Today, step out and make yourself heard. Don’t let anyone take the right to access the World Wide Web away from Americans and citizens of the world. Fight to keep Net Neutrality and don’t allow the Federal Communications Commission or anyone to hand the Internet to media and cable companies to act as gate keepers.
A Year in the Life of
a Turncoat Saying No
I did it. Or rather, I did not. First, let’s take exception and write this post in the first person, lest no one else take the fall for my unspeakable acts of omission, negligence, and absolute lack of empathy: I have refused to make end-of-the-year donations.
I don’t mean once, or twice, or heaven forbid, three times, but have deleted all desperate emails, coming from all corners of the world, for my urgent help saving individuals, communities, natural resources, ideas, or for Ebenezer Scrooge’s sake, the whole planet.
Worst: not so secretly, I actually enjoy receiving these last-minute solicitations from such noble causes, vainly nursing the obnoxious idea that, somehow, just having been chosen to receive them is a sign of my superior humanitarian condition, and public acknowledgement of my dutifully celebrated goodness.
Feeling so overwhelmed by such displays of goodwill towards my potential to add a savior’s hand to a worthy fight or effort, towards the betterment of mankind, I go to self-centered lengths of congratulating the face in the mirror, for being so gifted and touched by, no question about, a divine inspiration.
Except that I didn’t. Methodically and systematically, I’ve treated them like spam, and as requests intensified by the end of the year, December being the apex of the marathon of sign-ins and petitions, I matched their insistence by shredding it all without even opening.
Never mind what came in through regular mail, tons of envelopes loaded with free addresses and chances to win duffel bags, stuffed animals, bumper stickers, badges to be displayed showing my allegiance, that I judiciously took care of, tearing it all apart with bare hands or scissors.
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PROFIT?
I did it without a second thought, and even now, I’m not sure I regret having done it so. After all, they all seemed to be addressed to someone with way deeper pockets than mine, and a bigger heart too, willing to go out of the way and having finger cramps just signing checks or providing credit card numbers.
It all did look as if they were not talking to me, but someone higher up in the big hierarchy of the good giving and the well willing. So, fine, I did feel a bit pressured to perform my very best, and obviously, failed miserably, for otherwise there wouldn’t be reasons for a post like this.
So, I said no, and now I’m saying, I’m sorry, ACLU, AFSC, Alaska Wilderness League, America’s Wolves, Amnesty, AnimalHaven, ASPCA, Audubon, Bird’s Nest, Care, ColorOfChange, Common Dreams, Covenant House, Earthjustice, EEF, FoodBank, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Heifer, and HOPE.
I sincerely apologize League of Women Voters, LGBT, MADRE, Media Matters, Mercy Corps, Mother Jones, Native Americans, Nature Conservancy, Oceana, OpenSecrets, OWS, Oxfam, PETA, PFAW, Pro-Publica, RootsAction, Save the Rainforest, Sierra Club, Smithsonian, Solar & Wind Power, Truth Out, UNICEF, UN Refugee Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utne Reader, WIN, Working Families, and WWF.
WOULD THAT BE CASH OR CARD?
Plus, my deepest regrets for not having heeded the appeals of an assortment of local charities, housing organizations, hunger programs,(more)
* Trick or Truce
* Sleight of News
A Day to Recast Our Vows
& Commitment to Healing
When the AIDS epidemic broke free from the gates of hell, in the early 1980s, those who believe in gates of hell thanked their cruel invisible gods. Some hoped the ‘plague’ would wipe out a certain love they work so hard to convince themselves it’s there only to torment them.
This Dec 1 AIDS Day is a triumph for such an unjustly stigmatized disease. It proves, for the 29th year in a row, that intolerance has no place in human experience, and that in many ways, the crisis has turned a corner, as it may be finally on its way to oblivion.
The initial killer onslaught of AIDS did slaughter scores but, unlike what those who sided with it expected, it also reawakened that most selfless of human feelings: compassion. By the end of the decade, it was those haters who were being considered cursed, while the afflicted became heroes to be emulated.
The fatal group of infections caused by the HIV virus has ended the lives of some 35 million people worldwide. Slightly more are living with it, under intense control. And even if there’s no great merit in dying, those left behind, who’ve lost dear and close ones, did become better people.
There’s a new dangerous complacency towards AIDS, however, and while a minority can’t put up with the meds that’d keep them healthy, a great many simply assumed, irresponsibly, that a cure exists. That may explain the spike in new cases, despite an almost universal awareness about how the virus strikes.
A CHECKPOINT IN THE WAY OF HEALING
AIDS is no longer considered a ‘lifestyle’ disease. Class-wise, it’s steadily moved on from a young, male, and relatively well-to-do urban crowd – the majority of early casualties in this devilish war – to multi-gender generations in mostly impoverished nations. Down to the very young.
In fact, 400 babies are born every year already HIV-positive. They may not be AIDS victims per se, but are still falling through the gargantuan income gap, that keeps on widening and swallowing ever more lives everyday. In 40 years, HIV infection never ceased to track a harsh class disparity.
The day also serves as a checkpoint reminder. It’s a refresher for global awareness, a spotlight on its current stats, rosy or dark, a review of strategies employed to address it, progresses on therapy (more)
* Fading HIV
But What Is He
Building in There?
Psychopaths believe in a world of order, hierarchy, chains of command. They sit atop; everybody else is food. They’re not above a compliment if it comes from those who share similar obsession for rituals and lethal games. But despise sympathy from those they consider prey.
