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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

In contrast, when private individuals or groups organize boycotts against stores that sell magazines of which they disapprove, their actions are protected by the First Amendment, although they can become dangerous in the extreme. Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period. But these private censorship campaigns are best countered by groups and individuals speaking out and organizing in defense of the threatened expression.

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                Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

04/11/2018. The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

Artist: Kathryn Thompson

Sitting outside in the dark,

bare feet pushed

into the warm sand,

I gaze up at the night sky

and there is Venus sitting

right in the lap of Scorpio.

I think of you.

The evening breeze

gently cools my skin

and suddenly I am there right beside you,

on the rug in the garden,

both of us smiling dozily

in the still afternoon.

You rouse me from my laziness

and still half stoned we pedal into the fading light,

down to the waters’ edge to be part of the sunset.

We laugh and talk and kiss and pet

then snuggle up as the evening falls around us.

The stars begin their twinkling

and Venus magically shines so bright.

You pull up my skirt and expose my bare skin

to the moonlight and the salty air.

Kissing me tenderly,

you fuck me intensely

and the cool evening breeze caresses my thighs.

You suck my nipples and make me cry out

just as the birds coo their last goodnight.

Back on our bicycles, we cruise home

whizzing round the corners, free wheeling all the way

my heart bursting.

*An over-educated expat Brit, artist, poet, writer, etc, living in the Northern Territory, Australia (28 yrs with brief interlude of 2 yrs in New Zealand). Worked in Aboriginal education at the Red Centre for 25 years. Currently, working as a counselor and therapist.

The Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate by Sue Scheff, Melissa Schorr (2017) With a forward by Monica Lewinski.

My take: This work serves as a thought-provoking idea resource to those who wish to counter online hate.

Anonymous hate filled trolls have ruined the lives and careers of people. Hate is a growing problem worldwide and instantly manifested on the Internet. Words do hurt and can effectuate a chain reaction from a single individual to a family and a community sucking out the marrow of a meaningful life and leaving a mere skeleton of hope. Hate is rooted in fear, insecurity and vanity.

The challenge is further complicated when hate is institutionalized and people are marginalized. Hate is a debilitating behavior. The perpetrators seem to bathe in self-entitled loathing of others, spreading disinformation and misinformation as if somehow such digital bullying and trolling elevates themselves in their own eyes and among their peers. They feel they are right and others who disagree with them are wrong. The evidence they present is not based on facts but emotion. Reality is distorted and lies and illusions replace it. Hate eats away at human dignity and feeds ignorance and arrogance. The downstream effects can be catastrophic. What kind of human being takes glee in the literal or figurative suicide of another human being?

Whether in the form of politicians patting people on the back while looking for the soft spot or those individuals or groups in search of greater power and control, the ultimate victims are both the individual and a civil society. Public shaming and bullying affects human empathy, trust and dignity. The authors show how to fight its devastating effects.

Though this work doesn’t cover presidential behavior the implications point in that direction. When the leader of a country spreads hate and purposeful disinformation then the fabric of democracy is torn and divisions are extremely difficult to stitch back together in a single generation.

The authors offer their insights to alleviate and counter public shaming…for hate is a symptom of a deeper social an intellectual malaise and the solution begins individually, within the family and collectively as a civil community or in a broader concept threaded within “civilization” itself.

Do to others what you would have them do to you is both a worthy and necessary daily aim for the sake of humanity.

 

 

O N  Y O U T U B E
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C U R R E N T L Y 
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                         Q U A N T U M  H E A L I N G  S E S S I O N
‣ Book a One on One Quantum Healing Hypnosis Session and Past Life Regression Hypnosis

I’m spending much of my time these days writing the second book in my Dream Yoga trilogy, which is tentatively titled: The Seduction of Being: Dream Yoga and the Path of Illusion. It’s a deeper dive into the philosophical implications of the nocturnal meditations, and the science behind seeing the world as illusory. Here’s the preface to the book to give you a sense of the material.

I’d rather be driving.

