Tag Archives: words

Welcome to Silicon Valley: Give Right or Get Out!

By Helen A.S. Popkin

Activists who campaigned for the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over a $1,000 anti-gay marriage donation made in 2008 got their wish, but may also have inadvertently opened a Pandoras Box in Silicon Valley, where Birkenstocks and kale smoothies dont always mean liberal political views.

Take one case that has so far gotten almost no attention: An April 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by a shareholder claiming that Facebooks political action committee has donated 41% of contributions since its inception to politicians voting against LGBT rights. Around 30 percent of the PACs contributions have gone to politicians voting to deregulate greenhouse gases, the filing states, despite Facebooks public support for the environment.

The filing urges Facebook to implement a policy to ensure the companys money goes to political causes consistent with the social media giants corporate values. Filed days after Eich resigned, the document from the president of NorthStar Asset Management says that disclosure may lay Facebook subject to public scrutiny and embarrassment – but argues that the best antidote is transparency.

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Facebook has not responded to requests for comment from NBC News.

Are activists incensed by the politics of major tech corporations and their executives, or do they just get mad about the incidents that go viral? The Los Angeles Times maintains a database of everyone who gave money for or against Prop. 8, and records the donations of scores of others in the tech world. Its a bit more difficult to dig into the information compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics on the tens of millions of dollars the industry spends every year supporting or opposing political candidates and lobbying for causes including immigration reform, cybersecurity and other causes.

In the April filing, NorthStar Asset Management says that Facebook has a young, progressive consumer which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, and that backlash against Facebook PACs political contributions could bring down share prices. In other words, this could be another Mozilla mess in the making, with shareholders paying the literal price.

Facebook opposed NorthStar Asset Management’s proposal in its annual stockholder’s meeting notice, writing that, “we believe it is our responsibility to engage in political, legislative, and regulatory processes to advance laws and policies that are in the best interests of our company, our stockholders, the people who use our services, and our partners.”

“When peoples lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line.”

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Welcome to Silicon Valley: Give Right or Get Out!

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Gay Marriage in the News – HuffPost Gay Voices

I want to suggest an evangelicalism that truly values mercy over sacrifice, restorative justice over religion, neighbors-as-people over theological gnats. In other words, an evangelicalism after World Vision.

It’s not exactly news when a Republican endorses marriage equality, since it happens all the time. But this is a big deal: Former Sen. Alan Simpson, a fixture of Wyoming politics for decades, is now appearing in an ad for Freedom to Marry.

The focus in the recent wave of same-sex marriage decisions has not been on the marriage part of marriage equality, but on the equality part.

Cary Franklin

Assistant professor of law at The University of Texas School of Law

Just weeks after the announcement was made, newly named Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned from his post amid impassioned outcries from the LGBT commun…

What was supposed to educate and inform teenagers in the state has turned into a big joke.

Steve Siebold

Author and expert in the field of critical thinking and mental toughness training

Last week I went to see Terrence McNally’s beautifully realized portrait of the “new normal” American family in his touching play Mothers and Sons. By the way, I went with my mother. And as I sat in my seat before the lights dimmed, my thoughts took me back over 30 years, to 1983.

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Gay Marriage in the News – HuffPost Gay Voices

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Occupy Oakland – Official Site

We Don’t Have the Videos You’re Looking For. On February 18th, hundreds of Oaklanders showed up at the City Council meeting to testify against the Domain Awareness Center in other words, against spying.

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Occupy Oakland – Official Site

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West Bank – definition of West Bank by the Free Online …

West Bank

A disputed territory of southwest Asia between Israel and Jordan west of the Jordan River. Part of Jordan after 1949, it was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In 1994 an accord between Israel and the PLO was signed, giving Palestinians limited self-rule and requiring measured withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank.

1. (Placename) the West Bank a semi-autonomous Palestinian region in the Middle East on the W bank of the River Jordan, comprising the hills of Judaea and Samaria and part of Jerusalem: formerly part of Palestine (the entity created by the League of Nations in 1922 and operating until 1948): became part of Jordan after the ceasefire of 1949: occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In 1993 a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization provided for the West Bank to become a self-governing Palestinian area; a new Palestinian National Authority assumed control of parts of the territory in 1994-95, but subsequent talks broke down and Israel reoccupied much of this in 2001-02 and continues to maintain most existing Israeli settlements. Pop: 2 421 491 (2004 est). Area: 5879 sq km (2270 sq miles)

a region in the Middle East, between the W bank of the Jordan River and the E (1949) armistice line of Israel: formerly held by Jordan; occupied in 1967 by Israel; now under partial Palestinian self-rule.

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West Bank – definition of West Bank by the Free Online …

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NATO, the multiple-choice alliance

As NATO militaries hand over their responsibilities to Afghanistans fledgling security forces and head for home, let the evaluation of the alliances performance begin no matter how disappointing the conclusions might be.

Immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations charter, which obliges member countries to come to the aid of those under attack. This was the first time in NATO history that Article 5 was in the spotlight, and, unfortunately, the holes in its interpretation were large enough to drive a truck through. None of the framers of Article 5 indicated how much military assistance each member country was expected to contribute. In other words, NATO was really a closet multiple-choice alliance where each member country could pick and choose not only how much it would contribute, but how much it would actually do after arriving in theatre.

As it approached the 50th anniversary of its 1949 creation, NATO found itself with no obvious military role. The collapse of the Soviet Union had eliminated its sole enemy and primary reason for existence. The hype and outright propaganda surrounding the deteriorating situation in Kosovo in early 1999 provided the alliance with a questionable mission, at best. Serbia had been heavy-handed with Kosovos Albanian majority for years, but deadly force was not employed. Then, the Kosovo Liberation Army began ambushing and killing Serbian security forces throughout Kosovo. The Serbs reacted and the fighting intensified.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevics reputation in most NATO countries was already at rock-bottom after the war in Bosnia, and the alliance had now found a role. Absent a United Nations resolution, it bombed a sovereign country not just Serbian military targets, but civilian infrastructure.

Most alliance member countries participated in the bombing campaign, even if some disagreed with the mission. What was not realized at the time was how the degree of risk, despite being virtually non-existent to alliance forces in an air campaign, would play a role in determining which countries would participate and what they would be prepared to undertake in Kosovo, and then in future NATO missions.

The aversion to risk raised its head again as the Afghan mission unfolded. The U.S. mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, laid the ground for the subsequent NATO mission. In late 2005, when Kandahar looked like it would fall to the Taliban, NATO decided that Dutch, British and Canadian combat units would move south to Kandahar under the alliances command. The Canadians moved south on schedule and defeated formed Taliban units. The others were delayed for months as their governments debated. NATOs command of the operation was also postponed and the Canadians operated under U.S. operational control as part of Enduring Freedom.

It had become obvious that while safe air campaigns were one thing, many countries were not prepared to contribute forces for high-risk ground combat. Meanwhile, a number of countries who sent troops to the Afghan theatre insisted on caveats that might have been humorous if the consequences hadnt been so serious: We wont patrol at night and We will only shoot if shot at first and We wont go outside the wire, for example.

The 2011 air campaign in Libya reinforced the theory that risk is the key deciding factor in which countries will show up when NATO calls. Bombing Moammar Gadhafis forces was extremely low risk, and there was no shortage of alliance volunteers.

Despite the steady erosion of NATO combat capabilities since the end of the Cold War, the alliance continued to grow by moving east and welcoming former Soviet satellite countries, such as Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. Pushing right up to the Russian border and bestowing membership on the likes of Estonia and Latvia was extremely unwise, because the alliance no longer has the capability to rush to the rescue with military force in the event a member is threatened. All the Wests rhetoric about Ukraine is meaningless, because Russia knows NATO is incapable of taking on any high-risk intervention anywhere.

In the aftermath of NATOs failures in Afghanistan, there is the possibility of a three-tier alliance emerging once the post-mission evaluation is completed:

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NATO, the multiple-choice alliance

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Painting love over hate on vandalized Workmens Circle mural

The Arabic word Salaam and its Hebrew and English equivalents, Shalom and Peace, were added to a vandalized mural in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. Photo by Ryan Torok

An organization that fosters Jewish identity has attempted to turn a recent act of vandalism into an opportunity for bridge-building between Jews and Muslims.

