30 October 2008

We've MOVED!

Hey y'all. Karmic Reverberations has moved to Wordpress. Here's the link:

http://karmicreverberationsblog.wordpress.com/

Hope to see you there

Women paying more for health insurance than men

New findings have discovered that women are paying more for health insurance than men, sometimes costing them hundreds of dollars more annually. From the NYTimes:
In general, insurers say, they charge women more than men of the same age because claims experience shows that women use more health care services. They are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription medications and to have certain chronic illnesses.

Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, an advocacy group that has examined hundreds of individual policies, said: "The wide variation in premiums could not possibly be justified by actuarial principles. We should not tolerate women having to pay more for health insurance, just as we do not tolerate the practice of using race as a factor in setting rates."
Essentially, women are having to pay more because we actually take advantage of having insurance? Marcia's right - we shouldn't have to tolerate this.

Pakistani Earthquake


The 6.4 magnitude earthquake Wednesday in the south-western Pakistani province of Balochistan has left up to 50,000 people homeless and 215 dead. Aid organizations have already started flying in supplies and help.

photo from BBC News

As can be imagined, there is a serious lack of much-needed supplies for the survivors of this tragedy. If you would like to help, just send a donation to one of the following organizations:

American Red Cross
CARE
Mercy Corps
Oxfam
United Nations World Food Programme

Palin 2012?

If Barack Obama wins the presidency on Tuesday, what do we have to look forward to besides a stronger, better, and freer America? Well, Palin in 2012.

Sarah Palin has said that she does not want to leave national politics if she and McCain lose this election. Scary, I know, but really, we don't have much to worry about. Sarah Palin is one of the reasons Obama is doing better in polls. She's not experienced, and people aren't going to forget that in 2012. Running as a VP for a losing ticket doesn't exactly add to one's qualifications. She'll never get the nomination after the Republican Party has seen how polarizing she has been outside and (especially) within their own party.

And as governor as Alaska, we might hear more from her than we used to, but she won't have a hand in our national governance, unless you include her continuing to "watch" Russia from her porch.

Here's CNN's story on Palin's plans:


Who know though? Maybe this is that change the Mayans were so concerned with.

Voting for Obama on her deathbed

From ABC4 Charleston:

For a 93-year old North Charleston woman, casting her vote was a matter of life and death....

"She said I don't know if I'm going to live that long, but I plan on sticking around to vote for him," said M. Fitzgerald.

Fearful that November was too long to wait her daughter sent for an absentee ballot. It arrived last week.

"she made her mark, and we put it in the envelope, my brother and I walked to the mailbox, it was 11 o'clock Wednesday morning and I said 'Mom its in the mail, you've done your thing, Barack's going to win,' and she kind of smiled and it was kind of a deep sigh, a sigh of relief, and in less than an hour later, she died," said M. Fitzgerald.

26 October 2008

UK's Nick Eriksen: "Rape is Like Being Force-Fed Chocolate Cake"


The UK's Nick Eriksen, who was the British National Party's candidate for the London Assembly this year, said the following in his blog:
Rape is simply sex (I am talking about 'husband-rape' here)... Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal... To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence.
This comment is incredibly offensive and cruel. Rape is never okay, including when the rapist is a husband or boyfriend. In fact, 85% of rape victims know their rapists, and 35% happen within the victim's family. (Concordia University)

Sentiment of this sort is dangerous to women. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 60% of sexual assaults and rapes are never reported. Data from Rape Crisis Scotland found that
  • In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women has responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims' partners at the time of the attack. Strangers were responsible for only 8% of rapes reported to the survey.
  • The survey also found that partner rape entails the highest occurrence of multiple rape (62%) and attacks by partners and ex-partners are more than twice as likely to result in some injury to the victim (39%) as attacks by strangers (19%).
So not only is rape by a spouse more likely to result in violence, but it's undoubtedly true that a large percentage of those non-reported assaults occur when a woman is raped by a boyfriend or husband, and is confused as to whether or not what happened to her was really rape. If a woman says 'No,' it is rape, regardless of who she is saying no to.

Another reason not taking rape seriously is so dangerous is the following statistic from RAINN: "1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime." 1 out of 6. That is equal to 17.7 million women, which is far too high.

This isn't the first time Eriksen has made such statements. He has pretty much said that rape is okay:
I've never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime...
The BNP is trying to distance themselves from Eriksen's destructive comments by removing him as their candidate. However, when a candidate fucks up, people tend to blame not only the candidate, but also their party, much like Americans are weary of the Republican Party due to George W. Bush's inadequacy. In this case the British people have a good reason to blame the BNP, after they made this statement:
It was felt that no matter how much Nick Eriksen's blog comments, written back in 2005, had been distorted and taken out of the context of a blog which reflected our tough stance on all sorts of crime, they could still be perceived as trivialising the issue in a manner that many women in particular could have found extremely offensive. [emphasis mine]
The statements that Eriksen made are not taken out of context. The BNP's attempt to sugarcaot Eriksen's comments make the party just as responsible for what was said.

22 October 2008

McCain uses baseball to try to score against Obama

I'm so very tired of John McCain and his bullshit. Seriously.

What is McCain's latest reason you shouldn't vote for Barack Obama? Baseball.

From BBC News:
Speaking in Pennsylvania, Mr McCain said: "Now, I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between two swing states.

"But I think I may have detected a little pattern with Senator Obama. It's pretty simple really. When he's campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he's campaigning in Tampa Bay, he 'shows love' to the Rays.

"It's kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts, but then votes for tax increases after he's elected."
What did Obama actually say?

"I've said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together. So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays - and the Rays showing some love back - you know we are on to something right here."
Seriously, that's exactly what McCain was referring to. So not only is McCain a liar, he pathetic. Maybe he thinks talking about baseball, America's favorite sport, will win him some votes. I doubt it.

McCain's strategy is becoming more and more like a disgruntled child who isn't getting what he wants.

Republicans spend $50,000 on Palin's appearance

As November's election nears, the McCain campaign just seems to be sinking lower and lower.

According to Politico, the Republicans have spent $49,425.74 on Palin's clothes, hair, and makeup. Most of that was spent at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

From Crooks and Liars:
Our good friend John Aravosis over at AmericaBlog did some research and found that the RNC spent more on clothes in two months for Palin than the average American houshold spends in 80 years. Out of touch much?
Yes, they are out of touch. They're also hypocrites. They've spent so much time calling Barack Obama an elitist, that there's little chance of the American people finding out about this (combined with the already prevalent knowledge of McCain's myriad houses, cars, and private jet).

17 October 2008

Iranian Gov't Promises to Stop Execution of Youths

According to the 2008 World Report released by Human Rights Watch, Iran has the largest number of youths with death sentences. That may change now. Hossein Zebhi, the deputy prosecutor general, has said that judges will no longer give the death penalty to people under 18, although it is not known how legal this statement is. There may be a new law that needs to be passed.

BBC News

16 October 2008

Why Palin is Not a Fiscal Conservative



In case you missed it, Sarah Palin left the city of Wasilla with over $20 million dollars in debt. I think we can safely say we don't need a vice president with that hanging over her head.

