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Friday, January 31, 2003

Oklahoma Alternative Media!


    I discovered some incredibly good news today! The Oklahoma Independent Media Center (www.okimc.org) is now online!

    I encourage all of my fellow Okies no matter what your political persuasion to use this site and to get the word out about it, as Oklahoma desperately needs truly independent non-corporate media that allows EVERYBODY a voice.




Iraq:







North Korea:


  • These photos are frightening examples of North Korea's intentions (but also examples of compelling propaganda art): poster #1 and poster #2



NY Times Quote of the Day


    Whereas Clinton was merely a con man who seemed to revel in his ability to dupe people, Bush is something more alarming: he may actually believe what he is saying. - Lew Rockwell, January 29, 2003 column



Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Big news in Okie City


  • KTOK: Governor Denies Breaking Pledge

      Governor Brad Henry denies he broke a campaign pledge made to the Green Party in which he said he would support a death penalty moratorium in Oklahoma. Henry blames the confusion on a misunderstanding by a campaign aide who apparently answered the Green Party's political questionnaire last October. The governor's Communications Director Paul Sund says the governor has never supported such a moratorium and strongly supports the state's capitol punishment system. He explained a campaign aide must have 'misinterrpted' what Henry had said in giving a response to the questionnaire. Henry was the only one of three candidates for governor to respond to the Green Party. Sund further explained Henry received many questionnaires to answer and it was easy to understand the confusion. No explanation was offered why Henry did not make the denial at the time the questionnaire was made public. Green Party leaders say they're disappointed the governor broke his promise. (JB)

    Here's the story behind the story. Back in the fall of 2002, the Green Party of Oklahoma formed an informal committee to send a questionaire to each of the candidates in the US congressional and state-wide races. Most of the candidates did not respond to this questionaire, but a few did including Democratic candidate Brad Henry (who is now Governor Henry).

    In my eyes (and many other Green party members' eyes), Henry's statement was downright extraordinary in that he gave clear statements in favor of increased third party ballot access and a moratorium on the death penalty. (Click here to read his statement) Due to these statements, I voted for Henry. I didn't care for his views on other issues (especially the lottery) but felt morally obligated to vote for him since he was against the death penalty to at least some extent.

    Henry ended up winning in a nailbiter of election (a few thousand votes being the spread), and I attended his inauguration a few weeks ago.

    Then, Henry did something that was surprising. Here is my letter to the editor to the Oklahoma Gazette that tells the story:

      Editor,

      I am ashamed to say today that I voted for Brad Henry. I did this despite my loathing of his lottery proposal (in my eyes, a cruel tax against the poor and desperate) because he stated during his campaign that he would support a moratorium on the death penalty.

      His actual words were, "Yes, I would support a moratorium on the death penalty. Events in Oklahoma over the past two years in which DNA has exonerated several inmates concern me greatly. I never want to see any innocent person imprisoned or put to death. I believe a moratorium is responsible action to take until we can be sure that no innocent person is sitting on death row." (Henry's statement can be found in the candidate questionaire found at www.okgreens.org)

      Today, I read in the AP story "Henry won't stop executions" (January 16, 2003) that he "has no plans to stop executions in Oklahoma" and that he sees no reason to end the death penalty in the state and will not second-guess judges and juries.

      It seems to me that Henry's word is worth about as much as share of Enron stock. It is unfortunate that he has blown his credibility so early in his term of office when our state faces such a tremendous crisis.

      J.M. Branum
      - Newcastle, OK


    (The letter was published in last week's edition.)

    Finally to bring the story around full circle, KTOK (1000 AM-OKC's main news-talk station) picked up the story (story was quoted at the top of this post.)

    So there you have it. Not sure what will happen next with this, but it sure is fun to see ol' Henry squirm. I personally think he isn't telling the truth about about how his campaign aide "misinterpreted" his response to the questionaire.




From today's email box...


    From: www.theinquirer.net:

    IMMEDIATE ATTENTION NEEDED :
    HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL

    FROM: GEORGE WALKER BUSH
    DEAR SIR / MADAM,

    I AM GEORGE WALKER BUSH, SON OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, AND CURRENTLY SERVING AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS LETTER MIGHT SURPRISE YOU BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT MET NEITHER IN PERSON NOR BY CORRESPONDENCE. I CAME TO KNOW OF YOU IN MY SEARCH FOR A RELIABLE AND REPUTABLE PERSON TO HANDLE A VERY CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS TRANSACTION, WHICH INVOLVES THE TRANSFER OF A HUGE SUM OF MONEY TO AN ACCOUNT REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE.

    I AM WRITING YOU IN ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE PRIMARILY TO SEEK YOUR ASSISTANCE IN ACQUIRING OIL FUNDS THAT ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ. MY PARTNERS AND I SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE IN COMPLETING A TRANSACTION BEGUN BY MY FATHER, WHO HAS LONG BEEN ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN THE EXTRACTION OF PETROLEUM IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AND BRAVELY SERVED HIS COUNTRY AS DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.

    IN THE DECADE OF THE NINETEEN-EIGHTIES, MY FATHER, THEN VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SOUGHT TO WORK WITH THE GOOD OFFICES OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ TO REGAIN LOST OIL REVENUE SOURCES IN THE NEIGHBORING ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN. THIS UNSUCCESSFUL VENTURE WAS SOON FOLLOWED BY A FALLING OUT WITH HIS IRAQI PARTNER, WHO SOUGHT TO ACQUIRE ADDITIONAL OIL REVENUE SOURCES IN THE NEIGHBORING EMIRATE OF KUWAIT, A WHOLLY-OWNED U.S.-BRITISH SUBSIDIARY.

    MY FATHER RE-SECURED THE PETROLEUM ASSETS OF KUWAIT IN 1991 AT A COST OF SIXTY-ONE BILLION U.S. DOLLARS ($61,000,000,000). OUT OF THAT COST, THIRTY-SIX BILLION DOLLARS ($36,000,000,000) WERE SUPPLIED BY HIS PARTNERS IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHER PERSIAN GULF MONARCHIES, AND SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS ($16,000,000,000) BY GERMAN AND JAPANESE PARTNERS. BUT MY FATHER'S FORMER IRAQI BUSINESS PARTNER REMAINED IN CONTROL OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND ITS PETROLEUM RESERVES.

    MY FAMILY IS CALLING FOR YOUR URGENT ASSISTANCE IN FUNDING THE REMOVAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND ACQUIRING THE PETROLEUM ASSETS OF HIS COUNTRY, AS COMPENSATION FOR THE COSTS OF REMOVING HIM FROM POWER. UNFORTUNATELY, OUR PARTNERS FROM 1991 ARE NOT WILLING TO SHOULDER THE BURDEN OF THIS NEW VENTURE, WHICH IN ITS UPCOMING PHASE MAY COST THE SUM OF 100 BILLION TO 200 BILLION DOLLARS ($100,000,000,000 - $200,000,000,000), BOTH IN THE INITIAL ACQUISITION AND IN LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT.

    WITHOUT THE FUNDS FROM OUR 1991 PARTNERS, WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ACQUIRE THE OIL REVENUE TRAPPED WITHIN IRAQ. THAT IS WHY MY FAMILY AND OUR COLLEAGUES ARE URGENTLY SEEKING YOUR GRACIOUS ASSISTANCE. OUR DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUES IN THIS BUSINESS TRANSACTION INCLUDE THE SITTING VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RICHARD CHENEY, WHO IS AN ORIGINAL PARTNER IN THE IRAQ VENTURE AND FORMER HEAD OF THE HALLIBURTON OIL COMPANY, AND CONDOLEEZA RICE, WHOSE PROFESSIONAL DEDICATION TO THE VENTURE WAS
    DEMONSTRATED IN THE NAMING OF A CHEVRON OIL TANKER AFTER HER.

    I WOULD BESEECH YOU TO TRANSFER A SUM EQUALING TEN TO TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT (10-25 %) OF YOUR YEARLY INCOME TO OUR ACCOUNT TO AID IN THIS IMPORTANT VENTURE. THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WILL FUNCTION AS OUR TRUSTED INTERMEDIARY. I PROPOSE THAT YOU MAKE THIS TRANSFER BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH (15TH) OF THE MONTH OF APRIL.

    I KNOW THAT A TRANSACTION OF THIS MAGNITUDE WOULD MAKE ANYONE APPREHENSIVE AND WORRIED. BUT I AM ASSURING YOU THAT ALL WILL BE WELL AT THE END OF THE DAY. A BOLD STEP TAKEN SHALL NOT BE REGRETTED, I ASSURE YOU. PLEASE DO BE INFORMED THAT THIS BUSINESS TRANSACTION IS 100% LEGAL. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO CO-OPERATE IN THIS TRANSACTION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR INTERMEDIARY REPRESENTATIVES TO FURTHER DISCUSS THE MATTER.

    I PRAY THAT YOU UNDERSTAND OUR PLIGHT. MY FAMILY AND OUR COLLEAGUES WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL. PLEASE REPLY IN STRICT CONFIDENCE TO THE CONTACT NUMBERS BELOW.

    SINCERELY WITH WARM REGARDS,

    GEORGE WALKER BUSH

    Switchboard: 202.456.1414 Comments: 202.456.1111 Fax: 202.456.2461 Email: president@whitehouse.gov




A critique: The State of the Union Address


    I caught all but the first few minutes of Bush's address tonight (had difficulties connecting to a live internet feed on NPR, but was able to connect right away on C-Span and even got to see it in video)

    Anyway though, while listening to it I jotted down my impressions of it. I didn't edit this much so it is very choppy but it is kind of a blow-by-blow of the speech. (BTW, my comments on the first couple of minutes from the speech were from reading the transcript later from CSpan.com.)

    Oratory-wise, he is dead-on tonight. Very well polished. One of his better speeches so far.

    Bush first addressed tax cuts (including plugging his stupid tax break for the rich) and then medical care. On medicine he took a predictable anti-lawyer approach (the so-called "tort reform" argument) instead of calling on the medical profession to get rid of the bad doctors who hurt people.

    From there the speech did improve from there. He made a lot of statements that sound good (if only he'll follow through) on things like alternative fuels, treatment for drug offenders, and bans on human cloning and partial-birth abortion.

    He says "our calling as a blessed country is to make the world better." - very good stuff

    Wow! support for funding Aids treatment in Africa! This is very cool!

    Then it went downhill bigtime with Orwellian double-talk in the extreme.

    While not using the term "axis of evil" he did run through the list...

    Iran - talked about liberty, choosing own government (funny he didn't mention Saudi Arabia here isn't it, especially since Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with NO elections. At least in Iran they elect some of their officials)

    North Korea - posed a hardline but gave few specifics

    Iraq - "will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States" --- yeah that's big-time double-talk. He should have been upfront and said "Iraq will not be permitted to dominate so much oil and threaten America's apetite for gas guzzlers."

    He went on to discuss specific biological agents unaccounted for (including antrax), and that the UK says that Iraq is trying to smuggle uranium in from Africa.

    Most notably, Dubya made some very significant claims of the Iraqi regimes active work in subverting the inspection process. Of all Bush said, IF this is true this would likely be the most damning indictment (and the most likely true, unlike the more outrageous claims of uranium smuggling and the like)

    He claims that Iraq shelters terrorists including members of Al Quaeda, and that they got this information from sources including folks who are in US custody (likely being tortured by the US or her allies given the current state of affairs)

    He reports that the US will ask the security council to meet on February 5th.

    Says that the US will fight a "just war with just means." In my mind, this was the biggest lie of all given what he says next, that if the US fights it will fight with the full might and force of the American military. What that means to me is that this will be unlimited war, where anything is on the table... including bombing civilians or even the use of weapons of mass destruction against Iraq.

    Dubya then went on to claim that "America fights for the liberty of strangers" --- To me that just seems silly given our current "good buddy" status with the Chinese regime. It appears to me that the American regime doesn't give a rat's *** about the political liberty of anybody, only the freedom of unbridled open markets.

    Last of all what I found most disturbing was that at the end he invoked the name of God after going on his war at any costs diatribe. I found that down right revolting.

    Overall, the speech was a very mixed bag in my eyes. While I do not agree with his tax cut plans, I otherwise think he presented some excellent proposals with regards to his domestic and global humanitarian policiies. IF he follows through on these proposals (bans on cloning & partial birth abortion; subsidies for hydrogen-powered cars, more funding for the African aids crisis, etc.) then the world will be much better place in my eyes.

