11 December 2007

Ron Paul

AlterNet's Joshua Holland has a piece about Ron Paul and his supporters that's worth a read. I'm not a Paul supporter, and instead of explaining to you why, here's a piece from the article that really explains everything:
Paul's proposed a number of court-stripping measures, shutting the courthouse door to discrimination suits based on sexual discrimination; he's tried to prohibit the government from mandating a minimum wage; he's tried to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, which guarantees that workers on federal projects be paid a prevailing wage, and the Copeland Act, which bars kick-backs on federal projects; he has proposed freezing Social Security benefit levels and making the program fully optional, which would effectively destroy it; he has opposed measures that promote more voter participation; he would repeal key parts of American anti-trust law, gutting it; he's tried to deauthorize most federal agencies' regulatory powers; he's tried to eliminate all affirmative action programs; he's proposed altering the 14th Amendment to prohibit the children of immigrants from gaining citizenship; he's proposed eliminating or gutting a variety of environmental legislation; he's tried to kill the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and submitted legislation that would pull the United States out of the United Nations 12 different times; he has tried to eradicate the Department of Education, offered legislation to end federal involvement in educating kids; and he has proposed, at various times, the abolition of most taxes on wealth as well as income and the establishment of a flat tax. All of this is legislation that he not only supported, but proposed or co-sponsored.

09 December 2007

FOX News image

Thanks to the wonderful Crooks and Liars for this (it's real, by the way):

07 December 2007

China warning Italy about Dalai Lama

China has issued a warning to Italy about the Dalai Lama's future visit. This shouldn't shock anyone since they throw a hissy-fit every time someone meets with him. I love it when world leaders meet with him anyway, but hate that they don't publicly stand up to China.

05 December 2007

Candidate: Donald K. Allen

Donald K. Allen is a little-known independent candidate in the run for the 2008 presidency. A veterinarian who's been involved with the military, he has a lot of strong views about this country and how he plans to improve it. His ideal America: "My vision of America is a Christian nation with English as the national language, strong in defending our beliefs and steadfast in our moral convictions."

He also feels that not being a politician will allow him to speak more clearly to the American people. "Perhaps not being a politician is a good thing today."

Government/Military
Allen wants to reform Congress. He says there needs to be term limits to "instill new growth" in both the House and Senate, and riders (what he calls "earmarks") need to be made illegal. He also promotes a Presidential line-item veto. National referendums on issues that matter to everyone is also in his plans. Overall, he plans to take away some of the power that Congress has accumulated.

He supports the FairTax system (no federal income tax - higher sales taxes) since he believes there are too many people who work under the table.

"Everyone should go through some form of compulsory national service in his or her life." He wants to give everyone the chance to experience something akin to military/national service. One aspect of this could be reestablishing the New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

As for war, "...we should give our generals free hand (short of nukes) to do whatever it takes to totally subdue the enemy and its whole populace." He says that, in order to win a war, there needs to be "total unconditional surrender of the entire population or face total destruction," as in the cases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Holding the entire population responsible is something he believes in strongly, as you'll soon see with his attitude towards the Middle East.

Iraq conflict/Middle East
Allen believes that bringing the troops home will lead to us fighting the same war in Americca, and that "proposing [bringing them home] is only a ploy to appeal to some of our ill-informed voters." George Bush inspires him because of his "determination to 'stay the course' and his strong faith in God." He also feels that there is no reason to think this is a war on oil. After all, how would it be so if it gas prices were still above $3 a gallon?

According to Allen, radical Islamists are the biggest threat to America. He also blames all of Islam: "Roughly 98 percent of Muslims claim that theirs is a peaceful religion, and that the radical 2 percent are murderous villains. What, then, prevents the 98 percent from eliminating that 2 percent themselves? Is it passive acceptance of the radicals, or unspoken support of their actions?" He believes that Islam is doomed to violence.

He shows little sympathy to Muslims who are not terrorists. "...as President I would guarantee to the Muslim world that if any of their faith were responsible for the detonation of a nuclear device in this country, they could immediately expect a similar fate for two significant cities." Also, he suggests using "pig fat as a lubricant on all US military bullets."

Immigration/Mexico
Mexico is helping illegal immigration. Allen wants to finish the massive fence on the border. He feels that our economy rests on the back of cheap immigrant workers doing the "dirty" jobs here in America, but that all immigrants need to be documented and tracked at all times.

One interesting bit that Allen proposed is to pay unhappy American citizens $25,000 to "leave and never return." He put emphasis on the "never return" part, which leads me to believe that he means not even being able to come back to see loved ones. According to Allen, it would "probably save billions in future support for these malcontents." However, due to Mexico's help of illegal immigration, Americans leaving would not be able to relocate to Mexico or Central America.

Social issues/Civil liberties/Rights/Freedoms/Environment
Believes that racial profiling is necessary to protect America. "...keep your eyes wide open for young Middle Eastern men and women. What is really wrong with that?" He doesn't say whether this applies to all people of Middle Eastern origin or to foreigners visiting the USA.

Donald Allen is against the separation of church and state, and believes organizations like the ACLU is akin to the communists in the east and that they are trying to "obliterate any reference to God." Because America was founded on Christian principles, we should go back to that. All that we're protected against in the Constitution is the freedom to practice our own religions and protection from the government declaring a state religion, not the abolition of Christianity.

Claims that there aren't any real infringements on civil rights because unless someone is doing something wrong it's not a big deal.

Personally believes abortion to be "one of the most horrible things mankind does to itself." Believes that many women are irresponsible and abortion is being used as a form of birth control, although he understands that there are cases of rape or health where abortion might be necessary. Also believes that if a woman seeks a second abortion, "she is in serious need of sex education and responsibility, maybe even psychological intervention. I can understand one 'accident,' but the second is pure stupidity."

His plan for healthcare involves a "loser pays" system in which the loser of a lawsuit would pay the costs of both sides, making people unwilling to sue doctors/hospitals. People also need to learn to take care of minor illnesses themselves at home. He would also require pharmaceutical companies to charge Americans the same price as they do people in other countries, and would try to establish "one world price."

War on Drugs: All elected officials, teachers, doctors, and health care workers should have drug testing. Sellers would face very harsh sentencing and the names of buyers would be published. "Our drug users should move to Holland."

