February 4, 2017

This is the post exceprt…

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Personal Anecdote:

I was chatting with a guy today and my studying Arabic came up. He cautiously asked me about my opinions of Islam. I told him that I’ve never met a Muslim that I didn’t like (not totally true, I’ve met A FEW Muslims I didn’t like) and gave my fair opinion, ya know, that they’re people. He seemed relieved. He told me that his wife is Muslim and that he was asking because his boss “doesn’t trust Islam” and “thinks Muslims are dangerous.” Though not too surprising, this is always disheartening to hear. What really struck me though, was that he had a lot of compassionate understanding for his boss. More than the boss deserves. He told me that this guy was “just shell-shocked” after being a marine for XX years.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of compassion from Muslims and their community. They’re so mistreated here. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the cruelty, fear, and disregard for Muslims in this country and the west in general. There’s a lot of kindness and solidarity, but too much callousness. Despite all this, despite being the victims of a long lists of western and American injustice, so often the cruelty is met with compassion — a lot of sadness and confusion too — but real compassion and mercy. It really moves me. Almost to tears. It also makes me angry. Furious at anyone who express enmity to the people of this faith. And that, in turn, embarrasses me. These Muslim victims of oppression respond with powerful compassion, but this little privileged man gets furious. What a mess.

Top Stories
The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown: Ivy League graduates micromanaging the country – that’s how some in Marceline, Missouri saw the status quo. In his native midwest, Thomas Frank ivestigates how the president won support despite local misgivings” Thomas Frank, The Guardian

This right-to-obnoxiousness raises a fascinating point: these men saw liberals as loudmouthed Pharisees, intolerant moralists who demanded that the rest of the nation snap into line – an exact reverse of the John Ashcroft stereotype liberals used to hold of conservatives.

Everyone I spoke to that morning seemed to take for granted that liberals held some kind of unfair moral- or decibel-based advantage over conservatives. Hillary voters were “the vocal ones”, a man told me. “Conservatives were afraid to speak up because of criticism from liberals,” he continued, “and by God, we showed them.”

And then a curious note: this same individual described how, as a boy, he once shook the hand of Harry S Truman. He had gone on an elementary school field trip to Kansas City in the 1950s, and the ex-president, then in retirement, met with his class. I asked his opinion of the Democratic president who – as he acknowledged – infuriated the right by firing Gen Douglas MacArthur.

“One of the best presidents we ever had,” came the reply.

Two Very Different National Prayer Breakfasts”, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Sojourners

Ever since President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration, each president has attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast, drawing about 3,500 invited guests including members of Congress and government officials. There are readings, prayers, a main speaker, and remarks by the president. In 1973, as the nation was exiting the agony of the Vietnam War, and President Richard Nixon was just re-elected by a landslide — before Watergate unfolded — Sen. Mark O. Hatfield was invited to give some remarks. I served on his staff at the time. We consulted about what to say with Jim Wallis, a new friend in Chicago, publishing a small, upstart magazine called The Post-American. After a lot of thought and prayer, Mark Hatfield rose to the podium, with President Nixon on his right and Billy Graham on his left, and delivered these words:

Weekly Update:
When Residents Take Ownership, A Mobile Home Community Thrives” Daniel Zwerdling, All Things Considered

That letter spotlights the main legal and financial drawback to living in most manufactured housing communities. When you buy a home there, you own the walls, roof and floor, but a private company or investor owns all the land under and around the house. Homeowners pay rent to keep their homes there. The company can sell the land and kick out the residents and their houses whenever it wants, except in a few states that have given residents legal rights to resist.

Return to Prudent Banking Act: Bill to Reign in Predatory Banks Introduced” Rob Cotton, Inquisitr

The legislation has 26 Republican and Democrat co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, including Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Republican Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, and Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. Tulsi Gabbard explains the reasoning behind her support for the Return to Prudent Banking Act on her official congressional web page.