    At the same time, the later 1/3 of the speech focused on his "axis of evil" was contradictory and disturbing. He rattled off a lot of platitudes about liberty and fighting a "just war with just means," yet gave no real proof of the need for this ridiculous war or explained adequately why America should invade Iraq, but not North Korea or for that matter Saudi Arabia.

    Overall, I think Bush's speech helped to solidify his base of support, and will likely slow down his ratings drop, however, I do not think that the speech changed the minds of those who are against his war plans.

    On the domestic policy front, his speech was surprising both in its inclusions and omissions. I was surprised by his support for alternative fuels and increased AIDS-funding, but I was also surprised that he did not address civil rights in anyway. Given the recent Trent Lott-flap and the administration's brief in the U-Mich affirmative action case, I think Bush would have been well served to express explicitly his support for civil rights. Lots of folks (including myself) have doubts that Affirmative Action is the best course of action to bring about racial reconciliation, but if that is not the answer then Bush should have said what is the answer. His silence on the subject seems to say that he has no real civil rights policy.




Iraq:





Monday, January 27, 2003

Heroes in the Cause of Peace & Justice: Bayard Rustin


  • Time Magazine: Bayard Rustin, The "Invisible Man" --- Why Bayard Rustin is the unknown
    hero of the civil rights movement


      Jan 20, 2003

      By Andrew Sullivan

      He was, to purloin Ralph Ellison's Phrase, the "invisible man" of the civil rights movement. In the struggle for African-American dignity, he was perhaps the most critical figure that many people have never heard of. Which is why, as we prepare to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20, it's worth taking a look at the life and lessons of one Bayard Rustin.

      Born in 1912 into a Quaker family in West Chester, Pa., Rustin from an early age dedicated his life to social causes. Trained as an activist by the Quakers, Rustin went to New York City and, unfortunately, dabbled in Communist Party activity before quitting in disgust in 1941. Mentored by black labor organizer A. Philip Randolph, Rustin worked in the trade-union movement before becoming a conscientious objector in World War II. He took his pacifism to an extreme, going to a federal penitentiary rather than in any way aiding the war effort.

      It was in the late 1940s that Rustin found his real calling — initiating one of the first Freedom Rides through the South to protest and confront legal segregation and becoming a key background figure in encouraging the desegregation of the armed forces. As an advocate of pacifism and nonviolence, Rustin was critical in advising a young and still uncertain Martin Luther King Jr. on how to conduct an effective civil rights protest in Montgomery, Ala.

      But Rustin's greatest achievement was organizing the 1963 March on Washington, immortalized by King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Thereafter, Rustin never gave up his advocacy for a variety of causes at home and abroad, and was a brave and eloquent voice resisting the Black Power movement that raged in the wake of King's assassination.

      Reading about and watching the poignant new PBS documentary about his life (co-produced and co-directed by Time Inc.'s Bennett Singer and scheduled for national broadcast on Jan. 20) and reading his prose, one is struck by a central, inspiring fact. Rustin never wavered in his belief in true racial integration. He saw the civil rights movement not as a protest against America or an indictment of it but as a way for America to live up to its own principles.

      In stark contrast to Malcolm X, with whom he civilly debated, Rustin emphasized not what white Americans owed blacks or what blacks could do in a separatist ghetto but what blacks could contribute in a truly equal and integrated America. "I believe the great majority of the Negro people, black people, are not seeking anything from anyone," Rustin told Malcolm X in 1960. "They are seeking to become full-fledged citizens." The simplicity of that statement is as impressive as its moral clarity.

      So why his invisibility?

      Rustin, you see, was a proud and exuberant gay man.

      From adolescence on, he displayed an ease with his sexual orientation that was extremely rare at that time. He seemed to feel neither guilt nor shame. He had two very public relationships in his life (both with white men), and he came to see his struggle as a homosexual as inextricable from
      his struggle as a black man in America.

      But neither mainstream society nor even the civil rights leadership could cope with his honesty. In 1953, he was arrested for sexual activity in a car — a "morals charge" that embarrassed his allies, humiliated him and was brutally exploited by, among others, Strom Thurmond. So, like many public gay men, Rustin was forced into a defensive crouch because of his sex life. Having struggled for his dignity as an African American, he was still subject to the dehumanization implicit in homophobia.

      But, amazingly, Rustin never showed bitterness. He had every right to be inflamed against the white establishment, which at one point sentenced him to hard labor on a chain gang as punishment for his early civil rights protests. And he had every reason to be embittered by his black allies, for their acquiescence in the gay baiting.

      Yet somehow he rose above both. In one telling incident, he completed his sentence on the chain gang by writing a conciliatory letter to the sadistic white officer who ran the prison. Somehow, Rustin never succumbed to the anger that was his right; his spirit remained as light and as positive as his beautiful tenor voice.

      And all these years later, that's what endures: the memory of a man unbeaten by the hate around him, dreaming of a future in which the work of integration, black and white, gay and straight, is the moral — and joyful — duty of all of us.


    I was unaware of Rustin's tremendous contribution to the Civil Rights Movement until recently when I saw the movie Boycott, a movie that told the story of how MLK stepped up into leadership in the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. .

    Rustin, obviously is an interesting person. What I find most fascinating about him was that he refused to let hate hold him prisoner; that he refused to let bitterness take hold of his heart.




Iraq:


  • The Guardian: The Message from the Bush Camp: 'It's War Within Weeks' - an excellent story that gives a great deal of insight on what is going in the Administration in this decision to go war. Here are few blurbs I found to be especially interesting...

      Mr Bush wanted the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, to force the issue of military action by presenting evidence of Saddam Hussein's violations of UN resolutions immediately after weapons inspectors give their report to the UN on Monday. In Washington circles such an event is being referred to as the Adlai Stevenson moment.

      The "Adlai Stevenson moment" has become Washington shorthand for the US presentation of its intelligence case. Stevenson was the US ambassador to the UN at the time of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, who dramatically confronted the Soviet envoy with vivid aerial photographs of nuclear missiles being unloaded in Cuba.

      Downing Street was alarmed by the Bush administration's sudden haste in moving towards a climax. It was adamant that the decision to go to war should not be declared before Tony Blair flies to Camp David for talks with Mr Bush next Friday.

      An informed source in Washington said: "Blair is a good guy. They won't want to do that to him. They want it to look like he played a part in the policy-making but the decision has been made."


    I think here the Bush administration is very savy in wanting an "Adlai Stevenson" moment (if you are unfamiliar with this historical incident, watch the movie 13 Days.