Joe the Plumber and Why Rich People SHOULD Pay Taxes

At last night's debate, Joe the Plumber came up quite a bit. In case you don't know, Joe Wurzelbacher is a plumber that wants to buy a business that makes over $250,000 a year, or something along those lines. He spoke to Obama at a rally and said that he was worried that Obama's tax plans would affect him. Joe also made an appearance on Fox (Faux) News and called Obama's plan a threat to the American Dream and said he was a socialist since he wanted to "distribute" wealth. Here's the video:



According to Joe, he's just an average, middle-class American, and this tax increase on people making over $250,000 a year infuriates him. Considering that the average middle-class family's annual income is around $42,000, I think it's safe to say that this "average Joe" is quite a bit more well off than most of us. (Another topic of interest may be Joe's connections with the Keating Family)

This may be a view that becomes controversial to many, but I'll share it nonetheless. Generally, people are selfish, especially when it comes to money. They hoard and spend, and purchase outrageously expensive cars and houses to prove to their peers that they're rich and successful. On the other side, you've got families who are being kicked out of their homes, can't afford to eat, and are working multiple jobs and still not making it. I want heavy taxes on the rich, so it can be used to aid those people who don't have the education or time to get better jobs. The money that would be collected through Obama's tax plan would result in better healthcare, better education, and better opportunities for people at the bottom. Success doesn't come from how much wealth you acquire, it comes from leaving a lasting benefit to society as a whole. I make less than $20,000 a year and am putting myself through college, but I don't complain about taxes taken out of my paycheck. I know the money can be used to help better the lives of people who haven't had the same opportunity as I (although the issue of where tax money goes, such as funding unnecessary and deadly wars, is a topic for another post).

The only people complaining about Obama's tax plans are people who fall into that specific bracket. Everyone else sees it as fair. Bush's tax cuts to the rich is one of the reasons he's so lacking in respect. You can't tax poor people and let all the rich folks reap the benefits and get off clean. It's time our government evens it out a bit, for the benefit of all.

15 October 2008

Vietnam Journalist Jailed

Nguyen Viet Chien, a Vietnamese journalist who investigating and reported on a corruption case within the Ministry of Transport, has been sentenced to two years in jail.

In many cases, journalists are the first and hardest hit in countries with poor human rights records and little freedom among citizens. A journalist's job is to report the news to people outside of the government or parties involved, and as a result they are often punished by the government they are investigating. They know there's a chance of arrest, or in some extreme cases torture or death, but yet these brave people still soldier on and continue to report on their leaders' wrongdoing.

So here's a huge thank you for every journalist who is brave enough to stand up for what is right and provide a much needed veil of transparency to people who would otherwise be clueless. THANK YOU!

UPDATE: According to the BBC News, the US has condemned the Vietnamese sentences.

09 October 2008

The McCain-Palin Mob

Great job to the director of this video. It shows how unstable and politically uneducated some of McCain's supporters really are. The highlight's gotta be the blonde haired lady that is obviously mentally unstable. After all, according to her Sarah Palin has "Ten times more experience than Palin." Plus, she keeps shouting his name. Some more highlights:

One man says "I think he's a one-man terrorist cell"

When asked if Obama's a terrorist, one woman says "He's got the bloodlines. Just think about the name."

When asked if she knows Sarah Palin better than Barack Obama, she answers "There's more interviews with Sarah Palin than Barack that I've seen in the news"

Make sure you watch this. It's priceless.

Seriously? Up in arms over facial hair and pores?

I've said time and time again that Fox (Faux) News is a joke, but here's something else to add to the arsenal. Their latest target: Newsweek for not retouching a photo of Sarah Palin on the cover. Here's a closeup:
According to Fox (Faux) News, this is a "slap in the face" that shows Palin's "unwanted facial hair, pores, [and] wrinkles." Why can't the treat her like Barack Obama and practically put a halo around his head, as the host suggests.

According to one of their guests, the problem isn't just the un-retouched photo, it's that the headline reads "One of the Folks (and That's the Problem)". Instead of saying the obvious, that the point of the headline is to suggest that Sarah Palin is seriously lacking in any meaningful political experience, the good people over at Fox (Faux) News believes Newsweek is making a demeaning statement about the way she looks. Because ordinary people are ugly, or something to that effect.

One of the three people discussing the cover (I believe it was the one who was about to throw a tantrum) made the statement that this photo "highlights every imperfection that every human being has." Great point! I guess it never occured to them that the picture makes her look more real, maybe even more accessible to the American people at-large. It obviously hasn't occured to them since the same woman thinks that "any woman that sees this cover would be shocked and horrified," probably because women don't want to look real, but like ridicoulously smooth-skinned dolls. It seems like Fox (Faux) News is more concerned with making sure women are airbrushed to be unreal representations of men's "dream woman" than to do their job, which is supposed to be NEWS.

But if they reported on real news, they won't have time to talk about such a liberal elitist magazine that insults the "folks" in America. Julia Piscitelli from American University summed it up best - "What's wrong with showing women the way they actually look?"

Have a look at the discussion:

Is Obama "Too Risky"

From BBC News:
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has ratcheted up his assault on his Democratic rival's character, with a new advert branding him "too risky".

The ad accuses Barack Obama of hiding ties to Bill Ayers, an ex-member of former militant group, the Weathermen.

The McCain campaign is probably getting a bit worried about new polls that say Obama is increasing his support, so he and Palin are trying to attack him with crazy claims that he's a terrorist, or at least supports terrorism. Just to clear things up, Obama is not a close friend to Ayers and have not "worked together for years" as the McCain campaign claims. Not only has Obama denied this, people outside of Obama's campaign has acknowledged that the accusations made by McCain/Palin are false.

Of course, I'm sure the truth won't reach everyone. I have an acquantice here at school that is still convinced that Barack Obama is an Islamic terrorist. She also believes this when he misspoke and said there were 58 states, that he was confusing the United States with some 58 terrorist groups he's a part of, or something to that affect.

In conclusion: If you believe in truth, vote Obama for president. If you religiously watch Fox (Faux) News and think Obama is a terrorist planted here when he was a child and is going to somehow destroy this country, vote for McCain. There's obviously no point in arguing with someone so ridicoulous.

Thousands Removed From Voting Rolls

A serious issue that could have significant impacts on the upcoming presidential election has arisen in at least six states and possibly more, including Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina. According to the New York Times, thousands of voters have been taken off voting rolls or simply not allowed to register to vote. The numbers here are not small. For example: "In Colorado, some 37,000 people were removed from the rolls in the three weeks after July 21. During that time, about 5,100 people moved out of the state and about 2,400 died." That leaves 29,500 people who have been removed for no apparent reason, except for the states that are removing people because "they have failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections." I doubt all those people are convicted felons.

It is against federal law to remove voters unless they die, move, or are deemed unfit to vote (such as when someone is convicted of a federal crime). It is also illegal to use social security information to check people's voter registrations, but some states have been doing just that.

"For every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows." Thousands of people are going to show up to their polling placed come November 4th, and are going to be upset that they have been removed from the rolls and will not be able to cast their vote. Especially for the many people who are newly registered so they can have a say in this monumental election year, this is a fabulous way to disengage people from the political process and fuel apathy.

This newest information just adds to the already existing list of voting issues, such as easily hacked and paper-trail-less electronic voting machines and ballots like those in Florida in 2000 that were not clear to many voters. Something needs to fundamentally change in this country's election process. In a democracy such as ours, voting is the primary way in which the citizenry have a say in how the government is run and what issues are important to them. There is already too much apathy in America due to political scandals that have been occurring since Nixon resigned, and the sense that our leaders are so estranged from the people that nothing we do matters on the national scale. For every person that is removed from the voting rolls or decides not to vote because she believes her opinion doesn't matter or won't count, we move farther away from a real democracy and closer to authoritarianism. No one wants that.

