Supreme Court Blocks Guantanamo Tribunals

I'm not one to boast (ok, maybe some times) but I just cant help doing a little happy dance over the fact that, in a major rebuke to the Bush administration, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that Bush overstepped his authority and violated both the Geneva COnvention and the Uniform Code of Military Justice in ordering war-crimes trials for Guantanamo detainees without specific authority from Congress.

I said it, the heads of countless other countries said it,military lawyers said it: And today, Five justices of the Supreme Court agreed: we were right, the Bush Administration was wrong. Neener, neeener, neener.

Writing for the court, Justice Stevens said that the Constitution gives the Congress, not the president, the authority to make rules concerning captured prisoners and the implementation of the laws of war.

The president, Stevens wrote, is required both by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions to use regularly constituted military courts, not special courts with special rules, to try accused war criminals.

For the Bush administration, Thursday's ruling was a stunning setback.

Andrew McBride, who filed a brief in the Supreme Court on behalf of former Bush and Reagan attorneys general, says the decision takes the wind out of President Bush's broad assertion of executive power and limits his flexibility.

"I think we will see less people tried in the military tribunals," McBride says, "and more people sent to their countries of origin or dealt with in other ways, as the president attempts to empty Gitmo over the next two years."

Thats the good news. In other news, Professor Goldsmith notes that under the court's decision, detainees can still be held indefinitely, without any trial.

full story

Weekend Update, ect.

Oy, why does life not come with an instruction manual? Because I love you, I will skip most of the trials, tribulations and transitions of my life at the moment and skip to the fun stuff.
Last weekend The Boy and I went to an amazing cycling event put on by Shift2Bikes , a cool local bike advocacy and activity leauge.
and had all kinds of crazy fun! They had an Eating By Bike relay, that was just a hoot, and a Bike Derby that The Boy wanted to enter until he saw it -there were water balloons and over-ripe produce involved, along with some of the most "assertive" cycling I've ever seen!

They also had a home-made version of the bike-powered smoothie blender I have been thinking about! The Boy and I got the first 2 smoothies of the day, and I got to pick their brain for ideas. They only do it for fun, at occasional events, but still had good insights and ideas --and even better, are willing to lend me their bike-smoothie mobile! I have plans to be pedaling juice at an event next month, and we'll see how it goes.

The thing about both house work and yard work is you knock yourself out doing it, and then it just needs to be done all over again! This house I live in, that for years I have lamented was too too small, with an equally too small yard, has somehow evolved into a palatial estate of epic proportions, and not only that, we got fairy tale weeds: brambles and vines that envelope all structures over night and reach the heavens by dawn. Any minute some giant is gonna climb down and ask for Jack. Since last finals week I have alternately had a gorgeous yard or a tidy house, but never both, and never for long. I want farm hands! House cleaning robots! A wife!

I ran into a friend who is a local business owner, and chatted with her a bit about my idea for the bike blender smoothies. She actually thought it was a good idea that could actually work, I was a little surpised, in part I guess because it alll started as what I thought of as a crazy scheme to earn some summer money without actually haveing to get a 'real' job. Who knows, it might just work out.


Sustainability In Motion

With all the wonderfulness in the garden I have not been posting much on cycling, or sustainability, or subverting the dominant paradigm But I have been thinking about it.

I have been involved in the effort to save an amazing --and all too rare-- urban farm from being developed into McMansions. Having successfully saved it, we have begun longterm strategic planning for the use of the land. Currently, there is a co-housing group living int the existing farm house, but they are not currently producing sufficient revenue to cover all the cost of maintaining the land. So proposals for everything from a CSA to a Retreat Center are being considered, and with them the fact that there is almost no on-site parking currently available. "Experts" assisting with the planning process insist that this needs to be addressed.

But if part of the mission and vision of Tryon Life Farm is to subvert the dominant paradigm, is seems obvious that inherent in that process would be the challenging the assumption that people must drive, particularly to a place located right on a bus line, and within a moderate bike ride of less than 7 miles from the city center. The surrounding neighborhood, who is unanimous in it's support of the farm, has it's own need for increased public transit, shuttles, and bike paths. It seems to me this is a golden opportunity for networking and creating community partnerships. No one wins if a new parking lot goes in, everyone wins with transportation alternatives.

