Saturday, December 28, 2013


From Norman Finkelstein: Al-Issawi was Freed Monday

Norman Finkelstein’s comment:

It’s a pity that neither Hezbollah nor anyone else has grasped the significance of Issawi’s release. 

When is the last time Israel actually held to the terms of a deal that it made?

It was forced by Issawi’s extraordinary display of nonviolent moral resolve to release him exactly as it promised. 

In any other situation, Israel would just have renewed his incarceration when release time came due.

But Israel knew that if it tried that ruse this time, Issawi would just resume the hunger strike and cause an international scandal for Israel.

Isn’t there a lesson here on how to get Israel to budge?

Why doesn’t anyone see it???


Samer Al-Issawi Was Freed Monday
Local Editor

Palestinian prisoner and record-breaking hunger-striker Samer al-Issawi was released from prison Monday.Samer Al-Issawi

Issawi had launched a 266-day hunger strike — from August 2012 to April 2013 — protesting his incarceration. During that time, Issawi consumed only water and intravenous vitamins. In April, under pressure from solidarity groups, fierce Palestinian protests, and international petitions and in light of Issawi’s rapidly deteriorating health, the Zionist government reached a compromise with Issawi and shortened his sentence to eight months, on the condition that he ends his hunger strike.

Palestinian news sources, citing a Facebook post by Issawi’s sister, reported that Israeli occupation forces raided Issawi’s Al-Quds home Sunday, arresting his father Tariq, and his brother, Midhat. Midhat had previously served in Israeli prison for 19 years.

Issawi was sentenced to 26 years prison in 2002 for his alleged involvement in a series of shooting attacks. However, in 2011, Issawi was released from prison prematurely as part of the prisoner swap in exchange for kidnapped IOF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli officials were reportedly concerned that Issawi’s death in prison would spark riots in the West Bank, and were therefore willing to concede to his demands.

Issawi’s release Monday was greeted with sizable fanfare, as have other Palestinian prisoner releases, even when done in the middle of the night.

“The Global Campaign for Palestinian Political Prisoners warmly congratulates Samer Issawi on his victory over the Zionist oppressors, against whom he waged the longest hunger strike in recorded human history in order to secure his release,” read a statement on the “Free Samer Issawi Campaign” Facebook page , which garnered over 10,000 likes. “Samer is a hero to us, to the entire Palestinian population inside of Palestine and in the diaspora, and to millions of supporters around the world.”

Raffoul - Tears Over Palestine (Official Video) دموع على فلسطين - رفول

Monday, December 23, 2013

A So-called Non-believer Remembers Jesus of Nazareth

By Dee Newman

The most direct and chief source of information about the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth comes from the Judeo-Christian Bible and the four Gospels of the New Testament – Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Upon reading them one is compelled to concede that the man did once walk this earth. He was not contrived, as some believe.

Despite divergent scholarly opinions about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus, most contemporary biblical scholars and classical historians of antiquity agree that Jesus of Nazareth did in fact once live and that he was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. Though we are profoundly and utterly ignorant of the manner of his life before he began preaching, we do know that he appeared in Judea in the reign of Tiberius Caesar at the age of about thirty years and by the time of his death was accepted by a small Jewish sect (the Nazarenes) to be the Jewish Messiah (and not the son of God).

There is no doubt that the wiry, energetic and charismatic character of Jesus has, over the centuries, been distorted and obscured. The unnecessary and implausible accessories and accretions (especially of his birth and death) that began as edification became accepted fact. Though he was clearly a man of intense personal magnetism, there is no evidence that he was God incarnate. In fact, there is no evidence that God exists outside the mind of man.

Nevertheless, the deification of Jesus by many of his followers began early. And in the process his message to mankind that the renunciation of self is its own reward and the entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth was replaced along the way with a creed and a doctrine promising salvation through faith. However, Christianity would have remained an insignificant Jewish sect if Saul of Tarsus (Saint Paul) and other early Christian leaders had not been so successful in convincing gentiles that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

The sad truth is the deification of Jesus inevitably diminishes his effectiveness. As a God his deeds cannot be replicated. As a mere mortal he remains an example, a model for us all to emulate. Recognizing that the mind that was in him is in us as well, challenges us to fulfill our potential as evolved moral creatures.

