Archive for November, 2015

On November 25th, the United Nation’s “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” campaign began. It will culminate on December 10th with Human Rights Day.

As has happened again this year, I just couldn’t quite get it together to set down and concentrate on a thoughtful blog, or series. Maybe it’s the depression I am avoiding. It’s not the Holidays that cause this depression. It’s the work that it takes to dig up and newly elucidate old hard, unacknowledged truths again, because for me it’s one of the most important times there is, and I always feel unequal to the task.

Women are still not equal partners in the world and its affairs. The Equal Rights Amendment has not yet passed. Women are not included as a whole in civil rights laws.

Earlier this year in September, and just this week a Planned Parenthood facility was attacked, the first by fire and the most recent, by another gun wielding misogynist. The media has zinged back and over whether the most recent attack is an act of terror or a deranged soul.

I don’t think these acts fully represent either position. They are hate crimes. (more…)

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Statue of Liberty Inscription

“Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

― Emma Lazarus

Someone-please do a cartoon of a bunch of Republican governors carrying off the Statue of Liberty!

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As one of your average armchair observers, I depend on what media has to tell me about current events. I read my local newspaper, “The Daily Journal”, though sometimes out of date. I receive email alerts on world news, from the SacBee, NYT, WAPO, KCRA, Tribune (Chicago), and ABC. I used to read a few others now defunct. I have not subscribed to SfGate, CNN or FOX, because I got tired of their bullshit. I used to read the others when they were free; I have not paid for monthly subscriptions to the above publications. I used to get AP and Reuters, IATimes, Japan Herald and Hong Kong News, VOA, and KUAM, but the emails stopped. I do spend a fair amount of time surfing various sources from different perspectives.

So, I did a review of my emails, and my local paper. Not one of the alerts mentioned Lebanon or Beirut until the events in Paris.

Yesterday I did an Google and Yahoo search for “Beirut”. Only CNN popped up with an article on the Beirut attack with the appropriate date. Today I did an similar search for “Beirut, 2015/11/12. Low and behold! There were pages of date appropriate articles from all kinds of media sources, including the ones for which I receive alerts.

This leads me to a few conclusions:

Clearly I am not engaging with news media in such a way as to receive a broad view of world events.

The journalistic sources that deign to send me email alerts are deciding what I should read, and it isn’t enough.

Google and Yahoo are not neutral news sources because they are search engines and they rank news on number of hits, not news.

When a person spends the time, as I did yesterday, reading 10 pages of search hits in the vain hope of finding date appropriate information on the Beirut explosion, the resulting frustration over my personal  obliviousness, seemed in the long run, to actually be a symptom for something else.

For all our current internet technology, we average armchair observers are still pretty much in the dark. Why?

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Here find the transcript for the Iowa Democratic debate: Democratic debate transcript

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Update: I was able to access this first link below, again, around 3:00 PT.

In searching for information on Paris I found that another terrible event had occurred. Why didn’t I know? Where was the outrage? I watch the news yet I missed it-including the part where ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack […in the southern Beirut suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, a predominantly Shia community which supports the Hezbollah movement. Not counting Israel’s assaults on Lebanon, the slaughters represent the deadliest bombings in Beirut since the Lebanese civil war ended more than two decades ago…]

Paris Attacks Highlight Western Vulnerability, And Our Selective Grief And Outrage

The above page, along with the whole website, has been removed from the web. I don’t know if this is temporary, if it’s been hacked or? However, the Wayback Machine says the Australian page is here:

Library of Congress.

As with al Queda, if we blinker ourselves to see just part of what is happening with IS, we are going to miss the story. Should I care, when the victim nation itself, has muddied its own pond of refuge? Human Rights Watch provides a synopsis:

Lebanon: Deadly Attack Kills Dozens

Why is so much hatred and violence emanating from Syria?

Rather than politics, maybe it’s useful to review some geography about Syria. The CIA produces a geography book on countries. Here is what the CIA’s “The World Factbook” says about  Syrian refugees:

[…refugees (country of origin): 526,744 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2014); undetermined (Iraq) (2015)
note: the ongoing civil war has created nearly 4.3 million Syrian refugees – dispersed in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey – as of November 2015
IDPs: 7,632,500 (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2015)
stateless persons: 160,000 (2014); note – Syria’s stateless population is composed of Kurds and Palestinians; stateless persons are prevented from voting, owning land, holding certain jobs, receiving food subsidies or public healthcare, enrolling in public schools, or being legally married to Syrian citizens; in 1962, some 120,000 Syrian Kurds were stripped of their Syrian citizenship, rendering them and their descendants stateless; in 2011, the Syrian Government granted citizenship to thousands of Syrian Kurds as a means of appeasement; however, resolving the question of statelessness is not a priority given Syria’s ongoing civil war
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: due to Syria’s political uprising and violent unrest, hundreds of thousands of Syrians, foreign migrant workers, and refugees have fled the country and are vulnerable to human trafficking; the lack of security and inaccessibility of the majority of the country makes it impossible to conduct a thorough analysis of the scope and magnitude of Syria’s human trafficking situation; Syria is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Syrian refugee women and girls are forced into exploitive marriages or prostitution in neighboring countries, while refugee children are forced into street begging domestically and abroad; the Syrian armed forces and opposition forces are using Syrian children in combat and support roles and as human shields
tier rating: Tier 3 – the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; increasing violence undercut any law enforcement efforts in 2013; the government failed to protect and prevent children from recruitment by government forces and armed opposition groups; a new law passed in 2013 criminalizing the recruitment of children under 18 by armed forces was not enforced; authorities did not make efforts to investigate and punish trafficking offenders, including complicit government employees; no trafficking victims were identified or provided with protective services; the government did not attempt to inform the public about human trafficking or to provide anti-trafficking training to officials (2014)…]

Despite the presence of the Euphrates River, Syria is water poor with mostly degraded land. With one of the highest growth rates in the world, 34% of it’s population is under 14. It’s products are: petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, and automobile assembly. There is concern, as we gardeners know, generally, that phosphates, required for agriculture, will be in very short supply by 2020, and is projected to lead to worldwide food shortages. Industry is state owned.

Under increasing desertification, it’s 17% of agricultural land is devoted to: wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, and milk. Though the CIA doesn’t say, I would speculate with 9-12 inch of rain or less, that most of the land is in dryland wheat farming. The exception is the coast, which receives more rain. This is not enough to sustain a country that is one and half times the size of Pennsylvania.

I have read right sided discussion about why Syrians don’t stay home and fight for their homeland. Why emigrate?  From a numbers perspective, 160,000 refugees AND their children were declared stateless by Syria itself. Although that order was rescinded for many, its not clear how long that will last. What do you do when you aren’t allowed to work, obtain medical help if you are shot, or even eat? How long will your family funds last? Other Syrians themselves can attest to the insecurity of living. It’s clear that under these brutal conditions that there isn’t generally enough sustenance. The photos of refugees I have seen are of thin humans.

In order to fight a war, the first thing that is needed is food and water to support troops. There isn’t enough without import. In order to fight a war the second thing needed is arms. From whence are those to come? What strings are attached? Who controls these things in Syria?

What about Money?

The EIU reports that the current banking system is in urgent need of reform. The system is criticized by business leaders for being inefficient and offering only basic services. There are, for example, no ATMs, checks, or credit cards in Syria. Commercial loans are hard to obtain without using political party or government connections or traditional patronage relations (a system of relations in which government or any other sectarian, tribal domineering authority distributes the sources at its expense to its supporters as rewards). The new Syrian government has acknowledged the need for reform of the financial system and these new moves show that progress is being made. Some modernization efforts have been initiated with the computerization of the Central Bank and other commercial banks.

The government has also announced that foreign banks will be allowed to open branches in Syria for the first time. Banks with at least US$11 million in capital will be permitted to operate in the country’s free zones (an area where goods may be landed, handled, manufactured, reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of the customs authorities) to finance commercial and industrial activity. In August 2000 3 Lebanese banks were issued licenses while some non-Arab international banks expressed their wishes to enter the full international market rather than be restricted to the small free zones. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has estimated that Syria would gain US$8 billion in foreign investment if it allowed the establishment of private banks, opened a stock market, and unified exchange rates .

Read more: Syria

Whether it’s France or Lebanon who sends support to fight IS, while struggling to provide sanctuary for refugees, we are all affected.  While we mourn for those lost, we need to pay careful attention. It is not acceptable to become tone deaf to the struggles in the Middle East. Nor is it acceptable to be ignorant to it’s nuances. Neither is it okay ignore strife elsewhere. Westerners don’t live in a safe little cubby where nothing bad happens and they are somehow better. Mightiness and technology might contain hate, but only other values will change it.

Aleppo, a “World Heritage Site

Three Teams of Coordinated Attackers Carried Out Assault on Paris, Officials Say; Hollande Blames ISIS

Death toll mounts after terror attacks in Paris

French officials warned that austerity increased security peril

Paris Attack Spurs Search for Unity in Syrian Peace Talks

Syrian passport at Paris attack scene belonged to asylum seeker: Greek minister Read more:

Kerry says no agreement in Syria talks on Assad’s future Read more:

Paris attacks a ‘violation of all religions’: Saudi FM Read more:

State Dept: Americans wounded in Paris attacks

150402 – 147 dead, Islamist gunmen killed after attack at Kenya college

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151113 – Paris is Attacked


Update: the Death Tones were in Paris and scheduled to play in that concert hall on Saturday.

Correction: the Band was from Palm Desert CA:

Eagles of Death Metal

Their schedule was widely available online.

At least 60 people killed, bombing at the Stade de France with 80 thousand fans, a resturant and a concert hall where a Def Metal concert was just finishing and hostages were taken. If you aren’t watching you should be:




Though there are reports that the gunmen yelled this is for Syria, there is no claim of responsibility yet. However, a CIA rep mentions Yemen and ISIS as possible culprits.

Attacks in Paris (If you are there.)
Emergency number: 0800 40 60 05 For any information listen to 107.1 FM

Shelter inside.

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Update, Update: Below find the uppercard debate transcript:


Update; Below find the undercard debate transcript:


If you can’t find it on your free TV, try this:


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