••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts

Thursday, July 04, 2013

declaration of independence

if u haven't read it, now's ur chance! note, however, that this copy -- from the library of congress website -- has been modified: someone has assumed authority to capitalize several entire words n add punctuation. for comparison, u can see both the original rough draft n part of george washington's personal copy of the printed version here.


IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
THE UNANIMOUS
DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyranny only.
HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.
HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.
HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:
FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
HE has constrained our Fellow-Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.

IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.

John Hancock.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

my current favorite quotes on my facebook page:

I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.
~ Socrates

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead

It's not that complicated. The good guys are the ones who want more people to vote. The bad guys are the ones who want fewer people to vote.
~Joel Finkelstein

A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
~ Mark Twain

It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know that just ain't so.
~ Artemus Ward

No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead.
~ John Stuart Mill

The only way some of us exercise our minds is by jumping to conclusions.
~ Cullen Hightower

NEVER underestimate an opponent.
~ Sunzi

Doubt is not an agreeable condition, but certainty is an absurd one.
~ Voltaire

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.
~ Francis Bacon

You really only know when you know little; doubt grows with knowledge.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The search for truth is more precious than its possession.
~ Albert Einstein

All firm belief is a sickness.
~ Francis Picabia

Believe those who seek truth. Doubt those who find it.
~ Andre Gide

Doubt is the yeast of cognition.
~ Alessandro Morandotti

Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.
~ Pablo Picasso

The truth alone has never made anyone free. It is only doubt which will bring mental emancipation.
~ Anton LaVey

A witty saying proves nothing.
~ Voltaire

Words are the source of misunderstandings.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

waste no words.
~ david matthew

Our natural benevolence accounts, in great part, for the origin of morality.
~ David Hume

An unjust law is itself a species of violence.
~ Gandhi

Poverty is the worst form of violence.
~ Gandhi

Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time.
~ Gandhi

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
~ Gandhi

The day we see the truth and do not speak is the day we begin to die.
~ Martin Luther King
True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
~ Martin Luther King

The time is always right to do what’s right.
~ Martin Luther King

Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.
~ Martin Luther King

We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
~ Martin Luther King

Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.
~ Martin Luther King

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.
~ Martin Luther King

I say to you that our goal is freedom, and I believe we are going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of America is freedom.
~ Martin Luther King

In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right.
~ Martin Luther King

The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
~ Martin Luther King

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
~ Martin Luther King

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
~ Martin Luther King

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
~ Martin Luther King

One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
~ Martin Luther King

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
~ Martin Luther King

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
~ Martin Luther King

There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.
~ Martin Luther King

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
~ Martin Luther King

The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for "the least of these".
~ Martin Luther King

In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent. The agony of the poor diminishes the rich, and the salvation of the poor enlarges the rich. We are inevitably our brothers' keeper because of the interrelated structure of reality.
~ Martin Luther King

... no nation can claim victory in war. A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil, and spiritual disillusionment.
~ Martin Luther King

We can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world.
~ Martin Luther King

The course of true love never did run smooth.
~ Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

We are such stuff
as dreams are made on, and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.
~ Shakespeare, The Tempest

Empathy is the mortar that holds society together.
~ Chuck Close

Monday, June 18, 2012


here's a poem i wrote the day the cops that beat rodney king got acquitted and the riots started:

THE VERDICT
if you make a tool
& it does the job
& you use it
long as you can
till it gets old
& starts to fall apart
& doesn't work well
& even makes you risk
getting hurt
if you use it
what do you do?
you take a good look
& see if you can fix it
& if you can
you fix it
& if you can't
you throw it away
& make a new tool
4/92

in simi valley in april 1992, 3 LA cops were found not guilty and the jury failed to reach a verdict for the fourth. the riots that followed caused 53 deaths and 2000 injuries and destroyed 600 buildings.

regarding the march 1991 incident, wikipedia says:

King was taken to Pacifica Hospital immediately after his arrest. He suffered a fractured facial bone, a broken right ankle, and numerous bruises and lacerations. In a negligence claim filed with the city, King alleged he had suffered "11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken [bones and teeth], kidney damage [and] emotional and physical trauma." Blood and urine samples taken from King five hours after his arrest showed that he could be presumed intoxicated under California law. The tests also showed traces of marijuana (26 ng/ml), but no indication of PCP or any other illegal drug. At Pacifica Hospital, where King was taken for initial treatment, nurses reported that the officers who accompanied King (including Wind) openly joked and bragged about the number of times King had been hit. King sued the city over the beating, settling for $3.8 million.
his book, just published in april to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the trial, will undoubtedly and ironically be a bestseller.


