Dick Cheney’s Tax Cut

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |


Nine years ago, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney gave the wealthiest Americans an unneeded tax cut.

To this day, America’s top income-earners — households making more than $250,000 a year — aren’t paying their fair share in taxes. Letting these tax cuts for the wealthy continue for another decade would saddle middle class Americans, our kids, and our grandkids with an additional $680 billion of debt, largely payable to the Chinese government.1

The Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy are wrong. Thankfully they’re set to expire this December, unless Republicans in Congress get their way and renew them indefinitely.

With debate set to begin on the Senate floor as early as next week, we don’t have a lot of time to get this right.

Sign my joint petition with Democracy for America urging Congress to let the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy expire this year.

Republicans in Congress think we ought to make the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. And they’re using right-wing media to spread deception and bully Democrats facing tough re-election bids into joining their cause.

These elected officials need to know that you — and 69% of Americans recently polled — want the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy to expire this year.

There’s a broad and growing consensus that it’s time for the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share in taxes.

Most economists agree, too: It just doesn’t make sense to give each of the 120,000 wealthiest Americans what amounts to, on average, a $3 million tax break over the next decade.2

Sign my joint petition with Democracy for America to end the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy.

Some Republicans hope to take back Congress this November by telling Americans that Democrats want to “raise taxes on the middle class” and “hurt small businesses.” Of course these smears don’t contain a shred of truth, but that doesn’t matter.

If the right wing wants to score political points by taking money from our kids and grandkids, and handing it out to the wealthiest Americans, it’s up to us to stop them.

Please, sign our petition today. Copies of the petition signatures will be delivered to each member of Congress ahead of the first key vote.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

-Patrick

Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senator

Democracy for America relies on you and the people-power of more than one million members to fund the grassroots organizing and training that delivers progressive change on the issues that matter. Please Contribute Today and support our mission.

Paid for by Democracy for America, http://www.democracyforamerica.com/?akid=190.1527674.1Ha-kv&t=3 and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.


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Revalorizing the Trades

Posted on September 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |


For the 10th-anniversary issue of The Chronicle Review, we asked scholars and illustrators to answer this question: What will be the defining idea of the coming decade, and why?

Camille Paglia

Vanishing of jobs will plague the rest of this decade and more. Meaningful employment is no longer guaranteed to dutiful, studious members of the middle class in the Western world. College education, which was hugely expanded after World War II and sold as a basic right, is doing a poor job of preparing young people for life outside of a narrow band of the professional class.

Yes, an elite education at stratospheric prices will smooth the way into law or medical school and supply a network of useful future contacts. But what if a student wants a different, less remunerative or status-oriented but more personally fulfilling career? There is little flexibility in American higher education to allow for alternative career tracks.

Jobs, and the preparation of students for them, should be front and center in the thinking of educators. The idea that college is a contemplative realm of humanistic inquiry, removed from vulgar material needs, is nonsense. The humanities have been gutted by four decades of pretentious postmodernist theory and insular identity politics. They bear little relationship to the liberal arts of broad perspective and profound erudition that I was lucky enough to experience in college in the 1960s.

Having taught in art schools for most of my four decades in the classroom, I am used to having students who work with their hands—ceramicists, weavers, woodworkers, metal smiths, jazz drummers. There is a calm, centered, Zen-like engagement with the physical world in their lives. In contrast, I see glib, cynical, neurotic elite-school graduates roiling everywhere in journalism and the media. They have been ill-served by their trendy, word-centered educations.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: We need a sweeping revalorization of the trades. The pressuring of middle-class young people into officebound, paper-pushing jobs is cruelly shortsighted. Concrete manual skills, once gained through the master-apprentice alliance in guilds, build a secure identity. Our present educational system defers credentialing and maturity for too long. When middle-class graduates in their mid-20s are just stepping on the bottom rung of the professional career ladder, many of their working-class peers are already self-supporting and married with young children.

The elite schools, predicated on molding students into mirror images of their professors, seem divorced from any rational consideration of human happiness. In a period of global economic turmoil, with manufacturing jobs migrating overseas and service-sector jobs diminishing in availability and prestige, educators whose salaries are paid by hopeful parents have an obligation to think in practical terms about the destinies of their charges. That may mean a radical stripping down of course offerings, with all teachers responsible for a core curriculum. But every four-year college or university should forge a reciprocal relationship with regional trade schools.

Camille Paglia is a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia.

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From Bikinis to Burqas, the Feminist Politics of Clothing

Posted on September 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |


Published on RHRealityCheck.org (http://www.rhrealitycheck.org)
Home > Blogs > Sarah Seltzer’s blog > From Bikinis to Burqas, the Feminist Politics of Clothing

By Sarah Seltzer [1], RH Reality Check

How can so many American feminists have come out against a
burqa ban in France (as they largely [11]
have [12]
this [13]
past [14]
month [15])
when the burqa, along with other excessively modest religious garb, appears to be a classic tool of gender oppression?

The answer is that singling out the burqa as the only article of clothing patriarchal enough to merit legal regulation – or even strident criticism – is racist. Critique of women’s clothing, from burqas to cleavage, is
often leveraged for other purposes, whether they be religious, cultural or
political, and should be called out when it’s faux feminism
[16], as Aziza Ahmed argued here on RH Reality Check.

