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Censored News Stories 11-15

Posted by libhom Friday, November 28, 2008 2 comments


Photo: tanakawho

Project Censored gives you the news that is fit to print, but usually doesn't get printed. Here are items 11-15 from their list of censored news stories from this year.

11: El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror

Salvadoran police violently captured community leaders and residents at a July 2007 demonstration against the privatization of El Salvador’s water supply and distribution systems. Close range shooting of rubber bullets and tear gas was used against community members for protesting the rising cost, and diminishing access and quality, of local water under privatization. Fourteen were arrested and charged with terrorism, a charge that can hold a sixty-year prison sentence, under El Salvador’s new “Anti-terrorism Law,” which is based on the USA PATRIOT Act. While criminalization of political expression and social protest signals an alarming danger to the peace and human rights secured by Salvadorans since its brutal twelve-year civil war, the US government publicly supports the Salvadoran government and the passage of the draconian anti-terrorism law that took effect October 2006.
Read More


12: Bush Profiteers Collect Billions From No Child Left Behind
The architect of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), President Bush’s first senior education advisor, Sandy Kress, has turned the program, which has consistently proven disastrous in the realm of education, into a huge success in the realm of corporate profiteering. After ushering NCLB through the US House of Representatives in 2001 with no public hearings, Kress went from lawmaker—turning on spigots of federal funds—to lobbyist, tapping into those billions of dollars in federal funds for private investors well connected to the Bush administration.
Read More


13: Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq
Beginning in April 2003, one month after the invasion of Iraq, and continuing for little more than a year, the United States Federal Reserve shipped $12 billion in US currency to Iraq. The US military delivered the bank notes to the Coalition Provisional Authority, to be dispensed for Iraqi reconstruction. At least $9 billion is unaccounted for due to a complete lack of oversight.

The initial $20 million came exclusively from Iraqi assets that had been frozen in US banks since the first Gulf War in 1990. Subsequent airlifts of cash included billions from Iraqi oil revenues formerly controlled by the United Nations. After the creation of the Development Fund for Iraq—a kind of holding pit of money to be spent for “purposes benefiting the people of Iraq”—the UN turned over control of Iraq’s billions of dollars from oil revenue to the United States.
Read More


14: Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste
Radioactive materials from nuclear weapons production sites are being dumped into regular landfills, and are available for recycling and resale. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) has tracked the Department of Energy’s (DOE) release of radioactive scrap, concrete, equipment, asphalt, chemicals, soil, and more, to unaware and unprepared recipients such as landfills, commercial businesses, and recreation areas. Under the current system, the DOE releases contaminated materials directly, sells them at auctions or through exchanges, or sends the materials to processors who can release them from radioactive controls. The recycling of these materials—for reuse in the production of everyday household and personal items such as zippers, toys, furniture, and automobiles, or to build roads, schools, and playgrounds—is increasingly common.
Read More


15: Worldwide Slavery
Twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today, more than at any time in human history. Globalization, poverty, violence, and greed facilitate the growth of slavery, not only in the Third World, but in the most developed countries as well. Behind the façade in any major town or city in the world today, one is likely to find a thriving commerce in human beings.
Read More


Commentary:

11 and 12
These items both illustrate the anti democratic and corrupting influence of privatization. Until the stock market started having troubles, rightists were still chirping about privatizing Social Security. Anytime a pundit or politician supports privatizing anything, look for the catch.

13:
I can't help but mention that the over $9 billion of US government funds missing in Iraq could have helped get a lot of poor and working class homeowners out of foreclosures. The economic priorities these days are just plain nuts.
14:
I had thought that depleted Uranium in Iraq was something we don't have to worry about if we are here in the states. However, this radioactive materials problem could be quite dangerous too. The corruption of rightist politicians endangers us all.

Previous Censored News Stories:

16-20

21-25

 

The Unions Should Take Over the Automakers

Posted by libhom Thursday, November 27, 2008 7 comments

I usually don't blog about comments in other blogs, but this comment was absolutely brilliant. Brilliant ideas should be publicized regardless of any personal blogging conventions one might have.

The following comment is in response to a From the Left posting on how Wall St is getting a bailout, but auto workers are getting the shaft.

Rachel

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the remedy for the Big Three Automakers is simple. Fire the entire executive board of all three automakers and let the unions run the companies. The unions have long advocated the production of smaller, more fuel efficient cars but the executives said no.

This is just the kind of rational and creative thinking that can get us out of our economic crises. I'm sure rightists would throw fits over the very idea, because they have been brainwashed into a hysterical hatred of unions. But, the rest of us should take this idea very seriously.

 

Mormon Church Under Investigation

Posted by libhom Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3 comments

11/24/08 Press Release from Californians Against Hate (Hat Tip to NG Blog):

California Fair Political Practices Commission to
Investigate Mormon Church Involvement in Prop 8

LOS ANGELES, CA – Fred Karger, Founder of Californians Against Hate received a letter today from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regarding the sworn complaint that he filed on November 13, 2008. The complaint requested the FPPC investigate the alleged lack of reporting of numerous non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com / Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal I.D. #1302592 by the Mormon Church. The letter from FPPC Executive Director, Roman Porter, dated November 21, 2008 was received by fax. Below is the text of the letter from Mr. Porter.

Fair Political Practices Commission
428 J Street, Suite 629, Sacramento, CA 95814-2329
(916)322-5660 Fax (916)322-0886

November 21, 2008

Fred Karger
1278 Glenneyre, #20
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Re; FPPC File No. 08/735; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Mr. Karger:

This letter is to notify you that the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission (the FPPC) will investigate the allegation(s), under the jurisdiction of the FPPC, of the sworn complaint you submitted in the above-referenced matter. You will next receive notification from us upon final disposition of the case. However, please be advised that at this time we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) you made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) you identify in your complaint.

Thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention.

Sincerely,

Roman G. Porter
Executive Director

cc: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah

“We are very pleased that the FPPC has agreed to launch an investigation based on our complaint,” said Fred Karger. “My 4 page letter to Chairman Ross Johnson and California and Utah Attorneys General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and Mark Shurtleff with all of the alleged unreported activities is available on our blog at: http://californiansagainsthate.blogspot.com/ We’re hopeful the Mormon Church will fully cooperate with the investigation, and that we will find out the full extent of their involvement in the Yes on 8 campaign.”

If the Mormon Church did fail to follow the law, I wonder how many Mormons and other assorted bigots will argue that the Mormon cult should be above election law merely because it is a church.

 

Do Our Elections Really Matter That Much?

Posted by libhom Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2 comments

I remember how we were told by the Democrats that the 2006 election was supposed to be so incredibly important. Yet, the Democratic Congress that was brought to power expanded the war in Iraq, sabotaged ENDA, attacked civil liberties, did nothing for people displaced by Katrina, and refused to even hold impeachment hearings. It was as if the GOP still controlled the Senate and the House.

Now, the Obama transition team seems to be doing everything it can to continue the policies of the past 28 years, even though those policies have been disastrous for the country. The proposed cabinet appointees in the two most important national security positions have been reactionary and pro war.

Hillary Clinton????
Robert Gates????

That's just plain crazy. Both of them have shown a lack of judgement and competence in foreign policy and national security matters.

