Trump Slammed With FEC Complaint for 'Knowingly and Illegally' Soliciting Foreign Donations

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 1:43pm
All indications are that Trump really does not know how this whole running for president thing works.

Donald Trump has been showered with accusations of financial impropriety, from fraud suits levied against his now-defunct Trump University, to charges that the presidential candidate drastically inflates his charitable donations. To add fuel to the monetary fire, Trump is now facing repercussions for poor fundraising acumen; on Wednesday, the Federal Elections Committee filed a complaint against Donald J. Trump for President for “soliciting contributions from foreign nationals” in a series of emails the campaign sent to “foreign nationals in Iceland, Scotland, Britain and Australia.”

Following reports earlier this month that Trump’s fundraising numbers are severely lagging, the presumptive Republican nominee sent emails to members of the British parliament, Talking Points Memo reports. 

Sir Roger Gale, British Member of Parliament complained about the correspondence to the Speaker of the House Commons, Politics Home notes. "Members of Parliament are being bombarded by electronic communications from Team Trump on behalf of somebody called Donald Trump,” Gale said Tuesday. ”Mr Speaker, I’m all in favour of free speech but I don’t see why colleagues on either side of the House should be subjected to intemperate spam."

Scottish MP Natalie McGarry also complained of the solicitations, posting an email from the Trump campaign to Twitter. In it, Trump asked McGarry to “stand together and fight against [presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s] fraud and lies.” Scottish MP Stuart McDonald also reported receiving emails. 

Scottish National Party Christopher Mullins-Silverstein told Fusion Scottish MPs have “been getting these emails for the past week.”

“Ever since he came to Scotland,” Mullins-Silverstein added.

Icelandic and Australian parliament members also reported receiving emails from Trump. In his email to Australian MPs, Trump even touted the UK’s historic vote to leave the European Union, writing in the subject line of his donation, “They took their country back.”

The FEC canned political contributions by foreign nationals in 1966 to “minimize foreign intervention in U.S. elections by establishing a series of limitations on foreign nationals.” According to the FEC, it is unlawful “to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.”

Now, it looks like the commission is taking issue with Trump’s latest fundraising efforts. “Donald J. Trump for President has knowingly and illegally solicited contributions from foreign nationals,” the complaint reads, noting that “a reasonable person would have inquired whether these individuals were foreign nationals, or concluded that there is a substantial probability that these were foreign nationals,” given their email addresses.”

Of course, the FEC report is predicated on the notion that Trump is “a reasonable person;” still, the complaint indicates the commission will “conduct an immediate investigation” into these foreign solicitations and “determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations.”

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First Transgender Nominee from a Major Party to Run for U.S. Senate Credits Bernie Sanders for Inspiration

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 1:21pm
Misty K. Snow is a highly progressive, transgender, democratic nominee for U.S. Senate... from Utah.

Salt Lake City resident Misty K. Snow, claimed the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate late Tuesday, and is, coincidentally, one of two transgender candidates named Misty to win primaries nationally; The other is Colorado Springs' Misty Plowright. Though they have already won impressive victories, both face major uphill battles with Republican incuments in the fall. While running on progressive platforms, both Mistys are fairly new to politics; Snow, a grocery store cashier, and Plowright, an IT executive. 

Calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid family leave, legalized marijuana, criminal-justice reform and free or reduced tuition for higher education, Snow was greatly inspired by the Bernie Sanders campaign.

"She said her goal is to boost working-class people such as herself. She's employed as a cashier at a Harmons grocery and hasn't gone to college, partly due to the cost and partly because she wasn't sure what career path she would like to take. Now she's seeking to become a federal lawmaker," the Salt Lake Tribune reported

As presidential candidate Sanders is also using his platform to encourage progressive change at every level of government, and the Senate races saw a big shake up due to supporters, even those with no prior polical experience, following through. 

"Snow jumped in the race shortly before the filing deadline because she wanted to offer an alternative to [Jonathan] Swinton, [a marriage therapist, Mormon and her opponent in the Senate Race], who described himself as a conservative Democrat who sought to govern as a centrist," reported the Salt Lake Tribune. 

But Utah Democrats weren't  buying it. Snow won 59.4% of the vote. 

"A lot of people have told me whether I win or lose, I'm already making a difference just by running," Snow said. 

Unfortunately, transgenger indiviuals are increasingly susceptible to attacks, and Snow strives to use her influence to implement hate crime legislation.

"I think we need to not forget that [Orlando] was an attack on the LGBT community, on the Hispanic community and we need to be careful of conservative politicians who are trying to whitewash it; trying to erase that connection," Snow noted in the Washington County, Utah debate on June 14, two days after the massacre.

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The Miserable Catch-22 of Mental Illness

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 12:57pm
Anxiety and depression can make it harder for people to reach out for the help they need.

I’m depressed.

I’ve dealt with mental health issues for decades now. Nothing fancy or interesting like multiple personalities or hallucinations. Just run-of-the-mill boring ones—good old depression and anxiety, and maybe some undiagnosed PTSD to go with it.

Mental illness has a stigma, but most sufferers are like me. Boring. Struggling. Outwardly pretty normal. Not a threat to society. Sometimes we even push our way through work, relationships, raising kids, or—in my case—graduate school.

Lately, I’ve been splitting my time between hating myself and working on my thesis.

It’s kind of odd to go back and forth between reading academic journal articles like a functional grown-up and curling up in the fetal position in bed like a child. If you saw me in public, you’d never know anything was wrong.

The bigger problem, for those of us who suffer, is the lack of a safety net. If you have a family who can support you and help you, great. But a lot of folks with mental illness get here because our families were dysfunctional in the first place.

