It seems, there are many people, who contribute or frequent the RP website, who claim to be progressive Democrats or politically define themselves as “on the left”. I have my doubts!
Here’s is my test to see if you really are operationally and ideologically “the left”
You can test yourself for compliance using my 12 Point Platform:
1. A Living Wage
2. Medicare for all
3. Tax the Rich
4. Job or Income Guarantee
5. Debt Jubilee
6. Retirement Security
7. Post Office Bank
8. Enforce the Bill of Rights
9. End the Wars
10. Food Sustainability
11. Clean Air and Water
12. Carbon Negative Economy
Supporting the 12 Points, and necessary to pass, implement, and sustain them, are 12 Reforms:
1. Net Neutrality
2. Fairness Doctrine
3. Local Ownership of Media
4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Electoral Integrity
6. Self-organized web-based citizen deliberation
7. MMT Macro-economic Policies
8. Preserve and Expand the Commons
9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations
11. Fiat Justitia. Ruat Caelum
10. Strategic Non-Violence
12. Points and Reforms Are Indivisible
Finally, to explain, revise, or extend the 12 Points and 12 Reforms, One value:
The One Value
1. Public Purpose.
My test is a work in progress. Google searching may be required to answer. What are your results? Suggestions for list improvement are welcomed.
Gary Yarus is a freelance writer, a student of political movements, an escapee from the duopoly, a progressive populist, a Green Party pro-democracy advocate, who is committing a revolutionary act as the publisher/editor/curator of an online magazine, devoted to democracy, ecology, peace and social justice called “The Beacon” (http://bit.ly/TheBeacon ). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LivingIF is filled with “world’s ____” sights. We’ve covered the superlatives and self-professed rankings time and again, highlighting local pride points, and sometimes even writing about the world’s largest something, just to visit an even larger one somewhere else (i.e. the 17+ world’s largest Buddhas we’ve seen). Most of the time, these sights are pretty impressive, even if they are not as world class as they claim. The lucky few are actually the world’s biggest/tallest/deepest/highest-altitude and beautiful enough to write about. The Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt flat, does not disappoint in size, spectacle or superlatives.
EPIC. Situated on the Bolivian side of the Bolivia-Chile Border, the vast Salar de Uyuni separates more than just countries. It separates cultures, with progressive and relatively-rich Chile on one side and indigenous, impoverished Bolivia on the other. It also separates geology, with the world’s driest desert on the Chilean side and the rugged crest of the Andes on the Bolivian side giving way to the Amazon Basin. Due to the location, geology and history, traveling through the salt flats, usually en route from one country to another, is an epic 3-day trip.
UNIQUE. Having seen photos and heard stories from friends that had visited previously, I thought I understood how unique the Salar is. Seeing it was another matter. I really don’t think there is anything quite like it. From the size to the surprising variety of colorful sights, I was thoroughly in awe. Arriving from Chile the first days are spent crossing the high-altitude Atacama Desert. This area is one of the world’s richest mineral producing regions with copper, silver, gold and lithium deposits, creating unexpectedly colored lakes and rock formations. The uniqueness of the Salar will cause those who think geology is boring to rethink their disinterest.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Superlative-Worthy Salar de Uyuni
If you’re as old as I am, or a devotee of topical comedy songs, you might be familiar with Tom Lehrer’s song, “Pollution,” in which tourists were advised, when visiting the US, “don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air.” Which was making fun of the traditional advice to American tourists visiting other countries, advice which is still given regarding many destinations. (And rightly so in some cases – apparently journalists covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi received notes in their hotel rooms warning them not to drink the tap water or put it on their faces because it ‘contained something bad’ and was a dark yellow color. Some news anchors compared it to the color of beer, although as Jon Stewart pointed it, it looked more like ‘the result of beer.’ But I digress . . . )
No matter what we experience overseas, we expect safe water here in the US, so when it turns into gray sludge (like in North Carolina’s recent coal-ash spill) or smells like licorice (West Virginia’s chemical spill), it attracts quite a bit of attention. We are used to trusting our senses – if it looks or smells funny, we aren’t reassured by public health officials saying the water is fine (just not for pregnant women). Apparently regulations in those areas were so lax, no one had any idea that the pipes or storage tanks were going to fail. Sure, we can have a civilized debate over the best ways to regulate toxic chemical storage – but when several counties in two different states have either gray sludge or licorice water coming out of their faucets, we know something is definitely wrong! So I guess it’s time for a new song about tainted water . . .
