Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mass Executions in Deir Ezzor, Syria - May 29, 2012

Via Syria Scenes
This footage, uploaded by Syrian democracy activists on May 29, 2012, depicts the aftermath of a mass execution on the outskirts of the city of Deir Ezzor. The bodies have been bound and blindfolded, and allegedly show signs of torture. Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad are believed to be responsible

Bloodshed in Syria: Houla's horror | The Economist

Where’s UUSC?

COULD the massacre on Friday of over 100 people in Houla, an area of several villages close to Syria's third city of Homs, mark a turning point in Syria's bloody uprising? Politicians around the world expressed outrage after the UN confirmed that 49 children, many under the age of 10, were among the dead, their bodies shown in pictures and video footage. The UN Security Council met on Sunday evening to condemn the killings while the American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, called for an end to president Bashar Assad's "rule by murder".

This is one of the most brutal incidents in recent months and the bloodiest since UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan to end Syria's fourteen-month crisis officially came into effect in April. Residents of Houla say the army shelled the area before men dressed in military clothing, believed to be regime loyalist gangs from neighbouring Alawite (the sect to which the Assad family belongs) villages, raided the area, using guns and knives to carry out summary executions.

Bloodshed in Syria: Houla's horror | The Economist

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Homs 27-5 Hula Hula survivors of the massacre see the full story

It's in Arabic. Trying to get a version with English subtitles. The other videos are just to gruesome to post. Update: A comment from an Arabic Speaking friend:
Indeed Bill !!! It is horrific and heart aching what they are describing !! In front of their eyes, their husbands were beaten to death and their children were summarily slaughtered. This wounded little baby is the only survivor in her family !! They affirm the attackers were soldiers who are from Alawite tribes !!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

UU World Letter's to the Editor on Immigration : "more brain to go with the heart please!"

All of the Letters to the Editor in the Current issue of UU World reflect a thoughtfulness on the issue, and a willingness to see different sides, that seems lost in the pronouncements that come out of Boston. Perhaps we're losing members because our preaching too shrill and fails to see nuances the average American can readily see. Leaders and preachers too wrapped up in their advocacy rather than thoughtfulness. A sample, (follow the link above for the rest.)
When UU writers or ministers discuss immigration, they often start or close with a disclaimer against “anything-goes immigration policy.” However, seldom do they advocate or even discuss any specific proposals. It just feels like vague “red meat,” for firing up an already radicalized “base.” I hunger for tangible, concrete, pragmatic information that I can use when fleshing out my own ideas and when reaching out with a straight face to non-UUs who raise legitimate questions. Kimberly French splits hairs over the definition of “criminal” vs. “civil” laws. I understand the spirit of what the author is trying to say, but this just comes across as disingenuous. I liked the spotlight on nafta, because I do believe that subsidized American corn is a root cause of increased immigration since the 1990s. However, I could have used more substance to back up the hyperbole. I hope that this discussion will grow more tangible, concrete, and specific as it develops in the UUA and local congregations. More brain to go with the heart!
More Brain to go with the heart: a comment I bet one could say to him or herself many times when listening to a UU Preacher? It used to be a lot of brain when I first started attending a UU Church, but as I read the UUism coming over blogs and facebook the past few years I fear the liberal/progressive heart has driven the brains out. That's a formulae for losing, and these letters tell me I'm not alone.

3 dead, 5 wounded in South and West side shootings

3 dead, 5 wounded in South and West side shootings

Chicago's Butcher Bill as of D-Day on Memorial Day weekend.  Three more days to go.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Second City Cop: Thanks Northsiders

via Chicago’s Second City Cop,

After Bridgeport's show of support, verbally and physically clashing with protestors, the North side couldn't feel left out.

Today's march near Wrigley was interrupted by members of the neighborhood, spraying protestors with hoses, tossing eggs at them and general all around cursing the Occupy folks as wastrel layabouts.

Thanks Northsiders - even though you are Cub fans, your support means a lot to us.

Second City Cop

Saturday, May 19, 2012

And now we have The Chicago Three

The Trib on the three alleged Nato Protest fire bombers….

As they poured gasoline into the beer bottles, Church discussed the upcoming NATO summit and the role the Molotov cocktails would play, according to court documents. At one point, Church asked if the others had ever seen a "cop on fire" and discussed throwing one of the bombs into the Deering District police station in Bridgeport, prosecutors said.

After the bombs were loaded into a nearby car, police raided the apartment and arrested nine people, prosecutors said. Six were later released, leaving Church, Chase and Betterly as the only people charged in the alleged plot.

But the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing the men, scoffed at accusations of bomb making and insisted the NATO protesters simply possessed beer-making equipment.

