Does ‘Noah’ Have A Race Problem? Biblical Film Draws Criticism For Lack Of Diversity- Religion News Service | by Bob Smietana


(RNS) The new “Noah” movie has everything you’d expect in a biblical blockbuster.

Big Hollywood stars. Extravagant special effects. An apocalyptic flood. There’s even a few rock monsters for good measure.

But the Rev. Wil Gafney sees something missing: a hint of ethnic diversity.

“In this version of Noah, black people do not exist,” she said.

While much of the conversation about the “Noah” film has focused on theology and the degree to which it strays from the biblical text, few people seem to notice the all-white cast, said Gafney, an Episcopal priest and associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

That’s worrisome, she said, especially at a time when the United States is becoming more and more multiethic.

“I hoped that at least there would be some beige people in the movie,” she said. “But there was no one visibly of color.”

Add to that the so-called “Curse of Ham,” a troubling Bible passage from Genesis. It tells how Noah settled down after the flood and planted a vineyard. One night he got drunk and his son Ham saw him naked, a taboo in the ancient world.

Noah curses his son Ham, and Ham’s descendants, including his son Canaan. That Bible passage, also known as the “Curse of Canaan,” was originally understood to justify the subjection of the Canaanites to the Israelites. In later centuries, the narrative was interpreted as an explanation for black skin, and in the United States, as a biblical justification for slavery. White Christian slaveholders argued that Africans were descendants of Ham, and therefore cursed by God.

The new film strays from the Genesis account of the confrontation between Ham and Noah, said Gafney, so there’s no curse.

Instead, she said, the movie simply erases people of color from the story.

Efrem Smith, president of Los Angeles-based World Impact, a Christian nonprofit, and author of “The Post-Black and Post-White Church,” sees “Noah” as part of a pattern.

In the past, biblical epics such as the 1956 classic “The Ten Commandments” featured white actors playing Moses and Pharaoh. Smith said that he’d hoped for something more authentic in this movie.

“When it come to films on Bible stories and biblical figures, we are going back to the days of Charlton Heston,” he said.

Smith said he respects pastors that encourage people to see the film. But he wished they’d been a bit more critical of it, especially on the issue of race.

The Bible, he said, is the most multicultural piece of literature that most people will ever read. So a film about the Bible should reflect that diversity, he said.

But recent films about Bible characters, such as “Noah,” “Son of God,” and a planned version of the Exodus story starring Christian Bale, star white actors in leading roles.

Smith finds that disappointing.

“We need sensitivity from our evangelical brothers and sisters about how white images of Bible figures have impacted people of color in the past,” he said. “We are too comfortable with a white biblical narrative.”

Nashville, Tenn.-based writer and speaker Trillia Newbell, author of “United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity,” also was concerned about the lack of diversity in “Noah.”

Seeing Jesus or Noah or other biblical characters portrayed by white actors has consequences.

“It shapes how you read the Bible,” she said. “Every time you pick up the Bible, those are the images you see.”

The Rev. Enoch Fuzz of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, said too many Christians don’t pay attention when it comes to diversity. It’s like a blind spot, he said.

“We want heaven to be a place of diversity — and then we don’t see it when it is missing here on earth,” said Fuzz.

Some of his pastor friends had encouraged him to see “Noah,” in hopes of getting people to talk about the Bible. But he’d decided to skip it, because of the lack of diversity in the cast.

Anthea Butler, a blogger and associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said the filmmakers seemed to treat the story of Noah more like a science fiction story such as “The Lord of the Rings” than a retelling of a biblical tale.

That may explain why the cast doesn’t fit the movie’s setting in the Middle East, she said.

But their casting decisions send a troubling message, she said.

“It’s a world where only white people get saved,” Butler said. “This doesn’t look like the world that God created.”

Butler suspects that filmmakers may have made a major marketing error.

A new report from the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture found that African-Americans are the most likely to read the Bible. So they care about Bible stories and may be turned off by this new “Noah” movie.

“Black women carry their Bibles around and read them all the time,” she said. “And they cannot see themselves in this movie.”

She had some advice for Hollywood producers looking for the next biblical blockbuster.

“If someone wants to make a ton of money right now, they should go out and remake ‘The Queen of Sheba.’”

The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present by David Runciman


Why do democracies keep lurching from success to failure? The current financial crisis is just the latest example of how things continue to go wrong, just when it looked like they were going right. In this wide-ranging, original, and compelling book, David Runciman tells the story of modern democracy through the history of moments of crisis, from the First World War to the economic crash of 2008.

A global history with a special focus on the United States, The Confidence Trap examines how democracy survived threats ranging from the Great Depression to the Cuban missile crisis, and from Watergate to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It also looks at the confusion and uncertainty created by unexpected victories, from the defeat of German autocracy in 1918 to the defeat of communism in 1989. Throughout, the book pays close attention to the politicians and thinkers who grappled with these crises: from Woodrow Wilson, Nehru, and Adenauer to Fukuyama and Obama.

The Confidence Trap shows that democracies are good at recovering from emergencies but bad at avoiding them. The lesson democracies tend to learn from their mistakes is that they can survive them–and that no crisis is as bad as it seems. Breeding complacency rather than wisdom, crises lead to the dangerous belief that democracies can muddle through anything–a confidence trap that may lead to a crisis that is just too big to escape, if it hasn’t already. The most serious challenges confronting democracy today are debt, the war on terror, the rise of China, and climate change. If democracy is to survive them, it must figure out a way to break the confidence trap.

David Runciman is professor of politics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity Hall. His books include The Politics of Good Intentions and Political Hypocrisy (both Princeton). He writes regularly about politics for the London Review of Books.

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The Confidence Trap

Professor David Runciman warns that the belief that democracies can muddle through anything is a “confidence trap” that may lead ultimately to a crisis that proves just too big to escape.

For more information about the event go to the RSA event page…

Listen to the podcast of the full event including audience Q&A:…

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis


Four years after his #1 bestseller The Big Short, Michael Lewis returns to Wall Street to report on a high-tech predator stalking the equity markets.
Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, the flash boys band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading—source of the most intractable problems—will have no advantage whatsoever.

The characters in Flash Boys are fabulous, each completely different from what you think of when you think “Wall Street guy.” Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world’s stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated, and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits.

The light that Lewis shines into the darkest corners of the financial world may not be good for your blood pressure, because if you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you. But in the end, Flash Boys is an uplifting read. Here are people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don’t get paid for that; they have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.

Michael Lewis, the author of Boomerang, Liar’s Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game and The Big Short, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

Author Michael Lewis discusses The Big Short and the future of finance

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know® by P.W. Singer


A generation ago, “cyberspace” was just a term from science fiction, used to describe the nascent network of computers linking a few university labs. Today, our entire modern way of life, from communication to commerce to conflict, fundamentally depends on the Internet. And the cybersecurity issues that result challenge literally everyone: politicians wrestling with everything from cybercrime to online freedom; generals protecting the nation from new forms of attack, while planning new cyberwars; business executives defending firms from once unimaginable threats, and looking to make money off of them; lawyers and ethicists building new frameworks for right and wrong. Most of all, cybersecurity issues affect us as individuals. We face new questions in everything from our rights and responsibilities as citizens of both the online and real world to simply how to protect ourselves and our families from a new type of danger. And yet, there is perhaps no issue that has grown so important, so quickly, and that touches so many, that remains so poorly understood.

In Cybersecurity and CyberWar: What Everyone Needs to Know®, New York Times best-selling author P. W. Singer and noted cyber expert Allan Friedman team up to provide the kind of easy-to-read, yet deeply informative resource book that has been missing on this crucial issue of 21st century life. Written in a lively, accessible style, filled with engaging stories and illustrative anecdotes, the book is structured around the key question areas of cyberspace and its security: how it all works, why it all matters, and what can we do? Along the way, they take readers on a tour of the important (and entertaining) issues and characters of cybersecurity, from the “Anonymous” hacker group and the Stuxnet computer virus to the new cyber units of the Chinese and U.S. militaries. Cybersecurity and CyberWar: What Everyone Needs to Know® is the definitive account on the subject for us all, which comes not a moment too soon.

What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

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Peter Warren Singer, “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know” | Talks at Goolge

Published on Feb 10, 2014

Cybersecurity and CyberWar discusses the cybersecurity issues that challenge everyone: politicians wrestling with everything from cybercrime to online freedom; generals protecting the nation from new forms of attack while planning new cyberwars; business executives defending firms from once unimaginable threats; lawyers and ethicists building new frameworks for right and wrong. In Cybersecurity and CyberWar, New York Times best-selling author Peter W. Singer and noted cyber expert Allan Friedman team up to provide the kind of easy-to-read, deeply informative resource book that has been missing on this crucial issue of 21st century life. The book is structured around the key question areas of cyberspace and its security: how does it work and why does it matter? Also discussed are the important (and entertaining) issues and characters of cybersecurity, from the “Anonymous” hacker group and the Stuxnet computer virus to the new cyber units of the Chinese and US militaries.

Peter W. Singer is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

The family of Trillionaires and the Rothschild Conspiracy (Full Documentary)


The family of Trillionaires and the Rothschild Conspiracy (Full Documentary) .

This documentary as well as all of the rest of these documentaries shown here are about important times and figures in history, historic places and people, archaeology, science, conspiracy theories, and education.
The Topics of these video documentaries cover just about everything including ancient history, Rome, Greece, Egypt, science, technology, nature, planet earth, the solar system, the universe, modern physics, World wars, battles, military and combat technology, current events, education, biographies, television, archaeology, Illuminati, Area 51, crime, mafia, serial killers, paranormal, supernatural, cults, government cover-ups, the law and legal matters, news and current events, corruption, martial arts, space, aliens, ufos, conspiracy theories, Annunaki, Nibiru, Nephilim, satanic rituals, religion, strange phenomenon, origins of Mankind, monsters, mobsters, time travel

THE RISE OF SUPERMAN: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance ~ Steven Kotler


Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Over the past three decades, an unlikely collection of men and women have pushed human performance farther and faster than at any other point in our 150,000-year history as a species. From big wave surf legend Laird Hamilton to big mountain snowboarding star Jeremy Jones to skateboarding pioneer Danny Way, top action and adventure sport athletes have completely redefined the limits of the possible.

In his groundbreaking new book, THE RISE OF SUPERMAN: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance (Amazon Publishing/New Harvest; hardcover; March 4, 2014), New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed journalist Steven Kotler explores the science behind these athletes’ incredible feats. Most critically, Kotler reveals the key to ultimate performance as “flow,” an optimal state of consciousness in which we perform and feel our best.

“Flow naturally catapults you to a level you’re not naturally in,” explained Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Ned Hallowell in an interview for the book. “Flow naturally transforms a weakling into a muscleman, a sketcher into an artist, a dancer into a ballerina, a plodder into a sprinter, an ordinary person into someone extraordinary. Everything you do, you do better in flow… Flow is the doorway to the ‘more’ most of us seek.”
While this elusive state has been widely studied over the past 100 years by individual researchers across the globe – such as Hallowell, neuroscientist David Eagleman, and acclaimed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – it has never before benefited from a coordinated scientific effort. As a result, there remains no real roadmap toward discovery and application – a disconnect which Kotler and The Flow Genome Project (a trans-disciplinary, international organization committed to mapping the genome of Flow by 2020) seeks to change.

Drawing on more than 10 years of research and first-hand interviews with dozens of scientists, researchers and top athletes, Kotler takes readers on a deep dive into the frontier science of flow. But more than a behind-the-scenes, beneath-the-science look, THE RISE OF SUPERMAN looks to unlock the long-held mysteries of ultimate performance.

This extraordinary book combines extraordinary storytelling and cutting-edge science on how we can use flow to radically accelerate performance in our own lives. At its core, THE RISE OF SUPERMAN is a book about profound possibility, what is actually possible for our species, and where—if anywhere—our limits lie.

STEVEN KOTLER is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include the non-fiction works “The Rise of Superman,” “Abundance,” “A Small Furry Prayer” “West of Jesus,” and the novel “The Angle Quickest for Flight.” His work has been translated into more than 30 languages. His articles have appeared in over 60 publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Wired, GQ, Outside, Popular Science, Men’s Journal and Discover. He also writes “Far Frontiers,” a blog about technology and innovation for and “The Playing Field,” a blog about the science of sport and culture for He lives in New Mexico with his wife, the author Joy Nicholson.

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The Rise of Superman Official Trailer

Over the past 30 years, skiers, snowboarders, surfers and other action sports athletes have pushed human performance farther and faster than at any other point in the 150,000-year history of our species. This video examines how flow enables the groundbreaking leaps in ultimate human performance made by surfers, skateboarders, skiers, rock climbers and more.

Re:think 2013 – The Rise of Superman – Steven Kotler

Turbulence: A Survival Story by Annette Herfkens


If you think that surviving an airplane crash will get you a free pass for the rest of your life, think again. When young Annette Herfkens, one of the few female international bond traders on Wall Street and her fiancé boarded Vietnam Airlines flight 474 in Ho Chi Minh City, they were just two passengers headed for a romantic getaway, unaware of the fateful moment that would shatter their dreams forever.

The plane crashed into a mountaintop, leaving Annette trapped in the Vietnamese jungle as the sole survivor. What followed was an incredible story of survival, mystery and higher spirit. In this unflinching tale of life, Annette describes how she survived eight days alone in the jungle with only rainwater to sustain her.