Oman is a country that wasn’t our radar before we booked a flight to the UAE. Then our friends told us we had to visit Oman while in the area…how right they were! It was a highlight of our time in the region. We were intrigued by the mystery of a country covered in sand with reportedly gorgeous beaches, incredible hiking and a goat market that has to be seen to be believed. Oman delivered on all counts! Better yet, it was easy to get to from the UAE.
DON’T MISS: The Friday goat market in Nizwa.
MUST SEE: Nizwa’s old souk, Wadi Shab and Muscat.
MUST TASTE: Hummus and meat…think about it…it’s as decadent and delicious as it sounds!
TRIP PLANNING: Plan on at least a week to enjoy this beautiful country.
GETTING AROUND: Rent a car, there’s no way around it as there is no public transportation, however make sure you have the correct insurance if you are renting a car from the UAE.
OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $123.22. Half of which was the car rental from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
COST OF A BEER: Let us know if you get your hands on some in this beer desert (literally and figuratively).
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Fill up your car in Oman as the gas is so cheap!
YOU NEED TO KNOW: It is hot and dry, even if you are in an air-conditioned car you’ll want a stash of water.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would have budgeted many more days to explore Oman and do some hiking.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: Wikitravel, Nizwa goat market information.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Oman
Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 meters (16,000 ft) and one of the most fascinating places we have visited on our trip. The incredible spirituality and devotion of the Tibetan Buddhists just add to the intrigue of this region. Nestled among the Himalayas the location is stunning and a place you have to see to believe.
DON’T MISS: Potala Palace, one of the most spectacular palaces on earth.
MUST SEE: Mt. Everest, Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse
MUST TASTE: Yak butter tea, though you may not like the taste. It’s a staple of the Tibetan diet, but is definitely an acquired taste.
TRIP PLANNING: Traveling to Tibet is strictly controlled, foreign visitors must arrange a tour through a licensed company. Read this to learn how to visit Tibet.
GETTING AROUND: We recommend using a full service tour agency for visiting the key sights in Lhasa and getting from city to city, this will save a lot of headache and time lost setting up guides, drivers and permits.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Tibet
Thailand needs no introduction. It is one of the most visited places in Asia because it offers a well-preserved culture, some of the most delicious food on earth and stunningly beautiful beaches to boot. Being a tourist mecca it offers well-established, comfortable and affordable transportation. The downside of being a tourist mecca, is that affordable areas are loud and crowded. While it is true that you can find better beaches, trekking and culture elsewhere in Asia, nowhere is it more accessible, affordable or tasty as Thailand. Thailand should be the first stop on anyone’s Southeast Asian itinerary.
DON’T MISS: Bangkok, it is one of Asia’s great cities with some of the world’s best food and has many historic sights within the city limits.
MUST SEE: Andaman (such as Koh Phi Phi) and Gulf of Thailand Islands (such as Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan), Muay Thai boxing, Chattachuk Market, play with tigers at the Tiger Temple (Kanchanaburi), world’s most interesting temple(Chiang Rai), and the ancient temples of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya
MUST TASTE: Everything sold by street vendors, especially the freshly made fruit juices.
TRIP PLANNING: The beaches/islands can be enjoyed in as little as a week, but plan on two weeks if you want to island hop. The north (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai) can take 1-2 weeks depending on the trekking, cooking classes andmuay thai you want to see. Bangkok is worth 3-4 days itself, including the Chattachuk Market and Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall…then again, you may want to stay a week to enjoy some of the world’s best cheap food! GETTING AROUND: Buses and mini-vans. Get used to traveling at uncomfortable speeds in a full mini-van.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: Thailand
The land of Hobbits and sheep shaggers, New Zealand is an outdoor lover’s paradise. From volcanic mountains to lush fjords those seeking solitude can find it throughout the sparsely populated and beautiful country. For those that the epic landscapes aren’t enough, New Zealand has developed into the world’s leader in adventure activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping and Zorbing. For those with more refined tastes New Zealand has beautiful wine regions complete with vineyards, restaurants and inns. Located even more down under than the land down under, traveling here requires a time commitment, but will reward visitors.
