Interesting starter information about the mythic lost tribes of Israel here for those who are curious about it. This subject is necessary to know about only for a contextual understanding of human conversation and historical reading, or for a study of religious folkloric literary devices. Completely unimportant for any other reasons.
By Luis Martinez June 4, 2023, 6:14 AM ET • 7 min read. In the second major provocation by China’smilitary in the span of a week, a Chinese warship carried out what the U.S. military called “an unsafe maritime interaction” when it crossed an American warship’s bow at a distance of 150 yards forcing the U.S. Navy destroyer to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.
One of the so-called “godfathers” of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has said he would have prioritised safety over usefulness had he realised the pace at which it would evolve. The computer scientist’s comments come after experts in AI said it could lead to the extinction of humanity.
Hong Kong (CNN) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping has called on his top national security officials to think about “worst case” scenarios and prepare for “stormy seas,” as the ruling Communist Party hardens efforts to counter any perceived internal and external threats. “The complexity and difficulty of the national security issues we now face have increased significantly,” Xi said Tuesday at a meeting of the party’s National Security Commission, state news agency Xinhua reported. (Click title to read more)
New weapons and our failure to understand our enemies are raising the chances of a horrific conflict. We have been remarkably lucky so far. Human beings invented nuclear weapons 77 years ago, but haven’t used them to slaughter each other since Nagasaki. We created long-range rockets, as Vladimir Putin reminded us again last week when he unveiled his Satan II Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, but have avoided using them to annihilate our rivals’ cities. We are playing with genetic engineering, space travel, AI, and even enhancing the virulence of some pathogens, but have yet to deliberately use any of these technologies for mass warfare. …
In March, as President Biden was facing pressure to intensify U.S. involvement in Ukraine, he responded by invoking the specter of World War III four times in one day. “Direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III,” he said, “something we must strive to prevent.” He underscored the point hours later: “The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews — just understand, and don’t kid yourself, no matter what you all say, that’s called World War III, OK?”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is warning today of the risks of a “tragic miscalculation” in the Indo-Pacific and will urge Beijing to be open about its “biggest military build-up in peacetime history”.Others fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – the largest military conflict in Europe since the Second World War – poses an equally high geopolitical risk. And Ukraine and China are not the only potential flashpoints involving major powers around the globe.North Korea’s recent vows to expand its nuclear stockpile has also increased fears of a global conflict. Hours into the New Year, supreme leader Kim Jung Un called for an “exponential increase” in his regime’s nuclear arsenal, in a sign of “deepening animosity” towards the US, South Korea and Japan, said The Guardian. Uncertainty also surrounds efforts to stop Iran from joining the nuclear club.
As the seer said, World War III will begin in 2023 and it will all start in Taiwan, known to be the cause of conflicts with China, as they have a tense relationship that has been growing increasingly heated in recent months. According to Hamilton-Parker, it will be triggered by the collision of two aircraft or submarines, which will set off a series of events.”I have said for some time that there is a conflict coming over Taiwan, which I think will happen in 2023,” he explained on his YouTube channel.
Pope Francis delivered a grim prediction over the weekend about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, classifying the conflict as a “world war” that won’t see an “end” for some time.
Students discuss the threat of China invading Taiwan, the war in Ukraine and polarizing domestic politics. March 21, 2023 at 6:43 pm ET Wall Street Journal
A viral video purports to show Amazon assistant Alexa giving the exact date for a Russian attack on Germany that it says will mark the beginning of the new World War.”World War III starts on November 23, 2023 at 6:05pm, when Russia launches an attack against Germany,” the voice-activated gadget appears to say, in response to a question about the start of World War III. The video, or versions of it, have been shared on TikTok and on Twitter, with just one postgathering more than 200,000 engagements in just a day.
A prominent Russian journalist said that “World War III is already underway” during a recent televised discussion about Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
AI poses ‘risk of extinction’ on par with nukes, tech leaders say (Washington Post)
Hundreds of artificial intelligence scientists and tech executives signed a one-sentence letter that succinctly warns AI poses an existential threat to humanity, the latest example of a growing chorus of alarms raised by the very people creating the technology.
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” according to the statement released Tuesday by the nonprofit Center for AI Safety.
The code, which Microsoft said was installed by a Chinese government hacking group, set off alarms because Guam would be a centerpiece of any U.S. military response to a move against Taiwan.
US response to Putin using nuclear weapons would put us at the ‘doorstep of World War III’ — Skynews.com.au
Curtin University political analyst Professor Joe Siracusa says America’s response to if Russian President Vladimir Putin used tactical nuclear weapons would “put us right at the doorstep of World War III”.
Professor Siracusa’s remarks come after the United States decided to allow the allies to supply F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv.
“I believe that President Putin is very seriously considering his options – one of them might be a tactical nuclear weapon,” he told Sky News Australia.
“I heard in Europe last week that what would be the American response if President Putin actually used tactical nuclear weapons.
“The word I heard was that the Pentagon has informed the Kremlin through backchannels that the United States would respond with a massive conventional attack on the Russian Black Fleet which of course would put us right at the doorstep of World War III.”
A Chinese government block on Micron Technology’s memory chips marks how far apart the two economic powers, the United States and China, are drifting on tech policy.
“The Chinese government barred companies that handle critical information from buying microchips made by the Boise, Idaho-based Micron. The company’s chips, which are used for memory storage in all kinds of electronics, like phones and computers, were deemed to pose “relatively serious cybersecurity problems” by China’s internet watchdog after a review.”
