Category Archives: human rights

Bad. More bad.

So SCOTUS has decided:  protections accorded human beings by the Bill of Rights are extended, yet again, to Corporations.

  • Since corporations are persons and speech is money, political donations are from them are unrestricted. It’s Free Speech, protected by the First Amendment.
  • And now, some for-profit corporations have been granted Freedom of Religion and the attendant protections to exercised those ‘freedoms’ even when in opposition to the civil laws of the land.

Heed Thomas Jefferson:

“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”

Say no more.

He believed in our better natures

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble Nelson Mandela6a00d83451f25369e200e54f0c830c8833-800winelson_mandela-               go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

“I am not saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”

MANDELA6X432(Sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with his one time jailer, South African President de Klerk.)

Give it to Malala

http://msnbctv.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/179409189.jpgThe Nobel Committee awards the Peace Prize tomorrow. A worthy recipient awaits.

Give it to Malala.

UPDATE: They passed her over again. From Foreign Policy (link all wobbly):

Top News: The Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its work that has “defined the use of chemical weapons as taboo under international law,” according to the committee’s statement.

The OPCW, a U.N.-backed organization, has risen to new prominence for its role in disarming Syria’s chemical weapons. “People are still getting their heads around being in the global limelight,” said a spokesman for the OPCW, comparing it to “building an airplane and flying it at the same time.” Though events in Syria figured in the decision, the Nobel Committee stressed that the prize was awarded for the OPCW’s work since its founding in 1997 to assure adherence to the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW is currently assessing chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria and determining the best method to dispose of them — a plan that might include sending them to Norway — coincidentally the home of the Nobel Prize — for disposal.

The decision comes after weeks of speculation: Other individuals believed to have been in contention for the prize included Malala Yousafzai, the young women’s education advocate from Pakistan targeted by the Taliban, and Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who has set up hospitals for victims of rape.

It’s so ugly and we allow it

This clip is from QI, a British panel show, hosted by Stephen Fry.Fry asks the participants “where one percent of Americans can be found.” You and I know the answer is ‘prison’. But the contestants did not. Watch then – as they learn and draw their conclusions.

A little vulgar, but an important question

And it’s not about Obama specifically; it’s about US policy that increasingly turns away from very serious threats to freedom and democracy. But of course they’re only ideals. So, you know . . .

~Liberty~

On an anniversary 2

I just listened to John Lewis being interviewed in his Congressional office by Gwen Ifil for The News Hour. Lewis is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March; he was also the youngest – just 22 years old. It was a moving interview, well  worth seeking out at pbs.org.

Sean Hannity’s wet dream comes true

Oh boy, ‘s true. From ABC News, and now echoing with hallejulia’s from every single bit of righty internet real estate, where, all along, the between-the-lines-meme has been that George was really a hero.

George Zimmerman, who has been in hiding since he was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, emerged to help rescue a family who was trapped in an overturned vehicle, police said today.

Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of a family of four — two parents and two children — trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

This isn’t directed at Zimmerman who did a good thing here. It’s his media fans. They do piss me off.

 

This disgusts me

The President needs to stop this and find a way out. But he isn’t. He’s defending it. The inhumanity of force-feeding political prisoners plays out in the wider world just like Abu-Ghraib. But this time, it’s my guy doing it. Shame, shame, shame.

MIAMI, July 3 (Reuters) – The U.S. federal court has no  jurisdiction and no legal basis to intervene in the  force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo naval base, the  Obama administration argued in a court document on Wednesday

Krathhammer analyzes DOMA decision. Gets it absolutely right.

When he is bad, he is very very bad, but when he is good, he is very very good. Here in his Washington Post column Charles Krauthammer (also senior serious intellectual, FOX News) looks at SCOTUS’ DOMA decision and explains quite well what it means.

He’s not particularly judgmental about either the issue or about the Court’s action. He breaks the decision down to its essentials and says – as I believe – that Federal recognition is now inevitable. Because, as he noted, the Court used the rationale of ‘equal protection under the law’. By saying so in the decision, he says, they pretty much guarantee that full recognition is on the docket next session and it will happen.

. . . if the argument is equal protection, one question is left hanging. Why should equal protection apply only in states that recognize gay marriage? Why doesn’t it apply equally — indeed, even perhaps more forcefully — to gays who want to marry in states that refuse to marry them?

