Saturday, October 19, 2013

Titan wishes happy Eid to his Muslim friends and rants about cell phone use while driving

Eid Mubarak
Titan is back with you again and would like to start with Eid Murarak to all our Muslim readers and friends who are now celebrating Eid el Adha.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Now that a full year has gone  by without Miriam, we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.

This week it is Titan's turn to promote a charity. His choice is ASSAF - Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers which provides coordinated psychosocial and humanitarian responses to African refugees and asylum seekers, who continue to suffer from the hardships of their forced migration from Africa to Israel.
Amuta Photos


This week Titan is going to rant about driving while talking on a cell phone. You might ask what this has to do with human rights. The answer is everything. The very first item in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right to life. We have always thought that if we use a cradle phone then our concentration on our driving is unimpaired. Studies conducted in labs and on the road show that this is not the case. The National Safety Council in the US has shown that talking on hands-free or handheld cell phones requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving. Here is a video on the myth of multitasking by our brain.

To explain what happens to the human brain when talking on cell phones while driving, NSC has a white paper, “Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while talking on hands-free phones is risky behavior:” We suggest you open it and read it carefully. We admit that we talk with our cradle phone but resolve to cut it to a minimum in view of the above information. Both talking and texting are dangerous. It is  unfortunate that the practice is so wide-spread.

Warning, this contains a disturbing image.

Survival International reports in connection with World Mental Health Day that took place on October 10 that the Guarani tribe in Brazil faces a suicide rate at least 34 times the national average due to the loss of their ancestral lands and constant attacks by gunmen.
The majority of the victims are between 15 and 29 years old.
The majority of the victims are between 15 and 29 years old.
© João Ripper/Survival
Figures reveal that, on average, at least one Guarani has committed suicide every week since the start of this century. According to Brazil’s Health Ministry, 56 Guarani Indians committed suicide in 2012 (the actual figures are likely to be higher because of under-reporting.) The majority of the victims are between 15 and 29 years old, but the youngest recorded victim was just 9 years old. Titan calls upon all readers to link to the site and to use the tools there to contact the government of Brazil and to appeal for justice for this persecuted tribe.

We are told that a 400 meter asteroid is going to come near the Earth in 2032. This one is big enough to cause a severe disruption of life near its impact site if it hits, but of course nothing  like the monster (~10 km) that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Our astronomy guru Phil Plait will give you the known details. We should have a better orbit determination for it in a few years.
Near Earth asteroid

Don't worry, TV135 won't get this close.
Image credits: Earth: ESA/Rosetta; asteroid Mathilde: NASA/NEAR; composite: Phil Plait
Congratulations to Caroline Kennedy on being confirmed unanimously by the Senate as the new US Ambassador to Japan. We wish her all success in her new and challenging task.

data privacy law eu
The European Parliament is set to debate new rules to protect private user data from falling into the hands of the US government. (Mark Renders/AFP/Getty Images)
The European Parliament is considering a law that will require all companies including those based in the US to get European clearance before transmitting data to the NSA. This is a step to defend the privacy of citizens of the countries of the EU. It is not clear that it will work since some countries might circumvent it in the name of the "war on terror."

Heartland Inst. bilboard
The Heartland Institute compares you to the Unabomber if you understand the reality of global warming.
We classify climate change deniers in the same category as creationists, flat earthers and second-hand smoke effect deniers. Phil Plait points out that the doctrine of presenting "an opposing view" can be carried much too far. When you see the data, be it climate research results, the clear public health effects of clearing tobacco smoke out of the public space, the geological and astronomical data on the age of the universe and the solar system and of course, the curvature of the earth, you might begin to wonder what makes these people tick. Sometimes it is religion combined with superstition, very often economic interest and equally often just idiotic contrariness. We know some people in the last category but shall leave them unnamed. When sea level is up 3-5 meters, it will be too late to do much or anything about it.


A rite of passage for high school kids in Israel is a trip to the Auschwitz death camp site in Poland. The idea is to raise consciousness about the Holocaust and to keep it from fading from memory. These are indeed worthy objectives, but Titan has his severe doubts about how it is done. One might think that this would be an opportunity to drive home a message about human rights and the horror of genocide together with a resolve that this must never happen again to anyone. In fact, they get a big dose of chauvinism and are told that they must ensure that Jews are never subjected to such treatment and that our militarily strong Israel is the means of protection for the Jewish people. The ceremony on some occasions  has included military parades and a flyover of the site by Israel Air Force jets, which generated a revolting panegyric by the journalist Ari Shavit. Prof. Yehuda Bauer, an eminent historian of the Holocaust,  does an excellent job of debunking him and his silly premises and describes the flyover as a demonstration of crass arrogance. Our grandchildren did not participate in this circus.