‎"Can we all just get along?"


RIP


Saturday, March 17, 2012

bayard rustin's 100th birthday
one of the greats!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayard_Rustin
Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights. "Bayard" is pronounced to rhyme with hired.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

nationalmemo/ap
...
Obama caved to the pressure on Friday, announcing a compromise that allows employees at religious-affiliated institutions to get free contraception directly from health insurance companies rather than employers who say it would violate their long-held convictions.

Almost immediately, Democrats who had disagreed with the White House backed the revised policy. So did Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States and a crucial player in both this debate and the fierce fight over Obama's health care overhaul law. The head of the nation's bishops called it a good first step but reserved final judgment.

The once formidable coalition against the president had splintered. Factions that had stood with the GOP cautiously backed Obama's midcourse correction. It was a necessary policy change that reversed the political dynamic. [more]

Thursday, February 09, 2012

using religious liberty to suppress women's liberty

GOP candidates have picked up the ball put into play by a group of conservative catholic bishops to attack president obama by claiming he attacks religious liberty by keeping birth control available to women who want it.

a few days ago i posted an article from catholic democrats that gives some of the history of that particular smear of obama. here's an excerpt:
The bishops' "religious liberty" campaign derived its origins in part from a 2009 conservative political document called "The Manhattan Declaration," written by Princeton Professor Robert George and endorsed by a broad range of Republican activists. George was a leading architect of what can only be labeled a campaign of hate speech toward candidate Obama in 2008, repeatedly labelling him as "the most pro-abortion candidate of either major political party in history." Archbishop Dolan and several other bishops with strong anti-Obama views signed that document, which claimed that there was a growing assault on religious liberty in America because Democrats refused to adopt Republican views on reversing Roe-vs-Wade and other conservative postures. Some bishops have now signed-on wholesale to the Republican view that President Obama is somehow out to get Catholics, despite his having a cabinet with an unprecedented number of Catholics....
on jstor.org i found a review of a 1993 book by professor george. consider this excerpt:
...he is consistently respectful of his opponents and careful in his attempts to present their arguments. ...george scrupulously avoids rhetorical excesses in favor of considered argument.
note how that contrasts with george's description of obama as "the most pro-abortion candidate of either major political party in history."

apparently the professor was once able to maintain objectivity in his academic pursuits but has more recently abandoned that ethical stance in his political activities.

too bad.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

aaron furtado baldwin

anthony and elizabeth cady stanton were both abolitionists and were involved in the temperance movement for a few years, but are far better known for their work on women's suffrage and rights.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

common dreams
We are approaching the ten-year anniversary of some of our darkest days - September 2001 - when the “shock doctrine” kicked into high-gear. Bush started his global “War on Terror” by attacking Afghanistan with his cynically named “Operation Infinite Justice.”

We soon saw sweeping infringements to basic rights from the PATRIOT Act in the US to random round ups of thousands of “terror suspects” across the globe. Rendition, torture, Guantanamo, Blackwater, Abu Ghraib, drones and ‘collateral damage’ filled our headlines. Consumerism became a patriotic duty.

We saw the rise of a war machine beyond even the wildest dreams of the cold war era combined with huge giveaways for the financial elite. The basis was created for the dramatic austerity measures gutting investments in our future and devastating our social safety net today.

Bush’s Iraq War led to the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority and was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s excellent best-seller “The Shock Doctrine.”

Klein argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

And all signs indicate this pattern is not ending anytime soon.

But if there is hope -- and we are all optimists around here -- the progressive voices demanding that we push peace and pursue justice must be heard.
that's an excerpt from a fund-raising email from commondreams.org.

click on the link. it's worth checking out.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

going slow

...a video circulating the Internet showed a special needs child in a north Mississippi district being punched in the face.