"Charging these people who are here to peacefully protest against NATO for terrorism, when in reality the police have been terrorizing activists in Chicago, is absolutely outrageous," said Sarah Gelsomino, a lawyer with the guild.

Cops: Protesters threatened that 'city will never be the same' - Page 2 - chicagotribune.com

Update from Breitbart TV: Video from the night before the arrest. Apparently some of the three were participants.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Eaton: New book reveals more about Obama’s rise - Southtown Star

Fran Eaton's review of Edward Klein's The Amateur

Eaton: New book reveals more about Obama’s rise - Southtown Star
In a few short paragraphs, we’re able to link Wright, President Obama, Whitaker, Blagojevich, Rezko, Michelle Obama and Jarrett. Doesn’t get much cozier among Chicago Democrats, does it?
They're peas-in-a-pod for sure.

Who needs the Rickett’s money when Rev Wright talks so freely?

No reason for the Mayor to talk tough about the Rickett’s when Rev Wright trashes the Prez without prompting. Rickett’s should spend those dollars on talking about jobs and that yet to appear economic recovery.  Wright will do his own revenge for having been tossed under the Obama bus in 2008.

The New York Post on Sunday published a conversation between Wright and Klein, the latest tidbit to come from the book. In it, Wright said once his fiery sermons surfaced during the 2008 campaign, he received an email asking him not to preach until after November:

“Who sent the e-mail?” I asked Wright.

“It was from one of Barack’s closest friends.”

“He offered you money?”

“Not directly,” Wright said. “He sent the offer to one of the members of the church, who sent it to me.”

“How much money did he offer you?”

“One hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” Wright said.

Wright said he was also visited by then-Senator Obama himself, who wanted to meet in secret.

“And one of the first things Barack said was, ‘I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election.’ He knew I had some speaking engagements lined up, and he said, ‘I wish you wouldn’t speak. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.’

“And what did you say?” I asked. “I said, ‘I don’t see it that way. And anyway, how am I supposed to support my family?’ And he said, ‘Well, I wish you wouldn’t speak in public. The press is gonna eat you alive.’

Book: Obama Team Tried to Pay Rev. Wright $150K to Keep Quiet Until After 2008 Election | TheBlaze.com

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Protests In Sunni-Majority Iranian Province Turn Deadly

Iran on edge…

Tensions are running high in a southeastern Iranian province with a majority Sunni population after a protest against the recent arrest of local religious figures ended in bloodshed.

At least one person was killed and two injured after police forces opened fire on the protesters, who had gathered in the city of Rask in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province on May 14. According to reports, they were demonstrating against the recent arrests of the son of the city's Friday Prayers leader and other Sunni clerics.

Sunni Muslims make the majority of the population in Sistan-Baluchistan but make up only about 10 percent of the population in Shi'a-dominated Iran overall.
Iran's officials and state media have not reported on the unrest. But SunniOnline, a website that covers news about Iran's Sunni minority, wrote that police opened fire on protesters, resulting in the death of a man identified as Jan Mohammad Dehghani. His funeral was reportedly held on May 15.

Protests In Sunni-Majority Iranian Province Turn Deadly

Protesters Terrorize Neighborhoods In Pre-NATO 'F*ck The Police' March

Knowing these neigborhoods, I wouldn't exactly say they were the kind of folks to be terrorized by anti-NATO demonstrators. Does give you a flavor of the kind of behavior that turns Democrats into Reagan Democrats though.

Kane County Chronicle | History Made: Church keeps history alive every Sunday

I’m not so sure how much we keep history alive, but we keep a faith pretty in synch with Conant’s alive. (Hey, any press is good though!)  I think he’d feel that way.  The opening paragraphs and the link to the rest below…

Augustus Conant was a man with a purpose – even if it meant drifting away from the family business.

Conant was born Oct. 16, 1811, in Brandon, Vt., to Ebenezer Conant and Fanny Clifford. He later went on to help form the First Christian Congregation of Geneva, later known as the Unitarian Church in Geneva and now the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva. The church is part of the Central Geneva Historical District, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The Kane County Chronicle is taking a look at area buildings on the register this week.

Kane County Chronicle | History Made: Church keeps history alive every Sunday

OWS RIP | Via Meadia

It’s dead per Russell Mead.  America needs an effective left, but this sure wasn’t it.

OWS RIP | Via Meadia

‘A nation of Osteens and Obamas’ - Guest Voices - The Washington Post

Plenty for UUs to ponder from Ross Douthat and his new book: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Religion-Became-Nation-Heretics/dp/1439178305

Finally, when strong religious impulses coexist with weak religious institutions, people become more likely to channel religious energy into partisan politics instead, and to freight partisan causes with more metaphysical significance than they can bear. The result, visible both in the “hope and change” fantasies of Obama’s 2008 campaign and the right-wing backlash it summoned up, is a politics that gives free rein to both utopian and apocalyptic delusions, and that encourages polarization without end.

