Friday, January 9, 2015

Titan starts the New Year and wishes all a good one

Titan is back and would like to wish all his Eastern Christian readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy yourselves greatly

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over 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 refers you to Reporters Without Borders, who lead the fight worldwide in defense of freedom of the press. The events in France (see the next item) in which journalists were massacred by criminal fanatics show how important this struggle is. Please donate to help in the fight for freedom of expression.
Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Jan/08/2015


Titan is shocked by the news of the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people have been killed by masked gunmen. The paper has had threats because of cartoon portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad. This is an act of wanton terror and we all hope that the perpetrators are caught quickly and punished appropriately.  Expressions of solidarity and mourning are coming from the public and from cartoonists around the world.
Who harmed Islam more?
In the meantime a huge manhunt is going on focused on a region northeast of Paris. France has observed a minute's silence for the 12 people killed at the office of the satirical magazine.

Earlier, a gunman shot dead a policewoman south of Paris and fled. It is unclear if the attack in Montrouge, in which a second person was seriously injured, was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, but French prosecutors say they are treating it as a "terrorist act",


Titan cheers the people in Germany who have turned out in thousands against the PEGIDA movement, which is claiming that the liberal asylum policies of the German government are leading to an "Islamization" of Europe. Indeed there is Islamophobic prejudice in Europe including Germany, but it is encouraging to see that the mainstream rejects it.
People protest against PEGIDA in Hamburg, Germany, on Monday.
People protest against PEGIDA in Hamburg, Germany, on Monday.
Bodo Marks /EPA/Landov


Uruguay has the highest proportion of smokers in Latin America. The government has been taking steps to reduce the incidence of smoking by banning it in public places and by regulation of the advertising of tobacco products. At the same time it has legalized cannabis. It is now being sued by Philip Morris, the huge tobacco concern, which shows what degree of chutzpa can exist in the corporate world. While it might seem inconsistent to legalize pot and crack down on tobacco, John Walsh, a drugs policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, says Uruguay’s trailblazing efforts to regulate marijuana and tobacco industries are consistent. “With tobacco they are bringing to heel a legal industry that is accustomed to operating with scant control, while with marijuana they are taking an industry out from the shadows and putting it under better control,” he said. In any case, cheers to the Uruguayan government for doing the right thing to protect the health of its people.


The population of Japan is decreasing and aging which is an economic time bomb. We are told in an article by Max Fisher in the Washington Post, with reference also to an article in the Guardian on the same subject, that much of this derives from a lack of interest in sex on the part of young Japanese women and men.

Japanese women walk down a Tokyo shopping street. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The social mores of Japan are such that it is almost impossible for a woman to pursue a career and also be a wife and mother. When faced with such a choice a large number of educated women opt out of the family mode. The results will be catastrophic for Japan and its large trading partners around the world. Officials in Japan are keenly aware of how endangered they are by the country's low birth rate. National programs encourage young men and women to get together and politicians often debate how to create more Japanese babies. One prominent legislator, Seiko Noda, has worked on the issue since soon after taking office in 1993. In February, Noda proposed that Japan lift the birth rate by simply banning abortion.
Similar problems will certainly arise in Europe as birth rates decline and with them the economies of the EU member countries.


This week Titan is again getting on his soapbox about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) and what it is doing to our planet. The lack of political will to deal with this terrible problem was demonstrated at the recent Lima conference on climate change. Nothing binding came out of it-- every country in attendance agreed to submit a plan for addressing their carbon dioxide emissions. However, the plans are only voluntary, and countries can promise to cut as much or little as they wish. Recent data published by leading scientists in the field indicate that there is very bad news for those living near coastlines around the world. One study was published in the peer-reviewed Nature Climate Change, the other in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The studies showed that existing computer models might have severely underestimated the risk to the Greenland ice sheet from warming global temperatures. Melting that ice sheet will raise sea level by about six meters. Yes, go ahead and shudder at the prospect. Titan refers you to a detailed report by Dair Jamail in Truthout. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but we are sitting by and letting the oil magnates destroy our planet. We are glad that the Pope is about to confirm his strong position with an encyclical and we hope other religious leaders will stand with him.
Pope Francis has become an outspoken critic of industries that harm the environment. (Associated Press)


If you are wondering why kids seem to come out of school semi-literate at best, note how they are being taught.
Then we have wisdom in the Arab world...

