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Posts Tagged ‘middle-east’

When it’s a glorious Fall weekend, with nights in the 50s and the high for the day is maybe 80, we will always meander our way off the mountain and down into the city, to mix and mingle at the Farmer’s Market, aka Cville City Market. College kids are back in town, and because it’s a big football weekend there are Ducks everywhere (Oregon), so it’s shoulder to shoulder energy.

Breakfast included a locally sourced bacon and egg sandwich with organic iced green tea. This is however a recipe for disaster with my visual field deficit courtesy of a West Nile mosquito. Because the sun was merciless, and live bluegrass music was everywhere, I wore my sun hat and therefore couldn’t see (or hear) anything to the right of me. Needless to say, I bumped into lots of friends and strangers!

What got to me this time was the abundance of heirloom tomatoes. I don’t think I could ever eat another supermarket tomato again. I moved here determined to stay true to the famous Garden State tomato. That and pizza. But it’s time to admit defeat, one out of two ain’t bad. The many-colored and zebra striped heirloom tomatoes in VA are simply divine.

Which leads me to a little riff on loyalty. I’m about as loyal as they come, like James Carville is to Bill Clinton. I still buy Tide and Dove soap. Which is why I’m keeping my options open about Syria. Yes, I’m a pacifist and I detest this run-up to war. You can’t bring about peace by surgically striking Damascus. If I were that opthalmologist-turned-dictator Assad, I’d get pretty darned pissed. But the mere fact that our President has changed his mind, and is asking the Congress to step up to the plate, gives me a measure of hope. This President who stood tall against the Iraq war. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on Tuesday night.

Because when Virginia’s own President Woodrow Wilson tried to prevent another world war with his League of Nations, he was on to something. And so the world waits for the UN Security Council to vote and for our elected officials to say Yea or Nay. Because Syrian violence is about loyalty – the succession of leadership by bloodline from Mohammed (Alawite a type of Shiite interpretation – 12% minority but ruling class of Muslims) vs a belief in succession by Mohammed’s most able and pious companions (Sunni – 70% of Syrian Muslims).

And btw, 90% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni! Imagine if Jesus had children, and so Christians split into 2 sects; the apostles and saints vs his progeny…instead of say how many? Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Congregational, Lutheran, Baptist….

According to Shiite Islam, Mohammed’s only true heir, imam, was his son-in-law Ali bin Abu Talib. But Alawites take a step further in the veneration of Imam Ali, allegedly investing him with divine attributes. Other specific elements such as the belief in divine incarnation, permissibility of alcohol, celebration of Christmas and Zoroastrian new year. http://middleeast.about.com/od/syria/tp/The-Difference-Between-Alawites-And-Sunnis-In-Syria.htm

Making the world safe for democracy, doesn’t seem to fit in this scenario…at least not without more bloodshed. And unlike my heirloom tomato tart recipe, I can’t envision the end game.

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We’ve all come to that point. A place where there’s no turning back, not enough fuel to land safely at home, but just enough to make it to the next destination. Some people may fold at this point, insist they could never get there, afraid of the unknown, so they’d rather take their chances swimming with sharks. Others may just hover, like Wiley Coyote over a canyon, in their mistaken belief system that the air will keep right on supporting their standing-in-place bodies.

But some keep going. The drums of war are beating once again.

Baghdad is suffering more violence today than it has in years – 1,057 killed last month alone, 50 killed by bombs in the last 24 hours…”More than 4,000 civilians have been killed and 10,000 more have been wounded so far this year, with Baghdad province worst hit.”

I am by no means a Mid-East scholar. But I do like to source my news, to hear all the stories surrounding an issue, to try and not make snap judgements. And that’s why I started reading alJazeera around the Egypt uprising; and I’ve even tuned in to their new American news network, channel 215 on Dish, these past few days.

Because I’d been unplugged in Nashville, and am returning to an inevitable “surgical strike” by our forces in Syria. And I learned that there have been around 20 instances of the use of chemical weapons within the country since the fighting began, which leads one to wonder why the West is responding now? Does a “red line” have to show videos of women and children dying? As one Arab scholar mentioned, “Killing is killing.” How very biblical.

And btw, Russia will veto any intervention proposed to The Security Council, because they think the horrendous attack in a suburb of Damascus on August 21st was actually caused by the rebels. And as I’m listening to alJazeera America, I’m thinking back to my favorite HBO  show of the moment, “Newsroom.”

This fictional newsroom ran a story about Serin gas, a story that proved to be false. And I thought about when the Bride was in Paris during her 2nd semester, about the Serin gas that was used in the 1995 Metro bombings.

And on this rainy morning, I’m really not sure who to believe. Certainly the Newsroom’s General Stomtonovich’s on-air “confession” was cooked by its producer, we saw him do it.

And now the UK has drafted a resolution  “…authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians in Syria.” And we are circling our battleships; the drums are drum drum drumming.

And I think back to the bill of goods we were sold about WMDs in Iraq. And it’s like our whole country has gone out to the edge, once again.

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What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I was going to write about yoga. About how I’m dipping my toes into its practice; like an old dancer with creeky knees, I envisioned a newer, Nia-type dancer with fluid joints…or maybe just more synovial fluid in my joints? I’ve tried Slow Flow Vinyasa and Yoga for Arthritis, and I’m looking forward to a class of Restorative or maybe even Yin Yoga. Somewhere between doing it in a chair with octogenarians, and standing on my head with millenniums, will be my sweet spot. After all, the Bride and the Love Bug are practicing Baby Yoga, which looks like a lot of fun!

But today we hear on the news that a suicide bomber has attacked our embassy in Turkey. And all I can think of is the beautiful young woman who was knitting a pink and orange concoction in our Needle Lady circle on Wednesday. She was getting on a plane that night, leaving her 2 small children and husband to fly to Iraq. She works for an NGO and is part of a team that is teaching the Kurds how to manage and develop their architectural and historic monuments. The woman sitting next to her then wanted to hear what she studied (art history – listen up, here is an unusual career path for artists), but I wanted to know if she spoke Kurdish. Unfortunately, she said, she had studied Arabic. Then she told me that although many top schools are teaching Arabic in the states, funding has dried up for research and placements in the Arab world.

After assuring us that northern Iraq is quite safe, we said goodbye to our knitting colleague. Of course, we all thought Turkey is safe too. “A number of illegal groups ranging from Kurdish separatists to leftist and Islamist militants have launched attacks in recent years in Turkey, which is a member of Nato. The last big attack in Ankara in 2007, which killed nine and injured 120, was blamed by police investigators on a lone, leftist suicide bomber.” The French and German embassies are nearby, right off Attaturk Blvd, and it seems that we have been scouting for a different, safer more secure location for our embassy in Ankara for some time.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21293598

So instead of regaling yoga, let’s thank those American women who can not only now fight on the battlefield with the best of ’em, but also those in the private and governmental sector who go to the hot spots in the world to try and build on a sense of peace and fledgling democracy. I’d like to wish a fond farewell to our most popular Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/01/16791796-the-making-of-hillary-clinton-15-moments-that-define-her-public-life?lite

Today is her last day of work, she hands the keys over to John Kerry. It seems her biggest worry is what to do without a schedule. Catching up on 20 years of sleep deprivation is also a priority. Clinton’s answers, her attitude and gravitas at the Benghazi hearings were an impressive way to cap her career, to say the least. I thought back to Anita Hill getting grilled on the Hill, and smiled. Clinton’s body language is a serious lesson on how to handle manipulative, political men. http://feministing.com/2013/01/24/how-to-deal-with-a-mansplainer-starring-hillary-clinton-in-gifs/

You say goodbye, but I say hello to a new super-PAC – Hillary for President in 2016. During her tenure at the State Department, “…Clinton had visited 112 countries, logged 956,000 miles and spent the equivalent of 87 days traveling.” Mr Kerry, those are some major heels you’ll have to fill. Namaste.
Hillary Rodham Clinton

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This morning Ms Bean started barking again. I looked out for deer, but looked up to find another hot air balloon coasting down the ridgeline. Good girl! Her ruff was up, and she pranced around the deck protecting us from that big monstrosity. I wonder what she’s thinking. We’ve had a number of them now, it’s not like she hasn’t seen one before in her almost 3 years on this planet mountain. They are all brightly colored, and they all make a strange noise when the flame appears in the sky.

I was surprised to find that the Facebook site I mentioned in the last post turned political rather quickly. The woman who wants to be able to drive legally in Saudi Arabia sent her sympathies to the Muslim women and children in Gaza. I almost chimed in, but restraint and common sense took hold and I held my fingers in check. There is no use arguing with people who think they know God’s will. I’ve begun the hard work of deleting “friends” from Facebook; I have no use for their racist and Nazi/quoting/end/of/the/world pronouncements about our election. As flawed as our democracy is, it’s all we’ve got.

We’re packing for our Big Chill Thanksgiving, in FL this year. These are our true friends, people we’ve known since we were teens. Smart people. There are 2 new grandbabies to introduce to the group, and another engagement to celebrate. I’m going to ask them to sign up for “Global Zero.” http://www.globalzero.org And you may want to check it out too…it’s a movement that asks the world to rethink our nuclear strategy, to “help seize a historic chance to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.” Call me crazy, but sometimes I think we might all want to choose peace.

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I’ve had enough of the General failures – old men and their sexual peccadillos. Hamas and Gaza are in the news this morning. Could the fragile MidEast peace crumble; what would it look like, to have Israel and Palestine peacefully co-exist? I’m becoming more and more of a pacifist, deploring war of any kind and for any reason. I’ve followed the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt via Facebook. But yesterday comments turned ugly, anti-semitic diatribes quoting wikipedia articles about which tribe actually owns their sacred land. Luckily, this morning by way of an Atlantic article, I found a different Facebook page, “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself.”
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teach-me-how-to-drive-so-I-can-protect-myself/132205866854879?ref=ts&fref=ts

A 32 year old IT consultant, Manal al-Sharif, started this page after deciding she should be able to drive a car around her home country of Saudi Arabia. She posted a video of herself ranting away while driving about the utter ridiculousness of this ban on women drivers. She was arrested, then released. Her Facebook page had 12,000 fans, and now it has 8,019 – hmmm, I wonder who’s been censoring her readership? Although well educated women in Saudi Arabia are not finding any jobs, simply because of their gender, female lawyers have recently been allowed to practice in the kingdom. Change is coming, just not fast enough for some.
http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/20/saudi-princess-opens-up-about-womens-right-in-saudi-arabia/

Here is a video about the freedom project in the Arab world. It is poignant, it is timely and it asks us to think about what choices we might have if we were born in Japan, or Mexico. The arbitrary nature of life on earth; we sometimes forget how our opinions have been formed over years of culture and family like a smooth stone. When old men send the young to war, over boundaries, over religion, over oil, what if we were all to stand strong and say, “No.” This is the existential crisis of our time. We women need to drive that conversation.

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