There are cases where families all heal together, and it works out in the end. The alcoholic in the mix stops drinking, everyone goes to the appropriate therapy, 12-step program, or both, and the family comes together.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes the problems can’t be fixed. Sometimes, rather than being your support system, your family is your problem. What then?

Well, you have to work a full-time job just like everyone else, if you’re lucky enough to have one. You have to find a therapist, and go every week—and pay your bills, do your dishes, and cook your meals just like everyone else.

Doing all of that stuff while depressed isn’t easy. It’s no easier than trying to do all of those things with the flu—by yourself, without help.

Even with Obamacare’s improvements to mental health coverage, getting care isn’t always easy or affordable.

In the past two years, I’ve tried five different therapists without luck. Four were covered by my insurance, and for the last one I forked over $75 cash just to talk to a woman who didn’t help for an hour.

I’ve had good psychotherapists before. I believe in therapy. But it’s exhausting to go through the process of finding a therapist, getting a referral, making the appointment, and then pouring your heart out to someone you barely know just to find out they actually aren’t a good fit for you.

And what are the other options?

If you can afford it, you could go to a psychiatrist to try antidepressants, or try more therapists at a time. For the suicidal, there’s hospitalization. For the long-term debilitated, there’s Social Security disability. (Not that it really pays enough to live on, nor does it address the actual problem.)

There’s a catch-22 element to the problem.

I feel unable to do what I’m supposed to in my life because of anxiety and depression, and I’m anxious and depressed about what I have to do in my life. I’m panicked about making a mistake, so I become paralyzed with fear and make lots of mistakes.

And if your response is, “That’s not rational,” well… yeah. That’s why they call it mental illness.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know the status quo is not okay. Millions of Americans are suffering, and sometimes your very problem, mental illness, makes it harder for you to reach out for the help you need.

 

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Do We Really Need Another White Lady in Jeopardy Movie? 'The Shallows' and Hollywood's Empathy Gap

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 12:35pm
In movies like this, the suffering of local people of color takes a back seat to the plight of Caucasian outsiders.

How many brown people have to die so that Blake Lively can live?

That question is explored in “The Shallows,” the new carnivorous shark B-movie from schlock maestro Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan”) that’s like “Open Water” with more posterior shots. Collet-Serra so favors Ms. Lively’s backside that he appears to be moonlighting as her proctologist. In “The Shallows,” the former “Gossip Girl” starlet dons a skimpy bikini to catch some waves in Mexico, where she quickly discovers that there’s trouble in these waters. A shark attacks her, severely injuring her leg. Resourceful protagonist Nancy (a medical student, of course) makes a suture out of her earring while she takes shelter on a rock and waits for rescue.

Collet-Serra, the Spaniard who also directed the Liam Neeson thrillers “Unknown” and “Non-Stop,” knows his way around this material. “The Shallows” is ingeniously constructed, projecting the image of Nancy’s stopwatch on screen at key moments to build suspense; Nancy calculates the distance to the nearest buoy to see how much time she has before the shark catches up to her. Collet-Serra often films in different styles, jumping between lush aerial panoramas of the breathtakingly clear waters and manic handheld shots through the use of a GoPro.

But while the film is elevated by its director’s skill and a surprisingly strong physical performance from Lively, “The Shallows” is yet another in a string of movies that amount to white survival porn—in which the trials of Caucasian tourists are treated as more important than the suffering of the people of color around them. Collet-Serra’s thriller foregrounds the suffering and the fragility of whiteness, while the brutal killings of local Latinos (many of whom attempt to save Nancy) go unmourned and are little remarked upon. While Nancy has agency and a backstory, none of brown people who perish in the harsh sea are granted the same compassion. It’s yet another reminder that in Hollywood, only white lives matter.

There are five people of color in “The Shallows,” and for the purposes of this essay, we will assume they are Mexican, because we are given next to no information about their lives. Nancy is given a ride to a secluded beach by Carlos (Óscar Jeanada), a local who lives near the shore. “The Shallows,” which was written by Anthony Jaswinski, isn’t terribly interested in Carlos’ life. During their car ride, Nancy spends the trip complaining about the friend who got too drunk to accompany her on the excursion. Carlos’ only character trait is that he has a young son. (Spoiler: He will come to Nancy’s aid at a pivotal moment.)

When Latinos aren’t cast in a servile position—around to chauffeur wealthy white people—they are shark bait. After Nancy becomes trapped on the aforementioned rock, she notices that a man passed out on the beach overnight. He’s the town drunk, depicted with an empty liquor bottle seemingly fused to his hand (ala Ellen Barkin in “Drop Dead Gorgeous”). She awakens him by screaming for help. Rather than coming to her rescue, the inebriated fellow steals her stuff: her backpack, her wallet, and her phone. Not yet satiated by looting her, he even tries to make off with her surfboard.

Because this is a horror movie, you can probably guess what happens: He is killed before he can get away. The encounter takes place offscreen, a wise choice on Collet-Serra’s part. But while there’s a nonjudgemental passivity to Nancy’s injuries, the shark reserves a special wrath for the looter, severing him in half. After he is attacked, the man still tries to claw his way to safety, even though he’s missing his legs and trailing his intestines behind him.

This gruesome treatment of Latinos is par for the course. When Nancy first arrives at the beach, she meets two Mexican surfers, who depart just as our heroine is first besieged by the shark. Nancy tries to stop them but to no avail. Luckily for her, the two come back again to surf the next day—but are killed trying to intervene. While Lively gets to play something resembling an actual human being, these men are nothing more than ciphers. They have little dialogue and no depth or dimensionality; you never learn their names. The film’s IMDb page is strangely unhelpful in this regard: The characters aren’t even listed.

There’s, of course, a reason for that. The lives of these Latinos are merely props in the story of a privileged white woman learning an Important Lesson. Nancy has recently decided to drop out of school following the death of her mother from cancer. “Some people just can’t be helped,” she explains to her father over the phone. He argues that Nancy’s mother was a fighter and would have wanted her daughter to keep, well, fighting. (The movie repeatedly stresses this point.) In facing down death, Nancy regains that scrappy spirit.