Could be something. Could be nothing. 23 trillion dollars is a lot money. Worse if it’s a country’s debt. Coincidentally it also happens to be just about the same amount as the United States national debt. Countries do crazy things when their debt begins to outweigh their fiscal ability to pay it back, as is and has been the case for the US for a few years now. Truth is, the United States will never be able to pay down its debt. Hell, they won’t even be able to make their annual interest payments on said debt, a disturbing fact that the majority of Americans don’t know, haven’t even thought about, but everyone in government does and has. Obsessively. By far one of the most worrisome aspects of keeping the nation alive without going to war. China, the second largest economy on planet earth is quickly joining the U.S. in regards to its own national debt. Not a cheery or hopeful piece of news.
This Wall Street Journal article below is slightly major. Not unlike many events we’ve observed around the world over the last few months regarding a potentially impending global military conflict. Are we going to wake up tomorrow and see the news flooded with reports about a world war breaking out somewhere? No, definitely not. But the fact that China, Russia and the U.S. are willing to play tit for tat and even attempt to outdo each other in cold war styled retaliations or unprovoked attacks on one another or even make an involuntary mistake that causes major but unintended consequences is enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck. In other words it continues to escalate, as the leaders of said countries continue to wave and smile as if nothing is going on is disturbing. Click link to read whole article
By Lingling Wei. May 18, 2023, 11:06 am EDT
China’s crackdown on overseas firms has made clear that leader Xi Jinping values security over economic growth. To eradicate any doubt, according to people familiar with the matter, he has put state-security czar Chen Yixin in charge.
The campaign, which has included raids on Chinese offices of U.S. due-diligence firms and questioning of staff at the Bain consulting firm, is sending shock waves across global businesses.
Italy has signaled to the US that it intends to pull out of a controversial Chinese Belt and Road Investment Pact before the end of the year. Read Bloomberg Article Here
For the United States and other Allied Nation Coalition countries the above is good news. Italy is the only G7 country involved in China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative. It’s controversial because it’s a clear play to become the world’s largest most powerful superpower by offering free money, infrastructure, buildings, transportation systems, airports, railways, skyscrapers, basically anything a country could want or need to conduct business. (To learn more about Chinas Belt and Road Initiative, something everyone should have a knowledge and understanding of, click here.) In return they would indirectly if not overtly owe a debt to China. And in the meantime China would have yet more transportation routs and trade deals all over the world, guaranteeing it to be the worlds largest economy and business entity in the world. Italy exiting the deal would be a good thing for those not wanting to see the world too communist. Though what it might inspire China to feel, knowing it was pressure by the United States that compelled Italy’s move, is up in their air. They certainly won’t feel good about it. But overall, good news.
BREAKING: Imran Khan: Ex-PM arrested outside court in Pakistan https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-65531648
Polarized Politics Are Tearing Pakistan Apart — Its economy is on the brink, society is politically polarised, millions are still recovering from last year’s devastating floods, terror attacks are increasing and, as inflation soars ever higher, many are struggling to feed themselves and their children.
Two More American Regional Banks On Verge Of Collapse — Marking Three This Week, Six In Last Three Months
BREAKING: After the news that First Republic Bank was failing earlier this week, its limited assets being picked up up JP Morgan for Pennie’s on the dollar, it appears that two more may be soon to follow, Pac West $PACW which has lost 61% of its value in After Hours trading and trading today, and Western Alliance $WAL, which is now down 62% so far today. Both companies’ stocks have been halted numerous times already today. Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp $MCB and Zions Bank $ZION have also been halted because they too are sinking fast on the open market.
ONGOING BREAKING: Western Alliance is denying the articles… If true, this is good news.
CHINA REFUSES TO USE OPEN CHANNEL WITH PENTAGON OVER TAIWAN
And now Europe talking about getting away from the US Dollar, more bad news for the United States…. Macron says that Europe must reduce dependence on US Dollar https://twitter.com/marketrebels/status/1645438988201906177?s=46&t=mnbi41BC-wcQNxvdeSy6nQ https://twitter.com/marketrebels/status/1645438988201906177?s=46&t=mnbi41BC-wcQNxvdeSy6nQ
Russia switching to “scorched Earth” tactics in Bakhmut, Ukrainian commander says https://cnn.it/3KLBCjjhttps://cnn.it/3KLBCjj
Israel launched strikes against Syrian military targets after several rockets were fired from Syria, the Israeli military said https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/08/middleeast/israel-syria-rockets-fired-intl https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/08/middleeast/israel-syria-rockets-fired-intl
Jordan warns Israel of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if al-Aqsa mosque stormed again. https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/08/middleeast/jordan-warns-israel-al-aqsa-mosque-intl-hnkhttps://www.cnn.com/2023/04/08/middleeast/jordan-warns-israel-al-aqsa-mosque-intl-hnk
US Navy sails near South China Sea island militarized by China https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/10/asia/us-navy-south-china-sea-freedom-on-navigation-intl-hnk-mlhttps://www.cnn.com/2023/04/10/asia/us-navy-south-china-sea-freedom-on-navigation-intl-hnk-ml
China responds to a US ship sailing through the South China Sea amid Beijing’s tensions with Taiwan and calls them dangerously illegal. https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2023/04/10/exp-us-navy-china-taiwan-south-china-sea-jiang-fst-041004aseg2–cnni-world.cnn
China performs 2 days of simulated attacks on Taiwan after Taiwan leader visits the U.S. and meets with congressional leaders: https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/09/asia/china-taiwan-simulated-attacks-military-drills-day-two-intl-hnk-mil
China performs simulated aircraft carrier attacks on Taiwan after meeting with U.S. congress https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/10/asia/china-taiwan-military-drills-aircraft-carrier-strike-intl-hnk
China has slapped sanctions on two American organizations that hosted Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen during her recent travel in the United States, which Beijing had fiercely condemned. https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/07/china/china-sanctions-hudson-institute-ronald-reagan-library-intl-hnk
Defying China, US House leader and Taiwan president present a united front https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/06/asia/china-taiwan-reaction-tsai-ing-wen-mccarthy-meeting-intl-hnkhttps://www.cnn.com/2023/04/06/asia/china-taiwan-reaction-tsai-ing-wen-mccarthy-meeting-intl-hnk
Taiwan’s president warns ‘democracy is under threat’ in joint remarks with McCarthy https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/05/politics/tsai-ing-wen-taiwan-meeting-mccarthy-california-hnk https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/05/politics/tsai-ing-wen-taiwan-meeting-mccarthy-california-hnk
From CNN: Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich denied the existence of a Palestinian people or nationhood over the weekend, prompting a rebuke from the United States just weeks after calling for a Palestinian town to be “erased.” Smotrich, a Jewish nationalist, argued that the idea of Palestinian nationhood was invented in the past century in response to the Zionist movement to found modern-day Israel. https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/21/middleeast/israel-smotrich-palestinians-intl/index.html
This you just have to read to believe. Most Americans tend to view causes of disenfranchised peoples in other countries as something we may try to help with when we have the time, but not of major import to us. Considering the amount of problems we have here at home now, that may be a legitimate stance. The only problem with it is that the United States is the primary ally and supporter of Israel, especially over the last 30 years as more and more countries call for boycotting the country for their severe mistreatment and human rights abuses of the Palestinian people.
