Blog Archives

Packing for the hospital…

I have to get to my daughter’s house before 10 AM with all my clothes and meds packed to get down to Georgetown to the hotel by the hospital. I’ll bring my laptop and hopefully I can review the news or arts events and have another post for my friends later.

My thoughts are all tied up with this brain surgery and I’m not even exploring the Susan Rice SOS nomination… something I would ordinarily be dwelling on. Or Netanyahu‘s new attack on Gaza which is likely to bring us even farther into Middle East hostilities. You’ll have to trot around to the sites I regularly quote to keep up with everything.

Soooo…Have a nice day and occasionally think of me.    -Bill

 

A sample of Romney’s misunderstanding of foreign policy…

… like where the middle east countries are located. This statement on Iran and Syria seems to be typical of Romney’s lack of understanding:

I guess Romney doesn’t realize that Iran has it’s own coastlines and doesn’t need Syria to get to the sea. Fortunately, Obama pointed this out to him, making the debate a part of Romney’s education.

 

Foreign Policy is the debate subject tonight. What will be discussed?

Andrew Sullivan posted this earlier today – tonight’s moderator of the debate, Bob Schieffer‘s list of questions he wants to see covered:

* America’s role in the world
* Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Red Lines – Israel and Iran
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
* The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World…

The one that will probably bring out a major Romney/Obama conflict is the Red Lines question since it deals with holding off nuclear weapons and brings the US into a war-support position with Israel. Since it works against Obama’s State Department‘s policy of negotiations over military imposition, I expect this will be Romney’s major moment. He has spent the last couple of months trying to describe Obama as being unfriendly with Benjamin Netanyahu and opposed to Israel’s rights – a major lie by the Republican, btw – and will most likely make this his position.

Since we haven’t really heard a foreign policy plan outlined by Romney, I expect Obama will keep bringing this lack of knowledge up to see if Romney crosses himself up.

Andrew Sullivan also listed the Foreign Policy subjects that most likely won’t be brought up:

1) The eurozone crisis

2) Latin America

3) Russia

4) Africa

5) Foreign economic policy

6) India

7) North Korea

From my point of you, the fact that Romney has publicly stated that Russia was our major enemy, I will be  surprised if Obama doesn’t use this to show Romney’s total lack of foreign policy knowledge.

A day I have not looked forward to… have you?

 

It’s the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy and it will be the subject of all of today’s talk shows. The very thought of everything involved in the event… from the destruction of the World Trade Center, the crash into the Pentagon and the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field. I remember the father of one of Buddy’s friends when we lived in Marlborough,CT, who had made his monthly business trip to NYC and died in the attack… which means not only did it happen, but I knew someone killed in the tragedy.

We are at war in the Middle East… still going after Al Qaeda. It is the longest war in our history and seems to go on forever. After the loss of citizens on 9/11, we continue to lose even more Americans because of the attack. I ask my self: what have we become?

I will try to put the day out of my mind. I have thought about it so much over the past eleven years. I am just crestfallen to find it on my mind again.

 

I’m not happy with the World…

…but I can’t do anything about it on a scale that would change anything.

Listening to politicians on the morning news babble at each other that they will not do anything about jobs or or education or ANYTHING unless the debt is reduced (which most economists will tell you is a false concern in relationship to income)… and then seeing that they do NOTHING while they are in session to work with each other or the President, and ignore the wishes of the voters.

Then I see the report on Global Biodiversity which shows that we are gobbling up the Earths resources at an unreplaceable rate (we are “outstripping the Earth’s resources by 50 percent — essentially using the resources of one and a half Earths every year, according to the 2012 Living Planet Report, produced by conservation agency the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)”

Natural resources — and the rate at which humans burn through them — rarely appear on policymakers’ balance sheets.

- Emily McKenzie, the director of the WWF’s Natural Capital Program

Tie all this in with the ignoring of Global Warming which is leading us further down the path to an unliveable planet.

