Atheist group tries to ban the bible in schools

Atheists in Florida Try To Ban The Bible In Schools

“If they’re gonna ban books, then the whole library should be in play. My hope — and it’s a longshot — is that they will apply their own standards to themselves and ban the Bible.”

By Joshua Ceballos, Miami New Times 

Since July of 2021, more than 200 books have been banned in various school districts across Florida, the state with the third-highest number of school book banning incidents in the U.S. This comes as the Florida legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis have passed House Bill 1467, which allows members of the public to challenge and ban books available in school classrooms and libraries, and a swath of “anti-woke” legislation purportedly aimed at empowering parents to protect their children’s impressionable minds.

With that in mind, local political stunt activist Chaz Stevens of Deerfield Beach has taken it upon himself to add another book to the lengthy list: the Bible. This week, in letters sent to superintendents in eight school districts in Florida — including Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) and Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) — Stevens, an avowed atheist, petitions the districts to ban the Christian Bible from classrooms and libraries, citing its inclusion of inappropriate topics.

Atheist group tries to ban the bible in schools

“If they’re gonna ban books, then the whole library should be in play. My hope — and it’s a longshot — is that they will apply their own standards to themselves and ban the Bible,” Stevens tells New Times.

Free-speech and literary-expression advocates have been sounding the alarm about what they see as a bureaucratic, authoritarian attack on education in Florida, particularly after recent news that the state rejected 54 math textbooks from the curriculum for allegedly containing prohibited topics such as “Critical Race Theory.” When the state went so far as banning math books, Stevens says, he was inspired to use the same bureaucracy to strike back against the conservative wave with an operation he calls “Eff Off Jesus.”

“I wish to file such an objection, requesting the Miami-Dade County Public School system immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material,” Stevens writes in his request addressed to MDCPS Superintendent Jose Dotres on April 19. “And, as is often the case with banned books, I ask your agency lay flame to that giant stack of fiction in a pyre worthy of a Viking sendoff.”

Stevens cites age inappropriateness, social-emotional learning, mentions of bestiality and rape, and “wokeness” as reasons to ban the Bible. Each reason is accompanied by a corresponding Bible excerpt. (A copy of Stevens’ letter is attached at the end of this article).

“With the constant babbling concerns about teaching Critical Race Theory, should we not take stock of the Bible’s position on slavery? I am concerned our young white students will read such passages and wake up to civilization’s sordid past,” Stevens writes, followed by a passage from Ephesians that speaks of slaves and servants obeying their masters.

Though book-banning incidents have been recorded in seven Florida school districts, none has been documented in South Florida’s school districts.

But at least one South Florida school district has received Stevens’ letter.
“We acknowledge receipt of the subject letter. District staff will review it and respond accordingly,” Elmo R. Lugo, a spokesperson for MDCPS, tells New Times via email.

BCPS Superintendent Vickie L. Cartwright’s office could not immediately comment as to whether the agency received the request and how it intended to address it.

“They better not fucking ignore me,” Stevens warns. “If they ignore me, doesn’t that tell you something? The government can’t pick and choose religion, but can they choose which books they review for banning and which ones they don’t?”

Is Bernie Back? Could be!

Is Bernie Back For A Third Run? Sanders Says "Maybe"

“The central fact remains true, which is that Senator Sanders is the most popular officeholder in the country,” Mike Casca said. Is Bernie back? He never left.

By Sharon Zhang, Truthout

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) may run for president again in 2024 if President Joe Biden doesn’t seek reelection, a newly revealed campaign memo shows.

In a memo circulated among political allies and shared with The Washington Post, Sanders adviser and 2020 campaign manager Faiz Shakir says that, “In the event of an open 2024 Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Sanders has not ruled out another run for president, so we advise that you answer any questions about 2024 with that in mind.”

If Sanders ran again in 2024, it would be his third time running for president. In both of his previous runs, the democratic socialist was beat by a moderate candidate after establishment members of the party banded together to defeat him.