The answer to that question is that it does not exist in Israel unless you are Jewish. In Amnesty International we carried out an experiment several years ago.  An Arab poet wrote a "subversive" poem and submitted it to the censor for publication (yes in Israel nothing can be published without the censor's approval). Naturally it was rejected and he was threatened with arrest. Then we had the poem translated into Hebrew and submitted with an obviously Jewish name for the author. No problem...

Now we are told by +972 of the case of Razi Nabulsi, a 23-year-old activist and student in Haifa, who spent the last week in jail for statuses he publicly posted on Facebook and Twitter. His detention was extended twice. In four different court hearings during the week (two remand extension hearings and two appeals) the Haifa court decided that his statuses constitute a danger to the State of Israel. The court extended his remand to custody on the grounds of “incitement.”
Palestinian Activist Razi Nabulsi hugs his mother following his release from jail, in Haifa court, October 16, 2013. (Photo: Oren Ziv/
Razi was represented by attorneys Aram Mahamid and Hassan Jabareen from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The materials the police submitted to the judge were, of course, “secret.” What was possible  to understand from what police investigators said in court in response to the defense attorneys, was that the allegations were based on statuses Razi supposedly posted on Facebook and some leaflets that were distributed in the streets of Haifa. He was also accused of possessing books by the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani. Read the link and boil.

There is an illegal settlement in the West Bank called Amona. It was built  on stolen private land and from as long ago as 1997 the courts ordered its demolition and evacuation.   In 2003, another demolition order was issued. In 2006, the state deigned to raze a mere nine buildings. In 2008, the state admitted that construction on the site was illegal and announced that the entire outpost would be razed. In 2011, the state announced that the outpost would be evacuated by the end of 2012. By the end of 2012, nothing had happened.
The Amona outpost in July this year.
The Amona outpost in July this year. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
Now, in mid-October 2013, 16 years after the first demolition order was issued, the state is asking the court for a postponement – yet again. Here is the explanation this time: “In the government’s view, an evacuation on such a scale at a time like this is liable to harm Israel’s diplomatic interests ... When there are weighty considerations on one hand, and no concrete petitioner on the other ... the diplomatic considerations take precedence.”

This is of course all garbage and what we have here is a march toward the ultimate expulsion of Palestinians from their land and the establishment of a Jewish fascist messianic state extending from the sea to the Jordan.

We quote the editorial in Haaretz that puts it in the proper light "Amona is not just an outpost built through deception on privately owned Palestinian land; it is a symbol of a state that mortgages the future of its citizens to a messianic, anti-Zionist dream dictated by an aggressive, violent gang that has taken over the political and institutional centers of power. The fact that even the prosecution is collaborating with these lawbreakers, and that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is backing this illegal takeover of private land, ought to worry every Israeli who desires to live in a sane country. "

We have long known that our Army is run by a bunch of fascist thugs masquerading as military officers. These jerks reached a new low this week. They issued orders to the residents of two Bedouin villalges,   Ibzik and Al-Burj, to vacate their homes for 22 hours because of a training exercise. Can you imagine the Army ordering Jews out of their homes say on Yom Kippur or at any time. The order came just as Id el Adha was about to begin. Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz asked whether it is conceivable that they did not know about the holiday. Of course they knew and we are sure that they derived a typical sadistic pleasure from it. Indeed they suddenly announced a postponement of the eviction, but then of course reneged despite the announcement. We cannot avoid recalling, as documented by the writer David Grossman, that in 1949 when the villagers of Birim and Ikrit in the Galilee were evicted (despite a court order that the Army blithely ignored) the Army chose to blow up the houses of these Maronite Christians on Christmas Day just to enhance the pain. Cheers for Zahal, the most moral army in the world...
The scene at Ibzik, near Tabus. The plan was to travel in the direction of Raba, the flocks following, and sleep outside under the night sky. Photo by Daniel Bar-On


What If asks How long would it take for people to notice their weight gain if the mean radius of the world expanded by 1cm every second? (Assuming the average composition of rock were maintained.)

The Onion has revealed what caused the budget compromise in the US. The announcement was made while the crisis was in full swing. Readers 18 and up may click on this link for the answer.

When you tweet you really try to be succinct and use the minimum number of letters. Our sweet little Cynthia carries it to a new level:
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Oct/18/2013

In a world without Google, maybe innovation would flourish a bit more:
Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/12/2013

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