You are browsing the archive for 2013 May 20.

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80-Year-Old North Carolina Educator: Why I Am Going to Risk Arrest Today

May 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Barbara Parramore, AlterNet

A lifelong educator joins the Moral Mondays protests in Raleigh to fight GOP education agenda.


Today I am participating in a non-violent and peaceful protest called Moral Mondays. I join ministers, students, teachers, and other concerned citizens at the state capitol in Raleigh because I am deeply concerned about the legislation of this session of the North Carolina General Assembly. In my judgment, many laws and pending laws that will guide public policy and practice are not in the public interest, and in many instances, will have a negative effect on the future of our state. Children and youth, who are our future, need schooling and health that fosters the best of citizenship as well as preparation for living and working in our society. I am most concerned about the bills affecting the public schools and opportunities of post-secondary education. Families and women’s health issues also relate to and affect educational opportunities.

I was born in 1932 and am a child of the Great Depression and World War II. My oldest brother went into the army in January 1942 and I knew many older brothers of my friends who did not survive. Part of my DNA is being concerned about family and neighbors and helping each other whenever we could. It was fathers and daughters who kept farms going; indeed, a neighborhood girlfriend and her father were with my dad and me in a field working when someone came along to tell us that the war in the Pacific had ended. My brother was on the Pacific high seas that very day, and he got to come home safely, thank goodness.

Back then, neighbors and citizens knew how to care about each other, which brings me to my concern about what is happening right now to families and communities around the state. The list of bills proposed by one or both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly in spring of 2013 is long. Too many of these proposals appear to be poorly thought out. As a citizen who has never missed the opportunity to vote in local, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Poll: 82% of New York Voters – Including 81% of Republicans and Democrats – Support Medical Marijuana

May 20, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates Call for Immediate Passage of New York's Bill

A poll released by the Siena Research Institute released today found that 82% of New York voters support allowing seriously and terminally ill people to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if recommended by a doctor.

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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The Long, Sordid History of the American Right and Racism

May 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

Other factors have come and gone for the Right, but racism has always been there.


 

Racism has been a consistent thread weaving through the American Right from the early days when Anti-Federalists battled against the U.S. Constitution to the present when hysterical Tea Partiers denounce the first African-American president. Other factors have come and gone for the Right, but racism has always been there.

Though definitions of Right and Left are never precise, the Left has generally been defined, in the American context, by government actions – mostly the federal government responding to popular movements and representing the collective will of the American people – seeking to improve the lot of common citizens and to reduce social injustice.

The Right has been defined by opposition to such government activism. Since the Founding, the Right has decried government interference with the “free market” and intrusion upon “traditions,” like slavery and segregation, as “tyranny” or “socialism.”

This argument goes back to 1787 and opposition to the Constitution’s centralizing of government power in the hands of federal authorities. In Virginia, for instance, the Anti-Federalists feared that a strong federal government eventually would outlaw slavery in the Southern states.

Ironically, this argument was raised by two of the most famous voices for “liberty,” Patrick Henry and George Mason. Those two Virginians spearheaded the Anti-Federalist cause at the state’s ratifying convention in June 1788, urging rejection of the Constitution because, they argued, it would lead to slavery’s demise.

The irony of Henry and Mason scaring fellow Virginians about the Constitution’s threat to slavery is that the two men have gone down in popular U.S. history as great espousers of freedom. Before the Revolution, Henry was quoted as declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Mason is hailed as a leading force behind the Bill of Rights. However, their notion of “liberty” and “rights” was always selective. Henry and Mason worried about protecting the “freedom” of plantation owners to possess other human beings as property.

