You Gotta Have Faith | Rest In Cheap | Pompeo Erupts

APRIL 16, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE


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“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

“Let us study things that are no more. It is necessary to understand them, if only to avoid them.”

– Victor Hugo



Cause You Gotta Have Faith: The world’s largest Muslim population is in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo is a moderate Muslim who, when first elected in 2014, filled his cabinet with women and banned a radical Islamic group that advocating for Shariah law to replace Indonesia’s democracy. Elections are Wednesday, and this time Joko faces a hard-line, politically astute opponent, combative former general Prabowo Subianto, who is embracing the puritanical Salafist form of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and Qatar that has gained in popularity. Prabowo has called for jihad and promised to welcome home the head of the Islamic Defenders Front, a group supporting Shariah law that has attacked nightclubs in Jakarta.

The rise of fundamentalist Wahhabi theology in Indonesia can be traced to Saudi Arabia’s determination to export Salafism to the historically tolerant and diverse country. Since 1980 Saudis have spent millions building more than 150 mosques, a huge free university in Jakarta, and several Arabic language institutes. It had supplied more than 100 boarding schools with books and teachers. The free university, Institute for the Study of Islam and Arabic, aka LIPIA, opened in 1980 for the purpose of spreading the Arabic language. Instead it focuses on Salafism. A former student said: “Even though Indonesian Islam is a syncretic, cultural Islam, we are taught that anything from Saudi, the country of Mecca and Medina, must be authentic and good.”

Bureaucrats spouting austere Wahhabism continue to draw converts in government prayer halls across Indonesia, and it has forced Joko to veer to the right. Campaigning over the weekend he gave thanks to Muslim preachers and visited Mecca; for his running mate he picked the 76-year-old head of the Indonesian Ulema Council, which has issued fatwas against homosexuality and banned traditional dancing and premarital sex. A researcher for Human Rights Watch, author of a new book Race, Islam and Power, said: “Political Islam has strengthened tremendously over the last two decades in Indonesia. We should be very concerned, because both sides in the campaign have now made human rights and democracy decline.”



A Fire Seen From The Heavens: A massive fire that broke out late Monday afternoon gutted the centuries old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, destroying its spire and spreading to the historic bell towers. A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area as thousands of people gathered on the left bank of the river Seine to watch the fire shoot orange flames through the Cathedral’s roof. The spire was made of wood and lead and was built during a restoration in the mid-19th century. A cathedral spokesman said the entire wooden interior of the 12th-century landmark was burning, taking with it artwork and other priceless items stored within. The fire’s origin is as yet unknown but may be linked to restoration work being done on the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece, one of France’s most popular tourist attractions. No deaths or injuries were initially reported. (Guardian) Additional read: A France in Turmoil Weeps for a Symbol of Paris’s Enduring Identity: For centuries, Notre-Dame cathedral has enshrined an evolving notion of what it means to be French. As smoke and flames wafted into the sky on Monday, the symbolism was hard to miss. (NYT, $) And A French Billionaire Has Pledged 100 Million Euros To Help Rebuild The Notre Dame Cathedral. (BuzzFeed News)

Pompeo Erupts Towards Maduro: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s final stop on a three day visit to Chile, Paraguay and Peru was at a warehouse where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela is being stored. Speaking to reporters on Sunday Pompeo said the US will use all economic and political tools at its disposal to hold Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accountable for his country’s crisis and will make clear to Cuba and Russia they will pay a price for supporting him. More than three million Venezuelans have fled hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages and political crisis. Cucuta receives a significant portion of them, many of whom come with only what they can carry. Maduro blames US sanctions for the country’s economic problems and dismisses opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by many countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, as a US puppet. (Reuters)

No Water, Big Problem: A shocking new report from UNICEF and the World Health Organization finds many health-care facilities in poor countries lack any sort of water supply. The data collected in 2016 from 69 low and middle-income countries and territories is the first comprehensive global assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene in health-care facilities from hospitals to rural clinics. In 17 countries, at least 20 percent of those facilities have no clean water service on site. The problem is particularly common on the African continent, with a lot of variation among individual countries. In Namibia only 1 percent of facilities have no water service, while in Liberia more than half the facilities go without. Soap is also in short supply; one in six health-care facilities covered by the report had no hand hygiene service, meaning not just no soap and water but not even alcohol-based hand rubs available. (NPR)

The Spanish Far-Right Voxing Their Concerns: Spain’s six-year-old far-right Vox party is on track to break into the political mainstream in the April 28 election. If predictions are accurate, the party will win about 10 percent of the vote, making it the first avowedly far-right grouping to win more than a single seat in the national parliament since Spain returned to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Vox, founded by disgruntled members of the conservative People’s Party (PP), was initially viewed as a tiny fringe group. The perception changed dramatically last December when the party won 12 seats in the Andalucian regional election. Primarily fueled by the Catalan independence crisis, but also by culture wars over feminism, political correctness and recentralisation, Vox’s precipitous rise has sent parties veering to the right. (Guardian)



Throwing The ‘Bama Out With The Sewage Water: In a poor area northwest of Birmingham, Alabama, there’s a smell so awful the pecan trees no longer bear fruit. West Jefferson, a sleepy little town with just over 400 people, struggles under the stench of a toxic landfill called Big Sky Environmental. The landfill is permitted to accept waste from 48 US states. A nearby rail spur imported sewage from New York and New Jersey. Afterward the waste was loaded onto trucks and driven through West Jefferson to the landfill. Sometimes on sharp turns a dark liquid would spill out and cover the road. Last year when county officials barred the landfill operator from using the rail spur, train carriages carrying cargo that smelled like rotting corpses stacked up near neighboring towns for two months. A retired coal miner in West Jefferson, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, said: “… you couldn’t walk outside without being …covered in all sorts of insects. People started getting headaches, they couldn’t breathe.”Alabama, with its 173 operational landfills, has gained a reputation as the US dumping ground, with toxic waste from across the country typically heaped near poor, rural communities, many with large African American populations. (Guardian)

Additional USA News:



Rest In Cheap: Just as the days of being dressed to the nines to fly on an airplane came to a close, so too is the time-honored traditional funeral ritual becoming a relic of the past. Many families are now replacing funerals (where the body is present) with memorial services (where the body is not). Today more than half of all American deaths lead to cremations, compared to 28 percent in 2002. The reasons are many: expense, the environment, and family members living far apart with less ability to visit cemetery plots. In 2030 people over 65 will outnumber children, and according to the National Funeral Directors Association, by 2035 the cremation rate will be a staggering 80 percent. Cremation frees loved ones to stage a memorial anywhere, at any time, and to store or scatter ashes as they please. End-of-life ceremonies are being personalized — from golf-course cocktail send-offs to backyard potluck memorials means families want to put the “fun” in funerals. Captain Ken Middleton’s Hawaii Ash Scatterings performs 600 cremains dispersals a year for as many as 80 passengers on cruises that may feature a ukulele player, a conch-shell blower and releases of white doves or monarch butterflies. (WaPo)




“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

– Victor Hugo

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