Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Timely Dharma Talk - Not Speaking of the Faults of Others - 3-27-16

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Freedom of Speech - A most important Dharma protection even for those with whom we disagree, especially for those with whom we disagree.

I have written and spoken previously about freedom of speech and the First Amendment of the US Constitution as vital historical factor for the spread of Buddha Dharma in the United States. Some examples of this are at:

Freedom of Thought, Freedom from Thought   5/22/15

Freedom of Thought, Freedom from Thought Part 2   5/23/15

This issue of freedom of speech and attempts by governmental officials to use their various powers to infringe upon what they consider unpopular speech and science has again been brought to my attention in regards to climate change issues. This is also important in regard the issues raised in the various "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the guardians?" posts.

While it seems to me that there are certainly changes occurring in the weather patterns and the climate, I do not have the knowledge to evaluate the science regarding this or the causes thereof. However, the closing off of evaluation of unpopular positions or research seems particularly odious and dangerous, especially when the power of the US government, Congress, the Executive Administration and the Courts, are enlisted in suppressing this speech.

Therefore it is interesting that following organization has been created:

The Free Speech in Science Project exists to defend the kind of open inquiry and debate that are central to scientific advancement and understanding. The Project will fund legal advice and defense to those who need it, while also executing an offense to turn the tables on abusive officials. Scientists, policy organizations and others should not have to labor under the fear that they will be the next victims of the Climate Inquisition, that they may face punishment and personal ruin for engaging in research and advocating their views.

A posted article on this website describing their genesis has the following several paragraphs:

"In September a group of 20 climate scientists wrote to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch encouraging them to heed (US Senator) Mr. Whitehouse and launch a RICO investigation targeting climate skeptics. This was necessary since, they claimed, America’s policy response to climate change was currently “insufficient,” because of dissenting views regarding the risks of climate change. Email correspondence subsequently obtained through public-records requests revealed that this letter was also coordinated by Mr. Whitehouse.

Reps. Ted Lieu (D., Calif.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D., Calif.) followed up with a formal request for the Justice Department to launch an investigation, specifically targeting Exxon Mobil for its funding of climate research and policy organizations skeptical of extreme warming claims. Attorney General Lynch announced in testimony this month that the matter had been referred to the FBI “to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for what we could take action on.” Similar investigations are already spearheaded by state attorneys general in California and New York.

Meanwhile, Mr. Whitehouse, joined by Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), sent letters to a hundred organizations—from private companies to policy institutes—demanding that they turn over information about funding and research relating to climate issues. In his response to the senators, Cato Institute President John Allison called the effort “an obvious attempt to chill research into and funding of public policy projects you don’t like.”

Intimidation is the point of these efforts. Individual scientists, think tanks and private businesses are no match for the vast powers that government officials determined to stifle dissent are able to wield. An onslaught of investigations—with the risk of lawsuits, prosecution and punishment—is more than most can afford to bear. As a practical reality, defending First Amendment rights in these circumstances requires the resources to take on the government and win—no matter the cost or how long it takes.

It also requires taking on the Climate Inquisition directly. Spurious government investigations, driven by the desire to suppress a particular viewpoint, constitute illegal retaliation against protected speech and, as such, can be checked by the courts, with money damages potentially available against the federal and state perpetrators. If anyone is going to be intimidated, it should be officials who are willing to abuse their powers to target speech with which they disagree.

That is why we are establishing the Free Speech in Science Project to defend the kind of open inquiry and debate that are central to scientific advancement and understanding."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials? Another example of our guardians using the power we give them to abuse us rather than guard us from abuse.

The IRS and its defending attorneys, the US Justice department, has been harshly criticized by a US Appeals Court for abusing its powers and abusing the public:

"Writing for the unanimous three-judge appellate panel, Judge Raymond Kethledge observes that mandamus is “an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court.” The appeals judges not only found no such abuse; they ordered the IRS to comply with Dlott’s orders. The ruling closes by strongly suggesting that the Justice Department lawyers representing the IRS have been acting in bad faith:
The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws—all of them, not just selective ones—in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition. We expect that the IRS will do better going forward. And we order that the IRS comply with the district court’s discovery orders of April 1 and June 16, 2015—without redactions, and without further delay."
The Washington Times’s Stephen Dinan sums up the finding: “A federal appeals court spanked the IRS Tuesday, saying it has taken laws designed to protect taxpayers from the government and turned them on their head, using them to try to protect the tax agency from the very tea party groups it targeted.”

