Looking at Myself

When I meditate, I look at myself. I watch myself breathe, sit, listen. So who is the one breathing, sitting, listening? Who is the one watching all this? I realize that I am neither the doer nor the watcher. I am the one who contains both the watcher and the doer. I exist somewhere else in another place, in another home, of which all this is but a small part.

We are each so small and so large, so near and so far. No/thing contains us, and we contain all that is.  We are right next to ourselves, yet an eternity away. We are bodies and DNA scrolls crossing space and time, conveying new stories as we compose poetry in energy, condensing and scattering, then reformulating ourselves in new patterns and structures, like a living kaleidoscope.

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The Far-Right Goes after the Girl Scouts

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Chicago and Climate Change

Chicago is way ahead of other U.S cities in dealing with climate change: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?_r=2&tntemail1=y&emc=tnt&pagewanted=all

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Political Turbulence and the Coming World Transformation

I just saw Rachel Maddow’s program this evening. Did you know the extent to which Democrats have been winning unexpectedly in heavenly Republican districts? Obviously there’s the stunning victory in New York 26, but there’s much more going on.  Democrats are winning everywhere: for Jacksonville mayor, for Tampa mayor, in New Hampshire for a state senate seat, and in Wisconsin for a state assembly seat.  In a 50-50 Maine state senate district, the Democrat won by over 40 percentage points. In Ohio a Republican state senator who voted for the union busting bill resigned after relentless criticism for that vote. In Alabama, a state senator flipped from Republican to Democrat. The Republican governor of Florida (Rick Scott) has a 29% approval rating, while Republican John Kasich in Ohio is cratering in the polls and Republican Scott Walker is doing poorly in Wisconsin. In Ohio a poll showed an 18% lead for the opponents of the union busting bill.

What’s going on? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this quick of a political turn-around? This is more dramatic than what happened after the government shut-down in 1994-95. Now you never know what will happen down the road, but what were the Republicans thinking? Their strategy makes no political sense. It’s as if the end of the world were coming, and the Republicans tried to grab as much stuff as they possibly could before all hell broke loose. Busting unions, destroying Medicare, eviscerating social programs, offering tax-give-aways to the super-rich and corporations, gutting the environment, criminalizing abortion, and much more does not seem to be working out so well for them politically.

Honestly, I can’t make sense of what they’re thinking politically. It’s totally illogical and just plain bizarre. They could have caused a lot of damage and still maintained some semblance of political viability, but they chose instead to take a wrecking ball. The only thing that I can postulate is that Republicans were not thinking politically, but were instead doing the bidding of a few very powerful super-rich people such as the Koch Brothers. In other words,, Republicans had marching orders and happily walked the plank. Somehow, I guess, they think that these guys will rescue them or do something.  I’m not sure, but that’s all I came come up with.

They are handing the 2012 general election on a silver platter to the Democrats. Why?????  Do you have any ideas out there? It makes no sense. I’m perplexed.

Now, that said, I am concerned for our country. Yes, I want far-right-wing crazies, nut-jobs, and loony-tunes to lose, but our country needs at least two viable competing parties. Without that either party will probably mess things up even more. I can’t imagine that Democrats will know what to do with the massive majorities they might win in next election if things go as they seem to be going. We need two real parties with serious ideas that must compete with the serious ideas of the other party. Right now the Republicans are nuts, like invading locusts destroying everything in their paths, while Democrats are gleefully watching the self-destruction, but they don’t have any real ideas. Now Obama, I believe, has a vision, but the Democrats as a whole are pretty much empty.  So where does that leave us as a country?

What I wish for are two parties: one which is expansive, trying to move the nation forward by advocating expenditures that will improve our quality of life and develop a new strategy to keep our economic global prominence; and another party that stands for fiscal responsibility that creatively figures our ways to save money, keep taxes reasonable, and act as good managers and stewards of our resources.

What’s happened? Where are these parties? I consider myself a progressive independent, a strong supporter of Obama, who has no alternative but to vote Democrat in light of the madness that currently passes for Republican policy.  But that’s not what I want. I want a Democrat party that stands for something meaningful and hopeful and a Republican party that recognizes itself as a solid citizen watching over expenditures carefully and supporting change while also understanding the value of tradition. Instead, the Democrats just kind of float along living in FDR’s shadow, while the Republicans have gone off the deep end. Where is the imagination and creativity? Where is honor and responsibility. It exists with a few individuals, but it’s absent from political groups as wholes.

This is a wild time. Maybe we have to go through it as a country, but we are sure facing tremendous uncertainty and volatility unlike anything I can remember and really know about historically, at least since the Civil War. This is, I think, part of the great shift happening at a global level. We are entering a new period of history and consciousness, watching the collapse of old systems (including political ones) while new ones emerge.  Perhaps we should not get caught up in the day-to-day, political and social earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but look through and beyond that to the world that is coming–for us and the globe. Perhaps nation-states will disintegrate as new forms of governance emerge that act at both global and local levels. A lot of people focus on up-and-coming countries like China, but perhaps we need to look toward the new structures that are emerging that have nothing to do with nations or political parties, but with movements–such as environmental activism or freedom movements in the Middle East or micro-financing or the post-religious “spiritual but nor religious” phenomenon or whatever –that are creating systems that we can’t even really seen just yet.

I have for a long time sensed a global shift and world transformation bubbling up from the depths, but experiencing it is completely different from envisioning it.

Any thoughts out there in the blogosphere and web world?

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Right-Wing History Re-Writes

If you don’t like history, simply rewrite it and persuade people that lies are true. That’s the conservative method of attaining political victory.

http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/150937/the_right’s_’big_lie’_strategy:_when_losing,_simply_rewrite_history/?page=1 (via Dianne Bazell)

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Changing the Minds of Climate Change Deniers

It’s occasionally possible for the facts to change the minds of climate change deniers. The politicization of this issue in the U.S.. as well as the anti-intellectual and anti-scientific basis of American evangelical Protestants and the power of corporate interests, has made the U.S. one of the only places in the world to have such a substantial number of people who deny the clear conclusions of science.  In the U.S., this follows the pattern of denying other scientific assessments, including evolution, damage to the ozone layer, the use of marijuana, the age of the earth, the dangers of nuclear power. and much more.
http://www.slate.com/id/2293607/pagenum/all/ (via Dianne Bazell)

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Israel, Obama, 1967, and Obama

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Getting to Yes: Negotiating 101 with Netanyahu and Obama (Part III)

You would think from some  editorial commentary, the bloviating of certain politicians, and defensive reactions in some quarters of the Jewish community that Obama and Netanyahu had a huge argument and that they were now going to have a trial separation. All the neighbors heard them fighting and now the yenta circuit has spread word all over town about the verbal explosion in the well-to-do white sandstone house down the street.  As I have suggested in two previous posts, this reaction is politically naive.

The words of Netanyahu and Obama did not diverge significantly on borders. The tone of Netanyahu was certainly more assertive than that of Obama, but the substance of what Netanyahu said did not differ substantially from what Obama and Israeli negotiators and diplomats have said for years. The 1967 borders will serve as  a baseline for negotiations, but the final borders will not be the same as the 1967 Green Line and the large settlements will remain part of Israel. Netanyahu and Obama agreed on that.

The difference in the language and style has to do with domestic considerations and negotiating strategy.

Netanyahu has to sound tough to appeal to his Likud base (although the majority of Israelis in recent polls did not agree with him on this). American presidents succeed when they take the role of statesmen, because Americans want the U.S. to lead in making the world a more peaceful place. In our national psyche, we see ourselves as having a mission to bring freedom and  success to other parts of the world.

