Johnny Depp, Shane McGowan, Chrissy Hynde, Nick Cave: “I Put a Spell on You” for Haiti

Johnny Depp, Chrissy Hynde, Shane McGowan, Nick Cave, and Glen Matlock were among the artists who recorded this awesome version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” to benefit the Irish charity Concern Worldwide’s ongoing aid work in Haiti.

Excellent song choice! And check out Johnny’s awesome guitar playing!

You can pre-order the single by clicking here – Or text SPELL (all in capitals) to 78789 (the text costs £1.50, under $3.00)

Shane McGowan and his long term girlfriend, writer Victoria Clarke made calls to friends and associates from which began the process of recording a track from which ALL proceeds go to Concern, a charity who have provided assistance to some of the poorest countries in the world including Haiti, even before the earthquake struck.


Another Casuality of Crises

Not to be a bitch, but one thing we are losing in news reporting is proper use of the english language and the rise of twisted, grosteque neologisms that are neither clever or effective, simply clumsy and lazy. Take this hideosity from CNN:

Officials are EFFORTING to contact Americans in Chile.

What other nouns of this sort we can turn into verbs:

Chris is caking a dessert for the party

Now that sounds vile!

Massive 8.8 Earthquake Hits Chile

A magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit Chile, 70 miles outside the country’s second largest city Concepcion at 1:34am localtime (10:34 Pacific Standard Time). A tsunami has been generated and tsumani warnings have been issued to as far north as Alaska.

UPDATE 8:30am PST: Easter Island had a tsunami warning, but so far no damage. The tsumani warning  evacuations have been issued for Hawaii, which means evaculations from low lying areas, with reidents urged to directions from Hawaiian Civil Defense. The west coast of North America under a tsunami advisory, from Mexico to Alaska.

Chile’s outgoing President Michelle Bachelet said:

The country has just experienced an enormous earthquake… we are in the process of finding out about the effects of the quake across the region, the state of the roads and hospitals, the damage to buildings and of course the number of those killed and injured.

American Idol season 5 finalist Elliot Yamin who is in Chile on tour  has been tweeting reports as have been many other Chileans. At the time of this writing 47 deaths have been reported. Power is out in Santiago and in cities in neighboring Argentina. Dawn is breaking now as rescue crews began the work and aftershocks are hitting.

MSNBC, CNN and Fox  are carrying live reports.

Earlier Friday a 4.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Okinawa, Japan in the Ryukyu Islands around 5:31 a.m. Saturday local time (12:31 p.m. Friday PST). Additionally:

Microquakes have been shaking the Coso Junction area of Eastern Central California all week, but it wasn’t until tonight (Friday) when more noticeable ones struck. A light 4.1 earthquake struck at 10:22 p.m., followed by two minor shakers–a 3.8 at 11:10 p.m. and a 3.4 at 11:21 p.m, PST.

Time to go load up on water and more canned food!

Update: Ruth at The Seminal has a diary up about the Chile she knew

What is GOP Jeopardy?

I’ll take White Male Dominance for $1000, Alex.

Jeopardy host Alex Trebec is one of the hosts for a GOP fundraiser in Malibu tonight, Friday, where guest can

Experience a unique and uplifting evening exchanging views with 18 patriotic and fiscally conservative Combat Veterans For Congress.

It’s a thousand bucks a plate to rub shoulders to attend the dinner for the Political Action Committee called Combat Veterans for Congress, which benefits

18 Republican candiates with military backgrounds, including Duncan Hunter, Jr. (Calif.), former Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M.) and former Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.), who is running for the open Senate seat in Connecticut.

A&E Becomes the Infomercial Channel with Kirstie Alley’s New Show

Kirstie Alley has a new reality show debuting in a month about how fat she is and how she wants to loose wight and be happy. And how she’s started her own weight loss company. So basically the A&E show is an informercial for her product line. At least A&E admits it:

One major theme in the series will be chronicling Kirstie’s comedic and unique take on her battle with weight loss, which coincides with the launch of her new weight loss company.

Yesterday Alley was on Oprah shilling her supplements

I’ve lost twenty pounds since January using them!

and oversharing about her obsession with Jamie Foxx who appeared via satellite and participated  a webcam make-out session with Alley. It was kinda gross.