Is Bernie Back? Could be!

Shakir concludes the memo by encouraging allies to weather and address attacks from opponents. “As campaigning heats up in states across the country, your political opponents and their corporate-aligned allies will try to make you feel defensive about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ support for your candidate,” the memo says. “Our advice is to embrace the attacks.”

The memo also says that, if opponents or members of the media ask allies if they’ll support Sanders if he challenges Biden in 2024, allies should point out that Sanders has been one of Biden’s greatest allies in the Senate.

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No one is a Superpredator

The Superpredator Lie Has Victims. At Long Last, Free Them Already!

There are too many people in jail for too long because of the Superpredator Lie. We have to help release them. It’s long overdue.

By James Forman Jr. and Kayla Vinson, The New York Times

Over the past decade, many Americans have come to agree that we lock up too many people, for too long, in miserable conditions. But despite a growing political movement against prisons, imprisonment rates remain stubbornly high, and the United States is still the world leader in incarceration. To meaningfully shrink the prison system will require states to do something few have wanted to do: reduce some of the extremely long sentences imposed in the 1990s.

Revisiting lengthy sentences, especially for people who committed acts of violence, has always been considered one of the third rails of criminal justice reform. But two recent developments in Connecticut — one from the State Supreme Court, the other from the Board of Pardons and Paroles — offer important examples of state officials overcoming this reluctance.

No one is a Superpredator

In January the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the 60-year sentence imposed on Keith Belcher, a Black teenager, for sexual assault and armed robbery committed when he was 14. Mr. Belcher was sentenced in 1997, at the height of the superpredator panic. The brainchild of a political science professor, John J. DiIulio Jr., the superpredator theory argued that America in the 1990s faced an unrivaled new crime threat: a large and growing generation of unusually violent teenagers. Tapping into the country’s long history of racialized fear, he argued that these superpredators would disproportionately be Black boys.

His claim quickly found a ready audience. The media, police and politicians lapped it up. Unfortunately for Mr. Belcher, so did Judge Michael Hartmere, who said this at Mr. Belcher’s sentencing hearing:

Professor DiIulio of Princeton University has coined the term “superpredator,” which refers to a group of radically impulsive, brutally remorseless youngsters who assault, rape, rob and burglarize. Mr. Belcher, you are a charter member of that group. You have no fears, from your conduct, of the pains of imprisonment, nor do you suffer from the pangs of conscience.

Judge Hartmere then imposed a sentence that could have kept Mr. Belcher incarcerated until his mid-70s. This is where the story might have ended, as it too often does. The convicted person goes to a prison cell, appeals and loses. The system moves on.

But Mr. Belcher got lucky. Because the trial judge explicitly cited a theory that had been proved wrong (in 2001, Professor DiIulio acknowledged as much), Mr. Belcher’s court-appointed attorneys, Natalie Olmstead and Alexandra Harrington, challenged the sentence on the grounds that it was based on “materially false information.” What could be more false, they asked, than a theory widely disavowed, including by its own author?

The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed and, to its credit, addressed the racist underpinnings of the superpredator theory. The court pointed out that “at the time that adolescence was being recognized as a distinct developmental stage for white children, many Black children remained enslaved and were viewed as subhuman.” Racism’s logic was that Black children didn’t need to be protected; they needed to be worked, disciplined and punished. Mr. Belcher’s 60-year sentence, the court concluded, could be understood only in the context of that history and its long afterlife.

The superpredator myth infected our legal system even when judges didn’t invoke it openly. Kristin Henning, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of “The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth,” told us: “Looking back to cases from the 1990s, you won’t see too many judges use the word ‘superpredator,’ but it was definitely in the air. You can see it in the juvenile transfer laws that allowed young people to be tried as adults and in the long sentences many teenagers got. They all stem from that same idea that Black children must be feared and controlled. The Belcher opinion rejects that way of thinking.”