Donald Trump is not a psychopath. He’s a dangerous buffoon, but short of his bounty, won’t last a minute among beasts. Minions at his disposal make him high, but as a predator, he’s like a hyena: rather than mastering the a killing hunt, he’d hide and steal the lion’s catch.
Unsavory creatures crave attention but shun the spotlight. While the orange clown works the crowd, an army of crafty shadows pick pockets. Let a raging fool bark, and his unhinged white noise will provide cover to hungry wolves, sinking fangs on flesh and bones.
Germans once picked a psychopathic mass murderer to lead them out of chaos; Nero slaughtered his way to the Roman throne. But neither soaked their hands in blood alone. Amoral commanders love medals and insignias, but worse monsters dwell in gallows, wearing no uniforms, or titles.
Naked rulers are always troubling; but watch out for those who lurk in the background. Many an once proud nation fell under the spell of mad kings and deranged dictators. But it was their enablers who carried out the wreckage of millions of lives left on their wake.
Spoiled child or a wretched demon, worse than Trump is the nutty platoon behind him, holding the launching buttons of U.S. nukes. Statistically, every outfit has a psychopath or two in its midst. But unlike TV series about serial killer, (more)
* Worse Than Thou
* Faulty Towers
A Bird With Multiple Names, Two
Countries & Some Holiday Mash
This was supposed to be the definitive post on why turkeys are called turkeys, what they have to do with Turkey and Peru, and why would anyone care about it.
Instead, it turned out to be just another holiday stupor, a tipsy search on the Internet and a million half-funny comments on why no one seems to have a clear idea.
So, risking making the article almost shorter than its headline, let’s just cover the highlights, while we check the oven and get properly loaded before the guests have parked at the curb.
Americans (including William Burroughs) have held Thanksgiving very dear to their hearts because the holiday is based on a historical folktale and, to this day, it’s still a family gathering by excellence in ways religious dates could never be.
Granted, at this point in time, it’s no longer all about the turkey. Aunts have various dietary needs. Some care only for the sweet potatoes and cranberry jam. And children became vegan and will have their own Tofurkey.
The cooking frenzy that used to animate families of yore have since lost much of its luster with the advent of live football and the Macy’s Parade on TV.
Besides, arguments usually ensue even before all relatives have arrived (more)
* Meatless Time
* It’s Your Bird’s Day
Katrina or When Climate Change
Collided Against the Racial Divide
They called for help but it never came. As the nation witnessed entire counties drown on TV, the president refused to cut down his vacations. The storm turned the Big Easy into one of the hardest places on Earth to survive. And a compromised recovery would be short and flawed and unequal.
They promised to rebuild but more than lives, personal belongings, and memorabilia got lost in the flood. Gone was also both New Orleans’ patina of a supposedly racial democracy, and yet another national lame excuse to deny climate change.
As it goes, both were currency during the Bush administration in the immediate post 9/11 era, when his government acquired immense powers to avenge, in a phony cowboy way, the open wounds of American society. Katrina, thus, was far from a ‘natural’ disaster.
The government that sent to the U.N. an honored but misguided black Secretary of State, to justify the Iraq invasion with manufactured evidence, had also promoted an energy policy based on fossil fuels that’s now directly linked to the climate deterioration of the planet.
A policy that, while lining government officials’ pockets, from the VIP down to close allies in the industry and oil-producing countries, has been instrumental for an explosive growth in the destructive power of storms such as Karina, and the wild fires now raging in the West Coast.
WHY THEY WERE LEFT BEHIND
Despite our first black president‘s usual brand of shinning rhetoric and optimism about the future, the state of race relations in this (more)
* New Orleans Remembers
Weary World Marks
a Somber Anniversary
Within a minute, the world would be changed forever. Life ended instantly for 80,000, and would be cut short for twice as many in just a few months. Worst of all was the fear that, for the first time in history, mankind could easily destroy itself, a fear that ushered the Cold War.
From Japan to the U.S., from Germany to Brazil, and all corners in between, millions are joining in to renew vows against the still untamable power of the split atom, even in its limited ‘pacific’ uses. But along with tragedy, the nuclear age has also produced heroes and redemption tales.
At 8:15am local time, the Enola Gay dropped its terrible load, perversely named the Little Boy, over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, after what its inhabitants may have thought was just another air raid siren, alerting for American bombers flying overhead. It wasn’t, or rather, it was way more than that.
Three days later, the Fat Man, another gun-type uranium device, destroyed Nagasaki, the final act of a two-punch strike that, for apologists, broke Japan’s imperial ambitions in the Pacific, and effectively ended World War II. Or so goes the official narrative.
What the mushroom clouds actually ignited was the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which at few crucial moments almost came to a civilization-ending blow, and a new era of unimaginable terror for all other nations, impotent to stop the two superpowers from acting like the world’s overlords.
But it’s also helped breed a new crop of pacifists who made us understand the risks of having the planet’s fate rest with so few, and highly belligerent, hands. It’s their activism and courage that have granted the world a reprieve, and prevented other cities from being destroyed like those two.
DISFIGURED BODIES, WHOLE SOULS
First, there were the survivors. Even though most of them died within a few years of the explosions, thousands of citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took upon themselves to show the world what such power really is capable of. As they perished from radiation and other diseases, their legacy passed on.
Soon after, even former Japanese combatants joined in, convinced that they had been part of a war that had no winners on that particular front. The bomb’s destructive power caused many despicable (Click below to continue reading)
* Bloody Throes
* Nukes for Nuts
* Nuking the Future