Saturday, June 30, 2007

The leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34 is H.I.V./AIDS

Op-Ed Columnist
TimesSelect When Is Enough Enough?

By BOB HERBERT
Published: June 30, 2007

Chances are you didn’t hear it, but on Thursday night Senator Hillary Clinton said, “If H.I.V./AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.”

Her comment came on the same day that a malevolent majority on the U.S. Supreme Court threw a brick through the window of voluntary school integration efforts.

There comes a time when people are supposed to get angry. The rights and interests of black people in the U.S. have been under assault for the longest time, and in the absence of an effective counterforce, that assault has only grown more brutal.

Have you looked at the public schools lately? Have you looked at the prisons? Have you looked at the legions of unemployed blacks roaming the neighborhoods of big cities across the country? These jobless African-Americans, so many of them men, are so marginal in the view of the wider society, so insignificant, so invisible, they aren’t even counted in the government’s official jobless statistics.

And now this new majority on the Supreme Court seems committed to a legal trajectory that would hurl blacks back to the bad old days of the Jim Crow era.

Where’s the outcry? Where’s the line in the sand that the prejudiced portion of the population is not allowed to cross?

Mrs. Clinton’s comment was made at a forum of Democratic presidential candidates at Howard University that was put together by Tavis Smiley, the radio and television personality, and broadcast nationally by PBS. The idea was to focus on issues of particular concern to African-Americans.

It’s discouraging that some of the biggest issues confronting blacks — the spread of AIDS, chronic joblessness and racial discrimination, for example — are not considered mainstream issues.

Senator John Edwards offered a disturbingly bleak but accurate picture of the lives of many young blacks: “When you have young African-American men who are completely convinced that they’re either going to die or go to prison and see absolutely no hope in their lives; when they live in an environment where the people around them don’t earn a decent wage; when they go to schools that are second-class schools compared to the wealthy suburban areas — they don’t see anything getting better.”

The difficult lives and often tragic fates of such young men are not much on the minds of so-called mainstream Americans, or the political and corporate elites who run the country. More noise needs to be made. There’s something very wrong with a passive acceptance of the degraded state in which so many African-Americans continue to live.

Mr. Smiley is also organizing a forum of Republican candidates to be held in September. I wholeheartedly applaud his efforts. But if black people were more angry, and if they could channel that anger into political activism — first and foremost by voting as though their lives and the lives of their children depended on it — there would not be a need to have separate political forums to address their concerns.

If black people could find a way to come together in sky-high turnouts on Election Day, if they showed up at polling booths in numbers close to the maximum possible turnout, if they could set the example for all other Americans about the importance of exercising the franchise, the politicians would not dare to ignore their concerns.

For black people, especially, the current composition of the Supreme Court should be the ultimate lesson in the importance of voting in a presidential election. No branch of the government has been more crucial than the judiciary in securing the rights and improving the lives of blacks over the past five or six decades.

George W. Bush, in a little more than six years, has tilted the court so radically that it is now, like the administration itself, relentlessly hostile to the interests of black people. That never would have happened if blacks had managed significantly more muscular turnouts in the 2000 and 2004 elections. (The war in Iraq would not have happened, either.)

There are, of course, many people, black and white, who are working on a vast array of important issues. But much, much more needs to be done. And blacks, in particular, need to intervene more directly in the public policy matters that concern them.

In the 1960s, there were radicals running around screaming about black power. But the real power in this country has always been the power of the vote. Black Americans have not come close to maximizing that power.

It’s not too late.
clipped from select.nytimes.com


When Is Enough Enough?

Published: June 30, 2007
Chances are you didn’t hear it, but on Thursday night Senator Hillary Clinton said, “If H.I.V./AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.”
Her comment came on the same day that a malevolent majority on the U.S. Supreme Court threw a brick through the window of voluntary school integration efforts.
There comes a time when people are supposed to get angry. The rights and interests of black people in the U.S. have been under assault for the longest time, and in the absence of an effective counterforce, that assault has only grown more brutal.
It’s discouraging that some of the biggest issues confronting blacks — the spread of AIDS, chronic joblessness and racial discrimination, for example — are not considered mainstream issues.
the administration itself, relentlessly hostile to the interests of black people.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Supremes and Three Bad Rulings...a new rock-em band

We can thank Bushco for these kind of rulings, and we all can expect some more of the same for a long time to come. Thank you Bushco!
Here's the complete article
======================

Editorial
Three Bad Rulings
Published: June 26, 2007

The Supreme Court hit the trifecta yesterday: Three cases involving the First Amendment. Three dismaying decisions by Chief Justice John Roberts’s new conservative majority.

