Category Archives: Current Affairs

Vote To Put A Friendly Woman On The $20!

Put A Friendly Woman on the $20

I like this.  An online  campaign has taken off to bounce old Andy Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with  a woman.

“Women on 20s”

I admit it: here’s my true #1 favorite. She’s not on the finalists’ list, alas. But there are plenty of Quakes & Quake-ish faces there anyway.

Continue reading Vote To Put A Friendly Woman On The $20!

A Quaker Story of Remembrance — and Maybe Prophecy

A Quaker Story of Remembrance –and Maybe Prophecy

Pirates Six, Cubs Three

Sometime in the 1980s.

I wasn’t having a good night. And I hadn’t had a good day. Needleman in the Washington office had called just after lunch. He said they wanted me there, right away. I had to help the boss get ready for a big hearing before the Defense Systems Commission tomorrow. I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.


Needleman wasn’t impressed. “They play ballgames in Pittsburgh every night, Nelson,” he said. “We get a chance at a hundred million dollar contract once every ten years, if we’re lucky. This hearing could win it for us. The boss needs your data, and he needs you here to explain it to him. Tonight.”

Continue reading A Quaker Story of Remembrance — and Maybe Prophecy

Freaked Out About Footwear

Freaked Out About Footwear

Okay Folks, This is Your OFFICIAL NOTICE:
I Am Now Truly FREAKED OUT by the reach of BIG DATA

About an hour ago I was in a well-known Big Box store, picking up this and that. Along the way I saw a display of slippers. I’ve been thinking it might be good to get a pair of really warm slippers; tho I have not discussed this impulse online with anyone that I can recall.


 Anyway, I paused and browsed the display of slippers. Even tried one on. It was — well, not bad, but didn’t actually grab me (or my foot). So I put it back and went on. I did NOT purchase any slippers there.
Continue reading Freaked Out About Footwear

Update: FBI To Probe Muslim Killings In NC

FBI To Probe Case of 3 Muslim Students Slain in NC

From the Raleigh NC News & Observer, Feb. 13, 2015:

— As thousands of mourners prayed for the three Muslim-American students killed in Chapel Hill this week, the FBI opened its own investigation into the case Thursday.

In a brief news release late in the day, the FBI said it had launched “a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case.” The FBI had previously been called in to assist the Chapel Hill police in processing evidence from the crime scene; the new inquiry could broaden the case’s jurisdiction and potentially bolster the charges against the suspect.

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3 NC Muslim Students Murdered


3 Muslim Students Murdered–Over Parking?

This nearby shocker pretty much took over my day Wednesday. It’s still unfolding.


Muslim-Victims-NC Muslim-Victims-NC

And without drawing any final conclusions, here’s how it stands, as far as I can see now:

The victims were all students: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha.

The accused shooter, Craig Hicks, is a very odd duck: reviewing his Facebook page shows him to be a dogged liberal Democrat, pro-gay rights, abortion and all the rest, who is also a militant atheist — fervently anti-religion but not apparently any more anti-Islam than anti-all the rest; there are more blasts against Christianity on his page than against Islam, if that means anything.

Yet at the same time, he’s a gun rights zealot (there’s a semi-erotic closeup photo of his snubnose .38 on the page, likely the murder weapon). He’s not a southern redneck tho. Plus he had a longstanding (with witnesses) angry obsession about — parking squabbles in his apartment/condo complex.

So go figure: a politically liberal, equal-opportunity anti-religious gun-toting atheist, for whom road rage turns to parking rage turns deadly. There was a whisper in his wife’s brief statement about mental health issues, but the lawyers instantly shut it down (probably because it will figure in his upcoming trial; an insanity defense may be his only hope).



I watched a video of a brief statement by Suzanne Barakat, the sister of one of the victims: a woman in hospital greens (she’s a doc) and the Muslim headscarf. Infinitely poised and calm, considering the circumstances; quite impressive. She asked that the killlings be investigated as a hate crime, but said no more. We’re advised that the Justice Department is “monitoring” the case.

And there it is, friends.
Ain’t that America.
You and me.


Quakers, Nonviolence & ISIS

Quakers, Nonviolence & ISIS: A Dead End?

A Quaker married to a non-Friend pleaded for help the other day, because her husband was very skeptical that any non-warlike response to the brutal conquests of ISIS in the the Middle East would have any chances of success.

She couldn’t think of any adequate peaceful response, but didn’t want to give up. Did anyone have any advice, she asked?

There were lots of responses. Here’s mine, since the question is an old one, recurring pretty regularly with each new war the U.S. gets involved in, which is several in my adult lifetime, and many more before that . . . .

If you look in the early Quaker books of Discipline (a useful summary is here) and search for the “Peace Testimony,” you won’t find it, because it is NOT there. Nope. No such thing.

Instead, you’ll find a testimony insisting that Friends stay out of wars and preparation for wars,  on pain of disownment. It says nothing about how to resolve or prevent war; that idea was, to borrow a modern phrase, “way above the early Friends’ pay grade.” The idea behind this “old-time” Testimony is that Friends were supposed to be living under the spirit of peace, and so they “don’t learn (or do) war anymore” (to borrow from the Bible).

“The Peaceable Kingdom,” by Edward Hicks. This is one of dozens of similar paintings by this Quaker artist. It is based on a biblical image of a kind of heaven on earth, but includes a tableau of William Penn making peace with the Pennsylvania Indians — a wonderful deed, but not in the Bible.

  Continue reading Quakers, Nonviolence & ISIS

Harper Lee’s “new” Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??

Harper Lee’s “new” Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??

So “Go Set A Watchman,” has just appeared on the horizon, and already the media are going nuts. It’s some kind of terrible plot, shout some, intended to [gasp!] make money for publishers. NO, says the publisher, Harper Lee is fine with it, and it’ll be great. And methinks they’re just tuning up for a full philharmonic atonal blast.

Harper Lee's "new" Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??
Harper Lee swings Mary Badham, who played Scout in the movie of TKAM

Hmmmm. No doubt this IS “exploitive,” in the sense that it’s intended to sell books and make money.  And yet Something says to me, “Hold on a minute.”
After all — book publishers wanting to make profits? Hello– is this a new idea for anybody here??
And next, from repeated earlier reports, it seems close to clear
that Harper Lee herself is pretty deep into the last lap; cocooned in her old age and steep decline: described by some as non communicative, with at least short term memory all but gone, doesn’t travel, doesn’t do interviews. The Birmingham News, which runs the best news site in Alabama, just reinforced this impression with a visit. But their story also confirms that the lawyer who handled the deal had legal authority to do so. And eminent Alabama historian Wayne Flynt says he talked to her this week, and she’s lucid and it’s fine.

Continue reading Harper Lee’s “new” Novel: Mayhem or Must-Read??

Jeb Bush & The Terri Schiavo Case: A Terrifying Story

Jeb Bush & The Terri Schiavo Case: A Terrifying True Story


NOTE: This is a bombshell report from the respected Politico website. As the 2016 presidential campaign swings into high gear, the prospect of Jeb Bush as a serious candidate deserves careful scrutiny. His shocking performance in the Terri Schiavo case, carefully reviewed here by the site’s senior writer Michael Kruse, is loaded with ominous significance. These are excerpts; read the whole piece.]

Jeb Put Me Through Hell”

CLEARWATER, Fla.—Sitting recently on his brick back patio here, Michael Schiavo called Jeb Bush a vindictive, untrustworthy coward.

For years, the self-described “average Joe” felt harassed, targeted and tormented by the most important person in the state.

“It was a living hell,” he said, “and I blame him.”

Continue reading Jeb Bush & The Terri Schiavo Case: A Terrifying Story

Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou Is Out of Jail!

 Three Pictures for Today: First, John Kiriakou, CIA whistleblower who confirmed the existence of the CIA’s illegal torture program, just got out of jail, after serving two years in a federal penitentiary. This twitter photo says it all:


 Well, not QUITE all. Kiriakou still has a million-dollar legal bill, five kids, one in college, no pension and no job. And he has one other major distinction: of those government officials who planned the illegal [as in violating existing U.S. federal criminal law] CIA torture program, organized it, carried it out, shilled for it, covered it up, lied and obstructed justice for it, the only one who has faced charges is Kiriakou, whose “crime” was confirming its existence to a reporter. More on John and his background  here.

Now, to the second photo of the day:


Departing U.S. Attorney General  Eric Holder was the federal officer ultimately responsible for the prosecution of Kiriakou and other whistleblowers about torture, government spying on citizens, and more. His record in this record is usefully , shockingly summarized here.

No doubt Holder did some good work in his tenure; but the record on civil liberties is going to make a rough chapter in the history books; and it ought to give him nightmares.

So Welcome home, John Kiriakou. And Eric Holder: here’s the third photo, a sign for you:


Have a nice day.