Thirteen years after the crash, Annette returned to Vietnam to climb the mountain, shedding new light on mysteries that had lingered since the crash. Through flashbacks Annette reveals how she has used the lessons learned in the Vietnamese jungle to celebrate her autistic son in the jungle of New York’s Upper East Side.

This inspiring book breaks as many boundaries as the protagonist herself. A keen observer, Annette writes with frank and acerbic humor about loss, love, resilience, and spirituality in a fresh, down-to-earth manner. Her book gives us the ultimate insight into mind and heart of a true survivor.

Annette Herfkens is the sole survivor of a 1992 airplane disaster in Vietnam. Sudden turbulence and the subsequent crash took the life of her fiancé, Willem van der Pas. He was her best friend, college sweetheart, and soul mate. Annette was born in Venezuela from Dutch parents.

She was raised in The Netherlands, where she studied at Leiden University. After completing an internship in Santiago de Chile, she became an executive trainee for ING Bank which stationed her in New York and London. She then moved to Banco Santander in Madrid. She was promoted to Managing Director and seven years later sent to New York, where she currently lives with her family. In Turbulence, Annette finally tells her story to the world after years of resisting media attention. As one of the few female international bankers of her time Annette broke down professional barriers; by writing this book she overcomes her personal barriers as well. As a banker she was known for composing the shortest memos possible; yet in Turbulence she writes poetically, with both depth and humor, about love, survival and acceptance of what cannot be changed.

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Juliane Koepcke – I Survived A Fatal Flight

Published on Oct 3, 2013

The amazing story of Juliane Koepcke, who survived a fall of two miles, still strapped into her seat, after the plane she was travelling in, a LANSA Lockheed Ectrale, LANSA Flight 508, broke up during a thunderstorm over the Amazonian Rainforest on December 24, 1971, killing 91 people — all 6 of its crew and the other 85 passengers.
She sustained just a broken collar bone, a gash to her right arm, a concussion and an eye injury in the fall, but despite these she was able to trek through the dense Amazon jungle for 10 days, until she was rescued by local lumbermen, who subsequently took her by canoe back to civilization.

This video is edited down from the full Channel 5 documentary – ‘I Survived A Fatal Flight’ – which also included the stories of two other sole survivors – Annette Herfkens and Phil Bradley.

Still Report # 220 – Captain’s Family Disappeared



1. It was a deliberate hijacking by one of the pilots of MH370 and flown to another country for later use as a terror weapon.

2. The Captain’s family disappeared just before flight MH370 went missing.

3. US govt knows exactly where is the location of MH370 and is quietly moving its assets to take it back.

Published on Mar 17, 2014

The major media is not focusing on the most important new clue in the last 24 hours.

Fatal Crossing: The Mysterious Disappearance of NWA Flight 2501 and the Quest for Answers by V. O. Van Heest


On June 23, 1950, a DC-4 with 58 souls on board flew from New York toward Minnesota. Minutes after midnight Captain Robert Lind requested a lower altitude as he began crossing the lake, but Air Traffic Control could not comply. That was the last communication with Northwest Airlines Flight 2501. Shredded human remains washing up on the beaches of West Michigan served as evidence of the country’s worst commercial aviation disaster. The Navy and Coast Guard never located the wreck, rendering it impossible to determine a cause for this tragic accident.

Over a half century later, nationally-acclaimed author and explorer Clive Cussler teamed up with V.O. Van Heest’s Michigan Shipwreck Research Association and set out to do what the government had been unable to do: discover the wreckage and solve the mystery of its loss. Fatal Crossing begins as the team sets out upon its quest, an expedition fraught with disappointments and surprising discoveries as the explorers plow through archives and scout the lake bottom. Van Heest’s unexpected meeting with a victim’s son prompts a search of a different kind, one that would be more illuminating than submerged sections of twisted aluminum. Through meticulous research and heart-rending interview, the author paints a captivating portrait of the victims, recreates the last few hours of Flight 2501 in vivid color, and reveals that the answers are not always found where you would expect them.

An award-winning author, director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, a partner in Lafferty van Heest Exhibit Design, and a recognized and accomplished Great Lakes diver, V. O. Van Heest has received the 2007 state history award from the Historical Society of Michigan for the collection, preservation, and promotion of submerged maritime resources through interpretation, writing, filmaking, and exhibit work. Van Heest has written six books, numerous magazine articles, and a dozen documentary fils, been featured in numerous publications and on the History and Travel Channels, and is a regular presenter at museums, libraries, and conferences, sharing the dramatic stories of ships gone missing in the Great Lakes. Previous books include: Lost& Found Legendary Lake Michigan Shipwrecks; Unsolved Mysteries, the Shipwreck Thomas Hume; Lost on the Lady Elgin, first place winner in the 2011 INDIE Book Award for Non-Fiction History; Buckets & Belts and Icebound: The Adventures of Young George Sheldon and the SS Michigan, both winners of Sate History Awards from the Historical Society of Michigan. Visit:

Valerie van Heest: Fatal Crossing

Published on Oct 7, 2013

Valerie van Heest, director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and award-winning author, shares discoveries from “Fatal Crossing,” her new book about the 1950 crash of NWA flight 2501 into Lake Michigan.

The story of the country’s worst aviation disaster at the time has never been told. It became the fodder for strange tales and UFO abductions. With the release of “Fatal Crossing,” the whole story has emerged: As a furious squall swept down Lake Michigan on June 23, 1950, a DC-4 with 58 souls on board flew from New York toward Minnesota. Minutes after midnight Captain Robert Lind requested a lower altitude as he began crossing the lake, but Air Traffic Control could not comply. That was the last communication with Northwest Airlines Flight 2501.

The crash of Northwest Flight 2501 into Lake Michigan marked the worst American aviation accident at the time when all 58 people aboard lost their lives. The wreckage could not be found by authorities, the cause of the crash could not be determined, and the accident was soon forgotten. A half century later, a dedicated team of explorers renewed the search with the hope of finding the wreckage and solving the mystery of its loss.

Presented at Kalamazoo Public Library, Wednesday, September 11, 2013.

Malaysian PM: Diversion of missing airliner was a ‘deliberate act


Family members of passengers aboard flight MH370 watch Najib Razak speak during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

The Malaysian prime minister says investigators now know that the missing Malaysian airliner’s communications were deliberately disabled and that it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew across Malaysia.

A newly extended, multinational search stretching all the way from Kazakhstan to the southern Indian Ocean was under way on Saturday after satellite data indicated missing flight MH370 last made contact six hours after previously believed.

Speaking for the first time about the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board one week after it vanished from civilian radar, Najib Razak said authorities believed the plane’s diversion from its original flightpath towards Beijing to be the “deliberate action by someone on the plane”.

Malaysian police said on Saturday morning that they were searching the home of the pilot of the missing plane.

According to the raw satellite data, the aircraft last made contact at 8.11am local time on 8 March, nearly seven hours after it lost contact with air traffic control, although it is still unclear just how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact.

Malaysia’s aviation authorities are working with their international counterparts to help determine where exactly the plane may now be, Najib said, who added it was likely to be in one of two possible flight corridors: a northern corridor stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia out towards the southern Indian Ocean.

Najib plainly stated that, while media reports had circulated that the plane was hijacked while on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, authorities were still investigating all possibilities but added: “In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board.”
The satellite data indicates that the plane was flying for far longer than had been initially believed, and is likely to instigate what may be the biggest hunt ever for a missing aircraft.

Some 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are already involved in search and rescue efforts, but the two new flight corridors will necessitate the assistance of all the countries underneath those corridors — including, possibly, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
MH370: communications deliberately disabled, says Malaysian prime minister – video

The new satellite data sheds considerable light on the mystery of the vanished jet after it was confirmed its two main communications systems — the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System and its transponder — were disabled within one hour of take-off, which erased the jet from civilian radar systems.

Military data had previously shown an “unidentified” aircraft out towards the Malacca Straits at 2.15am local time, an obvious diversion from where flight MH370 was last seen over the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam. Najib confirmed was flight MH370.

“Today, based on raw satellite data which was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370,” he said.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, the US National Transportation Safety Board, the UK’s Aviation Accidents Investigation Branch and Malaysian authorities had all come separately and independently to the same conclusion, he added.

The news is likely to fuel speculation over suspected terrorism although no person or group has come forward to disclose why the plane may have been hijacked, and it is still unclear what motives, if any, can explain the diversion away from China.

Still Report # 217 – Flight 370 Update 2

Published on Mar 14, 2014

The hijacking theory is alive and well. Does US Special Operations know where the jet is?

Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law by Alan Dershowitz


America’s most prominent legal mind and the #1 bestselling author of Chutzpah and The Best Defense, Alan Dershowitz, recounts his legal autobiography, describing how he came to the law, as well as the cases that have changed American jurisprudence over the past 50 years, most of which he has personally been involved in.

In Taking the Stand, Dershowitz reveals the evolution of his own thinking on such fundamental issues as censorship and the First Amendment, Civil Rights, Abortion, homocide and the increasing role that science plays in a legal defense. Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, and the author of such acclaimed bestsellers as Chutzpah, The Best Defense, and Reversal of Fortune, for the first time recounts his legal biography, describing his struggles academically at Yeshiva High School growning up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, his successes at Yale, clerking for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, his appointment to full professor at the Harvard at age 28, the youngest in the school’s history. Dershowitz went on to work on many of the most celebrated cases in the land, from appealing (successfully) Claus Von Bulow’s conviction for the murder of his wife Sunny, to the O.J. Simpson trial, to defending Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, Patty Hearst, and countless others. He is currently part of the legal team advising Julian Assange.

Alan Dershowitz is one of the most famous and celebrated lawyers in America. He is the youngest full professor in school history at Harvard, where he is now the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law. The author of numerous bestselling books, from Chutzpah to The Best Defense to In Defense of Israel to Reversal of Fortune, Dershowitz has advised and defended many of the most famous legal cases of the past 50 years.

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Book TV: Alan Dershowitz, “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law”

Published on Dec 29, 2013

Alan Dershowitz talks about becoming a lawyer and the many cases he has handled over the past 50 years. Prof. Dershowitz spoke at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

From the Hardcover edition.

By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World ~ Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi


In the past thirty years, China has transformed from an impoverished country where peasants comprised the largest portion of the populace to an economic power with an expanding middle class and more megacities than anywhere else on earth. This remarkable transformation has required, and will continue to demand, massive quantities of resources. Like every other major power in modern history, China is looking outward to find them.

In By All Means Necessary, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth. China is now engaged in a far-flung quest, hunting around the world for fuel, ores, water, and land for farming, and deploying whatever it needs in the economic, political, and military spheres to secure the resources it requires. Chinese traders and investors buy commodities, with consequences for economies, people, and the environment around the world. Meanwhile the Chinese military aspires to secure sea lanes, and Chinese diplomats struggle to protect the country’s interests abroad. And just as surely as China’s pursuit of natural resources is changing the world–restructuring markets, pushing up commodity prices, transforming resource-rich economies through investment and trade–it is also changing China itself. As Chinese corporations increasingly venture abroad, they must navigate various political regimes, participate in international markets, and adopt foreign standards and practices, which can lead to wide-reaching social and political ramifications at home.

Clear, authoritative, and provocative, By All Means Necessary is a sweeping account of where China’s pursuit of raw materials may take the country in the coming years and what the consequences will be–not just for China, but for the whole world.

Elizabeth C. Economy is the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. An expert on Chinese domestic and foreign policy, her most recent book was The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future.

Michael Levi is the David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at Council on Foreign Relations. An expert on the global politics and economics of energy, resources, and the environment, his most recent book was The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future.

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DC Book Launch: “By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World”

In their new book, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael A. Levi explore the myths and truths of the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth.

Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations

James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles by Ruchir Sharma



After a decade of rapid growth, the world’s most celebrated emerging markets are slowing down. Which countries will rise to become the next economic stars? In the best-selling BREAKOUT NATIONS: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, Ruchir Sharma, writer and head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, draws on two decades spent touring the globe to offer insights into the most promising emerging markets. Sharma reveals his rules for spotting success stories and lays out a compelling argument for which nations will thrive, and which will falter, in a global economy reshaped by the crisis of 2008. Since the hardcover appeared in early 2012, the story has played out much as Sharma predicted. There has been a slowdown across all the emerging markets, with the most hyped emerging markets—particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China—faring among the worst, and new success stories appearing in previously unsung nations like the Philippines, Turkey and Nigeria.

Now, in a new epilogue written for the paperback, Sharma extends his rules for spotting success to the developed world, and offers a captivating picture of the shifting balance of global economic power. The slowdown in emerging markets is setting up the United States and some parts of Europe are in position to regain competitive ground. The perception that poor nations are rapidly catching up to the rich may well give way to the rise of the west. This shift is relative and unspectacular—a matter of certain wealthy nations slowing less sharply than their peers or emerging rivals—so it is easy to overlook. But for the first time since 2003, the US economy last year grew at about the same pace as the global average, leading to stabilization in its share in the global economy. The potential for a revival in America is growing, and it is spreading to parts of Europe as well.

The American Revival is built on its traditional strengths: its ability to adapt quickly in the face of emerging rivals, and in particular on its technological prowess, which is now helping to draw manufacturing back to the United States, driving the revolution in shale oil and gas that promises to make America less dependent on Middle East Oil, and helping to address the worst of our lingering problems, the debt burden. US companies are reducing debt much faster than foreign rivals, in part because they are able to adopt new technologies to raise productivity and profit. In a world economy defined by competing forms of capitalism, the American brand is winning.