The fact that we are still at war in the Middle East and are committed there for at least a dozen more years with billions of tax dollars being spent and no budget cuts to aid the economy is frightening. In my lifetime there have been relatively few years when we were not at war with SOMEONE… and the claims that this would all lead to peace are now nothing but laughable.

So my thoughts come back again to “what can we do?”

Elly and I have replaced all our light bulbs with the energy controlled ones and, even then, we sit in the dark most of the time to keep electricity down. We are growing our own food now (and buying and trading with local farmers.) We are planning to add chickens.

I am working with groups like Sustainable Shepherdstown to promote local job growth and development of our  local and regional small businesses.

I am campaigning against Monsanto, Dow and the rest for poisoning our foods and making it more difficult to get organic seeds in the market… yet they are taking over the food industry at rates that are more than alarming (for instance, Kellogg buying out Kashi has removed the latter from the organic food makers and now fills their products with GMO grains.)

But I wake up every morning more depressed than the day before… worried about the future for my children and my grandchildren (currently four of them).

Do you worry about all of this as well? Do you try to do anything about it, or just throw your hands up and resign yourself to it?

Let me know.

 

This is not the first time that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has caused unnecessary death..

Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s lack of prosecution for the shooting is taking up much of our news. This is not, however, the only case of horrible death attributed to the Stand Your Ground law (which, by the way, was heavily promoted by the NRA to get passed… you know… the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” guys). Here is another one:

From KSDK, Gannett Channel 5, St Louis:

Valrico, FL (CNN/WFLA/WTFS/WTSP) – Outrage over last month’s shooting death of an unarmed teen in Florida has put a new focus on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The widow of a man shot dead in front of his daughter, says it is a free pass for murder.

When David James, an Iraq War veteran, escaped combat in the Middle East unscathed, his wife Kanina breathed a sigh of relief.

“I would worry about him but I thought he’d be safe here,” she said.

Kanina was wrong; and now wants to know why Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old retired bus driver, shot her husband in broad daylight, right front of their eight-year-old daughter. Dooley claims it was self defense. Kanina James calls it murder.

“What person brings a gun to a park when there’s children? I mean, he killed my husband. He could’ve just talked to him,” James said.

Whether or not Trevor Dooley fired in self-defense is at the heart of this case. Also central to the story is Dooley’s defense-Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law-which allows a person to stand their ground and use deadly force if they fear someone could seriously harm them.

Here’s what witnesses said happened on that September Sunday in 2010. Forty-one-year-old David James was playing basketball with his daughter when witnesses said Dooley, who lived right across the street, started yelling at a teenager who was skateboarding, to get off the court. That’s when witnesses said James intervened.

James yelled back to Dooley, asking him to show where any sign said no skateboarding. Dooley then crossed the street to the park to confront James.

A tennis player at the park, Michael Whitt, testified things turned ugly when Dooley reached for his waistband. Whitt said James then lunged at Dooley. The two men struggled on the ground before James was shot once through the heart. On the 911 call, Whitt is heard trying to help.

Dooley tells a different story; one that contradicts witness statements. Dooley told authorities when he took the gun out of his right front pocket James saw the weapon and knocked him to the ground. At a hearing to get the charges dismissed, Dooley testified, “he was choking me to death.”

Dooley’s lawyer said his client turned to walk away towards home and that James was the aggressor. He said Dooley did show a gun, but did not use it until he felt his life was threatened. He said charges against his client should be dropped given the Stand Your Ground law.

Kanina James said her husband of 13 years had never been aggressive, that he was a gentle family man. She believes he was trying to protect himself and their daughter, Danielle, after he saw Dooley pull a gun.

“He loved Danielle so much, that breaks my heart, that Trevor Dooley took my daughter’s best friend away from her; she’ll never have her daddy,” Kanina James said.

Danielle’s testimony about how and why the situation turned violent is key in a case that hinges on self-defense. Danielle, now 10, recalled how her father asked Dooley where the signs were that said “no skateboarding” on the court.

“My dad got on top of him, so he could keep him down so he could get the answer,” the young girl said.

