From Al Jazeera,
“Meltdown: Part One”
September 29, 2011
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From Al Jazeera,
August 20, 2011
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Give a resounding ‘thank you’ to a virtuous leader in a free democracy!
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently spoke on the duty of a leader of good conscience in
a Constitutional Democracy to protect liberty, saying:
“…As Governor I am sworn to uphold the law without partiality or prejudice. I have concluded that discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation in the context of civil marital rights is unjust.”
Drop O’Malley a line and thank him for protecting Maryland from discrimination.
Maryland Governor O’Malley Bringing Truth In Full:
August 16, 2011
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You can show your support for Kymberly Wimberly receiving sole-valedictorian honors and encourage McGehee School District to celebrate, not frustrate black student achievement.
Give a call to the McGehee School District members and let them know!
School Board Member Toby Young
Superintendent Thomas Gathen
School Board Member Jeff Owyoung
(870) 222-2886 x222
School Board Member Clarke Pugh
School Board President William Campbell
School Board Member Alice Banks
April 19, 2011
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May 19th, 2011
Pope Benedict XVI, or “Benny Ten Six” as I like to call him, spoke a bit about Technology in his Palm Sunday Homily.
As a proud Irish Catholic (Irish by birth, Catholic by choice–and childhood prodding!) and lover of technology (I loved ‘Perfect Dark’ for Nintendo 64) I feel I have to make a brief comment on his Holiness’ comments.
The Pope said that technology can threaten humanity’s relationship with God–for it presents dangers both immediately tangible and dangers to our spiritual standing.
Sure, technology can be used to hurt and dehumanize.
But a person doesn’t need much more technology than a hefty rock to achieve that.
Even less! Look at all the damnable abuse done with bare hands–with only the threat of ‘shame’ to silence and bind a victim’s defenses.
Advances in technology do cause the immediate dangers of massive death and destruction. This is true.
Look at Fat Man and Little Boy.
But surely technology’s advance saves lives: innoculations and medicines of all types, agricultural advances to provide cheaper and more abundant food…
The Pope Said:
“…From the beginning men and women have been filled — and this is as true today as ever — with a desire to ‘be like God’, to attain the heights of God by their own powers…”
What beginning? It sounds like The Pope is talking about Adam and Eve with the allusion to being ‘like God’–a la eating the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Did that have to do with technology? Maybe an allusion to Babel would have been more appropriate. Was Babel about technology? Was the cause of the Flood? Was technology a matter of concern to the Prophets or…what was that guy’s name….Jesus?
The Pope Said:
“Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful…”
Ahhh, I have heard God compared to beauty, light, love, a Vine, peace–but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard God compared to gravity pulling a person down to the ground. It is a lovely image though.
Maybe this is along the lines of the story of Icarus. But I think that had to do with following wisdom and keeping a ‘Golden Mean’ more than a “flying is dangerous” fable.
Should we be ’humble before God?’
But I would say that we should be humble before everyone. Like Icarus, we can listen to the great wisdom of our previous generations. We can listen to the perennial truths of the world’s religions. Those who are powerful and privileged can listen to the marginalized, the hurting, the oppressed.
The Pope said that natural disasters remind us that we aren’t all-powerful.
Yup. That’s why we need technology to improve our alerting systems, our evacuation and rescue robotics and transports, our architecture so that it doesn’t fall on us, and our communications to streamline recovery and rescue operations.
The Pope Said
that if humanity wishes to have a closer relationship to God, humanity should “abandon the pride of wanting to become God…”
Does advancing technology have anything to do with ‘being like God?’
Even if one had great powers–equivalent of Tony Stark or Reed Richards–that does not at all encroach on the area of the ‘divine!’
Check it out. Who is close to the heart of God as depicted by Jesus? The poor. The destitute. The marginalized and politically voiceless. It seems that they would be “the least likely to own an iPhone!”
God is not about ‘ability.’
If God was ‘all-powerful’ and a petty jerk, that wouldn’t make God much of a God would it?
God is about love, goodness, beauty, truth, mercy, sacrifice, community, humility, service, justice…
Besides, it isn’t just technology that ‘enables’ and ‘empowers’ folks.
Money does a bit of that too.
And I think there was once a poor Jew from Nazareth who spoke pretty fiercely about those who hoarded money, who had greedy hearts, who abused the poor.
But who would want to hear a homily calling the world’s governments, corporations, and rich to accountability for their greed and amassing of wealth? That’d be a bummer.
Happy Holy Week,
One Laptop Per Child:
February 2, 2011
Here is a great film called “The Consequence of Oil” made by Mark Manning of Global Access Media.
The film shows the US and BP mismanagement and covering-up of the real and continued damages to the ecology and peoples of the Gulf.
See more from Global Access Media here:
January 9, 2011
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I hope that other marriage rights advocates will join me in putting away charges of hate against those who would discriminate against us, our loved ones, our fellow Americans.
Recently, Matthew Franck of the William E and Carol G Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute wrote an essay in the Washington Post asking that advocates of personal liberty not “play the hate card”. I promise that I will not ‘play the hate card’ and I also will ask that others will join me.