As extreme as Mr. Belcher’s punishment was, it fits into a larger pattern: Excessively long sentences are pervasive in the American criminal justice system. In 2015 one in six prisoners in state prisons — more than in any other country — had been incarcerated for at least 10 years. In 2020 the Sentencing Project reported that more than 200,000 U.S. prisoners were serving life sentences, exceeding the entire prison population of 1970. Almost half of those lifers were Black. What are the pathways to relief in those cases?

In a few jurisdictions, prosecutors can review excessive sentences; in some others, judges can. But for most prisoners, the only source of relief is the state parole board.

That’s why it’s notable that even as the Belcher decision repudiated an ill-founded, punitive approach to teenage crime, Connecticut’s parole board adopted a humane alternative. The board considered the emerging brain science research showing that teenagers and young adults often lack the ability to weigh the long-term consequences of their actions yet are capable of change with age. In December 2021 and January 2022, the board commuted the sentences of 12 men who had committed crimes before they turned 25.

The first one to get relief was Michael Cox, a Black man serving a 75-year sentence for his role in two murders, aiding and abetting a manslaughter and an assault with a firearm that occurred when he was 19 years old. The teenage Mr. Cox was impulsive and quick to resort to violence. The 49-year-old Mr. Cox, appearing before the parole board, was a man eager to be involved in anti-violence work with young people after leaving prison.

What happened in the intervening decades? Mr. Cox signed up for every rehabilitative program he could find, earned his high school diploma and college credits, worked as a certified nurse assistant taking care of other incarcerated people and mentored younger men in his prison.

Like Mr. Cox, the 11 other men to receive commutations committed violent crimes as teenagers or young adults; most were in for murder. Like Mr. Cox, most had spent more years behind bars than they had lived before their crime. And like Mr. Cox, most had grasped at whatever rehabilitative or educational opportunities came their way.

Why are such commutations so rare? While some state legislatures constrained or eliminated parole in the 1990s, in most states the parole board still has enormous power to offer second chances to incarcerated people. But most parole boards — including for many years, Connecticut’s — have refused to do so. As the criminal justice scholars Kevin R. Reitz and Edward E. Rhine note, parole board members are risk-averse political appointees with little job security. “Members or entire boards,” they write, “have been forced to resign after a single high-profile crime committed by a released prisoner.” Typically, parole boards are most hostile toward those who have committed crimes of violence, often refusing to consider anything other than the offense itself during rote hearings that morph into decades of denials.

That’s why it matters so much that the Connecticut parole board has begun to chart a new course. Since more than 50 percent of people in state prison are serving sentences for violent crimes, we will never end the scourge of mass incarceration if we write off this group. Since decades of research have proved that older people are rarely violent, extremely long sentences can almost never be justified on public safety grounds. And since some incarcerated people have found ways to change and thrive in conditions few of us could tolerate, the system should have pathways to recognize their efforts.

The decisions of Connecticut’s Supreme Court and its Board of Pardons and Paroles offer hope to a generation locked up during the hyperpunitive 1990s. They remind us that nobody should be sentenced to death, whether by execution or death in prison. If we are ever to undo the ravages of mass incarceration, we will need many more decisions like them.

More climate champions like AOC

The Guide To Electing Climate Champions

Saying “Green New Deal” over and over in a stump speech is not enough. Here’s what we really need to elect more climate champions.

By Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News

For U.S. voters who care deeply about climate change, the 2022 elections are about more than control of Congress and leadership of most states.

The results will, in a real sense, determine whether the U.S. can fulfill its pledge to be a leader in the drive to stave off the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.