Allen feels that minorities should stay out of the picture so as not to give the majority a "culture shock," at least in the case of sexuality. "I much preferred the days when [homosexuality] wasn't constantly thrown in your face."

He would ask teachers what they think can be done to improve our educational system. He's also concocted a program which would allow anyone entrance to college. This system would consist of students initially paying tuition, and at the end of the semester they would be reimbursed until the graduated.

Repeatedly makes a case against liberals and the liberal media. "Much of our news media has become a political arm of the opposition party, and it only publicizes that which serves their agenda to discredit the reigning administration." He blames the liberal media for making "other nations view us as 'heavy-handed' and arbitrary."

He also plans to ban puppy mills because the conditions are terrible, but says nothing about the conditions of animals in factory farming.

He's a proponent of independence from foreign oil, and would be willing to offer a $1 billion prize to whomever could make that happen. "They cycles of global colling and warming occur without our approval, and virtually nothing can be done to change or alter these trends." However, he thinks something can be done to diminish pollution levels.
______________________________________________________________
Electability (on a scale of 0-5): 0. I can't see a single way this man will be elected.

My Analysis: I couldn't get past the prejudice surrounding the Middle East and racial profiling. Also, his view that some women use abortion as birth control is demeaning to all women. I had a few questions to ask him, but since there wasn't an email contact on his site, I'll post them here:

1. You say that it's ok for racial profiling for "young Middle Eastern men and women" because otherwise it's a waste of time and money and that it wouldn't take away their civil liberties because they aren't American citizens. What about American citizens who are of Middle Eastern origin? Wouldn't they be hurt by such a policy?

2. You're against puppy mills because of the treatment of the dogs, but how do you feel about animal agriculture (factory farming)? One can argue that these animals are kept in much worse conditions than dogs in puppy mills, with many animals kept in close spaces to one another for example.

3. You say that all Muslims are accountable for actions of any of their members. Does this also apply to Christians that blow up abortion clinics? Should we bomb two of their churches?

Further Information:
Official campaign site

Previous profile:
Steve Adams

Internet Freedom

The last year or so has seen the internet becoming far more privatized, and user's freedoms are being taken away. This is a video from FreeSpeech.org.

04 December 2007

Republicans trying to trick people...again

The Republican party is starting to become a joke, although it's a scary joke. The things they're doing to gain power is getting frighting. Below is a video from CBS News discussing how California Republicans are trying to reform the way the state's electoral college votes are given out, meaning that even if a democrat wins the popular vote republicans would still get some electoral college votes. You don't have to look deeply into this to see through it - if they were serious about reforming election, they wouldn't working only in California. After all, it's not the only state that votes Democrat. The difference is in its size and number of electoral college votes. And using sick kids to con people into signing their petition is just low.

02 December 2007

Misheard Lyrics: Yellow Ledbetter

You gotta love incomprehensible rock songs.

01 December 2007

The other side of global warming

Even though most people now agree that global warming is more than likely our fault, it's always good to have basic knowledge about skeptic's views. It's the only way to effectively debate something.

Unfortunately, some articles making the argument against humanity's involvement in global warming resort to bashing liberals and hippies. Thankfully, however, HowStuffWorks has a fantastic article that explains in very basic terms what climate change skeptics believe. It's not very long (don't be discouraged by the four pages), and I highly recommend it.

Are Climate Skeptics Right?

Anytime I mention climate change skeptics, I always find myself saying the same thing. And this time's no different. I love differing opinions, they create an opportunity to really understand something and investigate it. But I fear that the people trying to convince people that global warming is either not real or not caused by humans are almost working against the environment in a way. If global warming isn't real or there's nothing we can do about it, what's going to drive people to change their habits. If, in 20 years, global warming is proved wrong (which I doubt), what's so bad about having invested in clean technology? Our overall lives will still be better. Whether or not you think global warming is real, you still need to be concerned about pollution and the state of the environment.

Prepping kids for drugs

Every once in awhile there's a product put on selves that boggle minds and make us wonder who on earth came up with such an idea. That's how I feel about new Ice Breakers Pacs mints that look like drugs.I actually think it's hilarious, but what company would try to sell this to consumers. I mean, they'd have to realize that parents aren't' going to be too happy with their kids using something that so much resembles cocaine.

thanks, Neatorama

30 November 2007

Joseph McCarthy

For today, a little history lesson. This was actually an assignment for my Turning Points in American History class.



Joe McCarthy was the Republican Senator from Wisconsin for ten years starting in 1947. He started out as a lawyer, but he wasn’t very successful. Originally a Democrat and a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, he switched to the Republican Party in order to run in an election to become a Circuit Court Judge. He won due to his extremely dirty campaigning, including making accusations that his opponent, Edgar Werner, was senile and had been guilty of financial corruption.

During WWII, McCarthy joined the Marines and used this as a tool in his run for Senate upon his return. He claimed that he had been in thirty-two missions for the Marines, which was a lie. His habits hadn’t changed much since his campaign for circuit court judge. This campaign was just as dirty, but resulted in something much worse. Robert La Follette was accused of war profiteering, and even though it wasn’t true, McCarthy won the election and La Follette ended up committing suicide.

Right from the start McCarthy started to show his ruthlessness. He called for the drafting of striking miners, and said that if they did not agree to go they should be court-martialed and shot. At first McCarthy wasn’t having too much success; people had started to realize he had been lying to them. He consulted a Catholic priest named Edmund Walsh about strategies to help him keep his seat in the Senate, and Walsh suggested going after “communist subversives working in the Democratic administration.”

By setting up a system of information trading with reporter Jack Anderson, McCarthy obtained a list of 205 people he claimed were communists, including some he accused of trading secrets with the Russians. He argued in the Senate that these people were “loyalty risks.”

People were terrified of being accused of communist ties by Joseph McCarthy. People stopped accusing him of lying because he had shown that he could end their careers. The American people were being swept up in his tales of communist spies within the American government. Most people were scared of a communist invasion of the United States because of the Cold War. These accusations and anti-communism became known as “McCarthyism.”

