Happy International Human Rights Day!

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 9.56.14 AMThe United Nations considers the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, when the international community came together to form the United Nations in order to ensure that atrocities like those committed in the Second World War would never happen again. Clearly, we’ve fallen short of that promise. But progress does happen, has happened, will continue to happen. Below is the text of the Declaration; it sets forth a pretty straightforward set of principals; idealistic, perhaps, but not unrealistic. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 9.56.56 AMPREAMBLE
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Time to Hit the Skyway. . .

If you haven’t read the previous entries, I suggest you start here and work your way up.

Truth is, I’ve traveled a fair amount and seen beautiful places. But, damn, Montana is something special! Even with smoke from wildfires obscuring some of the views, it’s just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. (Pictures below.)

Sunday morning, my hosts in Manhattan (west of Bozeman), Ann and Nick, took me to breakfast at a place that seemed so Montana, so untouched by time, that even I could tell when some “you’re not from around these parts, are you?” types walked in. After breakfast, we went to see the headwaters of the Missouri River, where the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers converge. The pictures in the slide show include the handiwork (or should I say teethiwork?) of some beavers who got discouraged when the water level dropped.

In the evening, we performed — Ann Tappan (pianist), Kelly Roberti (bass), and I at the beautiful home of Frank and Jirina Cikan in Bozeman. We had an enthusiastic audience and a lot of fun. After the concert, Ann, Nick and I went to the Pita Pit, the only place we could find that was still serving food after 10 pm; I mention this only because it was exactly the sort of place we’d end up eating after gigs during the years I was touring in Germany (well, there it’s the doner kebab joints), so it felt familiar, and right.

Back in New York, I’m reflecting on a memorable 10 days: volunteering at Project Vote Smart (PLEASE consider supporting the work of PVS with a donation), and then meeting up with Ann and Kelly in person (previously we’d only known one another online) and making music with them. I’m feeling very luck to have had this experience.

And now, more pictures: Vintage cars parked outside the 3 4Ks restaurant. People: Ann, Kelly, Nick, Jirina and Frank. Scenery at the headwaters of the Missouri. A few of the stunning sky taken from inside Ann’s car on the way to the gig.

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Cows, Guns, and the Continental Divide: Montana Diary.8

I’m thinking The Continental Divide might be a good name for a band. Or a novel.

I left Project Vote Smart this morning, a little sadly, though the spectacular drive between there and Butte made up for it. In addition to the stunning scenery, I saw some very good looking black cows; I’ve never seen entirely deep black cows before. Then something else I’ve never seen: a woman jogging, with a 9 millimeter tucked into her waistband (or are you supposed to write 9 mm?). Also: I didn’t identify it as a 9 millimeter (or 9 mm); I don’t know one gun from another, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: “Was that a GUN that jogger has?”
Rachel (the PVS staffer who drove me to Butte): “Yep. 9 mm. I’ve seen a wolf around here.”

After which there ensued an interesting conversation about guns, violence, cities, Montana, and several other things.

We got to Butte airport, and good thing I was prepared with the street address of the Budget Car Rental Office. [insert eyeroll.] The silver car in the foreground is my rental, and the peak-roofed building across the street is the terminal. The entire terminal. Two flights arrive and two leave each day. You can’t exactly miss the car rental counters. The nice young woman at the Avis counter saw me standing at Budget, walked out of Avis, and stepped behind the Budget counter. After taking care of my reservation she kindly pulled out a map and showed me how I could take a quick little car tour of historic Butte.

Butte certainly has an old West feel. Streets named Quartz, Gold, Iron, Platinum, Mercury, Granite, Porphyry, Copper, and so on. Victorian houses and mansions from the days of the mining boom. Here’s the former home of one of the area’s three “Copper Kings,” who tussled for control of the copper mining industry in the late 19th century.

The drive east, from Butte to Manhattan (Manhattan, Montana, that is) was just as gorgeous as the drive earlier. The population of the entire state is not quite a million people, meaning there’s a lot of undeveloped land and farmland. Lakes. Creeks. Hills. Mountain passes. It’s just beautiful. And I crossed the Continental Divide, the fact of which doesn’t really mean anything. But it’s nice to think, “Oh, right now I’m crossing this thing I’ve always heard about.”

Arrived in Manhattan a little after 2, and met Ann Tappan; later we drove to her studio in Bozeman to rehearse, with Kelly Roberti, for tomorrow’s concert.

Click here to continue to final Montana post ➸

All Good Things. . . Continue, if We Do Things Right: Montana Diary.7

If you’ve missed previous Montana posts, or don’t know why I’m here, click to see: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6. (Probably makes sense to start with Day 1!)

The day started with a 7:30 get together with Richard Kimball, the founder of Project Vote Smart. Over breakfast, Richard told us the story of how he came to start the organization. It’s a good story, and you can read most of here. He also filled us in on some of the challenges PVS has faced (and continues to face), as well as on plans for the near future, which include making the website even more user-friendly. In case I haven’t made it clear, I wish everyone knew about, and used, http://www.VoteSmart.org. It’s a brilliant resource for voters, an antidote to the usual barrage of campaign slogans, sound bytes, and attack ads. I also hope people will join PVS at any donation level. It costs money to keep this gift to democracy going, and it’s so very valuable. You can find out more here. [the photo shows lunch in the lodge.]

Work today included more updating to PVS’ voter registration data base; I took a break from the computer to help get this year’s Voter’s Self-Defense Manual ready for mailing.

What a gorgeous day it turned out to be. I couldn’t get warm enough in the morning, yet sat sleeveless on the deck for dinner! Later, Richard took some of us on a tour of the property in the PVS van. We covered the ground I’d seen on the early walks, but on this tour I learned a lot of the history of the property, including stories about the families that lived here early on. [at left, dinner on the deck.]

Below are some pictures from our tour, and from the grounds. I’m a bit sorry to leave tomorrow. It sounds like there’s plenty to explore around here on the weekends, but I’ll be driving down to Manhattan (Montana, that is), west of Bozeman, where I’ll perform a concert on Sunday. On to the next adventure!

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Click to continue to part 8 ➽

Some Pretty: Montana Diary.6

If you’ve missed previous Montana posts, or don’t know why I’m here, click to see: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5. (Probably makes sense to start with Day 1!)

Today, more time at the computer, making sure New Hampshire election town clerk office listings are all up to date on the PVS website, and double checking the list of all New York state Congressional and Senatorial candidates.

I’ll keep today’s entry short, and close with some pictures from this evening’s walk.

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Click to continue to part 7 ⇒

From Town Clerks to Ex-Presidents: Montana Diary.5

If you’ve missed previous Montana posts, click to see: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.

Today was a long day, but a good one. I spent the morning finishing up the policy statements submitted by some of the lesser known, in many cases one might say fringe, candidates (see Day 2 for more about that). And though I may not agree with a thing any of them say, some are quite well-read. If extreme. What’s important is that they’re running for office, and voters need to know who they are and what they stand for. There’s so much information on the Vote Smart website; in fact, if you go here, you can find out who’s running for office, and compare candidates, issue by issue.

You can also turn to the Project Vote Smart website to find out where to register to vote or get an absentee ballot. I spent the rest of the day updating part of the data base of information on local election offices. So if you live in a Texas county, or a Massachusetts town from Cambridge to Natick (alphabetically, that is), I made sure that the contact information for your election office (or town clerk) is up to date. You can check out my handiwork here.

This evening, the member volunteers were invited to have dinner at the home of Richard and Adelaide Kimball; Richard is the founder and president of PVS. That’s him in the black shirt on the far right; the others are member volunteers, like me, and I’ll tell you: these are smart, interesting, informed people who’ve done (and continue to do) some pretty impressive things with their lives. I’m learning a lot.

Later, some of us joined the young staffers and interns, who were watching the Democratic convention. It was very interesting to hear their takes on Bill Clinton’s speech (which they all thought was way too long). I have such a vivid memory of the night Clinton won the Presidential election the first time — and to think that these young people were only two or three years old! But they’re intelligent, they’re well-informed, they’re involved, and they make me think there’s reason to be hopeful. Oh, and that’s Abigail (for Adams) and Potus, enjoying an evening’s romp. They skipped the speeches, though Cleo the Cat stopped by for a bit.

Click to continue to part 6 ➪

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