Saturday, November 1, 2014

Titan is back to bug you

Titan is back and would like to wish a fun-filled Halloween to those who celebrate it. Beware of dangerous trick or treaters...
Wizard of Id Cartoon for Oct/29/2014

Titan congratulates the San Francisco Giants on their victory in the World Series. It took the full seven games, but they overcame the Kansas City Royals in a dramatic final 3-2 with the pitcher Madison Bumgarner as the hero. Cheers.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Nearly two years have gone by without Miriam and 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 Titan is referring you to the International Rescue Committee which offers you a broad selection of projects to support. They are active around the world including the Ebola epidemic. We quote from their mission statement: "The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. At work today in over 40 countries and in 22 U.S. cities, the IRC restores safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home." Please donate.

Tunisia Elections
Preliminary results from the Tunisian elections indicate that the secular party Tunis Call has won the largest number of seats. They will not have a majority, but they will call the shots in setting up a coalition government. Tunisia has been a rare bright spot across the Middle East and North Africa where the hopes brought by the pro-democracy uprisings of 2011 were dashed with Libya under control of battling militias, Egypt's elected government ousted by a military coup and Syria dissolving into civil war. Only Tunisia, despite many ups and downs, looks like it might produce a functioning democracy. Titan is all for it.


Hassina Sarwari, who runs a Kunduz shelter, with a photo of the girl who was raped by a mullah. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times
We reported in the past about the ten year old girl in Afghanistan who was raped and then threatened with an honor killing for having been a victim. The NYTimes reports that the rapist, a mullah, has been given a 20 year prison sentence. The girl was present in the courtroom and spoke up: “You shamed me, liar, you destroyed my life, you brought shame to my father,” she called out. Addressing the judge, she said, “Please, director, hang him.” She has been restored to her family who have promised not to harm her. Titan hopes that she can go back to school. The family had withdrawn her out of shame.

Titan is furious that the Nigerian government is showing such impotence in dealing with the Boka Haram and the tragedy of the abducted girls. For six months the world has waited for news of the fate of more than 200 girls abducted by the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. As the Nigerian government insists a deal to release the "Chibok girls" is being negotiated, three girls who escaped their captors have told their story to BBC Hausa. It is harrowing and we can only hope that something can be worked out since there appear to be no means of dealing with these fanatics by means of force. The Boko Haram deny any such deal and say they have married the girls off after conversion to Islam.

Pope Francis has scored another hit for rationality and thought with his speech at a science conclave in which he says there is no contradiction between God and the Big Bang and that evolution makes sense. “The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it,” Francis said. “The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.” He warns against imagining God as a magician, with a magic wand able to make everything. Wow! Of course, he will have to be careful not to excite the right wingers in the Church too much lest he generate a mutiny and possibly a schism.


Edward J. Snowden in the documentary “Citizenfour.” Credit Radius-TWC
Laura Poitras has made a documentary film about Edward Snowden and how he came to be the world's greatest whistleblower. The process of making the film is described graphically in a recent New Yorker, which might not be accessible to you. From the press release of the New Yorker we quote: "In the October 20, 2014, issue of The New Yorker , in “The Holder of Secrets” (p. 50), George Packer joins the Oscar-nominated film-maker Laura Poitras in her Berlin studio as she and her team make the final edits to the new film “Citizenfour”—a documentary about Edward Snowden and surveillance in America—a project that she has never spoken about at any length, which appears in wide release this month. Packer speaks extensively to Poitras, and reports on new details about Edward Snowden that the film reveals. Poitras—who, last year, helped Snowden leak documents exposing the fact that the National Security Agency collects huge amounts of data on United States citizens—was the first person to learn of Snowden’s trove of files, in early 2013. At the time that Snowden made contact, Poitras was in the midst of making a nonlinear documentary about domestic surveillance and the people who stood up to it. Poitras told Snowden that she wanted to meet him and film him. “He said, ‘It’s too dangerous, and it’s not about me—I don’t want to be the story,’ ” she tells Packer. “I said, ‘Like it or not, you’re going to be the story, so you might as well get your voice in.’ After that point, I became a filmmaker.” The film is reviewed in the NYTimes and Titan suggests that all see it.


