True North Humanist Perspective April 26 2013

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'My conclusion was that this exhaustive and high energy review of the continuing effort in the United States of America to conflate the state and Christianity is well worth reading, particularly for the secularist whether declared or ‘instinctive’. It sensitizes the reader to the importance of the language of the political religious discourse and the passions it raises and provides a wealth of reference material.'

 

In Freedom We Trust  

An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty

By Edward M. Buckner and Michael E. Buckner

Prometheus Books 2012

ISBN 978-1-61614-644-3

           ISBN 978-1-61614645-0 (eBook), pp. 281

Reviewed by Mel Massey

Mel Massey  is a retired lawyer (International Corporate Law) living in Ottawa, Canada, with his artist wife, Joan. He engages in a medley of activities including writing short stories, volunteer work with charitable agencies, skiing and hiking. He is thinking of putting together a collection of short stories but wonders whether the fun stuff will get in the way.

Friday 26 April 2013

In Freedom We Trust cover (small)I admit that it was with trepidation that I agreed to review this book. I considered it would likely be an opaque screed harpooning some aspect of life in the United States. Those folk already monopolize our news. They rule our airwaves, particularly at their election times.  

‘American’ topics can be singularly boring to non-Americans possibly excepting theologians and political scientists. They frequently involve navel gazing into specialist notions like the concept of American ‘exceptionalism’, the Monroe doctrine, the extraterritoriality effect of American laws and detailed exegesis of the Constitution of the United States, Bill of Rights etc. etc.

While these may be subjects for talking eggheads on late night shows from the ‘States, does one want to read more online about the preoccupations of the wealthiest, most militarily powerful and most heavily indebted country in the twenty-first Century? After all, Canada lies north of the ‘longest unguarded border in the world’?

Happily, I am able to report that I found In Freedom We Trust to be interesting and potentially relevant to Canadians and to the potential of church and religious issues forming part of governmental policy explicitly or implicitly. It is a lively read and the authors’ passion for their subject comes across loud and clear. Moreover, the book’s format is agreeable and clear, the chapters short and punchy, with a wealth of reference material. It is a good place to start if the topic is of interest. (More)
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Stephen Lendman: A roadmap of Obama's wet dream

Expanding the American Empire with an attack on Syria

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He's available at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html
 
By Stephen Lendman
Global Research
 
25 April 2013 — A previous article discussed spurious allegations of Syrian chemical weapons use. Obama calls using them a “game changer.” He also said their use crosses a “red line.”

Syrian officials categorically deny using them. According to Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi:

“Even if Syria does have chemical weapons, our leadership and our military will not use them either against Syrians or against Israelis, above all for moral reasons and secondarily on legal and political grounds.”

On April 24, The New York Times headlined “US Says It Suspects Assad Used Chemical Weapons,” saying:

“….American intelligence agencies now assess, with ‘varying degrees of confidence,’ that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, but it said it needed conclusive proof before President Obama would take action.”

On April 25, the White House Office of Legislative Affairs director Miguel Rodriguez addressed Syria. His letter to Senators John McCain (R. AZ) ad Carl Levin (D. MI) said: (More)

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50 reasons why you despised George W. Bush's presidency 

A reminder on the day of his presidential library dedication

He's one of the worst US presidents ever but basks in amnesia

By Steven Rosenfeld
AlterNet
 
On Thursday, April 25 President Obama and all four living ex-presidents attended the dedication of the $500 million George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Many progressives will remember Bush as a contender for the "worst president ever," saying he more aptly deserves a multi-million-dollar prison cell for a litany of war crimes.
 
Amazingly, the Bush library seeks to ask visitors "What would you have done?" if you were in this president’s shoes. The ex-president’s defenders are betting that the public will reconsider their judgments after a hefty dose of historical amnesia. Bush has been absent from political debates in recent years, instead making millions in private speeches. Today, his popularity is even with Obama's; both have 47 percent approval rating.
 
Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.
 
1. He stole the presidency in 2000. People may forget that Republicans in Florida purged more than 50,000 African-American voters before Election Day, and then went to the Supreme Court where the GOP-appointed majority stopped a recount that would have awarded the presidency to Vice-President Al Gore if all votes were counted. National news organizations verified that outcome long after Bush had been sworn in.

