December 25, 2009 archive

Open Presents!

If you got em!


Christmas in Gaza: LET THEM IN!

Right now, 1362 activist marchers are attempting to get into Gaza from Egypt with humanitarian aid (food and medical supplies) and toys for children.

The Egyptian government has closed the border and will not allow anyone through. CodePink is one of the organizations supporting the march, and has requested that people who want to show support call the Egyptian Embassies both in Cairo and/or Washington DC. Desiree is there with beanie babies for the children. Desiree and Liz got back to me 24 hours ago and said no, they are still not in.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place Preview 1.1 from Maurice Jacobsen on Vimeo.

Here are the numbers to call.

Egyptian Embassy in Cairo:

Phone: 25741344

Fax: 25749682

Egyptian Embassy in Washington DC:

Main phone: 202.895.5400

Press & Information office phone: 202.667.3402

Fax: 202.244.4319

More information about this action can be obtained here and here.

Press release:

One year after Israeli invasion of Gaza, world leaders fail to act but global citizens step forward

Medea Benjamin

One year ago, the brutal Israeli 22-day invasion of the Gaza Strip shocked the world, leaving some 1,400 people dead, thousands more wounded, as well as hospitals, schools, prisons, UN facilities, factories, agricultural processing plants and some 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion, the plight of the people of Gaza continues unabated:

·      Despite pledges of money for reconstruction, Israel refuses to allow in the machinery necessary to clear the rubble or the materials needed to rebuild–banning cement, gravel, wood, pipes, glass, steel bars, aluminum and tar. Many who were made homeless during the bombing are still living in tents amidst the onset of another cold winter. Desperate, some are reverting to the ancient techniques of building homes made of mud.

·      Trade depends on an elaborate system of illicit and dangerous tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. The goods brought in are expensive, but they are the lifeline for the 1.5 million people who live under siege. The Israelis periodically bomb the tunnels, the Egyptians inject them with gas, and now, with U.S. technology and funds, Egypt is building a wall descending 70 feet into the ground to seal up the only trade route the inhabitants of Gaza have with the outside world.

·      Recent restrictions on the transfer of gas resources into Gaza have left many without adequate means to cook or provide heating as winter deepens.  The Ministry of Health says that several hospitals lack the gas supplies to provide adequate hygiene for their patients. Similar restrictions on the movement of industrial fuel into the Strip have forced Gaza’s sole power plant to drastically limit the amount of electricity.

·      Water and sewage infrastructure has reached a crisis point, with tons of raw sewage pumped daily into the Mediterranean.  Amnesty International recently deemed that 90 to 95 person of the water available to Gaza’s inhabitants was unfit for human consumption, and 60 per cent of the Gaza Strip’s residents have only irregular access to water.  Repairs to Gaza’s overburdened sewage and water networks are largely prevented by the blockade.

·      The once-steady flow abroad of many hundreds of students a year, often to pursue postgraduate studies in Western universities, has slowed to a trickle. Israel is not even allowing students from Gaza to study in the West Bank.

·      Attempts at hold Israel accountable for crimes committed during the invasion have been thwarted. The September 2009 Goldstone Report recommended that if Israel and Hamas did not investigate and prosecute those who committed war crimes, the case should be referred to the International Criminal Court. But US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and the U.S. Congress, condemned the report, assuring that it will not be brought before the U.N. Security Council.

In a report released on December 22 called Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses, a group of 16 humanitarian organizations detailed the ongoing suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people from Israel’s invasion and ongoing siege.  “It is not only Israel that has failed the people of Gaza with a blockade that punishes everybody living there for the acts of a few,” said Jeremy Hobbs Oxfam International Executive Director. “World powers have also failed and even betrayed Gaza’s ordinary citizens.”

