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I'm hoping very much that I don't need to go into all the absurd things uttered by Toronto's increasingly more bizarre Mayor, Rob Ford as, by now, I think the whole world has seen them and, frankly, if a photograph emerged of Mayor Ford standing secretively on the grassy knoll off Dealey Plaza, I don't think anyone would be overly surprized!

However, just in case you've managed to avoid the seemingly endless stream of drivel and obscenities which emit from this man's mouth, I'll give you a brief taster...

Mayor Ford is the man who called one of his opponents, Justin Trudeau, a "fag", he described his children's football team as "a bunch of minorities", when the media began digging around trying to get a hold of the now infamous "crack smoking video" he stated that all journalists were "maggots" and so it goes on.

I have to admit that, speaking personally, his crack smoking admission really doesn't concern me over much, other things he has said and done over the past years concern me far more.  His admission, which was eventually forced from him despite the weeks of denial from him which preceded it, when the aforementioned video finally surfaced, seemed to be less an apology and more of a campaign speech for his 2014 re-election.  Only Rob Ford could seriously think that it was either the time or the place to launch such a campaign, but launch it he did.    Apparently, his crack smoking was a result of a "drunker stupor" and Mayor Ford informs us that we should all understand this as, no doubt, we have all done the same thing at some point (I'll leave that one hanging in the air!)

Why he hasn't been arrested yet is beyond me, since he has publicly admitted to so many illegal acts recently.

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The Pistorius bail ruling today seems to have ignited a great deal of controversy, especially if the Tweets about it are any indicator of how the wider public feel.  I listened to the entire two hours of the Judge's ruling and I also read most of what was publicly available offered by both the Defense and the Prosecution as the hearing was under way.   And I am forced to come to a conclusion which I very much doubt will be popular anywhere but here goes...

Based PURELY on the evidence brought forward by the Prosecution there really is absolutely no evidence to support premeditated murder. I suspect they only brought that charge to allow them to think about which indictment they wished to go with - indeed, the judge himself said that at trial, it would run as a Culpable Homicide, which as you know, is not at all the same thing.

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I don't normally do this type of post but I'm making an exception here as I feel so strongly about it.

As we must all know by now, following a "prank" phone call from Australian radio station 2Day FM, the nurse who first received the call has been found dead in her hospital apartment.

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The public outcry and demonization of the DJ's concerned is something which sadly doesn't surprize me but it really just adds further misery to the overall awfulness of the situation.   The people to blame, in my opinion, are the programme editors, the legal team and those who TOOK the decision to air that call (which was pre-recorded) without gaining the hospital's consent.  They are now saying they tried to contact the hospital unsuccessfully, the hospital have released a statement saying NO ONE spoke to anyone in their administration or legal departments.  So it seems clear that consent was not gained as it should be.   However, that is not what concerns me for this article...

I am just fed up with the endless amounts of air-time given over to the radio station concerned, the two DJ's concerned, and to navel-gazing and hypocrisy of the British media who are universally saying "We would NEVER do such a thing" - how ironic that Lord Leveson himself was in Australia when this terrible event occurred.

This, however, is a tribute to Jess Saldanha, a woman who nursed me on several occasions when I was in hospital.  Her daughter, Lisha, posted a small status update on Facebook last week stating how devastated the family were and thanking people for their support - how much media coverage did that get?   A little, but nowhere near the amount of coverage given to the radio station itself.

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If I go suddenly missing after the election, I hope you will all be preparing yourselves to sit beneath the guillotine and knit while I'm executed.

Sadly, this does not appear to be a weird fantasy brought on by too much medication but, an actual suggestion by the very delightful Erik Rush.   He has chosen Free Speech Week to write an article which seriously suggests we put any journo's who've supported Obama on trial for treason.

You can read the article in full here How To Disarm the Mainstream Media

But, if your blood pressure is high enough already, I've chosen a few juicy snippets which are posted beneath the squiggle...

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Years ago, I used to teach a course about folk devils. You know, those friend-of-a-friend type stories, which everyone knows and some even believe. The stories which lead entire nations to believe myth-information and falsehoods. A kind of collective, cultural ideology which somehow turns into general belief.

Folk Devils are closely related to “moral panics” in their pervasiveness and insidiousness. They fester, develop, re-form and then grow almost autonomically. In the end, we don't even realize what they are, they just become universal truths which are universally acknowledged, oft repeated, and seem to become more definite with each re-telling.

The best example of a folk devil/moral panic was the mods and rockers debacle in the United Kingdom in the 60's. In fact, Stan Cohen based much of his book “Folk Devils and Moral Panics” (30th annivesary reprint edition), around this very thing. The public were fired up to believe there was a war between two groups of young people. The idea was constantly and forcefully reinforced by the mainstream media every hour of every day, with emergency update bulletins being issued and public order laws being passed with alarming knee-jerkiness which, its interesting to note, was unheard of then, quite common nowadays as a response to public order issues. The public, although a little disinterested at first, soon got on the bandwagon and joined in. It became the national topic to discuss. Who was right and who was wrong? Who was better – the mods or the rockers? Who was more violent? What was it all about? Reality was no one really knew and no one particularly cared; it was an almost entirely media-created drama and we were all happy to go along for the ride. Yes, it's true to say there were some pre-existent issues between local groups of youngsters, but nowhere near to being a crisis of any type. However, once it became “public fact”, the mods and rockers were happy enough to join in and fulfill the fictional creation of warring factions. It ended up as a very real scenario, with real people being really hurt. And that's the scary thing about it. It was so easy. It's just a case of “wind 'em up and watch 'em go”. Simple.

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Perhaps you might like to focus on the real issue ... gun control.

Oh, and since you seem to have finally concluded that Sikhs aren't Muslims, perhaps you'd also be prepared to accept that not all Muslims are innate terrorists?

I am saddened beyond belief to have seen the images I've seen on the television tonight coming out of Oak Creek.   I am rarely reduced to tears these days, but this has done it for me.   The dignity, compassion, decency and integrity of the Sikh people who have spoken from outside of the temple is something perhaps we could all learn from.    

After the Aurora Shootings, Noam Scheiber wrote a really brilliant article entitled "Yes, Really, Ban all the guns" in which he asks why it's only really acceptable to talk about banning assault weapons, why not talk about banning gun ownership in private homes, full stop?

He says :

Guns are good because they provide the ultimate self-defense? While I’m sure some people believe that having a gun at their bedside will make them safer, they are wrong.

Later in the article he says

It’s rarely talked about, but hunting for sport is just about as vile as we humans get. In the words of former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, “Most wicked deeds are done because the doer proposes some good to himself . . . [but] the killer for sport has no such comprehensible motive. He prefers death to life, darkness to light. He gets nothing except the satisfaction of saying, ‘Something that wanted to live is dead.”’ ... Can someone explain to me why that’s acceptable, or why that love of death should be more important than the safety of the 94 percent of us who don’t have hunting licenses and don’t hunt?
Today we are all stunned by the dreadful events in Oak Creek.  Sikhs, while attending their place of worship, attacked by a gunman (it seems to only be one at the current time).  We so far know that there are seven dead, including the gunman.

Continue reading below the squiggle for more...

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In an attempt to write something slightly lighter than my diary yesterday, but also in an attempt to get in touch a little with some of my less threatening anger (!), I thought I'd make a diary post today about some of the things which regularly wind me up in my every day life.  

One of those things centers on Buddhism.   Or should I say the misconceptions other people have about Buddhism!  Now I'm sure many of you will want to say that, as a Buddhist, I really should be more accepting, less confrontational and far more tolerant of these things but, contrary to popular myth-information - Buddhists are allowed to get angry at times!

I've lost count of the times I've heard someone say that something bad has happened to them and then follow it up with "it must be that I have bad kamma".   NO!  You do not HAVE kamma, you DO kamma!!  Truly, not very Buddhist of me I know, but I really do get frustrated!  

Kamma is the action, vipaka is the result.  In other words, you DO kamma (good things) and you get "Vipaka" (the result of your actions).  Really simple... or so you'd think!  But, apparently not!  And each time I point this out to someone, they shrug and say "oh well, you know what I mean?" as if the word itself really makes no difference!  

And so it goes on.  I'm not sure why Buddhism seems to have quite so many misconceptions based around it but, if feels to me at any rate, as if it does.  And so let me dispel a few of them here and now!

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Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 02:55 AM PDT

I wish I understood forgiveness...

by Maianewley

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Painting by Sofiya Inger (2006)

(UPDATED : Just wanted to add that I wrote this because I honestly find it hard to know what forgiveness really means and whether or  not it's something people feel obliged to do, rather than because they actually feel any real connection to the concept of forgiveness - is it more that we are told we will feel better if we do?  I think some people thought I was asking "should we forgive?" and I'm not, I'm asking what it looks like to forgive, what form it takes and how we know if we've done it or not! I have often felt very guilty and somehow less of a person as I seem unable to achieve this "forgiveness" thing, in fact, I can't even really work out what it is!)

Forgiveness is a concept that really fascinates me.  Possibly because I seem so unable to do it!  Well, that's not entirely true, I can forgive the small, insignificant things.  I'll forgive you if you say or do something hurtful without meaning to, I'll forgive you if you forget my birthday (!), I'll forgive you if you do all sorts of things but, when it comes to the really big things, the things that truly matter, I seem to stumble.

I've been ruminating on what "forgiveness" actually means for quite literally years.  In fact, ever since a very close friend of mine was murdered back in 1980.  If you'd have asked me in the years following his death, I think I'd have said one of those non-committal things like "who am I to forgive anything?" or "what does my forgiveness matter?" but, deep down, I think I'd have avoided directly answering the question because I don't much like the truthful answer.

