I've learned something important this week - and I've also answered a question for myself that many friends have been asking me: how do you find the time to write your newsletter every week?
What I have learned is: You can't write a newsletter like this and stay stupid! People WILL get in your face and tell you what THEY think. And then YOU have to think harder. Deeper. Research more thoroughly. As the blues singer, BBQ Bob used to say, 'You gots to know your onions.'
I have received a lot of flak this week from last week's 'Red Cross Alert' posting, and argument, to a lesser degree, about the tearing down the Israel wall article. I will admit, I am a little educationally undernourished about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as I'm sure many others are, so I took this as an opportunity to look into it more deeply. I'll supply some links below for anyone else who wants to understand more about this difficult part of the world.
Here are a few of the slings and arrows I got about the Red Cross: Needles in Movie Theatre Seats alert:
Thanks for your newsletter. Re: the Hidden Needles legends. All of these are fake. See the information from the Center for Disease Control concerning these messages and the risks of "needle stick" injuries. Example:
"For your information, a couple of weeks ago, in a Dallas movie theater, a person sat on something sharp in one of the seats. When she stood up to see what it was, a needle was found poking through the seat with an attached note saying, "you have been infected with HIV". regards, Steve Reinthal
Dear Joe, shame on you! I humbly request that you immediately issue a retraction of the hoary old HIV needle hoax published in your newsletter. Unfortunately we cannot assume something is for real just because it sounds reputable! (If you call the phone number on the email you'll get the idea!) . . .I know I'm banging on about it but I'm on a crusade, on behalf of people like ourselves who try to use the power of words and emails for good, not evil! I think the part that really burns me up is that someone, somewhere (obviously not yourself or the person who sent it to you) deliberately altered those details to Melbourne and Australia and the Red Cross Blood Service, knowing full well that genuine altruistic people and organisations were going to have to waste their time dealing with it as a result. It's like going around ripping the last page out of library books or nicking the money from charity lolly boxes - a low act and one which I feel obliged to try to thwart wherever possible. So like I said let me know if I can be an e-researcher to assist in these situations. Other than all that, loved the recipe, and everything else, esp. the fact that Dubya and John Kerry are relatives!! Kind regards, Justine Stewart
this is a hoax that's widespread and has been going around for year - it's even been discussed on the ABC's 774 John Faine morning program - they talked about the poor red cross employee whose contact details were used, and how he knows nothing about it and has been deluged with calls and emails. Probably not a good idea to perpetuate this sort of thing by emailing to your list. Visit www.redcross.org.au to see the scam warning they've published on their site in response to this. This sort of 'warning' email tends to be dreamed up by people without much to do who like the idea that their words are spreading amongst and influencing lots of people - gives the poor souls a feeling of importance. Think about it - if there was any credence to these 'warnings', wouldn't all those vulture-like media outlets like 'A Current Affair' be all over the story? happy for you to publish this if you like - I'm tired of receiving this sort of schlup from well-meaning friends. cheers, Liz Van Dort
I received your concerned note re: this horrible area with some wariness being also a company that must uphold public safety which has experienced needles in car parks etc and put in policy to handle this. There is little possibility a large movie company would permit the possibility of this occurring as the liability to them would be enormous for failing to prevent it. I rang the number provided which has a recorded message telling you that it is a horrible hoax. But thank you for your concern. cheers, Sam
Love your e-mails, BUT you should check out some of your stories that you forward first.
Joe, Did you really get that warning from the Red Cross? Aren't you just a little bit wary of any email that says "pass this along to all your friends"? james
Like the bloke in foreign climes I too don't know how you end up with me on your mailing list, but that is ok - keep it there. Re: the Red Cross thing: This is one of those little heaps of alarmist bullsh*t that is a hoax. ( . . .I said 'alarmist' cos it is - I don't know that anyone has ever been HIV +ve from a needle stick in this situation anywhere in the world. You have to work really hard to get HIV. I used to be married to an immunologist who did AIDS research....) How scary for those people in the Westies who would rather get a video that go to the pictures.... Reach over and give Jim T. a slap. Jasmine
(Note: Jasmine, I think Jim, like myself, was merely trying to do the right thing. And he gave himself a slap for you. Here's his reply once I alerted him: "Joe, I didn't have a clue.....I only got it the day I sent it to you. Sorry for the inconvenience.....I do a bit of digging next time I get anything like that before I pass it on. Sincerely, Jim.)