While international governments and UN institutions have failed their obligations, global citizens and civil society organizations have stepped forward. The past year has seen the mushrooming of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aimed at Israel. South African dockworkers refused to offload an Israeli ZIM Lines ship in February; the British bank BlackRock divested from Lev Leviev settlement projects on the occupied Palestinian territory; the Norwegian government pension fund withdrew its investments in the Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems; following the lead of South African, Irish and Scottish trade union federations, Britain’s 6.5-million member labor federation, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), called for a consumer-led boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel, specifically targeting settlement products; and Hampshire College decided to divest from several companies profiting from the Occupation.

Another group making waves is Free Gaza, which has broken the siege by bringing shipments of aid by boat. Sometimes their boats have miraculously managed to sail from Cyprus to Gaza without Israeli interference. On their last effort, however, their boat was illegally intercepted on the high seas by the Israeli Navy.

Viva Palestina, a group led by British MP George Galloway, organized a massive convoy of material aid to Gaza in a month after the attack, using public pressure to force the Egyptian government to let the convoy pass through the Rafah crossing. They sent another caravan of aid in July, and to mark the one year anniversary, Viva Palestina is bringing 210 trucks and 450 activists laden with massive quantities of humanitarian aid. It is unclear whether or not the Egyptian government will let them in.

Another creative initiative is the Gaza Freedom March. Conceived in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, the Gaza Freedom March was designed to mark the one-year anniversary with a massive march to the Israeli border. Some 1,350 international participants from 43 countries are setting out for Gaza via Egypt to join with thousands of local people for the march. On the Israeli side of the border, Israelis and Palestinians will gather to join the call for an end to the siege. While the Egyptian government is refusing give permission for the international delegation to enter Gaza, the group is challenging that decision with thousands of phone calls to Egyptian embassies worldwide. They are also organizing solidarity actions in cities all over the world.

The Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, noting the world community’s failure to help the people of Gaza, cited the Gaza Freedom March and the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as “the only meaningful current challenge to Israel’s violations of its obligations as the Occupying Power of the Gaza Strip under the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter.”

As the year-end brings horrifying memories to the Palestinians in Gaza, we hope they recognize that grassroots groups the world over are not only thinking of them, but actively organizing to lift the siege that makes their lives so difficult.

Medea Benjamin ( is cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange.

Please help them out and call today to urge the Egyptian government to LET THEM IN! Peace and prosperity for ALL!

Doc-Yule-Dharma Log (Ho Ho Ho!)


Happy festive day to one and all!.

Through the magic of technology I am auto-promoting this lovely fireplace scene here at Docudharma, for in reality I am offline for the next two days.

Fear not!

The kitchen is amply stocked with food and beverages, and a list of emergency numbers has been attached by magnet to the refrigerator.

This is an Open Thread

Docudharma Times Friday December 25

Friday’s Headlines:

Census: Texas remains country’s fastest growing state

Taliban video claims to be of captured GI

He Shoots, He Skis, and Europe Takes Notice

Pro-democracy program in Cuba questioned after man detained

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo sentenced to 11 years

Pakistan reslices revenue pie: formula for unity?

Auschwitz sign ‘stolen to fund Swedish terror attacks’

Georgian-Russian border set to reopen

Behind Israel-Hamas prisoner swap: Shalit family’s influential campaign

In Bethlehem, holiday cheer edges out gloom

Argentina’s ‘disappeared:’ Justice at last or reneging on amnesty?



Merry Christmas Dharmenizens!

Raw Video: Pfc Bowe Robert Bergdahl, POW

For better then a week now there have been reports that the Taliban were going to release a video of Pfc Bergdahl and than just silence till this morning.

This is just starting to hit the many outlets in many places, the AP seems to have released the video a few hours ago and others are picking up the story now as I refresh google search!

Purported Taliban footage of U.S. soldier

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

This was filmed backwards in a single take and as you’ll notice the lip-sync matches the words and music  

The Night before Christmas on the NCC 1701 20091225

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the crew,

Nobody was moving except for bridge crew.

Kirk was resting with Rand in his bed,

whist Spock had Chapel deep in his head.

Scott was drinking a long aged Scots whisky in hand,

whilst Riley was getting Irish to stand.

Sulu was manning the helm in this this dread,

but visions of Checkov returned to his head.