But it’s also true that almost every cultural or religious group sets standards of appearance that oppress women. Most fashion, from the corset of yore to the bikini to the FLDS prairie dress to the Nike sneaker (made by women in sweatshops, marketed to Western women), tends to hew in some way to patriarchal norms. So the quandary we grapple with, as feminists, is how to acknowledge that fact without alienating, targeting or harassing [17] groups of women for the way they dress.

Remember the Manolo Blahnik pinkie toe-removal phenomenon [18], which hearkens back to Cinderella’s stepsisters in terms of the lengths women go to mutilate themselves on the altar of fashion? Imagine if we outlawed those heels for fear that some women would shorten their pinkie toes.  In each instance of an oppressive custom of dress or beauty, it’s right to support those feminists who debate it. It is also crucial to examine the implications for women and for gender roles of dressing one way or another – it’s a clear example of the personal being political. But we have to do that without punishing or shaming women for their choice of outfit, as the French would seek to do.

Rather than single out other people’s problematic dress, we should all be engaged in a robust critique and examination of the way gender norms inform beauty standards everywhere. In France, a country that many of its
citizen claim is paradoxically so sexually liberated the burqa isn’t welcome, American-style short-shorts are still a novelty, for instance, likely to garner stares or catcalls. Women there tend to dress marginally more modestly than they do in America – except on beaches, where topless bathing is accepted. Evidently, the pressure to cover up, or to uncover, in various contexts may be stronger than we think, even in “free” Western countries.

Here in secular/commercialized America, women try to live up to a prepubescent ideal, buying into a diet industry that’s a racket and causes
eating disorders, using chemical bleaches on our hair, and undergoing
sometimes-painful waxing, peeling or plastic surgeries to look eternally young, slim and buxom. The beauty myth has always been part of our culture, but as feminist commentators like Naomi Wolf and Susan J. Douglas have noted, the craze for ever-smaller female bodies coincided with women taking up a more space in the workplace. Some women claim that restrictive fashion trends, obsessive calorie-counting and makeup make them feel great, but both women who love it and those who loathe it are spending money and energy on their looks in a way that most men simply don’t have to. The
Daily Show played with this idea last week:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart [19] Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c Burka Ban www.thedailyshow.com [19] Daily Show
Full Episodes
[20] Political Humor [21] Joke of the Day [22]

And yes, in conservative communities of all denominations
(and non-religious ones as well) modest dressing restrictions treat all women
like jezebels, so unendingly sexual and distracting that their figures must be
kept out of sight. Such garb – even if it has different meanings for different
wearers – reinforces a misogynist ideal that puts the burden on women to cover up rather than men to avert their gaze.

This isn’t meant to equivocate between all patriarchal fashion or grooming trends – (certainly, styles that are restrictive or unhealthy are worse than those that are just silly), but to point out that they exist on a spectrum. Feminists stand up for women at either end of the spectrum even
when both ends do have pernicious aspects. Yes, we criticize “porn culture” at the same time as excoriating the “modesty movement.” But then we should also support women kicked off airplanes for wearing outfits deemed too skimpy – and rush to defend women denied jobs because they choose to wear the hijab.

Just because feminists acknowledge the problematic roots of a practice doesn’t mean that we can, or want, to bully it away. The way humans dress is an extension of our self-expression, our identity and an indication of how we align ourselves in terms of community norms and expectations. Attacks on
individual clothing or grooming choices often feel deeply personal and can put people on the defensive.

The truth is, rarely will clothing choices not be loaded, complex and full of contradictions – here in the US we have cheerleaders and beauty queens in suggestive outfits who wear chastity rings, and religious women who accent their modest clothing with perfume and Botox while toting a copy of Gender Trouble. Oppressive mainstream beauty standards may make modest clothing appealing, while puritanical religious customs may spur women to express their sexuality by stripping down. It’s not so easy to reject patriarchal standards in their entirety – if we didn’t shave, wax, or wear makeup (or at times, conceal the fact that we don’t) in strategic ways, we may well have a much harder time taken seriously by the world (except if the world were a hippie commune).

Open, nonjudgmental discussion of these complexities may
lead some women to turn towards comfort and away from custom–ditch their high heels or experiment with less modest clothing. But at the end of the day, different women have different reactions to what they wear. The feminist group Ni Putes Ni Soumises and other Muslim women have taken a convincingly strong stance against the burqa [23] while some burqa wearers say it’s a choice they make freely [24]. Many women get a rush of happiness from high heels while other women curse them and wish their workplace was more accepting of less chic footwear.

Links:
[1] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/user/sarah-seltzer
[2] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/category/sexuality-education
[3] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/category/women-s-rights
[4] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/burqa-ban
[5] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/burqas
[6] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/clothing
[7] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/feminism
[8] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/france
[9] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/modesty-movement
[10] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/tag/porn-culture
[11] http://www.racialicious.com/2009/06/25/timing-is-everything-nicholas-sarkozy-defends-women%E2%80%99s-rights-by-restricting-them/
[12] http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/06/22/banning-the-burqa-in-france/
[13] http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2009/07/01/france/index.html
[14] http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=burqa_politics_in_france
[15] http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-23/hands-off-the-hijab/
[16] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/06/25/white-head-state-seeks-muslim-women-tosave
[17] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/opinion/03iht-edsokol.html?_r=2&hpw
[18] http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/beauty/article1940848.ece
[19] http://www.thedailyshow.com/
[20] http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/index.jhtml
[21] http://www.indecisionforever.com
[22] http://www.jokes.com
[23] http://community.feministing.com/2009/06/what-about-the-muslim-women-wh.html
[24] http://community.feministing.com/2009/06/the-burqa-rapper.html
[25] http://muslimahmediawatch.org/2009/06/29/sarkozy-to-the-rescue-france-burqas-and-the-question-of-choice/
[26] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/user/login?destination=print%2F10694#comments
[27] http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/user/register?destination=print%2F10694#comments

That doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and refuse to
examine the meaning and history of clothing styles and fashion expectations – we
should. It’s important to note which styles of dressing get women rewarded in
patriarchal societies and why. But when we do delve, we should delve holistically,
not focus mono-maniacally on habits-literally-of other women.