It is past the time to talk about this issue. We need to change. We need to insure that people's votes will count, we need to give people the information they need to register without making it hard or confusing, we need to give people more than the standard two choices come election time. We need to save our country and our freedom.

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a symbol of compassion and peace, and is easily recognizable all over the world. Over at Shambhala Sun, Pico Iyer wrote a piece called "Center at the Summit" describing the fourteenth Dalai Lama's impact on the world. Here's an excerpt:
The calmness of the Dalai Lama, the steadiness with which he walks along his path and pursues what he regards as his core mission, can only be truly appreciated by being set against the very real-world problems that have always been his companion and his daily fare. He spent his early childhood (what would have been his kindergarten years, in our terms) as official leader of his country during the Second World War. By the time he was eight, he was receiving emissaries from F.D.R. with urgent requests for help in the transportation of American troops. He witnessed civil war around him as a boy, barely twelve years old on his seat in the Potala Palace. He was fourteen when Chinese soldiers moved into his country, and of high school age—fifteen—when he was prematurely made the political as well as the spiritual leader of his people.
For me, and possibly many others, the Dalai Lama represents peace in a world full of hate and war. His teachings tell us that we can still have mindfulness and be a part of the wider world. He is not just important to Buddhists, but to people of all religions.

What does the Dalai Lama mean to you?

07 October 2008

Save $9500 with public transit

According to new research released by the American Public Transit Association
A person can achieve an average savings of $9,499 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving... the average annual savings is a third higher than the average amount a household pays for food in a year, according to the Food Institute ($6,111).
We already know carpooling and using public transportation is better for the environment, but the knowledge that you can save almost ten grand by driving yourself is that much more convincing.

It's time to get on the bus.

Judge Orders Guantanamo Prisoners Released

From BBC News:
The US has reacted angrily after a judge ordered that 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo Bay should be released into the United States.

District Judge Ricardo Urbina said the US could not hold the 17 as they were no longer considered enemy combatants. ...

"Because the constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful," he said.
If these seventeen people are not a risk to US security, then the judge is right in demanding they be released from Guantanamo Bay. There could be two reasons as to why the US government is so upset about the judge's decision. One, they feel that the judge is wrong and truly believe that these people are a risk to the safety of the American people. Or two, the government doesn't want them released because they're scared the released prisoners will talk once they're out. It's pretty obvious that Guantanamo isn't known for upholding the rights of the prisoners.

What do you think?

03 October 2008

Canada's Green Candidate

The Green Party of Canada is making news today. Their candidate for prime minister, Elizabeth May, is going to participate in a major debate. Unlike America, Canada has a parliamentary system, which means there is more than two parties in power. However, the Green Party has not had great national-level success there. Things may turn around a bit after people are introduced to May and the Green Party.

The question we need to be asking in America is why we are still sticking with the only allowing the two major political parties participate in our debates.

Good lucky Elizabeth!

02 October 2008

My Take On The Debate

I hope everyone had a chance to watch the only vice-presidential debate of this election year. I want to share a few of my thoughts about the Biden and Palin exchange.

First, I've never been a particularly big fan of this kind of presidential and vice-presidential debate, mainly because the American people are not able to get a look at the real candidates. I'm sure a lot of people (particularly Republicans who are already in love with Palin) are going to comment extensively on what a great job Palin did. Sure, she didn't stumble over her words, but we've already seen what an unscripted Palin is like (Katie Couric interviews).

Second, she danced around a lot of the questions, bringing everything right back to energy dependency. At the same time, Biden was doing a great job of actually answering people.

Third, she seemed aloof and condescending, while Biden was easy to relate to and trust. She pretty much smirked through the entire debate.

Fourth, I'm sorry Sarah, you do not have the experience to be vp or, god forbid, president.

Fifth, Sarah Palin told us that the McCain/Palin ticket would lead to change. WTF? How is electing McCain, who votes with Bush around 90% of the time, going to lead to change?

Sixth, kudos to Biden for his "McCain voted the same way" answers. Sarah, know how McCain voted before condemning the other candidates.

01 October 2008

Outrageous Proposed Colorado Amendment

There is a new amendment proposed in Colorado that, if passed, would make birth control illegal and would classify a fertilized egg as a human being with "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law." Feministing puts one of the scariest aspects of this new bill into perspective:
A disproportionate effect on young women, women of color, incarcerated women, and low-income women? Check. Defining a fertilized egg as a person doesn't just restrict access to abortion, contraception, cancer treatment, and fertility treatment. It opens the door to charges of child endangerment against pregnant women, typically those who are women of color or low-income. Basically, it allows for the policing of pregnant women's bodies and behavior. And which pregnant women get policed? Usually not those who are white and wealthy.
If this bill is passed by the Colorado state legislature, every woman in the state will lose a basic right to choose. A woman's body is not something that should be controlled by anyone but that woman. I've always felt that if you are against abortion or birth control, then stay away from it. But don't take that right away from anyone else. Let's really hope this doesn't actually pass.

Thanks to Feministing for the original post.

29 September 2008

Get Ready For Election 2008!

It's a shame that voter turnout is so low. Mainly because voting is the best way to voice your opinion, punish leaders who are not doing their jobs, and reward those that are. Apathy helps no one. Stop thinking that politics don't matter. Sure, there needs to be a hell of a lot of reform, but it does still matters. Your vote can send a powerful message to Washington about what you want done in the next four years. So if you're registered to vote, please go vote on November 5th.

If you are not registered to vote, Rock the Vote has a list of registration deadlines for every state. You can also register to vote on this site. It only takes a minute, so fill out the form.

Not sure who to vote for?
Barack Obama - Joe Biden
John McCain - Sarah Palin
Cynthia McKinney - Rosa Clemente
Bob Barr - Wayne Root

23 September 2008

A McCain Administration = Secrecy

Republican VP pick Sarah Palin's inability to give interviews and talk to reporters is getting annoying. I also feel it's a good representation of what John McCain's administration, if elected, will look like.

Sarah Palin is being kept out of the spotlight, not to keep her away from the "sexist, angry media" as some have suggested, but because she doesn't know what she's doing. McCain is scared as hell that she will say something that is out of place and extreme, and as a result she will hurt his campaign. Her lack of experience and inability to do the job are the main reasons McCain shouldn't have even bothered, but he feels that Americans will be okay with it since she's a fresh face and *gasp* a woman.

If McCain is keeping Palin out of the spotlight because he's scared she'll fuck up, what does that say about the possible McCain presidency? Does it mean less press conferences and interviews with out president? Less transperancy than what we've had even with Bush? Probably. I want to know what my government is doing, and be aware of what my leaders are thinking.

Sarah Palin Bans Reporters From UN Meeting

John McCain & the Economy

One of my favorite political blogs, Crooks and Liars, has published a fantastic post written by Jon Perr called "McCain's 5 Stages of Grief Over the Economy." Be sure to check it out. Perr makes an especially good point about McCain's distress over the economy being probably the most important issue in this year's election. Watching McCain try to talk about the economy is like watching a dying fish struggling for air. He just can't do it. Repeating over and over that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" isn't going to go over well with the thousands of Americans who are losing their futures. Then again though, Republicans do have a tendency to try to make things true. Sort of like with the Bush Administration's attempt to convince Americans Iraq and 9/11 are somehow connected. If they say it enough times, it must become true.

