Archive for October 2017

10:30 mass in Read,Ontario

October 20, 2017


They ‘re all over eastern Ontario
our poor famine Erin relatives
“indigent Irish” on the ship’s manifest
and both sides of the family.
That’s us: who do we think we are indeed?
We walk the Mick graveyards
Erinsville, Centreville and now Read
Catholics here since 1854
What were the odds that our decidedly urban Toronto family
Had mother and father relatives here in Read?
Did Mary O’Brien know Joanna Wringe?
We’ll never know.
Tired of the graveyard I wander into 10:30 mass.
The aging priest now has 3 parishes to tend
He does his best with Matthew’s wild gospel of the wedding feast and the raging host
However he misses  badly.”It’s abbout the KINGDOM, padre!
The church like most of these  parishes are right-to-life obsessives
The only issue it seems.
The  building  is musty, baroque and uninviting
The parish is spread out this morning
I walk to communion hemmed in  by stained glass windows bearing  those Irish names Ryan,Walsh, Shannon, Egan Lacy, Gandon, Hart
And here am I on this October morn very happy to be home among them.


Pride a rarity in Israel

October 16, 2017


I the LORD have called unto you in righteousness, and have taken hold of your hand, and submitted you as the people’s covenant, as a light unto the nations” Isaiah 42:6.



Chemi Shalev writes in Haaretz


There are many Israelis who deserve my pride and admiration, never mind the melody of HaTikvah which still manages to extract a tear, even though its lyrics have turned debatable over the years. The problem is that the moments of pride are increasingly few and far between.


A disgruntled prime minister who excels at spreading poison, along with corrupt government, embarrassing parliamentarians, shallow discourse, overbearing religion, growing nationalism, flourishing racism, diminishing tolerance, a democracy fighting for its life and the collective denial of 50 years of occupation and disenfranchisement of Palestinians – all of these have made pride a rarity and shame seem completely routine.


Many Israelis and perhaps even most Israelis would angrily reject this depiction, but for me and many Israelis of my generation, that’s the greatest shame of all. Nostalgia for the Israel that once existed has become toxic, often described as nothing more than condescending snobbism, but I would still venture that at least the dreams were rosier then. But even after one abandons the naive vision of an exemplary Jewish state that is a light unto the nations, the fact that Israel is resolutely dismantling the foundations of the proud and decent liberal democracy that it once strived to be is crushing. The reasonable assumption is that even a legion of Wonder Women can’t save us from ourselves any more, but at least on the eve of Rosh Hashanah we can pray that over the next year, pride will beat out shame. Chemi Shalev

Penguins—Victims of SportsWorld

October 11, 2017


Look at them, all those white boys meeting with Donald Trump unwilling and probably unable to understand how pathetic their actions are.
Sidney Crosby, by all reports a very decent human being, comes up with the lame,”it’s not political”excuse. It is very political. It was political when fans boycotted South African rugby tours, when Mohammed Ali refused induction into a war described by comedian Dick Gregory as “white people sending black people to kill yellow people.”




Rabbi Heschel reminded us “By whatever we do, by every act we carry out, we either advance or obstruct the drama of redemption.” There is one world and sport is not divorced from that world. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby blinded by their celebrity status, by their cocoon-like existence “obstructed the drama of redemption.” They failed the test of solidarity.


Crosby like so many cultural icons and media celebrity is sadly encased in that parallel universe called SportsWorld. In that rarified bubble, whether they like it or not, celebs  are “godded up” by fans who place them on this pedestal where nothing of societal commitment  is ever demanded of them. They are not bad people but they are indolent and intellectually slovenly because they can be when all their physical needs are looked after.


“Living easy is dangerous,” Nietzsche reminded us and these millionaire hockey players and billionaire NFL owners are unable to break out of their pampered world. Where have you ever seen any Canadian hockey star break through the confining walls of SportsWorld and become an advocate of social justice? The examples are few and far between. Even in retirement these hockey ikons accept their elevated cultural status. In effect they never grow up.