So, let us go forward and embrace this kingdom of his where the serenity of an ordered and coherent purpose is realized through the embodiment of love (giving without expecting anything in return) beyond desire, greed, rivalry, ignorance and fear. In doing so the victory for which he relentlessly strove will be won at last. There will be peace on earth. His Kingdom of Heaven will be realized.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

From Greg Webb: A Certain Type of Thinkng

By Greg Webb

A certain type of thinking has opposed the American Revolution, the Emancipation Proclamation, women’s suffrage, child labor laws, the Social Security Act, the Civil Right’s Act, Medicare, and now Equal Protection Under the Law. In my opinion it is primarily rooted, the longer I live and learn and let go, less in democrat vs. republican, or conservative vs. liberal, or even 'social priorities' vs. 'economic priorities' -- and more in a deeply ingrained notion of exceptionalism. Per the list above, "But royalty is exceptional", "but whites are exceptional", "but men are exceptional", "but grown ups are exceptional", "but those with means are exceptional", "but the healthy are exceptional", and last but not least, "but straight people are exceptional". In each of these examples, those holding to such notions (and I have been guilty of holding a version of them all at one time or another, in some form or fashion) buttress this tribal need to belong and believe and be right and be better-than by being able to point to some sacred text used to instil or inspire or ingrain this tribal truth - i.e. - "Because my bible tells me so!" - And maybe it does (cherry-picked parts of it, anyway). But when we step back, and see the myth of our exceptionalism for what it is, we come to understand that it's simply one more fear-based projection, the latest attempt to insist that we can't possibly all be in this together, because that would mean that my first calling is to enrich and serve others rather than myself, which can't possibly succeed in ensuring my (and my tribe's) own survival…Yet haven't we lived long enough to notice -- counterintuitive as it may seem -- that, when we finally get together, the opposite occurs? That society flourishes? That Mandela, for example, doesn't incite or exact revenge? That the arc of history does in fact start to bend toward justice? In this season of more consciously celebrating the dawning of new light and selfless love, let us yield to our better angels, and realize a compassion -- for self and for other -- that recognizes our oneness. Such a realization...would truly exceptional.

From WEDU: An Interview with James LaVeck and Jenny Stein

Cathy Unruh interviews filmmakers and Tribe of Heart co-founders James LaVeck and Jenny Stein on her half-hour show, "Up Close with Cathy Unruh."

The double feature presentation of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and The Witness on WEDU, Tampa's PBS affiliate reaching West Central Florida will air during primetime this coming Sunday night, with an encore broadcast of Peaceable Kingdom happening the following Sunday night at midnight. 

This will be the 2nd broadcast opportunity for Peaceable Kingdom, and the 13th for The Witness. This time around, along with offering the first ever double feature of the films on TV, WEDU also aired a half-hour interview with Jenny and James on "Up Close with Cathy Unruh," which debuted last night, and which you can now watch online

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Lowdown from Jim Hightower (America isn't Broke)

America isn't broke. There's plenty of money to build an economy worthy of our ideals and can-do spirit

Jim Hightower

Several pro football franchises have chosen chest-pounding team names meant to symbolize how big, powerful, ferocious, and scary they are--names like the Bears, Panthers, Ravens, and Lions. But, come on, such animalistic monikers are no longer intimidating in our modern world, so I suggest that teams upgrade to names that really would spark terror in the hearts of opponents: "Big Oil Frackers," for example, or "Monsanto Genetic Mutators," "Walmart Middle-Class Crushers," "Big Pharma Price Gougers," and "Wall Street Banksters."

Such corporate predators rule today's economic and political jungle, and a hail storm of statistics confirms the vast and long-term damage they're wreaking on the poor and middle class, our environment, democratic rights, and sense of justice.

