25 April 2015
25 April 2015
Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, now faces being beheaded for renouncing the religion, his family have said.
What is the difference between an execution for your beliefs by ISIS and an execution for your beliefs by the House of Saud? Trudy Rubin agrees with me, none at all.
Twelve days—from Monday, 13 April to Friday, 24 April—have passed between the publication of the story below and the story above. Once again, the plight of Raif Badawi is perilously close to slipping off the radar of major news organizations, eclipsed by more important stories. I get that. Reporting the same story over and over and over when there is no change is boring. I recall, however, one American journalist, famous as the most trusted in our field for many years, who was willing to put that kind of tenacious focus on a story he felt could not be allowed to slip out of the public’s consciousness. I’m no Walter Cronkite, but in my own small way, I intend to keep his picture here every day until either Badawi is free and returned to his family, or I’m no longer here to do what I can do.
25 April 2015
An advocacy operation funded by heartless corporations endowed with personhood by Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy is a right-wing propaganda machine, not a think tank. There is no better example of this reality than the lie-spewing and laughingly named Heartland Institute as demonstrated by the petroleum-paid flacks latest set of marching orders to make Pope Francis see the error of his ways in championing the fight against Climate Change deniers.
A US activist group that has received funding from energy companies and the foundation controlled by conservative activist Charles Koch is trying to persuade the Vatican that “there is no global warming crisis” ahead of an environmental statement by Pope Francis this summer that is expected to call for strong action to combat climate change.
The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative
thinktank[propaganda machine, JH] that seeks to discredit established science on climate change, said it was sending a team of climate scientists[pet shills, JH] to Rome “to inform Pope Francis of the truth[the self-serving lies demanded by their corporate masters, JH] about climate science”.
“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do
his flock and the world[my greedy and uncaring bosses, JH] a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific[sensible, reasoned and very scientific, JH] agenda on the climate,” Joseph Bast, Heartland’s president[chief toady, JH], said in a statement.
Jim Lakely, a Heartland
spokesman[lackey, JH], said the thinktank[Koch-brothers funded propaganda machine ,JH] was “working on” securing a meeting with the Vatican. “I think Catholics should examine the evidence for themselves[blindly accept my employer’s lies, JH], and understand that the Holy Father is an authority on spiritual matters, not scientific ones,” he said.
I’m posting my edits to The Guardian in the form of comment. Given the paper’s Keep It In The Ground campaign, I think editorial should be more questioning and critical (perhaps not as over-the-top as me) of labels chosen by propaganda machines like the misnamed Heartland Institute.
21 April 2015
The BOSS isn’t going anywhere soon. Even if Hilary Clinton takes the White House, not a pleasant thought, we will only need to tweak the acronym a bit to perhaps BOCSS, rhymes with box?
One of the most glaring myths propagated by Washington — especially the two parties’ media loyalists — is that bipartisanship is basically impossible, that the two parties agree on so little, that they are constantly at each other’s throats over everything. As is so often the case for Washington partisan propaganda, the reality is exactly the opposite: from trade deals to Wall Street bailouts to a massive National Security and Penal State, the two parties are in full agreement on the bulk of the most significant D.C. policies (which is why the leading candidates of the two parties (from America’s two ruling royal families) will have the same funding base). But because policies that command the agreement of the two parties’ establishments are largely ignored by the D.C. press in favor of the issues where they have some disagreements, the illusion is created that they agree on nothing.
To illustrate how true this all is, consider the comments today of leading GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush. He appeared on Michael Medved’s conservative talk radio program, and was asked by the host what his favorite part of the Obama administration has been. His answer? As McClatchy’s Lesley Clark noted on Twitter, Bush hailed “Obama’s enhancement of NSA.”
18 April 2015
I didn’t get an answer to the April 15 letter below. Not unusual. The following e-mail was written to Chris Quinn, vice president of content for the Northeast Ohio Media Group. We can expect more content-less content in the next few weeks as news retreats to make way for sports, the GOP convention and rock and roll. What will we be missing?
Below the note suggests what we’ll be getting in the pages of the Pee Dee.
