December 26th, 2009

Dec-25-2009 | Comments Off

Compiled and edited by Peter Marmorek                                                      
Year Six; Issue 42

Tikkunista! returns January 9th. Have a great time meanwhile catching up on all those back issues ;-)

0. Your Editor’s Thoughts on the Winter Solstice
1. Actions
2. Copenhagen: Retrospective
3. Obama, Year One
4. Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance
5. Playing the Anti-Semitism Card
6. US Health Plan Cartoons
7. Best of the Decade Summaries
8. Exciting Activities
9. Underwater
10. Eyecandy: Snow
11. Quote of the Week

1.  Actions
* Kairos Funding Cut. Kairos has been doing wonderful work for years on third World Development, and has had their funding cut by Harper’s axe. Read about the cut here: and Sign a petition here. More coverage in section 5

* Gaza Freedom March In conjunction with the Gaza Freedom March, community and activist organizations in Toronto will be holding a rally protest the siege of Gaza. Dec 27th, 1 pm, Israeli Consulate. Full details here.

2. Copenhagen: Retrospective
Who do you blame? The Guardian has been getting lots of reprints for a remarkable story (from inside the negotiation room) blaming China; the BBC picks out eight causes for failure; Robert Newman blames capitalism itself; and Avaaz has a film on what was achieved, by the people.

* How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room Mark Lynas The Guardian
To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China’s representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. “Why can’t we even mention our own targets?” demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil’s representative too pointed out the illogicality of China’s position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord’s lack of ambition.

*Why Did Copenhagen Fail to Deliver?
About 45,000 travelled to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen – the vast majority convinced of the need for a new global agreement on climate change. So why did the summit end without one, just an acknowledgement of a deal struck by five nations, led by the US? And why did delegates leave the Danish capital without agreement that something significantly stronger should emerge next year?
Our environment correspondent Richard Black looks at eight reasons that might have played a part.

* It’s Capitalism or a Habitable Planet: You Can’t Have Both Robert Newman The Guardian
There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change. A cap on this and a quota on the other won’t do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth’s life-support systems within the present economic system.
Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.

* The World in Action Avaaz youtube
In Copenhagen, leaders didn’t make history—but the world’s people did. A year of unprecedented action on climate change reached unimagined heights in the last two weeks: thousands upon thousands of vigils, rallies, and protests; floods of phone calls and messages sent; millions of petition signatures—all calling for the fair, ambitious, and binding climate treaty we still need and still will win.

3. Obama: Year One
A powerless puppet? A tool of the system? Failing to do enough in the Middle East? As successful as possible, under the circumstances? Yes, definitely… and we have proof of each of these incompossible theses.

* Obama Puppet Paul Roberts counterpunch
It didn’t take the Israel Lobby very long to bring President Obama to heel regarding his prohibition against further illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Obama discovered that a mere American president is powerless when confronted by the Israel Lobby and that the United States simply is not allowed a Middle East policy separate from Israel’s. Obama also found out that he cannot change anything else either, if he ever intended to do so.The military/security lobby has war and a domestic police state on its agenda, and a mere American president can’t do anything about it.
Essentially, Obama is irrelevant.

* Almost Year One Saul Landau Znet
“He gave billions to Wall Street, cracked down on illegal immigrants getting health care, and he’s sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan….He may go down in history as our greatest Republican president.”
– Jay Leno, summing up Obama’s first eleven months in office.

* Bordering On the Ridiculous Uri Avnery
The planet has become one entity – from the political, economic, military, environmental, communication and medical points of view. A leader who is also a philosopher should outline ways to create a binding world order, an order that will consign wars as a means of solving problems to the past, abolish tyrannical regimes in every country and pave the road to a world without hunger and epidemics. Not tomorrow, for sure, not in our generation, but as an aim to strive for, directing our endeavors..
Obama must surely be thinking about this. But he represents a country that obstructs so many important aspects of a binding world order.  It is natural for a world empire to object to a world order that would limit its powers and transfer them to world institutions. That’s why the US opposes the world court and impedes the world-wide effort for saving the planet and the elimination of all nuclear arms. That’s why it objects to real world governance to replace the UN, which has almost become an instrument of US policy. That’s why he praises NATO, a military arm of the US, and obstructs the arising of a really effective international force.

* The Obameter
PolitiFact has compiled more than 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter. We rate their status as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once we find action is completed, we rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.

4. Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance
One of the most common statement we hear on the Middle East conflict is that if the Palestinians used non-violent means of protest, then people world-wide would support them, and the Israelis wouldn’t be forced to use excessive violence. “Where is the Palestinian Mandala?” they say. Probably sitting in an Israeli jail. Read on….

* When Will it Be Our Time? Mustapha Barghouthi New York Times
A new generation of Palestinian leaders is attempting to speak to the world in the language of a nonviolent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, precisely as Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of African-Americans did with the Montgomery bus boycott in the mid-1950s.
We are equally right to use the tactic to advance our rights. The same world that rejects all use of Palestinian violence, even clear self-defense, surely ought not begrudge us the nonviolence employed by men such as King and Gandhi.

* A Palestinian Plan the Israelis Can Live With Bradley Burston Haaretz
Ray Hanania is a compassionate and, in fact, delightful person, with rare insight into the aspirations and failings of Palestinians and Israelis. In the eyes of many, that alone ought to disqualify him from consideration as a leader in the Holy Land.  Add to that, the fact that the acclaimed journalist also happens to be a first-generation Palestinian-American married to a Jewish woman, as well as a stand-up comedian who has appeared alongside Jewish comics, and the self-destructively polarized electorate of the Holy Land will need to expend not a whiff of thought in dismissing him out of hand. 
Which all makes his candidacy for the president of Palestine, and the Mideast peace proposal that is his platform, all the more compelling. He is realistic about his chances (“No, I don’t expect to win”). But the Hanania plan embodies the radicalism of the truly moderate, and deserves much more than cursory consideration. 

* Bil’in Leader Charged with Arms Possession mondoweiss
Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader of the weekly nonviolent protests in Bil’n, has finally been charged after being arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Israeli military. Abu Rahmah’s arrest has been part on an ongoing Israeli campaign against Palestinian nonviolent resistence leaders. The charges against him could not be more creative. …. Abu Rahmah was slapped with an arms possession charge for collecting used tear gas canisters shot at demonstrators in Bil’in by the army and showcasing them in his home.

5. Playing the Anti-Semitism Card
There is real anti-semitism in the world, and all reasonable people oppose it as they do all forms of racism. But increasingly opponents of Israeli government actions are being targeted as “anti-semites”. A look at how this happened in Venezuela, and how the Harper government in Canada is using this libel.