Probably the most succinct statement I have read on the victims of SportsWorld was that of Raptor’s guard Kyle Lowry: “I am a citizen before I am a basketball player.”
It is sad to see all these largely Canadian white faces used as stooges by a White house which has become the enemy of the common good, the poor and the environment.
It is depressing to see these white robots mired in f their white privilege unable to show some solidarity with the largely Afro-American football players daring to challenge a racist America.


The perils of SportsWorld.

Rising Star pt.7

October 10, 2017


Barack wins in 2008.
43% of whites vote for him.
Campaign guru David Axelrod believed his racial idealism touched a deep longing by whites to disprove the stigma
Afro-American law prof Richard Thompson labelled this “reparations on the cheap.” Shelby Steele correctly opined that that the profound disparity between black and white Americans will persist.
Former Law classmate Frank Hill Harper thought that Obama had sparked transformation in the psyche,self-esteem and aspiration of young black males.which will be seen for generations to come.’
This may be Obama’s greatest achievement..
However some of Obama’s black supporters “were still left in the lurch.”
Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edwards opposed the decision to name Chicago congressman Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff. The dual Israeli-American citizen was a notorious hot head. He wanted Obama out almost all the name.


The Reagan idolator columnist Peggy Noonan commented “when the office is omnipresent it is demystified. Constant exposure deflates the presidency.”

This struck a chord in retrospect with many as Obama kept showing up with rap artists, athletes and TV hosts. As Robert Gates said “When it comes to the media often less is more. Axelrod lated admitted ,”We used him way too much..It robbed him of his power as the narrator of a longer story.”

Ramzi lays it out: BDS

October 5, 2017

The Fight Ahead: 13 Questions about the Origins, Objectives and War on BDS

BDS stands for ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’. The BDS Movement was the outcome of several events that shaped the Palestinian national struggle and international solidarity with the Palestinian people following the Second Uprising (Intifada) in 2000.

Building on a decades-long tradition of civil disobedience and popular resistance, and invigorated by growing international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle as exhibited in the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, Palestinians moved into action.

In 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called for the boycott of Israeli government and academic institutions for their direct contributions to the military occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people. This was followed in 2005 by a sweeping call for boycott made by 170 Palestinian civil society organizations.

What is the academic boycott?

PACBI has served as a medium through which the Palestinian point of view is articulated and presented to international audiences through the use of media, academic and cultural platforms. Because of its continued efforts and mobilization since 2004, many universities, teachers’ unions, student groups and artists around the world have endorsed BDS and spoken out in support of the movement.

Why is BDS important?

In the absence of any international mechanism to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and the lack of international law being enforced, as expressed in dozens of un-implemented United Nations resolutions, BDS has grown to become a major platform to facilitate solidarity with the Palestinian people, apply pressure on and demand accountability from Israel and those who are funding, or in any way enabling, Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Is BDS a Palestinian or a global movement?

The call for BDS is made by Palestinian society. This is important, for no one has the right to represent the Palestinian struggle but Palestinians themselves.

However, the BDS movement itself – although centred on Palestinian priorities – is an inclusive global platform. Grounded in humanistic values, BDS aims to court world public opinion and appeals to international and humanitarian law to bring peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.

What are some of the historical precedents to BDS?

The boycott movement was at the heart of the South African struggle that ultimately defeated Apartheid in that country. Roots of that movement in South Africa go back to the 1950s and 60s, and even before. However, it was accelerated during the 1980s, which, ultimately, led to the collapse of the Apartheid regime in 1991.

There are many other precedents in history. Notable amongst them is the Boston Tea Party, protesting unfair taxation by the British Parliament; the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 (which ushered in the rise of the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King. Jr.) and the Salt March led by Mohandas Gandhi in 1930 (which initiated the civil disobedience campaign that was a major factor leading to India’s independence in 1947.)

