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Green (In)Action

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Richard Young’s article published September 23 in Carnegie International – Europe is eye-opening. It’s says nothing surprising, really, but puts into words the message that many climate activists and woke members of the public following the climate crisis have been trying to say.

https://images.carnegieendowment.org/images/article_images/Youngs_GreenDemocracy_1235368669_1420x770_2.jpg
Image from Young’s article

Young discusses different kinds of government, and how they might respond to the climate crisis and demands of climate activists. He observes, about panels and commissions that

Top-down, expert-led initiatives like the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Conference of Parties, and the Paris Agreement have in practice fallen short. They appear to drive not comprehensive solutions but rather changes that work within current systems—namely technological fixes without the necessary systemic changes to social and political organization.

(A lot of climate activists and scientists believe that COP26, despite its admirable goals, will in practice fall short, and accomplish little or nothing)

Commissions, panels, conventions, and conferences are set up by democracies. Although Young’s article focuses on Europe, it’s safe to say that his conclusion that Europeans are “acting to address climate change through an uneasy combination of depoliticized democracy, climate assemblies, and protest movements” applies to democracies beyond Europe.

He provides several steps that would help “democracies become more fully attuned to the imperatives of ecological transformation: Root climate expertise in popular support; Foster localized conceptions of citizenship; Harness the power of mass engagement productively; Balance the climate movement’s localism and transnationalism; and Couch climate action in full-fledged democratic renewal.

He concludes that “Rather than pitting different kinds of democratic engagement against one another, countries need a more comprehensive conception of democracy to deal with the ecological transition for the long haul. Reshaping democracy by fixing these limitations to current approaches for achieving a greener future is the crucial task ahead.”

What we should take away from the article is that not only is “ecological transformation” essential to mitigate climate change, but there must be a transformation of democracy and citizen engagement.

Twenty Years Later – A 9/11 Edition

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After twenty years, many Americans can still tell you exactly where they were when the terrorist attacks happened on September 11, 2001.

The collapse of the Twin Towers and the the crash of Flight 93 in ‘a field in Pennsylvania‘ – along with the mysterious hole American Airlines Flight 77 left in the Pentagon – devastated thousands of families.

As devastating in the short term and the long term of the deaths of three thousand Americans are in one day, the short- and long-term effects on domestic and global affairs of 9/11 is far more tragic.

With every action there is an equally strong reaction, and the response to September 11 was to create the unwinnable, unending, War On Terror.

The U.S. government responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan in 2001 in an attempt to destroy Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, ignoring the fact that none of the nineteen men the U.S. identified as the terrorists involved in 9/11 came from Afghanistan (they came from Egyt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebonon). The U.S. relatively quickly mitigated the power of the Taliban in Afghanistan and other time installed an what appeared to be stable puppet government. Still, the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan.

It also became apparent that the U.S.’ occupation was about more than defeating the Taliban. A couple weeks ago Yadullah Hussain reminded us in the Financial Times that the ‘Gravestone of Empires’ – Afghanistan – is “resource rich, with an abundance of coal, natural gas, copper, lithium, gold, iron ore, bauxite and prized rare-earth mineral reserves”.

Hussain’s article was published five days before the deadline the U.S. had imposed on itself to brings it’s home from Afghanistan. For some, it almost appeared as if the U.S. was being pushed to stay in Afghanistan in order to control those resources. Instead, years after it first promised it would do so most U.S. troops were out of Afghanistan by August 30, 2021. Within days the Taliban had control of the government, which has created a huge ongoing humanitarian crisis. After years of trying, the U.S. replaced the Taliban with the Taliban.

In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq under the pretense that somewhere in Iraq there were “weapons of mass destruction”. That wasn’t the reason fro invading Iraq, and neither was “saving the Iraqi people” from Saddam Husein, according to Assan Butt’s article in AlJazerra. The invasion was because “a quick and decisive victory in the heart of the Arab world would send a message to all countries, especially to recalcitrant regimes such as Syria, Libya, Iran, or North Korea, that American hegemony was here to stay. Put simply, the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to (re)establish American standing as the world’s leading power”.