Chief Justice Roberts and the four others in his ascendant bloc used the next-to-last decision day of this term to reopen the political system to a new flood of special-interest money, to weaken protection of student expression and to make it harder for citizens to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state. In the process, the reconfigured court extended its noxious habit of casting aside precedents without acknowledging it — insincere judicial modesty scored by Justice Antonin Scalia in a concurring opinion.

First, campaign finance. Four years ago, a differently constituted court upheld sensible provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act designed to prevent corporations and labor unions from circumventing the ban on their spending in federal campaigns by bankrolling phony “issue ads.” These ads purport to just educate voters about a policy issue, but are really aimed at a particular candidate.

The 2003 ruling correctly found that the bogus issue ads were the functional equivalent of campaign ads and upheld the Congressional restrictions on corporate and union money. Yet the Roberts court shifted course in response to sham issue ads run on radio and TV by a group called Wisconsin Right to Life with major funding from corporations opposed to Senator Russell Feingold, the Democrat who co-authored the act.

It opened a big new loophole in time to do mischief in the 2008 elections. The exact extent of the damage is unclear. But the four dissenters were correct in warning that the court’s hazy new standard for assessing these ads is bound to invite evasion and fresh public cynicism about big money and politics.

The decision contained a lot of pious language about protecting free speech. But magnifying the voice of wealthy corporations and unions over the voice of candidates and private citizens is hardly a free speech victory. Moreover, the professed devotion to the First Amendment did not extend to allowing taxpayers to challenge White House aid to faith-based organizations as a violation of church-state separation. The controlling opinion by Justice Samuel Alito offers a cockeyed reading of precedent and flimsy distinctions between executive branch initiatives and Congressionally authorized spending to deny private citizens standing to sue. That permits the White House to escape accountability when it improperly spends tax money for religious purposes.

Nor did the court’s concern for free speech extend to actually allowing free speech in the oddball case of an Alaska student who was suspended from high school in 2002 after he unfurled a banner reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” while the Olympic torch passed. The ruling by Chief Justice Roberts said public officials did not violate the student’s rights by punishing him for words that promote a drug message at an off-campus event. This oblique reference to drugs hardly justifies such mangling of sound precedent and the First Amendment.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Three Bad Rulings
Published: June 26, 2007

The Supreme Court hit the trifecta yesterday: Three cases involving the First Amendment. Three dismaying decisions by Chief Justice John Roberts’s new conservative majority.

Chief Justice Roberts and the four others in his ascendant bloc used the next-to-last decision day of this term to reopen the political system to a new flood of special-interest money, to weaken protection of student expression and to make it harder for citizens to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state. In the process, the reconfigured court extended its noxious habit of casting aside precedents without acknowledging it — insincere judicial modesty scored by Justice Antonin Scalia in a concurring opinion.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

You own it!.....565 million acres

The full article

Most Americans don’t own a summer home on Cape Cod, or a McMansion in the Rockies, but they have this birthright: an area more than four times the size of France. If you’re a citizen, you own it — about 565 million acres.

The deed on a big part of this public land inheritance dates to a pair of Republican class warriors from a hundred years ago: President Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the Forest Service.

Both were rich. Both were well-educated. Both were headstrong and quirky. Pinchot slept on a wooden pillow and had his valet wake him with ice water to the face. Teddy and G.P., as they were known, sometimes wrestled with each other, or swam naked in the Potomac.

In establishing the people’s estate, they fought Gilded Age titans — railroads, timber barons, mine owners — and their enablers in the Senate. And make no mistake: these acts may have been cast as the founding deeds of the environmental movement, but they were as much about class as conservation.

Pinchot had studied forestry in France, where a peasant couldn’t make a campfire without being subject to penalties. In England, he had seen how the lords of privilege had their way over the outdoors. In the United States, he and T.R. envisioned the ultimate expression of Progressive-era values: a place where a tired factory hand could be renewed — lord for a day.

“In the national forests, big money was not king,” wrote Pinchot. The Forest Service was beloved, he said, because “it stood up for the honest small man and fought the predatory big man as no government bureau had done before.”

A century later, I drove through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on my way to climb Mount Hood, and found the place in tatters. Roads are closed, or in disrepair. Trails are washed out. The campgrounds, those that are open, are frayed and unkempt. It looks like the forestry equivalent of a neighborhood crack house.

In the Pinchot woods, you see the George W. Bush public lands legacy. If you want to drill, or cut trees, or open a gas line — the place is yours. Most everything else has been trashed or left to bleed to death.

Remember the scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when Jimmy Stewart’s character sees what would happen to Bedford Falls if the richest man in town took over? All those honky-tonks, strip joints and tenement dwellings in Pottersville?

