Category: Social Justice

Thoughts on COVID-19 research

I am thankful that modern science and technology have enabled scientists to bring a new vaccine to market in less than one year, essentially 10 months from the real start of the pandemic. Amazing work and I have benefited from this remarkable achievement with my first vaccine dose.

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White America Hatred Exposed

I’m sure it’s been said dozens of times before, but it’s predominantly male, white America that voted Donald Trump into the White House. Their anger over eight years of social-justice motivated policies and legislation under a humane and just Barack Obama were too much. They could no longer maintain their simmering kettle of anger and feelings of their white disempowerment. Their frustration and bitterness that a brilliant, gifted African-American male was accomplishing so much and had such consistently high approval ratings here at home and around the world angered them. All of President Obama’s accomplishments were hard fought despite extreme opposition at every turn from the GOP. Don’t forget about all the images of Obama that were burned in effigy, all the racial epithets and stereotypes, the double entendres the Tea Party and whites used during his eight years in office. What could possibly explain that hatred if that wasn’t White America pushing back?

White, heterosexual America has now found its champion in Trump and the brains behind the operation, Steve Bannon – both trying to keep White America protected against the supposed Islamic Jihad, as Bannon keeps reiterating, described here “Steve Bannon Aligns With Vatican Hard-Liners Who Oppose Pope Francis” on NPR and their reporting from “Stephen Bannon in 2014: We Are at War With Radical Islam”the New York Times

“…something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”

and some great analysis here “Steve Bannon, the Church Militant and the Global War Against Islam”. How much of this crisis is mostly a product of our ceaseless waring in the Middle East? The product of the GW Bush Presidency is of course never mentioned – that’s a fiasco the ultra-conservative GOP would rather we forget.

Trump is the the biggest champion of his oil industry buddies, outside of the infamously oil-sodden Koch Brothers: Both Trump and Koch want the North Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline finalized so they can reap ultimate profits while ignoring environmental concerns like community water sources and public waterways destroyed with little impunity, completely ignoring the sacred American Indian tribal lands that are torn up for the pipeline. All the while, there’s Flint Michigan and their on-going water crisis that no one is paying attention to, sending relief, providing a solution. Again, the poor don’t matter in the ultra-rich’s world view. But I digress – let’s get back to point at hand: White Anger

The poison that Trump, Bannon/Breitbart are spreading with their message of White Nationalism isn’t just for U.S. citizens to receive and get worked up about. Canadians have their own groups with their White anger stirring their shit-soup up. Case in point, this rally that was put together to intentionally spread misinformation about recent proposed legislation (here Member Motion M-131) by Iqra Khalid, a member of the Canadian Parliament in response to the recent Muslim temple burning by a White Nationalist racist whack-job. This incredibly brave young, hijab-wearing Muslim woman, Sarah Hagi (@geekylonglegs on Twitter decided to go a recent rally of really ill-informed and confused white people with a few of her friends. Here’s her description of the rally of racist, group of miscreants and their messy Islamophobic mutterings – all that was missing were their Sunday best Klan sheets and burning crosses!

We progressive Americans, focused on social justice and an egalitarian society, can’t stay focused on the anger and hatred of White Nationalism and xenophobia, we must look forward to a just society that cares for all of its citizens. Trump and company’s view of poor and less fortunate is they are losers and if they aren’t capable of making a better life for themselves without resorting to assistance, the government should cut them loose and let them fend for themselves!

  • No more assistance for healthcare
  • No more public education
  • No more family planning and female reproductive health support
  • No more “protection” for GLBT individuals
  • No more protecting them against harmful chemicals and polluted air
  • No more safeguarding their right to clean, wholesome water.

We progressives must RESIST! and rally around our liberal, left-leaning progressive incumbent public servants and candidates for offices at all levels of government – rally around with monetary support, being present for their rallies and public meetings, volunteering to help with re-election efforts. We must have a strong show of support and show our faith in the possibility of the America that we saw for eight years under President Obama. We must keep the cherished view of an America that welcomes everyone, cares for its citizens, moves forward with compassion, keeps our role as a leader in the world. We did this in January, we’ll do it again on April 29th for The People’s Climate March, we will do over and over again this year for upcoming elections and referendums. Yes – RESIST!

