True North Humanist Perspective April 12 2013

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'Faitheist' —  How Secular Humanism

has taken the lead in Interfaith Dialogue

By Amanda Quraishi
Tikkun Daily
 
08 April 2013 Chris Stedman was the very first atheist I’d ever met who was actively engaged in interfaith work. When I became aware of him a couple years ago on Twitter, he’d just been offered a position at Harvard as the Humanist Chaplain and he stood out from the thousands of people I followed because of his positive attitude and sense of humor. I found myself wanting to engage with him regularly because he seemed to really like other people. Back then, Stedman regularly drew fire from both the religious and atheist communities for daring to put forth the idea that people really ought to be able to live together peacefully, even agreeably, while maintaining vastly different opinions about life’s biggest questions. (More)
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Femen are told Muslim women don’t need to be rescued

'Nudity is not freedom — it's just another form of oppression'

'They also understand that, contrary to what the entertainment industry would have you believe, nudity is not freedom. It is in fact just another form of oppression and victimization of women.'
 
By Saadia Faruqi
 
10 April 2013 — It seems that controversy over the hijab – the Islamic tradition of covering a woman’s hair and body – will not die down anytime soon. Governments such as France and Germany seem to be dead set against it, while theocracies such as Saudi Arabia go the other extreme by forcing women to cover. But ask the average Muslim woman, and she will probably wonder what the fuss is all about. Since when is dress a political statement, even a weapon? Femen – a feminist Ukrainian protest group – seems to think it is, and is up in arms over the hijab, declaring April 4 as International Topless Jihad Day. What Femen activists perhaps did not expect was that Muslim women who wear the hijab are a tad possessive about their right to wear it, and don’t take lightly to a declaration of jihad (Arabic for struggle) against it.

Femen predictably reacted with the following dismissal and trivialization of Muslim women’s concerns:

They say they are against Femen, but we still say we are here for them…They write on their posters that they don’t need liberation but in their eyes it’s written ‘help me.’

More and more this is becoming a childish argument about who knows best for the other party. So here’s a few popular myths propagated by organizations such as Femen, debunked for those who really want to know what the hijab is all about, and what it’s not about at all. (More)
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Adversaries, it has been proven again and again, will tell any lie that they believe will serve their purpose.
 
Our current most obvious example is the lies told by then US President George W Bush and his cabal who falsely justified their attack on Iraq.
 
Today we have a campaign of lies against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in a Washington-inspired and led war against the latest victim of US empire building. Here following is an antidote to the attempt to convince its ideological captives that the dishonourable military-industrial attack on Syria is honourable.
 
Learn first hand what the legitimate Syrian media has to say about the terrible conflict forced on their country by outsiders. Here are just some samples of information you need to know to understand the full story behind the lies.
 
• Ex-CNN Reporter: I Received Orders to Manipulate News to Demonize Syria and Iran 
 
• Terrorists Commit New Massacre in al-Burj Neighborhood in Homs, Killing 10 Citizens
 
• Health Ministry Supplies Aleppo with new Medical Requirements
 
• Terrorist Groups Set Ablaze Three More Oil Wells in Deir Ezzor
 
BND President: Al Qaeda Influence Increasing among Syrian Opposition
 
• Algerian Humanitarian Aid Arrives in Center on Border with Lebanon
 
• Terrorists Assassinate Mosque  Imam in Aleppo
 
• Arms Shipments Stepped up to Terrorists in Syria
 
For all of the above and much more please click here to get a firmer grip on the truth.
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By Chris Hedges
Truthdig
 
08 April 2013 — The appointment of Suzanne Nossel, a former State Department official and longtime government apparatchik, as executive director of PEN American Center is part of a campaign to turn US human rights organizations into propagandists for pre-emptive war and apologists for empire. Nossel’s appointment led me to resign from PEN as well as withdraw from speaking at the PEN World Voices Festival in May. But Nossel is only symptomatic of the widespread hijacking of human rights organizations to demonize those — especially Muslims — branded by the state as the enemy, in order to cloak pre-emptive war and empire with a fictional virtue and to effectively divert attention from our own mounting human rights abuses, including torture, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring, the denial of due process and extrajudicial assassinations. (More)
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Obama and Kerry scramble to end squabbling among allies

'Butcher-Bill' for Syria will reach well over 70,000 with even

more Mideast chaos if Washington war lords have their way

Establishing a pro-western government in Damascus and inflicting damage on Iran is mostly illusion
 
By Conn Hallinan
Foreign Policy in Focus
AlterNet
 
07 April 2013 — In some ways the Syrian civil war resembles a proxy chess match between supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime — Iran, Iraq, Russia and China — and its opponents — Turkey, the oil monarchies, the US, Britain and France. But the current conflict only resembles chess if the game is played with multiple sides, backstabbing allies, and conflicting agendas.
 