As negotiators, Obama and Netanyahu are playing good cop and bad cop. This has occurred as long as there has been diplomacy. Negotiating in the Middle East is treacherous. Ehud Barak erred in 1999-2000 when he put all his cards on the table without having others in reserve. There is no way that Arab leaders will agree to a treaty unless it seems that they are sticking it to the Israelis and sucking them dry at the negotiating table. Any proposal that an Israel leader approves of at the outset is a dead proposal. No Palestinian would agree to it. At the same, Netanyahu cannot just abandon his base. However, when an American leader pushes him, he can say that he had to acquiesce on some matters, because of the importance of our friendship with the U.S. and because of the transformation that peace would bring to Israel.

This is a kabuki dance. It has always been like this, and it always be like this as long as we play the game of negotiations. What Netanyahu and Obama are doing is Negotiating Strategy 101–basic stuff. That doesn’t mean it will work, but it does provide a chance for peace.

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For Part I, see http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/23/obama-and-1967

For Part II, see http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/24/obama-and-1967-2/

See also the article by Rabbi H.D. Uriel Smith: http://mysticscholar.org/2011/06/06/critique-of-obama-and-1967/

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Freedom from Bondage

Freedom from bondage in Egypt still has not finished. We are still wandering in the wilderness to the extent that we are in bondage to the expectations of others. Such a plight might indicate “peer pressure,” but even more it refers to the manipulations of powerful cultural forces and vast corporate empires.

Yet, in the din and confusion of screeching bullies and con-men, it is within our power to listen to our own authentic voices and act accordingly. A difficult journey faces us, but the land of milk and honey beckons.

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Cairo’s Garbage People

A tour of a Christian district in Cairo where the garbage collectors live in squalor amidst sewage and garbage:
http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/6031-garbage-people

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The Fox Circus and How it Harmed Republican Presidential Aspirations

What a circus in the world of Roger Ailes! It seems that Fox pulls the strings, but its own influence and power have diminished the Republican presidential field.

http://nymag.com/print/?/news/media/roger-ailes-fox-news-2011-5/

http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/151052/are_roger_ailes’_fox_news_freaks_inadvertently_helping_democrats/?page=entire

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Medicare: Republican Bet on Greed Fails

The Republicans thought that they could fool people by cutting off Medicare for those under 55, but keeping it for those 55 and over. This was cynical, but it is currently wreaking havoc, as demonstrated by the stunning victory of a Democrat in House district 26, one of the most conservative districts in the US.
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/the-need-for-greed/

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Obama and 1967: A Sympathetic Response (Part II)

My major point is this:  Israeli negotiators have said exactly the same thing as Obama has–in fact, the Israelis went a lot further. Instead of criticizing Obama, those who attack Obama should argue with the Israelis themselves. Obama is just saying out loud what these Israelis have privately said for years. Those who criticize Obama are in fact criticizing certain Israelis. It just looks like a criticism of Obama, because Netanyahu and his allies are using Obama as a lightning rod to deflect attention off their own negotiators and diplomats and themselves.

But the problem is that Americans don’t have to live in Israel.  A lot of Jews in this country are ready to criticize Israel either for being too bellicose or for agreeing to too much compromise. Many liberal American Jews criticized Israel when it invaded Gaza, but they didn’t have to live in towns receiving daily rocket fire from Gaza. On the other hand, many conservative American Jews ripped Ari Sharon when he abandoned the Gaza Jewish settlements, but they weren’t the ones sending children to Gaza to protect those settlements (which, by the way, had many American Jews in them).

So we should be careful about criticizing Israel when it defends itself and when it seeks peace. Criticizing Obama on 1967 is no different from criticizing those Israeli governments that have effectively said the very same thing. In fact, Netanyahu has spoken similarly– listen to what he says, not to how he says it.  It’s just easier to rip Obama than it is to rip Israelis.

Even on Jerusalem, Netanyahu speaks carefully. In his speech to the US Congress, he never said that East Jerusalem would not be the capital of a Palestinian state. He only says that Jerusalem will not be divided. What “not divided” means, is open to numerous interpretations, as any reader of rabbinic texts should know well.