If Roosevelt roamed the West today, he’d find some of the same thing in the land he entrusted to future presidents. The national wildlife system, started by T.R., has been emasculated. President Bush has systematically pared the budget to the point where, this year, more than 200 refuges could be without any staff at all.

The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees some of the finest open range, desert canyons and high-alpine valleys in the world, was told early on in the Bush years to make drilling for oil and gas their top priority. A demoralized staff has followed through, but many describe their jobs the way a cowboy talks about having to shoot his horse.

In Colorado, the bureau just gave the green light to industrial development on the aspen-forested high mountain paradise called the Roan Plateau. In typical fashion, the administration made a charade of listening to the public about what to do with the land. More than 75,000 people wrote them — 98 percent opposed to drilling.

For most of the Bush years, the Interior Department was nominally run by a Stepford secretary, Gale Norton, while industry insiders like J. Steven Griles — the former coal lobbyist who pled guilty this year to obstruction of justice — ran the department.

Same in the Forest Service, where an ex-timber industry insider, Mark Rey, guides administration policy.

They don’t take care of these lands because they see them as one thing: a cash-out. Thus, in Bush’s budget proposal this year, he guts the Forest Service budget yet again, while floating the idea of selling thousands of acres to the highest bidder. The administration says it wants more money for national parks. But the parks are $10 billion behind on needed repairs; the proposal is a pittance.

Roosevelt had his place on Oyster Bay. Pinchot had a family estate in Pennsylvania. Bush has the ranch in Crawford. Only one of them has never been able to see beyond the front porch.

Timothy Egan, a former Seattle correspondent for The Times and the author of “The Worst Hard Time,” is a guest columnist.
clipped from select.nytimes.com

This Land Was My Land
Published: June 23, 2007

MOUNT HOOD, Ore.

Most Americans don’t own a summer home on Cape Cod, or a McMansion in the Rockies, but they have this birthright: an area more than four times the size of France. If you’re a citizen, you own it — about 565 million acres.

A century later, I drove through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on my way to climb Mount Hood, and found the place in tatters. Roads are closed, or in disrepair. Trails are washed out. The campgrounds, those that are open, are frayed and unkempt. It looks like the forestry equivalent of a neighborhood crack house.

In the Pinchot woods, you see the George W. Bush public lands legacy. If you want to drill, or cut trees, or open a gas line — the place is yours. Most everything else has been trashed or left to bleed to death.

President Bush has systematically pared the budget to the point where, this year, more than 200 refuges could be without any staff at all.
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tiniest songbird

Just wanted to swing away from politics for a short time. This caught my eye. I like songbirds. This guy sure is tiny.
clipped from starbulletin.com
art4


Fresh out of the shell, it tipped the scales at 0.94 grams, about the same as a paper clip. That makes the rare baby 'akepa the smallest songbird ever reared by hand.


With a steady diet of cricket and mealworm guts, bee larvae and pieces of hard-boiled egg, the endangered hatchling is expected to continue to bulk up at the San Diego Zoo.


Its destination: a forest oasis in the middle of a lava desert on the slopes of Mauna Kea, perhaps as early as August.

art4


An endangered Hawaiian 'akepa weighing no more than a pebble is "the smallest songbird ever hatched and reared by hand," says a San Diego Zoo official.


It weighed 0.94 gram, less than 1/30th of an ounce, the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program reported.


"It is absolutely without question the smallest bird ever hatched in our program," Alan Lieberman, manager of the Zoological Society of San Diego program, said yesterday by telephone.

art4
art4
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Conservative America is a Myth

Need to check out the full report for details.
clipped from mediamatters.org
Why a Conservative America Is a Myth
Americans
are progressive across a wide range of controversial issues, and they're
growing more progressive all the time.
on issue after issue, the majority of
Americans hold progressive positions.
American opinion has grown
more and more progressive over the past few decades.
The role of government - Americans support an
active government that tackles problems, provides services, and aids those
in need.
The economy - Americans support increasing
the minimum wage and strong unions,
Social issues - Americans support legal
abortion and embryonic stem cell research;
Security - Americans support a
progressive approach to national security
The environment - By enormous margins, Americans
favor strong environmental protections
Energy - Americans support energy
conservation and the development of alternative fuels.
Health care - Americans clearly favor universal coverage
the facts are impossible to ignore.
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“The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth,”

clipped from www.opednews.com
New Report Documents Progressive American Majority

Independent Public Polls Debunk Conventional Wisdom
That Americans Agree With Conservative Agenda

Report attached as PDF or available online at:


http://mediamatters.org/progmaj/

Washington, D.C. – Today, Media Matters for America and Campaign for America’s Future released a special report, “The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth,” documenting how the conventional wisdom that Americans are overwhelmingly conservative is fundamentally false. Through decades of public opinion data from nonpartisan sources, the report shows the majority of Americans hold progressive positions on a broad range of issues.
The role of government -- 69 percent of Americans believe the government “should care for those who can’t care for themselves”;
The economy -- 77 percent of Americans think Congress should increase the minimum wage;
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Monday, June 11, 2007

Outing the Out of Touch

A great article by Maureed Dowd.
clipped from select.nytimes.com

Published: June 10, 2007

Be honest. Who would you rather share a foxhole with: a gay soldier or Mitt Romney?

A gay soldier, of course. In a dicey situation like that, you need someone steadfast who knows who he is and what he believes, even if he’s not allowed to say it out loud.

Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue, as the gloriously gay Oscar Wilde said. And gays are the sacrifice that hypocritical Republican candidates offer to placate “values” voters — even though some candidates are not so finicky about morals regarding their own affairs and divorces.

They may coo over the photo of Dick Cheney, whose re-election campaign demonized gays, proudly smiling with his new grandson, the first baby of his lesbian daughter, Mary.

But they’ll hold the line, by jiminy, against gay Americans who are willing to die or be horribly disfigured in the cursed Bush/Cheney war in Iraq.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

"There is No God Higher Than Truth," Mahatma Gandhi said.

clipped from www.buzzflash.com
There is No God Higher Than Truth

A perfect message for the Democratic members of Congress who would pander to the "faith industry," rather than taking principled action against the illegal actions of the Bush Administration.



"There is No God Higher Than Truth," Mahatma Gandhi said.



Were it only so in the United States today.



Instead, we have an executive branch that gives opportunistic lip service to a "God," while reveling in dishonesty, deception and lies.



And the Democrats in Congress are too timid to assert that truth and the rule of law are the "kings" of America, not a politcally crass appeal to the "God Squad."



Gandhi is the model of the power of one.



He belies the notion that to advocate for peace is to negotiate from weakness.



After all, he defeated an empire.

The power of one was able to peacefully move multitudes
Gandhi based his movement on the notion that truth and justice would triumph over the brutal assertion of imperial power.



And he succeeded.
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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Four little words in the Constitution.
clipped from news.yahoo.com

Senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd (D-CT) had a great column on the Huffington Post Thursday, in which he discussed his Restoring the Constitution Act (RCA) and the need to revive America's moral authority in the world, while beginning the process of repairing a U.S. Constitution torn to shreds by the Bush administration.

"One of the saddest days in my 26-year career in the Senate occurred last fall when the Congress passed the Military Commissions Act (MCA), allowing evidence obtained through torture to be admitted into evidence, denying individuals the right to counsel, the right to invoke the Geneva Conventions," wrote Dodd. "What is at stake is whether America stands for what is right or what is wrong - whether we stand for justice that secures America or vengeance that weakens us. What is at stake is the rule of law, America's moral authority and their vital connection to America's security."

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Beyond Bush...By Fareed Zakaria...Newsweek Magazine

Fareed tells it like it is.
clipped from www.msnbc.msn.com

Beyond Bush

What the world needs is an open, confident America.

In 19 months he will be a private citizen, giving speeches to insurance executives. America, however, will have to move on and restore its place in the world. To do this we must first tackle the consequences of our foreign policy of fear. Having spooked ourselves into believing that we have no option but to act fast, alone, unilaterally and pre-emptively, we have managed in six years to destroy decades of international good will, alienate allies, embolden enemies and yet solve few of the major international problems we face.
In a global survey released last week, most countries polled believed that China would act more responsibly in the world than the United States. How does a Leninist dictatorship come across more sympathetically than the oldest constitutional democracy in the world?
The problem today is not that America is too strong but that it is seen as too arrogant, uncaring and insensitive.
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Friday, June 01, 2007

How to win the war

This statement from Bill Maher says it all.
clipped from www.opednews.com

Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!"

Could it be that we've gotten lucky, and the same manifest character defects that made this mess possible in the first place will now get us out of it (or at least, prevent it from getting too much worse)? Has Bush decided to hide under a rock until his term expires and then just slither away?

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Native of the Philadelphia "Kensington and Alleganey" northeast area. I spent 4 years in the Air Force (Titan-II missles in Tuscon Arizona). I Am currently retired, and among other adventures I spent 28 years working for AT&T in Telecommunications. I've lived in Florida for 33 years....20 years in Hollywood Fla., and 13 years North Florida. I've been married 42 years, and am a proud father of three adult offspring. All of them contributing to society in a very useful and creative manner.