It’s strange if not unnerving how life can turn on a dime.  I can remember my mother saying that about our brand new 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88. It was our first car with power steering!

I digress.  That is not the dime I was speaking of but hey, I’ve always had a love affair with cars and can turn nearly any story into something about cars or roads.

Three years ago I was living in the mountains in rural Colorado near many hiking trails.  I loved hiking alone or with my partner at the time or several of my women friends.  I could knock out 5 miles at 10,000 feet without breathing hard.  It was that year that my partner and I took a month to drive around the Canyonlands National Park of Southern Utah.  Some of the back roads were pretty treacherous.  Hiking in the slot canyons was magnificent!

Then two years ago I went with my partner on a few months journey to Greece.  We did a lot of island hopping and we rented a tiny car on the Isle of Crete.  Driving across and around the island was an adventure.  Very curvy mountain roads, in fact, the tourist busses nearly knocked us off of the side of the road and the sheep roamed free…and it was not uncommon to see one of them asleep in the middle of the road.

Shortly after that trip I was diagnosed with acute anemia, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, 3 fractured discs and primary biliary cirrhosis.  Suddenly, the aforementioned dime was spinning out of control.

Primary biliary cirrhosis is a liver disease that can’t be cured except with a liver transplant.  High levels of bilirubin in your blood prevent the bilirubin from breaking down.  Sounds like a 50″s rock band …Billy and the Rubins in charge of my life.  I’d rather it was the Beatles. I try to think of that when depression sets in.

The arthritis and osteoporosis stopped me in my tracks.  Some days it is too painful to walk at all.

Consequently I have monthly blood labs with iron infusions about every 3 months.  I have endoscopies every 6 months and ultrasounds and bone density tests frequently.  Alas, the drive to Vanderbilt Hospital is pleasant unless you happen to hit rush hour…and they have free valet parking, which is a real plus in downtown Nashville.

The physical changes are obvious.  The mental and emotional changes are pretty unpleasant.  Asking for help and support from family members is humbling.  And spending a couple of days in the hospital every two or three or months is demeaning. Hearing whispers in conversations is uncomfortable because  paranoia begins to insinuate itself in the mind.

One of my seriously bad times came when I was on a cruise with my sister around Iceland.  We were gone eleven days…most of which I didn’t even get up to eat.  She took great care of me but it sure changed the kind of trip we thought it would be.

I did better on my trip to Italy last month. New medications have improved my quality of life but death still looms nearby as I know it might occur at the next exit ramp.

Now I wake up every morning with gentle twists and turns till both feet are on terra firma to see if my back and legs plan to support me or not.

All things considered, I’d still rather be driving.

*A romantic traveler

The Devil in the Holy Water or the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon by Robert Darnton (2010)

My perspective: This is an enormous book of scholarship by Professor Robert Danton, Harvard University Librarian. It’s both lengthy and substantial. The book had been sitting on my shelf for over five years in which I finally began reading it this past year. Given my previous readings concerning the history of slander, character assassination and defamation, I was drawn to this book, particularly, in light of the culture of authoritarianism and nationalism that is widespread today.

I read this work over a period of several months. It’s lucid and articulate and readable with an abundance of information.  The writing suggested the author was on a hermeneutical quest, so much so I had the feeling I was reading a book not only on the art of slander but also on the  theology and philosophy of slander.

Darnton is a brilliant thinker who enjoys research and it comes across in this intriguing study that at times reads like an 18th Century mystery. In summary, “Slander, libel, defamation, calumny, character assassination, mudslinging, scandalmongering, bad-mouthing, and billingsgate flourished as never before in eighteenth century France. Yet vilification has existed in most political system from antiquity to present.”

What one may learn in part is the devastating effects on the subsequent actions of a populace to the lies, slander and the belittling of one’s political opponents or anyone that is found disagreeable to one’s tastes. Narcissism and the ‘arrogance of power’ and wealth are symptoms of darker forces and misdeeds at work.

