The ISIS atrocities in Mosul, Iraq are not getting a fraction of the attention of the conflict in Gaza, but that is mostly because Western reporters dare not go there. Christianity in the region goes back almost 2000 years. Yet Christians, under threat of death, have been forced to flee, an exodus of hundreds of thousands. Churches have been desecrated and turned into mosques, virgin girls are being rounded up to become brides for jihadis, younger girls are being forced into genital mutilation. The UN is being urged to get involved. But so many catastrophes are happening in the world that this one is barely noticed.
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UPDATE: FAA lifts ban.
The U.S. Government, with full White House approval and perhaps encouragement, has closed off air flights by U.S. carriers to Israel. Supposedly the result of a Hamas rocket landing a mile from Ben Gurion Airport, the FAA-ruling has the result of imposing a U.S. sanction on Israel. Hamas certainly sees it that way, pronouncing the policy a "victory".
Meanwhile, the Administration simultaneously is rewarding Hamas by sending $47 million of humanitarian aid through UNRWA (the U.N. agency serving the Palestinians) and the Palestinian Authority. Please remember that the U.N. good will has been violated several times by Hamas, by, among other things, placing rockets in UNRWA designated schools.
Crosscut.com today carries my thoughts about the quiet food revolution--improved quantity, variety and quality--available to the contemporary American.
Richard Dawkins, probably the world's leading Darwin defender, is also a defender of "mild pedophilia", it appears. A recent interview has him rationalizing the dear old teacher who liked to molest little boys from time to time. Nothing too wrong with that, right?
This is the moral universe of Richard Dawkins.
The radical edge of the environmental movement somehow always identifies people as a curse on the planet, and they aren't kidding.
Today a film, The War on Humans, has been released by Dr. John West of Discovery Institute, based on the work of Wesley J. Smith, director of Discovery's Center on Human Exceptionalism.
So are humans just another animal in the forest--the bad boy of the forest, indeed? Or something exceptional in nature? What a difference that makes!
The 30 minute video can be opened directly from the link above.
Repeatedly this blog has tried (without much success) to call attention to the propaganda campaigns waged within America by the Russian government and the Chinese government. I don't have a problem with their government's making their views known, even while they suppress the accurate representation in their countries of our government's views. What is galling is the failure of American major media to call attention to these organized information (and disinformation) campaigns.
The same goes for Al-Jazzera TV, sponsored by the Emir of Qatar, who has a definite anti-Western agenda on a number of issues.
Now we have a reporter quitting Russia Today news in protest over the editorial censorship. It deserves more play. Imagine if a reporter quit Fox News claiming it was censoring the news; the other major media would be all over it.
Notable for their relative scarcity are international denunciations of Israel's incursion into Gaza. The reasons are clear. Hamas is known for treachery, even by Middle East standards. For example, Hamas' request Wednesday for a five hour truce for the U.N.'s humanitarian purposes was exploited immediately (once granted by Israel) for new Hamas attacks from a major tunnel under the border and for more rocket attacks. Obviously, there is no honor in Hamas, no reliability under any circumstances.
Regarding the tunnels, the Times of Israel explains their extent and seriousness:
"Israel could have woken up Thursday to an entire kibbutz under siege. Haim Yellin, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council recently told the Times of Israel, standing outside a tunnel discovered several months ago, that many residents in the region are so scarred by the prospect of a tunnel attack that they hear the phantom scratching of shovels when they close their eyes at night...
"Some of the offensive tunnels take more than a year to build. They are re-enforced with several hundred tons of concrete. The digging, a former Southern Command geologist said when examining the 1700-meter tunnel discovered last October, entailed the removal of 3,400 cubic meters of earth. Israel has uncovered five major tunnels recently; reports suggest there are dozens.
"Finding the entrances to these tunnels - often within houses - and charting their alignment and geology, allows the army to neutralize the threat and, at least, set back the timer on these strategic attacks."
AImost nothing was "before your time" if you let history bring it to life for you. Living only in the present and its enthusiasms robs you of the experiences of the past that you can enjoy vicariously. Some of those experiences literally can give you the feel and tastes that preceding generations knew. That's why I am thrilled to see tweeds come back into style, for example, and frozen custard stands re-invented. These reactionary fashions follow the return of salsa music about 20 years ago and the martini before that. My family's vinyl collection and rickety phonograph player is more popular now with the younger generation than with the older. ("Awesome," one remarked to me, listening to Cole Porter. "You can understand the lyrics!") Thanks to the much-reviled Tea Party, more people actually are studying and discussing the Constitution again, as once happened regularly in Civics Class--when there still were civics classes.