Why? Because my goal is the fair and equal treatment of LGBTQ folks and their families and I know the law is on our side. I know from history that with consistent hard work of justice minded people, the Constitution will protect individuals from the tyranny of the masses. We are not backing down and the wheels are set in motion–with our perseverance and courage and social justice co-laboring and allied work we will win what is rightly due.
So I will be as kind, compassionate, and understanding as I can be as we continue on our righteous path.
Just as we justice workers have learned the language difference between:
“You are a racist” versus “What you just said sounded racist”
we can learn to approach our those who would withhold liberty by not calling them hateful or bigots.
Franck in his essay says he and others feel tired of being compared to those who stood in the way of civil rights and supported anti-miscegenation laws. While we don’t need to compare Franck and detractors of liberty to those movements, we can most likely agree that Franck and many members of those past movements were honestly doing their best. They had good intentions, were motivated by perhaps their faith, their care for the nation, their care for society. That is a hard pill to swallow, but gay marriage advocates would do well to accept that for any given individual from the ‘traditional marriage’ movement, it may be love (albeit misguided and twisted) not hate that is motivating them.
This is to our favor to recognize. Who better to speak the language of love than those who wish to marry and their loving allies? We know what it is to love, so let us engage them at the level of love. Franck may be right on this point: call someone a ‘hater’ and the conversation is pretty much over. Begin to share to your experience of love and romance, and you may well have their attention.
A few words about ‘hate’:
So while I’m not going to level charges of hate against individuals, I think it is important to see why the use of ‘hate’ has been used to describe the anti-liberty movements.
1. Hate speech laws. Hate speech laws need not investigate the interior emotional state of a person or their disposition towards the aggrieved party. All that is needed is proof that there may incite prejudiced action or violence, or may be libelous towards a lawfully protected group. When an individual advocates the discrimination of a protected group, it can be valid to investigate whether their actions qualify as hate speech. It is always well for us LGBTQ folk and allies to remember to remind our detractors that we would do the same if someone sought to discriminate against them. We can remind them: “Its not personal. I’m just standing on the side of righteousness and justice. If you ever are denied justice, I’ll be in your corner too.”
2. ‘Hate’ has a variance of meaning. For example, Jesus said that to follow him, one had to hate their parents. That doesn’t mean one must scowl at their parents and begrudge them. Many preachers and commentaries have pointed out that Luke 14:26 says one must ‘hate their family’ as well as their ‘own life’ and simply means that one must ‘value with less esteem’ or with ‘lower priority’ these than the Divine. By Jesus use of hate, is it hateful what Franck and the Witherspoon Institute are doing? Well, being made into a second class citizen would seem a bit like being given ‘lower priority’. Discrimination and poor treatment need not have ‘gut feelings’ of anger, spite, vitriol. Again, we advocates for marriage equality would do well to remember we cannot see the inner state of another. We can take a page out of the Christian scriptures some like to use as a weapon: “judge not”.
I’m happy to put aside “hate” because US law and the common grounds of reason are on our side.
If ‘hate’ language like Mr. Franck says, stops a debate I won’t use it because I am assured that the grounds of reasoned debate will favor LBGTQ families.
Be very sure of this: just because I won’t use the “hate card” doesn’t mean I will stand by for a minute and allow any word or deed that may incite violence or disparage my loved ones. In the public arena through compassionate debate and vigorous social justice action and through applying all the laws that protect against discrimination, I will be steadfast against those who would molest liberty and my loved ones’ full enjoyment of life.
Our cause is assured and our goal is near. Just because some oppose me does not mean I need make of them my enemy. When this issue is settled I will extend to them the very Christian forgiveness and love that they seemed unwilling to share to us.
NPR’s coverage of Franck’s essay:
Matthew Franck’s essay in the Washington Post:
October 8, 2010
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By voting “No” on Proposition 23 this November we can solidify California’s position as our nation’s industry and
A “No” on Prop 23 will support our already impressive movement towards energy independence, spur job growth, and prove to the rest
of the U.S. that we can all move beyond dirty and wasteful energy.
More and more, the engine of industry is smart ideas and California is a hot bed of those.
That’s why the horribly conceived Prop 23 (a Texas import) is just smart for our state.
California is feeling the bite of the economy and job drought like everyone else, but we historically have been our nation’s economic powerhouse and
that doesn’t need to change. Part of our success has been and will continue to be remaining ahead of the curve in development, R&D, and wise land use.
A “No” on Prop 23 would send a message to oil magnates who would stagnate our growth for private gain that California is a leader, not a follower. We want cheap energy, clean neighborhoods, a competitive market in which to raise our children, and a corner in the hugely prosperous renewable energy market.
When California passed AB 32 in 2006 with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support, we stated that we would lead the nation’s charge to economic recovery and smart development. By rejecting Prop 23 now, we will ensure that AB 32 stays in place and its crucial energy stipulations will be effective as soon as possible.
California’s committment to clean energy has been a help to us in these dire economic straits. In just one year (2008) venture capitalists poured 3.3 Billion dollars into our state. A “No” vote on Prop 23 would encourage these investors to keep the long term smart growth investments coming. Rather than frantically looking for the next oil fix (will it come from an off-shore drill near your family?) we can watch investors settle their businesses here for the next wave of clean energy.