Darnton citations and bibliography are superlative, from police archives, to works of art, library archives, newspaper and letters from the period and so forth.  The reader might well ask, who did it and why? One can get lost in this book. I preferred it in a small dosages over a period of time.

It’s not for everyone but for those who want to gain an inside look at the nature of the art of slander in a particular period of history this work causes a pause when one thinks of the world today. And that is where I found historical and sociological value. I can only ponder what readers thought at the time. What did they think? And what was the result? The French Revolution comes to mind and Darnton covers it succinctly.

There are certainly more in-depth reviews I suspect but for this reader I scratched the surface of this fascinating study. It’s a useful reference tool.

Power, Politics, and the Making of the Bible, An Introduction, by Robert B. Coote & Mary P. Coote (1990)

Some thoughts: This book written almost three decades ago was considered a paradigm shift towards a sociopolitical analysis of the Old and New Testaments and away from traditional historical analysis.

The implications of Robert and Mary Coote’s scholarly research remains pertinent in the study of how rulers translated their right to power through “God’s activity in history,” or producing written documents (Bible) of how and why they are in power.

That is, “The Bible was produced by demands for legitimacy following changes in rule-from David’s usurpation, through Jeroboam, Jehu and Josiah, the Persians, Aaronids, Hasmoneans, and Herodians, finally to the Romans and the Byzantine emperors and their ecclesiastical clerics…”

“The turning points in its history have been the building of the temple, the restoration of the temple under the Persians, the destruction of the temple by the Romans, the recreation of the Temple by Constantine, and the legal canonizations: Roman Law, the church’s canon law, and the Babylonian Talmud.”

And it doesn’t end there. The effect of establishing such legitimacy is far-reaching.

A major theme in this study shows how the various rulers sought legitimacy and justification for their power. In different words, scribes were given the task of writing down how a given ruler obtained his power as part of “God’s will.” By ascribing the legitimacy of changes in power implying the Bible serves as a “sacred” (as defined by man) justification of all actions that occur in :His name” and  so “God” in effect, can “work in mysterious ways.”

The work is a succinct scholarly study. It examines the making of the “Bible” or “documents ” from a social and political perspective and places into cultural context the nature and effect of shifts in power and how rulers rationalize and justify their claims to power. Once man exclaims the “documents” or “Bible” he has written (through scribes) as sacred, rulers then enjoy their “legitimatized” power. The authors offer insights into the economies and the effect of wealth on politics and the social and economic implications as part of their study.

This concise, thought-provoking study provides insight into the cultural role of the making of the Bible but also inspires the questions surrounding the manipulations of power though the use of of the Bible, today.

‘People here believe all journalists are biased’: reporting from Putin’s Russia

Shaun Walker

 Shaun Walker in Russia: ‘I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.’

Outgoing correspondent Shaun Walker discusses the challenges of covering Moscow, and his hopes for his new beat – Budapest

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

Early morning. A light rain embraced the forest. The wetness was warm to the skin, emitting a damp fragrance, filling my nostrils with the scent of fertile soil. I walked to a nearby mountain stream to listen to the rushing water splash over boulders and birds chirping from the hardwood branches above. I gazed at scattered wild flowers beginning to blossom. And I took a deep breath, knowing not all breaths are the same.

Ambivalence. I didn’t care to look too deep beyond the barks of the trees, nor the water’s surface nor that of the soil. I tried to block out a rabbit’s cry, it sounded like a human baby, cornered by a predator – a hawk picked up the prey in its talons. Creatures fought for survival in the underbrush while a drone flew overhead to see who was walking on the path below, everyone is a suspect in a world spiced with paranoia and electronic waves that pierce the flesh delivered by conspicuous technologies. And then I noticed a white-tailed deer standing in the stream look up upon hearing several cracking noises then leap over a fallen tree and disappear in the woods. Not all breaths are the same.

