Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rants, Comments and Musings on May Day 2010

Today is international workers' day and it coincides this year with the Lag B'Omer festival in which kids, of all ages, light bonfires in honor of something that might have happened 2000 years ago.  When I first came to Israel, buses flew red flags on May Day and socialism was in the air.  Now swinish  capitalism (so called by President Peres) is everywhere and pollution is in the air.   I show a workers' demonstration in Taiwan and you can see the day marked around the clicking.

PowerPoint as we know and "love" it

My cousin Alan who is a chemistry professor at Reed College in Oregon has a blog posting that is very relevant to all of us who fall asleep even during our own PowerPoint presentations. This is a wonderful Dilbert.

On Freedom of Expression

A few days ago I put out an "extra" of this blog because of the
poll on freedom of expression. On Thursday, we attended a panel
discussion on the poll and its results at Tel Aviv University.
Naomi Chazan and David Newman made a convincing case that we
need to unite and struggle against the muzzling of dissent from
the left in Israel. Gerald Steinberg of
NGO Monitor
presented arguments showing that the Left is suppressing
expression by the Right etc. He forgot to mention who is in
power.  It is clear that human rights organizations and supporters of the
termination of the Occupation must close ranks and take steps to influence
public opinion in a more liberal direction.  This will be a Herculean task, but
it must be addressed.
We see here Israelis demonstrating shoulder to shoulder with the people of Bil'in.
We have been there and breathed the tear gas.  It is not much fun, but it is important

  The choices facing Israel are becoming ever more clear.. In an op-ed piece in
Haaretz Zvia Greenfeld puts the issue of the survival of Israel as a democracy in
the starkest of terms.  Her position that the intelligentsia and the people of initiative will
emigrate if Israel goes Fascist (she avoids the explicit term, but the implication is clear)
may not be totally correct, as Judy pointed out to me.  Indeed, many of the academic and
entrepreneurial classes stayed on in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany and did very well.
She also did not develop the role of religion, or if you will, superstition masquerading as religion
with Messianic ideology running amok in driving Israel into an untenable situation.
Another cogent argument is made by a UC Berkeley student who points out that the
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), if operated in surgical mode rather than as a
bludgeon can be effective in ending the Occupation as it was in ending apartheid is South
Africa.  The movement is still in very early stages and did not get pass the veto of the
student body president at UCB., but it is only a question of time, IMHO, before a
groundswell of such actions will drive the actions of the US government.

Human Rights World
I would like to call your attention to the plight of two human rights activists in China. Duan Chunfang and Mao Hengfeng,who are being persecuted for their activism in the area of housing rights.  Please click on the link and support them.
I also would like to point a finger at the abuse of migrants in Mexico which is a frightful scandal.  In general, China and Mexico top the list of countries about whom I receive Urgent Action calls from Amnesty International.  China is a known dictatorship, but one might expect a NAFTA colleague of the US and Canada to do better in curbing rampant crime and corruption.  In many ways, Mexico appears to be a failed state.

To wind up on a lighter note, I do  have a fresh Gene Weingarten Below the Beltway for you Facebook junkies and a report on the seismic effects of well exposed boobs.

Unfortunately, there was no Boobquake day in our time zone, but things went off in the Far East.

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