He started to almost make a career out of ruining people’s lives. After accusing Harry Truman of being soft on communism, it was easier for Dwight Eisenhower to win the presidency. When McCarthy accused Johns Hopkins University professor Owen Lattimore of being a Russian spy (which was never proved), Lattimore moved to Europe.

The best example of how harsh McCarthy could be was his treatment of reporter Drew Pearson. Pearson has long been opposed to McCarthy, and wrote an article accusing McCarthy and Louis Budenz (who had been a witness to Lattimore’s suspected communism) of lying. McCarthy decided to retaliate, and said that Pearson was “the voice of international Communism.” Pearson’s radio sponsor pulled out and twelve newspapers cancelled contracts with him, which practically ended his career.

It was inevitable that McCarthy would go too far. After accusing the Secretary of the Army, President Eisenhower became angry. The Army passed revealing information to anti-McCarthy journalists, and the public learned of his true identity. All the power he had accumulated melted away, and in 1957 he died due to an illness related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Help the environment: don't eat meat

Kathy Freston has an article on AlterNet about switching to a vegetarian diet to help fight global warming. This isn't the first article AlterNet's had on the subject, and I'm happy that people are starting to realize that eating meat is detrimental to the environment. And even though I'll always promote a vegan diet (not just for the earth either - but for the animals!), you don't have to stop eating meat altogether to help the environment. You can just eat less meat.

Eating Vegetarian is Taking Global Warming Personally

29 November 2007

Thousands of injuries not counted by Pentagon

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries...

The data... show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

20,000 troops not being listed as injuries from the war in Iraq is
huge. The number of injuries and deaths is already too high, but this just shows that US leadership doesn't want us to know what the real number is. Their thinking is that if everything is going fine, we'll want to stay there; it's not working, but that's what they think.

From USAToday

Books not laptops

One Laptop per Child is a campaign to "provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves" by distributing $100 laptops to kids in developing countries. The plan is to get people to buy laptops to send to places where education is lacking. When I first heard about this project, I thought it was interesting, but then I started thinking. Why go through all the trouble to give these kids laptops? After all, all of us know about computer problems. But what happens if the laptops break? They won't last forever.

Although there are advantages such as learning to use a computer in an increasingly digital world, it seems to me that books would be a better gift. They last longer, they're portable, probably more durable, and still offer education to kids that badly need it.

28 November 2007

The media's roll in the presidency

All Things Democrat has a great post on how the media is essentially choosing the president for us. It's a little long but it's a great read.

Are the Media Choosing the Next President?

They're right on the point. They are choosing our next president. A lot of Americans trust the media to give them the truth, and they don't think that maybe they should get a second opinion.

What else would you expect?

UnHolyWars has a post about how "Afghanistan is fast slipping back into the hands of the Taliban."
Senior British and U.S. military commanders privately admit that the situation in the country is becoming from bad to worse.

That's what happens when you start a second war in the middle of the first one. Afghanistan has been left behind in the dust of Iraqi oil shipments.

Executed for international calls

A North Korean factory boss accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in front of 150,000 people, it emerged today...

Its citizens are banned from communicating with the outside world, part of the regime's authoritarian policies seeking to prevent any challenge to the iron-fisted rule of Kim Jong II...

The communist country insists it does not violate human rights...
Yikes! This is insane. It's so hard for me, as an American, to imagine living in a country like this, where you have no freedom at all. Even though I think the threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on the West or South Korea is slim since it would enter them into a war they could not win, something major needs to be done for their human rights violations. Sanctions were placed on North Korea because of their nuclear weapons programs; I think it's time they're sanctioned for their harsh treatment of citizens.

Source: Daily Mail

27 November 2007

Brilliant Bird


http://view.break.com/403364 - Watch more free videos

Why is China in the UN?

Here is the a piece of the Charter of the United Nations:
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
Tibet?

26 November 2007

A lesson from Slovenia's hermit president

After Slovenia's president, Janez Drnovsel was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he became a hermit, moving to a mountain retreat and becoming a totally different person. Since this change, the Slovenian people see him as a great man. Here are a few bits from the Times Online article:
Drnovsek says that his conversion from conventional politician into "Slovenia's Gandhi" - as one commentator has dubbed him - was gradual, and he adopted a low profile as he fought his illness. He abandoned conventional medicine because his doctors told him that they could not cure him. He dabbled with Indian and Chinese healers. He gave up meat, dairy products and alcohol in favour of organic vegetables and home-baked bread. he fasted for days at a time. He also sought to nourish his soul, leaving Ljubljana for a remote home set in beautiful beech forests south of the Slovenian capital. He lives there alone, reading and writing, without so much as a television for company since his dog died. He says modern man has lost contact with nature, but it is "very beneficial for health, for body but also for soul...Somehow we can purify ourselves of all negativities that are concentrated in towns and urban centres where there is all this activity and stress."
And a quote that we should all be able to learn something from:
"When you are confronted with the perception of the end of your life, it's an opportunity to look at things from a different point of view, to change priorities and establish a distance to this daily existence and all these material developments that you are taught are so important."

Quickies

Giant Sea Scorpion Discovered; Was Bigger Than a Man
"The size of a large crocodile, the 390-million-year-old sea scorpion was the top predator of its day, slicing up fish and cannibalizing its own kind in coastal swamp waters, fossil experts say."

First biological weapons: 3300 years ago

Trophy Hunting May Push Polar Bears to "Tipping Point"
Polar bear populations are already sinking due to global warming, but now they're facing a new threat.

Climate change has quadrupled natural disasters in just 20 years! Study

Fox vs. Fred Thompson

I usually don't praise Republicans, mainly because there's usually few positive qualities about them (I know that's trivializing an entire group of people, but I'm pretty much just talking about those Republicans high up in American politics), but I'm happy to hear Republican Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson bringing up FOX's bias. Here's the YouTube video:

Boycotting "Made in China"

All the many, many recalls of Chinese made products has led some people to boycott the "Made in China" label because the fear for their own safety and that of their children. But as this article from The China Game points out, Mattel's sales actually went up! Before I get into why people aren't boycotting companies like Mattel, here's a bit of what The China Game's Paul Midler had to say:
"Where is the incentive to avoid product failures if no one suffers? Executives are actually being patted on the back for their handling of the crisis."