Again, these tendencies have always been with us. But they’ve usually coexisted with religious institutions rooted in something deeper than the fashions of the moment, and with churches capable of providing a curb on the very American temptation to make God in our own image and declare that we are good. That is what we lack today, and what we need tomorrow.

‘A nation of Osteens and Obamas’ - Guest Voices - The Washington Post

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Elz Curtiss on a Denominational Library

A clip from an Elz Curtiss to the UU History List on the need for an online denominational library.  I’d be curious what themes would emerge from our preachers and how they would mesh with what’s coming out of Boston.  Instead of wondering what the core of UUism is today, we’d have a database telling us exactly what’s being preached.

Your question [on Universalist training on preaching BB] helps me focus on the challenge facing our denomination today. With so much sacralizing of the everyday world,and so much widespread literacy and advanced education, the implied canon of Bible, Shakespeare, national documents and certain classical philosophers has dissolved and pretty much floated away. The Lyceum Circuit also kept our religious language somewhat cross-fertilized, despite its relocation into the secular realm. So when people now feel called to preach -- whether lay or ordained -- our denominational culture lacks a "core curriculum" from which everyone sets out together and to which we are called to return.

This is one reason I have become impassioned about creating a denominational library, using the latest library science to cross-link what we are reading and preaching. Thanks to the internet, we no longer have to worry about storing everything in one place,but can keep things regionally available. What the denomination would have to provide is guidance and insistence that all preachers make arrangements to deposit their writings and inform the central librarians about when and where things are available. There would need to be a fund to support local indexing of the archives, providing whatever scanning or keyword loading the overarching directory would provide.

It's true that if you know what you're looking for, WorldCat will tell you where to find it. But you still have to get up and go there. I am talking about giving every minister,especially in our far-flung locations, to turn on their computer in their study at 9 p.m. on Saturday night and look up relevant passages for a sermon that is finally beginning to cohere, based on keywords and phrases that have meaning for a particular congregation on the dawning Sunday.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Elizabeth Warren Ancestor Rounded Up Cherokees For Trail of Tears

Warren’s story gets entangled in one of the US’s sorriest moments.

But the most stunning discovery about the life of O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford is that her husband, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, was apparently a member of the Tennessee Militia who rounded up Cherokees from their family homes in the Southeastern United States and herded them into government-built stockades in what was then called Ross’s Landing (now Chattanooga), Tennessee—the point of origin for the horrific Trail of Tears, which began in January, 1837.

This new information about Ms. Warren’s true heritage came as a direct result of a lead provided to me by William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection, who in turn had received the information from one of his readers. Jacobson, who has questioned Warren's explanation for her law faculty listing, calls this discovery "the ultimate and cruelest irony" of the Warren Cherokee saga.

Jonathan Crawford, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford’s husband and apparently Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, served in the East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteer Militia commanded by Brigadier General R. G. Dunlap from late 1835 to late 1836. While under Dunlap’s command he was a member of Major William Lauderdale’s Battalion, and Captain Richard E. Waterhouse’s Company.

These were the troops responsible for removing Cherokee families from homes they had lived in for generations in the three states that the Cherokee Nations had considered their homelands for centuries: Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. 

Elizabeth Warren Ancestor Rounded Up Cherokees For Trail of Tears

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Occupy Movement and the Communism of Everyday Life — The American Magazine

Lee Harris of the American Enterprise Institute conclusion on Occupy’s David Graeber,
There is, however, an even deeper internal contradiction in Graeber’s thinking. Most of us would welcome the ideal of promoting everyday communism. Even if we are put off by Graeber’s terminology, we recognize the value of a community in which people are willing to help each other out. This is certainly a refreshing change from the communism of Marxist orthodoxy, which was to be imposed from the top down through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Yet the Marxists were at least consistent. Their praxis matched their theory. They knew that to achieve their goal, there had to be a revolution—violent revolution.

Unlike Marxist communism, however, the communism of everyday life cannot be imposed by force. People must spontaneously choose to practice it. They may do this automatically because of the religious or cultural traditions in which they were raised, but no political revolution can hope to instill the spirit of everyday communism where it does not already exist. On the contrary, revolutions, because they disrupt the traditional structures and fabric of ordinary life, are far more likely to poison this spirit. In short, if Graeber seriously wanted to promote the ideal of everyday communism, he would drop his romantic infatuation with world revolution.

