Thursday, September 15, 2005

PEACE! March, Rally and Peace Fair

Washington Buddhist Peace fellowship

Saturday, September 23-26
March, Rally and Peace Fair
Washington, DC

Gathering and Sitting Meditation 11:00AM corner of Constitution and 15th St, NW (Smithsonian or Federal Triangle Metro)
A majority of Americans believe that the Iraq War never should have happened, yet our elected representatives in Washington continue to fund disastrous Iraq policies. They have given military recruiters nearly unrestricted access to our schools -- and the Pentagon nearly unrestricted access to our tax dollars. Our vital social programs are eroding or being decimated. This is not the vision we and the world share for this new millennium of human life.

Let us come together to manifest a different vision of being. Join our contingent of peacemakers, inspired by the way of peace taught by Thich Nhat Hanh, H.H. the Dalai Lama, and so many other teachers. We will sit, stand, listen and walk together in the streets of Washington D.C. with thousands of people organized by United for Peace and Justice in Washington, D.C. for four days of Right Action for peace and to stop the war:

September 23, 7 p.m. Candlelight vigil and meditation, St Stephen and the Incarnation, 1525 Newton St., NW (at 16th St.--closest metro: Columbia Heights), sponsored by the Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship
September 24, 11 a.m. Gather at Constitution and 15th St, NW for sitting meditation, then walking together with thousands from all over the world
September 25, Interfaith religious service,
September 26, Grassroots lobbying day and civil disobedience.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Think of your home-town, your family, your friends.

Imagine a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack.

No, simply imagine the future.

Would you honestly want this man, his party, his ideology in charge?

Killed by Contempt
New York Times
September 5, 2005

(T)he federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?

(...) In my last column, I asked whether the Bush administration had destroyed FEMA's effectiveness. (September 2, 2005 A Can't-Do Government) Now we know the answer.

Several recent news analyses on FEMA's sorry state have attributed the agency's decline to its inclusion in the Department of Homeland Security, whose prime concern is terrorism, not natural disasters. But that supposed change in focus misses a crucial part of the story.

For one thing, the undermining of FEMA began as soon as President Bush took office. Instead of choosing a professional with expertise in responses to disaster to head the agency, Mr. Bush appointed Joseph Allbaugh, a close political confidant. Mr. Allbaugh quickly began trying to scale back some of FEMA's preparedness programs.

You might have expected the administration to reconsider its hostility to emergency preparedness after 9/11 - after all, emergency management is as important in the aftermath of a terrorist attack as it is following a natural disaster. As many people have noticed, the failed response to Katrina shows that we are less ready to cope with a terrorist attack today than we were four years ago.

But the downgrading of FEMA continued, with the appointment of Michael Brown as Mr. Allbaugh's successor.

Mr. Brown had no obvious qualifications, other than having been Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate. But Mr. Brown was made deputy director of FEMA; The Boston Herald reports that he was forced out of his previous job, overseeing horse shows. And when Mr. Allbaugh left, Mr. Brown became the agency's director. The raw cronyism of that appointment showed the contempt the administration felt for the agency; one can only imagine the effects on staff morale.

That contempt, as I've said, reflects a general hostility to the role of government as a force for good. And Americans living along the Gulf Coast have now reaped the consequences of that hostility.

The administration has always tried to treat 9/11 purely as a lesson about good versus evil. But disasters must be coped with, even if they aren't caused by evildoers. Now we have another deadly lesson in why we need an effective government, and why dedicated public servants deserve our respect. Will we listen?

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Thousands of Americans have died and are still dying while waiting for emergency care, food, water. At the same time, Bush has been praising FEMA's incompetent Michael D. Brown for "a job well done". What a mockery of human suffering.

Today, Bush is finally admitting that America can't cope, and has asked for medicines, blankets, water and half a million food rations from the EU. NATO has also been asked to assist with food.

I love America. I have lived here for 30 years. My kids are American.

What I have never loved is the brand of American politics that is obsessed with shifting the responsibility for everything onto local government. Local government should not have sole responsibility for safeguarding and maintaining things like the levees in New Orleans, or the infrastructure of Manhattan.

Nor should it be left to the sole responsibility of local governments in poverty stricken areas of the country to care for the education, healthcare and homeland security issues of dirt-poor citizens.

Will America understand and admit that political choices caused most of the human suffering in the days after Katrina?

America works for rich and middle class people, but the middle class is shrinking, and the gap between rich and poor is growing.