The ship was rocked by a horrible jolt,

according to Spock a Gigavolt.

Kirk arose and leapt to the lift,

forgetting that Rand had given her gift.

He got to the bridge with very fast dashing,

Just as the Klingons then were attacking.

The Romulans joined in with the attacking,

then an alien crew was just laughing.

He transported into the ships just like a lark,

and shut down main power so it was dark.

The Phasers were shut down and the cannons were null,

and the alien just laughed with harm not at all.

“We are Organians and study you all, so resistance to us does nothing at all.

“Remember that we were  once just like you,

but these flimsy bodies we finally outgrew.

“We are logic and peace and just nothing more,

so we show you what is wrong with your sad, sad lore.”

Then all sorts of folks came into the space,

and Kirk said “Good Wishes” to every race.

“A good evening to all of you folks”,

and Kirk went away in transporter smoke.

Kirk went back to bed with his yeoman of fun,

the Organians went back with a bit more of stun.

I hope that this is amusing for everyone.

Happy Christmas and Channakh, and other celebration to everyone now.  I know that the spelling is sort of rough, but this is my new take.  What do you think?

Warmest regards,


Copyright Paramount Pictures for the the characters and Dr. David W. Smith for the concept and dialogue 20091225.

Warmest regards,


Warmest regards,


The Night before Christmas on the NCC 1701 20091225


Stille Nacht, The 191st Anniversary

“Silent Night” aka “Stille Nacht”, was first performed at the Nikolaus-kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndor, Austria on December 24, 1818, and is perhaps the best known of all Christmas carols, having been translated into at least 44 languages.  The melody was composed by Austrian headmaster Franz Gruber and the lyrics by Austrian priest Father Josef Mohr.

Stille Nacht was originally written as a “sprightly, dance-like tune” in 6/8 time, in marked contrast to the slower, “meditative lullaby” that is so familiar in the present day. The melody of “Stille Nacht” has been described as sharing aspects with Austrian folk music and yodelling of that time.  

According to historical accounts, Mohr wrote the lyrics two years earlier, in 1816.  During Christmas Eve of 1818, the church organ was apparently not working, so Mohr approached Gruber, asking him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service that evening, which eventually became the tune that we so often hear today.

During World War I, “Stille Nacht” was sung together by both English and German troops, in their own native languages, during the Christmas Truce of 1914, since it was one of the few carols familiar to soldiers on both sides. This most incredible event would be, without question, worthy of a separate diary in its own right, and must surely have been one of the most profound moments in the history of warfare.  This astounding lull in the war provided the basis for a 2005 French film, “Joyeux Noël”, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film honor at the 78th Academy Awards.  

I rarely find myself overcome with emotion upon hearing music, however, the version of this song by Mannheim Steamroller still produces a noticeable lump in my throat.  I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this regard, however, I would welcome comments from anyone else who takes the time to listen to this most incredible rendition of “Stille Nacht.”

Without further ado, here is the Mannheim Steamroller version of “Silent Night”, accompanied by a beautiful light show — the northern lights (aurora borealis) over Norway:


A Merry Fucking X-Mas

It’s Christmas Eve.  

But, I’m not supposed to be able to feel the joy, or, if there is some, the pain.  Because I take anti-depressants.

Do you know what an anti-depressant does to you?  It flat-lines your brain.

It is designed to keep those feeling down from being able to feel down.  It also keeps you from feeling good.

Do you know how we counteract it?


Some days I am reminded of things I would rather not remember.  Growing up in what was undoubtedly one of the most dysfunctional families around is one of them.  And remembering the Christmases of my childhood, filled with family disharmony.

Is anything more painful for a child than watching family members fight at times which are meant to bring us together?

Peace on earth.  Goodwill towards men…and women and the rest of us, too.

Or, you know, we could fight among ourselves until there is no longer an Us to worry about.

The series of graphics is called Ornaments.  They are freely offered for this holiday season, intended as a gift to all of you.  Clicking on a graphic should open a larger version in a new tab.