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Of rifts and the right wing

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There was much whining and gnashing of teeth this weekend over the lost of unity surrounding commemorations of the 9/11 tragedy. The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times ran front page stories about the new divisive tone.

The implication is that no one gets along in America anymore -- and that things have gotten much worse since a new president took office a bit more than a year and a half ago.

Can we shove that aside for moment and talk frankly about something few seem willing to address? This kind of "incivility" is what usually happens when a Democrat takes over and the right-wing finds itself really really unhappy.

Memo to Terry Jones: Take a look at the New Testament

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When I first heard the news that Rev. Terry Jones, a minister at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. was planning a “Burn the Qur’an Day” on September 11, I wondered if I had been transported back in time several centuries.

When I checked the history of book burning, I discovered that it is long and nefarious -- dating back to early Chinese emperors who set fire to works of philosophy that did not comply with state dogma. It includes the destruction of the magnificent ancient library of Alexandria, many burnings of the Torah and Talmud, and, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants burning Catholic books and Catholics burning Protestant books. In fact, the Spanish Inquisition was an equal opportunity arsonist; inquisitors burned Protestant books, Jewish books and even the Qur’an itself. In recent times, the Nazis conducted public book burnings that included the works of many Jewish intellectuals.

Sex abuse by clergy in Belgium led to suicides

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A disturbing report from The Huffington Post this afternoon links clergy sex abuse in Belgium to at least 13 suicides.

A snippet from the piece:

BRUSSELS — Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, a special commission said Friday.

Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests.

"Reality is worse than what we present here today because not everyone shares such things automatically in a first contact with the commission," he told reporters.

Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims.

U.S., Vietnam, in nuclear power talks

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The Obama administration is negotiating with Vietnam over a deal to allow the purchase of nuclear fuel, as well as American nuclear technology and reactors, several media outlets have reported. The most detailed account was published in the Wall Street Journal on August 3.

Based on the comments of a top US official, the Journal explained that Washington is in “advanced negotiations” with Hanoi over an agreement to share nuclear fuel and technology with Vietnam. The deal would allow Vietnam to enrich its own uranium to produce fuel for its power reactors, subject to monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Billions of birds -- some from your backyard -- face risks this fall

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Fall bird migration is beginning, and experts worry about what conditions in the Gulf region after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill will mean for the billions of birds from all over the Eastern and Central United States that travel through that area and depend on it for sustenance as they make their yearly journey to winter grounds there, or onward into Central and South America.

"It’s hard to think of a species of migrating bird east of the Rockies that doesn’t fly though the Gulf," says Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind, a powerful compendium of bird migrations. "And these birds, already stressed, are going to be flying into uncertainty."

Migration is always a gambit, a time when everything has to go right, including the building up of body fat from high-quality food sources that birds find at certain stopover points. For a discussion on the danger to autumn's migrating birds, see Invisible Disaster on the Natural Resources Defense Council's On Earth Web page.

Sullivan: U.S. no longer a nation under the rule of law

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Over at his blog yesterday Andrew Sullivan posted an incredibly eye-opening indictment of how the rule of law is declining in the U.S.

Number one in his sights? The continued lack of prosecution for people who committed torture in the name of our government.

The piece is almost a must-read. Here's the scathing end of it:

The Bush executive is...now a part of the American system of government, a system that increasingly bears no resemblance to the constitutional limits allegedly placed upon it, and with a judiciary...co-opted by the executive. ... Obama, more than anyone, now bears responsibility for that. We had a chance to draw a line. We had a chance to do the right thing. But Obama has vigorously denied us the chance even for minimal accountability for war crimes that smell to heaven. ...

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April 10-23, 2015

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