Daily Archive: 05/28/2012

May 28 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Mike Scotti: The V.A.’s Shameful Betrayal

THE Department of Veterans Affairs, already under enormous strain from the aging of the Vietnam generation, the end of the Iraq war and the continuing return of combat troops from Afghanistan, announced in April that it would increase its mental health staff by about 10 percent. But too many veterans waging a lonely and emotional struggle to resume a normal life continue to find the agency a source of disappointment rather than healing. [..]

What this generation of veterans needs from the V.A. is a recognition that when the color of life has faded to gray, you need to talk to someone about it today, not weeks or months from now. We need America to acknowledge what war does to the young men and women who fight it and to share the message that dragged me out of the darkness: It’s O.K. if you’re not O.K.

Robert Reich: Memorial Day Thoughts on National Defense Spending

We can best honor those who have given their lives for this nation in combat by making sure our military might is proportional to what America needs. [..]

At a time when Medicare, Medicaid, and non-defense discretionary spending (including most programs for the poor, as well as infrastructure and basic R&D) are in serious jeopardy, Obama and the Democrats should be calling for even more defense cuts.

A reasonable and rational defense budget would be a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives so we may remain free.

Paul Krugman: Big Fiscal Phonies

Quick quiz: What’s a good five-letter description of Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, that ends in “y”?

The obvious choice is, of course, “bully.” But as a recent debate over the state’s budget reveals, “phony” is an equally valid answer. And as Mr. Christie goes, so goes his party.

Until now the attack of the fiscal phonies has been mainly a national rather than a state issue, with Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, as the prime example. As regular readers of this column know, Mr. Ryan has somehow acquired a reputation as a stern fiscal hawk despite offering budget proposals that, far from being focused on deficit reduction, are mainly about cutting taxes for the rich while slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. In fact, once you strip out Mr. Ryan’s “magic asterisks” – claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify – what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt.

Ethan Cox: In Quebec, A Revolution of Love, Hope and Community

In almost every report on the social movement now sweeping Quebec, including my own, words like conflict, crisis and stand-off figure prominently. Anger is omnipresent. The anger of protesters, the anger of government, the anger of those supposedly inconvenienced. Pundits scream about mob rule, anarchy in the streets and the dissolution of society as we know it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is anger present of course. But that is not what you see if you take to the streets, or watch on CUTV’s live stream. Pundits can’t stop bemoaning the inconvenience to “ordinary” Montrealers posed by these protests. But I wonder, are there any “ordinary” Montrealers left to inconvenience?

Glen Ford: Obama’s War: Criminalize the Left

Like no other president in modern times, Barack Obama is determined to criminalize the Left opposition through relentless reshaping of Constitutional notions of law. Whistleblowers are domestic public enemy number one. “Having knowledge of government wrongdoing is criminal, in the eyes of this administration.”

The Obama administration is methodically erecting the legal structures of a police state. The president late last year smoothed the way for bipartisan passage through Congress of a preventive detention bill that is so vaguely worded, a federal judge in New York last week ruled that it is likely to be successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds. And in Richmond, Virginia, a three-judge appeals court heard Justice Department lawyers argue that reporters can be compelled to reveal the identities of whistleblowers in so-called national security cases.

Bruce A. Dixon: Corey Booker and the Hard Right’s Colonization of Black American Politics

A new black political class has arisen, one with only nominal connections to black voters or communities Their careers and orientation are corporate through and through. Some prominent black Democrats have actually been operatives of the hard right for decades, like Newark’s Corey Booker.

On the first weekend in May, Newark mayor Corey Booker appeared alongside Fox News host Juan Williams and ultra-conservative Republican governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to sing the praises of charters and school privatization, and the evils of organized teacher and parent power at the annual conference of the Alliance for School Choice.. It’s not a big step for Corey Booker, it’s the place he’s been all along, since his first late 1990s gig as a founding board member of the Bradley Foundation’s Black Alliance for Educational Options. What’s new is that in 2012 black Democrats with national profiles like Booker can appear in public spouting pro-corporate right wing dogma alongside such creatures, and hardly anyone notices. What has happened to Democratic party politics, to black politics?

May 28 2012

The Internet Defense League

Back in January, thousands of websites, including Wikipedia, went dark to protest legislation in Congress aimed at combating copyright infringement. Opponents of the bills, known as SOPA and PIPA, said the measures amounted to Internet censorship. And as the web protests went viral, many lawmakers retracted their support for the bills.

Now, the organizers behind that protest have formed a new coalition aimed at harnessing the same online organizing muscle to fight other measures believed to threaten online freedoms.

The group is likening itself to the Internet’s “bat signal.”

The coalition, called The Internet Defense League, was recently formed by the nonprofit Fight for the Future. Tiffany Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, said the coalition’s members thus far include several web companies and activists who reach millions of Internet users, including Alexis Ohanian, founder of the social news site Reddit.

“Think of it like the Internet’s Emergency Broadcast System, or its bat signal,”

The site will officially launch in the next two weeks.

The story can be found here.

May 28 2012

On This Day In History May 28

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 28 is the 148th day of the year (149th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 217 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1961, the British newspaper The London Observer publishes British lawyer Peter Benenson’s article “The Forgotten Prisoners” on its front page, launching the Appeal for Amnesty 1961–a campaign calling for the release of all people imprisoned in various parts of the world because of the peaceful expression of their beliefs.

Benenson was inspired to write the appeal after reading an article about two Portuguese students who were jailed after raising their glasses in a toast to freedom in a public restaurant. At the time, Portugal was a dictatorship ruled by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Outraged, Benenson penned the Observer article making the case for the students’ release and urging readers to write letters of protest to the Portuguese government. The article also drew attention to the variety of human rights violations taking place around the world, and coined the term “prisoners of conscience” to describe “any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing…any opinion which he honestly holds and does not advocate or condone personal violence.”

“The Forgotten Prisoners” was soon reprinted in newspapers across the globe, and Berenson’s amnesty campaign received hundreds of offers of support. In July, delegates from Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland met to begin “a permanent international movement in defense of freedom of opinion and religion.” The following year, this movement would officially become the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Born in London as Peter James Henry Solomon to a Jewish family, the only son of Harold Solomon and Flora Benenson, Peter Benenson adopted his mother’s maiden name later in life. His army officer father died when Benenson was aged nine from a long-term injury, and he was tutored privately by W. H. Auden before going to Eton. At the age of sixteen he helped to establish a relief fund with other schoolboys for children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War. He took his mother’s maiden name of Benenson as a tribute to his grandfather, the Russian gold tycoon Grigori Benenson, following his grandfather’s death.

He enrolled for study at Balliol College, Oxford but World War II interrupted his education. From 1941 to 1945, Benenson worked at Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking centre, in the “Testery”, a section tasked with breaking German teleprinter ciphers. It was at this time when he met his first wife, Margaret Anderson. After demobilisation in 1946, Benenson began practising as a barrister before joining the Labour Party and standing unsuccessfully for election. He was one of a group of British lawyers who founded JUSTICE in 1957, the UK-based human rights and law reform organisation. In 1958 he fell ill and moved to Italy in order to convalesce. In the same year he converted to the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1961 Benenson was shocked and angered by a newspaper report of two Portuguese students from Coimbra sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom during the autocratic regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar – the Estado Novo. In 1961, Portugal was the last remaining European colonial power in Africa, ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. Anti-regime conspiracies were vigorously repressed by the Portuguese state police and deemed anti-Portuguese. He wrote to David Astor, editor of The Observer. On 28 May, Benenson’s article, entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners,” was published. The letter asked readers to write letters showing support for the students. To co-ordinate such letter-writing campaigns, Amnesty International was founded in Luxembourg in July at a meeting of Benenson and six other men. The response was so overwhelming that within a year groups of letter-writers had formed in more than a dozen countries.

Initially appointed general secretary of AI, Benenson stood down in 1964 owing to ill health. By 1966, the Amnesty International faced an internal crisis and Benenson alleged that the organization he founded was being infiltrated by British intelligence. The advisory position of president of the International Executive was then created for him. In 1966, he began to make allegations of improper conduct against other members of the executive. An inquiry was set up which reported at Elsinore in Denmark in 1967. The allegations were rejected and Benenson resigned from AI.

While never again active in the organization, Benenson was later personally reconciled with other executives, including Sean MacBride. He died of pneumonia on 25 February 2005 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, aged 83.

May 28 2012

Lest We Forget Those Who Defend And Protect

Photobucket

War Dog Memorial

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine

h/t to SouthernDragonand at FDL a deep thank you for remembering our loyal friends

Faithful friend, loyal companion,

We say farewell to you now. You have kept us warm at night, protected us and offered us unconditional love. For this we are thankful, and we will remember you forever.

May the Goddess guide you on your journey over the Rainbow Bridge to the Summerlands. May all those who loved you and the world find Peace.

The Wheel Turns. Blessed Be.

May 28 2012

Pique the Geek 20120527: Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis, also called anaphylactic shock, is a potentially life threatening condition.  I write about it tonight because yesterday afternoon my friend’s mum called me to come next door to see what was wrong with her.

When I got there she was having extreme difficulty breathing, had broken out in hives, and had swollen lips.  She was crying because of fear (EVERYONE panics when they can not breathe) and the pain from the rash.

I knew immediately that she was in trouble.  I told her mum to call the paramedics and asked if she had any diphenhydramine (trade name Benedryl).  She did not.