Thursday, May 28, 2009

Briefly noted...

Concluding the birthday with the puppet theater new production of their own new play on E.A.Poe's life of love and death was a really good idea. This stage brings surprisingly profound and thought-provoking subjects to its little stage and entertains all the while. Now we want to read all of Poe's poems again and his last story as well.

Here a link to the Hiddensee theater in the picture from the new production:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Birthday Joys

New island pix from today so far included in the slide show in the previous post below, which you should keep checking for more during the week.

And we've had chocolate cake.

And this evening we're going to the puppet theater on the island for a preview of the new Edgar Allen Poe Life & Work play opening on Friday evening. We don't need the premiere, we just want the play, for the play's the thing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On the Island

Sunshine, blue skies, beach weather. Photos from our entire stay:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Island Calling...

Koko is off to spend the week with our niece Lea
(under the supervision of her parents and envied by her little brother Malte)
and will hopefully prove to be the "goody" he says he is.

And we will spend that week in our usual abode on the enchanted island of
pictorial map to the right,
clickable for lots of information in English about how wonderful it is.
Read and be jealous!
Some of what is most enviable we will try to post up during the week,
but we do have to spend most of the time simply enjoying ourselves and celebrating the true pastoral calm of this island accessible only by sea.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fundamental Values Against Fundamentalist Terror

Tomorrow the German consitution, and the Federal Republic itself, celebrate their 60th birthday. The postwar German constitution, substantially modeled on American principles, opens with a list of human and civil rights, the first: Human dignity is inviolable. All others derive from that simple right and guarantee. They form the unalterable section of the German constitution.

The US Constitution, 220 years old, concludes, in the first ten amendments, with the list of rights constitutive of the republic, already includes in the text itself, however, the principles and institutions of justice, essential to the division and balance of powers with the legislative and executive branches. Yes, this is all to protect the people.

Barack Obama's speech on these principles and the danger, the insecurity for the American people and the entire world resultant from the violation of those principles, is an essential lesson on the rule of law and due process.

There is no protection against terrorism possible that contradicts the very freedoms, principles, justice, and democratic institutions that the terrorists themselves seek to overturn!

Security through elimination of principles of justice and human rights is the greatest insecurity imaginable!

Therefore, I must applaud Mr. Obama's speech and, once more, again point out what misguided dangerous ideas Cheney is fomenting in the mere attempt to avoid being prosecuted for illegal actions himself!


Here the link to the text of Mr. Obama's speech on May 21 and below the video of that speech, held in the presence of the original copy of the Constitution in the National Archives.

The Washington Post video, link here, of the two speeches cut into "replies" to each other makes amply clear how determined Mr. Cheney is to torture some and endanger many out of a distaste for liberty and justice and a love of "security" cost it what it may, while Mr. Obama is determined to combat the enemies of democratic principles of justice and liberties while upholding those very same values. The first is more populist, perhaps easier at first, more dangerous for the world in the end; the latter is the more difficult and the more honorable method of securing the nation and the world.

Clearly, the world is a safer place today than it was a year ago, simply because the playpen has been closed down. With the closure of each aspect of its legacy, the world will become safer yet and the light of freedom and justice may indeed again be able to attract others to the cause.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CLOSE GUANTANAMO ! Close it ! Close it ! Close it !

Those suspected of a crime are to be tried before a fair and impartial court and judged by a jury of their peers. It says so in the constitution and all laws of jurisprudence in the US. Even the Magna Carta granted the right to a trial and to hearing the evidence against you. So, try them if their is sufficient cause and evidence, otherwise release them. That is the price of a free society. And yes, if they are not guilty of any crime, they should indeed be admitted to the states. I believe they've already been held long enough on US controlled territory for them to qualify for naturalization. Besides, Hillary has asked other countries to accept some of them because they are not dangerous. So what are we supposed to think in Europe this time?
Close Guantánamo even without funds. Perhaps some human rights groups would be glad to provide boats to ferry the illegaly held out of that Cuban swamp!

Obama moves to regain initiative on Guantanamo closure - Los Angeles Times

Funds to Close Guantánamo Denied - The New York Times

The abrupt decision by Senate Democratic leaders to strip out the money for closing the Guantánamo detention center amounted to a strong rebuke of the Obama White House, which lawmakers in both parties have criticized for not providing a more detailed plan for what will be done with the 240 detainees currently held in the prison.
Senate Democrats had initially hoped to preserve the financing for closing the prison. House Democrats, however, had already stripped the money from their version of the military spending bill, saying they could not authorize funds without first reviewing Mr. Obama’s plans for the prisoners.
Mr. Obama is scheduled to outline some of those plans in a speech on Thursday in Washington.
Robert S. Mueller 3d, the director of the F.B.I., told a House panel on Wednesday that he is concerned that Guantánamo detainees could foment terrorism if they are sent to the United States. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the United States could continue to hold some detainees at the base indefinitely without charges.
Even so, Mr. Obama has faced growing demands in recent days, from both parties but particularly from Republicans, to spell out in detail how he plans to close the Guantánamo detention center and to provide assurances that detainees would not end up on American soil, not even in maximum security prisons.
The move by Senate Democrats to bar, for now, any transfer of detainees to the United States, raised the possibility that Mr. Obama’s order to close the camp by Jan. 22, 2010, may have to be changed or delayed.
“Guantánamo makes us less safe,” the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said on Tuesday at a news conference where he laid out the party’s rationale for its decision. “However, this is neither the time nor the bill to deal with this. Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the president. We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States.”