For full details see the following article titled "IRS Chutzpah":

What do we need to do and be aware of in order to better prevent future terrorism? What as individual citizens? What if we are political leaders? What as Dharma practitioners? What as fellow beings? Since we are more than one of these, what to do? How to differentiate between radical Islamists and moderate Muslims? In memoriam and service to those killed and injured in Islamic terrorist bombing in Brussels March 22, 2016.

"Not a single day now goes by without an Islamist suicide bombing, rocket attack, shooting spree, kidnapping or stabbing somewhere in the world.

Consider the past 10 days.

On Sunday, March 13, jihadists sprayed gunfire on sunbathers in Grand Bassam, a resort town in the Ivory Coast popular with Westerners and wealthy Ivorians. The attack, which was claimed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, killed 16 people, including Burkinabe, Cameroonian, French, German, Ivorian and Malian citizens.

On Monday, March 14, two Palestinians fired on Israelis waiting at a bus stop in Kiryat Arba, in the West Bank, wounding one soldier before Israeli forces killed both. A third Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into an Israeli army vehicle in the area and was shot dead. Israel has suffered a wave of Arab knife-and-car attacks for six months, known as the stabbing intifada.

On Tuesday, March 15, al Qaeda’s Somali franchise, al-Shabaab, kidnapped three Red Crescent aid workers in the country’s southwest, according to local media. The abductions followed al-Shabaab’s seizure of a village in central Somalia, amid a broader Islamist resurgence in the Horn of Africa. The aid workers were freed a day later after local villagers pleaded for their release.

On Wednesday, March 16, a pair of female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a mosque in Nigeria, killing 24. No group has claimed credit, but the bombing took place in Nigeria’s Borno state, the birthplace of Boko Haram, an Islamic State affiliate that is Africa’s most savage terror outfit.

On Thursday, March 17, the stabbing intifada claimed a fresh victim when a pair of Palestinian terrorists jumped and wounded an Israeli soldier with a knife in Ariel, in the West Bank. Israeli security forces killed both assailants.

On Friday, March 18, suspected al Qaeda fighters fired rockets at the Salah gas facility in Algeria. No one was injured, but BP and Norwegian oil giant Statoil, which operate the facility, withdrew some staff and suspended operations.

On Saturday, March 19, a bomb went off in a tony shopping district of Istanbul, killing three Israelis (two of whom were U.S. citizens) and one Iranian, and wounding 39 others. This was the fifth mass-casualty terrorist bombing in Turkey in as many months, most of them claimed by or attributed to Islamic State. The same day, a mortar assault on a checkpoint in El-Arish, Egypt, killed 15 policemen. A Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility.

On Sunday, March 20, al-Shabaab overran a Somali military base just 28 miles from the capital, Mogadishu, killing at least one person and seizing several vehicles. Also on Sunday, the Istanbul governorate canceled a hotly anticipated soccer match after receiving “serious intelligence” regarding a planned terror attack.

On Monday, March 21, Islamist fighters likely affiliated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb targeted a hotel in the capital of Mali, Bamako, that houses a European Union military-assistance mission. EU personnel were unharmed, and one attacker was killed by hotel security.

Brussels was the first major terrorist incident in the West since November’s jihadist killing spree in Paris and December’s in San Bernardino, Calif. You could create a calendar like this one that stretches back for weeks and months, and the above doesn’t even include the civil wars and humanitarian calamities in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan."

What are appropriate and skillful responses to this ongoing terrorism?

The source of the above list and further discussion of the same is at:

And here are several perspectives on the ISIS response to the bombing:

And here is a suggested action plan;

Unite to Defeat Radical Jihadism - It will require Western elites to form an alliance with the citizens they’ve long disrespected.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

There is a lack of scientific evidence of the danger of GMO products. Nevertheless, if we as individuals wish not to use GMO products based on what we know, need and feel, that is our choice. However, if our opposition to GMO products for others leads to malnutrition, suffering and starvation, that is another matter and worthy of our reflection of our actions and the consequences thereof. Below are excerpts from a speech by the president of a major agricultural college, Purdue Univerity, at the US Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va., Feb. 25, 2016. Following this is a fascinating article about the potentials of CRISPR. Also, a legal case against GM Salmon.

