Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

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What an inspiring and heartening act of valor and kindness!

Call them Israel’s American volunteer fire brigade.

Dozens of firefighters from across the United States put their lives on hold – leaving behind jobs and families – to help subdue the wildfires that swept Israel over the past week. While they all share a love of Israel, only a handful of them are Jewish.

“We’re just firefighters. When guys hear about a situation like this one, where the Israelis are working as hard as they can, they want to come help,” said Billy Hirth, a Protestant who retired last year after a 24-year career as a firefighter in Arlington, Texas, and has been coordinating the American effort from Jerusalem.

“It’s a brotherhood. Firemen are firemen,” he said.

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These are the words that I shared with my team earlier this morning.

From: Daniel Lubetzky
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2016 4:21 AM
To: KINDTeam
Subject: what we need now

Dear Team,

This seemingly endless election season, culminating over the last several hours, has been a painful journey of division, vitriol and alienation for our country. It ends with America’s citizens torn further apart than any time I can remember.

Many of us are deeply shaken about the fate of our nation and our world. Global markets are signaling concern as we enter unchartered territory. There is a sense that the world’s greatest democracy is more fragile than we realized and cannot be taken for granted.

And I am asking myself how will I explain all of this to my children when they wake up in a few hours.

Finding common ground in the political space has been so challenging. Our government representatives (and the machinery that amplifies their messages) have not made it easy.

We have to step back and collectively reflect on how to protect and elevate the values we share and that have truly made America great – respect for one another, kindness, empathy, humility, warmth, the conviction that we can make a positive difference for our children and for each other, to lead our lives with purpose, to lead our communities with resilience and determination, to forge an inclusive society that prizes merit and hard work, and to contribute towards making the world we live in both kinder and stronger.

I’ve highlighted in the past that empathy and kindness are often confused with weakness. That, actually, it takes strength to be kind, particularly when we feel most vulnerable. That empathizing with “the other” requires enormous amounts of self-confidence, to feel comfortable putting yourself in the shoes of someone that you deeply disagree with. How trying has it been for many of us over the last year to understand “the other side.”

Along the night and before the election results became clear I was reflecting that, regardless of the outcome, roughly half the voters staked diametrically opposing positions. The toxic discourse made the rival platforms feel epically distant, almost as if the other side was morally repugnant. I wonder how will we get these two halves to find common ground when the distances that have been created between them are so vast. I find great solace knowing that people I greatly admire, including team leaders at KIND, and family members I love, disagreed with my political choice, and it never stood in the way of our relation. No matter how political campaigns try to program us (with billions upon billions of negative messages), we must find a way to respect one another and to appreciate our differences.

So how will I explain the results of this election to my children? I will explain that life doesn’t always serve up the path you wanted. But, always, you are served with a choice: do I retrench or do I rise up? Do I abandon hope or do I envision a way to make things better and act upon it? Do I demonize or humanize?

Now, more than ever, let’s show the strength within us to build common ground, not just to demand from our elected representatives that they rise above our differences and unite us, but to lead by example, with courage and conviction and without losing that sense of purpose, that commitment to excellence and to one another.

Time to unite.

Daniel Lubetzky
Founder & CEO

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Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and commentator, was national Hispanic campaign chairwoman for John McCain in 2008, national Hispanic co-chair for Jon Huntsman’s 2012 campaign and was supporting Jeb Bush’s candidacy for 2016. Follow her on Twitter @ananavarro. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

I didn’t want to write this. I avoided making a decision as long as I could. I schlepped my absentee ballot all over the country for almost four weeks. I would periodically take it out of the envelope, look at it, shake my head in disgust, and put it back in my suitcase.

I had decided to write-in my mother as a symbolic protest vote against the Democratic and Republican nominees. I didn’t want to vote for either of them.

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This brief piece in the National Review provides very provocative contrast about the way Trump’s new campaign CEO thinks about building the right wing (“turn on the hate”) and how traditional conservatives do (“love of country”).

We shouldn’t give a pass to those in the ‘Establishment’ that flirted with the racism and hatred that over the last eight years allowed many to delegitimize President Obama – not just to question his policies which is more than fair game, but to question his citizenship and allegiance to America. But this is elevating the source of that aggressive hatred to the leadership of the Republican Presidential campaign and threatening the entire party.

This issue is not just going to impact the conservative movement or Republicans. It will impact America and the world.

Any place in the world where extremism and radicalism are celebrated ends up harming the very society that tolerated and encouraged it, ultimately boomeranging against those that unleashed that intolerance against others.  The ruling house of Saud in Saudi Arabia promulgated Wahabbi teachings across the world, spreading a militantly intolerant version of Islam across the world. This more than anything metastasized into Al Qaeda and ISIS, which now also consider the Saudi rulers as apostates and attack them also.

If we teach our children to disdain those different from them as opposed to teaching them empathy and respect for those different from us, they will grow with hatred as a reflex, which is so destructive to them and to our world. The antidote is to teach them empathy, the strength it requires, and the strength it provides. The same goes for adults, only it is so much harder by the time we’ve developed our habits, our instincts and our way of thinking.

Article below:

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Fareed Zakaria’s latest Washington Post column.

For some of us, the puzzle of this election is not why Donald Trump is doing so badly but why he is doing so well. Given his obvious lack of qualifications, his absurd proposals, his hypocrisy, his obnoxious rhetoric, his sheer incompetence as a candidate, why is he not down 10 points in every state?

In other words, who are Trump’s voters and why do they stick with him? Sometimes a good writer with a keen eye can provide more insight than a dozen polls. J.D. Vance has done just that in his lovely book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” The book has rocketed up the best-seller lists — deservedly so. But it has some interesting and important gaps.

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This is a fantastic piece that combines classy comedy along with actual insights in to the life of our President, and the politics, fame, and global issues that surround him. President Obama is outstanding.

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/president-barack-obama-just-tell-him-you-re-the-president

 

 

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Legislation making its way through the US Congressional process is finally addressing financing of Hezbollah.  The US Government is finally targeting banks, individuals and institutions that fund and do business with terrorist groups and their proxies, including incendiary stations like Al Manar.  It is important to double down on this track, so funders of terror will know there will be consequences to their impunity.  As the below article indicates,  impact is beginning to be felt.  Hezbollah has over decades built a global funding network that traffics in drugs and contraband from Latin America to the US.   It is high time that those networks be targeted also.

Times of Israel: Hezbollah Said Mired in Financial Crisis, by Times of Israel Staff and Agencies

A Lebanese banking delegation is reportedly heading to the US next month after Washington said it would impose sanctions on terror group Hezbollah, which is said to be mired in financial crisis.

The US House of Representatives voted unanimously on December 16 to impose tough new sanctions on banks that knowingly do business with Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

According to Lebanese media reports, a team representing the Association of Banks in Lebanon will head to New York and Washington to discuss the new proposed guidelines with Treasury and State Department officials.

Sources linked to the delegation told the Lebanese An Nahar daily “the sector has no problem with the US authorities which are closely following up on Lebanon’s commitment to international laws and adherence to them, but that these commitments must be re-confirmed after the issuance of the said law,” according to a translation by the Naharnet website.

The reports said the Iran-backed Hezbollah is facing financial difficulties, and failed to pay November and December salaries to its officials.

The bill targeting the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by Washington and Israel, passed the Senate last month. It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The legislation also targets Hezbollah’s television channel Al-Manar by aiming to cut the broadcast of satellite operators that air the channel’s programming.

The House adopted the measure 422 to 0, following a unanimous vote in the Senate on November 17.

Obama will sign the legislation, a senior administration official told AFP, adding that the administration has worked with Congress for years “to intensify the pressure against the Hezbollah terrorist organization.”

The new rules direct the president to prescribe punishing regulations against financial institutions that conduct transactions with Hezbollah or otherwise launder funds for the organization.

It also requires the administration to present to Congress a series of reports highlighting the group’s narcotics trafficking, transnational crime and operations of international groups linked to Hezbollah, especially in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The administration will list those particular countries that support Hezbollah, or in which the group maintains a key logistical base.

“Hezbollah has had to cast a wide net because most Lebanese banks have not wanted to do business with them,” a congressional expert on the legislation told AFP.

With participants in Hezbollah’s global networks “in our cross-hairs, they should be worried,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce told lawmakers Wednesday ahead of the vote.

“There is no question that Hezbollah is stronger than ever,” said congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who described the group as a dangerous enemy to Israel and one that has amassed more than 150,000 rockets and missiles and gained hardened battlefield experience in Syria.

 

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The flight from reality

Published under Leadership, United States Oct 20, 2015

I may not agree with all the conclusions or proposals in the article, but I certainly agree with need to discuss and address these issues head on.

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