Human rights and principles of justice are in danger for each of us if they are not available and applicable to all of us.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shameful Russia !

Where were the outraged reports? Why did not one of the cloned superstar plastic idols pretending to sing songs make any reference to what had happened outside their bubble? Why did Eurovision go on with the broadcast? This Eurovision Song Contest would not even exist without the wild support of gays in Europe, and then Moscow has the balls to forbid gays from even demonstrating for the rights that Russia so vehemently denies them! How many of the contestants were gay themselves? (At least the German entry was professedly gay; many of the others were visibly so.) I am not only disappointed that no one spoke up; I am also totally disgusted that yet another country has hijacked an international event based on multicultural, multiethnic culture and tolerance for what is different and tried to hamper any expression of what they consider "other" during it.

Moscow Police Crush Gay Rights Rally -

Police officers in Moscow quickly suppressed a gay rights demonstration on Saturday, detaining dozens of protesters who hoped to showcase discrimination in Russia ahead of the Eurovision song contest final on Saturday evening.
No mention of the gay rights protest was made at the Eurovision final Saturday night, which was won by Norway’s Alexander Rybak.



And sincere hopes for the welfare of the 40+ arrested and all lgbt's living in or passing through the country.

(Gays and Lesbians should refrain from going there as tourists at all. They should not get one cent of our money, since they consider us abominations and satanic.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Historical Evil from the Playpen
Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said, "the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 -- well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion -- its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida." [Washington Note, May 13, 2009]
Journalist Paul Krugman said of the mounting evidence: "Let's say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.
"There's a word for this: it's evil." [Paul Krugman Blog, May 14, 2009]
Powell aide says torture helped build Iraq war case
(CNN) -- Finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, a former State Department official told CNN on Thursday.
The allegation was included in an online broadside aimed at former Vice President Dick Cheney by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. In it, Wilkerson wrote that the interrogation program began in April and May of 2002, and then-Vice President Cheney's office kept close tabs on the questioning.
"Its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda," Wilkerson wrote in The Washington Note, an online political journal.
Why am I not in the least surprised? How did I somehow always know this was what they were doing all along? Why was I the only one to see and smell all that sour milk splattered all over the bushbaby and all his playmates? Does anyone any longer doubt that the bushbaby and chainy were national security risks for eight years? Do you realize how lucky the world was to survive those maniacs?

Do Ask and Do Tell President Obama

Obama needs to uphold his pledge to reverse the "don't ask don't tell" regulation on gays in the military. Discipline is something else; stupidity and self-denial has nothing to do with proper defense of the country.

Watch the interview below with Rachel Maddow and follow the link to sign the petition urging Obama to take action to reverse the dismissal of those who have said they are gay.

Here is the simple text from the Courage Campaign that I am requesting you to sign:
Dear President Barack Obama,
The time has come to end discrimination in our armed forces. We, the undersigned, ask you to stop
the discharge of Lt. Dan Choi and any other soldier as a result of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. We ask that you uphold your pledge and push Congress to quickly put a bill on your desk to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
YOU can do something here, so don't just wait for others to fix this mess.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Apologies to the FOX Table

On the right to bear arms, joyrides, mothers, gay marriage in Iowa, bailouts for the GOP, Cheney interrogations, 100 days, auto executive of the year, talking to our enemies, the mayor of NYC, house-training dogs, losing your cool, approximations of truth, and journalism: Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on May 9, just in case you missed it or never heard about it...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To a great Berlin mother, feisty, loving, caring, and full of vigor:
To all the others of you out there who are mothers, congratulations for putting up with the rest of us.
And always present memory of mothers gone.

unrelated, a link to our own photos from the exhibition at Alexanderplatz on the fall of the Wall, etc. mentioned a couple of posts ago

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Deserved Approval

Here, with no further comment, are links to three US newspaper articles concerning one of the points Caroline Fourest pointed out as one of the important accomplishments of Mr. Obama so far in the article quoted in my previous post, below. The response to her article in Le Monde, by the way, has been one of unanimous praise and expressions of the need for Americans to read her piece. Should I translate it for you here? Let's leave it in French for a while and hope those who have broader horizons get it. But, if there is demand....
So, here the links to the US news stories:

Obama to be prayer day no-show - President to sign proclamation, observe privately -The Washington Times, May 6, 2009