Its said that one doesn’t “mess with Texas” so it is peculiar that Proposition is being backed by primarily by two Texan oil companies (Valero and Tesero) and our Governor has credited the proposition’s motivation with “self serving greed”.
Our state has the largest clean energy economy in the nation and leaders at the recent Clean Energy Summit agreed that California should not take a step backwards into the oily energy policies of last century.
The future is green. The economy favors technological savvy. Our children deserve clean air, lakes, and beaches. “No” on Prop 23 is the clear choice for our families and economy.
Vam Jones and Jorge Madrid
Daniel Farber and Richard Frank
October 6, 2010
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In 2010, the biggest health insurance companies have given three times the cash to Republican lawmakers than Democrats.
They’re also paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobbyists closest to Republicans.
Why the love?
Insurance companies like the new health care law which states that individuals have to pay a fine to opt out of having insurance.
(That opt out will cost 95$ in 2014 and 695$ in 2016)
That’s not the issue. The companies just want the opt out to cost more.
Insurance companies like that more folks will be covered with health insurance.
That’s not the issue. The companies just want to deny your children coverage, quit coverage when you get sick, and pay very little if you’re sick for a long time.
Writes Noam Levey, “Insurers in the past have been able to count on the GOP, which often helped shape the market to the industry’s specifications…With the help of GOP legislation, insurers also have increasingly shifted costs to consumers through high-deductible plans…And Republicans have pushed to allow insurance companies to sell their plans across state lines, avoiding state regulations.”
So, it seems that Republican candidates and lawmakers are good on their promises: “You pay us enough money and we’ll get you a profit.”
If affordable and effective health insurance is what you want for your family, does the GOP deserve your vote?
Noam N. Levey “Health Insurers Pour Money Into GOP Campaings, Hoping To Limit New Regulations”
Los Angeles Times. Tuesday October 5th 2010
September 22, 2010
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You may have seen the population bumper stickers around: “Zero Population Growth”, “Population Forecast: Increased Crowdiness” or something of the like. You may have been at a dinner party where someone was making the ‘sensible’ argument that “we need to start talking seriously about population control!” out of concern for ‘sustainability’ or ‘so we don’t overrun the planet!’.
I am now inviting everyone to never have the population control discussion again. We can place it gently to sleep as not only a Red Herring but a hurtful and culturally insensitive line of inquiry.
The issue for our planet, our global neighbors, and our shared future is not how many people there are but the quality of life and equality in access for each individual to reach their potential. In this spirit, I will move ‘population conversations’ towards women’s health and liberty.
First, I’ll give reason why I don’t believe that population per se is a profitable conversation. There is, I believe, no suggested or perfect number of people for our planet. If there were as little as one hundred or as many as 30 billion there is nothing to say that one is necessarily ‘better’ for the world (at the time of this posting, world population is estimated at nearly 7 billion). Evolution has given no prescription for how many humans there should be. Our morals and values have however given us strong motivations to aid each other, feel compassion with, and share alongside others in our common humanity and this should remain our focus.
Michelle Goldberg, author of “The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and The Future of The World” writes in the May 17th, 2009 L.A. Times that women, if given education, access to healthcare, ability to work, social protection, and contraception, will themselves make choices that benefit them, their children, and their families. Whatever balance of growth occurs will then be coming from empowered women in their local contexts, not from outside voices.
This brings me to how ‘population control’ discussion can be hurtful. When folks around me in often middle class U.S. settings talk about ‘having only the children you can take care of’ they are coming from the privilege of knowing about condoms and having access to them without fear. They have access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion. They have social security and healthcare to aid them in age and sickness. I sometimes feel as if some feel that having more than 2.5 children is a character flaw or a moral weakness rather than part of a complex web of societal influences.
Population control is often framed negatively rather than positively, to its detriment. It is given as a “no more people!” frame rather than a “yes to social justice and women’s health!” Positive statements and affirming political and moral statements always achieve greater results.
So what is at stake?
The UN Population Fund and the Alan Guttmacher Institute found that if we could just get condoms and effective contraception into women’s hands that need it, those women could avoid:
23 million unplanned births
22 million induced abortions
142,000 pregnancy related deaths
Social stability, upward mobility, and political voice effectively give women better chances at creating healthier families.
Writes Goldberg, “In developing countries, lower social status for women is associated with higher fertility, but once societies become highly industrialized and women taste a certain amount of freedom, the reverse is true.”
Goldberg puts it simply: “The ethical and effective way to counter rapid population growth is to bolster women’s rights and imporve their access to family planning.” Goldberg also emphasizes education and contraception. Goldberg points to unsafe abortions accounting for 13% of maternal mortality as portraying women’s desperation for birth control.
Even if the world was right now able to easily sustain billions of new children, we would still be called to the higher moral standards of working towards all children being wanted and cherished. We would strive for their mothers to be healthy and with access to education and fulfilling work.
Let’s stop talking numbers and start talking compassionately about women’s lives.
Goldberg, Michelle. “Skirting The Issue” Los Angeles Times, May 17th 2009.