Take the past few weeks of rollercoaster politics. (More)
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development Editor
 
 
By John Upton
grist.org
 
01 April 2013 — As the Obama administration mulls approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, the heavy toxic gunk is already spilling out over America.

Last Wednesday 27 March, a southbound train carrying Canadian oil derailed in Minnesota, spilling about 15,000 gallons of tar-sands crude — described by The Washington Post as “a mixture of heavy bitumen and lighter dilutents.”

Two days later, an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying tar-sands oil burst beneath a suburban neighborhood in Arkansas. (More)

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From the Desk of Donald Swartz
 
Jean-Claude Parrot gives lesson in democracy to MPs

Liberal Bob Rae, Cons. Mark Adler, NDP Steven Fletcher

Jean-Claude Parrot is a former National President of CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers — 1977-1992) and a former Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress (1992-2002). He was also a member of the governing body of the International Labour Organization (1993-2002). He has been retired since 2002. His book, My Union, My Life, was published in 2005.

By Jean-Claude Parrot
Past National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Federal Conservative Member of Parliament Mark Adler recently said in a statement that a CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) newsletter was "radical” propaganda." He was supported by two other MPs, New Democrat Steven Fletcher, and Liberal Bob Rae. The statement also claims that CUPW used public funds for the trip of Ruth Breen of the Atlantic Region to Palestine.

First, CUPW has no access to public funds. The trip was paid for by a regional fund made up of contributions from the CUPW locals of the Atlantic Region and voluntary contributions by individual postal workers. It would never enter my mind to restrain people from taking this kind of action for a cause they have at heart. Quite the contrary, it is nice to see people who care about others.

The CUPW negotiated a National Fund as part of the settlement in the last round of negotiations. The fund allows the CUPW to maintain relationships with workers in the rest of the world and show solidarity when they face violation of their human rights, including workers’ rights, or simply to discuss issues that affect workers around the world. The fund is restricted to be used to “developing and maintaining relationships and exchanges with postal workers from other countries and their unions.” This is not a public fund. (More)

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By Bob Johnson and Jesse Washington
The Associated Press
 
08 April 2013MONTGOMERY, Alabama — The legacy of the "Scottsboro Boys" is secure: The nine black teens were wrongly convicted more than 80 years ago in one of America's most infamous racial tragedies. Alabama is now moving to repair its own legacy, and correct past injustices, with a bill to allow posthumous pardons for the group.
 
On Thursday, the state House voted 103-0 in favor of legislation setting up a procedure to pardon the teens, who were falsely accused of rape by two white women in 1931. The Senate had passed the bill earlier, 29-0. Gov. Robert Bentley has indicated he will sign it.
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Judge deems sale of 100 dunams of land within the settlement of Alfei Menashe as fraudulent; key ruling further invalidates land laundering schemes that have grown prevalent in the West Bank
 
By Chaim Levinson    
haaretz.com
 
07 April 2013 TEL AVIV, Jerusalem — The Tel Aviv District Court ordered 100 dunams of land within the settlement of Alfei Menashe returned to their Palestinian owners after ruling that the contracts purportedly documenting the sale of the land were forged.

The key ruling further invalidates a series of transactions made following the fraudulent sale. (More)

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RT.com
 
26 March 2013 — The Arab Spring was a conspiracy between Islamists and foreign powers who wanted to test their capabilities – but Islamists are losing control as they have no experience in governing, ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told RT. (More)
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The Sons of Pigs and Apes

'Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Conspiracy of Silence'

By Mel Massey
True North Humanist Perspective

OTTAWA Canada — On Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at Library and Archives Canada, Neil Kressel PhD, Director of the Honors Program in the Social Sciences at William Paterson University in New Jersey, USA, discussed his new book on anti-Semitism in the Muslim world*.