If discriminating (regarding federal benefits) between a gay couple and a straight couple is prohibited in New York where gay marriage is legal, by what logic is discrimination permitted in Texas, where a gay couple is prevented from marrying in the first place?

Krauthammer finds none. He notes the broad smile on the face of David Boise who argued for the Prop 8 ruling and says:

He understood immediately that once the court finds it unconstitutional to discriminate between gay and straight couples, nationalizing gay marriage is just one step away.

Yup. I think Boise and Charles have it exactly right. This week’s half measure is temporary. The fat lady hasn’t quite finished singing yet.

 

Another picture I like

Although I do think Ginsberg would look better is a very soft grey. (Hat tip cousin Jeff.)
390133_10151734635637743_1448344591_n

 

Civilization is always ending, isn’t it. What a bitch.

Maybe the good Congressman Gomert (or, as watertiger has named him, Screwy-Louie) could have scrounged around and quoted someone a bit less randy than Solomon when condemning same-sex marriage.

According to the Bible at I Kings 11:1-7: Solomon had 700 official wives and about 300 concubines – so, a thousand ladies, give or take.

 

Two (and a half) out of three ain’t bad

I think I did pretty well with my SCOTUS predictions, which means everyone must “bow to my majesty” (much preferable to being “mocked without mercy”).

  • DOMA – The Supremes knock it down as unconstitutional.  NAILED IT!
  • California Prop 8 – Unconstitutional. NAILED IT! (Sheepish Update: Turns out this one is limited to CA and is based on standing. So maybe only half for me here. Can I count the two ‘halfs’ as ‘one’. I say yes. So still Two Out of Three. So there.)
  • Affirmative Action – limited decision, but basically will say the program has – in some instances – run its course. They side for the Plaintiff. ALMOST HALF RIGHT? They held back for sure by sending it back and hinted at future favorable rulings if a Plaintiff has ‘standing’.

(Here’s something from back when this lad had a voice, a beautiful one):

So, the local hair salon fires all its straight employees

WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is touted as a top GOP presidential prospect in 2016, thinks it should be legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation.

So sayeth the boy-faced pretend immigrant.

Wherein I agree with Ron Paul, as any good liberal should do on occcasion

In the eyes of many, I’m sure the police actions in Boston were appropriate because we’re at war with terror, or terrorism, or terrorists. Whatever. I don’t deny the threat but I abhor the notion that this is ‘war’. Anyway, take it away Ron:

Former Rep. Ron Paul said the police response to the Boston Marathon bombings was scarier than the bombing itself, which killed three and wounded more than 250.

“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city . . .  This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself” . . .

Paul said the scenes of the house-to-house search for the younger bombing suspect in suburban Watertown, Mass., were reminiscent of a “military coup in a far off banana republic.”

Not sure about that coup part, but certainly it looked like a military action.

“Forced lockdown of a city,” he wrote. “Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.”

(Heads up WPressers . . . our blog platform ain’t allowin’ no pictures today. Or maybe WP is just picking on me?)

I was kind of hoping they could make it

The Westboro Baptist Church will picket Roger Ebert’s funeral on Monday, because he obviously asked for it. They’re very clear about that in their statement:

“American entertainment industry publicity leech Roger Ebert took to Twitterverse to mock the faithful servants of God at Westboro Baptist church, just days before he received the horrifying summons.”

To be fair, the tweets were pretty obscene. You may want to close your eyes:

ebert tweet

Like heteroxexuals would never do that: Part the Second

From the London Daily Telegraph:

Jeremy Irons, the Oscar-winning actor, has provoked outrage by suggesting that same sex marriage laws could allow fathers to marry their sons to avoid paying inheritance tax.

Only the son you understand, not the daughter.

When reminded about laws which prohibit sexual relationships between family members, he responded: “It’s not incest between men”, adding: “Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don’t breed.”

Oh boy, this one is dead, dead, dead.

DOMA is so going down. CSpan has started broadcasting the audio from today’s arguments at SCOTUS on the challenge to DOMA, that most elegant construct of an insane Congress. They did the deed 13  17  years ago (and got ole Bill Clinton to sign it in an election year when he was already winding his presidency down and didn’t have to do it).

Back in November, your humble blogger predicted (in comments) that the Court would overturn DOMA, and as I listen to today’s audio, it sure sounds like they will do just that and with a healthy majority. We won’t know till May or June.

