Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Decor in Apt
[Some of the holiday decor in Duchess' Brooklyn apartment]

Xmas Morning with Family
[l to r - Dad, Michelle, Duane and Mom on Xmas morning in upstate NY]

Xmas Morning in Upstate NY
[Duchess with her brother and sister-in-law on Xmas morning]

[Duchess Note: More photos below in "Personal News"]


Which of These Progressive Positions are Extreme Left?
Rob Kall, OpEdNews

Van Jones and the Green Economy
Leighton Woodhouse, Huffington Post

Without Systemic Change There is Only Chump Change as the US Empire Continues
Larry Pinkney, The Black Commentator

Madoff’s Shocking Scheme is Just a Microcosm of a Much Bigger Disaster
Maura Stephens, AlterNet

Was the ‘Credit Crunch’ a Myth Used to sell a Trillion-Dollar Scam?
Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Even as the media continue to repeat the claim that credit has frozen up, evidence has emerged suggesting the entire story is wrong.

Beware of Obama’s Groundhog Day
John Pilger Commentary
There is more continuity in Obama’s appointment of officials who will deal with the economic piracy that brought down Wall Street and impoverished millions. As in Bill Murray’s nightmare, they are the same officials who caused it. For example, Lawrence Summers will run the National Economic Council. As treasury secretary, according to the New York Times, he “championed the law that deregulated derivatives, the... instruments – aka toxic assets – that have spread financial losses [and] refused to heed critics who warned of dangers to come”.

There is logic here. Contrary to myth, Obama’s campaign was funded largely by rapacious capital, such as Citigroup and others responsible for the sub-prime mortgage scandal, whose victims were mostly African Americans and other poor people. Is this a grand betrayal? Obama has never hidden his record as a man of a system described by Martin Luther King as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Obama’s dalliance as a soft critic of the disaster in Iraq was in line with most Establishment opinion that it was “dumb”. His fans include the war criminals Tony Blair, who has “hailed” his appointments, and Henry Kissinger, who describes the appointment of Hillary Clinton as “outstanding”. One of John McCain’s principal advisers, Max Boot, who is on the Republican Party’s far right, said: “I am “gobsmacked by these appointments. [They] could just as easily have come from a President McCain.”

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Linda in TX and Carol in NY for their contributions to this blog.]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


[Duchess Note – My apologies to all with regards to my tardiness in getting “personal news” out in a more timely manner. Tis the season to be busy … HoHoHo … the following is a condensed version of my “news”. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year. Peace, love and joy to all.]

Saturday evening, November 15th, I joined several other NE Tolkien Society members [ie: Anthony, Jessica, Mary, Kathy and Tim] for a Moot at Radegast Beer Hall in Williamsburg. We had a fun time drinking, noshing and touching on a variety of topics.

Next morning, November 16th, I joined other members of TGTSNBN for the second Quidditch match of the season, which was difficult at times due to some muddy areas on the pitch. [See photo below.....] Despite that, two games were successfully played, and then afterwards we had a tasty brunch at TOAST.
Quidditch in Motion

On Tuesday, November 18th, I attended the monthly NYDoP board and core team meeting. Discussion centered on what transpired at the Inwood Retreat weekend and developments with City Council resolution.

Friday evening, November 21st, Jackie came over with Michelle [cat] for dinner and we watched “The Queen” on DVD. Great film and I highly recommend it to all. Helen Mirren is brilliant as Queen Elizabeth II.

Tuesday evening, November 25th, I participated in the NYDoP CCR Committee conference call as a follow-up to the call on November 11th, plus further discussion on PowerPoint presentation for future Community Board meetings.

Wednesday evening, November 26th, I volunteered with City Harvest at the Union Square farmers market.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27th, I volunteered with Project Find at St Paul’s Church on West 60th Street. We worked in groups of three to bring hot Thanksgiving meals, plus bring goodie bags, to homebound elderly in the NYC area. This year I was teamed up with Joelyn and Jeannie. Also saw Kevin and Pearl, whom I teamed up with last year, and we caught up briefly on news.

November 28th through 30th … Spent the rest of Thanksgiving weekend with my parents and brother in upstate NY. Did some shopping for gifts, beads, decorate front porch, watched some movies on cable TV, meal at relatives home, and had a hair salon appointment.

Tuesday evening, December 2nd, I joined Cielito and a few of her friends [ie: Judy, Maggie & Roland] for an evening of drinks, appetizers and fun conversation at the Ritz Carlton near Battery Park. Cielito was celebrating her 20 years in NYC and thankful for those in her life.

Cielito's Gathering At Ritz Carlton
[Cielito's Gathering with Roland, Duchess, Judy and Maggie surrounding Ms C]

Friday evening, December 5th, I left work at 5pm and headed up to Holiday Inn on West 57th Street for the annual Smiley’s yarn sale. Afterwards I jumped on the #1 subway and headed down to West 18th Street. I walked over to “Books of Wonder” store for the “Tales of Beedle the Bard” podcast, which was hosted by members from Scholastic and Leaky Cauldron.

Next day, December 6th, I joined my friend Sheila at Grand Central Station for an afternoon of lunch and shopping at several holiday bazaars. We had a delightful time and caught up on news. Love these holiday bazaars and the diverse vendors with all their terrific wares. I was especially attracted to the jewelry and spa items.

Sunday, December 7th, I participated in a conference call with other NYDoP board members on leftover topics from our inspiring Inwood Retreat.

On Tuesday, December 9th, several EY Insurance Tax staff members volunteered at St Luke’s Lutheran church “soup kitchen” in the Broadway district of Manhattan. That evening I participated in the NYDoP CCR committee conference call regarding continued work on DoP PowerPoint presentation and upcoming Community Board meetings.

Friday, December 12th, I volunteered with City Harvest at Union Square farmers market. Afterwards I checked out the booths at the holiday arts and crafts bazaar, plus had some delicious hot chocolate at NuNu’s.

Saturday evening, December 13th, I was invited to a lecture by Gili Chupak at Park Slope food co-op. His talk was on the basics of “Field Theory Principles”. Gili and I know each other via the Park Slope “peace meditation group” gatherings back in 2006/2007.

Next day, December 14th, I attended Joe & Marie’s annual holiday luncheon at a terrific Asian restaurant in midtown Manhattan. Food is delicious, plus I sat with Maria and Kelly [life partners] to catch up on news/gossip from past year. They had some exciting news … they are planning on having a baby. WooHoo … peace baby!

Tuesday evening, December 16th, was NYDoP’s annual holiday dinner party and this year we had it at “Village Natural” down in Greenwich Village. Due to the incremental weather not all attendees could make it, but those of us that braved the elements had a good time. We even exchanged gifts with a “secret Santa”.
NYDoP Holiday Dinner Party

Wednesday evening, December 17th, I attended a Community Board meeting for district #8 in Manhattan with Howard and Marianne. Howard gave a 3-minute Dept of Peace pitch during the “public forum” segment and we handed out copies of our presentation. Overall it was okay and we need to improve our “pitch”, plus streamline the presentation. Afterwards the three of us went to a restaurant called SPICE for a meal and drinks, as well as to discuss the meeting and other current topics of the moment.

Thursday evening, December 18th, was the annual EY FSO holiday party at “Tavern on the Green”. The Insurance Tax department sat at a large, round table towards the back and near the windows overlooking part of Central Park. We were near one of the bars and buffets, plus far enough from the dance floor so the noise factor wouldn’t disrupt of flow of conversation. Overall everyone seemed to have a good time and I took some pix of the holiday décor.
Dee Char & Angela
[l to r - Dee, Duchess & Angela celebrating at 'Tavern on the Green']

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Time for Change’s Journal – Five Historical Parallels to the Iraqi Shoe Thrower
Democratic Underground Commentary

Will There Be Room for Peace in the White House?
Joanne Herrmann, Interact Jacksonville

The Seven Deadly Deficits – How the Next President can get the Economy Back Afloat
Joseph Stiglitz Commentary

[Duchess Note – Many thanks to Linda in Texas for sharing interesting and informative articles.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poem by Joe Allegro

Tis once again upon us, the holiday season,
We gather to celebrate, validate and give reason.
Our many blessings, friends, family and health,
Could there be any other, true measure of wealth?

