Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bodhisattva in action: At this clinic in Iraq’s Kurdish north, women who have suffered the unspeakable cruelty of Islamic State slavery come for help

 I will quote only selected portions of this article because of the extreme brutality discussed in other parts.

"There are few therapists working today in Iraq, where mental health is a low priority in a country battling the jihadists of Islamic State, or ISIS. But in a nondescript apartment in this Kurdish city nestled in the mountains of northern Iraq, German psychologist Jan Ilhan Kizilhan runs a clinic for women who are victims of ISIS..."

"...Mr. Kizilhan’s solution is to bring 1,000 of the severest cases to Baden-W├╝rttemberg, in southwest Germany, for a period of intensive treatment. The €95 million ($100 million) “preventative asylum” project is funded by the Baden-W├╝rttemberg state government. For Mr. Kizilhan, himself a Turkish-born Yazidi who immigrated to Germany at age 6, it’s personal.

Islamic State doesn’t see Yazidis like him as human.

“As a scientist you learn that ideology can blind people,” he says. “In the morning they rape children, and at night when they go home they’re loving fathers and husbands.” To treat ISIS as just another al Qaeda-style terror group, he warns, is to ignore the “Nazi-like,” genocidal evolution of its Islamist worldview.

On each of his visits to Iraqi Kurdistan, Mr. Kizilhan interviews dozens of women to identify those most in need of evacuation. Most are Yazidis and Christians, with smaller numbers of Shiite Muslims. He is now close to the program’s head-count limit, forcing him to make wrenching decisions as the women take him on a tour of the depths of Islamic State depravity.

For the ISIS jihadists, slavery and the attendant sexual violence are intended to shatter non-Muslim societies. It is a family enterprise, with fighters’ female siblings and legitimate wives helping control slaves."

For the full article see:


Online there is one site I found that seems legitimate and that has links to help the Yazidi and others:


Sunday, November 22, 2015

United States, Europe and Islamic State

The Islamic State terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere in Europe, the attacks by Islamist affiliates in Mali, Lebanon and elsewhere, have challenged the United States and Europe domestic and foreign policy in ways that had been unexpected by many in and out of political power. In analysing these events and proposing plans for action, a number of different proposals have been made.

The following is from a very interesting and and insightful analysis:

"As former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer recently put it, the U.S. “quite obviously, is no longer willing—or able—to play its old role.”

Mr. Fischer was referring specifically to America’s role as the dominant power in the Middle East, but since the refugee crisis and the attacks in Paris, America’s unwillingness to play that role has reverberations and implications well beyond the Middle East. What the U.S. now does or doesn’t do in Syria will affect the future stability of Europe, the strength of trans-Atlantic relations and therefore the well-being of the liberal world order.

This is no doubt the last thing that Mr. Obama wants to hear, and possibly to believe. Certainly he would not deny that the stakes have gone up since the refugee crisis and especially since Paris. At the very least, Islamic State has proven both its desire and its ability to carry out massive, coordinated attacks in a major European city. It is not unthinkable that it could carry out a similar attack in an American city. This is new...."

"In 2002, a British statesman-scholar issued a quiet warning. “The challenge to the postmodern world,” the diplomat Robert Cooper argued, was that while Europeans might operate within their borders as if power no longer mattered, in the world outside Europe, they needed to be prepared to use force just as in earlier eras. “Among ourselves, we keep the law, but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle,” he wrote. Europeans didn’t heed this warning, or at least didn’t heed it sufficiently. They failed to arm themselves for the jungle, materially and spiritually, and now that the jungle has entered the European garden, they are at a loss.

With the exercise of power barely an option, despite what Mr. Hollande promises, Europeans are likely to feel their only choice is to build fences, both within Europe and along its periphery—even if in the process they destroy the very essence of the European project. It is this sentiment that has the Le Pens of Europe soaring in the polls.

The only alternative is to address the crisis in Syria and Iraq, and with it the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State. But just as in the 1990s, when Europeans could address the crisis in the Balkans only with the U.S. playing the dominant military role, so again America will have to take the lead, provide the troops, supply the bulk of the air power and pull together those willing and able to join the effort."

For the rest of this article see:


Below is an accompanying current report (which of course is already out of date) on the 11-21-15 lockdown in Brussels  due to Islamist terrorist "planning an attack."



And here is an article sent to me today, arguing

The Kurds Can Defeat ISIS if We Provide Incentives


Friday, November 20, 2015

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Another instance of government malfeasance; in this case, driving a company serving the needs of cancer patients out of business, with no consequence for the government abuse

I occasionally write about instances of abuses of power by government officials, administrators and agencies - abuses of their public power, given them to serve the public's need. This abuse damages individuals and companies, with little real consequences for the abuser of power. This is an ancient problem as the Latin phrase shows; the phrase means, "Who guards against the guardians' abuses of power."

Below is an article which speaks for itself:

"Sometimes winning is still losing. That is certainly true for companies that find themselves caught in the cross hairs of the federal government. Since 2013, my organization has defended one such company, the cancer-screening LabMD, against meritless allegations from the Federal Trade Commission. Last Friday, the FTC’s chief administrative-law judge dismissed the agency’s complaint. But it was too late. The reputational damage and expense of a six-year federal investigation forced LabMD to close last year."