There is a way out, both for Graeber and the Occupy movement. Graeber is virtually unique among radical thinkers for the favorable attitude he takes towards religion. Religions, after all, have managed to do what no political revolution ever has—they have encouraged and promoted the spirit of everyday communism, as Graeber himself notes in his book. How did religious movements succeed where merely political movements failed? For the most part, they relied on individuals who lived and embodied the spirit of everyday communism and who inspired others to do the same by their own shining example.

Of course, for some people this path is not as exciting as smashing windows and slashing tires, but it is far more likely to win converts.
The Occupy Movement and the Communism of Everyday Life — The American Magazine
I heard a guest Preacher (and a long time UU Minister) yesterday preach UUism’s in unmistakable crisis and decline.  The decline at the forefront of every UU Minister’s thinking. 

To my mind some of the decline is change and failure to adopt.  Some institutions adopt and survive, others don’t and  pass. 

But the UU reaction to Occupy showed me a failure of far too many UU clergy and religious leaders to judge and discern.  They came out full bore for Occupy and then went silent when the violence erupted. An obvious outcome to anyone who could remember the 60s and 70s, and spent a little time with the Occupy folks.

It’s a writer from the AEI who ferrets out the religious core within Occupy that UU’s should have been explaining and perhaps shaping the movement.  We surrendered with silence to the slashing tires crowd and that’s a sure sign of  our crisis.  Our leadership is failing our Churches big time; no converts indeed.  The AEI may end up with our mantle and they’ll deserve it.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Rogue Democrats Loot Detroit As Nation Sleeps | Via Meadia

Mead’s conclusion on the looting of Detroit.  As citizen of Illinois, I just wonder about Democrats as Rogue here. It seems to be the core of the party today. No outrage when progressives plunder.  And their victims the most vulnerable of Americans.

American cities have been festering pits of graft and bad governance since at least the early 19th century, but there is a difference between the “honest graft” of Tammany Hall and the nihilistic destruction practiced by some of today’s urban machines. Today’s situation, in which some city machines are so dysfunctional that the parasite is literally killing the host (and not just in Detroit), is new and, again, the most vulnerable in our society suffer the worst consequences. Minority children are the greatest ultimate victims of this loathsome corruption: they attend horrible schools and grow up in decaying, unsafe urban landscapes where there is no growth, no jobs and no opportunity for the young.

How is it anything but racist not to care about that — and not to burn with the desire to put the scabrous thugs who misgovern our cities and waste our social funds in prison where they belong?

Rogue Democrats Loot Detroit As Nation Sleeps | Via Meadia

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

'Rent-a-Mob' at Occupy Chicago's May Day March

Teamster's Donnie Von Moore: No Cameras at Occupy Chicago Please

Fellow Worker Moore quite a working class hero.  Via Teamsters Fight Back,

In 2001 and 2004 Fight Back! reported about stolen elections in Local 743. In 2007 we reported on the victory of reformers in a U.S. Department of Labor-run election. With the Department of Labor gone, it appears the election was stolen by using some old tricks as well as refusing to process address changes for Latinos and others 743 New Leadership Team supporters. 
Von Moore has long been on the shady side of 743 affairs. Just months ago he presided over a giveaway of the defined benefit pension for close to 1000 workers at Rush University Medical Center. Nursing home administrators supported Von Moore, knowing he would take them back to the ‘good ol’ days’ of undercutting contracts of other SEIU unionized nursing homes in the area. 
New Leadership Team presidential candidate J Burger said, “Making the Von Moore leadership accountable to the members won’t be easy, but must be done to prevent the return of back room deals, higher officer salaries and poor member representation. Only an active and informed membership can make this happen.” 
A source inside the 743 New Leadership Team told Fight Back! that a post-election protest has been filed. Many workers who supported the New Leadership Team/El Nuevo Liderazgo will continue their efforts to build a fighting workers movement. This includes support for Sandy Pope as she takes on James Hoffa for Teamster International President.

Raw: Black-clad protesters attack Niketown

H/T Seattleite from Syracuse

Raw: Black-clad protesters attack Niketown

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Occupy supporting business owner speaks out against their vandalism

Reminds me so much of 1968 / 69 and SDS and layer after layer of activists turned away by the nihlism until only Ayers / Doren and their weird weatherman cult left in the Days of Rage.

The Forward on Forward

Twitter fun over at The Forward on the Obama campaign's slogan Forward.
And my personal favorite, from Ron Kampeas, of our friendly competitors over at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: @MittRomney counters @BarackObama’s #Forward with new slogan, #Telegraphic Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/155537/making-room-for-another-forward/#ixzz1tcxP9Zrs