Domestic Insecurity: Detroit is Ground Zero in this recession

I’m blogging from Detroit, where you can feel the ressesion as you drive down the street. Passing row after row of shopping centers with partial occupancy, homes in forclosure, abandonded projects, roads in neglect, population depletion – and that is in the suburbs.

Downtown is a horrific mess of hulking abandoned buildings, empty lots where homes and businesses once stood, and thousands of down and out people on the streets. Its like a movie about the Great Depression. Detroit is Ground Zero in the economic downturn, representing everything that has gone terribly wrong.

Thomas Friedman in the NY Times makes the argument that our own domestic insecurity is much more damaging than any perceived or real external enemy:

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry….

We’re at a 34-year low. And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about — even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq. We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best.

Nothing else matters.

Some of the “bold policies” we need are enforcing laws to prevent corporate greed from running this country, mitigating the materialism that has decayed the American dream, and fixing an education system that cannot teach the majority of Americans the basics they need.

America – Detroit is the canary in the coal mine and we are in deep trouble.

Check out more pictures on Forgotten Detroit.

Guy Ritchie: Spill the beans on the Kabbalah Centre

It is not suprising that Guy Ritchie dumped the Kabbalah Center – what is suprising is that it took him so long to figure out that it was fleecing him with a fake religion. Inevitably, Madonna and Ritchie have to split because the cult business advises its adherents to dump spouses that don’t practice its voodoo. As the Sun writes:

GUY RITCHIE and MADONNA’s marriage has been thrown deeper into meltdown after he told her he’s quitting Kabbalah.

Madge has become increasingly involved with the mystical Jewish religion, but her film director husband is a step closer to hitting the road after losing his faith….

Now a source close to the couple has revealed: “Guy has turned his back on Kabbalah once and for all.

“He has gone hot and cold on the religion in the past, but now he’s given up on it altogether. It has always been her thing and is more a part of her life than ever. “

Notice they call it a religion. Anyway, Ritchie now can do the right thing and spill the beans. 20/20, Radar, BBC and others have uncovered the unseemly truth behind this imposter religious leader and his minions. [Wow that sentence might be tough enough to get a letter from their lawyers.] Ritchie had access to the highest echelons and must have some damning stuff. But then again he wants to see his kids again. They have three kids together and his dumping on her high-priest many harm him in divorce court.

So will the Madonna Ritchi Split endanger the Kabob center? Most likely no, but it does offer us another opportunity to remind everyone of this not-harmless brainwashing cult business lurking in our backyard.


The Israeli Cheetah: Haile Satayin

I am not a sports editor, yet, but here it goes.

With some of the world’s greatest marathon runners saying they will not compete because of the pollution – the field is wide open. One of the most unusual runners that hopes to compete is Israeli marathon runner Haile Satayin. He is 48, Ethiopian, and Israeli. He finished 20th at the Athens Olympics four years ago.

Linda Gradstein from NPR reports has a great report which you can listen to:

Israeli marathon runner Haile Satayin will be one of the oldest athletes at the Beijing Olympics.

He immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia. While his passport says he’s 53, he says he’s only 48.

Most days, Satayin gets up around 4:30 a.m. and runs at least a half-marathon before it gets too hot. His favorite running spot is a forest on the edge of the town of Hadera in central Israel.

Watching Satayin run is a little like watching a cheetah — his loping strides seem effortless, and you don’t realize how fast he’s going. But one of his running partners, Dror Haziza, uses a different analogy.

Haziza says Satayin has a special style.

“He just flows. There’s no resistance at all. Sometimes I feel that I’m fighting to run, but with him there’s no fight,” he says. “It just comes naturally. When he runs with us, the whole group gets to a new level.”

He also lives in poverty along with more than 20 percent of Israel’s population.

Satayin lives with his wife and eight children in a small apartment in a rundown section of Hadera, populated mostly by Ethiopian immigrants. On the second floor of a four-story building, the apartment has three tiny bedrooms, a cramped living room and a kitchen. On a shelf above a bunk bed in one of the children’s rooms are dozens of trophies he won in competitions.

Perhaps he can lead a Birthright Marathon Runners Themed Trip each year to supplement his income?

We will keep an eye on Satayin.

Jews and the Flood

Inspired by Tamar Fox’s report on Jewcy.

As the Iowa Flooding recedes, Jews are helping:

* Chabad has been distributing sandwiches and food, helping build sand-bag walls and other relief work. They set up a website to collect donations for there flood relief efforts. In the capital city of Des Moines, hundreds of people converged on the Maccabee’s Deli Tuesday to make 5,000 sandwiches and stuff brown bags full of food for thousands of Iowa residents now living in emergency shelters.

* Iowa’s Jewish communities are holding up well, but they anticipate needing help in the near future. Synagogues in Mason City and Dubuque have taken on water, and will likely need money and supplies once the waters have receded and they can clean up. The Jewish Federation in Des Moines is accepting contributions to be distributed for general flood relief, wherever it may do the most good. You may send a check, earmarked “Flood Relief” to the Jewish Federation, 910 Polk Boulevard, Des Moines, IA, 50312.

* University of Iowa Hillel is talking about organizing a volunteer rebuilding trip in late summer when the waters have receded and damage has been assessed. If you’re interested in such a trip, contact the University of Iowa Hillel. The school suffered damage to at least twenty buildings – after school had finished for the year.

* A handful of companies contributed the food, including the kosher meat packer Agriprocessors, which provided some 1,000 pounds of meat. I was told they will be doing more for flood victims in an effort to improve their battered image – which is good news.