According to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Sa’ed Atshan, the Palestinian Quaker professor of peace studies whose February 10 speech at Friends Central School (FCS) was canceled last month, is a Jew-hater in a class with –well, you know, the guy who had the pencil mustache: As Steve Feldman put it in a letter to…

via Friends Central School Free Speech Case: Negotiations On? — A Friendly Letter

On this day in 1848, The Communist Manifesto was published. In many ways, the text has dated rather badly (concerned as it is with the earliest phase of the industrial revolution). It is moreover overly concerned with petty internecine struggles which have marred the European left ever since Yet in many respects, the Manifesto and […]

via Marx and ‘Cannibalistic Liberalism’ — The Armchair Theologian

After issuing a Holocaust Memorial message that didn’t mention its Jewish victims; and after very awkward comments about the Congressional Black Caucus at a marathon news conference last week, the president seems to have discovered these concerns; but not all are convinced. Here’s the latest: NBC News: President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced the recent…

via He Spoke Against Anti-Semitism & Racism. Some Aren’t Satisfied. — A Friendly Letter

Restoring Shalom

Before a couple of months ago, the idea of taking a politician “seriously but not literally,” was a somewhat laughable notion. Yet, because of Donald Trump’s outlandish rhetoric and tendency to say nearly unbelievable things, this has become a legitimate argument for why he has been so popular among some people. People take his anger, his “get things done” style seriously, they just don’t take him at his word on every last crazy thing he says.

We do, however, apply this logic to other relationships. You hope that if your boyfriend proposes to you, he means it literally. But if he says, “I’ll love you for all eternity,” you know he means it seriously but can’t possibly mean it literally. I remember when I was in fifth grade, a boy hit me in the stomach with the leg of his chair. It hurt quite a bit and I was…

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Oddkin's Thoughts


The spiritual life is a mystery. Indeed, the relationship between body, mind, heart, soul and spirit (and the degree to which these depend on one another) isn’t something we’ll likely ever understand completely.

For those who have eyes to see, however, there are many clues in the natural world. Recently, I came to see a pretty good analogy for the life of the Spirit in terms of a squirrel, an acorn, an oak tree, and a field.

The acorn in this analogy represents the body, and the squirrel is the mind or soul. Like acorns, our bodies are carried along by our souls (the squirrels). The soul depends on the body, just as the squirrel depends on the acorns; and just like the acorn, the body depends on the soul (the squirrel) to carry it along.

Like the squirrel, the soul doesn’t always know where it’s taking the…

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12.02.2017 Pressenza New York

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Immigrant Rally: Here To Stay y No Nos Vamos
Immigrant Rally: Here To Stay y No Nos Vamos in Washington Square NYC (Image by David Andersson)

In Washington Square Park immigrant-rights groups rallied to challenge the criminalization of immigrants under the NYPD’s current Broken-Windows policy, before it worsens under Trump’s far-right administration. See Our Photo Gallery of the Event

Broken-windows policing targets small crimes on the theory that it will prevent bigger ones from happening. But advocates are concerned that the policy will put immigrants in danger under the Trump administration. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25 that calls for the removal of undocumented immigrants who have been convicted or charged with “any criminal offense.”

From New York to Los Angeles, a series of immigration arrests this week have unleashed waves of fear and uncertainty across immigrant communities.

“There are people that I work with who essentially want to go dark,” said Cesar Vargas on CNN, one of the first immigrants without legal status in New York state to be sworn in as a lawyer.
“They don’t want to be public in any way whatsoever. They spend less time on the street. They go to work and go straight back home. They don’t go on Facebook. They put curfews on themselves.”

See Our Photo Gallery of the Event

11.02.2017 Pressenza New York

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Construction Begins on Final Section of Dakota Access Pipeline
(Image by Democracy Now!)

In North Dakota, construction crews have resumed work on the final section of the Dakota Access pipeline, after the Trump administration granted an easement to allow Energy Transfer Partners to drill beneath the Missouri River. The construction resumed as opponents of the pipeline filed a last-ditch legal challenge in a federal court in Washington, D.C., Thursday. They’re seeking an order halting construction while a separate lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe proceeds in court. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg says he’ll hear arguments on the motion—on Monday.

Meanwhile, US veterans from all over the country are arriving in Standing Rock to protect the indigenous activists from attack by the police. Their presence could make it more difficult to remove all the activists still camped around the construction site. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, who started the Sacred Stone camp, welcomed the return of the veterans and thanked them for their plan to form a human shield against police violence.

The organization VeteransRespond has vowed to be self-sufficient and help the water protectors with a wide range of services, including clean up efforts, kitchen duties, medical support and protection from police.




01.02.2017 Pressenza New York

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Bogota to Host World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates; Feb 2-5

This will be the first time since its creation in 1999, that the Summit will be held in Latin America, this coming 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of February, 2017 in Bogotá. Bogotá organized the meeting with six other cities, including Santiago de Chile and Mexico City.

Over the last 17 years, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates have been honoured with the participation of numerous Nobel Peace Laureate and Nobel Peace Organisations, including: President Mikhail Gorbachev, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, President Shimon Peres, President Óscar Arias Sánchez, President Lech Walesa, President Jimmy Carter, President José Ramos-Horta, human rights activists Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu, Tawakkol Karman, Leymah Gbowee, Malala, Lord David Trimble, Professor John Hume, President Kim Dae Yung, and other globally recognised leaders and peacemakers.

This Summit expect to welcome about 20 Nobel Peace Laureates and Prize-awarded organizations and several world leaders, from whom we will learn and exchange experiences about the construction of peace and reconciliation. The city is also ready to receive about 300 top university students from all over the world, 700 delegates and 150 social organizations from all global origins.

Additionally, after the Summit, Bogotá will be designated as the City of Peace, and we will launch projects and initiatives that the Laureates and their organizations will accompany and assist in implementing.


Oddkin's Thoughts


In an earlier post, I talked about the struggle to understand truth in a world of deception and misinformation. I described my main sources for spiritual reflection (Scripture, human traditions, and personal experience), and concluded that in Jesus, I have found a center that has proven true time and again.

For those of us who identify as Christian, it’s vitally important to take this a step further, and evaluate the current political and social landscape in light of Jesus’ teachings.

With so many people of differing views claiming to be Christians, how do we know what Jesus would do in this situation?

While providing an in-depth summary of Jesus’ teachings on every political and social issue goes far beyond what I can accomplish (and certainly beyond what I can say in a single blog post), I think there are some important things that need to be said.

For the purposes…

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07.02.2017 – Berlin, Germany Dominik Schlett

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Berlin: Change from below – A city for everybody
(Image by Reto Thumiger)

In Berlin, a broad alliance of local initiatives took to the streets for social housing and self-determined organisation of the city by its inhabitants. Students of the Humboldt University of Berlin initiated this demonstration. What is exemplified by this demonstration is the consequence of extensive social change.

The students present at the demonstration on Saturday did not exhibit signs of fatigue. Although they would have had every reason to be tired. For ten days already they had occupied the Institute of Social Sciences of Humboldt University. The catalyst for the occupation was the dismissal of their lecturer for City Sociology, Andrej Holm. Holm, known for his critical investigation into the development of city politics such as gentrification and the sell-out of the city, additionally saw himself forced to step down a few days earlier from his post as State Housing Secretary for the Berlin government, a coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green and Left Parties (Die Grünen, Die Linke).

“Andrej was our voice”, said someone from the Mieterprotest in Pankow during the students’ plenary. The room in the Humboldt University’s Institute of Social Sciences was packed. According to the speaker, Holm had been the one listening to the tenant’s protest and had carried their concerns and wishes.

The indignation about his dismissal is more than clear. Many statements like this were made. The students had invited local initiatives concerned with city politics and developments in their respective districts on that Friday. One could observe how numerous they were. “Kotti & Co”, “Tenants of the Otto-Suhr-Siedlung”, “Stadt von Unten”, “100% Tempelhofer Feld” were all united in their anger at Berlin city politics.

