Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daniel Inouye: Portrait of a Hero and a Politician with Integrity


Daniel Inouye

Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye (1924- 2012) was a great deal more than just a U.S Senator from Hawaii. He was a World War II hero, a Medal of Honor recipient, member of the Democratic Party, served in the Hawaii territorial House of Representatives and Senate from (1954-1959), one of the Hawaii's first congressman when it achieved statehood (1959), the first Asian-American Senator, chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, the second longest serving Senator in U.S. history (next to Harry Byrd of West Virginia), and President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate (2010-2013).  Also, for three years he was third in the line of Presidential succession after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representative. But, perhaps his greatest achievement was at a time of a bitter and often bombastic political divide in America, he was calm, dignified and a voice of reason.

Inouye was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was a Nisei (second generation Japanese American).  During the Japanese 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, he served as a medical volunteer. Mainland Japanese-Americans were sent to concentration camp but those in Hawaii were not.  In 1943, when the U.S. Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese-Americans, Inouye stopped his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army. He volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was promoted to sergeant and later to second lieutenant.  On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Italy. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss. Later in the same battle, as he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German fired a rifle-grenade which struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm. He flung his final hand grenade at the enemy bucker and then he stumbled to his feet. He continued to move forward and silenced the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson rifle before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. The remainder of Inouye's mutilated right arm was amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia because he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him. The whole incident was fully explained in the John F. Kennedy 1957 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage.

Because of the loss of his arm, Inouye abandoned his plans to become a surgeon, and returned to college to study political science. He graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts. He then went on to earn a law degree from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.

In 1962, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was reelected eight times, usually without serious difficulty. His closest race was in 1992, when state senator Rick Reed held him to 57 percent of the vote, the only time he received less than 69 percent of the vote. And, there was never even the hint of scandal attached to his name.

He delivered the keynote address at the 1968 Democratic Convention and gained national attention for his service on the Senate Watergate Committee. He was chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence from 1975 until 1979 and chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs from 1987 until 1995 and from 2001 until 2003. Inouye was also involved in the Iran-Contra investigations of the 1980s, chairing a special committee from 1987 until 1989, a clandestine operation conducted from the White House basement by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North with the full knowledge of President Ronald Reagan, an illegal action which warranted his impeachment. During the hearings Inouye referred to the operations that had been revealed as a "secret government" saying: (There exists) a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.  Criticizing North's justifications that he was just following orders for his actions in the affair, Inouye made reference to the Nuremberg trials during which Nazis defended themselves by claiming they were just following orders.

Prior to his death, Inouye announced that he planned to run for a record tenth term in 2016, when he would have been 92 years old. But he also said, "I have told my staff and I have told my family that when the time comes, when you question my sanity or question my ability to do things physically or mentally, I don't want you to hesitate, do everything to get me out of here, because I want to make certain the people of Hawaii get the best representation possible."

Daniel Inouye died from respiratory complications. His last word which he penned before he died was "Aloha".

After he died, he lay in state at both the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday and the Hawaii state Capitol on Saturday. And, President Obama eulogized Inouye during a service at Washington's National Cathedral.
Daniel Inouye's memorial service at Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was attended by about 1,000 people including President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hawaii's congressional delegation and a number of other senators, cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries. "Daniel was the best senator among us all," Reid told those assembled, adding later: "Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Sen. Dan Inouye. He was fearless."
The cemetery, a beautiful site located in an extinct volcano, is the final resting place to thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team (of which Inouye was a part) are buried at the site. It will also be Inouye's final resting place. A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Inouye's coffin arrived at the cemetery. The service also featured a flyover by F-22 military jets and the playing of "Taps" by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. "He was a shining star of the greatest generation," fellow Hawaii Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka said at the service. "Dan Inouye is Hawaii, and Hawaii is Dan Inouye," Akaka said.
After his death, Daniel Inouye's wife, Irene Hirano Inouye, wrote. "The outpouring of aloha and support has been overwhelming and deeply appreciated by our family. Dan loved the people of Hawaii and this nation, and was privileged to serve in Congress since Hawaii became a state in 1959. He worked tirelessly to make life better for everyday people…. We miss him dearly." And so should we all.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Television's Big Money Freeloaders

A game show host is an occupation involving the hosting of game shows. Game shows usually range from a half hour to an hour long and involve prizes. Game shows are not the same as reality competitions which span through weeks. Most game show hosts started out as announcers on radio, on television or for commercials. They are talentless voices who make a great deal of money.
 If you're like millions of television viewers, you've always wanted to go on a show like The Price is Right, Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. And, you might think that the contestants on game shows make big money. They do. But it comparison to those who are game show hosts, they make a pittance.  In 2004, contestant Ken Jennings won $2.5 million after he won 75 straight Jeopardy games. Jenning's went on to win another $500,000 on Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader and today he holds the record for most money ever won on a game show, $3.773 million.
But, it is the game show host who makes the big money. Hosts of popular game shows are very highly compensated.  And, if the show reaches syndication then the hosts can really cash in.  Most game-show hosts are men. and stay on their respective shows a long time. as a result, they make a fortune just asking questions, giving answers and not doing much more. Look at these game-show hosts and their approximate net worth:
·        Drew Carey, net worth: $165 Million
·        Ryan Seacrest, net worth: $125 Million
·        Regis Philbin, net worth:  90 Million
·        Bob Barker, net worth: $70 Million
·       Alex Trebeck, net worth: $60 Million