    That said, I think such a moment will be likely manufactured as a part of the "wag-the-dog" drama that is at play here. Also let's be frank. Blair is not a full partner here, but is rather Bush's lapdog. When Bush says sit, he sits. When Bush says bark, he barks.

  • FromtheWilderness.com: January 24, 2003, 1930 PST (FTW) - Serious international developments are indicating that the first stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq will begin unilaterally no later than next Wednesday and most likely as the President delivers his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night.

  • Common Dreams/L.A. Times: U.S. Weighs Tactical Nuclear Strike on Iraq

      WASHINGTON -- As the Pentagon continues a highly visible buildup of troops and weapons in the Persian Gulf, it is also quietly preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons in a war against Iraq, according to a report by a defense analyst.

      Although they consider such a strike unlikely, military planners have been actively studying lists of potential targets and considering options, including the possible use of so-called bunker-buster nuclear weapons against deeply buried military targets, says analyst William M. Arkin, who writes a regular column on defense matters for The Times.

      Military officials have been focusing their planning on the use of tactical nuclear arms in retaliation for a strike by the Iraqis with chemical or biological weapons, or to preempt one, Arkin says. . .


    The use of nuclear weapons is pure evil. If Bush goes through with these plans, he must be impeached and tried for war crimes.

  • The Daily Mirror of the UK: US admits plans to snatch Iraqi oil fields --- US will shield Iraq's oilfields from the hellfires of Saddam

  • Cities For Peace - a very encouraging concept

  • I received this via the Christian Peacemaker Teams Email network:

      CPTnet
      January 24, 2003
      IRAQ: Signs of Faith

      by Charlie Jackson

      [NOTE: The author was part of CPT's Dec. 26-Jan. 9 delegation to Iraq. This release has been edited for length. People who wish to see the entire article, in which Jackson also tells about some of the Iraqi Christians he met, may request it from guest.445947@MennoLink.org. Do not hit "reply" to
      this message.]

      "There's one. And there's another!" we members of the Christian Peacemaker Team delegation exclaimed as we drove into Baghdad for the first time. We were taking notice of crosses atop the churches that we passed. With over one million Christians, mostly settled in the urban centers, Christianity is a significant part of Iraqi life and culture.

      When we arrived at our hotel we were greeted with "Merry Christmas" painted in flocked snow on the window and a Christmas tree in the lobby festooned with lights and playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" in a tinny electronic voice. People here are quite open about their religion and all
      too happy to celebrate the holidays of their neighbors, whether Muslim or Christian.

      Iraq, for the most part, is a cosmopolitan country. Just as in the U.S., on Friday (the holy day in Islam) or Sunday one is more likely to see people shopping or going about their daily business than worshipping in mosques or churches. At the same time, many people try to practice their faith with
      conscience and diligence.

      These people include the Muslim family of Safa and Amal Asmiel. Upon finding that Safa had been to an Islamic seminary, I asked if I could join him during the next Friday at the Mosque. That morning I went to his house where he was putting together a string of prayer beads for me. He also gave me a
      book on learning the Quran in English. We took a taxi across town to his mosque, Al-Keedeery.

      Many of the men at the mosque (the women go aside to a different room to hear the sermon) spoke English and were both gracious toward and curious about having a visiting "Ameriiki" from Texas in their midst. After several prayers and a forty-five minute sermon in Arabic, we had lunch next door at the family home of that mosque's founder. There I was able to share a traditional meal and have conversation with many men of my own age. They explained the sermon and didn't hesitate to encourage me - as many Christians would do to a potential convert - to accept Islam so that I and my family would become "saved" from Hell. We returned to the mosque when the call for the mid-day prayer went out and had one final prayer before returning home.

      Praying and participating in worship with others who are guided by a strong sense of faith--Christian and Muslim--has been a heartwarming part of my trip to Iraq. Together we all pray one prayer: that peace will return to this troubled land and that God/Allah will change the hearts of American leaders so that war will no be waged on the people here.

      Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren Congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction efforts around the world. Contact CPT, POB 6508, Chicago, IL 60680; Telephone: 773-277-0253, Fax: 773-277-0291.




Media Issues:


  • MSNBC/AP: Public broadband catching on --- This is a tremendous development! I wish more municipalities would step up to the plate like this. (I am rather partial to municipal utilities though, as my Grandpa Branum helped to start the first municipal natural gas company in Oklahoma in Minco, OK.)



Abortion:



  • MSNBC: Youth movement on abortion --- Next generation mobilizes for Roe v. Wade anniversary

  • JustPeace.org: Bob's Blog

    Here is an excerpt that I really dig. Bob's views on the Republican party echo my own.


      . . . Another not so minor annoyance is the dreary bleat from the Republicans about being pro life. As I recall, this session of Congress began with the Republicans controlling both houses of congress and the Presidency. Did they move immediately to a vote on a partial birth abortion ban? No they did not. In fact, they couldn't get around to voting on that ban in the House until the week before adjournment, when they knew they didn't have any chance of getting it through the Senate. How conveeeeeeeeeenient. Never mind the fact that George Bush and all the Republicans in Congress haven't managed to save the life of one unborn child in two years. Never mind the fact that while they sat around twiddling their thumbs, putting every issue in the book on the table ahead of protecting unborn children, 4,000 kids were being murdered every day. We're still supposed to forget about the collateral damage in Afghanistan (and what is soon to come in Iraq) and vote for them because they are "pro life". The dirty fact the Republicans don't want us to think about is that abortion goes forward in this country to this day thanks to supreme court justices appointed by Republican presidents, and the cowardice of Republican congresspersons.