Reproductive rights advocates strive for a society where
choice means getting rid of social and legal obstacles to reproductive health
access instead of criticizing women’s individual reproductive decisions.
When feminists talk about clothing we try to focus on getting rid of the
gender, race and class expectations that feed into the way we dress and how we judge
women’s appearance.
[25] We need to continue to target the pressure, coercion,
and legal and social compulsion that affects women, not women themselves. And
imposing laws that regulate clothing does not accomplish that goal, but curtails
women’s freedom even more seriously.

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Houellebecq vs. Wikipedia

Posted on September 10, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |


The French novelist borrowed from the online encyclopedia. Is he in trouble?

By Vincent Glad:  Posted Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, at 12:43 PM ET

French writer Michel Houellebecq has always loved to pepper his novels with long encyclopedic descriptions of personalities, locations, and scientific concepts. In his new novel, the excellent La carte et le territoire (The Map and the Territory), which is the toast of the French literary scene, Houellebecq launches into tedious digressions about topics as varied as the housefly and the city of Beauvais. Some of the passages seemed so much like Wikipedia entries that Slate.fr, Slate‘s French sister site, decided to check, and—surprise!—discovered that at least three passages from the book are borrowed from the online encyclopedia.

On Sept. 2, I published an article in Slate.fr, under the headline “Houellebecq, the Possibility of a Plagiarism,” in which I revealed the author’s copy-and-pastes from Wikipedia and noted that the technique was a logical extension of his literary style. (For side-by-side comparisons of three passages from La carte et le territoire and the Wikipedia entries, see this page.)

Writer Dominique Noguez once called Houellebecq “the supermarket Baudelaire.” He has always described society using the clinical language of marketing- and advertising-speak. Wikipedia, where the cold, unemotional writing is based on the soft consensus of its contributors, is a perfect match for Houellebecq’s prose.

Plagiarism also has a long literary history. In 1869, in Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror), Comte de Lautréamont‘s description of his character Maldoror is partly based on an entry from L’Encyclopédie d’histoire naturelle (The Encyclopedia of Natural History), by Jean-Charles Chenu. Scholars didn’t discover Lautréamont’s borrowing until 1952. Thanks to Google, we needed five minutes rather than 83 years to track down Houellebecq’s sources.

The use of the term plagiarism in the Slate.fr article set off a heated controversy in France. (The author was already a polarizing figure.) The anti-Houellebecq side found new proof of his work’s vacuity, while the pro-Houellebecq camp complained of a witch hunt against him. Plagiarism has become the Godwin’s law of literature, the word that shouldn’t be said, that curtails all further discussion.

Houellebecq’s response to the controversy was one of weary resignation. He rejects the use of the word plagiarism, but he doesn’t deny copying and pasting from Wikipedia. In a video interview, he calls his style “[a] patchwork, weavings, interlacings” He went on:

Lots of people have done it. I was especially influenced by [Georges] Perec and [Jorge Luis] Borges. Perec could do it even better than me, because he doesn’t rework the fragment at all, which always creates a very strong linguistic discrepancy. Me, I can’t manage that kind of discrepancy, so I rework the text a bit to make it closer to my own style. … I’d like to be able to modify them a little less than I do.

In other words, Houellebecq is apologizing for not copying Wikipedia more directly. A spokesman for Flammarion, his publisher, told us, “If some passages appear to be verbatim from other work, they can only be very short quotes.” But Houellebecq doesn’t care if they’re short or long; Wikipedia is a literary source like any other.

Indeed, Houellebecq praises the online encyclopedia in La carte et le territoire by creating a fictional version of a Wikipedia entry: He imagines the page of iconic French TV anchor Jean-Pierre Pernaut as it might appear in the near future. In his video interview, Houellebecq claimed, “I manage to write fake Wikipedia pages. I think the one about Jean-Pierre Pernaut is totally believable.” In fact, though, the pastiche was not successful, completely failing to capture the essence of Wikipedia-speak by being too grandiloquent.

Beyond any literary consideration, Houellebecq and Flammarion are theoretically in breach of the law. Wikipedia may be published under a free software license, but quoting from the encyclopedia is controlled by the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA licence. By publishing entries under that license, Wikipedia allows commercial reproduction, but only with clear attribution: “To quote an excerpt from Wikipedia in a book, you would need to identify it as a quote (with quotation marks for example) and source it with a footnote or an endnote as ‘Wikipedia, article X, version read on the XX/XX/XXX’ with the URL to that precise version,” Adrienne Alix, the president of Wikimedia France told me.

Houellebecq never cites Wikipedia when he copies from it, so could the encyclopedia sue him for plagiarism?

Probably not. Wikipedia is not the author. Each article is a collective work, with each contribution signed with the pseudonym or IP address of the contributor in the History tab. For Michel Houellebecq to get into legal trouble, one of the contributors would need to feel particularly wronged, which is unlikely to happen. Not to mention that Wikipedia sometimes borrows from other texts.

Ironically, a smart-ass contributor found it funny to rewrite Wikipedia’s definition of the housefly with the slight alterations Houellebecq added in his book. Houellebecq is not (yet) a member of the French Academy, but he has earned a spot as a Wikipedia contributor. He must like that a lot.

This article was translated and adapted from two pieces in Slate.fr by Cécile Dehesdin.

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Inside the World’s Deadliest City (Jeremy Gantz)

Posted on September 5, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |


Juarez’s anarchy cannot be separated from American policy and addictions, says journalist Charles Bowden

Sept. 1, 2010 (In These Times) — Drive across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, and you’ll enter the most dangerous city in the world: Ciudad Juárez, where more than 6,000 people have been murdered since 2008, including more than 1,700 this year. Once a fast-growing laboratory for free-trade initiatives, Juárez now produces drugs and dead bodies, as thousands of Mexican soldiers and increasingly brazen gang members roam the city of just over 1 million.

As the killings become more grisly and frequent, questioning their cause has become almost suicidal. At least 30 journalists have been killed or disappeared in Mexico since 2006, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That makes Charles Bowden’s new bookMurder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields—whose most chilling subject is an experienced sicario, or hitman—all the more remarkable, and important. For while authorities on both sides of the border explain the violence engulfing Juárez with familiar “war on drugs” rhetoric, Bowden argues it is the predictable result of NAFTA’s failure, endemic poverty and America’s appetite for drugs.

“I kept trying to never go back,” says the 65-year-old Tuscon, Ariz., resident. “And then I would realize that I couldn’t walk away.”

Beyond the violence, what surprised you most about Juárez during your time there?

That it keeps functioning. This is a city that’s had 25 percent of housing abandoned. Had at least 40 percent of its businesses slam their doors shut. That has lost at least 100,000 jobs. That has had an explosion of violence, and there are still about one million people that get out of bed every morning and try to go about a normal life. I have said the city is dying, because by any logical standards it is. But there is a part of me that thinks I’m seeing a new kind of human community come into being that I don’t want to face and that I don’t have a name for. A city where murder, violence, kidnapping, torture, robbery and extortion are the economy. This is a new kind of city.

READ MORE: In These Times

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From a Police Officer: Very Good Advice

Posted on September 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |


Because of recent abductions
In daylight hours, refresh yourself
Of these things to do
In an emergency situation…
This is for you,
And for you to share
With your wife,
Your children,
Everyone you know.

After reading these 9 crucial tips,
Forward them to someone you care about.
It never hurts to be careful
In this crazy world we live in.
1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :
The elbow is the strongest point
On your body.
If you are close enough to use it, do!
2. Learned this from a tourist guide.
If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse,
DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM.
Toss it away from you….
Chances are that he is more interested
In your wallet and/or purse than you,

And he will go for the wallet/purse.
I KNOW YOU ALL PROBABLY HAVE READ THIS BEFORE, HOWEVER, IT IS
BETTER TO HAVE READ IT BEFORE THAN TO GET HURT OR KILLED.
RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!
3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car,
Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole
And start waving like crazy..
The driver won’t see you, but everybody else will.
This has saved lives.
4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars
After shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit
(doing their chequebook, or making a list, etc.
DON’T DO THIS!)
The predator will be watching you, and this
Is the perfect opportunity for him to get in
On the passenger side, put a gun to your head,
And tell you where to go.
AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR ,
LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

If someone
Is in the car
With a gun
To your head
DO NOT DRIVE OFF,
Repeat:
DO NOT DRIVE OFF!
Instead gun the engine
And speed into anything, wrecking the car.
Your Air Bag will save you.
If the person is in the back seat
They will get the worst of it .
As soon as the car crashes
Bail out and run.
It is better than having them find your body
In a remote location.
5. A few notes about getting
into your car in a parking lot,
or parking garage:
A.) Be aware:
look around you,
look into your car,
at the passenger side floor ,
and in the back seat
B.) If you are parked next to a big van,
enter your car from the passenger door.
Most serial killers attack their victims
by pulling them into their vans while the women
are attempting to get into their cars.
C.) Look at the car
parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle,
and the passenger side… If a male is sitting alone
in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back
into the mall, or work, and get a
guard/policeman to walk you back out.
IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid
than dead.)
6. ALWAYS take the elevator
instead of the stairs.
Stairwells are horrible places to be alone
and the perfect crime spot.
This is especially true at NIGHT!)
7. If the predator has a gun
and you are not under his control,
ALWAYS RUN!
The predator will only hit you (a running target)
4 in 100 times; and even then,
it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ.
RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!
8. As women, we are always trying
to be sympathetic:
STOP
It may get you raped, or killed.
Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking,
well educated man, who ALWAYS played
on the sympathies of unsuspecting women.
He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often
asked ‘for help’ into his vehicle or with his vehicle,
which is when he abducted
his next victim.
9. Another Safety Point:
Someone just told me that her friend heard
a crying baby on her porch the night before last,
and she called the police because it was late
and she thought it was weird.. The police told her
‘Whatever you do, DO NOT
open the door…’
The lady then said that it sounded like the baby
had crawled near a window, and she was worried
that it would crawl to the street and get run over.
The policeman said, ‘We already have a unit on the way,
whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’
He told her that they think a serial killer
has a baby’s cry recorded and uses it to coax
women out of their homes thinking that someone
dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it,
but have had several calls by women saying that
they hear baby’s cries outside their doors
when they’re home alone at night.

10. Water scam!
If you wake up in the middle
of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you
think is a
burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on
all your
outside taps full ball so that you will go out to investigate
and
then attack.

Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for your neighbours!
Please pass this on
This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because
the Crying Baby Theory was mentioned on
America ‘s Most Wanted when they profiled
the serial killer in Louisiana

I’d like you to forward this to all the women you know..
It may save a life. A candle is not dimmed by lighting another
candle..
I was going to send this to the ladies only,
but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters,
etc.,
you may want to pass it onto them, as well.

Send this to any woman you know that may need
to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of crazies in
it
and it’s better to be safe than sorry..
Everyone should take 5 minutes to read this.
It may save your life or love one’s life

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Does the Past Exist Yet? Evidence Suggests Your Past Isn’t Set in Stone

Posted on August 19, 2010. Filed under: Environment | Tags: , |


Recent discoveries require us to rethink our understanding of history. “The histories of the universe,” said renowned physicist Stephen Hawking “depend on what is being measured, contrary to the usual idea that the universe has an objective observer-independent history.”

Is it possible we live and die in a world of illusions? Physics tells us that objects exist in a suspended state until observed, when they collapse in to just one outcome. Paradoxically, whether events happened in the past may not be determined until sometime in your future — and may even depend on actions that you haven’t taken yet.

In 2002, scientists carried out an amazing experiment, which showed that particles of light “photons” knew — in advance −- what their distant twins would do in the future. They tested the communication between pairs of photons — whether to be either a wave or a particle. Researchers stretched the distance one of the photons had to take to reach its detector, so that the other photon would hit its own detector first. The photons taking this path already finished their journeys -− they either collapse into a particle or don’t before their twin encounters a scrambling device. Somehow, the particles acted on this information before it happened, and across distances instantaneously as if there was no space or time between them. They decided not to become particles before their twin ever encountered the scrambler. It doesn’t matter how we set up the experiment. Our mind and its knowledge is the only thing that determines how they behave. Experiments consistently confirm these observer-dependent effects.

More recently (Science 315, 966, 2007), scientists in France shot photons into an apparatus, and showed that what they did could retroactively change something that had already happened. As the photons passed a fork in the apparatus, they had to decide whether to behave like particles or waves when they hit a beam splitter. Later on – well after the photons passed the fork – the experimenter could randomly switch a second beam splitter on and off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle actually did at the fork in the past. At that moment, the experimenter chose his history.

Of course, we live in the same world. Particles have a range of possible states, and it’s not until observed that they take on properties. So until the present is determined, how can there be a past? According to visionary physicist John Wheeler (who coined the word “black hole”), “The quantum principle shows that there is a sense in which what an observer will do in the future defines what happens in the past.” Part of the past is locked in when you observe things and the “probability waves collapse.” But there’s still uncertainty, for instance, as to what’s underneath your feet. If you dig a hole, there’s a probability you’ll find a boulder. Say you hit a boulder, the glacial movements of the past that account for the rock being in exactly that spot will change as described in the Science experiment.

But what about dinosaur fossils? Fossils are really no different than anything else in nature. For instance, the carbon atoms in your body are “fossils” created in the heart of exploding supernova stars. Bottom line: reality begins and ends with the observer. “We are participators,” Wheeler said “in bringing about something of the universe in the distant past.” Before his death, he stated that when observing light from a quasar, we set up a quantum observation on an enormously large scale. It means, he said, the measurements made on the light now, determines the path it took billions of years ago.

Like the light from Wheeler’s quasar, historical events such as who killed JFK, might also depend on events that haven’t occurred yet. There’s enough uncertainty that it could be one person in one set of circumstances, or another person in another. Although JFK was assassinated, you only possess fragments of information about the event. But as you investigate, you collapse more and more reality. According to bio-centrism, space and time are relative to the individual observer – we each carry them around like turtles with shells.

History is a biological phenomenon − it’s the logic of what you, the animal observer experiences. You have multiple possible futures, each with a different history like in the Science experiment. Consider the JFK example: say two gunmen shot at JFK, and there was an equal chance one or the other killed him. This would be a situation much like the famous Schrödinger’s cat experiment, in which the cat is both alive and dead − both possibilities exist until you open the box and investigate.

“We must re-think all that we have ever learned about the past, human evolution and the nature of reality, if we are ever to find our true place in the cosmos,” says Constance Hilliard, a historian of science at UNT. Choices you haven’t made yet might determine which of your childhood friends are still alive, or whether your dog got hit by a car yesterday. In fact, you might even collapse realities that determine whether Noah’s Ark sank. “The universe,” said John Haldane, “is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

Biocentrism (BenBella Books) lays out Lanza’s theory of everything.
Robert Lanza, M.D.

Scientist, Theoretician
Posted: August 18, 2010 07:00 AM

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SPEECH BY DR. ROLAND CHRISJOHN

Posted on August 18, 2010. Filed under: Humanitarian Issues, Social Media | Tags: , |


MEMBER OF IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY (ONEIDA), HEALER (“PSYCHOLOGIST”)

speech delivered in Edmonton, Alberta by Dr. Roland Chrisjohn
Member of Iroquois Confederacy (Oneida), healer (“psychologist”), author of The Circle Game
Date of speech unknown

…”Residential schools were one of many attempts at the genocide of the Aboriginal Peoples inhabiting the area now commonly called Canada. Initially, the goal of obliterating these peoples was connected with stealing what they owned (the land, the sky, the waters, and their lives, and all that these encompassed); and although this connection persists, present-day acts and policies of genocide are also connected with the hypocritical, legal and self-delusion need on the part of the perpetrators to conceal what they did and what they continue to do. A variety of rationalizations (social, legal, religious, political and economic) arose to engage (in one way or another) all segments of the Euro-Canadian society in the task of genocide. For example, some were told (and told themselves) that their actions arose out of a Missionary Imperative to bring the benefits of the One True Belief to savage pagans; others considered themselves justified in the land theft by declaring that the Aboriginal Peoples were not putting the land to ‘proper’ use; and so on. The creation of the Indian Residential Schools followed a time-tested method of obliterating indigenous cultures, and the psychosocial consequences these schools would have on Aboriginal Peoples were well understood at the time of their formation.

Present-day symptomology found in Aboriginal Peoples and societies does not constitute a distinct psychological condition, but is the well-known and long-studied response of human beings living under conditions of severe and prolonged oppression. Although there is no doubt that individuals who attended Residential Schools suffered, and continue to suffer, from the effects of their experiences, the tactic of pathologizing these individuals, studying their condition, and offering ‘therapy’ to them and their communities must be seen as another rhetorical maneuver designed to obscure (to the world at large, to Aboriginal Peoples, and to the Canadians themselves) the moral and financial accountability of Eurocanadian society in a continuing record of Crimes Against Humanity.

I’m not denying that people in the Residential Schools–some of them–are having troubles today. But I don’t want to talk about the pathology, the alcohol and drug abuse, and the suicide of people who went to Residential School when that takes us away from talking about the real issues, and that is, what are the political, the economic and the legal ramifications of what occurred to First Nations People in these schools. We keep talking about how sick we are but we never ask: how sick were these people who created these things? Why is the sickness on our side? Why is it we have to prove how sick we are in order to get something done about these kinds of things?

I was in a room, early on in the Royal Commission work [Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples], and everybody was telling me oh, well, all this great work you are going to do, that is going to talk about the healing and the therapy that is necessary with Residential Schools. And I’m looking around, there’s a former Supreme Court Justice, there’s a lawyer, there’s another judge over here, there’s another person with legal training who has written law books or whatever, they’re sitting around telling me all of this and I said “it sounds like I’m in a room with damn psychologists.” In a room full of judges and lawyers does nobody recognize that crimes have been committed here? And why aren’t we talking about crimes? No, no that’s not even a fit topic for conversation. What we have to talk about is how sick the damn Indians are; and well we are going to take care of them.

Right. Let’s see how that game works; how the “Therapeutic State” works here. Well the Indians are sick, so do we do? We’re going to take some money, we’re going to give to largely, white, Anglo-Saxon protestant Eurocanadian therapists, and they’re going to visit with these people for 20 fifty-minute hours, after which time they’re going to be cured. So isn’t interesting that we’re going to transfer white people’s money from one pocket to another pocket and we’re going to call this ‘money spent on Indian People.’

The same game is being played in the education system. Where what we do, is if weve got a child with some difficulty with education, we send them to a psychologist, and in the Province of Alberta, that psychological assessment costs $4,500. That’s $4,500 that goes from the Federal Government to the pocket of a white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant psychologist who writes a report and says ‘kid is not learning very much.’ Oh, well thank you for clearing that up. That’s $4,500 that is counted as ‘money spent on Indian Education’, but it’s money that we merely get to authorize the transfer of from the Federal government to the private pockets.

Now does anybody point out, does anybody wonder that the fact that the assessments are not validated, the statistical properties are not established for First Nations children, means that such an assessment is an ethical violation of Canadian and American psychological testing standards? Oh, no, nobody bothers to bring that up; there’s money to made here.

Notice what happens, when, uh–Dr. Hanson was saying about blame the victim– look at how the system reacts to a child who is having difficulty in school: there’s got to be something wrong with the child. We can’t ask the question: Is it possible that maybe there is something wrong with the curriculum?; Is it possible that there’s something wrong with the way that the structure of learning is set up so that some idiot stands up in front of a large group of people and talks, so somebody hears a loudspeaker, and everybody else is a tape recorder, and this is how education is supposed to behave? This is how it is supposed to take place?

We’re not allowed to inquire into the dynamics of the educational system. What we have to do is accept that there’s something wrong with us. We’re the problem. The Residential School does exactly the same thing: the treatment of alcoholism as a disease that First Nations People have as a genetic thing or learned behavior that we don’t seem to be able to get around. Time and time again, the same process is taking place, and that process is, let’s not ask about the systemic kinds of things, let’s not ask about larger factors, let’s not ask about other responsibilities that may be entailed, let’s find what’s wrong with the specific case, what’s wrong with the Indians in this particular instance….

…we must misunderstand Indian Residential School to the extent to which we think that the pathology in the system lies within the survivors of the individual survivors of the Residential School experience. The pathology that you are looking for is not in the pathology of the people who went through the experience, the pathology is in the system of order that gave rise to that Residential School, that saw it in operation, that put it in operation, that thought it was a good thing, that patted itself on the back occasionally saying: ‘aren’t we doing well by our brown cousins?; we’re bringing them freedom and we’re bringing them into this particular world; aren’t we generous?; and all they are paying for it is all of their land, all of their trees, all of their minerals, all of their water, their freedom, their language, their religions, every aspect of their form of life, that’s all their paying.’