At Virginia’s Ratification Convention, Henry and Mason raised other arguments against the proposed Constitution, such as concerns that Virginia’s preeminence might not be as …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOPer Who Got Millions in Farm Subsidies Thinks the Poor Should Starve Rather Than Get Food Stamps

May 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Justin Doolittle, Daily Kos

Tennessee congressman Stephen Fincher is very angry that the federal government is committed to preventing poor people from starving to death:


Stephen Fincher, a deranged Republican congressman from Tennessee, is very angry that the federal government is committed to preventing poor people from starving to death:

Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who supports cuts to the program, had his own Bible verse from the Book of Thessalonians to quote back to Vargas: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said.

The program in question is SNAP, better known as food stamps. Fincher and his ultra-right-wing friends in the House are furious about the fact that the worst economic crisis in 80 years has resulted in more Americans needing food stamps. The whole point of programs like SNAP and other automatic stabilizers, of course, is that they kick in when the economy is struggling and people need help. Fincher is shocked and horrified by this heinous policy of ensuring that poor people and their children don't starve. Food is to be earned! Sure, this is the richest country in the history in the world, but if we provide our citizens with food to eat, then freedom is obviously dead.

 
He fulminates about people who are allegedly “unwilling to work” sucking off the government teat with impunity. This is a patently dishonest representation of the SNAP program. Most people who receive food stamps cannot be dismissed as losers who are “unwilling to work.” Nearly half (47%) of all food stamp recipients are children. Another 8% are 60 years of age or older. The “working poor” – people who live in a household with income from work – represent another 41%. Between children, the elderly, the working poor, and people who want a job but cannot find one – someone should tell Fincher that there are still more than 3 unemployed job seekers for every 1 opening – that leaves very few people who can be accurately described as being “unwilling” to work. It's also worth noting that the average monthly SNAP benefit is a whopping $287. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Tourists Encouraged to Gawk At, Mock Poor in Horrifying "GHETTO" Bus Tour in Bronx

May 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet

A Bronx bus company is offering tours billed as a “a ride through a real New York City ‘GHETTO.’”


A Bronx bus company is offering tours billed as a “a ride through a real New York City ‘GHETTO’,” the New York Post reports.

The company, Real Bronx Tours, has taken largely white foreign tourists around the Bronx. The tour guide was caught mocking the Bronx by Post reporter Candice Giove.

“Last week, on the first stop of the $45 tour, guide Lynn Battaglia, from Pittsburgh, pointed out a housing project. She then mocked the Grand Concourse, modeled after a Parisian boulevard,” reports Giove. “‘Do you feel like we’re on the Champs-Elysées?’ she teased a couple from Paris.”

The tour also included a drive near a food pantry at a church. Battaglia wondered out loud, “I don’t know what that line’s about, but every Wednesday we see it. We see them go in with empty carts, and we see them come out with carts full.”

The tour guide warned of the dangers of going to a park in the Bronx, and also gave inaccurate information about the origin of the word “pig” to describe a police officer. While Battaglia claimed the word came from the Bronx, in reality it originated in London.

The Bronx Borough President harshly criticized the guide and the tour.

The guide is “the biggest fool on the planet,” said Ruben Diaz, the borough president. “To have foreigners come and gawk at a long line of people who are less fortunate than they are and to make money off of that and to view them as they are some sort of entertainment is pretty disgusting.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Rand Paul on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley – 5/19/13

May 20, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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12-Year-Old Girl Raped, Video Posted to Facebook by Alleged Attackers

May 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet

Three teenagers are accused of raping a 12-year-old girl and then posting the attack on Facebook.


Did three Chicago youth attack and rape a young girl and then videotape it for the world to see? That’s what prosecutors in Illinois are alleging.

The Associated Press reports that three teenagers are accused of raping a 12-year-old girl and then posting the attack on Facebook.

Three boys–15-year-old Kenneth Brown and 16-year-old Justin Applewhite and Scandale Fritz–allegedly brought the girl down to the basement of Fritz’s home. Fritz was identified because his face showed up in the video taken.

The video was first posted on Brown’s Facebook account, but was eventually posted to all three of the boys’ pages. They were ordered to be held last Friday for aggravated criminal sexual assault.

