"The Soviet War in Afghanistan was a ten-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan at their own request against the Mujahideen Resistance. The mujahideen found other support from a variety of sources including the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and other Muslim nations through the context of the Cold War.
The initial Soviet deployment of the 40th Army in Afghanistan began on December 24, 1979 under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989 under the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. ....."
"Long wars are antithetical to democracy. Protracted conflict introduces toxins that inexorably corrode the values of popular government. Not least among those values is a code of military conduct that honors the principle of civilian control while keeping the officer corps free from the taint of politics. Events of the past week -- notably the Rolling Stone profile that led to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's dismissal -- hint at the toll that nearly a decade of continuous conflict has exacted on the U.S. armed forces. The fate of any one general qualifies as small beer: Wearing four stars does not signify indispensability. But indications that the military's professional ethic is eroding, evident in the disrespect for senior civilians expressed by McChrystal and his inner circle, should set off alarms. ......"
Eisenhowers Farewell Address Jan. 1961
Here is the warning given to the American people in 1961, and chillingly represents what is happening today. This is a portion of Eisenhower's farewell address, in which he mentions the dangers of the 'Military-Industrial' [and Congressional] Complex.
"Let's get one thing straight: Agnosticism is not some kind of weak-tea atheism. Agnosticism is not atheism or theism. It is radical skepticism, doubt in the possibility of certainty, opposition to the unwarranted certainties that atheism and theism offer.
Agnostics have mostly been depicted as doubters of religious belief, but recently, with the rise of the "New Atheism" —the high-profile denunciations of religion in best-sellers from scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, and polemicists, such as my colleague Christopher Hitchens—I believe it's important to define a distinct identity for agnosticism, to hold it apart from the certitudes of both theism and atheism.
I would not go so far as to argue that there's a "new agnosticism" on the rise. But I think it's time for a new agnosticism, one that takes on the New Atheists. Indeed agnostics see atheism as "a theism"—as much a faith-based creed as the most orthodox of the religious variety.
Faith-based atheism? Yes, alas. Atheists display a credulous and childlike faith, worship a certainty as yet unsupported by evidence—the certainty that they can or will be able to explain how and why the universe came into existence. (And some of them can behave as intolerantly to heretics who deviate from their unproven orthodoxy as the most unbending religious Inquisitor.)
.....Let me make clear that I accept most of the New Atheist's criticism of religious bad behavior over the centuries, and of theology itself. I just don't accept turning science into a new religion until it can show it has all the answers, which it hasn't, and probably never will......."
Personally I have never been able to identify with 'fervemt religious nutters' with blinders on, OR equally 'militant atheist nutters' also with their blinders well placed. A position I have mentioned frequently here. There is nothing wrong with affirming that 'I just don't know'. And which, of course, is what Mr. Rosenbaum is advocating. . .
One of the joys of watching the BBC channel here in Thailand are the Simon Reeve programs. I recently discovered that Simon has a YouTube channelwith past episodes of his intelligent, thought provoking adventures.
Going to Bude in north Cornwall and watching my younger brother James crawling around scoffing sand. I remember thinking I should probably stop him, but he seemed so happy. He survived to enjoy other delicacies.
It has to be a trip to northern Borneo a few years back. Much of the south of the island has since been devastated, but the north was a magical place with extraordinary wildlife, beautiful beaches and glorious sunshine. I canoed down the Kinabatangan river, then visited the cathedral-sized Gomantong Caves, home to thousands of swifts and bats.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Preparation is really important. I've had some bad experiences with illnesses abroad, so I make sure I get medical advice before travelling somewhere exotic. I'm now more careful about getting jabs and taking anti-malarials.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
A bit of each. I get to travel through some fairly hairy parts of the world while working, so on holiday I like to relax in the sun, and read and drink too much. ....."