I haven’t had time yet to listen to yesterday’s arguments on Prop 8, but even if I had, after listening to and reading the observations of  the commentaries I wouldn’t dare predict except for one thing of which I am certain: the Court will not actually uphold Prop 8. There are many ways they can dodge or they can issue what they call a ‘narrow ruling’. They can even decide not to decide. 

I don’t know if they can do this in the Prop 8 case, but a happy outcome would be if they can say that every State must recognize marriages that are legal in other States. That would pretty much do it. I wonder if that’s similar to using the ‘Commerce clause’ as they did in Obamacare?

But in both cases I absolutely trust the Court will not issue any rulings that would actually restrict or deny rights. That’s not the business they’re in.

 (And, like with the ACA opinion, Roberts will buck the politics of the issue and vote to strike down DOMA.)

They can’t stop themselves – those man and lady parts are just yewwwwww . . .

Glory be! Comes yet another chapter in the GOP’s endless obsession with genitals. And teh sex. And all the other stuff that they shall not name, because the words are dirty, dirty, dirty. 

After the City of Phoenix AZ  passed comprehensive nondiscrimination protections, a state congress critter saw the threats hidden in its dangerous language and stepped up to protect the citizenry from its government.

. . . Rep. John Kavanagh (R) is not pleased that transgender people will be protected when using the correct bathroom, and so he has introduced a new bill to ban them from doing just that.

Kavanagh’s [new amendment] prohibits a person from entering a “public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room, or locker room” if the sex designation of that facility does not match the individual’s birth certificate. He defended his “show your papers to pee” bill in an interview with 12 News Phoenix:

KAVANAGH: The city of Phoenix has crafted a bill that . . . raises the specter of people who want to go into those opposite sex facilities not because they’re transgender, but because they’re weird.

Always worrying about teh sex stuff.

Time Magazine got it wrong

malalaTheir no longer so eagerly-awaited “Person of the Year’ issue is out and they’ve chosen President Obama. That’s a FAIL.

Look, I’m an Obama fan. I think he’s acquited himself quite well as president and I continue to hold a little bit of hope that he might do more this term. But still, FAIL.

US Presidents are always consequential. Always. But this year, I think the most consequential person on the planet was a 14-year old girl.

Person of the Year should be Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who stood up for women’s rights, for human rights and continued to do so even as the Taliban threatened to kill her. Still she stood as tall as a person can stand.

What Malala did, what she now stands for, might be as consequential as the Arab Spring is. She’s the Arab Rosa Parks. She’s a hero.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead) 

I didn’t know we were THIS far behind . . .

Or more accurately, I didn’t realize how much of the developed world has surpassed us in the expansion of universal human rights. To wit: dark blue indicates where same sex marriage is expressly forbidden by law. Do you see dark blue anywhere but in the US???

Let them eat cake

I was reading my paper this morning, and a story from Honduras caught my eye because my sister-in-law is there right now for a meeting. The headline is Human-rights lawyer is killed.

It said that he “helped prepare motions to oppose a proposal to build three privately-run cities“.

Three privately-run cities? I hope you recoil as I did. Has anyone ever seen such a reference outside of apocalyptic sci-fi novels?

Choice is about more than abortion and let’s stop pretending it isn’t

In spite of the legions of sincere people who support pro-life policies, the impetus for the movement itself is the never-ending assault on women by those who deeply resent the counter movement toward gender equality. The forces propelling the likes of Todd Akins only pretend a tolerance for equality. They want their sovereignty back.

In a comment thread below, Patsouthward pointed me to an article on CNN by  a rape victim who had her child, now being sued by her rapist:

It would not be long before I would learn firsthand that in the vast majority of states — 31 — men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy. When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child. . . . I know it because I lived it. I went to law school to learn how to stop it.

This looks to me just like the campaign to deny women the right to abortion, where men – and the state – have sovereignty over a  woman. It’s the exact same thing.

A ‘scolds bridle’ used to silence wives and legal up to the 19th century

The kerfuffle of the day is not just about Todd Akin and his knuckle-dragging (to quote the Speaker of the House) cohorts who claim to be Christian but adhere to the Old Testament . . . it’s about attempts to restore the millennial old definition of women as property.