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Islamic Republic of Pakistan: The World's Most Dangerous Nation Holds an Election

May 20, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Arriving at the airport in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, reminds one of the vast gulf between the First and Third World. Chaotic, frenetic, disorganized, dilapidated—when I visited a couple months ago I almost longed for New York’s JFK airport, which I normally loathe. The government is building a new facility, but no matter how modern the buildings, the new airport is likely to end up much like the old one: chaotic, frenetic, and disorganized, if not quite so dilapidated.

Pakistan has great potential, but remains hobbled by artificial national boundaries, decades of conflict in Afghanistan, metastasizing home-grown radicalism, and persistent economic malfeasance.”

Pakistan’s recent election was much like the country’s capital airport. Except violence and murder added to the chaos. Nawaz Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League—Nawaz emerged as the likely new prime minister. The only unambiguous good news, beyond the generally free vote, is that the religious parties did not gain.

Sharif, a former prime minister who was ousted in 1999 by military chief Pervez Musharraf (whose recent attempt to return to politics was blocked by Pakistan’s courts), has spent a lifetime seeking political power. However, the prize may be a poisoned chalice.

Pakistan is a tragic land, an Islamic state increasingly turned fundamentalist and violent. For the first time in the country’s more than six decade life, a civilian government fulfilled its full five—year term. However, the unimpressive performance of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party left it fighting outsider cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek—e—Insaf Party to avoid a third place finish. Moreover, President Asif Ali Zardari’s term ends in September and he has no chance of being reappointed by the parliament.

The government’s failure was sweeping. Observed Vali Nasr, author and former State Department adviser, Pakistan “is nuclear—armed, in near conflict with India, has a dangerous civil war with its own extremists, is now subject to one of the most brutal terrorism campaigns against its population, and is now coming apart along sectarian lines.”

The state does not even rule its own territory. Much of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan are beyond Islamabad’s control. At least 4,000 Pakistani soldiers have died since 2004 fighting the Pakistani Taliban.

Conflict crosses the Afghan border while extremists strike with bombings and assassinations elsewhere. Religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and Shia Muslims, face constant private violence and official discrimination.

Indeed, in this election radicals waged a murderous campaign against democratic politicians, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Common Core Needs More Debate

May 20, 2013 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Parents in Michigan, like those across the country, want their children to have the tools they need to excel in school and beyond. The Common Core national curriculum standards were sold as the way to give students those tools. But with the standards now being implemented, a growing number of Michiganians — as evidenced by the recent House vote to withhold state funds from Common Core — are having buyer’s remorse. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s support for the Core notwithstanding, they’re right to be wary, especially since Core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.

Supporters of the Core tout the fact that 45 states have adopted the standards, but don’t mistake that for enthusiastic support. Before the standards had even been published, states were coerced into adopting them by President Obama’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states like Michigan would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink and the money would be gone; which is why most people hadn’t even heard of the standards at adoption time.

As Common Core continues to be implemented the chorus of opposition is likely to grow.”

Now the standards are being implemented, and people are asking “what the heck is this?” Many don’t like the answer: untested, uniform curriculum standards pushed on everyone by Washington, and they are acting. The Michigan House acted. The Republican National Committee officially condemned the standards. Several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from theCore. And nine U.S. senators have requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end all federal meddling in standards and assessment.

What have Common Core supporters done in response to this groundswell of concern? Rather than address Common Core worries and evidence such as it is empirically unsupported, moves the country closer to a federal monopoly, and treats children like identical cogs, supporters have often dodged constructive debate.

Snyder, while at a Detroit event with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, dismissed concerns as politics-as-usual, saying: “Too many people in our country … are looking to fight someone for the sake of fighting.” Apparently, it is purely political to oppose clear and heavy-handed federal intrusion in what is constitutionally — and logically — a state and local matter.

In response to the RNC’s resolution, Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, complained …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Three Differences Between Communism and Nazism

May 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster