September 2007


Who’s the phony one here? Rush or the soldiers from Vote Vets?

General Peter Pace

 

photo from ABC News

General Peter Pace is the chairman of the joint chiefs, making him the most elevated military office in the United States. He is not our priest-in-chief or our parent-in-chief, but he seems to think he is, and that his “upbringing” and his beliefs make him qualified to tell the rest of us, the entire military, and the United States Senate what is immoral. Why is that his job? It isn’t, but he doesn’t seem to know that!

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The first amendment to the United States Constitutions says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This may be why Pace refers to his upbringing and not his religion, but it is commandments from his RELIGION that is causing him to repeatedly condemn homosexuality and adultery.

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In a March newspaper interview the general said that:

My upbringing is such that I believe that there are certain things, certain types of conduct that are immoral. I believe that military members who sleep with other military members’ wives are immoral in their conduct, and that we should not tolerate that. I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts. So the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell allows an individual to serve the country, not — [inaudible] that allows individuals to serve their country. If we know about immoral acts, regardless of committed by who or — then we have a responsibility. And I do not believe that the Armed Forces of the United States are well served by saying through our policies that it’s okay to be immoral in any way, in any way, not just with regards to homosexuality. This is from that standpoint saying that gays should serve openly in the military to me says that we, by policy, would be condoning what I believe is immoral activity. And therefore, as an individual, I would not want that to be my policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that, if were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with someone’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior between members of the Armed Forces.

You can listen to that here.

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Two days later, the Washington Post reported this,

The Pentagon’s top general said Tuesday he should not have voiced his personal view that homosexuality is immoral and should have just stated his support for the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in an interview that has drawn criticism from lawmakers and gay-rights groups.

The written statement by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not apologize for his stance on homosexuality. In a newspaper interview Monday, Pace likened homosexual acts to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

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But ….. the general repeated all his opinions again this week in a Senate hearing, and this time the Code Pink protesters replied by quoting (very loudly and repeatedly) their favorite bible verse, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL! THOU SHALT NOT KILL!” They are absolutely correct — if we need any religion at all mixed in with the military, THAT is the kind of morality we should be following.


Like most of my political posts,

 

this is cross-posted at Political Teen Tidbits

 

and at YouThinkLeft.

No, not really, but aren’t they outrageous?  I need a pair of these.  Not for wearing, just for showing off.

red-shoes001.jpg

photo from http://www.dahothouse.com/media/shoes001.jpg

Don’t these people know that nuclear plants can have accidents? Why don’t they invite alternate energy companies to set up there instead? Is the economy so bad that they have to say yes to THIS? Egads!!!! 

Neighbors welcome Texas nuke plant’s growth

HOUSTON — Despite objections from nuclear energy opponents, the proposed expansion of a Southeast Texas nuclear power plant has gotten the thumbs up from many locals, who say the project will be an economic boon.

Richard Knapik, the mayor of Bay City, about 75 miles southwest of Houston, said Tuesday’s announcement that the owners of a nearby nuclear power plant want to double its size could pump as much as $6 billion into the local economy.

“Many of our citizens already work out there,” Knapik said. “It’s been extremely positive for this area.”

It takes 14 paragraphs before the Chronicle mentions any possible negative aspects.

But not everyone is as enthusiastic.

The Sierra Club has consistently opposed the licensing, construction and operation of new nuclear reactors, in part because of concerns about industry oversight and the disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

Nuclear power is produced when neutrons split the nucleus of uranium atoms, releasing heat that’s used to boil water and produce steam that drives a plant’s turbines. For now, spent fuel — which is radioactive waste — is contained inside the plants.

Watchdog group Public Citizen called the plan to build two new reactors in Texas “deja vu all over again.”

“The U.S. has been down the nuclear power path — and it has proven to be expensive, polluting, dangerous and a security risk,” Tyson Slocum, the director of Public Citizen’s energy program said in a statement.

The organization said companies like NRG and others expected to file applications with the NRC are destined to take advantage of federal loan guarantees and other subsidies at taxpayer expense.