Thoughts on Fall 2016 Election Cycle

I’m not experiencing pain and sense of loss because of the behavior and statements of President-elect Trump and his followers. My anger, pain, and sense of betrayal stem from how many Americans were tricked and others decided to betray the social contract of all-for-one, one-for-all when they voted with a strong voice against President Obama’s legacy and the vision of Hillary Clinton and said “Yes!” to Donald Trump.This blog, Don’t Fall Apart, does a great job of describing the angst and the stress Hillary voters are experiencing. To me, the anguish is so much more. I’m feeling a strong sense of betrayal and dread that Americans, specifically white Americans, really are a bunch of racist, misogynists, xenophobic, ignorant fucks – perfect mirroring of their adored figurehead, Donald Trump

I’m angry and hurt that this nation made it clear that it has abandoned:

  • women (expecting their right-to-chose, their equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities),
  • our hard-working immigrant population (seeking a better future in America, respect and fair, humane treatment),
  • the sick (looking to the medical care safety net of the Affordable Care Act),
  • the poor (needing the assistance safety net help with food, shelter, work-training programs),
  • the elderly (facing an uncertain future of cutbacks to their Social Security lifeline, their Medicare being drastically modified)
  • the down-trodden and homeless (needing a help hand, job training, understanding and compassion)
  • the mentally ill (needing assistance, housing, therapy)

Don’t get me wrong, I find the horrible statements made against the above groups, the language and behavior, lack of compassion and acceptance of “the others” that Trump (and his band of racists) harasses, ridicules, physically assaults in person, in the press, on TV news cycle – all of that is reprehensible and casts such a bleak pall over America.

We’ve seen so many times where members of the American Taliban (ultra-Christian Right, misogynists, racists/white supremacists/KKK hiding behind the clever tag of Alt-Right) vilify women, non-white people, and progressives who stand for social justice and the social welfare contract. These American Taliban call themselves God-fearing Christians, who shield themselves behind their Bible, spouting their hatred all the while they profess their sense of entitlement, white privilege, power and strength because of their Savior. My recollection of Jesus’ teachings are caring for others above yourself – where did that mindset go?

Here’s a great guest piece on Bill Moyers’ web site Farewell, America that I totally agree with. The thin layer of veneer that was hiding white hatred, white male insecurity has been pulled back and exposed with the millions of votes for Trump. The writer, Neal Gabler, questions if our American society will ever be the same!

It’s just after the Christmas season, right before New Year as I write this. I’m searching for words that can help soothe my soul and prepare me for 2017 and the Trump Presidency. (Holy shit, whoever thought we’d be facing that nightmarish reality?!?) Here’s an insightful thought from Kate Johnson, a contributor to the January 2017 issue of “Lion’s Roar” Buddhist magazine Have a Very Buddhist Christmas

“As a dedicated dharma practitioner, my beliefs have changed, but my longing for unconditional love and a fresh start for humanity have not. I still see Christmas as a time to celebrate the shared wish for a better world. It seems like we all want peace and for everyone to be safe and fed. Yet we have all contributed to a system in which these things seem impossible, and that truth is breaking our hearts.”

Yes – the truth of our national betrayal does break our hearts. Let’s not live with broken hearts or anger and frustration surging through us during these next four years – let’s reach out and help our fellow Americans, all of them! Here’s a wonderful quote from revered teacher, Joan Halifax, Roshi from an article in Lion’s Roar Buddhist magazine published soon after the election – Buddhist Teachers Respond to News of Trump’s Presidential Win:

“So please, stop and look deeply, and let’s work together in not building a contentious future, but a generative one. And let’s not pretend we know, but be open and learn; let’s bear witness to what is happening in our country, in our world, and take wise, compassionate, and courageous responsibility. Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and ‘give no fear.'”

Let’s move on and not cling to the anger and bitterness of this past election cycle. Let’s now continue to remind our elected officials that they work for us, they should be doing our bidding and reminding them that their well-heeled contributors/corporations needs and desires do not take precedence over the citizens’ needs. I don’t give a whit about the Citizens United decision – yes, I want it reversed but that might be a while with the new Supreme Court this next year. We must tell our elected officials that we are watching them and we hold them accountable. We won’t let them take America down with them as they stuff their pockets full of corporate cash.