His view is that the surge in the depth and virulence of Jew hatred is a real and growing menace to civilization. It creates the charged atmosphere in which bloody conflicts, genocide and inhumanity flourish. Moreover, obsessive anti-Semitism comes to see Jews as responsible for anything the Jew haters deem evil and ugly, everything from 9/11 to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Incredibly, one Islamist theorized that the cartoon Tom and Jerry was created by “the Jewish Walt Disney company” (Kressel’s book, p.43) to change European perception of mice (dirty, clever hoarders) which are equated with Jews. (More)
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The Al Qaeda comeback
 
 
 
By Bruce Riedel
The Daily Beast
 
12 April 2013 After months of silence, al Qaeda’s Amir Ayman Zawahiri reappeared this week with a long diatribe on the state of the global jihad with special emphasis on Syria, Iraq and Mali.  His commentary underscores his central role in the al Qaeda movement once again and in providing leadership to the group and its franchises across the Islamic world.
 
Zawahiri lauds the success of al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq in contrast.  In Syria al Qaeda’s franchise, Jabhat al Nusra, has become the fastest growing al Qaeda movement in the world after Zawahiri called upon jihadists from across Islam to go and fight in Syria a year ago.  Since then the al Qaeda core headquarters in Pakistan has been in close communication with the Nusra front in Syria.  Zawahiri also praises the al Qaeda organization in Iraq for outlasting the American occupation and for its constant attacks on the Shia government in Baghdad.
 
Zawahiri sees bizarre alliances and conspiracies everywhere but the devoted are prepared to live and die at his bidding. (More)
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Money and Markets
 
 
Washington underestimated the bad blood between Sunni and Shites
 
By Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.
 
13 April 2013 JUPITER Florida — A long series of U.S. foreign policy mishaps, stumbles, and outright failures have set us on a collision course toward a new, hotter cold war — with far-reaching consequences for all investors.

This week, I will focus on the Middle East. And in Part II of this series, I will turn to East Asia.

How US Policymakers Grossly Underestimated

The Depth of Ethnic Conflicts in the Middle East
 
Not long ago, the West was applauding the “Arab Spring” — a wave of democracy movements that began in Tunisia, spread east to Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, then West to Libya.

But today, those movements have morphed into a series of violent, multinational ethnic conflicts, largely between the region’s two most deeply entrenched groups — Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

I first warned of this conflict in 2006, at a time when Washington was hailing the “success of the first democratic elections” in Iraq.

But I saw it differently. (More)

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'Israeli troops employ both insult and injury'
 
By Noam Chomsky
In These Times
 
11 April 2013 — The Swedish novelist Henning Mankell tells of an experience in Mozambique during the civil war horrors there 25 years ago, when he saw a young man walking toward him in ragged clothes.

“I noticed something that I will never forget for as long as I live,” Mankell says. “I looked at his feet. He had no shoes. Instead he had painted shoes on his feet. He had used the colors in the ground and in the roots to replace his shoes. He had come up with a way to keep his dignity.”

Such scenes will evoke poignant memories among those who have witnessed cruelty and degradation, which are everywhere. One striking case, though only one of a great many, is Gaza, which I was able to visit for the first time last October.

There violence is met by the steady resistance of the samidin —those who endure, to borrow Raja Shehadeh's evocative term in The Third Way, his memoir on Palestinians under occupation, 30 years ago. (More)

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Organized labour and the environment coalitions

Including a fascinating quiz together with the answers

By Donald Lafleur
4th National Vice-President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
 
11 April 2013 — The blue green worldwide alliance continues to grow. The differences of opinion between labour and environmental activists; fueled by multinational corporations and their puppet governments, have for the most part disappeared.  The blue and green movement is demanding environmental justice. Justice for all living things which includes good union jobs for all human kind.

I am extremely happy with the work CUPW continues to do on the environment from policies in our national constitution, to bargaining environmental initiatives under appendix T of the urban collective agreement, to raising environmental issues at consultation, to working with the CLC and other unions, Work in a warming World (W3), the Green Economy Network and others; our union has much to be proud of. (More)