I had to go to Spain to get the true grasp of Occupy’s potential for galvanizing action!
My contact, we’ll call him “Vlad,” is an expatriate of Brooklyn now living in Madrid with his wife, Nikki, and their very young daughter. An activist long pre-Zuccotti, but a major Occupier there, he is now part of a web of ingenious tech experts who are collectively serving as a Communication Nexus for the upcoming, world-wide Monsanto protest to take place May 25.
Monsanto is just the tip of the spear and the present focus of outrage over corporation ownership of the most essential of human needs — their food. Monsanto is the “poster child” in the way that it has demonstrated unwelcome international as well as local sway over governments that are supposed to protect its citizens.
This, fueled by recent revelations of beyond-cozy relationships between this poster child for a “biotech corporatocracy” and the U.S. federal government has caught the attention — and ire — of activists everywhere. It is the Monsanto Protection Act rider slipped into law which launched what will become known as the March Against Monsanto.
What started between six weeks and two months ago on Facebook as a “good idea,” Vlad reports, has coalesced into a one-day protest that will simultaneously span six continents, 36 countries, all 50 states in the U.S. plus the District of Columbia, and take place in at least 350 cities. All of this is reported on daily and hourly in some 250 (at last count) Facebook pages and scores of websites tasked with coordinating as many as four hundred thousand of marchers.
This is where Occupy, uniquely proven as a non-hierarchical and self-coordinated system, comes in to serve as “Command Un-Central” to link these disparate groups and individuals and to help direct information flow.
“Any kind of centralization is a weakness. If all this information had to be aggregated and dispensed by one person or one location, it would assuredly fail,” Vlad asserts as one of a loosely-affiliated covey of some 200 tech-savvy volunteers.
Will this be picked up by mainstream media — or go unnoticed?
Occupiers see MSM and its influence or effect on either Occupy or this day of action to be minimal. As Vlad describes it, “At first in Zuccotti Park they tried to ignore us. That was a mistake, because it gave us an opportunity to define ourselves rather than be defined.” The march against Monsanto “will be a strengthening of that self-definition.”
Whatever is said or written about the May 25 event through corporate-controlled media — positive or negative — will be offset or corrected by citizen journalists who are putting their own “feet on the street” to document what really happens and not just what is being reported on.
In short, an exponentially-growing population of citizens will have access to facts and field reports and not just carefully edited talking points intersticed between commercials.
“This will give us — again — the opportunity to occupy public space and discuss our (collective) future,” Vlad declares. “Just Google Monsanto Strike May 25,” he directs, and then provides two of his own key sites to visit: http://www.MonsantoMarch.org which provides a map — a sea of red and blue dots — signifying participating cities, and FB site (MarchAgainstMonsanto) which claims over 81,000 members and provides a spreadsheet of local and international events.
Whither goest thou, Occupy?
One of the many charges leveled against the Occupy movement was that it lacked a central theme or “demand.” Given the number of wrongs that Occupiers have railed against over time, this is an understandable but irrelevant question. Occupy questions it all: fracking, women’s rights, workers rights, indigenous issues, immigration, free speech, corporate personhood, Hurricane Sandy, banking evils, and on and on.
What will be demonstrated in at least this one occasion is that Occupy is non pareil in its ability to awaken, inform and inspire the citizenry to mobilize anywhere and everywhere against specific illegal — even immoral — corporate and governmental actions. Monsanto is the flashpoint.
It is this March Against Monsanto action which will confirm Occupy’s political and social relevance beyond Zuccotti Park. On this one day, especially, it intends to be a very, very large and powerful megaphone likely to answer the questions about Monsanto voiced by a blogger:
Why do they need to be protected from the law? Why are they putting themselves above the law? And who are these politicians that are willing to just do what they are told to do because of the money they are receiving from these huge companies?
I suspect that a number of my readers may show and be seen as part of that answer.
Been to Occupy Wall Street?
If you’ve been to an Occupy Wall Street event anywhere in the country, we’d like to hear from you. Send OfftheBus your photos, links to videos or first-hand accounts of what you’ve seen for possible inclusion in The Huffington Posts’s coverage.
Most religions have one or two unusual practices or devices but occasionally you find one which is just completely weird. This list contains ten of the more unusual things found in modern religions.
1. Mormom Temple Garments Wikipedia
In some denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, the temple garment (or the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, or informally, the garment or garments) is a set of sacred underclothing worn by adult adherents who have taken part in a ritual ceremony known as washing and anointing ordinance, usually in a temple as part of the Endowment ceremony. Adherents consider them to be sacred and may be offended by public discussion of the garments. Anti-Mormon activists have publicly displayed or defaced temple garments to show their opposition to the LDS Church.