If anyone needed evidence that more parking lots are no answer, there is the story of a new LEED-certified shopping center has become the subject of public scornand even boycott businesses in the Abercorn Commons, despite the fact that the project's developer seems be doing everything right, from using recycled construction materials to incorporating energy efficient HVAC schemes and recapturing rainwater.The reason for the uproara few of the parking spaces in the permeable surface parking lot are set aside for hybrid cars. And people are up in arems about it. People who own conventional cars.

One irate citizen was quoted as saying: "I've been looking forward to the new stores but I don't drive a hybrid car, whatever that is, so I won't be shopping there."

sigh. Thanks to John at Bike Year for the lead on the story of the crazed car-heads

Mean while I have a crazy dream (every girl needs one): a bike powered bussiness. Like many collage students, I have a background in food service, and even had my own baking and catering bussiness. And even this high falootin --and highly expensive-- education I am getting, I find the notion of bicycle powered smoothies delectible --and potentially a great way to make money durring summer vacations. So what do ya all think: totally nutty? Any thoughts on a biz name?.

The only thing standing between me and a beautiful pipe-dream is start up capital inventment of about $1000; anyone know any cool alternative venture capitalists?

I'm not saying that bike powered smoothies will change the world, but I believe absolutely that we must become the change we wish to see in the world. Whether it is finding creative solutions to parking and transportation issues, or whipping up sustainable, locally grownn meals, we must re-imagine our story,and our way of walking through this world.


Garden of Earthly Delights

Today was my fist day of Summer Vacation, and I had hoped to get out for a ride; but, alas, the day was dark and wet and rainy. After puttering around indoors for much of the day, there was finally a break in the weather in the late afternoon and I made it outside at last.
Once in the garden I discovered a veritable Smorgishboard of snap peas, lettuces, broccoli, figs and raspberries! The very first crop of raspberries! The bushes were planted a couple years ago, but --as is common-- it took some time for the first crop to come in, and now it is here! I have been feasting on them all evening: I feel as if I have never taisted them before --berries fresh off the bush taist nothing like the ones in stores!
It was as though the garden were celebrating the end of the school term with me, and welcoming me home.

Happy Birthday, Anne Frank

Today is the Anniversary of Anne Frank's birth, which was kind of the last straw for me. I have been listening to NPR, as I do all too often, and following recent events at Guantanamo Bay prison, where 3 people have abandoned all hope and killed themselves.

“The Nuremberg Defense” is generally characterized as “I was just following orders”, when people refer to “the Nuremberg defense” today, thats what they mean. But in reading the transcripts from the tribunal you find that the Nazi defendants carried out their master race policies under the belief that Germans were entitled to subjugate, dominate, and exterminate other races and peoples. At least one of the defendants was quoted as saying that no one ever said that what they were doing was wrong.

On the anniversary of Anne Frank's birth, our own government is rounding up people of a certain religion and nationality, and taking the position that they are entitled to subjugate, dominate, and exterminate other races and peoples. They insist that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing.

The fact that a handful of Saudi Arabs, working out of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Germany, hijacked 3 plane's in America is somehow being used as an excuse to invade Iraq (go ahead, try to connect those dots) and imprison hundreds of people, without charge, to circumvent our justice system with a trick of geography that keeps them in legal limbo, without legal counsel, without any access to any form of justice indefinetely. And, some how, all of us are going along with it. Too many of us, in any event.

Even in their most desperate hour, with all else is stripped away, all hope gone, their suicides --the thing that most potently demonstrates their shared humanity with us-- is characterized as “an act of aggression”. Dude, suicide is not an act of aggression. It is an act of desperation.

I am a psychology major, and have not doubt (much as I wish I did) of just how inherently detrimental conditions at Guantanamo Prison are. Locking people up for years, absent any system or procedures for challenging their incarceration or proving their innocence; absent any rights; sealed off from all contact with the outside world, legal counsel, family, or representatives from their own faith; traped there, in the knowledge that they can be held indefinetely. There can be no question of the irreperable impact this would have on any human being (what ever anyone may think of them, we may not deny their humanity). The effects are clearly documented and understood by the mental health community (we have a wealth of research and data based on survivors of other concentration camps and holocausts) and yet there is this deafening silence on the part of that very community. The shame of that silence is more than I can bare.

The cells at Gitmo, if you can call them that, are smaller, less protected from the elements, and more humble than the hen yard that Ruby and Ester live in. Proud as I am of my poultry palace, I am horified that anyone, anywhere would consider it an acceptable place to hold a person, even temporarily, let alone for 5 years and counting. I cant imagine anyone being immune to the hopelessness, degridation, and dispare that would come of being trapped in such a place. I can fathom no justification for it.

During the Holly Wars, Afghanistan made a point of treating their prisoners of war humanly. They did this absent any Genivia Convention, UN observers or letters from Amnesty International. They did this not out of bleed-heart liberalism, not even out of an ethic of assuming innocence until guilt was proven. They treated their prisoners with basic human dignity because of how doing so reflected on they themselves, the captors. They held themselves to high standards, and in doing so, held the moral high ground. This policy of humane treatment did not make them weak, or vulnerable, or less effective in their wars. It just meant they stood for something.

I considered whether or not to get up on this soapbox, but there was this news about Gitmo, and there was Margaret Cho on the DVD I was watching last night, saying “If we all got together and had this big, too-much-information, go-there voice, if we just went and did it, that voice would equal power, and that power would equal change, and that change would equal a revolution”

We need that voice, it has to start somewhere: I am using my go-there voice, on this anniversary, to say that what is happening in Guantanamo Bay is wrong. Years from now, when those who conceived and authorized the policies at Guantanamo, in the Patriot Act, and throughout this so-called “War on Terror”, are brought before a tribunal of their own, let none of them be able to claim that no one ever said that what they were doing was wrong.

When I was growing up, one of the great burning questions of history was how “good Germans” could have allowed what was going on during the war to go on. They saw the trains, they knew about the camps, why didn't they do something? We all believed we would have done something. What will we say we did about what was going on during the 'war on terror'? We know about Gitmo, we saw the photos of the torture. What now must we do?

Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Foreign Prisoners Support Services


The Mama Circle

As the mother of a medically fragile child (The Boy has a weird and obscure liver condition) I become a big sloppy mess when I hear about other women on this challenging and treacherous path: It is an indiscribably daunting and overwhelming ride.
Being the Boy's mother has been an unfathomable blessing, disease and all. In fact, I have always viewed the weathering of the the many trials and tribulations surrounding his diagnosis as a great gift, in that --from the moment he was born-- I never had the option of taking him for granted, of getting complacent. Many parents will tell you that they cant imagine their life without their kid(s), but I had to look into that dark place, and find my way out of the abyss that swallowed me as a result. From the moment one stoic and unfeeling doctor told me "don't get attached to him", I have been faced with the possibility of him not being here. I have no doubt that the possibility does not hold a candle to the reality.

The amazing and profound Ms.Zilla turned me onto the story of Erin , a mama who has lost two children to heart defects, and rather than being crushed under the weight of that grief, Erin is taking to the streets to raise money and awareness. I am an organizer and fundraiser for good causes from way back, a dyed in the wool, card-carrying do-gooder. I would like to believe that, in her shoes, I would have the strength and courage to be the kind of example she is being, but I have my doubts. In any event, thanks to Erin we all have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and make a difference.

Erin writes "Heart defects are the #1 most common birth defect . . . In the vast majority of cases, the cause is unknown, there are no steps for prevention, and there is no cure. That is the current future of our children.

I want to do my part to change that future. My life has been, as most of you know, deeply impacted by this lack of awareness and research. In an effort to stop other parents from losing children, I've decided to participate in the Charlotte Metro Heart Walk 2006 on September 16th to support awareness and research of Congenital Heart Defects. I'm aiming to raise $2000 in donations. If you'd like to support my effort, you can donate online at:
[link has info for mailing donations as well as how to give online]

It isn't required by the AHA, but I'd really appreciate it if you'd put "In Memory of Nova LeClair" in the memo slot."

I know first hand what a difference funding for research can make, it has made a world of difference in combating so many diseases. Here, then, is an opportunity to have a powerful impact on the world, on the future, and on children's lives --without even getting out of you jammies. Don't miss it.

Of Step-Parents and Sustainability

Children are meant to hate their step parents, and other interlopers in their parent's romantic lives. That is the natural order of things. I don't makes the rules, but there they are none the less.

I say this as someone who has dated and been married to folks who came with kids. The Gardener had both a child and a step-child, both in their teens, when we met. And they both hated me. As they grew into adulthood they outgrew their need to hate me, but as kids they had their psychologically and developmentally appropriate loathing for me, as was only right and proper.

Recently, The Gardener, from whom I have been separated for over a year, went on a date with The Intern. And The Boy has spent the past week going on and on about how good and nice and wonderful the Intern is (my son spends a lot of time at the Gardener's place of employment while I'm in class, and so has known the Intern for some time) The Boy tells me how --unlike me-- the Intern knows how to "duel" with Yugio Cards, is brilliant at any number of games and fun activities, and (wait for it, people) what a great step-mother she would make.