DON’T MISS: The Great Walks (we hiked Abel Tasman Coastal Track, Milford Track and Routeburn Track), they worth the time and money to enjoy some of the world’s best scenery.
MUST SEE: Tangariro Crossing, Franz Josef Glacier, Abel Tasman National Park, Milford Sound, Routeburn Track in Southern Alps.
MUST TASTE: Ferg Burger in Queenstown, featuring massive burgers made from any meat you want. Make sure to stop by the next door Ferg Bakery and savor their meat pies, hands down the best meat pies we had in both Australia and New Zealand.
TRIP PLANNING: New Zealand is a small country, but if you want to enjoy their world famous hikes plan for at least a month.
GETTING AROUND: Naked Bus, by far the cheapest and easiest option, we would recommend purchasing a “passport” that allows you to change your itinerary for no cost. Contrary to everything you read, don’t rent or buy a car as the cost for gas alone is astronomical.
OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $66.77
COST OF A BEER: $3 from a liquor store, $6 at a bar. A six-pack at a liquor store costs at least $15 NZD, making New Zealand a pricey place to be a drinker. Wine is much more affordable at under $10 a bottle.
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Just like Australia Couchsurfing was a great tool, but the biggest money saver was traveling by bus instead of renting/buying a vehicle.
Read the rest of…
Erica & Matt Chua: New Zealand
The land down-under, a sunburned country, home of deadly animals, no matter what you call it, Australia is known for many things. No matter what your expectations, Australia will impress you, with cosmopolitan cities, untouched wilderness and rich marine life. It is a country that many visitors fall in love with and rightly so, with something for everyone. To see and understand it though, takes a commitment of time, money and, of course, getting to the most remote continent. The rewards of making the trip are worth it, but make sure to plan and prepare your trip lest you be surprised by the $20 USD 6-packs of beer, $4 coffees, and $22 fish and chips.
DON’T MISS: Tasmania, it is one of the few places we’ve ever visited and wanted to call home.
MUST SEE: Great barrier reef, Great Ocean Road, wineries near Adelaide, and the fabulous cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
MUST TASTE: Pavlova and meat pie.
TRIP PLANNING: Australia is huge, it takes at least a few weeks to visit the key sights (Great Barrier Reef, Great Ocean Road, Melbourne and Sydney). If you want to see any more of the country plan for at least a month.
GETTING AROUND: Virgin Blue Airpass, for as little as $90 a flight, you can fly from city to city in Australia. Once you land in a city renting a car is a good option as an economy car for the day costs the same as the airport bus/train links to the city centers.
OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $123.76, the most expensive country we’ve visited on this trip.
COST OF A BEER: $3 from a liquor store, $6 at a bar. A six-pack at a liquor store costs at least $18 AUD, making Australia probably the most expensive Western country to buy beer in. Wine is much more accessible at under $10 a bottle.
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Couchsurfing. We paid for accommodation three of 31 days as we couchsurfed, this not only saved money, but allowed us to meet locals, see interesting places, and have a lot of fun.
YOU NEED TO KNOW: Airport transfers are ridiculous, it cost us about $60 AUD (round-trip) for the both of us to get between the airport and most Australian cities. If you need a car in any of the cities rent them from the airport and save the excessive transportation cost to the city.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would have given ourselves more time to visit Perth, Ayer’s rock, Darwin and to just slow down. Four weeks was not enough to comfortably see all we did.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: Aussie money savers, tips to free things to do in Australia, Australia’s best wineries, Australia Tourism Board (they have exceptional information), Wikitravel Australia, Virgin Blue Airpass. Any suggestions? Please let us know by sending them our way!
WE WERE THERE FOR: Four weeks.
OUR HIGHLIGHT: Tasmania.