9/11 - Did You Know: BBC Reports on Building 7 - YouTube
BBC describes Tower 7 collapse while it’s still standing.

The collapse of Building 7 at the World Trade Center left many people, who were able to think beyond the state-sponsored narrative, wondering who planned what when.

The United States has long been a police state, at least against it’s “minority” non-white populations. September 11, 2021, turned the U.S. in a security state and led to an Islamophobia that’s never disappeared.

The ACLU informs us, the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) “was the first of many changes to surveillance laws” passed 9/11. “Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security,” the Patriot Act “made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet.” Instead of being aimed at catching terrorists, the Patriot Act “turns regular citizens into suspects”.

A year later, in November, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security. This pretty much ensured that the U.S. would remain a genteel-looking police state and security state.

Submit your TSA joke for T-Shirt Hell T-Shirts... - Mustang Forum - Mustang  World
The iconic sarcastic shirt about the TSA

It seems that most Americans were okay giving up the relative ease of air travel that existed before 9/11 and submitted themselves happily to the existence of TSA.

It seems that most Americans gave little thought to the violations of basic civil liberties that the Patriot Act infringed on. The existence of what is nicely called a “detention camp” where many detainees were tortures and “thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, and other suspect foreigners were held without charge and without the legal means to challenge their detentions” in Guantánamo Bay seemed to never cross the mind of Americans, especially after Obama said in 2009 that he’d close the camp; twenty years after 9/11 Wlilliam Roberts wants to know why the camp is still open.

The Patriot Act is still law, and the Department of Homeland Security seems secure only in its continual existence, despite the fact that we have theoretically ended the War On Terror (or at least made it look like we’ve brought the troops home). These civil violations are a part of America that no one questions, except for some people the government would label “radical”.

Two years ago a study concluded that the U.S. had spent $6.4 Trillion on war in the Middle East and Asia since 2001. Sarah Lazare, for CommonDreams suggests that we spent twenty years fighting the unwinnable, un-endable, War on Terror instead of twenty years using the same money to fight Climate Change. She makes a strong case that the money spent on the military could have been used for other projects (“A sum of $1.7 trillion could eliminate all student debt, $200 billion could cover 10 years of free preschool for all three and four year olds in the country. And, crucially, $4.5 trillion could cover the full cost of decarbonizing the U.S. electric grid”) and reminds us that “dismantling the carbon-intensive U.S. military apparatus must be part of the equation”

To not continue to make the same mistakes, the well-informed and connected Kathy Kelly says, is that the the U.S. “must express true sorrow, seek forgiveness,” collectively recognize the horrors of the policies resulting from 9/11 and that in order to counter terror we must abolish war. CodePink made a similar suggestion.

Ending war and making meaningful reparations would be a start toward undoing the legacy of 9/11. Over the last twenty years it’s become increasingly obvious that maintaining “hegemony” is important to U.S. policy-makers, and that doing so is more important than having a semblance of not sacrificing civil- and human rights in the process. It’s time to support people instead of corporations, and peace instead of conflict.

The Human Element

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As we begin watching the US Open at Flushing Meadows, and start contemplating an end to another season of America’s pastime it’s a good time to reflect on what the sports means and the relation between human and technology.

Tennis has been using a camera-generated review system for a long time, and in this pandemic-stricken year there will be no human calling the ball in our out. This might prevent some outbursts “I swear to God I’ll f***ing take the ball and shove it down your f***ing throat” (Serena Williams), or a player unhappy he’s losing hit the ball into the neck of a linesman (Novak Djokovic). It will also take the human element out of the game.

Hawk-Eye
Hawkeye

Because of the pandemic, last year’s baseball season was shortened to sixty games. This year it’s returned to the regular 162 game season for America’s pastime, with some new rules to try to shorten games and prevent them from going much over nine innings. In the last few years, baseball has implemented a review system helps prevent brawls (sort of) and that helps to put sportsmanlike conduct into our great game. To use replay to determine whether a runner beats a throw to a base, or hits the a ball fair or foul, can be aggravating to some fans – and doubtless to some players an coaches – doesn’t not remove a human element from the game, but does add make the game more about technology and less about humans.

