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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



“Get Out”: the Hidden Injuries of Race and the Horror Genre

Apr4

by: Martha Sonnenberg on April 4th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

James Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in a Village” was written more than sixty years ago.  In that essay he described his feelings of extreme alienation as the only black person in the all-white Swiss village home of his white lover, but the essay really spoke to his feelings about being black in America. He wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”  The essay is an uncanny precedent to the new film “Get Out”, written and directed Jordan Peele, and described as a “social thriller.” Having just seen the documentary “I am Not Your Negro” about James Baldwin’s exploration of the civil rights martyrs and his incisive perceptions of America’s pervasive façade about race, I had Baldwin on my mind when I saw “Get Out”, almost as if he was sitting next to me as I watched the film.  This film is brilliant and challenging—to see its horror genre as diminishing is to miss the whole point of the film.


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The Cost of Crazy

Apr4

by: on April 4th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

If Donald Trump was not bound by the limitations of his own ego and by alternative facts, if he was not obsessed with seeing crowds of people that do not exist or insisting that two to three million people voted illegally in a desperate attempt to avoid the reality that he did not win the popular vote, if he was truly the deal maker that he claims he is and not just someone who played one on television, the country could solve some big problems and move forward.

Instead, we are where we are with a president who is not only stuck on stupid, but on crazy and very possibly beholden to a foreign government.

Imagine if Trump had admitted in his inaugural address he did not win the popular vote. Imagine if he said that his mission was to unify a divided country and that he was willing to work with Democrats to solve the nation’s problems. Where would we be now? Remember, coming into office, Trump owed the Republican establishment nothing. They were lukewarm at best with the prospects of him becoming the 45th president of the United States. He could have claimed a mandate from the people to be independent.

Imagine if Trump had said that he recognized that he gave a list of Supreme Court picks generated by right wing groups and many people voted for him because of that list, but because of his status as a minority president, he felt an obligation to bring the country together. He could have nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court seat that the Grand Obstructionist Party and its Senate leader Mitch McConnell stole from President Obama. All the Democrats with enough sensible Republicans could have confirmed Garland easily.

We would not be facing, in my opinion, a justified filibuster in the Senate. The GOP would not be looking at the nuclear option to blow up the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. McConnell and his minions will do it. I say good riddance. The GOP abused it during the Obama administration, and it is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. There is worry that this will make the Senate more like the House of Representatives, that the filibuster is what preserves minority power. However, this is not true.

The length of terms in the Senate is what makes it different from the House. Senators hold terms that are even longer than that of the president. Senators elected in 2016 will be in office two years after Trump has to stand for reelection. Members of the House of Representatives must face the voters every two years which means they are held to accountability more often.

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A Modest Proposal

Apr1

by: on April 1st, 2017 | 1 Comment »

We know that President Donald Trump says he has the safety of the America people in mind when he imposes travel bans from first seven then six predominantly Muslim countries. Both bans have been held up by the federal courts. Let us presume that Trump is serious about the safety of the American people. Thus, I offer this modest proposal.

Write an executive order and support legislation in Congress that would prohibit men from buying a gun until they are at least 65-years-old. Studies show that nearly 90 people in the United States die from gun violence every day God sends. Nearly 55 of those deaths are suicides. Women who live in households with a gun are more likely to be injured or killed by a gun, and children are often not only victims of accidental shootings by other children, but they are the shooters. In contrast, no one from countries who are subject to the travel ban have perpetrated terrorist attacks in the United States. We are killing ourselves.

I can hear the howls of “what about our second amendment rights?” echoing across the land. I say: “what about them?” We have a Congress, especially the United States Senate that does not give a hoot about the Constitution, especially if there is a president in the White House not of their party. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led his party in stealing a Supreme Court seat from a duly elected president who won with a majority of the popular vote as well a majority in the Electoral College, to make way for a pick by a president who did not win the popular vote. Never mind the Constitution.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia writing for the majority that said people have a constitutional right to bear arms apart from military service, read words into the text that were not there. So much for strict constructionism. Further, whenever there is a mass shooting pro-gun people say that the problem is not guns, rather we ought to think more carefully about treating mental health and keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental health issues. Since Trump has been president, the Republicans in Congress have made it easier for people with mental health issues to own guns, and their healthcare replacement plan would have dropped the requirement for insurance companies to cover mental health.