      The present crop of Republican politicians are liars who are shamelessly playing politics with the abortion issue. Pro life voters should not vote for one single Republican candidate in the coming elections. It's not that the Democrats are any better, they obviously aren't, but politics is about rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies, and the Republicans have proven themselves to be the enemies of unborn children. Maybe if they lost a lot of seats in Congress this time around, they will be better behaved in the future. Even if they get back control of the Senate, and keep it in the House, they will still find a way to evade a vote on a partial birth abortion ban. They did it before, they will do it again. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest voting for any Democrats (unless they are pro life), but I certainly do not intend to vote for one single Republican in the upcoming November elections. I don't expect to cast many votes on my ballot in November, but I will go and get one anyway, and drop it in the ballot box. I agree voting is a Christian duty, but there is no duty to vote for a candidate who is a thief and a liar and a murderer of unborn children, and if all the candidates are thieves and liars and abortionists, I think a person is more than morally justified in casting a blank ballot. Kind of a grassroots anyone can do it vote for "none of the above are acceptable." This is especially necessary in a state like Oklahoma, where we have less democracy than they do in Russia. In fact, it's easier to get a new party on the ballot in Russia than it is in Oklahoma. Which of course is why we generally only have two parties on our ballots. Leaders like Governor Frank Keating like it that way, can't have too much political pluralism, you know, people might get the idea that they were in charge and the leaders were supposed to represent them.

      Speaking of Governor Frank Keating, any doubts I had about whether the bishops were corrupt or not went right out the window when they picked him, a politician who has never passed up a chance to grind the face of the poor into the dust, as the head of their new lay review panel. So I wasn't surprised when he popped up, promoting himself to apostolic nuncio, and announcing New Doctrine: Catholics who are mad at their bishops should not go to mass, they should go to another diocese and they should also stop giving money to the church.

      Right, Oklahoma City Catholics are supposed to drive to Texas or Kansas or Arkansas to go to mass? And sure, while the President says we all have to do more to help the poor, the Republican Governor of Oklahoma calls upon Oklahoma Catholics to do less, to punish the poor because of our beef with the bishop. And to think that Call to Action wants to put laymen like Keating in charge of the hierarchy. May all the saints preserve us from the folly of our own leaders!

      Fortunately, even though our religious leaders have been corrupted by greed and gluttony, the Church remains the Church, the mystical bride of Christ, a sure and certain guide in a time of trouble. Yes, we have bishops and archbishops and even cardinals who are cafeteria Catholics and who advocate the murder of the poor as a necessary adjunct to US foreign policy. But we as lay Catholics are not responsible for their sins, we have our own, and we can deal with theirs with our own prayers and especially, our own acts of reparation. The bishop's foolishness and wickedness calls for a response from the Catholic laity. We must do even more works of mercy, justice, peace, and environmental stewardship to heal the damages they have caused. . .




Policy and Society:







Latin America:





Random:





Tuesday, January 21, 2003

"HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR."


    The following excerpts are taken from THE PRISM E-PISTLE, Wednesday, January 15, 2003 (Vol 5.2, published by Evangelicals for Social Action)

      1."HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR."

      "What part of 'Thou shalt not kill' did you not understand?" - a sign at the Oct. 26th peace march in Washington, D.C.

      "If Jesus is Lord, no other leader deserves unquestioned support." - Gerald W. Schlabach in SOJOURNERS (Jan/Feb 2003)

      "In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character. We must begin to ask, 'Why are there 40 million poor people in a nation overflowing with such unbelievable affluence? Why has our nation placed itself in the position of being God's military agent on earth...? Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world for the high task of putting our own house in order?'" - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

      "Thus says the Lord: 'Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight,' says the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

      "There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no
      one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who
      shows kindness, there is not even one. Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to
      deceive. The venom of vipers is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18)

      "Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly..." (James 4:1-3)

      ***

      "We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty...we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed...It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either
      nonviolence or nonexistence,...and the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby
      disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968

      ***

      5.THE LOUD LITTLE HANDFUL, by Mark Twain.

      The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

      Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

      Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech
      strangled by hordes of furious men...

      Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and
      every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and
      refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-
      deception.

      6.GOOD NEWS FOR PEACE, from MoveOn.org

      THERE'S STILL TIME TO STOP A U.S.-LED WAR ON IRAQ. The Bush administration has sought a U.N. mandate
      for war, due in large part to mounting domestic and international pressure. Despite U.S. pessimism,
      Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has agreed to U.N. weapons inspections, which haven't found anything
      significant so far. It's thus still possible that war on Iraq can be averted.

      In response to the threat of war, the global peace movement continues to grow. Massive demonstrations continue to be held around the world. Some activists have traveled to Iraq to act as observers and human shields. A peace group in Canada has even committed to sending a group of citizen weapons inspectors to the U.S., holding the country accountable for it's double standards about weapons of mass destruction. ( http://www.rootingoutevil.org/index.php3/Home )

      According to a recent poll by the LOS ANGELES TIMES, most Americans don't believe that a war on Iraq is justified. The poll concluded that "72 percent of respondents, including 60 percent of Republicans, said Bush has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq," and "63 percent of respondents said war would be justified only if the United Nations finds a pattern of serious violations by Iraq, while just 22 percent agreed with the administration's position."
      ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/12/17/MN126102.DTL )

      Many major U.S. cities are signing resolutions opposing war on Iraq. For a list of cities that have
      passed resolutions, and more information on the campaigns behind them, see: http://www.citiesforpeace.org .

      The U.S. peace movement is far more diverse and technologically savvy than past peace movements.
      perhaps the best news is that massive demonstrations have already been held before any U.S. soldiers
      begin dying in Iraq, while in Vietnam, it took many American deaths to begin fueling opposition.
      ( http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14874 )

      The antiwar movement in the U.S. has made the leap from the left to the mainstream. The work of groups such as MoveOn has helped make this happen.
      ( http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2002/12/12/peace/index_np.html )

      Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in what has been widely interpreted as a direct challenge to President Bush's policies. Nobel committee chairman Gunnar Berge stated that the award "can and must also be seen as criticism of the line the current U.S. administration has taken on Iraq." ( http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/10/11/carter.nobel )

      (Originally published in the MoveOn Peace Bulletin, International Edition, 1/8/03, by Susan V. Thompson, Editor - http://www.MoveOn.org )

      7.THE UNSEEN GULF WAR: A photo essay, by Peter Turnley.

      "War is at best a necessary evil, and I am certain that anyone that feels differently has never
      experienced or been in it. I have always hoped that true images of conflict give one the opportunity to witness and reflect more fully on the full realities of war. After covering many conflicts around the world in the past 20 years and witnessing much human suffering, I feel a responsibility to try to contribute to making sure with my images that no one that sees the brutal realities of conflict, ever feels that war is comfortable and/or convenient..."

      To view the photo essay and respond to the photographer, go to http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0212/pt01.html

      ***

      8.ON PREACHING THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR, by Tony Campolo.