After String of Defeats, Workers Win Union at Baltimore Gas & Electric” Bruce Vail, In These Times

IBEW’s success in the National Labor Relations Board-supervised election last month breaks a long string of defeats for the union, which ran four unsuccessful organizing campaigns at BGE, stretching back to 1996. The final vote, 741-610, is strong enough to deter any legal challenge from BGE, according to union organizer Troy Johnson. Both sides expect to move quickly to negotiate a first contract.

Varona is one of scores of women who have been separated from their children both legally and physically after being deported from the United States. But she has bonded with others facing a similar plight through the activist organization Dreamers Moms. Though their stories vary, the women share a similar fate: They wait in Tijuana, often for years, for a chance to see their families. Some women have lost contact, while others find ways to connect with their children from afar.

A Federal Judge has blocked Texas Law Requiring Women to Cremate and Bury Their Aborted Fetuses”, Jordan Smith, The Intercept

For 28 years the state of Texas had on the books regulations for the disposal of all medical waste that would allow the tissue to be incinerated and disposed of in a sanitary landfill. Last year state officials suddenly decided that in order to improve public health and safety it would define “fetal tissue” as a separate and distinct category of medical waste and would eliminate the option that this tissue be disposed of along with everything else, instead requiring separate cremation and burial.

This week in the executive:

The Petrostate Secretary” David S. Painter, Dissent

While Tillerson’s appointment marks the first time the head of a major oil company has directly taken one of the highest offices in the U.S. government, the policy goals he is likely to pursue are hardly unprecedented. The history of U.S. foreign oil policy shows that whatever big oil wants, it usually gets.

Odds and Ends
Video of the Week:
“Thomas Frank on the State of the Democratic Party”, The Big Picture, RT

School of Life:
“In Praise of the Quiet Life” Alain de Botton, The School of Life

Free E-Book:
The Anti-Inauguration: Building Resistance in the Trump Era ”, Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Anand Gopal, and Owen Jones, Jacobin, Verso Books, Haymarket Books

I’m in love with the speeches that were given at this event. The link above has an embedded recording of the event, but you can also get the text version in this free e-book!

“It’s not enough to simply say ‘No’ to attacks [from the Trump administration]. It’s not enough because we know that where we are now, before the attacks come, is entirely unacceptable. The levels of inequality, the levels of racism―and the planet chaos that we have unleashed. We need radical system change.”
—Naomi Klein

Track of the Week:
“(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano” Sampha, Process

(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
You would show me I had something some people call a soul
And you dropped out the sky, oh you arrived when I was three years old
No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home

You know I left, I flew the nest
And you know I won’t be long
And in my chest you know me best
And you know I’ll be back home

An angel by her side, all the times I knew we couldn’t cope
They said that it’s her time, no tears in sight, I kept the feelings close
And you took hold of me and never, never, never let me go
‘Cause no one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
In my mother’s home

Nations (Additions in BOLD)
Rachael and I have embarked on a years-long ambition to memorize all the nations and capitals. I’m adding 10-15 each week and posting it here so you can join us and/or help us by throwing us a pop quiz from time to time!

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
UK — London
France — Paris
Germany — Berlin
Iceland — Reykjavik
Ireland — Dublin
Italy — Rome
Liechtenstein — Vaduz
Luxembourg — Luxembourg
Portugal — Lisbon
San Marino — San Marino
Spain — Madrid
Vatican City — Vatican City

Africa

Morocco — Rabat
Algeria — Algiers
Tunisia — Tunis
Libya — Tripoli
Egypt — Cairo
Mauritania — Nouakchott
Mali — Bamako
Niger — Niamey
Chad — N’Djamena
Sudan — Khartoum
South Sudan — Juba
Eritrea — Asmara
Djibouti — Djibouti
Senegal — Dakar
Gambia — Banjul
Guinea-Bissau — Bissau
Guinea — Conakry
Sierra Leone — Freetown
Liberia — Monrovia
Cote D’Ivoire — Yamoussoukro
Burkina Faso — Ouagadougou
Ghana — Accra
Togo — Lome
Benin — Porto Novo
Nigeria — Abuja

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