But it won’t be the only winner in the West. In the post-crisis world, two of the key challenges are paring down debt and maintaining a technology edge, and at the moment Germany is in a much stronger position than France, Spain is in a much stronger position than Italy, and Japan has all but given up on challenging the United States as an economic power. Sharma’s basic message is that no economy can be analyzed as part of a faceless group of emerging or developed nations.
Each nation needs to be understood as its own story, and each one points toward success or failure; by every key measure, from cutting government deficits to reducing labor costs, the recent reform star of Europe is tiny Ireland, which makes it a lead candidate to become one of the West’s Breakout Nations—an economy that will grow faster than the average and the expectations for its income class.

Ruchir Sharma’s BREAKOUT NATIONS is the necessary introduction to the post-crisis economic world. Using a persuasive mix of macroeconomic data and lively on-the-ground personal observation, Sharma outlines the vulnerabilities of the fading powerhouses: briefly put, China has simply grown too comfortably middle class, and far too dependent on building new roads and factories, to continue growing at a double digit pace. Russia’s extreme reliance on oil and gas has produced a class of petro tycoons who have turned Moscow into a capital of decadence reminiscent of the last days of Ancient Rome. Brazil is so afraid of a return to the economic volatility of the 1980s and 90s that it has focused almost exclusively on protecting people from economic pain, producing one of the weakest growth records among big emerging markets. India, once hyped as the next China, has given way to gloom as growth slowed in the last year, but its real prospects are very difficult to assess, because it is fragmenting into a collection of state economies.

The picture Sharma paints of the state of global capitalism is careful, nuanced, as blunt on the surprisingly strong prospects of breakout nations like South Korea—still a manufacturing miracle entering its fifth decade—as on the weak prospects of the BRICs. Sharma takes readers on an international tour of nations that wisely managed their growth during the cheap-money-fueled boom and bust and are now in a position to reap the rewards during the slow global recovery. In the new epilogue, he also extends his search for Breakout Nations deeper into Latin America, where Chile, Peru and Colombia are emerging as the continent’s new Gold Coast.

By combining common sense and sound economic principles with a disdain for the received wisdom of trend-chasing commentators, BREAKOUT NATIONS offers a refreshing, levelheaded picture of the state of our global economy. Sharma’s clear voice is a much-needed contrast to the cries of alarmists who say the west is in terminal decline. Beyond the economic analysis, Sharma’s new book is a keenly observed and sincerely felt portrait of the limits, power, and promise of capitalism across the world.

Ruchir Sharma is the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley and a longtime columnist for Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economic Times of India. He lives in New York City.

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Ruchir Sharma on C-SPAN Watch Here

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee


A New York Times Bestseller

A revolution is under way.

In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s Watson trounced the best human Jeopardy! players. Digital technologies—with hardware, software, and networks at their core—will in the near future diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human.

In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field—reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.

Amid this bounty will also be wrenching change. Professions of all kinds—from lawyers to truck drivers—will be forever upended. Companies will be forced to transform or die. Recent economic indicators reflect this shift: fewer people are working, and wages are falling even as productivity and profits soar.

Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.

A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age will alter how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress.
Erik Brynjolfsson is the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School, the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research and teaching examine the effects of information technologies on business strategy, productivity and employment. His recent work studies data-driven decision-making and the role intangible assets. Brynjolfsson is a director or advisor for several technology-intensive firms and lectures worldwide on technology and strategy. His work has been recognized with 10 Best Paper prizes and five patents. He received his A.B. and S.M. degrees from Harvard and his Ph.D. from MIT.

Andrew McAfee a principal research scientist at MIT, studies how digital technologies are changing business, the economy, and society. He writes books, twoblogs, academic papers, and articles for publications including Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The Wall St. Journal, and The New York Times. He’s talked about his work on The Charlie Rose Show and 60 Minutes, at TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival, and in front of many other audiences.

He was educated at Harvard and MIT, where he is the co-founder of the Institute’s Initiative on the Digital Economy.

He lives in Cambridge, watches too much Red Sox baseball, doesn’t ride his motorcycle enough, and starts his weekends with the NYT Saturday crossword.

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Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the machines

As machines take on more jobs, many find themselves out of work or with raises indefinitely postponed. Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynjolfsson — it’s simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy. A riveting case for why big innovations are ahead of us … if we think of computers as our teammates. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon.

Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like?

Economist Andrew McAfee suggests that, yes, probably, droids will take our jobs — or at least the kinds of jobs we know now. In this far-seeing talk, he thinks through what future jobs might look like, and how to educate coming generations to hold them.

The Trouble with Billionaires: How the Super-Rich Hijacked the World (and How We Can Take it Back) ~ Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks


In this searing and entertaining indictment of the super-rich, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks challenge the idea that today’s cavernous income inequality is the result of merit, and reveal how the global economic system has been hijacked by the wealthiest, with disastrous consequences for us all.

The high taxes and strong social programmes of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s gave us sky-high economic growth and rising equality. In recent years, however, we’ve been constantly told that taxes and government spending are bad. McQuaig and Brooks systematically debunk these claims. As their research shows, not only do lower taxes correlate with worse societal outcomes – from health to the environment – they also fail to produce economic prosperity.

A daring challenge to the conventional wisdom, The Trouble with Billionaires provides the most compelling case yet for rejecting the Coalition’s mean-spirited mix of tax breaks for the rich and austerity for the rest.

Journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig has developed a reputation for challenging the establishment.
As a reporter for The Globe and Mail, she won a National Newspaper Award in 1989 for writing a series of articles which sparked a public inquiry into the activities of Ontario political lobbyist Patti Starr, and eventually led to Starr’s imprisonment. And as a Senior Writer for Maclean’s magazine, McQuaig (and Ian Austen) wrote two cover stories probing the questionable business dealings of Conrad Black in connection with a U.S. takeover bid in the early 1980s. An irate Black suggested on CBC radio that McQuaig should be horsewhipped.
In 1991, she was awarded an Atkinson Fellowship for Journalism in Public Policy to study the social welfare systems in Europe and North America.
Since 2002, McQuaig has written an op-ed column for the Toronto Star.

She is author of nine books on politics and economics – including six national bestsellers – such as Shooting the Hippo (short-listed for the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction), The Cult of Impotence, All You Can Eat, and It’s the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet. Her most recent book, co-authored with Neil Brooks, is The Trouble With Billionaires.

Neil Brooks is director of the Graduate Program in Taxation at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. He has published extensively on income tax issues and has been a consultant on tax policy and reform issues to numerous governments around the world.

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Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Acknowledges He Believes In Witchcraft


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivers a speech in Tokyo on December 13, 2013. Yudhoyono is here to attend summit meetings between Japanese and Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) leaders. AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images) | TORU YAMANAKA via Getty Images

(RNS) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono may be the first Indonesian president to acknowledge publicly he believes in witchcraft. In a recently published memoir, he describes a “horror movie” style encounter with black magic at his residence.

“Suddenly, my wife screamed,” writes Yudhoyono in the 900-page book, “Selalu Ada Pilihan” (There is Always a Choice). “There was this thick dark cloud hovering beneath the ceiling, trying to enter my bedroom. I then asked everybody to pray to seek Allah’s help. I closed the door to my room but left others wide open. The revolving clouds eventually headed out of my house.”

Witchcraft is prohibited in Islam. However, the practice is widespread in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population. A 2012 survey by the Pew Forum showed that 69 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe witchcraft is real.

“Many people in Indonesia, including its top leaders, turn to soothsayers to consult about their careers, fortunes and marriages,” said Endy Bayuni, senior editor at The Jakarta Post.

However, a president sharing this information publicly is unprecedented, Bayuni added. Yudhoyono’s second — and last — presidential term is ending this year.

Yudhoyono lives in his private residence, not at the 19th-century presidential palace in Jakarta, which is considered haunted, Bayuni said. Only two presidents, Sukarno from 1945-1965 and Abdurrahman Wahid from 1999-2001, made the palace their residence.

In September 2010, Yudhoyono skipped a meeting of the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, partly because of “rumors of rampant witchcraft in the palace,” according to a WikiLeaks cable.

Yudhoyono believes in witchcraft, but perhaps only as a menace. His government last year proposed amendments to the 1918 Criminal Code, adding a clause that states using black magic to cause “someone’s illness, death, mental or physical suffering” is an offense with a punishment of up to five years in jail or 300 million rupiah ($25,000) in fines.

~ huffingtonpost.



The glittering lives of billionaires may seem like a harmless source of entertainment. But such concentrated economic power reverberates throughout society, threatening the quality of life and the very functioning of democracy. It’s no accident that the United States claims the most billionaires—but suffers among the highest rates of infant mortality and crime, the shortest life expectancy, as well as the lowest rates of social mobility and electoral political participation in the developed world.

Our society tends to regard large fortunes as evidence of great talent or accomplishment. Yet the vast new wealth isn’t due to an increase in talent or effort at the top, but rather to changing social attitudes legitimizing greed and government policy changes that favour the new elite. Authoritative and eye-opening, The Trouble with Billionaires will spark debate about the kind of society we want.

Neil Brooks is a professor of tax law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, where he is director of the graduate program in taxation.

Linda McQuaig is an op-ed columnist in the Toronto Star and author of seven national bestsellers, including It’s the Crude, Dude and Shooting the Hippo.

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Linda McQuaig – “Trouble with Billionaires” full show

Journalist and author of “The Trouble With Billionaires”, Linda McQuaig, argues that the rise of a super-rich elite and growing income inequality, is damaging to society and upsets the very functioning of democracy.

The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America–and What We Can Do to Stop It by Thom Hartmann


The United States is more vulnerable today than ever before-including during the Great Depression and the Civil War-because the pillars of democracy that once supported a booming middle class have been corrupted, and without them, America teeters on the verge of the next Great Crash.

The United States is in the midst of an economic implosion that could make the Great Depression look like child’s play. In THE CRASH OF 2016, Thom Hartmann argues that the facade of our once-great United States will soon disintegrate to reveal the rotting core where corporate and billionaire power and greed have replaced democratic infrastructure and governance. Our once-enlightened political and economic systems have been manipulated to ensure the success of only a fraction of the population at the expense of the rest of us.

The result is a “for the rich, by the rich” scheme leading to policies that only benefit the highest bidders. Hartmann outlines the destructive forces-planted by Lewis Powell in 1971 and come to fruition with the “Reagan Revolution”-that have looted our nation over the past decade, and how their actions fit into a cycle of American history that lets such forces rise to power every four generations.

However, a backlash is now palpable against the “economic royalists”-a term coined by FDR to describe those hoarding power and wealth-including the banksters, oligarchs, and politicians who have plunged our nation into economic chaos and social instability.

Although we are in the midst of what could become the most catastrophic economic crash in American History, a way forward is emerging, just as it did in the previous great crashes of the 1760s, 1856, and 1929. The choices we make now will redefine American culture. Before us stands a genuine opportunity to embrace the moral motive over the profit motive-and to rebuild the American economic model that once yielded great success.

Thoroughly researched and passionately argued, THE CRASH OF 2016 is not just a road map to redemption in post-Crash America, but a critical wake-up call, challenging us to act. Only if the right reforms are enacted and the moral choices are made, can we avert disaster and make our nation whole again.

Thom Hartmann is the four-time Project Censored Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of 23 books currently in print in over a dozen languages on five continents. Hartmann is also an internationally known speaker on culture and communications, an author, and an innovator in the fields of psychiatry, ecology, and economics.

The co-founder (with his wife, Louise) and former Executive Director of The New England Salem Children’s Village (1978) and The Hunter School (1997), he has led national innovations in the areas of residential treatment for abused children and private/public education for learning-disabled children.
He has helped set up hospitals, famine relief programs, schools, and refugee centers in India, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, Russia, and the United States through the German-based Salem International program. Formerly rostered with the State of Vermont as a psychotherapist, founder of The Michigan Healing Arts Center, and licensed as an NLP Trainer by Richard Bandler (who wrote the foreword to one of Thom’s books), he was the originator of the revolutionary “Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis” to understand the psychiatric condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

A guest faculty member at Goddard College in Vermont, he also synthesized the “Younger/Older Culture model” for describing the underpinnings – and possible solutions – to the world’s ecological and socio-political crises, suggesting that many of our problems are grounded in cultural “stories” which go back thousands of years.
Leonardo DiCaprio was inspired by Thom’s book “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight” to make the movie “The 11th Hour” (in which Thom appears), and Warner Brothers is making a movie starring DiCaprio and Robert De Niro from the book Thom co-authored with Lamar Waldron, “Legacy of Secrecy.”

Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 8th most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in their “Heavy Hundred” ranking. His radio show is syndicated on for-profit radio stations nationwide by Dial-Global, on non-profit and community stations nationwide by Pacifica, across the entire North American continent on SiriusXM Satellite radio, on cable systems nationwide by Cable Radio Network (CRN), on its own YouTube channel, via Livestream on its own Livestream channel, via subscription podcasts, worldwide through the US Armed Forces Network, and through the Thom Hartmann App in the App Store. The radio show is also simulcast as TV in realtime into nearly 60 million US and Canadian homes by the Free Speech TV Network on Dish Network, DirectTV, and cable TV systems nationwide.

His evening TV program, The Big Picture, is wholly owned by his own production company, produced in the RT studios, and licensed to and carried by Free Speech TV in the US, and into over 600 million homes in 104 countries via broadcast and cable by the RT TV network, and distributed worldwide on the web on Hulu As an entrepreneur, he’s founded several successful businesses which still are operating, and lived and worked with his wife, Louise, and their three (now adult) children on several continents.

He was born and grew up in Michigan, and retains strong ties to the Midwest, although he and Louise have lived in New Hampshire, Vermont, Georgia, Germany, and Oregon…and now live on a boat in Washington D.C. with their attack-cat, Higgins.

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The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America–and What We Can Do to Stop It

Thom Hartmann on “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It”

Published on Nov 12, 2013 – Could the United States face another economic collapse? Writer and broadcaster Thom Hartmann looks back at past financial crises and comes to a startling conclusion. “As long as you don’t look too closely at our nation, things seem under control — the United States looks whole … but when you go around to the ‘dark back side’ of the nation, you see the shocking truth. There you see a nation whose core fundamentals have been hollowed out,” writes Hartmann in his new book, “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — and What We Can Do to Stop It.”

Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,200+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch it live 8-9am ET at

Done Making Do: 1 Party Rule Ends In Malaysia by Ooi Kee Beng


The past five years have held tremendous significance for the process of nation building in Malaysia. Civil society and voters, especially in urban areas, are making new and strong demands on the government, in fact on governance per se; the opposition parties that managed to pull off successful electoral upsets in 2008 have formed a viable coalition to challenge the long-term federal government; and the federal government itself has been trying to adopt a reformist image without alienating its numerous conservative supporters. Although the government’s slogan of 1Malaysia was meant to signify national unity, it lacked credibility because many of the systemic deficiencies of sustained one party – 1Party – rule still remained. This collection of articles studies various aspects of change now pushed into the foreground for discussion.

New Media in a New Malaysia – 19 Aug 13

Jahabar Sadiq, Wan Hamidi Hamid and Ezra Zaid in panel discussion at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies on 19 August 2013. The moderator is Dr Ooi Kee Beng.

Jim Middleton of Australia Network interviews Ooi Kee Beng,

A Malaysian Inquisition? By Melati Timur, Guest Contributor – 6 January 2014


The latest PETRONAS festive advertisement predictably continues their expected mushiness. This time elderly men in an old folks’ home are adopted by an employee for a Deepavali day out, complete with climbing up Batu Caves, beautiful vistas of Malaysian mountains, a durian pit stop and a festive family meal. As always, viewers have reacted positively, touched to tears by the sweet relationships on show.

But there is something different about this advertisement. The elephant in the room has not gone unnoticed. The group celebrating Deepavali consists of a young Indian woman, 2 elderly Indian men and their Chinese friend. Malays are conspicuously absent from the celebrations.

The only Malay we see is a young lady behind the counter at a gas station. She is friendly and tolerantly amused by the old men’s antics, but she is not included. She is not their friend and she is working on a religious holiday not her own. In fact, there are no Malay residents at the old folks’ home either (because, of course, no Malay would abandon their parents, right?).

The reason for this is all too obvious for those of us who have lived through the changes in Malaysian society since the 1980s. Despite all the talk and pride in being a multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation, Malays have increasingly been segregated and even self-segregated themselves from taking part in the lives of other races, especially anything remotely religious.

Perhaps the producers of this Deepavali advertisement were being intentionally subversive. More likely, they have, instead, internalised the inter-religious rules hardening in our society today, rules that would never countenance a Malay in a Hindu temple, much less being blessed with pottu on the forehead by a Hindu priest.


The media is very sensitive to these written and unwritten rules that they judiciously self-censor. A Malaysian director told of a Censorship Board staff, unofficially informing him that had he made his movie about non-Malays, he would have had no trouble getting certified. But with Malay characters, the officials were uncomfortable even when nothing in the broadcast guidelines would rule out the fairly innocuous plot.

And so Malay movies are now reduced to gangsters, hantu (ghosts) and virginal ustazahs who fall in love with their rapists. We still deify those wonderful P. Ramlee movies with their social commentaries running through the slapstick comedies and the overwrought dramas, but we are no longer allowed to make them.

Like many Malaysians, I grew up with unthinking acceptance of open houses with all races eating together, celebrating each other’s festivals. In fact I grew up in Penang, dancing behind the Thaipusam parade, going to churches for weddings, crying loudly at Chinese funerals (admittedly for money) and lepaking (loafing) at the Thai temple grounds because their gardens are lovely and the Buddhist priests were friendly.

But now all these things have become problematic – a minefield of nervous non-Muslims worried that invitations to meals would be rebuffed as their cutlery would be deemed ‘unclean’ and nervous Muslims afraid of raids, arrests, social opprobrium and legal harangues simply for entering a church or temple, working for non-Muslims, allowing another faith to worship in a surau or caring for dogs.

In Cahoots with this Least Qualified Malaysian Mullah?

Analogues to the Inquisition?

It reminds me of a ‘funny’ period in European history. To my mind, Malaysia is now showing all the signs of becoming medieval Spain. Perhaps there’s a thing or two we can learn from a brief comparison.

Under Muslim rule and early post-Muslim Christian rule, Andalusian kingdoms were often models of tolerance where cultures were shared and different religions could live side-by-side in relative peace and harmony.

And they were not completely separated communities; despite maintaining their own identities and rituals, they interacted richly, creating a flowering of culture, arts and science. Most famously, Greek science and philosophy flowed into Europe through this channel, an effort that involved Muslims, Christians and Jews.

There were hybrid foods, art forms, institutions and culture. Christians under Muslim rule read scripture and chanted liturgy in Arabic, not Latin. Muslims still read the Bible and Torah side-by-side with the Quran. Jewish synagogues had Quranic verses on its walls.

Consider this example: A legendary Christian king died a saint and his tomb was inscribed with 4 languages representing his multi-religious subjects. 5 generations later, his great-great-grandson, another Christian king would employ the best Muslim artisans in the land to upgrade the palace in Seville, replete with inscriptions referring to the “Sultan” and invoking Allah, including over the front entrance. And everyone from every religious group, in every language, competed to write the best poetry!

So much of Western culture (including pop music which owes much to the invention of the Spanish guitar), science and philosophy has roots in this lively, vibrant, multicultural Spain.

But the tide turned. By the time Ferdinand and Isabel conquered Granada, the Spanish Inquisition was already underway. The Reconquista, as the slow takeover of Spain by Christian kings was branded, involved sporadic forced conversions of Jews and Muslims as well as threats of exile should these communities not convert. Unsurprisingly, these forced conversions created great anxiety as to the nature of the faith held by the new Christians.

This, in turn, powered the Spanish Inquisition. With jurisdiction only over Christians, the activities of the Inquisition disproportionately concentrated on the Conversos and Moriscos as Christian Jews and ex-Muslims were respectively called.

Of course, this reaction is understandable in the framework of what was happening: If you are forced to convert (by threat of death or expulsion), it would only be reasonable for anyone to suspect that your newfound faith was less than sincere.

And there is a related anxiety – if Christians are not allowed to convert to any other religion (i.e. your faith is forced upon you), then in some ways, even the religion of the majority is suspect.

So a society is created of Christians who cannot change faith surrounded by possibly ‘fake Christians’ who have been forced to convert. And all these Christians are under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, an authority that tortures and even kills Christians for not being true Christians.

So any association with non-Christians or even new Christians becomes problematic, carrying with it the always present possibility of straying. Since the religious sincerity of everyone is in doubt, then any activity, no matter how innocent, can be deemed a real threat.

Neighbours started accusing neighbours over the smallest things. Any slight deviation from the norm or even previously accepted practices became suspect. One man was dragged before the Inquisitors for greeting a long time Jewish friend who was walking in an annual Jewish religious procession, something he had done unmolested all his life. But now, this simple act of friendship, became the basis for him to be denounced to the Inquisition. His Jewish friend, the so-called source of “corruption”, however, cannot be prosecuted because the Inquisition can only go after Christians.

The psychology of inquisition

There are lessons to be learned from my brief example. Malaysia too has a religious majority that is not allowed to convert. They are governed by special religious institutions with non-democratic authority over all aspects of the private lives with the authority to fine, imprison and even beat them. Sound familiar yet?

We can see how a similar psychological implications from the Inquisition would follow. If Muslims are not allowed to convert (i.e. your faith is forced upon you), then their faith must be fragile, suspect even, ready to fall at the slightest whisper.

And thus you see the anxiety in Muslim communities. Any contact with non-Muslims would, of course, be dangerous to this delicate faith. Reading the papers, you would think the danger of murtad (apostasy) is ever present. You cannot allow Muslims to do anything for fear of murtad!

So you have a lady who cares for dogs being interrogated for fear that she is insulting Islam. You have a Muslim woman working for a bookstore owned by non-Muslims arrested for selling a not-yet banned book because the authorities have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims. And you have the Government-sanctioned witch hunt on Shias as a deviant and devious cult.

The Kalimah Allah case is particularly telling. You have another religion, Christianity, wanting to use the term “Allah” to refer to God in its Bible in a country where “Allah” is synonymous with the Islamic religion. Logically, it would be the Christians who might be confused, and thus “accidentally” be attracted to Islam or some such.

But instead you have the successful legal argument that it will confuse the Muslims instead, and thus menggegar iman (shake/challenge the faith) or, in other words, could lead to murtad.

Why is the Muslim faith deemed the more fragile, more in need of protection? Aren’t we told all the time how superior this faith is, this faith of the majority and political elites? If it is so superior, why is it that our confusion is considered so inevitable compared to people of other faiths? Are you saying there is actually something wrong with our faith, something so close to the surface that the mere use of an Arabic word that means God by Christians will reveal all and thus turn us away from Islam in droves?

And just like in medieval Spain, it is the superior religion of the majority that is deemed ever so close to corruption at all times, especially from other religions.

So inevitable is this deviation, that a special body was set up for centuries whose sole jurisdiction was prosecuting religious unorthodoxy, and whose very existence actually ended up creating unorthodoxy out of thin air. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested.

It was extremely difficult to escape some form of torture, humiliation and stripping of wealth, regardless of whether you were found guilty or not, especially as torture was a form of interrogation, not legal sanction.

The price of purity

So many familiar tropes from the Spanish Inquisition are being played out in Malaysia now. Increasing hurdles for those who want to convert, to “prove” their sincerity. The demonisation of the other in terms of being untrustworthy, betrayers and using money to grease their way to domination.

A relentless burial of any historical references, cultural rituals or identities that speak of traditional hybridity or syncretism. The banning of books, films, dances etc. The battles over language and liturgy.

The obsession with purity and so-called Bumiputera rights to define the nation. The increasing rigidity of identity and its shallow accoutrements (what you eat, what you wear, where you hang out, who you talk to, where you go to school etc.). And the silencing of anyone who dares to step out of line.

Just like the Spanish Inquisition, what we have in Malaysia is actually a process of forced nationalisation. A rigid monolithic monoculture nationalism. And religion is one of its most powerful weapons.

Spain became a battlefield to redefine who was allowed to be a Spaniard. Who counts? And the answer was racist, intolerant, harsh, violent and extremely rigid. Those who did not fit, those who clung to previous traditions – even in the tiniest of ways – were hounded, tortured, expelled and killed.

The many hybrid cultures, the fluid identities and multifaceted rituals had to make way for only one way of seeing the world. Yet this worldview is non-traditional and (en)forced. Thus it is always insecure, in danger of dissimulation at every turn. So eventually in Spain, when someone is described as an expert curer of pork, it is actually a euphemism for secret Jew.

Lessons for Malaysia

Don Quixote, the world’s first modern novel, beautifully illustrates this act of collective forgetting, the erasing of history and culture, of meaning itself.

The forced creation of a rigid Spanish identity was shown at every turn to be a stubborn illusion. The book is a satire on the myths that sustain a national identity. Dangerous myths that are no more than tilting at windmills and serve to destroy culture and history. And all based on a lie, a dream of a pure past.

Everywhere in the book are reminders of how this forgetting, this rewriting, happens – the burning of books, over-demonstrations of identity (Dulcinea, our mythologised Spanish heroine is “an expert salter of pork”), the loss of languages, and how easily myths can be constructed to become the basis for history.

In fact, the very idea of chivalry was probably derived from Arab influence. So even that most traditional Spanish trait – that Don Quixote devotes his life to – is not “pure”.

As Maria Rosa Menocal writes of the book,

[f]orged in the bonfires of ideas, of books and of people, was the illusory conceit that there could be a pure national and religious identity, and yet this became the ultimate religion everyone had to live with. …Don Quixote is thus in part a postscript to the history of a first-rate place, the most poignant lament over the loss of that universe, its last chapter, allusive, ironic, bittersweet, quixotic.

The “first-rate place” she refers to is Spain before the Inquisition. A time when cultures, languages and faiths mixed among the people as easily as they mixed with each other.

Of course, it was not a utopia. There were conflicts, constantly negotiated differences. But it allowed for those differences to not only exist but shape society. A tolerance that was taken for granted. It was unimaginable in those days that Spain would ever be a place of only one people, one language and one rigidly defined version of only one religion.

I truly hope I do not live to see the day when Malaysia’s Don Quixote is written. It would probably be banned anyway.

Melati Timur is the pseudonym of the author of this post.

2013 Round Up of 10 Leading Muslim Women From Around the World


As 2013 draws to a close, “Top 10 of the year” lists are predictably ubiquitous. But here’s a list I doubt you’ll see elsewhere — 10 Muslim women artists and leaders from around the world who are shaking up the status quo.

This handful of incredibly talented visionaries and change-makers are all selected from the hundreds included in the International Museum of Women’s virtual exhibition, Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices. No matter what part of the world these women hail from, not one of these exceptional leaders is limited by her faith or gender. Instead, each uses her identity to courageously overturn conventional roles and blaze an extraordinary path for herself — an unthinkable accomplishment that will leave you deeply moved and inspired. (For my picks of change-makers closer to home, check out “10 American Muslim Women You Should Know.”)
1. Zainah Anwar is a founding member of the revolutionary Malaysian organization, Sisters in Islam. The pioneering work of SIS aims to understand Islam from a women’s rights perspective and create an alternative public voice for Muslim women demanding equality and justice. This mission led it to create Musawah in 2009, where Anwar is currently the Director. For over 20 years, Anwar has been at the forefront of the women’s movement pushing for an end to the use of Islam to justify discrimination against women. She says, “First of all, there is nothing in the Quran that denies a woman’s right to drive, to be educated, or to be treated as equal to men. There are of course verses that have been misinterpreted to justify all these forms of discrimination and ill-treatment of women… The Muslim world desperately needs a paradigm shift on how we regard and treat women. If we had been true to the message of the Quran, we really should be at the forefront of the feminist movement today!”

2. Trained as an attorney in Iran, Dr. Shirin Ebadi set up a private practice in 1992 handling contentious cases. She was the defense lawyer for many controversial political and human rights cases in Iran, including Parvaneh and Dariush Foroohar (well-known political activists killed by security forces) and Zahra Bani Yaghoob (a young doctor killed in detention). These activities led to her incarceration on charges of spreading and publishing lies against the Islamic Republic. She spent 25 days in solitary confinement. But the international community recognized her work and awarded Dr. Ebadi the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. Dr. Ebadi used some of the prize money to set up an office for the Center for Defenders of Human Rights and support the families of political prisoners. Although a role model to many, Dr Ebadi says she is “opposed to following a role model. I often tell my daughters not to follow me as a role model. I have not followed any role models. I tell young women, in particular, that you need to be yourself and follow your own dreams. I tell them to make efforts to reach their goals and not fear the possibility of failure.”

3. Maria Bashir is the first female Prosecutor General in Afghanistan. In her groundbreaking role, she has taken on the mission of educating and empowering the women in her community of Herat of their Islamic and civic rights. The knowledge Bashir is imparting is empowering women to file police reports and claim their rights to safety and equal treatment. The sad irony is that while Bashir protects women and children, her own life is under threat from both the local government and the Taliban. Bashir has sent her children out of the country to keep them safe while she herself moves from safe house to safe house. For her brave work, the United States Department of State presented her The International Women of Courage Award, which is awarded annually to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially for better promotion of women’s rights. She says, “The message that I give to young girls is that there is no career that they cannot do as long as they are equipped with the knowledge. I also make them aware of their rights, and I tell them that if they work in the government of Afghanistan, they can have a significant role in rule of law, and specifically justice for women. I believe it so important to lead society toward justice!”

4. Fahima Hashim is the director of Salamah Women’s Resource Center in Sudan, whose most successful campaign has been to reform laws on rape that, in their current form, prevent the survivors of sexual violence from accessing justice. Sudanese laws currently grant conditional immunity to officials, especially police and security forces, many of whom have been accused of rape. The initiative would also end the use of rape as a weapon of war in Darfur. Since launching this initiative, rape cases and child sexual abuses are now covered in the daily newspapers and the government is allying with civil society to reform rape law, thereby protecting women and children. She says her “country is experiencing an identity crisis, especially after the separation of South Sudan. Some are trying to understand, and some will migrate. Salamah works with a big number of university gradates and university students, and they give me hope that change will come and new men are walking together with women, equally.”

5. Laila Shawa was born in 1940 to one of Gaza’s old landowning families. She took up residence in London in 1987 and soon after started her socio-political critique Women And The Veil, resulting in acclaimed paintings like The Impossible Dream. Shawa’s pioneering work during the 1980s of utilizing photography as integral to art production has left a lasting mark on contemporary Palestinian art. For the artist, it signified a departure from the traditional paint medium and instigated such works as the controversial installation Crucifixion 2000: In the Name of God at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. In January 2009, in response to the invasion of Gaza by Israel and the high death toll among children, she created a Gaza III series. Another powerful series titled Cast Lead references the high number of children killed in the airstrike operation by the Israeli air force, also called Cast Lead. In Shawa’s powerful work, the political is often the personal. When asked about her courage, she says, “I come from a long line of strong women. My grandmothers were very powerful; my mother was a follower of Simon De Beauvoir. I grew up as an equal, and always believed in the power (and to some extent the supremacy) of women. Watching women subdued — but above all, seeing women accept it — is something I could not accept.”

6. Born in Afghanistan, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi grew up seeing widows forced to beg for money or work for just a little food. She saw women and children who could not read and the impact poverty was having on her country: there were no clinics, no schools, no way for people to learn skills that would better their lives. To change that, Dr. Yacoobi founded Afghan Learning Institute (AIL) to bring education and work training to women and girls. In 1995, the organization began by helping in refugee camps then soon supported secret homeschools inside Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban, AIL established learning centers where people can come to get an education and the skills they need to have a better life. For her incredible devotion to promoting education and heath services, Dr. Yacoobi was awarded the 2013 Opus Prize, which comes with a $1 million award. Dr. Yacoobi says she feels optimistic about the future: “I see a future in Afghanistan where women and men work together as equals, where no one’s human rights are abused, where there is harmony and justice for all. Already there are communities of men and women where this is happening. I pray, in the future, those will be the only communities in Afghanistan.”

7. Human Rights lawyer Zarizana Aziz is the Board Chair of Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), an international solidarity network that provides information, support and collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam. For more than two decades WLUML has linked individual women and organizations. She was President of the Women’s Crisis Centre (now Women’s Centre for Change) in Malaysia, where she provided legal and emotional support to victims of violence against women. Most recently, she was shortlisted for the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice. She says, “Do not accept that women are born to suffer discrimination, inequality and violence. The more you learn the better you will understand how culture and religion have been politicized to justify discrimination and silence women’s voices. Culture is dynamic and is influenced by contemporary societal needs and must reflect our understanding of justice and equality.”

8. Tamsila Tauqir is the founder of the Safra Project, a group that works to empower Muslim lesbian, bisexual and trans. Located in the UK, Safra Project has three key aims: to empower Muslim lesbian, bisexual and trans (Muslim LBT) women to deal with the issues they face resulting from their sexual orientation and/or gender identity within the context of their ethnic, cultural and religious background; to raise awareness on the needs of and issues relating to Muslim LBT women in order to make service provision accessible and appropriate; and to eliminate prejudice and discrimination experienced by Muslim LBT women and to promote diversity. Safra comes from the Arabic word Safr, meaning to journey or travel. The organization chose this name because their mission is to support women on their journey. Asked about a recent success story, Tauqir told me about a British woman who wanted to bring her partner over from Pakistan on a fiancé visa. She says, “It took just under a year of evidence gathering, writing letters to the Home Office and UK Border Agency, involving the local Member of Parliament, seeking appropriate legal advice but it happened. Just a few months ago the partner came over to the UK and recently the two women had a small civil partnership ceremony to legalize their commitment… Now plans are being made for the shaadi (wedding), with all the glitz and glamour you can imagine of a Bollywood movie… And Safra Project will be there to share their joyous day, inshallah.”

9. Dr. Sima Samar is the Chairperson for the Afghan Human Rights Commission. In this position, she oversees the conduct of human rights education programs across Afghanistan, the implementation of a nationwide women’s rights education program, and monitoring and investigation of human rights abuses across the country. Dr. Samar convened the Commission, which is the first Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan’s history. Trained as a doctor, Samar became a leader for educating Afghan women and girls. She founded The Shuhada Organization, which now operates 55 schools for girls and boys in Afghanistan and 3 schools for Afghan refugees in Quetta, Pakistan. She also served as the Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan in 2002, before being forced to resign due to death threats for questioning conservative Islamic laws. Dr. Samar has spent her life working for improved education, health, and equality for women and girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When speaking of her achievements, Dr. Samar says, “When I look back I feel really happy because it took a long time to get to this position. But one thing that you can be sure of is if you have commitment and dedication you will reach your objective. My objective was not always to be in a position of power, but in a position where men could admit that women are also able to work as human beings.”

10. Boushra Almutawakel has worked as a photographer for the United Nations, CARE International, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Social Organization for Family Development, the National Institute for Health Education, The British Council, The French Embassy, among other others, while pursuing her own personal photographic projects. In 1999, she was honored as the first Yemeni Woman Photographer by the Empirical Research and Women’s Studies Centre at Sana’a University. She is a founding member of Al-Halaqa in Sana’a, an artists’ group that created a space for discourse and exhibitions and forged links with international artists. Among other places, her work has been acquired by the British Museum in London, The Museum of Fine Arts of Boston and the Barjeel Foundation. Her “Hijab Series” was inspired after 9/11 when women wearing the veil were commonly portrayed in the media as weak, oppressed, and backwards. Almutawakel says she wanted to portray the hijab “as a form of self-expression… I want to explore the many faces and facets of the veil based on my own personal experiences and observations: the convenience, freedom, strength, power, liberation, limitations, danger, humor, irony, variety, cultural, social, and religious aspects, as well as the beauty, mystery, and protection.”

To read the entire profiles of these ten incredible women and to meet more extraordinary leaders and artists from around the world, visit the revolutionary Muslima exhibition. Add your voice by tweeting to us at @IMOWomen to let us know who you would include in this list of Muslim women or leave a note in the comments below.

by Samina Ali: Samina Ali is the curator of Muslima: Muslim Women’s Arts & Voices, a groundbreaking online exhibition from the International Museum of Women. Ali’s debut novel, “Madras on Rainy Days,” was awarded the Prix Premier Roman Etranger 2005 Award in France. She is also the cofounder of Daughters of Hajar, a Muslim American feminist organization.

Follow Samina Ali on Twitter:

Sunnis and Shiites ~ Dr. C. George Boeree


The major split in Islam is that between the majority Sunnis and the minority Shiites. The split goes back to events in the 7th century:

After Mohammed’s death in 632, leadership of the Islamic community passed to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, one of Mohammed’s closest companions. Some in the community felt that this succession was not legitimate, and that the title of caliph really belonged to Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali’s claim was supported by the fact that he was Mohammed’s cousin, his adopted son, his first convert (at the age of nine), and husband of his daughter Fatima. Both sides believe that Mohammed specifically designated their man: Supporters of Abu became the Sunnis, those of ibn Ali the Shiites.

The Caliphate passed from Abu Bakr to Umar, and from Umar to Ulthman. Ulthman at last passed the torch to Ali. When Ali was murdered in 661, the Caliphate passed to Muawiya, who would found the famous Umayyid Caliphate. Ali was buried in Najaf in what is now Iraq, and the site remains a major Shiite holy site.

Sunni refers to the sunnas, or oral traditions and interpretations of the Koran — a body of work similar to the Jewish Talmud. Sunnis believe that the position of Caliph should be a position to which one is elected by the religious leaders of the Islamic community, and not dependent on direct lineage from Mohammed.

Shiite comes from the word shia, which means “the party (of Ali).” They are mostly found in Iran and Iraq, and among the Palestinians. They consider certain direct descendants of Ali – the Imams – infallible and the true inheritors of Mohammed. Ali was the first Imam, his son Hassan the second, his second son Hussein the third. Ali’s sons were killed in the conflict with Caliph Muawiya. However, their succession ended with the 12th Imam, who went into hiding in 940. Most Shiites believe that the 12th Imam will reemerge someday as the Mahdi or Messiah, and reassert his leadership of the Islamic world. In the meantime, ayatollahs are elected to serve as caretakers of the faith.

Most Sunnis and Shiites are liberal, although not by western standards. In peaceful and prosperous times, there is little conflict between them. But both have more extreme factions as well. Some Shiites, for example, have a tradition of valuing martyrdom that came out of their early experiences of conflict with the Sunnis. The most famous Sunni extremist faction is the Wahhabi sect, of which Osama bin Laden is possibly a member. It is characterized by radical fundamentalism: The Koran is not to be interpreted but rather taken literally. There are to be no prayers or other appeals to prophets, saints, or any entity other than God. There are to be no images of or monuments to any supposed Islamic leaders, not even elaborate tombs for famous Moslems. And the Koran is to be the soul source of secular as well as religious law.

Another famous group is the Sufi movement, which can be Sunni or Shiite. Sufis are mystics who believe that God’s love shines through everything, even ugliness and evil, and that by attaining a certain state of mind, one can directly experience this. In this sense, they resemble Zen Buddhism. Sufism is also noted for its use of stories that have layered meanings, much like the parables of Jesus. One subgroup of the Sufis is the “whirling dervishes,” whose mystical practice includes religious dance.

Map from Wikipedia Commons
Green: Sunni
Blue: Shiite

Map from Wikipedia Commons
Green: Sunni
Blue: Shiite

The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence – Illustrated by Gerald Blaine (Author) , Lisa McCubbin (Author) , Clint Hill (Foreword)


THE SECRET SERVICE. An elite team of men who share a single mission: to protect the president of the United States. On November 22, 1963, these men failed—and a country would never be the same. Now, for the first time, a member of JFK’s Secret Service detail reveals the inside story of the assassination, the weeks and days that led to it and its heartrending aftermath. This extraordinary book is a moving, intimate portrait of dedication, courage, and loss.

Drawing on the memories of his fellow agents, Jerry Blaine captures the energetic, crowd-loving young president, who banned agents from his car and often plunged into raucous crowds with little warning. He describes the careful planning that went into JFK’s Texas swing, the worries and concerns that agents, working long hours with little food or rest, had during the trip. And he describes the intensely private first lady making her first-ever political appearance with her husband, just months after losing a newborn baby.

Here are vivid scenes that could come only from inside the Kennedy detail: JFK’s last words to his tearful son when he left Washington for the last time; how a sudden change of weather led to the choice of the open-air convertible limousine that day; Mrs. Kennedy standing blood-soaked outside a Dallas hospital room; the sudden interruption of six-year-old Caroline’s long-anticipated sleepover with a friend at home; the exhausted team of agents immediately reacting to the president’s death with a shift to LBJ and other key governmental figures; the agents’ dismay at Jackie’s decision to walk openly from the White House to St. Matthew’s Cathedral at the state funeral.

Most of all, this is a look into the lives of men who devoted their entire beings to protecting the presidential family: the stress of the secrecy they kept, the emotional bonds that developed, the terrible impact on agents’ psyches and families, and their astonishment at the country’s obsession with far-fetched conspiracy theories and finger-pointing. A book fifty years in coming, The Kennedy Detail is a portrait of incredible camaraderie and incredible heartbreak—a true, must-read story of heroism in its most complex and human form.


A medic burst out of the trauma room, and instinctively Clint Hill took a step toward Mrs. Kennedy. “He’s still breathing,” the man said as he rushed past. Mrs. Kennedy stood up. “Do you mean he may live?” she asked.

No one answered.

Kellerman handed the phone back to Hill and rushed back into the trauma room.

“Clint, what happened?” Jerry Behn asked earnestly.

“Shots fired during the motorcade,” Clint said as he kept an eye on Mrs. Kennedy across the hall. “It all happened so fast. We were five minutes away from the Trade Mart. . . . The situation is critical. Jerry, prepare for the worst. . . .”

The operator cut into the line, “Attorney General Robert Kennedy wants to talk to Agent Hill.”

“What’s going on down there?!” Bobby Kennedy demanded.

“Shots fired during the motorcade,” Clint repeated. “The president is very seriously injured. They’re working on him now. Governor Connally was hit too.”

“Well, what do you mean, seriously injured? How serious?”

Clint swallowed hard. It was all he could do to keep it together. “It’s as bad as it can get.”

—From The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence

The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence

Published on Aug 27, 2013

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza presented a panel discussion featuring Former Secret Service agents Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill and author Lisa McCubbin talking with The Sixth Floor Museum’s Curator Gary Mack about what happened on November 22, 1963 and in the months leading up to and following President Kennedy’s assassination. This presentation took place on November 20, 2010 as part of a tour to promote their book, “The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence” (2010). To see related films, photos, documents and oral histories from The Sixth Floor Museum’s collection, visit our online collections database ( Or make a research appointment to explore the books, DVDs and other materials available in the Museum’s Reading Room (

As a Special Agent of the Secret Service on the White House Detail, Gerald “Jerry” Blaine had the privilege of serving three U.S. presidents during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. After resigning from the Secret Service following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Blaine embarked on a career path with IBM Corporation and became a leading expert in high-level security, lecturing worldwide on the use of computers in Criminal Justice and Intelligence. In 1990, Blaine retired from IBM and joined ARCO International Oil and Gas in Dallas, Texas as the Director of International Security, Government Relations and Foreign Affairs. After retiring from ARCO in 1999 Blaine spent four years with Hill & Associates, an Asian-based consulting company, as a Senior Consultant, and finally retired from the corporate world in 2003. He now lives in in Grand Junction, Colorado with Joyce, his wife of more than fifty years. The couple has two children and four grandchildren.

Lisa McCubbin is the coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers, Mrs. Kennedy and Me and The Kennedy Detail. An award-winning journalist, she has been a television news anchor and reporter, hosted her own radio show, and spent more than five years in the Middle East as a freelance writer. Visit her at

Clint Hill is a retired United States Secret Service agent who will forever be remembered for his courageous actions in the presidential motorcade during the John F. Kennedy assassination. Assigned to protect Jacqueline Kennedy, Hill remained with Mrs. Kennedy and the children for one year after the tragedy. Proudly and humbly serving five presidents—Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford—Hill rose through the ranks of the most elite protective force in the world, during the tumultuous time that encompassed the Vietnam War, the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and Watergate. He retired in 1975 as Assistant Director, United States Secret Service, responsible for all protective forces. In 2012, he penned his remarkable memoir, Mrs. Kennedy and Me, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller.

JFK Assassination – Former S.S. Agent speaks after 50 years.

Clint Hill, a former Secret Service Agent for JFK talks to 60 Minutes, Australia about his perspective of the assassination of the President of the United States in November 1963. Thanks to Channel Nine, Australia and 60 Minutes for the footage.

From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle: One FBI Agent’s View of the JFK Assassination by Don Adams


The personal and professional story of a former FBI agent, this is the journey Don Adams has taken over the past 50 years that has connected him to the assassination of the 35th president of the United States. On November 13, 1963, Adams was given a priority assignment to investigate Joseph Milteer, a man who had made threats to assassinate the president. Two weeks later John F. Kennedy was dead, and Agent Adams was instructed to locate and question Milteer. Adams, however, was only allowed to ask the suspect five specific questions before being told to release him. He was puzzled by the bizarre orders but thought nothing more of it until years later when he read a report that stated that not only had Joseph Milteer made threats against the president, but also that he claimed Kennedy would be killed from an office building with a high-powered rifle. Since that time, Adams has compiled evidence and research from every avenue available to him, including his experiences in Georgia and Dallas FBI offices, to produce this compelling investigation that may just raise more questions than answers.

Don Adams is a former FBI agent who participated in the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He is the author of numerous articles on the subject and is considered a respected authority on the topic. He lives in Akron, Ohio. Afterword by Harrison E. Livingstone.

Click here to browse inside.

Former FBI Agent Reveals Who Really Killed JFK

A retired FBI Agent and Police Chief, who was one of the original investigators in Dallas examining the JFK assassination, stumbles upon records and reports that were doctored. He knows that, because he filed the original reports. His decade long investigation would take him deep into history and to the National Archives and beyond. Step by step he says he learned and can prove that Oswald did not kill JFK.

Don Adams book: “From an Office Building with a High Powered Rifle”
His website:

The J.F.K Assassination: A Pentagon Insider Says It was not Oswald… It was Johnson

The son of a former Pentagon Counter Intelligence officer breaks the story of how his father, a Military agency insider (Col. Christensen), reveals to his family what actually happened in Dallas on 11/22/63… and why it happened.

Are Human Rights Compatible with Islamic Values? by Ghazala Salam


As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the U.N. proclamation of Human Rights and celebrate the life of human rights champion Nelson Mandela, I cannot help but reflect on the core values of human rights as revealed in Islam 1,435 years ago.

Historically, man has always struggled to ensure human dignity and equity without discrimination and bias. The message of Islam, on the other hand, has consistently and universally promoted human rights and freedoms as fundamental for human development.

In Islam, the origins and implications of human rights are supported by the revelations in the Qur’an, God’s promise and message to all of mankind. The Qur’an is meant to be universal, and clearly speaks to all of humanity: “O mankind! We have created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most pious of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” [49:13].

Whether mankind chooses to listen to the Qur’an, more often than not depends on man’s God-given right to choose.

This single Qur’anic verse is testament alone to the foundation of diversity and pluralism in Islam. It is important to note that in the above mentioned verse, God is addressing all of mankind not just one kind; stating that all of humanity is one, created by the One. Thereby, declaring the sovereignty of our God-given human rights, universal and timeless, regardless of race, gender, wealth, language, national origin, color or creed. No legislator, dictator, or other affiliations, religious or otherwise, can take these rights away from us; they have no authority to amend them or withhold them.

So where does this leave the followers of Islam?

Well, based on the teachings of Islam, every Muslim should be a champion of human rights, because human rights principles, as per the Qur’an, must underpin a Muslim’s daily life, since the Qur’an teaches us how to respond to the needs of the most marginal and vulnerable people. In the words of Prophet Muhammad: “You do not truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” The fact is, Islam inspires mankind to create a society in which there is acknowledgement of the need for human dignity and respect for one another. Ironically, the basic human right to acquire education is so often withheld in the name of the religion that is so rooted in education. Sadly, it is the absence of education that has prevented the teachings of human rights in Islam, and its practical applications to human beings to be totally neglected.

Time and again, human beings with various beliefs, in various forms and capacities, have continued to violate human rights across the world. Although the reality of Islam is not to be single-minded, the integration of nations through the process of globalization has brought to light the confusion and conflict people face in accepting pluralism. Unfortunately, the word of God is lost in the language of cultural interpretations, which fails to understand the Islamic perspective in realizing that discrimination and bias are counterproductive to equity and justice. Therein misrepresenting Islam.

In other words, any person or nation that does not respect diversity and pluralism does not respect Islam’s view for social justice.

No wonder the issue of human rights and equity, as per Sharia, is one of the most misrepresented and least understood issues of our times, because the Qur’anic view, as per the teachings of Islam, is absent. The problem is further enhanced by ideologies that project their sense of juristic interpretations, as if they were synonymous with the Word of God, leaving behind the primary sources of Islam: the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. Failing to acknowledge that full equality and equity of all human beings before God is beyond doubt.

Nonetheless, the promotion and protection of human rights, as revealed by the Qur’an, rests upon mankind. God has entrusted each and every human being (not just Muslims) with the responsibility of being his trustee on earth, to prevent harm and stand up for justice:

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Follow not the desires (of your hearts); lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to justice, verily God is well acquainted with all that you do. [4:135]

When examined, the revelations in the Qur’an, and Prophet Muhammad’s example in creating the first written constitution in the world, known as the Medina Charter in the year 622 A.D., should inspire those with understanding to establish a moral code of justice. One that is inclusive of everyone’s respective rights, diversity and plurality, without compulsion, with justice, equality and freedom for all. The Qur’anic view of human rights frees human beings from the bondage of traditionalism, authoritarianism (religious, political, economic, or any other), tribalism, racism, sexism, slavery or anything else that prohibits or inhibits human beings from experiencing God’s vision of human dignity and respect as embodied in Islam.

As Nelson Mandela so profoundly said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

As we remember the positive words and work of people like Nelson Mandela, let’s not forget the negative impact of words and works of hate used as a weapon to discredit an entire religion such as Islam — not to protect its people, but to attack them, to cause fear and hate, to discriminate. Many people today lack the balance of understanding the right to express one’s opinion and beliefs and the right to be attacked and undermined to the extent that it affects an individual or group’s capacity to be human and to be active participants in society. Relatively speaking, such views tend to come from those who are unlikely to bear the brunt of such bias themselves, and therefore unable to appreciate the extent to which they can cause real harm. On this Human Rights Day, I want to celebrate Islam’s affirmation of our fundamental rights, as they are so deeply rooted in our humanness, denial of which leads to the path opposite of Islam. Simply said, these rights came into existence when we did; they were created as we were, by God in order that our human potential could be realized. Rights created or given by God cannot be abolished by any temporal ruler, theocracy or human agency, because they are eternal and immutable.

Ghazala Salam was born in India, raised in Philadelphia and moved to South Florida in her teens. Exposed to diversity at a young age, she is a creative and energetic leader with ability to communicate vision, inspire action and lead change.

As a community relations professional in Florida she is passionate about promoting liberty through community leadership, civic engagement, conflict resolution, cultural diversity and interfaith dialogue. She speaks and writes about Islam and human rights for women.

Ghazala Salam is the Community & Government Relations Director for the Council on American Islamic Relations Florida (CAIR-Florida Inc.). She is the founder of MAWA, a grassroots initiative helping American Muslim women connect, learn and grow. A community forum, that brings together Muslim women from different walks of life as one voice, to promote education, equality, equity and peace for all of humanity. She believes that through education, Muslim women will be empowered to transform patriarchal, culture based interpretations of women’s status, to the betterment of themselves and their communities.

She serves on the Board of Commission on the Status of Women in Broward and has spent time examining religious, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to stereotyping of Muslims in America and around the world. Ghazala speaks three languages and holds an MS degree from Florida International University.

Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker


In Days of Fire, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, takes us on a gripping and intimate journey through the eight years of the Bush and Cheney administration in a tour-de-force narrative of a dramatic and controversial presidency.

Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold and untested president and his seasoned, relentless vice president. Confronted by one crisis after another, they struggled to protect the country, remake the world, and define their own relationship along the way. In Days of Fire, Peter Baker chronicles the history of the most consequential presidency in modern times through the prism of its two most compelling characters, capturing the elusive and shifting alliance of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney as no historian has done before. He brings to life with in-the-room immediacy all the drama of an era marked by devastating terror attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and financial collapse.

The real story of Bush and Cheney is a far more fascinating tale than the familiar suspicion that Cheney was the power behind the throne. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with key players, and thousands of pages of never-released notes, memos, and other internal documents, Baker paints a riveting portrait of a partnership that evolved dramatically over time, from the early days when Bush leaned on Cheney, making him the most influential vice president in history, to their final hours, when the two had grown so far apart they were clashing in the West Wing. Together and separately, they were tested as no other president and vice president have been, first on a bright September morning, an unforgettable “day of fire” just months into the presidency, and on countless days of fire over the course of eight tumultuous years.
Days of Fire is a monumental and definitive work that will rank with the best of presidential histories. As absorbing as a thriller, it is eye-opening and essential reading.

