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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



The Box: Solitary Confinement Takes Center Stage

Aug9

by: Sarah Asch on August 9th, 2016 | No Comments »

The Box , a play directed by Michael John Garcés and written by Sarah Shourd.

A white supremacist with a swastika tattooed above his left eye addresses the audience: “People without hope are fucking dangerous.”

One of six characters in The Box, a play that debuted at Z Space theater in San Francisco in July, Jake Juchau (played by Clive Worsley) presents one image of life in long-term solitary confinement. The play was written by Sarah Shourd, an American journalist who spent 410 days in solitary in Iran after being accused of espionage, and then returned to the U.S. and began conducting research about the domestic uses of solitary confinement.

“Years of research went into this play,” Shourd notes in the playbill. “I traveled to visit prisoners in solitary confinement in 13 facilities across the country.” Shourd also explains that the six prisoners in her play are fictional combinations of the real life stories she gathered. “The characters in The Box won’t allow us to sit comfortably in our own skins,” Shourd writes. “They force us to ask questions: Why are we torturing people in lieu of rehabilitation? What are we going to do about the violence plaguing our society? How does change happen? How do we connect our own suffering to something larger?”


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Trumped

Aug5

by: David Swanson on August 5th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

This article was originally published atdavidswanson.org

Why would it be that 8 years ago you couldn’t win a Democratic presidential primary if you’d voted for a war on Iraq afterpushingall the Bush White House lies about it, and yet now you can? Back then the war looked closer to ending, the death count was lower, and ISIS was only in the planning stages. Reports on the fraud, criminality, and knowingly self-destructive nature of the war launch — reports like the Chilcot report — hadn’t yet been produced. How can you drag this albatross across the finish line at this late date in 2016?

Well, you can’t, in fact. Claiming that Hillary Clinton won the 2016 primary is like claiming Bush won the 2000 election. It’s one of those things that everyone will say, using it as shorthand, and repeating it until everyone forgets that the thing wasstolen. So, let me rephrase: How can you get people to pretenden massethat you won the 2016 Democratic presidential primary despite lugging around the same baggage as 8 years before only now stuffed with putrid rotting flesh?

And not only that, but how can you pull loved ones of people you sent to kill and kill and kill and die in that criminal calamity onto the stage of your coronation convention and get people to cheer for it?

How can you get your supporters to scream “U – S – A! U – S – A!” at anyone who shouts “No more war”?


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But, Mr. Putin, You Just Don’t Understand

Aug4

by: By David Swanson on August 4th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

This article was originally published here

Once in a while one of the videos somebody emails me a link to turns out to be well worth watching. Such is this one. In it a former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union tries to explain to Vladimir Putin why new U.S. missile bases near the border of Russia should not be understood as threatening. He explains that the motivation in Washington, D.C., is not to threaten Russia but to create jobs. Putin responds that, in that case, the United States could have created jobs in peaceful industries rather than in war.

Putin may or may not be familiar with U.S. economic studies finding that, in fact, the same investment in peaceful industries would create more jobs than does military spending. But he is almost certainly aware that, in U.S. politics, elected officials have, for the better part of a century, only been willing to invest heavily in military jobs and no others. Still, Putin, who may also be familiar with how routine it has become for Congress members to talk about the military as a jobs program, appears in the video a bit surprised that someone would offer that excuse to a foreign government fixed in U.S. sights.

Timothy Skeers who sent me the video link commented: “Maybe Khrushchev should have just told Kennedy he was just trying to create jobs for Soviet citizens when he put those missiles in Cuba.” Imagining how that would have played out may help people in the United States to grasp how their elected officials sound to the rest of the world.


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“Pow, Pow, Yous Are Dead!” Children, Toy Guns, and the Real Thing By

Aug4

by: Frida Berrigan on August 4th, 2016 | No Comments »

[From our ally TomDispatch.com]

 

It was a beautiful evening and the kids — Madeline, two; Seamus, almost four; and Rosena, nine — were running across a well-tended town green. Seamus pointed his rainbow flag with the feather handle at his sisters and “pow-powed” them, calling out, “Yous are dead now, guys. I shot yous.”

Madeline and Rosena laughed and just kept on running, with Seamus at their heels. I hid my face in my hands. It wasn’t just that he was playing guns, but that he was using a Pride flag as his gun at a vigil to mourn those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. My pacifist husband Patrick ran to redirect their activities, replacing the flag with a ball and glove and beginning a game of catch. Vigil organizers were taking turns reading the names of those killed into a microphone.

“… Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Luis S. Vielma, 22…”


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She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention

Aug3

by: Jeffrey St. Clair on August 3rd, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Rabbi Lerner’s Note: Now don’t go jumping to the conclusion that I agree with Jeff St. Clair’s perspective just because I’ve posted it here. As I repeatedly say, we want a variety of perspectives on the elections on our website, and welcome yours if it’s original, lively, says something most of our readers will not have likely heard in the mainstream media, and is smart. That is not the same thing as true or accurate Asi turns out, he has written columns in which he denounces me personally as an apologist for Zionism (I wish he’d send those charges to the American Jewish leaders who repeatedly attack me for being an anti-Israel self-hating Jew!) So you have to judge for yourself if his perceptions match yours on what was happening at the convention. But we thought there were some points here worth considering, though that doesn’t mean we agree with them. Our goal is to create a contexgt in which you can read a variety of voices that never get into the lamestream media! To keep us alive, please subscribe to Tikkun at www.tikkun.org/subscribe or even better, join our interfaith and secular-humanist-and-atheist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org (membership in which at the $50 or more level gets you a free subscription to Tikkun plus more.

This Article was originally published by Jeffery St. Clair here

 

 

+ First things first. I want to apologize to the Sandernistas for any impolite things I may havewritten about youin the past 10 months.

I especially want to apologize to those of you who rose up after your leader abandoned you,

after Bernie wiped out your votes and muted your voices,

after he turned you over to the DNC’s thuggish floor managers and security guards,


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Lerner’s Huffington Post article on Sanders Supporters’ Dilemma

Aug3

by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on August 3rd, 2016 | 3 Comments »

THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

Senator Bernie Sanders had two good reasons for endorsing Hillary: 1. His firm belief that the country would be considerably worse off were Donald Trump to win the presidency; 2. If his movement to push the Democratic Party in a progressive direction would had been perceived as having failed to support Hillary Clinton, it would have been blamed if Hillary were to lose in November. If that happened, it would have given progressives the kind of bad reputation consumer advocate Ralph Nader got when he failed to tell his supporters in the 2000 presidential election to not vote for him but vote for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in those few states where the polls indicated that the outcome might well depend on Gore getting the Nader voters. The burden of that would have crippled his movement for many years to come. After Sanders’s talk appealing to his delegates to vigorously support Hillary’s presidential candidacy despite the Wikileaks revelations that the Democratic Party’s pro-Hillary national leadership actively sought to undermine his candidacy during the primaries, no reasonable person could blame a Trump victory in November on Bernie Sanders (although if Trump wins, you can bet some in both parties will try).

Sadly, Senator Sanders conveyed his support in a way that undermined his integrity and disillusioned some of his most ardent supporters, reducing his credibility, thereby leaving them doubtful that the movement he had promised to create along with his campaign would be little more than a Bernie-controlled political PAC playing politics the “old-fashioned way.” Bernie derived his power and appeal to millions of Americans not solely from the wisdom of his political program, but also from the widespread perception that he was a truth-telling man who refused to follow the normal rules of establishment-oriented politics.He was loved in part because he rejected the advice of all the political realists and spoke truth to power.


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The Moment that Defeated Donald Trump

Aug1

by: on August 1st, 2016 | 1 Comment »

When Ghazala and Khizr Khan stood before the Democratic National Convention, when Mr. Khan said to Donald Trump: “You have sacrificed nothing and no one”, he defeated the Trump campaign. The words reverberated through the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and through millions of television screens across the globe with such clarity and truth that while the crowd in the hall cheered everyone watching paused. Everyone knew something important had just happened.

Donald Trump will never be president of the United States of America.

Mr. and Mrs. Khan are the parents of Captain Humayan Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Their son graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000 where he was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corp. His plan was to leave military service and become a lawyer. However, after 9/11, he decided to stay in the military. While in Iraq, one of his duties was morning inspection of the troops. The day he died, a suicide bomber driving a taxi sped toward his troops. He called for them to hit the ground. He moved forward and was killed when the bomb exploded. His actions saved numerous lives. (http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-36945318)

He sacrificed his life for the warriors who he led. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John15:13) His family and friends live with this loss daily. It is a grief so deep that his mother still finds it difficult to speak of him. Her heart aches an unspeakable ache when she sees his picture. Such was the reason for her silence at the convention.

During this campaign, after terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Republican candidates for president seemed to be in a contest over who could be the toughest not only against Daesh – aka ISIS, ISIL, IS – but also against Syrian refugees and Muslim Americans living in the United States. John Cassidy writing in the New Yorker, “Donald Trump and America’s Muslims”, reminds us that after Paris, Jeb Bush wanted to invade Syria. Chris Christie would not allow even children from Syria into the United States. Both Trump and Ted Cruz wanted to increase surveillance of both Muslim communities and mosques. (http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/donald-trump-and-americas-muslims)

Only Trump called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States. He said it was a temporary ban until a mysterious we could learn some mysterious information that allowed us to know a mysterious what is going on. He has since modified his position to say he would ban those who come from “terror states.” Again he has not said which states these are.

While there has been so much attention to Trump’s various positions on banning Muslims from coming to the United States, we have forgotten his proposal to create a database of Muslims in the United States. Cassidy quotes Trump saying: “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”

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Are You Adding to The Empathy Deficit?

