Monday, October 11, 2021

New Texas abortion law tries to turn citizens into snitches, busybodies, crybabies and vigilantes

 

By Steve Otto

It is bad enough that Texas politicians, of the Republican Party, tried to completely ban abortion. Along with the ban they are trying to complicate things by turning citizens into law suit happy toy cops, vigilantes or busy bodies.

Abortion clinics across the country already have to deal with trouble makers who put glue or tooth pics in their locks in attempts to keep the clinic doors from opening. They have made use of all kinds of nasty tricks against clinics including the murder of Dr. George Tiller on May 31, 2009.

This new law was discussed in Catholics for Choice:

“Catholics for Choice, which uplifts and amplifies the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom, condemned Texas’s dangerous and unconstitutional new abortion ban and the United States Supreme Court for allowing it to take effect today despite ongoing legal challenges.

The law bans abortion after six weeks, in direct violation of Roe v. Wade, and allows private citizens to file suit in state court against anyone who helps a Texan terminate a pregnancy – from doctors and medical staff to the spouse or clergy member the pregnant person may have discussed their decision with, the family member who may have helped pay for the abortion, or the friend who might have given them a ride to the clinic. If that random private citizen wins, the law awards them a minimum of $10,000 plus attorneys’ fees. And, if the target of their lawsuit is an abortion provider, the law orders the court to shut down that clinic.”

I don’t understand why these conservatives want to change their citizens into busy bodies, crybabies and snitches. Most of the people I know hate snitches. And many of us hate vigilantes or as we call them “Toy Cops” or “cop wannabes.” There used to be a character in the old sitcom Bewitched called Mrs. Gladys Kravitz. She was always spying on the Steven’s family. She was an annoying character and that is what future citizens of America will look like if these Texas politicians get their way.

Suing a driver for taking a woman to get an abortion is one of the most ridiculous and cruel ideas I have ever heard of. For the simple act of driving a woman in a car to a clinic

It’s amazingly cruel. It is almost like something out of a bad movie plot or something we might expect from Nazis. It is hard to believe anyone would seriously want this.

It also sounds like it violates our constitutional rights in so many ways I could write a book about it. It’s just plain childish.

Do we really want a nation of crybabies and snitches running around trying to play “toy cop?” To take advantage of such a law a person would have to be a real “low life” character that most of us, left OR right, would despise.


Pix from Snitches From Both Sides Respond to FBI Snitching Form.


Thursday, October 07, 2021

Homelessness in Wichita—as long as we don’t see it, that is OK!

 By Steve Otto 

   I consider homelessness to be a major biproduct of our capitalist system. If there are two things that condemn this system it is the miserable health care, where many people are denied life needing care and homelessness, which rose to a new high here in Kansas due to the “war on welfare” that Republicans and conservatives have fought for the last 30 years. The homeless populations is evidence that they have succeeded in their goals of destroying any kinds of aid to poor people in this state.

At one time both poor men and women could get on welfare. I was on the system myself, back in my 20s in the 1970s. Today only women with children can get cash aid and the rules are so cumbersome that very few poor women can qualify for such aid.

With these constant attacks on public assistance more and more people end up living in the streets. And the problem just gets worse, year after year. The funny thing is that this is the results of what a lot of people want. From KSN News:

“The after-shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has some in Wichita preparing for an increase in homelessness.

Humankind Ministries said this year the number of people staying at their shelters is lower than expected. They believe this is because apartments are not allowed to evict people who aren’t paying their rent, but come May, they said that will change.

“I do believe we haven’t felt the full effect of the pandemic and the impact it will have for those in poverty,” said Christen Sampamurtgy, the director of program and compliance with Humankind Ministries.

The trickle down of the COVID-19 Pandemic has many community organizations concerned.” 

But in reality they are not that concerned and they never were. The housing owners get everything they want in Kansas and that leaves a lot of people out who simply can’t pay the absorbent prices for homes or apartments. The prices go up and up, but not the minimum wage. That has been frozen for the last 10 years. This year congress buckled under to corporate concerns and no one gets a raise. But a lot of poor people get the boot and join the homeless. The last time this country raised the minimum wage:

“The federal minimum wage was last raised on July 24, 2009, when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour, the last step of a three-step increase approved by Congress in 2007. Before 2007, the minimum wage had been stuck at $5.15 per hour for 10 years.

