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A 21st-Century Soup Kitchen… on Long Island

By: GREYDOG

By Shari Foster and Sue Schumann, 99GetSmart

Inspired by the work of #OpSafeWinter-NYC, SouperSistas started serving soup on January 7.

As the country entered what the mainstream media termed the “Polar Vortex,” we entered into an emotional vortex of concern and dread. While running our errands, struggling with the frigid temperatures it struck us: What would we do if we couldn’t? What if the oil tanks in our homes were empty, what if we didn’t have access to transportation or use of a personal vehicle to purchase groceries? Volunteering with the local Food Not Bombs LI Chapter, we knew first hand that poverty and hunger are ever present in Long Island. The stereotypical version of what Eastern Long Island is – wealth and luxury, beachfront properties with driveways filled with fast and fancy cars – is far from accurate. As temperatures dipped we grew more alarmed, knowing that many houseless were facing the worst weather elements and survival would come at a high price.

Inspired by the work of #OpSafeWinter-NYC, we embarked on our two-woman journey. Since we recognized our limited finances we quickly became both frugal and inventive. SouperSistas started serving soup on January 7, 2014. We went to local grocery stores and scoured the reduced-produce racks for fresh produce and scoped out sales to prepare tasty and healthy food. We were aware of small houseless communities that gather cans and bottles that are redeemed for the five-cent deposit money. Once redeemed, resources are collectively shared in an effort to provide and care for each other. Every Tuesday and Thursday we choose to share our hot soup and fresh bread with these communities. We also served soup in the local Department of Social Services (DSS) parking, lot where we witnessed people with garbage bags and shopping carts filled with their belongings seeking emergency shelter. Recently we were escorted off of DSS property by two police cars that informed us we were on “private property.” We explained that our taxes pay for the parking lot; we decided to leave to avoid arrest. We are trying to decipher the bureaucratic process so we may return to DSS, but in the interim we continue to serve in areas that welcome us.

Marginalized populations face a bureaucratic system that is very complex, one that imposes too many requirements for people to fulfill. In the beginning we were often met with distrust, a certain “what’s in it for you?” reluctance, and deservedly so. When the system fails, contempt and distrust prevail. Over time we can honestly say that the barriers we faced initially have slowly dissipated. The newly formed friendships have been the ultimate gift that we continue to receive. Our respect for the community is overwhelming; the strength, the commitment to each other serve as a constant reminder to us that we must take care of each other. We can’t rely on a compassionless government who creates victims and then blames them for their circumstances. It’s such a simple, basic principle, one that we teach our children at a very young age: the importance of sharing. Sadly, certain cities in the US have made it illegal to share one’s food with homeless people. What kind of lessons are we teaching our young?

We are pleased that others, both on Long Island and in other states, have joined with SouperSistas and share food as well.

UN Panel: Renewables, Not Nukes, Can Solve Climate Crisis

By: solartopia
A rainbow reflected on rooftop solar panels atop a house

IPCC report calls for renewables to stop climate change.

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.

It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not.

The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.

This IPCC report was four years in the making.  It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.

The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change.  To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.

Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.

First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.

Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.

And third, the cost is manageable.

Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.

The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather.

The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.

But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job—at a manageable price.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” says Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who led the IPCC team.

The IPCC report cites nuclear power as a possible means of lowering industrial carbon emissions. But it also underscores considerable barriers involving finance and public opposition.  Joined with widespread concerns about ecological impacts, length of implementation, production uncertainties and unsolved waste issues, the report’s positive emphasis on renewables virtually guarantees nuclear’s irrelevance.

Some climate scientists have recently advocated atomic energy as a solution to global warming.  But their most prominent spokesman, Dr. James Hansen, also expresses serious doubts about the current generation of reactors, including Fukushima, which he calls “that old technology.”

Instead Hansen advocates a new generation of reactors.

But the designs are untested, with implementation schedules stretching out for decades.  Financing is a major obstacle as is waste disposal and widespread public opposition, now certain to escalate with the IPCC’s confirmation that renewables can provide the power so much cheaper and faster.

