UnMind

Random observations, thoughts and ideas about art, travel, environment, politics, humanity. Named after one of my blogs, UnMind.net.

NYPD Spying on NYC Muslims: No Terrorists but the Food is Great!

The NYC Muslims are outraged for being spied on by NYPD agents. Something good may come out of this after all though: the undercover agents didn’t find any terrorists but it seems like they developed a taste for the delicious Middle Eastern food!

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I quote from the DemocracyNow Amy Goodman War & Peace report on the topic

AMY GOODMAN: One of the things you write about is how the undercover officers would go to the best Arab food restaurants, not coming up with leads, but because the food was good and just “spy” there.

ADAM GOLDMAN: “We found a lot that these plainclothes officers working with the demographics unit were gravitating toward the better restaurants. There is a bakery, the Damascus Bakery in Brooklyn that serves excellent pastries. There is a kebab house in Flushing, Queens that serves excellent kebab. And what the commanding officer in charge of the demographics unit started to see was there were many reports being filed from similar locations. And how do you spend $40 at the pastry shop? And so, eventually, he determined they were going there, following these reports, simply because the food was good.”

I concur — the food IS good!

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United States anchor of the global security for 7 decades?!

When president Obama in his speech about Syria on Sep. 10, 2013 said “for nearly 7 decades the US has been the anchor of global security”, I couldn’t help but chuckle. What a joke, alas not a funny one.

The speech writer who came up with that one should get fired for being such a blatant liar or at least be sent back to school for being such an ignorant moron. I guess that may be true if by “security” they mean staging coups, invasions, bombings, and bullying many countries — and doing so not for charity, democracy or world peace, but to protect US’s interests.

As the great Noam Chomsky said in his interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! today, that is quite shocking coming from a Harvard University law school graduate. Chomsky cites the long list of international violations by US under various administrations over the decades including overthrowing democratic governments and staging coups in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954) and Chile (1963), attacking Indo-China, imposing a dictatorship in Congo, and invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

As for Syria, Chomsky says, attacking Syria would be a gross violation of the international law. He adds that instead of illegal threats to Syria, US should back chemical weapons ban in all nations, including Israel. We well know what the answer to that is.

Goodman’s report and her interview with Chomsky is a must watch.

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A talk about injustice and the orientation of the spirit

Here is a great inspiring TED talk by Bryan Stevenson, a human rights lawyer about the criminal justice system in the US and the need for us all to get to that “orientation of the spirit” so we care, have compassion, and do something about the injustice and sufferings of the un- and under- privileged in our communities and ultimately in our world. I think everything should listen, take it to heart and act on it. Here are a few excerpts:

"This country is very different today than it was 40 years ago. In 1972 there were 300,000 people in jails and prisons. Today, there are 2.3 million. US now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We have 7 million people on probation and parole…One out of three black men between the ages of 18 and 30 is in jail, in prison, on probation or parole. In urban communities across this country — LA, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington — 50 to 60 percent of all men of color are in jail or prison, on probation or parole."

"There is no disconnect around technology and design that will allow us to be fully human until we pay attention to suffering, to poverty, to exclusion, to unfairness, to injustice. Now I will warn you that this kind of identity is a much more challenging identity than ones that don’t pay attention to this. It will get you.”

"…the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. That we cannot be full evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone. That our visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with visions of humanity, compassion and justice. And more than anything, for those of you who share that, I’ve simply come to tell you to keep your eyes on the prize, hold on."

(Source: ted.com)

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Woody Allen on Life, Happiness and Love

I came across excerpts of an interview with Woody Allen about his film, “Midnight in Paris” for which he just won an Oscar for the best original screenplay. He expresses his views about life, happiness and love, which is a must for everyone to hear. His brutal honesty along with his apparent awkward body language is what makes him so comical. He’s an original. Here are some excerpts which I have transcribed from the video:

"I am not happy that I’m here but I wouldn’t be happy there either, because I am not happy in general. So whenever I lived I would be unhappy. Life itself is a very unhappy experience. So it really doesn’t matter when you lived. The cosmetics change but the problems remain the same…"

And on love he says:

"That is a commercial cliche. I don’t think love is the answer to all the problems at all. Love is a nice part of life; it’s one part of life. So is baseball; so is BBQ chicken…Love is one of the nice distractions from the brutality of life. But it certainly doesn’t answer all the questions or many of them even…But in movies and fiction, when you say love is the answer and love will conquer all, people like to hear that. So they buy tickets."

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On Iranian Jews and the Tension between Iran & Israel

I came across this short but precious New York Times opinion piece, “What Two Enemies Share" by the Iranian-Jewish author, Roya Hakakian, about the history of Jews in Iran and the cultural and historical ties between Iran & Israel. It is a must read for all those on both sides. It is her answer to the question that whose side will she be on if a war breaks out between Iran and Israel. Here is an excerpt:

"By bombing Iran, Israel would be bombing a portion of Jewish history. If that happens, which side I would choose will not be a question. I will be twice destroyed by the two imperfect yet beloved cultures that each make up half of the woman I am." 

Enough said.

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Obama’s signing of the NDAA into law

Early in January 2012 President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, a $662 B military spending bill, which under the excuse of fight against terrorism empowers the US military to arrest any US citizen even in US without trial and detain indefinitely. DemocracyNow sums it up nicely. Forbes in this piece by Erik Kain has more detailed discussion of it, the history of anti-terrorism and how dangerous it is for our civil liberties. According to Forbes, Obama is quoted saying:

The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it…I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

Really? Why in the world did he sign it then?!! Obviously he thinks it was wrong. But somehow he succumbed to other powers and influencers. Is he being manipulated? Is he afraid? Is this for the sake of upcoming elections? Whatever the reason, signing this into law was wrong.

The Forbes article also talks about the fact that “you can wage a war on an idea”. Unlike say cold war which was against the now defunct USSR, terrorism is not a state or a people, but rather a form. The piece also looks at option on how people can fight against this law.

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