It feels just a little like I am loosing my son, along with The Gardener, to this interloper; and all the while being cast as "The Mean Parent". The Intern took the liberty of granting the Boy his life long wish for a GameBoy, a treasure I had so far denied him; not because I couldn't afford it, which I cant, but because I value children being engaged in the real world and real activities, rather then spending bright summer days plugged into electronic consumer products. I had been encouraging The Boy to save up to purchase one for himself, imagining that he could gain insights and skills around setting goals and working towards them, perhaps even a sense of empowerment. But the intern cut through all that with instant gratification. So, my credibility as a parent had been undermined, and I have dropped several notches on the Cool Scale. But that not the worst part.

The worst part isn't feeling that I am loosing the Boy, MY boy, to this all too young intern, it's not even that the Boy thinks she will make a great step mother, though that relates. I am all but sure that The Intern will not become his step-mother, that she is just one more siren, the first The Boy has met, sweeping through the Gardener's life. The worst part is that my dear, sweet, wonderful boy, who loves with the biggest heart I have ever encountered, has already gotten attached to the Intern, just as he had been attached, without having ever given it any conscious thought, to the family we once were with The Gardener. The worst part is how his view of love, commitment, and loyalty will change, is changing even now, due to these failed romances.

The GameBoy is like a metaphor for The shiny and seductive new “must have” consumer products bombarding our airwaves; for the 'Thursday Morning Girls'*; for our cultures insistence on valuing instant gratification and novelty over things that have substance, things that are real. A GameBoy, valued at over $100 when first purchased, quickly looses it's novelty and 'new toy glow', and the next thing you know it is cast aside in favor of the Next Big Thing. Recently I saw one available at Goodwill for $10, once some boy's heart's desire, it now had a few dings and scratches, perhaps, and as a result it is now seen as old, boring, uncool, incompatible with the latest games and trends: possessing all the flaws the Boy sees in me at the moment.

This is how resources get depleted, and landfills filled: we move from one new toy to the next, looking to be amused or entertained externally, never finding real satisfaction. Casting our treasures aside as their novelty wares off. Feeding our insatable appitites on a finite planet.

“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.”

No surprise, I have been thinking a good deal of late about theVelveteen Rabbit The Shiny, The New, The Untried will always have some degree of seductive charm, but we must evolve past our susceptibility to it. Me must get to a place where we recognize the value and meaning of what we have, of that which has stood the test of time. If we can not love the worn and storied in ourselves and each other, if we can not value the history and experiences in eachothers eyes, how can we hope to create sustainability in the larger community.

If we are not careful we get lazy, get swept up in the seduction of the new, the novel, the 'next big thing', and then we will see only the flaws, the worn and real places, in what we have and not even remember the role we ourselves played in creating those flaws, that we created those flaws as we created our history together. We forget that theses are what make them, and us, real. Scratches can be buffed, tares and breaks mended, but endurance and history can not be purchased or replaced

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

[*"Thursday Morning Girls", taken from an episode of Gilmor Girls --see, I am so hip! Essentially, a reference for Sirens; sperficial and seductive distractions, diversions]


Oy with the chickens already!

First, a disclaimer: nothing in this post is meant to discourage the keeping of poultry. Chickens are charming, ducks are delightful, poulry is fabulous and I plan to be keeping poultry of one sort or another for the rest of my life.

Right. So, that said, chickens are wacky, and a great deal of trouble besides. As the reader (I can not fathom that theres more than one) may remember, I began the spring with Ruby and Ester, two spring chickens who were delightful, if a little inconsistent in the laying department. Due to insufficient egg production, I added a third chicken, a Bantam who never really got a name. I had always heard how sweet and wonderful Bantys are, and they lay these lovely little light brown eggs. But this one somehow brought out homicidal tendencies in Ruby and Ester, which I found quite shocking. It also resulted in a complete stop to all egg laying by all concerned.
So, for a number of reasons, including the fact that I had really wanted Bantams in the first place, I sent Ruby and Ester packing. The Bantam was good at laying, but tried to scratch our eyes out whenever we entered the hen yard. She, in fact, flew into a panic whenever we came near the yard. We didn't dare let her out into the garden to eat slugs and weeds, as we had with Ruby and Ester, as we feared we would never get her back in. So there has been a slug festival going on in the garden, which has not been getting it's daily dose of organic chicken manure fertilizer, and I was feeling that I was taking my life into my hands whenever I went to collect eggs --I didn't dare let The Boy do it!