And in Yazoo County a couple of years ago, a girl carried a gun onto the school bus because she said she had been the victim of bullying, one of the instances lawmakers used to illustrate the need for a stricter law.

Bullying doesn't apply only to students, either: Moss Point's high school principal was recently fired in part for alleged bullying of a subordinate.

In response to the rising problem, Mississippi last year passed a new, tougher anti-bullying law. The law requires that all districts have a policy and procedure prohibiting bullying under any conditions. Teachers and coaches, under the law, are required to report any suspected bullying to administrators.

It includes off-campus incidents such as school-bus and cyber bullying.

The onus is on principals to investigate each case.... [more]
Mississippi Goddam
(1963) Nina Simone

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Washing the windows
"do it slow"
Picking the cotton
"do it slow"
You're just plain rotten
"do it slow"
You're too damn lazy
"do it slow"
The thinking's crazy
"do it slow"
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin' didn't we

Picket lines
School boycotts
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying "Go slow!"
"Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Desegregation
"do it slow"
Mass participation
"do it slow"
Reunification
"do it slow"
Do things gradually
"do it slow"
But bring more tragedy
"do it slow"
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know

You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That's it for now! see ya' later

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

wikipedia
Unborn or unconscious humans
The beginning of human personhood is a concept long debated by religion and philosophy. In contemporary global thought, once humans are born, personhood is considered automatic. However, personhood could also extend to late fetuses and neonates, dependent on what level of thought is required. With respect to abortion, 'personhood' is a term used to describe the status of a human being vis-a-vis his or her individual human rights. The term was used by Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade.[12] However, the distinction in ethical value between currently existing persons and potential future persons has been questioned.[13]  Subsequently, it has been argued that contraception and even the decision not to procreate at all could be regarded as immoral on a similar basis as abortion.[14]
Susan Bordo has suggested that the overwhelming focus on the issue of personhood in abortion debates has often been an alibi for depriving women of their own rights as persons. She writes that "the legal double standard concerning the bodily integrity of pregnant and nonpregnant bodies, the construction of women as fetal incubators, the bestowal of 'super-subject' status to the fetus, and the emergence of a father's-rights ideology" demonstrate "that the current terms of the abortion debate – as a contest between fetal claims to personhood and women's right to choose – are limited and misleading."[15]
While some tend to be comfortable constraining personhood status within the human species based on basic capacities (e.g. excluding human stem cells, fetuses, and bodies that cannot recover awareness), others often wish to include all these forms of human bodies even if they have never had awareness (which some would call pre-people) or had awareness, but could never have awareness again due to massive and irrecoverable brain damage (some would call these post-people). The Vatican has recently been advancing a human exceptionalist understanding of personhood theory, while other communities, such as Christian Evangelicals in the U.S. have sometimes rejected personhood theory as biased against human exceptionalism. Of course, many religious communities (of many traditions) view the other versions of personhood theory perfectly compatible with their faith, as do the majority of modern Humanists (especially Personists).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

hard power v smart power

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.

Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.

The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.

In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.

The effort has picked up momentum since the government of President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Egyptian Internet in the last days of his rule. In recent days, the Syrian government also temporarily disabled much of that country’s Internet, which had helped protesters mobilize.

The Obama administration’s initiative is in one sense a new front in a longstanding diplomatic push to defend free speech and nurture democracy. For decades, the United States has sent radio broadcasts into autocratic countries through Voice of America and other means. More recently, Washington has supported the development of software that preserves the anonymity of users in places like China, and training for citizens who want to pass information along the government-owned Internet without getting caught.

But the latest initiative depends on creating entirely separate pathways for communication. It has brought together an improbable alliance of diplomats and military engineers, young programmers and dissidents from at least a dozen countries, many of whom variously describe the new approach as more audacious and clever and, yes, cooler.

Sometimes the State Department is simply taking advantage of enterprising dissidents who have found ways to get around government censorship. American diplomats are meeting with operatives who have been burying Chinese cellphones in the hills near the border with North Korea, where they can be dug up and used to make furtive calls, according to interviews and the diplomatic cables.

The new initiatives have found a champion in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose department is spearheading the American effort. “We see more and more people around the globe using the Internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice and....
[more]

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A blue-ribbon report released ahead of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, to be held in Istanbul, from 9 to 13 May, says that these countries can break out of a decades-long poverty trap, with determined national action and international support.