Behind those stats, though, are living, breathing, striving humans--an entire nation of real people being knocked down and shut out, unable to realize the aspirations they have for themselves, their families, communities, culture, and country. The elites--to their eternal shame-- literally are stifling the enormous possibilities of America's grassroots people. That's why the public's approval rating of today's aloof Powers That Be is now (as a friend recently told me) "two digits lower than poisonous snakes."

Public anger at the raw selfishness of those ruling our economic and political systems is so severe that even Lloyd Blankfein flinched. The $21-million-a-year chief bankster at Goldman Sachs, Blankfein has presided over the bank's multiple acts of fraud against its own customers, grabbed a taxpayer bailout of $12.9 billion in 2008, lobbied furiously against legislation to restrain Wall Street's reckless greed (including especially fierce opposition to proposals for opposition to proposals for restricting CEO pay)--and then declared: "I'm doing God's work."

To read the entire article click here.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Remembering Peter O'Toole

Saturday, we lost one of the giants of film and theatre. The Irish born charismatic actor Peter O’Toole died peacefully in a London hospital. He was 81.

I first saw Peter O'Toole in 1962. It was his first major film role. He played T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia." His performance earned him the first of eight Academy Award nominations.

His second and third nominations soon followed with his 1964 portrayal of King Henry II in "Becket" alongside Richard Burton as Becket and his 1968 portrayal of Henry II again opposite Katharine Hepburn in the film "The Lion in Winter." The next year (1969) earned him his fourth nomination for his role as a shy English schoolteacher in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." In 1972 he portrayed the 14th Earl of Gurney in the movie "The Ruling Class," winning his fifth nomination. His sixth nomination came in 1980 in "The Stunt Man." His seventh came two years later in 1982 for an over-the-hill, alcoholic matinee idol in "My Favorite Year." In 2006 he earned his eighth best actor nomination in “Venus,” as a lecherous old actor relegated to playing feebleminded old men.

His eight nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role make him the most-nominated actor never to win an Academy Award. However, in 2003, the Academy honored him with an Honorary Academy Award for his entire body of work and his lifelong contribution to film.

Peter O’Toole was a genus, having a remarkable ability to convey a wide range of emotions both on the big screen and on the stage.

Vegan Fudge from Food Wishes

From Pyschology Today

Ignorance about babies is undermining society 
Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe one in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving. What's up? Perhaps ignorance about babies and their needs. Here are 10 things to know.

1. Babies are social mammals with social mammalian needs. Social mammals emerged more than 30 million years ago with intensive parenting (a developmental nest or niche). This is one of the many (extra-genetic) things that evolved other than genes. This developmental nest is required for an individual to develop properly. Intensive parenting practices for babies include years of breastfeeding to develop brain and body systems, nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers, responsiveness to needs preventing distress, free play with multi-aged playmates, and soothing perinatal experiences. Each of these has significant effects on physical health.

2.  Human babies are born "half-baked" and require an external womb. Humans are born way early compared to other animals: 9 months early in terms of mobility and 18 months early in terms of bone development and foraging capacities. Full-term babies have 25% of adult brain volume and most of it grows in the first 5 years. Thus, the human nest for its young evolved to be even more intense than for other social mammals because of the underdeveloped newborn, lasting for 3-5 years. Humans also added to the list of expected care a village of positive social support for both mother and baby. Actually, human brain development lasts into the third decade of life, suggesting that social support and mentoring continue at least that long.

3. If adults mess up on the post-birth “baking,” longterm problems can result. Each of the caregiving practices mentioned above has longterm effects on the physical health but also social health of the individual. For example, distressing babies regularly or intensively (by not giving them what they need) undermines self-regulatory systems. This is common knowledge in other cultures and was so in our past. In Spanish, there is a term used for adolescents and adults who misbehave: malcriado (misraised).

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Remembering Jenny

A drawing of a girl I did nearly 40 years ago. She is now a doctor in Salt Lake City, UT, with over 25 years of experience in family medicine.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

A year ago today 26 students and teachers lost their lives to gun violence at Sandy Hook elementary school. Following that tragedy West Virginia’s conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a 30-year political supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA), courageously introduced legislation that would require universal background checks for commercial sales, extending them to gun shows, as well as all online Internet purchases.

