November 2011

Thank a Veteran Today

"Freedom isn’t free."

 

Today is Veterans Day, the holiday established in 1954 to honor all our veterans. It replaced Armistice Day, which had been

 established in 1926 to commemorate the end of World War I and honor its veterans. Please remember to take some time out today to remember our veterans and if you have the chance, to thank one personally.

I am the niece of a World War 1 veteran and a Vietnam War veteran as well as the cousin of a veteran of the second Gulf War. I’m also honored to have several friends who served in Vietnam and the Gulf. I grew up across the street from a VA Hospital and saw first hand the scars of war, both physical and mental. As a little girl I often saw wheelchair bound vets, their bodies broken and sometimes their minds too. Some were missing limbs, others had been badly burned. Many were polite and even friendly, and some were locked in their own tormented worlds. I remember vividly one vet, who I used to see in the grocery store all the time. He’d lost both legs, had long curly hair, a bushy beard, and always wore his green Army jacket. I imagine he must have gone through a living hell, but he was always kind and friendly.  I used to help him get things from the high shelves he couldn’t reach from his wheelchair.

It pains me to know that Vietnam vets were treated so badly. Unlike their WWI and II counterparts, when they came home they were treated like villains instead of heroes. They were spat on, abused, shunned, and in many cases, forgotten. I know someone who was spit upon when he came home and it just breaks my heart. Vietnam vets did and continue to get a raw deal. 1 out of every 3 homeless people are veterans, and did you know that 47% of all homeless vets are Vietnam vets and that the total number of homeless Vietnam vets exceeds the number of veterans who were killed in the war? Shameful. In addition, 76% of all homeless vets suffer from PTSD and/or other mental illnesses. Even the vets who were lucky to come home safe and sound and didn’t end up on the streets often struggle with mental health issues. These men were drafted, many of them while they were still teenagers, and sent off to war. They really didn’t have much choice in the matter, but the country DID. They could choose to support them or blame them for the sins of their government, and sadly they chose wrong.

Don’t Want Penis Cancer? Don’t Screw an Animal

It was recently revealed that penis cancer is actually related to having sex with animals. I swear I’m not making this up.

Men who have sex with animals at some point in their lifetime double their chances of getting penis cancer. Other risk factors cited in the Brazilian study included smoking and premalignant lesions present on the penis.

Though I have a certain morbid fascination with Clerks 2 and can cite much of the movie from memory, unlike many people I do not think that animal abuse known as bestiality is a laughing matter or a lifestyle choice. It’s abuse toward animals, simple as that. They can’t verbally consent, so it’s not consensual sex—and as many people might laugh over that statement, I stand by it!

Balanced Budget Amendement - Balancing Act or Crushing Blow?

What happens when my family tries to live on a GOP style balanced budget.

Next week House Republicans will attempt once again to push through a Balanced Budget Amendment.  I know that to many people this makes sense.  They indicate that the government should never spend more than it is able to bring in.  After all, that’s what is expected of the average citizen, right?  I decided it is time for my family to balance our budget and try this theory out.

Arizona’s Godfather of Immigration Reform ousted in Recall Election

Can Arizona begin to heal and focus on the important issues at hand now?

Known for his heavy-handed political tactics and aligned with the most notorious sheriff in the country, Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall election on Tuesday night and lost.

Pearce made no secret of the fact that his top priority, almost above all else, was to promote anti-immigrant and restrictional legislation in Arizona. Arizona is the center point of the hot-bed controversy of what to do about illegal immigration. However, voters in Arizona appear to have made it known that right now, in this point in our history, there are more important things we need to be worrying about and Pearce just did not seem to get that.

Crony capitalism

Crony capitalism is a phrase that you probably may have heard a lot in the news and other forms of media lately with the ongoing series of protests in New York City called Occupy Wall Street.

These protests have garnered attention among the general public and are targeted at the social and economic inequality, corruption and influence over government that the financial services sector has among other things. “We are the 99%" is a slogan that has been used and it signifies the disparity in wealth in the United States between the top 1 percent and the rest of the population.

Stand Up For Voting Rights

Voter suppression is the practice of making it as difficult and inconvenient to vote as possible in order to ensure that the people most likely to vote against you don't get to vote at all. This has been a major strategy of the Republican party in the past few years, the goal being to make sure that poor people (who are more likely to vote Democratic) are disenfranchised.

When The "Liberal" Media Slanders Occupy...

Then We See Their True Colors

 

I read an editorial recently in the Huffington Post- that's right, the most liberal paper in America- describing the occupiers as “trust fund kids” and “liberal college grads.” You know, spoiled brats living lives of privilege while railing at the system that gave them their lives of luxury, biting the hand that feeds them.

Richard Davis Works 812 Times As Hard As A Bank Teller

Surely That's The Explanation

How can US Bank justify the vast salary paid to its CEO Richard Davis while tens of thousands of people are falling behind on their mortgage payments and being foreclosed on by his bank?

 

Davis recently commented that people should “just get over it” rather than complaining about the economy. I guess that's easy enough to say when you've already got all the money. Davis makes $18.8 million dollars a year. What does this “job creator” do to earn so much money?

 

After all, the average bank teller in 2011 earned about $23,155 (that's the average of the low-end and high end ). Davis earned about 812 times as much as a bank teller. Now, according to the logic of people like Herman Cain, job creators earn more because they work harder. So I can only conclude that the amazing Richard Davis worked more than 800 times as hard as a bank teller in 2011, thus fully justifying his compensation.

Stop The Tar Sands Pipeline

No More Band-Aid Solutions

Stopping the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline is just one of the causes the Occupy movement has made its own. This pipeline is intended to pump oil from Alberta, Canada to the American Midwest. In the process, it will do irreparable damage to the lands of First Nations people in Canada, while also contributing to climate change and putting off the inevitable reckoning with our need for more sustainable energy sources and ways of living. Basically, it will help us all keep our heads in the sand for just a little while longer, and at tremendous cost to people like the Roseau River Anishinabe of Manitoba.

The Sheriff Is Not Above The Law

If He Commits Assault, He Should Be Charged

 

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek expresses respect for democracy and free speech just as long as it's neat and tidy and convenient- but when it starts to irritate him, the mask comes off, and the arrogance of power is on the other side.

 

A group of occupiers showed up at the Hennepin County Commissioner's meeting in order to protest the restrictions being placed on Occupy Minnesota's rights of free speech (placing signs in People's Plaza) and freedom of assembly (staying in the plaza overnight). One of the occupiers turned and took a picture of Sheriff Stanek. Apparently this just antagonized him more than he could handle, because he knocked the phone out of the protester's hand, pushed a protester into a doorjamb and then had his deputies haul the protesters out.

March For Schools And Students in Minnesota

Relief From The Student Debt Trap

 

What is the “student debt trap”? Why are the occupiers demanding relief from student loans? Shouldn't students pay back the banks for the money they used to go to college?

 

The answer to these questions can be found on a Help Wanted sign at the gas station and convenience store down the street from where I live. It reads: “Help Wanted: Bachelor's Degree Preferred.”

 

That's right, the job situation in America has now reached such a desperate state that four years of college education qualifies you to pump gas and sell potato chips for $8.27 an hour. To achieve this princely status, you can expect to go into debt by about $25,000.

 

You cannot tell young people that they must work hard for four years and go into debt for $25,000, only to earn so little money that they can never hope to pay back that debt. It's not a choice, it's a trap- if even the gas stations want you to have a degree, then how can you possibly hope to find work of even the most menial kind without one? Yet if go ahead and get that degree, you buy yourself a lifetime of debt and a wage so low you can't live on it.

Occupy Minnesota Takes Up Eviction Defense

US Bank Attempts To Take Woman's Home

Last night I was one of at least a hundred people from Occupy Minnesota who gathered at the home of Monique White to defend her home from US Bank. Monique's story is the story of the United States in miniature. She bought her home in 2003 for $130,000. She was working two jobs at the time- one at a liquor store and the other as a counselor at a group home.

Small Victories from Election Day 2011

"It is amazing how fast our politicians can undo decades or centuries of progress"

There were many small victories for the left on Election Day 2011.  Maybe not so much victories as much as retaining or recovering ground previously gained.  First, Mississippi voters rejected an amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception and granted “personhood” to a fertilized egg.  Similar attempts failed twice in Colorado, but Mississippi is the most conservative state in the nation. Maybe most Americans can finally agree that women have a right to choose.  We may not agree with that choice.  It may go against the grain of our religious or moral beliefs.  But choice is essential to democracy.

