Sunday, August 26, 2012

An old friend and life's surprises.

Let me introduce an old friend, let me call him Bert. He has a good mind, people expected him to do well. Yet his life turned out quite different than expected. One day, ages ago, I met him on main street and he told me proudly that he had joined the party. I innocently asked 'Which party?' He was astonished and answered 'The Communist Party of course!' He had a great heart, refused to do military service, went to work as a co-operant in an North African country, working as a teacher. Later he worked  in his home country for 'the' party. Being good at languages he was send to the motherland and worked for several years in Moscow. He didn't quite like the experience, nor the health service there which caused a lot of grief. When  his wife lost a baby during the fifth month of her pregnancy they returned. He went on teaching and writing for the communist publications and doing administrative work.  When his firm (I still mean the Communist Party) folded, he was out of a job and needed to provide for his family. Deemed too dangerous by most employers, he retrained as a truck driver and found a job. Being the smart one, they gave him the difficult jobs and one day discharging a volatile product the truck exploded. Having followed all procedures he survived the blast but still was badly hurt and suffered lasting consequences being quite crippled. Then the economic crises also hit the transport sector and being an older man, was laid off, now living on a small pension. This man listens to Bach, reads good literature and is lonely. He visits his mother in the nursing home once a week and that is quite a chore: walking to the tram, getting up on it and then off and to the nursing home and back. All that goes really slowly. In winter he once in a while takes a cab, since falling because of ice or snow would only complicate things since his legs don't work well at all. I never heard him complain, just that he doesn't have a girlfriend in his life...  All the best to you Bert, I hope you find what you're looking for.

Monday, August 20, 2012

summer in the city

José: musician (alt clarinet), general music culture teacher, environmental activist and poet, invited me to a concert of 'Le petit ensemble' on the second hottest day since 1833.

Young musicians get a chance to show their stuff and yes good they were. That in a general festive atmosfere with the smells of food drifting in on the gentle breeze and the beer place all around. Not snobbish at all. I loved the Ravel and the Bartok and their own arrangement of the pulp fiction music.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Louise Erdrich: The Plague of Doves

Having read several of Louise Erdrich’s books I was thrilled at the airport in Washington to find her latest book: The Plague of Doves. The circumstances not being quite right I had a hard time getting into it. Yet at a certain point I got involved in the different narrators pushing on the novel which has a marvelous layered complexity. Events are described with their own momentum and at the end there is a kind of closure by the search for and discovery of the truth. In the interwoven settings of the reservation and the small town of Pluto, the weight of historical injustice comes to light through the conjunction of many different elements, as well in an historical setting as a contemporary. Themes are: religion, the unsolved murder of a family, a stamp collection, a violin, burning love, racism, family, the reservation and an untold past.
Read it, take your time over this intricate tapestry and achievement of Louise Erdrich.
Unable to sleep, he lighted a candle stub and paged through the Meditations until he found the one he needed, the one that told him no longer to wander at hazard or wait to read the books he was reserving for old age, but to throw away idle hopes (Louisa!) and come to his own aid, if he cared for himself and while it was in his power.

As I look at the town now, dwindling without grace (....) (Yet there is something to the love and knowledge of the land and its relationship to dreams – that’s what the old people had. That’s why as a tribe we exist to the present.)

The Indian women I knew were shy and very studious, although a couple of them swaggered around furious in ribbon shirts with AIM-looking boyfriends. I didn’t really fit in with anybody.

Like Anaïs, I reviewed every thought, all visual trivia became momentous, my faintest desire a raving hunger.

My consciousness is fragile ground, shaky as forming ice. Every morning, when I open my eyes and experience my first thought, I am flooded with relief. The I is still here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Marc Neys makes video poems, and how beautiful they are. Here it is the poem Faites Vos Jeux by Marleen De Crée in Dutch and English.

Another execution in AZ

Once again an execution which is a stain on a civilized society:
Further information on UA: 199/12 (10 July 2012)
Issue Date: 10 August 2012
Country: USA

Daniel Cook was executed in Arizona on 8 August. The clemency board denied clemency and the US Supreme Court refused to intervene.

On the night of 19/20 July 1987, Carlos Cruz-Ramos and Kevin Swaney were abused and killed in the apartment in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, shared by Daniel Cook and another man John Matzke. On 21 July, John Matzke went to the police and gave them a statement about the murders. The police went to the apartment, found the bodies of the two victims, and arrested Daniel Cook. John Matzke confessed to killing Carlos Cruz-Ramos, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The prosecution dropped the two first-degree murder charges against him in exchange for his testimony against Daniel Cook. The latter meanwhile was appointed a lawyer who at the time was suffering from bipolar disorder and was drinking heavily. A few weeks before his trial, Daniel Cook waived his right to counsel. The jury convicted him on both counts of first-degree murder. Daniel Cook presented no mitigating evidence at the sentencing.

The judge sentenced Daniel Cook to death. Although the judge had access to some information on Daniel Cook's history of mental problems, including repeated suicide attempts, it was far from what has been revealed since trial. According to this more recently submitted evidence, Daniel Cook was subjected to severe and repeated physical and sexual abuse as a young child and teenager by family members and others. He has been diagnosed as suffering from brain damage and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a sworn statement signed in 2010, the lead prosecutor from the trial said that had he known about this mitigating evidence, including that the childhood abuse Daniel Cook suffered "mirrored the circumstances surrounding the crime", he "would not have sought the death penalty in this case". The former prosecutor also recalled that the appointed trial lawyer was "at the low end of the competency scale for the handling of the defense of a standard felony" and "appeared neither capable nor willing to put forth the effort necessary to represent a defendant charged with a capital offense". He added that Daniel Cook "was clearly not competent to act as his own counsel."

On 27 July 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to stay the execution. On 8 August the US Supreme Court declined to intervene.

On 3 August, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency refused to recommend that the governor grant clemency.
There have been 26 executions in the USA this year, and 1,303 since judicial killing resume there in 1977. Arizona accounts for 33 of these executions, five of which have been carried out this year.

No further action by the UA Network is requested. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.

Name: Daniel Cook (m)
Issue(s): Death penalty, Legal concern