That was a concept in law right into the 19th century, not ancient history but from the  ‘modern era’. Here are a few examples (first photo and quote from tumblr, here) :

The “curb-plate” was frequently studded with spikes, so that if the tongue moved, it inflicted pain and made speaking impossible. Many men sustained in this “husband’s right” to “handle his wife”, and to use salutary restraints in any case of “misbehavior” without the intervention of what some court records of 1824 referred to as “vexatious prosecutions.” Generally a husband would need only to accuse his wife of disagreeing with his decisions, at which the Branks could be applied. The woman would then be paraded through the streets, or chained to the market cross where she was exposed to public ridicule. Wives that were seen as witches, shrews, gossips, nags and scolds, were forced to wear a brank’s bridle, which had been locked on the head of the woman and sometimes had a ring and chain attached to it as a leash so her husband could parade her around town and the town’s people could scold her and treat her with contempt; at times smearing excrement on her and beating her, sometimes to death.

No divorce for you!

Here’s another one – from England – just before our Civil War (here):

Once married, it was extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 gave men the right to divorce their wives on the grounds of adultery. However, married women were not able to obtain a divorce if they discovered that their husbands had been unfaithful. Once divorced, the children became the man’s property and the mother could be prevented from seeing her children.

Just sayin’

Marriage is a legal act, not a religious one. Married is a legal status.

So all unions should be – in law – civil unions, no matter the genders.

If people want to, they can go ahead and add a religious ceremony.

 

So Mike, could we have a few words on Penn State and the Catholic Church maybe?

In case you don’t already know, the Boy Scouts have stood up again for god, flag and country and said no damn gays here. No way. 

On his radio show yesterday, Mike Huckabee spelled out in no uncertain terms that he believes the policy is “right” because it protects boys from abuse. He welcomed a call from a listener who had been abused by his scout leader, and Huckabee agreed that part of the definition of “homosexual” is molesting children . . .

Story here.

As for the kid in the picture, that’s Eagle Scout Eric Jones.

He said his troop is like family to him. While both his parents and fellow troop members accepted him, Jones was forced to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America because of a century-old policy about homosexuality.

 

Bill Moyers talks to smart people

M y brother was here last week. We talked a lot about many things. He’s a fine conversationalist he is. And I’m not bad, so we had a good time. But he’s got an edge on me with the depth and breadth of his knowledge. And personal experience wtih much of which he speaks.

He’s a PhD in Philosophy, a former priest who studied texts in Latin and Hebrew. He’s a father and a grandfather. He’s a sailor and a superb do-it-yourselfer (a longtime fantasy of mine is to have him prisoner for a week in my house with his tools and no books. That would be sweet.)

He’s a lecturer, a college professor, a prolific author and travels extensively to meetings and workshops here and in Europe and in Africa. I’ve no idea how he has time to do any of these things. It’s annoying.

One of the things we talked about was labor and labor unions. I said I thought that the union model, as practiced today, has failed. It was the right model for a long time but is the wrong model for these times and needs to be reinvented.

He disagreed. But here’s some evidence that, for maybe the first time ever, because some very smart people are saying the same thing, I was right and he was wrong.

The relevant discussion is the first 20 minutes or so here from yesterday’s Bill Moyers’ show. It’s fascinating.

Say hello to America’s debtors’ prisons. The 19th century is all the fashion, bitches!

Did you know about this? I didn’t. (Charles Dickens however was very familiar with this particular script.)

Here’s the story at Naked Capitalism from 2010. It’s not only still going on, it’s far worse today. And in the new American way, we’ve invited private companies to handle the matter, with enough profits to – ahem – make a few campaign contributions to their favorite pols. It’s a whole new growth industry. (Because Elvis-forbid that States should add public sector jobs! If it’s jobbed out, and thus off the State payroll, and even though it’s more costly (in more ways than one), our elected officials then can’t be accused of adding government jobs when they run for re-election. Sweet.

The practice is spreading because it’s such a good economic model – spend State money to imprison debtors, then close them off from any avenue by which they could repay that debt. And in most cases, add a few fees and let them compound. Brilliant, yes?  And it’s so rightous. And godly.

Here’s a  CBS News story from April of this year: 

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”

Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff’s deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.

I especially liked this part:

Some states also apply “poverty penalties,” including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once, according to a report by the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender.

One problem solved: It’s okay to be Takei. But what does one say in Virginia now that ‘climate change’ is banned?

Until 1974. They did it until 1974.