In many ways, I believe that the venom in the U.S. against Obama on this reflects the frustration of many American Jews and Christians (particularly those who have institutional interests in maintaining the status quo) against Israeli politicians and groups with whom they disagree.  They would rather have Israel dependent on them (a U.S. subsidiary or a victim that relies on the philanthropy of others) than functioning as an independent country that operates on its own terms and in its own indigenous interests as a Jewish country with its own Jewish values.

No doubt, many Israelis are also criticizing Obama, but it’s for the very same reason. He’s a lot more convenient target than their own leaders.

Perhaps Obama’s strategy is to use himself as a lightning rod to draw attention from others so that they can make peace. I doubt that this will work because of the virulent antisemitism of Hamas, the unwillingness of Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state, and the instability of Palestinian governance. But you never know what might happen without trying. It’s worth a try. Peace always is.

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For Part I, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/23/obama-and-1967/

For Part III, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/26/getting-to-yes-negotiating-101-with-netanyahu-and-obama/

See also the article by Rabbi H.D. Uriel Smith: http://mysticscholar.org/2011/06/06/critique-of-obama-and-1967/

 

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The Case of Thomas Drake: Are We Living in a Police State?

This is scary. The U.S. now finds itself in the position of teetering between anarchy and fascism. We are busy prosecuting NSA whistleblowers, while letting bank executive crooks and perjurers go scot free. They live lives in the lap of luxury after stealing and cheating, while those who question fraud and waste in the NSA have their lives ruined. There is something wrong with this picture.
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/23/110523fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=all

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Goldman Sachs: Crooks and Perjurers

We prosecute NSA whistleblowers, while we let major scam artists and criminals go free.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-people-vs-goldman-sachs-20110511?print=true

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Honor Killing in West Bank and the Need for Reform

Sad, but illuminating. And there’s some hope with the popular anger against the murderer and violence against women:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/20/mideast.honor.killing/index.html?iphoneemail (via Dianne Bazell)

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Krugman on a Manufacturing Revival

Paul Krugman describes the beginning of a manufacturing revival in the U.S.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/opinion/20krugman.html?_r=1

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Obama and 1967: A Sympathetic Response (Part I)

Israeli negotiators have long acknowledged that the 1967 lines have been and will be the basis for future negotiations of a Palestinian state. Virtually every discussion of security and settlements has assumed this. The info from WikiLeaks confirms this as the Israeli position. Even Netanyahu has more or less admitted this in a recent speech to the Knesset.  He sounds tough, but his positions are in line with previous Israeli negotiating positions. He just doesn’t want to use the word, “1967.”

The reaction to Obama’s statement in the Arab world says it all. Arabs don’t like it because in part everyone (including the Israelis) already knew about 1967. It’s old news. Actually Obama’s statement was one of the most forceful defenses of Israel by any administration: his condemnation of Hamas’ call for Israel’s annihilation and his demand that any negotiations for a Palestinian state require groups to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; and his frank criticisms of the UN. Many in the Arab world are very upset by this. In my view, Obama’s position is an attempt to protect Israel from the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state by the U.N. General Assembly. It gives (we hope) him, the US, and other nations cover to oppose this by simply stating what everyone already knows to be the case. In the end, the only parties that can determine boundaries and arrangements are the Israelis and the Palestinians, not some third-party bureaucracy.

Obama merely stated what negotiators on both sides have long admitted: Israel will keep the larger settlements, but the “1967” border will remain more or less. Of course, the “more or less” is key, and there will be territorial, financial, and other arrangements. This is just boiler-plate stuff. It’s only the politicians and rhetoricians who pander to their true-believing bases that naively think there is some kind of alternative or new deal or conquest or God that will solve the problem. My guess is that Netanyahu understands this as well-privately, but will never admit to it publicly (even though his actual public words may be read as confirming my point).

As for Jerusalem, Israelis have already offered some kind of arrangement of East Jerusalem under both Barak and Olmert: Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli control, Palestinian ones under Palestinian control. Israeli negotiators confirm this time and time again. Many of us make not like it or think it unworkable (frankly I wonder), but it’s what the Israelis themselves have offered–not Obama or the far-left.

