American Views Abroad

Friday, December 26, 2008
Talk about outspoken words and guts. The great Eartha Kitt passed away this Christmas. She was invited to the White House in 1968 and asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War. Her reply: You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.

It's worth mentioning that bookings dried up and she was exiled in Europe for almost a decade until President Jimmy Carter invited her back to the White House in 1978.

Obit in the New York Times.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It seems a more solemn Christmas this year. The messages arriving by email or by hand are not so joyous in a mindless way. Friends and family are tense wondering what the New Year will bring. It is almost as if a veil has been lifted and suddenly there's lots more thought about social injustice, poverty, war and peace. There is an invisible line drawing nearer everyone between being on a safe side and falling off.

It's grey in Hamburg today. Our neighborhood Catholic Church was broken into last Sunday and destroyed by fire so no Mass, Vespers or other services can be celebrated there this Christmas. It was the third attack on a church here since November and the worst. They piled Bibles and hymn books onto the altar and set fire to it. The kindergarten was also completely destroyed. They left no message as to why. What to do at the last minute? How to organize services on the few days when people of faith or not are drawn to ceremony and rituals Catholics prize? The mall, of all places, has come to the rescue. A commercial temple of material Christmas madness has kindly opened its doors to allow Christmas Eve services to continue. It was an interesting way of reaching out to others, to those who normally have little contact to each other. A high school also offered its hall, but public transportation is more reliable to the mall. And so a unique Midnight Mass at the Mall.

An unusual Christmas to say the least.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amy Goodman broadcasted her Democracy Now program live from Berlin last Friday.

Here links to her three main themes:

"EXCLUSIVE---AWOL US Soldier Seeks Asylum in Germany Over Returning to "Illegal" War in Iraq"
Interview with André Shepherd

"US Use of Bases in Germany for Iraq War Goes Against German Constitution that Forbids Launching Wars from German Soil, Says Activist"
Interview with Elsa Rassbach

"Senate Report Finds Rumsfeld Directly Responsible for US Torture of Prisoners"
Interview with attorney Wolfgang Kaleck

Friday, December 05, 2008
Sixty years ago this month, without a single dissenting voice, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in ensuring its passage. Here are her words:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home --- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet, they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

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