric chair and i wonder who's gonna be president, tweedle dum or tweedle dummer? and who's gonna have the big blockbuster box office this summer? howabout we put up a wall between houses and the highway and you can go your way , and i can go my may
except all the radios agree with all the tvs and the magazines agree with all the radios and i keep hearing that same damn song everywhere i go maybe i should put a bucket over my head and a marshmallow in each ear and stumble around for another dumb numb week for another hum-drum hit song to appear
people used to make records as in a record of an event the event of people playing music in a room now everything is cross-marketing its about sunglasses and shoes or guns and drugs you choose we got it rehashed we got it half-assed we're digging up all the graves and we're spitting on the past and you can choose between the colors of the lipstick on the whores cause we know the difference between the font of 20% more and the font of teriakiyi you tell me how does it...make you feel?
you tell me what's ...real? and they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics even when they're as dry as my lips for years even when they're stranded on a small desert island with no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer and i wonder is he different? is he different? has he changed? what's he about?... or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?
Am i headed for the same brick wall is there anything i can do about anything at all? except go back to that corner in Manhattan and dig deeper, dig deeper this time down beneath the impossible pain of our history beneath unknown bones beneath the bedrock of the mystery beneath the sewage systems and the path drain beneath the cobblestones and the water mains beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels beneath everything i can think of to think about beneath it all, beneath all get out beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel there's a fire just waiting for fuel
hunting? my ass. how anyone could ever believe that this is sport is beyond me. in all of my naivety, i really thought that this was a thing of the past. and for what? great leaps and bounds in the scientific realm? a cure for cancer? no. to make a coat. a coat. (let it be known that i'd still have major issues even if there were some great wordly good coming out of this "sport."
warning - this is extremely, horribly, difficult to watch. i'm posting it here because it must be stopped.
and let it be known - i can't be held responsible for my tongue if i EVER encounter someone actually wearing a fashionable baby seal fur coat. if you have one, and you're reading this, you disgust me. i can't think of anything much worse. there. i've judged.
now, godo something. please. if you'd like, you can send email directly to the prime minister via this address: email@example.com
h/t tochuckfor this vid. i go back and forth on the question of whether or not violent video games spur violent acts in those that play them. and violence in music. i always think of chris rock asking what was in hitler's cd case. i do think that both of these things play a role in desensitizing kiddos. even adults.
the world is a violent place and our children are sadly taught not to hit while their countries are actively bombing the crap out of other countries, or witnessing the slaughtering of others. it confuses me - i can't imagine how confusing this "do as i say not as i do" mentality is to a child.
all in all, i imagine that it's a whole slew of factors. even the anti-depresssants given to children these days carry a warning that they may actually cause violent outbursts in those under the age of 18. i think of columbine and eric harris who was taking luvox at the time of his attack. and heisn't the only one. but we don't like to talk about that...
was awful. they had moved my grandpa to the hospital after a weekend of him being horribly ill. they had originally thought that it was a reaction to the flu shot he'd had, as his symptoms appeared right after he got it. after the weekend, the doctor came to see him and found that his belly was bulging. fearing that there was some sort of blockage, they rushed him to the e.r.
a cat scan showed there was a blockage near his hernia and that they would have to perform surgery quickly. his doctor told my mom that there was an 85% chance that he wouldn't make it. we rushed out the door, as his surgery was set for 3 o clock and we were an hour and a half worth of drive away. i was so afraid that we wouldn't make it there in time. it was the longest car ride ever.
as we made out way through ccu to grandpa's room, i heard a nurse saying, "he can go in - it's up to the family. but if he starts screaming and hollering, get him out of here." she was talking about bebe. i couldn't believe it.
when we got to the room, the chaplain was with him. he looked so frail and scared. he was just holding on to the chaplain's hand. he'd asked for him to come by to pray with him before the surgery. my grandpa has a faith that goes back before i was even born - one that i imagine he's had for life. at times in my own life, i've wished that i had that - especially after grandma passed away in '99. i just don't. and it is always in times like these that i wish i could just pretend for awhile... the thought of there being some sort of afterlife where we all get to kick it together again someday sounds splendid. i just don't know that that will happen, ya know?
the chaplain prayed for a few minutes, undaunted by bebe's imitations of the beeping machines in the room. after he was finished, grandpa clutched his hand tighter and told him that he was ready to go (he misses my grandma so much), that this would be hardest on those that he was leaving behind. the chaplain looked over at us and said that he'd like to say another prayer, because of how grandpa's words and spirit and strength had just moved him. i lost it.
