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The leaves need raking… car needs an oil change… but at least Twitter doubled its char. limit!

I’m a bit behind in realizing that Twitter implemented its controversial character limit change.

I have a bad cold to blame. Most of my household chores have been on hold while I’ve been trying to sleep off a nasty virus. It’s been a week so far. Seems that I’m coming around the bend and will be better in another week or so. When I get sick I really get sick.

Anyhow, this morning I guess I recovered enough to twig into the fact that I could add more commentary to my tweets. I really like this change. Expect to see more tweets with commentary right here! 280 characters (the new limit) is perfect imo.

When a student I liked writing footnotes most. Compacting info into tight spaces. 140 chars was just a bit too tight. 280 works for me! Here are some examples from browsing today’s news:

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EP Today – Fake News stories themselves are fake news

I’m glad that someone has, at least, partially addressed this. I haven’t been posting about “fake news” because I feel most of the stories, themselves, are superficial and misleading. That is… fake.

Why?

A little bit of history tells us that people have always been fibbing, omitting details and manipulating truth for personal gain and to avoid repercussions.

English: Portrait of Nero. Marble, Roman artwo...

Portrait of Nero. Marble, Roman artwork, 1st century CE. From the Augustan area on the Palatine Hill ( Wikipedia)

Remember when ancient Rome burnt down? The crazed and cruel Nero – whom many think was responsible for the blaze – blamed that on the early Christian community. Or how about when British PM Chamberlain signed a 1938 Munich peace treaty with Germany? Hitler clearly had no intention of honoring that.

More recently, have we forgotten Watergate or the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal?

“I am not a crook” – Richard. M. Nixon, 1973.

English: Former President Richard Nixon visits...

Former President Richard Nixon visits with President Bill Clinton in the family quarters of the White House, March 8, 1993. (Photo: Wikipedia) Birds of a feather?

“I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” – Bill Clinton, 1998.

Click for image source

For more examples, follow this link.

This notion that we’ve suddenly fallen into a postmodern age of false ideology and lies is a joke. It’s an insult to our intelligence. Lies are everywhere. They are in what is said and in what is not said. And it has always been that way.

What’s really alarming is that so many people buy into these fake news stories about “fake news.”

MC


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EP Today – Bad science, bad reporting or both?

Today’s Top Tweet points to a story that either represents bad science, bad reporting or, as often happens, an unfortunate mix of the two. Here’s a quote that stood out for me:

The man then removed the wires from his head before taking off and marching around the hospital trying to recruit followers, saying ‘God has sent me to you’, convinced his creator had singled him out to bring redemption to fellow patients and medical staff.¹

Image – Twitter

So one man who believes he’s on a “mission” represents all the spiritual people who have ever lived? Cummon. Give me a break. This is so idiotic and overly-generalized that I can’t believe it would make any kind of news story.

For centuries sincere seekers and spiritual directors have been making distinctions between insanity, spiritual deception and bona fide sainthood. It’s a fine line for sure. And sometimes potential saints may go through an initial, confused period where they appear borderline, insane or neurologically impaired. But to lump all forms of spiritual phenomena into one category – or even to suggest that they are all the same – is ludicrous.

¹ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4301306/Epilepsy-cause-religious-experiences.html#ixzz4bCyZK8up

 Trump’s Unhinged Tweetstorm (crooksandliars.com)

 Slowing down and intentionally pursue God (fromguestwriters.wordpress.com)

 There’s a gold statue of Kanye West as Jesus in Los Angeles now, and that seems right (mashable.com)

 True Glory (saintjameslutheran.com)


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Today’s Top Tweet – Corruption: Hiding the skunk at the garden party?

A study has recently come out about corruption around the world. There are a few factors that make me question it.

First, criminals usually don’t report their crimes. So things could be, and probably are, much worse than what we see. Only those insider deals, bribes (given and taken) that have been officially dealt with hit the radar.

Second, human bias is unavoidable and, third, corruption within the corruption indexing system, itself, is also possible.

For political and economic reasons, blind eyes could be turned toward home affairs while faraway countries are highlighted. This is called scapegoating. Scapegoating happens within small and large groups. It’s a pretty common human dynamic among people who can’t or don’t want to look at themselves honestly. Or among people who do know themselves fairly well but wish to mislead others for (perceived) personal gain.

The former are just ignorant. The latter, creeps.


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Sh**! I think it’s time for the Guru

Please listen to this. I discovered it in the mid-90s. Guru is in the other world now but his song lives on. More relevant today than ever.


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Today’s Top Tweet – RT (Russian Television)… life after the zombie apocalypse?

We get RT through our cable package. Every now and then it’s fun to watch. You get a totally – and I mean totally – different slant on the news. Coverage of Europe seems a bit better than the major American and Canadian networks. But what really struck me last night was the coverage of the US.

With an almost obsessive focus on the States, RT showed clips of a seemingly harmless group of anarchist protesters being clubbed by American police in LA. In this case, I don’t think the video was lying. But I’m not sure if it was the 1992 riot or something more recent.

Members of the Toronto Police Force

Members of the Toronto Police Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scenes reminded me of a time, a few years back, when people questioned whether Toronto police were too heavy-handed during a G20 protest.

If a news network were to repeat a few choice clips of that Toronto event, it could make Canada look like, well, the Russian front!

But the point is, on the whole our cops are pretty decent people who do a good job, and a very difficult and dangerous job to boot. And I suspect it’s the same in the US.

Sadly, the veneer of civilization is pretty thin. This was painfully evident during a Toronto blackout a few years ago.

Before long people began to vandalize and rob. I began to feel scared. Would the downtown mobs reach my North Toronto neighborhood? A nearby bus shelter was trashed, shattered glass everywhere. They got close.

English: Plainclothes Officers -- circa 1919

Plainclothes Officers — circa 1919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even in our enlightened age, it seems that life without cops would quickly revert to jungle life.

But I digress.

To return to RT, except for a story about apparently innocent athletes tested for drugs, I also noticed a dearth of news about Russia, itself. Always this obsessive attention to other countries. And the anchors, forgive me for saying, look like they are slightly doped. Say the wrong thing and God knows what happens to them. Even Larry King, whom I used to admire, has a show on RT. I’m not sure what’s worse. That, or his cheesy paid for TV interview/ads.

Speaking of ads, I didn’t see any on RT. Just lots of filler between news stories. Promos for RT.

By way of contrast, CNN’s Carol Costello seems so alive this morning and certainly NOT drugged. A real personality. I wonder what it is about Russians and their history that has lead to these dull, controlled mouthpieces we see on their news? Whatever happened to Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky? Clearly not all Russians seem like they’re auditioning for a zombie flick.

Why don’t the people stand up?


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Muslims Have Many Allies Against Hate Crimes

Image via Wikipedia - Click for fullsize

Image via Wikipedia – Click for fullsize

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Muslims in the USA rose in 2015 to their highest levels since the aftermath of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. In 2015, there were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 incidents in 2014, an increase of 67%.

The total is second only to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes following the 9/11/01 terror attacks, when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported. Fortunately, Muslims have many allies in the Anti-Hate Crime fight.

Scapegoating (blaming innocent minorities for widespread discontent and anxieties within the majority population) is wide spread in the USA so there are many different groups of people who are victims of hate crimes; which are not just directed against Muslims.

Attacks against LGBT, immigrants, blacks, women and Jews have also increased.

Jews have a very long history of being scapegoated for the ills of various European states, and are especially aware of the danger of scapegoating as an ill-conceived way of solving problems in the general society.

Thank God the anti-haters are now getting aroused, and that Jews are well represented among those opposing the attempt to scapegoat all Muslims for the sins of a very violent politicized few.

Although hate crimes against Muslims rose by 67%, in actual numbers, the 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias were less than 5% of the total 5,850 reported hate crimes, and just under 22 percent of the 1,402 anti-religious hate crimes.

Of the 5,850 reported hate crimes in 2015:
59.2 percent of all victims were targeted because of bias against race or ethnicity;
19.7 percent were victimized because of bias against religion; and
17.7 percent were targeted because of bias against sexual orientation.

There are lots of hate filled individuals in America; and they have lots of different groups that they can hate. Often they hate several different scapegoats.

Of the 1,402 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:
52.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
21.9 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
4.3 percent were victims of anti-Roman Catholic bias.
3.6 percent were victims of anti-Eastern Orthodox Christian bias.
3.4 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.

Religious-based hate crimes increased by 23% from 2014 to 2015. Many people expect that hate crime incidents for 2016 will rise by at least 1-3,000.

On the other hand, the Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, saw a 50-fold increase in online donations on the day after the election.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and outreach group, gained more than 500 volunteers in the two days after the election.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which supports women’s reproductive rights, received donations from nearly 200,000 people in the week after the election, about 40 times more than in a typical week, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which defends the civil rights of individuals, said on Monday it had received more than $7 million from about 120,000 donations over the five days after the election. During the same period after the 2012 election, the group collected less than $28,000 from 354 donations.

And George Soros says he will commit $10 million from his personal foundation to combat the rise in hate crimes. Mr. Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and an immigrant originally from Hungary, said he was “deeply troubled” by hundreds of reports of possible hate crimes since the election — including many Nazi swastikas spray-painted on cars and buildings.

And going well beyond the norm, the Jewish head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-bigotry group, has vowed to register as a Muslim if the USA creates a database of Muslim Americans. The idea of a Muslim database arose in November 2015, when Mr Trump told a reporter he would “certainly implement that. Absolutely”.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said: “If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim”.

Let us all follow the example of Jonathan Greenblatt, and the words of Pope Francis who delivered a ringing plea to the world and his own Catholic Church to reject “the virus of polarization and animosity” and the growing temptation to “demonize” those who are different.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: www.rabbimaller.com