Before we snobs in the West get serious about making fun of Islamic "science" we should learn how to spell seismology...


Seriously, we have in Israel a school system funded by the state in which the core curriculum is not taught. Instead the boys learn Talmud and the girls presumably learn to cook and sew. Evolution finally got into the curriculum in secular schools here just this year, but it will not be taught with respect to primates. As we smile at the Muslims, a strong feeling of pots and kettles fills the air.

Worse than the usual orthodox corruption is the system of missionary activity called kiruv which means drawing close. It is based on the idea that anyone who is not ultra orthodox is living a meaningless life. It can be very toxic as described in this post by a woman who lost her daughter to these monsters.  Thanks to Rabbi Fink for raising an orthodox voice of protest.


In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg, a young, little known artist, took a box of erasers and set to rubbing out a densely layered drawing by Willem de Kooning, the king of Abstract Expressionism, and he did it with the Master’s permission. As Rauscheberg explained he was “trying to find a way to bring drawing into the all whites.” Mark Kersteter analyses the act in the context of Rauschenberg' subsequent career.

De Koonin's biographers describe it thus:
The young artist was engaged in a symbolic act of generational and Oedipal murder, at once comic and deadly serious. He was doing so in the joking language of Dada, a movement that did not respect the sanctity of the art object or celebrate the romantic passion of de Kooning’s generation. Rauschenberg would retain much of de Kooning for the future—his rude American vitality, his open-endedness, and his devotion to a process of permutation and change—but Rauschenberg had to escape from the air of Old World connoisseurship and private touch that was inevitably a part of a de Kooning drawing. Rauschenberg could not make conventional “drawings” or “paintings,” much as he loved them, because he did not believe they contained the contemporary truth. He had to erase that part of de Kooning.(de Kooning by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, pp 359-60)

The erasure hangs in SFMOMA and has resurfaced in the non-writing of our beloved Cynthia. What grade would you give her?

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Jan/04/2015


Steve Scalise, the Majority whip in the new US House of Representatives, admits to having addressed a neo-nazi racist group called EURO — the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. EURO was founded by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and perhaps the country’s most notorious white supremacist. We shall see whether he will be forced to resign. He might claim innocence...

Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Jan/01/2015



Israel has elections scheduled for March 17 (who will get St. Paddy's vote?) and the turbulence has already begun. It is shocking that the Likud campaign is largely funded by donations from a few families in the US. We should have a law outlawing contributions from foreign sources, but in a corrupt country like Israel, that is too much to expect. What is happening is that the corruption is eating away at the foundations of democracy. Chemi Shalev blogging in Haaretz points out the dangers that lie ahead is. As he puts it:"Concurrently with the erosion of public confidence in corruption-tainted individuals and organizations, an increasingly militant right wing has waged an unrelenting campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the judiciary, chip away at the sanctity of free speech and emasculate Israel’s constitutional commitment to its non-Jewish Israelis. " We also have a population with no roots in democracy and a large sector, including the religious element, who oppose it adamantly. As Amir Oren notes, only pure masochism will cause the electorate to return the present bunch of politicians to power. Titan fears that may well happen since the Israeli public are a bit like North Koreans who worship idols. For Israelis, the chief idol is the army.


We are told by the UN that as of April 1 the Palestinians will be members of the International Criminal Court. This means that they can file criminal complaints against war crimes committed on their territory. Titan will rub his methane lakes in glee to see an Israeli general or politician (these are overlapping sets) giving an account of his crimes to an international tribunal. Israel has of course reacted by stealing the millions of shekels of tax revenues that it is required to pass on to the Palestinians. Other creative sanctions will certainly be found and the propaganda machine will swing into action. Zeev Sternhell has some good practical advice for the Palestinian leadership. It would be nice if they were smart enough to take it. They should have figured it out for themselves years ago.


What If? asks How many fairies would fly around, if each fairy is born from the first laugh of a child and fairies were immortal?

—Mira Kühn, Germany

WuMo put fishing in the right perspective, but Titan gives you only the link lest WuMo sue him, although they invite you to email the cartoon. Odd indeed.

Titan and Pollyanna finally confess to you as a New Year's atonement how blogging works.
Wizard of Id Cartoon for Jan/04/2015

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