* Against Venezuela
In the early morning hours of January 31, vandals broke into Tiferet Israel, a Sephardic synagogue in Caracas. They strewed sacred scrolls on the floor and scribbled “Death to the Jews” and other anti-Semitic epithets on the walls, before making off with computer equipment and historical artifacts. Understandably, the incident frightened and upset many in the Venezuelan Jewish community. Right away, U.S. news outlets, including The New York Times and The Miami Herald, linked the incident to Venezuela’s increasingly strained relations with Israel, after the two countries suspended diplomatic relations two weeks earlier over Israel’s bombing of Gaza, then still under way.
A Herald editorial went so far as to describe an “official policy of anti-Semitism” in Venezuela and implied that Chávez’s foreign policy had unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic violence in the country, culminating in the assault on the synagogue….Just hours after the break-in, the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was already implicitly comparing the Chávez government to the Nazis, calling the synagogue attack “a modern-day Kristallnacht.”
But the Caracas police investigation bore out a different story. Authorities quickly realized that the synagogue’s security fence had been cut from the inside, prompting detectives to investigate the break-in as an inside job. Within the week it became clear that the attack had in fact been a robbery disguised as anti-Semitic vandalism, carried out by the synagogue’s privately contracted security team. Eleven men were arrested for their role in the plot, and their statements to the police indicated that the graffiti and desecration were intended to throw off investigators.

* Is the Harper government playing the anti-Semitic card? The Globe and Mail
There are a couple of problems with Kenney’s statement. First, it’s completely false. Not only does KAIROS not lead a BDS campaign against Israel, it does not endorse one. … Second, how is it tolerable for a government minister to baldly accuse an organization of being anti-Semitic without a single shred of evidence, which is of course non-existent… Real enemies of anti-Semitism do not throw the term around recklessly…. Are Canadian Jews now going to be seduced by a government that uses anti-Semitism for political reasons? That maliciously accuses decent men and women of being anti-Semitic? That identifies legitimate, democratic criticism of Israeli governments with anti-Semitism?

* Tory zealotry unhelpful to Israel and Canada Haroon Siddiqui Toronto Star
Those with an authoritarian and/or vindictive streak don’t know when to stop. That’s what makes them dangerous. That’s what also proves their ultimate undoing in a democracy. Ottawa’s decision to axe funding to a group apparently because it criticized Israel has enraged many Canadians and fully exposed the zealotry of Stephen Harper’s government in supporting Israel and attacking those who don’t.
KAIROS, an ecumenical group, promotes social and economic justice in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Its $7 million contract to set up a rape clinic in the Congo, among other projects, was killed by Harper because the group was said to have backed a boycott of Israel for oppressing Palestinians. As Jason Kenney admitted: “We’ve de-funded organizations, most recently like KAIROS, who are taking a leadership role in the boycott.” Criticizing Israel is a crime in Tory books. The authoritarian designation is also a Tory flag of honour to be waved in Jerusalem, as Kenney just did.

6. US Health Plan
How charmingly quixotic. The US has now passed a health plan, as of late last night, and will spend the next two months negotiating what it is. A trio of cartoons shed light and amusement on the situation.

* Pre-Existing Conditions?
* Terrorists in Insurance

7. Best of the Best (or Worst) of the Decade Summaries
The noughties (as the UK calls them) are ending. So we have a serious Juan Cole piece on the worst political developments, a comprehensive (30 entries!) overview of arts and culture (“The 25 best moments on live TV”) from Paste magazine, and Big Pictures with the most iconic news images of the last decade.

* The Rise of the New Oligarchs Juan Cole Informed Comment
Just as the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union allowed the emergence of a class of lawless ‘Oligarchs’ in Russia, so Neoliberal tax policies and deregulation produced American equivalents. …We have always had robber barons in American politics, but the Neoliberal moment created a new social class. At about 1.3 million adults, it is not too large to have some cohesive interests, and its corporations, lobbyists, and other institutions allow it to intervene systematically in politics. It owns 45 percent of the privately held wealth and is heading toward 50, i.e. toward a Banana Republic. Thus, we have a gutted fairness doctrine and the end of anti-trust concerns in ownership of mass media, allowing a multi-billionaire like Rupert Murdoch to buy up major media properties and to establish a cable television channel which is nothing but oligarch propaganda. They established ‘think tanks’ like the American Enterprise Institute, which hires only staff that are useful agents of the interests of the very wealthy, and which produce studies denying global climate change or lying about the situation in Iraq. Bush-Cheney were not simply purveyors of wrong-headed ideas. They were the agents of the one percent, and their policies make perfect sense if seen as attempts to advance the interests of this narrow class of persons.

* The Best Albums, Movies, TV & More From the 2000s Paste
Looking at each of these lists confirms my belief that—despite the seismic economic shifts that the entertainment industry has faced—the democratization of once-expensive-to-create art forms like movies and albums has resulted in unprecedented innovation, variety and accomplishment. With an ever-increasing roster of television channels, networks like AMC and Sci-Fi are taking chances on thoughtful, complex series that would have never even aired in the 20th century. Technological jumps in the video game world have wrought gorgeous graphics, but it’s really been the attention to story that has transformed the gaming experience from a fun way to kill time into an immersive artistic experience. And just when we thought the book form had been stretched to its limits, authors like Dave Eggers and the late David Foster Wallace give us something entirely new.

* The Decade in News Photographs Big Picture

8. Exciting Activities
Two weeks without Tikkunista… you’ll need something to do to keep you out of trouble. Fortunately, we won’t leave you in the lurch. A programmable orrery (model of the solar system) so you can check exactly when Mercury is going retrograde! The largest image online (a stunning 18 gigabytes) gives a 360º view of Prague with unbelievable zoom features! Design your own magazine cover! Type in text and have it sung back at you! Relax and enjoy.

* Orerry
* Prague
* Magcover
* Let Them Sing It for You

9. Underwater
Lots of stuff happens below the surface. It turns out that octopi use tools, as you’ll see in the first video. Then an amazing youtube of a diver confronted by a deadly predator, and a few extra tasty pieces of eyecandy for you, just because it’s Christmas.

* Tool Using Invertebrates boingboing
Warning: This video contains footage of an octopus hiding under a coconut shell that it has carried around just in case it needed to hide from something. Watching this footage may contradict your previous assumptions about animal tool use, and may be too adorable for some viewers.
EXTRA: The coconut is there so that different octopi – or should it be iOctopuses – can communicate underwater by attaching a string from one coconut to another. Talk time is brief underwater, but is just about feasible….And then they will event a social networking piece of software called Octotwitter or something so they can exchange trivial messages with each other in milliseconds.