2. Bush’s lies started in that race. Bush ran for office claiming he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Even though he received fewer popular votes than Gore, he quickly claimed he had the mandate from the American public to push his right-wing agenda. (More)

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Origin of life on earth still a mystery but recent research

into star-and planet formations sheds new light on subject

By Staff Writers
Moffett Field CA (SPX)
 
26 April 2013 — Life on Earth is made of left-handed amino acids (L-amino acids). The question of why organisms on Earth consist of L-amino acids instead of D-amino acids or consist of D-sugar instead of L-sugar is still an unresolved riddle. Recent research into star and planet formation throws new light on this question.

A research team with Jungmi Kwon (GUAS/NAOJ) has performed deep imaging linear and circular polarimetry of the 'Cat's Paw Nebula' (NGC 6334), located in the constellation Scorpius, and detected high degrees of circular polarization (CP) — as much as 22% in NGC 6334. The detected CP degree is the highest ever observed. (More)

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The Mother of Western Democracy committing infanticide

as the British elite methodically strips away basic freedoms

By Jason Langley
Global Research

18 April 18 2013 — It is often said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. If a person or a group of people has the power to do as they wish without fear of having to answer for their actions in any meaningful manner, would they feel obligated to listen to those who protest against their actions? Would they feel that those with less power than their own are worthy of being heard?

Since the War on Terror began, Britain has followed the example set by the US, clamping down on civil liberties, protest and dissent. Not all actions taken in this regard have been related to the alleged threat of Islamic terrorism; some have come about through a need to alter a historical narrative, some have come about through chances offered by legal fallout, some have come about in order to keep an agenda on track, and so on. Below are some examples of such moments in the recent history of Britain, where chances to silence, or at the very least, downplay dissent have been seized upon with gusto by the British elite. (More)

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A violent act again in a violent nation

By Dave Lindorff — EurAsia Review

 
18 April 2013 — I ran the Boston Marathon back in 1968, and, my feet covered with blisters inside my Keds sneakers, dragged across the finish line to meet my waiting uncle at a time of about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was close enough to the time that the current bombing happened in this year’s race — about four hours from the starting gun — that had I been running it this year, I might still been near enough to the finish line to have heard the blasts.

That really brings home to me the horror of what just happened.

At the same time, I’m reminded that back when I ran my Boston Marathon, which was only weeks after the Viet Cong’s bloody Tet Offensive, we didn’t give a thought to the idea of the Viet Cong bringing their war home to America. Now you have to at least wonder whether this bombing might in some way have been linked to America’s various wars abroad. (More)

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'To paraphrase an old riddle: "Are we governed by clever people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it?"  In this case, did the United States mean to open the gates of Hell in Syria, or did it just blunder into this mess?'

How the West fueled the ever-growing carnage in Syria

The actions of the United States and its allies in Syria

have only led to escalating violence, death, and chaos  

By Nicolas J.S. Davies 
AlterNet

Nicolas J. S. Davies is author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He wrote the chapter on Obama At War for the just released book, Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader.

09 April 2013 — In their 2006 book, The Foreign Policy Disconnect, Benjamin Page and Marshall Bouton demonstrated that most of the crises in post-1945 US foreign policy could have been avoided if U.S. leaders had paid more attention to the views of the public. But how can the public have any influence on secret policy-making? US leaders have responded to public alarm at their aggressive and illegal use of military force, not by restoring law and order to US policy, but by moving it farther into the shadows to protect it from public scrutiny and interference.
 
But the more this policy succeeds in its goal of secrecy and deception, the more it fails in the real world. Whether Presidents Bush or Obama are ever held to account for the death and destruction they have unleashed on other countries, our children and grandchildren will pay for our complicity in their crimes, as they struggle to invest what is left of our country's resources in a belated effort to repair the damage of war, shattered international relations, looted natural resources, gutted public services and climate chaos. (More)
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School principal discouraged teen girl from reporting

sexual assault because it would ruin boy's basketball career

Her attacker went on to assault another girl just 2 weeks later. And the story only gets worse.
 
