March 2011

Protest for the Humane Treatment for Pfc. Bradley Manning

Whether Pfc Bradley Manning, who is accused of releasing classified documents to Wikileaks, is a hero or a villain, he is a human being. And deserves to be treated humanely. He is under U.S. custody, held at the military prison at Quantico, and allegedly has been subjected to physical tortures. Are the conditions of his imprisonment much different from those of political prisoners who have been accused of releasing information in police states?

I understand Pfc. Manning is no hero to the right-wing, to the US Army, to the entire Pentagon, or to many others in this country and around the world, but to many he has become a hero.

U.S. Wants Out of Libya as Quickly as Possible?

President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates want out of the Libyan mess as soon as possible. They didn't want to get drawn into it and were pushed to act by many of those who are now criticizing them, including the Arab League. Gates took the time to explain what the imposition of a no-fly zone would mean: the bombing of ground facilities to knock out air defenses, and air command and control. He emphasized that there would be casualties, and the arm chair warriors, here and in the Arab League, said: 'Do it, what are you waiting for, you should have done it already!' And so, the US and Britain launched the attack, and no sooner had the first rocket hit and the arm chair colonels began to scream and wail: 'Stop! You are killing people!'

There were many in this country too, who were calling for bloodless military force being imposed on Gadhafi. Bloodless military force.

And at any time, at any place, during any war, as soon as rockets are fired by Western powers on a Muslim land, one can expect the Arab Street, including the pro-democracy crowd, to denounce America and the West. And scream, 'You're only doing it for the oil!'

Question, wasn't Gadhafi selling the West oil? Yes?

What is the Origin of the Political “Left” and “Right”?

There is a general and popular division of the political scene into Left and Right. The basic idea is that there is a political spectrum that you can use to explain political orientation with Left on one side of the political center and Right on the other. Everyone uses these terms but they are poorly defined and there are a lot of arguments about what they “really” mean. The political scene is so complicated in reality that there are a lot of additional terms appended to Left and Right to clarify positions such as the “New” Left or the “Far” right. Where did this use of Left and Right as applied to politics come from?

The inevitable: The majority supports gay marriage

As Vice President Joe Biden predicts, gay marriage or same sex marriage, is inevitable. And now according to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll, the majority of Americans, fifty three percent of respondents, thinks that same-sex marriage should be legalized, up from thirty two percent in 2004.

Opposition to gay marriage remains strong among seniors and among so-called social conservatives, but, according to the poll results, support for gay marriage has "grown sharply among others – notably, among Catholics, political moderates, people in their 30s and 40s and men."

What's Next for Gadhafi?

This afternoon President Obama joined the leaders of France and Britain in making it very clear that the West and the Arab League have no intention of allowing Moammar Gadhafi to win or to stay in power. President Obama set forth non-negotiable conditions that Gadhafi must immediately meet to avoid being pummelled by Western air power. Gadhafi must step down and stop all attacks on civilians and rebels. Although, Gadhafi had announced a cease fire it is clear that he does not want to step down, for it is too late to return the celebratory camel milk, which he brought a few days ago for his victory party.

Whose Side Are You On?

Us and Them is a great song by Pink Floyd from Dark Side of the Moon that deals with how people divide into groups that fight each other. George W Bush famously said of the War on Terror: “You are with us or against us.” We have all experienced being on the inside and the outside of various social groups. Kids learn about cliques in school. We seem to find any excuse we can including sex, age, wealth, religion, ideology, nationality, ethnic group, language, physical appearance, family, etc. to separate ourselves from one another.

Our group is always seen as better than the “others” in some important way. We may see ourselves are more generous, more deserving, more hard working, more patriotic, more spiritual, more moral, etc. than the “others”. Sometimes, we may even question whether the people who are not in our group are actually human. This sense of superiority then becomes the justification for ignoring, insulting, excluding, ostracizing, abusing, assaulting, and even killing those who are not members of our group.

Letter From a Japanese 10-Year-Old Girl

Obama-san,

 

My name is Reiko Yukihara and I am a 10-year-old student at Futsukaichi Elementary School in Kyushu Province. We were lucky in my town to have escaped the worst of the recent earthquakes and tsunami. My father even got to return to work at the Nissan plant this week. Though I am very grateful for my luck and the luck of my family, and I am also very appreciative of all the help you and your countrymen have been sending to our troubled nation, I am writing this letter to express some concerns.

Not So Fast Muammar Gadhafi

Just when Col. Muammar Gadhafi thought he was on his way to total victory and made his pre-victory television announcement and ordered camel milk for the party, the U.N. Security Council threw cold water on his celebration by approving a No-Fly Zone over Libya.

This afternoon the United Nations Security Council authorized "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians from harm at the hands of forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gadhafi. The UN. resolution allows not only a no-fly zone but effectively any measures short of a ground invasion to halt attacks that might result in civilian deaths.

Gadhafi is not liked by many more people other than his hired guns. The Arab League and the Europeans pushed for the measure.

