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Endless War, Not Just War: The Problem with U.S. Strikes on ISIL

Oct7

by: Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite on October 7th, 2014 | 7 Comments »

Obama ISIL speech

President Obama addresses the nation on his ISIL strategy. Credit: Creative Commons/CreoFire

This time it will be different. That’s what President Obama said as he assured the American people that an American effort to “degrade and destroy” ISIL, the vicious terrorist group, “will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

No, Mr. President, it won’t. Not in any meaningful sense. This is just more war, and it is certainly not a Just War according to many of the tradition’s principles.

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The Ghost in the GMO Machine

Oct7

by: Paul Koberstein on October 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

Kaua'i Waimea chlorpyrifos

Dust swirls around the GMO test fields on the Hawaiian island of Kaua`i near the town of Waimea. Data reported by the state of Hawaii shows that heavy amounts of the insecticide chlorpyrifos are being applied to these fields. Photo by Klayton Kubo

The bodies and minds of children living on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i are being threatened by exposure to chlorpyrifos, a synthetic insecticide that is heavily sprayed on fields located near their homes and schools.

For decades, researchers have been publishing reports about children who died or were maimed after exposure to chlorpyrifos, either in the womb or after birth. While chlorpyrifos can no longer legally be used around the house or in the garden, it is still legal to use on the farm. But researchers are finding that children aren’t safe when the insecticide is applied to nearby fields.

Like a ghost drifting through a child’s bedroom window, the airborne insecticide can settle on children’s skin, clothes, toys, rugs, and furnishings.

In fact, it’s likely that the only people who needn’t worry about exposure to chlorpyrifos are adults living far from the fields in which it is sprayed. That includes civil servants who work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates the stuff, and executives with Dow Chemical, the company that manufactures it.

In a regulatory process known as re-registration, the EPA will decide in 2015 whether it still agrees that chlorpyrifos is safe for farming, or whether it will order a complete ban, as Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pesticide Action Network have demanded in lawsuits filed in 2007 and in 2014.

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And Who Shall I Say Is Calling?

Oct6

by: Melissa Weininger on October 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

One of David Mitchell’s literary preoccupations is interconnectedness, the way that, as the theory goes, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings might change the course of history (or at least the weather). Or, say, the way that a trapped and depressed FAA contract worker might set a fire that cancels your surprise trip to Chicago to see your dad who’s recovering from a hip replacement (still not over it!). Mitchell makes connections, so when I’m reading him I see connections.

Bone Clocks

David Mitchell's novel, The Bone Clocks, focuses on central themes of Yom Kippur. Credit: Melissa Weininger

As I was reading The Bone Clocks, his new novel, in which one of the peripheral characters rides a Norton motorcycle, I happened to see a guy wearing a Norton T-shirt at the diner near my house as I ate brunch with my family. As I re-read the review of the book in the New York Times Book Review, I noticed that the review underneath it (yes, I still get a hard copy of the paper) referred to events that took place in January 1967, the year my husband was born. And the world shrinks a little bit, everything stitched together a little tighter.

Perhaps that’s why I was tempted to see so many of the themes of the season in this book, even though there’s nothing remotely Jewish about it (and organized religion generally comes in for a beating – more on that later). Reading during Rosh Hashanah and the beginning of the Yamim Noraim, the ten days between the New Year and Yom Kippur, the day of repentance, I felt like the novel had something to say about so many of the central themes of the holidays: memory, death, rebirth, mortality, choice and free will, and second chances. These are Mitchell’s touchstones, the big questions he goes back to again and again in all of his novels, but The Bone Clocks brings them together both abstractly – in the form of recurring characters and names, places and events, both within the world of this novel and across his oeuvre – and concretely, as a largish subplot (more later on why it seems like the main plot but isn’t) focuses on a group of immortal souls and their fight against those who would induce immortality by artificial and predatory means.

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The Restoration of the Dome of the Rock

Oct6

by: Dalia Hatuqa on October 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

dome of the rock

The first stage of making a stucco and glass window involves preparing a wooden frame to hold up the finished product. It features a cavity that is later filled with liquid plaster. Credit: Dalia Hatuqa / Al Jazeera

Originally published in Al Jazeera

East Jerusalem – The Dome of the Rock is one of the most memorable Islamic landmarks in the world, a place for solemn prayer and a refuge for those seeking respite. On any given afternoon, the sun shines through its stained-glass windows, casting vibrantly coloured shadows onto small groups of Quran reciters by the colonnades of this religious site.

One of the oldest works of Islamic architecture, the octagonal building, made of marble and glazed tilework on the outside, is in constant need of care. This delicate job falls solely on the shoulders of a small department – the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Restoration Committee – which is in charge of renovating and replacing the windows and roof for both sites.

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Embodying Our Humanity: Sins Invalid Promotes Disability Justice through Live Performance Arts

Oct3

by: Annie Pentilla on October 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Nomy Lamm sits amid a nest of prosthetic legs durring Sins' 2009 annual performance. "Hear my bird song. I am so beautiful. I am waiting for you. Hear my bird song," Lamm sings. Image Courtesy of Sins Invalid; Photograph by Richard Downing ©

 

When Sins Invalid co-founders Patricia Berne and Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. put on a live event in San Francisco in 2006, they didn’t know it would blossom into a years-long collaboration. That night poets, dancers, and performance artists from the Bay Area and beyond filled the stage with emotionally powerful, erotic work, leaving audience members deeply moved – some of them walking away in tears. “We often say we started out of friendship,” recalls Berne.

Why did the first Sins Invalid performance mean so much to everyone involved? Perhaps because that night was the first time many audience members had been to a venue in which a majority of the performers were people with disabilities. And for many of the performers, this was the first time they’d been given a space to affirm their humanity as sexual beings, challenging a culture that tells us that love and sex are the sole property of young, thin, able, white bodies. “I needed to see the show,” says Berne, who became the director at Sins Invalid. “I needed to see this work in the world.”


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“God and Goddess Emerging” and “A Beaked and Feathered God”: A Free Peek at Two Subscriber-Only Articles from Our Summer Issue

Oct2

by: Tikkun Administration on October 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »

Have you gotten a chance to check out Tikkun’s Summer 2014 print issue? We’d love to hear your opinions on some of the truly radical notions of God that progressive theologians are exploring.

A significant number of Tikkun readers have told us that they don’t believe in God. No worries! Our managing editor and many of our authors identify as agnostics or atheists too. Regardless of your own beliefs, it can be fascinating to learn how drastically different the notions of God currently being explored by progressive theologians are from previous sexist, racist, homophobic, and hierarchical conceptions of God.

We’re especially curious to hear feedback from you on “God and Goddess Emerging”, a provocative article by Rabbi Michael Lerner in the current print issue. In this historical moment, Lerner argues, we need to blend a panentheism that recognizes humans as in and part of God with the radical visions of God as YHVH (source of transformation) and El Shaddai (a love-oriented Breasted God). Only then will we able to see God as the consciousness of the universe, one that doesn’t intervene but instead repeats her/his/its message for a world of love and justice and compassion to anyone who will listen.

Our publisher has also made a special exception to allow non-subscribers to get a taste of an entirely different theological approach in “A Beaked and Feathered God: Rediscovering Christian Animism,” a lyrically written piece that celebrates the enfleshment of God in many forms. Mark I. Wallace, professor of religion at Swarthmore College, examines the rich variety of natural phenomena given sacred presence in biblical accounts and hones in on the avian spirit in particular. By further tying God to flesh and feathers, he hopes people will begin to rebel and counter the utilitarian attitudes toward nature that now dominate the global marketplace.

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Gen ’97 Drives Struggle for Identity and Fairness in Hong Kong

Oct1

by: Yoichi Shimatsu on October 1st, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Crossposted from New America Media

Hong Kong Joshua Wong

Scholarism leader Joshua Wong at a cafe overlooking the plaza where he was arrested. Credit: Yoichi Shimatsu / New America Media

HONG KONG — On both sides of the barricades blocking this city’s streets, media pundits from New York and Beijing assert that the protests in Hong Kong arise from demands for greater autonomy. Completely unnoticed is a major demographic shift in the region’s population, which is redefining the issues that motivate the younger generation to shut down this global financial center.