That's a really good point. As long as everything's going well for the company, they aren't going to change. Money is the most influential entity in the world, and boycotting a product is sometimes the best and loudest way to make a change.

Now, as for why people aren't boycotting Chinese made products after all the serious problems connected to them, it really comes down to people having to change habits and do something that isn't quite as easy as they'd like it to be. Most people don't want to be bothered into doing something that takes time and effort. Checking out companies and products to find out where they're made is troublesome sometimes. This is the same reason we see people not changing their energy-consuming habits, it's even an argument I've heard time and again about why someone's not a vegetarian even though they'd like to be. "It's just too hard". Americans are lazy. Until we're inspired enough to take a stand and refuse to by that toy with lead paint nothing is going to change.

If you want to boycott China, head over to Boycott Made in China. Granted, it's based on Tibetan Freedom, but it's useful nonetheless.

TeleFlip

This sounds like a cool tool even if it's not one I would personally use. TeleFlip lets you receive your emails as text messages for free (unless you don't have unlimited text messages from whatever company you have - be careful with that). This would be a great tool for someone that travels a lot without a computer.

Personally, I've never been big on phones with web access. Part of it's that I'm a penny-pincher and I hate paying for things I don't need, but mostly it's that I don't want to turn it to one of those people. You know, bluetooth headset, obsessively checking email, running around frantically. I like having a normal life and online life that are separate from one another.

Back from break

I hope everyone had a good holiday and ate lots of tofurky.

I can finally get back to blogging and going through my thousands of posts in my feed reader (literally, when I got to school this morning and checked I had almost exactly 2000 posts to read - although I don't actually read most of them).

There's going to be some good posts coming up. Remember when I said I'd profile every presidential candidate? Well, I haven't forgotten. Look for installment 2 in a couple of days. I've also decided to write about Hiroshima/Nagasaki and a few other things. I'm also adding a new feature to this blog called "Monday Spotlight". I had an old blog called LiberalPanda that I did this on and really liked it. I'll be writing about great blogs, websites, resources, and people. So subscribe!

namaste

19 November 2007

Happy Early Tofurky Day!

I'm going home tomorrow and I won't be back until Sunday night, so don't expect anything between now and then. I might post a thing to two tomorrow, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, here's two of my favorite Monty Python sketches. Fun fact: John Cleese wrote The Upper Class Twit of the Year Awards after his neighbors woke him up a couple of times.



18 November 2007

The Babbit and the Bromide

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly

Climate change

An article from the BBC says that "climate change will reverse decades of social and economic progress across Asia". I highly recommend the article.

Reading it brought something else to my mind, something I've thought often enough about, but that I try to push away. I fear that global warming is already out of hand. We've seen so many reports and scientists saying that if we don't act now, it'll be too late. They've been saying that for a couple of years now. So what are we doing? Little to nothing. I'll admit that there have been some changes, but nothing drastic. I understand that businesses and governments alike put economics before anything else, including the state of the world at large, but it's time to realize that in this case we can't wait for renewable energy to be profitable. If something isn't done now, it's going to be even less profitable.

I'm worried that in 10 years it really will be too late. The only progress really being made at the grassroots level, and I'm not optimistic enough to say that'll solve all our problems, because in reality, it won't. The governments of this world's nations need to set the ball rolling on renewable energy and doing some good for the future generations. We have a tendency, especially in America, to tune out those things we don't want to hear, and we're also extremely lazy in that we want climate change to fix itself so we don't have to make an effort.

If things stay the way they are, things aren't going to get better.

Where is our recycled e-waste really going?

From the Associated Press:
"While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

'It's being recycled, but it's being recycled in the most horrific way you can imagine,' said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based environmental group that tipped off Hong Kong authorities. 'We're preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.'"
When I was growing up someone in my family told me that you shouldn't bother recycling because they usually just threw it away anyway. Obviously I don't believe that anymore, but the thought that the materials I'm recycling aren't betting the status of our environment frightens me. E-waste presents a plethora of problems, and in this consumer age we're in it's just going to get worse. There's many more gadgets on the market than ever before, and when something new comes out, say the iPhone for example, everyone's old stuff gets tossed aside. One major problem it that it's impossible to convince people not to buy that new toy.

I don't know how, but it's obvious that someone needs to come up with a plan for better management of our electronic waste.

16 November 2007

Do Pledges Work?

Livescience has a great article about whether or not pledges work. They use violence and abstinence pledges as examples. Their conclusion is that they don't work. Big surprise there.

One thing I found interesting was that "one study found that almost 90 percent of them broke their vow [of abstinence]". There is so much evidence out there about how abstinence doesn't work. I think it's time to move on and start offering campaigns on protection and smart choices.

Violence and Virginity Pledges: Do They Work?

Man tasered and killed in Canada

From Zhongnanhai:
"The brief synopsis is this: On October 14, a 40-year old construction worker arrived to start a new life in Canada. Robert Dziekanski was making his first trip outside of his native Poland, and was coming to join his mother. Mr. Dziekanski arrived at Vancouver Airport and began going through the immigration procedures. He was held up for more than 10 hours when he began to get angry. Unable to communicate in English, and very "confused", as some have described him, he began to become unruly. He pushed a computer off a desk and was shouting for help.

That's when the Vancouver Police arrived and used a taser to subdue the man. Four officers descended on him as he was screaming in pain on the ground, and tasered him at least one more time. He died shortly thereafter."
There were also two YouTube videos posted:


It was after seeing the second video that I became outraged. At least in my opinion, he didn't look like someone who needed to be tasered. In fact, he looked helpless and terrified. Why didn't Canadian officials try to find out where he was from using a map, and then try to find someone who spoke Polish?

If you want to complain here are some contacts:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
pm@pm.gc.ca
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
webadmin@justice.gc.ca
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
info@irb-cisr.gc.ca

Canadian Judicial Council
info@cjc-ccm.gc.ca

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of what everyone on this planet is entitled to. This is only some of the articles of the declaration; for the whole thing, visit the UN's site.

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

15 November 2007

Thousands of animals brutally killed in Puerto Rico

I've seen almost every PETA video, I've watched videos of vivisection in action, and I'm almost to the point where I'm desensitized to it. That doesn't mean I don't care, it's just that cruelty to animals doesn't surprise me anymore. But this is terrible:

Puerto Rico's animal control workers have been slaughtering the animals they were supposed to be helping.
"Possibly thousands of unwanted animals have been tossed off bridges, buried alive, and otherwise inhumanely disposed of by taxpayer-financed animal control programs."
And that's not all that's being done to Puerto Rico's animals:
"Cockfighting is legal, with matches shown on television. One of the island's beaches is known as Dead Dog Beach - a place where teenagers drive over live puppies sealed in bags or cruelly kill them with machetes and arrows, according to animal welfare groups that photographed the atrocities."
This really puts in perspective the state of animals in this world. Although many animal rights activists (myself included) put most of their effort into American cruelty-prevention, places outside of America are usually much worse. However, I do think there is a plus side to focusing on America. Good or bad, when America puts something into place (aside from an unjustified war for oil), other nations want to get in on it too.

I tried to find contact information, and, since I don't know Spanish, I haven't been too successful. So here's the information for Luis Fortuno, who represents Puerto Rico in Congress:
Washington D.C. Office
126 Cannon House
Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-2615
Fax: 202-225-2154

District Office
250 Calle Fortaleza
Old San Juan, PR 00901
Phone: 787-723-6333
Fax: 787-729-7738

If anyone has any better contact information, please let me know in the comments.

And here's the link to the original National Geographic article.

13 November 2007

Spotlight: All Things Democrat

I'm using this post to bring your attention to one of my favorite blogs, All Things Democrat.

This is a partisan site created for Democrats, liberals, progressives, and others who generally support Democratic candidates and ideals.

Our group blog features analysis and commentary by experienced progressive and liberal bloggers. We support small lefty blogs and will gladly add them to our blogroll when asked.

A primary goal of this site is to provide a resource for Democrats to locate the information they need to support and elect more Democrats.
Be sure to take a look. It's great stuff.

Automobile "Green Tax"

The UK wants to put a "green tax" on cars with high emissions. I think that's a great idea. People wouldn't still be able to drive those gas-guzzlers they so love, but they won't get off completely free. Of course, it doesn't do much to help the environment other than making a few people get cheaper cars, but it's a start.

12 November 2007

09 November 2007

Far-Right Group Wants to Execute Gays and Others?

Americans United For Separation of Church and State has posted an account of a new far-right wing group named the "Watchmen on the Walls" who, under a "model government", would call for the execution of various groups of people. This is a scary group.

From Russia, With hate: Intolerant 'Watchmen' Focus On U.S.

Update on Remove Empty Directories

About a week ago I wrote about a freeware program called Remove Empty Directories. I no longer recommend it. After using it a couple of times, I've had to reinstall it twice, and it's just an overall hassle. So if anyone knows of a different program that does something along the same lines, let me know.

08 November 2007

Bush's War on Zombies

It's silly, but at the same time it's almost realistic. God knows he's down some ridiculous things.

Firefox 3

Yay! Firefox 3 is coming out soon. I remember upgrading to Firefox 2 about a year or so ago, and the changes were awesome. It looks like this'll be even better.

Lifehacker's look at Firefox 3

And in case you're crazy, here's where you can download the best browser for free:
Mozilla

People of Indigenous Cultures

Thanks to the wonderful StumbleUpon, I found this beautiful gallery of photographs by Phil Borges.

People of Indigenous Cultures

The Zomes Concept

I adore architecture. Finding unique, beautiful buildings make me sublimely happy.

This is the Zomes Concept. From the site:
For more than thirteen years, we have been studying, creating, and performing experiments with these shapes in many different areas of study. This research brought in contact with many researchers equipped to measure and thus to confirm the reality of these phenomena. Most people experience a feeling of unity and one-ness in presence of these geometrix forms. This sensation being attuned to the spiral, of becoming integrated in the All, as if, the microcosm and the macrocosm reflected the same One-ness, within us and around us... this is the sensation that many people experience in the presence of zomes. A lot of observers and most of the people who use these forms in their daily life are touched by the beauty of these shapes. They also report a feeling of protection and the impression that zomes are doors that open onto other levels of reality.
Zomes Concept

Way to have gender equality in the senate?

I came across this in my American Government textbook:
Representative Bella Abzug of New York was an outspoken advocate of a constitutional amendment that would change the composition of the Senate to fifty women and fifty men (one of each from every state).
This is an interesting idea. However, it's not necessarily a good idea. Even though it would be great to have more gender equality in governmental positions (along with every other aspect of modern life!), I feel that people should be elected based solely on ability, not gender. Some would argue though that the best of both genders would end up in the senate, thereby making it about ability. I also think that this leave out other forms of discrimination, such as race. It would be impossible to represent every minority group in a state in such a way.

What do you think?

05 November 2007

I miss my kitties

Here's a little video I found on YouTube.

And in case you don't have a cat, they really are quite persistent about getting their breakfast on time ;)

03 November 2007

Obama's Challenge

Remove Empty Directories

This freeware program removes empty folders so you don't have to go through all that extra and unnecessary trouble. I've been using it for my music folders, since I delete tracks just as much as I add them. Just keep in mind that sometimes deleting an empty folder can screw up your system if you don't know what you're doing, so stay with folders you're in control of.

Remove Empty Directories

How To Learn Better

This article shows you how to learn better. If you learn correctly from the start, you don't have to study quite as much.

How To Learn More and Study Less

This actually helps. When I was in high school, I only memorized stuff, and I can't recall most of what I learned in classes like history. However, the American history class I'm taking now has made me change my way of thinking, although I didn't really notice it until I read this article. I had to learn to connect the events in our history in order to better explain things on the exams, and its benefits are obvious.

02 November 2007

01 November 2007

InterfaceLIFT

I'm always looking for new ways to customize my computer to suit my tastes, so when I find a site like this is thrills me. InterfaceLIFT is a phenomenal collection of icons, backgrounds, and themes for your computers. I looked through the site for hours and ended up with tons of new stuff.

InterfaceLIFT

More Powerful Images

A couple of days ago I posted about a collection of powerful images. Here's more:

Images that changed the world

The War on the Unexpected

An article about people being "spooked" by everything and overusing police resources. Great work:

Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected

31 October 2007

Wendi Murdoch

From China Digital Times:

On Tibet: "I don't think anyone got killed there! I haven't been there recently, but today, everybody in Tibet have mobile phones and the ability to send a message." - Wendi Murdoch, wife of Rupert Murdoch

Business of Death

Primaries v. Caucuses

With voter turnout as low as it is, you'd think states would be willing to change in order to make it easier to vote. One of the reasons they could do this would be to change from caucuses to primaries in the presidential election. According to Living Democracy, a college-level American government textbook, "Turnout in primaries is generally about 15 percent of eligible voters, and attendance at caucuses rarely gets beyond 5 percent." Why in the world would a party still want to use caucuses? Well, part of the reason is that certain people can choose their nomination without the masses having a say in it.

I personally think that certain parts of the election process need to be reformed. When the framers of the Constitution created the Electoral College, their plan was to stop the "common man" from voting; they were scared that the lower classes would outnumber the wealthy and, essentially, take away their money. Between the electoral college and caucuses, the average citizen does not feel as if their vote counts.

30 October 2007

"Hitler was a vegetarian" arguments

One of the terrible things about being vegan are the arguments that your omnivorous peers always want to start. The most useless (and wrong) point they usually bring up is the "Hitler was a vegetarian" argument. First of all, Hitler was not a vegetarian, and I'm not sure why that rumor started. Second, and more importantly, what does it matter? Who would care if Hitler was a vegetarian?

It isn't just vegetarianism that the Hitler comparison is used for. How many times has George Bush been compared to Hitler? I'm not saying there's no comparison, but what I do want to get across is that using Hitler for comparison is just a form of fear-mongering. And it degrades every discussion it's used in. When I'm debating with someone and they say something like, "Well, that's what Hitler did", I completely dismiss their entire argument from that point on.

If you're argument is so weak that you have to use Hitler, just stop arguing. It's time to do some research.

29 October 2007

Tibetan monks punished for celebrating Dalai Lama's award

Chinese authorities in Tibet have detained three monks and are questioning more than a dozen others after the monks tried to put up prayer flags celebrating the award of a U.S. congressional gold medal to the Dalai Lama, local sources say.

Westerners being tracked in China

I'm fascinated by China's culture, although I'm not too happy with current political leadership and the human rights infringements. As of right now, I'm pretty much planning on studying abroad in Hong Kong, and I could see myself working in China some day. Obviously, for a Westerner moving to China, there's going to be a lot of differences, primarily in censorship and freedoms (say, for example, using Google). But the level of tracking in this article is scary.

Burmese Prisoners

"Around 1 or 2 a.m. they would start interrogating. They said, ‘Tell me your father’s name. Tell me your mother’s name.’” ‘I heard, ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. Kill, kill, kill, kill! Kill them dead. Kill them dead!’ They shot. They really shot at people. They really beat people. We saw all of these things. I can’t forget these sounds. The things I saw will not disappear from my mind for the rest of my life.”


This is a striking account of the Burmese official's harsh treatment of their prisoners.

Detainees Describe Burmese Abuses



28 October 2007

Images are powerful



This is a fantastic collection of unforgettable images from around the world. Must-See: Unforgettable Photos

China, the US, and Climate Change

On climate, Hu's leading whom? (Great article)

26 October 2007

If vice president is a step down, why not president?

Recently, Barack Obama told an audience about Al Gore, "I can promise you that as president I will have him involved in our administration in a very senior capacity in his role... having won the Nobel peace prize and an Oscar that being Vice President again would be probably a step down for him."

For Gore, being someone else's vice president again might be a "step down", but being the president wouldn't. If Al Gore decided to run for the 2008 Presidential election, he would win, hands down. Clinton, Obama, and the other candidates wouldn't have a chance. People love Al Gore.

Despite the obvious advantage he has with the general public, Al Gore is (as of right now) not in the running. However, as far as I know, he hasn't definitely said no. It wouldn't surprise me if he announced one day soon that he'll run for president; it also wouldn't surprise me if he won.

Personally, I would love to see Gore run, even though I'm an strong supporter of Kucinich. It would be great to have a leader who understands the problems faced by the environment and knows what to do about it. Global warming really is the most important question posed to the candidates; after all, if things continue the way they are right now (which most scientists agree they will), within a decade or two we'll start to see the beginnings of the chaos that climate change is going to bring, like starvation, refugees, violence over resources, and more.

23 October 2007

Unbelievable

This is almost a week old, but I'm just now seeing for the first time.

In sort, a woman was gang-raped by four men at gunpoint, but since she's a prostitute, the judge (Teresa Carr Deni) decided to drop the all sex and assault charges. Instead, they were held on "theft of services."

That article left me speechless. And I think it speaks for itself.

Link to Alas, a blog, with a link to the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board

20 October 2007

Don't Some Students Deserve a Second Chance?

"...teachers can also be alerted if a student is likely to misbehave."

It seems to me that this alone would make micro-chips in school uniforms a violation of the students' rights. It would mean that those students who are labeled as bad students will never have a chance to prove themselves. They'd always be a Bart Simpson to their teachers.

Microchip gives staff the lowdown on pupils

Bush

Leave It To Dennis

19 October 2007

Conservatism

Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

  • Fear and aggression
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Terror management
Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

Monks are happy because of meditation

LiveScience (one of my favorite websites) has an article up explaining why monks are so darn happy. According to them, and research that has been done in recent years, monks are happy because they spend their days meditation and learning to have compassion for all people.

Meditation really does make you happier, along with making you more relaxed and focused. I try to meditate every day (although I've been neglectful the past week), and I think I'm a much better person overall then I was before I took up meditation.