In other words, what I am saying is what is in fact what Israelis themselves have already stated or offered in private talks.  It’s not new. What we’re all are arguing about is rhetoric that the negotiators and diplomats in Israel only pay attention to for political and PR reasons, not substantive ones. In other words, those of us who argue about Israel are just talking, but the negotiation facts are way ahead of us.

The real issue is not territory any more. Its culture and politics. Until the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state, nothing will happen. And they don’t accept Israel. That’s one enormous problem. The other is the state of Palestinian governance and society. The Palestinian government is still (compared to Israel and the West) unstable,  corrupt, ineffective, and repressive. There’s no authentic democracy or freedom. The culture and economy are still backward, primitive, and unmanageable.  Of course, Gaza is much worse than the West Bank.

And we Jews have to admit that we have some problems with extremists on our side as well, particularly among the settlers. And there are discrimination and prejudice issues in Israel itself. They are not as serious or as significant as among the Palestinians, but we who are Jewish have to face this honestly and deal with it.

Until Palestinians deal with their deep problems, there will be no meaningful agreement.  And I don’t feel very positive about that–unfortunately.  Still, as Obama says, we have to try. You never know, and events can unfold in unpredictable ways that are turn out better than expected from time to time. This is the moment when we have to push forward, not sit back and watch events on the ground deteriorate.

I say this as a thank-you to President Obama from a Jew and a strong Zionist.

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For Part II, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/24/obama-and-1967-2/

For Part III, go to http://mysticscholar.org/2011/05/26/getting-to-yes-negotiating-101-with-netanyahu-and-obama/

See also the article by Rabbi H.D. Uriel Smith: http://mysticscholar.org/2011/06/06/critique-of-obama-and-1967/

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How to Deal with Your Pets After the Rapture

At last a realistic and practical way to deal with the rapture and its aftermath: http://eternal-earthbound-pets.com/ (via Michael Rebic)

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Awareness

When an incarnate being enters into full awareness, the many and the one melt into one another

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The Valmadonna Book Collection Goes on Sale Again

A fascinating story that illustrates the precariousness of Jewish cultural heritage:

http://www.forward.com/articles/137521/ (via Dianne Bazell)

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Birthers and Deathers: In the World of Loony-Tunes

Now that the birth certificate is out, there are those who doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead. Sadly the wackos have some mainstream attention.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-05/osama-bin-laden-killing-launches-birthers-new-deather-conspiracy-theory-/full/#

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The Super Rich and Taxes

Robert Reich discusses why it is so important for the super-rich to contribute their fair share of taxes: http://robertreich.org/post/5583016733

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Current TV Booted Off Air in Italy by Murdoch Minions

This illustrates the great danger of media monopolies. Because Al Gore hired Keith Olbermann, Murdoch’s News Corp. will keep Current TV off the air in Italy. A conservative media power blows off a progressive upstart. And once again corporations show us who has the real power in the world.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/may/19/al-gore-rupert-mudoch-news-corp

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Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety and fear are like bushes and branches on a path. All you have to do is step over them or around them or just clear them away. Then you’re back on the path that was always there anyway.

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General Boykin and Christian Dominionism

Former General William “Jerry” Boykin is busy promoting Christian dominionism, targeting Islam, and promoting “Christian warriors.” This is one wierd world. George Bernard Shaw was right when he said that “earth is the insane asylum of the universe.” I guess General Boykin and his allies are not very familiar with cultures and traditions other than his own. Just living in his own little isolation chamber, I guess
http://coloradoindependent.com/85808/palin-to-honor-troops-in-colorado-with-christian-military-crusader-boykin

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Immigrants are the Core of Who We are in the US

I could not agree more with Reverend Wallis.  As the recent dismissal of  Chipotle employees (in Washington, D.C.) demonstrates (because the company was afraid of their legal status), our immigration system is broken. Reverend Wallis is right when he notes that our country would grind to a halt without Latino/a immigrant workers. We would simply not function as a country without them. These are hard-working people with the kind of drive and energy that is at the core of the prosperity and dynamism of the U.S. The xenophobia and fear that characterizes so much of our national discourse on this topic is not only economically and morally harmful to us, but it diverts us from the real problems we face.