“Public Citizen will fight these proposed reactors every step of the way,” Slocum said. “The flaws of nuclear power — excessive cost, security threats and long-lived radioactive waste — have not been solved.”

These suggestions are from Code Pink. (Thanks Franya.) What else might work? Please leave a comment.

1. Tell Senator Lieberman: No War in Iran!

Joe Lieberman is waving his sword again. On Sunday, he told CBS “I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.”

Upon hearing these words, our own Leslie Angeline, a CODEPINK member from Santa Rosa, CA, decided to go on a hunger strike until Senator Lieberman agreed to meet with her. Leslie, who recently returned from a peace delegation to Iran, has made it her mission to prevent America from attacking the country.

You can join us in solidarity by calling and emailing Lieberman’s office to demand that he retract his irresponsible call for military action in Iran. Call (202)224-4041 and ask to speak to Vance Serchuck, Lieberman’s Legislative Aide on foreign relations and Iran, or click here to send an email along with the picture on the above right of our action outside his office. We are holding photos taken from Leslie’s recent trip to Iran. Ask Lieberman if he really wants to attack these beautiful people, this beautiful place. See more action photos here.

As Leslie says, “70% of the Iranian population is under the age of 30-the age of my son. Iran is a country of warm, kind, and generous children and their families. We cannot start bombing these kids.”

Download and distribute our latest DON”T IRAQ IRAN flyer!

 

2. Learn What Presidential Candidates Are Saying About Iran

It is critical during this election season, to listen to what the presidential candidates – both Republican and Democrat – are saying about Iran. When a candidate says “No options are off the table,” they are sanctioning not only a possible military attack, but also a nuclear attack on Iran. This is totally unacceptable. We must insist that they put a nuclear attack off the table, and that they call for negotiations, not war.

Click here to download our list of presidential candidates and their positions on Iran.

3. Sign Our Petition to the UN Security Council!

Click here to add your name today!

4. Tell Congress! Don’t Iraq Iran!

Help us prevent another war in the Middle East. This time Congress must stop a pre-emptive attack! Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has introduced legislation (S.759) that would prohibit any funds from the recent supplemental bill to be used in attacking Iran. Urge your Senator to support S.759 TODAY!

5. Ask Your Press to be Critical and Vigilant!

The mainstream media is already jumping on the bandwagon about the Iranian threat. We hoped they would have learned their lesson after spreading falsehoods about WMDs in Iraq. But once again journalists such as New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon, Judith Miller’s sidekick in the WMD and phony aluminum tubes reporting, are quoting anonymous sources as proof that Iran is providing Iraqi militias with powerful explosives to attack US troops. For more analysis of the press and Iran, click here.

In fact, the evidence against Iran is insubstantial and full of exaggeration. Even General Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he hasn’t seen any intelligence that supports the claim. We need to tell the press that now is the time to ask serious questions instead of blindly supporting the administration’s headlong rush into another tragic and unnecessary war. Please contact media outlets and tell them we demand a critical, vigilant press. Click here to send your letter now!

 

6. Learn More!

PowerPoint Show of influential and famous Iranians in our midst:

In recent years, the media has damaged Iran?s image so badly that when people hear the name of Iran, they only picture black chadors, terrorism, and ayatollahs. These stereotypes are being constructed to make it easier for governments to attack Iran with public approval. This is why NoWar SA has produced a prsentation to help break down these negative stereotypes.

This is from Progressive Democrats of America. Please call or email.

Fema Trailers

Push the Senate Today to Support Katrina Survivors

September 25th, 2007

100,000 displaced. 65,000 families still living in FEMA trailers. This is the Gulf Coast two years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. After years spent dragging its feet, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs is holding hearings today on the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act, the bill that will create a real road home for thousands of renters and owners in New Orleans and throughout the region.

Tell Chairman Dodd (D-CT) and the committee to move the legislation and bring Katrina survivors home.

The legislation, already passed in the House, will establish a right
to return for residents of public housing, release funds to create a
Road Home program that really works, designate $1.7 billion for rental housing and earmark millions for community development programs.