Obama's Prayer Day observance subdued - UPI, May 7, 2009

Obama plans a scaled back National Day of Prayer - The Washington Post, May 6, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Obama, or Inciting Reason

Obama ou l'incitation à la raison, par Caroline Fourest - Le

A l'extérieur, Obama a d'ores et déjà réhabilité le principe du multilatéralisme, et fait preuve d'une fermeté nouvelle envers le gouvernement israélien. En interne, il a mis fin à l'embargo décrété par son prédécesseur George Bush contre les centres de planification familiale à l'étranger, et s'apprête à profiter du départ à la retraite d'un juge de la Cour suprême pour
le remplacer par un ou une juge libéral(e). Mieux, il vient d'annoncer que cette année, contrairement à la tradition, la Maison Blanche ne fêtera pas la journée nationale de la prière... Un vrai sacrilège dans cette nation en principe laïque mais toujours "Under God" (placée sous Dieu).
[...] Il est temps de dire que "l'Amérique n'est plus une nation chrétienne", déclarait-il en 2006 : "Nous sommes aussi une nation juive, musulmane, bouddhiste, hindoue, et une nation de non-croyants." A l'issue d'une campagne où ses adversaires ont régulièrement invoqué Dieu pour tenter de le délégitimer, il invitait les politiques à "traduire leurs préoccupations en langage universel plutôt qu'en valeurs spécifiquement religieuses".
[...] Avec lui, les Américains réapprennent à regarder la réalité en face. Tous ceux qui confondent un chef d'Etat avec un messie ou un prophète seront déçus in fine. C'est pourtant cette modestie, pleine d'un espoir rationnel, qui devrait rassurer.

Reason acknowledges what is and welcomes it, flees the shadows of credulity, and stands in the light. C.Fourest's article is an appropriate measured praise of the first one hundred days of Mr. Obama's presidency.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The End of Election Fraud

Twenty years ago today was the last election under the old GDR regime, municipal elections throughout the country, and to the right you can see a campaign poster used by the "national front" as only party alliance permitted on the ballots. Voters only had the possibility of crossing out names or otherwise making the ballot invalid, as they were required to go to the polls. Manipulation of the results was proven by civil observers who had managed to monitor the counting under a provision of GDR law and then file charges of election fraud against those responsible. This was a major step by the civil rights protesters in the GDR and led to protests on the 7th of each following month to demand free elections and civil rights for citizens of the GDR.

Today, an open air exhibition was opened on Alexanderplatz to commemorate those ongoing demonstrations held there and in many other towns and cities of the GDR until the Wall finally fell on November 9. This is a link to the English version of the website on that peaceful revolution culminating in the fall of the Wall. And also a press shot of one of the demonstrations at Alexanderplatz, now simulated with posters and transparencies on poles at the very location where they occurred twenty years ago.

It was curated and organized by the organization responsible for the archives of the GDR opposition groups, the Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft e.V, whose website also gives incredible insights into what happened.
Here, as well, a link to the German Federal Commissioner for the archives, reconstitution, public access, and study of the documents of the GDR Stasi, the secret police of the GDR. It is very enlightening to recall how a state attempted to spy on its own citizens, what nonsense they collected, and how many lives they destroyed by sowing suspicion, fomenting envy, and promoting fear. No one could be sure whether their friends were actually spies or not.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Berlin's Sky Lit Up For Our Thirteenth !

We really enjoyed the fireworks they put on for us yesterday evening at the racetrack in Hoppegarten. There were a total of 4 nearly half-hour long fireworks displays plus a combination laser/fireworks show of a quarter-hour. Yep, two hours of lighting up the skies over Berlin with the flame of our on-going love story, that's what I call a celebration!

Yes, and these few seconds of video can hardly give you the feeling we had as thousands shared the spectacle of light arranged for our special day:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

This is our day!

Yes, 13 years ago today we met and fell in love; and Detlef and I have been enjoying a life of constant bliss ever since.

The immense joy of such a fulfilled and fulfilling love is the fuel with which we light up all around us.
And this flame is in fact brighter than ever, so intense indeed that it will tonight ignite endless fireworks at the horse track in Hoppegarten where, after coffee and cake with the nearby Neuenhagen relatives (especially niece Lea & nephew Malte), we are going to celebrate our anniversary at a gigantic pyrotechnical extravaganza!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day !

International Labor Day
Dancing into May
Dance Around the Maypole
Walpurgis Night
Hoping-Kreuzberg-Doesn't-Go-Up-In-Flames Day
Official Opening Day of Berlin's Center City River Bar Beaches
and a holiday

(So we'll start with a workout in our gym.)
And then, a good meal is always appropriate for the first holiday of summer, isn't it?

Just down the street from Berlin's Red Town Hall, with the two statues in honor of male and female manual workers across from it, is where we indulged in the steakhouse's salad bar!