By Jessica Mason Pieklo
 
Jessica Mason Pieklo is a writer and law professor who specializes in health law and constitutional law. Her book on reproductive rights and the law will be published this spring.
 
23 April 2013 Last week the National Women’s Law Center, along with a local law firm in Michigan  filed a complaint in federal district court on behalf a high school student who was sexually assaulted at school by a fellow student and star basketball player. In many ways the story echoes the tragic high school rape story from Steubenville, Ohio, which should lead all of us to ask just what kind of culture are we raising our children in, and what kind of culture is being cultivated at our high schools?
 
According to the complaint, in 2010 the victim was sexually assaulted by a star player on the school’s basketball team. The assault took place on campus in a sound proof band room at Forest Hills Central High School. The victim notified a teacher who in turn reported the assault to the principal. But rather than open an investigation into the allegations, the principal discouraged the student and her parents from filing charges, telling them that doing so could ruin the assailant’s prospects at being recruited to play basketball for a Division 1 school. (More)
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More than a million participate in Moscow clean-up
 
Russia Herald
 
27 April 2013 MOSCOW — As part of a tradition of the all-city subbotnik (Saturday clean-up) dating back to the Soviet era, more than one million participated in a spring cleaning of Moscow's parks, streets and squares Saturday.
 
"Despite the miserable weather, 1.14 million took part," said the city's deputy mayor Pyotr Biryukov.
 
He said school and university students, state employees, and volunteers participated in the clean-up.
 
--IANS/RIA Novosti
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Russia Herald
 
27 April 2013 MOSCOWThe death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility was a "tragedy" Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday while insisting no crime had been committed.
 
Magnitsky was detained in November 2008 after alleging a $230 million tax-embezzlement scheme by Russian officials and died less than a year later in a pre-trial detention centre.
 
"Investigation bodies came to the conclusion that there was no ill intention, no criminal negligence," Putin said in an interview with the state-run Rossiya-1 TV channel. "A tragedy occurred."
 
"There was no torture," Putin said. "There was nothing that would demand any criminal charges being brought."
 
Magnitsky's death sparked tensions between Russia and the US, which late last year introduced sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights violations.
 
Just weeks after the law was enacted, Russia banned US nationals from adopting Russian children. (More)
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'There's no Stalinism in Russia today and never will be'
 
pravda.ru
26 April 2013 MOSCOWRussian President Vladimir Putin held a regular televised Q&A conference with Russian citizens on April 25th. For Putin, it was the eleventh conference like that, but such a form of communication between the president and the people is still highly actual. Putin set a new record for himself: he was answering questions for 4 hours 47 minutes. More than three million questions were received in total; Putin answered 85.

"This format is a well known one. Of course, it can be formal, but still it's very useful. This is absolutely correct and obvious. Such direct contacts with citizens give a very true slice of what is most important in the present-day society. Therefore, such a direct exchange of views, direct information, getting feedback from regions is extremely important and extremely useful," Putin said.

As in the previous times, there were plenty of issues to discuss. Traditionally, Putin paid a lot of attention to issues of economic and social development. In addition, the participants of the conference (including the expert part of it) were highly interested in the political component of the conversation.

It has been less than a year since Vladimir Putin's inauguration. However, these months were extremely important in he political sense of the word. It was about disturbances and changes in the area of ​​political rights and freedoms, the electoral law, and, of course, about questions to the government formed by Putin, at least about several members of the government.

"It is necessary all leaders of any rank - both in presidential structures, and in the government - should feel and understand that ordinary citizens are closely monitoring our work and give their assessment to it," - he said.

As for requirements to sack one, two, or all ministers at once, Putin explained that the government had been working for less than a year, "so one must give people an opportunity to realize themselves or come to understanding that someone is not in a position to do it. " "I repeat, claims may be plentiful, but whether a reshuffling is required, I do not know. Most likely, it will do more harm than good," said the president. (More)
 


A tree yields to winter's last blast in Campbellford

Ken Jeffries, our sharp-eyed East Central Ontario Contributing Editor took this shot in the wake of winter's early April last-protest against spring in Campbellford, Ontario, midway between Toronto and Ottawa.