The rot is spreading throughout the proposed new administration. Obama has made Rahm Emanuel, an inept, rightist, war mongering, Phonycrat his chief of staff. Obama actually has chosen Lawrence Summers as the Director of the National Economic Council. Never mind that Summers, through his efforts to push market deregulation and corporate controlled trade deals, is one of the people most responsible for the Crash of 2008. Summers, during his tenure at the World Bank, also exported US jobs abroad while creating enormous poverty and misery in non-Western countries.

The rot extends to policy as well.

News reports keep saying that Obama will be "flexible" about withdrawing from Iraq, even though his opposition to the Iraq War was the main reason he won the Democratic nomination. Never mind that there is no possible way for any serious effort to revive our economy to even be attempted without rapid and full withdrawal from Iraq. Any politician that tries to keep our troops in Iraq couldn't care less about tackling the economy.

Obama also seems determined to carry on the most damaging of Bush economic policies as long as politically possible. Obama doesn't even want to get rid of Bush's tax cuts for the rich until 2011. From the NY Times 11/23/08:

A member of the Obama economic advisory team, William M. Daley, acknowledged that because of the gravity of the situation, Mr. Obama was leaning toward letting a Bush tax cut for the wealthy expire on schedule in 2011 rather than repealing it sooner.

Even if the Bush tax cuts are rolled back, the rich still will be paying far less than their fair share in taxes. Even worse, given our economic crises, letting the rich have more money for speculation will destabilize the markets further and increase the severity of the downturn. Most rich people just aren't responsible enough to be trusted with large sums of money.

Another problem has been really troubling to me. There is no mention of expanding public transportation in Obama's "stimulus package" that I've been able to find in the press, and I have been looking. I guess Big Oil counts more than Global Warming to Obama.

Obama seems to be going out of his way to confirm the views of Nader and the Greens that there isn't much difference between the Democrats and Republicans. We need someone in the White House who is courageous and honest enough to lead our country, not someone in the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush mold who makes corporate interests, endless war, and big money campaign contributions the highest priorities.

 

Comment moderation has been enabled for this blog, at least for now. This is due to bigots who have repeatedly violated the comments policy as stated on the comments form.

(heterosexist, racist, misogynistic or otherwise bigoted comments are subject to deletion)

Hopefully, these bigots will go elsewhere, since they don't know how to communicate without their prejudices and sense of entitlement showing through. It's not my job to teach people how not to sound prejudiced. It's their job to not be prejudiced.

Sorry for the inconvenience to people wishing to make legitimate comments. Hopefully, it can be turned off later.

 

subway train coming into stationThe subway, bus, and commuter train systems in NYC all fall under the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The very same MTA is projecting a 2009 budget shortfall of $1.2 billion. Unless other revenue sources are found, major service cuts and 50% fare increases are planned.

Our pathetic excuse for a mayor, Michael Bloomberg has offered nothing of any constructive value to deal with the crisis. If it doesn't involve massive government handouts to his extremely wealthy friends, Bloomberg isn't interested. New York City desperately needs leadership on a transportation crisis that will create greater economic inequality and increase CO2 emissions.

Comptroller William Thompson actually is offering a possible solution, showing leadership that hizdizzzoner won't. From AM NY 11/23/08:

To help fill the transit agency’s expected $1.2 billion deficit next year, Comptroller William Thompson proposed yesterday creating a new vehicle registration fee to generate about $365 million in new funds for the MTA.

...

“Instead of asking subway and bus riders who can least afford it to dig deeper into emptier pockets for less service, we need imaginative ideas that will ensure that those who benefit from a healthy transit system pay their fair share,” Thompson said at a news conference outside Grand Central Terminal.

Thompson, who is running for mayor, proposed adding a weight-based vehicle registration fee that would raise $100 per vehicle weighing 2,300 pounds or less plus nine cents for every extra pound.

...

The annual fee would also be an incentive for people to buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and could be coupled with a parking-zone regulation that only allows city-registered vehicles to park overnight, he said.

The comptroller’s office said a similar transit-funding registration fee exists in Seattle. Transit advocates commended the plan and urged the Ravitch Commission and lawmakers to approve it.

It turns out that NYC does less than the rest of the country to encourage people to fight Global Warming by taking public transportation.
“The share that riders pay of the transit’s systems cost is going to go up from 69 percent which is the highest by far in the nation already to 83 percent, putting a hard burden on the riding public,” said Straphangers Campaign staff attorney Gene Russianoff.

Another idea being proposed by New York City Council Members Eric Gioia and David Yassky is for the MTA to move out of its pricey offices in Manhattan to less expensive real estate. The MTA could then rent out their Manhattan building and make money to be used to pay for mass transit.

Bloomberg is showing the lack of leadership and interest in public affairs of a typical lame duck, even though he has faced massive public condemnation for strong arming the violation of voter passed term limits through the City Council. The Mayor's office has been an expensive toy for Michael Bloomberg, one he has been willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to purchase the past two "elections."

Those of us who live in NYC are paying the real price.

Photo: Annie Mole

 

contre la censur
Image: Joooule [ Funky Daddy ]

Here are items 16-20 in Project Censored Top 25 censored news stories of the last year. Blogs and other independent media provide an important venue to get around the corporations that want us all ignorant of so much that goes on around us.

16: Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights

The first Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights to be published by the year-old International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) documents enormous challenges to workers rights around the world. The 2007 edition of the survey, covering 138 countries, shows an alarming rise in the number of people killed as a result of their trade union activities, from 115 in 2005 to 144 in 2006. Many more trade unionists around the world were abducted or “disappeared.” Thousands were arrested during the year for their parts in strike action and protests, while thousands of others were fired in retaliation for organizing. Growing numbers of trade union activists in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific are facing police brutality and murder as unions are viewed as opponents of corporatist governments.
Read More

17: UN’s Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights
In September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The resolution called for recognition of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their lands and resources. The adoption of this resolution comes after twenty-two years of diplomatic negotiations at the United Nations (UN) involving its member states, international civil society groups, and representatives of the world’s aboriginal communities.

The declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their institutions, cultures, and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. The declaration was passed by an overwhelming majority vote of 143–4. Only the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand voted against the resolution, expressing the view that strong emphasis on rights to indigenous self-determination and control over lands and resources would hinder economic development and undermine “established democratic norms.”
Read More

18: Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers
In states across the country, child advocates have harshly condemned the conditions under which young offenders are housed—conditions that involve sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even death. The US Justice Department (DOJ) has filed lawsuits against facilities in eleven states for supervision that is either abusive or harmfully negligent. While the DOJ lacks the power to shut down juvenile correction facilities, through litigation it can force a state to improve its detention centers and protect the civil rights of jailed youth.
Read More

19: Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
The industrial model of livestock production is causing the worldwide destruction of animal diversity. At least one indigenous livestock breed becomes extinct each month as a result of overreliance on select breeds imported from the United States and Europe, according to the study, “The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources,” conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Since research for the report began in 1999, 2,000 local breeds have been identified as at risk.
Read More

20: Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
For the fourth year in a row, US marijuana arrests set an all-time record, according to 2006 FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Marijuana arrests in 2006 totaled 829,627, an increase from 786,545 in 2005. At current rates, a marijuana smoker is arrested every thirty-eight seconds, with marijuana arrests comprising nearly 44 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. According to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), over 8 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges during the past decade, while arrests for cocaine and heroine have declined sharply.
Read More


Commentary on Item 17
The basis for the view that the declaration of indigenous rights was "empty" was explored further in the article: the exclusion of indigenous peoples in climate change conferences and World Bank policy formulations after the declaration passed the UN General Assembly. I agree that the resolution has not been enforced, but I have heard indigenous activists take the resolution quite seriously as a way to push governments to take the rights of indigenous people into consideration. This makes the resolution far from "empty," though a lot more work needs to be done.

One area that the article gets right is the fraudulent nature of what is usually called "carbon trading" in the US. This is just a scam to make it look like corporations are cutting their impact on global warming without actually cutting their impact on global warming.

Stories 21-25

 

Utah Publication's Firing of Gay Columnist

Posted by libhom Sunday, November 23, 2008 11 comments

The Salt Lake City Weekly has dropped the online column of Dan Savage because he did what any self respecting lesbian, gay, bi, or trans person did. He called for a boycott of the Hate State.

Do these morons think that firing a queer columnist will make us want to rush right out and buy tickets to fly to their racist, sexist, heterosexist, and anti-atheist state? The firing of Dan Savage just gives us queers another reason to boycott them.

There are two lessons in all of this.

1) The problems with Utah are not limited to the Mormons.

2) Salt Lake City definitely is part of the problem.

I am so sick of people from Utah whining about the boycott. Don't complain to me or any other queer about it. Complain to the Mormons and other Utah bigots like the ones that run the Salt Lake City Weekly. What have the whiners done to destroy the Mormon Church, which is Utah's version of the Ku Klux Klan?

(sound of crickets chirping)

 

Passing on an Award in Solidarity

Posted by libhom Saturday, November 22, 2008 4 comments

I would like to thank Mauigirl's Meanderings for the Superior Scribbler Award.

Superior Scribbler Award I've admired Mauigirl's compassion and commitment to liberal issues, so I'm grateful to get the award from her.

Here are the rules of the award, which I'm breaking by giving it to six blogs instead of five. Bwahahahahaha! All of the blogs deserve it. So there.

*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post (above) and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Letters from the Sanitarium
In addition to offering wise political analysis, this blog gives personal and political perspectives on mental illness. If you have a stereotype of the mentally ill as somehow intellectually impaired, this blog will shake that belief to its very core.

The Lesbian Said What??
Insightful analysis from this blog alone would make it worthy of an award. This blog also succeeds at something most blogs fail at pretty badly: using historical quotes. These tend to be ones you haven't read before and are more likely to teach you something than the ones on most blogs that feature quotations. The analysis is by no means limited to quotations. It includes a lot of contemporary thought and issues too.

Gold Star Mom Speaks Out
The corporate media treat military families largely as props to feed the war propaganda machine. This blog provides a more realistic view from one of the many military family members who oppose the war in Iraq.

My Two Cents
This blog seamlessly mixes queer politics with queer fun. Some people are clever. Some are smart. This blogger is both.

Queers United
This is probably the best source for queer activism, history, and terminology at the moment. It really is an intellectual treasure trove.

Unbrainwashed
Tired of all the crap you are fed by the corporate media and the politicians? Enjoy snark and reasoning that undermines the garbage. Acknowledging brainwashing in this society itself is largely taboo, which makes the blog's title especially gratifying.

As I did with the Brillante Award, I give this award out with the intent of building community among liberal and progressive blogs and showing solidarity. The quality of the blogs given the award is acknowledged too. I encourage you to visit these blogs and the recipients to pass the award onto equally deserving blogs.

 

It is important for the community to remember our trans sisters and brothers and to amplify their voices with our own. The Day or Remembrance is important to acknowledge, given the violence trans people face merely for being themselves.

About the Day of Remembrance - Transgender.org (Hat tip to Ten Percent)

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
Read More

Transgender day of remembrance - Stroppyblog
I hope to get a guest post up on the issues at some point, as sadly the issue of discrimination and violence towards trans people is not one always one picked up by lesbian and gay people , let alone the left, and yet they were at the forefront of the Stonewall riots. But more of that at a later date.
Read More

Vigil honors Transgender Day of Remembrance - Penn State Daily Collegian 11/22/08
Students with lit candles participated in a vigil Thursday night in honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The event, hosted by SpeakOut on the HUB lawn, began with more than 10 students lighting candles and reading from placards bearing the images and stories of transgender people or their allies who were killed as a result of their sexual identities.
Read More

A day for remembering what we cannot forget - Some Notes on Living
I’m told that today is the National Day of Remembrance. Catchy, is it not? A day to remember our dead. Those who have been killed for no other reason than who they are. The list grows every year.
Just a few from this year:

Duanna Johnson

Angie Zapata

Lawrence King

Latiesha Green

Sanesha Stewart

Aimee Wilkcoxson

I have seen an estimation that there have been 25 trans people murdered this year worldwide, and to me this figure seems to be insanely low.
Read More

Transgender Day of Remembrance - Africa - TransGriot
Note: On November 20 transgender people all over the world remembered the 30 people we lost (and are still losing) due to anti-transgender violence. There were probably far more killed this year that we'll probably never find out their names or the circumstances concerning how they died.

Sokari Ekine and South Africa's Gender DynamiX reminded us that our transgender brothers and sisters on the African continent are still struggling mightily against transphobia.
Read More

Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigils Held Across the Globe - Queerty
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors and commemorates the deaths of transgendered individuals who were murdered because of intolerance. The event comes a week after Duanna Johnson, a Memphis transgendered woman, was killed. Begun in 1999 to remember the life of Rita Hester, the event has spread across the globe, with memorial services and remembrances scheduled across the globe. Tracee McDaniel, who is organizing the Atlanta vigil, said of the day:

"“It’s always emotional for me, but it’s always good to see we have support. We just need to keep awareness out there that there is discrimination against transgender people and until we get some kind of legal protections, employment protections, we will continue to raise awareness.”
Read More


 

I. The Mormon Curtain
This is a well designed site by and for former Mormons. Here's a description of the site from its FAQ.

The primary purpose of the Mormon Curtain is to blog the Ex-Mormon world. This includes "recovery" boards, message boards, sites and more - and provide the very best posts and articles therein. This is to aid Ex-Mormons who are on the road to recovery, Mormons who are looking for more information on their own religion, and Non-Mormons who may be studying the Mormon Church on purpose of possible baptism. The secondary purpose of the Mormon Curtain is to expose to the world that Mormonism is a cult. It is hoped that the information and links contained here will help non-Mormons avoid the Cult of Mormonism. It is also hoped that current members of the LDS Church will find the answers that Mormon leaders have forbidden them from seeing. In addition, those recovering from Mormonism (known as Ex-Mormons) will find links and information necessary to aid in recovery.

II. Recovery from Mormonism
This site has a lot of information about Mormonism from the people who know best, former Mormons.

They also have a useful list of businesses owned by the Mormon Church.

III. Debunking Mormonism
American Atheists debunks a variety of religions. In this case, they are educating people about Mormonism.

 

Censored News Stories 21-25

Posted by libhom Friday, November 21, 2008 0 comments

mock eyechart that says censorship causes blindness
Image: Andréia

I'm always a bit behind on my blogging, but these news stories are ones you probably haven't read about even now. Hat tip to Ten Percent for publicizing Project Censored Top 25 censored news stories of the last year.

21: NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials are considering a first strike nuclear option to be used anywhere in the world a threat may arise. Former armed force chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France, and the Netherlands authored a 150-page blueprint calling for urgent reform of NATO, and a new pact drawing the US, NATO, and the European Union (EU) together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an “increasingly brutal world.” The authors of the plan insist that “the first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.” The manifesto was presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to NATO’s secretary general in mid-January 2008. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008.
    Read More

22: CARE Rejects US Food Aid
In August 2007, one of the biggest and best-known American charity organizations, CARE, announced that it was turning down $45 million a year in food aid from the United States government. CARE claims that the way US aid is structured causes rather than reduces hunger in the countries where it is received. The US budgets $2 billion a year for food aid, which buys US crops to feed populations facing starvation amidst crisis or enduring chronic hunger.
    Read More

23: FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs
While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) turns a blind eye, drug companies are making false, unsubstantiated, and misleading claims in their advertising, often withholding mandated disclosure of dangerous side effects. Though companies are required to submit their advertisements to the FDA, the agency does not review them before they are released to the public. A Government Accountability Office report released November 2006 found that the FDA reviews only a small portion of the advertisements it receives, and does not review them using consistent criteria.
    Read More

24: Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
Testimony in the Japanese parliament, broadcast live on Japanese television in January 2008, challenged the premise and validity of the Global War on Terror. Parliament member Yukihisa Fujita insisted that an investigation be conducted into the war’s origin: the events of 9/11.

In a parliament Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee session held to debate the ethics of renewing Japan’s “anti-terror law,” which commits Japan to providing logistical support for coalition forces operating in Afghanistan, Fujita opened the session by stating, “I would like to talk about the origin of this war on terrorism, which was the attacks of 9/11, . . . When discussing these anti-terror laws we should ask ourselves, what was 9/11? And what is terrorism?”
    Read More

25: Bush’s Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer
The exposure of New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer’s tryst with a luxury call girl had little to do with the Bush administration’s high moral standards for public servants. Author F. William Engdahl advises that, “in evaluating spectacular scandals around prominent public figures, it is important to ask what and who might want to eliminate that person.” Timing suggests that Spitzer was likely a target of a White House and Wall Street operation to silence one of its most dangerous and vocal critics of their handling of the current financial market crisis.
    Read More

So much is censored by the corporate media. Lists like these show the importance of the independent media.

 

Say No to Robert Gates as Obama's Defense Secretary

Posted by libhom Thursday, November 20, 2008 3 comments

The news reports that Obama is leaning towards staying with a bloodthirsty war monger like Robert Gates for the Department of Defense are absolutely sickening. I was already beginning to wonder if Obama is serious about any real change in this country after he made Rahm Emanuel his Chief of Staff and is pushing a lot of other Clinton Administration retreads.

If Obama really does pick war hawks like Gates and Hillary Clinton in addition to the fanatically pro war Emanuel, I'm not too optimistic about even the partial withdrawal Obama promised during his campaign. I'm not the only one who is worried and frustrated. From the Los Angeles Times 11/20/08:

"Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the 54-chapter Iraq Veterans Against the War.

It's pretty bad, according to what is said in the article.
The activists -- key members of the coalition that propelled Obama to the White House -- fear he is drifting from the antiwar moorings of his once-longshot presidential candidacy. Obama has eased the rigid timetable he had set for withdrawing troops from Iraq, and he appears to be leaning toward the center in his candidates to fill key national security posts.

The president-elect has told some Democrats that he expects to take heat from parts of his political base but will not be deterred by it.

Does he really think he will get much support from Democrats in 2012 if 100% of our troops aren't home from Iraq? A president only gets one election to run on hope. The reelection campaign focuses on record and results.

Peace Action West has an Action Alert to try to stop the renomination of Robert Gates. This is terribly important.

Please Take Action Now!

If there are any US troops in Iraq in 2012, Obama's first term will have been a miserable failure, no matter what else he might do.

 

Organ Transplants and Economic Injustice

Posted by libhom Tuesday, November 18, 2008 5 comments

Economic injustice in this society can be brutal, but just how brutal often stays under the radar of the corporate media. Did you know, for instance, that the uninsured are much less likely to get organ transplants than the insured? Check out this 11/17/08 press release from Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP).

The Uninsured Often Donate Organs, but Rarely Receive Them

CHICAGO - November 17 - People who lack health insurance are about 20 times more likely to donate their liver or a kidney for a lifesaving transplant than to receive one, a new study shows.

A team of Harvard University researchers, writing in the current issue of International Journal of Health Services, reports that a representative sampling of U.S. patients in 2003 shows that at least 16.9 percent of organ donors had no health insurance at the time of their hospitalization. In contrast, only 0.8 percent of the transplant recipients were similarly uninsured; in other words, almost all recipients had some kind of health coverage at the time of their procedure.

Among the transplant recipients, equal proportions (44.2 percent) were covered by private insurance or by Medicare, a public program that serves seniors and some of the disabled (including virtually all patients needing kidney transplants). Medicaid, a government program for the poor, covered another 9 percent. About 2 percent were covered under other programs.

Among organ donors, however, insurance coverage was much less extensive. Private insurance was the most common source of payment for their medical bills (44.8 percent), followed by Medicare (14.6 percent) and Medicaid (2.6 percent). One-fifth of organ donors' insurance status was listed as "other," a designation that may have indicated that their bills were paid by organ procurement organizations. Some of these may have been uninsured for other medical care. Yet even assuming that all of these had coverage, the authors found that 16.9 percent of the organ donors were uninsured. By comparison, only 4.6 percent of other inpatients were uninsured.

The authors analyzed data from the 2003 National Inpatient Sample, a representative sample of hospital stays compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Using AHRQ guidelines, the research team extrapolated their results from the coded hospital records of 1,447 solid organ donors (including donors of kidneys, pancreases, livers, hearts, lungs and corneas) and 4,962 recipients.

The finding that most transplant recipients were insured at the time of their transplant had previously been known. However, "our finding that uninsured patients frequently serve as organ donors is both new and poignant," the authors write. "The U.S. health care system denies adequate care to many of the uninsured during life. Yet, in death, the uninsured often give strangers the ultimate gift."

Strikingly, lack of insurance was a stronger predictor of organ donation than was any hospital characteristic or demographic factor other than age (older people's organs are more often diseased and unsuitable for transplantation).

The authors emphasize that the asymmetry of who donates organs and who receives them does not reflect "the values or intentions" of the medical transplant community, whose members avow a "commitment to equal access for all patients."

They also point out that, because organ transplantation uses a "scarce resource that can only come from fellow human beings," special protocols, including guidelines adopted by Congress, have been developed to improve equity in the transplantation of organs.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Andrew Herring, commented: "If you lack the financial resources to afford a transplant either through insurance or otherwise, few centers will consider you as a candidate. The 1984 National Organ Transplant Act stipulates that transplants should be equally available to all Americans, regardless of their ability to pay. Unfortunately, the health care system is presently not funded adequately to make this a reality." Herring is currently an emergency medicine resident at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. He performed the study while he was a medical student at Harvard.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a co-author and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said, "The fact that many organ donors were uninsured dramatically highlights the lack of fairness in the U.S. health care system as a whole. The only way to surmount this problem is to adopt a single-payer national health insurance program, which would guarantee comprehensive and affordable care to everyone without exception."

The lack of health coverage is responsible for at least 18,000 deaths annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. In August, the Census Bureau reported that 45.6 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2007.

"Insurance status of U.S. organ donors and transplant recipients: The uninsured give, but rarely receive," Andrew A. Herring, M.D.; Steffie Woolhandler, M.D.; and David U. Himmelstein, M.D. International Journal of Health Services (New York), Vol. 38, No. 4.

A copy of the study is available at http://www.pnhp.org/organ_donors

###

Physicians for a National Health Program, a membership organization of over 15,000 physicians, supports a single-payer national health insurance program. To contact a physician-spokesperson in your state, call (312) 782-6006 or visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions.

Obviously, this information is an example of why we need Single Payer Healthcare in this country. However, there is a broader point that shouldn't be lost. Since 1980, most Democrats and virtually all Republicans have worked to make this society more unjust economically, often with deadly consequences for people who don't make that much money.

We cannot honestly call our country "civilized" as long as these kind of things continue to happen.

 

Time to Block the Sundance Channel and Boycott Marriott

Posted by libhom Sunday, November 16, 2008 11 comments

The racist, sexist, heterosexist, and anti atheist decision of the Sundance Festival to stay in the Hate State of Utah is truly disturbing. The people that run the festival are perfectly aware of the fact that there is no way to hold a major event in Utah without financing the Mormon Church's multitude of crusades to promote discrimination and violence against people they hate.

For years, the Sundance Festival and Channel have economically exploited lgbt film lovers. Yet, they see no reason to pay the queer community back by getting out of Utah. That one sided and abusive relationship must come to an end. Queers need to boycott the Sundance Festival and block the Sundance Channel until the festival is taken out of the Mormon theocracy of Utah.

The fightback should not be limited to Sundance. The Marriott Hotel chain is trying to distance itself from the bigotry of its upper management and its major Mormon shareholders. Yet, these people give shitloads of money to a white supremacist, misogynist, homophobic, and anti atheist hate group: the Mormon Church.

There is no way to stay in a Marriott Hotel without financing bigotry and oppression against a variety of minority groups. The same is equally true about traveling to Utah. Those facts may make people uncomfortable, but facts don't stop being facts because some people don't want to face them.

Many who oppose these boycotts are too emotionally attached to their stereotype of gay and bisexual men as weak and helpless, completely unwilling to defend ourselves from our oppressors. The opponents of the boycott will just have to get over it.

 

How Bad Would Larry Summers Be as Treasury Secretary?

Posted by libhom Saturday, November 15, 2008 1 comments



In a previous posting, I discussed how Summers' efforts for deregulation and corporate controlled trade deals make him too dangerous and incompetent to be Treasury Secretary. Summers' misogyny and racism are important concerns as well.

Some people are saying that Summers is no longer a favorite to be chosen as Treasury Secretary. I don't think we can take chances. That useless whack job must be stopped. If he gets the job, I'm almost certain there will be another stock market crash.

Here are some good blog postings against Summers. Let's hope Obama is serious about real change and doesn't pick one of the worst Clinton administration retreads imaginable.

Larry Summers So Brilliant He Forecast the Financial Crisis After It Started!

Tell me he won't do this!

Obama's Appointments: Change or More of the Same?

Larry Summers Should Not Be Treasury Secretary (excellent points about what Summers did to Russia and the Russian people are included)

 

In a functioning democracy, the process of elections is even more important than the outcome.

After Obama won, I remember hearing people question how could Obama have won only by 6 or 7% over "Keating Five" McCain in this economic client and after an unpopular and seemingly endless war in Iraq. Racism explains part of it, but massive GOP election fraud also played a role in keeping the election as close as it was.

It may also be that election fraud was the causal agent in the "victory" of Proposition 8 in California. From Marc Crispin Miller 11/14/08:

As we think about the possibility that Prop 8 was not really passed by California’s voters, let’s note something that the press, and others, won’t discuss: i.e., that the entire apparatus of computerized voting in this country–the e-voting machines and op-scans and central tabulators, etc.–is largely owned by members of the
Christianist far right.

Diebold and ES&S were both begun by Bob and Todd Urosevich, two ardent Oklahoma theocrats, while Triad, which makes the central vote tabulators used in Ohio in 2004, is owned by the Rapp family. SmartTech, the company that helped Bush/Cheney steal that state, is owned by evangelical Jeff Averbeck; and his associate Mike Connell, owner of GovTech Solutions, which also helped to steal Ohio, among other races, was motivated to such work by his desire “to save the babies,” according to Stephen Spoonamore.

Why are there so many Christianists among the owners of those companies? Because the rigging of elections is the only way that that fringe movement ever could impose its theocratic program on the rest of us. As Paul Weyrich used to say out loud, the Christianists despise democracy. After all, that system, if allowed to stand, would put the sinful secular majority in charge–and that can’t be allowed.

And so, whether or not it turns out that Prop 8 was rigged to pass, we need to take a good hard look at those machines, and at the companies that own them–and keep them out of our elections.

Meanwhile, let’s all stop assuming that last week’s outcome was legitimate, and look closely at the evidence around Prop 8.

This analysis is disturbing enough. Yet, there is another way that elections can be stolen with these machines: outside hacking.

Ars technica has an article on how easily these electronic voting machines can be hacked by someone with tech skills. There are plenty of Christian extremists who would be more than happy to do something like this. They would be stupid enough to think that this kind of dishonest behavior would get them into heaven.

Voting rights issues have become critically important to anyone challenging the agenda of the Christian Taliban.

 

Support the Employee Free Choice Act

Posted by libhom Friday, November 14, 2008 4 comments

AFL-CIO
Thanks to Some Notes on Living for reminding me that I need to blog on this issue.

Here's some info from the AFL-CIO about the Employee Free Choice Act.

WHAT IS THE EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT?

The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would enable working people to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring workers’ freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union. It would:

* Establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.

* Provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes (PDF).

* Allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

The area that the corporate media are attacking the most is the last, usually refered to by both sides of the issue as "card check." Traditionally, employees get to vote on whether or not they want to be unionized by what is supposed to be secret ballot. However, employers use all sorts of intimidation tactics that cause problems for pro-union employees in the confrontational atmosphere of union authorization votes. The employers often fire union organizers and sometimes fire employees merely for saying they will vote for the union. Under current labor law, the worst the employers will have to face is giving the employees back pay and giving them their jobs back. Often, employees have to spend enormous amounts of time (and money if they don't get help from the union) to win even this back.