Howard Chapman, Discovery's Midwest Philosopher, sends a YouTube link of a Diamond Films nostalgia trip through the 1950s. I can add some recollections: John Wayne, school crossing guards, Estes Kefauver and his coon-skin hat, "Art Houses" showing foreign films, Dairy Queen, the Korean War, slow dancing, Red China gets the bomb, girls' crinolines skirts, C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elite", Bill Buckley's "God and Man at Yale," Gina Lolllobrigida, blue suede shoes, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (the mambo and the cha-cha), Newsreeels ("Time Marches On"), Green Rivers and chocolate Cokes, "You Are There" (with Walter Cronkite), pink shirts and charcoal gray slacks, The Hungarian Revolution, Charles Atlas ads, Hawaiian themed restaurants and bars, ties with hand painted hula dancers or palm trees, barn roofs advertising "Lookout Mountain, 40 miles", Boys State, Chicken a la King for company at home, Steak Diane and Baked Alaska at night clubs, blue jeans rolled up at the bottom, Kick the Can...or am I getting back to the 40s now? In which case: collecting tin foil balls, "free cone" paper slips in the bottom of some ice cream cones, running through sprinklers, hot rods, "Who Lost China?", Schwinn bikes, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," men's bathing "trunks" with belts, canvas awnings in summer.. ETC!
There were and are WMD in Iraq, and now there are Wikileaks that support the claim. What to do? Maybe start by taking that old "Bush Lied, People Died" bumper strip off your Volvo?
Bruce Chapman's comments on the continuing bathetic grief over Brazil's soccer loss to Germany; then Steve Murphy's response. (Mr. Murphy, principal at Pacific Northwest Advisors in Seattle, specializes on business relations in Latin America. He worked in Rio for ten years and is fluent in Portuguese.)
Grow Up, Brazil
by Bruce Chapman
The most famous knock on Brazil is often attributed to Charles DeGaulle: "Brazil is the land of the future, and always will be." There is haunting truth to that.
Consider the national breakdown Brazil suffered after its soccer defeat to Germany, a collapse so pathetic that even the Germans felt sorry for them. Instead of basking in the well-deserved admiration that was accorded the country and its people after the successful hosting of the World Cup (as Russia enjoyed did after it hosted the winter Olympics in Sochi, and before Putin invaded Crimea), Brazilians reacted to their defeat as if someone had started World War III on the beach at Ipanema.
Mind you, I love these people and so does most of the world. They are out-going, seemingly care-free, tolerant and pleasure loving. For weeks around Carnival time they are happy to samba 'til dawn--and then literally samba off to work. Their music is just about my favorite, sensuous, sweet and addictive. The food is tropical and rich, the cane alcohol drinks (cachaca) potent, the art fetching and inventive. But this goes with a people who in private and public are too emotional--going from one extreme to another. Brazil's temperamental motor lacks any gears but Drive and Reverse.
Like I say, you have to love them and also like them. There also are many serious and talented leaders in culture and business down there. But they are like teenagers, in any case. Indeed, the median age in Brazil is only 30.5. But that's no excuse. There are plenty of countries with lower ones; e.g., the other Latin American powerhouse, Mexico, at 26.7 years.
You can tell me again how soccer is more than just a sport in Brazil, blah, blah, blah. But a sport it is, not religion, nationalism and economic system wrapped up together. If you want to be taken seriously, Brazil, act it. Have fun along the way (it will always be part of your great appeal), but please move just a bit past adolescence?
Shake Off the Dust, Rise Above Our Sadness!
by Steve Murphy
"Futebol': this sport started in England was transformed by Brazil's 'beautiful game' and is celebrated by more than 3 billion fans celebrate every four years at the World Cup.
When Brazil lost, or rather was 'destroyed' by Germany this week, its people were psychologically 'wiped out', triggering a nationwide 'fossa' = deep sadness, which engulfed this country of 200 million. While this reaction may be hard to understand in the Northern Hemisphere, it is heart-felt by most soccer fans 'South of the border', who look to 'futebol' to symbolize the beauty, grace and glory of this sport, shared by all of its people. While better political policies are certainly needed in Brazil, the management of 'futebol'is a key component to its body politic, for better or for worse.
As both Neymar, Brazil's 'captain of offense', and Thiago, 'captain of defense', were unable to play, its team 'anchors' were absent. After goal 2, they lost confidence, and with them a nation. My reporter friend Simon offers the following overview of what Brazil must do with its 'brand' of the 'beautiful game': http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b1813e2c-06e4-11e4-ba32-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=intl#slide0
A bossa nova singer prescribes to her people, ''shake off the dust, Brazil, and rise above our sadness', as do I.