Philosophy is an odd thing. When we use the word in everyday speech you know you sometimes hear it hilariously. They say, “Oh, it’s never good to be late.” “That’s my philosophy.” You think that’s a generous description of that rather dull precept to call it a philosophy, but it’s odd how philosophers generally speaking, at least the ones I’ve read or the ones I you know value, don’t have in that sense a philosophy. There is no particular Socratic or Dimechian or Kantian way to live your life. They don’t offer ethical codes and standards by which to live your life. They don’t offer a philosophy to follow. They just simply raise an enormous number of questions mostly, so in the sense that you put the question is there a philosopher that’s important to me. Well I me I loved really the sort of the Bertrand Russell grand sort of tour of philosophy, the history of philosophy from the pre Socratics as they’re called, Zeno and so on through to Socrates and Plato and Aristotle. I never quite liked Aristotle. I think that’s partly… Although he was obviously a genius and brilliant and he invented logic, so what’s not to like. I think it was his influence on the medieval mind was probably rather pernicious and unfortunate and all those categories and things, but when it opened up with I suppose Spinoza and them, but then Kant and the enlightenment era. Oh and actually Locke. I did like Locke. He was a fine philosopher, but they don’t… I mean what is so great about them is that they just… They’re quite scary when you think of the word philosopher and especially if it’s logic and symbolic logic and it gets onto Hegelian philosophies, incredibly difficult to read I find and you follow it for about… Well it’s like trying to grab a salmon. You know the harder you clutch at it the more it springs, slips out of your hand and whoa, it’s gone and you chase it again and what was that and you feel very stupid, but the… I think the beauty of questioning and simplicity that you get from Kant in particular I think is just amazing because it’s like they say of simple mathematical laws that make fractals, the tiniest little elegant observation about or question about something just spins out these immensely complex things that make you rethink everything. So yes, I think philosophy is a really important dimension, but I think in our age we tend to be rather sloppy about it. We either think Buddhism is philosophy, which you know or some sort of eastern thing about being nice and spiritual and that will do, which it’s fine. I mean you know obviously I believe in kindness and niceness and lots of spiritual things, but the real intellectual rigor and quest of logic is something that I’m afraid takes incredibly hard work and we live in an age in which hard work is if not actively deprecated or denigrated it is run away from or ignored. It’s sort of people frown at you and say, “Well, that’s a bit dull and stupid. Why can’t we just short circuit it and talk about like spirit?” Well yeah, you can say spirit, but if you think that’s philosophy and if you think that’s good enough.
The most important philosophy I think is that even if it isn’t true you must absolutely assume there is no afterlife. You cannot for one second I think, abbragate the responsibility of believing that this is it because if you think you’re going to have an eternity in which you can talk to Mozart and Chopin and Schopenhauer on a cloud and learn stuff and you know really get to grips with knowledge and understanding and so you won’t bother now. I think it’s a terrible, a terrible mistake. It may be that there is an afterlife and I’ll look incredibly stupid, but at least I will have had a crammed pre afterlife, a crammed life, so to me the most important thing is you know as Kipling put it, to fill every 60 seconds with you know what is it? To fill every unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. You know absolutely, so that’s all I’m saying I suppose. Is that there is no point wasting time being lazy, though of course indolence in a divine way, actually has its advantages. Oh, shut up Steve. Okay, next one.
Question: What do you believe?
It’s interesting. Atheism comes into rather a bad press and I suppose I’d rather describe myself as a humanist, who human… I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe there is a God. If I were to believe in a god l would believe in gods. I think monotheism is the really ghastly thing. That is the absolutely staggering to me misapprehension. I can perfectly see why anybody might imagine that each thing, each thing that grows, each phenomenon that we… that accompanies us on our journey through life, the sky, the mountains, spirits of nature. I can imagine why man would wish to endow them with an inner something, an inner animus that they would call the god of that thing. I can see that. It’s a beautiful and charming way of looking at it and I can understand the Greek idea that there are these you know these principles of lightening or of war or of wisdom and to embody them, to personify them into a Athena or Aries or whichever god you want makes enormous sense, but to say that there is one only god who made it all and who is… Yeah, that is just… What? Why? Who said? Where? Come on. And I love how when people watch I don’t know, David Attenborough or Discovery Planet type thing you know where you see the absolute phenomenal majesty and complexity and bewildering beauty of nature and you stare at it and then… and somebody next to you goes, “And how can you say there is no God?” “Look at that.” And then five minutes later you’re looking at the lifecycle of a parasitic worm whose job is to bury itself in the eyeball of a little lamb and eat the eyeball from inside while the lamb dies in horrible agony and then you turn to them and say, “Yeah, where is your God now?” You know I mean you got… You can’t just say there is a God because well, the world I beautiful. You have to account for bone cancer in children. You have to account for the fact that almost all animals in the wild live under stress with not enough to eat and will die violent and bloody deaths. There is not any way that you can just choose the nice bits and say that means there is a God and ignore the true fact of what nature is. The wonder of nature must be taken in its totality and it is a wonderful thing. It is absolutely marvelous and the idea that an atheist or a humanist if you want to put it that way, doesn’t marvel and wonder at reality, at the way things are, is nonsensical. The point is we wonder all the way. We don’t just stop and say that which I cannot understand I will call God, which is what mankind has done historically. That’s to say God was absolutely everything a thousand or two thousand years ago because we understood almost nothing about the natural world, so it could all be God and then as we understood more God receded and receded and receded, so suddenly now he is barely anywhere. He is just in those things we don’t understand, which are important, but I think it just is such an insult to humanity and the Greeks got it right. The Greeks understood perfectly that if there were divine beings they are capricious, unkind, malicious mostly, temperamental, envious and mostly deeply unpleasant because that you can say well yes, all right, if there is going to be god or gods then you have to admit that they’re very at the very least capricious. They’re certainly not consistent. They’re certainly not all loving. I mean really it’s just not good enough.