So, today we sent the Banty packing, and Ruby and Ester are back: Yay!


Writing from The Wound

I have been taking this amazing class this term, called Writing To Heal (an amazing gift from the goddess) in which we are encouraged to "write from the wound". Good advice that is hard to follow. The two primary challenges that I have encountered are, first, knowing which wound: recognizing the the original source of the pain. The second is know which stories are mine to tell.

My wounds and my pain, the stories I most need to sort though and get down, are tangled with those of others. And the quandary becomes, how to tell my story without telling anyone elses? What is mine to tell and what is not? In the past I have sometimes solved this by writing fiction --or claiming so. If all the 'characters' are fictional, then all their stories are mine to tell. But it doesn't work in every case, or with every story.

I suppose must of us cloth our stories in fiction, or present them as such. We simplify, accentuate the positive, or the parts we think serve us best. We edit around the would and hide from the pain. We ask out the pretty, simple girl, rather than risk the intimate depths and murky darkness of an intelligent and complicated woman. We take the safe and easy path, the one that keeps us within our comfort zone. And always, always, we confuse where the line lies between our stories and the stories of others.

The trouble with making a fiction of our lives is that we become the stories we tell. The mask we wear becomes our face. And so I have been trying to find my real story, amongst the fiction I have woven, trying to untangle it from the stories that are not mine.

As I do so I have been thinking of the story that lead me to go back to school. A parable of sorts. The story tells of a teacher who becomes frustrated with an impertinent student: outraged by the students questions, the teacher seizes a world map, tears it to pieces, and tosses the pieces at the student, telling the student to busy themselves putting the map back together. The student does so in remarkably short time. When the teacher demands to know how, the student explains "On the back of the map was a picture of a person, I put the person back together, and in so doing mended the world" That was the story that put me on the path of becoming an Art Therapist, and I think that may be the true secrete of sustainability. If we can mend our broken selves, and broken ways, we would -in so doing- mend this broken Earth.


Cant See The Garden for The Weeds

School, computer failures, and other circumstances have kept me busy and delayed postings --and a great many other chores. Just as well, it's been a weird couple of weeks, and by my not posting you were all spared the strange tale of how I was verbally attacked for cleaning my living room; as well as the grim and depressing details of the demise of my relationships with my best friend, my therapist, and my chickens. Then, of course, there was my son's near death experience after he flushed homegrown broccoli (broccoli that I had tenderly nurtured and into which I had tirelessly pored my blood sweat and tears) down the toilet and then claimed that he had eaten. grrrr. nuff said

A dear friend was visiting last weekend and asked to see my infamous garden, I knew that I had been neglecting it the past few weeks, but even I wasn't prepared for the weed insurgency going on in my back yard. Oh, the humanity --or perhaps I should say 'Oh the vegetation'! The grass surrounding the garden is nearly as tall as The Boy, and members of the weed Axis of Evil have infiltrated every bed! It is just unbelievable. You would think I had been planting weeds, and that a few veggies had crop up among them, rather than the other way around.

It was so embarrassing, not just because I have been crowing about my garden in this blogg, and in every other setting where folks couldn't shut me up, but also because I have enormous respect for this friend, who is brilliant at just about everything, and there we were, standing among the ravages of weeds and slugs, in this jungle that had once been my garden . . . jeeeeeze, my head is hung low.

19th century plant breeder Luther Burbank, held the philosophy that when humans domesticated wild plants into vegetable crops, we entered into an enduring covenant with them in which we agreed to shelter and sustain them, and to eliminate predators and competing plants. Having bred them to be comparatively delicate and dependent, as well as succulent and delicious, we took on responsibility to nurture and protect them from invading weeds. So I am feeling like I broke some sacred pact. They'll take my gardening licence, sure, I'm after thinkin

Luckily, a few weeks neglect, however regrettable, is not fatal. I have been working my way through the beds, slowly turning areas so thick with vegetation that I can not see the soil back to weed-free garden space. Work in the garden is something of a double-edged sword for me. On the one hands it is a walking meditation, like chopping wood and carrying water, it is therapeutic and lends itself to the kind of mindfulness I strive for. But in the mindfulness, and the rhythmic and cyclical work of the garden, are memories and emotions every bit as thick as these weeds. The memories are so sharp and clear, yet the life to which they are attached to feels so far removed from me, it is as if that life belongs to someone else, some other pair of gardeners. The hope is that, as I weed out the unwanted, I will create space for new growth.