It would seem that the hardest part of all of this is that people who have fallen through the cracks, who have worked but haven’t earned enough to be able to afford a place to live—NO! The problem is that people have to see the losers in our society and they have to put up with all the fall out that comes with people who try to live and sleep on the streets. According to CBS:

“Hundreds and hundreds of people are living homeless and out on the streets in Wichita.

Camping out and blocking public sidewalks is simply not allowed.

City workers have painted white lines in front of the Open Door shelter on Topeka Street earlier this week. Wichita's police say it's in an effort to clean up homeless camps that have been causing problems.

"If you come over here you can see the white lines. That's out of limits.. That's out of limits," homeless resident Raul Talavera said.“

 

There are problems with the homeless, but the attitude seems to be “what we need is out of site out of mind.” There are problems with garbage, people pissing in the street. But the problem of people without homes is not really looked at that closely. Yes those at such outfits as Wichita PD's Homeless Outreach Team mostly seem to focus on keeping the homeless legal and mostly out of site. Few really want to focus on this country's disposing of people who have missed the US gravy train. We really don’t care about those who the system has failed and failed miserably. There is almost a “blame the victim mentality” against homeless people. They did something wrong and they don’t have homes….or…they chose to be homeless.

Even a lot of the liberals in our political system are at fault for just brushing homeless people under the rug. They are not important. They may not vote. No one cares about them and here in Wichita, the majority don’t want to hear about them or see them.

So our city council works hard to make that a reality. People don’t want to see our failures and our local government tries to make that a reality.

I am disgusted to live in such a town, state, country. We can do better and we should. Even liberals who try to ignore this need should be removed from our government. They may pretend they are progressive, but if they persist in covering up this huge disgrace, they need to go.

Homeless people in Wichita don’t count!!!



Sunday, October 03, 2021

Woodpecker extinct—why doesn’t anyone care?

By Steve Otto

The latest extinct animal is the Ivory-billed woodpecker. It has been declared extinct. Over my lifetime a lot of animals have been declared extinct. For example, the largest predator marsupial of all times, the Tasmanian Wolf, was declared extinct in the 1980s. That animal’s extinction affected me quite a bit. It was an impressive animal and I saw pictures and film of it in a zoo and it was a very impressive animal. But as with regular wolves, it endangered farm animals and ranchers in Australia killed them off.


There are a lot of animals that people treat as a nuisance. That includes coyotes, rattle snakes, mountain lions and lots of other animals that seem to get in the way to farmers and ranchers. A lot of animals seem to just annoy the average person. I remember the efforts to save the darter fish, small but colorful fish that sit on the bottom of streams and dart around. But they were too small to eat.

When Time magazine complained that a rare mussel would become extinct if they damned up a certain river some idiot wrote a letter suggesting we damn the river, kill off the muscles and the whole idea of saving rare species was getting “boring.” To that idiot, lunk head, saving a species was just too boring for him.

In my lifetime I have witnessed the neglect of human caring for various near extinct species. And once they are gone, they are gone forever. Most people just don’t give a damn. When these animals disappear, it is forever. But the needs of moneyed interests—dollars and economics are way more important to many people, especially Republicans.

So once again I complain that this extinction could have probably been avoided. Habitat loss is unavoidable in a country that is devoted to a growth economy. Some day we need to change that and if we don’t humans will be on the extinction list. But as with climate change and global warming, people will put off any kind of change until they just can’t ignore it anymore. The attitude of “let’s just leave it to the next generation, after all, we will be dead by the time this is a problem.” As for global warming—it is a problem now and it can’t be ignored. Those who have lost their homes can’t ignore these changes.  

The extinction of this woodpecker should sound out a warning. Many will ignore it, but we need to sound it out any way.


Pix by Florida Museum - University of Florida

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Defending Palestinians is not anti-Semitic

By Steve Otto

Many of our congress people, including many Democrats, have dismissed Rashida Tlaib for being a Palestinian and for supporting her people’s rights. For that, some in congress have labeled her as ‘anti-Semitic.” So defending the rights of a people who have clearly been treated as non-human are now considered “anti-Semitic.” Tlaib has said things that many of us political activist have been saying for years. And she has been taking the flack for it.

For some of us, the idea of a “Jewish state” is just as intolerable as an “Islamic state.” Many of the politicians who believe in a Jewish state oppose those countries that have intentionally labeled themselves as “Islamic states,” such as Iran. So what’s the difference? Why is it not OK to have an Islamic state as in Iran, yet it is OK to have a Jewish state in Israel.

The US may officially see Israel as an ally, but for many of us, it is both an example of apartheid and it is a religious state and many of us oppose any religious state, and it doesn’t matter which religion it represents. According to C-SPAN: 

“In a fiery speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) slammed Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over the latter’s opposition to U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

 The Iron Dome has been crucial in saving countless Israeli lives from rockets fired by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah from Gaza and Lebanon into Israel.

“I cannot, I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representative and label the Jewish democratic State of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it,” said Deutch passionately. “Today, this caucus, this body, the House of Representatives will overwhelmingly stand with our ally the State of Israel in replenishing this defensive system.”

He continued, “If you believe in human rights, if you believe in saving lives, Israeli lives and Palestinian lives, I say to my colleague who just besmirched our ally, then you will support this legislation.”

These are very harsh words for a member of congress. But she actually is a Palestinian and she has every right to defend her people just as any one who is Jewish has the same right. So no one should hold it against her for defending her people or her heritage. That is her right and it needs to be respected!




Pix by Palestinian rights.

European Imperialism is alive more now than ever

 

By Steve Otto

Today we see examples of raw imperialism as the leaders of France and other European countries complain that US President Joe Biden has not kept up the expectations of a great imperialist power. For example from AP:

“President Joe Biden’s decision to form a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and Britain has angered France and the European Union with a go-it-alone move they see as a return to the Trump era.
The security initiative, unveiled this week, appears to have brought Biden’s summer of love with Europe to an abrupt end. AUKUS, which notably excludes France and the European Union, is just the latest in a series of steps, from Afghanistan to east Asia, that have taken Europe aback. After promising European leaders that “America is back” and that multilateral diplomacy would guide U.S. foreign policy, Biden has alienated numerous allies with a go-it-alone approach on key issues. France’s foreign minister expressed “total incomprehension” at the recent move, which he called a “stab in the back,” and the EU’s foreign policy chief complained that Europe had not been consulted.”

President Joe Biden has had some real crap and trouble from a number of sources, both here and abroad. I rarely defend a US president to this extent but he seems to be bold  enough to do some things that need be done. He is getting a lot of flack for it, that doesn’t he isn’t doing the right thing.

First there is the ending of the Afghanistan war. Imagine if the US had a president with the balls to end the Vietnam war years before the US finally pulled out. Imagine the lives saved. That alone would have made a good policy. George McGovern ran on the promise to end the Vietnam War and he never had a chance. US chauvinism was alive and well and all the red necks in the US went out in droves to elect the nearly fascist Richard Nixon. Many politicians ran on the promise of ending the Afghanistan War. Biden actually kept that promise. Now he gest flack for it. From US News:

 

“President Joe Biden’s decision to form a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Australia and Britain has angered France and the European Union with a go-it-alone move they see as a return to the Trump era.
The security initiative, unveiled this week, appears to have brought Biden’s summer of love with Europe to an abrupt end. AUKUS, which notably excludes France and the European Union, is just the latest in a series of steps, from Afghanistan to east Asia, that have taken Europe aback.”



They may not like this, but when Trump pissed these people off, his followers stuck to him like glue. He could do no wrong. Biden’s followers have been way more fickle.

The reality of Europe is that in recent years they have fallen back on their glory days of straight out imperialism. Not since the last part of the late 19 century and the early 20th century have European nations enjoyed the kind of imperialism and arrogance they have had in the past.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Methane in the Plumes of Saturn's Moon Enceladus: Possible Signs of Life

Science time:

Even though this site is mostly for political science, at times I feel the need to observe scientific events. This article looks at the possibility that we may not be alone in the universe. Any life from this moon  will not be intelligent and probably very primitive. But it would show that we are not alone in the Universe.

-Steve Otto


From News Univercity of  Arizona:

An unknown methane-producing process is likely at work in the hidden ocean beneath the icy shell of Saturn's moon Enceladus, suggests a new study published in Nature Astronomy by scientists at the University of Arizona and Paris Sciences & Lettres University.

Giant water plumes erupting from Enceladus have long fascinated scientists and the public alike, inspiring research and speculation about the vast ocean that is believed to be sandwiched between the moon's rocky core and its icy shell. Flying through the plumes and sampling their chemical makeup, the Cassini spacecraft detected a relatively high concentration of certain molecules associated with hydrothermal vents on the bottom of Earth's oceans, specifically dihydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. The amount of methane found in the plumes was particularly unexpected.

"We wanted to know: Could Earthlike microbes that 'eat' the dihydrogen and produce methane explain the surprisingly large amount of methane detected by Cassini?" said Régis Ferrière, an associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and one of the study's two lead authors. "Searching for such microbes, known as methanogens, at Enceladus' seafloor would require extremely challenging deep-dive missions that are not in sight for several decades."

Ferrière and his team took a different, easier route: They constructed mathematical models to calculate the probability that different processes, including biological methanogenesis, might explain the Cassini data.

The authors applied new mathematical models that combine geochemistry and microbial ecology to analyze Cassini plume data and model the possible processes that would best explain the observations. They conclude that Cassini's data are consistent either with microbial hydrothermal vent activity, or with processes that don't involve life forms but are different from the ones known to occur on Earth.

For the rest click here.




This cutaway view of Saturn's moon Enceladus is an artist's rendering that depicts possible hydrothermal activity that may be taking place on and under the seafloor of the moon's subsurface ocean, based on results from NASA's Cassini mission.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11- which encouraged imperialism, jingoism and arrogance in general

 By Steve Otto

Today is 9/11. It is an important day for me and many people across the country. I’ve been watching ABC News this morning. They are giving this day a lot of attention. While there was plenty of reasons to commemorate this day, it brought dread to me and it awoke the worst this country has to offer—jingoism, imperialism, arrogance and blind patriotism—the kind that encourages vicious militarism. I’m sure I’ll find some of the people and ideas ABC put on TV to nauseate me.

To be fair, the attack on the twin towers was a horrible tragedy. More than two thousand people died. For some of the victims there was no way out. Some folks jumped off the top of those buildings and they had no alternative. For the people who died there was nothing they could have done to prevent it. Some just made terrible mistakes. The loss of life alone was tragic. There was nothing justified about that attack, although the Pentagon was a legitimate military target.

The results was even worse. Flags were everywhere and lots of people joined the military so they could fight unnecessary and imperialist wars. People were nasty to those who are Muslim. People of Arab heritage had to be careful of ignorant bigots. Former President George W. Bush used this attack to start America’s longest war in Afghanistan. After all these years, President Joe Biden finally had the sense to take the US out of that stupid and needless war. The so called “War on Terrorism” has led to some of this country’s worst human rights violations since the Civil War, including the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. In 2003, Bush got this country into another war and occupation in Iraq. The US military is still there today.

There were a lot of fist responders who put their lives in jeopardy to help save what people they could. They are heroes and deserve to be treated as such. Those who led this nation into war are monsters and criminals. Whether they realize it or not, they have made this country way more dangerous and that is nothing to honor.

As citizens we need to make our voices heard. We need to expose and denounce imperialism, jingoism and all the isms that have made this country an abomination.



Pix by

Defining images from the 9/11 attacks | Reuters.com


Sunday, September 05, 2021

Liberation can not come from foreigners in Afghanistan

 

By Steve Otto

I remember back to a cartoon I saw in Playboy magazine. There was this guy about to shake hands with another guy. But when the reader flipped open a cover page, the one man’s hand had a rattlesnake head for a thumb. The purpose of the cartoon is not what is important here. What is important is my opinion of those who promote patriotism, patriotic wars, reverence for the flag and standing for the national anthem. Many people around the country are moved by such thing. I am not. I won’t shake the patriot’s hand with its snakehead.

This all brings me to an AP article in The Wichita Eagle, “Afghanistan’s arc from 9/11: Once hopeful, now sad.” For most of us it is no surprise that the main-stream press in the US has strongly opposed President Joe Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan. It is most likely the idea behind the article mentioned above. From the article:

 

“America was still reeling from the horrific terrorist attacks of two months earlier, when planes flown by al-Qaida terrorists crashed into three iconic buildings and a Pennsylvania field, killing nearly 3,000 people.

The perpetrators and their leader, Osama bin Laden, were somewhere in Afghanistan, sheltered by the Taliban .

The mission: Find him. Bring him to justice.

Right then, Afghanistan — two decades of disorder behind it, two decades more just ahead — was suspended in an in-between moment. The recent pages of its book were already filled with so much heartbreak, but for the first time in a while, some blank pages full of potential sat just ahead. Nothing was certain, but much seemed possible.

Against that backdrop, Afghans understood the mission against bin Laden to mean a chance to secure their future — a future as murky on that day as it is today. In those post-2001 months and years, they believed in the power of “the foreigners.”

Probably the biggest lesson to be learned here are that no one in a foreign country should rely on foreigners to help them out of a dilemma. It is not hard to understand why many people in Afghanistan did not like nor trust the Taliban. They are a bunch of right-wing theocratic people bent on restoring Afghanistan to some kind of Islamic paradise they believed once thrived in Afghanistan’s past. But hoping the Americans would bring the kind of prosperity found in the US was a pipe dream and a dangerous one.

The main point of US intervention in Afghanistan was a combination of protection against so called terrorism (it was just after 9/11 and the US went through about the worst terrorist attach in our history). There was also the need to protect US interests. This is important because it was way more important for resources in the US than for the Afghanistan people. Prosperity just didn’t end up in the lives of those who planned to make Afghanistan their home. According to that article a lot of Afghanistan people believed that good times and level headed government would follow the US invasion. Again:

 

“But in November 2001, in a mostly ruined Afghan capital where rutted roads were filled with bicycles and beat-up yellow taxis, it meant hope.

___

Torek Farhadi joined scores of educated and trained Afghan expatriates who returned to their homeland in 2002 after the Taliban were gone. He wanted to be part of the new Afghanistan that the U.S.-led invasion promised.

“I found the people relieved fresh and full on energy to start anew,” the economist said from his home in Geneva, as he watched the Taliban’s return to power last month. He remembered, too, the “smart young women” he encountered who had lost huge chunks of their educations to Taliban repression between 1996 and 2001.”

I can’t blame people for wanting something better than the Taliban. I would not want to live under such a government. But a better system needs to come from the people of Afghanistan, not foreign invaders, no matter how benevolent they might be.

I have learned here in Kansas not to trust the so called leaders who get elected to run our government. I live in the richest nation on Earth and yet there is no health care for those who live on minimum wage or under. Our government takes care of the wealthy and at times members of the middle class. Those below the middle class are treated with nothing but contempt. Those of us who have seen that contempt know that there is no way this government will better the lives of poor people who live here in the US or in Afghanistan. To believe such miracles were possible was pure fiction. Now there are many Afghanistan people who now know the truth. Liberation can not come from foreigners—only from those who live in Afghanistan.

So we need to remind people that out missions in foreign countries are not to help the people living there—they are for the benefits of those who live here. That is how it has been, that is how it will always be.




Pix by Snake head puppets.


Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Biden ends the War in Afghanistan, but too many Americans still like imperialism

By Steve Otto

The longest war in US history is finally over. And while many of us on the left are cheering that the US is finally ending the occupation of Afghanistan, there are polls that show the US imperialism still has a lot of support.

Many Americans still see the US as a “protector of civilization” for third world countries. It is not that different from such attitudes as “The White Man’s burden” a poem by Rudyard Kipling.[1] His work was an apologist for the imperialistic and arrogance of western governments and the policies of colonialism, common in the 19th century. From ABC News:

 

“Americans are upset about how the withdrawal of U.S. troops has unfolded, and they are eager to see the U.S. help clean up the mess. But Americans are also fickle — even self-contradictory — when it comes to foreign policy.

First, only 25 percent of registered voters believed the Afghanistan withdrawal was going very or somewhat well, and 57 percent thought it was going not too well or not well at all, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted Aug. 13-16, as Kabul was falling to the Taliban. And Americans largely blame President Biden for this: A subsequent Morning Consult poll, conducted Aug. 16-19, found that 43 percent of registered voters thought Biden held a great deal of responsibility for the situation — more than Congress or any of Biden’s three predecessors, who all clocked in at 24 to 27 percent.” 

 

And according to a Ipsos/Reuters poll, Bidens three predecessors did better :

 

“George W. Bush (47 percent good, 39 percent bad), Barack Obama (51 percent good, 38 percent bad) and Donald Trump (51 percent good, 36 percent bad) — all got better, though not stellar, grades.

 Notably, of course, this still means more Americans support withdrawal than oppose it, by 12- to 17-point margins.”

 

What is really bad is to see Bush and Trump with higher scores. These two are probably among the worst leaders this country ever allowed to run as the president. The right-wing ass hole Trump got 51 percent. That’s ridiculous. We on the left have a lot of work left to do with poll numbers like that.


On the brighter side, most Americans wanted the US to leave Afghanistan:

 

“Notably…. more Americans support withdrawal than oppose it, by 12- to 17-point margins.”



[1] As Victorian imperial poetry, "The White Man's Burden" thematically corresponded to Kipling's belief that the British Empire was the Englishman's "Divine Burden to reign God's Empire on Earth" and celebrates British colonialism as a mission of civilization that eventually would benefit the colonized natives.



  


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The lessons of Afghanistan are just too obvious

By Steve Otto 

There are a lot of lesson for people to learn from nearly 20 years of US rule in Afghanistan. While I am glad that President Joe Biden chose to take US troops out of Afghanistan, he clearly did not expect the US puppet regime to collapse so soon. There were a lot of translators and other Afghan support crews who are now in danger of getting killed or punished by the Taliban.

In the aftermath I would have warned people not to get too attached to US troops and other US representatives. My first advice is to never invade a country and try to establish a puppet regime under the idea that it will eventually lead to a sovereign popular government that will garnish the support of Afghanistan’s people. I can remember people who told me that the US will be the first invaders to create a popular government that actually wanted this country to come in and help them. Me and my friends warned that this was not likely to happen. For the most part Afghanistan had many imperialist powers trying to control it and no foreign government was likely to succeed in such an endeavor.

Me and my friends expected the US puppet to fall, but not so fast. I think we have all been fooled by the unexpected fall of the US puppet. If fell and it fell quickly. Surely Biden did not expect these outcomes. He may be standing his ground, but he is paying a high political price for doing that.

The mainstream press has been relentlessly attacking Biden for his resolute desire to take US troops out of Afghanistan.

An example of the bad press is from ABC News:

 

“WASHINGTON -- Two months ago, the leaders of the world’s seven major industrialized democracies met at the height of summer on England’s southwest coast. It was a happy occasion: the first in-person summit of the Group of Seven nations in two years due to the coronavirus pandemic and the welcomed appearance of President Joe Biden and his “America is back” message on matters ranging from comity to COVID-19 to climate change.

The smiles and sunshine seem distant as G-7 leaders meet again Tuesday, in virtual format, for crisis talks on Afghanistan. The country’s burgeoning refugee crisis, the collapse of its government and fears of a resurgence in Afghan-based terrorism have left the G-7 allies scrambling and threaten the unity of the bloc.”

So for now, all we can say is “we told you so.” And we can continue to support Biden in his resolution to pull US troops out of Afghanistan.



Pix from Aljazeera.


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Afghanistan proves the failure of US nation building

 By Steve Otto

As US troops pull out of Afghanistan we can instantly see the failure of US nation building policies. Whether president Joe Biden expected it or not, the US puppet regime is quickly falling to the Taliban. The Taliban are quickly taking over the country.

The Taliban are not popular with much of anyone outside of Afghanistan or outside of the US. They are not favored by the left here in the US or in Afghanistan. The US tried to revive earlier factions that ran Afghanistan, hoping they could build popular support for them and their foreign occupiers. Liberal Democrats here in the US like to point out that the Taliban have a terrible human rights record when it comes to women. It is true that many women were kept out of the education system under the Taliban. The west made a hero of Malala Yousafzai, a young woman who stood up to the Taliban. She was a hero. She did stand up to a repressive political force. But any one who is made a hero by US imperialism is doomed to failure in their own country.  

This reminds me of the collapse of the Khmer Rouge when the Vietnamese invaded. All the people I talked to had to admit that there was no popular support for the government run by Pol Pot when it fell so quickly.

Just as in South Vietnam we see that this government has also lost any support it may have had from the Afghanistan people. Such nation building was doomed to failure. That is especially true in a country that has been continually invaded by one superpower after the other.

Nowfinally  after all these years, we can finally realize that national sovereignty is not something we can artificially create. People have to develop their own systems of government. Afghanistan has proven that.



Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Predatory lenders may just get reform—but they deserve far worse

By Steve Otto

I recently attended a Payday Loans Town Hall meeting. Most of the people there wanted to reform the predatory lenders rather than banning them. My personal feelings are that people who try to profit of the most vulnerable of people really belong in jail. I would rather see those institution banned. That is possible, but maybe not what is best for the people who live around them. Maybe the people who live around the Payday Loans and other similar institutions will be better off if those institutions simply treat them fairly.

I don’t blame the people in those areas for wanting reforms rather than bans. But I have a strong distaste for those who want to profit of off those in our society who are already down. The profit off of those who have problems finding a job that pays more than minimum wage. They profit off of those who may be living in sub standard homes, which cost them a lot of money. They  profit off of those who may be driving cars that are about to fall apart at any time. When they do fall apart they have to find money to fix them and that is not always possible.

These predatory people remind me of the people who try to profit off of the sick and dying. They invent drugs that can cure diseases only to charge ridiculous amounts of money. It is the profit motive, devoid of any feelings of compassion for their fellow man/ woman.

Our politicians bitch about a lack of human rights in Cuba and yet in Cuba a poor person can go to a doctor and get any medicines they need. Not here. Most of our political leaders actually want poor people to die early. They take delight at the idea that they can put a work requirement on any kind of Medicaid money. They know that a lot of selfish middle class people love the idea of saving money by letting poor people get sick or die. After all, it is not them who will die.

In the same manor I have to wonder what kind of a person deliberately tries to trap a poor person into borrowing money at such a high interest rate that they end up with their wages garnished, their cars repossessed or they lose their homes due to the fact that they lose all their rent money.

Even regular lenders take advantage of people. Our TV ads tell us how important our credit ratings are. While we do need vehicles to get to our jobs and homes to live in, there are those items we believe we need, but really don’t. Lots of debt can cause a person to stay at a job they hate. Or they may end up staying with an employer who is abusive.

I have nothing but contempt for those who want to saddle the most vulnerable people with debt.

If I had my way they would all be in jail. But this is US capitalism and that is not likely to ever happen. I am forced to go along with those who want to reform Payday Loans and the others who want to profit off the misery of others.


Pix from Predatory Lending Laws: Best Things To Do - Halt.org.

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Kansas Citizens and office holders tackle the problem of Payday (predatory) Loans

 

By Steve Otto

Citizens and local legislators came together over the problem of predatory lenders, at a Payday Loan Town Hall, Monday night, here in Wichita.

The meeting had some private citizens testify to the terrible effects of predatory lending, while legislators spoke of changes they would like to see.


These companies, such as Payday Loans, move into a poor neighborhood, entice people with easy to get loans and then charge them with interest as high as 300 percent.

“I had car trouble,” said Victoria Boyd, a witness who experienced the predatory lender abuses. “I missed a payment. Then I had to deal with Garnishment.”

Without warning they garnished her pay. They gave her no notice at all. They can legally take up to 25 percent of a paycheck and they often do.

“They took $256 from every paycheck,” Boyd said. “I’m fighting them in court.”

“They opened a payday loan in our neighborhood,” said Ti’Juana Hardwell, Wichita Black Alliance and the MC of the discussions.

She added that she knew when they came in that they where there to pray on people. She said that people sometimes lose their jobs due to their practices and some families get displaced.

A woman in the audience said she knew of a man who took out a $1,000 loan. He had to pay 300 a month and he eventually got evicted from his home.

“They Impact the community and it’s a big one,” said Wichita City Councilman Brandon Johnson. “I walked in and told Speedy Cash what I thought of them. They talked about personal responsibility.”

He added that people have lost vehicles to these outfits. He also said, as did some others who were present, that those companies come in if they have the right zoning.

He also fights against their claims that they are there to help poor people.

“It’s like going to a casino, except you always lose,” Brandon said.

Shanae’ Calhoun, a Topeka organizer for JUMP (TOPEKA JUSTICE UNITY & MINISTRY PROJECT), told the audience about some of the dirty tricks used by various lenders online.

“I clicked on an add and they had my routing number, account number and my address,” she said.

She added that Payday Loan is their model for making money. They are strategically placed.

“They are like a pack of wolves,” she said.

Calhoun talked about finding a way forward.

“This product can be a bridge,” she said. “We need to reform them not ban them.”

Several people there talked about a need to pressure our Kansas Legislators to regulate these lenders. There were three important points these people want legislators to take seriously:

·         Put a cap on the amount of interest payday loan companies can charge.

·         Require the payday loan companies to offer installment plans.

·         Limit how much of your paycheck they can take for a payment. 

“We hope to get a real hearing on this,” said Kansas Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau (Democrat). “We can make a difference.”

All the speakers emphasized that people need to get involve and contact their legislators. They all said to send emails and letters to pressure them to fix the payday loan problems.

One legislator they are trying to pressure is Senator Ty Masterson (Republican). 

Present at the meeting were Kansas Senator Mary Ware (Democrat), Oletha Faust-Goudeau, Victoria Boyd, Ti’Juana Hardwell, Shanae’ Calhoun, Brandon Johnson.




Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Biden backs off his promise to get this country out of Afghanistan

 By Steve Otto

Afghanistan is the pentacle of US Imperialism. Anyone anywhere in the world can see the bullying that the US military establishments has to offer. There is no tolerances for diversity of politics or ideology by the US. This country spent millions of dollars, along with countless US lives, to prop up and maintain a puppet regime. The regime has been set up to support American interests (usually material resources).

It now seems apparent that the puppet regime does not have the popular support it needs to fight off the Taliban and President Joe Biden is now backing down on his promise to pull this country out of the war. He has conducted air strikes against the Taliban for two weeks now.

I don’t like the Taliban, but they seem to be able to rally enough support to overcome the US puppet troops. The mainstream press, especially TV news, has been harsh on Biden for pulling out the troops. They have also been relentless in their criticism of the Taliban. The seem to want the US to remain in Afghanistan, maybe indefinitely.

We need to oppose and condemn all interference in that country.



Saturday, July 31, 2021

Local group wants to change the Criminal Justice System- discussion held

 


By Steve Otto

Last Thursday about 50 people showed up for a discussion on fines and the criminal justice system. The event was put on by Progeny.

The audience was more than half Afro-Americans. That is probably because there seem to be a consensus that the US Criminal Justice System is very racist and holds Afro-Americans back.

On the ideas being discussed:

People of color, and poor people in general, get trapped in the system. The use of heavy fines causes many people to end up in jail, often do to a lack of having a decent income for them to pay off the heavy fines. Those heavy fines where a major concern of the people at this discussion.

“We don’t know what they do with this money,” a young boy said. “It doesn’t go back to our communities.”

It was also pointed out that the US Criminal System became more repressive after slavery ended. Some of the intent of our laws are to create cheap labor for those who  used to be slaves and it is a method of control.

Some people suggested this state and country needs to up the age of the juvenile classification[1] from 18 or 21 to 25. The idea is that young people in their early 20s do things that older people would not do. They act more like juveniles than adults.

DUI divergence is as racket. The person has to pay thousand in fines to keep their record clean. This is another part of the fines that keep poor people poor.

There was some in attendance who pointed out that incarceration just doesn’t work. Those long sentences keep people from any normal life for years at a time. And they don’t really prevent a person from committing more crimes. They may even encourage further crimes since it makes it hard for a person who has been in the system to get a legitimate jobs.

I was told that many of the people present really believe they can get the support they need to change at least some of the problems and inequities in the criminal justice system.



[1] A "juvenile" is a person who has not attained his eighteenth birthday, and "juvenile delinquency" is the violation of a law of the United States committed by a person prior to his eighteenth birthday which would have been a crime if committed by an adult. A person over eighteen but under twenty-one years of age is also accorded juvenile treatment if the act of juvenile delinquency occurred prior to his eighteenth birthday. See 18 U.S.C. § 5031.