Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day—what do we celebrate?

By Otto
So being anti-war as I am, what is a good take for Memorial Day. Can this article be respectful of the dead without glamorizing imperialism?
Matthew Sterner-Neely, writing for Liberal America, said of this holiday:

"It is a noble and honorable thing to give one’s life in service to a cause greater than oneself. Most of the world, religious and secular, hold this value above all others, and we, as Americans, have a particularly special place in our hearts for those who have died in the cause of personal belief, whether it be a belief in country or in something else."

His article is mostly about the military and its fallen. So can we also include peace protesters who died over the years trying to defend peace. Take the Kent State incident, Monday, May 4, 1970. Four students; Jeffrey Glenn Miller; Allison B. Krause; William Knox Schroeder; and Sandra Lee Scheuer were shot dead. National Guardsmen had opened fire on a demonstration held by about 2,000 students.
Can we defend ALL those who have sacrificed their lives for the things they believe in? I hope we can. That is only fair. I don't agree with the wars we as a nation have been fighting, but I don't want to disrespect those who have died fighting for what they believe.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

This Memorial Day I have found the truth from the mainstream media

By Otto

I have a hard time getting people to realize the US is an empire and the process of taking over other countries and parts of the world have nothing to do with defending freedom or democracy. That is one of my goals in life—to bring this argument to the US mainstream public. And it is not an easy task.
And yet some times the truth works its way in to the mainstream press. One of the latest examples is  Stephen Kinzer's  "The world of threats to the US is an illusion," published by The Boston Globe.
While the slant and wording is different from what I usually write, it says the same basic thing that we are paranoid and view the aspirations of others as a threat to us.
For example:

"WHEN AMERICANS look out at the world, we see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we once relied on are collapsing in flames. Latin American leaders sound steadily more anti-Yankee. Terror groups capture territory and commit horrific atrocities. We fight Ebola with one hand while fending off Central American children with the other.
In fact, this world of threats is an illusion. The United States has no potent enemies. We are not only safe, but safer than any big power has been in all of modern history."

Is this true? Yes. All of it is true. I've never worded an article this way, but if I did it certainly follows the themes I have written about. My own writings usually use such phrases as "empire building" or the simple word "imperialism." I write of "sovereignty being crushed," "people's resources as being stolen" and "people being conquered."
But this article makes the point that the desperate people of the third world are not a serious threat to the residence of this country.

"Our other asset is the weakness of potential rivals. It will be generations before China is able to pose a serious challenge to the United States — and there is little evidence it wishes to do so. Russia is weak and in deep economic trouble — not always a friendly neighbor but no threat to the United States. Heart-rending violence in the Middle East has no serious implication for American security. As for domestic terrorism, the risk for Americans is modest: You have more chance of being struck by lightning on your birthday than of dying in a terror attack.
Promoting the image of a world full of enemies creates a “security psychosis” that misshapes our view of the world. It tempts us to interpret defensive steps taken by other countries as threatening. In extreme cases, it pushes us into wars aimed at preempting threats that do not actually exist."

And this is accurate. Consider that car bombs go off all the time in Iraq. The Boston bombing is the only one that has gone off and hurt people since 9/11. If terrorists where that dedicated to conducting terrorist attacks on US soil they would have done way more of that than has been actually happening. Another passage:

"Promoting the image of a world full of enemies creates a “security psychosis” that misshapes our view of the world. It tempts us to interpret defensive steps taken by other countries as threatening. In extreme cases, it pushes us into wars aimed at preempting threats that do not actually exist."

A good example of the above is Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea. They built a nuclear bomb to defend themselves from the George W. Bush Regime, back when he invaded one of the countries in the Axis of Evil. No one in the news media notices that North Korea feels threatened by the outside world and developed that bomb to defend themselves.
So in his conclusion Kinzer said:

"This impulse is not peculiarly American. Feeling threatened strengthens group solidarity. Some thinkers have gone so far as to suggest that since societies become more united and resolute in the face of enemies, those that have none should find some.
“It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love,” Freud wrote, “so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness.” Nietzsche believed the nation-state’s “profound appreciation of the value of having enemies” produced a “spiritualization of hostility.” A young country especially, he said, “needs enemies more than friends: in opposition alone does it feel itself necessary.”
When Americans see threats everywhere, we fall into this trap. Believing we are besieged is strangely comforting. To recognize how safe we are would require a change of national mindset that we seem reluctant to make."

So we see some truth in the sense that this is a nation where paranoia about national security is the national psych and norm today. While there is not a lot about the basics of imperialism we see a side of this country that relies way too much on militarism.
This is not the only article I have found. With this Memorial Day coming I should point out that there are many peace people and military critics who will not post anti-military articles today. Yet I have found one by REBECCA SANTANA, of Yahoo News that lets us know:

"Veterans of the Iraq War have been watching in frustration as Republican presidential contenders distance themselves from the decision their party enthusiastically supported to invade that country.
Some veterans say they long ago concluded their sacrifice was in vain, and are annoyed that a party that lobbied so hard for the war is now running from it. Others say they still believe their mission was vital, regardless of what the politicians say. And some find the gotcha question being posed to the politicians — Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded? — an insult in itself."

So even in the mainstream of politics there are those who seriously notice that these wars can just as easily be a human waist and lives were lost neadlessly. So if there is anything I am grateful for this Memorial Day it is that there are still a few journalist left that will write about the truth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kansas Supreme Court to rule on Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative

Wichita KS will be getting a state supreme court ruling on the Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative that was supported by voters in last April's election.
The Kansas Supreme Court will hear the case, between the state and the city of Wichita, in September.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has challenged the new ordinance, promising to stop it. He claims that a city ordinance can not legally over-ride a state law. He and other Kansas officials have not honored the democratic wishes of the people of Wichita and have done everything possible to stop the ordinance from ever being enacted.
There are several reasons some political figures, along with various individuals, are opposed to decriminalizing marijuana. Many religious leaders oppose it due to their fundamentalist ideology. There are religious leaders who believe that reformed marijuana smokers may join their churches after being forced into rehabilitation. There are also those who profit from the court mandated drug rehabilitation programs offenders are sent to.
Those who oppose it have been sending letters into The Wichita Eagle, Wichita's main local newspaper, sharing a lot of the same arguments. The latest is to remind the readers, over and over, of the case of
Seth Jackson, who left his 10-month-old foster child in a hot car, last July, while he was high on marijuana.
One of the letter writers, Peter Goico, used that antidote and insisted that this kind of thing happens all the time. But in reality such incidences are extremely rare with marijuana. Other letter writers have not mentioned any other specific cases such as this one in their letters.
The Supreme Court should be able to settle this issue once and for all. There is also the Kansas House Bill 2049 which goes further than the Wichita ordinance in lowering penalties and would be state-wide. It also allows for some medical use of marijuana.
The ballot initiative was put on the ballot after local activists from Kansas for Change coalition along with JENI (Jobs & Education-Not Incarceration) and the Peace and Social Justice Center worked for months to gather signatures. One of the main reasons for the pro-referendum groups is to stop the over population of the county's prison population.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Run, Kinky, run

The Texas "Jewboy" would make a fine Kansas governor.

From F5:

Believe it or not, it's time to start looking for a new candidate and preparing ourselves to win the next Kansas Governor's election. I have found the perfect candidate, Kinky Friedman of the Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. He ran for office several times in Texas and lost. What's wrong is he's running in the wrong state. Kansas needs and wants Kinky, not Texas.
I checked with the Secretary of State's office, and there are no qualification requirements for governor. Actually a 10 year old could run. Kinky wouldn't even have to change his Texas residency.
Kinky's first calling to serve was for Justice of the Peace, Kerrville, Texas as a Republican in 1986. He lost. The next time he ventured into politics was for the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election as a Democrat against the villainous Rick Perry. Friedman garnered 13% of the vote as an independent and out-fundraised the Democrats. One of his stated goals was the "dewussification" of Texas. He followed other celebrities like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jessie Ventura, former WWE pro-wrestler and Minnesota Governor. In 2010 and 2014, Kinky ran for Texas Agriculture Commissioner as a Democrat but was beaten in the primaries.
Friedman is somewhat Lincolnesque. Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections, crashed in business twice and suffered from depression. As we know, he was one of our greatest presidents. Kinky endorses medical marijuana. There are many reasons to support medicinal marijuana especially for cancer patients. Friedman said, "Guess what for chemo? It's the big one; chemo kills more people than cancer. More than surgery or radiation….A lot of people like me who don't smoke pot are realizing this." It could help chemotherapy patients eat, sleep, and squelch the worry about dying. He also mentioned medical marijuana helping children with autism and Alzheimer patients. Think of it; University of Kansas Medical Center could outpace Texas' M.D. Anderson Hospital with cancer patient care.

For the rest click here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Support Trust Women and South Wind Women’s Center

This is a notice to help Trust Women and South Wind Women’s Center. The organizations have stood up to the bullying of the far right and the religious right to keep abortion legal and available to women of the whole country.
We are glad to promote this event:

Friday, May 08, 2015

To Mike Pompeo—we call it imperialism, not liberty or freedom

by Otto
US Representative Mike Pompeo (R) is probably the most pro-imperialism representative I have ever lived under. He supports everything from NSA spying on US citizens to sending combat troops into Iraq and Syria.
 A few times a month I get a newsletter from Pompeo and about half of them are about his relationship with veterans. He is always bragging about the support he gives to vets. In the latest letter he brags about his support of an “appropriations bill[1] that provides increased benefits for veterans. I don’t oppose spending money on veterans because they have been doing all the dirty work in foreign affairs and they are the ones who lose limbs are lost and they suffer physical and mental damage defending the property and investments of our conservatives.

“I understand the dedication and sacrifice it takes to defend our freedom,” Pompeo said in his recent newsletter.   But does he really know what it is like to serve in times of war? Pompeo has attended the U.S. Military Academy and he has served sometime in the military. But, he has not actually been in a battle. It is easier to support the military from behind the front lines supporting appropriation bills and military spending, but the vets are the people who actually get down in the trenches and do all the fighting. That means they take all the risks and politicians such as Pompeo like to chum around with them, without having to go into battle and risk getting hurt.

Again in his newsletter:

“That is why it is a special privilege for me to spend time with Kansas veterans.  Last week I met members of Kansas Honor Flight No. 24 at the Wichita Eisenhower airport as they departed on their trip and again when they visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.  Kansas Honor Flight arranges these experiences and sends our veterans to Washington to visit their own war memorial.  These memorials exist to proclaim that the liberties we enjoy today were earned through the bravery and sacrifice of many patriotic American soldiers.  It is always such a blessing to meet these heroes.  And great fun.”

While this may be great fun for the representative, he is not the one making all the “sacrifice” and “bravery” for the so called “liberties we enjoy today.” And just what “liberties” are they sent to defend?
One of the biggest lies perpetuated by our political establishment today is that “our military is fighting for our freedoms.” They “defend us while we sleep at night.” “They defend the liberties that we take for granted” But this is all BULL SHIT!

The real prize there is oil. With the US in control of Iraq, it also controls the oil shipping through that part of the world. Major oil fields are under US control now. There are other resources and advantages in the middle-east as well. In Iraq there are minerals and natural gas.
People in America do not have the freedom to decide what kinds of chemicals we can put in our bodies; as we can be arrested for possessing small amounts of drugs. Outspoken people risk being the victims of smear campaigns by organizations or “think tanks” owned by wealthy persons such as the Koch brothers.
Then there are those god-like powers a country hungers for. They produce such actions as regime change and nation building. This is all a part of the process called imperialism. We strive to build a massive empire where the nations under our control are like our back yard. The land may have people living in it, but we feel as if that land is really ours. We treat the people as if they are our children, who need our wise guidance.
Imperialism is the real aim of our military today. We aren’t fighting any wars here at home, with the exception of a few acts of terrorism.
There have been some risks of terrorist actions, but they can be traced to our involvement in the middle-east. Despite all the warnings that ISIS wants to attack us here at home, only one such attack has taken place since 9/11. In reality the fight is in areas in and around Iraq and Syria not the US. ISIS took over parts of Iraq months ago with an ambitious plan to annex most of that country. The US has invested heavily in a puppet government set up to imitate the “democracy” of the US.
Pompeo is nothing more than a stooge for the US military industrial complex. We need to let him know we are not fooled by his adoration of the military. This is about imperialism and not about liberty or freedom.

[1] In total, the legislation provides $76.6 billion in discretionary funding – $4.6 billion above the fiscal year 2015 level. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over the fiscal year 2015 level for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – including increases for health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, medical and prosthetic research, and information technology. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Climate change will be affecting wine

I consider this a very bad situation. I like a good wine and I like a cool environment. I also believe that the human race may eventually die out if we don't act on this issue in the next few years. We do have some time, but the longer we wait the harder it will be to change back the environment destruction human kind is perpetuating on this planet. Let's not kid our selves. If we don't fix this we WILL start to die out in a few decades. The Koch Brothers and other naysayers  believe they can ignore the problem and it will either go way or we will all die off before it gets bad. WE have to deal with this disaster. So here is an important article about wine (which I really like) and saving the environment.

From F5:

A friend recently shared an article with me that discussed the effects of climate change on growing grapes and winemaking. It explained how a shift in climate and temperature is changing balance and flavor in the grape growing regions of California. Winegrowers think of climate on three levels: macroclimate, mesoclimate and microclimate, and each is important in determining the look, feel and flavor of a wine.
The macroclimate is the overall region, influenced by geographical location and setting, the growing season, temperature and rainfall patterns. The temperature controls when the vines come out of winter dormancy and begin the ripening process. As global temperatures increase, certain regions are struggling with drought that causes uneven grape yields.
The mesoclimate is the local vineyard and is responsible for controlling the delicate balance of acid and sugar, which forms the foundation of taste. There exists a particular point during ripening, when the sugar increases and the acid decreases, which creates a balanced grape ready for harvest. In warmer temperatures when grapes ripen more quickly than expected, the sugar content is too low and/or the acid is too high. This is not the recipe for tried-and-true or traditional wines.
Finally, the microclimate is the actual cluster of grapes within a canopy of leaves. This cluster must have the correct amount of sun exposure to produce the characteristic color of a wine. With a shortened ripening period the color is unable to fully compose. This is a lot of technical talk, but all important to the look, feel and taste of the wines we're drinking these days.

For the rest click here.