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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



Global Population and the Insane Policy of US State Dept.

May18

by: on May 18th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

Just a Glimpse

Here’s a question about doing good in the world. How could we prevent nearly half a million unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, or maternal death? I was stunned to read recently that the U.S. State Department eliminated American contributions to the United Nations Population Fund, an organization that has done just that, year after year. I have to believe that the white men in suits who made that decision cannot begin to imagine its consequences for real women all around the world.

Several decades ago I spent a year working in health in rural Nepal, and learned in my first week of work what family planning services, or not having them, can mean to women of the Global South. I was a nurse practitioner and had signed on with a nonprofit foundation to lead a mobile health team in an area with very limited access to health services. The district had no roads, idyllic mountain scenery, and a deeply impoverished population. I quickly learned that contraception for women was not simply about reducing the inconvenience of having an unplanned birth. Instead it often meant the difference between life and death, sometimes for the mother, and often for the child.

One evening toward the end of my very first week of work, I was approached by a small group of village men who appeared anxious to speak with me. They were accompanied by Sita, one of the women on our staff, who was able to understand my halting Nepali well enough to “interpret” for me when I needed it.

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The Women’s Balcony — a delightful film!

May18

by: on May 18th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

The Women’s Balcony, a movie which captures a beautiful
slice of Israeli life, is a huge upper at a time when many
people are feeling depressed and saddened by the state of our world.
The movie captures the way that Jewish women have been
marginalized in parts of the Israeli Orthodox religious world,
and how they mobilize themselves to achieve power in the face
of rabbinic authority that is dismissive of their concerns. Yet this is
not another of those “religion is evil” or “men are jerks” kind of
dismissals, but rather a sensitive portrayal of how men and
women find a way, even within the boundaries of orthodoxy, to
recapture each other’s humanity, to stand up against irrational
rules, and find a path that is at once affirming of women and
affirming of parts of the Jewish tradition that these Israeli women
wish to retain in their lives. It is, in its own caring and complex way,
a celebration of the actual and potential power of Jewish women, and
it’s highly enjoyable to watch.–Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine

Draining the Trump Russia Swamp

May15

by: on May 15th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

With the dismissal of Former FBI Director James Comey, the smell from the Trump Russia swamp is becoming more and more malodorous. Something stinks in Washington D.C. At first, President Trump and his supporters wanted us to believe that the reason he unceremoniously fired James Comey was because of his actions regarding the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server. Most people never believed this rationale. Trump has since said that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he was thinking of letting Comey go. However, that is not the subject of this essay. The subject is the plausibility that Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Let us consider what we already know. We know that Trump is a liar and that liars lie. He moved into the realm of politics with birther madness. He claimed for years that President Obama was not born in the United States of America. He said that he had hired investigators who had found information about President Obama’s birth. We have seen neither an investigator nor any information that they uncovered. The list of his lies is long, too long for this essay.

We know that several US intelligence agencies reported the following: “We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

No one expected Trump to win, but the goal was to “undermine public faith” in the democratic process. We know that nearly every day during the campaign, Trump stood up before his cheering crowds and talked about how the political system was “rigged.” He refused to say whether or not he would accept the results of the election. Saying this, Trump was helping Putin to reach his goal.

Now the question is whether or not there is some smoking gun that shows us that Trump and the Russians coordinated their efforts. This is what investigations will tell us. We do know that there are many people close to the Trump campaign who had contact with the Russians that they did not share with the general public. Witness: General Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

It is possible that Trump’s declarations of a “rigged” system was coincidental to Putin’s goals. It is possible that the Russians found Trump to be simply a useful idiot. Yet, it is also possible that there is collusion on some level. This is dangerous for the country.

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The Settlement Legality Debate: FAQ

May11

by: Nathaniel Berman on May 11th, 2017 | Comments Off

I. Why Now?

The resurgence of debates about legality, particularly the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has become an unexpected feature of public discussion of Israel/Palestine over the past decade. This resurgence has been primarily the work of two kinds of forces. On the one hand, pro-settler advocates have been asserting that the pervasive international view of the illegality of the settlements is simply wrong. Such advocates range from a 2012 Israeli government “Report on the Status of Building in the Region of Judea and Samaria” (the “Levy Commission Report”), to articles published in the right-wing press, to activists relentlessly advancing such views in social media. On the other hand, the illegality of the settlements has been vigorously asserted by those active in international campaigns critical of Israel, especially the BDS movement. This article will primarily focus on the pro-settler use of the legality argument, evaluating its soundness and considering the contextual significance of its resurgence.