      A number of prominent evangelical leaders have declared that attacking Iraq would be to enter a
      "just war." If nothing else, I admire their certitude. They have no doubt that this war is
      moral and that God is on our side. I am not so sure. Jesus said that we must count the cost before
      going to war and I fear this coming war could cost us dearly.

      The first casualty of any war is truth. Inevitably each side cloaks itself in myths of righteousness. The Iraqis must believe Saddam's propaganda, and we believe our president when he calls us to "go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in the world," even as we had to believe his father when he called us "to free Kuwait." Of course, most of us now believe that the Gulf War was more about oil than it was about freedom. Is this war really so different? Does America really represent all that is good and just in the world?

      In order to fight, a nation must also demonize its
      enemy. For this task, unfortunately, we again have
      the help of some of our clergy. On television, I
      recently heard one prominent evangelist say that
      Islam itself is evil; and another say that Mohammed
      was a pedophile. There are others who are
      suggesting that Muslims are hate-filled people who
      affirm terrorism and pray for the decimation of the
      United States. Such lies serve a terrible purpose.
      Only by demonizing our enemies can we kill them with
      impunity.

      The humanity of our 'enemies' doesn't seem to register with many Christians these days. I heard one evangelical leader say that Desert Storm was carried out with a minimum number of casualties. Of course, he was referring only to U.S. casualties, because in the context of war those on the other
      side don't matter. Only our dead matter.

      Actually, there were 35,000 civilians killed during Desert Storm. I'm grateful for the many other
      Christian leaders proclaiming that God is no respecter of persons and has as much love for Iraqis
      as he does for Americans. When Iraqis or Americans die, God weeps.

      Another way the truth suffers is when, in preparing for war, we practice a kind of collective national amnesia. Only by forgetting the past can we free ourselves to repeat it. Right now we are
      forgetting, or at least minimizing, the horrors of Vietnam. Of that conflict, historian Philip Capulo wrote, "We believed we were there for a high moral purpose. But, somehow our idealism was lost, our morals corrupted, and our purpose forgotten." Those of us old enough to remember know all too well what those words mean. Our religious leaders must not glorify our past or tempt the young men and women who will fight this war with visions of heroism. This is not World War II. Our soldiers will not be Saving Private Ryan. And even if they were their young souls would still be at risk. Preachers should tell the truth about what happens to soldiers.

      Any and every war exposes the awful capacity for evil that lies within even the best of us. Former
      Senator Bob Kerry was given the Medal of Honor for what we called his heroism in Vietnam; however he
      only found deliverance from his repressed guilt and shame after admitting that he led a combat mission that killed more than 20 unarmed civilians, most of whom were women and children. We try to convince ourselves that such atrocities are anomalies, but in reality they are far more typical than is ever admitted by those who would make war. It is too easy for us to forget what happens to young recruits who go into battle, and to ignore the fact that more than half of the listless, disillusioned homeless on our streets are veterans. Again, we preachers must tell the truth.

      When I consider the realities of war, I wonder whether the good which may be achieved can ever
      outweigh the evil that is sure to come. Perhaps it would be best for preachers to admit, as did the
      theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, that the choice is not between the moral and the immoral, but between the immoral and the less moral. And, please let us not talk about a just war anymore.

      ***

      PRISM encourages Christians to live out the whole of the gospel with the whole of their lives. The PRISM E-pistle is the bi-weekly ezine of PRISM Magazine and Evangelicals for Social Action. It is sent out the first and third Wednesdays of every month. To subscribe to the PRISM E-pistle, send a blank message to mailto:PrismEpistle-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Tell your friends (and enemies!). To stop receiving the PRISM E-pistle at any time, send a blank message to mailto:PrismEpistle-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com.




Peace News:





Oklahoma:





Monday, January 20, 2003

Totals of numbers present at MLK weekend peace protests



    Total US Protests: 480,574 (87 cities)
      Total from Big Protests in US: 441,500 (over 10,000 at a location)
      Total from Small Protests in US: 39,074 (10,000 or less)

    Total Canada Protests: 90,300 (13 cities)
    Total New Zealand Protests: 2,600 (4 cities)
    Total UK Protests: 3,130 (2 cities)
    Total Germany Protests: 8,300 (6 cities)
    Total France Protests: 3,500 (3 cities) this number will likely go up once I get Paris numbers
    Total All other locations: 26,110 (20 cities)

    Total Worldwide: 614,514 (135 cities)




MLK Weekend Protests against the War in Iraq


    In the interests of accuracy and encouragement, here are the totals from the protests that I have compiled from Indymedia.org, Peacedemo.org, along with mainstream media and personal accounts.

    (Numbers with asterisks (*) are estimates based on conflicting reports. The numbers I have chosen to report are based on the credibility of the sources from the best I can tell. I encourage readers to check out these numbers for themselves.

    Numbers with double asterisks (**)were found from foreign language Indymedia affilates using Freetranslation.com. It is possible that the translation is bad so it might be good to confirm these numbers.)

