Standing Rock: the power of peace

Hupa fisherman. Photo by Edward Curtis, 1923, via wikimedia

Hupa spear-fisherman. Photo by Edward Curtis, 1923, via wikimedia

“There’s power in peace, and I will serve that” says wounded US Marine, Catcher-Cuts-the-Rope, who is standing with those at Standing Rock to protect the water supply for the reservation, and those living downstream.  He was wounded at the battle of Falujah, Iraq, and is now standing up non-violently to invite vets from across the land to confront the Police State which would enforce actions violating a treaty made by our nation in 1851, as detailed in this video.  This can’t be happening!  

Catcher’ is calling for vets to arrive at Standing Rock before December 4.  Here is a brave man, calling upon other brave men to do the right thing.  (If the video is being blocked, try searching for it in Canada, or on youtube.)  Those who might be frustrated that they can’t protest in person could consider calling President Obama, urging him to send in the National Guard to protect the peaceful water-keepers, and the peacekeepers in blue.   (Some people will do anything to generate excitement; others have a conscience and just need a job and a paycheck, but mostly do what they are told.)  Contact the White House at 202-456-1414, or by email. Obama can defuse this standoff, if he so chooses.  

“The decision to run the so-called Dakota Access Pipeline through Sioux sacred lands, some of it formerly awarded to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by US treaty, but later stolen from them, stands in stark contrast to an earlier decision to reroute it from a planned Missouri River crossing point near North Dakota’s capital city of Bismarck. There, protests by the local (white, middle-class) public forced a rethink by the companies behind the pipeline, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. They decided to alter the planned route to run it through Indian territory instead.” ~Counterpunch, 11/25

The Huffington Post article containing the video may still be visible under this title:  Iraq War Veteran’s New Battle Is Fighting Dakota Access Pipeline.  

(The author of this blog served honorably, and was awarded the Navy Achievement medal — individually, not as a member of a unit.)

 

¡¡ FAKE NEWS !! — ¡¡ REPORTAJE FALSO !!

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Call it what you wish:  propaganda, lies, spin — it is done to brainwash and frighten the public.  In this case, the motive is to plant fear into the minds of Hispanic voters, suggesting they could be arrested while attempting to vote.  Don’t believe it. Look at the evidence.  Read the story.

 

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Imagine how much the the photographer, actors, and agents were paid.  Some people will do anything for money! (We know what to call them.)

400foto: Nancy Fouts  

 

¡¡ TRAIN WRECK AHEAD !!

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wikimedia

That great sucking sound of money being vacuumed to the top. . . it will consume your safety, your job, your roof, your grandchildren’s future.  And here’s a dynamic picture of how fast it’s happening:  

Back in 2010, Oxfam’s new stats show, the world’s 62 richest billionaires collectively held $1.1 trillion in wealth, far less than the $2.6 trillion that then belonged to humanity’s least affluent half. ¶  Now the numbers have reversed. The world’s top 62 billionaires last year held $1.76 trillion in wealth, the bottom half of the world only $1.75 trillion. ¶  “Far from trickling down,” Oxfam concludes, “income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate.”

That’s just six years ago!  Nation-states have lost their clout against family dynasties, because these power brokers own our politicians. And soon they will own you and me, too, unless we object before it’s too late. (Both major candidates are sold out to these brokers. Voting for either one is mere ventilation.)  Plato knew that dictatorship arises when democracy fails. We may be about to witness history repeat itself.

What to do?  (Runaway trains are notoriously dangerous and difficult to stop!)  Governments are spying on citizens, supposedly to protect us, but more probably to protect Big Capital from social upheaval; and it seems they’ve inserted military agents to perpetrate false-flag actions (“anarchists”) to discredit the Constitutionally-protected activities of orderly citizens.  When government no longer trusts the citizenry, the matrix has arrived, and we are fast on our way to living in a police state.  During Vietnam my generation marched on Washington DC, shutting it down to protest the war.  That will never happen again.  So, where are the pressure points today?

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wikimedia

What would happen if the voting public surrounded all our polling places, unarmed, the evening before the coming election, dispersing upon the opening of the polls the next morning.  (Lining up to vote early is surely no crime.)  It would certainly put elected officials on notice that we won’t be trifled with any longer.  They must heed the voters, rather than the power brokers.  This could be an effective exercise in social practice, which could pave a way to changes such as ranked-preference voting, or no-confidence (“none of the above”) as an option in our governance.  Failing to take such bold action will only kick the can down a very polarized road, where there surely is trouble ahead.  All sides should reasonably be seen as peacefully honoring our civility by refusing to be distracted, even if anarchists are seeded into such a gathering.