* Faceoff with a Deadly Predator
* Yum…Multiflavoured Jellyfish
* Hidden Flourescent Colours of the Oceans

10. Eyecandy: Snow!
* Snowy Scenes
Big Picture
* Snowmen Calvin and Hobbes
* Castles in the Snow

11. Quote of the Week
If the environment were a bank, they would have saved it by now.” Hugo Chavez


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

       The Talmud

December 19th, 2009

Dec-18-2009 | Comments Off

Compiled and edited by Peter Marmorek                                                      
Year Six; Issue 41

1. Actions
2. Copenhagen: Reasons for Despair
3. Copenhagen: Reasons for Hope
4. Copenhagen: Reasons for Amusement
5. Dystopia
and Datopia?
6. Music for the Winter Solstice
7. Things With Sharp Claws
8. Light Entertainment
9. Puzzles, and Fun
10. Eyecandy: 2009 Retrospective
11. Quote of the Week

1.  Actions
* Kairos Funding Cut. Kairos has been doing wonderful work for years on third World Development, and has had their funding cut by Harper’s axe. Read about the cut here: Addressing the Global Forum to Counter Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Minister Kenney described his government’s fights against anti-Semitism and, as an example, said the government had “defunded organizations … like KAIROS for taking a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign” against Israel. Minister Kenney’s charge against KAIROS is false. KAIROS did not lead this campaign.” Sign a petition here

* Gaza Freedom March In conjunction with the Gaza Freedom March, community and activist organizations in Toronto will be holding a rally protest the siege of Gaza. Dec 27th, 1 pm, Israeli Consulate. Full details here.

2. Copenhagen: Reasons for Despair
It’s over and there was an agreement reached that action must be taken, but no legally binding agreement as to what action. They could have banned world hunger and repealed the law of gravity just as effectively. In this section we look at the implications of the failure to take meaningful action.

* The Elephants of Doom in Copenhagen Tyee (Thanks, Dave!)
There is no conflict between the environment and the economy. Whatever problems we may have can be solved if we just get more efficient with our energy use. New technologies like carbon sequestration can do that. And markets will work their magic if we can get the incentives right. So let’s price carbon to force that market innovation, and let’s support “green” science to create these new technologies….This is the official ideology of Copenhagen. This is the agenda.
But there are some problems here…Take cars, for example. We can increase fuel economy, and we can shift to hybrid electrics. And we can use our oil more wisely, stick up a million windmills, and dam another 100,000 rivers. And we can grow, slowly steadily, year by year. And then we will have more and more cars everywhere, and the oil is still going to run out, and there will be no more rivers left to dam, and no new places to take advantage of the wind. Then what? Like Obama in Afghanistan, we should ask, “Where is the ‘exit strategy’? And when?” And what will the world look like when we face up to that inevitable exit?

* Why Economies get Worse without a Deal Gwynne Dyer (Thanks, Gabe!)
Oceans cover two-thirds of the planet’s surface and are cooler than the land, so the average temperature over most land areas is higher than the “average global temperature”. The Hadley Centre predicts that a global average of plus-4 degrees means average temperatures 5 to 6 degrees higher in China, India, Southeast Asia, and most of Africa, and up to 8 degrees higher in the Amazon (which would burn, of course).
The result would be a 40-percent fall in world wheat and corn production and a 30-percent fall in rice by 2060—in a world that would, by then, have to feed 2 billion more people. So there would be mass starvation, and waves of desperate refugees trying to move to some country where they can still feed their kids.

* Signs of Change in the Himalayas The Guardian
Average temperatures across Nepal have risen 1.6C in 50 years – twice the global average. But here on the roof of the world, in what is called the “third pole”, they are already nearly 4C above normal and on track to rise by as much as 8C by 2050.
Temperature rises like this in the Himalayas would be a catastrophe. It is not just the future of a few mountain communities at stake but the lives of nearly one in four people in the world, all of whom rely on the Himalayas for water. Nepalese rivers alone provide water for 700 million people in India and Bangladesh

* The Truths Copenhagen Ignored Johann Hari The Independent (Thanks, Gabe!)
So that’s it. The world’s worst polluters – the people who are drastically altering the climate – gathered here in Copenhagen to announce they were going to carry on cooking, in defiance of all the scientific warnings.
They didn’t seal the deal; they sealed the coffin for the world’s low-lying islands, its glaciers, its North Pole, and millions of lives.
Those of us who watched this conference with open eyes aren’t surprised. Every day, practical, intelligent solutions that would cut our emissions of warming gases have been offered by scientists, developing countries and protesters – and they have been systematically vetoed by the governments of North America and Europe.

3. Copenhagen: Reasons for Hope
The countries together did nothing… but the people started pushing, a pressure that is sure to increase in light of Presidents’ and Prime Ministers’ failure. And cities, states and provinces started talking about what they can do.

* The Protesters Offer the Best Hope For Our Planet Johann Hari The Independent
This conflagration here in Copenhagen is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. Our governments are showing their moral bankruptcy – but a genuinely global democratic movement is swelling to make them change course. Mass democratic agitation is the only force that has ever made governments moral before; it will have to do it again.
An army of dedicated campaigners is gathering here, and they are prepared to take real risks to oppose this sham-deal. The protest march on Saturday here must have been the most genuinely global demonstration in history. Under banners saying “There Is No Planet B”, “Nature Doesn’t Do Bailouts” and “Change the Politics, Not the Climate”, there seemed to be people from every nation on earth. Lawrence Muli from Kenya’s youth delegation told me: “We are having the worst drought in memory in Kenya. The seasons have changed in ways we don’t understand. My family can’t grow crops any more, so they are going hungry. I am here to say we won’t die quietly.”… The young protesters who will do this have proved themselves, so far, the sanest force in town. They have ensured that the corporate lobbyists punching holes in the deal are followed and shamed wherever they meet. They chant: “It’s not your business – it’s our climate.”

* Schwarzenegger: Local Governments Can Lead Climate Fight
The Guvernator tells it like it is in this powerful three minute video.

* Countries can Fight on Their Own
Germany goes Green The Guardian
In this nation that embraced one of the world’s most aggressive campaigns against global warming, the Pokropp family can almost hear the cha-ching when switching off their lights. A kilowatt of electricity costs three times as much here as it does in the United States, supercharged with high taxes to discourage use and to help fund renewable energy development. Meanwhile, a 50 percent “eco-tax” has sent the price of gasoline to $8 a gallon. To manage costs, the family of three unplugs all their appliances but the refrigerator at night, avoids driving and limits steam baths — a favorite German custom. “We have no choice,” said Andreas Pokropp, a former coal refinery worker. “We have to be green, even if we can’t afford it.”