WHEW! And that's only a sample. It's not the first time I've stepped in it and it won't be the last! My newsletter policy - which I've stated before - is to pass around 'urgent' items - ones that could involve children or other innocents - being hurt TODAY, rather than spend hours trying to track down whether they are hoaxs TOMORROW. If they're hoaxes, I find out quickly from people like you and I ADMIT I'M WRONG! - in any event, some consciousness is raised about something people normally take for granted so no real harm is done. Sorry but that's my approach to these things as there aren't enough hours in the day to research everything - after all, someone sent it to me, and I printed it out and gave it to my family - and I'm not angry I was hoaxed. Better to be alert, I say. (I mean, are you planning on sitting down in a movie theatre seat now without checking first?)
But despite all the criticism, there is still a solid foundation for this hoax and after hours of searching, I finally found it:
"For your information, a couple of weeks ago, in a Washngton, DC, movie theater, playing Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 911,' a Democrat sat on something sharp sticking out of her seat. When she stood up to see what it was, a chopstick was found poking through the seat with an attached note saying, "You have been infected with H.I.V. (Hokum Iraqi Visions)." The C.R.C. (Center for Republican Control) in Texas reports similar events have taken place in several other cities recently. All of the chopsticks tested HAVE been found negative (or is it positive? I can never remember which is which with hospital reports). The CRC also reports that infected knitting and record player needles have been found in XXX-tra large condoms (I've thrown all mine out - wink wink nudge nudge, say no more!), contact lens receptacles, hearing aid boxes and imbedded surgically in pacemakers made before 1930. Everyone is asked to wear Michael Jackon-style facemasks and use extreme caution when confronted with these types of situations. Clean drinking straws should be used whenever possible in urinals. All toilet paper should be thoroughly but safely inspected prior to repeat useage. A thorough visual inspection is considered the bare minimum, especially when shaving your back. Further more, they ask that everyone notify their living family members, conduct exhumations of deceased family members, email your naive friends, including everyone on any NEWSLETTER LISTS (wink wink nudge nudge, say no more!) of the potential dangers. Thank you. Yours insincerely, the Ayotollah George Q. Bush, chief Mullah and prayer rug counter for 'The Sound of The One Chop-Sticking Hillbilly Mosque, Lonesome Dove, Texas. (Y'Allah come back now, heah?)
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION BUZZ
Here are the texts of two powerful speeches from this month's convention. Very creative writing and although they read well on the page, I encourage those of you who lament the loss of eloquence, vision and language in politics today - and public speakers who really can SPEAK - to find and view the live videos of these speeches on the internet to get the full electrifying effect.
President Bill Clinton's Speech Text
Senator Barack Obama's
In Praise of Unruly Women
Teresa Heinz Kerry is a breath of fresh air,
so why are the media choking on it? Almost every story about her
these days includes at least one snarky remark - usually attacking
her for her refusal to endlessly regurgitate the same preapproved
talking points. According to the chattering class, Heinz Kerry
is - and I quote - "too outspoken," "too opinionated,"
"slightly zany," "eccentric and unpredictable,"
"the queen of direct" and - cover your ears, kids -
"says what she thinks, when she thinks it." In other
words, she's an unconventional straight shooter. The horror!
(thanks to John Jacobs)
The painting was very Escher-like, as if Escher had painted an exact copy of an Escher painting.