“Where were your dad’s hands?” prosecutors asked.

“On his arms.”

“On the man’s arms?”

“Yeah,” she said.

Danielle then recalled her father’s last moments.

“I think the guy pulled out the gun then,” she said.

“Did you hear anything?” said prosecutors.

“Yeah.”

“What did you hear?”

“Like when it shot?” Danielle said.

“You heard a gunshot,” said prosecutors.

“Yeah.

“Did your dad say anything then?”

“Yeah.”

“What did he say?” said prosecutors.

“Call the ambulance, I have been shot,” she said.

When Kanina James arrived at the scene, her husband was already dead and her daughter was crying, asking, “Why isn’t anyone helping my daddy?”

OK. Now you should know that other states have similar laws. Perhaps yours does?

Perhaps you should look into it.

How Obama Raised the Price of Gas (according to the Right)

We all know, as the Repiglicants have told us over and over, that the gas prices are going up because oil in the middle east costs more and Obama refuses to increase oil production here in the good ole USA.

What? That’s not true? You think Obama has actually allowed more oil drilling here than previous (read Repiglicant) administrations?

Well, here’s the facts:

Hmmm. Perhaps he’s keeping it all for himself.

I listened to Repub candidates propose that we could be invaded from Iran…

…but, although the USA professes itself menaced by Iran, it rather has Iran encircled by military bases:

Stars = US Bases

(thanks to Juan Cole‘s Informed Comment.)

So what I want to know is which of these Repub candidates has any kind of grasp on mid-east policy? Certainly Iran knows that they can be completely wiped out by us with little or no provocation.

 

An article that caused me to question…again…our position in the Middle East.

A question I would like an answer to:

Why Are We Fighting On the Same Side with Al Qaeda?

The U.S. Is On the Same Side as Al Qaeda In Syria

Reuters notes that the leader of Al Qaeda – Ayman al-Zawahri – is backing the Syrian rebels, and asking his followers to fight the Syrian government.

Some of the main Al Qaeda fighters who overthrew Gadaffi – and now appear to be in control of Libya – are already helping the Syrian rebels.

This is curious, given that the U.S. is considering military options for ousting the Syrian government, American allies Britain and Qatar allegedly already have foreign troops inside Syria, and the U.S. has been planning regime change in Syria for over 50 years.

Mainstream reports also state that the U.S. and its allies are backing Iranian terrorists.

I thought Al Qaeda was America’s mortal enemy. Why are we backing terrorists?

I was asked by a radio caller last week if I thought we should charge back full force into the Middle East a la Rick Santorum and the right wingers. My answer was a simple “No.” Frankly, after the past 15 years or so of wondering what the hell we were doing there anyway, killing off our young soldiers and an immense quantity of Middle Easterners to keep our access to oil, the value of maintaining war there is invisible.

No matter that we have built a huge military industrial economy spread over many states in order to keep Senators and Congress folks voting to spend what’s left of the national wealth on tanks, planes, aircraft carriers and guns,guns,guns… no matter that we have been building a population consumed by fear of attack by Iranian nukes (caught that on the news this morning)… wanting to get out of all of this gets harder and harder.

Like the tri-national divided world in the novel 1984, the enemies of the country change constantly and become social buddies while previous friends become the enemies. It is an international trick to keep people under control. It is not far fetched to see Al Qaeda become our fighting allies.

I will say once again: Get out, get out, get out… oh, why bother repeating it? No one in authority listens and no one under that authority seems to be able to do anything about it.

Is this a sign that Muslims are becoming more Western?

Arab Museum Approves Nudity

DOHA, QATAR – The Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art has created controversy by announcing that it will exhibit works containing nudity and politically radical ideas. They will not be subject to censorship, according to Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator of the Mathaf.

The museum was founded by powerful Qatari art patron and vice president of the Qatar Museum Authority, Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al-Thani and it is due to open in Qatar’s capital, Doha, on December 30th.

