January 16, 2017

This is the post excerpt…

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Top Stories:
Syria and the Left,” — Yusef Khalil (socialist activist) interviews Yasser Munif (Syrian scholar specializing in grassroots movements in Syria), Jacobin
Behind the humanitarian disaster of the Syrian civil war is a political crisis the Left urgently needs to understand.

Resistance is Patriotic – and Christian: A 6-Point Strategy”, Jim Wallis, Sojourners
A conservative evangelical national leader called me during the election campaign. He reminded me how much he cared about abortion, religious liberty, and the Supreme Court. Then said, “But in Christian conscience, I cannot help put a man in the White House who is intellectually incompetent, has lived an amoral personal and public life, is dangerously immature, and is a racial bigot. I just can’t do that.”

Video: “A Letter to My Trump-Voting Family”, Sojourners
https://sojo.net/media/letter-my-trump-voting-family

Jeff Sessions Needs a Sunday School Lesson on Immigration”, John Gehring, Sojourners

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
— Matthew 25:35

Odds and Ends

Video of the week:
Representative John Lewis testifies against Trump Jeff Sessions
“We Want to Move Forward”

Documentary:
I cut my Netflix account and have been looking for healthy alternatives. Top Documentary Films is a website with free documentaries! This weekend I watched the first installment of a three part history of the Islamic Empire called “The Caliph”. The trilogy starts with Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca and ends with the last of the Ottoman Caliphs in the 20th century. This first episode covers the Rashidun “rightly guided” caliphs and the early Umayyad Dynasty. It’s a compelling story with some excellent footage of the Muslim world, it’s people, art, and architecture.

“The Caliph Part 1”, al-Jazeera
http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/caliph/

 

Song of the Week: “Thin Blue Flame (live)”, Josh Ritter, In The Dark: Live At Vicar Street
This song by Idaho’s own Josh Ritter is now more than six years old and regretfully, it’s still relevant. There’s another live version where he introduces the song saying, “I really mean this song. This is for anybody right now in Iraq. There’s a lot of people there who don’t want to be there. I know people there and there’s kids growing up there and I wonder how long it’s going to take to get… to get something back.” He sounded on the verge of tears.  I meditate on this song at least once a year. It’s heavy, but get to the last verse and you’ll see it isn’t without hope. “Only a full house gonna make it through”.

“Thin Blue Flame”

I became a thin blue flame
Polished on a mountain range
And over hills and fields I flew
Wrapped up in a royal blue
I flew over Royal City last night
Bullfighter on the horns of a new moon’s light
Caesar’s ghost I saw the war-time tides
The prince of Denmark’s father still and quiet
The whole world was looking to get drowned
Trees were a fist shaking themselves at the clouds
I looked over curtains – it was then that I knew
Only a full house gonna make it through

I became a thin blue wire
That held the world above the fire
And so it was I saw behind
Heaven’s just a thin blue line
If God’s up there he’s in a cold dark room
The heavenly host are just the cold dark moons
He bent down and made the world in seven days
And ever since he’s been a-walking away
Mixing with nitrogen in lonely holes
Where neither seraphim or raindrops go
I see an old man wandering the halls alone
But only a full house gonna make a home

And I became a thin blue stream
The smoke between asleep and dreams
And in that clear blue undertow
Saw Royal City far below
Borders soft with refugees
Streets a-swimming with amputees
It’s a Bible or a bullet they put over your heart
It’s getting harder and harder to tell them apart
The days are nights and the nights are long
Beating hearts blossom into walking bombs
And those still looking in the clear blue sky for a sign
Get missiles from so high they might as well be divine
And now the dogs are howling at your door
Singing ’bout vengeance like it’s the joy of the Lord
Bringing justice to the enemies not the other way round
They’re guilty where killed and they’re killed where they’re found
If what’s loosed on earth will be loosed up on high
It’s a Hell of a Heaven we must go to when we die
Where even Laurel begs Hardy for vengeance please
The fat man’s crying on his hands and his knees
Back in the peacetime he caught roses on the stage
Now he twists indecision, takes bourbon for rage
Lead pellets peppering aluminum
Halcyon, laudanum and opium
Sings kiss thee Hardy this poisoned cup
His winding sheet is busy winding up
In darkness he looks for the lights that’ve died
You need faith for the same reasons that it’s so hard to find
And this whole thing is headed for a terrible wreck
And like good tragedy that’s what we expect

At night I make plans for a city laid down
The hips of a girl on the spring covered ground
Spirals and capitals in the twists of a script
Streets named for heroes that could almost exist
Fruit trees of Eden and the gardens that seem
To float like the smoke from a lithium dream
Cedar trees growing in the cool of the squares
Young women walking in the portals of prayer
The future glass buildings and the past an address
The weddings in pollen and the wine bottomless
And all wrongs forgotten and all vengeance made right
The suffering verbs put to sleep in the night
The future descending like a bright chandelier
The world just beginning and the guests in good cheer
In Royal City I fell into a trance
‘Cause it’s hell to believe there ain’t a hell of a chance

I woke beneath a clear blue sky
The sun a shout, the breeze a sigh
The old home town and the streets I knew
Were wrapped up in a royal blue
I heard my friends laughing out across the fields
The girls in the gloaming and the birds on the wheel
The raw smell of horses and the warm smell of hay
Cicadas electric in the heat of the day
A run of Three Sisters and the flush of the land
And the lake was a diamond in the valley’s hand
The straight of the highway and the scattered out hearts
They were coming together, they were pulling apart
And angels everywhere were in that midst
In the ones that I loved, in the ones that I kissed
I wondered what it was I’d been looking for above
Heaven’s so big there ain’t no need to look up
So I stopped looking for royal cities in the air
Only a full house gonna have a prayer

Only a full house
Only a full house

Nations (Additions in BOLD)

South America
Argentina — Buenos Aires
Bolivia — La Paz
Brazil — Brasilia
Chile — Santiago
Colombia — Bogota
Ecuador — Quito
French Guiana — Cayenne
Guyana — Georgetown
Paraguay — Asuncion
Peru — Lima
Suriname — Paramaribo
Uruguay — Montevideo
Venezuela — Caracas

North America
Belize — Belmopan
Canada — Ottawa
Costa Rica — San Jose
Cuba — Havana
Dominican Republic — Santo Domingo
El Salvador — San Salvador
Guatemala — Guatemala City
Haiti — Port-au-Prince
Honduras — Tegucigalpa
Jamaica — Kingston
Mexico — Mexico DF
Nicaragua — Managua
Panama — Panama City
Puerto Rico — San Juan

Europe
Belarus — Minsk
Bulgaria — Sofia
Czech Republic — Prague
Hungary — Budapest
Moldova — Chisinau
Poland — Warsaw
Romania — Bucharest
Russia — Moscow
Slovakia — Bratislava
Ukraine — Kiev
Albania — Tirana
Bosnia and Herzegovina — Sarajevo
Croatia — Zagreb
Cyprus — Nicosia
Estonia — Tallinn
Latvia — Riga
Lithuania — Vilnius
Macedonia — Skopje
Montenegro — Podgorica
Serbia — Belgrade
Slovenia — Ljubljana
Turkey — Ankara
Belgium — Brussels
Denmark — Copenhagen
Finland — Helsinki
Austria — Vienna
Greece — Athens
Kosovo — Pristina
Netherlands — Amsterdam
Norway — Oslo
Sweden — Stockholm
Andorra — Andorra la Vella
Malta — Valetta
Monaco — Monaco
Switzerland — Bern

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