With its 15-year deadline for massive carbon reductions the IPCC has effectively timed out any chance a new generation of reactors could help.

And with its clear endorsement of green power as a tangible, doable, affordable solution for the climate crisis, the pro-nuke case has clearly suffered a multiple meltdown.

With green power, says IPCC co-chair Jim Skea, a British professor, a renewable solution is at hand. “It’s actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living.”

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.

MENA Mashup: Al Aqsa, Egypt, and Yemen

By: CTuttle Sunday November 24, 2013 3:37 pm

Once again the IDF violently assaulted the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem…

Israeli forces clash with worshipers in Aqsa compound, dozens hurt

Dozens of worshipers were hurt Wednesday morning in fierce clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan and Chain gates.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers and police officers broke into the compound and deployed in the southern quarter firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers.

Director of al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Azam al-Kahtib told Ma’an that ‘about 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound.’ He highlighted that Israeli officers used live ammunition.

Special forces deployed at the main gates since dawn prayer, witnesses said, denying Palestinian worshipers entry to the compound.

Employees of the ministry of endowment and students who attend schools inside the compound were also denied entry. Only security guards were allowed in addition to men over 65 years old. Several people performed dawn prayer in the alleys near the gates.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that Palestinians threw ‘stones and firecrackers’ at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates.

Police responded with stun grenades, Rosenfeld said, and closed the complex to Jewish visitors after a small number had toured the site.

About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Mazel Tov, eh…? Meanwhile, in nearby Bethlehem, as Mondoweiss reported today…


Remote-control gun installed atop wall near Bethlehem — Ma’an

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s ‘unprecedented’ and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called ‘Bethlahem Today‘ has the same report.

Staying with the I/P…

Israel’s new land grab is clearly illegal

The Defense Minister’s green light to appropriate land in the West Bank places him in the extreme right and shatters Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area ‘state land.’ The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be ‘laundered’ as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion.

Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called ‘House of Contention,’ in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

Although the defense minister is acting in accordance with his authority his powers are based on a warped legal system. That system was developed over decades as a means to chip away at international law and provide a cover of legality for illegal occupation policies. Otherwise, how could it be that expanding settlements or populating a West Bank Arab city with Jews could be legal, while settlement itself is illegal?

Now, If anybody really doubted that Abu Mazen was part of the problem, rather than the solution for the Palestinians…

Palestinian leader signals willingness to extend peace talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday that it was still possible to revive moribund peace negotiations.

Abbas told five Israeli opposition legislators from the Labor and Meretz parties that he was willing to extend the negotiations past their April 29 deadline ‘if the Israeli side commits to the principles that can allow an extension,’ his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

The Palestinians first want Israel to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as promised, and to announce a total settlement freeze. They also want Israel to accept a Palestinian territory based on boundaries that existed prior to the 1967 Middle East War.

‘If there is an agreement on these principles, we are ready,’ Abu Rudeineh said at a news conference after the meeting in Ramallah. ‘But if Israel does not accept them, the Palestinian leadership will meet again to take the proper decision.’

Here’s an interesting op-ed… Palestinians and Israelis: Negotiating in all the wrong places

And, for sh*ts and giggles, The Mustache of Fury, flaps his lips… BOLTON: A ‘three-state solution’ for Middle East peace Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan

Moving along…

East Ukraine: Regular folks hold off the warmongers!

By: fairleft

The mainstream media in the West, especially in Britain and the U.S., is unrelenting in its fantasy that the mass rebellion in eastern and southern Ukraine has been generated by an “outside agitator” named Vladimir Putin. But look at the photos! Hundreds of people in towns and thousands in bigger cities are out on the streets or dirt roads to confront and turn back the ‘invading’ soldiers of the unelected government. Regular folks, babushkas and skinny-armed teenagers, parents and their children, doing a good job of holding off war. All these folks are asking for is a referendum on federalization, and that ain’t no reason for either side to fight and kill.

This is absolutely beautiful:

When Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents.