Denmark Goes Green ESSI
Since 1990, Denmark has grown its economy by 45 percent while energy consumption has remained constant and CO2 emissions have fallen by 13 percent. The efficiency and renewable energy industries are thriving, providing 11 percent of total Danish exports and contributing to Denmark’s relatively high GDP and low unemployment. Specifically, Denmark has focused on combined heat and power, wind energy, building efficiency, and, most recently, electric vehicles, among numerous strategies to reduce carbon emissions and enhance the Danish economy.

4. Copenhagen: Reasons for Amusement
Reading the media has been pretty funny. On Wednesday, The Guardian had a headline “Copenhagen Day Of Mass Protest Passes Without Major Incident”, while The New York Times reported, “Police Beat Back Massed Climate Protesters”. The best stunt was the Yes Men making fools out of Jim Prentice, (like shooting farmed fish in an oil barrel, innit?) but we have a few other amusing pieces to follow as well.

* YES MEN Prank Canada at Copenhagen Huffington Post
The fun began this morning when the Yes Men put out the following release, purporting to come from the Assistant Press Secretary, of the Canadian Office of the Minister of the Environment. Here it is in full:


Plan includes stricter emissions reductions and immediate “climate debt” bailouts for most affected countries. In a major development coming three days before the final round of UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen,… Canada’s Attache for Environment and Planning announced today an ambitious plan for a new climate change framework that answers vital concerns voiced by developing nations….”We believe all people will benefit from an equitable climate deal that truly energizes the world economy,” said Prentice.
UPDATE #2: Yet another spoof press release, this one apologizing for all the confusion:

Tragic Ugandan Reaction to False “Canada” Announcement.

Passionate response highlights cruelty of thoughtless pranksters….”It is the height of cruelty, hypocrisy, and immorality to infuse with false hopes the spirit of people who are already, and will additionally, bear the brunt of climate change’s terrible human effects,” said Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister for the Environment.

* A Denialist Speaks Out Cartoon

* Greenpeace’s 2020 Poster Campaign

5. Dystopia and Datopia
I kept getting more and more separate items about the development of an Orwellian world in Oceania. So I tried to put them into a context and this hyperlinked essay is what came out. Don’t miss the Onion piece towards the end! Comments welcome.

* Dystopia and Datopia Peter Marmorek Tikkun Daily Blog
Soma or Big Brother? Destruction or distraction? For years “Brave New World” was balanced against “1984″, as though those two works defined the opposite ends of the dystopian spectrum, a spectrum one might presume to be exclusively in shades of grey. And though such an opposition ignores the many other fine works describing the range of hand-baskets in which we may be hell-bound, the pairing offered a useful metaphor. For many, the final word on the debate was Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” which in 1986 argued brilliantly that it was Huxley, not Orwell, whose map more accurately charted our society’s devolution. If you haven’t read Postman, or have only fuzzy memories of “1984″ or “Brave New World” check out Stuart McMillen’s concise and clear outline of Postman’s contrast between the Orwellian and Huxleyan dystopias. It’s a funny cartoon summary with painfully accurate images of Huxleyan indulgence and Orwellian control. And it’s hard to argue against Huxley in a week when Google (to whom we’ll return later on) tells us that people find the question of whether the world’s leaders in Copenhagen will manage to avert the impending climate catastrophe to be five million hits less interesting than Tiger Woods, whom we are given to understand has been putting his balls into the wrong holes.
Despite that, I think Postman had it wrong….

6. Music For The Winter Solstice
Time of Darkness, shadows, and loneliness: no wonder we have festivals of light and gifts! But here are a few songs that seem seasonal: a new Leonard Cohen blues, a stinging James McMurtry rocker, and Tom Lehrer with a traditional Christmas carol, more or less.

* Darkness: Leonard Cohen Youtube
I caught the darkness baby,
Drinking from your cup,

I caught the darkness baby,
from your little ruby cup.
I said is this contagious?
You said ‘just drink it up’

* We Can’t Make It Here Anymore: James McMurtry Grooveshark
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ‘em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need
Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed
Their kids won’t bleed in the damn little war
And we can’t make it here anymore.

* A Christmas Carol: Tom Lehrer youtube
Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly
Fill the cup and don’t say when…

7. Things With Sharp Claws
Seems to fit the Winter Solstice theme: a terrifying 21 second slow motion video of an owl’s stoop, a cartoon about the Sphinx by Toronto great Winston Rowntree, and an
Elizabeth Bear short story about a young girl’s friendship with a harpy.

* Owl Attack In Slow Motion Youtube 21 sec

* Oh the Search for Solace Subnormality comix

* The Horrid Glory of Its Wings

8. Light Entertainment
After that last round we need something cheering. Some lights: a Christmas roof Santa like none you’ve seen, some wonderfully decorated trees, and 27 unusual menorahs. Tikkunista! hasn’t figured out how to send you mulled wine through the net yet, but we’re working on it.

* Santa

* Trees with Lights

* 27 Craziest Menorahs

9. Puzzles and Fun
Quick entertainment and some cheering light at the end of the tunnel.

* How many US states are entirely south of Canada’s southernmost point?
That’s the puzzle. Just click on the link to get the answer.

* Slide Puzzle Generator National Geographic
Remember the slide puzzle you had as a kid, a 4 X 4 matrix, with 15 pieces that slide around the 16th empty space, and you had to arrange the numbers in order? Same thing, but with Nat’l Geo pretty pictures. Timed, for the obsessively competitive.

* 1000 Awesome Things

10. Eyecandy: 2009 in Review The Big Picture
Part One
* Part Two
* Part Three

10. Quote of the Week
“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” Oscar Wilde


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

       The Talmud

December 11th, 2009

Dec-11-2009 | Comments Off

Compiled and edited by Peter Marmorek                                                      
Year Six; Issue 40

1. Actions
2. Copenhagen: The Debates inside
3. Copenhagen: The Demos Outside
4. Pressure on Israel Increases
5. Stuck in Afghanistan
6. The Politics of the Internet
7. The Speed of Travel
8. The Unnatural World
9. Eyecandy: The Natural World
10. Quote of the Week

1.  Actions
* Avaaz: This weekend will see one of the largest global climate actions in history. Thousands of towns and cities will light up with climate vigils with one united message — The World Wants a Real Deal! In just a few days we have created over 3000 events in 110 countries! Click to find if there’s a event near you, or how to host one.