All of these are stark examples of popular movements using economic pressure to end the subjugation of one group by another. BDS is no different.

What are BDS’ main demands?

The BDS movement has three main demands. They are:

– Ending Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Apartheid Wall.

– Recognizing the fundamental rights, including that of full equality, of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.

– Respecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

From where does BDS derive its support?

The BDS movement is the collective expression of the will and aspirations of the Palestinian people, who serve as the backbone of the popular, de-centralized movement.

Additionally, BDS is supported by conscientious people throughout the world, whether in their capacity as individuals, or as representatives of religious institutions, academic institutions, labour and professional unions, student groups and other organizations.

What is the main Israeli argument against BDS?

By equating any criticism of Israel and its right-wing government with anti-Semitism, Israeli supporters readily accuse BDS of being an anti-Semitic movement.

For example, the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL) bases such an accusation on the premise that “many individuals involved in BDS campaigns are driven by opposition to Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state.”

Why do Israel and its supporters mischaracterize the Movement and its goals?

The above is one of many such claims aimed at mispresenting the BDS Movement. These claims are also meant to confuse and distract from the discussion at hand. Instead of engaging with internationally-supported Palestinian demands for justice and freedom, the anti-BDS campaigners disengage from the conversation altogether by levying the accusation of anti-Semitism against their detractors.

But is BDS anti-Semitic?

Not in the least. In fact, quite the opposite. BDS opposes the supremacy of any racial group or the dominance of any religion over others. As such, BDS challenges the Israeli legal system that privileges Jewish citizens and discriminates against Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

Does BDS undermine the ‘peace process’?

The ‘peace process’, which operated largely outside the framework of international law has proven to be a splendid failure. Talks that began in Madrid in 1991, followed by the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, the Paris Protocol in 1994, Hebron Protocol in 1997, Wye River 1998, Camp David 2002, and other agreements and understandings only led to the cementing of Israeli occupation, tripling the number of illegal Jewish settlers and vastly expanding the illegal Israeli settlement network in the Occupied Territories.

Since then, several wars have been waged against Palestinians, especially in Gaza, killing thousands and maiming thousands more. With no serious pressure on Israel, thanks to US backing of Israel at the UN, not a single Israeli was ever held accountable for what was repeatedly recognized by UN investigators as war crimes against Palestinians.

In the early months of his first term in office, former US President Barack Obama, attempted to breathe life in the defunct ‘peace process’, only to be met with Israeli refusal to freeze the construction of illegal settlements. Eventually, talks ended and they are yet to resume.

The suffering of Palestinians is now at its worst since the Israeli occupation in 1967. Gaza is under a decade-long, suffocating siege; occupied East Jerusalem is completely cut off from the rest of Palestinian towns and the West Bank is divided into various zones – Area A, B and C – all under various forms of control by the Israeli army.

What are the Israeli and pro-Israeli efforts to challenge BDS?

The Israeli government has sponsored several conferences aimed at developing a strategy to discredit BDS and to slow down its growth. It has also worked with its supporters across North America and Europe to lobby governments to condemn and to outlaw BDS activities and the boycott of Israel in general.

These efforts culminated on March 23, 2017 with Senate bill S720 which, if passed in its current form, will make the boycott of Israel an illegal act punishable by imprisonment and a heavy fine.

Meanwhile, Israel has already enacted laws that ban foreign BDS supporters from entering the country. This also applies to Jewish BDS supporters.

What has the BDS Movement achieved, so far?

Top Israeli government officials perceive BDS as their greatest threat. It is the first time in many years that this form of non-violent civil rights action has registered so profoundly on the agenda of Israel’s political elite.

The massive campaign underway to fight and discredit BDS is a testament to the power and resolve of the civil-society centred Movement. Palestinians are determined to, someday, achieve their own ‘South Africa moment’, when Apartheid was vanquished under the dual pressure of resistance at home and the global boycott campaign.