Except for Native americans, we are all immigrants, including my grandparents who came to this country from Russia and Poland. The Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”) is one of our greatest symbols, representing the most deeply held values of our people. Let us not react to our anxieties and hatred, but let us live out our dreams and hopes. That is the meaning of every great moral and spiritual tradition.

http://blog.sojo.net/2011/05/19/chipotle-firings-one-story-of-a-broken-immigration-system/#disqus_thread

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Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Health Care as a Human Right

I could not agree more with Bernie Sanders. It’s also practical if we want our country to be able to compete effectively in the world. Right now our companies are saddled with huge costs, and patients face obscenely high payments and inadequate, uncertain coverage.

I think there is a deeper issue here as well. Giving everyone access to basic health care means they many more individuals will have the opportunity to embark on building start-up companies and on accepting higher risk jobs without fear of losing their health insurance coverage. I see universal coverage as an issue of freedom. When you don’t have to stay in a job in order to have your health problems covered, then you are free to take on careers and jobs that are more meaningful and rewarding. Universal health care adds to our liberty, because it gives us more choices and more mobility.

I wonder sometimes whether opposition to universal coverage stems from a fear of allowing people too much freedom. Universal coverage would take leverage from those in power (in corporations and in government) and put it into the hands of working people and our creative class. Denying individuals this opportunity concentrates power in the hands f those who already have it.

Thus, there are ethical and politco-spiritual dimensions here: ethical in that a civilized society needs to insure basic health care for its citizens; and politico-spiritual in that universal health coverage increases the level of human freedom, putting more decision-making power into the hands of more people. Universal health care coverage is a global, transformative movement of the human species toward greater freedom and independence.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/10/healthcare-congress

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Secret Mercenary Force Set Up by Blackwater Founder for UAE

Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater (now XE) is now working on building a mercenary force of mostly Latin American soldiers that will work on behalf of the UAE in order to put down internal revolts, defend pipelines, and combat terrorism. No Muslims need apply, because the leadership and Prince is convinced that Muslim soldiers will not shoot other Muslims.  Prince is also associated with Christian dominionism. Meanwhile, is this legal? Can an American citizen hire out a mercenary force on behalf of a foreign nation without permission of the U.S. government? At the least, this will not make the United States look very good to the Arab/Muslim world.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/world/middleeast/15prince.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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Gold Mania in the Yukon

This is a wonderfully written story about the mania for gold (and mushrooms) and the adventurous souls that prospect for it in the Yukon in Canada
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/magazine/mag-15Gold-t.html (via Nelson French)

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Esau and Jacob

Who is Esau? He whom Jacob makes whole. Who is Jacob? He whom Esau makes whole. Separately they are fragments, shards. Together they comprise a complete vessel holding the light of the Source in one integrated consciousness.

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The Curved and the Straight

Living on right angles and along straight lines gives us the illusion that we are moving from Point A to Point B, from Moment X to Moment Y. In reality, space and time are curved, and we live along a continually shifting,  four-dimensional time-circle or time-helix.  Points A and B and Moments X and Y might intersect or overlap. Or Point B and Moment Y might precede Point A and Moment X.  Or Points A and B might be the very same place, and Moments X and Y might happen at exactly the same time. Yet, even so, the journey makes all the difference in the world, making each place and each time a new experience–indeed a new place and a new time.

Where are you? Nowhere, yet everywhere.
When are you here? Never, yet always.

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Afghanistan and Reverend Jim Wallis

I respect Reverend Wallis, and I understand his point of view on Afghanistan. War is always awful and tragic, and hideous things have certainly happened in Afghanistan, including American military kill teams and our support for corrupt and misogynist Afghani political leaders, among others.

Yet, the nature of war and violence does not necessarily make it wrong in every case. The American Civil War and World War II are two wars that were ethically defensible and, in fact, morally required. Sometimes war is the best option among a set of worse options. That does not justify the crimes and horrors inevitably committed in violent contexts that degrade our consciences and moral compasses, but it does justify the use of violence in certain instances.