Oftentimes it’s only the United States that blocks major UN resolutions against Israel when the rest of the world signs them. Which makes Israel’s violations of human rights laws America’s violations. What Israel does, the United States automatically supports due to this alliance — even though someone from the American government always steps up and speaks out against, as in this case.
But those are just words. The truth is the United States has done nothing over the last 80 years in the face of even the worst human rights abuses by Israelis. Just as with America’s alliance with the Saudis, at some point the American people need to decide which side they are on and which ideologies they stand for: human dignity, freedom and Justice? Or barbarous fascism and apartheid?
It’s one of the first things one hears from people around the world when traveling —how on earth can Americans claim they stand for freedom and democracy in light of their support for Israel or Saudi Arabia? No one in the world who has taken up the noble cause of the displaced Palestinian people agrees with the more radical views of Hamas and others about “Israel needs to be destroyed”. That’s a fallacious distraction some use to try to justify their goal of eradicating Palestinians out of existence.
And that right there might be one of the most shocking realities of our current world: many Israelis and Jews all over the world don’t hide their desire to see every last Palestinian dead. If you ask them about the conflict, they’ll readily say something to that effect to you. The first time someone said it to me, about 25 years ago, I was shocked. Until I heard it a second and third and fourth time. It lies in stark contrast with their desire to have the atrocities of WW II against their own people to be remembered and never repeated.
To be fair to current facts the most ardent supporters of the Palestinian cause are Jews who live in Israel. The strongest base of anti-Israel apartheid state views and tactics are in Israel founded by Jews who are intelligent and compassionate minded people. There’s just not a lot of them compared to the immoral majority there who’d like to wipe out the Palestinians.
Regardless, the real issue for us here in the US is how long will we allow the American government to keep supporting these tyrannical nations in our name just because it serves some financial or militarily strategic goals?
As many know this is a subject I have researched and written extensively about for over 20+ years. Ten years ago I spent two weeks on a fact finding and Diplomatic Mission to Israel and Palestine, visiting with various government officials, legal experts, scholars, non-profits and regular folks on both sides of the walls (yes there are actual walls surrounding the Palestinian people whose sole purpose is to keep Palestinians out of “Israel”, but not to keep Israelis out of Palestinian territory.
This is what leads to the term “settlements” we hear about so often in the news related to Israel and Palestine. If you follow such things. Israelis are freely allowed to go beyond the walls of Israel into formalized Palestinian territory, knock down homes schools buildings farms, you name it, and build new “Israeli settlements” — think neighborhoods — on Palestinian land. Palestinians of course wouldn’t even consider doing that. They would be shot.
I encourage anyone who considers themselves an activist or freedom fighter interested in and dedicated to defending human rights to visit Israel and Palestine to see it with their own eyes. It is one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking trips you will ever make. In fact, going to Israel and Palestine and seeing just how dire the circumstances are for the Palestinian people was and has been one of the most traumatic and inhumane events I’ve ever experienced; still to this day.
It very much reminds one of what South Africa during the apartheid years looked like, or more ironically, what 19th and 20th century Europe during the rounding up of European Jews into ghettos looked like when we view the photos and video footage from that era.
For the record, most of my friends who are Jewish, whether here in America or in Israel or Europe, are very much pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist. I credit that to the fact that most of my friends come out of the arts, entertainment or activist communities.
So this issue of securing basic human rights liberty freedom equality and human dignity for the Palestinian people is not a Jewish issue. It really isn’t even an Israeli issue, because there are plenty of Israelis who also support the pro-Palestinian cause. More than anything it has nothing to do with being anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic.
Conflating those issues, making them seem as if they are equal — being pro-Palestinian or anti-Zionist and being anti-Semitic or prejudice against the Jewish people — is a political ploy used by unscrupulous self-serving deceit mongers. These types of politicians, rather than noble public servants, come in all shapes and sizes and exist in every country on earth, both free nations and not so free nations. They are not to be believed. They are not to be trusted. They are not deserving of respect.
Speaking of not being deserving of trust or respect, one must add that the recent spat of anti-semitism that has cropped up in recent months by morons like Kyrie Irving and Kanye West is doubly deplorable. Not only is it flat out stupid and ignorant racism and hate speech against our Jewish brethren, but it also acts as a great disservice to our being able to help our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
I read an interesting article today about the subject and how heated the whole confluence of issues is becoming once again in our shared human history by Dr. James Zogby, who I know from the Arab American Institute and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. I will let him go into more of the scholarly details. It is definitely worth the read. He always is.
Sincerely, Ed Hale
The Mask Is Off
By Dr. James J. Zogby ©
Arab American Institute
Since its founding, Political Zionism has had two distinct and contradictory personas. One portrayed it as a national liberation movement that was liberal, democratic, tolerant, and inclusive. This was the face its adherents saw when they looked in the mirror, and it was the way they presented themselves to and wanted to be seen by the rest of the world.
In reaction to antisemitism and the resultant ghettoization and pogroms that victimized European Jewry, Political Zionism promised an alternative for Jews in which they would be free to realize their full potential as a people while practicing the values and fruits of liberalism in a home of their own.
The problem was that the European liberalism on which Political Zionism was modeled was, itself, based on a contradiction in that the benefits and progress it provided for Europeans were based on the colonial subjugation of Asians and Africans and exploitation of their conquered lands. As the early Zionists were immersed in that same European culture and worldview, it was without any hesitation or embarrassment that they saw themselves as an extension of the European colonial enterprise. That was why Theodore Herzl sought guidance on how to secure support for his proposed colony from Cecil Rhodes; or why he would write in the Jewish State that the enterprise he wished to establish would serve as “a rampart of Europe against Asia…and outpost of civilization against barbarism”; or why he proposed using the natives that his followers might find in their new colony to clear the land and engage in menial labor and then evacuate these natives to other lands.
Political Zionism was the dream of Jewish liberation, but its implementation was to be the nightmare of Palestinian dispossession. These two sides of the same ideology coexisted, with the upside acknowledged and celebrated, and its reverse ignored and/or denied. This was true not only for the founders of Zionism but also for its most recognized “liberal” champions: Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, and Golda Meir. Even Benjamin Netanyahu made his name in political circles as a proponent of the cause of “liberal Western democracy” versus the authoritarian, savage, terrorist Arab World.
Because such a worldview was so ingrained into Europe’s dominant sense of itself, the two faces of Zionism (the liberal and the racist) never raised an eyebrow. It was, if anything, understood and embraced by the British and French (and later by the US) who saw the need for, as Herzl had envisioned it, a civilized outpost to protect Western values and interests from the barbarians.
Maybe this is what is meant when Israeli and US leaders speak of our “shared values”—the fact that we both have been able to mask the “dark side” of our behaviors with the outward facing veneer of our “claimed values,” values that apply to “us” not to “others.” And we’ve both gotten away with this game, until recently.
For the US, it was the Iraq War and its attendant horrors, the epidemic of mass killings, systemic racism, and the emergence of the anti-democratic, racist, and xenophobic Trump movement that began to unravel the mask of our claim to be the bastion of “liberal ideals.” Despite Israel’s record of abominable behaviors toward Palestinians, it has taken much longer to peel away the veneer of liberalism from Israel’s image. One reason is that their propaganda machinery has been quite effective, and another has been the fear that pointing out the obvious (i.e., that Israel is engaged in oppressive and racist subjugation and dispossession of Palestinians) will result in the accusation of antisemitism.
In this context, it may be considered ironic that it was Israel’s own democracy that has finally exposed for all to see its underbelly of intolerance and racist violence. By electing a far-right coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline Likud party and including fanatic nationalists and intolerant ultra-religious parties, the most recent Israeli election served as a clarifying moment for the Political Zionist movement.
The newly elected Netanyahu government will include bigoted, intolerant, and violence-advocating ministers and deputy ministers who will oversee police, settlements, administration of the occupied territories, finance, and “Jewish Identity.” They include ideologues who: advocate expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories; support rapid settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank; back settler violence against Palestinians to demonstrate who’s boss; adhere to a theology that maintains that while Jews are full human beings with souls, Arabs are not; claims that human rights organizations pose an “existential threat” to Israel and therefore want them banned; maintain that only their rigid interpretation of Orthodox Judaism is true religion, and deny other Jews their rights; and insist on altering the status quo at the Haram Al Sharif, turning Jerusalem into another Hebron.
With ministers and policies such as these, the mask is off.
This is Political Zionism, without the frills. It is intolerance, bigotry, repression, and aggression without the accompanying rhetoric of “liberalism” to smooth things over or put on a pretty face for the world.
It’s been fascinating to watch how the major pro-Israel US groups have responded (or failed to respond) to this challenging situation. There were immediate protests over the ultra-Orthodox push to change conversion law, to outlaw LGBTQ rights, to restrict which “legitimate” Jews could immigrate to Israel, and to require the segregation of Jewish women at prayer. But these same leaders have been silent in reaction to the bigoted anti-Arab beliefs being espoused by key members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition and the policies they seek to implement that will further dispossess Palestinians.
It’s true that many of these ugly attitudes and policies have shaped the Palestinian reality for decades, but they were always covered by the pretty words and the outward face of Zionist liberalism. But now the mask is off and those who, for decades, have been covering for Israel have the responsibility to acknowledge the ugly reality their silence has allowed to fester.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization that does not endorse candidates.
Note: To discuss this column with me, please register here for my next ‘Coffee And A Column’ event Wednesday via Zoom.
The last two weeks have been incredible, both inspiring and heartbreaking, for the country and people of Iran and the implications of what a true Democratic Iranian Revolution would mean for the world.
We spent the last week creating a video (that we’ve now split into two parts) to help explain what’s happening in Iran right now in the bigger context of their history and who they are as a people, hoping to increase understanding of the Iranian people, their long, rich history and why these current protests are so vital, not just to the brave women and men on the frontlines in the streets, but also for world peace.
We believe what we are witnessing in Iran right now is historic. We know we are personally taking a big risk by posting the videos due to their openness & honesty, and it is something we are still actively discussing. But we also sincerely believe that our brave friends in Iran deserve all the attention & support they can get, including a real world understanding of who they are & what they’re fighting for. Freedom Justice Equality & basic human rights.