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View Here Interview on ‘Days of Fire’ unveils complicated Bush-Cheney partnership.

40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World by Howard G Buffett



Legendary investor Warren Buffett posed this challenge to his son in 2006, when he announced he was leaving the bulk of his fortune to philan­thropy. Howard G. Buffett set out to help the most vulnerable people on earth—nearly a billion individuals who lack basic food security. And Howard has given himself a deadline: 40 years to put more than $3 billion to work on this challenge.

Each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our goals in life. Howard learned this lesson through his passion for farming: all farmers can expect to have about 40 growing seasons, giving them just 40 chances to improve on every harvest. This lesson applies to all of us, however, because we all have about 40 productive years to do the best job we can, whatever our passions may be.

40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World is a book that captures Howard’s journey. We join him around the world as he seeks out new approaches to ease the suffering of so many. It is told in a unique format: 40 stories that will provide readers a compelling look at Howard’s lessons learned, ranging from his own backyard to some of the most difficult and dangerous places on Earth.

Howard G. Buffett is the President of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. A farmer, businessman, politician, photographer, and philanthropist, he has dedicated his life to wildlife conservation and finding solutions to world hunger. He is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger, and serves on the corporate boards of Berkshire Hathaway, the Coca-Cola Company, and Lindsay Corporation. His son, Howard W. Buffett, has authored several of the stories in 40 Chances and accompanied his father to developing countries around the world.

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40 CHANCES by Howard G. Buffett

Forty Chances provides insight into the fundamental beliefs and philosophies of the Buffett family and their fight against global hunger.

The Shia Revival How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future ~ Vali Nasr (Author)


The New York Times bestseller: “Historically incisive, geographically broad-reaching, and brimming with illuminating anecdotes.”—Max Rodenbeck, New York Review of Books

Profiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Iranian-born scholar Vali Nasr has become one of America’s leading commentators on current events in the Middle East, admired and welcomed by both media and government for his “concise and coherent” analysis (Wall Street Journal). In this “smart, clear and timely” book (Washington Post), Nasr brilliantly dissects the political and theological antagonisms within Islam. He provides a unique and objective understanding of the 1,400-year bitter struggle between Shias and Sunnis, and sheds crucial light on its modern-day consequences—from the nuclear posturing of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to the recent U.S.-enabled shift toward Shia power in Iraq and Hezbollah’s continued dominance in Lebanon. The paperback edition features a new foreword for 2007.

Vali Nasr is Dean and Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, a non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Contributor to Bloomberg View. He is a member of the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Advisory Board to advise the Secretary of State on global issues.

Between 2009 and 2011 he served as Senior Advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Vali Nasr is one of America’s leading experts on the Islamic world and Middle East politics. He is internationally renowned and has influenced critical public debates and policy decisions in both U.S. and Europe. He is the author of the groundbreaking book The Dispensable Nation (2013), which takes a hard look at strategic risk of a shrinking American role on the global stage. His two previous books, the New York Times best seller Shia Revival (2006), and Forces of Fortune (2009) correctly foretold of sectarian conflict following Iraq war and the potential for an Arab Spring. He has advised presidents and senior policy makers, members of the Congress, presidential campaigns, and global political and business leaders. He was featured on the front page of Wall Street Journal; quoted by Senator John Kerry on the floor of the U.S. Senate; and described as a “national resource” by Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Vali Nasr is the author of The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (Doubleday, 2013); Forces of Fortune: The Rise of A New Muslim Middle Class and What It Means for Our World (Free Press, 2009; also published in paperback as The Rise of Islamic Capitalism: Why the New Middle Class is Key to Defeating Extremism and in U.K. as Meccanomics: The March of the New Muslim Middle Class); The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future (W.W. Norton, 2006); Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty (Oxford University Press, 2006); The Islamic Leviathan: Islam and the Making of State Power (Oxford University Press, 2001); Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism (Oxford University Press, 1996); The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama`at-i Islami of Pakistan (University of California Press, 1994); an editor of Oxford Dictionary of Islam (Oxford University Press, 2003); and co-editor of Expectation of the Millennium: Shi`ism in History (SUNY Press, 1989); as well as numerous articles in academic journals and encyclopedias. His works have been translated into Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Italian, Turkish, Persian, Chinese, Hindi and Urdu.

He has written for The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Newsweek, Time, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and has provided frequent expert commentary to CNN, BBC, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Frontline, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, and has been a guest on the Charlie Rose Show and Meet the Press, Larry King Live, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher. His interviews have appeared in Al-Hayat, Al-Sharq al-Awsat and Al-Jazeera in the Middle East, Der Spiegel and Die Welt in Germany, La Repubblica, La Stampa, and Corriera della Sera in Italy, El Mundo in Spain, and Le Monde in France, as well as in leading media outlets in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Iran, Japan, Turkey, Sweden and Switzerland.

He is a member of Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Board of Trustees of National Democratic Institute; Board of Directors of the Foundation for Iranian Studies; and the Fund Board of the Public Affairs Association of Iranian-Americans (PAAIA). He has been the recipient of grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. He is a Carnegie Scholar for 2006.

He received his BA from Tufts University in International Relations summa cum laude and was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa in 1983. He earned his masters from the Fletcher School of Law in and Diplomacy in international economics and Middle East studies in 1984, and his PhD from MIT in political science in 1991.

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The Shia Revival

Uploaded on May 3, 2011

Watch the Council’s Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies Vali Nasr discuss his book, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future.

Vali R. Nasr, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Lisa Anderson, Dean, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Politics from the Inside Out: Marianne Williamson at All Saints Church


“What we don’t engage we can’t transform!” — Marianne Williamson’s challenge to imagine a new politics with “love as the bottom line.”

The political narrative of this nation has been the tension between those claiming the extraordinary possibility of democracy and those limiting it” she said in her presentation “Politics Inside Out: New Consciousness. New Politics” at the All Saints Rector’s Forum.

Launch of Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Quotations Book


Nelson Mandela: By Himself is the definitive book of quotations from one of the great leaders of our time. This collection – gathered from privileged authorised access to Mandela’s vast personal archive of private papers, speeches, correspondence and audio recordings – features nearly 2,000 quotations spanning over 60 years, many previously unpublished.

Mandela’s inspirational quotations are organised into over 300 categories for easy reference, including such aspects as what defines greatness in ‘Character’, ‘Courage’ and ‘Optimism’, while we learn from the great man the essence of democracy, freedom and struggle in the categories ‘Democracy’, ‘History’, ‘Racism’, ‘Reconciliation’ and ‘Unity’. Nelson Mandela: By Himself is the first, and only, authorised and authenticated collection of quotations by one of the world’s most admired individuals.

Nelson Mandela was born in the Transkei, South Africa, on 18 July 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1914 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies for many years before being arrested in August 1962. Mandela was incarcerated for over 27 years, during which time his reputation as a potent symbol of resistance to the anti-apartheid movement grew steadily. Released from prison in 1990, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was inaugurated as the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994. He is the author of the international bestsellers Long Walk to Freedom and Conversations With Myself.

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7 Things You Can Learn From Nelson Mandela’s Life

Published on Jun 25, 2013

For 27 years Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for his belief in a free and just society. When he was released in 1990 – he led the charge for a multi-racial democracy and a country where the freedoms of one are the freedoms of all. He became South Africa’s first black president and a world leader in peace and social change.

View Here on the Days of Glory sung by the popular Hong Kong group Beyond in dedication to Nelson Mandela.

David and Goliath ~ Malcolm Gladwell


Malcolm Gladwell, the #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative—and dazzling—book yet.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland’s Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms—all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

In the tradition of Gladwell’s previous bestsellers—The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw---David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. Prior to joining The New Yorker, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

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Malcolm Gladwell, “David and Goliath” | Talks at Google

Published on Oct 16, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell, the original speaker for the Authors at Google series, returns to Mountain View for a discussion about his latest book: “David and Goliath”.

Malcolm was interviewed by Prasad Setty of the People Analytics group at Google.

Malcolm Gladwell, the #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative—and dazzling—book yet.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won. Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Malcolm Gladwell: The unheard story of David and Goliath

Published on Sep 30, 2013

It’s a classic underdog tale: David, a young shepherd armed only with a sling, beats Goliath, the mighty warrior. The story has transcended its biblical origins to become a common shorthand for unlikely victory. But, asks Malcolm Gladwell, is that really what the David and Goliath story is about?

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman


Psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman, author of the #1 international bestseller Emotional Intelligence, offers a groundbreaking look at today’s scarcest resource and the secret to high performance and fulfillment: attention.

Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to survive in a complex world.

Goleman boils down attention research into a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. Drawing on rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business, he shows why high-achievers need all three kinds of focus, and explains how those who rely on Smart Practices—mindfulness meditation, focused preparation and recovery, positive emotions and connections, and mental “prosthetics” that help them improve habits, add new skills, and sustain greatness—excel while others do not.

DANIEL GOLEMAN is the author of the international bestsellers Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence, and the co-author of the acclaimed business bestseller Primal Leadership. He was a science reporter for the New York Times, was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and received the American Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his media writing. He lives in the Berkshires.

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View Here on surprising findings.

Daniel Goleman on FOCUS

Published on May 30, 2013

Daniel Goleman, author of global bestsellers Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence, discusses his new book, FOCUS – a groundbreaking look at the science of high performance and its implications, whether managing oneself or a team.

Case Closed by Gerald Posner


The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, continues to inspire interest ranging from well-meaning speculation to bizarre conspiracy theories and controversial filmmaking. But in this landmark book, reissued with a new afterword for the 40th anniversary of the assassination, Gerald Posner examines all of the available evidence and reaches the only possible conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. There was no second gunman on the grassy knoll. The CIA was not involved. And although more than four million pages of documents have been released since Posner first made his case, they have served only to corroborate his findings. Case Closed remains the classic account against which all books about JFK’s death must be measured.

John Martin of ABC News says “Gerald Posner is one of the most resourceful investigators I have encountered in thirty years of journalism.” Garry Wills calls Posner “a superb investigative reporter,” while the Los Angeles Times dubs him “a classic-style investigative journalist.” “His work is painstakingly honest journalism” concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his “exhaustive research techniques” and The Boston Globe determined Posner is “an investigative journalist whose work is marked by his thorough and meticulous research.” “A resourceful investigator and skillful writer,” says The Dallas Morning News.

Posner was one of the youngest attorneys (23) ever hired by the Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. A Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (1975), he was an Honors Graduate of Hastings Law School (1978), where he served as the Associate Executive Editor for the Law Review. Of counsel to the law firm he founded, Posner and Ferrara, he is now a full time journalist and author.

He is the Chief Investigative Reporter for the Daily Beast (www.thedailybeast/author/gerald-posner). In the past, he was a freelance writer on investigative issues for several news magazines, and a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, FOX News, CBS, and MSNBC. A member of the National Advisory Board of the National Writers Union, Posner is also a member of the Authors Guild, PEN, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and Phi Beta Kappa. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author, Trisha Posner, who works on all his projects (

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Gerald Posner on the Single Bullet, Oswald and the fatal JFK head shot – compilation

Published on Oct 30, 2013
Clips from Crossfire with Cyril Wecht; Bryant Gumbel; Dick Cavett; Dan Rather; Charlie Rose, and Conan O’Brien (1993 for all)

A compilation of Gerald Posner on the Single Bullet, Oswald and the fatal JFK head shot -

Two Birds in a Tree: Timeless Indian Wisdom for Business Leaders Ram Nidumolu


The Higher Reality of Business
The health of business is inextricably linked with the health of humanity and nature. But our current approaches to leadership treat business as entirely separate—and the result has been recurring economic, environmental, and human crises.

In this extraordinary book, Ram Nidumolu uses evocative parables and stories from the ancient Indian wisdom texts, the Upanishads, to introduce Being-centered leadership. This new kind of leadership is anchored in the concept of Being, the fundamental reality that underlies all phenomena. Being-centered leaders are guided by an innate sense of interconnection—the good of the whole becomes an integral part of their decisions and actions. Using the experiences of over twenty trailblazing CEOs, as well as those from his own life, Nidumolu describes a four-stage road map every aspiring leader can use to reconnect business to the wider world—to the benefit of all.

Ram Nidumolu is the CEO of Innovastrat, Inc., which helps executives at Global 500 companies develop a corporate vision, strategy and culture for sustainable business. He is also an affiliated scholar at Stanford University’s Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and a former professor at leading US business schools. Ram is the author of a just-released book about Being-Centered Leadership, Two Birds in a Tree: Timeless Indian Wisdom for Business Leaders, published by Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco. Ram can be reached by email at and on twitter at @twobirdsgroup.

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Ram Nidumolu Author Day

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi


For fifty years the truth about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has been obscured. This book releases us from a crippling distortion of American history.

At 1:00 p.m. on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead, the victim of a sniper attack during his motorcade through Dallas. That may be the only fact generally agreed upon in the vast literature spawned by the assassination. National polls reveal that an overwhelming majority of Americans (75%) believe that there was a high-level conspiracy behind Lee Harvey Oswald. Many even believe that Oswald was entirely innocent. In this continuously absorbing, powerful, ground-breaking book, Vincent Bugliosi shows how we have come to believe such lies about an event that changed the course of history.