after the chaplain left, i went to grandpa and asked how he was feeling. he said he felt better than he had in a few days. i smoothed his hair and kissed his cheek and told him that i love him very much. i asked him if he was scared and he said he was, though he knew he shouldn't be. then the mean nurse came in and said that needed to put a tube down his throat. i asked if we needed to leave and she scoffed, saying, "uh, yeah. i can't barely watch this, you won't be able to." i was having a really hard time understanding how she could be so cold. we went to the waiting room, and they came back out to get all of us after a few minutes. when we got back to his room, they were prepping him. they'd moved up the surgery time. bebe kissed grandpa and said 'i love you.' the anaesthesiologist said, "ok, everyone - say good bye!" all chipper like. i told grandpa that i'd see him in a few hours instead. is this protocal for the hospital staff in the ccu section?
we went back out to begin the wait. there was a little quiet room off the waiting room that we kind of just took over. we shut the door so bebe could run around and explore, and play with his bear and car. i thought about myself at his age. in that moment, it felt like yesterday that i was 2 and mom and i were living with my grandparents in california. my mom had me in the summer between her junior and senior year of high school, and she was all alone. my grandparents helped raise me. i spent my summers with them in ellison bay. here lay a man that i used to have to run to keep up with when we'd walk to the post office. and now i was about to outwalk him. where did all of the years go? what happened?
a million thoughts were racing through my mind. i should've come to visit more. why is the hospital staff so la-dee-da? how long will the surgery be? will he beat the odds? will we get a few more years with grandpa? is it selfish to want that? we all die someday, surest thing about being born. i know this. why do i feel so sad? why didn't i come visit more? why do i always procrastinate until it's too late? did i just see my grandpa for the last time? we were just talking about how we were going to try and get grandpa back up to the cottage again next year. what if there isn't a next year?
my aunt and uncle were on their way, but wouldn't be here until late last night and today, respectively. throughout the day, other family members came by to sit and wait with us. there was cafeteria food and minutes that dripped by like each was an eternity.
finally, the surgeon came in about 3 hours later and said that it had gone well. he'd repaired the hernia and also had to take out a section a bowel that was bad. he also said that the statistical odds were the other way around - that grandpa's doctor had meant that there was an 85% chance that he would pull through just fine. someday it may be funny, that we were all thinking the situation going into surgery was more dire than it really was. someday. he'll be in the hospital for at least a week. they have to keep a close eye on him, with his other health issues.
i went back in to see him before we left to come home and he was in a tremendous amount of pain, but he was awake. and his coloring looked good.
we got home late last night. i talked to my mom this morning, she said she'd call me from the hospital. i need to figure out when we can go back down, and how... i hope that his pain isn't bad today. i hope that he makes it through this. i hope we have just even a few more hours together before he moves on. i hope that i don't waste anymore time...
followingpam's leadsince i still am grappling with an exhausted mind after last week's hell hours (yes, plural) with credit card companies for accounts that aren't even ours that are showing on our reports, i'm going to list some random questionseseses that bounce about from time to time in them thar hills of me brain... but, just so you know,
CREDIT CARD COMPANIES SUCK - ESPECIALLY CITIBANK. this would be why we don't have any, and why i never ever want any again.
1. does my curbside recycling bin recycle? i can't find a rating on it anywhere. and i hope it does, because at this rate, we'll have to replace it soon. the dude can't set it down after he empties it, he has to throw it. hard. on the sidewalk. it is cracked like nobody's business. 2. why does anyone think it is ok to beat someone else that is 1/4 of their size and has only been on the planet for 567 days for not sitting still at the dinner table? THEN they have the nerve to call it spanking. or discipline. seriously, how is this legal? how is someone that small to be expected to "know" better? i really need to stay away from the online parenting community comments to articles about alternatives to time-outs for 18 month olds. far away. i was never spanked, and i turned out ok. no comments, you. :) 3. why does my down the street neighbor blow leaves three times a day, for an hour, for weeks, in fall season? does he know what they do to the sewers? do he know that they all end up in our driveway? 4. why do credit card companies suck so much? 5. why can't my dogs figure out that the cats outside are same cats they see everyday and they don't need to bark at them incessantly? and squirrels? same deal. 6. why does brie taste so delicious? why does every cheese in the cheese family call out to me to eat them? 7. why does my knee ache? i'm only 33! 8. why can't we all just do what we do best, what we love to do, and be able to make enough money to survive? 9. why can't we all just get along? 10. when will i ever be able to read a book again without "someone" pulling it from my hands - a mere page in - saying, "all done! all done!" :) 11. why can't every item in the world be fair trade, not free trade? 12. why is it so hard to find clothes not made in sweatshops? 13. when will all of the oil be gone? and then what happens? 14. why aren't we doing more, as a country (and individually), about global warming? 15. are panda bears only in china? 16. why would it seem that i got the plague 19 months ago, rather than having had a bebe? where did everyone disappear to? and will they ever come back? 17. what are you wearing? (kidding.) 18. will i ever have a viable third party candidate for president to vote for? 19. where have all the flowers gone? 20. why do the "support whatever" ribbons look suspiciously like jesus fish?