Chris: I found today’s PD particularly disgusting with the front page dominated by trivial promotion of the Brown’s modeling of new uniforms. To say nothing of a full back page of the paper’s first section with the same “news.”
Anyone with a TV, which means most people, got more than enough of this non-news fluff last night.
Then, looking for information on the demonstration in downtown Cleveland over the serious issue of police misconduct I see some 4 inches on the bottom of A9.
Which to you says something about free speech and the duty of a newspaper to encourage use of the First Amendment?
I find this disheartening.
Just to show how little the PD changes over the years, here is what I wrote in 1996 under the headline: PANDER! (If you want the photos that went with this issue of Point of Viǝw go to the Cleveland State Memory site and search for “pander.”
Possibly the Plain Dealer should change its name to the Pandering Dealer, given the coverage of the past half year when sports and rock and roll appear to be the daily menu at Ohio’s largest.
I have watched this past summer, fall and into winter one of the most disgusting displays of slanted, biased, propagandistic, chauvinistic and down-right bad journalism I’d ever expect from a newspaper Continue Reading »
18 April 2015
15 April 2015
At 598 meters (1,962 ft) below the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, ROV Hercules encountered a magnificent sperm whale. The whale circled Hercules several times and gave our cameras the chance to capture some incredible footage of this beautiful creature. Encounters between sperm whales and ROVs are incredibly rare.
E/V Nautilus is exploring the ocean studying biology, geology, archeology, and more. Watch live video from the ocean floor. For live dive updates follow along on Facebook and on Twitter. For more photos from our dives, check out our Instagram @nautiluslive.
14 April 2015
Every year the American Library Association published a list of the most-challenged books, i.e. books people want to ban from libraries and, by extension, the view of those they wish to control. This year Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian came in at No. 1. I met Alexie briefly at Oberlin years ago when he gave a reading there. In my view he is one of the great American writers, on a level with Wendell Berry, because of his honesty and bravery in not his willingness, metaphorically (and possibly literally) to walk down the center of main street naked. That is what makes a writer great.
Winner of the National Book Award in 2007, the Native American writer Alexie’s semi-autobiographical tale was removed from the curriculum in Idaho schools last year. According to the Idaho Statesman, this story of a boy who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to go to an all-white high school was criticised by one local for containing words “we do not speak in our home”, and because it makes “reference to masturbation, contains profanity and has been viewed by many as anti-Christian”.
Alexie said at the time that “book banners want to control debate and limit the imagination. I encourage debate and celebrate imagination.” The ALA said his novel was challenged for reasons ranging from being “sexually explicit”, to its “depictions of bullying”. It takes the top spot from Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, which was 2013’s most challenged book over its “offensive language [and] violence”.
The better educated children are, the more likely they are to challenge their parents. Good parents welcome that reality. Bad parents live in terror of the moment their children discover that they are small minded and ignorant.
I imagine that adolescents flock each year to read the books that bad parents seek to burn.
14 April 2015
The world is not a more dangerous place and anyone who makes that claim is just as batshit crazy as the authorities in this story.
Authorities in Maryland say two children taken into custody while walking home without an adult last year have been picked up by police again.
Maryland’s child protective services took in the two children for the second time, after the kids were found in public unattended on Sunday.
Their parents—Danielle and Alexander Meitiv—subscribe to the “free-range kids movement”, which emphasizes children’s independence. Adherents say parents have been raising their children this way for decades.
But Maryland’s Montgomery County child protective services opened an investigation after the children, aged 10 and six, were found walking home by themselves in December 2014. The CPS found that the parents were responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect for letting their children walk home alone. That charge means that CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years.
People need to turn off their stupid phones, get off the Internet, throw out their televisions and breathe damn it.
13 April 2015
12 April 2015
9 April 2015
That they both have exemplary academic achievements is accepted. What makes them different?
Khalif is one of just nine young people from around the world to receive the UN Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award for her work as a young education activist.
She was also appointed as A World at School Global Youth Ambassador, working to promote universal education.