Such were also the lessons of Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” which tells the story of Maria Belón and her family, who survived the devastating tsunami of 2004 while vacationing in Thailand. Much attention was paid to the film’s casting: In real life, Belón and her family are Spanish. Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor, who are Australian and Scottish, respectively, were cast to play the couple instead.

This was pointed out by some as yet another instance of Hollywood whitewashing—the tendency to erase non-white people from their own stories by casting Caucasian actors in place of people of color. Recent examples include the Scarlett Johansson-starring “Ghost in the Shell” (in which she plays Japanese) and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” featuring Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale as Egyptians. The Belóns are European, so the case is a bit different. But what received less scrutiny who wasn’t represented in the film: The thousands of non-white victims who died in the horrific tragedy, nearly all of whom are reduced to background actors and props in their own story.

As The Guardian’s David Cox explains, few of the those who actually died in the tsunami were white. “The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed at least 227,898 people,” Cox writes. “Around a third of these were children.” Just 10 percent of those who died in the tsunami were Caucasian, a far cry from Naomi Watts’ assertion that half the victims were tourists. “Holiday paradise Thailand, with its 5,400 deaths, was actually at the margins of the tragedy,” Lee continues. “Indonesia alone suffered 130,700 deaths, largely of low-income Acehnese people; the figure for the U.K., whence [the film’s] family appears to hail, is 149.”

The movie’s treatment of its non-white characters is distressingly similar to “The Shallows.” If the Latinos in Collet-Serra’s film exist to serve and save white people, “The Impossible” exhibits the same racial power dynamics. “Virtually everyone shown suffering after the tsunami is a European, Australian, or American tourist,” the New York Times’ A.O. Scott writes. “At one point Maria and Lucas are cared for by residents of a small village and later they are helped by Thai doctors, but these acts of selfless generosity are treated like services to which wealthy Western travelers are entitled.”

If Scott claims that the fact that “the vast majority of the dead, injured and displaced were Asian never really registers,” why do Hollywood movies keep making these mistakes? After all, these issues were replicated in John Erick Dowdle’s “No Escape,” in which Lake Bell and Owen Wilson play an American couple who relocate their family to a unnamed South Asian country (hint: it’s probably Cambodia) on the eve of violent revolution and must flee the tumult. The rebels are depicted like zombies, a mass horde that craves the flesh of innocent Westerners. But instead of eating brains, they hack their victims to death.

The little humanity afforded to people of color is a product of a Hollywood that privileges the stories of white folks above all else; this is a system in which white actors are considered “bankable,” while even A-list black actors are treated like second class citizens. Since nearly winning an Oscar for “The Help,” Viola Davis has struggled to find roles on film worthy of her, scoring thankless parts in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “Ender’s Game.” Kerry Washington has yet to find a breakout role in cinema to match her work on “Scandal” and HBO’s “Confirmation.”

But if Hollywood devalues people of color, this is also indicative of how the lives, experiences, and even the pain of non-white people aren’t recognized in general. A groundbreaking 2013 study from the University of Milano-Bicocca described what researchers called an “empathy gap” along racial lines. When white people are shown images of both white folks and people of color being harmed, such as receiving a prick on the skin, the survey found that the respondents perceive non-white people as feeling less pain.

There have been a number of theories as to why that is. A separate study suggests that it has to do with privilege: Because respondents assume that people of color have experienced greater hardship, they unconsciously assume these subjects are accustomed to pain and can better deal with the occasional poke or pinch. But perhaps the more pertinent reason is that white people still struggle to relate to people of color at all; in Hollywood lingo, their struggles aren’t “universal.” A 2012 study from Indiana University found that the more black actors a movie stars, the less likely white viewers are to want to see it.

It’s telling that the costar who receives the most screen time in “The Shallows” isn’t one of the Latino actors eaten by a shark but a seagull with a broken wing who hides out on the rock with Nancy. She nurses him back to health, popping his dislocated shoulder back into place so he can fly away. He’s still too weak to escape, so Nancy pushes him to shore on some debris. No one would dare wish harm to an injured animal, but it would have been nice if “The Shallows” cared about the pain of people of color as much as it does a bird.

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The Millennial Generation Is a Perfect Fit for Socialism

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 11:48am
Capitalism has only itself to blame, forcing millennials to look for an alternative.

Few developments have caused as much recent consternation among advocates of free-market capitalism as various findings that millennials, compared to previous generations, are exceptionally receptive to socialism.

recent Reason-Rupe survey found that a majority of Americans under 30 have a more favorable view of socialism than of capitalism. Gallup finds that almost 70 percent of young Americans are ready to vote for a “socialist” president. So it has come as no surprise that 70 to 80 percent of young Americans have been voting for Bernie Sanders, the self-declared democratic socialist. Some pundits have been eager to denounce such surveys as momentary aberrations, stemming from the economic crash, or due to lack of knowledge on the part of millennials about the authoritarianism they say is the inevitable result of socialism. They were too young to have been around for Stalin and Mao, they didn’t experience the Cold War, they don’t know to be grateful to capitalism for saving them from global tyranny. The critics dismiss the millennials’ political leanings by repeating Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s mantra, “There is no alternative” (TINA), which prompted the extreme form of capitalism we now know as neoliberalism.

But millennials, in the most positive turn of events since the economic collapse, intuitively understand better. Circumstances not of their choosing have forced them to think outside the capitalist paradigm, which reduces human beings to figures of sales and productivity, and to consider if in their immediate lives, and in the organization of larger collectivities, there might not be more cooperative, nonviolent, mutually beneficial arrangements with better measures of human happiness than GDP growth or other statistics that benefit the financial class.