Second, Ohio voters repealed a law that limited the collective bargaining rights of public workers. The law essentially limited teachers, police, firefighters, and other public employees from bargaining for salaries, workplace conditions, and hours and prohibited union members from striking.  This law caused consternation for public employees and moved working conditions back to the 1800’s.  The repeal allows public workers to once again focus on providing quality work rather than being concerned with working conditions and pay.

Defeated: The Mississippi Personhood Amendment

Women's Rights: Still Under Attack

It’s a great day for women; Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment was defeated by a large percentage of the voters in the great state of Mississippi. The amendment, which stated that “life begins at fertilization”  and would have outlawed certain kinds of birth control as well as abortion. 

 

According to the New York Times, there were some women who would traditionally be opposed to abortion who voted against the amendment for a variety of reasons; one woman interviewed by the New York Times stated that she did not vote in favor of the amendment because she had been raped at one point in time. 

What's in My spINBOX

Obama Funding Mosques with Tax Dollars? Facts and Logic Part Four

Another examination of “creative editing” that has made it’s way across the internet. In an effort to pull the “facts and logic” from these “documents”, let’s take another look behind the rumors and get some truth out of it.

The American Family Association, a right wing conservative Christian group, has circulated this email to all it’s constituents and they in turn have spread all around the world wide web. It reads as follows:

“Dear XXXX,

US taxpayer dollars are being given away to help rebuild Islamic mosques overseas. According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration will give away nearly $6 million of American tax dollars to restore 63 historic and cultural sites, including Islamic mosques and minarets, in 55 nations. See the State Department document here.

This is an outrage! Our country is broke. And can you imagine what the ACLU and others on the secular left would say if these monies had been spent to repair Christian churches? They would be screaming "separation of church and state!" Funding Islam on foreign soil with American taxpayer money? Not a whimper.

The latest taxpayer givaway includes $76,000 for a 16thcentury mosque in China, $67,000 for a mosque in Pakistan,$77,000 to restore minarets in Nigeria and Mauritania, and$50,000 for an Islamic Monument in India.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. program to restore Islamic and other cultural sites in other countries is taxpayer money well spent.

Take Action
Contact your member of Congress today!"

The concern originally stems from a report from the State Department that lists the recipients of the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, a fund to help restore historic cultural heritage world wide.

Sacrificial Women

Mississippi and the Dangerous Vote in the Balance

On this day, Tuesday, November 08, 2011, the populations of Mississippi are voting on Initiative 26, what is known as the “Personhood Initiative”. This historic vote could not simply change how the State of Mississippi views abortion, birth control, miscarriages, and in vitro fertilization but also cast a murderous light upon women and their doctors.

Initiative 26 is worded to define a human being as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

US Math Achievement Improves Over Last Two Decades, Reading Achievement Stagnates

NAEP reporting since 1990 shows some significant gains, and some not-so-signifant.

T

he recent release of the nation’s public education report card is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); the standardized testing wing of the U.S. Department of Education. Federal officials of NAEP have recently reported some trend data that has some big implications for public schools going forward, particularly given the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), formerly known as No Child Left Behind. Among their findings, American students’ math achievement scores have significantly improved since the 1990’s, when education reform really started to take off in the U.S. More underwhelming, reading achievement in the same timeframe has shown almost no improvement. David Driscoll, chairman of NAEP’s governing board, told The New York Times, “We’ve made major gains in math over two decades, but, in reading, frankly, we haven’t — there’ve been only modest improvements.”

New Resource Maps Show A Windfall of Geothermal Energy Under U.S.

Report shows ten times the amount of recoverable energy than that available from coal.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that American households spend, on average, about $2,000 a year on their energy needs. The lion’s share of that cost? Heating. In fact, 43% of our annual energy expenditures is simply on the heating of our homes and the water that we use. A byproduct of all of this residential and commercial heating is the EPA estimated 27,300 pounds of CO2 annually emitted into the atmosphere per home. Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory has recently released a resource map, funded by Google, that shows that geothermal energy is a possibility almost everywhere in the continental United States. In fact, according to their report, the U.S. is sitting on almost 10 times the recoverable energy deposits from geothermal heating than what is available to the U.S. today in coal-produced energy.

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