“I believe Munira has great potential to affect change on the world stage, given her combination of intelligence, sensitivity, powerful internal drive, practical skills and charisma,” Lisa Pederson, director of college counseling at MPA, said. “She interacts positively with people of different backgrounds, opposing viewpoints and ignorance.”
Khalif founded Lighting the Way, a non-profit campaign to make education accessible for East African youth, especially girls, by focusing on scholarships, building libraries, and mitigating sanitation issues. She has also served as a teen ambassador and advocate with Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that mobilizes American girls to take action on behalf of their counterparts in other countries.
She plans to major in political science and continue working to make a positive impact on the world through public service.
Then there is Harold.
He is the vice president of the Model UN team and the editor in chief of the school newspaper, and he belongs to the drama club. Outside of school, he is the senior drummer at his church and the director of the youth choir that he founded.
Ekeh didn’t always excel at school. His parents moved their family to the US from Nigeria when he was 8 years old. The oldest of five boys, he remembers asking his parents, “Why did you move us all across the Atlantic to America?”
He struggled at first with his heavy accent, trying to adjust to the new culture while holding on to his identity and his culture. He learned to persevere and become successful through the example of his parents, who he says never let obstacles get in their way.
It’s that attitude that Ekeh credits with his successes in college acceptances.
I want to know much more about these two extraordinary students.
8 April 2015
As I follow the continuing story of blogger Raif Badawi, I note that only one country has chosen to go eye-to-eye with Saudi Arabia and not blink: Sweden. Madeline Rees, Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom sees in that resolute stance, essentially the beginnings of sanctions against the Saudi royal family for ongoing human rights violations, the expression of a feminist foreign policy.
Bina Shah, in Breaking up the boys club: All foreign policy should be feminist foreign policy for Quartz writes:
On Mar. 10, Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström announced the cancellation of a 37 million euro arms deal with Saudi Arabia, citing the kingdom’s poor human rights record. She singled out the case of liberal blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes from the Saudi government for speaking out against some Muslim clerics. A diplomatic row ensued between the two nations, with the kingdom declaring that Swedes would no longer be issued visas. This in turn drew ire within financial and diplomatic circles in Sweden, which claimed the minister’s move would hurt Sweden’s foreign standing and financial interests in the world.
In contrast, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, an international women’s rights group, applauded Sweden’s decision as a victory for women’s rights, suggesting the kingdom’s abysmal treatment of women was Wallström’s real motivation. “This is precisely what a feminist foreign policy looks like,” wrote Madeline Rees, Secretary General of the WILPF.
Is Rees right? Is Foreign Minister Wallström actions any more feminist that those of Secretary of State Madeline Albright in Bosnia or Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in Libya? Is any of these three women more or less feminist than the other two?
What does that question even mean?
7 April 2015
On his HBO program last night, John Oliver devoted 30 minutes to a discussion of U.S. surveillance programs, advocating a much more substantive debate as the June 1 deadline for renewing the Patriot Act approaches (the full segment can be seen here). As part of that segment, Oliver broadcast an interview he conducted with Edward Snowden in Moscow, and to illustrate the point that an insufficient surveillance debate has been conducted, showed video of numerous people in Times Square saying they had no idea who Snowden is (or giving inaccurate answers about him). Oliver assured Snowden off-camera that they did not cherry-pick those “on the street” interviews but showed a representative sample.
Oliver’s overall discussion is good (and, naturally, quite funny), but the specific point he wants to make here is misguided. Contrary to what Oliver says, it’s actually not surprising at all that a large number of Americans are unaware of who Snowden is, nor does it say much at all about the surveillance debate. That’s because a large number of Americans, by choice, are remarkably unaware of virtually all political matters. The befuddled reactions of the Times Square interviewees when asked about Snowden illustrate little about the specific surveillance issue but a great deal about the full-scale political disengagement of a substantial chunk of the American population.
All of this, the obsession with the inconsquential, the willful ignorance, the apathy, makes me crazy. We cannot, however, afford to give up. We have to keep telling the stories over and over in the hope, perhaps irrational hope, that the information reaches critical mass and attention is paid.
6 April 2015
You don’t know where life will take you. Some people plan their lives, have goals and expectations. I have to admit that I’ve never been a planner. Life has taken me where it has accidentally—randomly rather than by expectation or desire.
I’ll never regret flying by the seat of my pants.
Exactly 50 years ago this month I walked up a busy Euclid Avenue to E. 18th Street and north to Superior Ave. to the offices of the then powerful Cleveland Plain Dealer. A newcomer to Cleveland—first time.
I had come in from New York City by train. I was here for a job interview. It brought me eventually and permanently to this city. It was April 1965.
The hiring could have been among the worst personnel decisions ever made by Plain Dealer editors. Indeed, they made that mistake twice because they invited me back—after I had left. I had taken a job with the Summit County anti-poverty program in 1966. They had brought a critic into their midst.
I never did keep a job very long that depended upon someone else’s decisions.
At 32 years old, I wanted to be in a big city. Cleveland was one of my choices. I had been working for a Sunday newspaper—the Herald—in Bridgeport, Conn. I had started at the larger daily Bridgeport Telegram as a sports reporter in 1959, after graduating from Northeastern University in Boston. I had worked weekend nights at the Boston Globe taking sports scores from high schools.
I later moved to Haverhill, Mass. to work for a daily. It was a short tenure. A call got me back to the daily Bridgeport paper as an assistant to the Sunday editor. That didn’t work well after a couple of years when the newspaper decided my exposes of bad housing had caused problems. I was ordered to stop. I knew the city’s mayor was upset. He had gone to visit my father, a butcher, to complain about me. So it was natural to assume he had visited my editors too. I balked and refused to write Continue Reading »
6 April 2015
4 April 2015
Hating the sin but loving the sinner still brands you as a hater and increasingly makes you irrelevant in any political discussion in the United States of America. The latest stealth campaign from the religious wrong to banish members of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Questioning community from political and social commerce is falling flat despite the best efforts from the likes of the already irrelevant Mike Huckabee and presidential wannabe Jeb Bush.
Getting shamed by the girl friend of a major league baseball pitcher ought to be a clue. Eireann Dolan writes:
Dear season ticket holders who wish to sell their tickets for LGBT Pride Night,
Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs and as long as nobody is getting hurt, I’m happy. I also can’t stop you from selling your tickets. I won’t tell you that you are wrong or that you are not allowed to think or act that way.
We live in a free country, after all. You are free to think and say and do whatever you’d like. In fact just this morning I used my freedom to eat yogurt with a steak knife because I ran out of clean spoons (because SOMEone forgot to turn on the dishwasher last night). Who was going to stop me? That’s right. Nobody. Nice try bin Laden.
I ended up cutting the corner of my mouth on the knife, and it wasn’t one of my brightest decisions. But I may have just invented a DIY smile enhancement. And I will sue you if you steal my idea. #America
I digress. So, A’s fans; if attending a baseball game on LGBT Pride Night makes you at all uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to sell your tickets. And I have the perfect buyer. ME!
If you’d like to sell your tickets to June 17th’s LGBT Pride Night game, I will buy them from you at face value. As many as I can. No judgments. No questions asked.
From there, I will donate any tickets I purchase to the Bay Area Youth Center’s Our Space community for LGBTQ youth.
That way you don’t have to feel uncomfortable, and the seats don’t go to waste. It’s win-win.
Please tweet at me (@EireannDolan) if you’d like to sell me your tickets. I’ll purchase as many unwanted tickets as I can out of my own pocket. I also encourage other A’s fans to do the same. Let’s fill the stands that night!
Eireann and my hella gay moms
The campaign has been a success.
Thank you all for supporting this effort. Since posting this, the response has been (unsurprisingly) overwhelmingly positive. Many have offered to donate their tickets for this effort, and others have offered to donate money to buy tickets. My boyfriend, Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle, has agreed to match any tickets I purchase. And we also started a GoFundMe account to collect donations to fill the stands at this game. You can donate here. Sean and I will match donations up to $3000. We will use the donations to buy tickets to the 6/17 Pride Night game and donate them to Our Space LGBTQI Community Center for teens and young adults. Thank you in advance for your generosity!
Haters take note, this what not hating looks like.
4 April 2015
Since his father turned over his emailing list the begs from Rand Paul are coming fast and furious.
The one I got this morning bears the suspicious subject line: RE:Obama seeking third term?
Oh course, there is no mention in the email about President Barack Hussein Obama seeking to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which is the only way he could obtain a third term (but then, as all Paulian’s know, the Constitution also prohibits Kenyan-born Musselman from serving as president and we see how much use that protection was) but maybe Paul knows something he isn’t telling us.
What the email is really about, other than begging for my money, is support for Paul’s weak-tea version of federal term limits. Real term limits, term limits worthy of real, AR-15 toting, patriots would include:
Now those would be term limits a gawd-fearing American could get behind. Man-up Paul. Show that you’ve got what it takes to be a single-term All American president.
3 April 2015
Has the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered a single domestic threat to the United States since 11 September 2001 that didn’t involve an FBI informant?
The story of Noelle Velentza and Asia Siddiqui is just one more case of FBI fabrication, duping two possibly wanna-bes who would likely never have been a threat if their FBI handler hadn’t lead them down the path.
Murtaza Hussain writing in Informant Provided Bomb-Making Manual to Alleged “ISIS-Inspired” Plotters ledes”
In what has been widely described in the media as the breakup of an “ISIS-inspired” plot, on April 2 the Department of Justice announced that Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of New York, had been arrested and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. The defendants “plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices” for use in New York City and sought “bomb-making instructions and materials” for an attack, the Justice Department statement said.
Like other recent sensational “terror plots,” however, the criminal complaint unsealed yesterday demonstrates the key role of an undercover law enforcement informant in both formulating and facilitating the alleged plot. It doesn’t appear that Velentzas or Siddiqui actually planned or attempted to bomb any target, nor is there any evidence of discussions about how to create a bomb before the introduction of the informant into their lives.
Meanwhile, the Bush Obama Security Scheme ticks along…
2 April 2015
As part of a political prank a few years ago, I bought a t-shirt and some leaflets from Ron Paul’s organization. Since then I have gotten regular pleas for financial support—including a monthly raffle for an AR-15, a patriot must-have—but today I got this beg (all emphasis in original) for money from Ron Paul’s son Rand:
Dear Fellow Conservative,
Thank you for supporting my efforts to bring Constitutional values to Washington.
I would like to take a second to tell you about RandPAC.
RandPAC isn’t your run-of-the-mill political action committee. We have a two-pronged plan of attack to advance the conservative movement:
1. RandPAC pressures members of Congress with TV ads, emails, phone calls, faxes, and petitions to oppose big government power grabs and to uphold the Constitution.
2. And if any member of Congress sells out to the big-government establishment, RandPAC will work to flush them out of office by recruiting, endorsing, and promoting candidates who are committed conservatives.
And despite being new on the scene, RandPAC has already had great success!
In 2014, RandPAC-endorsed candidates in Kentucky, Iowa, North Carolina, and Kansas defeated big-spending establishment Democrats in close elections that decided control of the Senate.
Our legislative priorities are gaining steam as evident by the massive repudiation of Barack Obama in this last election.
RandPAC has led the fights to repeal ObamaCare, protect our Constitutional rights, and save our wallets from tax hikes and ill-advised foreign aid.
And over the next few days, you will receive emails detailing the battles RandPAC has fought and will continue to fight.
Your support for RandPAC is crucial in these fights because it is YOUR voice that matters on these issues.
RandPAC is leading the fight for conservative values in Washington, but we can’t do it without your help.
So please chip in $10, $25—or whatever you can afford—to help RandPAC expand our conservative coalition and fight for our values in Washington.
I sincerely thank you for all that you do.
Senator Rand Paul
P.S. RandPAC is funded entirely by freedom-loving Americans like you, so please chip in $10, $25, or whatever you can afford.
Clearly there is no firewall between father and son when the topic is money.