Security Barriers, Apartheid Walls and Annexation Fences
Below are some sources for further reading on the differing points of view in the Israel-Palestine dispute, sources that I will be frequenting along with you, as I am attempting to fathom what is actually going on over there as well. And, whenever I see something that obviously sticks out as ' hey! now that's just plain stupid,' I'll let you know. Obviously both sides have valid arguments, but, as usual, for every wise thing someone says, they usually follow it with something so absurd as to render the previous wisdom null and void. So if nothing else, let's try to separate the wheat from some of the chaff.
Archeological records indicate that the Jewish people evolved out of native Cana'anite peoples and invading tribes. Some time between about 1800 and 1500 B.C., it is thought that a Semitic people called Hebrews (hapiru) left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan. Canaan was settled by different tribes including Semitic peoples, Hittites, and later Philistines (the root of the word Palestine), who were peoples of the sea who are thought to have arrived from Mycenae, or to be part of the ancient Greek peoples that also settled Mycenae.
Before the state of Israel was founded, however, the Jews and Arabs alike who lived in the region were ALL called Palestinians. The newspaper was the "Palestine Bulletin" and later the "Palestine Post" before becoming today's "Jerusalem Post", the Jewish-founded electric company was "Palestine Electric," and so on.)
Here is a SITE which give a historical timeline and synopsis of the
area from 1194 BCE to the Present.
to help understand the changing shape of the territories from
ancient times to present.
Moving right along . . . .
"One day in the future, the nations of the world will turn to the Jewish people and declare, "You are thieves! You have stolen the land of Israel from non-Jewish tribes." What ought to be the appropriate Jewish response? To answer this question, the Bible commences its text with the story of creation of the universe, this in order to grant the Jew the best and truest answer to the accusation that he is a bandit. The entire universe, the Bible is saying, belongs to God. He created it. Every piece of land belongs to Him, and He chose to give the Land of Israel to the Jewish people." Rashi (Rabbi Solomon Yitzchaki) 11th Century Jewish Sage
Ok. Ok. But even with the 'Bible' alone, there are at least three Bibles: The Jewish Bible, The Christian Bible and the Mormon Bible. (And an infinite number of canons.) While God was CHOOSING to give some land to the Jewish people, did he also CHOOSE some for the Christians and the Mormons? i.e. Does Utah now belong to the Mormons by Divine Right? "Yea! And ye shalt goeth unto Utah and have many wives, and sing in a big arse choir. And, by the way, I might as well CHOOSE to give you the land." Lost Book of Mormon, Realeth Estateth I, 3-12 "
The Texan Soon-To-Be-Previously-Known-as-the-President, or The One-AFTER-The-Last Prophet
Jesus, Jihadis, and the Red-State Blues
By Steve Weissman
" Having followed his "higher Father" into a faith-based war in Iraq, the poor Prophet Bush now casts his eye across the Euphrates, waiting for Revelation and listening to Iranian expatriates, some of whom work with the shadowy spies of Gen. Sharon. Ah, Babylon. We are, it would seem, approaching the End Time, for which millions of American Christians fervently pray. The Israelites have rebuilt their kingdom, as prophesized, and Jesus will soon return to earth, where He will raise his believers bodily into the heavens in what they call the Rapture. That is the good news.
The bad, at least to me, is that two-thirds of the Hebrews - having rejected Christ again - must perish in their Great Tribulation. Satan the Anti-Christ, Armageddon, and eternal damnation to follow. Scoff at your peril. Apparently, our president doth not. Nor do his fundamentalist mentors, from the Rev. Billy Graham and son Franklin to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and a host of others, all Christian Zionists and staunch supporters of the Jewish State. Now we see the hot times they have in mind for Jews." (ARTICLE)
Who makes the Laws? Who's making the Rules? Whose God is giving this Divine Sanction for residence?
