Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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China seeks to annihilate Tibet’s Buddhism – Dalai Lama

BBC News – China seeks to annihilate Tibet’s Buddhism – Dalai Lama

Tibet’s spiritual leader has said China is trying to “annihilate Buddhism”, as the region marks the anniversary of a failed revolt against China in 1959.

The Dalai Lama’s comments come as Tibetans also mark the anniversary of the bloody riots in 2008, which were crushed by Beijing.


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Teacher suspended for denying permission to build Wiccan altar in Shop class

Teacher suspended for denying Wiccan altar | desmoinesregister.com | The Des Moines Register

“Personally, I think it’s offensive to worship rocks and trees,” Halferty said of Wicca, a religion based on ancient beliefs and a reverence for the Earth. “I am just trying to be moral. I don’t know how we can profess to be Christians and let this go on.”

Deny it on the basis of separation of church and state? Maybe, although probably not in this case. As a matter of personal religious bias? Unacceptable.


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Chipotle: time to back up ‘food with integrity’

Chipotle Challenge: time to back up ‘food with integrity’ | Grist

In Florida, the human rights crisis engulfing farm labor is perhaps most starkly visible. Tomato pickers have received virtually the same harvesting piece rate since 1980: 40-50 cents for every 32-pound bucket they fill. At this rate, workers must pick and haul a staggering 2.5 tons of tomatoes in order to earn minimum wage for a typical 10-hour day. Decades of class-action lawsuits have exposed a pattern of systematic minimum wage violations, and supervisor violence in the fields is not unheard of.

In November 2007, three farmworkers in Immokalee – the heart of Florida’s winter tomato production – escaped from more than a year of bondage after punching through the ventilation hatch in a box truck where they were held captive by their employers. In total, a dozen workers were forced to pick tomatoes by day and then chained, beaten, and robbed of their pay at night in one of southwest Florida’s “biggest, ugliest slavery cases ever,” according to U.S. Attorney Doug Molloy.

The enslaved crew harvested for farms owned by two of Florida’s largest tomato growers. It was the seventh farm labor slavery case prosecuted by federal civil rights officials since 1997, now involving well over 1,000 workers. All of which brings us to a question posed by Eric Schlosser at last year’s Slow Food Nation conference: “Does it matter whether an heirloom tomato is local and organic if it was harvested with slave labor?” 
‘food
with integrity


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Vancouver crackdown on homeless

Winter Olympics on slippery slope after Vancouver crackdown on homeless | World news | guardian.co.uk

The anxiety stems from a recent provincial government law empowering the police to force rough sleepers into shelters in extreme weather, a move which homeless groups appear to view as an Orwellian effort at civic image control. Police officers have been told to use only “non-forceful touching” in implementing the Assistance to Shelter Act, but that has not stopped critics calling it the Olympic Kidnapping Act.

Hey, it worked for China.


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I’ve Been Waiting A Long Time To Feel This Way

I’m truly proud to be an American these last few days.  It’s heartening to see my country finally stepping up and leading in an endeavor from which it can expect to gain nothing but the knowledge that it did the right thing — and the approval, at last, of the rest of the world.  It’s been far too long.

For nearly two centuries we have been the tough kid on the block. We were blessed by having managed to steal a land, rich in resources, from the previous tenants. We made rapid use of those resources and our relative isolation from the powers in Europe and Asia to build a worldwide economic power alongside which the 1st Century power of Rome pales in comparison. We have pretty much told the rest of the world how things were going to be, and made it stick through the power of our money and, too often, by force of arms.  Yes, yes, on a couple of occasions that was warranted by circumstances beyond our control, but even those wars were as much about economics as principle.

As Americans, we tend to forget that we are members of a global community, and that all we are depends on so many who preceded us.  We owe who and what we are to other cultures, those that went before and those that attempt to coexist with us today. The currently much-maligned Arabs invented the zero, without which modern mathematics would not exist. Africa gave us the rhythms that melded with European influences and became jazz. The Far East gave us philosophical insights; the Native Americans — the true owners of this land — an understanding of how we fit into the big picture along with all God’s other creations.

And so it goes. Every culture, every religion, every idea is built on those that have gone before. We Americans are the sum of all those parts: the Arabs, the Yoruba — stolen from their homes and forced to find another way to be themselves — the Hindu mystic, the Ojibway shaman, the Druid in his grove.

We need to think about this carefully. We need to understand that we are not isolated here in the US; that we are very much a part of the world, and it of us, and that we have the ability to decide the course of history. That course will be predicated, in turn, on our ability to discern our true place in the scheme of things: not whether we can kick the asses of those who disagree with our policies, but whether we can influence them to not want to kick ours.  The days of gunboat diplomacy are over.  They ended with the development of that most guided of missiles, the suicide bomber.

It is time to take our place as leaders in the quest for peace, not in the art and appliances of war.  When I see our powers diverted from that end to wage peace and compassion, as we are this week in Haiti, I have hope again.

If only we can remember that everyone hates a bully.


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Wonking Class Hero — The Exonerator

Advocates for innocent people in prison are few, partly because lawyers are trained to honor the sanctity of the finality of court decisions. Advocates courageous and idealistic enough to proceed on behalf of an imprisoned innocent count themselves successful if they help achieve one exoneration during a lifetime of trying.

That McCloskey — who is not a lawyer — has directed investigations resulting in dozens of exonerations is, by any measure, astounding. Those prone to biblical language use a stronger word: miraculous.  Wonking Class Hero — The Exonerator


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Woman who helped hide Anne Frank dies at 100

Miep Gies who helped hide Anne Frank dies at 100 – Times Online

Miep Gies, the woman who rescued Anne’s diary after the family was arrested in 1944, died at a Dutch nursing home aged 100 after suffering a fall.

Soon there will be no witnesses left. Then will the deniers have their way?


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Gay-Rights Battle Brewing Over 2010 U.S. Census

Gay-Rights Battle Brewing Over 2010 U.S. Census | Newsweek National News | Newsweek.com

For the first time in the centuries-long history of the census, the number of same-sex couples who self-identify as married—license or no license—will be tabulated and released to the public. The move is seen as both a friendly nod to the gay community—which had pinned its hopes on President Obama and has, at least in some quarters, been frustrated by a perceived slow response to gay-rights issues—and a boost to policy fights, from challenging laws that limit gay adoptions to the nationwide legalization of gay marriage.


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Drones and Dishonor in Central New York

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Drone aircraft are being stationed to patrol the US borders with Mexico and Canada. (Photo: Tom Tschida | wikimedia.com)

If war becomes unreal to the citizens of modern democracies, will they care enough to restrain and control the violence exercised in their name? Will they do so, if they and their sons and daughters are spared the hazards of combat?
– Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War (2000)

Drones and Dishonor in Central New York


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Gaza’s Underground Water Supplies on the Verge of Collapse

The report, “Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip: following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008-January 2009,” was requested in February by the UNEP Governing Council, made up of environment ministers from 58 countries, including Israel and the United States.

“The international community has indicated its willingness to assist with providing technical, financial and diplomatic assistance in order to turn environmental restoration into an opportunity for cooperation and restoration,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The report finds that strikes on buildings and other infrastructure have generated 600,000 metric tonnes of demolition debris, some of which is contaminated with asbestos. The removal and safe disposal of rubble is calculated at over US$7 million.

An estimated 17 percent of cultivated land, including orchards and greenhouses, was severely affected. The report estimates the costs in terms of damage to farmers’ livelihoods alongside clean-up measures at around US$11 million.

Other impacts include sewage spills as a result of power cuts to treatment facilities. Some of the sewage is likely to have percolated through the Gaza Strip’s porous soils into the groundwater, the report finds.

Gaza’s Underground Water Supplies on the Verge of Collapse