    US Protests

    Washington DC: 200,000 *
    San Francisco, CA: 200,000 *
    Portland, OR: 21,500
    Tucson, AZ: 5,300
    Albuqurque, NM: 4,700 (Total from 3 seperate protests)
    Santa Barbara, CA: 4,000
    Yorba Linda, CA: 3,000 *
    Montpelier, VT: 2,800
    Chicago, IL: 2,500
    Minneapolis, MN: 2,400
    Oklahoma City, OK: 2,100 *
    Tampa/McDill AFB, FL: 2,000
    Spokane, WA: 2,000
    Honololulu, HA: 1,500
    Salt Lake City, UT: 1,500 *
    Washington, DC 1,500 (seperate numbers for Sunday protests at the White House and Justice Department)
    Milwaukee, WI: 1,200
    San Diego, CA: 1,200
    Ann Arbor, MI: 1,200
    San Luis Obispo, CA: 1,200
    Raleigh, NC: 1,000
    Lincoln, NE: 1,000 *
    Charlottesville, VA: 900
    Madison, WI: 800
    Missoula, MT: 800
    Louisville, KY: 700
    Houston, TX: 675
    Lawrence, KS: 650
    Bellingham, WA: 600
    Indianapolis, IN: 600
    Reno, NV: 600
    Fayetteville, AR: 500
    Anchorage, AK: 450
    Wailuku, HI: 450
    Grants Pass, OR: 447
    Denver, CO: 400
    Venice, FL: 400
    Lansing, MI: 375
    Toledo, OH: 350
    Olymia, WA: 350
    Tulsa, OK: 300
    Las Vegas, NV: 300
    Klamath Falls, OR: 300
    Springfield, MO: 300
    Miami, FL: 300 *
    Tallahassee, FL: 250
    Helenta, MT: 250
    Lancaster, PA: 250
    Logan, UT: 250
    Rockford, IL: 230
    Lancaster, PA: 200
    Vero Beach, FL: 200
    St. Augustine, FL: 200
    Ventura, CA: 200
    New Orleans, LA: 200
    Menominee, WI: 200
    Watertown, MA: 175
    Richmond, KY: 150
    Terre Haute, IN: 150
    Tallahassee, FL: 150
    Des Moines, IA: 150
    Arlington/Cambridge, MA:150
    Portsmouth, NH: 150
    Albany, NY: 150
    Appleton, WI: 125
    Las Cruces, NM: 121
    Sand Point, ID: 100
    Jamaica Plain, MA: 100
    Fresno, CA: 100
    St. Louis, MO: 100
    Providence, RI: 100
    Scranton, PA: 100
    Durango, CO: 80
    Tupelo, MS: 75
    Westbury, NY: 75
    Grand Haven, MI: 70
    New Haven, CT: 60
    Wichita, KS: 60
    Brattleboro, VT: 53
    New London, CT: 50
    Gainesville, FL: 50
    Honesdale, PA: 40
    Huntsville, AL: 38
    Palo Alto, CA: 30
    West Chester, PA: 20
    Columbia, MD: 14
    Wauwatosa, WI: 12
    Damarscotta, ME: 9

    Canada Protests:

    Montreal, PQ: 25,000
    Toronto, ON: 20,000
    Vancouver, BC: 20,000
    Halifax, NS: 15,000
    Ottawa, ON: 3,000
    Edmonton, AB: 3,000
    Fredericton, NB: 1,000
    Calgary, AB: 1,000
    Saskatoon, SK: 1,000
    Victoria, BC: 500
    Thunder Bay, ON: 400
    Sudbury, ON: 250
    Hamilton: 150

    New Zealand Protests:

    Christchurch: 2,000
    Dunedin: 350
    Wellington: 230
    Wanganui: 20

    UK Protests:

    London-area, England: 3,000 (combined numbers)
    Cambridge, England: 130

    Germany Protests

    Rostock: 5000 **
    Bonn: 900 **
    Bochum: 900 **
    Cologne: 500 **
    Munich: 500 **
    Münster: 500 **

    France Protests

    Montpeillier: 2000 **
    Nice: 1500 **

    Italy Protests:

    Florence: 5,000 **
    Vicenza: 1,000 **
    Rome: 4,000 **

    Protests at 0ther Locations World-wide:
    Japan: 10,000 (Combined number from Tokyo and 9 other cities - I will list these protests seperately once I get the numbers)
    Moscow: 1,000
    Hong Kong: 60
    Shannon Airport,Ireland:1,500 **
    Brussels, Belguim: 10,000 **
    Warsaw, Poland: 1,000 **
    Reykjavik, Iceland: 1,000 **
    Vienna, Austria: 1,000 **
    Apollo Bay, Australia: 400
    Melbourne, Australia: 100
    McMurdo Station, Antarctica: 50 (see story and photos of the first protest at the South Pole in history http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0101-07.htm and http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0119-02.htm)

    Protests without reported numbers yet:

    Several cities in Italy, the blockades in the Netherlands, Cardiff, Wales; Cairo, Egypt; Damascus, Syria; Islamabad and Lahore, Pakistan; Sweden, Norway, Istanbul; Paris, France




Saturday, January 18, 2003

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day




Photo from AfricanAmericans.com




Has the tide turned?


  • LA TImes: WWII Generation Asks What This War Would Be Good for

      They survived the Depression and World War II, lived through Vietnam and Watergate, witnessed the Iranian hostage crisis, the Persian Gulf War and the Internet boom and bust. Shocked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they saw terror replayed in the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

      Now, members of the World War II generation are worried about a possible war in Iraq. Of all the generations studied by pollsters, these Americans -- now in their 70s, 80s and 90s -- are showing the most resistance to an invasion in Iraq in surveys of American opinion. . .




Today's Actions for Peace





Friday, January 17, 2003

Iraq


    Today there is tremendous amount of news on the ongoing push for broad war in Iraq. (I have only picked a selection of the news from today to link from here.)

    The most serious news is of yesterday's discovery of empty rockets that could be used for chemical weapons delivery. This is incredibly disheartening news (not that they were discovered, certainly it is good that the world knows about this... but rather that Saddamm appears to have lied in his WMD - weapons of mass destruction - statement) and to me looks like will give the US the "justification" it needs to proceed with war.

    I have been asked off-line what I think of this development, so I will address this here. Mostly I find it tragic, because I know that if nothing changes then likely tens or even hundreds of thousands of people will die. If 35,000 civilians were killed by the US in the 1991 campaign in Iraq, then likely many more will die this time.

    I also question the seriousness of this discovery. I do believe that the possession of a WMD (be it nuclear, chemical, or biological) is a serious crime against humanity, no matter who possesses them. The US has these weapons of evil, as does the UK, France, Russia, Israel, India, China, Pakistan, and others. If mere possession of such weapons is an offense that merits invasion, then the US needs to go to war with itself to destroy its own WMD stockpiles.

    But arguably, in the eyes of the US this is not about mere possession but rather the liklihood that such weapons would be used. In this measure, the nations that I am aware of that have used such weapons in the last 50 years are few: the U.S. (with the atom bomb drops in Japan, the horrific firebomb attacks in German, and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam), Iraq (in in the Iran-Iraq war, and against the Kurds during civil wars), and . . . that's actually all that I can think of. As to future risk, likely North Korea is a much greater risk and is much more unstable.

    Finally, these warheads are short-range weapons. From what I can tell (the news articles did a horrible job of explaining how these things work, but I did find this report from the Turkish government that says that 122mm rockets have a range of 20 km but that they have found a way to extend the range to 40 km. There is also another possibility, IF Iraq still has SCUD missles and the warheads to fit those kinds of missles then they would have the capability to hit targets 300 km away, however using the maximun range would result in the reduction in the quantity of chemical agent that could be delivered. (I found this out from this report from the American Federation of Scientists.