According to Aboriginal Dreaming, Australia belongs to the Aboriginal people, and every non-aboriginal person here is trespassing. It was taken from them by force. By white people who wanted to bring the Good News of the Real Heaven, not the fake Dreamtime Heaven the aboriginals believe in. And the Real White God said, "I giveth this dusty unkempt land, which thee shalt calleth Australia, to thee and thine. Go forth and multiply and bring forth vegemiteth and shrimpeth." Book of Whiteness, chapter and verse, yadda yadda 2-15
And Lo, it came to past.
If we could make amendments to the Bible, there would be an actual amendment that said that. But we're not that stupid to amend the original Word-of-God Bible, are we? - except for the Christians and the Mormons, that is.
Aboriginal-Australian songwriter Kev Carmody singeth:
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
"They taught us: Oh Oh Black woman, thou
shalt not steal,
Oh Oh Black man thou, shalt not steal
We're gonna civilize Your Black barbaric lives and teach you how to kneel
But your history couldn't hide the genocide, the hypocrisy to us was real,
'cause even your Jesus said you're supposed to give the oppressed a better deal
We say to you, yes, whiteman, thou shalt not steal . . . "
Also, remember America really belongs to the Native Americans, bestowed upon them by the Great Spirit and every non-Native American living there, even today, is trespassing. Once again, taken by force (and some beads.) Bringing the Real White God to a bunch of red-skinned heathens, who had no civilised concept of property values or monetary exchange (these are much like many of the arguments being levelled against the Palestinians) They weren't doing anything with the land. Weren't growing any 'taters. Just letting the buffalo sh*t all over the place. So we cleaned it up. Planted stuff. String beans. Strip mines. Strip malls. Strip joints. 'America, the beautiful, God shed his grace on thee.' God sheds where He will, it seems.
Yashiko Sagamori, a spokesman for the National Unity Coalition for Israel, asks:
"If you are so sure that Palestine, the
country, goes back through most of recorded history, I expect
you to be able to answer a few basic questions about this country
"When was it founded and by whom?
What were its borders?
What was its capital?
What were its major cities?
What constituted the basis of its economy?
What was its form of government?
Was Palestine ever recognised by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
What was the language of the country of Palestine?
What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?
What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?"
Now I ask every Australian to apply this argument to the Aboriginal culture and every US citizen to the Native American culture. (i.e. was a squaw a legal unit of exchange?)
Who makes the Laws? Who's making the Rules? Whose God is giving Divine Sanction for residence?
The basic thing to challenge - and I mean CHALLENGE - is the concept of a 'chosen people on a chosen land'. Holy Mackel, dere, Kingfish, I has done circumanbulated this matter in a previous newsletter, but to re-idiot:
When any people claim that their GOD has singled them out to reside on one piece of land, let's just call this for what it is: a political power trip using religion to mask theft - pure and simple.
No one is entitled to any specific piece of land by divine right. NO ONE! Every native people, going back pre-history (and pre-real estate records,) believe and justify that their God meant them to live on the land they are on - from the Native Americans, to the Aboriginals, to the Jews.
In truth, DIVINE RIGHT, ( if there ever could be such a thing) to reside on all the land of this planet belongs to everyone who is born, who has been born and who will ever be born. Not to mention all other living creatures. And probably rocks have rights too. (Some day we'll understand what they are but let's just assume that they do, ok? )
Any Great Religious Book that says otherwise is simply incorrect, mistranslated, had a political agenda, the prophet who heard it was inebriated on the holy sacramental wine at the time of his vision, or that part just got left out.
Think about it.
You can only fit so many people on one piece of land. Then, if you keep expanding your extended family, you have to get some more land from somewhere else, don't you? What if no one wants to give you any? Then, what you do, historically, is take it from them, by deals, hook or crook, or, ultimately, violence. Then you put up a big fence, a big wall, a big fort, (or a Big Amendment) and stick big General Jack Nicholson up there yelling, 'You can't HANDLE the TRUTH.'
Former US State Department Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel, who later headed the International Court of Justice in the Hague, wrote in 1970 regarding Israel's case:
"Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defence has, against that prior holder, better title."
