True North Humanist Perspective - April 2014


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A letter from Arthur Milner

Arthur Milner is a brilliant Canadian playwright, currently residing in Vancouver. In this missive he reports on staging his play, Facts in Arabic, that was recently staged in ten theatres in nine cities on a trip to Israel. Opening night in Bethlehem the audience responded with a standing ovation.

Dear friends,

This letter constitutes a “final report” on the Facts in Arabic tour.

There were ten performances of Facts in Arabic, in ten theatres, in nine cities: Bethlehem (Sept 26 and October 11), Jerusalem (September 27), Jaffa (September 28), Majdal Shams (September 30), Hebron (October 1), Nazareth (October 3), Jenin (October 4), Ramallah (October 5), and Nablus (October 8).

Our touring team, which always included at least eight people and usually two or three others, was based in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Majdal Shams was the furthest we travelled — about a four-hour drive. That meant leaving Jerusalem early in the morning, offloading and assembling the set and equipment, a quick dinner, performing the play, followed by a discussion, tearing down the set and loading the truck, and arriving home at 3:00 am. Touring to other locations was not quite so grueling.

Travel was made more complicated because we performed in the West Bank, Israel, occupied Jerusalem and occupied Syria; and we regularly crossed Israeli checkpoints. Routes had to be planned carefully because our group included foreigners, citizens of Israel, Jerusalemites (with Jerusalem residency permits), and residents of the West Bank; different rules apply to each category.

Venues included community centres, conference centres, refugee camps and more-or-less conventional theatre spaces, like the Palestinian National Theatre in East Jerusalem, the Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa, and the Freedom Theater, in a Jenin refugee camp. (More)


How Did Life Arise? Fuel Cells May Have Answers

By Staff Writers

18 March 2014 — How life arose from the toxic and inhospitable environment of our planet billions of years ago remains a deep mystery. Researchers have simulated the conditions of an early Earth in test tubes, even fashioning some of life's basic ingredients. But how those ingredients assembled into living cells, and how life was first able to generate energy, remain unknown.

A new study led by Laurie Barge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., demonstrates a unique way to study the origins of life: fuel cells.

Fuel cells are found in specialized cars, planes and NASA's human spacecraft, such as the now-retired space shuttle. The cells are similar to batteries in generating electricity and power, but they require fuel, such as hydrogen gas. In the new study, the fuel cells are not used for power, but for testing chemical reactions thought to have led to the development of life.

"Something about Earth led to life, and we think one important factor was that the planet provides electrical energy at the seafloor," said Barge. "This energy could have kick-started life -- and could have sustained life after it arose. Now, we have a way of testing different materials and environments that could have helped life arise not just on Earth, but possibly on Mars, Europa and other places in the solar system." (More)


The danger of false narrative

The liars and thieves who produced a trillion dollar war in Iraq with more than one million dead are still in control of Washington and pushing similar false narratives on Ukraine to Syria and Iran.

By Robert Parry
Consortium News

28 March 2014 — The American people got a nasty taste of the danger that can come with false narrative when they were suckered into the Iraq War based on bogus claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction that he planned to share with al-Qaeda.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers died in the conflict along with hundreds thousands of Iraqis. The war’s total financial cost probably exceeded $1 trillion, a vast sum that siphoned off America’s economic vitality and forced cutbacks in everything from education to road repair. Plus, the war ended up creating an Iraqi base for al-Qaeda terrorists that had not existed before.

But perhaps an even more dangerous problem coming out of the Iraq War was that almost no one in Official Washington who pushed the false narrative – whether in politics or in the press – was held accountable in any meaningful way. Many of the same pols and pundits remain in place today, pushing similar false narratives on new crises, from Ukraine to Syria to Iran.

Those false narratives – and their cumulative effect on policymaking – now represent a clear and present danger to the Republic and, indeed, to the world. The United States, after all, is the preeminent superpower with unprecedented means for delivering death and destruction. But almost nothing is being done to address this enduring American crisis of deception.

Today, Official Washington is marching in lockstep just as it did in 2002-03 when it enforced the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD. The latest case is Ukraine where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of committing “aggression” to expand Russian territory at the expense of noble ”democratic” reformers in Kiev. (More)


Tens of thousands sign petition

to reunite Alaska with Russia

25 March 2014 MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) — More than 22,000 have signed a petition calling for the secession of Alaska from the United States to seek reunification with Russia.
The petition, available on the White House website, opened on March 21. If the motion attracts 100,000 signatures within a month, the Obama administration is obliged to respond according to its guidelines.
The petition, entitled "Alaska Back to Russia," encourages a vote on secession, citing historic travels of Russian explorers to Alaska, as far back as the crossing of native Siberians across the Bering land bridge more than 10 thousand years ago. (More)


10 weirdest things the Christian Right

thinks will transform your kids gay

Did you know that the pro-gay agenda is being promoted by penguins? Fox News? You've been warned.

By Katie Halper

27 March 2014 — According to some, the Oscar-winning animated kids’ film Frozen is not the charming, comedic musical critics have universally praised, but rather Hollywood's latest sinister venture in gay propaganda. Moreover, Disney's latest blockbuster, based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, is not an isolated assault on the civilized world's core principle of heterosexuality, but one of the countless (10, if we’re counting) examples of seemingly child-friendly cultural and social entities that are actually gay conversion tools. Let's take a look at the dangers the Christian Right has alerted us to. (More)


Discovery of rapid ‘cosmic inflation’

boosts the Big Bang theory

18 March 20134 —Scientists have detected the first direct proof of cosmic inflation, a theory that the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times just after the Big Bang. If confirmed, the discovery marks a major point in understanding the universe's origins.

About 14 billion years ago, waves of gravity rapidly pulsated through space immediately following the Big Bang, experts announced Monday 17 March at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Cosmic inflation was predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but proof of the “first tremors of the Big Bang” provides an important connection to his work and the more enigmatic field of quantum mechanics. (More)


Westward march of the Chinese Dragon in Eurasia

Washington 'Pivot' is in danger of being lost at sea

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a sociologist, award-winning author and geopolitical analyst.

17 March 2014 — As the US militarily pivots into the Asia-Pacific, the Chinese steadily march westward simply through trade-oriented construction and economic projects.

The Chinese have finished the construction of a major tunnel that is part of a mountain transport corridor from Turpan to Kurla that is linked to Pakistan. The corridor is part of the extension of the Karakoram Highway that is part of a project to re-integrate the westernmost portion of the People’s Republic of China with the areas of Eurasia to its west. (More)