According to generally-accepted Mormon doctrine, the marks in the garments are sacred symbols (Buerger 2002, p. 58). One proposed element of the symbolism, according to early Mormon leaders, was a link to the “Compass and the Square”, the symbols of freemasonry (Morgan 1827, pp. 22-23), to which Joseph Smith (creator of Mormonism) had been initiated about seven weeks prior to his introduction of the Endowment ceremony.
An E-meter is an electronic device manufactured by the Church of Scientology at their Gold Base production facility. It is used as an aid by Dianetics and Scientology counselors and counselors-in-training in some forms of auditing, the application of the techniques of Dianetics and Scientology to another or to oneself for the express purpose of addressing spiritual issues.
E-meter sessions are conducted by church employees known as auditors. Scientology materials traditionally refer to the subject as the “preclear,” although auditors continue to use the meter well beyond the clear level. The preclear holds a pair of cylindrical electrodes (“cans”) connected to the meter while the auditor asks the preclear a series of questions and notes both the verbal response and the activity of the meter. Auditor training describes many types of needle movements, with each having their own special significance.
A 1971 ruling of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (333 F. Supp. 357), specifically stated, “The E-meter has no proven usefulness in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, nor is it medically or scientifically capable of improving any bodily function.”
3. Exorcism Cogitz
Exorcism is the practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed (taken control of). The practice is quite ancient and still part of the belief system of many religions, though it is seen mostly in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Solemn exorcisms, according to the Canon law of the church, can only be exercised by an ordained priest (or higher prelate), with the express permission of the local bishop, and only after a careful medical examination to exclude the possibility of mental illness. The Catholic Encyclopaedia (1908) enjoined: “Superstition ought not to be confounded with religion, however much their history may be interwoven, nor magic, however white it may be, with a legitimate religious rite”.
Kaparot is a traditional Jewish religious ritual that takes place around the time of the High Holidays. Classically, it is performed by grasping a live chicken by the sholder blades and moving around one’s head three times, symbolically transferring one’s sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor, preferably eaten at the pre-Yom Kippur feast. In modern times, Kapparos is performed in the traditional form mostly in Haredi communities. The ritual is preceded by the reading of Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24.
On the eve of Yom Kippur 2005, more than 200 caged chickens were abandoned in rainy weather as part of a Kaparot operation in Brooklyn, NY; some of these starving and dehydrated chickens were subsequently rescuedby the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Jacob Kalish, an Orthodox Jew from Williamsburg, was charged with animal cruelty for the drowning deaths of 35 of these chickens. In response to such reports of the mistreatment of chickens, animal rights organizations have begun to picket public observances of kaparot, particularly in Israel.
5. Shamanism Wikipedia
Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism. Its practitioners claim the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering and, in some societies, the ability to cause suffering. This is believed to be accomplished by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits.
Shamans have been credited with the ability to control the weather, divination, the interpretation of dreams, astral projection, and traveling to upper and lower worlds. Shamans were used in Tibetan Buddhism as a form of divination by which the Dalai Lama was given prophesies of the future and advice.
6. Dowry Wikipedia
This is a cultural practice rather than a religious one. The practice of dowry exists across India. Despite laws against it, the practice continues. The girl child’s dowry and wedding expenses often sends her family into a huge debt trap. As consumerism and wealth increase in India, dowry demands are growing. In rural areas, families sell their land holdings, while the urban poor sell their houses.
To curb the practice of dowry, the government of India made several laws detailing severe punishment to anyone demanding dowry and a law in Indian Penal Code (Section 498A) has been introduced. While it gives boost to a woman and her family, it in the same time also put a man and his family in a great disadvantage. Misuse of this law by women in urban India and many incidents of extortion of money from the husband done by the wife and her family (this is called sowry) have come to light.
7. Mormon Baptism of the Dead Wikipedia
Baptism for the dead, vicarious baptism or proxy baptism is a religious practice of baptising a living person on behalf of an individual who is dead; the living person is acting as the deceased person’s proxy. It has been practiced since 1840 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where it is also called temple baptism because it is performed only in dedicated temples.
In the practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a living person, acting as proxy, is baptized by immersion on behalf of a deceased person of the same gender. The baptism ritual is as follows: after calling the living proxy by name, the person performing the baptism says, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and in behalf of [full name of deceased person], who is dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The proxy is then immersed briefly in the water. Baptism for the dead is a distinctive ordinance of the church and is based on the belief that baptism is a required ordinance for entry into the Kingdom of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vicariously baptizes people regardless of race, sex, or creed. This includes both victims and perpetrators of genocide. Some Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their supporters have objected to this practice.