As a political science student, almost all of my classes has one point in common: Americans vote with their pockets. Money is the most imporant deciding factor in many American's lives, and if they don't think John McCain understands money (unless you count the houses and cars he and his wife have bought with her fortune), they won't vote for him. Granted, Obama isn't an economist, but he acknowledges that America's economy is in trouble, and something needs to happen to make it right again. He's much less likely than John McCain to just sit on his hand and let another depression settle over the land.

Solar Power Saving Lives?

Apparently, Iraq now has solar street lamps that are resulting in less crime. According to an Iraqi police officer, "Before, we struggled in the darkness. We couldn't see the cars clearly. But now we can do our job normally, and we feel more confident staying out late in the street."

Two aid workers kidnapped

From BBC News:
Two aid workers working for Medecins du Monde in Ethiopia have been abducted from the Ogaden region that borders Somalia, the French aid agency says.
Nothing is known about the aid workers other than that it was a man and a woman who was kidnapped. Aid workers who go to conflict zones to help people are putting their lives in danger, and they know it, but their courage to help people no matter what the conditions are is amazing. I hope these two are released safely and quickly.

16 September 2008

440,000 Jobs Could Be Created by Solar Energy

A new report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association finds that as many as 440,000 permanent jobs, and 1.2 million jobs altogether, could be created if the solar investment tax credit is extended by Congress.
"By extending the solar investment tax credits, Congress can provide an immediate boost to the floundering U.S. economy by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and injecting billions of dollars of new investment capital into the economy, while at the same time driving down energy costs for consumers," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), based in Washington, D.C. "The solar energy industry creates jobs that are the foundation of our economy - jobs for manufacturers, construction workers, engineers, roofers, electricians, and plumbers. These jobs are needed now and Congress is in a position to extend the ITC and ensure that these jobs are created here in the U.S."
The coal industry loves to put forth the idea that by creating clean energy, thousands of people will lose their jobs. Thus, one of the more striking finds from SEIA is this:
This figure [440,000 jobs created] reveals the strength of the solar job creation engine when compared to the current 79,000 direct employees of the coal mining industry and the 136,000 direct employees in oil and gas extraction.
Using job losses as an excuse to continue to use coal and other dirty energy sources is mostly a tactic used by the coal industry reps to convince people that coal is still the best thing we have to power our houses. If America and other nations were to quickly switch to clean, renewable energy such as solar and wind, the only people to suffer would be the coal czars.

Full Report: Solar Energy Industries Association

11 September 2008

Trouble the Water

Here's the trailer for a new documentary about hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans.



This documentary is sure to create even more discussion of how our government totally dropped the ball.

Trouble the Water

04 September 2008

Fear of anti-feminism stopping proper debate?

When John McCain chose Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, he was clearly trying to gain female votes. Which, as I said in an earlier post, it offends me that McCain thinks Clinton's women supported her simply because she was a woman, instead of believing in the issues she stood for.

There's something else that upsets me about Palin. The fact that when a man attacks Palin politically, they're instantly said to be anti-feminist and they're attacking her sex rather than (serious) lack of experience. I think it's great when a woman succeeds to the highest postitions that exist, but that doesn't mean I want that woman in there simply because she's a woman. Feminism is equality, not that notion that women should be treated differently and used as political moves and thrust into top positions because people are scared of seeming unfriendly to women.

Such equality means that Obama/Biden should be able to bring up Palin's lack of experience without being treated unfairly by the media. Of course it goes both ways. Remember that Hilary Clinton was labeled a "bitch" because she is tough and could hold a great debate with Senator Obama. When will we get to the point when we can just let people debate without worrying about sex, race, or any other discriminating factor?

31 August 2008

Palin's Foreign Policy Experience

George Stephanopoulos: But she has no national security experience.

Cindy McCain: You know, she - the experience that she comes from is with what she's done in the government.

And, also, remember, Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So it's not as if she doesn't understand what's at stake here.

I don't really think I need to comment.

29 August 2008

From the Magna Carta

Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legal judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.
Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus aut differemus rectum aut justiciam.

No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or deprived or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.
To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.

From the Magna Carta, 1215
If only the Bush Administration would agree

Consciousness

From Alan Watts' What is Zen?:

There was once an Englishman and an Indian sitting in a garden together, and the Hindu was trying to explain basic Indian philosophy to the Englishman. So he said, "Look now, there is a hedge at the end of the garden - against what do you see the hedge?"

The Englishman said, "Against the hills."

"And what do you see the hills against?"

He said, "Against the sky."

"And what do you see the sky against?" And the Englishman didn't know what to say.

So the Hindu said, "You see it against consciousness."

McCain's reasons for choosing Palin

On McCain's election site, there's a piece detailing just why Sarah Palin was chosen. I can't believe how weak this whole thing is. Seriously, the more I research Palin, the more I'm confused.

McCain chooses Palin as VP

So, police state or not? What do you think?

This is from a CODEPINK rally in Denver:


The officer has been pulled from the protests. Here's to hoping this hater of free speech will be fired.

More from Rocky Mountain News

Sarah Palin? What the Hell?

In case you haven't heard, John McCain has chosen his vice presidential pick. Is it Mike Huckabee? Nope. Mitt Romney? Nuh-uh.

It was Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Yeah, I've never heard of her either.

But apparently, McCain thinks she's going to be a great asset to his team. God knows why.

Here's a rundown on Governor Palin:
  • She's a first term governor of Alaska, elected in 2006
  • Prior experience: City council member and Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (where?)
  • She has an undergrad degree in journalism
  • Opposes same-sex marriage (including support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage), teaching creationism in school (which means she doesn't believe in science), supports the death penalty, pro-life
  • She's being investigated over a possible abuse of power
  • She has NO IDEA what a vice president is or does:
    "I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?"
  • Palin supports drilling in the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • She wears fur (ok, obviously not a major issue, but it's important to me).
So what the hell was McCain thinking? Was it that he'll get women's votes? Because I'm offended that he thinks women are stupid enough to fall for this. And Hillary Clinton's female supporters sure aren't going to switch their vote to someone so far right of Clinton. Second, McCain is old. Really old. And if he dies in office, she will be our president. She, who has no experience in Washington at all, will be our President. *shudder* Third, John McCain is a hyprocrite. How often have we heard the argument that we should vote for McCain because Barak Obama is inexperienced? Fourth, Biden will undoubtedly win the debates.

But on the other hand, John McCain may very well have given the election to the Democrats. In that case, yay! for Sarah Palin.

Update: According to FOX News (I never thought I'd be citing them for actual information), "The state of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday." Screw the polar bears, right? I guess if you acknowledge polar bears are threatened you can't really deny global warming.

Another Update: It's impossible to find her views on a lot of issues. Due to people like me trying to find out who Sarah Palin is, her website is unavailable, so I decided to try the site On The Issues. There's no information about her position on foreign policy, drugs, immigration or jobs. So not only did John McCain choose someone who has zero experience, but he picked someone that, as far as I can see, doesn't have many opinions either.

Child Kidnappings In Haiti

Haitian and United Nation officials are becoming alarmed at the rising number of child kidnapping in that country. The kidnappings are being carried out by gangs who are taking the children on their way from school, in some cases raping and sexually abusing them, and then charging a ransom for their release (although there have been cases where a family paid the gang the ransom and the child was still murdered). According to the International Herald Tribune, in the last five weeks there have been fourteen kidnappings and one murder of children by these gangs.

This is not a new problem. In 2007, according to the UN, there were 80 kidnappings. According to Haitian officials, the kidnappers are now viewing what they do as a "business", especially since some ransoms can be as high as $25,000.

Although MINUSTAH, an UN mission inside of Haiti, have attempted to end the gang problem, there is still an obvious problem. According to Human Rights Watch's 2008 Annual Report, "Police lawlessness continues to contribute to overall insecurity. HNP [Haitian National Police] members are responsible for arbitrary arrests, as well as excessive and indiscriminate use of force." Haiti's legal system is also crooked, and "ranked as the most corrupt of the 163 countries surveyed in 2006 [by the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index]" (HWR Annual Report). So, as we can see, Haiti's government is not in a position to do much to help these children.

Sources:
United Nations
International Herald Tribune

28 August 2008

Bush Administration to Loosen Rules on Endangered Species

Via USA Today:
The Bush administration is providing insufficient time for public comment as it seeks to loosen rules protecting endangered species...

an administration proposal... would allow federal agencies approving or funding dams, highways and other projects to decide for themselves - without input from government experts - whether endangered species are likely to be harmed.
Bush and his anti-Earth administration are obviously trying to pass this proposal without a lot of media attention and without giving people and organizations time to do much about it. Fortunately, members of congress, along with conservation groups, are calling for additional time. Let's hope it comes out on our side, because we know that those federal agencies responsible for such major construction projects are not actually going to stop one of their projects because of an endangered animal.

27 August 2008

Green v. Democrat

The Green Party has put together a comparison of the McKinney/Clemente and Obama/Biden platforms. Granted, it only really covers health care and the economy/trade, but it's worth a read.

McKinney/Clemente and Obama/Biden compared on health care, labor, the economy

07 May 2008

Breaking: Could be 100,000+ dead in Myanmar

From MSNBC:

"...while the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar said Wednesday that up to 100,000 people may have died in the devastating cyclone."

100,000 people

Myanmar

According to new information, the number of dead in Myanmar could be well over 22,000, with over 1 million homeless and 40,000 missing. That's almost unfathomable.

Even more unfortunate than the tens of thousands of lives lost and the million-plus lives turned upside down, the government of Myanmar, according to MSNBC, "is dragging its feet on giving visas to aid workers who are waiting to help the survivors of Cyclone Nargis." This means that aid is being put together in countries all over the world, by the government of the victims is slowing down much needed recovery efforts. How horrible is that?

France is trying to convince the United Nations to allow nations to go ahead and take aid to Myanmar without going through the government, since time is very, very important in a case like this. Hopefully either Myanmar's government (which isn't known to care much about its people) will step up and let aid agencies in, or the UN will take France's advice. People are suffering and politics need to be the last thing on people's minds right now.

If you want to help the victims and recovery efforts in Myanmar, here are a few organizations you can check out:
UNICEF
Oxfam International
Doctors Without Borders

02 May 2008

Help Children... And Improve the Future

"We are all born helpless. Without a parent's kindness we could not survive, much less prosper. When children grow up in constant fear, with no one to rely on, they suffer their whole lives. Because the minds of small children are very delicate, their need for kindness is particularly obvious." - H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama, How To Practice the Way to a Meaningful Life.

Children all over the world suffer from a number of causes - famine, disease, land mines, war. They are unable to have much of a say in the way their governments act, and thus are caught in the middle of the disastrous plans of a distant leader. It's well-known that women and children suffer the most in developing and warring countries, and there is a lot that needs to be done by developed nations to fix this problem.

One can argue that the most important reason (other than basic human rights) that children need to be helped is that because they are heavily influenced by their experiences and surroundings. A child raised in a compassionate, kind atmosphere is more likely to end up as a compassionate, kind adult than a child raised with no food and a gun in their hand.

UNICEF - The United Nations Children's Fund provides children in developing regions with proper food, education, medicine, and protection from violence. They teach both children and their parents the importance of nutrition, equality, and how to deal with emergences.

Coalition To Stop the Use of Child Soldiers was created and 1998 and does exactly what their name suggests - they prevent the use of children as soldiers.

International Campaign to Ban Landmines not only helps children, but everyone in a landmine ridden area.

War Child International also serves to put an end to children being forced to fight wars.

30 April 2008

Abstinence Only! Protect Your Shame-Cave

Make sure you watch this the whole way through:


The sad truth: girls are being raised to think of their vagina as bad and shameful. Women are taught that it's entirely their own fault if they get pregnant, women who enjoy sex are sluts while guys are players, and then you have the whole "purity" nonsense (like purity balls, where teenage girls pledge their virginity to their fathers, ugh), and so on.

12 April 2008

Smell the Roses While You Still Can

A new study has determined that flowers are losing their scent due to pollution from power plants and cars. To make matters worse, not only are we facing a future lacking in the gorgeous scents of blooms, but insects won't be able to find pollen. According to National Geographic News:
Flowers produce volatile scent molecules that bond with pollutants such as ground-level ozone, in the process breaking down the plants' sweet smell.

With more pollution in the air, the aromatic molecules don't remain potent as long and travel shorter distances on the wind.
What you can do
Since the pollution is coming from cars and power plants, the obvious solution would be to drive hybrids or plug-ins (or, even better, walking or biking!) and to either limit energy use or rely on pollutant-free energy such as wind or solar power.

04 April 2008

02 April 2008

Tribal Fashion in Africa

The Daily Mail has a recent feature composed of striking images of tribal fashion in Africa. It's worth a look.


Out of Africa

British Prime Minister Reclassifies Cannabis

From the Telegraph:
Gordon Brown today gave his backing for cannabis to be reclassified as a more serious drug later this month in a move that will reverse its downgrading by his predecessor....

At his monthly press conference, the Prime Minister revealed his strong support for reclassifying cannabis as a "class B" rather than "class C" drug....

People found in possession of Class B drugs can face a five-year jail term and an unlimited fine.
I don't know much about British prison systems, but if it's anything like America's putting people in jail for having possession of weed is resulting in overflowing prisons. Shouldn't taxes go toward keeping real criminals behind bars? Considering marijuana doesn't kill people (like alcohol poisoning and harder drugs can), more attention should be paid to actually dangerous activities. Plus, a lot of studies have shown that marijuana can be beneficial to many people. So why is it still illegal? Because our governments are making too much money from imprisoning pot heads.

30 March 2008

Farewell Not In Our Name

Not In Our Name, a organization that was founded after Sept. 11th to protest Bush's wars, will no longer be active.
This decision was not an easy one for those of us who have taken up the crucial work of Not in Our Name over the past 6 years. We know that resistance to war and repression continues and needs all of our immediate participation if we are to see any real changes, no matter who takes office in 2008. Though we are closing our office, many around the country will still take out the sentiment and politics of Not in Our Name, as it is at heart a grassroots project.

Edward Guinan's "If We Listen Well"

The Class of Nonviolence is an online "course" of essays discussing peace and nonviolence. I've decided to read through about one per day, and the first is "If We Listen Well" by Paulist priest Edward Guinan.

According to Guinan, peace is active nonviolence, rather than something passive that we look for in times of war. He writes that, “We continue to deal in symptomatic terms as if war and destruction and violence are the extensions and natural outgrowths of malignant attitudes, values, relationships, and beliefs that we continue to embrace.”