2. Copenhagen: The Debates Inside
As the debates go on this coming week and the details change too fast to note, Tikkunista! looks at the overview. Proof there is Climate Change, arguments against the deniers, why “cap and trade” won’t work, and the big question at the end of every meal: who’s going to pick up the bill?

* Top Ten Questions about Climate Change Juan Cole Informed Comment
Is the earth’s climate warming? Indisputably.Has the pumping of vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human beings since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution contributed to global climate change? Also, indisputably.
* Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense Scientific American
What follows is only a partial list of the contrarians’ bad arguments and some brief rebuttals of them.

* Cap and Trade Scam
Two EPA lawyers with more than 40 years of cumulative experience say… that cap and trade for climate is a scam which only benefits the financial players….Cap and trade was tried in Europe, but ended up raising energy prices, creating volatility, produced few greenhouse gas reductions, but made billions for the financial players….Carbon offsets – which are part of the cap and trade plan - increase pollution

Open Borders for Climate Refugees Guardian
Up to 20 million Bangladeshis may be forced to leave the country in the next 40 years because of climate change, one of the country’s most senior politicians has said. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh’s finance minister, called on Britain and other wealthy countries to accept millions of displaced people.
In a clear signal to the US and Europe that developing countries are not prepared to accept a weak deal at next week’s Copenhagen climate summit, Abdul Muhith said Bangladesh wanted hosts for managed migration as people began to abandon flooded and storm-damaged coastal areas.
“Twenty million people could be displaced [in Bangladesh] by the middle of the century,” Abdul Muhith told the Guardian. “We are asking all our development partners to honour the natural right of persons to migrate. We can’t accommodate all these people – this is already the densest [populated] country in the world,” he said.

3. Copenhagen: The Demos Outside
“Nothing important ever happens unless someone is willing to kill somebody if it does not happen.” – George Bernard Shaw. There are a lot of people outside the locked rooms of Copenhagen who want important things to happen. An opening look at the actions they’re doing to encourage that.

* Pushing for Leadership
 “Politicians talk, leaders act” read the sign outside the Bella Center in Copenhagen on the opening day of the United Nations climate summit. Inside the convention centre, the official delegations from 192 countries, hundreds of NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) — an estimated 15,000 people in all — are engaging in two weeks of meetings aiming for a global agreement to stave off catastrophic global climate change. Five thousand journalists are covering the event.
Outside, Copenhagen has been transformed into a vibrant, global hub of climate-change activism, forums and protest planning. In one square, an ice sculpture of a polar bear melts day by day, and an open-air exhibit of towering photos displays “100 places to remember that will disappear.

* Escalating Protests
Echoing the words of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed (We will not die quietly!) and the African negotiator Ambassador Lumumba, (No to climate colonialism!) hundreds of youth created a loud and energetic “climate storm” today inside the Copenhagen climate talks at the UN. It was the largest demonstration at COP15 yet — and was just a taste of the storm to come. Youth from every continent clapped, snapped, and pounded their feet to make the sounds of a rainstorm in a representation of the typhoons and hurricanes that have ravaged communities around the world this year.

* “We’re Very Lucky it was Just Greenpeace
The security of Parliament Hill was called into question Monday as 19 Greenpeace activists pulled off an audacious stunt that one senior Liberal senator called “hugely embarrassing” for the government. The activists, wearing blue coveralls, climbing harnesses and hardhats, made it to the roofs of both West Block and Centre Block and unfurled protest banners in a high-wire demonstration designed to grab the attention of federal politicians on the opening day of the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen….“We’re very lucky it was just Greenpeace,” [Colin Kenny] said. “If there were 19 people arriving with AK-47s, you could have a hell of a mess on your hands.”

* Dying To Protest Climate Change (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

4. Pressure on Israel Increases
Whether one celebrates it or mourns it, one can’t deny that the pressure on Israel is building. The EU comes out in favour of a divided Jerusalem, Ali Abunimah, makes a major speech on how BDS works to increase non-violent pressure on Israel, and the Council of Foreign Relations questions US support for Israel.

* EU Backs Jerusalem as Joint Capital Al Jazeera
European Union foreign ministers have agreed that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state following two days of talks in Brussels….The text talks of a “contiguous” as well as viable Palestinian state, something which would require the inclusion of part of Jerusalem, and also states that the EU “has never recognised the annexation of East Jerusalem”.

* Brussels & Jerusalem Bernard Avishai
Today, European foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels to consider a Swedish draft document, recognizing, among other things, East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state and promising to recognize such a state in advance, based on the 1967 borders, unless changes are agreed to by both sides. The document adopts, in effect, the lines of the Clinton parameters, and seeks to advance an international consensus regarding the outline of a final deal.
Enough is enough, the document seems to be saying: a new round of negotiation would be fine, but old rounds have produced plenty to work with. The deal is not so mysterious; the problem, now that the Fayyad government has reasonably stabilized Palestine’s security and economy, is to force Israelis to face down its ersatz Judeans while they still can; to get Israelis used to the idea that Jerusalem is not just an Israeli city, Palestine is not just Israel’s internal problem, and that down the road is diplomatic isolation and possibly economic sanctions. When you consider that more than a third of Israel’s exports (and a higher proportion of high technology exports) go to Europe, the idea that the EU has no leverage here is increasingly preposterous.

* Forcing Israeli Change Ali Abunimah (who’s he?) Mondoweiss
As long as whites felt immune to the effects of apartheid, as long as they could get away with it, they had no incentive to read the Freedom Charter, and they could demonize Africans as much as they wanted and say these people are barbarians, and if we were to let them get their hands on the levers of power they would slaughter us in our beds, whites would be thrown into the sea. It was costless for them to say that. Once internal resistance and international solidarity in the form of boycott, divestment, and sanctions raised the cost of the status quo for the apartheid regime and those who benefited from it, then they said, OK, let’s talk, let’s hear what you have to say, what your vision is for the future of South Africa. So BDS created the conditions for dialogue and ultimately for the end to the conflict that were impossible as long as that balance of power was unchallenged.
I would argue that we are beginning to see, I don’t think it’s yet at full speed, but we’re beginning to see a similar loss of legitimacy for Zionism and for the practices that Israel has engaged in. And many Israelis worry about this very openly. I am convinced that the loss of legitimacy of the Zionist idea, of the idea of a special state for a special people, is irreversible, that that cannot be resurrected in the 21st century, a time when we at least preach if not practice universal rights and equality. Israel’s self image as a liberal Jewish and democratic state is impossible to maintain against the reality of a militarized, ultranationalist, sectarian Jewish settler colony that has to carry out regular massacres of indigenous civilians in order to maintain its control. Zionism simply cannot bomb, kidnap, assassinate, expel, demolish, settle, and lie its way to legitimacy and acceptance, and 62 years of Palestinian steadfastness,sumud, resistance have proven that time and again.

* What the US Elite Thinks About Israel counterpunch
The Council on Foreign Relations is always near the top of the Left’s list of bogeymen that stand accused of pulling the strings of US foreign policy. It is right up there with the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, right? Wrong. If that was the case,  those arguing that US support for Israel is based on it being a “strategic asset”  will have a hard time explaining a Pew Research Center survey on America’s Place in the World, taken of 642 CFR members between October 2 and November 16. The Pew poll  not only reveals that the overwhelming majority, two-thirds of the members of this elite foreign policy institution, believes that the United States has gone overboard in favoring Israel, it doesn’t consider Israel to have have much importance to the US in the first place.

5. O’ Bama, Can This Really Be the End, to be Stuck in Afghanistan with the Escalator Blues Again?
With POTUS sounding depressingly like Big Brother in Oslo (“War is Peace”), what do we say? If we persist in ignoring the lessons of history, all that’s left is dark humour, of which there are a couple of examples here.

* Afghanistan: the Roach Motel of Empires counterpunch
Afghanistan is the “roach motel”of empires. They check in, but they don’t check out. They get lured into battle, and then get bogged down in a quagmire they cannot win. British soldiers barely escaped with their lives from three colonial wars in Afghanistan, before their global empire finally collapsed.
The Russians withdrew in defeat only a few years before the Soviet Union and its Afghan allies collapsed. In 1979, President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski had consciously lured the Soviets into invading Afghanistan by arming Islamist mujahedin fighting a pro-Soviet revolutionary government….. Two days after 9/11, Fisk published an article warning that “Retaliation is a Trap,” but few Americans listened to his prediction. After the U.S. quickly drove the Taliban from Kabul with a high-tech war, it seemed that his prediction was even ludicrous. Now, Fisk looks downright prophetic, as the Americans are blindly following the path toward eventual stalemate and defeat.

* Karzai Vows to Crack Down on Self Onion
In his first major policy speech since being sworn in for a second term, Afghan president Hamid Karzai made a solemn pledge Wednesday to combat the rampant corruption of Afghan president Hamid Karzai. “Let me be clear: I will not rest until I bring an end to my graft and backroom deal-making,” said Karzai, later adding that he will personally head up an investigation into allegations that he authorized massive voter fraud in order to secure his own victory in August’s presidential election. “The blind eye that I continue to turn to drug trafficking, embezzlement, and human rights violations will no longer be tolerated, and I will do everything in my power to finally bring myself to justice.” Karzai also announced the appointment of several relatives to a new commission that will tackle the problem of nepotism within his administration.

* Greetings To Obama Toronto Star Editorial Cartoon

6. The Politics of the Internet
The net makes protests possible by allowing direct non-censored communication, as a fine article by an Iranian student points out. It makes communication networks and social networks function, as a fascinating piece about how MIT won the 12 balloon competition shows. There’s an interesting contrast between TV and the Internet (grab it, media teachers!) and a funny short film about EULAs for your friends.

* Iranian Students Route Around Censorship The Telegraph
The Iranian government may have banned foreign journalists from reporting at rallies, restricted internet access and shut down mobile networks in an attempt to block the protests. But shaky video footage of the rallies is still making its way to YouTube. The regime knows that it’s the global dimension of these protests that have sustained them. Members of the Iranian diaspora are now blogging, twittering and facebooking for the Iranian students in Iran, while Iranians are finding ways to communicate back. Even silence holds a message; I know that something’s going to happen when Iranian facebook friends stop posting online.

* Citizen Uprising Maisonneuve
Thirty-seven seconds long, it opens with the cameraphone swooping in on a man trying to stanch a young woman’s chest wound. She’s lying on her back, wearing jeans, blood streaming from her nose and mouth. In her last moments, she seems to stare straight at the viewer.
Filmed on a Tehran street on Saturday June 20, 2009, and posted to the Internet within minutes, the grisly video quickly spread from site to site. …. Back in the US, the talking head on CNN was excited. Working at breakneck speed and in run-on sentences, he realized the technology that allowed the images he was seeing—fires in the street, stones hurled at helmeted police, tear gas—was a very big deal, almost as big as the story itself.
… and we’re going to keep following these things and pretty much before I pop on air we grab things that have come on literally within seconds, grab them, put them into a format that you can see them and share them with you on air because the Twitter universe I’ll tell you, is playing an historic and amazing role in what’s been going on …

* MIT Team Wins Red Balloon Hunt
The MIT team used an elegant and rather simple means of recruiting its large nation-wide network of spotters. Every person registering with the team was given a unique link, which they could then propagate via e-mail, Web page, social network, or any other means they saw fit. New people could then click on this link and register with the MIT team, and in turn be given their own unique links with which to recruit others. The MIT database would thus know who had recruited whom.
On Saturday, a spotter managing to be first to get a correct location and balloon number to MIT came in line for a $2,000 payout from the team. The rest of the $4,000 prize money per balloon was assigned asymptotically (that is, all the money would be handed out only in the case of an infinite number of people in the chain) to the chain of people who found the spotter: $1,000 to the person who recruited the spotter him/herself, $500 to the person who recruited the recruiter, $250 to the person who recruited them, and so on until everyone in the chain was paid off. The money remaining from each $4,000, probably a small amount, will be donated to charity.
Page notes that the method is clever because it makes it worth someone’s while to join the MIT team, even though there is only a vanishingly small chance of actually finding a balloon oneself.

* Velocity of Media Consumption: TV versus The Web

Audience Mass: everybody watches the same basic channels, so the programming has to be bland
Niche: everybody seeks out their own special interests the moment they want something
Turn it on
Figure it out
Weak: can’t do anything except show pictures; offers no features
Powerful: can do almost anything; offers plenty of features
Main access UI
“Same time, same channel” next week
Search and navigation
User experience
Passive: sit back and let it happen the way the program director decided
Active: lean forward and decide where you want to go at any time

* A Friend’s EULA boingboing

7. The Speed of Travel
Three ways of symbolically showing the speed of travel: a stop action walk down Yonge Street; a stop action view of Vietnamese traffic patterns; a real time diagram of a light beam going from Earth to moon. All that in under five minutes!

* Walk Down Yonge Street boingboing
Atiev and D.J. Pataeve walked the a long length of Ontario’s Yonge Street, that originates at Lake Ontario and stretches all the way up to the Arctic Circle (depending on how you define the street), taking stop motion images all the way. It’s a really lovely bit of video.

* Nguyen Trai Street Traffic youtube
The view from my window last night. Music is “Flight of the Bumblebee” performed by Rockapella.  