An Open Letter to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Dear Governor Scott Walker,

You are but a couple months into your term as Governor of the great state of Wisconsin.  You obviously have an agenda, but a person must question your motives.  I’m not even sure what you’re doing could be considered Republican or conservative, for it would be an insult to those that hold those labels.  Just because you took action, are steadfast in your ways, and are passionate about how you do things doesn’t make it noble or right.  The world has had many leaders with those traits who thought what they were doing was right, but were entirely off base.  Your name is now on that list.  Your hard-line, no compromise stance on issues is really alienating the citizens of Wisconsin, and the way you introduced and passed the Budget Repair Bill was a disgrace to not only yourself, but your state, and your party.

Your victories, if you can call them that, may seem great for you in the very short-term, but your way of governing has no means for any long-term lasting effects.  Your controversial legislation not only enraged Democrats, but Republicans, as well.  You tried, with lies, to pit the private sector against the public sector, but the truth then came out, and you looked like a fool once again.  You attacked state employees, stripped them of their rights, and then went after education.  Maybe, however, it’s a simple difference in values, for many of the people in Wisconsin value education.  The teachers in your state especially value it, for they not only teach the children that will hold the future of your state, but also have something you do not have:  a college degree.

More Shameful Wisconsin Republican Actions

The Republicans in Wisconsin have got to be reeling.  Their lies are being discovered.  Their stance on issues, even though they are in the majority, put them in the minority in the realm of public opinion, and they are doing everything in their power to punish the Democratic Senators that left the state to try to delay the vote on the controversial Budget Repair Bill, which since has been passed.

Their angry rhetoric began scolding the Democratic Senators for leaving and not doing their job in Madison.  They then stripped everything "financial" out of the bill, and passed it without them.  The Democratic Senators have now returned, and instead of letting them do their job, as they once demanded, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald states that the returning Senators are still "in contempt," and due to that, will not be allowed to have valid votes in committees.

Walker's Ally Gets Caught 'Engaging' With Lobbyist

An elected official is always under a bit more scrutiny than your average Joe, and that is as they should be.  They're elected to represent their district, and always have the spotlight on them.  There was no bigger spotlight on elected officials than the past few weeks for the Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin.  Governor Scott Walker proposed and had the Republicans sneak through his Budget Repair Bill, while the Democratic Senators were in Illinois trying to prevent a vote.  Protests have been happening in record numbers throughout the state, but mainly have centered in the state's capitol in Madison.  Some reports state that over 100,000 people gathered last Sat

Earth Hour is March 26

While Earth Hour is an annual event aimed at raising awareness about the environment, our consumption, and how we treat our planet overall, it’s also a pretty fun yearly ritual. It’s the one day I have an actual excuse to turn off all of the lights, the power—pretty much everything but the fridge—and spend time in the dark with a few candles.

People From Southeast Kansas Must Be Homicidal Maniacs

That is, if we are to take what Kansas Republican Representative Virgil Peck says at face value. When Peck heard about how hunters use helicopters to shoot down wild swine in the wild (a practice that’s obviously despicable already), this is what he said:

“It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem.”

Wow. This elected official actually suggested that we shoot immigrants from helicopters like they’re wild swine. This is the kind of language we’re allowing our officials to use in this country.

Fall out from Japan?

The news of the mess in Japan gets worse. This morning, The New York Times reported that the plant leaking and venting radioactive steam could be doing so for months. There is still the possibility of a complete meltdown of the reactors radioactive core. The media is reporting, this morning, that a U.S. Government official, said that under the best scenarios, this (problem) isn't going to end anytime soon." And that the White House also issued a statement, from Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, Gregory Jaczko, who said, "Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S.

Ask Obama to Keep Our Water Clean

When we’re children, we’re taught that organisms like us only need a few crucial things to survive—air, food, water, shelter, and that’s pretty much it. Sure, it’s good to have clothes, heat, and maybe even some cable TV, but those are pretty much the essentials right there. So you would think that water would be a fundamentally protected element of our lives, considered sacred and worth the utmost care in legislative decision-making. And it should be, considering that a huge portion of the world lives without access to safe, clean drinking water as it is.

The People Rally in Wisconsin

The middle class fighting back for rights and for democracy

This past weekend, one hundred thousand people gathered in Madison, Wisconsin, to send a very strong message to that state's governor Scott Walker, his fellow GOP-Tea Partiers in the state's legislature, and to their billionaire backers, that you are going to fail, and that the working class is going to win this fight.

The GOP only wins elections when it can misdirect people. They win when they can get Americans to take their eyes off of the real problems facing America, like the daily economic survival of ordinary Americans.  The continuing battle for Wisconsin focuses America's attention on a real issue of corporate class warfare on the Middle class.

Nuclear Meltdown?

There are fears that Japan is about to have its very own Chernobyl.

Japanese authorities have evacuated the area around the nuclear power plant. The government claims this is a precautionary step. Radiation leaks and the venting into the atmosphere of radioactive gasses have been reported.

For years critics have questioned the judgment of building nuclear power plants in earthquake prone Japan. What ever some thought of the caution of those critics, now that caution is being proven to have been justified.

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