Indeed, the criticism most heard against the millennial generation’s evolving attachment to socialism is that they don’t understand what the term really means, indulging instead in warm fuzzy talk about cooperation and happiness. But this is precisely the larger meaning of socialism, which the millennial generation—as evidenced in the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements—totally comprehends.

Capitalism has only itself to blame, forcing millennials to look for an alternative.

Let’s recall a bit of recent history before amnesia completely erases it. While banks were bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars, the government was not interested in offering serious help to homeowners carrying underwater mortgages (the actual commitment of the U.S. government was $16 trillion to corporations and banks worldwide, as revealed in a 2011 audit prompted by Sanders and others). Facing crushing amounts of debt, millennials have been forced to cohabit with their parents and to downshift ambitions. They have had to relearn the habits of communal living, making do with less, and they are bartering necessary skills because of the permanent casualization of jobs. They are questioning the value of a capitalist education that prepares them for an ideology that is vanishing and an economy that doesn’t exist.

After the Great Depression, regulated capitalism did a good enough job keeping people’s ideas of happiness in balance. Because of job stability, wage growth, and opportunities for mobility, primarily driven by progressive taxation and generous government services, regulated capitalism experienced its heyday during 1945-1973, not just in America but around the world. Since then, however, the Keynesian insight that a certain level of equality must be maintained to preserve capitalism has been abandoned in favor of a neoliberal regime that has privatized, deregulated, and “liberalized” to the point where extreme inequality, a new form of serfdom, has come into being.

Millennials perceive that what is on offer in this election cycle on the part of one side (Trump) is a return to a regulated form of capitalism, but with a frightening nationalist overlay and a disregard for the environment that is not sustainable, and on the other side (Clinton) a continuation of the neoliberal ideology of relying exclusively on the market to make the best decisions on behalf of human welfare. They understand that the reforms of the last eight years have been so mild, as with the Dodd-Frank bill, as to keep neoliberalism in its previous form intact, guaranteeing future cycles of debt, insolvency, and immiseration. They haven’t forgotten that the capitalist class embarked on an austerity campaign, of all things, in 2009 in the U.S. and Europe, precisely the opposite of what was needed to alleviate misery.

But millennials are done with blind faith in the market as the solution to all human problems. They question whether “economic growth” should even be the ultimate pursuit. Ironically, again, it is the extreme form capitalism has taken under neoliberalism that has put millennials under such pressure that they have started asking these questions seriously: Why not work fewer hours? Why not disengage from consumer capitalism? Why trust in capitalist goods to buy happiness? Why not discover the virtues of community, solidarity, and togetherness? It is inchoate still, but this sea change in the way a whole generation defines happiness is what is going to determine the future of American politics.

Millennials understand that overturning capitalist memes to address the immediate social and ecological crises is only the starting point. The more difficult evolution is to reorient human thought, after more than 500 years of capitalist hegemony, to think beyond even democratic or participatory socialism, to a more anarchic, more liberated social organization, where individuals have the potential to achieve freedom and self-realization, precisely the failed promise of capitalism.

To distract attention by pointing to the failure of authoritarian state-driven experiments in socialism is not going to work. Cooperative models not driven by the state have been pervasive throughout history, all through the middle ages for example, or until recently in large parts of the world where capitalism hadn’t yet penetrated. Whenever one forms a spontaneous association to fulfill real needs, whether in a family or community or town, one is embarking on activity that is discounted by capitalism.

In the 19th century, there was the successful cooperative model of Robert Owen, the British cotton-spinner and industrialist, followed in the 20th century with similar ventures by Owen’s counterpart in Japan, Muto Sanji, as well as agricultural, industrial, housing, and banking cooperatives in Australia in the early 20th century, in the Basque region of Spain after World War II, in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna, and in Sweden, Canada, Denmark, and elsewhere. Today, many examples of the cooperative model operate in BrazilVenezuela and other Latin American countries, spurred by resistance to the neoliberal model.

The idea is to move beyond money, interpreted in particular ways by capitalism, as the sole means of determining what is valued in human activity. Just because the means of production can be owned collectively does not mean—and indeed should not mean—that the state should be the owner.

In effect, capitalism is losing its future constituency, not just in America, but in other parts of the world as well. It happened among millennials in Latin America in the last decade, as indigenous movements sprouted up, avowing to chart a non-authoritarian path compared to socialisms of the past, all this as the clash between capitalism’s totalizing logic and the health of the planet reached a crescendo.

The current American election is one of the last of the rearguard actions by so-called progressives exploiting the notion that nothing better is possible. This antihumanism, masquerading as pragmatism, asks millennials to buy into the idea that we can only expect the false measures of happiness that capitalism has sold us on.

Cooperation is neither medieval nor tyrannizing; it is rather avant-garde, and it looks like the millennial generation is ready to ride the wave. Millennials are famously optimistic; socialism was designed for just such a breed.

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Despicable Bedfellows: NRA Endorses Trump with $2 Million National Ad Campaign

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 11:45am
The rabid and criminal pro-gun group has found their man.

Here’s a match made in the fire-pits of hell: Donald Trump just received an endorsement in the form of a $2 million national ad campaign sponsored by the NRA Political Victory Fund.

The 30-second spot “Stop Clinton, Vote Trump” is narrated by Marine Corps veteran Mark Geist, a survivor of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Libya.

“A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win,” says Geist glaring into a camera that pans to reveal him walking through a cemetery. “Well, I know some people who won’t be voting this year either,” he continues, alluding to the four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, who were killed in the attack. 

The highly manipulative ad which trots out the thoroughly discredited theory that Clinton is to blame for the Benghazi attacks has emerged on the day when yet another politically-motivated invesitgation has cleared her, and Stevens' family has spoken out about the fact that they in no way blame her. 