Guinan's philosophy of peace is similar to that of Mohandas Gandhi's, who felt that nonviolence was not only equal to violence, but more effective. A victory won with nonviolence will last longer than one won with violence, because when violence is used there will be bitterness and eventually violence will probably break out once again.

This essay sheds light on a form of violence that isn't exactly visible to many because of the way we've been socially conditioned. "Hunger, poverty, squalor, privilege, powerlessness, riches, despair, and vicarious living are forms of violence - forms that a society approves and perpetuates. We have been too willing to discuss violence in terms of ghetto uprisings, student unrest, street thievery, and trashing, and have been unwilling to direct our attention to the more pathological types of violence that are acceptable - the types that daily crush the humanity and life from untold millions of brothers and sisters."

Under the Same Moon commercial

Recession: The Movie

29 March 2008

New Weapon: Nipple Rings

A woman in Texas trying to board a plane was forced to remove her nipple rings (because, you know, they're so dangerous), although they allowed her to leave in a belly button ring.

Via Crooks and Liars:
The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin's chest, the Dallas-area resident said.

Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The agent then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewelry, Hamlin said.

Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked whether she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewelry was out, she said.

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

"Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her," said Hamlin's attorney, Gloria Allred, reading from a letter she sent Thursday to the director of the TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Liberties. [..]

She said she heard male TSA agents snickering as she took out the ring. She was scanned again and was allowed to board even though she was still wearing a belly button ring.

27 March 2008

Daughter dies while parents pray - instead of seeking medical care

An eleven year old girl in Wisconsin died when her parents decided to treat an illness with prayer instead of a trip to the hospital.
Her mother, Leilani Neumann, tells The Associated Press her daughter's condition worsened suddenly, and the parents stayed in prayer, believing she would recover.

She also says she's not concerned about a police investigation, because she and her husband believe their lives are in God's hands and they did nothing criminal, only tried to do the best they could for their daughter.

Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin says an autopsy showed the girl died from a type of diabetes that left her with too little insulin in her body. He says she had probably been ill for about 30 days.
I'm all for healing with self-treatment (although I'm more partial to aromatherapy and tea than prayer), but it the parents' fault in this case that their daughter died. The girl was probably too young to make the decision to go to a hospital or have her parents pray for her, and who's to say she didn't want to go to the hospital and her parents just kept on praying? Obviously I don't know the specifics inside this family, and I'm just speculating, but these parents need to have some sort of charges bought against them. Until someone is old enough to make the decision to go without professional medical care, the hospital is the right place for them.

WKBT

20 March 2008

Innocent Ethnic Uighurs In Guantanamo Bay

There are currently seventeen Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay who have been told that they would all be freed (in 2004) and that they are innocent.
"We fail to know why we are still in jail here," [Abdulghappar] Turkistani says...

"We are still in hope that the US government will free us soon and send us to a safe place."
So if they're innocent, why are they still imprisoned?
American officials have acknowledged that while they will not be pressing charges against the 17 Uighurs, they cannot be sent back to China because they are likely to face persecution.
Therefore, the US government is keeping them in small, insanitary cells against their wishes for twenty-two hours a day.
"Being away from family, away from our homeland... being forbidden from the natural sunlight, natural air, being surrounded with a metal box all around is not suitable for a human being," Turkistani wrote.
Al Jazeera

Lynndie England blames the media

Lynndie England, one of the people responsible for the Abu Ghraib scandal, is once again putting the blame somewhere else.
I feel sorry and wrong about what I did. But it would not have escalated to what it did all over the world if it wouldn't have been for someone leaking it to the media.
Obviously it's okay so long as people don't know about it. Because, according to England, "what we did happens in war."

She also makes the statement that there were worse pictures the public didn't get to see, and that, "if it had been broken by the news without the pictures it wouldn't have been that big."

So, as you can see, it was the media's fault that it was such a big deal. Not the people responsible, because that's just what happens during a war.

USA Today

17 March 2008

New energy positive building

A new building in the United Arab Emirates, planned to be finished in 2010, will be the world's first energy positive building. This means that it will produce more energy than it uses. It will be built in Masdar City, which is completely powered by renewable energy. A Chicago firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture has designed this remarkable tower. According to the press release, the building "will utilize sustainable materials and feature integrated wind turbines, outdoor air quality monitors and one of the world's largest building-integrated solar energy arrays."Masdar Headquarters

CREDO Mobile

CREDO Mobile is a cell phone company owned by Working Assets that allows the user to donate to an organization of their choice every time they make a call. There is a long list of groups that you can support through the company, covering civil rights, economic and social justice, peace and international freedom, the environment, and voting rights and civic participation.

I love seeing new ways to make effortless changes. How hard is it to sign up with CREDO verses Verizon or Sprint? Unfortunately, at the moment the coverage isn't as good as the more well-known companies (I was disappointed to see my area not yet covered). However, maybe the advancement of companies like this will encourage the big-name corporations to start making changes.

CREDO Mobile

13 March 2008

Fred Phelps

One of my (more time-consuming) hobbies is watching documentary after documentary, in the hopes that I'll learn a little more about a number of issues I care about. Once in a while I'll watch one that makes me furious by the time it's over. Jesus Camp is a good example of one. And now I want to discuss the one I just finished, Fall From Grace.

Fall From Grace is the story of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. He and his congregation have devoted themselves to hating homosexuality, on which they blame all of America's troubles. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a hate organization, and with good reason.

One of the things that they're most famous for is protesting at funerals. The people of Westboro Baptist Church frequents the funerals of soldiers killed in action to protest homosexuals, whose fault it is, according to WBC, that the soldiers are dying. According to Phelps, "I'm thankful for all that get killed over there in Iraq, I just wish it would be not 2,000 but 2 million." They parade around at these funerals and anywhere else they feel the need to spread their influence with signs reading "God hates fags" and "Thank god for dead soldiers." These are the people responsible for the hate website godhatesfags.com.

According to three of Fred Phelps children that separated themselves from the family say that abuse was prevalent. From the SPLC:
Mark and Nathan Phelps and sister Dortha "Dotti" Bird offer plenty of brutal details - details that their father has long dismissed as "a sea of fag lies." Nathan told the Intelligence Report that he was beaten with a leather strap regularly. Then, he says, Fred Phelps switched to a mattack handle - like an axe handle - and beat Nathan until he "couldn't lie down or sit down for a week." The three charge that Phelps also beat their mother, forced the children to fast and more.
One of the things that always strike me when watching this sort of documentary are how brainwashed their children are. Jesus Camp, which I've already said above enraged me, is a perfect film to show the effects that fundamentalist Christians have on children. These children are taught to hate people different from them. They don't know tolerance, and will probably never know tolerance, because they're taught from the time they are old enough to understand that it is okay to be hateful.

Since I became aware of politics in high school, there has been one things I've feared more than anything else: the Christian far right. Separation of church and state is very important to me, as I imagine it is for many Americans, and Christian fundamentalists want to control all aspects of American life, which means that non-Christians will essentially lose all their rights. This threat is real.

Fall From Grace
Jesus Camp
Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg - one of the best books I've ever read. I highly recommend this.
Southern Poverty Law Center
Americans United for Separation of Church and State

12 March 2008

Global Warming's Effects of Transportation

According to a new study transportation is facing growing threats from global warming. These are the five biggies, from National Geographic News:

-- More heat waves, requiring load limits at hot-weather or high-altitude airports and causing thermal expansion of bridge joints and rail track deformities.

-- Rising sea levels and storm surges flooding coastal roadways, forcing evacuations, inundating airports and rail lines, flooding tunnels, and eroding bridge bases.