sometimes i just read things that make me throw my head back and laugh in glee
ann coulter and felon in the same sentence is but one of those such things. thinking of ann coulter as a bonafide criminal is another. knowing that she'll never be able to cast a ballot again if found guilty makes the cake oh so much sweeter.
not that i've ever taken any of her writings seriously, but i really can't take her seriously now that she allegedly can't even figure out where her polling place is. surely she received her reminder notice in the mail? surely the bastion of all things proper and legal and correct wouldn't knowingly commit a felony that carries a possible prison sentence?
i like to think that she would. so i will.
but it gets better. she has refused to cooperate in the investigation, so there is talk that thecase will be handed over to the prosecutors. the picture in my head of ann in prison is so much more fun than martha stewart being behind bars. but chances are, she won't see a day of jail. we like to save that for the undesirables in our society - the ones that can't afford legal councel. and i'm also sure that this will somehow be the polling place's fault. but a girl can dream, right?
on veteran's day, every year, there is much lip-service given to the sacrifices that veterans have made for us. i propose that this sacrifce has more of an effect on those in power than the rest of us masses, but i could be wrong. just a few minutes ago, i read a comment on another blog about how we should all be thankful to sleep in peace at night, due to these sacrifices. i couldn't help but think, i'm not sleeping well, and haven't for some time. i won't be surprised if another horrible attack happens in this country - current policies are making us all less safe. in fact, i don't feel any safer now than i did watching planes hit buildings on september 11th. the warriors historically tend to create more wars - no matter where they come from. i'am not comforted. it also pains me greatly to know that these sacrifices being made are for... tell me again, for what, exactly?
in the same breath, i wouldn't wish on anyone to be a veteran. it means that they will have seen things that are the stuff of nightmares. i can't begin to even imagine what they go through on a day-to-day, what it feels like to be so far away from home, family, friends and constantly in fear for my life. i would not a good soldier make. and i'm incredibly torn. it is difficult for me to support anything that has to do with warring, yet, deep down, i know that each and everyone that has volunteered to join the armed forces is still a person, a somebodies somebody. as hubby reminds me, "war stands to turn regular, everyday people into animals. that is what war does."
and now, veterans are returning home to enjoy the same luxaries that their fore bearers have. horrible health care, disgraceful mental health support, benefits that have been axed by bush, families having had been torn apart and struggling to get by, and the very real possibility that they will be called up to go serve again. you know it's bad when there are ads on television asking for donations to help the families of the soldiers. if anything, they and their families should be taken care of, by those who shoo them off to do their bidding. yet, i have been accused on more than one occasion of not "supporting the troops." go figure.
Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day, because it was November 11, 1918, at 11 AM - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, that the first World War came to an end.
It would be good to remember a few things about that war as this country is about to embark on still another war. First, that you don’t "win" wars. We "won" World War I, but sowed the seeds of another world war. War is a quick fix, like crack. An exultant high - we won! - and soon you’re down again, and you need another fix, another war.
In World War I. the German Kaiser was presented as the epitome of evil - a threat to the world,, who must be eliminated for our safety. In truth, he was bad, but his danger to us was enormously exaggerated, as with Saddam Hussein. So the Allies defeated Germany, got rid of the Kaiser, and ten million men died on the battlefields.
We can get rid of Saddam Hussein. Iraq is a fifth-rate military power, with no Air Force to speak of, its army a remnant of what it was ten years ago, the country still in ruins, its infrastructure devastated by two wars, its people weakened by ten years of sanctions depriving people of food and hospitals of medicine, and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. And the U.S. with its invincible Air Force, will win.
In the course of that, tens of thousands of Iraqis will die, , many of them innocent civilians, others poor, miserable conscripts in the Iraqi army. We will be killing the victims of Saddam Hussein. . Because of its high tech weaponry and overwhelming military superiority, America will lose few soldiers. But it will lose its soul.
World War I, presented to the public as a war for democracy, for freedom, was in fact a war fought by imperial powers (France, England, Russia) against an imperial rival, Germany. It led, not to the freedom of colonial peoples, but to a change in who dominated the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe.
Now, the war in Iraq is presented as a moral crusade to end the menace of "weapons of mass destruction", the evidence for which is far from clear. The assumption that Saddam would use them and invite annihilation (since most weapons of mass destruction in the world are held by the United States) makes no sense.
As in the first World War, there are imperial motives at work, and the defeat of Saddam will lead to a change in who controls the precious oil reserves of Iraq. Deals will be cut with Russia, France and England to divide the booty. The talks are going on right now.
The first World war was sold to the American public as "the war to end all wars". But twenty-one years later came World War II, in which fifty million people were killed. The United Nations was formed, as its Charter says, "to end the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind".
But no, it’s been war after war for the United States: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia. All accompanied by claims that we were at war for some good cause, all resulting in the loss of human life, all demanding acceptance of the government’s reasons for war, most of which turned out to be lies. We should have learned from Vietnam that true patriotism does not mean marching off to war just because the government tells you to. Those 58,000 names on the Washington memorial should make that clear.
As a veteran of World War II, as a student of the history of our wars, and contemplating still another war, I suggest we keep certain things in mind. First, that we must be extremely skeptical of whatever government officials tell us about the reasons for going to war. Second, that what is certain about war is that large numbers of innocent people will die, including many children, and what is uncertain about war is that any good will come of it.
Finally, that when you go to war, you assume that the lives of people in another country are not as valuable as the lives of your own countrymen. If we really believe, as our most fundamental moral principles demand we believe, that the children in other countries have as much right to live as our children, then we must refuse the call to war. It is time, by public demand, by general outcry, to end "the scourge of war" .
The best thing we can do for Veterans Day is to pledge: "No more war veterans".
the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and rumsfeld is GONE! buh. bye. i never thought i'd see the day. and rumor has it that bush made this call against the wishes of cheney. and didn't bush look a bit, oh, edgy in his press conference a few minutes ago? could the neo-cons be losing their grip? could it be? oh, fraptuous day! looks like bush is beginning to listen to his father instead - the james baker commission, robert gates (think iran-contra) being the likely nominee. i can't help but wonder if cheney will gone soon as well? hmmmmm....
in election news, i awoke to find quite a surprise - claire mccaskill cleaned jim talent's clock. while i'm not a claire fan per se (the borderline anarchist in me and all), i voted for her because i knew the race would be so close. i'll be keeping close tabs on her. my friend sara said something this morning when she called to giggle with me that cracked me up, "i love her. she has bitch running through her. in every one of her ads you could see that she was just wanting to say, 'i hate that m'er f'er'."
light rail passed. my fair city is going to begin to step into the 20th century. the stem cell initiative even made it through! the minimum wage increase is set in stone. as for the judges, well, i tried. my modes operandi in every judge vote is a straight ticket of the party of no. every time. they need to be voted out regularly, in my humble opinion.
but most importantly, i hope that the rest of the world sees that america isn't happy with what is happening and that we do want change. today, i feel hopeful - and ready to dig back in! oh, yeah.
You are beyond wise. You are so smart, you're almost prophetic.
Your inner voice always speaks the truth, and you take the time to listen to it.
You are good at seeing who people are... including the darkness of others.
As a result, you tend to have a rather dark - yet realistic - outlook on life.
A: Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution -- they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually.
Q: Is the earth really getting hotter?
A: Yes. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientists say that unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.
Q: Are warmer temperatures causing bad things to happen?
A: Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the United States. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Texas, Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington. Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the United States. In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. And in what scientists regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic's perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9 percent per decade.
Q: Is global warming making hurricanes worse?
A: Global warming doesn't create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years.
Q: Is there really cause for serious concern?
A: Yes. Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet, and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these:
1. Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West.
2. Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
3. Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
4. Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.
5. Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
Q: Could global warming trigger a sudden catastrophe?
A: Recently, researchers -- and even the U.S. Defense Department -- have investigated the possibility of abrupt climate change, in which gradual global warming triggers a sudden shift in the earth's climate, causing parts of the world to dramatically heat up or cool down in the span of a few years.
Q: What country is the largest source of global warming pollution?
A: The United States. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world's population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning -- by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the United States emits more carbon dioxide than China, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. And as the world's top developer of new technologies, we are well positioned to do so -- we already have the know-how.
Q: How can we cut global warming pollution?
A: It's simple: By reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy.
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