Read more about the bill here.

The legislation is finally on the agenda; let’s work together to make sure the Senate makes it a priority.

Send a letter today.

Thank you for standing up for just recovery in the Gulf…and nothing less.

Le’Kedra, Rosa, Ditra, Noeleen, Josué and Andre
The KIN Team

Many photos available here.

Who would have the courage to do this today, 50 years later? She is a hero.

Elizabeth Eckford, Of The Little Rock Nine, Tells Her Life Story

It was a school night, and Elizabeth Eckford was too excited to sleep. The next morning, September 4, 1957, was her first day of classes, and one last time she ironed the pleated white skirt she’d made for the occasion. It was made of pique cotton; when she’d run out of material, she’d trimmed it with navy-blue-and-white gingham. Then she put aside her new bobby socks and white buck loafers. Around 7:30 a.m. the following day, she boarded a bus bound for Little Rock Central High School.

Other black schoolchildren were due at Central that historic day, but Elizabeth would be the first to arrive. The world would soon know all about the Little Rock Nine. But when Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Central, and thereby become the first black student to integrate a major southern high school, she was really the Little Rock One. The painfully shy 15-year-old daughter of a hyper-protective mother reluctant to challenge age-old racial mores, she was the unlikeliest trailblazer of all. But as dramatic as the moment was, it really mattered only because Elizabeth wandered into the path of Will Counts’s camera.

You can read more about the history here.

photo by Will Counts/Arkansas History Commission

I HATE beauty pageants. Big time hate. But I know I will need a scholarship to go to college and I support girls that do the beauty pageant thing in order to get a scholarship. So reading stories like this bothers me. They’re combining to try to keep her from collecting. I hope she wins!

tiaraThe Tiara Was Nice. Now Where’s the Scholarship?

Ashley Wood, 2004’s Miss South Carolina, is locked in a dispute with the pageant over its failure to distribute the scholarship that was part of her prize.

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You are talking about an organization that is promoting itself as the largest scholarship provider for women in the world,” Ms. Wood, 26, said of the Miss America Organization. “When contestants try to collect their funds, they encounter one obstacle after another.”

Ms. Wood said she was told that she would not get the $20,000 for winning the Miss South Carolina pageant in part because her two local pageants had not paid her $950 that she had won from them (Ms. Wood said that after she enrolled in classes, one group reneged on payment and the other dodged her when she tried to collect). In turn, because she did not receive the state money, the national pageant sent her a letter in June saying she was ineligible for the $5,000 from it, even though the deadline to use her national scholarship had not passed. “It’s like a game of gotcha,” she said. “What is very clear to me is that the goal is to not give out the scholarships if at all possible.”

Hurricanes are damaging and Rita did a lot of damage here in Texas.  Not nearly as much as Katrina a few weeks earlier, but plenty of damage.  This is Wikipedia’s description:

Hurricane Rita was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Rita caused $11.3 billion in damage on the U.S. Gulf Coast in September 2005.[1] Rita was the seventeenth named storm, tenth hurricane, fifth major hurricane, and third Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.

Rita made landfall on September 24 at Johnson Bayou in Louisiana, near the border with Texas, as a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It continued on through parts of southeast Texas. The storm surge caused extensive damage along the Louisiana and extreme southeastern Texas coasts and completely destroyed some coastal communities. The storm killed seven people directly; many others died in evacuations and from indirect effects.[2]

NOAA

A satellite image shows Hurricane Rita taken at 10:15 a.m. CDT Sept. 24, 2005, as it plowed through Texas and Louisiana.

 Wikipedia talks a lot about what happened the week of Hurricane Rita and in the direct aftermath, but does not mention how little of the damage has been repaired.  For that, we have to look at a new article in the Austin American Statesman that indicates that “In the two years since Hurricane Rita struck Texas, records show that the state has spent less than 1 percent of the federal money allotted to fix or replace thousands of ruined homes.”

Two years after Rita, little money disbursed for housing repairs

In the two years since Hurricane Rita struck Texas, records show that the state has spent less than 1 percent of the federal money allotted to fix or replace thousands of ruined homes.

East Texas officials, whose counties were among those hit hardest after Rita roared ashore with 120 mph winds, say the state government has been slow to release funds. But state officials blame strict federal rules and argue that Texas received less money than Louisiana and Mississippi.

“It really appears to me that the state has had an overabundance of caution to prevent fraud and abuse,” said Walter Diggles, executive director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments. “Every time we talk to them they say, ‘Look, we don’t want a Katrina,’ or fraud with individual distributions.”

When Rita made landfall near Sabine Pass on Sept. 24, 2005, it damaged about 80,000 properties in 22 counties of Southeast Texas. Some 15,000 homes were left in need of repairs.

….

In the meantime, residents are waiting and dealing with more damage.

Evie McBride, 72, wonders whether how long she’ll be living in a Federal Emergency Management Agency travel trailer. Her home, a doublewide on the little piece of backwoods, remains in musty shambles since Rita struck.

“I tell you what is frustrating is seeing a house that would have cost $5,000 to fix 30 days after the storm will now cost $30,000 to fix because it’s just steadily deteriorating,” said Keith Billingsley, an inspector for the Deep East Texas COG.

 This needs to be bigger news and Texas needs to be pressured into actually helping these people.

Why would anyone in congress keep the people of Washington from voting?

Washington DC vote

 

D.C. Vote Bill Dies in Senate

By Mary Beth Sheridan

Washington Post Staff Writer

Republican lawmakers yesterday blocked the Senate from taking up the D.C. vote bill, a potentially fatal setback for the District’s most promising effort in years to get a full member of Congress.

The opposition to the bill is this, but I think that the Republicans don’t want people in Washington, DC to vote because many of them are black and most of them are registered Democrats.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the White House have strongly criticized the legislation. They maintain that, because the District is not a state, the bill violates the constitutional mandate that House members be chosen by the “People of the several States.”

“I opposed this bill because it is clearly and unambiguously unconstitutional,” McConnell said in a statement. “If the residents of the District are to get a member for themselves, they have a remedy: amend the Constitution.”

The article points that out too.

In addition to voicing legal concerns, opponents were wary of the bill’s potential political repercussions. Some Republicans feared that the measure could eventually lead to the addition of two full D.C. senators, who probably would be Democrats.

If this is a real democracy, then the citizens of our country’s capital city should be able to participate also.

If we (the United States) turned everything over to the Iraqi government and we’re so proud of how democratic things are becoming there, then why are we (Condi Rice) trying to overturn their rules? We have nearly run out of soldiers and marines to send to Iraq, but the private
mercenaries are not as reliable since they are not subject to any laws or rules. The article in the Guardian points out that:

The dilemma for the US government is that it needs private security firms but a reversal of the Iraqi government decision
would undermine the credibility of assertions by the Bush
administration that the Iraqi government is autonomous.

No wonder the Iraqi Government wants the mercenaries security contractors out.

The private security firms are controversial, often hated by Iraqis who regard them as trigger-happy. US soldiers can face court martial if accused of unprovoked assaults or over-reaction, though the ratio of those convicted is low. But the law in relation to private security firms is vague.

Here is more of the article:

Iraq orders expulsion of US security firm

· Decision taken after killing of Iraqi civilians
· Rice tries to overturn ban on Blackwater guards

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday September 18, 2007
The Guardian

The Bush administration faced an embarrassing stand-off yesterday when the Iraqi government ordered the immediate expulsion of all employees of the security firm Blackwater USA.

The Iraqi ministry of interior took the decision after eight Iraqi
civilians were killed and 13 wounded in Baghdad when shots were fired from a US state department convoy on Sunday.

Iraqis, quoted by news agencies, reported seeing helicopters, protecting the convoy, opening fire.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was forced to intervene to try to have the ban reversed. She was planning to call the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. “She is going to express regret for the loss of life … (and) make it clear that we are investigating this incident,” the state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said. The state department has refused to confirm whether Blackwater was involved. The state department and reconstruction workers rely heavily on protection by Blackwater.