Moreover, BDS is successfully pushing the conversation on Palestine away from the margins to the centre. It seems that, the more Israel attempts to thwart boycott efforts, the more opportunities BDS supporters have to engage the media and general public. The accessibility of social media has proven fundamental to that strategy.

Why are so many joining BDS?

BDS is growing because it is both a moral and legal obligation to support oppressed people and pressure those who violate international law to end their unwarranted practices.

Writing from his cell in Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Guided by such moralistic principles, BDS offers a platform for anyone who wants to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people in their 70-year-long struggle for freedom, justice and human rights.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is:


from Counterpunch

Evil in Vegas: the craven politicians

October 4, 2017

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut who once represented the district containing Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed in a 2012 school shooting. had some blunt and prophetic words after the latest and greatest mass murder in US history.


Words which will probably go unheeded as so many of these politicians are bought and paid for by 2 lobbies: guns and Israel. Talk about Love and Marriage.Guns and Israel always go together. Israel is one of the biggest gun runners in the world.its latest shameless sale was to Myanmar. Nuff said and scusi while I digress.


All over the major networks you hear the word “evil” attributed justly to the sick shooter, a sad undeveloped human being who caused such community havoc and so much pain to innocent people.


You want to talk evil? Focus on the craven politicians who yearly fail the test of integrity and decency. This is institutional evil, corruption on a grand scale which easily surpasses the sin of the deranged murderer.


Murphy reminds the world:

“Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity. Last night’s massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation’s history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year.”

“This must stop, It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

And it’s time for all Americans to cease saying that America is the greatest country in the world. America leads the world in but 3 categories:

1.Number of incarcerated citizens per capita,
2 .Number of adults who believe angels are real, and
3 ,Defense spending.

Finally as we all know, the United States has more guns and gun deaths than any other developed country in the world.


Time to get off its ass.






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High Holy days

October 2, 2017

Yom Kippur ended on Saturday and like many I had a lot to atone for, simply a Catholic struggling to be a Christian. Catholicism coming out of Judaism always tipped a hat to original sin and brother Immanuel Kant wisely said,” Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”No proof needed here.

So we stumble on, mostly with the wisdom of guys like Sam Beckett;”Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” 
During the High Holy Days of Judaism culminating in Yom Kippur I pay attention, at least intellectually. I was infected by this felicitous virus as a kid growing up in a Jewish area. I had my pre-teen mind blown during Sukkot (this  week, Oct 4-11) when I observed in amazement Greenberg’s sukkah, the mini-fort topped with branches down the street.
We had nothing like this in Catholicism.
Originally Sukkot was a harvest festival which symbolized temporary quarters during the 40 years of exodus. Today it is more of a breather after the heavy introspection of Yom Kippur.
Enough already.
I followed the prophetic utterances from Israel about Yom Kippur, the great day of atonement. The secular Jews were way more religious than the putative rabbinical leaders who could never confront the obvious: atonement without mentioning occupation is meaningless.
One blistering article by Israeli commentator B.Michael will suffice. It is almost shocking in its ferocity. He echoes Rabbi Heschel’s warning about the prophets’ anger:
Prophecy is the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor, to the profane riches of the world. It is a form of living, a crossing point of God and man. God is raging in the prophet’s words.

The prophet’s word,” Rabbi Heschel once wrote, “is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven.”

Another time in Volume 2 of The Prophets ( The Prophets are Morally Maladjusted) he wrote:

“The prophet is a person who suffers from a profound maladjustment to the spirit of society, with its conventional lies, with its concessions to man’s weakness…. The prophet’s maladaptation to his environment may be characterized as moral madness (as distinguished from madness in a psychological sense).”


B.Michael and another secular israeli writer, Gideon Levy are the true prophets of Israel today attempting to wake a terrible government from their spiritual indolence and their brutal treatment of the original indigenous, Palestinians.