Candidates elected this year will steer the direction of U.S. policy in the lead-up to 2025—a significant deadline set out in this month’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That’s when the IPCC said greenhouse gas emissions need to peak if the world hopes to meet the Paris climate accord goal of holding the post-industrial temperature increase close to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

More climate champions like AOC

President Joe Biden’s first year in office has made clear that the world’s #1 oil and gas producer won’t be able to curb its reliance on fossil fuels without more climate leadership in Congress and at every level of government. Despite the ambitious climate goals Biden has embraced, much of his climate agenda is stalled in the closely divided Senate. And he faces mounting pressure to maintain and expand fossil fuel production, both to rein in inflation and to address energy security concerns amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“I think people are really scared,” said RL Miller, co-founder and political director of the advocacy group Climate Hawks Vote. “People see that if we lose the House, as the pundits are telling us we will, and we are unable to pick up more seats in the Senate, then everything is just going to slip away. There’s going to be no more chance for climate action in a generation, and I don’t know how many more generations we’ve got left.”

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Big Crypto spends to defeat Nina Turner

Crypto Billionaire Bankman-Fried Spends $1 Million Against Nina Turner

Crypto Billionaire Bankman-Fried is spending big to defeat Nina Turner. One example of how that industry is buying influence in Congress.

By Ryan Grim, The Intercept

Progressive Congressional Candidates are waking up to a new variable that is upending the electoral calculus of races across the country: cryptocurrency. Some candidates are finding it advantageous to take crypto-sympathetic positions, while others are facing an onslaught of crypto spending that is reshaping their primaries.

In a 2021 special election, former state Sen. Nina Turner faced more than $2 million in outside spending by the super PAC Democratic Majority for Israel, swinging the race for Shontel Brown in the closing weeks. In her rematch, Turner faces a new obstacle. A super PAC bankrolled by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, Protect Our Future, has already spent more than $1 million backing Brown, according to Federal Election Commission reports. And this week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed Brown after having backed Turner last year.

Big Crypto spends to defeat Nina Turner

In Oregon’s newly drawn 6th District, a handful of local candidates were vying for the nomination before Carrick Flynn barreled into the race with an ungodly amount of support from Bankman-Fried’s super PAC.

So far, the super PAC backing Flynn has dropped some $6 million on the sleepy race, followed by a startling $1 million cash infusion on the part of House Majority PAC, the super PAC linked to House Democrats themselves. In the process, they have undercut multiple progressive candidates — three of them women of color — with deep roots in the area and political bases of support that would make them formidable general election opponents. (House Majority PAC did not respond to a request for comment.)

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Nina Turner supports a ban on fracking

Oil Money Pours Into Cleveland To Help Defeat Nina Turner

To crush Nina Turner, oil mogul taps strategic petroleum reserve of cash for Shontel Brown. Turner has called for a ban on fracking.

By Andrew Perez, The Lever

A super PAC bankrolled by a fossil fuel magnate is launching last-minute ads to try to crush the congressional candidacy of a leading proponent of a Green New Deal as scientists warn that oil and gas emissions are making the planet unlivable. If successful, the gambit would deliver an intimidating message from the fossil fuel industry to other Democratic candidates pressing the government to address the climate crisis.

One month after Samson Energy mogul Stacy Schusterman poured $2 million into DMFI PAC, the group purchased TV ads starting Monday to boost Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) in her primary campaign rematch against former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner in a newly redrawn Cleveland congressional district. The primary election date is May 3.

Nina Turner supports a ban on fracking

Last year, DMFI PAC spent $1.9 million attacking Turner and promoting Brown, helping the latter win the seat in a special election. The group also spent $1.4 million attacking Sanders during his 2020 campaign.

Turner, who co-chaired Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (Ind.-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign, has been campaigning for a Green New Deal and pressing the Biden administration to ban fracking. Brown has declined to co-sponsor some of House Democrats’ most high-profile climate legislation, including the Climate Emergency Act — even after United Nations scientists’ recent dire warning about the crisis.

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International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund: Wrong Then, Wrong Now

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims to help countries in need, but in reality helps enforce austerity worldwide.