Card check allows a majority of employees to choose to be union without giving employers the chance to harass them directly or through union busting consultants. Labor laws in this country are highly anti union, and the standard of living for middle class Americans has suffered terribly for it. Even non union people get screwed over by this, since unionization tends to increase pay and benefits while improving working conditions throughout industries and localities.

Now that you have read the preceding two paragraphs, you can consider yourself inoculated from corporate media bs that will make card check sound downright sinister.

Please Sign the Petition Supporting the Employee Free Choice Act!

 



Hat tip to Black Woman Thinks

I should note that most of this I've seen from other sources, some of it from Mormon missionaries who visited my parents' home when I was a kid. What should anyone expect from a religion that was plagiarized from science fiction?

The irony is that Mormonism would be quite funny and entertaining if not for its incredibly hateful and bigoted ideology.

 

A rightist blog is making a tempest in a teapot over a dispute as to whether Obama aids revealed policy details from the Bush/Obama discussion in the White House.

The use of gun emoticons is a dubious practice under any circumstances. However, using them in a discussion of the president elect looks too close to an assassination threat for comfort. Yet, that's exactly what some of the commenters did. It also is weird that the owner of the blog even offers gun emoticons. I'm already waxing nostalgic about the time when emotions were for smiles and winks.

These rightists need to be more responsible, and quite frankly, more patriotic.

 

Stimulus plans are the buzz of the news outlets, yet very little is discussed in specifics. The failure of the Bush/Reid/Pelosi stimulus plan earlier this year shows that future ones need to be designed more intelligently.

What Should Not Be Included in a Stimulus Plan?

Tax cuts for the rich: Rich people speculate wildly with money from tax cuts, as we have seen with the various investment bubbles and the Crash of 2008. Giving more money to the rich just hurts the economy. If anything, we should use tax increases to make them pay something closer to the fair share in taxes.

Tax cuts or rebates for the rest of us: We won't flush the money down the toilet like rich people usually do, but tax cuts for those of us who are middle class and for the poor won't stimulate the economy. Why? The main reason people are not spending is job insecurity. A small tax cut or a few hundred dollars in a rebate won't open up peoples' wallets when they are afraid of losing their jobs. Any serious effort to stimulate the economy must involve direct job creation. Tax cuts for the middle class and the poor might be part of an economic justice bill, but no one should pretend that they will get us out of our current mess.

What Should Be Included in a Stimulus Plan?

Ending the Iraq War: The Iraq War is a huge drain on our economy. Bringing people and their paychecks home would be a big help.

Lengthening the time people can receive unemployment insurance: Making job loss less frightening makes spending less frightening. Simple logic often gets lost in corporate media that are focused on making their rich owners and advertisers happy.

Public works focusing on long term needs: A sensible stimulus plan won't just be about fixing our short term troubles. It will provide long term economic assistance that will help to pay off the money being spent now. For instance, fixing our crumbling infrastructure will prevent economic disruptions caused by failed bridges, water mains, etc. Massive expansion of public transportation will reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and fight global warming, both of which will help the economy in the long term. Even NYC is not adequately covered by its subway system, and the city has the best subway system in the country. America can and must do better than that.

Financial support for state and local governments: State and local governments aren't allowed to run deficits, and that means that jobs are being cut due to falling tax revenues. Our economy can not afford more lost jobs. The bailout should include financial help to states tied to preventing layoffs.

Expanded healthcare coverage: This will create jobs for doctors, nurses, and administrators in a time when we need more jobs. It also would make currently uninsured people more secure to spend money since they are less likely to be bankrupted by a medical emergency. Expanding the services of the Veterans Administration would be a just and politically easy place to start, but the general population needs help too.

Greening the federal government: A lot of people could be hired to install solar and wind power at government facilities. That would create future savings for the government while putting downward pressure on energy prices for the entire country. Pushing telecommuting for more federal, state, and local government employees would reduce our use of foreign oil, reducing our foreign borrowing.

Carefully bailing out the automakers: This is an area where American workers and the taxpayers could get screwed if Congress and Obama are not careful. A bailout for the automakers should be used exclusively to help pay the wages and salaries of American employees. The automakers should lose the portion of the bailout that goes to any employees that get laid off. Otherwise, we will just be paying a bunch of corporations to ship jobs oversees.

Freezing ARM interest rate increases and foreclosures: This wouldn't cost the government any money and would dramatically stimulate the economy. It also would protect banks whose own greed and foolishness keeps them from taking these financially prudent steps on their own.

Update - Increase funding for food stamps: A hunger activist on the WBAI news suggested that increased food stamp funding should be included in the stimulus package. This is an excellent idea. Food stamps, unlike tax cuts, have to be spent. Also, the last thing we need for rebuilding consumer confidence is to have peoples' relatives, friends, and former co-workers hungry or going to soup kitchens. An added benefit of this policy is to prevent layoffs at food markets.

 

It is shocking that anyone would even consider Larry Summers for the new Obama administration, but...

Hat tip to Fetch My Axe.

From Open Left's Petition:

We Need Real Change: Ask Obama's Transition Team to Appoint a Treasury Secretary That Did Not Have a Hand in Deregulating Wall Street

When you sign this petition, your comments will go to John Podesta and Michael Strautmanis of the Obama transition team.

Right now, the rumors are that Larry Summers is one of the leading nominees to become the Treasury Secretary for the Obama administration. During normal times, the Treasury Secretary is an enormously important position, responsible for representing the position of an administration on both the global and domestic economy and making key policy decisions. At this particular moment, the Treasury Secretary is even more significant, responsible for a $700 billion bailout fund and for restoring balance to the American economy during turbulent times.

President-election Obama spoke eloquently and often about the perils of deregulation and trade agreements that do not include worker and environmental protection. These were in fact key distinguishing points between Senator Obama and Senator McCain, and with the financial crisis in mid-September, perhaps quite significant in the election as well. Obama has spoken clearly and effectively on these points, that it is critical that the next Treasury Secretary not continue the legacy of both the Clinton and Bush administration, a legacy of deregulation of financial markets and corporate trade agreements. The deregulation of our financial institutions has led to the current crisis, and threatens the stability of the global economy.

We are asking that Obama match his words with personnel decisions. In 1999, Summers was a proponent within the Clinton administration of the Gramm bill to deregulate the banking industry, and as such, bears responsibility for the current environment. It is not enough to fix the policy apparatus behind the crisis. President-elect Obama must not reward those who got the entire thesis about what makes the economy work wrong. There were advocates in 1999 who foresaw the crisis these policy choices would enable, both Senators like Byron Dorgan and advocacy groups.

No one who ignored the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression and supported deregulation in the 90's is competent to have any role in economic policy whatsoever.

Summers also showed his ignorance of economics by supporting NAFTA, which also has contributed to our liquidity crisis by massively increasing America's foreign debt.
On His Work Moving NAFTA and Other Free Trade Agreements During the Clinton Era

I think the decision to support NAFTA was a crucial one because it was really a watershed as to whether America was going to stand for larger markets, was going to stand for forward defense of our interests by trying to have a more integrated global economy [in] which countries were growing.

I don't know that the Seattle protest against globalization, how linked [those demonstrations] are with some of the financial questions. I find them very sad because it seems to me that there's an enormous amount of very valuable moral energy that is being very, very badly misplaced.