We’ve all much to give thanks for, in this I trust,
So many on the planet, not fortunate as us.
Economic turmoil, hunger, violence and despair,
Ubiquitous and ever present, pollutants in our air.

They stifle our growth and our progress impede,
For all of these things, we’ve truly no need.
Let us do all we can, to eliminate the blight,
I am certain my friends, we can all make it right.

Winds of change have blown, cross our land this year
The audacity of hope, replacing doubt and fear.
So let us make a new start, please let me know,
That you’re all fired up! And ready to go!

If you find overwhelming, these things that I ask,
I have every faith that you, can handle this task.
You’re a bringer of peace, joy and love, its true,
These things you bring to us, by just being you.


“I Don’t Know What His Beef Is”
Commentary by Cindy Sheehan

"I'm not insulted. I don't hold it against the government. The guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is, but whatever it is, I'm sure someone will hear it." George Bush to ABC News after Iraqi Journalist, Muntazar al-Zaidi threw two shoes at him.

I have vacillated over the past 8 years on whether George Bush is the stupidest man in the world, or the evilest. I think that the above statement may prove that he is both. He seriously does not know what al-Zaidi's "beef" is? Does George really believe that his cause was "Noble" and that the Iraqis should be grateful to that "dog" for destroying their country and killing over a million people?

Since the US currently is being governed in the highest office of the land, if not the world (for now), by the stupidest/evilest man on the planet, what does that say about Americans? We elected him, not once, but twice! "But, Cindy" you may protest, "he stole both elections." Yes, that is true and well-documented, but what did you do after Bush stole the elections? Did you storm the White House demanding his resignation? Did you work for election reform? Did you even go to a protest to demonstrate your dissatisfaction? I shamefully did not the first time he (with Al Gore's help) stole an election in 2000, but you can bet I have protested my heart out since 2004. If we lived in almost every other country in the world, the protests against such theft of democracy and lies would have been militantly protested. Calderon stole the election in Mexico in 2006-- from Obrador and the supporters of Obrador shut down Mexico City for five months after! Many Mexicans today claim fealty to the "legitimate" government of Obrador. Here in America, we are lucky to shut down an intersection in DC for two hours.

It is also being reported that al-Zaidi detests "America and Americans." If true, he does not make the distinction between Americans and our government, and he should not. Our government is supposed to be a reflection of us. That means that we are a nation of greedy, self-serving, corrupt and callous people. For years, the majority of Americans have been theoretically against the occupation of Iraq and today it hovers up towards three-quarters of us. We see less than a fraction of a percent of the 225,000,000 US citizens who oppose the wars out protesting them and we saw a popular mandate for a President-elect who NEVER promised to end the occupation and, in fact, promises to increase the forgotten occupation of Afghanistan which will soon vault to the forefront.

I have been publicly advocating for the impeachment and imprisonment of George Bush since November 3rd, 2004, one day after Bush stole his last election. The arguments against impeachment or any kind of accountability have been that it would be: divisive, time consuming, political suicide for the Democrats, or too late now. The shoe incident and the fact that tens of millions of people, perhaps, "detest" America and Americans is enough reason for me to impeach that stupid, evil man and demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are not as stupid and evil as our government is.

Mr. al-Zaida's "beef" does not even need to be explained to most 5 years old children who understand that having a family member(s) killed, or your home destroyed makes most people angry/sad. Most people in the world who are not in the Robber classes also understand the frustration of a population that has absolutely no recourse against humiliation by the world's biggest bully.

We should take this incident as a clarion call for impeachment. George can be impeached after he leaves office. According to many Constitutional experts, he cannot be criminally prosecuted for any crime he has committed in office here in the States. I already know of plans for at least one international war tribunal, though.