Given the overwhelming public support for universal background checks after the Sandy Hook massacre (even from a majority of NRA members) the passage of some version of Manchin’s gun-control bill seemed inevitable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. No version passed. The NRA, the most powerful and fearsome lobbying organization in the United States, prevailed once again.

Despite the fact that only a third of the population own, use, sell and manufacture guns here in the United States, (thanks to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA) life and death continue to be measured by profit margin. As some of you may know, I have a licensed to carry a handgun in the State of Tennessee, as well as 38 other states that recognize Tennessee’s handgun carry permit. But, I am not and I never will be a member of the National Rifle Association. Why? Because Wayne LaPierre and the association he leads believe that the cure for gun violence is more guns. The NRA believes there should be no restrictions, whatsoever.

Wayne LaPierre is an insidious and powerful predator. His fear mongering and brazen endorsement of a universal armed populace makes clear that common sense and rational thinking are in short supply in the echelons of the NRA. Moreover, it seems that there will always be members of Congress willing to do the gun lobby’s bidding, ready to profess their love of the second amendment as they procure the next NRA campaign donation.

I’m sure you have heard Mr. LaPierre assert, “Guns don’t kill, people do.” But, whether he wants to admit it or not – People with guns kill more people than people without them. And, automatic weapons with large capacity magazines increase the number of gun deaths substantially.

We cannot, we must not forget Sandy Hook and the children and their teachers who died there. We cannot continue to allow the Wayne LaPierre’s (a small minority) to control the debate and lead us (the majority) to an even more frightening vision of our future.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lily Myers – "Shrinking Women"

A Response to Revisionists

by Dee Newman

Nelson Mandela was first and foremost a courageous resistance and freedom fighter. With his death, we are now witnessing a nauseating spectacle – the “whitewashing” of history. Conservative mealy-mouthed politicians and pundits, many of whom once considered and called him a terrorist, who not only supported his incarceration for 27 years, but also the apartheid regime that brutalized and confined him, are now rushing eagerly (though awkwardly) to praise him as their hero.

Perhaps, it’s inevitable that those who are on the wrong side of history will at some point attempt to reinterpret their past. However, in order to do so, the concealment of words and actions that are now considered offensive and unacceptable, may be difficult to remove from film footage and archival material.

When the Afrikaner nationalists took power in 1948 and turned white minority rule and racial segregation into an ideology called apartheid, Black South Africans began to be systematically indoctrinated, taught to believe that they were inherently inferior to white Europeans. They were denied citizenship, the right to vote, and were forcibly relocated into deprived and destitute reservations. All people of color were legally prevented from owning land or businesses inside areas controlled by Afrikaners. The white minority government forbade marriage and/or sexual relationships between people of color and Afrikaners. Racial segregation was strictly enforced. To preserve apartheid, the government employed police brutality, the assassination and imprisonment of political dissidents, as well as the out-right murder of black non-violent protesters.

By the 1960s, given the fact that the South African apartheid government continued to be back by the west (including the United States) and that the non-violent resistance to apartheid had largely failed, it should be no surprise that the African National Congress (ANC) chose to align itself with its only supporter – the Soviet Union. This alliance, however, alienated allies in the free world, making it even more difficult to rally support for the anti-apartheid struggle.

Though there were always a few courageous individuals in the U.S. Congress who opposed apartheid as well as communism, the hawks in the U.S. (especially southern Dixiecrats) had persuaded presidents from Truman to Nixon to curb criticisms of the apartheid regime, whose leadership they believed was an important ally in the fight against communism.

However, by the 1970s protests began to increase in the United States, demanding that universities and corporations divest from South Africa to put pressure on the regime to end apartheid. In March 1978, I participated in a massive demonstration in Nashville, Tennessee, protesting the Davis Cup tennis match between South Africa and the United States at Vanderbilt University. As a result, only eleven hundred people attended the matches, while several thousand marched from the State Capitol to Centennial Park across West End Avenue from the university.