There is no review of balls and strikes, which means there’s some temper between both pitchers and batters (and coaches) yelling at umpires over calls they don’t like. Baseball, along with other sports, has been called a game of inches. (If you were to look at some commentary online, some people think that the umpires have been worse with balls and strikes than ever before). Forbes, in a 2019 article, suggests that although the balls or strikes review system “could be on the horizon in baseball” and that it just needs some technological tinkering. If baseball does go to a ball-and-strikes review system, it further takes the human element out of the game.

Pitch number six on the FOXTRAX was the strike three call in this bad beat for the Tampa Bay Rays and Ben Zobrist.
Pitch number six on the FOXTRAX was the strike three call in this bad beat for the Tampa Bay Rays and Ben Zobrist. / FOX, MLB on YouTube from https://www.fanduel.com/theduel/posts/video-remembering-when-ben-zobrist-struck-out-to-lose-on-one-of-the-worst-strike-calls-in-mlb-history-01ecz644fwfv

If we are looking to take the human element out of sports perhaps we should all play baseball or tennis on XBOX, where the game determines for whether the shot was in or out, or whether it was a ball or a strike.

That’s not a viable option because sports are about humans and human judgement. A self-reflective article about the press treatment of Naomi Osaka and other tennis players pointed out that we value athletes simply because these are people “who have been elevated to prominence by dint of their hand-eye coordination and superior cardiovascular fitness.” We watch sports for the skills and for the human element. There must be a limit to technology.

Living Alone – a shared post

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Shared from another blog. The interesting experience of living alone for the first time:

This week is week 3 of officially living in my condo and living on my own for the first time in my life. I was nervous as my moving date crept up because I’ve never been on my own before. Sure, I lived at college for 3 years, but I had roommates. Now I’m completely […]

Big Fizzle

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We all knew that when Alex Trebek died that Jeopardy would try to find a host to replace him. I thought the idea of bringing back Watson – or perhaps an IA with Alex’s voice – would be an interesting idea. Instead, Jeopardy went with the more realistic option of having a litany of guest hosts through the end of the season (which has recently ended).

Most of the hosts introduced themselves as long-time lovers of Jeopardy – which really doesn’t make sense, because that qualifies millions of people in the U.S. to host the show. In reality, most of the guest hosts had were tv personalities and had a job, so it was assumed that most of them were their to toot their own horn.

There were a few hosts that weren’t tv personalities: Ken Jennings, holder of the most wins in Jeopardy history and a champion of several Jeopardy tournaments; Buzzy Cohen, who won several times on Jeopardy, and one Jeopardy’s tournament of champions (as a guest host he hosted the tournament of champions); Aaron Rogers, a football player; Mayim Bialek, an actress on the “Big Bang” and an academic; and Levar Burton, an actor and a host of the long-running show Reading Rainbow which taught kids to read.

Jeopardy assured people that public opinion would be taken into consideration in choosing a guest host. Nonetheless, Levar Burton was only considered as a guest host after a massive online petition called for him to host the show – he was given a one week stint late in the season, compared to the two weeks that most guest hosts appeared. If you have followed Jeopardy on Facebook or Twitter in the last several months you’ll find a lot of wishy-washy people who things like “I like x and y, by w and g are my favorite. But r is still the best!”. Aaron Rogers, being known to many in the sports world, had a exceedingly large backing online. Mike Richards, who theoretically was not in the running to permanently host the show, also got a strangely large backing. It looked like a combination of a robot farm and a high school popularity contest, rather than basing anything on merit.

Ken Jennings, in his many appearances on Jeopardy through the years became the second face of Jeopardy after Trebek. He was the the first guest host – for several weeks. Jennings was the only person who thanked Alex Trebek through each of his several guest host appearances; most of the guest hosts thanked Trebek with a brief acknowledgement on their first day.