The revival of the legality debate is surprising because it seems, at first glance, at odds with current global developments. To be sure, there was a period, roughly between 1990 and 2003, when international debate about the use of force was pervaded with legal argumentation. In retrospect, it is astonishing how much of the debate about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August, 1990 and the US-led military response in January, 1991, was framed in terms of legal argument. The decade that ensued was something of a golden era for public international lawyers. The conviction that the end of the Cold War meant that the international law governing the use of force could “finally” be implemented, that the Security Council could “finally” play the role for which it was intended, became quite widespread. Even as such hopes became tarnished as the decade continued – most egregiously by the international failure to stop the 1993 Rwanda genocide – international legal discourse remained a key shaper of world opinion about the use of force. Every intervention – or lack thereof – was accompanied by fierce debate about its legality. The 1999 NATO invasion of Kosovo, despite – or perhaps precisely because of – its questionable legality, produced volumes of creative legal discussion.

That period now seems long past, though it may not be possible to identify the precise moment of its demise. Kosovo played a role, as did the decision of the US not to seek Security Council approval for the invasion of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, both of these actions could be plausibly (if not uncontroversially) justified under longstanding doctrines (humanitarian intervention in the former case, self-defense in the latter). But it was the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent, if grudging, acquiescence to it by much of the world, that signaled that international norms about the use of force had lost their power to shape international policy. With the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, both of the erstwhile “superpowers” had firmly demonstrated their contempt for such international norms. To be sure, many condemned that invasion in terms of its blatant illegality, but such terms seemed out of touch with the new discursive character of international debate.

In the Israel/Palestine conflict, legal debate has long played a central, if intermittent, role. While I cannot rehearse the entire history here, suffice it to say that the conflict has been decisively shaped by the debate over, and adoption of, such international instruments as the 1922 Mandate for Palestine, the 1947 Partition Resolution, the 1967 Security Council Resolution 242, and so on. But there have been periods when questions of legality seemed more or less irrelevant to ongoing political developments.

In my view, it was the 1993 Oslo agreements and their aftermath that largely encouraged the most recent (if temporary) sidelining of the core legal issues of the conflict, such as the legitimacy of the State of Israel, the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, legality of the settlements, and so on. The twin recognitions of Israeli statehood and Palestinian peoplehood by Rabin and Arafat in 1993 promised to set aside zero-sum debates over rival, totalizing legal claims. In their stead, Oslo seemed (however briefly) to augur a focus on pragmatic adjustment of interests, the establishment of complementary Palestinian and Israeli societies, and the gradual oblivion of incommensurable claims over the land and its history.

The death of Oslo had both its sudden and gradual dimensions, with causes far too complex to discuss here. The second intifada sealed its demise – even though some of its form

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Making a Long-Standing UN Vision for Compassion a Reality

May11

by: Noah Tenney on May 11th, 2017 | Comments Off

Heralding Article 25: A People’s Strategy for World Transformation

By Mohammed Mesbahi

Troubador Publishing Ltd, Leicester, UK, 2016

In the years following the death and destruction of World War II there were a number of key developments in the efforts to rebuild and to prevent major future conflicts. Two of the most significant developments occurred in 1948. In June of that year, the Marshall Plan—a United States aid initiative to rebuild Western Europe’s economy (named for then Secretary of State George Marshall)—went into effect, and the following December the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (the UN having been established three years earlier at the end of the war).

One of the most crucial components of the UDHR is Article 25, which states that everyone has a right to the basic needs for an adequate and secure living standard. Unfortunately, the global community is far from recognizing fundamental rights and needs for all; however, in the past decade or so there have been renewed pushes to address this.


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Impeach Trump for the Right Reasons

May10

by: David Swanson on May 10th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

As in all Tikkun Daily Blog articles the opinions are those of the author and we print them without endorsement but only because we want views that you won’t find in the mainstream media to be considered by our wide readership.

http://davidswanson.org/impeach-trump-for-right-reasons/

The Constitution suddenly seems to have bestirred itself and
declared itself, through its many Washington spokespeople, to be in
crisis.

I’m sorry, interjects the world, but what the hell took you so long?

We laid out the clear Constitutional violations of Trump’s financial
and business interests on the day he became president (in the real
sense, not the media event months later when “He finally became
president” by bombing enough people) at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org .

Since the later hours of Day 1 back in January through the present
instant, the clear and documented (when not openly bragged about)
Constitutional offenses have been piling up.

As of a 2015 disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump
owns stock in the maker of the missiles he sent into Syria, Raytheon, as
well as numerous other weapons makers, Canadian tar sands, etc. Trump
has continued, escalated, and threatened numerous illegal and immoral
wars. That he may be personally profiting from them just adds to the
supreme international crime, which of course already violates the U.N.
Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, supreme laws of the U.S. under the
Constitution.

Trump has unconstitutionally discriminated against refugees, been stopped by the judiciary, and immediately done it again.

Trump has pushed policies that will aggravate climate change, a crime
against humanity that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal
Court even against a non-member. On December 6, 2009, Trump signed a
public letter to President Barack Obama urging action to protect the
earth from climate change. “If we fail to act now,” the letter read, “it
is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and
irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” Trump is
knowingly endangering all human (and many non-human) residents of the
United States, right along with the other 96% of humanity.

Trump openly sought to intimidate voters prior to his election, and
fought the counting of ballots where they existed, was elected with a
minority of votes, was elected with numerous votes uncounted and
numerous voters blocked from voting by the partisan stripping of the
rolls and by ID laws, following a nomination principally decided by
dramatically biased media coverage. If none of that put the Constitution
into crisis, why keep the rotting document around at all?

Pre-presidency but still available grounds for impeachment, Trump
violated, according to the list in Alan Lichtman’s book on Trump
impeachment, the Fair Housing Act, New York charity law, tax laws, the
Cuban embargo, casino regulations, the RICO statute, laws against
employing undocumented immigrants, and of course laws against sexual
assault. You don’t have to have never been in Congress to spot a pattern
of criminality here.

Of course there is one charge against Trump that has not been proven,
risks confrontation with a nuclear armed government, and needlessly
adds a xenophobic excuse to the dozens of solid reasons that last year’s
U.S. election was illegitimate. So of course this is the one everybody
wants to focus on: blaming Russia for exposing the Democratic Party’s
slanting of its own primary against its strongest candidate. Let’s
remember that the people who have most vigorously pursued this approach
are the same people who nominated possibly the only candidate who could
have lost to Donald Trump.

Now we come to a charge of possible, conceivable, or an appearance of
possible or conceivable obstruction of justice ­ and perhaps something
or other at the base of the story around which justice was being sought.
If we can remove Trump this way, by all means, proceed. And proceed
with impeachment, not with a 2020 election campaign by some otherwise
repulsive candidate who plans to win by virtue of not being Trump and
somehow surviving four years of Trumpism.

But here are my concerns:

The coverup is not worse than the crime. Serious crimes are available
as impeachment charges, and overlooking them effectively permits them
going forward, along with any other crimes, as long as there’s no
coverup.

We have yet to see any actual evidence of any actual Russian
influence on the U.S. election. Toying with hostility toward a nuclear
government is more reckless than anything (else) Trump has done. Can you
impeach and try Trump for obstructing an investigation into what all
the corporate media refer to as if it were established fact, without
actually focusing on whether there is any evidence, and without
demonizing Russia?

If some lesser crimes are proven that involve Russia in some way, can
you try them without advancing the notion that the fundamental crime is
friendship with Russians?

Can you keep in perspective the hypocrisy that all of this telegraphs
to the earth? Barack Obama recorded a campaign ad for a French
candidate in last week’s election, while Samantha Power was busy
accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to influence the French election. The
U.S. has openly sought to influence dozens of elections, including
Yeltsin’s (the Trump of Russia?), not to mention overthrowing dozens of
governments ­ still being pursued in Syria. How does this look? Wouldn’t
it look better to at least add in a few articles of impeachment for the
highest of crimes even if Russia isn’t involved in them?