Trump needs all the friends he can get with his depleted war chest and flailing campaign. According to estimated figures provided by the Wesleyan Media Project, in a single week the Clinton campaign ran almost three times the number of ads compared to Trump recently. RealClearPolitics also reports that at present Trump is trailing Clinton by an average of 7 points.

The ad represents the largest expenditure by an outside group on behalf of Trump and is set to air on national cable and on broadcast channels in the military-saturated states of Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Geist endorsed Trump back in February, and is apparently a fan of his tough talk, saying, “under President Trump, many conflicts will be avoided because our enemies will fear the United States and our military."

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Sex Toy Recycling? It Is Time to Think About Dildo Disposal

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 11:44am
When hiding them all under the bed is no longer an option.

I recently tested a truly heinous “oral sex simulator” sex toy for a magazine. The contraption involved 10 chihuahua-sized plastic tongues that swirled furiously, pinwheel-fashion, slapping at my most delicate bits while whirring furiously, like a peeved lover who wished I would just have a damn orgasm already. I can only imagine what it would do to an errant pubic hair.

I used the thing because I am a serious journalist, but what was I supposed to do with it afterward?

It seemed wasteful just to throw it away, not to mention the embarrassing tarting up of my weekly garbage. And right now there are no blue recycling bins where one can toss one's toys after they've put in their time.

How is it that old sex toys have no dignified resting place? It's for a variety of reasons, one of them being that they're sex toys, ergo, ewwww. Some recycling facilities won't take them because they consider them biohazards. Recycling is also tricky because toys can contain problematic and/or toxic materials like batteries, motors and weird-ass “jelly” materials.

Money is also an issue. It's just not profitable (yet) to deal in used Fleshlights. “The biggest issue is the mixed polymers. This is an export-only item, mostly to China. The market for mixed plastics has been quickly eroding since 2008,” said a recycling industry expert, who wished to speak anonymously because... sex toys. “But if there were large quantities available on a consistent basis, I'm confident that there would be a home option available for recycling.”

Even though I have, perhaps, “a lot” of sex toys hidden under my bed (the world's #1 hiding place for sex toys, followed by the nightstand drawer), it's not the kind of large quantities I would need to set up an in-home export business. What are the options, then?

1. Throw them away.

Sure, you can take out the batteries and recycle them, but the rest will end up in a landfill, stubbornly not biodegrading, so our descendants will be well aware of what big pervs we were. This is not ideal.

2. Buy from a place that recycles toys.

Right now that's exactly two places: U.K.-based sex toy company Lovehoney and Come As You Are (CAYA), an “anti-capitalist, co-operative sex shop” in Toronto, Canada. Lovehoney's Rabbit Amnesty Program is the most successful, running for 10 years in the U.K., and now offering recycling to U.S. customers.

"Everything we receive gets checked to make sure it qualifies for the recycling scheme. The toys are then sorted into containers and sent to our nearest WEEE Recycling Plant. They’re pretty used to receiving mountains of colorful phalluses from us now, “ explains Richard Longhurst, co-owner of Lovehoney.

“The unwanted toys get crushed and separated into their different materials. You can see a video of the whole process on YouTube. It’s quite entertaining to see a bulldozer with a shovel-load of sex toys and see rabbit vibrators whizzing round conveyor belts and crushed into little pieces.”

Metals might be made into new gadgets and plastics might go into that container you're drinking out of right now. Pause for spit take.

At CAYA, things aren't quite as advanced, but they are doing their sincere Canadian best.

“We encourage folks to drop off their busted sex toys and give them a 15 perent discount for their efforts,” says Jack Lamon or CAYA Co-operative. “While we can't recycle all sex toy materials, we can deal with abs plastics, silicone and the electronics contained within. The silicone we're hanging onto for a top-secret in-house re-purposing project. The biggest issue for us is the vinyl, rubber and mystery plastics. None of these materials should have ever been in sex toys in the first place, and they certainly shouldn't be in landfills!

"Anything we get that is an antique, we sterilize and keep for our collection," he continued. "We've found some original Fun Factory pieces in the recycling, not to mention Wahl Vibrators from the 1960s.”

Although you are welcome to send your box of worn-out butt plugs to CAYA, Lamon doesn't actually recommend it. “The shipping cost is probably too prohibitive for most folks, and honestly, we feel weird about people shipping stuff to us from too far away—I suspect that the gas/oil and emissions undo the good work of recycling, from an environmental perspective,” he said.

Instead he encourages...

Sex toy swap

“Sex toy swaps are amazing and I would love to see more happen in local communities,” says Lamon. “Folks have tons of amazing stainless steel, glass and leather toys that would be better reused than recycled, and that stuff is so expensive to buy new.”

The thing is, most people have a huge issue with used sex toys, despite the fact that we happily reuse penises and other real body parts all the time. We're so squeamish about it that it's difficult to have a serious discussion about used toys without everyone giggling like a bunch of fifth-graders. When I asked readers of my sex blog—a pretty progressive group—if they'd consider a swap, only one person would admit to it.

Still, a few determinedly green and/or thrifty souls are willing to give it a go.

“I have a small group of friends I trust and am very comfortable sharing intimate things with, and every once in a while we do a toy swap. I know it sounds like a terrible and kinda creepy idea in general, but really, if it's sterilizable and comes from someone I trust, why not exchange that glass g-spotter that I never actually use for an awesome purple silicone dildo that doesn't quite work for my best friend?” posted rhiannonstone on Metafilter.

Reusing sex toys most likely has some historical precedence. As one of my readers pointed out after a post on the early 1900s vibrator hysteria treatments, “I would hazard a guess that the doctors did not purchase a new device for every patient.” (Even if you have no qualms about unknown things in your orifices, you should avoid porous toys and ones made with toxic materials—a decent general rule for new toys as well.)