One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: ‘You are the army, you must protect the people.’

We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,’ is the soldier’s reply.

Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbors, in case the soldiers start a military operation.

Just like you and me, the townspeople’s only weapon is an ability to speak and persuade. And the facts are on their side: there is no reason to be killing each other. With words they have successfully persuaded most of the regime’s soldiers that they should not fire their weapons, that whatever the cause is that they are fighting for, it is not worth it.

That’s a beautiful thing to see a few days before Easter.

But are you allowed to see it in the West?

Look, I’m not a big fan of RT, it’s a government operation and Russia is at least as corrupt (in the usual ways) as the average capitalist country, but if you want to get a sense of hope this Easter season, you have to look at the photos of what is going on in east Ukraine. Look at these peaceful but passionate persuaders at work. Look at the tank stopped by some peacemakers.

Peace seems to be happening despite the best efforts of the warmongers in Washington, Kiev, London, Warsaw and in most of the newspaper and television boardrooms of the Western world. But they won’t stop, the media and the corporate-owned politicians won’t stop demonizing Russia and pushing the temporary leaders of Ukraine to fight and kill their country’s citizens. I advise all firebaggers to get out into the comment sections of the media to argue for peace and reconciliation. Here’s a sample if you want one, under some Putin is a demon tale by a guy named Angus at the now neoconservative Guardian:

Angus, no. Pull yourself out of the hallucinogenic ‘demon Putin’ narrative and look at the d#mn photos coming out of East Ukraine. The townspeople scold the young soldiers, remind them that there is no reason to fight, and the soldiers put down their arms! This is what is happening now in these days leading up to Easter. No Russians, no Pravy Sektor, no Princess Tymoshenko to muck up the truth. Look!

The real narrative is the need for a referendum on federalization, as you’ve recognized, and that is the message all in eastern and southern Ukraine agree on. that’s all the East is asking for. Instead of war. So instead of drawing red lines in the sand, for wars on Russia and east Ukraine that don’t have soldiers to fight them, what the West needs to do is pressure the coup regime to allow a reworking of the nation of Ukraine that will move it away from civil war and toward mutual trust.

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Monday January 23, 2012 4:01 pm

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

The planet is increasingly hazardous to defend, as the interests against it gain market share and invidious tactics. Hundreds have died in their fight to save all of us, and the planet we are living on. Land rights are growing in fatal events in disputes, and indigenous populations very vulnerable.

‘There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in the killings of ordinary people defending rights to their land or environment,’ said Oliver Courtney, a senior campaigner for Global Witness.

‘This rapidly worsening problem is going largely unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it,’ Courtney said.

The report’s release followed a dire warning by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is driving humanity toward unprecedented risk due to factors such as food and water insecurity. Global Witness said this puts environmental activists in more danger than ever before.

A controversial report has concluded that an immense waste of money on supplying Tamiflu to prevent and control flu outbreaks may have been all gained in our health efforts.

The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.

Barry Clinch from Roche said Tamiflu had been approved by 100 regulators around the world.

The antiviral drug Tamiflu was stockpiled from 2006 in the UK when some agencies were predicting that a pandemic of bird flu could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain. Similar decisions were made in other countries.

The Kiev government launched an offense against military incursions the Russian government styles as local defense, the west describes as invasion, in the confusion of Eastern Ukrainian contests for control.  Ukrainian soldiers in the advance have been observed to remove firing pins to show nonviolent intent.

Andrey Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, announced the first battalion of a National Guard ‘comprised of volunteers from Maidan self-defense troops,’ has left Kiev for the south-east.

Russia has warned that if Kiev uses force against anti-Maidan protests in eastern Ukraine, this would undermine the effort to convene a four-party conference on resolving the crisis in the country, which would include the US, the EU, Russia and Ukraine.

Turchinov also proposed conducting a joint operation with UN peacekeeping forces, a decision that was strongly condemned by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at a Beijing press conference on Tuesday as ‘totally unacceptable.’