Between 1929 and 1974, the North Carolina Eugenics Board sterilized thousands of men and women without their knowledge or consent, most of whom were poor, black, disabled, institutionalized, or undereducated. According to TPM, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 of them are still alive, and 146 of them have been found and verified. After years of working with victims to come up with an acceptable solution, the state’s House, led by Republican speaker Thom Tillis, proposed paying $50,000 to each of the living victims of the state’s foray into messing with the gene pool. A total of $10 million was set aside for currently known and to-be-discovered victims.

Upon reflection however, today’s Senate Republicans would rather not do that. After all, it was just sterilization.

Sen. Don East said, “I’m so sorry it happened, but throwing money don’t change it, don’t make it go away. It still happened.”

Sen. Austin Allrand  “I’m not so sure it would lay the issue at rest because if you start compensating people who have been ‘victimized’ by past history, I don’t know where that would end.”

After all,  these people were ‘feeble minded’ and illiterate guardians signed their X’s, so it was all legal.

Elaine Riddick Jessie is an African-American woman who, as a 14-year-old girl in 1968, was forcibly sterilized by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, which argued that she was “feebleminded” and “promiscuous.”

Prior to the sterilization (at age 13), Jessie had been kidnapped, molested, and raped.

The South rises again.

So is Obama going to bring it home?

UPDATE: Moe is currently accepting accolades below for having called this one exactly correctly.

Is it possible Joe Biden was chuckling up his sleeve and doing a set up Sunday when he spoke – awkwardly! – 0n gay marriage? He provided great material to  our cable gasbags, who’ve played with it for days now because, ha!, “we never know what is going to come out of Joe’s mouth”.

Pretty predictable both in execution and reaction. Joe knows that, so why not use it? (Although the Will & Grace bit was pure Biden.)

Obama talks somewhere today and will be asked. I  know this because it has been breathlessly reported all over the blogosphere that HE. WILL. BE. ASKED!

So is this the ‘two’ of a ‘one, two’ punch? Does the President of the United States, having seen the polls, declare himself for gay marriage?

That’s be cool. And not a bad move in an election year – it might help bring out the youth vote.

What YOU Can Do on May Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

May Day is an international day of celebration to honor the labor movement. This year the Occupy movement has made a call for mass action—the May First General Strike (#M1GS): a day without the 99%. Over 115 US cities have organized in solidarity with this call to action.

A general strike is a way to build and demonstrate the power of the people. It’s a way to show this is a system that only exists because we allow it to. If we can withdraw from the system for one day we can use that day to build community and mutual aid. We can find inspiration and faith—not in any leaders or bosses but in each other and in ourselves.

If you are inspired by the day of action but don’t live near any organized events you can still take part. If you can’t strike, take the first step. We can work to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the people little by little in our everyday lives.

Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  1. Move Your Money: If you haven’t already, May Day is as good as any to move your money out of a national, corporate bank into a local bank or credit union. Support your local community and break up the “too big to fail” Wall Street banks that threaten our economic system. Learn more about moving your money here: www.moveyourmoneyproject.org
  2. Have a Potluck: Share a meal with others and and talk about subsidized agriculture and factory farming or make a meal with friends to serve to local homeless people a la Food Not Bombs.
  3. Start a Personal/Community Garden: On May Day, start or pledge to start a personal or community garden. Growing our own food means independence from corporate farms. This is one more way to take your self out of a system bent on keeping us complacent.
  4. Have a Free Store/FairGet together and share your unwanted items with others. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You could be helping someone who was about to go out and buy a (fill in your item here) anyway.
  5. Ride your bike to work/carpool with friends: Ride your bike or arrange a carpool to work. When you do this you are lessening our country’s dependency on outdated, unclean energies.
  6. Screen a Movie: Invite your friends or neighbors over to watch a documentary. After, have a discussion about how it relates to your values or the ideas of Occupy. You can watch political documentaries online at the following links for free:
    http://http://crimethinc.com/movies/

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/category/politics/

    http://www.documentarytube.com/category/political-documentaries
    http://freedocumentaries.org/
  7. Have a Skill Share: Give a free class to share your skills and knowledge. This could be as simple as giving a knitting demonstration or as complex as teaching someone a new language.

We have the power in our hands to change the course of our day to day realities if we are willing to participate and reach out to our neighbors and communities. In the words of Steven Biko, ”the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Big business should not be in control of us, we are the many and they are the few.

(Source)

Don’t forget to look for actions in your area here or here.