Why Monks Are So Darn Happy
Beginner's Guide to Meditation

18 October 2007

Iraq's Government Stands Up to US

Recently, Iraq's government has said that they want no permanent US bases on Iraqi soil. I guess this is one foolproof, albeit lengthy, way to see if the US really is more concerned with Iraqi freedom than the inky black liquid they're standing on.

via Think Progress

Auguries of Innocence

William Blake's Auguries of Innocence is one of my favorite poems. It's a bit long, but worth the effort.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus'd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf's & Lion's howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus'd breeds public strife
And yet forgives the Butcher's Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won't believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov'd by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by Woman lov'd.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider's enmity.
He who torments the Chafer's sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Catterpillar on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother's grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar's Dog & Widow's Cat,
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer's song
Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy's Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist's Jealousy.
The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy & Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro' the World we safely go.
Joy & Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The Babe is more than swadling Bands;
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made, & born were hands,
Every Farmer Understands.
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity.
This is caught by Females bright
And return'd to its own delight.
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heaven's Shore.
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of death.
The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer's Sun.
The poor Man's Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Afric's Shore.
One Mite wrung from the Labrer's hands
Shall buy & sell the Miser's lands:
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole Nation sell & buy.
He who mocks the Infant's Faith
Shall be mock'd in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the Infant's faith
Triumph's over Hell & Death.
The Child's Toys & the Old Man's Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown.
Nought can deform the Human Race
Like the Armour's iron brace.
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.
A Riddle or the Cricket's Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
The Emmet's Inch & Eagle's Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile.
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt
They'd immediately Go out.
To be in a Passion you Good may do,
But no Good if a Passion is in you.
The Whore & Gambler, by the State
Licenc'd, build that Nation's Fate.
The Harlot's cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet.
The Winner's Shout, the Loser's Curse,
Dance before dead England's Hearse.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some ar Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro' the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day.

Indra's Net

From Ken Jones' The New Social Face of Buddhism
In the heavenly abode of the great god Indra is a wondrous net that has a light-reflecting jewel at each of the infinite intersections of its threads. Each jewel exists only as a reflection of all the others, and hence has no self-nature. Yet its existence as a separate entity sustains all the other jewels. Each and all exist in mutuality, and since none casts its light by itself, it cannot cast any shadow that would deny the light of the others. Each has no existence separate from the whole, the one - which exists only through the many, yet the many create a whole that has its own significance and value. The energy that sustains the net is not generated outside the net or in any one part of the net but is, again, mutually generated through the interbeing of the entire net. Not only is the net infinite, but in each jewel is reflected another infinite net, and so on ad infinitum. The net is thus a metaphor for a paradoxical interbeing - a mutuality in which entities do and do not have an independent existence, are empty and yet exists.

Asshole of the Day

Big thanks to Neatorama for posting this.

Click on the link above for the full article, but here are a few of James Watson's (part of the duo that discovered DNA's double helix) quotes:

"people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

"People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty
[via genetic engineering]. I think it would be great."

17 October 2007

China's pissed; who cares?

China made their anger known when President Bush met with the Dalai Lama. Liu Jianchao (China's Foreign Ministry spokesman) said that it was "a gross interference in China's internal affairs" and that it was offensive to the Chinese people.

Thankfully, Bush went ahead with the meeting and yesterday H.H. the Dalai Lama was presented with the US Congressional Gold Medal. But my question is: Why hasn't anyone done anything about China. Their human rights violations are obvious, and yet there's no talk of doing anything about it.

Of course, even if the government doesn't find it necessary to help the people living under the oppressive People's Republic of China, there are things you can do.
Race for Tibet
Boycott Made in China

Chema Madoz

Chema Madoz is Spanish photographer. His work is beautiful.
Creative photos by Chema Madoz.

16 October 2007

Dennis Kucinich on The Colbert Report

Mark Shepard's "Understanding Nonviolence"

UNDERSTANDING NONVIOLENCE: From Tactical Nonviolence to Satyagraha
Mark Shepard

Updated from a 1978 version prepared by the author for the Nonviolence Training Collective of People Against Nuclear Power, San Francisco, California.

No copyright is claimed - please reproduce!

What exactly do we mean when we say we're committed to nonviolence? Unfortunately, different people mean different things and are often not even aware of the differences.
The purposes of this piece are to give an idea of the range of meanings possible, to improve our ability to identify the types of commitment we encounter, and to stimulate our thinking on what we mean by nonviolence.
The characteristics of a nonviolent commitment can be classified in two general areas: the definition of nonviolence itself, and the type of commitment given.


Definition of Nonviolence


1. Scope of the definition. Does the prohibited violence include physical violence only? Or does it also include psychological violence (such as name-calling or isolation)?
2. Attitude toward the opponent. Is there an attitude of antagonism, in which the opponent is seen as an enemy? Or is there active caring for the opponent, with their welfare considered?
3. Intent of action. Is it to force the opponent to make changes against their will (coercion)? Or to change the opponent's mind and win them over to the other side (conversion)? Or something in between those two?

Nature of the Commitment

1. Extent of the commitment. Does it apply only to certain situations and occasions? Or is nonviolence seen as preferable to violence generally? Or is violence unconditionally renounced in all circumstances?
2. Motivation. Is the commitment to nonviolence based on expediency - superior force of the opponent, lack of weapons, and so on? Or on practical/humanitarian grounds - saying that relative human costs and results of nonviolent action make it a basically superior method? Or is the commitment based on a moral/ethical/religious principle?

Types of Nonviolent Commitment

Using the parameters above, we can identify two fundamental types of nonviolent commitment, which can be seen as the ends of a spectrum.
At one end is what has been called tactical nonviolence. People committed in this way generally prohibit only physical violence, may hold antagonism toward the opponent, and seek to win their goals by coercion. Their commitment is generally limited to individual actions or campaigns and stems from expediency. A good example is a labor strike.
At the other end is Satyagraha (SOT-yah-GRAH-hah), or Gandhian nonviolence. This is characterized by prohibition of both physical and psychological violence, active caring toward the opponent, and the intention to convert. Commitment to nonviolence is unconditional and is based both on principle and on practical/humanitarian considerations.
As a whole, the nonviolence movement in the United States has stood somewhere between these poles, being a hodge-podge of individuals with varying beliefs, often not fully conscious. This has often led to confusion and dissension when devising and carrying out strategy and tactics. By knowing where everyone stands, such differences can be dealt with and possibly resolved.

What About You?

What does nonviolence mean to you? What is your commitment like?
_________________________________________________
http://www.markshep.com/nonviolence/
Make sure you read some of the essays on this page.

10 October 2007

08 October 2007

Just a quick note

I won't be posting very much from now until Tuesday. I'm finally getting to go home (my campus is 11 hours away), and I'm not spending my week online.

I'm leaving this as an open thread; feel free to talk about anything interesting going on in the comments.