 

 

 

 

¡¡ GOTCHA BY THE EYE BALLS !!

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I love editorial cartoons, which is why AAEC is a daily visit.  (Of course, not all cartoons are visible here; a favorite, Tom Toles, of WaPo, can’t be seen at AAEC.)  I’m sharing copyrighted images from AAEC under the Fair Use doctrine described in the About section of my blog.  (NB:  my blog allows no ads.  This enables me to share without risk of copyright violation, on First Amendment grounds — something cartoonists, journalists, and publishers respect and protect.)

I love this cartoon, as cartoonist Joe Heller sees the future as I see it.  Donald Trump is interested in just two things:  fame and money.  He has been making a grandstanding play for America’s eyeballs, and hopes to win that yuge prize so he can continue to sell ads to 50-million American conservative viewers.   His campaign is all about salesmanship!  He will win by losing — and call his loss a conspiracy, so he isn’t, then, a loser.  (OK, then he’s a free-rider who passes his costs onto the rest of us!)  There should be a non-deductible minimum franchise-tax on anybody making more than, say, a million bucks a year, thus eliminating free-riders.

But if Donald Hump (see below) somehow manages to win, just think for a moment about a President Pence!  Hey, Humper has no governing experience.  He is a dictator, and always gets whatever he wants in his own kingdom.  So he will take his ball and go back to TV when congress and courts won’t go along with his tyrannical ways — sticking America with Mike Pence. Woe is us!  A narrower mind has rarely governed anywhere.  He truly believes he can Make America Moral Again thru Thou-shalt-not legislation.  Ah, how quickly we forget Prohibition.  And coat-hanger abortions.  And medical bankruptcy.  And all the other cruelties the religious right so wrongly would inflict.

Wake up, America!  Yes, both candidates are seriously impaired.  (Hillary’s impairment is Bill, who gave his buds on Wall Street the big prize of bank de-regulation so they could gamble with out deposits, thus crashing the global economy.)  And she wants to appoint him as economic czar!  Not with my help. (I’ve flip-flopped, and am presently planning to vote for Jill Stein, as Gary Johnson is just too wacky; if Bill Weld were heading the Libertarian ticket they would get my vote.)  

Until we permanently put None-of-the-Above on the ballot, we will continue to risk electoral farce.  No Confidence is a valid approach in many countries. On that note, here’s a bit of electoral soft porn from the same issue. Beware! Donald wants to hump you. Maybe even sell you an education!

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PRESIDENT OBAMA, PARDON ED SNOWDEN

Ed Snowden, wikipedia

Ed Snowden, wikipedia

Mr President, our government no longer trusts the citizens.  You guys have been spying on us unreasonably.  It’s time to set things right.  Here’s an excerpt from an essay about what you can do to return integrity to this relationship.  (In the words of Spike Lee, do the right thing, Sir):

Perhaps the best historical precedent for a pardon of Snowden comes from our first president, George Washington.  ¶  President Washington is still the only commander-in-chief to personally lead troops into battle. He did so to suppress a rebellion by farmers in western Pennsylvania over a tax on whisky. Still, Washington pardoned the very rebels he fought on the battlefield, including convicted traitors who were sentenced to hang. This did not mean Washington approved of treason, nor did it create an incentive for armed insurrection. Washington had the judgment to know that reconciliation was more important than punishment.  ¶  A Snowden pardon would be an olive branch from the surveillance state to its severest critics.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: THIS IS WHY I CAME

sculpture by Wilhelm Lehmbruck
Der Gestürzte, 1915/16 Plaster

Sculpture by Wilhelm Lehmbruck, 
Der Gestürzte, 1915/16, plaster

About the Book

This is Why I Came, a creative retelling of Bible back-stories which include character perspectives, has been reviewed in Washington Post, Ploughshares, Kirkus Reviews, O Magazine (on O’s list of ten), Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly (starred review), The Atlantic. [Excerpts from the book are pasted below.]

About the author

Mary Rakow is the recipient of two Lannan Foundation Residencies and a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship. The Memory Room was shortlisted for the Stanford University Libraries International Saroyan Prize in Literature, a PEN USA/West Finalist in Fiction and was listed among the Best Books of the West by The Los Angeles Times. She comes to fiction from theology (MTS, Harvard Divinity School ’74;  Ph.D., Boston College) and lives in San Francisco where she is a freelance editor.

The words in the opening scene are choppy, hesitant, awkward — appropriate for describing a character who left organized worship many years ago.  Press on, dear Reader, as the language and thinking awaiting you in this sparse-but-sprightly volume soon sparkle in radically imaginative prose. (Don’t bolt if the denominational setting of the first scene does not align with your own, as such dramatic license has little to do with what’s to come.)

Author Mary Rakow engages us with raw emotional responses which could have underpinned the thoughts of many characters in the original Bible stories, which she has now recast in ways that may or may not be true to their day — but that we can feel in our own reaction to these classic situations thru her words, thus entering the stories, ourselves.  Finding ourselves in the Bible is the spiritual point of her project.  She brings them alive for the reader, endeavoring to restore their relevance for today, which may be welcomed by some, or suspicious to others.  Possessing the pen of a poet, she also has a PhD in theology.  (Masters in Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School, ’74; PhD, Boston College.)  Here’s a taste:

ADAM THE MAKER:   [. . .]  no matter how hard he tries, to make the form he longs to see, the song he hears but cannot put outside himself, unable to compose the right sequence of notes, unable to make the form that will tell him who he is.  He traces his hand, his foot, in the sand. Lying on his back, reaches over his chest with a stick, traces his entire body there then stands, but it does not move, unable to make a form like himself that also breathes. The water erasing it like an encouraging teacher at first, saying, try, try again, then mocking. [. . . ] 

He wonders from where she comes. Wonders, since he has not made her, if there is a maker mightier than himself, one who, by implication, holds him in a deep understanding, his hunger clearly and intimately known by this other, as it has now been made visible in its answer, which causes him, as he stares at her, arm and leg and neck, to wonder if all the creatures in the sea and on the dry land and all the stars in the heavens that he thought he had made weren’t made by him at all, but rather by this other. And he desires to know this one, and names the maker he cannot see but whose work he sees, “God.”

¶  Now imagine Cain as a vegetarian, and Abel, an upstart who introduces the family to eating meat.  ¿ Not quite the way you remember the story?   It’s intriguing, plausible.  There now, you’ve got a glimpse of the idea of her book.  (I’ve long envisioned Cain offering zucchinis for sacrifice, as he had so many he didn’t know how to use them before they would spoil.)   ¿ Could agriculture, a shortcut thru the swamp, have been the original sin which now imperils the planet with a population bomb?  But that’s not her story.

Skipping beyond her imaginative work on Genesis stories, let’s fast-forward to the New Testament.  Mary of Magdala is depicted as introduced to prostitution by her own mother, in an angry response to a god who had taken her husband, Mary’s father, from them — this short chapter, along with a few others, can be read at thisiswhybook, sans advertising (can be read here.) (The original manuscript of the book contained images of religious art.  Sadly, the art has been dropped, yet it still feeds the spirit at the link, above.) 

Her book is reflective of a desire to reconsider Bible stories broadly in the modern era, as evocative of a spiritual sense which still persists, if perhaps only latently for some.  Her effort offers fresh perspective, inviting us into an inner dialog with her chosen Bible stories, freshly reconsidered.  

 A small disappointment to this reviewer is any mention of the ethical teachings of Jesus – sermon on the mount – which earlier engaged me to take some editorial liberties with the text, at this, my blog: http://meridagoround.com/?p=3046.  These are the lynchpin of his career, after all.  And I’m not convinced that she delivers on the promise implied in her title, but I feel recharged by her writing — so I gratefully, enthusiastically, award her five stars .

A note to me in an email from the author, whom I recently met online:

. . . my hope is that the book [would] function like a large table around which all persons of goodwill could sit and listen to each other, regardless of faith or affiliation or atheism, secular humanism, etc,  goodwill and curiosity being the only thing to bring to the potluck, as it were.

 

AIR POLLUTION & DEMENTIA

 

Air Quality Index: http://aqicn.org

Air Quality Index: http://aqicn.org

A recent article in The Guardian has me thinking about personally addressing air pollution in Yucatan.  The article discusses a link between traces of magnetite (lodestone) recently detected in brain tissue, and dementia.  Computer scientists know that memory and magnets must be kept apart, lest data be lost.  If magnetite is able to transit the blood-brain barrier thru olfactory uptake, as reported, then it may be time to clean the air in our dwellings (rather than waiting for elected officials to control exhaust emissions and open-air burning) – especially in  bedrooms where we spend a third of our time.