Let's hold our government to our high morals. Let's quit allowing it to drag us down to its filthy gutter.

Iraqi Shoe Thrower Captures Mideast Rage at Bush
Alistair Lyon, Reuters
"The hurling of shoes at US President George W. Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq strikes many in the Middle East as a fittingly furious comment on what they see as his calamitous legacy in the region. Arab and Iranian TV stations have gleefully replayed the clip, sometimes in slow motion, of an Iraqi reporter calling Bush a 'dog' and throwing his shoes at him - the Middle East's tastiest insults - at a Baghdad news conference on Sunday.”

Brought to Heel: The Grim Realities Behind Bush’s Humiliation in Baghdad
Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque Blog

Thousands Demand Release of Iraqi Journalist Who Threw Shoes at George W Bush
The Telegraph, UK

Mr. Obama, Weigh the Price of War
Douglas MacGregor, Defense News
"Today's world is different from the world of 1991 or 2001. Outside of the United States and Western Europe, nation-building with US military power is a euphemism for imperialism. American financial hegemony has collapsed. As seen in Iraq, the 'total victory' construct as it equates to the imposition of Western-style government and a free-market economy subservient to the US is in full retreat. In the broader Middle East, as well as in most of Africa, Latin America and Asia, 'damage control,' not 'total victory,' is the most realistic goal for US national security strategy."

Obama Slam-Duncans Education
Commentary by Greg Palast

Pearl Jam’s “Ten” Get the Deluxe Treatment with Four Reissues Next Year
Travis Hay,

How We Got the Worst Health Care System Mountains of Money Can Buy
Jeremy Brecher, Tim Costello & Brendan Smith, TruthOut

[Duchess Note – Many thanks to Linda in TX and Carol in NY for their contributions to the Duchess Blog. Terrific and very informative articles!]

Sunday, December 14, 2008


[Duchess Note - May the holiday season bring peace, justice, happiness and love to all. Not only here in the US, but also around the world, and may joyful wellness abound in us all.]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Obama’s “Way-to-Go, Brownie!” Moment?
Greg Palast, Huffington Post

[Duchess Note: I agree with Palast, these are crappy appointments. They are far to the right of any philosophy of Education that most Democrats would have. These are bushleague appointments. We need educators in charge of education, not businessmen. Also, one might be interested to know that US policy of education (or rather lack of it), has 2 consequences, first one described by Palast, only the kids of the upper class who can afford private schooling can hope for the best jobs, the second one (has its obvious good sides) is that educated young people from elsewhere need to fill in the gap, not many native highly qualified scientist for instance! We cannot say that Europe is flooded by US scientist for instance, cannot find many, but US lab are a very different picture. I want a new democratic party.... one that respects women would be nice for a change.]

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

October 31st through November 2nd … NYDoP board members held their first ever Inwood Retreat. Robert, our facilitator, flew in from Montana to help us through this retreat and guide the group towards a more productive, organized and focused unit. It was great seeing and conversing with my fellow board members, some of whom I hadn’t seen for some time. We shared laughs, hugs and diverse topics of conversation, along with working out some important issues. Robert introduced us to peacebuilding games, log frames and many ways of looking at things. The weekend was, for me, very thought provoking, informative, interesting and inspiring.

Wednesday evening, November 5th, I joined other Harry Potter fans at Borders bookstore near Columbus Circle for a book reading / signing by Melissa Anelli. She talked for almost an hour about her new book [Harry – A History], being web mistress of “The Leaky Cauldron” and the amazing Harry Potter fandom. I’m looking forward to reading about the Harry Potter phenomenon from someone on the inside track.

Thursday evening, November 6th, I attended the Park Slope knitters group at Sweet Melissa’s and still working on a scarf with a slight checkerboard pattern.

Tuesday evening, November 11th, I participated in the NYDoP CCR Committee conference call regarding October 14th faxes to Community Board “district managers” and development of our Dept of Peace PowerPoint presentation. Productive meeting and the committee has two new members … Howard and Dawn. Hurray!

Wednesday evening, November 12th, I volunteered with City Harvest at the Union Square farmers market.

Thursday evening, November 13th, I attended the Park Slope knitters group at Sweet Melissa’s and enjoyed socializing with the other members of this group.

Friday, December 05, 2008


….The More They Stay the Same
Prisoner of Starvation Blog/Commentary

LOST: Flashing Forward and Back with the Producers
Daniel Manu, The Telefile Blog

On Tuesday evening, October 21st, I attended the monthly NYDoP board and core team meeting. Main topics of discussion were on fundraising, new NYDoP website, CCR committee, DC Peace Conference in March 2009, and last minute details regarding the upcoming Inwood Retreat. It would be awesome if more “core team” members could or would attend these meetings. Why attendance has dropped over past year or so is abit mind boggling.

On Thursday, October 23rd, the EY FSO Insurance Tax group gave a farewell luncheon to Juan at Heartland Brewery, as he’ll be heading back to Chile within a week or so.

After foot doctor appointment on October 27th, I joined fellow NYDoP board member [Joe] at a City Hall event, which was co-sponsored by Councilmember Mendez and Lower Eastside girls club. It’s great to see community work like this being done for the youth in our city. Afterwards Joe introduced me to some senior members of the Lower Eastside girls club and we engaged in diverse topics of conversation. It was an interesting and productive evening.

Thursday evening, October 30th, I attended the Park Slope knitters group at Sweet Melissa’s and as always had an enjoyable time socializing, knitting and nibbling on good food.

Monday, December 01, 2008


West Linn, Oregon City Council Passes Resolution – Students Ask City to Support Peace
Kara Hansen, The West Linn Tidings

The Peace Alliance on CNN Headline News with Wendy Greene

More U.S. Dept of Peace Campaign Video’s

Join “The Peace Alliance” for the 5th annual Department of Peace Campaign 2009 National Conference ... Peace Within Reach - People and Politics Partnering for our Common Security
March 20-23, 2009 at Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, VA … check out more info at


The Obama Letdown - Ilusory "Mandate for Change"
Michael Hudson, Global Research

Barack Obama's Kettle of Hawks
Jeremy Scahill, The Guardian UK
"Barack Obama has assembled a team of rivals to implement his foreign policy. But while pundits and journalists speculate endlessly on the potential for drama with Hillary Clinton at the state department and Bill Clinton's network of shady funders, the real rivalry that will play out goes virtually unmentioned. The main battles will not be between Obama's staff, but rather against those who actually want a change in US foreign policy, not just a staff change in the war room."

Dow Plunges 680 Points as Recession Is Declared
Michael Grynbaum, NYTimes
"The evidence of a recession has been widespread for months: slower production, stagnant wages and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. But the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research, charged with making the call for the history books, waited until now to make it official - and the announcement came on a day when the American stock market fell nearly 9 percent in a single session."

[Duchess Note: For many of us who are poor or middle class, the recession has been here longer than a few months, more like a year or so. Yes, the Bush/Cheney Regime have contributed strongly to our woes, but the blame also belongs to their cronies in the corporate elite, ultra rich and even from the Clinton Regime. I'm sure some will disagree with me on this observation, and thats okay. Let's "agree to disagree".]

Remaining Silent About Obama
Gilles d’Aymery, Swans Commentary

Ten Greens I’m Thankful For
Ronald Hardy, Green Party Watch

"Disappointment?" - Poem Commentary by RST2536 on Common Dreams website
Who thought Obama’s advertising
Of ending Bush and Cheney’s reign
Was spot on are now realizing
They might have voted John McCain.
For when Obama was elected
The cabinet that he confected
Was mostly made of neocons
And Democratic woebegones.
Who dreamed Obama walked on water
The liberals in blushing pink
Began to feel their dream boat sink;
That he might even prove a rotter
By choosing those to rule the roost
Whom Washington has mass produced.

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Linda in Texas for some of the above articles.]