For the sad details, here is the full article:


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Microbiome and autism

I have previously written about the human microbiome, the flora and fauna living in us that we are just discovering  contribute in many ways to our physical and mental functioning.

Below is an excerpt from article about some recent  and preliminary explorations of the relationship between autism and human microbiome:

"His parents reluctantly began to accept that his gut problems might simply be yet another manifestation of his autism. “We kind of gave up,” says Sharon, Sam’s mother. (Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Unfortunately, Sam’s experience is common among children with autism. About 40 to 60 percent of these children cope with gastrointestinal (GI) problems, ranging from frequent abdominal pain and bloating to diarrhea and constipation. But why and how their distress develops—and what to do about it—remain a mystery.
Despite their pain, these children’s abdominal tracts generally appear normal, says Emeran Mayer, the director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress at the University of California, Los Angeles. In some children, GI problems may result from stress and anxiety, or emerge as a consequence of behavior. If a child’s insistence on sameness spills over into eating habits, for example, she might not consume enough fiber or liquid, and may become constipated as a result.

It’s also possible that the real culprit of these digestive symptoms is not human at all. Evidence from the past decade suggests that GI problems in some people with autism stem from disruptions in the gut microbiome—the complex stew of bacteria and other microbes that help to digest food, make vitamins, and protect against pathogens. Scientists have found tantalizing clues that the types of microbes that live in the guts of people with autism differ from those in people without the condition.

So far, this research poses more questions than it answers, but the need for clarity is urgent: Against the advice of experts, and in a desperate attempt to help their pain-wracked children, some parents are performing do-it-yourself fecal transplants, overhauling the gut microbiome by transferring stool (and the intestinal bacteria it contains) from a healthy donor into a child with autism."

For the rest of this article, with links to other research and sources see:


Simple meditation formats for young children (and for adults who want to start very simply)

 Here are some very simple and useful suggestions for meditation for young children.

The opening sentences of the review are:

"Asking a child to sit still for meditation doesn’t sound like a recipe for easing stress.

Yet more families are making a few shared minutes of quiet contemplation a part of their daily routines. When handled with flexibility and a sense of humor, they say, the practice can calm their children, reduce stress and anxiety and help them focus.

Meditation is increasingly taught in the West as a secular discipline aimed at gaining awareness, or mindfulness—the ability to notice and focus calmly on thoughts and feelings as they arise, without reacting or judging...."

For the rest of this article and a video see:


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Using the word "Islamist"

On Friday, November 13, 2015, during the terrorism in Paris I wrote,

CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THOSE KILLED BY ISLAMIST TERRORISTS IN PARIS ON 11-13-15  May all beings be free of hatred, harming and pain.

There was a comment that I should not use the word Islamist to describe the terrorist.

As I see it, Islamists are those, who in the name of Islam, are intolerant of and violent towards those that disagree with their beliefs and worldview, especially Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims, as well as "heretical Muslims" or other Muslims who "get in their way." Islamists seek to impose their worldview, rules and domination on others. Islamists are a minority of all Muslims, estimated at circa 10 - 20% worldwide depending upon which sources you trust. And Islamists are, to the best of my knowledge, an accurate description of and a shorthand for ISIS terrorists.

In response to a form of the above statement, I have heard that, "attempting to make fine distinctions between degrees of Islamism is a fool's errand. The majority of Muslims everywhere support, or at best are marginally indifferent to, these atrocities," except as it might effect them.

Subsequently, I was sent the following opinion piece which, drawing on the author's experience in Molenbeek, Belgium, the home of some of those involved in the Paris terrorism, addresses this use of the word Islamist. Below is the author's take on the underlying conditions which may make it difficult for some to use the word:

"We live in the age of the sanctified tantrum—the political and religious furies we dare not name or shame, much less confront....

And then there is the tantrum of Islam, another eruption of rage that feeds off our astonishing willingness to indulge it.

Before Friday’s carnage in the City of Light, the world was treated to the hideous spectacle of Palestinians knifing Jews in Israel. The supposed motive of these stabbings was a rumor among Palestinians—fanned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—that the Israeli government intended to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

This was a story the Israeli government adamantly denied and every serious person knew was false. Yet no senior Western leader dared call out Mr. Abbas to correct the record. Palestinian tantrums are sanctified tantrums. The violence they breed might be condemned, but the narrative on which they rest has the status of holy writ. It is no more to be questioned than the Quran is to be burned....

... at the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and the two noncontenders for the Democratic presidential nomination each refused to use the term “radical Islam” in referring to the ideological force behind the Paris killings. The furthest Mrs. Clinton would go to naming the enemy was to say “you can talk about Islamists who also are clearly jihadists.”

Apparently, however, you cannot mention Islamists who are not yet “clearly jihadists,” lest some other invisible line be transgressed. To do so might set off another tantrum among people who tend toward violence whenever they are accused of violent tendencies.

Nowhere are Islamist tantrums so richly indulged as in Europe..."

For the further explorations of the article see:


How do we reconcile these various aspects of these present life circumstances - fear, appropriate concerns for safety, combating harm, violence and the need to protect the public safety?

What is our responsibility as a citizen and political actor?

How do we respect varied perspectives and traditions?

What is skillful and unskillful?

What is compassionate?