The report shows upward progress in category after category of economic and human well-being indicators by developed and dynamic developing countries, while least developed country trends are close to flat-lining.

Pointing to the high incidence of conflicts in countries with extreme poverty and weak institutions, The Report of Eminent Persons 2011 says that “increasing marginalization of the LDCs is creating a future that we, as a global community, cannot afford.”
[more]

Friday, April 22, 2011

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

NEW YORK – Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.

Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses U.S. leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.

The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators," ElBaradei writes in "The Age of Deception," being published Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company.

The 68-year-old legal scholar, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009 and recently a rallying figure in Egypt's revolution, concludes his 321-page account of two decades of "tedious, wrenching" nuclear diplomacy with a plea for more of it, particularly in the efforts to rein in North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.

"All parties must come to the negotiating table," writes ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the IAEA in 2005. He repeatedly chides Washington for reluctant or hardline approaches to negotiations with Tehran and Pyongyang.

He is harshest in addressing the Bush administration's 2002-2003 drive for war with Iraq, when ElBaradei and Hans Blix led teams of U.N. inspectors looking for signs Saddam Hussein's government had revived nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs.

He tells of an October 2002 meeting he and Blix had with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others, at which the Americans sought to convert the U.N. mission into a "cover for what would be, in essence, a United States-directed inspection process."

The U.N. officials resisted, and their teams went on to conduct some 700 inspections of scores of potential weapons sites in Iraq, finding no evidence to support the U.S. claims of weapons of mass destruction.

In his own memoir, published last November, Bush still insisted it was right to invade to remove a "homicidal dictator pursuing WMD." But the ex-president also wrote of a "sickening feeling" when no arms turned up after the invasion, and blamed an "intelligence failure" for the baseless claim, a reference to a 2002 U.S. intelligence assessment contending WMD were being built.

But that assessment itself offered no concrete evidence, and Bush and his aides have never explained why the U.S. position was not changed as on-the-ground U.N. findings came in before the invasion.

ElBaradei cites examples, including the conclusion by his inspectors inside Iraq that certain aluminum tubes were designed for artillery rockets, not for uranium enrichment equipment to build nuclear bombs, as Washington asserted.

The IAEA chief reported this conclusion to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 27, 2003, and yet on the next day Bush — in a "remarkable" response — delivered a State of the Union address in which he repeated the unfounded claim about aluminum tubes, ElBaradei notes.

Similar contradictions of expert findings occurred with the claim, based on a forgery, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, and an Iraqi exile's fabrication that "mobile labs" were producing biological weapons.

"I was aghast at what I was witnessing," ElBaradei writes of the official U.S. attitude before the March 2003 invasion, which he calls "aggression where there was no imminent threat," a war in which he accepts estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed.

In such a case, he suggests, the World Court should be asked to rule on whether the war was illegal. And, if so, "should not the International Criminal Court investigate whether this constitutes a `war crime' and determine who is accountable?"

Formidable political and legal barriers would seem to rule out such an investigation. But ElBaradei, citing the war-crimes prosecution of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, sees double standards that should end.

"Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again?" he asks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

here's the key excerpt from the march 17 UN security council press release, laying down the law on military action in libya:

Adopting resolution 1973 (2011) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation), the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory....
if you wonder why i call it "law," recall that the UN charter is a treaty signed by the president and ratified by the senate, and the constitution says treaties are part of the supreme law of the land:

The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 89 to 2, gave its consent to the ratification of the UN Charter on July 28, 1945.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=United_Nations

Article VI
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land....
http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

and that's why obama didn't need congressional approval, which he couldn't have gotten in time to stop a slaughter, because we all know damn well the gops would've delayed it.

(i'm not arguing morality here, just legality.)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Redemption Song
by Bob Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981)

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh
Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fullfil the book

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our mind
Woh, have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fullfill the book
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs
All I ever had
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Friday, October 22, 2010

The reports in the archive disclosed by WikiLeaks offer an incomplete, yet startlingly graphic portrait of one of the most contentious issues in the Iraq war — how many Iraqi civilians have been killed and by whom.
[more]