“The attack on GMO technology is the most blatant anti-science of the age, but it is far worse than that,” Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (Feb. 25) said. “Lives are at stake, and while scientists, regulators and business people are naturally reluctant to fight back, it’s morally irresponsible not to.”

Daniels cited projections by the United Nations that the global population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion people in 2050, generating a 70 percent increase in the demand for food. He described GMOs as the best hope to ensure the world’s poor have access to an affordable and nutritious diet.

“Thousand of studies and trillions of meals consumed prove the safety of biotechnologies,” he said. “We would never withhold medications with a safety record like that, and it’s just as wrong and just as anti-scientific to do so for food.”

"The threat this time is internal. It will be a self-inflicted wound. What is troubling me, and I hope troubles you, is that there is a shockingly broad, and so far shockingly successful, movement that threatens this important ascent of humankind out of the condition that has plagued us since we first walked upright: of having enough food to meet the most basic, the most elementary need of any living species. That threatens our ascent by choking off the very technologies that could make that next great triumph possible.

I suggest to you that you have a positive duty to do things that probably do not come naturally, to contest and refute junk science and false claims against the technologies that offer so much promise to the world. And not solely on the polite objective grounds that come most naturally to folks in the pursuits represented here, to people who work in the regulation of agriculture and its products, to those who study academically these subjects and work on the new technologies and the policies around them, or to the businesses that produce these products as the technologies become available.

We are used to and only comfortable with polite and civil dialogue: PowerPoints, facts, data at meetings where people have agreed, at least tacitly, to follow the facts where they lead. That is not this argument. We are dealing here, yes, with the most blatant anti-science of the age. But it is worse than that. It is inhumane and it must be countered on that basis. Those who would deny with zero scientific validity the fruits of modern agricultural research to starving or undernourished people—or those who will be, absent great progress—need to be addressed for what they are, which is callous, which is heartless, which is cruel."

Sources for the above are:

And here is an outstanding article about newer methods. It is about new gene-editing tool, CRISPR, that is sweeping agriculture.This method can transform the debate over genetic modification. Here it is:

A legal case against GM Salmon: 


Medications save lives and reduce suffering. What are the best ways to make them available? Here is an interesting excerpt from a response to the election year proposals:

"President Obama’s latest budget includes proposals—echoed or one-upped on the presidential-campaign trail by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton—that would require pharmaceutical companies to release data on the cost of research and development (R&D) and the extent of discounts offered to insurers for each drug brought to market. Yet the key numbers already are disclosed freely—and we know how to get better value from medicines and improve their affordability to patients.

The company I lead, Lilly, discloses its annual R&D spending in audited financial statements every year, like other public companies. Lilly’s number for 2015 was $4.8 billion—part of the $50 billion invested in R&D each year by the members of our industry association alone. That’s more than 20% of all R&D spending by all U.S. businesses. Seen against that staggering total, the proposal to mandate the nearly impossible task of assembling drug-by-drug R&D-spending figures misses the whole point.

Pharmaceutical companies’ R&D feeds innovation from the earliest identification of leads through to clinical trials, real-world data collection and the refinement of existing treatments. It includes the cost of myriad failures—part of every scientific enterprise—along with further research on approved medicines, right up to their patent expirations. Money made on the sale of today’s new medicines feeds all of the indispensable streams in this complex ecosystem.

Averages are easy enough to come by—a new academic study in the Journal of Health Economics says it takes about $2.6 billion in R&D investment per new medicine launched. Calculating a precise number for an individual product is quite another matter. Consider Lilly’s investment of billions of dollars in R&D related to Alzheimer’s disease over the last quarter century. Since there are several candidates in our pipeline that emerged from past work, to which future product and in what proportion should these costs be allocated? And to what end?

The key insight is beyond dispute. Developing medicines is risky, expensive and time-consuming, and everyone would be better off if it were less so. Rather than meaningless disclosure mandates, policy efforts instead should encourage whatever can be done, without compromising patient safety, to shave precious weeks off development and regulatory-approval timelines."

For the rest of this article and comments to it, see:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

All Gold

Elihu Genmyo Smith
Zazen is experiencing life – what we like, what we do not like, what feels good, what is painful, what is “ours” or “not-ours”, what “should be” or “should-not-be”. At times this is most difficult, uncomfortable and painful because of how strongly we hold to and believe or reject and despise circumstances, hold to what we like, what we do not like, what feels good, what is painful, what is “ours” or “not-ours”, what “should be” or “should-not-be”.

Ongoing zazen, ongoing zazen practice in the many forms of our life, enables and supports experiencing this life openness right now, being the emptiness of myriad forms, this always so manifesting right now in standing, sitting, talking, working, sadness, happiness, gain, loss, pain, fear.

An analogy we can use to help in ongoing practice is seeing the many forms and functioning of our life as all forms of gold – compassionate actions is gold, angry speech is gold, sickness gold, energetic strength gold, fear is gold, joy is gold. My teacher Maezumi Roshi said his teacher Yasuatni Roshi used this analogy as a way to speak of Prajna wisdom, a way to speak of emptiness that is the truth of our life. Of course, speaking of this is not the same as being this, living this.

Zazen is experiencing, is sitting still upright in the midst of experiencing as is, openness as this ongoing changing body-mind-universe manifesting in many forms and conditions.
Our habit often is to react to arising circumstance, inside outside this moment, with seemingly natural like-dislike, physically and mentally reacting, going towards or against, adding on or judging. We may refuse to accept, much less embrace, and be this intimacy life moment.

In zazen we suspend activity out of reactive habits, release this reactive habit when it arises and/or notice this, experiencing this, being arising-passing, using what supports us in sitting this open experiencing, open responding.

This opening-to is physical, mental, emotional and any of the many other ways we particularly function. This is upright stillness, whether in formal sitting or in the many forms of our daily life, standing, lying down and so forth – and is supported by the forms of daily life ongoing practice. This is ours to be, ongoing practice of many forms.

Our zazen is discovering and letting go of the particular habitual body-mind chatter reaction when we cannot accept this moment, refuse to be/do right now– enabling us to awaken right now, to be awake right now, manifesting wisdom prajna gold of life right now.

Letting go of any wisdom prajna gold, we are all together just here – there is no gold, there is no gold separate from form, there is no form separate from gold; emptiness is exactly form, form is exactly emptiness; emptiness exactly emptiness, gold exactly gold, form exactly form. Gold is ordinary, nothing special. Forgetting is manifesting this moment here.

Master Dogen says, “Mind itself is Buddha” and he says “one mind is all things, all things are one mind” (Sokushin Zebutsu).

Master Dogen also quotes the following dialogue between Masters Yangshan and Guishan – “What is wondrous clear mind? “It is mountains, rivers and the earth, it is the sun, moon and stars.”

So I say, exactly your life this moment; please take good care of this.

© 2016 Elihu Genmyo Smith


Elihu Genmyo Smith
Everyone you meet is entrusting their life to you. Everything you meet is entrusting their life to you. Every circumstance of myriad beings is entrusting life to you.

This is the neighbor you greet in the morning, the tree you walk by, your breakfast, others on the crowded bus and the phone call at work.

Everyone you meet is entrusting their Buddhahood to you. Everything you meet is entrusting Buddhahood to you. Every circumstance of myriad beings is entrusting Buddha Dharma to you. 

They need not know of this entrusting nor acknowledge this entrusting. And it is up to you to respond appropriately to this meeting, to the Buddha you meet, to the myriad moment circumstance Dharma you live, independent of what you “know”, of what they “know”, independent of what you they do not know.

And you are entrusting them, each them you meet, entrusting them with your life, entrusting them with your Buddhahood, with Buddha Dharma.

Your life is this moment, this response; your manifesting ongoing change is this response.

Of course, there is no Buddhahood, not yours, not anyone else’s, not anything else’s. So we speak of Buddhahood, speak of Buddha Dharma. This, right here now, not-two. Your life right here is the Dharma, your life right here is the life of Buddha.

Your response is what is so, your response reveals and liberates this moment, reveals for you and for all others. This is fulfilling vows of liberating all beings, liberating all Buddhas - whether “knowing” this or not, whether you, they, “know” this or not.

What determines this moment is your response, experiencing, doing, non-doing, your ongoing practice life. The actions or knowing of others is not the determinant of this moment, of this practice response. Neither is your “knowing” the determinant of this practice response – “knowing”, figuring out, understanding, at times these blind and hinder us. What is needed is present moment functioning, present moment experiencing, the skillful and appropriate practice response.

Please do not hold to beliefs that experiencing is inside or outside, do not believe experiencing is mine or another’s. Do you believe otherwise? If so, please notice this.

What are you to do? Your everyday activities, your everyday openness, is this opportunity, your opportunity; washing your face, cleaning dirty dishes, listening and responding to a friend, driving in crowded traffic with those who speed, with those cutting in and out. You are entrusting them, giving self away to them, forgetting self, being awakened by them, by this particular moment.

What about those you do not like, with what is uncomfortable or troublesome circumstances, much less painful? How is this at meetings with colleagues who vehemently disagree with you? It is easy to be open with friends and relatives who are loving, kind and generous, though even here we are often not present, are self-absorbed, so that we miss this moment, this entrusting. Are you holding “past” in the present, blinding this moment? Look. Does holding blind you? Are your expectations driving you right now to miss this moment? These are your practice friends when you notice.

How is it with friends, relatives, when they are boorish or inconsiderate? When they are demanding or annoying? With offensive events, when fearful or even appalled? These too are entrusting this life moment, this Buddhahood, to us, whether they know this or not, whether we know this or not. What is your response? Not in some stereotypical way but as called for right now - this is your wholehearted life.

The Lotus Sutra chapter 20 is about the “Never Disrespectful Bodhisattva” who acknowledged and bowed to everyone he met, saying “I will never disrespect you, you are all to become Buddha.” Some hated this and attacked him verbally or physically. Even as “Never Disrespectful Bodhisattva” retreats, runs from them and their attacks, he bows and says “I will never disrespect you… you are all to become Buddha.”

Please understand this genuinely, not as some fantasy, some nicey-nice rules of how we should be, much less rules or ideas we wish to impose on others. If we impose rules or ideas on others or our self we may become angry or worse when they, or we, do not meet expectations.

What is “never disrespectful?”

What is responding right now, being open? What is the genuine responding of “never disrespectful?”

Being this moment as is is this life, this opportunity right now. What is acknowledging and nurturing this moment ongoing change, this Buddha Nature? Opportunity is moment, moment.

For you, as your ongoing life practice, what nurtures and supports experiencing your-our-life? What does advancing myriad circumstances call for?

Please reflect on this, let this be the base of life, of your functioning, especially when you are disturbed by circumstances, caught-up in reactive habits.

This experiencing, this noticing, this responding, grows naturally out of ongoing practice, manifests naturally ongoing zazen in myriad forms. This is our opportunity. And we must make our efforts.

What nurtures forgetting self, giving self away? Look closely. In this circumstance moment, what is entrusting your life, entrusting Buddha Dharma, entrusting the Buddhahood of the whole universe to this moment, to experiencing-responding?

Entrusting is forgetting self, awakening by myriad dharmas, being confirmed in manifesting myriad dharmas.

In your life today, what is the functioning myriad dharmas? What is not-two here? What is not-knowing now? Please reflect upon this, please live this. Taste and experience your life right now.

Yours is able-being-response, yours is response – ability.

© 2016 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials? Is this a lens through which we should evaluate for whom we vote?

Below is an interesting recent article regarding a topic which I have written about before, the tyranny of administrative officials who are not elected by the people and seem to operate without any or with limited legislative statute to impose their will upon the public.

"Philip Hamburger—a Columbia law professor and author of the 2015 book “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?”—defines the administrative state as the substitution of regulatory edicts for laws passed by the people’s elected representatives. In the American iteration, at least, this often means the same federal agency that writes the rules also enforces and adjudicates them—a confluence of powers Madison once called the “very definition of tyranny.

Mr. Hamburger maintains that the threat of the administrative state is nothing new, notwithstanding the assumption of some conservatives who would date it to the progressive theories of Woodrow Wilson or the rise of the New Deal. By contrast, Mr. Hamburger says the Founders well understood this threat, familiar as they were with English constitutional history and the centuries-long struggle to limit the extralegal prerogatives of kings (Star Chambers anyone?).

Here are a few instances from recent years:

• In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the IRS targets groups regarded as enemies of the president—pro-Israel, pro-life, pro-tea-party, etc. When this became public, its officials, including the new IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, make clear their contempt for congressional panels trying to investigate.

• In a frontal assault on religious liberty, the Department of Health and Human Services issues a mandate that would force the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic nuns who run homes for the elderly poor, to offer their employees contraceptives the sisters regard as a violation of their faith. They are threatened with fines of $100 per employee per day if they refuse, which adds up to $70 million a year—equal to about a third of their operating budget.

• Andy Johnson builds a pond on his Wyoming property to provide water for his horses and cattle after securing all the required local and state permits. The Environmental Protection Agency steps in and accuses him of violating the Clean Water Act (even though he in fact has created a wetlands) and orders him to undo what he’d done—or face fines of $37,500 per day. As Mr. Johnson fights, he has racked up accumulated fines of $20 million."

The question becomes, is this an area in which we should evaluate our candidates for public office? Especially our Presidential candidates? The article explores this at length:

Noting that this article is published on the Ides of March, the day associated with purported end of Roman democracy through the assassination of Julius Caesar, the comment section for this article shows the strength of conviction and partisanship around this issue.

Dharma Talks - March 2016 Sesshin

Opening Remarks 3/10/16

Non-Thinking 3/11/16

Protected, Unprotected  3/12/16

Shosan/Dharma Dialogue/Dharma Combat 3/13/16

Friday, March 4, 2016

Zazen - A Dharma Talk 3/6/16

Gold - A Dharma Talk 2/28/16

Faith in Practice

One area of Dharma practice that is often difficult for many is faith; especially faith in Buddha Dharma, in the Teachings and practice of Buddha and Ancestors, as well as faith as a fundamental aspect of taking refuge. I have addressed this in a number of places, including in several chapters of my book Everything is the Way.

Below is an interesting and insightful discussion of faith in science and how this is analogous to faith in practice traditions and religions; though the religious analogy used is primarily from a Christian tradition it is relevant to many traditions.

"The fundamental choice is not whether humans will have faith, but rather what the objects of their faith will be, and how far and into what dimensions this faith will extend.

When the scientists searching for gravitational waves set up the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, to detect the waves, they did so believing that Einstein’s mathematics would be reliable and that deep space would respond as their calculations had forecast. And they kept up this faith even when by 2010 and a decade into the experiment, they still saw no confirmation. Such persistence nicely invokes the spirit of the biblical epistle to the Hebrews: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

But just as faith is indispensable to science, so is reason essential to religion. Many find themselves relating to God in a way analogous to the scientists searching for gravitational waves. These seekers of religious truth are persuaded by preliminary evidence and compelled by the testimony of those who have previously studied the matter; they are striving for a personal encounter with the realities so often talked about, yet so mysterious.

In such a context, it isn’t blind belief that fuels the search, any more than scientists blindly pursued the implications of Einstein’s theory. Rather, it’s a belief informed by credible reasons, nurtured by patient trust, open to revision."

For the rest of this article see:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Relieving suffering among Syrian refugees, and one-by-one nurturing peace - some ask is this type of practice activity a worthwhile enterprise? Here is an article in a larger series that asks the question, is this sort of serving activity "Like Advil For Cancer ... Does it matter?" Or more specifically, "is (it), at the end of the day, adding to the hideous total of suffering in Syria: Western governments are providing political and diplomatic cover to the Syrian regime and its allies, while at the same time they piously offer aspirin and tents to the refugees fleeing the carnage that they are sponsoring?"

A report from the front lines of the Syrian refugees and others in southern Europe:

"...The patient sat on a gray plastic chair and tried to warm himself by placing a heating bag on his stomach. He said he is 66 years old and that he comes from a ruined neighborhood of Damascus, the capital of Syria. His street was leveled by the Air Force of his own country. The bombs that fell on people’s houses, he said, were paid for with their tax money. “All these years we gave them our money, and we complained that no one knows what the government was doing with it. Now we finally found out,” he said with a wide grin. Hearing it the way he told it, I had no choice but to laugh.

The conversation took place at a small clinic—basically, a caravan 16 square meters large—in a transit camp for Syrian refugees escaping to Europe. The camp is located on the border between Serbia and Macedonia and is one of many stops on the refugees’ long journey to Western Europe. Two weeks ago, I published here at Tablet an article based on conversations with dozens of Syrian refugees I met at this camp, who described the horrors currently taking place in Syria. But the refugees weren’t the only people I met during my five-day visit to the place. I also got to spend time with the people who I’ve come to call “the painkillers”—doctors, nurses, social workers, aid workers, and others who come to places like this transit camp in order to offer help to those who’ve been betrayed by the entire world.