* From Earth to Moon Wikipedia
Scale model of the Earth and the Moon, with a beam of light travelling between them at the speed of light. It takes approximately 1.26 seconds.

8. The Unnatural World
Mixed group of unnatural things in this section: wonderful surreal pictures by the talented Maggie Taylor, photoshopped sharks with human teeth, and unnatural foods that even a shark shouldn’t eat.
Maggie Taylor (Thanks, Diana!)
Sharks with Human Teeth
* The Six Weirdest Scariest Processed Foods alternet

9. Eyecandy: The Natural World
* Insects
* Glass Images of Flora and Fauna Dark Roasted Blend

10. Quote of the Week
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Thomas Edison (1847–1931) (Thanks, Gabe!)


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

       The Talmud

December 5th, 2009

Dec-05-2009 | Comments Off

Compiled and edited by Peter Marmorek                                                      
Year Six; Issue 39

1. Actions
2. Coping with Copenhagen
3. Bad Week for Canada
4. Swiss Go Cuckoo Over Minarets
5. Wade Davis: The Massey Lectures
6. Right Winguts
7. Over the Edge Recreation
8. Do You Know What Good Clean Fun Is?
9. Eyecandy: In and Out of the World
10. Quote of the Week

1.  Actions
* Avaaz: The weekend of Saturday December 12 will be one of the largest global climate actions in history. Thousands of towns and cities will light up with climate vigils with one united message — The World Wants a Real Deal! In just a few days we have created over 1450 vigils in 110 countries! Click to find if there’s a event near you, or how to host one.

* Sign-up now and say “Yes, I’m Writing for Rights” with Amnesty International on International Human Rights Day. You can sign-up to write on your own on December 10th, organize your own event, or join a Write for Rights event in your community.

2. Coping With Copenhagan
We start with a program for you, so you’ll know who the players are, and what positions they play. Hari wishes he could believe the deniers, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist explains why the talks MUST fail, and Naomi Klein introduces us to Climate Debt. Haven’t heard of that? You will, a lot, but we got it to you first.

* Copenhagen conference: The countries to watch (The Guardian)
America and China are the big hitters, but other nations also punch above their weight
Canada… In stark contrast to its cuddly international image, Canada is the dirty old man of the climate world – missing its Kyoto emissions reduction target by a country mile (by 2007, it was 34% above its target) and showing no signs of reigning in its profligacy.
Friends and foes Roundly criticized by  developing countries for being way off the pace, now there are calls to suspend it from the Commonwealth.

* How I Wish That The Global Warming Deniers Were Right - Johann Hari, – The Independent
Every day, I pine for the global warming deniers to be proved right. I loved the old world – of flying to beaches wherever we want, growing to the skies, and burning whatever source of energy came our way. I hate the world to come that I’ve seen in my reporting from continent after continent – of falling Arctic ice shelves, of countries being swallowed by the sea, of vicious wars for the water and land that remains. When I read the works of global warming deniers like Nigel Lawson or Ian Plimer, I feel a sense of calm washing over me. The nightmare is gone; nothing has to change; the world can stay as it was.
But then I go back to the facts. However much I want them to be different, they sit there, hard and immovable….

* Why The Talks Must Fail The Guardian
The scientist who convinced the world to take notice of the looming danger of global warming says it would be better for the planet and for future generations if next week’s Copenhagen climate change summit ended in collapse. In an interview with the Guardian, James Hansen, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch.
… “The whole approach is so fundamentally wrong that it is better to reassess the situation. If it is going to be the Kyoto-type thing then [people] will spend years trying to determine exactly what that means.” He was speaking as progress towards a deal in Copenhagen received a boost today, with India revealing a target to curb its carbon emissions. All four of the major emitters – the US, China, EU and India – have now tabled offers on emissions, although the equally vexed issue of funding for developing nations to deal with global warming remains deadlocked.

* Climate Debt Naomi Klein
Among the smartest and most promising — not to mention controversial — proposals is “climate debt,” the idea that rich countries should pay reparations to poor countries for the climate crisis. In the world of climate-change activism, this marks a dramatic shift in both tone and content. American environmentalism tends to treat global warming as a force that transcends difference: We all share this fragile blue planet, so we all need to work together to save it. But the coalition of Latin American and African governments making the case for climate debt actually stresses difference, zeroing in on the cruel contrast between those who caused the climate crisis (the developed world) and those who are suffering its worst effects (the developing world). Justin Lin, chief economist at the World Bank, puts the equation bluntly: “About 75 to 80 per cent” of the damages caused by global warming “will be suffered by developing countries, although they only contribute about one-third of greenhouse gases.”
Climate debt is about who will pick up the bill. 

3. A Bad Week For Canada
Remember when Americans used to sew Canadian flags on their backpacks? Things Have Changed. George Monbiot cuts strips up and down Canada’s climate inaction in the most recommended piece (five submissions) Tikkunista! has ever had. Dobbin explains how the CPCCA is quietly removing free speech from the Charter of Rights; a trailer of an anti-tar sands film has horrific images of the untrue North, weak and polluted; and Fred Wilson sums it up. Some days it hardly seems worth chewing through the leather straps.

* Canada’s image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling George Monbiot (Thanks, everyone)
When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world’s peacekeeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country’s government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee’s tea party…. here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.
Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.

* Criticizing Israel May Become Hate Speech Murray Dobbin Tyee
One of the most recent — but almost totally unreported — developments in Canada is something called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA)… a multi-party, voluntary association of 13 MPs. It is currently holding an inquiry into anti-Semitism because, it says, “The extent and severity of antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the Second World War.” In fact, antisemitic attitudes in the U.S. are at an all-time low according to Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, whose mandate is to monitor and expose anti-Semitism. Statistics Canada reports the number of hate crimes against Jews has been dropping since 2001-2002.
…It remains to be seen what the recommendations of the coalition will be, but its conclusions regarding a sweeping redefinition of anti-Semitism have already been drawn and incorporated into their inquiry process — mortally damaging its credibility. The likelihood that the Harper government is working in lock-step with the coalition is high and the CPCCA’s purpose may well be to prepare the ground for criminalizing criticism of Israel.
Petition to defend Canadian Free speech against CPCCA here

* H2Oil Trailer (2 minutes)
A powerful glimpse of life downstream from the tar sands.

* Way To Go, Team Canada Fred Wilson,
All together, a particularly bad week for Canada that makes us and our country look paranoid, vindictive, hypocritical, obsequious and villainous.

