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Jul 22 2014

What life (and death) is like in Gaza

israel_political_map

It is only 140 square miles and contains 1.8 million people, making it one of the most densely populated places on Earth. It is very small, similar in size and population density to Philadelphia, one of the biggest cities in the US. It is a narrow rectangular strip. The northern, eastern, and western borders are blockaded by Israel and the southern edge by Egypt. It is essentially a large, densely populated open-air ‘prison camp’ (as British prime minister David Cameron described it in 2010), which is why it is cynical when Israel, in its widely-publicized attempts at showing its ‘humanity’ while bombing Palestinians, urges people in northern Gaza to evacuate because they are going to bomb the region. That region alone has 200,000 people. Where are they supposed to go? Unlike the victims of violence in other countries, they cannot flee to a neighboring country. They are trapped and so must stay where they are and hope that they will not be blasted to bits. [Update: The original map has been replaced with new a one that is more accurate. Thanks to the commenters for pointing out the errors.] Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 21 2014

Things you never knew you needed

Stephen Colbert has some fun with an expensive new electric gadget.
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Jul 21 2014

The carnage in Gaza intensifies

Mohammed Suliman sends out a stream of tweets from Gaza that provide an insight into the kinds of surreal thoughts that flood your mind when you await what might well be your own death from a missile strike. It is poignant and tragic. It should be read in conjunction with this report (via Pharyngula) about the most recent massacre committed by Israel in which nearly ninety people died in one neighborhood.
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Jul 21 2014

Medicaid expansion rejection bites back

The expansion of Medicaid health benefits to people who were too poor to be eligible for the health insurance subsidies was supposed to be an integral part of the Affordable Care Act. But the US Supreme Court ruled that it was an option that states could choose to accept or reject. And of course two-dozen Republican-dominated states chose to reject it even though it seemed like a no-brainer since the federal government would pick up 100% of the costs in the first three years and about 95% after that, because god-forbid that poor people should get health insurance.
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Jul 21 2014

Was James Garner a good actor?

Last night, I binge-watched five episodes of The Rockford Files on Netflix in memory of James Garner who died on Saturday. It kept me way past my normal bedtime but it was my way of memorializing someone who gave me, and so many others, hours and hours of pleasure. Unfortunately, Netflix does not have episodes of Maverick or I would have watched those too.
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Jul 21 2014

Another kind of migrant worker

When I drive along the highway, I frequently pass campers and recreational vehicles driven by older people. I used to think of them as well-to-do retirees, enjoying a life of leisure wandering around the country and seeing the sights. But it turns out that in many cases, I would be wrong. The people in these vehicles could well be migrant workers.
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Jul 20 2014

James Garner (1928-2014)

He died yesterday.

I loved watching James Garner from the time I first saw him in the cowboy TV series Maverick. He was perfect in the role of a wry nattily dressed card player roaming the west and getting into adventures. What made him unusual as a cowboy was that as far as possible he would try to avoid getting into fights (he did not like the idea of getting hurt and besides he did not want to mess up his clothes) and did not want to be a hero and preferred to use his wits to get out of trouble but at the same time his sense of what was right kept getting him involved on behalf of the downtrodden.
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Jul 20 2014

Not surprising

Unfortunately I do not have access to the full article but the abstract of this study titled Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds reports findings that do not surprise me in the least.
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Jul 20 2014

Support for Israel hemorrhaging

The latest assault by Israel on Gaza has furthered the process in which Israel is losing support worldwide and also among Jews in the US, especially among the young, who do not buy in to the idea that Israel faces some existential threat that requires massive and disproportionate attacks on Palestinians. Instead what they see is a reactionary government backed by the US that is using its massive military power to oppress people that they have displaced from their homes.
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Jul 19 2014

Child refugees

The arrival of young children from Central America seeking refuge in the US has caused a problem for the xenophobes in the US. On the one hand they hate the idea of more non-white people coming to the US. But the members of the elite media and political classes also do not want to appear as heartless as their allies, the people gathering in groups on the border yelling angrily at the children. So they play a double game that Stephen Colbert parodies perfectly.
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