Magnetite, from Smithsonian collection, Wikipedia

Magnetite, from Smithsonian collection, Wikipedia

In checking with Consumer Reports I’ve chosen a portable device which should serve to reduce air pollution in our home.  It is available for importing, but perhaps it is already stocked in town?  (If anybody finds it, please alert me.)  ps: Another article in the same issue says vitamin D could reduce some air pollution problems by half.  

NB: The Air Quality Index for Merida is not presently included, so I got one for Guanajuato.  Apparently the university there participates in monitoring their air quality, and feeding reports to the site.  We can hope that someday Merida begins to participate.

¿¿ TRUMP, FOR DICTATOR ??

 

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

It’s truly shocking when a nominee for such high office has no governing experience.  Yes, in business Donald Trump gets what he wants — he is the supreme authority in his businesses, and on his TV show. But do we really want a dictator for president?  For a reality check, here’s a list of the TEN WORST DICTATORS. Will we need to call him Supreme Commander, or even worse – Lord of the land? Can’t we fire him lest we accidentally elect him?  (See comments; there is more than one alternative!)

 

HACKING THE VOTE

Pac-man, courtesy of Wikimedia

Pac-man ate my ballot?

As jazz artist Gil Scott-Heron has already informed us, The revolution will not be televised (play the track while you read, if you like).  Indeed, it has already surely happened (without bloodshed) in our election follies.  And We-the-people are chumps for allowing it!  Sadly, I must concede that Donald Trump is right:  the election process has been, is, and will be rigged.  Thru incompetence and a snoozing electorate we have lost our electoral franchise, as detailed in this fine (if lengthy) article titled How to hack an election in seven minutes.  You will be entertained and edified by reading even a portion of it.  May we rise to our duty as citizens to demand paper trails and unhackable aggregation!

A few quotes to whet your appetite:  “In less than a minute, they infected a Diebold machine with self-duplicating code, spreading from machine to machine through an administrator card, and programmed it to swing an election for Benedict Arnold over George Washington.”  “But most [experts] identified Pennsylvania as the greatest concern. There, according to Verified Voting 47 counties of 67 vote on digital voting machines without a written backup record if something were to go awry. . .”  “Then there are tech advancements that make the computer scientists shudder: To a person, they each warned me about the public’s new delusion, one strikingly reminiscent of the aftermath of Bush v. Gore—Internet voting.” 

 

Photo by Alex Halderman.

Photo by Alex Halderman.

ON MOSQUITOS: ARE YOU AN ORGANIC FUNDAMENTALIST?

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fossilized mosquito in amber, npr

I’ve been an organic gardener for decades.  The thought of genetically modifying nature, to me, is repellant, and risky.  But I’m developing some flexibility on many fronts.  I’m coming to see that making a god out of nature is to make an idol.  I was deeply troubled while at divinity school to be told that the word dominion from the first chapter of Genesis, meant that man was commissioned by God to trample creation!  (Upon further reflection I came to see that good farmers don’t trample their land, but rather they walk over it to know it well, improving it year by year.)  Well, it’s time for us to improve our ground!

It is time for humankind to exercise dominion over this pestilent creature of flying, biting, misery and death.  The pesticide industry surely doesn’t want to see biting mosquitos disappear, so we must be alert to their disinformation.  So be wise, knowing that “protecting” nature tempts us to allow the continued polluting with deadly toxins.  And we must recognize that humankind is promoting and perpetuating this worthless species by our profligate use of plastics, according to experts in a well-reasoned article:   

“[T]he growth in the population of aegypti is down to our rapid increase in plastic consumption; it provides the mosquitos with an ideal breeding ground.  There is so much misinformation out there,” Lindsay says. “You see pictures of large open areas of stagnant water. But that’s not where the danger is. This thing breeds in small containers: flowerpots, gutters, tyres, water bottles. It’s about screening buildings, putting up nets, spraying insecticide in laundry areas. That’s not something for health professionals: that’s about educating and empowering communities so that they can reduce the risk themselves.”

My growing personal flexibility on the topic of genetic modification will start with agreeing to the sterilization and release of males to eliminate this deadly pest, with the added benefit of reducing the noxious load of sprayed toxins. Dominion — it’s our assignment!  We need to grow!