-- More rainstorms delaying air and ground traffic, flooding tunnels and railways, and eroding road, bridge, and pipeline supports.

-- More frequent strong hurricanes, disrupting air and shipping service, blowing debris onto roads, and damaging buildings.

-- Rising arctic temperatures thawing permafrost, resulting in road, railway, and airport runway subsidence and potential pipeline failures.

I've said this before, but it's sobering to realize just how much global warming is going to affect every aspect of our lives.

11 March 2008

Back from break

I'm back from Spring break, and although my break was relaxing, I'm now suffering from the flu, which I haven't been lucky enough to catch since I was about seven years old. Unfortunately, my university has a ridiculous attendance policy: you can only miss the amount of days you meet per week. For most of my classes that's three. Which means that people end up going to class ill, which infects other students and professors alike. Starting about a month before break, we had a large outbreak of the flu, with something like 100 students going to the health center in just a couple of weeks. I have a feeling that if students were given the opportunity to be responsible they wouldn't put so many other students at risk for catching an illness. However, obviously our school officials think we're children who can't make good decisions for ourselves.

Sorry for the rant, but I'm now seriously considering attending class tomorrow, whether I'm ill or not. I've already missed two days in most of my classes due to sinus problems. It's the school's fault people are making the bad decision to go to class when they're ill.

29 February 2008

Spring Break

Spring break is here...which means I won't be able to post until next week. So enjoy this Incubus video instead.

22 February 2008

21 February 2008

Mongolians facing the effects of global warming already

According to National Geographic, Mongolian herders are being forced to move due to the effects of global warming:

Over the past 60 years the average temperature in Mongolia has risen by 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.9 degrees Celsius). In contrast, the average temperature around the world has climbed only about 1 degree Fahrenheit (about 0.6 degree Celsius) in the past century.

The warmer temperatures are drying up Mongolia's grassland, which provide food for the country's livestock.

This is just the beginning of the effect on humans of climate change. Scientists are saying that there will be millions of refugees due to the change in weather patterns. And with the world (especially the United States government) not working hard enough to change anything, such as our dependence on dirty energy, it's going to get a lot worse.

How to help and more resources:
E, the Environmental Magazine
Earthjustice
Environmental Defense
Freedom From Oil
Grist
Rainforest Action Network
Sierra Club
Stop Global Warming

The Tibetan Language

From Reuters:
The Chinese government is neglecting and actively undermining the Tibetan language as part of continuing efforts to dilute the region's unique culture, a human rights group said on Thursday.
The PRC invaded Tibet in 1949, and since then China has imposed a number of rules on Tibet in an effort to make Tibet more Chinese; in essence, to destroy Tibetan culture.

Forcing the use of Mandarin is only a small part of the total Chinese control. The number of Chinese citizens now living in Tibetan territory is astounding - one estimate puts the number at 7.5 million (Friends of Tibet). There have also been rumors of abortion being forced upon Tibetan women.

Although I feel that progression of societies are necessary and the loss of some aspects of a group's traditional culture may be lost, culture is precious because of this. And the Tibetan people are struggling to keep their cultural identity. In Dharamsala, where the Tibetan Government in Exile is based, the refugees hold festivals and try to save the culture that the Chinese are trying so hard to destroy.

More information and how you can help the Tibet situation:
Free Tibet Campaign
Race For Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet
The Gere Foundation

20 February 2008

The Spies Who Love You

Yang Chunlin

Yang Chunlin, a Chinese land-rights activist was arrested and his trail has begun. He's charged with "incitement to subvert state power" because he used the slogan, "Human Rights Over the Olympics."

From Radio Free Asia:

“My brother insisted that he was innocent and was just expressing his thoughts, arguing that thoughts could not constitute a crime,” Yang Chunping [Chunlin's sister] said. “His thoughts and deeds were for defending the rights of local farmers. He said again that ‘We do want human rights but not the Olympic Games.’”

Yang also told the court that in nearby Fujin city, where he had campaigned for farmers’ rights, farmers had lost their land, had nothing to eat, and couldn’t afford to send their children to school.

“Why should we spend billions of yuan on the Olympics?” Yang asked the court. “‘Human rights over the Olympics’ is indeed an expression of my thoughts. Why am I not allowed to say that?”

18 February 2008

Women: Meat on the Pole

I'm a little behind on writing about this. It's been sitting in my bookmark folder for a week, but it still makes me mad.

A new vegan strip club has opened up in Portland, OR. In a widely heard quote, owner Johnny Diablo's idea was to "put the meat on the pole, not on the plate."

He actually referred to women as meat.

I'm always happy when the world gets a little more vegan. But I'm not happy when women are treated as things. This isn't alone. We've all seen the PETA ads of half-naked women in lettuce bikinis. PETA thrives on using women in the same way.

What's wrong with promoting veganism through example and activism? There's no need to set back women with another strip club. Show people that being vegan is healthy by being healthy yourself; show people what veganism really is without resorting to something demeaning and offensive.

KPTV Portland

17 February 2008

Glenn Beck: Ugly Women



What a bastard.

Recalled Beef May Have Already Been Eaten

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday recalled 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse that is being investigated for mistreating cattle.

Officials said it was the largest beef recall in the United States, surpassing a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats.
The worst part about this recall is that Chino, the company whose product is being recalled, sells mainly to the school system and fast-food restaurants. Also, the beef has more than likely already been eaten.

This recall is a bit different from those in the past, mainly because the focus isn't on a specific illness, but on animal cruelty. The beef was recalled by the USDA because the company violated health regulations, a practice that isn't uncommon. Because of this, it was deemed unfit for human consumption.

After a video surfaced of employees moving sick/injured cows with a forklift, two employees were charged with animal cruelty. Although they should be charged, the company responsible should also be charged. They allowed this to happen. They are far more responsible than the employees.

USDA recalls 143 million pounds of beef

14 February 2008

War and Peace

I'm subscribed to over a hundred blogs, and most of the time I just sort of absentmindedly scroll through them. And then I find something amazing like this Adbusters article. Please take a look at this... it'll give you a lot to ponder.

We Will Abolish War

Help the troops!

VoteVets.org has created a petition to urge the government to find out how the company responsible for providing troops with substandard helmets has received a new contract to make even more helmets.

From the site: "Last week, the New York TImes reported that the Bush Pentagon had agreed to a contract for more Kevlar helmets for our troops from the very company that was being sued for cheating troops out of helmets that met military standards. Especially at a time when so many troops are in harm's way, no such company should ever receive a new contract. Demand that Congress investigate how this could have happened, by signing our petition below."

Sign the petition!

Horror (movies) in China

I sure hope horror movies aren't popular in China

China has made an announcment that horror movies will be removed from the selves of movie stores, and that no movie currently in production or planned for the future can contain references to the occult.
The horror, violence and cruelty portrayed are extremely harmful to the psychological development of children, it said in a statement posted late Wednesday.
From Yahoo! News

06 February 2008

Entering a new era... literally

From National Geographic News:
Earth's climate and biodiversity aren't the only things being dramatically affected by humans - the world's soils are also shifting beneath our feet, a new report says.

"Global soil change" due to human activities is a major component of what some experts say should be recognized as a new period of geologic time: the Anthropocene, or human-made, age.

This new era will be defined by the pervasiveness of human environmental impacts, including changes to Earth's soils and surface geology, proponents of the theory say.
It's says a lot about how deep our impact of the earth runs when we create a new geological era just by living.