Reuven Rivlin the President of Israel, long known as a right-winger, has again astonished us all. He went to a memorial for the victims of the Kfar Kassem massacre of 29 October 1956. On that day the Israeli army ordered a curfew on all Israeli-Arab villages near the Jordanian border from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning. Violators were to be shot.

When the Israeli army commander in the area, Colonel Yissachar Shadmi, relayed the harsh orders to Major Shmuel Malinki, who commanded Israeli troops in eight villages, it was already mid-afternoon and all able-bodied villagers were working in their fields and orchards. Malinki later told a military court that he asked Shadmi: "What shall I do with a person who returns home after the curfew is imposed and does not know about it?"

"I don't want any soft-heartedness and I don't want any arrests made," Malinki said Colonel Shadmi replied.

"Bearing this in mind, what shall I do?" Malinki persisted.

"May Allah have mercy on their souls," he said Shadmi told him.

When the shooting stopped, 33 men and boys and 14 women and girls were dead. Israeli censors suppressed any mention of the massacre for six weeks. The officers and men were tried, convicted and given ludicrous sentences and then pardoned.

After 58 years, a President of Israel came to the memorial and made the following speech, which you are invited to read in full in translation.


An unnamed American official, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic gave the following description of the man we call our PM: “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname. Later in the interview the definition is expanded:“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

Natanyahu is busy with self justification and Kerry is doing the best damage control that he can, but Titan thinks that the description is insulting to chickens and their shit. It is clear to Titan and everyone else looking on that our country has disconnected from reality.
Construction in a Jewish neighborhood in a disputed section of Jerusalem (Reuters )
Israeli riot police officers detain a Palestinian youth during clashes in East Jerusalem
Israeli riot police officers detain a Palestinian youth during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, October 26, 2014. Photo by AFP
Although collective punishment of an occupied population is a violation of the Geneva Convention, the barbaric mayor of Jerusalem, Barkat, has launched such a campaign against the non-Jewish residents of East Jerusalem.  Yehuda Glick, a right wing activist and member of a group who want to take over the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple after destroying the mosques, was shot in Jerusalem and his attackers were killed by the Shabak. The city is engulfed in violence and Titan does not think that force will be the answer. As Haaretz writes in an editorial:"But the violence in Jerusalem didn’t arise in a vacuum and won’t dissipate in the face of the prime minister’s “firmness.” The roots of the violence lie in the despair and fear felt by Palestinian residents of the city. The collapse of the diplomatic process, the growing calls for changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, the ongoing neglect of Palestinian neighborhoods on one hand and the government’s encouragement of the spread of Jewish settlements in the heart of those same neighborhoods on the other – all these form the swamp from which violence and terror grow." Our government does not understand this nor much else.


What If? asks: What if people's incomes appeared around them as cash in real time? How much would you need to make to be in real trouble?  Julia Anderson, Albuquerque, NM
Obviously it depends on your income, but the answer gives you a good look at income inequality.

WUMO gives a nice picture of marriage.

Our role model Wally again gives us a lesson in work ethic:
Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/28/2014

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Oct/31/2014
Cynthia's teacher has a point, but the Talmud thinks slightly differently. Normally a thief must return the theft and then pay the value of the theft, i.e. pay double as a form of punitive damages. If he slaughtered a stolen animal, he pays fourfold and if he sold the stolen object, he must pay fivefold. In Baba Kama 7, however, we have: "The one who steals a stolen article from a thief does not pay double, neither does he pay four or five fold if he afterward slaughtered or sold it." This, unfortunately, is usually shortened to "someone who steals from a thief, is absolved," which is not the meaning of the Talmud. The idea is that a thief does not have the rights of the rightful owner. A detailed discussion can be found in Hebrew Wikipedia.

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