If you have any questions or desire to get more involved to support the cause please feel free to reach out. Together we can. – Ed Hale
I don’t know about you. But lately I’ve been starting to break, physically beginning to feel the mental and emotional strain caused by an unshakable intuitive feeling of fear that we’re deliberately being f*^ked with by some higher power or unstoppable force from beyond. Can’t say for sure what specific event it was in the last few days….
One would think by the time we spiraled from unfathomable numbers of deaths from a global virus into 3 months of being forcibly locked in our homes into a Great Depression-level economic collapse simultaneously contrasted with a frighteningly imbalanced wicked-seeming illogically bifurcated financial market into black lives finally mattering a little but not enough revealing a disturbing innate national racism yielding masses of protests for weeks on end down into a very sudden and discomforting disappearance of national leadership into a gutter of inanely childish and crazy behavior coming out of the White House on an hourly basis with far too many stories about a deranged self-obsessed psychopath occupying the position of POTUS (once considered “the most important job on earth” but now unanimously viewed as a laughing stock by the rest of the world) much of it coming from his own fellow Republicans — with fear not logic or nobility being the only apparent impediment to the whole lot of them banding together to publicly concede they made a terrible and dangerous mistake, meanwhile the other side of the sinister corporate duopoly that controls the entire country of 360 million people are attempting to run a man who it appears may not make it to the election let alone through a presidency and they won’t budge on their pick despite the overwhelming disinterest in him — the pressing question being WHY?!? — reported simultaneously with stories of a rapidly deteriorating and corrupt justice system and “serious concerns that the current president may be the biggest threat to national security by top military brass” simulcast with eerily under-covered impending wars between China and India, China and Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, China and Japan, Europe considering banning Americans (?!?), “white power” competing with “black power” for slogan of the year in a democratic republic allegedly the most proudly culturally diverse “melting pot” on earth, statues coming down faster than can be counted, Americans with guns lots of guns, Iran (jeez, seriously guys, now?!?) and Israel (seriously guys, now?!?) global food shortages, global food supply poisonings, random fireworks and gun shots every night for hours accompanying a triple digit increase in gun deaths and a constant onslaught of pandemic deniers and conspiracy theories flooding social discourse every day by normally intelligent folks but which boggle the mind… The hope of reopening quickly fading as the deniers are fast-morphing into the walking dead claiming “there’s nothing wrong with us. Stop staring at us. We’re fine,” pulling out their shotguns and rifles as if to signal “yes we’re as stupid and crazy as you’ve always Imagined, now go on and git”
But frankly I was doing okay. In spite of it all. Just doing my thing. Trying to survive, keep my family alive healthy and happy, maybe make a difference here and there when i could. And then suddenly I start getting these random messages from various friends around the world, normal intelligent well balanced folks usually, sheepishly talking about their recent bouts with anxiousness and depression… my initial response being “yeah of course man… the world is on fire… it’s normal… just try to hang on…it’ll get better.”
And then suddenly it starts hailing at around 6 pm. Out of nowhere on a hot wet sweltering steaming summer day, frozen ice starts falling from the sky. The sound is piercing and deafening. I keep wiping my eyes, opening and closing them, assuming I’m seeing things. Maybe i took a nap and I’m dreaming. It’s 90 degrees outside. How is there ice falling from the sky?
But we’re still not talking about the insane fact that the US military quietly admitted that it’s been seeing UFOs in the skies for a few decades now a few months back.
The problem isn’t all the bad news. It’s the overwhelming quantity of it, combined with the new surreal strangeness of it all and the fact that it’s so damn alarming out of our hands and weird that most people are going numb to it. I get it. Eat sleep work eat sleep work. Invent a God because there’s no visible way out of this insanity at our level. Note to self: add prayer to eat sleep work. Maybe it’ll help.
And our kids. God our poor f*^king kids. That whole generation… All three of them really… I keep trying to underplay how bad everything is when they break down and cry and mention it… I try to play it cool, like we all had our problems. This is no different.
It occurs to me that none of this is new. What generation hasn’t felt this way since humankind first awoke to self awareness on planet earth? Frightened confused boggled overwhelmed terrified. Sumerian Babylonian Persian Greek Roman Jewish Christian Muslim Gods were all constructed from such base human feelings.
Compared to the Ice Age or the so called Dark Ages or the Plague surely we have it better… It’s become a daily meditation. But honestly… the thought though completely rational doesn’t make me feel any better. How is it for you?
In the days before the time of Jesus, when Israel was under roman rule and occupation, killing people was a common practice. One could be executed or “put to death” for any number of countless reasons. (One might observe the similarities to some modern day Middle Eastern countries in today’s world, sadly.) There were used a variety of different methods to torture punish and execute those who broke the law or even just stirred up trouble. One could be stoned to death (yes this practice is still in use today in some parts of the world as shocking as that may seem to those of us in more compassionate and evolved countries…) — as barbaric as that sounds they indeed would literally throw large heavy stones at a person for hours until that person eventually died from the abuse or at least passed out. Beheading was anther popular method. Hanging was another. One of the most common methods used during the time of Roman occupied Israel was what they called crucifixion, whereby a man would have his hands and feet nailed to two planks of wood fashioned together in the form of a cross and be set upright to slowly die from thirst hunger exhaustion bleeding out and/or the grueling effects of gravity’s exertion on the body’s organs, especially the lungs — they would literally die an excruciatingly painful death from being suffocated to death or worse having their organs cave in on themselves. For more details on the practice of crucifixion, google it. It’s quite a feat of human ingenuity and imagination and takes a truly sick mind to come up with.
Crucifixion was so common during the time of Jesus’s day that on any given day up to fifty to (some historians claim) one hundred men would be crucified. Crucifixion simply put was not a special form of execution. It was common practice.