04 February 2008

Why I'm a Pacifist

There is one main reason I am a pacifist: civilians should never be punished for a war perpetuated by their country's leaders.

From Al Jazeera: "A recent study carried out by a UK polling firm says that more than a million Iraqi civilians have been killed due to violence since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003." Although there's a lot of debate about the exact number (the Iraqi government and others have claimed that the number was much lower) people need to see through the story of numbers and realize that even one civilian death is far too many. This "war on terror" is producing terrifying lives for the non-militant people of Iraq. I for one cannot imagine what is would be like to live in fear that you might end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and be added to the striking number of other dead civilians.

Shorter hibernation is a result of global warming

According to a study done on marmot hibernation, animals are waking up early from hibernation due to the raising temperatures of global warming.
While animals are rousing themselves several weeks earlier, the plants that they normally eat are not, creating the real possibility of starvation for some of these animals...

One alarming fact... is how much animals have altered their behavior in response to a small change in temperature.
When people talk about global warming, much of the time we bring up images of stranded polar bears and extreme weather variation. Unfortunately, climate change is creating much more less-known problems, such as decreased length of hibernation. Even though scientists have some idea of just how serious the consequences of global warming will be, it's conceivable that we haven't yet realized the full extent of the problems we will be facing as a result of the world's inaction on the subject.

National Geographic News: Warming Creating Extinction Risks for Hibernators

01 February 2008

Making Sure It's Sunny

From the LA Times:
Determined not to let anything spoil their party, organizers of the 2008 Summer Olympics said Wednesday that they will take control over the most unpredictable element of all -- the weather.

While China's Olympic athletes are getting ready to compete on the fields, its meteorologists are working the skies, attempting the difficult feat of making sure it doesn't rain on the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies. ...

The Chinese are among the world's leaders in what is called "weather modification," but they have more experience creating rain than preventing it.
Having always been intrigued by meteorology, I admit that I find weather modification interesting. However, I'm also weary of changing nature too much. I'm not sure if this practice has any side-effects. There is the potential to use weather modification for very good reasons, such as bringing an area out of a serious drought.

What do you think? Is weather modulation good or bad? And if anyone has any links on the topic, feel free to post them in the comments.

31 January 2008

Ralph Nader considering running for president

Ralph Nader has set up an exploratory committee to evaluate whether he should run for the White House or not. Predictably, this announcement has already been greeted with far too many complaints that he "spoiled" the election and is the sole reason we have George Bush as our president. Ralph Nader is one of my three modern American political heroes (the other two being Russ Feingold and Dennis Kucinich), so obviously I'm going to support him.

Ralph Nader is not the reason George Bush is our president. Al Gore didn't take the Florida recount far enough, and he quit too soon. Ralph Nader had nothing to do with it. The Electoral College system is the reason Al Gore isn't our president.

30 January 2008

Haiti's Hunger

From National Geographic:

"Charlene, 16 with a month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau...

...in places such as Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings, and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal."

Why?

"Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation, and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well."

As people and politicians continue to urge the production of fuels like ethanol, people like Charlene continue to suffer. Why do we need to create a fuel which will ultimately lead to more suffering around the world when we already have options that will lead to better outcomes, such as hydrogen or electricity?

27 January 2008

Caucuses vs. Primaries

Presidential caucuses and primaries both have a number of advantages over one another. However, primaries are, I think, a much better way to choose a party’s candidate for president.

Although one can argue that caucuses could be better due to the natural filtering out of inactive citizens (people that are not concerned with politics at a deep level probably wouldn’t take the time to attend a caucus), there are major problems with this system. For example, it’s hard for people to attend. People of certain professions may not be able to take out the time for caucuses. Another negative is that people can be persuaded by a candidate’s suave representative, rather than the issue at hand. Also, caucuses might not represent the true feelings of the people in the state. This sort of goes back to the “filtering out” of some citizens that don’t want to take the time to attend a caucus; even if they don’t go, their vote should still count. However, since there is no voting system, this isn’t possible.

Primaries allow all citizens to elect the candidate for their party with the freedom to vote when it’s convenient for them. Also, more people generally vote in primaries, meaning that the results are much closer to what the people really want. The biggest reason a primary is the best choice is that it gets us closer to a pure democracy. Although it’s impossible that America will ever be anything but a representative democracy due to size, having some form of that ideal democracy makes people feel involved.

Because a primary is more truly representative of what people want in their candidates, it is a better system than a caucus, where less people attend and decide for everyone.

Mahabharata

This is a piece from the Mahabharata, in which a father is answering his son's question about leading a virtuous life, and his son's reply:

Father
First, learn the Vedas, son, by living as a Vedic student. Then you should desire sons to purify your forefathers, establish the sacred fires, and offer sacrifices. Thereafter, you may enter the forest and seek to become an ascetic.

Son
When the world is thus afflicted and surrounded on all sides, when spears rain down, why do you pretend to speak like a wise man?

Father
How is the world afflicted? And by whom is it surrounded? What are the spears that rain down? Why, you seem bent on frightening me!

Son
The world is afflicted by death. It is surrounded by old age. These days and nights rain down. Why can't you understand?

When I know that death never rests, how can I wait, when I am caught in a net?

When life is shortened with each passing night, who can enjoy pleasures, when we are like fish in a shoal?

This very day do what's good. Let not this moment pass you by, for surely death may strike you even before your duties are done.

Tomorrow's task perform today. Evening's work finish before noon, for death does not wait to ask whether your duties are done.

For who knows whom death's legions may seize today? Practice good from your youth, for uncertain is life's erratic path.

Those who do good enjoy fame in this life and happiness hereafter. Foolish indeed are those who toil for the sake of son and wife, providing for their welfare by means proper and foul.

Such a man, full of desire and attached to sons and cattle, death carries away, as flood waters would a tiger sound asleep.

Death will carry away a man obsessed with amassing wealth, his desires still unfulfilled, as a tiger would a domestic beast.

"This I've done. This I must do. And that I have yet to complete." A man who is thus consumed by desires and pleasures, death will bring under its sway.

Death carries away a man who is attached to his field, shop, or house, even before he reaps the fruits of the works he has done, fruits to which he is so attached.

When death, old age, disease, and misery of all sorts cling to the body, why do you stand as if you were in great shape?

Death and old age accompany an embodied soul from his very birth so as to destroy him. The two embrace all these beings, both the mobile and the immobile.

The delight one finds in living in a village is truly the house of death, while the wilderness is the dwelling place of the gods - so the Vedas teach.

The delight one finds in living in a village is the rope that binds. The virtuous cut it and depart, while evil-doers are unable to cut it.

Those who do not cause injury to living beings in thought, word, or deed, are themselves not oppressed by acts that harm their life or wealth.

Without truth one can never check the advancing troops of death. Never abandon truth, for immortality abides in truth.

I do not injure, I seek the truth, I am free of love and hate, I remain the same in pleasure and pain, and I am safe - so I laugh at death like an immortal.

In the self alone and by the self I am born, on the self I stand, and, though childless, in the self alone I come into being; I will not be saved by a child of mine.
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The M ahabharata is an Indian Sanskrit text from around the 5th century BCE. I'm currently taking Eastern Religious Traditions in school, and we were assigned this text. I found it beautiful, and decided to share it here. Our professor is also reading the Ramayana to us, which I would recommend to anyone who's interested in Indian/Hindu tradition.