Jul31

by: on July 31st, 2016 | 5 Comments »

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. Here’s a quote from my friend Keryl McCord’s Facebook post that explains why:

So tonight I’m calling bullshit on progressives who still think that voting for, well, you know, Voldemort, is okay for progressives because it isn’t. You may want the system to be destroyed but the dogs of war will be unleashed on black and brown people, on Muslims, gays, and women. And if knowing that you still think that’s an option then you are not progressive, nor an ally. You’re just another foot on the neck of the people you supposedly support.

Let me be clear that it isn’t just Voldemort straight up: a vote for the Green or Libertarian candidate is also a vote for Trump, because it does nothing to close the gap between Trump and Clinton. I’m voting for Hillary because voting for Jill Stein, or any other third-party candidate whose views are closer to my own, would help elect Trump. That would be a disaster for the nation as a whole, and most particularly for the groups Keryl listed, those Trump has called out by name.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, and trying to wrap my mind around the political viewpoint that prizes personal ideological purity over disastrous consequences for the vulnerable. I supported Bernie. The Bernie-supporters who say they are voting for Stein or Johnson or even Trump inevitably marshal the same arguments: I have to vote my conscience, I can’t support the lesser or two evils, the system is corrupt, Bernie was cheated, and I can’t stomach being part of it.

It reminds me of a Talmudic inquiry. A question is posed: is it better to give one dollar to charity with a full heart, or ten grudgingly? The self-regarding obsession with purity that flavors so much of contemporary politics has to think hard before answering “One dollar with a full heart.” But really, there’s only one answer. Charity exists to benefit those in need. Ten dollars gives ten times more relief. How you feel about it is your problem. At bottom, it’s a simple act of empathy, valuing others’ interests—especially those who would suffer the consequences of a wrong decision on your part—as much as or more than your own.


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Star Trek Beyond the Trump GOP Brand of Crisis

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

After four days of the 2016 Republican doom and gloom be afraid be very afraid convention, after Donald Trump’s forever acceptance speech, I needed to transport myself for a while to another world to live in. I took myself to the movies to see “Star Trek Beyond.” It did not disappoint. The movie made me think about the meaning of leadership, the role of popular culture in our perceptions of reality, and how art imitates life and how life imitates art.

This year marks fifty years since the original Star Trek series made its debut on television. Since then, there have been several television series and movies. The current set of movies made for the big screen tell the story of the original crew of the starship Enterprise from before the series begins. Our favorites – Kirk, Spock, Uhuru, Chekov, Sulu, McCoy, and Scotty – are back in fine form. The movie is self-referential in ways that only true trekkers will notice. However, I was delighted by the references that I did find. The new movie maintains the Star Trek brand of excitement with a touch of philosophical thinking. At the very beginning, we see Kirk trying to offer a gift to an alien people who are deeply suspicious of him and of his motives. His encounter with them is as exasperating as are human encounters with Others who do not want diplomacy on any level.

I started to think about Kirk, the leader of the group. He is now and has always been portrayed as a kind of ubermensch, an over much man, a man of superior abilities. He is courageous, with a devil may care elan that allows him the creative force to break the rules when it suits him or when he thinks it is necessary. He is the combination of the cerebral Spock and the emotional McCoy. He is the tip of the spear, the one who is not afraid to take charge.

Our popular culture has given us many such heroes, the man, usually European but not necessarily, who rides in to save the day. Kirk is another iteration of Superman, Batman, the Lone Ranger, Matt Dillon, Bond, James Bond, James West and others. They have a supporting cast of characters, but usually they are the men who will think their way or fight their way out of trouble and save the town, or world from utter destruction. Women find the over man irresistible, and men are always grateful to see him come and display the courage that they lack.

Is this who Donald Trump thinks he is? Or, is his declaration that the United States is in a state of crisis and that he is the only one who can fix the situation cynicism, a carbon copy of the recent movie “Our brand is Crisis”?

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A NATIONAL LIBERATION – WHERE?

Jul25

by: Jon D. Olsen on July 25th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

World attention is focused on the long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory by an ever-encroaching Israeli presence which began in 1947. A great deal has been written on this subject and this focus is entirely appropriate. But there is another occupation that has continued for fifty years longer, but which receives scant attention, even among the educated Left. That is the continued occupation of the country called Hawai’i. “Whoa, wait a minute!? The reader will exclaim, “Wasn’t that issue ‘settled’ in 1959 with US. statehood?” That’s what the whole world thought, including most Hawaiians, until Hawaiian scholar-activists began to research the legal and historical details. What they discovered is that both by international law and by US. Constitutional law, the relation that exists is that of prolonged occupation and that the claim to “annexation,” the foundation of the “statehood” claim has no validity whatsoever. Rather, control, but not sovereignty, passed to the US. in 1898, and that sovereignty has remained dormant, like the giant volcano Haleakala on Maui.

 


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