·       Pat Sajak, net worth: $50 Million

·       Ben Stein, net worth: $20 Million

·       Bob Eubanks, net worth: $25 Million

·       Chuck Woolery, net worth: $15 Million

Are any of them really worth millions of dollars given what they do?

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Alex Trebeck
 George Alexander "Alex" Trebek (born:1940) is a Canadian and American television personality. He has been the host of the game show Jeopardy! for 29 years. His annual income is about  $10 Million a year. He is also a spokesman for Colonial Penn Insurance. Before that, he hosted other game shows, including The Wizard of Odds, High Rollers and Pitfall. A native of Canada, he only became a U.S. citizen in 1998. But, he never renounced his Canadian citizenship and is eligible to vote in both countries. He also meddled in U.S. politics before he was a citizen when he gave $3,000 former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. And, he was listed as a host for a February 2010 fundraiser in Malibu, hosted by the PAC Combat Veterans for Congress, supporting 18 Republican candidates..How would Canadians feel if  while making a film in Toronto, George Clooney sent money to support Canadian politicians?

In other words, Trebek lived in the U.S. and was "television migrant worker" for 36 years. How many Canadian television game show host are American? None. Why doesn't the political right-wing in the U.S. complain about that? Also, do you mean the producers of Jeopardy! could not find an American host?

Trebek's first hosting job was on a Canadian music program called  Music Hop in 1963. In 1973, he moved to the U.S. and worked for NBC as host of a new game show, The Wizard of Odds. Since then, he has been the host of 8 game shows both in the U.S. and Canada. Trebek also owned and managed a 700-acre (2.8 km2) ranch near Paso Robles, California where he bred and trained thoroughbred race horses. He has been awarded five Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  All for what? Simply for reading a few questions in front of a television camera!

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Pat Sajak
Pat Sajak (born: Patrick Leonard Sajdak, 1946) is a television game show host, former late-night talk-show host, and former weatherman. He is best known as the host of the American of the game show Wheel of Fortune on which he does practically nothing except be cheerful, introduce contestants and announce a few answers. He has been on Wheel of Fortune for 32 years and has an annual salary of $8 Million.

In 2005, Sajak became an investor in the Golden Baseball League, a professional, independent baseball league with teams in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Alberta, British Columbia (both in Canada), and Baja California  (Mexico). Sajak operates two Maryland-based  radio stations.
Sajak is an active supporter of right-wing political causes and has written a number of columns for the conservative magazine Human Events. He has donated substantial amount of money to Republican candidates and election committees. Sajak is also a regular poster and podcast participant on the conservative blog ricochet.com.
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Comment

Fifty percent of the American people live from paycheck to paycheck. Yet, television producers (who are also millionaires) are willing to pay a million dollars a year for a inconsequential part-time job just asking questions and making comments is obscene. These people contribute nothing to society. But worse than that, some of these societal leeches, among them Trebek, Sajak, Cary, Stein and Woolery, think that they are entitled to their enormous wealth and they contribute money a political party the stated aim of which it to lower taxes on the extremely rich because they are so-called "job creators"  (When a game-show host ever create a job?) and that is systematically destroying the middle class. It takes egotistical arrogance to a new height.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Vatican City State, Its Monarch and Its Abuse of Power in the Name of God

Pope Benedict's decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say. His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn't have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else, said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity. It is absolutely necessary that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a dignified existence in his remaining years.
Vatican sources said officials had three main considerations in deciding that Benedict should live in a convent in the Vatican after he resigns. Vatican police, who already know the pope and his habits, will be able to guarantee his privacy and security and not have to entrust it to a foreign police force, which would be necessary if he moved to another country. I see a big problem if he would go anywhere else. I'm thinking in terms of his personal security, his safety. We don't have a secret service that can devote huge resources (as they do) to ex-presidents, the official said.
Another consideration was that if the pope did move permanently to another country, living in seclusion in a monastery in his native Germany, for example, the location might become a place of pilgrimage. This could be complicated for the Church, particularly in the unlikely event that the next pope makes decisions that may displease conservatives, who could then go to Benedict's place of residence to pay tribute to him. That would be very problematic, another Vatican official said.
The final key consideration is the pope's potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandals. In 2010, for example, Benedict was named as a defendant in a law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades earlier. The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests. Benedict is currently not named specifically in any other case. The Vatican does not expect any more but is not ruling out the possibility. (If he lived anywhere else) then we might have those crazies who are filing lawsuits, or some magistrate might arrest him like other (former) heads of state have been for alleged acts while he was head of state, one source said. Another official said, While this was not the main consideration, it certainly is a corollary, a natural result.
There have been repeated calls for Benedict's arrest over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins asked authorities to arrest the pope to face questions over the Church's child abuse scandal. Dawkins and the late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope. Their efforts came to nothing because the pope was a head of state and so enjoyed diplomatic immunity. In 2011, victims of sexual abuse by the clergy asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the pope and three Vatican officials over sexual abuse. The New York-based rights group Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and another group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), filed a complaint with the ICC alleging that Vatican officials committed crimes against humanity because they tolerated and enabled sex crimes. The ICC has not taken up the case but has never said why.
The Vatican has consistently said that a pope cannot be held accountable for cases of abuse committed by others because priests are employees of individual dioceses around the world and not direct employees of the Vatican. It says the head of the church cannot be compared to the CEO of a company. Victims groups have said Benedict, particularly in his previous job at the head of the Vatican's doctrinal department, turned a blind eye to the overall policies of local Churches, which moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them and handing them over to authorities. The Vatican has denied this. The pope has apologized for abuse in the Church, has met with abuse victims on many of his trips, and ordered a major investigation into abuse in Ireland.
But groups representing some of the victims say the Pope will leave office with a stain on his legacy because he was in positions of power in the Vatican for more than three decades, first as a cardinal and then as pope, and should have done more. The scandals began years before the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 but the issue has overshadowed his papacy from the beginning, as more and more cases came to light in dioceses across the world.
As recently as last month, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was stripped by his successor of all public and administrative duties after thousands of pages of files detailing abuse in the 1980s were made public. Mahony, who was archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 until 2011, has apologized for "mistakes" he made as archbishop, saying he had not been equipped to deal with the problem of sexual misconduct involving children. The pope was not named in that case. In 2007, the Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement with more than 500 victims of child molestation, the biggest agreement of its kind in the United States. Benedict XVI allowed the disgraced Mahony to retain the title of Cardinal and will be one of those who will choose the next pope.
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After he resigns, Benedict will no longer be the sovereign monarch of the State of Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, but will retain Vatican citizenship and residency. That would continue to provide him immunity under the provisions of the Lateran Pacts which created the independent Vatican state while he is in the Vatican and even if Benedict ventured into Italy.
Vatican City (aka: Vatican City State, Stato della Città del Vaticano consists of a walled area totally surrounded by Italy. It has an area of approximately 110 acres and a population of about 800, mostly men. By both area and population, Vatican City the smallest independent state in the world. Vatican City was established as an independent state in 1929 by a treaty signed on behalf of Pope Pius XI and by the Fascist Italian Prime Minster, Benito Mussolini.  

Here are some facts about the Vatican City State and its head of state:
·       The Pope is one of the last surviving absolute monarchs in the world.
·       Vatican City State is only "country" in which the monarch is elected by representatives from foreign countries.
·       Only men appointed by previous heads of state can vote for the new head of state and they chose from among themselves.
·       The head of state of the Vatican is the only head of state that claims to speak for God and claims infallibility.
·       No other religious leader is also an absolute monarch.
·       The Vatican head of state demands tribute money from citizen of foreign countries to maintain his kingdom and subsidize his lavish life-style.
·       The Vatican head-of-state routinely meddles in the affairs of foreign countries.
·       The Vatican head-of state is the only one who is immune from the consequences of his criminal acts, his actions and his dictates.
·       The Vatican head-of state is a misogynist.
·       Vatican City State was the brain-child of a Fascist dictator.  The head-of-state has a history of supporting Fascism and Fascist dictators in Spain, Germany, Portugal, Central America, and South America. And, one of the Vatican heads-of-states was a former Nazi. With the exception of Kurt Waldheim in Austria, not other former Nazi has ever been elected a religious leader or head of state.
·       The Vatican heads-of state have been active in the cover-up of the pedophile priest scandals. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have  not only been active in the cover-ups and obstacles to investigations, they also rewarded some clergy who were also responsible for lack of action and cover-ups. For example, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. In 2002, after church documents were revealed which suggested he had covered up sexual abuse committed by priests in his archdiocese,  Pope John Paul II did not dismiss him. Instead, he transferred him to Rome and appointed Law as Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.
·       In spite of the fact that Jesus was a Jew and died as a Jew, some Vatican heads of state were anti-Semitic:
·       Pius XII knew about German extermination camps and never spoke out against them or condemned the extermination of the Jews. He also rejected any plan for the establishment of a State of Israel. Pope Paul VI started the process which leads to sainthood for Pius XII; John Paul II declared him a Servant of God, and Benedict XVI declared him worthy of veneration ("Venerable"). 
·       It was not until 1993, forty-five years after the establishment of the Jewish state, that the Vatican recognized the state of Israel.
·       In 2009, wishing to heal the rift with a group known as the Society of Pius X, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier. The action stirred outrage in Israel, in world Jewry and among some Christians. In response to the affair, Pope Benedict XVI stated that he deplored anti-Semitism, and Vatican officials stated that they had not been aware of Williamson's views prior to the lifting of the excommunication.
·       Benedict went even further when he lifted the ban on Good Friday prayers for the conversion of Jews, a ban instituted by his predecessor John Paul II. The prayers are widely seen as an insult to Jews.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Democrats, Republicans and Brain Function