But not as gross as Oprah and A&E acting like a Sham Wow pitch for Alley’s herb and mineral mixture.

Oh My Moons and Stars! Godless Atheists Invade White House!

Well, really have you ever heard of any other kind of atheist other than godless?

I’m damn glad that Tina Tchen, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and representatives from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments will be meeting with members of the Secular Coalition for America. Three policy matters are on the agenda: military proselytizing, faith-based initiatives and child medical neglect.

Even though there are fundamental differences between atheists and any religion–like whether or not there is a God, or Gods or not–this meeting paves the way for non-mainstream faith to speak up.

Coalition leaders are billing their visit as an important meeting between a presidential administration and the “nontheist” community. And it is. This is huge. And it’s also important because it shows that there may be a policy shift away from the fundamentalist chokehold that has gripped Presidencies for decades.

But the White House says that Tchen’s office

regularly meets with a wide range of organizations and individuals on a diverse set of issues.

The Secular Coalition for America has some high profile board members like authors Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchins. Coalition activists have concerns about proselytizing in the military and a rise in the military’s evangelical culture, as do many in non-mainstream religions.

They want the Department of Defense to give protected-class status to nonbelievers, as it does to members of minority religions. Which makes sense because atheism/nontheism is a belief system.

While President Obama has emphasized that faith-based groups that receive government money for charitable work shouldn’t proselytize or discriminate on the basis of religion, the coalition would like to see an executive order solidifying that position.

The coalition would also like laws in put into place which would allow sick children to be removed from their homes for treatment if their families deny them medical care because of faith-healing belief systems.

Bristol Breaks Levi’s Ba…Bank

Levi’s pockets will soon be emptied by Miss Bris: Former Playgirl model Johnston has been ordered to pay Bristol Palin $18,000 is back child support, plus $1,700 a month. Where Levi will come up with that kinda scratch is a mystery, since his fifteen minutes of paydirt have turned to dust.

Meanwhile, Bristol Palin has garnered a starring role playing herself in an episode of The Secret Life of  the American Teenager.

Oh and conspiracy buff can rejoice. E! has solved the mystery of Trig:

Evangelicals Violently Disrupt Haitian Religious Ceremony

Full disclosure: I practice an African Diasporic religion, and after the Haitian earthquake, along with a donation to the Red Cross, I gave a small sum to help the voudou community. In other words, I have a religious opinion; and like Brit Hume, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, the right to express it in the media.

Tuesday, Evangelicals violently disrupted a traditional religious ceremony in the Cite Soleil slum, located just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. According to AFP:

Police said a pastor urged followers to attack the ceremony, resulting in a crowd of people throwing rocks at the voodoo followers.

Throwing rocks? WTF?! Is this anyway for Christians to act? Are they all so sinless?

Today the Washington Post reported that a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows

American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights.

While our foreign policy at a governmental level may be “handicapped” by secularism, the private sector is screwing up by pushing their religious agendas, retarding efforts to actually do a greater good.

In the wake of January 12 earthquake, hundreds of religious groups headed to Haiti bringing food, water and aid, some including solar powered Protestant bibles and their own religious tracts in their care packages. Some called themselves “Volunteer Ministers” and interfered with medical personnel in attempts to recruit.  It’s a huge dog pile as minsters of God ply  Haitians with various versions of salvation.

Religious tensions have increased and accelerated. Dr. Christos Kioni, the Florida-based vodou expert profiled in Christine Wicker’s Not In Kansas Anymore wrote us:

The violence fundamentalists have engaged in upon the practitioners of Vodou in Haiti is fueled by a sectarian demon. It is the same spirit that spurs Muslim radicals to engage in terrorist activities in the Name of Allah, it is the same spirit that fanned the flames of the Inquisition and Crusades. Christians have long ago abandoned their faith in the authentic teachings of Christ that God is Love. They have also forgotten that Christ said to his disciples “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold.” These radical evangelicals show no religious tolerance nor the Fruit of the Spirit by their rhetoric and actions. Such acts of violence reveal just how far Christianity has backslidden.

Earlier this month, as reported in the New York Daily News Max Beauvoir, vodou’s supreme leader

believes Christians in Haiti are taking food and supplies, and not allowing them to reach needy people outside Port-au-Prince.

“They take everything they get to their own people,” he said, “and that’s a shame.”

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recommended:

Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.

Local and regional should mean traditional and indigenous, not just the missionary groups and those they convert.

Catholicism and vodou are the Haiti’s traditional religions.  Vodou, more commonly spelled as voudou or voodoo, is a syncretic faith combining various West African religions carried by slaves with the colonizing French’s Catholicism and aspects of the Northern European folk faiths. A voudou ceremony held by escaped slave and hougan (voudou priest) Dutty Boukman was the catalyst for Haiti’s 1791  slave rebellion that led to the island’s freedom.

Pat Robertson–who later backpedaled after a public outcry–had harsh words about Haiti’s history and blamed the country’s troubles on their faith:

They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal.

That sort of intolerant thinking is what leads to actions like Tuesday’s stoning in Jesus’ name. AFP reported:

Rosemond Aristide, police inspector in Cite Soleil, said he has since spoken with the pastor, who agreed to allow voodoo ceremonies to take place there. However, Aristide could not explain why no arrests were made nor provide further details.

Beauvoir claimed hundreds of Protestant Evangelicals along with other people they hired attacked the ceremony, causing a number of injuries.

KWTX reports that the attackers were Haitian Christians.

Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols.When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.

Christians supposedly follow the Prince of Peace; unfortunately, their hostile behavior could lead to some repercussions. Max Beauvoir  told AFP:

It will be war — open war. It’s unfortunate that at this moment where everybody’s suffering that they have to go into war. But if that is what they need, I think that is what they’ll get.

Dr. Kioni added in email:

I agree with my friend and colleague, The Supreme Servitor of Vodou, Ati Max Beauvoir, that this attack by the evangelicals is a declaration of war. These Bible Thumpers have no idea how powerful Vodou is nor how lethal it can be.

We are mobilizing our forces to meet this demonic spirit head on; bullets nor pious, hypocritical prayers have no power where Vodou is concerned. Vodou will be recognized and accepted as a valid and legitimate system of spirituality just as the Wiccan and Pagans have been accepted. Freedom of Religion is a right and no man nor religious organization has a corner on God nor salvation. There is only ONE God and His Universal Name is Yawe.

The Chicago Council’s Richard Cizik (from the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, who ought to be taking those rock tossers to task!) said:

Some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.

It’s also a form of  imperialism to proselytize and try to convert people during a disaster when they are at their most vulnerable. Note that the pastor who incited the stoning “agreed to allow” traditional religious ceremonies on native soil. WTF? Talk about imperialism.

I deplore the actions of those Evangelicals in Cite Soliel–all thinking and all loving people do–and pray that the Haitian people will not return ignorance and violence with more violence.

As an American, I ask my fellow Americans, whatever faith they may be, to act with grace and dignity, respecting the religious traditions of those to whom they bring aid.

Oh ministers and pastors and your flocks, do unto others as you would have them do unto you–and really, in a disaster aid situation, would you want someone trying convert you to say Islam or some arm of Christianity that doesn’t jive with yours? May peace prevail in Haiti.

Scott Brown: Pink Leather Shorts

We all make fashion faux pas, and the 1980s had plenty of them, but Senator Scott Brown has a closet full of ooopsies, like his pelty spread in Cosmpolitan and the pink leather shorts which he wore on the first date with his now wife.

Pink. Leather. Shorts. Gag me with a spoon. At least he didn’t buy them. He says they were his payment for appearing in a couture show as a male model, and Brown claims they were worth $750. Mmmm..maybe a selection of neckties and a dress shirt would have been a better choice, but Brownie realized they would look good with his white shoes. Oh. My. God. White shoes. Pink leather shorts. I wounder if he  turned up the collar on his lime green La Coste shirt to complete the look of a total prepppy douche.

New York Times Magazine reports:

As he told the story, he seemed, almost in spite of himself, to get into it…”Gail comes out and she’s like, ‘Those are pink shorts.’ I said: ‘Yeah, you like them? They’re great. Comfortable. Feel this leather.’ ” With this last phrase, he slowly stroked the side of one of his thighs, apparently miming the gesture he made in front of her.

Um, eeeuuuwww.

Late Night: About a Guy

So for a while I have been researching psychics, something that comes naturally to me, and is part of a long term project. I used to work in a occult supply shop, studied fortune telling scams, went undercover as a phone psychic (a really depressing job) and have just been around this stuff for ages. Literally.

In the course of my recent investigations–and FYI psychism is subjective, and

just learning the future will change it

so there’s always that out for a fortune teller–I came across a really goofy psychic on a psychic hotline. But oddly his predictions were fairly accurate though he was pretty nuts, a freaky old hippie Druid, lets call him OHD, who talked a lot. About himself. At $1.99 a minute. But his reading were adequately accurate, especially with time frames, and there was something endearing about him.

When you sign up for these psychic websites you get a private email account so the psychics can send you offers, predictions, and their schedules. OHD would send out these blasts about astrology and the tarot cards and how much he loathes Republicans, along with complaining about his computer and his former roommate. Once he mentioned his real name and the California city he was in. His rants were pretty funny.

Today though his email got worrisome. He began with explaining his financial straits. Somehow he’d overdrawn his account by a few dollars (math is hard) and was now over $700 in debt to Bank of America, which meant that his SSI check for March would get sucked up to cover the overdraft charges. He wrote that his life was useless, that he had no purpose, that he was going to kill himself because he felt old and pointless and had no future. (Yes, I recognize the irony of psychic who see no future for himself).

He sent out six versions of that email in under two hours. And while yes, it was plea for people to hire him to explain their lousy love life or give the hope for a better tomorrow, there was an underlying desperation and sense of futility, anguish and fear.

What could I do? What should I do? Well, yeah, there wasn’t really much of an option because he was talking about killing himself.

With the info he’d given in an old email and  using, I found his address.  I called the city-funded suicide hotline in his hometown, but no one answered (oh that’s helpful!), then I tried the Senior Services Department and got through to a really nice lady who took me seriously even when I said “psychic hotline.” She said she would track him down via SSI and have a welfare drop-in done by the police.

I waited a few hours then checked on the psychic service’s website, saw OHD’s “available” button was lit up (my roommate wondered if he must have escaped the butterfly net or even if anything had been done)  and clicked the “connect me” link–he’d sent me five free minutes in one of his emails, so what the hey, every story needs an ending.

“Hey, this is Old Hippie Druid, how are you? What’s on your mind?”

“Just checking in for a general reading, how are you?”

The floodgates opened to me, a stranger:

“Wow, the cops came today to check on me because SSI heard I was suicidal, and I was doing a phone reading, so that was few bucks, and they let me finish and we talked and stuff and it was cool because they hate Republicans as much as me and one of the cops hates Bank of America too because they are trying to take away his house. I had called a suicide prevention hotline earlier, but they didn’t help, they didn’t seem to have a solution and I hung up thinking they hadn;t talked me out of it. But the cops came by because  they said SSI had called them about me. And so anyway, let’s shuffle the cards for you…”

Not exactly the preamble one would like from an all knowing seer, but even the Oracle of Delphi was human.

He did a quick reading for me, not that I needed one; I just wanted to find out more about his situation. And he we was willing to tell me on my dime. I learned that he uses a food bank twice month

Two bags of whatever. It’s always a surprise.

His new roommate also uses the food bank. A friend of his is covering his phone/internet service for March so he can continue to work on psychic hotline, but he is still stuck in the overdraft hole which will be filled by his March SSI check, despite calling B of A and pleading with them. He’s on SSI’s work furlough program which means he can suppliment his income up to $300 a month–he makes about $150 as psychic–and not lose his government assistance, but he is not entitled to food stamps.

OHD is just one of many thousands of  Californians teetering on the brink, trying to get by as best they can. He’s just a guy, someone I’ve spoken to maybe three times in a year. But he is representative of so many people in my state, my country who are totally screwed right now.

I am grateful to the Senior Services staff for taking action and making the calls they did to check on him and that the police took the time to visit him. That’s our tax dollars at work in a good way.

Now if he’s just right about those Lotto numbers….

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