Understandably, after Jennings finished his time as a guest host the next person to host the show was Jeopardy’s executive producer, Mike Richards. The world was, as a it still is, in the middle of a pandemic, and guest hosts were not ready to travel to Los Angeles. No one assumed that Mike Richards – an executive producer – was there to do much more than fill in a guest host.

In July, once all the guest hosts had finished filming for the season, and most of the shows had aired, news leaked that Jeopardy was considering Mike Richards as the permanent host. As the executive producer ,and for all appearances, the guy in charge of picking the next host, it appeared that after all the charades Mike Richards was picking Mike Richards to host Jeopardy. There are other Sony executives involved in the decision, but appearances are appearances.

Shortly after this, it was confirmed that Mike Richards would be the permanent host of Jeopardy and that Mayim Bialek would be a co-host. In essence, Bialek was thrown the bone of “you can host the Jeopardy college championships and other spin-offs” to make it look like Jeopardy was joining the world of diversity.

Mike Richards wasn’t guest hosting Jeopardy as a tv personality and he wasn’t well-known for a particular political stance. He was likeable and boring, but at least unlike so many guest hosts I don’t recall him trying to relate to each clue with phrases like “that’s my neck of the woods”, “I love that pie!” or some other unnecessary comment. We all know Alex Trebek was from Canada, but how many times did he mention it?

The choice to make an executive producer a game show host turned out to be a laughingly bad decision. The Sony executives that chose Mike Richards – an executive – to host the show probably knew he had a past. The Sony executives, however, were apparently surprised to learn that in the last several years it appears he’s ‘repeatedly used offensive language and disparaged women’s bodies‘ and made jokes about Jewish and Asian people. Within a few days of being announced as the new co-host, Mike Richards announced he was resigning as a host – but likely will remain an executive producer.

Jeopardy hired two hosts. Mayim Bialek was announced as host , and it seemed clear that she would host the college tournament and other Jeopardy spin-offs. With the resignation of Mike Richards, Jeopardy will continue to search for a permanent host and continue the parade of guest hosts. I’ve seen no article about how this affects Bialek’s partial hire.

I’ve been watching Jeopardy for years, and looked forward to switching the channel to watch Jeopardy at 7:30. Then came a technology where I could record Jeopardy and watch it later, if I wanted to. The recording has been turned off. I’m not inclined to watch Jeopardy and I’m not interested in a Jeopardy that is about the hosts. Jeopardy has not only lost me, but if the internet is a gauge it has lost a large swath of viewership.

This isn’t to say I’ll never watch Jeopardy again. This week Jeopardy is airing re-runs of Alex Trebek. I hope all the guest hosts, and whoever the permanent host will be, is watching and noticing he does such a good job that you barely notice he’s there. I hope Jeopardy will do it right this time and pick a host that can be the face of Jeopardy, who at the same time will make the game show dedicated to knowledge about the contestants.

Make A Difference On Climate Change

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Three years ago Greta began protesting inaction on the climate crisis (See: Fridays For Future). Greta Thunberg has become so well-known and so inspirational that it is unnecessary to provide her last name, and you knew exactly who I was referring to. In those three years we’ve seen the discourse change from climate change, to climate crisis, to a full on crisis emergency.

Protesting and advocacy can be effective,including writing to the media or to our legislators or the act of standing on a street corner with social justice signs. While it the results are seem slow, and the road is long, just imagine what would happen if we did nothing.

Our knowledge that the climate crisis is a threat is not new. In 2006 former vice-president Al Gore made that clear in “An Inconvenient Truth“. The same year, he founded the organization The Climate Reality Project – an education and advocacy organization that informs people, and aims to change policies, regarding the climate.

Although Climate Reality usually does trainings in person around the world the pandemic has prevented large conventions, but allowed us to become more connected virtually. I wrote about an online training opportunity offered by Climate Reality this April, and described the leadership training I received from Climate Reality last summer. As someone who thought I could avoid studying earth science as soon as education allowed me to, Climate Reality helped me understand the science, the social science, and the social justice that is all interconnected in the fight to prevent any further climate crisis.

This October, from Oct. 16-24 Climate Reality is offering another online training to join their leadership corps. There are two broadcast times to help it fit your schedule, and you’ll learn from Al Gore about the science, environmental justice, and how to be a better activist.

Complicit — by Beyond Nuclear International

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Read more about the danger of nuclear weapons, who profits off them, and what you can do:

The world spends $137,000 a minute on nuclear weapons.

Complicit — Beyond Nuclear International

Two Existential Threats

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The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) released a much anticipated report today. It says what we already know, that “emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.

To put 1.5°C in perspective, it is expected that at that level “of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows. Propelled by human activity, the IPCC says climate change is actively “bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming.” We’re currently experiencing examples of this:

  • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
  • For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

The IPCC report emphasized that “the evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate. A co-chair of the IPCC Working Group 1, Panmao Zhai, made clear that ‘stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate.’ Even with rapid action, IPCC expects that “while benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize”.

The IPCC report, called a red-flag by the Secretary of the United Nations, expects the world to reach 1.5°C in all of it’s scientific models within the next twenty years. As mentioned, this can be avoided if the world acts quickly.


Today also marks the seventy-sixth anniversaries of one of the largest human-made disasters in the world. Three days after dropping a nuclear weapon on Hiroshima, killing 140,000 Japanese, the U.S. dropped a slightly stronger bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, killing another 74.000. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only nuclear bombs used in warfare. This information from ICAN – the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – also describes the the inability to provide aid in the aftermath of the bombings, and the resulting health hazards from nuclear blasts. “Leukaemia increased noticeably among survivors. After about a decade, survivors began suffering from thyroid, breast, lung and other cancers at higher than normal rates.”

This January, because of the work of ICAN, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) became part of international law. The TPNW “prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.”

It is true that this injunction is only legally binding on nations (or more correctly, states) that has ratified the TPNW. However, that should be good news. Only nine states have nuclear weapons, and none of them actually want to use them.

It is possible that these nine states know that not only would any use of a nuclear weapons lead to a a uncontrollable war but that a nuclear war would lead to a disastrous effect on the environment and the ecosystem and that this “nuclear winter” could last a decade.


The climate emergency we have created and the prospect of use of nuclear weapons leading to a climate breakdown known as “nuclear winter” are the two major existential crises humanity faces. These two threats are connected and are man-made. The good news is because these threats to humanity are man-made, they can be undone to a large extent.

In 2019 The Guardian reported that twenty companies “can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era”. A couple months earlier, Forbes reported that “the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S., the Department of Defense is the world’s single largest institutional consumer of petroleum” and that the D.OD. has a larger carbon footprint than most countries. The twenty companies that can be linked to greenhouse emissions over the last fifty years are the same companies that supply the D.O.D.

The climate emergency or the prospect of a nuclear winter should not make us give up but rather propel us into action to undo these existential threats. Our propensity for war, which is tied to our love of consumerism and our need for the requisite resources, must end before we end ourselves. I’ve written recently about advocating for social justice and about reaching out to policy-makers such as elected members of Congress. While we must each choose our own path it is important to remember that inaction is insufficient.

The Sign

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I’ve make a commitment to stand on the street corner and wave signs for social justice every Friday afternoon. Fridays for Future, of course, has been doing this for a a couple years on a global scale to draw attention to the climate emergency we have created. It was Israel’s most recent major assault on Gaza, in May of this year, that impelled me out of my comfort zone and led me to the streets.

During the onslaught against Gaza there were a few dozen people waving signs for several weeks. The number of people who maintain a weekly presence have varied over the weeks. There tend to be about fifteen people on both sides of the street with different messages about peace and social justice – the climate, nuclear weapons, black lives matter, and maintained focus on Israel, during the hour and a half time slot we allot ourselves. Some of the people have been sign-waving for social justice for more than twenty years at the same location.

There are numerous signs about Israel ranging from “It Was Wrong In South Africa and It’s Wrong In Palestine” (referring to apartheid), to signs like “Save Sheikh Jarrah“. I have a sign enjoining people to contact congress about HR2590. This week I was holding both the sign about HR2590 and a sign that said “Israel Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity” with text clearing indicating that such as message came from Human Rights Watch.

Standing on a street corner during rush hour traffic our signs are targeted at the cars but intended for anyone that sees them. During a lull in traffic a young man came across the street, pointing at my sign. I didn’t hear what he said at first with the noise of the traffic, but after a minute made out he was asking about the sign “Israel Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity”. He was genuinely asking about it.

Perhaps I dd a bad job of explaining “crimes against humanity” when put on the spot, but we had a decent and pleasant conversation, despite the fact it is sometimes hard to explain something to someone when it appears you have to start with the basics. He was pressing in his point that we (the USA) commit crimes against humanity in the Middle East – but I agreed with him, and pointed out that Americans should also be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. I’m not sure he knew that Israel occupies Palestinians under international law, much less the resulting human rights abuses regarding land, resources, the right to movement, or anything about settlers. Nonetheless, he he was willing to take literature I had with me, and listened politely to my point that actions make a difference, and that there can be cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Here’s what that young gentleman should know. The sign I was holding about crimes against humanity referred to Human Rights Watch. In April of this year HRW noted that Israel carries out apartheid – a crime against humanity – against the Palestinians, writing that:

Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Providing all the background on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the history, HRW follows this up with the observation that “International criminal law has developed two crimes against humanity for situations of systematic discrimination and repression: apartheid and persecution” Regarding persecution, HRW summarizes that

The crime against humanity of persecution, also set out in the Rome Statute, the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights on racial, ethnic, and other grounds, grew out of the post-World War II trials and constitutes one of the most serious international crimes, of the same gravity as apartheid.

The State of Palestine is a state party to both the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention. In February 2021, the ICC ruled that it has jurisdiction over serious international crimes committed in the entirety of the OPT, including East Jerusalem, which would include the crimes against humanity of apartheid or persecution committed in that territory. In March 2021, the ICC Office of Prosecutor announced the opening of a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine.

HRW recalls that “Crimes against humanity consist of specific criminal acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack, or acts committed pursuant to a state or organizational policy, directed against a civilian population”. It’s likely that Israel not only engages in apartheid and persecution, but almost all of the other crimes against humanity (inter alia, murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, and sexual violence).

We stand on the street corner to draw attention to these facts, and to encourage people to demand that elected and appointed officials stop funding, and prevent, crimes against humanity. The awareness of these facts should propel us to action, and one substantial action is to contract our elected representatives in Congress about HR 2590 (Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act) and ask our representatives to stop funding human rights abuses.

Balance of Power

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Set in 1720 Madrid aristocracy – and in good part, from the view of the servantry – The Cook of Castamar is a reminder of history and a commentary on social interactions between classes. The rich connive with the rich and with the servant class; the servant class plots against one another; some of the rich have a liking for the poor – but would the rich like the poor if the rich knew that the poor were once not poor?

A Spanish production done under the title of La cocinera de Castamar the show perhaps has no reason to elucidate its audience on Spanish history. In 1700 Charles II of Spain died without an heir. This caused the War of the Spanish Succession which led to – says Wikipedia – a redrawing of the balance of power in Europe.

We might remember the Treaty of Westphalia from a history class in high school. The treaty signed at the end of Thirty Years war, in 1648, Westphalia established the modern idea of a balance of power in Europe.

Felipe V de España, Rey de.jpg
Philip V Spain

There’s not a large time gap between 1648 and 1700, the year Charles died. King Louis XIV of France (the “Sun King”) was a monarch during that entire time. Philip of Anjou, the grandson of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa (who was born the infanta of Spain) claimed the throne of Spain when Charles II died. Philip was 16. There were other claimants to the throne of Spain, all fighting for power and/or the balance of power along side their allies.

The thirteen year War of the Spanish Succession, spanning four continents, ended with the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip was recognized as the king of Spain, with the condition that Spain and France would never become a single entity, and several other conditions to maintain and rebalance the balance of power.

In a way, everyone won and and every lost. This seems to be a basic and natural result of a game of balancing power. To this day every nation is engaged in balancing power, and is naturally winning and losing at the same time.