Adaptation. I turned up the other sounds stored in my brain, listening to jazz and classical notes to counteract the invasive buzzing overhead until the mechanical vulture disappeared and nature resumed its rhythms. I walked for over a mile, down a slope, meditations clearing my mind of images and words without meaning until I saw small ponds of blood on pavement and men dressed as the soldiering kind with military gear, banners and guns milling around a handcuffed body, voyeurs looking at their perceived empirical victory. I held to my aim while breathing in the rhymes to my soul, appreciative of the fact that not all breaths are the same.

Quiet. Muted suggests an illusion to those who have hearing unless floating in outer space or a sound proof room. I’m weary of imperforate silence. Though the inner space of my soul understands. Most creatures depend on sound to survive, with unique acoustics designed to lighten the burden of existence and entertain the pleasures of instinct. Deaf in a world of noise is disorienting. And certain pleasures are easily cross-referenced with pain in a given context, for not all breaths are the same.

Remote. I’ve experienced isolation in a Middle Eastern desert and a high elevation in East Asia, Europe and the Americas where the seclusion was merciless and the hush deafening. My ears and eyes strained to hear and see even the faintest of disturbances and to indulge the neurological structure of my auditory and visual senses. Though the vanishing rainforests of Central America were once overwhelmed in seclusion with a cacophony of intimacies immersed in the heat and humidity. Inaccessible I’ve learned can also be encountered in a church, synagogue and temple or on the grounds of the sacred architecture meant for togetherness; though not all breaths are the same.

Possession. I returned to a place I’d been staying and watched a pair of birds nestle with each other in a tree and imagined momentarily their dinosaur ancestors but prefer them in their current, comprehensible if not approachable size. I’m a pragmatic adventurer and an optimist acknowledging life has never been equal when people contest for a shrinking piece of soil, water, air, minerals and materials of wealth as if somehow they were in possession until the day arrives when they no longer can be and discover not all breaths are the same.

The gravel road of existence: I seek that which offers a place between the blasphemies of surreal oratory and the absurdist voices of reality dilettantes and somewhere other than a monk’s quiet and the existential concerto of war in staccato relationships with the machismo of empty hearts wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day. A place away from the unstable minds that celebrate their patriotic integrity wearing false badges of empathy misplaced and lost in the remnants of uncivil discourse. Hard work and working smart is of value when you have a network of relationships and know someone that can open a door to your survival. For luck is a nomad in search of an oasis. And a revolutionary era alters one’s perspective. And, wisdom, love, truth and trust appear as transitory nouns. So, speak of the joys not the sorrows for all is fleeting as justice is seldom discreet and impartial. Still, it’s easier to wear a grin on a full stomach and be suffused with optimism when you have an equitable share in your future. But, then again, not all breaths are the same.

 

An author sits at a weathered table

mission style

in an alcove with leaded glass above

light rain mists the light within,

fountain pen clasped between fingers

the ink flows on a sheet of paper

calligraphy is a sensual expression

an idea emerges intimate with it’s creator

uncongealed in its quest

wavy black lines on flat white paper

chasing,

the autograph of a thought.

 

A nearby computer waits

its attention span needless of coaxing

in a technological cloud of voyeurism

blatant marks in a metaphorical contract

a sense of judgment with each word keyed

with varying degrees of scholarship

captioned on a Technicolor screen

an overwhelming desire for more

is enough ever enough

an enigmatic witness waits for a signature

before the idea misleads a trust.

 

Different words whispered

ears waiting in line to hear

diplomacy seeking an awareness

like a wanting breeze in the tropical heat

possessing a latitude and longitude of its own,

knowing a single word can be parasitical

like the Gallinipper mosquito at feeding time,

a distant, deceptive smile

an existential mask on a television screen,

and the child arrives on a rocky shore

bewildered

a native is found lost in the corporate maize

an overdue notice in hand,

authentic is a complicated adjective

when the heart is on a separate journey

and the autograph of a thought

is disguised under the cloak

of an acronym.

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

My perspective:

Father Tikhon Shevkunov, the self-confident and self-serving “confessor of Vladimir Putin,” reputedly told Putin a year or two before the turn of the century that he (Putin) was on a divine mission. Putin understood and believed him. Both men sought influence and both were insecure and yet self-assured. Putin’s KGB background and oversight of political and real-time assassinations are layered with intrigue and the desire for influence and power.

Donald Trump, who was already enamored with his own reflection in the mirror, was on a mission to build his empire with his name blazoned across his buildings’ facades and where he could control people by dividing and conquering them. They were his losers. He was the winner in his mind. The problem for Trump: his intellectual and emotional immaturity concerning the US Constitution and his ignorance of  diplomacy and the cataclysmic effect of cyber warfare.

Throughout recent history countries and their agencies, reinforced by corporate greed, sought to influence the values of other countries making them pliable to do business and enhance their own corporate wealth and political stability. This report takes political influence to the level of collusion between Trump and Putin and the covering it up. What other than collusion is there that aptly fits the events and the participants?

What makes this investigative journalism so riveting is how the authors so ably weave their narrative surrounding the Russian influenced 2016 election. A full-scale cyber attack insured Trump would be elected and then set it up so that he appeared surprised by his own election.

The Kremlin manipulated the greed and narcissism of Trump to their advantage and set the stage for an unusual alliance. The sheer scope of the deceit, the lies and misinformation is troubling as we attempt to wrap our head around events, people and their web of deceit leading up and following the 2016 election within the Trump family and their followers. Fear, insecurity and greed can be powerful incentives.

A seemingly insignificant but fascinating glimpse in the machinations of the Trump’s hollow words is when he is in Las Vegas in which a small press  conference occurs. Trump points to a Russian reporter by name. She asks him a carefully worded question for which he uncharacteristically gives a carefully worded answer. What was that all about?

This work is about clandestine operations by Russia in several state elections and subsequent attacks through disinformation to get Trump elected. What makes this work valuable is the amount and quality of the documentation the authors brought to their work and the role of a source inside the Kremlin and the nature of political paranoia and the manipulations by a cast of disreputable characters.

I suspect there is much more to the story. It’s what we don’t know that is bothersome. This is a very well written, excellent piece of investigative journalism.

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

Details.

Suffice it to say I stood on a dock in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina looking for what I thought would be a large motor yacht. A man approached me as I must have looked bewildered. I told him my dilemma and he laughed and pointed to a trawler next to a yacht.

It was a Nordic Tug, meaning it was an ocean-going tugboat (style) and in this case had a cabin customized with exotic mahogany furnishings, fixtures and the latest high-tech navigational equipment.

As I approached the tug, the owner greeted me with a certain familiarity as we had spoken on prior occasions. She wore a welcoming smile that complimented her angular face and long black curly hair and it also seem to suggest she would wait to tell me more.

As a “recruited sailor,” I was bound so to speak by the rules of the Captain. “He’s quirky but a good guy and experienced. He was born in Nassau,” and she added, “is an alleged descendant of Anne Dieu-Le-Veut, a female pirate who lived in Tortuga in the late 1600s.”

“Hmm.”

She gave me a hug and took my leather duffel bag and tossed it into the cabin.  I admit such a journey even for a comparatively short distance worth several hundreds of nautical miles gives one a sense of liberty one doesn’t have on land. The Intracoastal offers protection and shelter and has its signage, guideposts and hidden obstacles one needs to be cognizant of, where the vastness of the ocean can be breathtaking, especially from the perspective of a smaller boat.

The Intracoastal Waterway extends from Boston, MA south along the Atlantic coast and in places retains the textured relief as it waters mingle with the Atlantic Ocean and down to the southern tip of Florida and up the Gulf side all the way west to Brownsville, Texas with some substantial mixture of ingredients from the salty waters from both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

We were scheduled to head south with an ultimate destination of Fort Lauderdale. After casting off, the owner and I explored our mutual thoughts, which seemed effortless in its rhythm and flowed seamless into the sounds of nature, the caress of a breeze and the fragrance of flowering trees blooming early. After watching a few seagulls skim the watery surface searching for food and insects buzzing our head we left the small deck for the cabin and a sip of fine wine when I caught a glimpse of an alligator slipping into the water.