Museum Statement:

Based in Qatar, looking forward into the 21st century, we want to offer a platform for all kinds of local and international visitors, scholars, artists, collectors and enthusiasts to meet, converse and engage more closely with the art of the Arab world and beyond.

Mathaf

The museum aspires to highlight and share contemporary art by Arabs and artists living in the Middle East that might challenge some preconceptions. It will also serve as a research center, an exciting prospect for the regional arts community.  Mathaf, which simply means “museum” in Arabic, will be housed in a  in a 5,500-square meter former school that has been converted by the French architect Jean-Francois Bodin.

The inaugural exhibition, titled, “Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art,” will include works from Mathaf’s permanent collection of over 6,200 pieces dating from the late 1800s to the middle of the 20th century, all of which were donated from Sheik Hassan’s private collection.

Skeptics have wondered aloud whether politics will play a role in the acquisition and exhibition of certain works, excluding pieces that might be considered politically or sexually provocative. “Sajjil,” which roughly translated as the act of recording features paintings and sculptures by more than 100 key modernists, is aimed at bringing contemporary Arabic art to a wider audience.

“Our first exhibition, ‘Sajjil’ is about the interaction and about the contribution of Arab artists to a larger art historical context,” Al-Khudhairi said. “By making it public, we are able to open it up to everyone in Qatar, in the region, internationally.

“Crucially, adds Al-Khudhairi, it will also draw attention to a contemporary art scene that developed in parallel with European movements but has been largely overlooked. “The exhibition will give exposure to these artists to fit into history a period of time that’s missing from art historical books and accounts,” she said.

“The collection has nudes; the collection has political works. These things are part of the collection — we can’t deny it “We are not trying to present some sort of new canon, this is why we stress multiple modernities  and contemporary art. She added that Mathaf was willing to risk criticism for showing controversial works.

“I think there will be all kinds of feedback and the museum is about creating a space for dialogue; a platform for discussion,” Al-Khudhairi said.

Saleh Barakat, a Beirut-based leading expert in contemporary Arab art, described the museum’s opening as “an exceedingly important moment in the history of modern and contemporary art.”

Most Disgusting Quote of July – have you heard this one?

Referring to the mass murders in Norway and the murderer’s views on immigrants:

Pat Buchanan joins the Ranks of the Inverted

“With her native-born populations aging, shrinking and dying, Europe’s nations have not discovered how to maintain their prosperity without immigrants. Yet the immigrants who have come – from the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia – have been slow to learn the language and have failed to attain the educational and occupational levels of Europeans. And the welfare states of Europe are breaking under the burden.[...]“

As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.”

- Pat Buchanan in an OpEd on World Net Daily.

Of course, Pat Buchanan is the main reason I don’t even turn Morning Joe on any more. If MSNBC had any sense, they’d ship him over to Fox who would welcome him in with open arms.

Quote of the Day – This sums it up

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

“Osama wasn’t a Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims

- President Barack Obama

Indeed, Al Qaeda killed many more Muslims than Americans. Although Americans in the Middle East have been warned against immediate reprisals, The general response from local governments has been to congratulate Obama for the action and to breathe a sigh of relief.

Here’s Obama’s update on Libya that he gave today… in case you missed it.

“Maybe this world is another planet’s Hell.”
- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Warning: if you are hoping that this will change your mind on our involvement in Libya then I’ve got a nice bridge to sell you.

I’d be interested in your e-mail or comments. – Bill

Now it looks like our participation in the No Fly Zone in Libya is a bigger thing than the UN asked for…

Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Febr...

Gaddafi

Here’s what Obama says:

United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council Resolution.

President Obama states that despite warnings, Gaddafi has not implemented a promised cease-fire:

His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

NBC’s Richard Engel reports from Libya:

“Rebels say they are incredibly encouraged now that they have Western military support, but the rebels are leaderless. They are poorly armed; they are disorganized.”

Gaddafi’s forces are not giving up, however. This from Reuters:

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fired on a crowd of unarmed people in the rebel-held city of Misrata on Monday and are using civilians as human shields against air strikes, residents said.

