Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Detainee

  on an island
  called Delta

  in an iron bubble 
  never bursting

   the hope
   tethering me to life
   in year ten of my exile
   my captivity

In nightmares
  I see my wife's face
  hear neighbors denounce me
  for bounty
  my father convinced
  his son is an outlaw

My tears are my food
  day and night

My only solace
   the Book
   of God's word

Monday, January 17, 2011

Corn, corn, and more corn

Spent Saturday morning with my husband down at the Philabundance warehouse in Philadelphia. Philabundance collects non-perishable food items from the public, as well as left-over produce from restaurants in the area.  Workers pack them and distribute them to food banks all over the Delaware Valley. The company Bob works for had organized a day of service at Philabundance in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and at least 40 employees turned out.

  The rock music radio station WMMR had recently sponsored a non-perishable food drive for Philabundance, and the warehouse was filled with huge boxes of canned goods. Philabundance has the sorting operation down to a science with all the necessary equipment, including a huge, elliptical conveyor belt surrounded by weighing/packing stations. At each station volunteers labeled and filled boxes with a particular type of canned goods (green vegetables, canned pasta, non-green vegetables, soups, beans, baby food, etc.). When the box weighed between 30 and 31 lb, we'd remove it from the scale and place it behind us on a wooden pallet.  Other volunteers then came around and taped the boxes shut so they were ready to be fork lifted.

  Bob and I had the non-green vegetable station.  That included items such as canned corn, potatoes, creamed corn, mixed vegetables, corn, sauerkraut, corn, sliced mushrooms, corn, corn, beets, corn, corn, and corn. While at other stations they were packing at a leisurely pace, we could hardly keep up with all the cans of maize sailing our way. We must have filled a box every 6 min.

We sure do grow lots of corn in this country!  And I guess people figure that every red-blooded American likes corn, so they sure do donate a lot of it to those in need of food.

What I learned from my experience is that --surprise!-- the poor in this country don't get a very balanced diet.  Philabundance has launched a new program, Fresh For All, to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need. Sad that produce is so much more expensive than pretzels, potato chips, and other junk foods.  There's going to be a Fresh for All program opening near us, so Bob and I are looking forward to volunteering on a regular basis closer to home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Guantánamo We Trust

  Gitmo will keep us safe.  We must never release those Yemeni detainees ...

   But allow any deranged American to have a gun, and we'll all be safe then.  (sigh)


from Witness Against Torture

Day Of Action Against Torture, Extra-Legal Detention
At The White House And Justice Department,
Tuesday, January 11

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama entered office promising to close Guantánamo and remove the taint of lawlessness it represents. Yet the prison remains open. While Congress blocks efforts to transfer prisoners to the U.S. for criminal trials, the White House draws up plans to hold some men indefinitely, without charge or trial.
That's not acceptable, says Witness Against Torture, which will begin two weeks of protest in Washington, D.C. on January 11. On the 11th, a coalition of human rights groups will hold a rally in front of the White House at 11 am, followed by a “prisoner procession” to the Department of Justice. There, one group of participants will demand a meeting with DoJ officials, while others will engage in non-violent civil disobedience. By blocking the lawsuits of former detainees, appealing the decisions of federal judges ordering the release of prisoners, and refusing to prosecute Bush administration officials for torture, the Justice Department has failed to fulfill President Obama’s promise of accountability and respect for the rule of law.
“Congress and the White House are rapidly moving toward a policy of permanent detention without trial for many of the prisoners at Guantánamo,” says Bob Cooke of Witness Against Torture. “Bagram and other detention centers remain beyond the reach of the law. This violates the U.S. Constitution, as well as international law. When our government’s policies violate the law and our nation’s ideals, it's up to the people to challenge the government directly.”
The protest on the 11th will be followed by 10 days of fasting, lobbying, and demonstrating in Washington, D.C.
Witness Against Torture demands include:
  • Close the prison at Guantánamo Bay;
  • Free all prisoners who have been cleared for release, ensuring their safe resettlement and providing asylum in the U.S. for those unable to go elsewhere;
  • Produce charges against all other prisoners and prosecute them in U.S. courts;
  • Open all detention centers to outside scrutiny. That includes accepting the oversight of the International Committee of the Red Cross of all facilities; and
  • Conduct a comprehensive criminal inquiry against all those who designed and carried out torture policies under the Bush administration.
Who: Witness Against Torture and co-sponsors
Event: Rally, “prisoner procession” to Department of Justice, and non-violent direct action
Date and Time: Tues, Jan. 11, beginning at 11am
Location: The White House, Washington, D.C.
Who We Are: In December 2005, Witness Against Torture drew international attention when its members walked to Guantánamo Bay to protest at the prison. Since its return, the group has organized vigils, marches, nonviolent direct actions, and educational events opposing torture and calling for the closure of Guantánamo.
# # # # #

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Quaker thought to start off the year

The Light...being believed in, kept to, and obeyed, is able to work a Change, and cleanse the Heart, that was corrupted by Sin and Transgression, and to beget good Thoughts and good Desires, and to judge down the contrary, even all the Corrupt Ways that man in his own Inventions has involved himself into, and forsaken his Maker: But this is not of our selves, nor by any Acquirement of our own; but is the free Gift of God.
Isabel Yeamans, 1679

Isabel Yeamans, born Isabel Fell, was the third of eight children born to Thomas and Margaret Fell.  She was convinced in 1652, along with her mother and some of her other siblings, when George Fox visited the family home Swarthmoor Hall in Lancashire. She married Quaker merchant William Yeamans in 1664 and, after his death, Abraham Morrice of Lincoln, also a Quaker and merchant.

Isabel became a preacher and, among her missions, accompanied William Penn, George Fox, George Keith, and Robert Barclay to preach the "Truth" in the Netherlands. She died in 1704.

Information from:
Bonnelyn Young Kunze, ‘Yeamans , Isabel (1637x42–1704)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [, accessed 1 Jan 2011]