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Join Us for A Liberation Passover Seder on Tuesday, April 11th (the 2nd Seder night) at 6:00 pm Special Guests: Emma’s Revolution

Mar31

by: on March 31st, 2017 | 1 Comment »

 

Register now:www.beyttikkun.org/seder. Registration closes Monday, April 3rd

We survived Pharaoh in Egypt–we can survive and even triumph over the contemporary Pharaoh’s in Washington D.C. and Wall Street, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, China, Egypt, Gaza, Israel, Turkey, Korea, the Philippines, and many other places around the world!

The ancient Israelites didn’t believe salvation was possible, but it was–and so it will be in our own times, though things look dark and discouraging at the moment as we enter another month of the Trump Administration (most recently dismantling the environmental protections that so many of us campaigned for years to get our government to create). Come participate and revive your hopeful energies for the struggles ahead!!!!

This Seder is for people of all faith traditions who wish to recommit to the struggles for liberationand re-affirm your commitment to a world of love, generosity, justice, environmental sustainability and nonviolence.

We are especially pleased and honored to have Pat Humphries and Sandy O. (Emma’s Revolution) joining us at the Seder and enriching the experience with their music and teaching. So much of their music has become a “staple” in the repertoire of songs of freedom, peace and liberation. Hopefully you’ve seen and heard them, most recently in a knockout concert at the Freight and Salvage.

The Seder focuses not only on our own liberation from slavery, butalsoon celebrating the liberation struggles of all people through history and continuing in our own lifetimes, while including all the traditions of Passover.

Led by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Cat Zavis, Ami Goodman and Abby Caplin with special guests Emma’s Revolution (Pat Humphries and Sandy O.) http://www.emmasrevolution.com/

Please share this onFacebookandTwitter-you probably have some people on your lists that would love this event if you were kind enough to let them know about it. This seder is not only for Jews–everyone is welcome.

UN: Syrian Refugees Now at 5 million!!!

Mar31

by: Kale Malely Rachameem on March 31st, 2017 | 1 Comment »

[The number of refugees who have fled the war in Syria now exceeds
five million with millions more displaced internally, according to the
UN.
Syrians have poured across their borders since anti-government
protests in 2011 spiralled into a full-blown conflict between rebels,
government troops, and foreign backers.
The first three months of 2017 saw more than 250,000 additional
Syrians register as refugees bringing the total to 5.1 million, the
UN's refugee agency UNHCR said on its website, without providing an
explanation for the apparent surge.
...
As fighting in Syria continues, UNHCR estimated another 6.3 million
people are internally displaced]

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/number-syrian-refugees-passes-million-170330132040023.html

SYRIA’S CIVIL WAR15 HOURS AGO

UN: Number of Syrian refugees passes five million
UN report says Turkey now hosts nearly three million Syrians, with
47,000 more coming since February alone.

The number of refugees who have fled the war in Syria now exceeds five
million with millions more displaced internally, according to the UN.

Syrians have poured across their borders since anti-government
protests in 2011 spiralled into a full-blown conflict between rebels,
government troops, and foreign backers.

The first three months of 2017 saw more than 250,000 additional
Syrians register as refugees bringing the total to 5.1 million, the
UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said on its website, without providing an
explanation for the apparent surge.

“It’s not about the number, it’s about the people,” said UNHCR
spokesman Babar Baloch, noting the conflict had now lasted longer than
World War II. “We’re trying to look for understanding, solidarity and
humanity.”

Turkey continues to host the highest number of Syrians displaced by
the conflict – nearly three million people. It saw an increase of
47,000 more refugees since February, Baloch said.

READ MORE: The harrowing evacuation of east Aleppo

The five-million milestone came a year to the day after UNHCR asked
other countries to start resettling at least 10 percent of the most
vulnerable Syrian refugees. So far only 250,000 places have been
offered.

“We’re asking for more legal pathways for Syrians to travel to other
countries so that they don’t end up dying in the seas like in the
Mediterranean,” said Baloch.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Geneva, said the “enormity
and colossal suffering” of the refugees is evident from the UNHCR
report.

The total number of Syrian refugees abroad stood at 4.6 million at the
end of 2015 and rose to 4.85 million by the end of last year,
according to the agency’s data.

The agency estimated another 6.3 million people have been internally displaced.

As fighting in Syria continues, UNHCR estimated another 6.3 million
people are internally displaced [Reuters]
Financial aid falling short

Lebanon has more than one million Syrian refugees, while Jordan has
657,000, with others spread across Iraq, Egypt and other North African
countries.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, said
the actual number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is much higher than
the official figure, with more people streaming into the country in
the last few weeks.

UN cuts financial help to Syrian workers in Lebanon
He said most of the new arrivals have not yet registered with the UN,
and shortages of food and water is common.

War-torn Iraq also hosts 233,224 Syrian refugees in the Kurdish north.