It looks like the United States forces are taking over leadership of the UN action… however, I just heard the NY Times reporter in Paris say on the radio that we are doing more in the eyes of the Arabs than the UN has called for. That is, to me, our regular stumble in the Middle East.

I’m going to check out and listen to Obama’s press conference going on now from South America where he is travelling.

As the world unravels before us, we have decisions to make…

Chris Hedges has posted quite a long article in Truthdig called This Time We’re Taking The Whole Planet With Us. It is devastating… not because it makes up a fantasy of destruction, but because it deals directly with the truth. Here are 2 excerpts, but I urge you to go HERE and read it all… then tell your friends and even casual aquaintences to read it… then look at what is being done in Wisconsin and Ohio and Indiana and other places dominated by Tea Party attackers and decide to join the rest of us in doing something…anything…about it (I recommend listening to Michael Moore’s speech from Saturday which I posted earlier this morning.

These from Chris Hedges:

Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way. The Mayan elites, after clearing their forests and polluting their streams with silt and acids, retreated backward into primitivism.

As food and water shortages expand across the globe, as mounting poverty and misery trigger street protests in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the elites do what all elites do. They launch more wars, build grander monuments to themselves, plunge their nations deeper into debt, and as it all unravels they take it out on the backs of workers and the poor. The collapse of the global economy, which wiped out a staggering $40 trillion in wealth, was caused when our elites, after destroying our manufacturing base, sold massive quantities of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities to pension funds, small investors, banks, universities, state and foreign governments and shareholders. The elites, to cover the losses, then looted the public treasury to begin the speculation over again. They also, in the name of austerity, began dismantling basic social services, set out to break the last vestiges of unions, slashed jobs, froze wages, threw millions of people out of their homes, and stood by idly as we created a permanent underclass of unemployed and underemployed.

_________________________

Jared Diamond in his essay “The Last Americans” notes that by the time Hernan Cortés reached the Yucatán, millions of Mayan subjects had vanished.

“Why,” Diamond writes, “did the kings and nobles not recognize and solve these problems? A major reason was that their attention was evidently focused on the short-term concerns of enriching themselves, waging wars, erecting monuments, competing with one another, and extracting enough food from the peasants to support all these activities.”

“Pumping that oil, cutting down those trees, and catching those fish may benefit the elite by bringing them money or prestige and yet be bad for society as a whole (including the children of the elite) in the long run,” Diamond went on. “Maya kings were consumed by immediate concerns for their prestige (requiring more and bigger temples) and their success in the next war (requiring more followers), rather than for the happiness of commoners or of the next generation. Those people with the greatest power to make decisions in our own society today regularly make money from activities that may be bad for society as a whole and for their own children; those decision-makers include Enron executives, many land developers, and advocates of tax cuts for the rich.”

__________________________

We have allowed the complete and utter greed of the Koch Brothers, huge corporations like Dow Chemical and GM and GE and Exxon Mobil and A T & T… we can go on and add in all the Banks and Wall Street Investment Firms (especially the ones Obama seems to fish in to catch Administration officials instead of looking for the ones who are screwing the folks who voted for him), but it is more frightening the deeper into it we look.

I would never have said this a year ago… or even six months ago… but I am seeing the advantage in being a Socialist and convincing everyone I can to become one, too. It means that we are all economically responsible for each other… and those who decide to suck the marrow from our fettered bones need to be stopped.

If we don’t learn from history, then we deserve to have our news programs filled with coverage of Charlie Sheen and the Royal Wedding and opposition to gay marriage. If we truly believe that teachers salaries bring down the economy while tax cuts are given to the top 1% of our wealthy…people for whom Billions of Dollars are not enough… or that politicians have our best interests at heart when the support more and more military activity instead of spending the money… or even a fraction of it… on solving the economic crisis, then there is little or no hope for us.

Join in. Help. Be aware of what is happening to you as the people YOU elect take away YOUR FREEDOM AND DIGNITY.

Sorry to get so carried away, but I am truly pissed off.

Related Articles

Cartoon(s) of the Week – What we do with our money…

Dan Wasserman in the Boston Globe:

As we budget, let’s not forget what we’re wasting on the military…

- and -

Pat Oliphant of Universal Press Syndicate:

… of course, it’s the example we set for armies in the Middle East

- and -

Mr. Fish at Truthdig:

…then again, maybe peace and freedom will eventually triumph over military might.

But I doubt it.

Just keyed in the light booth and I’m ready for opening night of “Claudie Hukill”…

This is a good play and I understand we’ve got a good sized house tonite (for Full Circle Theater .. around 40 people…that makes our audience seem full.) Dimmers all seem to be working OK and I’ve got my cues laid out. Maddie‘s here on sound and our curtain is in about 55 minutes.

The Doctor said I didn’t have a stroke on Sunday night… apparently I had a seizure. Now they have to find out if I’m developing epilepsy. Joe Jurand thinks it’s because my blood sugar had a drop, and he’s probably right. I’m going into the Robinwood Center to have an eight hour EEG test sometime next week… That sounds outrageously boring. Oh, and I’m not supposed to drive for a few months, but if I don’t I have no way of getting to shows to run lights or getting to WSHC to do radio with John Case on Friday mornings.

Anyway, here we are on the Friday of the Martyrs… Mubarak is out and Egypt could set an interesting example for the rest of the Middle East (especially Saudi Arabia and Iran). Lots of stuff to watch this week!

Quote of the Day – From one Dictator, a Comment on Another…

Mubarak‘s fate is sealed, not even the support of the United States will be able to save his government. The people of Egypt are an intelligent people with a glorious history who left their mark on civilization. ‘From the top of these pyramids, 40 centuries of history are looking down upon us,’ Bonaparte once said in a moment of exaltation when the revolution brought him to this extraordinary crossroads of civilizations.”

- Fidel Castro

That was from Castro’s blog… the 84-year-old Former Cuban Dictator now plays the blogosphere with the rest of us.

Another 30,000 troops going into Afghanistan…

Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan today where he spoke with troops and announced that another 30,000 troops will be coming into the war zone. Add this to the 100,000 troops that are there already and the corrupt Afghan government (made even clearer by the Wikileaks revelations) and we see additions being made to a war that is not going well.

Obama didn’t visit with President Karzai… the claim was bad weather which, according to reporters on Dylan Ratigan this afternoon, is not true… it was a lovely weather day in Kabul. After the Wikileaks came out last week we discovered that Karzai was most likely crazy as well as being corrupt… and we know he stole the last election. He is just as likely to make a deal with the Taliban as he is to help the President.

Al Qaeda must be thrilled by all of this, since their intention is to make Afghanistan cost us more and more while making us weaker in the Middle East (they call this strategy “Death by a Thousand Cuts” and we are certainly bleeding.) Aren’t we going to face facts and get out? Doesn’t look like it.

Taking the Rap: Iranians Arrest Teenagers Across Country For Playing Rap Music and Using “Western Musical Instruments”

Jeez… don’t tell Lindsey Graham… he’ll have us using nukes on ‘em. 

This from Jonathan Turley:

clipped from jonathanturley.org

Taking the Rap: Iranians Arrest Teenagers Across Country For Playing Rap Music and Using “Western Musical Instruments

The Iranian police has found another threat to the Islamic faith: rap music. The morals police has raided parties across Iran to nab kids who just want to play rap music. These teenagers have been meeting in abandoned buildings to listen to the music and dance.

The courageous Iranian police arrested the teens and seized “Western musical instruments” as well as alcohol. They were declared participants in a “morally deviant” practice, including music that “portray[ed] a bleak picture of society and presenting unhealthy relationships between boys and girls as normal.” I am not sure that you need rap music to portray a bleak picture of the Iranian society under control of the mullahs.

blog it

International Quote of the Day

“Settlers and settlements are not something that entertain me, and I don’t want to entertain them.”