Listen to B.Michael:


The masquerade on Yom Kippur, on the other hand, is a much more serious business than Purim. Everyone puts on a disguise on this day too, but only one mask serves everyone – the righteous man’s mask. Not a mustache, not a cowboy, not a princess, not Wonder Woman. Only righteous people.


But this time, when the holiday is over the masks don’t drop, and the people in disguise continue to believe that they are pious saints. To be accurate, I’m not referring to secular folk who suddenly fast on Yom Kippur and even attend Kol Nidrei prayers. Those for whom the cantor says the phrase: “By the authority of God and the permission of the congregation we allow praying with sinners.” There’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, and they’re not really in disguise. As far as they’re concerned, this is merely traditional folklore, or a seasonal burst of the fear of God. I’m talking about those who take this business seriously, who see themselves as observing the commandments. Servants of God. Good Jews. Some of them, of course, make their living off the public – synagogue bums and parliament bums. People who whitewash abominations, others’ and their own, fraudsters and money grabbers, religion scalpers, religion pimps and others who make a living off the Torah.


Those righteous folks should be reminded, somewhat briefly, of Moses Ben-Maimon’s penetrating words, that “anyone who sets his heart on dealing with the Torah, and does no work, and makes a living off charity, is blaspheming the Lord and desecrating the Torah, stamping out its light, and taking his life from the next world … this man is doomed to rob the public” (Maimonides, Laws of Torah Study 3). But far, far worse are the pious people of the occupation. The thousands of empire thugs, whose brutality has no limits. The myriad of Torah-sanctioned villains, who live off the robbery and eviction, the exploitation and deceit, the trampling and oppression. All those malevolent souls, who even when fasting, their jaws continue to grind the flesh of the poor man’s lamb. There is no longer any hope for that lot. They are destined to drag us all to hell, and no disguise will help.
Whew. Amen.


Don Trump, War Wimp

October 1, 2017

The magisterial series Ken Burn’s and Lynn Novick’s Vietnam brought back memories of a great groundbreaking story first read decades ago by Jack Newfield in the Village Voice. It was about the “War Wimps”, the bloviators who cheered on war but like Dick Cheney and his 6 deferments “had better things to do” or Bush Jr. who famously disappeared only later to show up a US cruiser telling all that the war in Iraq was over. Rush Limbaugh, the biggest mouth of all was the worst. No maybe it was Sylvester Stallone who hid out in Switzerland then went on to make his Rambo movies.Real tough guy.


Let us not forget Newt Gingrich, a tough-guy congressman from Georgia. Why did he opt for college during Vietnam? He says: “What difference would I have made? There was a bigger battle in Congress than Vietnam.“Sure, Newt.

Add big mouth Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney who biked through France as a Mormon missionary. There were tons more…like Reagan speechwriter George Will.


Michael Moore outed a whole bunch in one of his early films. Only 1 congressman had a son in Iraq, but they sure like sending other people’s kids to war. And let us not forget Nixon and Johnson—they only had daughters. War wimps. And then there’s the biggest mouth of them all Donald Trump.



Ian Crouch wrote about him in the New Yorker:

Trump’s life story is that of a man in constant flight from the cowardice he perceives in himself and others. You can see it in his odd musing, at a rally, that “I love war, in a certain way,” despite his Vietnam deferments; his obsession on the campaign trail with denigrating other people’s “stamina” and “energy”; and his blustery threat to “totally destroy” North Korea, as if he would be doing so with his own mighty fists. Or consider a story he told Howard Stern, in 2008, which was recently unearthed, of seeing an old man fall off a stage at a charity event for the Marines. The man hit his head, and blood was pouring out on a marble floor in front of Trump. “I couldn’t, you know, he was right in front of me and I turned away,” Trump said. “I didn’t want to touch him.” A group of Marines stepped in to help.