The Captain had a few books that he kept on a shelf: a worn copy with book marks of a 2017 Reed’s Nautical Almanac and a copy of North American Reed’s 2009 Nautical Almanac East Coast, both very useful as a sailor’s reference, along with a series of Intracoastal Waterway Chart Books, informative cruising guides – I would describe them as a basic tools, good for planning ahead.

Interestingly, there was also a copy of James C. Simmons Castaway in Paradise, which I was familiar with and in turn made me pause wondering if there was another exotic “voyage” in store.

I hadn’t given much thought to the idea we might actually consider sailing for the high seas and some remote islands – perhaps, the Bahamas my mind suggested, “It’s for entertainment value,” she said with a grin, referring to the book.

“Ah. An adventure for its own sake. And without the need for a physical or spiritual benefit or profit.” I replied.

“To philosophical dispositions. And the enigma of the Intracoastal spirit,” the owner raised her wine glass.  Our glasses clinked as we toasted.

A few hundred nautical miles later I recalled that our journeys and destinations are never precisely what we plan. And as if knowing my thoughts, the captain, under the owner’s direction, steered the boat toward the Atlantic Ocean.

An essential trait of my philosophical and writer’s disposition is adaptability. *

*a ghostwriting project.

Vanessa Holloway is a historian and philosopher of political theory, legal history, law and policy, race and rights.

She is the author of:

Black Rights in the Reconstruction Era (forthcoming, 2018).

 In Search of Federal Enforcement: The Moral Authority of the Fifteenth Amendment and the Integrity of the Black Ballot, 1870-1965 (2015).             

Getting Away With Murder: The Twentieth-Century Struggle for Civil Rights in the U.S. Senate (2014).

*Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Vanessa-A.-Holloway/e/B00R0OOZU0

Email:  iam.vholloway@gmail.com

 

NP:  In your studies of race in the United States is there an ebb and flow to our understanding of the intricacies of class, racial and sexual distinctions?

Holloway: Yes there is an ebb and flow, and the causes are the economy. When social privileges are given to whites, but denied to nonwhites, the effect leads to a struggle to find one’s place in society.

NP:  James Baldwin, the essayist, social critic and writer, wrote about, among other things, how we close our eyes to reality and the moment we do, we invite our own demise. Has slavery the institution served as the foundation for the psychology of racism and do we have the potential to rid humanity of its devastating impact? Is there such a thing as racial literacy?

Holloway: Using the mutual causation theory, slavery encouraged racism directed at people of color. That is, slavery was responsible for inducing racial discrimination and because of its systemic character, eliminating racism requires a radical change in local, state, and federal institutions. Interventions at all levels must also develop economic programs. Is there such a thing as racial literacy? Yes, and when using tools of critical discourse analysis, racial literacy is necessary to address cultural differences.

NP:  Within any given society skin color, gender and names serve as opportunities for labeling and discrimination or intolerance. If everyone’ skin was transparent, we would all be witness to our inner workings and I suspect for most it would not be a pleasant experience. Is there something more provocative at work than mere skin color concerning our intolerances and fears?

Holloway: We must unlearn what is untrue about people. Instead of seeing the person, we are conditioned to see a skin color and fear and distrust it. When our differences are reinforced and institutionalized through socialization, we begin to see the effects of “symbolic interactionism.”

NP:  What has surprised you the most in terms of student knowledge about racism?

Holloway: Students are not learning its full historical context. Many are misled about the close and complex relationships between race and law.

NP: Where are race relations headed today based on our history? What has the effect of political leadership or lack thereof on that future?

Holloway: Race relations today are better than they were 50 years ago, but in order to move toward a greater positive direction, we must breed an atmosphere of trust in every facet of our social, political, and economic institutions. Effective political leadership is essential to this and must facilitate attainment of public goals.

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