It has become clear how this is about more than the Holm case. The political atmosphere is tense. It seems, as if many were waiting for the opportunity, to voice their anger. “Presence and political Resistance” doesn’t take place often enough, commented Max, a student of Humboldt University, who for days had spent his nights at the institute. He feels “general dissatisfaction” and now finally has found a space to express himself through the occupation. But where does this dissatisfaction stem from?

Everywhere in German cities the rent has risen in recent years. Even rooms in student dorms start at 400 Euros. Discrepancies of economic development can be felt directly. While tax income flourishes as the State is reduced in size, and companies and international financial capital reap unimaginable profits, academics but also craftsmen slip into financially precarious situations.

To blame is the often mentioned widening gap between the rich and the poor. It is macro structures like institutions, States and organisations with gigantic revenue on the one hand, and the many individuals on the other; “those above and us down here”. It is abstract.

Recently, Die Zeit dedicated an entire dossier to this trend. Democracy is in danger, was their message. “Previously the German Parliament had many members that only [sic!] went through primary or secondary education. They were tool manufacturers, craftsmen, simple people.” Today this is not the case anymore, which is why increasingly these groups no longer feel themselves represented. It is only logical that a political vacuum has formed. Those most accountable for this development are the political parties. Anyone asking around about the upcoming federal parliamentary elections often encounters general disorientation.

Party expenses for professional communications consultants have multiplied over recent years. Any rigid distinction between content becomes increasingly difficult to find. Parties themselves have become parties of professional voters. True to the teachings of the market economy, parties look for voters, like companies search for their customers. The alignment of political parties with topics that promise the biggest share of voters leads to the marginalisation of parts of society. Or, in the words of sociologist Didier Eribon, the neglect of entire social classes.

What our world is living at the moment is a vacuum of representation filled by parties and individuals who preach a bizarre and one-dimensional world view. AfD, Front National, Geert Wilders, Donald Trump. It seems almost ironic that it is this year that Germany, France and the Netherlands hold elections: countries in which unidimensional populists from the right have found their way into the middle of society. Their victory is a victory of “Irrationality” as an editor recently called it. The true meanings of “postfactual” or “Fake News” are visualized brightly and vividly this way.

The grave changes in the structure of society, the transition from industrial to service societies, urbanization and migration, they all pose a new social question, one that should be read focusing on city politics, as city councillor for housing in Berlin, Ephraim Gothe, contends. And the market will surely not solve it. For this reason alone, Gothe wants to convert city politics into a “real leftist project”, as the Tagesspiegel wrote. The Holm case spreads major distrust in this context. Actually, there is no reason to think about city politics without thinking of financial politics. And finance and speculation are running wild, as can be seen. Selling something is fast, to take it back into communal ownership is a long, embattled, legal process.

The political and social questions, big or small, are local. Globalized politics deciding over the heads of people is abundant, just not in the here and now of the population. In their housing and lives. If the Berlin government wants to reverse this trend it will have to listen to numerous initiatives in city politics and let them participate in decision making, also to pull the rug out under right wing populism. The government will have to foster direct participation and the integration of citizens and social movements into the political decision making process.

Back in mid-2016, the political scientist Wolfgang Merkel of Humboldt University warned that young leftists and students had lost their connection to the “lower class”, that they had oriented themselves in the direction of global elites. The student occupiers of the institute of social science of Humboldt University have proven the contrary. Through the forum they provide to local initiatives and movements in city politics, for a “Stadt von Unten”, a city from below. They have made the first step towards a critical and local public that demands its right to participate.

They were all present on this sunny Saturday in the heart of Berlin. United and loudly they demonstrated in front of the Rotes Rathaus, (the city hall), the Humboldt Forum, the city palace, the old city hall, the Volksbühne. “These people want their city back,” is what someone said. She participates in the movement “Democracy in Europe Movement”: DiEM for short. She explains that DiEM wants to connect the “rebel cities” of Europe. Her role model in this respect is Naples, the only major European city that brought its water supply back into public ownership. “This shows the need for change from below”.

Wandel von Unten, change from below, that is what the demonstrators call for among the historic buildings of Berlin.

Pictures by Reto Thumiger

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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