There are children who are working in textile businesses in Asia who would be prostitutes on the streets if they did not have those jobs.

The racist comments raise further questions about Summers, as do other racist and sexist coments by that ignoramus.
Lawrence Summers Flashback: Africa Is 'Under-Polluted'

On December 12, 1991, while serving as chief economist for the World Bank, Summers authored a private memo arguing that the bank should actively encourage the dumping of toxic waste in developing countries, particularly "under populated countries in Africa," which Summers described as "UNDER-polluted."

Summers' remarks on women draw fire

This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same ''innate ability" or ''natural ability" as men in some fields.

To their credit, Harvard eventually canned someone who was so obviously intellectually deficient. It should by noted that public statements by Treasury Secretaries tend to get exaggerated attention from the markets. Summers' foot in mouth disease could get our country into a lot of trouble.

Summers' policies and public record show that he is neither qualified nor capable of playing a constructive role in economic policy or government administration. Summers has been the "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" of economic policy and academic administration.

If Summers becomes Treasury Secretary or gets any other position in the Obama administration, it will show that Obama has learned nothing from the administrative failures of the Bush regime.

Here are two Open Left diary postings on the threat of a Summers appointment.

Larry Summers At Treasury: A Fox in the Henhouse

Larry Summers and His Cute Note to Ken Lay

I also should point out that this is Naomi Klein's Featured Activist Campaign and is on the right hand side of her home page.

Please Sign the Petition!

 

Monks Gone Wild!

Posted by libhom Monday, November 10, 2008 3 comments

I know the title of this post sounds like the name of a gay porno movie, and there certainly is plenty of gay sex in monestaries. But, this post is about a different kind of wild behavior by the monkish set:

Monkfights!

From the BBC 11/9/08:

Israeli police have had to restore order at one of Christianity's holiest sites after a mass brawl broke out between monks in Jerusalem's Old City.

Fighting erupted between Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Christ's crucifixion.

Two monks from each side were detained as dozens of worshippers traded kicks and punches at the shrine, said police.

...

Dressed in the vestments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations, rival monks threw punches and anything they could lay their hands on.

The Greeks blamed the Armenians for not recognising their rights inside the holy site, while the Armenians said the Greeks had violated one of their traditional ceremonies.

This is laugh out loud funny, and it is not the first time the martial monks went at it either.

The whole thing also is weird if you think about it. Who in their right mind would actually fight for space and privileges in the tomb of a cult leader who died roughly 2000 years ago? This is religion at its weirdest.

Of course, who would really want to work in a tomb anyway? Admittedly, the remains would have completely decayed before Columbus realized the world was round, but had no idea how large it was. Still, it sounds gross to me.

Enjoy the combat video from CBS.



 

Once Again, Thank You Cindy Sheehan

Posted by libhom Sunday, November 09, 2008 4 comments

In 2007, I posted a thank you to Ms. Sheehan for her efforts on behalf of the peace movement. Now, I'm moved to thank her again for her daring campaign against the corrupt, heterosexist, racist, war mongering Republican, Nancy Pelosi.

Sheehan got 17% of the vote, which is both impressive and disappointing. It was disappointing because it always is sad when a corrupt bigot like Pelosi gets reelected. It was impressive, given the obstacles Cindy Sheehan faced.

One of them came from many liberals. Some of them were too obsessed on the presidential election to pay attention to what was going on down the ticket. Some of them have become such blindly partisan Democrats that they are unwilling to challenge anyone who even claims to be a Democrat, even when it is a Bush Republican like Pelosi who merely pretends to be a Democrat. However, I do admire the liberals and progressives who stood up for our values by supporting Sheehan.

The biggest obstacle Ms. Sheehan faced was massive censorship of her campaign by the corporate media, which wanted Pelosi's rightist, pro-war policies to continue. I checked Google News for articles on the Sheehan campaign fairly often, and I seldom found anything other than blog postings. The lack of "mainstream" media coverage reminds me of how the corporate interests have censored other liberal candidates in the past.

17% is a start.

I hope that Ms. Sheehan will run again or that another liberal or progressive candidate will challenge Pelosi. It will be of critical importance to get involved in media action to push the corporate publications to be honest enough to cover campaigns that their owners disagree with.

Pelosi can be beaten. Liberals will just have to have the courage and the commitment to back up our values and positions.

 

If you haven't heard of her, Donna Darko is a fanatical racist and faux feminist who dedicated her blog to her personal prejudices for the past few months. In one posting, she actually said that being anti-racist is "racist," something that reminds me of KKK rhetoric from the 70s.

Her biggest obsession was her hatred of Barack Obama. In many ways, her racism took its cues from the Clinton campaign's decision to make white supremacy their main campaign theme. Her desire to keep the White House lily white was so obsessive that she constantly praised Sarah Palin, a notorious anti-choice misogynist. One of Darko's postings on Osama bin Palin actually was called, "Wow, she's great." You just can't make this stuff up.

The funny side of Donna Darko's rantings were her claims that Obama could not win. This was one particularly amusing post dated 9/12/08.

This election is over.

h/t PUMA Pac

Thanks to Senator Obama for proving my thesis over and over again. That race was a red herring all along.

It’s not too late to win the election. But it’s getting very late. Obama can put aside his ego and be replaced by Clinton under the DNC’s 2008 Call Rules and Regulations, Section G.

She wanted the Democratic nomination stolen through some kind of scam even that late.

Sigh.

When it comes to powerful, bigoted institutions like the Mormon Church, a fightback is needed. However, when it comes to small time hate mongers like the Donna Darkos of the world, the best approach is to mock them and laugh at their stupidity.

 

map of Utah with a graph image going downward

I just saw a commercial promoting Utah skiing. How funny! I guess Utah's business interests are realizing that decades of hatred and bigotry from the Mormons are coming home to roost.

It's about time.

 

Time to Boycott Utah

Posted by libhom Saturday, November 08, 2008 9 comments

The Mormon Church violated my inalienable rights as an atheist by meddling in politics on California's proposition 8. They have been using the power of the state to shove their racist, sexist, and heterosexist views down the throats of people who do not share their hateful and bigoted faith for years. What have the rest of the people in Utah done to fight against Mormonism?

(sound of crickets chirping)

I will boycott Utah until that state meets the following three conditions.

1) The state legislature must publicly condemn the racism, sexism, and heterosexism of the Mormon Church.

2) The state passes a full set of civil rights laws protecting lesbians, gay, bisexuals, and transgender people.

3) The people of Utah crack down on the Mormons and get those incredibly evil bigots under control.

The hateful and bigoted obsessions of the Mormon Church go beyond same sex marriage to a wide variety of efforts to promote discrimination and violence against anyone who isn't simultaneously heterosexual, white, and male. Until Utah takes strong action against Mormonism, they aren't getting my money.

Remember

Being a member of the Mormon Church is a deliberately racist action.

Being a member of the Mormon Church is a deliberately misogynistic action.

Being a member of the Mormon Church is a deliberately heterosexist action.

Being a member of the Mormon Church is a deliberate act of bigotry and discrimination against atheists.


There is no reason why anyone needs to be a Mormon or a part of any church. Belonging to a hate group like the LDS is going out of one's way to be vicious and bigoted.

