‘The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one’

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Frisk writes at The Independent:

Uri Avnery is without doubt the most intellectual, philosophical, prescient leftist Israeli seer I have ever met. Like TS Eliot, he has a habit of using the fewest words to tell the greatest truth. Every essay he writes, this reader always says the same thing: Exactly! Yet, for the first time in 40 years, I disagree with the great man.

He has just suggested that Benjamin Netanyahu’s agreement to address the US Congress at the invitation of Republicans tomorrow– two weeks before an Israeli general election – and Barack Obama’s decision not to see the old rogue, has destroyed Israel’s bipartisan support in America. For the first time, says Uri, Democratic politicians are allowed to criticise Israel.

Absolute Tosh.

Congressmen of both parties have grovelled and fainted and shrieked their support for Bibi and his predecessors with more enthusiasm than the Roman hordes in the Colosseum.

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SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Carrying World’s First Ion Propelled Electric Satellites

(Photo : SpaceX) Electric satellites ABS 3A and Eutelsat 115 B West stacked on top of each other prior to launch.

(Photo : SpaceX) Electric satellites ABS 3A and Eutelsat 115 B West stacked on top of each other prior to launch.

Arthur Dominic Villasanta via China Topix:

The world’s first commercial satellites powered by xenon-ion electric engines were successfully orbited March 1.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched two “electric satellites” equipped with revolutionary xenon-ion engines that turn gas into a propellant from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Spiritual Leader Made 400 Men Get Castrated to be ‘Closer to God’

Fellas: Would you castrate yourself to be closer to God? Didn’t think so, but there are at least 400 people who did, reports the Independent:

A man has been accused of encouraging hundreds of followers to be castrated in a promise for them to become closer to God.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, an Indian pop-star and telepreacher with a reported wealth of more than $50 million, is being investigated after he allegedly manipulated around 400 men to get their testicles removed – according to India Today.

Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan addressing a spiritual congregation. Photo: Musogd (CC)

Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan addressing a spiritual congregation. Photo: Musogd (CC)

 

One of his former followers who underwent castration seven years ago – named Hans Raj Chauhan – is one of the few to break the silence to speak out against him and the group.

“[The victims] were told that only those who get castrated will be able to meet God,” said Chauhan’s lawyer, Navkiran Singh, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Human Life and the Quest for Immortality

Romano - Allegory of Immortality

Romano – Allegory of Immortality

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

John Danaher is an academic with interests in the philosophy of technology, religion, ethics and law. He blogs at http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com.

Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Human beings have long desired immortality. In his book on the topic, cleverly-titled Immortality, Stephen Cave argues that this desire has taken on four distinct forms over the course of human history. In the first, people seek immortality by simply trying to stay alive, either through the help of magic or science. In the second, people seek resurrection, sometimes in the same physical form and sometimes in an altered plane of existence. In the third, people seek solace through the metaphysical/religious concept of the soul as an entity that houses the essence of our personalities and which will live on beyond the death of our physical bodies. And in the fourth, people seek immortality through their work or artistic creations.… Read the rest

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Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

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These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Mia Hoogenboom

 

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.

“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Dr Hoogenboom says.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

Despite the proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

“Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms,” says Dr Hoogenboom.

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To Resist and to Survive: A Conversation with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

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Dunbar-Ortiz’s book An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is out now

 

Stephyn Quirke writes at Earth First! Newswire:

It’s been said that education is what you are left with after forgetting everything you learned in school. And unfortunately for us, American history books already forgot to mention a few things: like human beings inhabiting North America for over 20,000 years prior to Europeans. In fact, the Europeans our history books call the “original Americans” and “Founding Fathers” didn’t start calling themselves Americans until they started to see themselves becoming more like the indigenous peoples they encountered – a special kind of free people who belonged to this land.

Inside the U.S., it is almost impossible to get a standard education in U.S. history and come away with the knowledge that the United States was founded on genocide – the largest in world history up to that time.

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The Hilarious and Disturbing History of Shaye St. John

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The Internet is home to some of the strangest and most wonderful oddities. It’s also filled with opportunists who try to capitalize on trends, eventually transforming once original ideas into kitsch filled circle jerks. That’s why it’s especially captivating to come across something wholly original. And the story of Shaye St. John is just that: captivating.

Many of you already know about Shaye’s horrendous past and have most likely seen many of her videos. But for those of you that haven’t, prepare to be disturbed, but strangely intrigued. Shaye St. John’s videos seem to be a mash-up of Lynchian uncomfortableness, Tim and Eric’s humor, with a bit of Harmony Korine’s oft-used lo-fi shock value. She is the brainchild of the late comedian, Eric Fournier.

Shaye St. John was once a supermodel who was hit by a train (car? I’ve heard both versions) that horribly disfigured her face and resulted in the amputation of both her arms and legs. This didn’t hold Shaye back, though, and she rebuilt herself with mannequin parts and covered her disfigured face with a mask.… Read the rest

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Amnesty International World Report: 2014 a ‘Year of Regression’

Via Hetq:

Amnesty International’s report for 2014 has condemned the response of the international community to worsening human rights abuses across the globe.

Amnesty, which released its annual report yesterday, said last year marked a nadir in the global state of human rights that was not due simply to a stalling of progress, but a “regression”.

The report is highly critical of Azerbaijan’s government over its silencing of critics, particularly the currently-jailed OCCRP and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty journalist Khadija Ismayilova, whom Amnesty has named a prisoner of conscience. Ismayilova was targeted by authorities after publishing investigations into corruption amongst the oil-rich country’s political elite.

More generally, the report decries the widespread harassment of independent journalists in Azerbaijan that culminated in a raid on the Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty offices by the Prosecutor’s office in December 2014.

Russia’s crackdown on freedom of expression also came under fire.

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