WHERE WE WENT: Sydney, Townsville/Magnetic Island (Great Barrier Reef), Brisbane, Tasmania, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Adelaide
WE REGRET MISSING: The Outback. Had we known that there were affordable tours such as these, we would have made the trip up to Ayer’s rock.
Last week, The Recovering Politician was proud to break the news that University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey and University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto each joined the growing list of college and university leaders (192 and counting) who have denounced the American Studies Association’s pernicious academic boycott of Israel. (Read about it here.)
Here’s Ramsey’s statement; and here’s Capilouto’s statement.
Today, we are proud to share a letter written by Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell — to a proud WKU graduate studying in Israel — joining the anti-boycott chorus.
Thank you President Ransdell!
Congratulations on your move to Israel and your acceptance to Tel Aviv University’s MBA program. What an outstanding achievement for you! You are a wonderful example of why it is so important that WKU students have a global context to their education and why we strive to ensure that our graduates have the confidence to travel, live and work in other nations and cultures. I appreciate your thoughtful message regarding the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli universities. Your note prompted me to look deeper into this issue. As a University President I cannot condone or support a boycott of Israel or any nation’s higher education enterprise. Academic freedom is a core value of higher education and must be sustained. At WKU we have opened our doors to all nationalities and continually work to encourage our students and faculty to study in other nations. Such a boycott is counterproductive and impedes the very thing that must occur to create peace among nations – conversation, understanding and respect. So indeed, I will join the nearly 200 college and university presidents who have rejected the idea of this boycott. Thank you for your note. I’m so glad to know that your WKU experience was a great one and prepared you well. I wish you much success. Continue to spread that WKU Spirit wherever you go! Go Big Red! Gary
Japan is what the world could be, if we all worked a lot harder. For example, Tokyo is home to more than 30 million people, yet the streets are cleaner than restaurants in the USA. The food chain is so trusted that meat, included beef and horse, is consumed raw. Rush hour traffic is orderly, composed and quiet. The grass is so green and pristine that it looks fake. The trains run on the second, show up at 12:00:07 and you missed your train. When you have a Japanese person explain why things are the way they are you can’t help but laugh and think, “Yeah, that makes so much sense…why is it done differently at home?” While many things are lost in translation, understanding the order and practicality of Japan is a wonderful experience.
DON’T MISS: Nara, imagine traditional Japan hundreds of years ago, what you are imagining is Nara.
MUST SEE: Raw meat restaurants in Tokyo; Harajuku and Yoyogi Park (Tokyo) on Sundays to see people wearing crazy clothes such as “cosplay” and the Dancing Elvises; Arashiyama hill and forest temples (near Kyoto); Shinjuku (Tokyo) at Night.
MUST TASTE: Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market…really sushi anywhere and everywhere in Japan.
TRIP PLANNING A week is enough to see the major sights of Tokyo and Kyoto, but 10-14 days would make the trip much more enjoyable.
GETTING AROUND: Trains. The train system, especially intra-city, is among the world’s best. Avoid traveling during rush-hour.
OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $77.58 without accommodations (we Couchsurfed)
COST OF A BEER: $3 at 7-11.
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Take the bus instead of the train from Tokyo to Kyoto. We paid $36 each for the bus instead of over $160 for the bullet train. This was only possible because we had a Japanese speaker arrange it for us, so find a friend.
YOU NEED TO KNOW: Japan is expensive, think Switzerland expensive. Public transit often costs $2-4 USD a ride, a short taxi fare is $20, a meal rarely costs less than $20. That said, it’s all worth it, Japan is an amazing country.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would buy a Japan Rail Pass and travel extensively through the country. It would have cost a lot more than what we did, but allowed us to see a lot more than we did.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: How to travel Japan inexpensively. Is a Japan Rail Pass worth it? Free attractions in Kyoto. Please send us any sites you found useful and we’ll add them!
WE WERE THERE FOR: 3 weeks
OUR HIGHLIGHT: Couchsurfing with Takeshi in Tokyo and Masato in Arashiyama.
WHERE WE WENT: Tokyo, Arashiyama, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Mt. Fuji
WE REGRET MISSING: Okinawa and Hiroshima