Iraq itself has an estimated 3.5 million people internally displaced,
according to Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from east of
Mosul.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have also fled to Europe, but not all
have been granted refugee status.

Syrians have also fled to Europe in large numbers, making 884,461
asylum claims between April 2011 and October 2016. Almost two-thirds
of the claims were in Germany and Sweden.

Hundreds of thousands more live in Gulf countries that are not party
to the 1951 Refugee Convention, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the
United Arab Emirates, so they are not recorded as refugees.

A UN-led humanitarian appeal to help Syrian refugees and support host
communities has received only six percent of the money needed this
year – $298mn out of $4.6bn target.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Martin Luther King + 50: Toward a Year of Truth and Transformation

Mar30

by: Rabbi Arthur Waskow on March 30th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke his most profound and most prophetic sermon. At Riverside Church in New York City, with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel at his side, he addressed a group called Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam with a speech he entitled, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.”

The public face of his speech was a strong denunciation of the U. S. government’s war in Vietnam. More than half the speech took up, case by case, aspects of the war that King argued were immoral U.S. actions – lethal to the Vietnamese and to American soldiers, destructive to the War on Poverty that had been President Johnson’s domestic program, and a violation of the best American values.


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Humor From Tikkun

Mar24

by: David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 24th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

It’s not our fault, Trump declares. It never is, adds Spicer.

As the GOP-controlled House retreated from voting on an Obamacare replacement bill for the second day in a row Friday, Donald J. Trump, who had said today was do-or-die for the legislation, called the New York Times to blame the Democrats.

“If they had stood up and voted to replace the disaster that is the ACA, we wouldn’t have needed unity among our ranks” to do it, Trump said. “Nancy Pelosi is a bad, or sick, woman for opposing our offer of health care coverage to many younger, healthier and higher-earning Americans. Such a nasty woman – a terrible, low-energy leader.”


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Housing the Homeless: Universal Housing is the Answer

Mar16

by: Dan Brook on March 16th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

Homelessness itself, let alone homeless deaths, is an unnecessary tragedy and demonstrates how uncivilized of a nation we live in. We don’t need a technological fix because it’s not a technological problem. We already have everything we need to solve homelessness, and indeed even the bigger problem poverty, except the political will to do so. We tragically have a political economy that creates homelessness, while blaming the victims, and then punishes the poor for being homeless. It doesn’t have to be this way.


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Is Ryan a Religious Hypocrite? A Priestly Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan from Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

Mar14

by: Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox on March 14th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

Dear Speaker and Congressman Paul Ryan,

As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul.

We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing. But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul. It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy.

You claim to be a good and a practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are. Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever. Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job.

You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.” Not to mention the Golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “Sowhatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this isthe Law and the Prophets.”


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Trump’s War on Dangerous Memory and Critical Thought

Mar14

by: Henry A. Giroux on March 14th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.

― Hannah Arendt

People living in the United States have entered into one of the most dangerous periods of the 21st century. President Donald Trump is not only a twisted caricature of every variation of economic, political, educational, and social fundamentalism, he is the apogee of an increasingly intolerant and authoritarian culture committed to destroying free speech, civil rights, women’s reproductive freedoms, and all vestiges of economic justice and democracy.

Trump is the fascist shadow that has been lurking in the dark since Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Authoritarianism has now become viral in America, pursuing new avenues to spread its toxic ideology of bigotry, cruelty, and greed into every facet of society. Its legions of “alt-right” racists, misogynists, and xenophobic hate-mongers now expose themselves publicly, without apology, knowing full well that they no longer have to use code for their hatred of all those who do not fit into their white-supremacist and ultra-nationalist script.[i]

Trump’s victory makes clear that the economic crisis and the misery it has spurred has not been matched by an ideological crisis– a crisis of ideas, education, and values. Critical analysis and historical memory have given way to a culture of spectacles, sensationalism, and immediacy.[ii] Dangerous memories are now buried in a mass bombardment of advertisements, state sanctioned lies, and a political theater of endless spectacles. The mainstream media is now largely an adjunct of the entertainment industries and big corporations. Within the last 40 years training has taken the place of critical education, and the call for job skills has largely replaced critical thinking. Without an informed public, there is no resistance in the name of democracy and justice; nor is there a model of individual and collective agency rising to such an occasion. Of course, power is never entirely on the side of domination, and in this coming era of acute repression, we will have to redefine politics, reclaim the struggle to produce meaningful educational visions and practices, find new ways to change individual and collective consciousness, take seriously the need to engage in meaningful dialogue with people left out of the political landscape, and overcome the factionalism of single-issue movements in order to build broad based social movements.


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