The Effects of Corporate Greed

Skull-n-CrossbonesThank god those folks at Texaco (now owned by Chevron) aren’t drilling for oil or doing their exploration in your neighborhood–I don’t think you and your family would survive the experience. Why is this? Just ask the local people in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle region about Texaco and oil exploration.

The Tucson Weekly published a fantastic article here about the oil exploration and drilling that Texaco started back in the 1920s in the Ecuadorian region. Texaco, now owned by Chevron, decided that the poor indigenous jungle people wouldn’t know any better about modern petroleum drilling methods, so they used the cheapest, most expedient and damaging practices possible with no concern for those native peoples. There has been quite a bit of coverage about this situation, including Amnesty International throwing their legal and activist/community support into the mix.

Here’s the routine: you follow worst case business practices in an area where the locals don’t have a clue as to what you’re up to, completely devastate the local environment, don’t bother cleaning up after yourself, and then deny you ever did any harm in the first place: blame everything on the locals (who would never do anything to their community because it’s where they live.) Doesn’t this sound like a petulant, spoiled American child? What do parents typically do to the child after repeated warnings and parental instructions about poor behavior? They spank the kid’s ass and send the child to a “time out” zone, take away privileges, show their displeasure and sorrow about the child’s actions. So, taking this rather spotty metaphor to the matter at hand, how do we treat corporate misbehavior? We shame them, we spank them with lawsuits, we shun them by boycotting their products and services, we hopefully cause the corporate brats to own up to their misdeeds and compensate the native peoples.

Links:
Tucson Weekly (archives) article
Chevron could face huge damages
In-depth reporting about this disaster: AmazonWatch – ChevronToxico

Bhopal and Union Carbide 1984 Accident

Toxic landscapeHere’s the New York Times headline about the disaster and a chronology article NYTimes story about the Union Carbide Corporation’s Bhopal India chemical plant disaster from the day after the accident on 12/3/1984. Accident? Here is a very instructive bit of history on how we do out-sourcing and some of the consequences.

Union Carbide states, from their own private investigation, that the Bhopal accident was the work of sabotage: some unknown person put water in the toxic gas storage tank and that caused the massive chemical reaction that caused valves to rupture ejecting chemicals into the environment.

And a chronological view of the accident and how Union Carbide Corp. (UCC) weaseled its way out of providing substantial help in the short term for Bhopal victims. Contrast the UCC web site’s view of the disaster with the events listed on the Wikipedia page.

Here’s another site with graphics depicting the layout of the plant, holding tanks, and map of the surrounding area indicating the dispersing of the toxic gas.

Here’s a perfect example of how U.S. corporate weasles do business: You sell off or change the corporate name/identity of the nasty parts that have such an unattractive public image.

As a result of the sale of its shares in Union Carbide India (in 1994), Limited (UCIL), Union Carbide retained no interest in — or liability for — the Bhopal site
Union Carbide was purchased by another planet corporate citizen, Dow Chemical, in 2001 after the messy brouhaha in India.

Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. “Dow”, as used throughout, often refers generically to The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries.

This type of corporate behavior is quite common and the American public seems to simply accept as normal, “business as usual”. Gotta watch out for the bottom line and keep those stock shares performing at an optimal level.

More fantastic news coverage and commentary about the Bhopal disaster:
NYTimes – Bhopal Deadly Legacy opinion
NYTimes – Where does the blame lie?

Terrorist Michael Reagan

[Here’s an older article that dates back a few years, but really is quite relevant today! Exception is now we have a racist,homophobic, misoynist pig (Donald Trump) running for President using the same tactics and bombastic rhetoric. Some things never change.]