But who's making the laws? Whose making the rules? Whose God is giving Divine Sanction for residence?
" It seems to me that God does not give any one portion of the earth away, so that the owner may say, as God says in the Bible: "For all the earth is Mine" (Exodus 19:5). The conquered land is, in my opinion, only LENT even to the conqueror who has settled on it - and God waits to see what he will make of it." Martin Buber's Open Letter to Gandhi Regarding Palestine (ARTICLE)
The key word here is LENT.
God is waiting . . .
David Gollust, journalist for Voice of America, high school friend of mine, (we played on the legendary 'Singing Nuns' basketball team together), who is also Jewish-American, recently travelled with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East. He told me recently he believes the 'Security Fence' has substantially reduced suicide attacks, no question - but also says it should have followed the Green Line, the pre-1967 border.
" According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because of the security fence, there has been a 90% reduction in the number of terrorist attacks and a 70% reduction in the number of civilians killed as a result of terrorists attacks." SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE
Which is wonderful - BUT:
Israel expands West Bank settlements
Aerial photos reveal extent of land grab, say peace groups
Chris McGreal, The Guardian
Months after Ariel Sharon announced his dramatic plan to pull Jewish settlers out of Gaza, portraying it as a sacrifice for peace, the government is grabbing more land for West Bank settlements. (ARTICLE)
Yet and still, God waits . . .
Jewish Settlers Begin Compensation Talks;
Palestinians Realign Security Services
ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel
has started compensation talks with Jewish settlers ready to leave
the West Bank and Gaza Strip, their lawyer said Wednesday, as
part of an evacuation plan that has fuelled a Palestinian power
And God is waiting . . .
In Melbourne -
HANAN ASHRAWI - 2003 Peace Prize
Never was a peace prize so richly deserved after having been so viciously challenged by those who could not bear to see a Palestinian join the ranks of Sydney Peace Prize recipients. But join them Hanan Ashrawi did with all the dignity befitting a woman of extraordinary talents and achievements. (ARTICLE)
(Women for Palestine is a network of Australian women who stand for non-violence and human rights in the Holy Land.)
An Exhibiton of works by Dr Ali El-Ghul, Dora McPhee and Rusty Stewart, presented by Women For Palestine and The Australian Arabic Council.
Melbourne Town Hall
Aug 24-29th, 12-6 pm daily
Well, that's a lot to read. Even to re-read,
so I'll pause here. Any feedback, of course is always welcome.
Good luck . . . to us all. Peace.
Big Humorous Close
Greeting Cards You'll Never See
"Congratulations on your wedding day! Too bad no one likes your wife."
"Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go, would you like to take this knife out of my back? You'll probably need it again.
"Happy Birthday! You look great for your age. Almost life like!"
"I'm so miserable without you, it's almost like you're here."
"Your friends and I wanted to do something
special for your birthday - so we're having you put to sleep."
Ragu Con La Capra
(Penne with 'My Pet Goat' Middle-Eastern Style Bolonaise Sauce)
This is a variation of a sauce I adapted from watching Stefano de Pieri's cooking show, 'Gondola on the Murray.' The best thing about the way Stefano cooks is that you don't have to write anything down. The recipes are easy to remember. It's a simple but unique middle-eastern twist to the traditional bolonaise sauce, using cumin and cinammon.
1 litre tomato puree
1/2 onion, minced chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1/2 red chili, seeds removed and chopped finely
1 kg minced goat (or beef or beef/pork mince)
2-3 tbles cumin seeds, ground to powder in mortal & pestle
1 cinammon stick, whole
salt & pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil and fry the onions. Add the minced beef/pork and cook through. Add the cumin powder, black pepper, red chili and garlic. Cook for a couple minutes. Add the tomato puree and the cinammon stick. (A tablespoon of sugar wouldn't hurt.) Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for one hour. Add a little water if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste.