28 September 2005

heroes, heroism, humanism...

Andrew Sullivan has been following the saga of Capt. Ian Fishback who has spent a lot of time "researching" the Armed Forces policies of humane and inhumane treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Capt. Fishback has written a letter printed in the Washington Post to Sen. John McCain asking for his assistance in assuring the honor and reputation of the United States' Armed Forces in the world from alleged disregard of the Geneva Conventions and treatment of prisoners as less than human beings by codifying the standards of treatment. In Captain Fishback's own words, "Once again, I strongly urge you to do justice to your men and women in uniform. Give them clear standards of conduct that reflect the ideals they risk their lives for." washingtonpost.com

He is reported as a totally upstanding member of the Army, a top-notch West Pointer and a caring individual both towards the soldiers under his command and foes. One co-worker, friend and acquaintance after another has attested to his solid background and actions.

The torture end-game is approaching - and Rumsfeld and Cheney know it. What is now being done to the hero, Captain Ian Fishback, who braved 17 months of obstruction, threats and intimidation by military brass to keep quiet, is a national disgrace. Fishback has now been sequestered at Fort Bragg under orders restricting his contacts (the pretext is that he is a key witness in a criminal investigation and that he should not be in contact with outsiders while it continues). My sources tell me that he has been subjected to a series of long, arduous interrogations by CID investigators. Predictably, the CID guys are out to find just one thing: they want to know the identities of his two or three NCO corroborators. Andrew Sullivan

This alleged treatment of Fishback is in keeping with how the current administration has handled instance after instance, not only with Iraq but with domestic and other diplomatic issues. It is concurrent with the secrecy built into the Homeland Security Law under the guise of national security.

...but what else is being kept secret?

27 September 2005

nothing better to do...? part XI

Unloading the books...

Unloading the books...

The The American Library Association (ALA) each year publishes a list of the 10 most challenged books. These books are challenged by people, groups and organizations who do not want anyone to read anything that they believe conflicts or disagrees with what they personally or organizationally believe. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs, but the US Constitution has a clear statement about censorship:

Amendment I
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.

The Bill of Rights

The attempts to ban and censor books, newspapers, magazines, any type of media, has been going on for centuries. The Catholic church was opposed to Guttenberg's printing press because they feared that if everyone learned how to read and get their hands on books easily, they would no longer have control over the serfs, peasants, laity, etc.

With the recent upswing of fundamentalism in many religions, the movement has multiplied a hundred-fold. The ALA has been at the forefront of keeping open the battle against censorship. This week is "Banned Books Week." From the ALA website on "Banned Books Week:"

Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

No one is declaring that everyone has to read things that they believe are contrary to their personal ethics, morals, or beliefs. If they want to protect their children, parents, etc. from reading certain materials, they need to police this themselves in some way. What the ALA, the Constitution and others are saying is that no one has the right to tell me what not to read. The censorship of any intellectual freedom or discourse is anathema to ensuring that freedom continues for all.

Here is the list of the "Ten Most Challenged" books of 2004. As you'll note, some of them have been around for many years. This is the first year that the Harry Potter books have not been on the list - nor is Tom Sawyer! Have you read any of them?

"The Chocolate War" for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence

"Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers, for racism, offensive language and violence

"Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" by Michael A. Bellesiles, for inaccuracy and political viewpoint

Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, for offensive language and modeling bad behavior

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, for homosexuality, sexual content and offensive language

"What My Mother Doesn't Know" by Sonya Sones, for sexual content and offensive language

"In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, for nudity and offensive language

"King & King" by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, for homosexuality

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, for racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and unsuited to age group

"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, for racism, offensive language and violence

“Don't join the book burners . . . .”Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States, 1953–1961

Nazi Book Burning

Banned books web_bookmark

25 September 2005

going up...

Space Elevator

Stairway to heaven www.telegraph.co.uk

This is has been around for awhile but is getting press all of a sudden. It is the stuff that pure science fiction is made of. Yet is closer to reality than is imagined.

i'm ready to go...

13 September 2005

be afraid.... be very, very afraid... part IV

cosmiciguana.com posts this with links:



"Amid increasing tension between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program, and growing concern about overstretched U.S. ground forces, the George W. Bush administration is moving steadily toward adopting the preemptive use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states as an integral part of its global military strategy..." [*]

God, this is horrible. We are becoming everything we hate including nuclear aggressors. And can you imagine history's judgement to a nuclear attack based on Iraq style phony intelligence?

iguana also reports that the Russians are pissed! I would be too! ...and am.

My father and uncles fought WWII under the promise that freedom and liberty would be for everyone in the world away from fascists and nazis and other despots. They went through the Cold War and the threat of nuclear attack. They thought that everything they fought for could be wiped out with the push of a button. They were relieved when the threat was lessened and the US and USSR, and consequently Russia, agreed to dismantle their nuclear weapons. Beginning with Reagan, continuing with GH Bush and Clinton, the US and Russia continued on this course.

Now George W has reversed what has taken years of building trust and working together and put the skids on the hope for any kind of peace in the world. From his fiasco in Iraq, to his blundering in Lousiana, to the debacle that Bolton is causing at the UN, to threatening Iran with pre-emptive nuclear strikes or UN sanctions at the least, he has done things that could move the Nuclear Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than its present 7 minutes. [The clock has been at 7 minutes since March 2002!]

The Right religious conservatives have been looking towards the Middle East for the anti-Christ. Maybe, they should be looking closer to home.

...i'm afraid.... i'm very, very afraid.... we all should be afraid...

06 September 2005

your village called...

After the previous post I couldn't pass this up as I continued reading other newsites and blogs.

The Jefferson Parish president, Aaron Broussard, told CBS news that government would have to be held accountable for what had happened.

"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy needs to stand trial before congress today," he said.

"Take whatever idiot they have at the top, give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."

Damage exposure will 'wake America up' , David Fickling, Mark Oliver and agencies in the September 6, 2005 Guardian Unlimited

the finish of "your village called..."

...it's idiot is missing!

too much going on...

...and I don't mean just with the world.

Today was the first day of school, so things were more than hectic for the last week - three days of in-service with the staff and then getting everything ready for the kids today. All went exceptionally well.

We instituted a new idea of "No Rules." The teachers bought into it and we began using it with the kids. Yeah, I know you have to have rules in a school, culture or society. We're taking a different approach - "Procedures." Instead of telling the students what they can't do - think back to your school: "No running in the hallway;" " Don't hit anybody;" "No chewing gum;" etc - now we are telling the kids what the procedures are: "The procedure in the hallway is to walk in a straight line with your hands at your side or folded;" "The procedure in the lunchroom is to stay at your table unless an adult gives you permission;" etc. This way no one can say, "Well, you didn't say I couldn't skip in the hallway." Sorry, the procedure in the hallway is we walk. The procedure in the lunchroom is we stay seated unless an adult tells us it's okay to get up.

If you think about it, as adults we follow procedures all the time. The number one example is driving a car. There are procedures for everything: how to stop the car and when; how to press on the gas peddle for the speed limit; how to park a car; how to indicate a turn; etc. Laws are procedures. It's that way with everything. So we're bringing it to the kids. We'll see how it works and I'll try to keep you posted on its success.

If there were no procedures, there would be anarchism. I can't say chaos, because chaos is predictable.

Now as to the rest of the world. With everything that IS going on - Katrina, New Orleans, Rhenquist, etc. - everyone else has been commenting and talking about it. So, I've felt no need to comment. UNTIL NOW.

Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why _ in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack....

"What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said. "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm."

Can anyone say, "Special Counsel?" or "Congressional Investigation?" or "Impeachment?" Why couldn't Osama then say, "I'm putting together a special Islamic court of Mullahs to determine if the things we are doing should be considered terrorism." [Why not?]

...just asking?