And, yes, I mean even crimes committed by Obama and Bush and others
before them. I’m not expecting consistency. While I supported
impeachment for Bush and Obama as well as Trump, one cannot expect all
Democrats to have gone that far in supporting the rule of law when Obama
was drone master ­ although they may now ask Republicans to reach that
higher standard of integrity. I understand that partisanship is strong
poison. I just ask for at least the appearance of seriousness ­ even if
only because going into a trial in the U.S. Senate with charges that are
already proven makes a conviction far more likely.

The bigger concern, of tamping down the warmongering, of lowering the
risk of nuclear conflict should be made to appeal to as many as can
hear it.

Impeachment certainly should be pursued, and certainly cannot wait.
But it will only establish the proper threat of impeachment for the next
person to hold the office if it is done for the right reasons in the
right way. The right way includes being led by the public. We, not
Congress, must decide when there is a crisis.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

A ‘cli-fi missionary’ with Jewish roots who is fighting global warming

May9

by: Danny Bloom on May 9th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

I’m a climate change literary activist and gadfly, and I’d like to talk to you today about something I call ”cli-fi”.

I’m close to 70, graduated from Tufts University in 1971 with a major in Yiddish literature, and promoting the literary fortunes of cli-fi is now my life work. And I’m Jewish, and my Jewish education and family life in western Massachusetts in the 1950s and 1960s plays a central role, even today, in my climate activism.

So what’s ” cli-fi ”? It’s a subgenre of sci-fi, according to some observers, and a separate standalone genre of its own, according to others. I feel that cli-fi novels and movies can cut through the bitter divide among rightwing denialists and leftwing liberals worldwide over the global warming debate. I’m not into politics; I’m into literature and movies.


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The President Was Right About Improving Our Relationship With Russia

May3

by: Arkady Mamaysky on May 3rd, 2017 | 2 Comments »

The elections are over but debates about the issues raised and promises made by Candidate Trump are in full swing without any signs of subsiding.

The following is an analysis of his intention to work towards establishing a good relationship with Russia.

To avoid misunderstanding, I should start by saying that I don’t like Russia, nor do I like Ukraine. I was born in Ukraine, but during many years of my life in the Soviet Union, I had more than enough “pleasant” interactions with Russian and Ukrainian reality and people, along with the nationalism and anti-Semitism of a good portion of the population.

One of many derogatory epithets directed towards Jewish and other non-Slavic people is, “you’re no Russian,” a statement meant to diminish its target’s sense of worth as a human being.

Of course, as in any other nation, there are good and bad people people in Russia.


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Curiouser and Curiouser

May3

by: Victor Grossman, Tikkun's Correspondent in Berlin on May 3rd, 2017 | Comments Off

A story worthy of a mystery author – or dramatist – has been hitting German headlines. It began when police at the Vienna airport in Austria arrested a first lieutenant of the German Bundeswehr army when he picked up a pistol hidden some weeks earlier in a bathroom. He denied it was his and was released. But his fingerprints somehow matched those of a refugee who had applied for German asylum two years earlier.

 

Like Alice in Wonderland when she got bigger and bigger, the story turned “curiouser and curiouser” and here too, odd language was important. This young blond German officer, 28, had been registered in the German states of Hesse and Bavaria as a refugee from Damascus in Syria. He had said he was Catholic but the men of ISIS had persecuted him and killed some of his family because of his partially Jewish background and Jewish name – “David Benjamin”.Strangely enough, he spoke little or no Arabic and was questioned in French – with a German accent. No-one had ever been suspicious, or so it was claimed. He then seems to have commuted between his job as officer in a mixed French-German unit in French Alsace and his false existence as a Syrian refugee in Germany.

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The Process of Creation as the New Paradigm for our Civilization

May3

by: Gennady Shkliarevsky on May 3rd, 2017 | 3 Comments »

There is a wonderful process at work in our universe.  As we look around, we see its remarkable creations:  particles, atoms, stars, planets, galaxies, life, and much else. The roots of this process go to the very nature of our universe.

The main property of our universe is its uniqueness:  it is all there is.  There is nothing outside it; in fact, there is no outside.  As there is nothing outside our universe, nothing can come into it and nothing can disappear from it because there is nowhere to disappear.  Consequently, everything must be conserved.  Conservation that is fundamental to our universe originates in its uniqueness and gives rise to the process of creation.


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