You know if we empower ourselves with responsibility over our actions, responsibility over our destinies and responsibility for directing and maintaining and creating our own ethical and moral frameworks, which is the most important thing really isn’t it because perhaps the greatest insult to humanism is this idea that mankind needs a god in order to have a moral framework. There is a very clear way of demonstrating logically how absurd that is because the warrant for that logical framework, for that moral framework that comes from God is always tested against man’s own morals and it’s a complicated argument, but I mean that’s you know it’s the standard one which is pretty unanswerable, but the idea that we don’t know right from wrong, but we have to take it from words put down in a book two, three, four, five, six thousand years ago and dictated to rather hotheaded neurotic desert tribes is just insulting. It’s just no, I mean you know if there were a God he would want us to be better spirited than to take his word for everything. Wouldn’t he? If he gave us free will would he really want us to say, “No, I have to abide by everything that’s written in this book, all the laws of circumcision and of eating and of… and what to do with menstruating women?” I mean, “I’m going to obey those written down there.” “I won’t think for myself because that’s not required of me.” Come on. It’s just not good enough and you know I have no quarrel with individuals who wish… who are devout and who have faith. I don’t want to mock them. I really don’t, but damned if I’m going to be told by them what to do with my body or damned if I’m going to have the extraordinary battles won by enlightenment over the past 400 years, to have those battles abdicated by a new dark ages. It’s you know. The battle lines must be drawn.
Question: What is religion good for?
Music in its time, but I mean that’s a function of history you know. The fact is that composers always write for the power because… or power and money and it so happened that in the period when polyphony all the way through to the classical and early romantic era all the power and the money was with the church, so some great masses and some great choir music and some great oratories were written from obviously the Baroque age being the sort of pinnacle of that, but all the way through to Mozart’s final works and his requiem and Beethoven’s "Missa solemnis" and Mendelssohn and so on. There have been some marvelous religious works and in paintings similarly, but that’s because these were princes. They were princes of the church. They were prince arch bishops who employed Mozart. These were not spiritual beings who inculcated these composers with a sense of the divine that makes the music divine. The glory of Verde’s Requiem or Mozart’s Requiem or Bach’s pieces is that they are fantastic, incredibly human and like all great human’s thing they reach for the infinite. They reach for beauty. A religious person would call that the divine. You could call it the humanist. You could call it anything else, but certainly is that. Religion has been good for that and good for architecture because it is required that enormous… It required enormous buildings for the shepherding of people in, in order to do the services and they spend a lot of money on it and so they are rather glorious buildings. You’ve got to hand them that. Do they make the trains run on time? No, they didn’t do that. That’s about it really. And there are some kind individual people. I mean very kind people who give to the poor and look after the sick and so on, but it’s not necessary and sufficient as a justification for religion because there are plenty of people who are not religious who are also kind to the sick and good to the poor and care about people’s well-being.
Question: Are there religious leaders you admire?