 

Photo of Natural Gas burning off at oil field
Photo (location unknown): todbaker

From Reuters 11/7/08:

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said its planned gas venture with Iraq's state oil company will have a monopoly on collecting and marketing gas extracted as a by-product of oil production.

Shell spokeswoman Kirsten Smart said in an email that the joint venture would be "the sole associated natural gas gathering, processing, treating and marketing company in the Governate of Basra."

The Anglo-Dutch oil major and Baghdad are finalising details of the plan before a final agreement is signed. The venture will be 51 percent owned by the state-owned South Gas Company and 49 percent by Shell.

Can you say "pillage and plunder"? I knew you could.

Of course, the contract isn't valid. Contracts under duress are not, and the presence of a foreign occupying army certainly qualifies as duress. I hope the Iraqis tear it up once the occupation ends.

 

The money spent by the Mormon Church to pass Proposition 8 has generated a lot of anger in the queer community. That anger is perfectly understandable. Atheists should be angry too, given the fact that a church was meddling in politics to impose its religious beliefs on others who don't share them. Religious politicking is inherently discriminatory against us nonbelievers.

These circumstances seem like an excellent opportunity to educate people on the Mormon Church and its origins. The Latter Day Shitheads' leaders constantly lie and distort about their church to make it seem more socially acceptable. Never mind that the Mormon Church is openly misogynistic and heterosexist. Never mind that they still preach white supremacist hate when they are speaking among themselves in their own temples.

Perhaps when more people know the true nature of Mormonism, they will be less likely to go along with that church. The facts that I will be quoting about the origins of Mormonism are ones that I have read from numerous other sources in the past.

All churches start as cults. Like most of the people who start cults, Joseph Smith was a liar and a ripoff artist. Here is some information from The Mormon Curtain, an ex-Mormon website.

SOLOMON SPAULDING DISGUISED AS JOSEPH SMITH

First and foremost, of course, among Mormonism's persistent plagiarists was its charismatic charlatan and philandering founder, Joseph Smith himself (1805-1844).

Smith (with the conniving assistance of Sidney Rigdon) ripped off the fictional manuscript writings of Congregationalist minister Solomon Spaulding (1761-1816) for the purpose of creating the equally fictional Book of Mormon.

In his devastating expose' of Smith's theft of others' hard-earned intellectual property (since he had no honest intellect of his own), researcher Vernal Holley exposes the spawned-by-Spaulding connection:

"[There are] many similarities between Spaulding's 'Manuscript Story' and the Book of Mormon. These are not vague similariites also found in other adventure stories; they are unique only to the works in question.

"How many books exist that have the same story outline as the Book of Mormon? How many stories tell of a record being written by the ancestors of the American Indians and buried by them to come forth at some future time when other people inherit their lands? How many tell of the same worship ceremonies, cultural technology, seer stones, and give the same descriptions of their fortifications and war stories? How many novels tell of a white God person whose teachings brought about a long period of peace followed by a war between kindred tribes in which the losing people are exterminated? Many similarities in the literary style of the two works have also been identified including identical word combinations, and the geograhpical settings of the two stories appear to be in the same area?

"Most skeptical readers of Spaulding's 'Manuscript Story' encounter difficulty in recognizing similarities between it and the Book of Mormon because they expect it to be written in the King James style complete with sentences beginning with "And it came to pass" and personal names similar to those in the Book of Mormon. When they cannot find these elements, they may lost interest and find it difficult to complete even a first reading. The problem is compounded when the reader is not a veteran student of the Book of Mormon. For example, if the reader is unaware that Gazelem, the Book of Mormon servant of the Lord, possessed a seer stone, the Spaulding seer stone might be passed over as insignificant.

"I believe that anyone who carefully studies all the material in [my] report will see that a relationship does exist between Solomon Spaulding's unpublished writing, called 'Manuscript Story,' and the Book of Mormon. The only significant difference between the two story outlines is the inclusion of the romance between Prince Eleson and Princess Lamess in 'Manuscript Story.' There is no such romance in the Book of Mormon.

"All the same, [Hugh] Nibley's assertion that the similarities between the 'Manuscript Story' and the Book of Mormon 'add up to nothing' seems to me to be an unfair conclusion. I believe the application of Nibley's rule (the closer the resemblance, the closer the connection) leaves little doubt that a connection does exist between Solomon Spaulding's writing and the Book of Mormon.

"So the question remains: How did this relationship come about? And, was the unfinished Spaulding 'Manuscript Story'--or an enlarged version--used by Joseph Smith as the groundwork for the Book of Mormon?"


(Vernal Holley, Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look--A comprehensive study of the similarities between the Book of Mormon and the writings of Solomon Spaulding, 3rd edition, revised and enlarged [Roy, Utah: Vernal Holley, publisher, 1992], pp. 71-72)

People curious about the origins of Mormonism are encouraged to explore the online version of the book listed in the above paragraph. It is an earlier edition, but the pertinent information won't change.

 

Here is the core of the Iraq policy as stated by the Obama transistion team's Change.Gov website:

A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal

Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – more than 7 years after the war began.

Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

This isn't responsible, though it is less foolish than the McCain policy of staying in Iraq at full strength forever. The only responsible Iraq policy is a rapid and complete withdrawal of US troops from that country. The slaughter of the Iraqi people by US troops needs to end sooner, not later. Given America's economic crises, we simply cannot afford to flush hundreds of billions of dollars down the toilet in a cruel and senseless war.

Obama needs to take seriously the fact that the Iraq War aids and abets Al Qaeda's terrorist training and recruitment efforts worldwide. A serious war against actual terrorism cannot be sabotaged by the counterproductive occupation of Iraq.

Obama needs to be bold, not intimidated by the corrupt corporations making money off of the war. America's economy won't begin to heal until we cure the festering wound of the Iraqtastrophe.

Contact Obama Transition Team Now!

 

Sarah Palin Should Resign as Alaska's Governor

Posted by libhom Wednesday, November 05, 2008 8 comments

The Alaska state legislature, in a committee dominated by Republicans, has ruled that Ms. Palin violated Alaska's ethics laws. She has left a trail of wrongful terminations and attempts at wrongful terminations.

The vice presidential campaign might be a slightly plausible excuse for postponing the resignation. Now, there is no excuse.

It's time for Palin to resign.

Given that it appears that Alaska just reelected a convicted criminal to the Senate, Palin may be safe.

Is Alaska the new Tammany Hall?

 

Republicans Boo Obama at McCain's Concession Speech

Posted by libhom Tuesday, November 04, 2008 14 comments

I just saw this.

What more can I say about Republicans?

 

This is fabulous.

Elizabeth Dole, a heterosexist bigot who made bigotry against freethinkers her main campaign theme, was just projected by MSNBC to lose her Senate seat.

My only complaint is that we aren't seeing anywhere near enough of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

 

Using the first few paragraphs and then linking to full postings has gotten popular these days. I wonder what the readers of this blog think about this. I have my own preference, but I think the views of the people reading this blog are more important.



Vote Early, But Not Often!

 

In a functioning democracy, the process of elections is even more important than the outcome.



Hat Tip to Toner Mishap

Don't let anyone stop you from voting!

 

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