The brilliant prosecutor of Charles Manson and the man who forged an iron-clad case of circumstantial guilt around O. J. Simpson in his best-selling Outrage Bugliosi is perhaps the only man in America capable of writing the definitive book on the Kennedy assassination. This is an achievement that has for years seemed beyond reach. No one imagined that such a book would ever be written: a single volume that once and for all resolves, beyond any reasonable doubt, every lingering question as to what happened in Dallas and who was responsible.

There have been hundreds of books about the assassination, but there has never been a book that covers the entire case, including addressing every piece of evidence and each and every conspiracy theory, and the facts, or alleged facts, on which they are based. In this monumental work, the author has raised scholarship on the assassination to a new and final level, one that far surpasses all other books on the subject. It adds resonance, depth, and closure to the admirable work of the Warren Commission.

Reclaiming History is a narrative compendium of fact, forensic evidence, reexamination of key witnesses, and common sense. Every detail and nuance is accounted for, every conspiracy theory revealed as a fraud on the American public. Bugliosi’s irresistible logic, command of the evidence, and ability to draw startling inferences shed fresh light on this American nightmare. At last it all makes sense. 32 pages of illustrations
Vincent Bugliosi, prosecutor of Charles Manson, lives in Los Angeles, California. He is the author or co-author of many books, among them the #1 best-sellers Helter Skelter, And the Sea Will Tell, and Outrage; plus Four Days in November, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, No Island of Sanity, The Betrayal of America, Lullaby and Good Night, Shadow Of Cain, Till Death Us Do Part, Drugs in America, and The Phoenix Solution.

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Published on Aug 30, 2013
On June 14, 2007, lawyer and “Reclaiming History” author Vincent Bugliosi squared off in a 50-minute debate against long-time JFK conspiracy theorist Dr. Cyril Wecht.

The Kennedy assassination discussion, which focuses primarily on aspects of the controversial “Single-Bullet Theory”, aired on Pittsburgh radio station WPTT on 6/14/07 (and was broadcast again by WPTT on the anniversary of JFK’s death on November 22, 2007).

Vincent Bugliosi: No Evidence for JFK / Oswald Conspiracies

Author and renowned trial attorney Vincent Bugliosi rejects any notion that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting as part of a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.


Vincent Bugliosi speaks about “Reclaiming History:
The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California.

The prosecutor of the infamous Charles Manson murder case turns a critical eye on one of history’s most enduring sources of conspiracy theories: the murder of JFK. Bugliosi takes us back to the grassy knoll to uphold the “lone gunman” findings of the Warren Commission, saying the claims against it are based on flawed logic, deception and selective use of evidence. — The Commonwealth Club

Vincent Bugliosi received his law degree in 1964 from U.C.L.A. law school, where he was president of his graduating class. In his career as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including twenty-one murder convictions without a single loss. His most famous trial was the Charles Manson case, which became the basis of his true crime classic, Helter Skelter, the biggest-selling true crime book in publishing history.

Bugliosi has uncommonly attained success in two separate and distinct fields, as a lawyer and an author. Three of his true crime books, Helter Shelter, And The Sea Will Tell, and Outrage, The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder, reached number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley


In a handful of nations, virtually all children are learning to make complex arguments and solve problems they’ve never seen before. They are learning to think, in other words. What is it like to be a child in these new education superpowers?

In a global quest to find answers for our own children, author and Time journalist Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embedded in these countries for one year. Kim, 15, raises $10,000 so she can move from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, 18, exchanges a high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming South Korean city; and Tom, 17, leaves a historic Pennsylvania village for a gritty city in Poland.

Their stories, along with groundbreaking research into learning in other cultures, reveal a pattern of startling transformation: none of these countries had many “smart” kids a few decades ago. They had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education. A reporting tour de force, The Smartest Kids in the World is a book about building resilience in a new world—as told by the young Americans who have the most at stake.

*The Smartest Kids in the World, a New York Times bestseller, was selected by Amazon as one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2013.*

Amanda Ripley is an investigative journalist for Time, The Atlantic and other magazines. She is the author, most recently, of THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD–and How They Got That Way. Her first book, THE UNTHINKABLE: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes--and Why, was published in 15 countries and turned into a PBS documentary. Her work has helped Time win two National Magazine Awards.

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The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

New America Foundation Emerson Fellow Amanda Ripley’s book, “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way” (…) follows several American students who spent a year living with the world’s new education superpowers.

Does the Hajj Radicalize Muslims? You Might Be Surprised By the Answer by Erol Yayboke


Every year millions of Muslims from around the world participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Despite being a fundamental pillar of Islam, the Hajj is often misunderstood, especially by those wary of increased religion-tinged violence in recent years. The July 7 bombers of the London public transport system, not to mention the 9/11 hijackers, had undertaken the Hajj; could it have been the cause of their increased radicalization? Wouldn’t a yearly gathering of more than two million Muslim men and women from over one hundred different countries be a good place to breed religious extremism?

So what is the actual impact of the Hajj on pilgrims?

Researchers from Harvard (Khwaja and Kremer) and Case Western Reserve University (Clingingsmith) decided to find out. They conducted an experiment on Pakistani Hajjis (those who have performed the Hajj) back in January 2006, comparing successful and unsuccessful applicants to an existing lottery system that allocates a limited supply of Hajj visas to aspiring pilgrims. Results suggest that while increasing observance of Islamic practices (praying, fasting, etc.) and better integrating the broader Muslim world, the Hajj also increases the desire for peace and tolerance among both Muslims and non-Muslims. Interestingly (and somewhat unexpectedly), Hajjis also show a (slight) movement away from prejudices against women.

More on that in a bit – first some numbers and details on the experiment itself.

Due to overcrowding, Saudi Arabia maintains quotas for the number of Hajj visas available to Pakistan and other major Islamic countries. In Pakistan, the majority of visas (90,000) were allocated using a random (and yes, researchers found that the system was not significantly subject to outside influence) government lottery system with the remaining (60,000) allocated to private tour operators. The evaluation focused on those applying to the lottery. Since all applicants showed a tangible desire to participate (an application fee is required) and some were successful while others were not, the lottery provided a suitable isolation of the Hajj impact on comparably motivated populations. Ultimately surveyors completed interviews with 1,605 applicants, asking a myriad of questions on everything from religious knowledge and practice to business and employment.

But enough about the details.

The results were very interesting and could be counter-intuitive to those who don’t fully understand the Hajj (or Islam for that matter):

Hajjis showed greater tolerance of other nationalities, social groups and religions and were generally more interested in peace. After the pilgrimage they were 33 percent more likely to have positive views of people from other countries and generally showed more interest in peace with India (which, as Indians and Pakistanis will tell you, is huge). Hajjis were 22 percent more likely to say that people of different religions are equal – interesting because non-Muslims are not even allowed to attend, perhaps signaling a broader willingness of Hajjis to embrace tolerance beyond the Muslim world.

Notably, they showed no increase in negative views of the West or an increased desire to integrate religion with politics, thus challenging assertions that the Hajj increases political radicalization and animosity toward the West.

In a notable and significant way, Hajjis were more likely to believe that women’s overall status is equal (though still only a comparatively small percentage believed as such). Additionally, the Hajj did not have an impact on how people view a woman’s ability to challenge male household authority (like divorce) or gender roles traditionally espoused by global Islam.

So what about ObL? The Hajj increased the number of respondents who declared that bin Laden’s methods were incorrect from 16 percent to 21 percent. Though a relatively small group (13.1 percent) declared that the goals of bin Laden were incorrect, this is still almost double the percentage of non-Hajjis answering the same questions (6.8 percent).

The team also found that Hajjis shifted away from local beliefs and practices (ex. using amulets, visiting tombs of saints, giving marriage dowry, etc.) and towards more global practices (ex. fasting, prayer, etc.). They were 13 percent more likely to regard themselves as religious persons and twice as likely to fast outside of Ramadan (the obligatory month of fasting) compared to non-Hajjis.

Keep in mind that this talks about the impact of the Hajj itself, not the perceived ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of the views. It’s not making summary judgments about Pakistan or about Islam. The study simply shows that the Hajj significantly (i.e. above the margin of error) affected Pakistanis in mostly positive ways.

So what can we learn from this?

We learn that increased religious orthodoxy does not automatically translate into extremism and violence. As shown, Pakistani Hajjis became more religious while simultaneously becoming more tolerant and peaceful. The Hajj promotes peace and unity among Muslims, increases tolerance of non-Muslims and increases perceptions of gender equality. While many may view the Hajj with concern, this study shows that Hajjis are in fact more peaceful and more likely to shun regional interpretations of Islam, including possibly more radicalized elements.

Additionally, the altered gender views of Hajjis reflect a movement away from local prejudices against women and toward fairer treatment within Islam, though not necessarily a more general trend toward liberalism or feminism. Exposure to Muslims from around the world has a large impact on Hajjis’ experiential knowledge. Especially when traveling in small groups, Hajjis learn tolerant attitudes from non-Pakistani fellow Muslims during the Hajj. Such exposure and cross-gender interactions may facilitate the changed views towards women.

Finally, the results shed light on contemporary concerns about Islamic orthodoxy and extremism, though they are localized to Pakistan and further work is needed to determine the extent to which the findings generalize beyond the specific context.

Some studies have shown that 45 percent of Americans believe Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions; this study shows that global Islam, as represented by Hajj rituals, elicits the opposite reaction in Hajjis.

Erol Yayboke is is a Program Manager with the Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) team at the Center for International Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School and a member of the Board of Directors of the Andi Leadership Institute for Young Women. Before EPoD he served in a variety of development aid management roles in Iraq, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. He holds a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hero by Rhonda Byrne


From Rhonda Byrne, creator of the international bestselling movie and book, The Secret, comes Hero, her latest world-changing project and the most important to date.

Hero brings together the wisdom and insight of twelve of the most successful people living in the world today. By following their seemingly impossible journeys to success, Hero reveals that each of us was born with everything we need to live our greatest dream—and that by doing so we will fulfill our mission and literally change the world.

No matter where you are in your life today, no matter what age you are, it is never too late to follow your dream. And when you do, you will make the greatest discovery any human being can make—the discovery of who you really are, and why you are here.

Once, there was a hero.
Rhonda Byrne began her journey with The Secret film, viewed by millions across the planet. She followed with The Secret book, a global bestseller, available in fifty languages and with over 25 million copies in print worldwide.

The Secret has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over 200 weeks and counting, and was named by USA TODAY as one of the top twenty bestselling books of the past fifteen years.

She continued her groundbreaking work with The Power in 2010 and The Magic in 2012, also New York Times bestsellers.

Click Here to browse inside.

HERO Trailer

Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family’s Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue, and Redemption by Vinh Chung (Author) , Tim Downs (Contributor)


Pub Date : April 22, 2014

Through a series of miraculous events, a Chinese family, living in Vietnam, joins the ranks of “boat people”and overcomes oppressive struggles to raise its children in the foreign culture of America.

At three years of age Vinh Chung and his family of ten fled communist oppression in Vietnam. As legendary “boat people” they were attacked twice by Thai pirates and left for dead, adrift on the South China Sea. A World Vision mercy ship stumbled across them and rescued them, eventually relocating them to the tough frontier town of Fort Smith, Arkansas, where they faced poverty, ethnic discrimination, and an almost insurmountable language barrier.

The Chung family’s inspirational story, as told by Vinh Chung, offers fascinating insights into Asian traditions as it gives the account of three remarkable women who shaped the lives of Vinh and his father.

From one dream and a series of providential encounters, to a life of perseverance, sacrifice, and a new faith in God, Vinh excelled and eventually graduated from Harvard Medical School. He and his siblings hold five master’s degrees and five doctorates. This is Vinh’s family’s extraordinary journey.

The book includes sixteen pages of black and white photos of the rescue, difficult first years, and the family today. And at the author’s request, all royalties due to the author will go to World Vision for their relief efforts.

Vinh Chung graduated Harvard magna cum laude with a BA in biology and attended Harvard Medical School for his MD. Dr. Chung also studied at the University of Sydney as a Fulbright Scholar and completed a masters of pharmaceutical sciences. He completed his dermatology residency at Emory University, where he served as chief resident. He currently serves on World Vision’s National Leadership Council. Dr. Chung and his wife Leisle have three children and run a successful private practice.

Tim Downs is the author of nine novels including the Christy Award-winning PlagueMaker and the highly acclaimed series of Bug Man novels. Tim lives in North Carolina with his wife Joy. They have three grown children.

View here on an article of Vinh Chung’s extra-ordinary story.

2. Hakka People – Lee Kuan Yew 客家人物 – 李光耀


Published on Dec 15, 2012

Lee Kuan Yew (1923-), the founder of modern Singapore and Singapore’s first Prime Minister (1959-1990).
李光耀 (1923-), 现代新加坡的缔造者和新加坡首位总理 (1959-1990).


Hakka people have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and world history: in particular, they have been a source of many revolutionary, government, and military leaders.
客家人对中国和世界历史上的过程中有显着的影响: 尤其是他们一直以来是许多革命, 政府和军人领袖的来源.

杨澜访谈录: 李光耀, 小舞台大人物 (21.11.2009)

George Soros, Mahathir You Screwed Malaysia Big Time


Published on Dec 18, 2012

George Soros, Mahathir You Screwed Malaysia Big Time
It’s basically an old speech Barry Wain, but it till a burning issue relevant to the dicey situation Malaysia is facing.
Many people around the world are interested to read about Mahathir and his career, and that for these people, the story must be told in full, whether or not it has been reported before. “A lot of the financial scandals were not published in Malaysia (and) many young Malaysians were two years old or weren’t born when the Mahathir administration decided to manipulate the tin price,” he said.