Go rogue

Some people use them as artistic inspiration. Subtle Dildo, an instillation art project, ponders the presence of plastic in our lives with a photo series, each featuring a Where's Waldo-like hidden dildo.

Lovehoney offers a cheeky list of sex toys hacks including a butt plug light pull, dildo book ends and a sex doll-turned-scarecrow.

And according to a discovery by one dude on YouTube, some folks just toss their used dildos into the empty lot behind the Peddlers Inn, in Ulysses, Kansas (not recommended).

Sell them online

eBay doesn't allow it, but sites like Craigslist, which technically also doesn't allow it, has a small black market, especially for generally unaffordable high-end toys. And the year-old used sex toys subreddit currently has almost a dozen items up for grabs, including the WeVibe 4. New, it will run you about $150, but the seller is accepting offers. “Just doesn't work as expected for the wife,” he explains. 

If the idea of buying used sex toys online skeevs you out, you should definitely not read the National Association for the Advancement of Science and Art in Sexuality's investigation that found “many” online sex toy retailers were selling used toys. To determine that the toys were used, the investigators didn't use some sort of high-tech DNA analysis—they just looked at the stuff!

According to the NAASAS report in a particularly hideous string of words, “Indicators noted in the study to determine if a sex toy had been previously purchased were physical evidence found on the actual sex toys inside their packaging such as human body hair (including pubic hair), vaginal and anal secretions (including fecal matter), saliva, finger prints, lubricant residue, animal fur, lint from clothing and more.”

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Post Brexit, Bernie Sanders Pens Impassioned NY Times Op-Ed: 'Democrats Need to Wake Up'

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 10:37am
Sanders eviscerates the party's coziness with the global elite and unfair economic policies.

Bernie Sanders penned an op-ed in the New York Times Tuesday, eviscerating the economic policies “established and maintained by the world’s economic elite” that are “failing people everywhere.”

Discussing some of the factors that prompted British voters last week to leave the European Union, Sanders wrote that workers in Britain “have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children.”

“Surprise, surprise,” he noted.

Sanders also reiterated talking points he used on the campaign trail, focusing specifically on the impact of income inequality. “The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent,” Sanders wrote. “The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.”

Sanders warned that a Brexit-style reaction to the devastating impact of a global elite could happen in the United States:

“During my campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve visited 46 states. What I saw and heard on too many occasions were painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize.

In the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have closed, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this is related to disastrous trade agreements that encourage corporations to move to low-wage countries.”

Sanders also lamented Wall Street’s influence over American politics, notably failing to specifically mention Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival whom he hit throughout the campaign for her ties to Wall Street and corporate donors. 

But he did take on another presidential rival, noting, “we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric—and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message.”

Instead, Sanders wrote, “we need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war,” as well as one who takes on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, and “other powerful special interests.”

Sanders also called upon an end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and corporate tax evasion, a comprehensive approach to defeat global climate change, and an international demilitarization effort.

“The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States,” Sanders wrote, adding that millions of Americans share in similar frustrations espoused by British Leave voters. 

Sanders concluded with a firm message to Democrats: “Make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind.”

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New water treatment plant for Ontario First Nation

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 9:42am

CONSTANCE LAKE — A new water treatment plant was announced for the Ontario First Nations community of Constance Lake. The new plant will lift a boil water advisory that has been in effect since 2014. Ottawa contributed nearly $6 million dollars toward design and construction with additional funds provided by the band and the province. Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett said access to clean drinking water is something all Canadians expect. Bennett said the government is committed to ending all drinking water advisories in Canada by 2021.

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Topics to discuss before hiring your next mechanic

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 9:41am

Few decisions weigh as heavily on automobile owners as their choice of mechanic. A good mechanic goes a long way toward ensuring drivers and their passengers stay safe on the road and that those drivers’ vehicles perform at their peak for years to come. That’s an important role to play, and it’s why many drivers acknowledge that choosing a mechanic is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Rest assured you don’t need to be a car guy or gal to find a trustworthy and talented mechanic. You might just need to open a dialogue with a prospective mechanic, discussing a handful of topics that can help you feel more comfortable and know you have made the right choice […]

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New evidence demands a new verdict

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 9:36am

BRANTFORD – Disappointed to the bone after important finds of stone tools were ignored by the Canadian Archaeological Society, German born Ilse Kraemer stopped her archaeological pursuits years ago and turned towards protecting the environment. Her archaeological finds, made roughly 30 years ago, did not fit the well-trod belief that no one lived in the Western Hemisphere before 13,000 years ago and would not be accepted as evidence contrary to that belief. Around 1982, her greatest prize became her deepest disappointment. She found stone tools that survived the last Ice Age relatively intact, near Hagersville, Ont. These cutting and scraping tools had a microscopic deep, shiny red patina covering them, as well as on the flakes of cast-off material surrounding […]

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WATCH: Larry Wilmore's Panel Has a Wild Suggestion for Trump

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 9:32am
No presidential candidate has made this a part of their platform in the 2016 election.

Donald Trump has some steep unfavorability ratings with people who aren't white men, and rightfully. But so far, the presumptive GOP nominee has failed to face facts. "I'm going to do great with the African-Americans," Trump said not too long ago. "African-American youth is 58 percent unemployed. African-Americans in their prime are substantially worse off, you know, economically than a — than the whites in their prime. And it's very — it's a very sad situation." 

You know what else is sad? Black people really don't like you, Mr. Trump. According to a poll released earlier this month, 94 percent of Black voters view Trump negatively, up from 81 percent in just one month. That ridiculous moment when the presumptive GOP nominee decided to single out an African American man at one of his campaign rallies earlier this month, saying, "Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?" probably didn't help.

Larry Wilmore's "Nightly Show" panel chatted about Trump Tuesday night after viewing that clip. "He must not have got the email, we free now," Mike Yard remarked. "Enough with your tripped out memory lane."

"It's just his game of "Where's Waldo," but with black people," Robin Thede quipped.

"Like it was hard to find him at a Trump rally," Yard agreed.

"If he had a Black friend, he wouldn't have put 'my' in that sentence," Arsenio Hall concluded.

The panel did have an idea of how Trump could slightly decrease his unfavorables come November.

"If Trump said, 'I am coming out for reparations for black people. Hillary's not going to say this. I'm saying 'reparations for black people.' All of you guys, I'm writing a $25,000..." Wilmore proposed.

"If he said 25 grand and, like we said earlier, free college.. it depends though.. I gotta see the legislation," Yard told Wilmore, adding, "I don't trust him."

Watch:

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Golf tourney raises $5,000 for food bank

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 9:12am

SIX NATIONS – Almost $5,000 was raised for the Six Nations Community Food Bank (SNCFB) at its annual fundraising golf tournament. “The day was awesome,” said food bank co-ordinator Ellen-Rose Jamieson. “The weather was great and the entire event went incredibly smooth.” The members of the tournaments winning team were; Shawn Hill, Jimmer Martin, Jeff Thomas and Shelby Bomberry. Bomberry also took home the prize from the 50/50 draw. Eleven teams took part in the tournament earlier this month on June 4 for a total of 44 golfers. “We raised nearly $5,000,” said Jamieson. “Any time the food bank receives donations or extra funding it goes straight towards keeping the community fed and taken care of and it definitely doesn’t […]

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Haldimand Walk: a journey of discovery

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 8:51am

BRANTFORD – Ken Wilson was born and raised in Brantford with a cursory knowledge that there was at some time an Indian presence here. Beyond that, like most settlers,  he knew nothing and even less about the residential schools. After leaving the area to attend post-secondary school, which took him to Ottawa and then to Regina where he presently lives, he began finding out about the issues affecting indigenous peoples and in particular, that of Six Nations and the Haldimand Tract. “One purpose of my walk is to experience the size of the Haldimand Tract,” Wilson told the Two Row Times outside the Mohawk Institute building in Brantford. “It’s one thing to look at it on a map, but it’s […]

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Dr. Tony Hall visits Kanata Mohawks

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 8:46am

EAGLES NEST — In 2014, Dr. Anthony Hall, noted author of “The American Empire and the Fourth World: The Bowl With One Spoon, Part One,” and “Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism,” was part of a conference hosted in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was designed to be a meeting of the minds of intellectuals from around the world to gather different perspectives on world matters. Dr. Hall, well known in the Six Nations Territory, dropped in on his friend Bill Squire and members of the Mohawk Workers at Kanata Mohawk Village, near Brantford, on his way to another conference, this time in Munich, Germany. While in the area, the Two Row Times spoke to Dr. Hall about […]

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3-Nolans at KT

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 8:29am

Hundreds of KT Gas and Convenience’s customers were surprised to find Garden River’s Nolan boys, Brandon, Jordan, and their father Ted Nolan, signing autographs and posing for pictures Friday. Jordan is a current LA King and wearer of a 2012 Stanley Cup Ring; Brandon, is a retired Carolina Hurricane. Ted Nolan is a former Buffalo Sabres head coach and winner of the NHL coach of the year award. The three were kept busy with the steady flow of fans. Some customers said they came specifically to meet the Nolan’s after seeing KT’s add in the Two Row Times last week. Even some of KT’s staff got in on the action too. Photos by Jim Windle

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College opportunities for youth at Six Nations Polytechnic new campus

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 8:26am

BRANTFORD — Six Nations Polytechnic held an open house at the school’s new campus in Brantford Saturday at an event for prospective students from the area and their parents. The building at 411 Elgin Street, was formerly home to Mohawk College’s Brantford campus. Students were encouraged by an empowerment presentation by professional basketball freestyler and motivational speaker Q-Mack, and professional beatboxer Scott Jackson. The duo showcased their talents while encouraging students to increase confidence by trying new things — encouraging them to press forward with their education and life goals. Tours through the new campus followed, including an arts workshop to showcase the schools new Indigenous Arts program starting this fall. The new campus can accommodate up to 1000 students […]

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Prince’s Charities Canada seeks to empower youth employment

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 8:14am

OHSWEKEN – The indigenous population is the fastest growing population in Canada and an off-reserve organization is seeking to help indigenous youth prepare themselves for entry into the workforce. Michael Shapcott, from Prince’s Charities Canada, came a general elected band council meeting on June 14 to fill elected councillors and chief in on the work they currently do and want to bring to Six Nations. “We think all Canadian businesses need to take an important role in the process of working with First Nations — in particular, indigenous youth,” said Shapcott. “We’ve been encouraging our businesses to take up call-to-action 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Chaplet explained that call-to-action 92 says Canada’s businesses need to take a role […]

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Racing for Diversity Team drivers get big thank you

Two Row Times - June 29, 2016 - 8:05am

Four young drivers for the Racing for Diversity Team, received four high-end BMX bikes in their favourite colours as a thank you for the efforts the kids have put out at the racetrack as a team. Knighthawk Protection Services and Weken Electronics donated the bikes to their young drivers, Myles Montour, Micah Panos, Jacob Ross and Kyeriah Maracle. The kids also participate in special mentoring programs that teaches them self-confidence and self-respect, among other things. The presentations were made at KT Gas and Variety on Highway #54, Saturday. Photo by Jim Windle

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We Owe It to the Victims of the Latest Bombing Tragedy in Turkey to Ask Why These Attacks Happened

AlterNet.org - June 29, 2016 - 6:47am
Terror acts like these can produce a dangerous kind of nationalism that gives govt. leaders to do insufferable things.

Tragedies are tragedies. Ordinary people stand at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Guns and bombs shatter their lives in an instant. There can be no justification for such violence. It is dangerously random and wicked. Whatever frustrations produce the assailants, nothing could possibly draw a straight line from those grievances and the misfortunes they produce. Each of these attacks comes with a list of names of the dead – casualty lists that multiply from one end of the planet to the other. Biographies of the dead will mount our Facebook pages and stand sentinel in newspapers. We will meet people we did not know and try to make sense of the lives they have lost. But none of this is adequate to the catastrophic losses faced by their families. When someone is ill, there is time to prepare for that person’s death. When these kinds of incidents take place, there is no preparation. They come in a flash and seize the living into the land of the dead. It is bewildering and purposeless.

States will fly flags at half-mast, and if the people are worthy, then social media profiles will carry these flags as well. Nationalism of the worst kind cloaks itself in these tragedies. All kinds of older plots and plans are hastened onto the table – to make quick use of the grief to push ahead with whatever schemes the power elites had in mind already. The war on Iraq, for instance, as a consequence of 9/11 is only the most spectacular instance of such perfidy. What Turkey’s government will do is to be seen. Already Turkey’s President - Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - no champion of democracy – has called for this attack to be a “turning point for the united fight against terrorism.” There have been too many turning points and none of them have actually been able to turn anything against either terrorism or the roots of terrorism. Erdoğan’s government hastily put the brakes on social media, as they do after every such incident. It says a great deal that the language of freedom and liberty will be heard from a government that has cracked down on all manner of dissent – from opposition politicians, journalists, the judiciary and entire ethnic groups (such as the Kurds). Such events of violence provide the political manifestations of the worst kind of nationalism with the excuse to do insufferable things.

It is bad taste to wonder why terrorists do what they do. Such a discussion often sounds like the attempt to justify their actions. But failure to ask the questions of who did the attack and why did the attack take place slips us into the miasma of uncertainty. Terrorism is about the creation of fear – which is produced by the randomness of the violence and then the fear mongering of the state’s response. Refusal to ask the serious questions about the social history of terrorist groups allows for the terror to travel like quicksilver through society and it allows the state to stand apart from having to acknowledge the production of terrorism in our society.

Problems with the Neighbors

Clarity will be hard to find. Turkey’s new prime minister – Binali Yildirim – said that the signs point to ISIS. He also said – importantly – that it is “noteworthy that this heinous terror attack took place at a time when Turkey successfully fights separatist terror and enters a period of normalization with our neighbors.” Discussion about ISIS is now common. It is where the finger points every time there is such an attack. But Yildirim made other claims – about the Turkish war on Kurdish aspiration (what he called “separatist terror”) and the deals cut between the Turkish government and Israel as well as Russia this week. He has said that there might be a connection between these events. No such confirmation is possible. But yet, this is a worthwhile line of inquiry. Such violent acts do not happen for no reason.

The first question, of course, is who did the attack. Speculation points towards ISIS – although ISIS has been loath to accept responsibility for attacks in Turkey. As a Turkish friend says, “ISIS does not want to abuse Turkish hospitality.” She notes a Turkish saying - Ateş almaya gelmek – just coming over for a light, which is a phrase use to describe guests who overstay their welcome. Has Turkey’s policy vis-a-vis ISIS become a hindrance? This attack took place on the second anniversary of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of a Caliphate (although this is in the Gregorian calendar, while ISIS generally uses the Hijri calendar – although ISIS is not without its sense of drama). Does this attack have anything to do with that? Others say that this attack is in response to the Turkish government’s rapprochement with Israel or with Russia – as Yildirim intimated. These are rumors, each one feeding off the next and producing less light and more heat. Even when someone speaks on behalf of the attackers, nothing will be clarified. Mystery will continue to surround these events – partly because states are averse to being honest about the production of these enemies.

Turkey is in turmoil. The Syrian adventure has backfired against the government of Erdoğan and his AKP. Expectations that the government of Bashar al-Assad would collapse have had to be recalibrated. Erdoğan expected to have a friendly government in Damascus by now, perhaps one led by his fraternal Muslim Brotherhood. That has not come to be. Instead, Turkish proxies in Syria have been battered by the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Russia. Turkmen groups along the border have seen their positions weaken, which is why – last November – Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that had been targeting the Sultan Abdulhamid Brigade, a close ally of Turkey. It is a sign of the weakness of Ankara that Erdoğan had to make amends with Russia this week.

Turkey’s Syria policy also upended the peace process between the government of Erdoğan and the Kurdish factions (particularly the PKK). Open war has begun again by the Turkish military against PKK positions in the country’s southeast and in Iraq. Withdrawal of basic democratic provisions in the southeast has led the region to be under effective curfew. Erdoğan’s harsh attitude toward the left-Kurdish HDP party and toward journalists has been inflamed by this war, which has dented the self-image of Erdoğan and his AKP as democratic Islamists. Turkey’s war against the Kurds, of course, is a war that helps ISIS – one of the great contradictions for Western planners in the region as I detail in my new book The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. Their ally here – Turkey – is bombing the Kurds, who are some of the most effective fighters against ISIS. Exit from this fiasco is looking harder as each day goes by. There is no table being set for a new round of talks between Ankara and the Kurdish leadership. Erdoğan, like Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa, thinks he can win a total victory. It is as delusional a view as the one that set Erdoğan against Assad in the first place.

Turkish people can be proud of the security services that hastily tried to capture the attackers. Video shows them chasing these dangerous fighters through the airport. It is also to the credit of Turkey that the Ataturk airport opened only hours after the attack (it took the Brussels airport, which sustained major structural damage, two weeks to reopen).

“Living is no laughing matter,” wrote the great Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. “You must live with great seriousness....

I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you'll plant olive trees--
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.

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