    What this says is to me is that IF Sadaam has chemical weapons (remember what they found yesterday were empty 122mm rockets), then he could either put the chemicals in these rockets that would at best have a range of 40 km, or at best put them in a SCUD missle with a maximum range of 300 km (187 miles). Given these facts, unless there is something else we don't know about, it seems like Iraq is not a substantial threat to anyone except his immediate neighbors or the Kurds in the North. He is no threat to US to say the least, so I still am inclined to believe that this war is not about chemical weapons but about oil.

  • MSNBC: U.S. says U.N. discovery ‘troubling’

  • Newsweek/MSNBC: Where’s the Dissent? --- Antiwar protests are happening all over the country and the world but the mainstream media is hardly paying attention --- Thus far, it seems like the NY Times has done a horrible job of covering America's growing anti-war movement (estimated now at 20% of the population who are opposed to war and growing every day), while the Washington Post has done a much better job.

  • ABC News: Defiant Words --- Saddam Urges Iraqis to Defend the Country; U.S. Calls Empty Chemical Warhead Find ‘Serious’

  • ABC News: Rallying Cry --- Admiral Tells Sailors: Be Ready to Write Some History

  • OnlineJournal: Preemptive impeachment --- Law professor stands ready to draft articles for any member of the House

  • The Observer: Where the world stands on an invasion of Iraq

  • ABC News: Mass. Students File Lawsuit Over Selective Service Act




Iraq







From the latest edition of the ACS newsletter


    The following paragraphs in this post were taken from the American Constitution Society Bulletin for January 16, 2003:

  • Law.com/New York Law Journal: Federal Judge Blasts Justice Dept. Over Dirty Bomb Suspect Case

    A N.Y. federal judge “dressed down” a senior Justice Department official Wednesday, who asked that the court reconsider its December 4 ruling that alleged “dirty bomb” suspect and purported “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla should be allowed to consult with a lawyer regarding his habeas corpus petition. District Judge Michael Mukasey fumed that the official provided no new information in the reconsideration motion—a move that Judge Mukasey apparently considered tantamount to a request that he revise his initial ruling.

  • N.J. Appeals Court Orders Suspect New Hearing, Govt. Must Justify Secret Evidence:

    A New Jersey appeals court said that a Superior Court judge “lacked an adequate basis” for allowing prosecutors to present secret evidence against an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen thought to have provided fake IDs to some of the 9-11 hijackers, and ordered a new trial that could involve the testimony of federal investigators. The ultra-secret bail hearing, excluded the defendant, his attorney, and the public, thus barring the detainee from confronting the evidence against him—a right guaranteed by the Constitution. The Washington Post reports: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63259-2003Jan15.html

    Earlier this week, the New Jersey Law Journal examined details of the actual bail hearing itself: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1039054583192

  • Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down Unmarried Sex Ban:

    On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court said that the state’s 170-year old law that bans sexual intercourse between unmarried persons was unconstitutional. The ruling follows that court’s 1998 ruling striking down the state’s sodomy statute.

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/metro/0103/14fornicate.html.

  • White House Determined to Cap Medical Malpractice Awards:

    President Bush is moving quickly to raise the profile of his “tort reform” initiative, seeking to pick a fight with several potential Democratic presidential candidates over whether the federal government should impose a limit on juries’ imposition of non-economic medical malpractice damages.
    The Boston Globe carried the story on Thursday: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/016/nation/Bush_wants_cap_on_malpractice_awards+.shtml.

    The last story on "tort reform" should be clarified, in that "tort reform" is not reform but rather DEforming the law of torts. The problem is not outrageous jury awards. The real problem is a medical profession that refuses to police itself, and the shoddy practices of small minority of doctors.




Thursday, January 16, 2003

Today's misive to the Oklahoma Gazette


    Here is a copy of the letter to the editor that I sent to the Oklahoma Gazette (OKC's alternative news weekly, similiar to The Village Voice of NYC or the Austin Chronicle):

      Dear Editor,

      I am ashamed to say today that I voted for Brad Henry. I did this despite my loathing of his lottery proposal (in my eyes, a cruel tax against the poor and desperate) because he stated during his campaign that he would support a moratorium on the death penalty.

      His actual words were, "Yes, I would support a moratorium on the death penalty. Events in Oklahoma over the past two years in which DNA has exonerated several inmates concern me greatly. I never want to see any innocent person imprisoned or put to death. I believe a moratorium is responsible action to take until we can be sure that no innocent person is sitting on death row." (Henry's statement can be found in the candidate questionaire found at www.okgreens.org)

      Today, I read in the AP story "Henry won't stop executions" (January 16, 2003) that he "has no plans to stop executions in Oklahoma" and that he sees no reason to end the death penalty in the state and will not second-guess judges and juries.

      It seems to me that Henry's word is worth about as much as share of Enron stock. It is unfortunate that he has blown his credibility so early in his term of office when our state faces such a tremendous crisis.

      J.M. Branum
      - Newcastle, OK




Welcome


    This is the first post of the reborn Poliblog of JMBzine.

    This blog will focus on politics and policy issues, and will include links to all things political that I find interesting along with my own commentary on those stories.

    To be fair, let me say up front that this is NOT an objective news source. My goal here is to encourage my readers to think about the issues I find important and to have a dialogue with my readers (via the "comments" feature at the end of each post). Most of my readers will sometimes (or often) not agree with or even be offended by what I say. I hope though no matter what though that these postings will provoke your own thoughts and help you to see solidify your own views on the isues of substance.

    As to my own bias, I will post more on this later, but in short I see things from a Christian-Green perspective. By that I mean that I try to interpret the teachings of Jesus Christ on social justice issues as literally as possible, which means that I am opposed to violence and oppression of all forms. On economic issues, I am also inspired by the social justice teachings of scripture (in particular the concept of the "Year of Jubilee" as found in the Old Testament, and the concerns of Christ and the early church for the poor.)

    As far as partisan politics, I identify myself as being a Green, in that I believe in the 10 Key Green values. That said, my interpretation and application of those values is animated and instructed by the teachings of Christ.

    Finally, I see myself as an Agrarian, in that I believe in the teachings of Wendell Berry (and to some extent former Oklahoma Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray, and US stateman William Jennings Bryan) with regards to the preservation of rural culture and society, and the importance of community support for the community.

    That's enough about me. Now on to the news...








































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