4. The Swiss Anti-Minaret Vote and fallout
Context: The Swiss voted to ban minarets. We start with a look at the horrifically racist poster that carried the day, and follow with a look at the impact on Europe. The only good thing is that some Jewish organizations are recognizing that those who would ban minarets are their enemies too, and fighting this absurdity. The official Swiss government quote? “A ban on minarets was not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture”. So that’s all okay then, eh?

* The Poster That Convinced Switzerland to Ban Minarets boingboing

* The Swiss and the Muslims Victor Grossman, portside (Thanks, Amy!)
This shameful episode, though most other countries at that time were equally guilty, makes the decision by over half of Swiss voters especially disturbing, and not only because it was a victory for the far-right Swiss People’s Party. Like cheese and watches, such intolerance promises to be an export product whose political effects recall the crippling medical effects of thalidomide, or Contergan. And far too many in other countries are overly willing to buy this poison….

* Rabbis for Minarets Jerusalem Post
Swiss voters this week approved by a strong majority a referendum outlawing the construction of minarets. The measure, pushed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), was supported by 57 percent of the population.
However, Jewish organizations, realizing that a crackdown on Islam could have repercussions for Jews as well, have come to the defense of Muslim worshipers, arguing that the Swiss’s move was unjustifiable.

* Don’t Be Fooled by Islamophobia cst
A small Islamophobic group, called Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE), has called for 1,000 Jews to attend its forthcoming demonstration at Harrow mosque; and for each Jew to bring an Israeli flag. A demonstration against Harrow mosque under the banner “Stop the Islamisation of Europe”, is as stupid and offensive as a demonstration against Harrow synagogue, under the banner “Stop the Zionisation of Europe”.
This has nothing to do with the necessary and legitimate work to counter extremism and antisemitism wherever and whenever it genuinely occurs. CST has raised awareness of the activities of extreme Islamist groups in the UK for many years. But to demonise an entire community, every Muslim and every mosque, in the way that SIOE does, shows exactly the kind of bigotry from which Jews have suffered so often in our history. For SIOE to appeal to Jews to support them shows a complete ignorance of the Jewish experience of being on the receiving end of exactly this type of politics.

5. The Massey Lectures, 2009: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
Anthropologist Wade Davis gives a series of five lectures for CBC radio. Extraordinary in breadth, and breathtakingly deep, the lectures explore the different ways that traditional cultures have made sense of the world. Staring with current ethnobiological discovery that disproves the existence of races, Davis works on the principle that genius in alternative cultural adaptations are all worth exploring – and are they ever! A must listen.

* The Wayfinders: Wade Davis
In The Wayfinders anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis reveals the significance of what may be lost through a wild and thrilling exploration of what remains with us and very much alive. Travel to Polynesia and celebrate the art of navigation that allowed the Wayfinders to infuse the entire Pacific Ocean with their imagination and genius. In the Amazon await the descendants of a true Lost Civilization, the People of the Anaconda, a complex of cultures inspired by mythological ancestors who even today dictate how humans must live in the forest. In the Andean Cordillera and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Colombia discover that the Earth really is alive, pulsing, responsive in a thousand ways to the spiritual readiness of humankind. Dreamtime and the Songlines will lead to the melaleuca forests of Arnhem Land, and an understanding the subtle philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia. In Nepal a stone path leads to a door opening to reveal the radiant face of a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, Tsetsam Ani, a Buddhist nun who forty-five years ago entered lifelong retreat. The flight of a hornbill, like a cursive script of nature, will let us know that we have arrived at last amongst the nomadic Penan in the upland forests of Borneo.

5. Rightwing Nuts: Flying on a Wing and a Prayer
It’s not just Sarah Palin (though her tribute to the Cheyenne who killed Custer (Why does she hate our military?) is worth a look). But the rise of lunatics is driving real conservatives, people who believe in rational discourse and evidence, out of the Republican tent. This week, two major elephants slipped out… and we have their farewell notes.

* The New Wave Of Female Firebrands Striking Fear Into Liberal America The Observer
She is a striking brunette with a decidedly outspoken attitude. She lambasts President Barack Obama as a socialist and has become the darling of America’s right-wing activists who flock to her appearances. She is hated by liberals and loved by conservatives. Sarah Palin? Not quite. Meet Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota who is being hailed as a new and increasingly powerful voice in American politics.
Bachmann, at 53, is a darling of the so-called Tea Party movement, which has campaigned vociferously against healthcare reform, the economic stimulus package and legislation to combat climate change. Her followers have been behind mass rallies in Washington and smaller ones all over the country. She has emerged as one of the most visible politicians in America, frequently appearing on the conservative Fox News channel, whose hosts often champion her causes.

* Leaving the Right Andrew Sullivan The Daily Dish
I cannot support a movement that criminalizes private behavior in the war on drugs.
I cannot support a movement that would back a vice-presidential candidate manifestly unqualified and duplicitous because of identity politics and electoral cynicism.
I cannot support a movement that regards gay people as threats to their own families.
I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.
I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy.
I cannot support a movement that refuses ever to raise taxes, while proposing no meaningful reductions in government spending.

* Why I Parted Ways With The Right Little Green Footballs
1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)
2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)
3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)
4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

7. Over the Edge Recreation
“I don’t want to sanction stupidity as our national sport, but I have to admire this little man’s dogged nerve and rubber determination.” — The Firesign Theatre, in Everything You Know Is Wrong. Watch three videos of people doing utterly crazy things for fun, things that Tikkunista! warns you not to try. Ever!

* Fifth Gear Loops the Loop

* French Skier Parasails Avalanche (Thanks, Dave!)

* Snowboarders Grinding

8. Do You Know What Good Clean Fun Is? (No. What good is it?) (thanks, 1960s!)
Context: Tikkunista! keeps accumulating dangerously cute animal videos and silly fun puzzles. And now they are being shared with you, so you can forward it to those people who are always forwarding such things to you.

* Fun Mind Puzzles (Thanks, Elizabeth!)
* Elkcalf Gambolling
* Surprised Kitten
* Kiss My Ass
* Dumpster Diving

9. Eyecandy: Unrelated Pictures
* 100 Days in Glacier National Park
* The Olympic Torch
(Big Picture)
* The World’s Biggest Cruise Ship
* The Solar System

10. Quote of the Week
“        It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.” -William G. McAdoo (Thanks, Lief!)


“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

       The Talmud


Blog Roll

Al Jazeera
Bernard Avishai
Broadsides: Antonia Zerbisias
China Matters
Informed Comment
Lawrence of Cyberia
Mondoweiss Canadian leftish voices
Stephen Walt Foreign Policiy
The Big Picture
The Guardian
Tikkun Daily Blog
Tikun Olam


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