What they can offer doesn’t seem like much. As one aid worker told me, “What we’re doing is like giving Advil to a person with cancer.” In fact, some of the “painkillers” I met have come to the sad conclusion that what they’re doing is, at the end of the day, adding to the hideous total of suffering in Syria: Western governments are providing political and diplomatic cover to the Syrian regime and its allies, while at the same time they piously offer aspirin and tents to the refugees fleeing the carnage that they are sponsoring. It’s a cruel business, but when a nurse in the transit camp is standing in front of a mother who is asking for help because her baby is sick, the debate over “what are we really doing here?” seems secondary.

The man with the dark sense of humor, who laughed about his taxes, came to the clinic complaining about strong headaches, a bad cough, and outbursts of dizziness. The doctor who examined him said he had a fever and that the best thing for him would be to lie down for two days and get some rest. The transit camp includes a number of large, heated tents where refugees can stay for a night or two, but very few of them choose to do so: They want to keep going, toward Germany, always afraid that the borders will shut down because of political pressures. This is also what this man’s family wanted to do. The doctor, realizing there was no way to change his mind, said he would give him some pills for pain relief, and something for his cough.

While waiting for his medicine, the 66-year-old patient talked with a social worker present at the clinic. The conversation was in Arabic. They discussed his plans for a new life in Germany and how his grandchildren were coping with the difficult journey. At some point, he asked the social worker, a green-eyed woman in her early 30s, where she’s from. “You have a Jordanian accent,” he noted.

“I’m Arab ’48,” she replied, using a popular term in the Arab world for describing the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel—those who were left within the Hebrew state’s territory after the war of 1948. There was a moment of quiet, during which the old Syrian man realized the meaning of what he just heard: not only that the social worker, to whom he had opened his heart, was a citizen of an enemy country, but also that the doctor who treated him was an Israeli Jew. (“I suddenly understood what language the social worker and the doctor were speaking between themselves,” he later told me. “It sounded a bit like Arabic, but also very different.”) Then he told a story, which caught the social worker, as well as me, by complete surprise.

“My family is originally from Tuba,” he said, referring to a small Bedouin village in northern Israel, near the Sea of Galilee. “I was born in Syria, but as a child, I grew up hearing stories about our village, and the lands around it.” During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, the population of Tuba was split into two “camps”: Most of the residents decided to fight alongside the newborn state of Israel against its Arab enemies; but this man’s family, along with many others in the village, refused to do so and instead left to neighboring Syria. Now, 67 years later, he was here, at the clinic in a small town in southern Serbia, receiving treatment from Israelis.

“For many years, I thought that those who left the village did the right thing,” the man said. “The Arabs did suffer very badly in Israel. But today I think it was a mistake. After what has happened to us in Syria, I have no doubt. Those who stayed in Tuba made a smart decision.”

Here is the links to this article and the previous article in this series:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Serendipity leads to a new US Jet created as a student project!

U.S. Air Force Cadets Just Invented a Stealth Fighter


The 5GAT is blueprint for a target drone -- and possibly much more


U.S. Air Force Cadets Just Invented a Stealth Fighter

"In 2003, the U.S. Air Force (and Air Force Cadets) started a series of design studies to explore the concept of developing an aerial target aircraft with stealth capabilities.

But a funny thing happened on the way to building this target. It turns out that designing a full-scale fifth-generation target airplane is nearly the same thing as designing an actual fifth-generation fighter."

Just after I wrote of seemingly intractable conflicts in the world - A New Model For Dealing With Potential Problems and Resolving Conflict

"Tehran - The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, has dismissed Israel as a threat to the Islamic Republic, saying Tehran’s lack of recognition of the Jewish state renders its warnings as “empty threats.”

“We essentially do not see [Israel] as a state, therefore it’s not a threat to Iran,” London-based news outlet Al-Araby al-Jadeed quoted him as saying in an interview published Monday.

Salehi made the remarks in response to a question about his estimates on the chance of an Israeli-Iranian war in the wake of the nuclear deal reached last year."

Is this the solution for political problems in the Middle East?

It has not worked for peoples like the Yazidis and Christians in Iraq and Syria in dealing with threats and attacks by ISIS but maybe they were not firm enough in their denying recognition to the Islamic State?

I wonder how this would work in our life?

Could this be a March 1st version of an April Fools joke?