New research finds that whether Americans vote Democratic or a Republican may actually reflect how their brains cope with risk. The study which was reported in LiveScience examined the brain activity of 35 men and 47 women registered as either Democrat or Republican. It found no difference in the amount of risk people of each political persuasion were willing to take on during a gambling game. But, the way the brain processed risk worked differently between the groups, with Republicans showing more activity in an area linked with reward, fear and risky decisions and Democrats showing more activity in a spot related to processing emotion and internal body cues.
The findings hint at basic differences between people with different values, said study researcher Darren Schreiber of the University of Exeter. The ability to accurately predict party politics using only brain activity while gambling suggests that investigating basic neural differences between voters may provide us with more powerful insights than the traditional tools of political science, Schreiber said in a statement.
The politics of risk
Recent investigations into the psychology of liberals and conservatives have found a number of subtle differences, from conservatives exhibiting more squeamishness to liberals paying less attention to negative stimuli or threats.
A 2011 study published in the journal Current Biology found differences in some brain structures between politically liberal and political conservative young adults. Many of these areas were linked to risk-assessment and decision-making, prompting Schreiber and his colleagues to wonder if they could find differences in how these areas function during risky tasks. The researchers had previously conducted a study in which people underwent brain scans while playing a gambling game. In each round, the participants saw three numbers, 20, 40 and 80, flash on a screen. If they hit a button while 20 was up, they were guaranteed 20 cents. If they waited for the 40 or 80, they might get a payout of either 40 or 80 cents, but they might also lose that amount of money. Thus, they were choosing between a safe bet and two higher-paying but riskier options.
Using voting records, the researchers found out political party affiliation for 35 of the men and 47 of the women in that study. Political parties aren't a perfect match with ideology, but they come very close, the researchers wrote Feb. 13 in  the journal, Plos One. Most Democrats hold liberal values, while most Republicans hold conservative values.
Political brains
Comparing the Democrat and Republican participants turned up differences in two brain regions: the right amygdala and the left posterior insula. Republicans showed more activity than Democrats in the right amygdala when making a risky decision. This brain region is important for processing fear, risk and reward. Meanwhile, Democrats showed more activity in the left posterior insula, a portion of the brain responsible for processing emotions, particularly visceral emotional cues from the body. The particular region of the insula that showed the heightened activity has also been linked with "theory of mind," or the ability to understand what others might be thinking. While their brain activity differed, the two groups' behaviors were identical, the study found. 
Schreiber and his colleagues can't say whether the functional brain differences nudge people toward a particular ideology or not. The brain changes based on how it is used, so it is possible that acting in a partisan way prompts the differences.
The functional differences did mesh well with political beliefs, however. The researchers were able to predict a person's political party by looking at their brain function 82.9 percent of the time. In comparison, knowing the structure of these regions predicts party correctly 71 percent of the time, and knowing someone's parents' political affiliation can tell you their political parties are 69.5 percent of the time, the researchers wrote.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hate in the Name of God

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.-Pascal

In the name of god you kill in the name of your god
In the name of god you conquered in the name of your god
In the name of god you hate in the name of your god
In the name of god you boast in the name of your god
- Ziggy Marley

The First Baptist Dallas church is an approximately 11,000-member church led by senior pastor Robert Jeffress, an evangelical Christian who has built up a reputation for himself in circles among the religious and political right. He also hosts the program, Pathway to Victory, which is broadcast on more than 1,200 television stations and dozens of radio outlets as well. While a pastor in Wichita Falls, Jeffress sought to have two children's books which dealt positively with homosexuality removed from the public library.

In October, 2011, Jeffress endorsed Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry for President and then went on to claim that Judaism, Mormonism and Islam were heretical religions from the pit of hell. And, according to The Christian Post, on the eve of the presidential election in November 2012, Jeffress warned his Dallas congregation that Barack Obama's re-election would lead to the rise of the Antichrist.  He said, I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.
He openly opposed Mitt Romney during the Republican presidential primaries in 2008 and 2012 because he claimed  that Romney's Mormonism contradicts the teaching of Jesus. Nevertheless, in April, 2012, Jeffress endorsed Romney for president because of the pastor's strong opposition to the re-election of President Barack Obama.

Jeffress has further questioned the commitment of other conservative clergy to the preservation of traditional societal morality. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly of the Fox News Channel after the election in 2012, the Dallas pastor questioned why many clergy falsely perceive Christ as this little, wimpy guy who walked around plucking daisies and eating birdseed and saying nice things, but never doing anything controversial. The fact is, Jesus did confront his culture with truth and he ended up being crucified because of it…. Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians and that is why we are losing this culture war. I believe it's time for pastors to say, You know, I don't care about controversy, I don't care whether I'm going to lose church members, I don't care about building a big church. I'm going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.

Jeffress also gained notoriety for his statements about the gay community. According to ThinkProgress, during the same speech where he endorsed Rick Perry in 2011, Jeffress told a crowd at the high-profile Values Voters Summit that gays should not be allowed in the military because  "70 percent of the gay population" has AIDS. He has also claimed that gay activists are trying to hide the link between homosexuality and pedophilia. Said Jeffress: There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that, and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well. (However, there is a great deal of research that says that the majority of pedophiles are heterosexuals and not homosexuals. )

New York Jets football quarterback Tim Tebow, whom The New York Times described as a preacher in a football player’s body, was slated to speak during the megachurch's Easter (2013)worship service according to the church's website. But, after he found out that the church was anti-catholic, anti-gay, etc., he announced that he would not appear at the mega-church. His generally polite type of evangelicalism stood in sharp contrast to the hate-filled and bigoted rhetoric of the church where he was scheduled to speak.
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In the past few years there have been many high-profile criminals who share more than just a penchant for racism and violence; they share a common religion.

Thom Robb, a Detroit-born son of a builder, attended a Colorado seminary under Kenneth Goff, a minister with anti-Semitic views. Robb then became a Baptist minister, opened up a print shop, and began publishing right-wing tracts and promoting White supremacist causes. In 1989 the Baptist minister became a Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Buford Furrow Jr. shot at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles on August 11, 1999, wounding five people. He later killed Joseph Ileto, a Filipino-American, before he was apprehended. Furrow was apparently distraught over his relationship with Debbie Mathews, the widow of Robert Mathews, who founded the neo-Nazi group The Order, an offshoot of Aryan Nations. He was an adherent of the Christianity Identity religion and had ties to hate groups such as The Order and the Phineas Priesthood. In a statement he said that he hoped what he had done would be taken as a wake up call to America to kill Jews.

Benjamin Smith, a former member of the World Church of the Creator, went on a rampage in July 1999, shooting at a Black former basketball coach, six Orthodox Jews, and an Asian-American couple in Chicago. Nine were wounded and two died before Smith killed himself. The  founder,  Reverend Matt Hale, said in a work titled The Value of HatredUntil this century, Christianity has indulged in hatred as a matter of policy. Now, Christianity is being slowly divested of hatred, and the result is that Christianity in any meaningful form is being turned away from by a higher percentage of people than any time in history. It is a dying religion, for too much mush and no fire is unattractive to strong men and women alike, who yearn not only for a friend but also for an enemy.

Two brothers, Benjamin and James Williams, were charged with killing a gay couple July 1, 1999, in Happy Valley, a rural northern California community. Benjamin Williams told the Sacramento Bee that he killed the men because their homosexuality violated God's laws, and hoped his actions would incite more killings. I'm not guilty of murder, he said. I'm guilty of obeying the laws of the Creator. Investigators also found hate literature and evidence linking the brothers to fire bombings at three Sacramento area synagogues.

In early 1999 the Reverend Jerry Falwell told an audience in Kingsport, Tennessee, that the Antichrist was probably already alive and living among us, and that furthermore, Of course, he'll be Jewish. The idea that the Antichrist would be a Jew circulated widely during the Middle Ages, and was repeated in the classic anti-Semitic propaganda book Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That a century-old, discredited anti-Jewish hoax book would perpetuate the Antichrist myth is one thing; that the leader of the inaccurately named Moral Majority, an influential religious group, would say that in 1999 America is quite another.

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The Jews are about 1% of the U.S. population. Gays and lesbians are about 1.5% of the population. As in the past, minorities are always the targets of hate groups.
People conveniently forget that African-Americans were the targets of religion based hate not so very long ago. It was based on the end of the Biblical story of Noah where it says, Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers."  He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.  May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave. Ham's descents were thought to be the black Africans. Japheth's descents were thought to be the white Europeans. And, Shem's descents were thought to be the Semitic people of the Middle East- the "Shemites" or "Semites".
Ironically, the majority of African-Americans have joined Fundamentalist Churches like the Baptists, the very churches which condoned slavery because they maintained that God sanctioned in the story of Ham. So, once again, if given a chance, the oppressed becomes the oppressor.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Truly Great President

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) was the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953). His middle initial, "S", stood for nothing.  Truman succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when Roosevelt died. Under Truman, the U.S. successfully concluded  World War II, advocated national health insurance, strongly supported the creation of the United Nations, created the Marshall Plan which aimed to help rebuild postwar Europe, approved the Berlin airlift, recognized the State of Israel eleven minutes after it declared nationhood, signed an executive order ending segregation in the military, strongly supported NATO, and started the Korean War after  communist North Korea invaded South Korea.

But, Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many important decisions as any of the other 42 Presidents preceded him or any of those who followed him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension (he served in World War I) reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance'  and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. (Currently, the Presidential pension is not a fixed amount. It matches the current salary of Cabinet members (or Executive Level I personnel), which is about $200,000 a year. In addition, former Presidents get six-figure speaker's fees, full medical coverage and  receive Secret Service protection for 10 years after they leave office.)

He was snubbed by in-coming President Dwight D. Eisenhower. After Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove themselves out of the White House and took a train to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.

On May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.

As President he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food. (Current Presidents do not.)

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while  enjoying the fruits of their office.

Harry Truman was correct when he observed, My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Error in the Lincoln Film

Congressman Finds Big Error in Lincoln Film

As U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut (Democrat) watched the Oscar-nominated Lincoln, something didn't seem right to him. He said Tuesday he was shocked that the film, about President Abraham Lincoln's political struggle to abolish slavery included a scene in which two Connecticut congressmen vote against the 13th amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery. Wow. Connecticut voted against abolishing slavery?, Courtney recalled hearing audience members ask. I obviously had the same reaction. It was really bugging me, he said. But, a cursory Internet search confirmed his suspicions that the movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, was historically inaccurate. He asked the Congressional Research Service to investigate, and it reported that all four Connecticut congressmen backed the amendment in a January 1865 vote. A spokesman for Dreamworks Pictures, which produced Lincoln, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday. Courtney praised the film's acting and cinematography but said artistic license does not permit it to inaccurately put Connecticut on the wrong side of history, particularly on an issue as powerful as slavery. In a letter to Spielberg, the four-term congressman includes a tally of the 1865 vote by the state's congressional delegation and a passionate defense of the state's role in emancipating millions of blacks. How could congressmen from Connecticut , a state that supported President Lincoln and lost thousands of her sons fighting against slavery on the Union side of the Civil War, have been on the wrong side of history?,  he said in his letter. Courtney, who majored in history at Tufts University, asked that the movie, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln, be corrected before its release on DVD.

In response, screen-writer, Tony Kushner wrote in The New York Times, We changed two of the delegation’s votes, and we made up new names for the men casting those votes, so as not to ascribe any actions to actual persons who didn’t perform them. In the movie, the voting is also organized by state, which is not the practice in the House. These alterations were made to clarify to the audience the historical reality that the 13th Amendment passed by a very narrow margin that wasn’t determined until the end of the vote. The closeness of that vote and the means by which it came about was the story we wanted to tell. In making changes to the voting sequence, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is…. I’m sorry if anyone in Connecticut felt insulted by these 15 seconds of the movie, although issuing a Congressional press release startlingly headlined 'Before The Oscars' seems a rather flamboyant way to make that known. I’m deeply heartened that the vast majority of moviegoers seem to have understood that this is a dramatic film and not an attack on their home state.

Comment

As a resident of the State of Connecticut,  I find Mr. Kushner remarks inaccurate, self-serving, condescending and arrogant. He says, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is. Really, Mr. Kushner? You are creating an historical drama. Yet, you claim that you have the right to be inaccurate. No, Mr. Kushner, you do not have the right to be blatantly inaccurate and yet call it "history".  And by minimizing the error by claiming it is only 15 seconds of distorted reality and therefore acceptable begs the issue. How many people will be left with the false belief that a northern anti-slavery sate had representative who voted for the continuation of slavery? And, what other inaccuracies masquerading as truth are in  the film, Lincoln? Finally, Congressman Courtney was not grand-standing with his comment. As a college history major and enthusiast, he pointed out an inaccuracy which left an impression on him and others in the Connecticut audience. And rather than admit to the deliberate error,  you chose to worry about the effect that Courtney's comment might have on your winning an Oscar - which you will certainly win because Hollywood and screenwriters have never been concerned with whom they offend or the consequences of lies in a film.  The only thing about which your industry is concerned is making money. If that was not true, the film industry would not be in the forefront of perpetuating the culture of violence, a contributing factor to incidences like that in Newtown, Connecticut. But, the anything-to-make-a-buck Hollywood attitude does not take responsibility for that either.

News You May Have Missed, No. 46

Super Bowl Prostitutes

When it came time for the Super Bowl, Clemmie Greenlee was expected to sex with anywhere from 25 to 50 men a day. It’s a staggering figure, but it doesn’t shock advocates who say that the sporting event attracts more traffickers than any other in the U.S. The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told the newspaper USA Today in 2011 when his state was gearing up to host the event. It's commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States, he added. The influx of fans fosters the optimal breeding ground for pimps looking to boost their profits. Experts say that the sheer number of men looking to pay for sex substantially increases demand and the massive crowds allow for pimps and victims to essentially go unnoticed. It's not so much that you become a victim at the Super Bowl, but that many victims are brought in to be used for all the men at the Super Bowl, Stephanie Kilper, a representative for Operation Freedom Taskforce in Akron, Ohio, (an organization which aims to end to human trafficking) told newsnet5.com. According to Forbes magazine, 10,000 prostitutes were brought to  Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010 and 133 underage arrests for prostitution were made in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl. Greenlee, a former sex trafficking  victim who was abducted and raped by her captors at 12, told the Times-Picayune newspaper that she was shuttled around cities in the South to work as a prostitute at large-scale events. The 53-year-old, who now works as an advocate for sex trafficking victims in Louisiana, said there was immense pressure to meet her traffickers’ demands at events like the Super Bowl. If you don't make that number (of sex customers), you're going to dearly, dearly, severely pay for it, Greenlee said. She added that there were beatings, rapes and torture. And she said that the worst torture was when they made you watch the other girl get tortured because of your mistake.

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Ghosts

Did your mother and father may have told you that there are no such things as ghosts? Nevertheless,  nearly half of the people living in the U.S.  thinks otherwise. A HuffPost/YouGov poll shows that 45 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, or that the spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations. Of the 1,000 adults interviewed, the poll revealed 45 percent believe in ghosts, or that the spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations. When asked if they believe there's a life after death, 64 percent responded yes. While 59 percent of adults don't believe they've ever actually seen a ghost, 43 percent also don't think that ghosts or spirits can harm or interact with living people. The idea of ghosts as hopeful evidence of life after death goes all the way back to ancient Egypt, where it was commonly believed that death was merely a transition to some mysterious netherworld of another existence.

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King Richard III's Skeleton Found

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III. Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family. Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause, Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard. Richard, killed in battle in 1485, will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. Buckley said the bones had been subjected to rigorous academic study and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540. Dr. Jo Appleby, an osteo-archaeologist from the university's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, revealed the bones were of a man in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died. His skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal. One was a "slice" removing a flap of bone, the other caused by bladed weapon which went through and hit the opposite side of the skull, a depth of more than 10cms (4ins). Dr. Appleby said, Both of these injuries would have caused an almost instant loss of consciousness and death would have followed quickly afterwards.

Richard was born at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. His coronation took place in Westminster Abbey. He had one of the shortest reigns in English history, only 26 months. He was the last English king to die in battle and was killed by the forces of the future king and usurper, Henry VII. He was portrayed as deformed by revisionist Tudor historians and indeed the skeleton's spine is badly curved, a condition known as scoliosis. However, there was no trace of a withered arm or other abnormalities seen in the more extreme characterizations of the king. Dr. Appleby said, The analysis of the skeleton proved that it was an adult male but was an unusually slender, almost feminine, build for a man.

Richard was a royal prince until the death of his brother Edward IV in 1483. Appointed as protector of his nephew, Edward V, Richard instead assumed the reins of power. Edward and his brother Richard, known as the Princes in the Tower, disappeared soon after. Rumors circulated they had been murdered on the orders of their uncle but there is no evidence that this ever happened. Challenged by Henry Tudor, Richard was killed at Bosworth in 1485. He was given a hurried burial beneath the Church of Greyfriars in the centre of Leicester. The church was torn down during the Reformation.
Details of the reburial ceremony have yet to be released, but Philippa Langley from the Richard III Society said plans for a tomb were well advanced. Concerning the finding of the king's remains, she said, I'm totally thrilled, I'm overwhelmed to be honest, it's been a long hard journey. I mean today as we stand it's been nearly four years. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work. I think as someone said to me earlier it's just the end of the beginning. We're going to completely reassess Richard III, we're going to completely look at all the sources again and hopefully there's going to be a new beginning for Richard as well.

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Alien Life on Other Planets

The discovery of alien life or Earth-like planets and the implications to the world was a crucial item on the agenda at the annual World Economic Forum, or WEF, in Davos, Switzerland. World business leaders and prominent politicians gathered to discuss issues or risks that the world may have to confront in the next decade. In conjunction with the international science journal, Nature, the WEF came up with five "X Factor" items which it refers to as unheralded dangers that sneak up on us. One of those risk issues that Earth and its inhabitants may soon face is "the possible social consequences of contact with alien life," according to Nature. The WEF Global Risks report for 2013 states that, Given the pace of space exploration, it is increasingly conceivable that we may discover the existence of alien life or other planets that could support human life. ... In 10 years' time, we may have evidence not only that Earth is not unique, but also that life exists elsewhere in the universe. A primary reason why astronomers and astro-biologists are leaning in this direction is because of the tremendous success of NASA's Kepler spacecraft. It was only in 1995 that we first found evidence that other stars also have planets orbiting them. Now, thousands of 'exoplanets' revolving around distant stars have been detected. NASA's Kepler mission to identify Earth-sized planets...has been operating for only three years and has already turned up thousands of candidates, including one the size of Earth, according to the WEF report. The risk factor of all of this comes with the long-term psychological and philosophical implications that will accompany the discovery of alien life. It will suggest that life is as natural and as ubiquitous a part of the universe as the stars and galaxies, the report continued. The discovery of even simple life would fuel speculation about the existence of other intelligent beings and challenge many assumptions that underpin human philosophy and religion.
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Giant Sinkhole Swallows Buildings
In China, onlookers watched in shock as a massive  sinkhole swallowed up a building complex. The group of buildings was part of a complex built near the construction site of a new underground train station in Guangzhou, the Telegraph reports. A total of four buildings fell into a hole that measured 30 feet across according to Discovery News. About 300 nearby residents were evacuated and streets in the area were closed. However, no one was hurt. These occurrences are generally caused when circulating ground water dissolves rock below the ground. As the sediment dissolves, caves and air pockets develop underneath the land surface. If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces, then the ground collapses and results in a sinkhole. Heavy rainfall, or poor drainage in urban areas can exacerbate the problem. Usually you get a collapse because something occurred that transported the material, creating the void that the sinkhole falls into, geologist David Weary said. If there’s a cave underground filled with soil and sediment and you get an episode of high rainfall or a change in groundwater flow, the dirt that filled the void will be hollowed. Once it hollows out close to the ground surface, it becomes thin enough that it can’t support what is on top of it and it falls in. Weary added that while still relatively rare, sinkholes seemed to be occurring with more and more frequency in urban areas due to drainage issues.
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Increased Acceptance of Gay Teenagers
It really does get better for gay and bisexual teens when it comes to being bullied, although young gay men have it worse than their lesbian peers, according to the first long-term scientific evidence on how the problem changes over time. The seven-year study involved more than 4,000 teens in England who were questioned yearly through 2010, until they were 19 and 20 years old. At the start, just over half of the 187 gay, lesbian and bisexual teens said they had been bullied; by 2010 that dropped to 9 percent of gay and bisexual boys and 6 percent of lesbian and bisexual girls. The researchers said the same results likely would be found in the United States. In both countries, a change in cultural acceptance of gays and growing intolerance for bullying occurred during the study years, which partly explains the results, said study co-author Ian Rivers, a psychologist and professor of human development at Brunel University in London. That includes a government mandate in England that schools work to prevent bullying, and changes in the United States permitting same-sex marriage in several states. Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, said the results mirror surveys by her anti-bullying advocacy group that show bullying is more common in U.S. middle schools than in high schools. But, the researchers said their results show the situation is more nuanced for young gay men. In the first years of the study, gay boys and girls were almost twice as likely to be bullied as their straight peers. By the last year, bullying dropped overall and was at about the same level for lesbians and straight girls. But the difference between men got worse by ages 19 and 20, with gay young men almost four times more likely than their straight peers to be bullied. The mixed results for young gay men may reflect the fact that masculine tendencies in girls and women are more culturally acceptable than femininity in boys and men. The study appears online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
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Neanderthal Man
Theories about when the last Neanderthals walked the Earth may have to be revised, according to a study that suggests they became extinct in their last refuge in Spain much earlier than previously thought. Previous dating of bone fossils found at Neanderthal sites in the region put the youngest at about 35,000 years. But, researchers from Australia and Europe re-examined the bones using an improved method to filter out contamination and concluded that the remains are about 50,000 years old. If true, the study, casts doubt on the idea that modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed – and possibly even interbred – for millennia, because humans aren't believed to have settled in the region until 42,000 years ago. The results of our study suggest that there are major problems with the dating of the last Neanderthals in modern-day Spain, said Thomas Higham, deputy director of the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford University in England. It is unlikely that Neanderthals survived any later in this area than they did elsewhere in mainland Europe. The study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doesn't completely exclude the possibility that Neanderthals survived until 35,000 years ago. The problem is that the warm climate on the Iberian peninsula quickly degrades a key protein used in so-called radiocarbon dating. The researchers were only able to test bones from two of the 11 known Neanderthal sites in Spain. They were subjected to a new method called "ultrafiltration." This removes more recent carbon molecules that have contaminated the bones and made them appear younger than they actually are. Such techniques often lead to older radiocarbon dates. If the remains from the other sites turn out to be older, any encounter between Neanderthals and humans would have to have taken place earlier than previously thought.