FAIR just sucked me in with their reporting of the step-son of our late idiot President, Ronnie Reagan. I knew Michael Reagan was a dickhead, but holy crap! If you didn’t know, Michael Reagan is a regular talk radio mouthpiece for the ultra-conservative crap that emanates from the Radio America shows broadcast nationwide, as well as having his own syndicated radio talk show and doing commentary pieces on Fox News — big surprise there! The reason for the title of this article is because of the story that FAIR reported about Reagan’s comments that called for murdering political activists, specifically Mark Dice (and his group) who is infamous for sending letters and DVDs to soldiers in Iraq which explain the conspiracy theory that the US government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Whatever happened to social discourse? What about disagreeing with someone? Disproving their theories and showing the errors in facts and logic? Apparently these accepted journalistic methods don’t sell sponsor’s products and attract the lunatic fringe that listens to shock-jocks like Reagan. But clearly, calling for the murder is stepping over the edge of acceptable social and political commentary as exhibited by these Reagan comments on his show (excerpted from the above FAIR article):

“We ought to find the people who are doing this, take them out and shoot them. Really. You take them out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that’s what they are, and you shoot them dead. I’ll pay for the bullets.”
“How about you take Mark Dice out and put him in the middle of a firing range. Tie him to a post, don’t blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with Mark Dice.”

FAIR reports that the above comments aren’t the first time that Reagan has called upon listeners to murder: “On August 15, 2006, Reagan called for violently killing babies who were reportedly being named for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah:”

“Naming their children ‘Hezbollah.’You know what I’d get ’em for a first birthday? I’d put a grenade up their butts and light it. Happy birthday, baby. Bye bye.”

FAIR further describes the following exchange. “In response to a caller who pointed out that children are not responsible for the names they are given, Reagan repeatedly asserted,”

“So what’s wrong with killing the mothers and the babies?”

How can this person be retained by Radio America and remain on the air? Seriously! The hate-mongering bigot Don Imus was removed from the air after his on-air comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team–Imus wasn’t asking anyone to kill the basketball players, he was just showing his racism and bigotry! Doesn’t the FCC have any rules (or guidelines, fer chrissake!) that are enforceable saying individuals cannot make death threats on public airwaves? How can the FCC allow Radio America to keep its broadcasting license? The other incongruous thing about Michael Reagan is his supposed Christian beliefs. Is this type of behavior and expression of Christianity what our religious and political leaders mean when they talk about “compassionate conservatism”? Compassion towards whom? Who would Jesus kill?
Care to comment and show your displeasure about the filth that Radio America is distributing across the American airwaves?
Call or email:
Radio America President Jim Roberts
703-302-1000 ext 215
Email: jroberts@radioamerica.org

Of course, I’m sure the Michael Reagan show episode being discussed here does not fall under the Obscenity, Indecency & Profanity guidelines, but I imagine that the FCC bureaucrats would be interested in hearing from the citizenry.

FCC Enforcement Bureau, Investigations and Hearings Division
Email: fccinfo@fcc.gov
445 12th Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20554 Toll Free: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY

Abortion Foes Make Their Big Play

[Another article that is still sounding like it was pulled from today’s news feed! When will this insanity end, right?]

Back Alleys and Coat Hangers

Apparently, South Dakota is hoping to put itself at the top of the list of places that women for choice (and their allies) will least want to visit anytime soon. Abortion foes are making their big pelvic push into the warm, moist nether regions of South Dakotan freedom of choice.

Big bucks from the Religious Right and anti-abortion/anti-Roe-v-Wade proponents are pouring into South Dakota, home of the incest and rape victims without voice or rights! Yes, under proposed legislation, women who are rape victims won’t be allowed access to abortion and the rapist will have the same visitation rights as a father of a non-rape child. How many women would want to live with that? Here’s an article describing this insanity! The New York Times (registration req’d.) has an in-depth article on the pumped-up pro-lifers who are just jumping for joy now that there is a set of true believers sitting on the Supreme Court bench. “It’s our time!,” I’m sure they’re blathering.

What’s next? Locking up condoms? Prescriptions for condoms? Mandatory abstinence pledges? If there was accurate sex education, promotion of safe sex practices in our schools and doctors’ offices, would abortion be necessary? If women were empowered with sexual choice and safe sex practices, how much of this legislation at the expense of womens’ health would simply not happen?