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at
Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

 

It’s very hard to stand up to a bully on your own. Bullies can be very intimidating, which is why bullying works until someone stops the bully. This is a wonderful account of how some high school kids in Canada reacted to a bully in their school, and how they worked as a group to show that the bully’s opinion was meaningless.

 

students in pink shirts

‘I’ve stood around too long’
Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau | 3:51 PM

CAMBRIDGE — Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

RELATED: Pink shirts legend grows

“It’s my last year. I’ve stood around too long and I wanted to do something,” said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

“I made sure there was a shirt for him,” David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the school’s 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

“The bullies got angry,” said Travis. “One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted.”

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

“Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, that’s ridiculous,” he said.

“Our intention was to stand up for this kid so he doesn’t get picked on.”

Travis said the bullies “keep giving us dirty looks, but we know we have the support of the whole student body.

“Kids don’t need this in their lives, worrying about what to wear to school. That should be the last thing on their minds.”

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, “he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off is shoulder,” David said. No one at the school would reveal the student’s name.

Travis said that growing up, he was often picked on for wearing store-brand clothes instead of designer duds.

The two friends said they didn’t take the action looking for publicity, but rather to show leadership in combating what they say is frequent bullying in schools.

( ifairclough@herald.ca)

How stupid does Bush think that we are?

Note: spew alert for the second cartoon.  Don’t have anything in your mouth that you don’t mind having all over the screen and the keyboard.  —Freckles

The surge

The surge is working

Wouldn’t it be nice if Bush would nominate some honest lawyers who respect the constitution to head up the justice department?  All of the top spots are empty.  But he will want people he can trust to not investigate his administration, someone who agrees to illegal wiretaps and torture and  prisoner rendition around the world, and I really hope that the congress doesn’t give in.

Gonzales leaves Justice Department

Outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wipes his eye during his farewell ceremony before Justice Department employees, Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, in the Great Hall at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)AP – Resigning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left the scandal-scarred Justice Department on Friday, declaring himself hopeful about its mission of ferreting out crime and defending the truth. Gonzales quit after 2 1/2 years at the department amid investigations into whether he broke the law and lied to Congress. He has denied any wrongdoing.

student taking a test

I agree with the teachers. TOO MANY TESTS! (Also too much homework, which is why I am spending less time on my blog.)

Teacher group says schools should ease up on testing

Educators say they feel the pressure of ratings system.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The third week of school is under way. In other words, it’s time to start testing.

In the Austin school district, some teachers must start giving benchmark tests, which measures students’ strengths and weaknesses heading into the new year.

. . . . .

The statewide Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills is the favorite punching bag of teachers and parents who say schools are too focused on tests.
But Malfaro said that much of the testing burden in Austin comes not from the state but from district officials who require teachers to give district-produced tests throughout the year.

Ann Smisko, the Austin school district’s associate superintendent for
curriculum, said the district, like most, “regularly assesses students for one main reason: to ensure that children receive better, more focused classroom instruction.”

Smisko said the district uses benchmark tests at the start of school to see where students are, in the middle of the year to measure progress and at the end to see whether students need extra help before moving to the next grade.

District officials said the number of days per year that a class spends on testing varies by grade and campus.

Ken Zarifis, who teaches eighth-grade language arts at Burnet Middle School in North Austin, said he and colleagues spend more than 40 of the 180 instructional days in a school year giving tests that they do not write themselves.

Those tests include state-written exams such as the TAKS and district-produced tests, such as six-week exams and the three-times-a-year benchmark tests.

 

Bush is supposedly all about accountability. Every year we have to do better on the tests and every year the tests get harder. Know what the teachers say when you don’t pass a test the first time? They say you’re making PROGRESS. I think that means you did better than you did before, and that you’re getting closer to passing.

But that’s not what it means to Bush. Watch this video from MoveOn.Org and see if you can figure out what the word PROGRESS means in his world. If you figure it out, please let us know in the comments section.

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