During this period, the Reverend Leon Sullivan, a Baptist minister in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, argued, if corporations agree to certain standards of fair employment in South Africa, they should not be subjected to protests or divestiture. “Constructive engagement” was presented as a position of compromise between those who advocated for the permanence of apartheid and those that sought its immediate termination.

Sullivan believed that there were moderates in the South African government with whom we could constructively engage and that eventually they would promote gradual change and political reform. There were many well-meaning people in the United States who thought that the Sullivan principles of constructive engagement was a reasonable strategy. But, there was no real pressure ever put on the regime. And eventually, the policy was exposed for what it was – a futile exercise of appeasement.

Upon taking office Jimmy Carter tried to break from the Sullivan approach, but he, too, yielded to the political pressure by conservatives. It was not until Ronald Reagan took office when a series of anti-apartheid protests erupted across South Africa that a majority of Americans began to call for immediate action. They could no longer turn a blind eye to the horror they were witnessing on the nightly news broadcasts, as white South African troops attacked black protesters with tanks, guns, clubs and attack dogs, reminding us all of our own not-so-distant racial history.

Appalled by the rising violence, Americans across the political spectrum began pressuring their representatives to take action, and within two years Congress was threatening to pass legislation that would place sanctions on South Africa and restrict the flow of American aid to the regime.

Conservatives, however, remained adamant in their belief that the U.S. had no business harassing the South African government over apartheid. President Reagan continued to threaten to veto any legislation that sanctioned the South African government even after Prime Minister P. W. Botha gave his “Rubicon speech” on Aug. 15, 1985, asserting that South Africa would never accept one man, one vote in a unitary system.

Until then, the Reagan administration had worked closely with Prime Minister Botha. President Reagan had publicly supported the South African government, portraying Botha as a moderate and a reformist.

In the Senate, North Carolina’s Senator Jesse Helms took the Senate floor to filibuster on behalf of the apartheid government of South Africa. Other like-minded conservatives, including South Carolina’s infamous segregationist Strom Thurmond who voted against the bill’s final passage, joined Helms. Over in the House, Wyoming’s Representative Dick Cheney joined the conservative minority in opposing the Anti-Apartheid Act. Cheney’s steadfast opposition to sanctioning the apartheid government had been long and extensive, denouncing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, arguing against his release.

President Reagan took his case directly to the American people on a live television broadcast, warning them that the Anti-Apartheid Act was "immoral" and "utterly repugnant." Fortunately, one month later the president and conservatives were unable to stop the majority from acting. The conciliatory bill was approved by a veto-proof two-thirds majority in both the House and the Republican-controlled Senate and sent to the president. Reagan did as he promised. He vetoed the act.

In October 1986, under considerable pressure, Republican moderates came together. Out of 53 Republican senators 37 joined their Democratic colleagues to pass the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act over President Reagan's veto. It was the first time in the nation’s history that a presidential veto on a foreign policy issue had been overturned.

Republican moderates (lead by Senator Nancy Kassebaum) deserve enormous praise for having the courage to go against President Reagan and their conservative colleagues in passing the Anti-Apartheid Act. As a result, the United States directly contributed to the liberation of millions of people from one of the world's most oppressive regimes.

Rather than trying to politicize Nelson Mandela's death through the “whitewashing” of history, Americans should celebrate the fact that his legacy initiated rare bipartisan agreement.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Celebrating the Life of Nelson Mandela

Today the world celebrates the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela – his charismatic personality, his astonishing achievements, his sweeping and comprehensive vision, his relentless courage, unwavering integrity and enormous generosity.

From prisoner to president his inner strength, moral values, extraordinary will, commitment and humility allowed him as an activist, freedom fighter, unifier and nation builder to overcome the impossible. We should never forget not just what he achieved, but also how and why he achieved it.

He was the living embodiment of what it is to be a good human being, of what we all should be striving to become. Thank you Nelson Mandela - for showing us the way. We are deeply indebted to you. I, for one among millions, will never forget you.