The pro-lifers are also very savy when it comes to using double-speak and outright lies to influence and emotionally blackmail women. They’re now spouting quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. to further their cause. This is right out of the Bush, grab-em-by-their-cajones playbook! The only important thing in the pro-lifer’s mind is to ensure that their women are kept in subjugation — barefoot and pregnant, indeed!

Teens and Drug Rx Permission

Trojan to the rescue!

[Another older article – too bad I can’t say we don’t see this type of behavior or measures being presented around the U.S.]

There’s an article in the Arizona Daily Star about a bill being presented by another one of our fine state congressional representatives that would provide additional male control over women.

The Daily Star article reports that State House Representative (Phoenix Republican, Stephen Tully) is proposing with HB 2707 that females 18 and under must have parent permission before they can get a drug prescription filled. An thinly veiled attempt to limit teen girls’ access to birth control pill prescription. Actually, this is not veiled at all! Some red-neck father, who probably doesn’t want to share his daughter’s ass with anyone else outside of the family, was incensed that his daughter had a birth control prescription. How dare she give it up to someone else!

This Tully is just another dumb-ass white guy who apparently hasn’t read teen pregnancy stats (LINK=http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/state_data/states/arizona.html TITLE: We’re number 2 with a bullet) lately — some report that Arizona is second highest in teen pregnancy, some report AZ as number 3 (Planned Parenthood.) He for sure hasn’t paid any attention to teen drop-out rate for Arizona teen girls. Tully is reported as saying that teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease infections are not as important as a parent’s right to know (read control) their daughter’s sexual health. White guy speak, “Our daughters aren’t sexually active, they’ve all taken the Abstinence Pledge and signed a holy contract with us not to drop trou at the first chance they get.” But they’re free to watch all the sex programming on TV, watch girls getting rubbed up in MTV videos; these impressionable teen girls won’t be affected by overt sexuality on TV, in fashion and lifestyle magazines, sex acts in school bathrooms.

Not that Tully, or the majority of the other Arizona legislators give a rat’s ass about education. They certainly don’t fund school districts throughout Arizona (well, qualify that as districts outside of the Phoenix area.)

So, here we are again with men dominating their women folk, telling women how they can take care of their bodies, what women are permitted to do with their bodies. There’s that bumper sticker again, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Keep the laws off of women’s bodies!

Tucson Housing Issues

Living Within Our Means

[An older post, from the pre-Obama Presidency, of some thoughts about the current state of life in Tucson and future possibilities.]

Central Tucson neighborhoods, around where I live, are changing and I think there are some very serious repercussions for my fellow citizens, especially folks who don’t own their own home.

Some of the current rash of TV shows on HGTV are all about the purchase of a home, doing some low budget renovations, and then selling for a significant profit with a quick turnover of houses (I’ve only recently seen the term, “flipping” used to describe this practice.) There was also an article in a recent (early August 2005) in the Tucson Daily Star where the “flipping” term was also used.

I’ve seen this happen before, but back then was known as real estate speculation and the gentrification of lower end neighborhoods. I saw this when I lived in San Francisco back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Housing costs went through the roof and low income folks where driven out of blue collar neighborhoods, resorting to residing in extremely high-crime, intense poverty ridden neighborhoods.

Everyone has a right to decent housing: to be safe and have a sense of security. Does everyone have a right to profit at the expense of their less fortunate citizens?

There’s the mindset of living with what you have, living within your means, being happy with your present situation of a comfortable life. Do we need the bigger house? Do we really need to drive the bigger car? the luxury car? Do we really have to accumulate more stuff? No, we don’t! The advertisers on TV and radio aren’t looking out for our best interests or even give a rat’s ass about our well-being or level of indebtedness–they just want to push a product, only pay attention to their corporate bottom line.

Is the concept of living in manner of being happy with what we have un-American? Are we here as citizens so we can help increase the earnings levels on the stock market? Is it our responsibility to keep General Motors, Ford, Archers-Daniel Midland, Beatrice Foods in business?

What if we turned things around and decided that American citizens, the very people who live here (and I mean all the people: poor, white, people of color, the rich, the middle income), were the most important and not our government’s policies or our President’s (GW Bush) values (or lack, thereof.) Novel thought, what?