A bright spot in the Middle East, Tunisia continues to evolve out of its former autocratic model into a more popular front. Problems are churning, but positive efforts continue to dominate the entirety. The revolution has put into power diverse elements that are working together.  Sympathetic observation finds the Tunisian workers seeking to benefit from a better economy still under stress in the recovery.

Since 2011 there has been no deviation from course: integrating Tunisia into the international division of labour by offering foreign investors a skilled workforce and miserable wage levels. This model can only perpetuate the huge regional inequalities.

(snip)

On the repayment of the foreign debt incurred by Ben Ali and in part siphoned off by members of his clan, Caid Essebsi told me: ‘People talk about the debt, but it isn’t catastrophic, since it’s under 50%. Other countries such as France have a ratio of 85%’ (7). He added quickly that ‘a country with self-respect pays its debts, whoever’s in power. Since independence, Tunisia has never reneged on its debt.’ This is what Ghannouchi told me the day before: ‘Tunisia has a longstanding record of honouring its debts. We shall abide by it.’

Never.Give.Up.

Wednesday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Wednesday April 16, 2014 8:22 pm

 

Tonight’s music video is “Canadian Cowboy” from Arc Iris, on her self-titled album.

A hand holding a rainbow spiral image cut into squares -- a sheet of blotter acid (LSD)

“Hey man, can I bum a square?”

In the 1960s, research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs was commonplace. That era is slowly returning – Discover reports that the first LSD study in 40 years reveals the therapeutic potential of the drug.

The study, published in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, found evidence that LSD, when administered in a medically-based therapeutic environment, lowers the anxiety experienced by individuals facing life-threatening illnesses. Although the sample size—just 12 people—was small, the findings offer compelling rationale for further study of the illegal, often stigmatized drug.

‘This study is historic and marks a rebirth of investigation into LSD-assisted psychotherapy,’ said Rick Doblin in a news release, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which sponsored the study. ‘The positive results and evidence of safety clearly show why additional, larger studies are needed.’

That LSD—lysergic acid diethylamide—can be therapeutically beneficial has been known for decades. Studies of the chemical substance began back in 1949 as a way to simulate mental illness. But researchers soon discovered beneficial effects of the drug. By 1965, over 1,000 studies were published that heralded the therapeutic efficacy of LSD. The substance was used to treat alcoholism, and in several studies from the 60s, the drug was found to reduce anxiety, depression and pain—when used in conjunction with counseling—in cancer patients. Similar benefits were also discovered from other psychedelics such as hallucinogenic mushrooms.

[...]

The new study reaffirms many of the findings from 40 years ago. Researchers recruited 12 patients who were coping with anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses. Eight patients were then randomly selected to receive drug-free psychotherapy sessions as well as two LSD-assisted sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. Four participants were given a placebo during therapy and they served as the control. LSD helped stimulate a deep psychedelic state, allowing the participants to reach what they described as an emotionally intensified dream-like state.

‘My LSD experience brought back some lost emotions and ability to trust, lots of psychological insights, and a timeless moment when the universe didn’t seem like a trap, but like a revelation of utter beauty,’ said Peter, an Austrian subject who participated in the study.

You can download a .pdf of the study.

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VIDEO: Jazree’s Court Unpacks How Mass Incarceration Impacts America’s Youth

By: Jordan Melograna Wednesday April 16, 2014 2:13 pm

Eight years ago, Jazree was like any other eight-year-old hanging out with friends and experiencing important milestones of her youth. She finished Elementary school and started the emotional rollercoaster called puberty. She even started having crushes — crushes on girls. All of these experiences impacted Jazree’s future, but one experience overshadowed all others. Jazree’s dad was sentenced to seven years in prison for possession of an unloaded firearm by a felon.

Jazree says her and her dad had been like two peas in a pod, like twins. But her mom — that was different story. They don’t get along. In eighth grade, when Jazree came out, her mom broke down crying. She still can’t get used to Jazree being a lesbian.

Jazree is one of 2.7 million American kids growing up forcibly separated from an incarcerated parent, another terrible consequence of America’s system of mass incarceration. At Brave New Films, we’ve seen countless stories of unnecessary suffering caused by our country’s obsession with long prison sentences. Our producers’ work hard to find stories most people haven’t heard and put a face to this tough issue.

We found Jazree through the non-profit who has been working with her in the Bay Area Project WHAT (We’re Here And Talking) is a youth-led organization that raises awareness for these children of parents in jail and prison. With their help, we were able to find and interview Jazree and her family.

Our producer, Brittany Washington, talked on the phone with Jazree weeks before the shoot began last Thanksgiving. She took Brittany to the basketball court – her home away from home and the inspiration for the film’s title. She started to warm up. She told the camera how she was bullied in school because she had a crush on a female classmate. Her mom said she should have expected it, after she told her friends she was “different.” She couldn’t talk to her dad — he was “away.”

Every teenager wrestles with her own issues. But most are lucky enough to have parents there to help them and understand their problems. But not Jazree. Like millions of others, she was forced to deal with the grief that comes with a parent’s absence. In her case, it was compounded by the complications of coming out.

Brittany spent three intimate days with Jazree and her family, filming or just talking. Her camera was there when Jazree and her dad Gordon were reunited after his release, two years after they last saw each other in the prison visiting room.

Zoe Willmont of Project WHAT tells me that the filming has been one of the best experiences Jazree has ever had. But there are so many other kids out there just like her. The United States locks up more of its citizens than any other country on Earth, and nearly two-thirds of them committed non-violent offenses. Now, one out of twenty-eight children in America have an incarcerated parent. We wanted viewers to think about our system differently. Is it worth it to warehouse millions of parents away from their kids? Isn’t there a better way?

Her dad may always carry the label “criminal,” but her love for him serves as a reminder that the incarcerated are more than just the sum of their mistakes. To many kids like Jazree, they are family, and sometimes the one person they need the most.

Thompson Knew in ’72

By: Anthony Noel
Hunter S. Thompson in sunglasses & Hawaiian shirt

It’s a mistake to focus on Hunter Thompson’s debauchery while ignoring his political wisdom.

Go to GoodReads, search on Hunter S. Thompson, and you’ll get first-page results like this:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’

And this:

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

Thanks to quotes like those, the efforts of Bill Murray, Johnny Depp, and Garry Trudeau — and the fact that Thompson was every bit as wild as they portrayed him — his name will probably forever conjure Raoul Duke, the outsize self-portrait he wove in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — a.k.a. “Uncle Duke” in Trudeau’s Doonesbury.

But remembering Thompson only as a Ralph Steadman caricature is a mistake. Immeasurably more important — more even than that “expensive little twister rising up from the Great Red Shark” — is Thompson’s gift for keen social and political analysis. In a single presidential election, he taught us more about who controls America than the combined work of all those who pounded the same beat for entire lifetimes.

Nonetheless, since stumbling upon Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shortly after its publication, I — like legions of others — had been most enamored of Thompson’s scathing wit; most engaged by his Sixties sentimentalism; most vicariously thrilled (right!) by his dedication to mind-altering substances — and, as a writer, wholly envious of his ability to smite even the jumbo-est mumbo-ers in 10 words or less.

There’s not much of that Thompson I haven’t read, along with his (more or less) straight reporting (Hell’s Angels), fiction (The Rum Diary), and the vast collection of letters and essays he banged out on his IBM Selectric.

The excellence of it all should have convinced me years ago, but until two recent, ridiculously long experiences “in the system” (as the air travel monopoly now calls it), and for reasons I’ve resigned myself to never fully knowing – Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, which I now consider Thompson’s masterwork, was a blip on the radar I chose to ignore.

*ping*

Maybe its half-borrowed, ungainly title had me thinking it was an attempt to capitalize on the success of that other Fear and Loathing.

*ping*

Maybe it was the age of the story itself.

*ping*

Or maybe, rather than ignored, I avoided Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 for the same reason others have: The depression I knew reading it would cause, thanks to the story’s already-known, fateful ending.

Whatever the reasons, not reading it until now was a mistake.