- Israeli actor Yousef Swaid commenting on theatre artists’ boycott of new theatre in the occupied West Bank. The signatories have asked theatre managers to restrict their activity to stages within the internationally accepted 1967 borders.

More at ArtThreat.net. Thanks also to Thomas Cott at You’ve Cott Mail.

Quote for the Day, After 2 years – renewed talks between Israel and Palestine

“There have been difficulties in the past, there will be difficulties ahead. Without a doubt, we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks. But I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times, and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.”

- Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

They’re giving themselves one year to accomplish something.

On Sept. 2, Clinton will bring Abbas and Netanyahu together for the first formal round of direct talks since they broke down in December 2008. At that point the parties will decide where and when to hold later rounds as well as lay out the parameters for the talks. U.S. officials have said later rounds are likely to be held in Egypt.

To kick it off, President Barack Obama will hold separate discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sept. 1 and then host a dinner for the pair.

Isn’t that a dinner you’d like to sit in on?

Curious about what you, personally, are spending on the current Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

A piece from Moe’s Whatever Works blog on the near-Trillion bucks we are about to spend on the wars we are currently involved in took me to Costofwar.com, a site which we should all check on a regular basis. And then tell everyone else about it so the great mass of taxpayers know what’s happening with the money that used to give them an American lifestyle.

For instance, I looked up what those of us who live in West Virginia will be paying for wars in 2010, and what we could have gotten for the money if we had a brain in our heads:

Taxpayers in West Virginia will pay $1.9 billion for Total Defense Spending in FY2010. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
604,603 People with Health Care for One Year OR
56,614 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
39,134 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
362,641 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
346,567 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR
27,218 Affordable Housing Units OR
879,476 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
292,229 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
38,711 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
1,690,691 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year

That gives the war spending figure a real value that we can ponder over, doesn’t it? I don’t think my Congressperson Shelley Moore Capito thinks about this. I don’t think my Senators, Rockefeller and Byrd are thinking about this. We are a small and poor state, and when I see what we are giving up in order to protect the world of commercial oil, it makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps, as I have often stated on this blog in a way which many have told me has the effect of beating my head against a wall, we should BRING THEM HOME NOW!

Fear Itself…

When FDR said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” he could have been summing up what faces Americans today. The TV news networks are all pushing interviews with Senators and Congressmen (mostly Republicans) who tell us that the Christmas Eve flight bombing attempt, the shutting down of our Yemen Embassy (apparently not abandoned by cut off from any visitors), the killing of CIA people in Pakistan and other events and rumors of events are reasons not to close Gitmo and to increase military presence in…gosh, how many countries?…Yemen and other spots.

After watching all of the Adam Curtis documentary I put up yesterday it is clear that we are being sold nightmares to get us all riled up over uncountable numbers of Al Q’aeda operatives (of which there are probably very few.)

If we can avoid succumbing to fear and realize that these are political moves to keep us in our middle-class constraints, perhaps we can focus back on curing what’s wrong with our economy, our health care system, and so many other things.

We need to GET OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST. Period. We cannot afford to be the world’s bodyguard and we must realize that not everyone wants to be like us. If the do, they will pull it off themselves in an overwhelming manner (it’s about to happen in Iran without any of our help… just watch.)

Juan Cole summarizes Top 10 Good Stories from the Muslim World…

clipped from www.juancole.com

Top Ten Good News Stories from the Muslim World in 2009 that You Never Heard About

10. Saudi Arabia opened its first coeducational college campus, the King Abdullah Science and Technology University.
9. Qatar is on track to average 7.5 percent per annum growth for the next few years.
8. A Pew Forum on Religion and Life poll finds that American Muslims are unusual in the degree to which they are integrated into mainstream American society
7. The information revolution is making strides in the Arab world. A University of Maryland Poll finds that “the use of the internet continued to grow
6. Albania has averaged 10 percent a year growth for each of the last four years, and was the fastest-growing economy in Europe in 2009. It held elections in 2009, and although they were imperfect, an EU report described them [pdf] “as meeting most OSCE commitments,” despite flaws.
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