Yes, very much so. I mean Trevor Huddleston and Archbishop Tutu from South Africa are two good examples who were both genuine men of their church, or let me see -- Huddleston is dead, but Tutu is still alive -- and who both fought a terrible injustice and used all the authority of their position amongst their believers and but very bravely spoke out and sometimes against the wishes of the church hierarchies. Some liberation theologist who are from, you know, some of them mad Communists, some of them just decent liberals who fought against the hideous doctrines of the Roman Catholic church for example, and there are individual voices who are raised in conscience against the bureaucracy and the dogma and the doctrine of the churches, and you know certainly of course individuals in, you know, Bonheoffer for example in Germany, the Lutheran minister who spoke out against Hitler. There are… Of course there have been good and fine religious people and the Dalai Lama seems rather charming. I don’t know. It’s terrible. I don’t want to come over as some terrible anti-ecclesiastical figure, but.
With each passing day more teams are eliminated. Yesterday the USA team lost to Ghana. I was not too surpised since 'soccer' has never been very popular in the U.S. and hence their team has not had adequate support. Several days ago I was more than pleased to watch Slovakia as they entered the second stage [Round of 16].
Today's matches between Agentina-vs-Mexico and Germany-vs-England should be exciting as two more teams go forward to the quarter finals.
Having spent my lifetime reading and collecting books I can appreciate the desire to amass and display ancient books. However if this proposed 'Bible Museum' were to become little more than a propaganda arm of radical fundamentalist christianity, it would leave me a bit discouraged. [Can't help but think about Ken Ham's warping of historical fact with his atrocious 'Creation Museum'.]
"OKLAHOMA CITY — At least one example of the printed word is in great demand even in the digital age: ancient Bibles.
With a goal of establishing a national Bible museum of great depth and size, the evangelical Christian family behind the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores has been spending heavily to amass a collection that has set dealers buzzing in the staid world of rare books.
Specialists estimate the family has bought illuminated, or decorated, manuscripts, Torahs, papyri and other works worth $20 million to $40 million from auction houses, dealers, private collectors and institutions, some of which may be selling because of financial pressure. . . . . "
Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich [6 July 1943 – 22 June 1988] was a Vietnam War veteran,and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Matlovich was the first gay service member to fight the ban on gays in the military, and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s. His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause célèbre around which the gay community rallied. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine.
"The epitaph he chose to mark his grave is still as fresh as today's headlines: 'When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one'."
As impact of the Gulf of Mexico drilling disaster continues, it now becomes increasingly evident that it may be time for people everywhere to consider what we are doing to the entire planet. This is a mass event of gigantic proportions which requires that people think, consider, and act to preserve our world, and our life on it. 'BP' may be the current villan, but it becomes evident that are many more lurking in the shadows . . .
What do you do when a gas company offers nearly $100,000 for the right to drill on your land?
If you're Josh Fox, you refuse the money - then make an award-winning documentary portraying the natural gas industry as an environmental menace that ruins water, air and lives.
In "Gasland," premiering Monday, June 21 at 9 p.m.[ EDT] on HBO, Josh Fox presents a frightening scenario in which tens of thousands of drilling rigs take over the landscape, gas companies exploit legal loopholes to inject toxins into the ground and residents living nearby contract severe, unexplained illnesses.
This isn't some dystopian nightmare, Fox says, but the harsh reality in communities from Texas to Colorado to Pennsylvania. "People are feeling completely upended," the 37-year-old filmmaker said in an interview at his woodland home near the Pennsylvania-New York border, where gas companies have been leasing thousands of acres of pristine watershed land in anticipation of a drilling boom.
Background video from 'Democracy Now!' on how the the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have asked eight oil-field companies to disclose the chemicals they've used and the wells they've drilled in over the past four years. Last week, Waxman also revealed two of the largest gas drilling companies have pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in violation of a voluntary agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.
So far I have watched all 27 of the World Cup matches from South Africa. During every single game I have wished for a 'vuvuzela mute button' on my TV. It is perhaps one of the most annoying sounds I have encountered during my many years of watching the World Cup.
An occasional bit of vuvuzela would be acceptable, but the constant overpowering droning of this senseless noise is almost unbearable. The normal ebb and flow of the sound of exhuberant fans has been completely eliminated by the loud buzzing sound of the vuvuzelas. Yes, I know that I can listen with no sound whatsoever and I have upon occasion resorted to that.
I am currently in a personal snit over Slovakia's loss last night to Paraguay - so I have lashed out at the most convenient scapegoat, though in truth I doubt the vuvuzela had anything to do with the outcome of that match.