Entries Tagged as 'trusted media & news'

religion & philosophytrusted media & news

Did you know …

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That today was “Four Chaplains Day” in the United States?

No? Well, you’re not alone. The 71st anniversary of that fateful night when four U.S. Army chaplains gave their lives that others might live, caused barely a ripple today. It has come and gone quietly, and largely unmarked … including by yours truly.
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religion & philosophytrusted media & news

Men of faith, men of steel

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Earlier this week, in the course of an evening prayer gathering with @dreampcusa on Twitter, one of our partners offered up a prayer for the priests in Kiev. We joined in with that request, of course … but part of me was wondering, “what’s that about?” Once our gathering closed, I went and Googled “priests Kiev,” then clicked on the ‘News’ option for search results … and I found out exactly what he was talking about, and praying for.
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trusted media & news

Did’ja hear the latest about Carnival? … probably not

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A little over a week ago, I was sitting at the bar on Deck 5 of the Carnival Valor, listening to a story about what had caused that ship to be late in its arrival at St. Maarten a couple of days earlier. It was an interesting piece of information, and I thought it would certainly prove newsworthy … unfortunately my nose-for-news is no match for the prominent proboscises one finds in America’s major news organizations. [Read more →]

religion & philosophytrusted media & news

Two takes on TIME’s “Person of the Year”

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When I think of the time and space that might have been devoted over the last couple days upon people like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz or pop star Miley Cyrus, I find myself encouraged – not just in our world, but in the media that brings that world into our homes 24/7 – by the fact that we are, instead, focused upon Jorge Mario Bergoglio … a man who, as Pope Francis, “took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing. The first non-European pope in 1,200 years, he is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century.”
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travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

A very expensive fungus

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The other day I read that some Russian oligarch or other had paid $95,000 to a restaurateur in New York for a bit of fungus. Well, a fool and his money, as they say.

Alright, it wasn’t just any old bit of fungus. Apparently it was a “white alba truffle” – a special fungus that is quite difficult to find. And you can eat it. Meanwhile, this bit of fungus weighed about 4lb so it was quite heavy, for a fungus. According to Nello Balan, the man who says he sold the oligarch the fungus, it was the biggest such bit of fungus in the history of fungi, or something.

So there you go: Clearly this bit of fungus was [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtrusted media & news

Top ten excuses of the London man who was found having sex with his toaster

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10. “That toaster was way hot!

9. “The instructions only cautioned against sticking in knives and forks.”

8. “I heard it gave really good bread!”
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travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Why do Russians hate Texas so much?

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Feodor Dostoevsky- there’s a town named after him in Texas- allegedly.

Recently I read that the population of people speaking Russian at home in the United States has quadrupled over the last thee decades. According to the US Census office, Russians – or rather Russian speakers – are now almost 1 million strong. That’s a lot of post-Soviet immigrants. And yet it seems there is at least one area in America that Russian speakers would rather avoid: my adopted state of Texas. [Read more →]

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

When kings go incognito

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One of my favorite story motifs is of the king who travels incognito to learn what is really happening in his land. This idea shows up not only in folktales and fictions, but also in reality: Caliph Harun al-Rashid did it in 8th-century Iraq, while Turkmenbashi, the deceased leader of Turkmenistan, did it in his days as Soviet boss of that desert land. King Abdullah of Jordan also disguised himself and walked among his people shortly after he came to the throne.

But it’s not only Eastern potentates who like to walk among mortals on occasion. This week we can add to the list of incognito leaders a man I had never heard of until [Read more →]
books & writingtrusted media & news

Why Guantanamo Bay inmates are totally hot for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

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File:Dyson.cleaner.dc07.arp.jpg

When not reading about boy wizards and bondage, some berserk jihadis like to relax by thinking about how they can improve on the work of James Dyson. Pic: Wikipedia.

Yesterday I learned an interesting fact: When it comes to books, the bearded inmates of Guantanamo Bay are totally hot for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the first novel of a popular trilogy about the erotic adventures of a young female graduate named Anastasia Steele and an international businessman named Christian Grey. No, really – a US congressman said it, so it must be true.