Now the fact that they didn’t make that bargain, that they didn’t ask for that, means that well they are kind of stupid you know; they don’t recognize just how superior our way is. So even though they are kicking and screaming, we’re going to do for them. There’s the patriarchy, there’s the patronizing aspect of it. The “Therapeutic State” will constantly congratulate itself that it’s doing good as it is doing the most horrendous thing.

…the extent to which we ourselves as First Nations People have continued that task, by not examining those kinds of questions, by accepting that the problem is our own individualized pathology, by running all kinds of workshops where we’ll say ‘we’ll let’s get together and we’ll hug a lot and this will overcome what happened to us in the Residential School.’

Oh, I’m sorry, it is a political problem, it is a legal problem, for the churches and for the Government of Canada, it’s also a financial problem, because they’ve got mighty big bills to pay if the Canadian public begins to realize what what done to human beings in their name. This is one of the reasons you won’t find the United Nations’ Genocide Charter inside history books, textbooks and in Canadian schools because the Canadians don’t want to tell their people what they’ve been doing in their name. They don’t want to see, starkly, in Article Two and Article Three, what their responsibilities were as human beings, and how, the acquiescence to the Residential School, even if they never even heard of an Indian or ever saw an Indian, how they were implicated in the crime as well–by their governments, by their churches.

They don’t want to hear about that, so we don’t put this in the textbooks. We don’t put in the textbooks what Canadian responsibilities are in terms of language, religion, education, our educational rights as human beings on this planet. Where they say ‘oh, well, we don’t have enough money for that. You want to have your own Indian university or you want to have your own Aboriginal research center, we’ll, there’s just not enough money.’ Well, that’s a violation of the Common Law of Nations that Canada is signatory to. Their avoiding their responsibilities and they’re covering-up by putting over it all the veneer of the “Therapeutic State.”

And God help us; a lot of us are involved in that “Therapeutic State.” We sit down and we do not go into the grounds of what’s going on, why is this happening, what are the historical backgrounds for this. One of the wisest things Dr. Szasz has ever said is: ‘the libraries are open, go and read, you want to find out about this stuff…’

There’s nothing here in The Circle Game that’s esoteric; we didn’t have to burrow into the national archives late at night and come out with secret scraps of paper. Everything we’ve got is public, and open and available. But we’ve got blinders on, and the blinders are ‘oh well Indian people are suffering and we’ve got to deal with that.’

I’ll tell you. Give us back all the land, gives back the payment for everything stolen, meet your obligations under the Treaties and I will see how many of us are still sick. Even if we are sick, we have the right as sovereign people to decide what we are going to do about it–not accept Health and Welfare Canada’s pronouncement that ‘it’s twenty sessions with a psychologist and you’re out the door, that’s it, you’re cured.’

These are part of our sovereign responsibilities. We do not need research; we need to think clearly about these issues. I come to a conference like this and I hear people saying ‘there aren’t any practical suggestions. Well, I’m sorry, when Dr. Szasz says that ‘you’re not fighting facts, you’re fighting ideologies’, that’s what we have to understand. The philosophy that stands behind what was done to us in the Residential School is the philosophy that stands behind the health and welfare cuts, stands behind the dismantling of the educational system in the Province of Alberta and so on and so on. We have to understand that ideology. We’re not doing any of that as we sit around hugging each other saying ‘oh, you had a bad time and I had a bad time too.’

We should be madder than hell about this; and we should be doing what Dr. Szasz has been doing: educating people about the history, the background, the ideology, the commonality of experience that is involved in this.

There’s a part in “Schindler’s List” which is the most horrible part of “Schindler’s List” of a most horrifying movie, that’s a moment that all of us have to say to ourselves ‘this is to be avoided entirely.’ It’s that moment when he has to stand there and say to himself and say to the people around him, ‘I could have done more.’ If we go to our graves and we say to ourselves ‘I could have done more’, I call myself a healer, I call myself a therapist, and I could have done more, then we’re gonna relive that horrible moment in “Schindler’s List” over and over again, and we’re gonna be doing it while we smile and while we pretend that we’re being generous and honest and open with the people who have come to us for help.

That, will be another crime against our own humanity. Thank you.

transcribed by Jim Craven

Submitted by Luc Majno


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Exodus: Is the Christian church losing critical mass?

Posted on August 14, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |


OpEdNews

August 14, 2010


Is Christianity facing an exodus of, well, Biblical proportions?

There are clear signs that the passion of Jesus’s followers is ebbing and the congregation is losing critical mass.

On July 28, in a spectacular renunciation of her faith, celebrated Christian author Anne Rice announced on Facebook that she was quitting the Roman Catholic Church.

Rice wrote: “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

She also pointed to recent statements from several radical Christian groups that have threatened the lives of gay citizens. “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life,” she added.

In yet another celebrated case, in August, 42-year-old Hollywood actress Julia Roberts declared she, her husband and their three children were practising Hindus. Roberts, who was born to Baptist and Catholic parents in Bible belt Georgia, is thought to have made the religious conversion while in India where she was shooting her new film, Eat, Pray, Love, in which she plays a woman hoping to find herself through Hindu spirituality.

Heartland Crisis
While these high-profile exits, coming shortly after the damaging exposes of rampant pedophilia in Christian churches worldwide, have no doubt caused disquiet in the over 2000-year-old faith, it is the less publicized but inexorable exit of once staunch members that is a pointer to the real crisis.

According to the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey, the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent. Overall, the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent.

The proportion of Americans who think religion “can answer all or most of today’s problems” is now at a historic low of 48 percent. Meanwhile, the number of people willing to describe themselves as atheist or agnostic has increased nearly fourfold from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million.

Worse, the biggest decline in US church affiliation was concentrated in the north-east, America’s Christian heartland. This massive decline in the Mayflower sector, where Christians first settled has caused acute anguish among conservative Christian leaders who fear America will soon become a post-Christian country.

Of course, there is denial. Christian commentators like to talk about revolving door membership, that people quitting the traditional churches are signing up at Born Again denominations. Sure, more than 34 percent of adult church goers today consider themselves Born Again or Evangelical Christians, but as the surveys says, “The challenge to Christianity in the US does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.”

Indeed, 27 percent of Americans do not expect a religious funeral at their death, indicating that they dismiss Christianity’s zero-sum offer of heaven or hell.

European Sector
Across the Atlantic, Northern Europe is a virtual graveyard of abandoned churches. Further south, in predominantly Catholic Italy, over 60 percent of Italians have stopped attending confession. An entire generation of European Catholics has become indifferent — or openly hostile — to the church,mainly because of the sexual abuse of young children by priests.

In fact, there is a rapidly growing movement that seeks to rediscover the original and vibrant fertility religions of pre-Christian Europe, Wicca being the most well known. Incidentally Wicca practitioners, or witches and warlocks, were Europe’s medicine people. Falsely accused of black deeds, millions of them were burned at the stake by the church.
Born Again Arrogance
Born Again Christians have long lived under the delusion that their storm troopers, a new breed of uncompromisingly fundamentalist pastors, are ready to kick in the doors and spread the Lord’s faith worldwide. They also believe their moral compass is perfectly tuned towards god. According to them, they are simply better human beings with special suites reserved for them in heaven.

But surveys have repeatedly proved there’s little measurable difference between the moral behavior of churchgoers and the rest. Evangelist George Barna, the founder of The Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, has found that born-again Christians are more likely to divorce than atheists and agnostics, and are more likely to be racist than others.

And while evangelical adolescents overwhelmingly say they believe in abstaining from premarital sex, they are more likely to be sexually active — and at an earlier age — than peers who are mainline Protestants, Mormons or Jews, says University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus.

Christian activist Ronald J. Sider writes in his book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: “By their daily activity, most Christians regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is their Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate their allegiance to money, sex, and personal self-fulfillment.”

Counter Attack and Reform
However, the Christian church is not giving up without a fight. In a debate last year on “The Uniqueness of Christ in Multi-Faith Britain”, Nezlin Sterling, general secretary of the New Testament Assembly, a black majority church, told the Church of England’s governing body, the General Synod: “There is no room for complacency, no room to procrastinate or retreat but like a mighty army of the church we Christians must go forward, spread the Gospel and the good news of salvation. Every person in my mind is a potential convert.”

delivers his Sunday sermon in rap form. However, it’s the Catholic Church’s charade of modernization that is most comical. In March 2008, the Pope, playing God, announced seven new sins to be placed alongside the Biblical seven deadly sins.

To add onto Envy, Pride, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Hate, and Sloth, the seven “mortal” ones are: Environmental Pollution, Genetic Manipulation, Excessive Wealth, Inflicting Poverty, Drug Trafficking and Consumption, Morally Debatable Experiments, and the Violation of Human Rights.
Observe that pedophilia has been conveniently left out.

Eastern Comfort
Instead of being obsessed with the harvest of souls, the church needs to build a new order that values spirituality, which millions of former Christians have found in, for instance, Hinduism and its associated faiths. It is indeed ironic that while the flock is seeking spirituality in the East, the church is seeking adherents in the same catchment area. Or is the church abandoning the questioning West and seeking converts in countries where people are (as yet) unaware of its human rights record?

As Anne Rice summed up, “People despise us, Christians, and think we are an ignorant and violent lot. I don’t blame them. This kind of thing makes me weep. Maybe commitment to Christ means not being a Christian.”

If that isn’t a wakeup call for the church, what is?

Author’s Bio: Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a features writer at Fairfax New Zealand.

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Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Exodus-Is-the-Christian-c-by-Rakesh-Krishnan-Si-100812-221.html

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‘Racist’ Hollywood only wants Asians to play terrorists or cabbies: Dev Patel

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: |


Big News Network.com (ANI)     Monday 9th August, 2010

Dev Patel thinks that Hollywood is institutionally racist, as it only wants Asian actors for the roles of terrorists, taxi drivers or geeks.

The ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ star, 20, from Harrow, north-west London, is frustrated by the lack of decent roles on offer and is currently jobless.

“Because Slumdog was such a big hit there was a lot of pressure in terms of what I did next. For my second film I wanted a role that would stretch me, but all I was getting offered were stereotypical parts like the goofy Indian sidekick,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

“Asian actors tend not to be sent Hollywood scripts that are substantial or challenging. I’m likely to be offered the roles of a terrorist, cab driver and smart geek… I want to show that I have versatility. You have to remember that, before Slumdog, the last film about India that went big at the Oscars was Gandhi, as played by Ben Kingsley. The fact that  Freida and I have any kind of platform in Hollywood is a big step forward.”

Patel said he was hoping to overcome prejudice.

“I’m buzzing with adrenaline and raring to go, but I have to be realistic. Being an Asian actor, it’s never going to be easy.

Hopefully the industry is changing and the casting directors will be less focused on colour so that people like myself can get through the door,” he added. (ANI)

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