We did not go to war in to Afghanistan simply to kill Osama Bin Laden, but also to destroy the Taliban and to assist in creating a Afghan society that is stable and free, able to resist corruption, terrorism, and tyranny. We made that promise when we decided, in a bipartisan fashion that crossed political lines, to bring our troops into Afghanistan. This was not supposed to be dependent on how simple or swift the task was or to be a quick jaunt that we could end when the going got muddy and rough. We gave our implicit word that we would stay the course until we transformed a divided, undeveloped society into a nation that could function healthily and proudly on its own.

This was never going to be easy or quick. From the beginning, anyone who knew something about Afghan society understood that this was a long-term task that would realistically last no less than ten years and could take 20-40 years. If we aren’t ready to embark on such ventures, then we shouldn’t make the commitment to others. If we don’t hold to our commitments, no one will take us seriously on anything.  Other countries will view as fair-weather friends.

The majority of Afghans have experienced violence for centuries and understand that our military will screw up and do bad things (it’s in the nature of war and human weakness).  Most also realize that screwing up does not mean that we should give up. That’s an adult view of the world.

I support continued involvement in Afghanistan, but with a lower military footprint and a stronger non-military, society-building presence. Many Afghans don’t currently trust us for good reason–not because of kill teams and incompetence, but because they believe that we will leave sooner rather than later.   Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s show that we stand by our commitments and don’t abandon those who put faith in us.

http://blog.sojo.net/2011/05/12/afghanistan-no-more-excuses/#disqus_thread

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Lexington Temple Adath Israel Conducts B’not Mitzvah Ceremony

At Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, a group of adult women and Rabbi Marc Kline conducted a B’not Mitvah ceremony.  Traditionally this marks the entrance of children into adulthood at the age of thirteen, but many adults, especially women, did not have the opportunity to to have a Bat Mitvah or Bar Mitzvah as teenagers. This ceremony gives such adults the chance to experience an important rite of passage.

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/05/18/2884098/non-traditional-students-celebrate.html

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Passover Coke

Rabbi Geffen sounds like a great man who understood the importance of maintaining tradition while adapting to new cultures. To me that’s being Jewish is all about.

I actually do eat corn during Passover, and I don’t see the problem. Corn is not a grain and is not leavened in any case. Ashkenazim don’t eat corn (along with beans, rice, and other similar plants), but Sephardim do. In fact, I believe the Ashkenazi understanding of “grains” is wrong and should be consciously repudiated. It’s a silly rule. I would even eat barley and oats as long as they are not leavened, which means cooked for more than eighteen minutes. This putting “a hedge around the Torah” business sometimes gets ridiculous, obsessive, and comical.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/23/us/23religion.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fnational%2Findex.jsonp (via Nelson French)

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Corporate Bullies and How to Deal with Them

Why do we in the U.S. let corporate giants bully and abuse us? Richard Wolff proposes a solution:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/may/09/economics-us-taxation/print

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Seabrook Nuclear Power Backup Fails

Not too confident in our nuclear power safety procedures. I might feel differently about nuclear power if we as a nation actually took regulation seriously. But we don’t. And this is the consequence. Serious regulation would actually allow us more energy options.
http://articles.boston.com/2011-05-13/news/29540672_1_nrc-nuclear-plants-vermont-yankee

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European Corporations Treat U.S. Homeowners and Workers Like Slumlords

In Europe, corporations treat workers with some respect, but in the good, old USA, those very same corporations act as slumlords and bully workers. This shows how important government actually is in protecting our standard of living.  Who else will protect working people?

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-meyerson-europeans-20110515,0,3990894.story

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Creation

Creation is a process that never stops (Gen 1-2)

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Wisconsin Legislators Find New Ways to Keep Voters Away: Freedom on the Exit Ramp?


On what basis are Americans qualified to pontificate on democracy if we pull this kind of garbage?
http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=curbing_voting_rights_in_wisconsin

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