Over the last two-thousand plus years since the death of this man we know as Jesus of Nazareth a slow moving (at first) but heavy handed cult of propaganda has been thrust upon humankind, much of it involuntarily mandatory and by force, which has turned much of the modern population of planet earth into self-professed “Christians” I.e. followers of Jesus. Granted some come to it by choice, while most are simply born into the belief system and never give it a second thought.
One of the many ideas and belief systems that automatically tag along with Christianity is this symbol of the cross, or “crucifix” as it is called by some; in fact many people both christian and non-christian alike would claim that the cross just might be the single most important and enduring symbol representative of the christian faith. Anyone who sees a cross automatically associates it with Christianity. But is this even a desirable reality? That’s the question Christians and the larger governing body should be asking themselves.
We all know why this is. Jesus the man died by execution for blasphemy and heresy at the hands of his own people by being nailed to a cross and crucified. So the cross quickly turned into a symbol of Jesus and his ministry. It was a simple and easy to recognize symbol.
But as explained above this was no singularly important event, this crucifixion of Jesus. Thousands before him died this way. Tens of thousands after him. Hell, Jesus wasn’t even the only man who was crucified that DAY, the one that is now known (ironically) as “Good Friday”. As everyone knows there were three men in total who were beaten tortured and executed by crucifixion that very day, Jesus being just one of them.
There was nothing special about the way Jesus died. On the contrary, it was a rather ordinary and commonplace event. When one studies the life of Jesus one is not impressed by or taken with how he died, but rather with how he lived. There are countless more intriguing stories regarding Jesus than his being one of three “criminals” put to death that day. This is why the event itself is barely allotted even one full sentence in any of the history books we have of that time [See the works of Pliny the Elder or Josephus], and most likely why the event is so casually dismissed and NOT paid attention to by Jews. Jesus was after all a fellow Jew. But to them, from their historic perspective, Jesus from Nazareth was just one of thousands of criminals who was executed during the reign of King Herod. So there isn’t much to pay attention to.
The real meat in the life of Jesus, in the stories and legends that have cropped up over the centuries about this legendary man is to be found in the countless miracles he purportedly performed — healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, walking on water, ESP, telepathy and even bringing the dead back to life. The man was a veritable David Copperfield of his day.
His life, though we know so little of it, is filled with magical stories of truly mythic proportions. And this is where and when one begins to become impressed by him. Get to know him well enough and one can easily be led to swoon, for not only was he a quick wit and a charismatic character, but there is much “magic” surrounding those few years we know of his short ministry. He was both infinitely loving tolerant and compassionate towards others AND vehemently disciplined and dictatorial in his rigorous commitment to what he believed to be his mission and calling by none other than God Him/Her/Itself.
This is no small claim, to assert that one believes they are not only in touch with but being guided by the highest most evolved and primal force in the entire universe who created everything. On several occasions Jesus even claims he was the the “son” of this infinitely powerful, all knowing force. Quite a claim indeed.
Perhaps greatest of all the wondrous miracle stories about Jesus though is this idea that less than 48 hours after he died and was confirmed dead he miraculously came back to life, albeit in a more ethereal and less earthly form. THIS is the event that is celebrated around the world on the day known as Easter Sunday. Jesus’s alleged Reserection from the dead. Depending on whose account you read or believe he “rose from the dead” and appeared before many of his disciples over a period of days — some say 40 and others say up to 300; he even still purportedly had the holes in his hands from where they hammered the nails through them some stories claim. Others say he appeared more like a ghostly apparition. But most accounts claim he stayed here on earth after he arose from the dead to preach a bit more and hand out certain orders from God and then he disappeared — as it was retold by witnesses and then embellished over centuries by the Roman Empire, a group not exactly immune to gross exaggeration and fairytale-like hyperbole, he reportedly ascended (as in magically floated up in the air) into “heaven” to sit at the right hand of his father (that would be God… Just where God keeps these chairs and what keeps them afloat is still a mystery…) — never to be seen or heard from again.
Before doing this he promised to return one day and save us all (believers that is…) from a hell on earth that would be flat out apocalyptic. (Are we there yet? It sure feels as though we are. But then again it probably felt that way during the Great Plague or the Dark Ages or The Inquisition or during any number of World Wars we’ve had the pleasure of enduring due to a few overly ambitious selfish and greedy assholes). Hence the whole “Jesus is going to come back (“the second coming” as its called — perhaps because fundamentalist Christians don’t stress the importance of secular education very much — subjects like math and science — it would actually be his third coming if we are going to be literal) –once the great temple in Israel is rebuilt… Bumper stickers referring to “The Rapture” or “End Times” are also related to this idea.
If all that isn’t enough to render the actual crucifixion a rather mundane event, Jesus is also credited for completely reforming humanity’s conception of God and Divinity. A simple examination comparing the God of the Torah and Old Testament with the NEW God Jesus speaks of in the New Testament shows a completely evolved, nearly transcendent idea of divinity itself — more akin to the Godhead of Eastern religions of the day or even the Buddha — compassionate, infinitely loving and tolerant, intelligent, no more playing favorites or being wrathful or vengeful, as compared with the overtly human God of the Old Testament, savage and barbaric and filled with human attributes and weaknesses. Jesus was killed precisely for these reasons. He was if anything a revolutionary and a visionary — in addition to his more mysteriously magical abilities.
It is for these reasons that the cross should not only NOT be the most important and significant symbol of the christian faith as it is today, but it should not even be a symbol of Christendom at all. The cross that Jesus was hung on, just like all the other alleged criminals of his day, is a small detail of the bigger picture, just as an image of a hangman’s noose would be had Jesus been hung rather than crucified. Not only is the focus inherently turned toward something mundane for the time and the larger scope of things, but it is also a rather violent, gory and negative aspect of the Jesus story when considering how overtly positive the story really is. In reality isn’t the whole idea of the christian Faith tradition a celebration of the miracles, the message and the Reserection of Jesus? And not his unfortunate death or how he died? Those are mere sidebars when compared to what impresses the most about the man, his message or his myriad works of miracles.