Last weekend, the SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmens Circle added the Arabic word Salaam and its Hebrew and English equivalents, Shalom and Peace, to a vandalized mural that covers its home in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood.

The organizations addition to its 1998 mural is a response to incidents that took place on Feb. 6. Thats when vandals spray-painted the words Free Palestine!!!! onto the mural. Hours later, another set of vandals responded, in turn, by turning the word Free into an expletive.

The graffiti remained until its recent removal by the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works Office. An ongoing investigation by police has not identified any suspects.

[Related:Graffiti at Workmens Circle]

In the wake of the incidents, Workmens Circle denounced the vandals in a public statement. Its district committee voted to make the addition to the mural out of the belief that the best way to respond to acts of hate is with compassion.

Eric Gordon, a district committee member, said, It often does take an extreme act, a catastrophe, an accident, to awaken you to needs you didnt think you had before. What are we going to do? Respond to an act of hate by saying F— Palestine on the mural? So, were trying to be responsive.

We agree with Free Palestine. Its not the best way to express it. We are sorry and angry that they chose that way to express it, but they do have a point, he said.

The wall-sized mural itself titled A shenere un besere velt (a Yiddish phrase meaning A more beautiful and better world) depicts cultural, biblical and historical imagery. The imagery includes a menorah, Israelites wandering in the desert, a young girl waving Israeli and American flags, and more.

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Painting love over hate on vandalized Workmens Circle mural

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‘Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’ – Video



'Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians'
For more on this and other stories please visit http://www.enca.com/ During Israeli Apartheid Week the focus has again fallen on the words spoken by Nelson M…

By: eNCAnews

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‘Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’ – Video

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2014 NBA Playoff Odds: Latest Team Predictions for Season's Stretch Run

Use your (arrow) keys to browse the slideshow Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Anyone claiming the NBA season is too long should take a good, hard look at the standings for both the Eastern and Western Conferences. If, as some say, the 82-game slog is fraught with too many meaningless contests and ho-hum stretches of uninspired play, how is it that we’ve reached the season’s final month with so much still undecided? Other than a handful of teams that already know their official playoff fates (the Miami Heat are in; the Los Angeles Lakers are out), most clubs’ postseason positioning is still very much up in the air.

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2014 NBA Playoff Odds: Latest Team Predictions for Season's Stretch Run

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How liberal is Portland?

This ain’t ‘Portlandia’ but it sure feels like it, according to a survey highlighting the Rose City’s very lefty political leanings

Everyone knows Portland is more liberal than the rest of the region and the state. People joke that a Republican can’t be elected dog catcher in Portland, and that business support is the kiss of death for any politician in the city.

Conventional wisdom holds that the only conservatives live in far east Portland, and they are vastly outnumbered by everybody else in town.

Guess what? It’s not a myth.

A major statewide poll conducted last year, the 2013 Oregon Values & Beliefs Survey, shows that most Portlanders are vastly more liberal than people living in the rest of the tri-county region and Oregon. Differences are dramatic on issues ranging from the economy to the environment and the proper size and role of government.

Turns out IFCs Portlandia TV series is more documentary than comedy.

Results from the 2013 Oregon Values & Beliefs Survey have been presented publicly before, including at a Portland City Council work session. But the Portland Tribune asked the Davis Hibbitts & Midghall Research firm to run the numbers again, this time separating Portland from the rest of the region and the state. Those results show just how large the gap has grown between Portland and its suburbs, as well as the rest of the state.

An obvious example from the poll: far more Portlanders describe themselves as liberals on both social and economic issues.

According to the poll, a statistically astonishing 43 percent of city residents consider themselves to be very liberal on social issues, compared to just 11 percent of the rest of the region and 13 percent of the rest of the state. Another 31 percent of Portlanders consider themselves to be somewhat liberal on social issues, compared with 24 percent of the rest of the region and 23 percent of the rest of the state.

In other words, a substantial majority of Portlanders 74 percent consider themselves to be liberal on social issues, compared with 35 percent of the rest of the region and 36 percent of the rest of the state.

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How liberal is Portland?

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Graffiti at Workmens Circle

This past Sunday afternoon, I pulled up behind the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring building and viewed its now twice-graffitied mural, then went inside to discuss the past and future of secular, progressive Jewish culture. For the past two years, my cohort of the Secular Yeshiva a bi-monthly study group examining Jewish culture and history from a non-religious, politically progressive perspective has met here, on the other side of the mural.

Many of us are teachers at the Sholem Community, whose Sunday school introduces children to Jewish history from a non-religious perspective and invites them to participate in and create new cultural holiday observances. They learn the history of labor, immigrant rights and civil rights movements, and gather to sing in Yiddish, Hebrew and English about peace and social justice.

Many in the community have pointed out the irony of the original graffiti writers’ choice of canvas: of all the Jewish organizations they could have chosen, they picked the one most likely to have had the words Free Palestine! spoken within its walls. Two years ago I attended an event held in the Workmen’s Circle building organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, a safe space to discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement no matter your political position. The Workmen’s Circle itself has promoted a two-state solution.

Others have expressed anxiety that it was just this sort of rare open dialogue that set the stage for the defacing of the historic mural. Was it a coincidence that this incident came the week after Scarlett Johanssen’s Superbowl ad for Sodastream was targeted by the BDS movement, bringing that campaign some of its highest-profile publicity? Only a few weeks after Swarthmore Hillel declared that it would no longer abide by Hillel International’s policy of not allowing speakers critical of Zionism and Israel’s actions? Was it an inevitable result of the steady growth of movements which include many Jews questioning whether a state can be both Jewish and democratic?

The timing seems to indicate that we’ve reached some kind of tipping point, at least here in Los Angeles. But I see this incident as the legacy of another, deeply entrenched, pattern in the American Jewish community. The graffiti literally erased symbols of the rich history of the pursuit of justice and liberation by Eastern Europe’s Yiddish-speaking civilization. Those of us raised with all the privileges of third-, fourth- and fifth-generation white Americans too easily forget that this pursuit was in their economic and social interests and is in ours, too. The history written over last Thursday with silver and black spray paint is a history that has been figuratively erased by American Jewish educational institutions for at least the past four decades. My own childhood quest to learn what happened to the Jews between the destruction of the second temple and the rise of Theodor Herzl, unsatisfied anywhere else, led me to the Workmen’s Circle, to Sholem, and to other organizations promoting the legacy and continuation of Yiddish culture.

I find it difficult to believe that this blank spot in the standard Jewish historical narrative is an accidental oversight. A community still traumatized by the horrors of WWII, seeking redemption in our nationalist triumph, has let the history of Yiddish Eastern Europe gather dust on the shelves of the library hidden in the back room behind the mural. Those of us who seek touchpoints of contemporary Jewish identity are left to grapple with Israel – as safe democratic refuge or undemocratic colonial oppressor.

Is it any wonder that on a side street off of Robertson Boulevard, a colorful celebration of cultural heritage has been reduced to a terse three-word debate?

I wonder if the authors of those very short political commentaries were more savvy than many have taken them for: is it that they didn’t know how progressive the Workmen’s Circle is? Or did they know that, of all of the buildings housing Jewish community organizations in Los Angeles, this was the one that would respond with an offer of dialogue? Did they know that this organization with its aging, dwindling membership but powerful legacy of the Yiddish Bund and its historic insistence on doikayt, hereness, addressing the Jewish question in Eastern Europe instead of faraway Palestine was the one most likely to open wide the debate? Did they see this as the only way of asking this community to ask some extremely difficult questions – questions that will open old wounds and expose vulnerabilities?

Just as the mural, coated with an anti-graffiti agent, will be restored, so too can we restore a connection to our cultural heritage but not merely by preserving relics of the past.

Reading the Yiddish stories of Mendele and singing the lyrics of the Yiddish sweatshop poets will liberate no one from checkpoints, home demolitions, humiliation and ongoing violence – or from fear, isolation, a sense of embattlement and re-triggering of the traumas of the rising tide of anti-Semitism that swept 1930s Europe.

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Graffiti at Workmens Circle

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