The leadership and activist numbers are coming from Generation ’97, young people born during the 1997 handover of the then-British Crown colony to Chinese sovereignty. These youngsters, most still in the secondary level (high school), are finding themselves at the forefront of a populist struggle for electoral rights. They are motivated by anxieties about local identity and a consequent need for better representation, reflecting attitudes that differ subtly but significantly from the traditional opposition parties.


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I Rallied Against Anti-Semitism. Now What?

Sep29

by: Donna Swarthout on September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

Central Council of Jews in Germany rally

"Never again hatred of Jews" was the slogan for Central Council of Jews in Germany rally against anti-Semitism. Credit: Donna Swarthout

“It’s a fortress mentality,” said my friend as we sat outdoors over a glass of wine on a mild September evening after attending a back-to-school night at the John F. Kennedy School of Berlin. “Jewish organizations in Germany are closed, restrictive organizations that don’t seek volunteers and don’t have the transparency of Jewish groups in the States.” Punkt. Period. “But I want to do something to address the rise in anti-Semitism and promote cross-cultural unity,” I said. Silence. A sympathetic nod. Time to move on, I thought.

Less than a week earlier I had attended a rally against anti-Semitism organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany. About 6,000 people, a rather disappointing turnout, gathered around the slogan “Steh Auf – Nie Wieder Judenhass” (Stand up – Never again hatred of Jews). I had simmered with disgruntlement over this slogan in the days leading up to the rally. Why couldn’t they have chosen something more positive and inspirational? I’ve lived in Berlin for more than three years and never felt hated. Yes, there has been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, but let’s rally for a more just society for Jews, Muslims, and other minorities. Our freedom is intertwined with every legitimate group that encounters hatred.


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Corporations as Tools for Social Change

Sep26

by: Rick Herrick on September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »

Solar Panels

Credit: Creative Commons/Intel Free Press.

In the late 1970s I read a fascinating article in the New York Times regarding the Mobil Oil Corporation. According to the Times, several African-American leaders purchased small positions in the company. Their ownership of Mobil Oil stock gave them the right to lobby for change.

Their target was South Africa. These black leaders began speaking at general shareholder meetings of the corporation. They also lobbied corporate officers. They had two goals in mind. The first was to integrate the dining facility in the South African plant. The second was to achieve equal pay for equal work. They achieved both goals. Their victory was an important symbol of change in the anti-apartheid movement.

At about the same time Leon Sullivan, an African-American minister in Philadelphia, came onto the scene. Reverend Sullivan was a board member of the General Motors Corporation. In the late 1970s he devised a set of principles requiring corporations with divisions in South Africa to treat all employees fairly. If the company violated the Sullivan Principles, American corporations were to cease doing business with them. Reverend Sullivan worked tirelessly to have these principles adopted and was able to achieve some notable successes.

Again, at about the same time, the anti-apartheid disinvestment campaign emerged. This movement required pension funds and college endowments to sell their equity holdings in companies with operations in South Africa. Students lobbied and protested boards of trustees in many universities to achieve these goals. Anti-apartheid activists made similar demands of state and local pension funds.

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Hindu Responses to the Confederate Flag Incident at Bryn Mawr College

Sep25

by: Murali Balaji on September 25th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Protestors link arms with one women wearing a sign that says, "Because I am brown."

Credit: The Bi-College News (http://www.biconews.com).

Last week’s Confederate flag incident at Bryn Mawr College, one of the nation’s top small liberal arts institutions, raised important questions about how colleges with progressive reputations are combating anti-Black racism. But the incident also highlighted the continuing struggle to develop and sustain interfaith efforts—particularly involving Dharmic traditions—to combat prejudice.

Given my own ties to the South Asian community, I’m personally most connected to the effort to persuade South Asian Americans—the majority of whom identify as Hindu—to become more active in combating racism. For college students of South Asian descent, the reluctance to join in anti-racism efforts can be from a combination of factors, including general apathy, a lack of recognition of the social histories of race and exclusion, or simply an unwillingness to speak out in fear of violating campus norms.

One Hindu American student, Shreekari Tadepalli, a freshman, said she was disappointed by the lack of strong response from the campus’ South Asian community to the flag’s exhibition. Many of Bryn Mawr’s South Asian American students are immigrants from countries like India and Pakistan, but even among those born and raised in America, the flag’s symbolism doesn’t hit home the way it should, Tadepalli said.

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