Indeed, Representative Jim Moran of Virginia told The Huffington Post: “Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the [detainees] is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ They’ve read the entire series.” [Read more →]
trusted media & news

In Praise of Firefighters

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It’s been more than thirty years since I took the field as a substitute forest firefighter … but that brief service left me with a deep appreciation for the profession, and for those who embrace it. There remains to this day a place in my heart and my prayers for firefighters, which hasn’t diminished one bit over the decades … in fact, it grew some on ‘9/11’ … and it grew once again with this week’s tragic news from Arizona. [Read more →]

books & writingtravel & foreign lands

Kim Jong-un declares admiration for Hitler: what could possibly go wrong?

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The bookstore is that way.”

The North Korean dissident website New Focus International carried an interesting story on Monday. According to insiders, Kim Jong-un is getting into Hitler. In fact, the tubby tyrant digs the Nazi dictator so much that he’s started gifting copies of “Mein Kampf” to his inner circle. Having emulated Stalin for decades, it’s time for the regime to embrace a new villain.

At first glance, this is perplexing. What is there in “Mein Kampf” that has any relevance for the people of the “Hermit Kingdom”? Undoubtedly, Der Führer would have viewed the decidedly non-Aryan Kim as [Read more →]
art & entertainmenttravel & foreign lands

The curious Russian afterlife of Steven Seagal

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Judo expert and morbidly obese Hollywood Z-lister open martial arts center in Moscow

Long, long ago – for about 15 minutes – Steven Seagal was a big deal in Hollywood. His movie “Under Siege” made a lot of money. But that was pretty much it. Next came a string of big-budget flops followed by a lengthy and ongoing twilight spent in straight-to-video purgatory.

As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through a Seagal film. His stiff, tubby frame, extreme humorlessness and mystic posturing make it impossible for me to suspend disbelief. Here in the US he serves as a punch line, part of the flotsam and jetsam of trash culture. Steven Seagal – that’s the washed up ‘90s action movie guy who peddles an aftershave lotion named [Read more →]
politics & governmenttrusted media & news

What I want to know about George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas

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Howdy y’all- the robot LBJ keeps us yukkin’, pic from here

There are 13 “presidential libraries” in the US. These are grandiose shrines that contain the papers and records of every president since Herbert Hoover. Tomorrow the library dedicated to George W. Bush will open in Dallas and all living presidents will be there to celebrate – rather like one of those episodes of Doctor Who where the current incarnation meets with his past selves to foil a Dalek invasion.

I have visited three of these libraries. The first was Nixon’s, which I explored while staying with a friend in California 10 years ago. At the time, Nixon was still sufficiently notorious that his library was the only one to receive no support from the federal government. Instead it was run by [Read more →]
ends & oddreligion & philosophy

The other Koresh

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Don’t worry, there are no dinosaurs.

This Friday, April 19, will mark the 20th anniversary of the fire that brought an end to the Waco siege, after a 50-day-long standoff between David Koresh, his followers and the FBI. Seventy-six people died in the inferno, and the name “Koresh” is forever infamous as a result. What most people don’t know is that a century earlier, there was another Koresh – also American and just as messianic, if less randy. [Read more →]

race & culturetrusted media & news

Are white supremacists on the rampage in Texas?

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Photos of the Klu Klux Klan in the 1920s<br />

 

I had been in the US for five years before I encountered my first white supremacist. It happened outside a gas station on a rural back road in Texas, next to a used tire lot that I suspected was a front for skullduggery. We didn’t exchange any words; we just walked past each other, scowling. How did I know he was a white supremacist if we didn’t talk? The “White Power” tattoo on his gut was a dead giveaway.

Subtle, I thought. Still, I wondered if I should give him the benefit of the doubt. [Read more →]
travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Boris Berezovsky: death of an oligarch

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Boris Berezovsky

Who, me? (Pic by AFP/Carl de Souza)

I arrived in Russia in 1997, when Boris Berezovsky’s influence was at its height. The year before, he had managed to get Boris Yeltsin reelected, and we need not think too hard about how or why that was achieved. In those days Berezovsky was often in Chechnya, and I couldn’t keep up with how much stuff he owned. Then Putin became president, and shortly afterwards the “Godfather of the Kremlin” was out.

Sometime later I read a vehemently anti-Putin editorial in a major British newspaper, before such things were commonplace. Who wrote this? I wondered. And then I saw the byline:

Boris Berezovsky. I was stunned. Hadn’t the editor done a quick web search before paying this “Russian businessman” to write his screed? Evidently not, although I now understand that serial failure to grasp that not every opponent of Putin is a brave Solzhenitsyn is characteristic of the UK and US media.  [Read more →]

art & entertainmenttrusted media & news

Tutus gone wild! The Bolshoi Theater acid attack

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Ballet: sometimes it’s better if the curtains stay closed.

For somebody who’s not remotely interested in ballet, I’ve watched a lot of ballet. I acquired my experience by accident, after getting to know a Moscow bank executive in the early 2000s. He had a box close to the stage at his permanent disposal, and offered me free access. Figuring I might as well see what this jumping about in tutus lark was about I went very often, for a year or so.

I can’t recall much of what I saw now, and probably remember the weird ones better than the good ones. [Read more →]

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Don’t tear down this wall

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File:Berlinermauer.jpg

Communism: it sucked.

The Berlin Wall was a powerful symbol for me of the rottenness of Marxist regimes as I grew up in the 1980s. After all, no country in the capitalist West ever built a wall to keep its inhabitants from escaping. Thus when I first visited the city in the late 1990s, one of the first things I did was visit the East Side Gallery of graffiti art, sprayed on a surviving stretch of the Wall.

I remember being surprised by two things: how bad a lot of the art was and the terrible condition it was in. Even the famous images by Keith Haring, Gerald Scarfe and that picture of Leonid Brezhnev kissing Erich Honecker were peeling away. “Hell,” I thought, “even if the Germans want to forget the DDR, they should at least take care of the Wall to keep the tourist dollars flowing in…”

Still, I never thought I’d see a news report about a developer trying to tear down a chunk of the Wall so that he could build some apartments for rich people. But that’s what happened last week, until a crowd of protestors showed up to stop it from happening. [Read more →]

religion & philosophytrusted media & news

Ex-popes, politicians and pensioner pop stars

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See y’all later… it’s a fine art, knowing when to quit.

This Monday Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world by resigning, making him the first pope to do so in 600 years. Immediately the media was abuzz with countless instant articles on the legacy of “God’s Rottweiler”. Most of it was written by non-Catholics, none of whom have a dog in the fight, but that didn’t stop them from rambling on.

A non-Catholic myself, my response was nonetheless admiration- that the Pope knew when to call it a day. As spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people, it must be difficult to get up in the morning and deal with all that responsibility when you’re geriatric and sickly. I can barely be bothered with it myself and I’m 47 years younger than Benedict and spiritual leader of nobody. But power has a strong allure, and very few people surrender it willingly. [Read more →]

animalstravel & foreign lands

Of Iranian monkeys and other space invaders

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“Space,” as 1970s prog-rock legends Hawkwind once told us, “is deep.” But that’s not all, for as Yuri Gagarin also informed us, it can be a disappointing place for religious believers.

You see, the first cosmonaut apparently took a peek out of the porthole while he was in orbit to see if the Deity was floating about. When he didn’t see an old man with a white beard anywhere nearby, he allegedly declared: “I don’t see any God up here.”

I was thinking about Gagarin’s ultra-scientific observation this week when I read about the Iranian space monkey that the mullahs reportedly shot into the cosmos a few days ago. What did our terrified primate friend see up there as he looked out the window? If he told his theocratic bosses there’s no Allah, then he’d be headed for the chop. On the other hand, since it is strictly forbidden for Muslims to depict Allah, there’s no way the monkey could have recognized his Creator in the first place. [Read more →]
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