For poor people in some areas of the country, America resembles a third world nation. What has happened in New Orleans has made this visible to the world, and hopefully to some Americans, but the underlying problems of New Orleans are not unique to that city.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Scary Enough to Keep You Awake at Night

Do you know what is really, really frightening?

That the administration who lied to bring about the war in Irak, who bragged about it's ability to solve a non-existing WMD problem with "Shock and Awe" - could not even evacuate it's own citizens from the path of Katrina, could not even evacuate New Orleans in a timely fashion after the disaster struck, and could not even keep the citizens of New Orleans safe while they waited, day after horrible day to be evacuated.

Heaven help us.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Richest in the world.

This spring my mother, who lives in Oslo, Norway, became very ill. She needed abdominal surgery. The operation went well, but she was frail, and has a bad heart, so she had to recover in a nursing home after being discharged from the hospital. You are supposed to recover in your own part of town, close to friends and family, but there were no openings in my mother's part of town, so she ended up living a 4omin. subway ride away. We spent hours going back and forth over the weeks.

Complications from the surgery led to another hospital stay, and more surgery. She was sent back to the same place to recover, as there were still no openings in her own part of town. She stayed for 6 weeks in all, wheel-chair bound after the 2nd surgery.

In retrospect her first nursing home was very nice. My mother got a fairly spacious single room, with a sunny window. The food was good. The staff was very kind and responsive, both to my mother and to her family, but they were almost all substitutes, as the "real" staff were away on holiday.

My mother was told that she needed and would get physical therapy, but the therapist was away on holiday. When she began to feel better, she wanted to have her hair and feet cared for, but those professionals were away on holiday. We tried to make an appointment with the doctor to talk about mother's need for physical therapy, but he was only there once a week. We decided to make an appointment with the head nurse instead, but she was going on holiday the next day. We were finally able to make an appointment with the substitute head nurse, and she arranged for mother to get physical therapy, several times a week - for what turned out to be the last week she stayed at the facility.

After 6 weeks it all of a sudden became urgent for the administrators in my mother's part of town that she be moved. After a special "queen's" farewell breakfast, she was picked up on Friday morning, before she had her medicines.

Fortunately, I had asked to be able to ride with my mother, as she was transferred. When we arrived at the new nursing home, no one was there to greet her. Mother had traveled in a wheel-chair belonging to the taxi company that drove us, and they needed it back - but there were no wheel-chairs in the reception area.

We waited and waited, and an old, uncomfortable wheel-chair without foot rests was finally borrowed from somewhere. There was still no one "in charge" present to greet my mother, or help her move in, but I got someone to show us to her room. The room was about the same size as the one she had before, but it was a double - someone else was already living there, behind a curtain.

As no one came to help, I unpacked my mother's things, putting them in a closet and drawers that had someone else's name on them. I was told that lunch was at 1 PM, and that the head nurse was in a meeting, so we went for a walk, and sat in the garden for a little while. Unlike at Furuset, there was no livingroom to sit in, only a sterile cafeteria.

At 1PM we were told that lunch was at 1:30. My mother had still not gotten her morning medications, and had not been formally checked in by the nursing staff. I sat in the hallway - there was no other place for me to sit - and waited for the head nurse, while mother ate.

When the head nurse arrived, she told me that she was going on holiday. The physical therapist would have to order a wheel-chair for my mother, sometime next week. It would take a week or two for it to arrive. She was very surprised that my mother had not gotten her medicines - was I sure? After calling the home my mother had just left, the nurse finally arranged for my mother to get her medicines. We asked for a pillow for mother to sit on, as the wheel-chair was so uncomfortable.

Tuesday of the following week mother was in a lot of pain from sitting in the uncomfortable and ill-fitting wheel-chair. She had not been given a pillow to sit on. She felt that she was not getting her medicines, or at least not enough to deal with her pain. She had not been seen by the physical therapist. Why on earth was she rushed into a situation where she was not being cared for properly?

We asked to see the doctor on call to discuss the situation, and he saw us right away. He agreed that mother needed to have her pain killers increased, that she needed a pillow to sit on, and a new wheel-chair and physical therapy. The next day she had all of those things.

I feel that I spent most of the summer arguing and cajoling to get my mother the most basic care.

What is going on?
What happens to the old or sick person who does not have someone looking out for them?

My mother is still "being evaluated" and still in the double room that she can not lock. Last week someone stole $100 out of her purse.