8. Jainist Digambaras Wikipedia
Digambar also spelled Digambara is one of the two main sects of Jainism. Senior Digambar monks wear no clothes, following the practice of Lord Mahavira. They do not consider themselves to be nude — they are wearing the environment. Digambaras believe that this practice represents a refusal to give in to the body’s demands for comfort and private property — only Digambara ascetics are required to forsake clothing. Digambara ascetics have only two possessions: a peacock feather broom and a water gourd.
The native Jain communities of Maharashta, Bundelkhand (MP/UP), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu are all Digambaras. In north India, the Saravagis and the Agrawals are also Digambaras. In Gujarat and Southern Rajasthan, the majority of Jains follow the Svetambara tradition, although some Jain communities of these regions like the Humad are also Digambaras.
9. Islamic Niqab (?????) Wikipedia
A niqab is a veil which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijab. It is popular in the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf but it can also be found in North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
The niqab is regarded differently by the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence known as madhahab. Some see it as obligatory, or fard , while others see it as recommended, or mustahab, and a few see it as forbidden. The majority of scholars believe hijab is required, but only a few see niqab as required, although this is not the common perception among the general population.
10. Jehovah’s Witnesses Refusal of Blood Transfusions Wikipedia
A fundamental doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaches that the Bible prohibits consumption, storage and transfusion of blood, including in cases of emergency. This doctrine was introduced in 1945, and has been elaborated upon since then. Although accepted by a majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, evidence indicates a minority does not wholly endorse this doctrine. Facets of the doctrine have drawn praise and criticism from both members of the medical community and Jehovah’s Witnesses alike.
In 1964, Jehovah’s Witnesses were prohibited from obtaining transfusions for pets, from using fertilizer containing blood, and were even encouraged to write to dog food manufacturers to verify that their products were blood-free. Later that year, Jehovah’s Witnesses doctors and nurses were instructed to withhold blood transfusions from fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses. As to administering transfusions to non-members, The Watchtower stated that such a decision is “left to the Christian doctor’s own conscience.”
Following the misery inflicted on Islam by a toy bear that ended up with calls for the execution of an English woman for blasphemy, more Muslims are stepping forward with stories of long-suppressed emotional trauma imposed on them by so-called reality.
This has led to the creation of support groups and social networks that help followers of the Prophet Mohammed cope with the agony of learning about life outside of their immediate environment, offering assistance with technical resources, practical guidance, and strategies for early intervention and punishment of those who offend Islam.
“I have always been offended by rubber ducks,” says Mahmud Said of Portland, Oregon. “For a long time I felt stigmatized and inadequate, until one day I decided to write about it on an Internet forum. I received hundreds of heart-felt emails – from Morocco to Indonesia. It turns out that thousands of Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 35 have had traumatic experiences with rubber ducks.
“We started a support group that has grown to 10,000 members. Not only do we share horrifying rubber duck stories, we also try to increase public awareness by sabotaging the world supply of rubber ducks, setting fire to factories, abducting rubber duck distributors, and intimidating retailers. These are building blocks for our healthy future. With Allah as my witness, our public awareness campaign will soon result in a completely rubber-duck-free world.”
Abdullah Sharif had just turned 35 when the Mohammed cartoon controversy suddenly broke out. It left him so emotionally scarred that he developed an aversion to representative art in all its forms. He often found himself shrieking while passing comics in a bookstore window, or seeing the funnies in the local newspaper. But while Abdullah had formerly been considered just another oddball, thanks to social networking, he is now a successful leader of an international charitable organization working for the betterment of humankind through imposing of Sharia law on the infidels.
His group covers a wide range of activities, from occasional riots, bombings, and beating of newspaper editors to writing threatening letters to the Cartoon Network. “One true believer may be a nutcase, but together we are the fastest growing religion on Earth, making the important cultural shift to a more Islam-dominated society that benefits both the true believers and the lowly kufir,” boasts Abdullah. He recently moved to a new home in Malibu and is touring the world on a private Lear Jet.
Studies conducted by mental health professionals have shown that Muslim men and women are often offended by the most unexpected items, including baby rattles, hummingbirds, home appliances, or geographical maps with polar ice caps. On the top ten list of the most offensive things are rectal thermometers and the word “allometric,” which many consider an underhanded insult to Allah.
Every such grievance is being thoroughly documented and acted upon by support groups and mental health providers, such as CAIR, that help victims to overcome their stress and anxiety by filing costly lawsuits against private institutions and government agencies.
The typical case involved a visitor from Egypt to Brooklyn, NY, who was offended by the sight of a cumulus cloud over Atlantic Avenue in the shape of the Arabic letter “A.” By organizing protests and putting pressure on mass media, a network of Muslim groups and charities succeeded in forcing a Brooklyn judge to award the offended man $150,000 in damages, to be paid by the National Meteorological Agency. The Agency is the government body the Muslim groups deemed most responsible for regulating the proper distribution of water molecules over the New York metropolitan area.