06 October 2007

Candidate: Steve Adams

Every presidential race is full of names we’ve never heard of. Even though these people realize that it’s a difficult position to win, they still feel as though they’ll be the one to beat the odds. Stephen Adams, a Kentucky software designer, is one of those people.

Adams is running as an Independent candidate, under the motto “Common Sense for Uncommon Times”. So far he has 502 supporters, according to his campaign site. The information I’ve gathered below have come from his official campaign site, his YouTube posts, and email correspondence.

Military
Adams believes America should have a “strong, but limited” military. Our top priority will be protecting America, although when it’s needed, wars should be fought with “overwhelming force, multiple options, [and a] clear exit strategy”. Secrecy needs to be increased, meaning journalism/photographs would have to be limited. When asked about a draft, Adams responded that there is no need for one right now. I also asked him whether or not women would be included (since for one reason or another people think this a controversial issue), and they would drafted alongside the men.

As for the war we’re in now, and one that we might be thrown into before 2008, Adams feels that we need to leave Iraq now, handing control to the Iraqis. “Take away that protection and the Iraqi people must step up and deal with threats to their nations instead of fighting amongst themselves.” With Iran, if they really are trying to obtain nuclear weapons, we have the right to invade, although he favors “air strikes and covert operations” to an all-out military strike. Iran and North Korea should never be able to develop WMDs, as they’re a threat to us and other nations.

Our veterans deserve our "highest respect and support", and adequate funding needs to come from a balanced budget to provide our troops with everything they need, from military protection to care for wounded soldiers.

Government
Adams supports a FairTax system in place of income tax, a plan that uses sale tax for government funding. He plans to reduce government spending across the board.

He supports line item vetoes, as he feels that most bills include riders that can change the outcome of the bill’s passage. Line item vetoes are the only way to stop riders.

Gerrymandering isn’t a word you usually hear thrown around in big election campaigns, but Adams plans to eliminate it.

Separation of church and state should remain in place, as it’s part of the US Constitution.

The Electoral College needs to be eliminated as it’s outdated and was created as a “safeguard against the common man”.

Illegal aliens should never be tolerated, and no amnesty should ever be made. Borders need to be as secure as possible. He’ll employ fences, better technology, and increased manpower to achieve this. Also, by using a FairTax system, illegal immigrants will be taxed.

I asked Adams about two laws that are important to me personally, AETA (the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) and the US PATRIOT Act. He feels that most of AETA is redundant as most aspects of it are already in place, and that the judicial branch will take care of the parts of the PATRIOT Act that are unconstitutional.

Social/Equality/Environment
Marriage should be between a man and a woman. He feels that morality should not play a part in the argument surrounding same-sex marriage. His main reason against same-sex marriage is confusion; some states endorse it, some don’t, creating legal problems. It’s also trouble for companies, as some give benefits to same-sex spouses and some do not. When I asked him whether or not he thought nationwide legalization would be an acceptable option, he said that he was personally against it but would consider it “for the good of the country”.

Healthcare should not be in the government’s hand due to their poor handling of everything else. A free market medical institution will naturally improve healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid should remain in place.

Adams is very strongly pro-life. The only time abortion should be an option is in life threatening emergencies. He believes that the “right to someone’s life is greater than that of someone’s choice”, even in cases of incest or rape.

Children are being taught to take tests, not to learn. He says that he doesn’t have all the answers at the moment, but implies that something needs to be changed in the US education system.

He supports capital punishment, as he feels that some people will never be able to be rehabilitated and as long as they’re alive they are a threat to others.

We need to end America’s dependence on foreign oil, and instead support alternative energy, decreasing international threats from the Middle East and increasing sustainability. He favors the use of electric cars over those run by ethanol.

Favors “reasonable gun control”, such as background checks and waiting periods.

Adams feels that the person most fit for a job should be the one to receive it. He does not support Affirmative Action, but wants any employment discrimination needs to be ended immediately. He says that affirmative action isn’t always effective in ending work-place discrimination, as it can still be a huge factor in determining who gets the job.

_____________________________________________________________

Electability (on a scale of 0-5): 0. Many people may agree with his policies, but seeing as Adams will have to rely mostly on write-in votes, his chances for the US presidency are slim.

My Analysis I feel as though he’s given everything a lot of thought, but he doesn’t always have a clear solution to problems. He's also lacking political experience. No matter how informed a candidate is, many people feel more comfortable with an experienced politician.

Further Information:

Official campaign site

Official Blog

YouTube profile


Overview of upcoming candidate analysis

At the end of September I posted that I was going to profile every presidential candidate in this blog. I've just finished with the first candidate, Steve Adams, but before I post I want to explain my techniques a little bit. I plan on getting most of the information from the candidates themselves, whether it's through research or direct email correspondence. I realize that there are some things that can be considered pertinent that will not be included on their campaign sites, such as negative controversy, and in those cases I might include brief accounts of those facts. However, this project is not meant to criticize candidates, it's meant to expose them and their ideas to the public.

At the end of every post, I have three short sections: Electability, My Analysis, and Further Information. Electability is rated on a scale from 0-5, and I'm going to be strict. My Analysis is just one or two sentences about how I feel about that particular candidate and his policies. Further Information is pretty straightforward, I'm adding links to their sites.

I hope everyone enjoys the posts. I'm not posting in a regular fashion, just whenever I finish with a candidate.

04 October 2007

Free Burma!


Free Burma!


One more post for Burma



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Still Animal Cruelty

Japanese researches have produced a frog that is transparent, thus making dissection unnecessary. However, it's still exploitative and cruel.

Even though most schools and institutions still insist on using animal dissection for research purposes, there are actually kind alternatives such as computer models. Students can learn everything they need to without having to cut open an animal. (PETA2 has compiled a longer list of alternatives here)

Genetically modifying frogs to be transparent is exploitative in that we're using them for our own selfish wants. Do we need see-through amphibians? No. Like I said above, there are alternatives that wouldn't require a living creature at all.

02 October 2007

Damn migrants & their bottles!

"Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas. And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment." - Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in reference to immigration.

Yeah, it's almost as bad as high emissions, toxic dumping grounds, offshore drilling, drilling in protected areas, and everything else the Bush administration seems to support.