The cross may be simple and easy to recognize, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t automatically qualify it to be the grand and perfect symbol that it’s become of Christianity.
Some modern day pastors, especially the more “Fundamentalist” oriented, and even some theologians may argue that the most important aspect of Jesus’s life was and still is the crucifixion because of this concept put forth by Calvin and Luther called Substitution — the idea that “humanity is inherently so sinful so as to not be good or righteous enough to have a direct relationship with God, and thus needed Jesus to act as a substitute for us, to die on the cross as a sacrifice to atone for the “sins of man”, and as much as I get this idea and appreciate the beauty of it — Jesus became in essence “a new sacrificial lamb” rendering the regular sacrificing of animals to God unnecessary, thereby creating a new covenant between God and humankind — I do not believe that it is inherently necessary as a Christian (or any other religion for that matter) to believe the idea that humankind is born eternally sinful so as to not be able to experience a direct relationship with God or The Divine on their own.
Of course I make this claim AFTER the fact. I am well aware of this potential irony. Jesus has already performed this action some two-thousand years ago and therefore I am speaking from my own personal experiences of my relationship with The Divine now, after he did this; therefore I cannot possibly relate to what humankind’s relationship with God was like before Jesus’s death. But I would submit that God, if there is one — and because I have had so many personal tangible experiences with this Divine Force we call God, I can easily and confidently claim to know there is — is much bigger than most people give Him/Her/It credit.
While it is true that some people stay focused on and nearly obsessed with their own inherent sinfulness and therefore the Substitution, sacrifice and Atonement aspect of Jesus, this is strictly their trip and as much as they’re entitled to it, it certainly doesn’t have to apply to all of us. Jesus himself when speaking of God drew from such a deeper more evolved enlightened and intelligent viewpoint that he essentially retired this old fashioned idea of a God who is “too good for us lowly humans” from mass consciousness.
This is not to say that there is no credence or relevance to the sacrifice that Jesus the man made when choosing to be executed when he obviously could have so easily escaped or fought back successfully — he was after all the most God-like being in human form that history has ever known, quite possibly he may have literally been “THE God” in human form as he occasionally hinted he might have been. So his execution via crucifixion was clearly his deliberate plan and doing, and not the doing of others — regardless of how much those who did the deed believe they were actually responsible for it. (They’re kidding themselves). He was well versed in the prophecies of the Torah and the Prophets and he planned and executed a very direct path of actions and events that literally fulfilled those prophecies of the coming Messiah of the Jewish people to a tee. [If this is a subject that interests you there are several books — or probably now even websites — that delve into the life of Jesus directly as each event in his life specifically correlates to a prophecy that was predicted and written about hundreds of years before bis birth. Right down to his execution and even HOW he was executed AND his subsequent Reserection.]
So clearly Jesus, after much time attempting to change the hearts and minds of his fellow Judeans through his message and the example of his actions turned out unsuccessful, decided at some point that he would venture down this alternative path of mass atonement of humankind’s sins through his own sacrifice — even though he was flat out telling people for years the good news that God did indeed forgive them automatically because He loved them so much, all they had to do was ask for it and it would be granted; but they just didn’t get it… And then of course to really hammer the idea home he went further and resurrected from the dead.
After all (one is sure he probably thought at the time) who would not be shifted changed mesmerized convinced or transformed through witnessing a man transcend death itself? If it happened in modern times it would be hard to imagine anyone not being completely transformed by witnessing or even hearing about such an event. And yet as we know from history itself the political powers that be in the Jewish religion in Jesus’s time were either too frightened of the repercussions of admitting to owning such a miraculous event OR too pissed off at Jesus for his version of Messiahness being so different than theirs: they were looking for a very primitively temporal and human freedom from bondage and enslavement and instead he offered a much larger version of this idea of freedom.
The truth is we will never know exactly why they decided to kill a man as innocent and harmless as Jesus and save a man as sinister and wicked as Barabas, because we weren’t there. And there exists no known notes from those times, at least none that the Jewish religion has ever released publicly, that explain the reasons for their actions or even their feelings about the incident. Mum has always been the word from the Jewish people regarding Jesus. As stated above already, as far as they are concerned he was “just another criminal who deserved to be executed.”
But even if every single thing that happened to Jesus throughout his short life on earth was preordained by a higher power and even he himself was aware of what was to come and planned it all out — including the crucifixion and Reserection, one still finds that the method of execution was by and large nothing more than a mere sidebar compared to the bigger picture of his message and actions and therefore the cross is simply too simple and too irrelevant a symbol to represent the immense proportions and importance of what Christianity means today. Im not saying it will be easy to create another symbol that better represents the life and message of Jesus. I’m simply saying that it’s well past time for all of us to transcend the symbolism of this simple image and create something else that is a better more relevant fit.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone
It’s getting bad now. All over the world. Protests and marches in the streets of New York, London, Paris, South Africa, Berlin, Sydney and many more cities across the globe — all protesting against the incredibly shocking loss of innocent lives at the hands of Hamas and Israel. As I posted yesterday, it’s not just our Palestinian friends we should be concerned with but our Israeli brothers and sisters too. For this has gone too far now and for too long. The radical rightwing government of Israel is endangering the lives and safety and welfare of its citizens through this military offensive in Gaza (they’re fooling no one by attempting to call it defense.) They’re also endangering their economic welfare. The people of the world are now firmly against Israel for what it’s been witnessing; the people of Israel will be the ones to suffer because of it even though it’s the government who is doing it.
It’s also getting bad in the States and online as well. Social media is not just abuzz, it’s aflame. Inflamed with hate speech and vicious arguments and attacks from both sides of the wall. Friends are turning on friends. Celebrities are speaking out, some compassionate, some hateful. (Joan Rivers exemplified true racist inhumanity in comments she made publicly yesterday). There seems to be no truth to this issue other than a lot of innocent people are dying. And unfortunately no one can do anything to stop it from continuing so far. But everybody wants to chime in. This makes sense. It really does. We are being moved so much emotionally that it is affecting us physically. It is affecting our actions. We HAVE TO act. We have to DO something. It feels irresponsible to sit here idly doing nothing while witnessing such inhumanity taking place. And yet there isn’t a lot people are doing except blaming each other or spreading hateful viewpoints and anger. Not helpful.
This morning I awoke to an onslaught of notifications that my Facebook feed was going nuts still, leftover from yesterday. Zeke asked me to step in and delete all the threads, which would be nearly impossible for it’s almost all we’ve done for four weeks, discuss this issue… But his point was well taken: no one is doing anything except making other people angry. It’s sad and completely unhelpful. It was the last thing I wanted to wake up to today. But he was right. A few bad apples spoiling the whole cart.
Hey man. Just woke up. I soooooo did not want to do this today… (Imagine how THEY feel — that’s a luxury they can’t afford over there…on either side…) Still groggy. Having espresso. Saw your name in a post on my phone and immediately logged on here. My apologies dog.
Lord knows I have TRIED to encourage people to NOT be rude or insult others or resort to name calling or hate speech or state obviously erroneous factoids, or even refrain from patronizing remarks like “sorry chief” or “you need to go back to school”. NONE of that is part of diplomacy. It gets us nowhere. I’ve begged for it over and over. Last week I repeatedly deleted someone from posting over and over again all day (he was a persistent fucker) because his words were so vile. And over the last week i have had to unfriend several normally very cool people for going apeshit crazy on my threads over this issue. I really just don’t get why people cannot be rational and civil.
I want so badly for us to be able to discuss things, debate things even, just as we are able to do on Forum or Quora, and just as — even as a small microcosmic representation of, our counterparts are having to do right this very minute in Cairo and Tel Aviv and DC and The West Bank. How are they supposed to broker peace and reconcilliation if we — just regular people with no real bones to pick with each other on social media — can’t even act civilly towards each other? Why does “blame” always enter the picture? Or “hate”? Or racist remarks? Or rudeness?
Arlan was right in that NO one can solve this issue except the two parties involved, ultimately those two people are the ones who are going to have to make peace and forgive and reconcile. But I also believe that it’s going to take many different groups and factions to help; offering support and guidance, and different viewpoints. Just as it took in all our previous battles wars and skirmishes. This is a world problem, as I’ve posted before. This is for better or worse our generation’s South Africa — (Remember: Mandela was imprisoned for “terrorist acts” — he DID resort to terrorism in his 20s due to the ignorance of his youth and desperation. He actually tried to blow a place up. So even the best of us get messed up…) — so I see this as the world’s cause for BOTH sides. Because BOTH sides have genuine concerns and valid points.
We ALL need to step up and step in to end this sad state of affairs. But only if we’re being constructive and blatantly helpful. I am referring both to US here now in the smaller microcosm AND to us THERE in the bigger picture.
For example, I’m going to say it again as I did yesterday: HAMAS IS NOT HELPING. They are hurting. Their cause may have been noble but they chose the wrong method. Period. Violence BEGETS violence. Sure we’ve won in the past before using violence (the American revolution, the Russian and Iranian ones etc…) But Hamas isn’t going to win. And if they did then all our Israeli brothers and sisters would be toast. So THEY need to go. In other words, THEY should NOT even be allowed at the bargaining table. It’s a sham that we are forced to be bargaining with overt terrorists. It’s a joke.
Here’s another one: Iran needs to stop with the anti-Israel platform and speech. Yes we get it. The viewpoint that Judaism is accepted and respected as it is in Iran (VERY respected) BUT that Israel was illegal and not done properly. But that’s the PAST. We’re never going to reverse it. So as long as they take that stance THEY too are NOT being helpful. And so they just don’t belong in the conversation. Anyone who takes a “we refuse to reconcile” or “we refuse to accept reality” stance is not helping. Along with anyone who overtly seems to disrespect life. Or insults. Or is rude. Or misquotes facts. Not helping.
But facts…they help. Opinions and ideas and viewpoints that are new AND compassionate CAN help. IF we’re all willing to give a little, and grow a little, and accept that we can be wrong sometimes, and compromise, then we can fix this. I have learned through the years as a diplomat that one has to be fluid, like a liquid, able and willing to encompass both and all sides to a disagreement; AND willing to honor truth and human life above all things. Everything else gets in the way.
What this means friends on both sides is: those who come on here and ONLY defend Israel and never even bother to acknowledge the incredibly sad and shameful loss of innocent life, ala Joan Rivers yesterday, is NOT helping. You’re scary. And the same goes for those who just keep hammering Israel without acknowledging that Gazans VOTED for a terrorist group to run their little swath of land — they KNEW this might happen. Hell, it was almost a given. And martyrdom — DYING while fighting — is encouraged by some in the Muslim community, i.e. THEY are bringing it on themselves some of them AND it doesn’t help to have a platform that says you want to do away with the other side. Duh!?! How is Israel supposed to feel safe under those conditions? I wouldn’t. BOTH sides have valid points. Both sides are being stubborn aholes and dragging us all through a lot of unnecessary pain. Our job is shine a light on what peaceful reconciliation looks like. Which basically means stop trying to prove the other guy wrong.
My sincerest apologies to those of you who have been decent as we’ve discussed this issue. Blessed ARE the peacemakers. Let’s end this now and move on.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone 8s Custom