In all honesty, have I forgiven the perpetrator?  I'm not at all sure I have.

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James Taranto, the Wall Street Journal columnist who writes for their "Best Web of the Day Today" column, posted the following tweet yesterday, referring to the women who were saved by their partners in the Colorado shootings.

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@jamestaranto 's Twitter page

Needless to say, his tweet provoked a variety of reactions.

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I apologize in advance if there is some known-about way of asking this - I don't know about it if there is!

Is there a group on DK for Democrats abroad?  Or even for those voting in the election who are not in the US and are not going to be back by November?

I'd love to be a part of it if there is and, if there isn't, is there any chance there could be one?!

There are many things which don't seem to fall directly within the DK remit which come up in the UK (where I currently am) ABOUT the US elections and I'd really like to be able to write about them somewhere where they would fit in ok!

Anyway, apologies if I've missed some huge banner at the top of each page which says "Overseas Voters Group"!

I might be the only person interested in such a group but I feel fairly sure I can't be.  And, surely, even those people who ARE in the US might still be interested in what's going on and what's being said elsewhere?

Thank you to anyone who can enlighten me or help me out and do feel free to just delete the diary if I should have asked it somewhere else!


As yesterday's dreadful shooting in Aurora, Colorado gradually begins to sink into my brain, I am left with this increasing feeling of sadness.

Sadness about a lot of things really.  Sadness that the idea of a "community" seems to have mostly disappeared from our lives, the sort of community where everyone knows everyone else's name, their children, their parents and so on, where everyone looks out for everyone else and people actually care about each other.  Of course, in those communities of yesteryear, there were also the bigots, the racists, the homophobes and all the other nutjobs and I know that many people felt pushed out or excluded even then but, on the other hand, there was a sense of "belonging" that just seems so absent now.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been unwell for a while now and for that reason have been away from DK and other online haunts of mine for a few months while I underwent some chemotherapy and also tried to get my head around my current life situation.

Initially of course, I had the same reaction I expect everyone else has - a kind of "no, not me surely?" thing that goes on inside your head when someone is trying to tell you something you don't want to hear, let alone know.

I did that thing which psychologists call "cross cueing" - I said to the doctors "oh yes, please be honest with me, totally honest" but my hand signals were saying otherwise as I waved both arms across my body indicating to them that the exact opposite was true!   And I suppose I spent a lot more time than I'd intended thinking about my demise, unable to see beyond the horror of it all and really only able to focus on the shock and the despair that seemed to hit me shortly after my diagnosis.

For a while that despair seemed to somehow sustain me as odd as that might sound but, gradually, I began to wake up again and start looking at the world around me, start caring again about politics, people, tragedies, life in general.   But something had changed within me, not in some kind of metaphysical, spiritual way - I'm nowhere near that good a Buddhist! - but in a more tangible and primal way.

Suddenly tomorrow wasn't as important as it once was.  Next week was for "other people" and next year was just a concept in an abstract kind of a way.  

I've always wished that I could do that truly Buddhist thing and live for the now.  But I've always been one of life's meanderers, never able to go to anything in a straight line, always preferring to wander around the edges in order to get to the middle.  I always used to joke that I never said anything in ten words if ten hundred would do!  And that, at least, hasn't changed, I'm still doing that!

But my actions have changed.  I no longer see something that bothers me, or something which seems unjust and wrong, without feeling an overwhelming urge to do something about it right now, which may also explain my sudden verbal diarrhoea on the diary front!

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Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:48 PM PDT

Mad As A Box of Marauding Frogs...

by Maianewley

From Mittens' statement

''Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.''
To Michelle Bachmann's
Letter asking the State Department to investigate whether Huma Abedin, who is Muslim, has any ties through her family to the Muslim Brotherhood.
(OK, maybe it's unfair to pick on her since she's the one with a brain the size of a genetically-modified pea)

Through Newt Gingrich's

“The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.”
and Herman Cain's
“Engage the people. Don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill – and even they didn’t read it! You and I didn’t have time to read it. We’re too busy trying to live – send our kids to school. That’s why I am only going to allow small bills – three pages.”
and Sarah Palin's
countless and seemingly endless idiocy
And Joe Walsh's
"Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about."
(When talking about Tammy Duckworth, his opponent, who had discussed the fact that she is a double amputee and Iraq war veteran)

Right the way through to Anne Romney's

"We've given all that you people need to know and understand about our situation."
I'm left with only one conclusion...

They really are as mad as a box of frogs, aren't they?  

And I'm talking about a box of very cross, poorly educated, ill-informed, inarticulate, bitter, selfish, greedy. dishonest and vaguely racist mad frogs who all joined the NRA because they'd already been excluded from all the popular clubs.

I've finally had to accept that trying to understand anything they do or say is like sticking my head in the microwave hoping to understand the nature of electricity - it's just never gonna happen.

FFS President Obama, do NOT lose this election!

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