Among the most bizarre cases is a lawsuit filed by religious and community leaders who claim that they are being unfairly targeted by gamma rays, neutrinos, and other forms of cosmic radiation. According to plaintiffs, the problem started immediately after they had complained to authorities about the disproportionately tangled shape of the Galactic magnetic field. Government agencies were fast to express dismay and sympathy for the victims, but none were willing to accept responsibility, and it seems they are playing a cynical game of administrative football with neutrino sufferers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on national governments to provide financial backing for the network of Muslim self-help groups, twelve-step healing programs, and training camps, creating an environment that is more supportive and empowering for sufferers of Offended Muslim Syndrome (OMS).
“Being a Muslim today means to be always aware that something, somewhere, is somehow offensive to Islam,” said a report issued by WHO, a specialized agency of the UN that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. “It is a shame to see the wealthiest nations of the world stingily hold on to their pockets in the face of the largest epidemic of reality-induced psychological disorder in human history.”
The WHO report provides a list of symptoms of the Offended Muslim Syndrome, suggesting that the condition be officially recognized as a disability, with the ensuing costs covered by Western governments. The report also includes advice and recommendations by leading UN-affiliated health professionals:
Symptoms of Offended Muslim Syndrome (OMS)
Irritability, agitation, anxiety at the sight of women who are not fully covered
Prolonged rage or unexplained killing sprees
Significant changes in immigration patterns
Brooding about the past glory of the Caliphate
Decreased effectiveness and minimal work productivity
Difficulty in understanding new information without a trial lawyer
Feelings of despair or hopelessness about the existence of Israel
Recurring thoughts of death to the infidels
In order to guard against OMS, health officials warn individuals who are at risk to make sure that the objective reality they are exposed to does not:
Make them aware of the outside world
Trigger curiosity about the Western notions of “logic” or “rationality”
Make life more enjoyable
Cause them to question the need for martyrdom
Have side effects such as independent thinking and longing to live as a productive individual
Create an illusion that communication with infidels is possible without hostage-taking
Spontaneously developed methods and techniques are already in place to help OMS sufferers: the Paris Youth Group, the Gaza System, the Beirut Procedure, and, of course, the Zawahiri Method – an easy-to-learn, do-it-yourself way to eliminate anxiety whenever you find anything offensive, by removing any negative thought or feeling below the neck of the offending party.
This method has proven to be particularly effective in breaking the patterns of thought and behavior among non-Muslims, whose very existence is suspected to be the leading cause of pain of anxiety afflicting the Muslim world.
Former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world Mike Tyson is said to be ‘feeling fine’ after undergoing successful gender reassignment surgery at a clinic near Beverley Hills. Once known as ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’, the Brooklyn-born boxer told reporters that having his first menstrual cycle ‘would be a dream come true’, and that from now on he would be known as Michelle.
‘Some people might think it strange that I’m now a woman,’ said former rapist Tyson, who underwent complete facial feminization, orbital bone contouring and nasal surgery in an operation lasting over 16 hours. ‘But even at the height of my career, when pound for pound I was regarded as the best fighter in the world, I never lost touch with my feminine side and knew that one day I would grow breasts and have a vagina.’
Iron Mike – or Iron Maiden as he now likes to be called – was given the all-clear for gender reassignment surgery following a successful course in hormone replacement therapy which, in his autobiography, the boxer blamed for his 1996 defeat at the hands of Evander Holyfield. Although at the time Tyson insisted he was fit enough to carry on with the fight, referee Mitch Halpern stopped the bout in the 11th round saying Tyson looked flushed, was sweating profusely and appeared to be lactating heavily from his left breast.
Tyson, wearing a blonde wig and looking relaxed in blue jeans and a Vanessa Bruno T-shirt, today said he hoped having a clitoris would finally convince the American people that his ‘bad-boy’ days were over and he had turned over a new leaf. ‘I’m even keeping my surgically removed penis in a jar by my bedside to remind me what those sick perverts did to us pretty boys in prison.’
Although boxing commentators were initially stunned by Tyson’s revelation, many have admitted the signs were there. ‘In hindsight, he had shown a fondness for dressing up in gloves, long leather boots and silk gowns, and he always had a really close interest in earrings.’
Lower Manhattan goes dark during hurricane Sandy, on Monday, as seen from Brooklyn, N.Y. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain.
John Minchillo / AP
Water floods the Ground Zero construction site on Monday in New York after Sandy came ashore to the south.
Vehicles are submerged on 14th Street near the Consolidated Edison power plant, Monday, in New York.
Rising water, caused by Sandy, rushes into a subterranean parking garage, Monday, in the Financial District of New York City.
Here’s another shot that is said to be 14th Street and Avenue C: