February 11, 2017

This is the post excerpt…

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Seattle Symphony’s “Music Beyond Borders: Voices From the Seven”
The Seattle Symphony performed a free concert featuring the music of the countries whose citizens were denied entry to the U.S. under the recent executive order (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). They write, “During the last week, the arts community across the country has been coming together in meaningful ways following the recent executive order restricting travel and immigration from certain countries. At the Seattle Symphony, we are inspired to add our voice, with the hope that we can bring together our community to celebrate the freedom of expression and open exchange of ideas which the arts have always stood for, especially in times of division and conflict.” The free tickets sold out within hours of announcement, but the concert was streamed live on Facebook. (via The Stranger)

Let me tell you. It’s exquisite. Best watched, but also beautiful listened to.

Midway through the director of the symphony reads this:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

– Rumi

Top Stories
What Social Democracy Delivers: Ted Cruz is Wrong. Workers in social-democratic countries are richer and freer than in the US.” Josh Mound, Jacobin

Josh Mound is currently a postdoctoral fellow in political economy at Miami University of Ohio.

“The per capita income in America is over five times the average per capita income in this world. It’s 50 percent more than the per capita income in Europe,” Cruz claimed. “This is a land of opportunity, because there’s social mobility. . . . The advantage of this country is someone can start out a dishwasher like my dad did, and the free enterprise system in this country let’s people rise.”

Sanders simply responded, “Denmark and Sweden and Finland . . . do pretty well.” (Cruz waxed patriotic: “I choose to live in America.”)

Unfortunately, Sanders’s rejoinder let the elisions and misdirection in Cruz’s comments go unanswered. Cruz’s claims notwithstanding, most Americans have lower incomes and less mobility than their counterparts in more social-democratic countries.

Christ, Not America, First” Stephen Mattson, Sojourners

Through his entire life and ministry, Jesus was notably absent from involving himself in the political systems of his day. Why? Because the Kingdom of Heaven was his priority, and living out the divine ideals of that kingdom would be contrary to those of any worldly kingdom or system of power.

Weekly Update:

Trump Signs Memorandum Shelving Fiduciary Standard for Financial Advisors”, Jamie Hopkins, Forbes

Why does this matter? Simply put, the DOL fiduciary rule was designed to make sure that, if you hired a financial advisor to help with your retirement planning and assets, the financial advisor acted in your best interest, avoided conflicts of interest when possible, and was transparent with you about his or her compensation and fees. Many people are surprised to learn that such a rule does not already exist for financial advisors since financial advice, at its core, would appear only to be needed precisely to ensure the best interests of the consumer. While the fiduciary rule was not supported by everyone in the financial services industry, it has been hailed as a workable rule that is a step in the right direction for financial services, and the delay in implementation is expected to be the first step in terminating the rule as it exists today.

The FBI is Building a National Watchlist that Gives Companies Real-Time Updates on Employees” Ava Kofman, The Intercept

The FBI’s Rap Back program is quietly transforming the way employers conduct background checks. While routine background checks provide employers with a one-time “snapshot” of their employee’s past criminal history, employers enrolled in federal and state Rap Back programs receive ongoing, real-time notifications and updates about their employees’ run-ins with law enforcement, including arrests at protests and charges that do not end up in convictions. (“Rap” is an acronym for Record of Arrest and Prosecution; “Back” is short for background.)

Louisiana Pipleine Explodes, Injuring 2 Workers and Leaving 1 Missing: Nearby, activists and residents are fighting to stop construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline” Yessenia Funes, Colorlines

The 20-inch high-pressure pipeline is run by Phillips 66, a company which is invested in the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The cause of the explosion is not yet known, but it resulted in the hospitalization of two workers—one of whom was transported to a burn center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Another three who were on-site suffered minor or no injuries. One worker, however, remains missing. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne told The Advocate that they hoped the worker had “wandered off.” There is an ongoing search for him in the nearby area.

A drug company hiked the price of a lifesaving opioid overdoes antidote by 500 percent: Where’s the outrage?” Julia Belluz, Vox

Kaleo, the drug company behind Evzio, says the price increases are justified because of its easy-to-use and life-saving delivery system, as Shefali Luthra at Kaiser Health News reports. But, Luthra adds, the jump in price is “way out of step with production costs.”

In reality, Kaleo — like the EpiPen makers who hiked the price of their injectable by 400 percent since 2007 — increased its cost because it can.

Yemen: Jeremy Scahill & Advocates Question” Success” of Trump Raid that Killed 24 Civilians”, Democracy Now!

Questions are mounting about the first covert counterterrorism operation approved by President Donald Trump. Authorities say it was a success. The Pentagon now acknowledges that civilians were killed Sunday when members of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 joined with commandos from the United Arab Emirates to raid a Yemeni village where members of al-Qaeda were said to live. But human rights groups say up to 24 civilians were killed, including a newborn baby and an American 8-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of the U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike in 2011. The U.S. suffered one fatality: William “Ryan” Owens, a veteran member of SEAL Team 6. We get response from Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, who has extensively covered Yemen; Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Baraa Shiban, the Yemen project coordinator and caseworker with Reprieve.

 

Michael Bennet explains why he refuses to go to Israel as ‘an ambassador of good will’”, Alysha Tsuji, USA Today

 

Bennett wrote that he decided not to go when he first found out his “itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of good will.’”

“I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett continued. “When I go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.”

 

This week in the executive: Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon harnessed the spirit of revolt that the Democrats gave up” Thomas Frank, The Guardian

So our billionaire president hangs a portrait of Andrew Jackson on his wall, spits on his hands, and takes a sledgehammer to the Dodd–Frank Act. The portrait is of the banks’ all-time arch-enemy; the reality is that the banks are going to be deregulated yet again. And in that insane juxtaposition we can grasp rightwing populism almost in its entirety: fiery verbal hostility to elites, combined with generous government favours for those same elites.

The World According to Bannon: Steve Bannon’s vision of civilizational crisis and violent renewal has deep roots in the American political tradition” Alexander Livingston, Jacobin

A saeculum begins in the wake of a great crisis. Conformity and self-denial reign, and energy is channeled into building and protecting stable institutions. This first generation, or “turning,” eventually gives way to a subsequent generation where the social order begins to erode. Stultifying conformity is thrown off in pursuit of spiritual discovery and individual freedom.

The second turning leads to a third, where corroding skepticism unravels stable institutions and social trust breaks down. Society atomizes and identities fracture, while speculation and elite power break free of traditional constraints. This cycle of unraveling is followed by a cataclysmic “fourth turning” into the new saeculum. The complete collapse of social institutions plunges society into chaos, and individuals are forced to embrace a common purpose in order to rebuild society. As Howe explains in Bannon’s Generation Zero, fourth turnings are tragic but necessary stages in the consolidation of national unity.

 

Odds and Ends
Video of the Week:
“Global Capitalism: Nationalism and Scapegoating Foreigners”, Dr. Richard Wolff, Democracy at Work

School of Life:
“Literature – Marcel Proust” Alain de Botton, The School of Life

Marcel Proust was an early 20th-century French writer whose seminal text ‘A la recherche du temps Perdu’ (In search of Lost Time) matters above all because it contains a philosophy of how we should live.

Podcast:
Trump’s Cabinet of Killers and Why Orange is the New Anti-Black”, Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

Less than a month into the new administration and not even a presidential bath robe can protect President Trump’s orange from becoming the new anti-black. This week on Intercepted we sit down with intrepid investigative reporter Allan Nairn, who breaks down Trump’s relationship with the CIA, the president’s murderous affection for Vladimir Putin, and the killer assembly of establishment neocons and right-wing conspiracists running the U.S. war machine. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton professor and author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” dismantles Obama’s problematic legacy, offers strategic advice for resisting Trump, and shares her scorecard on Nazi punching. The Intercept’s own distinguished alt-historian, Jon Schwarz, offers a (morbid) lesson on the origins of presidential executive orders. And singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches performs a powerful song about racism and the police state.

Track of the Week:
“Love me, I’m a liberal” Phil Ochs

İ cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I’d lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don’t talk about revolution
That’s going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I’m glad the commies were thrown out
of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don’t move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can’t understand how their minds work
What’s the matter don’t they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I read New republic and Nation
I’ve learned to take every view
You know, I’ve memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I’m almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There’s no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I’ll send all the money you ask for
But don’t ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I’ve grown older and wiser
And that’s why I’m turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal
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
Cameroon    Yaoundé
Central African Republic — Bangui
Ethiopia — Addis Ababa
Somalia — Mogadishu
Kenya — Nairobi
Uganda — Kampala
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — Kinshasa
Congo — Brazzaville
Gabon — Libreville
Equatorial Guinea — Malabo
Rwanda — Kigali

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