By David Adler, The Guardian

This week, the board of governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will gather at its headquarters in Washington DC to reaffirm the Fund’s three-part mandate: financial stability, economic strength, and – as its managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, recently asserted – international solidarity. “I am determined that we will support our members however we can,” Georgieva said of the Fund’s new spirit. “Now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity to build a better world.”

Georgieva is right: it is now or never. The “largest spate of debt crises” in a generation hangs over the global south. Two ingredients compose this ticking debt bomb: rapidly rising levels of public debt among the world’s poorest countries, and a rapidly rising percentage of that debt issued at variable interest rates. The combination of these two ingredients mean that even minor rate hikes in rich countries will have explosive consequences across the developing world – just as supply chains seize, food prices soar and the Covid-19 pandemic rampages through the world’s under-vaccinated populations.

International Monetary Fund

In short, the global south has never needed more support in its search for stability, strength and solidarity. But even a cursory glance of the IMF’s global activity reveals a systematic violation of this mandate, inflaming – rather than resolving – the crises of health, hunger and habitat that combine in the world’s poorest countries.

Consider Argentina. In 2018, the IMF ignored warnings from its own staff to push through a $57.1bn loan to the Republic of Argentina under President Mauricio Macri: the largest loan in the history of the Fund. Did the loan deliver on the IMF’s mandate of financial stability? The opposite: inflation rose, employment fell and capital fled the country at record rates. Now, well after Macri has been evicted from office, the people of Argentina continue to pay the price. Argentina’s economy minister, Martín Guzmán, put it bluntly in his letter to Georgieva last month: “None of the objectives of the program were achieved.”

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Elon Musk

We Can’t Let Billionaires Control Major Communications Platforms

Elon Musk may not be sitting on Twitter’s board, but he remains its largest shareholder—and that’s bad news.

By Victor Pickard, The Nation

Elon Musk, the billionaire Tesla CEO notorious for posting asinine tweets to his 80 million–plus Twitter followers, has purchased himself a position of power within the platform itself by becoming the company’s largest shareholder.

For a few tumultuous days, it seemed he’d also become a vocal board member, promising to help implement “significant improvements.” That decision was reversed, but even without an explicit advisory role, Musk can still exert his agenda by shaping the discourse around Twitter’s future. As if to underscore this point, Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, made clear following Musk’s sudden reversal that “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”

Elon Musk

It’s difficult to predict what influence Musk could wield with his “input,” especially since he’s now no longer prevented from purchasing more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s stock and could increase his holdings, even to the point of owning a controlling stake in the company. And at the very least, he will likely continue to use Twitter to attack his enemies and broadcast his views about the company.

Indeed, Musk’s tweets contain troubling clues about his hopes for Twitter. Beyond advocating for creating an edit button on individual posts and other, more eccentric proposals, Musk has implied that Twitter should amend or abandon its content moderation policies and follow his preferred version of free speech, which should give us pause.

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Alla Gutnikova

Brave Russian Student Risks Prison To Speak Freely

Alla Gutnikova is a brave Russian student facing prison to speak about the war in Ukraine. Read the statement from her journal “Doxa”.

By Alla Gutnikova, Doxa Journal

Read the closing statement of Alla Gutnikova, one of the editors of the Moscow student journal DOXA, who are all facing prison sentences for “inciting minors to take part in illegal opposition protests”. But the speech is about so much more. (The translation was adapted from that of Michelle Panchuk.)

“I am not going to speak of the case, the search, the interrogations, the volumes, the trials. That is boring and pointless. These days I attend the school of fatigue and frustration. But before my arrest, I had time to enroll in the school of learning how to speak about truly important things.

“I would like to talk about philosophy and literature. About Benjamin, Derrida, Kafka, Arendt, Sontag, Barthes, Foucault, Agamben, about Audre Lorde and bell hooks. About Timofeeva, Tlostanova and Rachmaninova.

Alla Gutnikova
Photo by Mariya Nikiforova

I would like to speak about poetry, about how to read contemporary poetry. About Gronas, Dashevsky and Borodin.
But now is not the time nor the place. I will hide my small tender words on the tip of my tongue, in the back of my throat, between my stomach and my heart. I will say just a little.
I often feel like a little fish, a birdling, a schoolgirl, a baby. But recently, I discovered with surprise that Brodsky, too, was put on trial at 23. And, since I have also been counted among the human race, I will say this:
In the Kabbala there is the concept of tikkun olam – repairing the world. I see that the world is imperfect. I believe, as wrote Yehuda Amichai, that the world was created beautiful for goodness and for peace, like a bench in a courtyard (in a courtyard, not a court!). I believe that the world was created for tenderness, hope, love, solidarity, passion, joy.

But the world is atrociously, unbearably full of violence. And I don’t want violence. In any form. No teacher’s hands in schoolgirls’ underwear, no drunken father’s fists on the bodies of wives and children. If I decided to list all the violence around us, a day wouldn’t be enough, nor a week, nor a year. My eyes are wide open. I see violence, and I don’t want violence. The more violence there is, the stronger I don’t want it. And more than anything, I don’t want the biggest and the most frightening violence.

I really love reading. I will now speak with the voices of others.
At school, in history class, I learned the phrases “You crucify freedom, but the soul of man knows no bounds” and “For your, and for our, freedom”.
In high school, I read “Requiem” by Anna Andreyevna Akhmatova, “The Steep Path” by Evgeniya Solomonovna Ginzburg, “The Closed Theater” by Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava, “The Children of Arbat” by Anatoliy Naumovich Rybakov. Of Okudzhava’s poems I loved most of all:
Conscience, honor and dignity,
There’s our spiritual army.
Hold out your palm to it,
For this, one fears no fire.
Its face is lofty and wonderful.
Dedicate to it your short century.
Maybe, you will never be victorious,
But you’ll die as a human.

At MGIMO [Moscow State Institute of International Relations] I learned French and memorized a line from Édith Piaf: “Ça ne pouvait pas durer toujours” [“It could not last forever”]. And from Marc Robine: “Ça ne peut pas durer comme ça” [“It cannot go on like this”].
At nineteen, I traveled to Majdanek and Treblinka and learned to say “never again” in seven languages: never again, jamais plus, nie wieder, קיינמאל מער, nigdy więcej, לא עוד.

I studied Jewish sages and fell in love with two proverbs. Rabbi Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” And Rabbi Nachman said: “The whole world is a narrow bridge, and the main thing is to have no fear at all.”
Later, I enrolled at the School of Cultural Studies and learned several more important lessons. First of all, words have meaning. Second, we must call things by their names. And finally, sapere aude, have the courage to use your own mind.

It’s ridiculous that our case has to do with schoolchildren. I taught children the humanities in English, worked as a nanny and dreamed of going with the program “Teacher for Russia” to a small town for two years to sow intelligent, kind, eternal seeds. But Russia – in the words of the state prosecuting attorney, Prosecutor Tryakin – believes that I involved underage children in life-threatening actions. If I ever have children (and I will, because I remember the greatest commandment), I will hang a picture of the Judaean governor Pontius Pilate on their wall, so they grow up in cleanliness. The governor Pontius Pilate standing and washing his hands – such will be the portrait. Yes, if thinking and feeling is now life-threatening, I don’t know what to say about the charges. I wash my hands.

And now is the moment of truth. The hour of transparency.
My friends and I don’t know what to do with ourselves from the horror and the pain, but when I descend into the metro, I don’t see tear-stained faces. I don’t see tear-stained faces.
Not a single of my favorite books – for children or adults – taught indifference, apathy, cowardice. Nowhere have I been taught the words:
we are small people
i am a simple person
it’s not so black and white
you can’t believe anyone
i am not interested in all that
i am far from politics
it’s none of my business
nothing depends on me
competent authorities will figure it out
what could i have done alone
No, I know and love very different words.
John Donne says through Hemingway:
No man is an island, all by himself. Every person is part of the Mainland, part of Land; and if a wave sweeps away a coastal cliff into the sea, Europe will become smaller. And likewise if it washes away the edge of the cape or destroys your castle or your friends. The death of every person diminishes me as well, for I am one with all of humanity. And so, don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you.
Mahmoud Darwish says:
As you prepare your breakfast — think of others
(don’t forget to feed the pigeons).
As you conduct your wars — think of others
(don’t forget those who want peace).
As you pay your water bill — think of others
(think of those who have only the clouds to drink from).
As you go home, your own home — think of others
(don’t forget those who live in tents).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(there are people who have no place to sleep).
As you liberate yourself with metaphors think of others
(those who have lost their right to speak).
And as you think of distant others — think of yourself
(and say, I wish I were a candle in the darkness).
Gennady Golovaty says:
The blind cannot look with wrath,
The mute cannot yell with fury,
The armless cannot take up arms,
The legless cannot march forward.
But, the mute can look wrathfully,
But, the blind can yell furiously,
But, the legless can take up arms.
But, the armless can march forward.
I know some are terrified. They choose silence. But Audre Lorde says:
Your silence will not protect you.
In the Moscow metro, they announce:
Passengers are forbidden on the train heading to a dead end.
And the St. Petersburg [band] Aquarium adds:
This train is on fire.
Lao Tzu, through Tarkovsky, says:
And most important, let them believe in themselves, let them be helpless like children. Because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it’s tender and pliant. But when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.

Remember that fear eats the soul. Remember the Kafka character who sees “a gallows being erected in the prison yard, mistakenly thinks it is the one intended for him, breaks out of his cell in the night, and goes down and hangs himself”.
Be like children. Don’t be afraid to ask (yourselves and others), what is good and what is bad. Don’t be afraid to say that the emperor has no clothes. Don’t be afraid to yell, to cry. Repeat (to yourselves and others): 2+2=4. Black is black. White is white. I am a person, strong and brave. A strong and brave woman. A strong and brave people. Freedom is a process by which you develop the habit of being inaccessible to slavery.”

Jared Kushner and the $2 billion bribe

Did Jared Kushner Just Get A $2 Billion Bribe?

How is Jared Kushner’s fishy-as-heck $2 billion Saudi windfall not a crime?

By Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer

There was a notorious 20th century criminal by the name of Willie Sutton who’s best remembered for what he told an interviewer who asked him why he liked to rob banks. “Because,” Sutton replied, “that’s where the money is.”

The Willie Sutton mindset was apparently in full force for Donald Trump and his family after they unexpectedly landed in the White House. In a world brimming with big problems, Team Trump made its No. 1 project getting to know the oil-rich despots of the Persian Gulf — none more so than the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, whom the American president blessed with his first foreign visit in early 2017.

Jared Kushner and the $2 billion bribe

Trump’s eager point man on the Saudi project was his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose brief career bringing his family’s East Coast real estate empire to the brink of bankruptcy made him the perfect candidate to bring peace to the Middle East after 75 years of trauma. Kushner barely budged the region’s core conflicts like resolving the future of Palestine, but he did dote on his new best friend Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, the Saudis’ young crown prince and de facto ruler.

Kushner palled around with bin Salman in the marble luxury of Riyadh and chatted late at night with the prince on encrypted platforms like WhatsApp — coincidentally or not, right as MBS was deciding which rivals to lock up and detain in a swank-hotel-turned-prison. When bin Salman’s goons disappeared the body of Saudi-dissident-turned-Washington-Post-columnist Jamal Khashoggi with the help of a bone saw, Kushner ran interference to preserve America’s special relationship with the blood-soaked regime. When some in Congress began to question why U.S. weapons were powering Saudi war crimes in the endless conflict in Yemen, Kushner and his father-in-law touted an $110 billion U.S. weapons deal (the actual amount is disputed) with Team Bone Saw.

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