Sunday, March 31, 2013



The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a federal law specifying the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense. Each year's act also includes other provisions, some related to civil liberties.

The FY13 NDAA includes the Shaheen Amendment, a provision that gives servicewomen and military dependents who are survivors of rape and incest the same abortion coverage provided to other women enrolled in federal health care. Previously, servicewomen and members of military families seeking an abortion following rape or incest were singled out and denied insurance coverage.

The NDAA also includes provisions that have implications for civil liberties. First, it jeopardizes President Obama's ability to meet his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Second, the law contains a troubling provision compelling the military to accommodate the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of all members of the armed forces without accounting for the effect an accommodation would have.

Click here for more on the ACLU’s position on these provisions >>

In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA's dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.

Don't Be Fooled by New NDAA Detention Amendment

By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:14pm 
The Senate is once again debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and is within a day or two of voting yet again on the issue of indefinite detention without charge or trial in the United States itself.

Last year, Congress passed the NDAA and made permanent very broad authority for the military to throw civilians into prison without charge or trial. While military detention without charge or trial is illegal in the United States, some key senators urged that even American citizens and others picked up in the United States could be detained under NDAA.


From Bill Moyer.Com

Bill Moyers Essay: The Hypocrisy of ‘Justice for All’ 

March 29, 2013

Bill reports on the hypocrisy of “justice for all” in a society where billions are squandered for a war born in fraud while the poor are pushed aside. Turns out true justice — not just the word we recite from the Pledge of Allegiance — is still unaffordable for those who need it most. Bill says we’ve “turned a deaf ear” to the hopeful legacy of Gideon vs. Wainwright, the 50-year-old Supreme ruling that established the constitutional right of criminal defendants to legal representation, even if they can’t pay for it.

Watch Bill’s conversations with civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson and journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien for more insight and context on Gideon, as well as in-depth exploration of current inequalities in America’s criminal justice system.

From Women's Press

Losing my religion for equality…by Jimmy Carter

25 January 2013

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Katelyn Norman Died Yesterday


Fouteen year old Katelyn Norman, of LaFollette, Tennessee, died Friday morning at 8:19 a.m. (March 29, 2013), after a two-year battle with Osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer. When she was informed that her diagnosis was terminal, Katelyn made it her goal to complete a "bucket list" . One of the items on her list was to go to her prom. Tuesday night, move than 1,000 people helped make her wish come true, despite the fact that she had to be hospitalized.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O'Brien, one of the best journalist working today, signed off as the CNN host and anchor of "Starting Point" this morning. She will be missed.


From Nashvegans

  • Saturday, March 30, 2013
    2:00 PM to

  • 3701 Benham Avenue , Nashville, TN (map)
    The meeting room to the rear, left at the Green Hills Public Library.

  • Here's another opportunity to view this sensitive and beautifully presented documentary if you missed seeing it several months ago. Inspired by the idea that one person's change of heart can change the world, "Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home" explores the ethical awakening of several people who grew up in traditional farming culture and have now come to question the basic assumptions of their way of life. The 78-minute documentary features seven remarkable individuals engaged in a courageous struggle of conscience, each trying to re-integrate the parts of themselves that were fragmented by expectations and experiences that went against their deepest natures. The film provides insight into their sometimes amazing connections with the animals under their care, while also making clear the complex web of social, psychological and economic forces that have led them to their conflict. Described by many viewers as "a life-changing experience," Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home shatters stereotypical notions of farmers, farm life, and perhaps most surprisingly, farm animals themselves.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


'Monsanto Protection Act' slips silently through US Congress

Published time: March 26, 2013 01:34
Edited time: March 26, 2013 11:45 
AFP Photo / Joe Klamar
AFP Photo / Joe Klamar

The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.

The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Senator John Tester (D-MT) proved to be the lone dissenter to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, though his proposed amendment to strip the rider from the bill was never put to a vote.

As the US legal system functions today, and largely as a result of prior lawsuits, the USDA is required to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) prior to both the planting and sale of GMO crops. The extent and effectiveness to which the USDA exercises this rule is in itself a source of serious dispute.

The reviews have been the focus of heated debate between food safety advocacy groups and the biotech industry in the past. In December of 2009, for example, Food Democracy Now collected signatures during the EIS commenting period in a bid to prevent the approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, which many feared would contaminate organic feed used by dairy farmers; it was approved regardless.

Previously discovered pathogens in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn and soy are suspected of causing infertility in livestock and to impact the health of plants.

So, just how much of a victory is this for biotech companies like Monsanto? Critics are thus far alarmed by the very way in which the provision made it through Congress -- the rider was introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. Now, groups like the Center for Food Safety are holding Senator Mikulski (D-MD), chairman of that committee, to task and lobbing accusations of a “backroom deal” with the biotech industry.

As the Washington Times points out, the provision’s success is viewed by many as a victory by companies like Syngenta Corp, Cargill, Monsanto and affiliated PACs that have donated $7.5 million to members of Congress since 2009, and $372,000 to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It remains unclear whether the bill’s six-month expiration means that the provision will be short-lived. Regardless, Food Democracy Now has begun a campaign calling on US President Barack Obama to veto the Continuing Resolution spending bill, which seems unlikely as HR 933 includes a sweeping amount of government funding.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wealth Inequality in America

9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Amanda Knox

The Associated Press just reported that Italy's highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation, ruled today that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the slaying of Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student.

This is a travesty of justice. All U.S. citizens should immediately cease traveling to and trading with Italy.

The following is what I wrote about the case back on July 31, 2011:

Amanda Knox is Innocent

by Dee Newman

Shortly after Meredith Kercher's murder a series of lies were leaked to the Italian media for the sole purpose of destroying the credibility of Amanda Knox. By the time the trial began “Foxy Knoxy” had already been found guilty in the court of public opinion.

According to the prosecution the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher was the result of "a satanic ritualistic sex orgy."

The prosecution, however, never presented during the trial any facts to back up the claim.

Without any evidence supporting the prosecution’s theory, the trial judge dismissed the so-called “sex game theory” and came up with one of his own – jealousy.

The judge proposed that Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, after hearing Miss Kercher's screams joined in a sexual attack already in progress by Rudy Guede. He surmised this despite the fact that the testimony delivered in court painted the relationship between Knox and Kercher as friendly. There was absolutely no evidence ever presented to support his supposition.

It is beyond my understanding how a jury would fall for such a ludicrous hypothesis. One would have to imagine that Knox and her boyfriend hearing the attack decided to help a relatively unknown intruder, sexually assault and then stab Miss Knox’s friend and roommate to death.

In the end, lacking any rational motive, the trail came down to DNA evidence.

Unfortunately, for the prosecution, there was not a single piece of DNA from Miss Knox found at the bloody crime scene. Not one.

However, there was abundant DNA evidence matching Rudy Guede found both on and inside Miss Kercher's body, as well as, on her shirt, bra and handbag.

Now get this – the prosecution claimed that Knox and Sollecito while cunningly leaving behind multiple DNA evidence leading to Rudy Guede, thoroughly cleaned up any trace of them being envolved.

Picture for a moment a very bloody murder scene in a small confined student’s bedroom. There was blood everywhere – bloody hand-prints on the headboard of the bed and on the cupboard, and bloody foot prints on the floor – all of which implicated and convicted Rudy Guede of the crime. But, nothing – absolutely no DNA evidence at the crime scene connecting Miss Knox to the murder.

Let’s be honest – it is inconceivable that two young students stoned from marijuana and alcohol, in the grip of a so-called “sadistic sexual fever” would have the wherewithal to mop up just their blood, remove just their hairs and wipe away any and only their bodily fluids before they made their escape.

How, I ask, was a jury ever convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were murders?

The only DNA evidence supposedly linking Miss Knox to the murder was found on the handle of a kitchen knife recovered not from the crime scene but from her former boyfriend’s flat – a knife that the prosecution claimed had Miss Kercher's DNA on the blade.

The only DNA evidence linking Raffaele Sollecito to the murder was allegedly found on a metal bra clasp of Miss Kercher.

This past Monday two court-appointed independent forensic experts presented findings from a 145-page report they wrote after studying the DNA evidence.

The forensic experts testified that a series of police blunders had severely contaminated the DNA evidence.

They also testified that although Miss Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the so-called murder weapon, there was no DNA from the victim found on the knife

As for Miss Kercher’s bloody bra clasp that allegedly had DNA from Raffaele Sollecito on it – the experts said it was so badly handled by the police that it was impossible to test.

Their report concluded that the DNA evidence used to convict Miss Knox and Raffaele Sollecito did not adhere to international standards, and therefore, was unreliable, and that the previous test results could have been the result of contamination. The report concludes that the police either mishandled evidence and/or failed to follow proper procedures for the collection of forensic evidence 54 times.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

From Truthdig – The Last Letter of Tomas Young

The Last Letter

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Congressman Blackburn

by Dee Newman

The 2010 midterms elections gave Tennessee Republicans the control of the state's House and Senate, the governorship, and seven of Tennessee’s nine U.S. Congressional seats, making 2011 the first year in the state's history when the GOP would control redistricting.

A year ago in January 2012 the Republican controlled Tennessee General Assembly finally unveiled and passed their long-awaited congressional redistricting proposal. They removed several moderately blue counties on the east end of Tennessee’s old 8th District, shifting it further to the right. In doing so, it made Tennessee’s 7th District represented by Marsha Blackburn somewhat less red, but still a safe Republican seat, secured with the heavily populated rich GOP suburbs of Williamson County.

For me the change was both good and bad. Good, because Jim Cooper became my Congressman, someone who at least on occasion will represent my interests. Bad, because I can no longer vote against Marsha Blackburn, someone who never represented my interests or that of the vast majority of Tennesseans.

“Congressman” Blackburn (as she perfers to be called) is an extremely fiscal and social conservative who has acted on behalf of her rich and powerful constituents extremely well, while at the same time ably hoodwinking the majority of her less wealthy constituents into believing she embodies and represents their interests.

Congressman Blackburn has always appeared to me to be intellectual stunted, if not dim-witted. She often makes comments that are both factually inaccurate and ironically absurd. For example: In her most recent criticism of President Obama, she tried to ridicule the President’s call for a $9 minimum wage during his State of Union Address by saying that as a teenager in Mississippi, she was glad to have a job at $2.15 an hour.

Either Congressman Blackburn is intellectually slow or she believes her constituents are. When she was a teenager in the late 1960s the $2.15 an hour she made back then (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) would be equivalent to an hourly wage in today’s dollars between $12.72 and $14.18. At the time minimum wage was $1.60 an hour, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s dollars, over $3.00 more than today’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

As a teenager Congressman Blackburn entered the workforce making nearly double the wage she now says is sufficient for millions of adult Americans. Her disdain for the vast majority of her constituents is clear. She obviously believes they are na├»ve and easily deceived. Apparently, she’s right. They keep voting for her.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Forty Years After Roe V. Wade

by Dee Newman

The ongoing debate surrounding the moral and legal status of abortion has been championed by two main activist groups – the so-called "pro-life" and "pro-choice" movements. Both factions, with varying results, have tried to influence public opinion and attain or maintain legal support for their positions. Ironically, some "pro-life" advocates have used physical violence (even murder) to try and achieve their objectives, provoking some pro-choice activist to portray all anti-abortionists as extreme and irrational fanatics.

Despite the adversarial positions the two groups have championed, their underlying beliefs about abortion are not as incompatible or conflicting as the two groups would have us believe. For example, those who wish to maintain a woman’s right to choose are no less pro-life than those who believe that abortion is murder and should be illegal. Both groups fervently want abortions to be unnecessary.

I’ve lived on this planet nearly seventy years and in all that time I’ve never met a woman, sane or otherwise, who aspired to have an abortion, who purposefully set out to get pregnant so that she could abort the fetus. Having an abortion is not a pleasurable experience.

Regardless of what both groups may claim, our efforts as a species to demonstrate our value for the sanctity of life have been feeble at best. In reality, we have pretty well proven that when it really matters a significant number of us don't give damn about anyone’s life but our own.

Our shrugging acceptance of the enduring legacy of men, women and children living in poverty in the riches nation on earth, our disgraceful indifference for the plight of those suffering from emotional and mental disorders, our continuing and unrestrained use of war as a means to an end, our irrational devotion to the death penalty as a so-called deterrent to crime, our reverence for the right to bear arms in order to defend our person and property, not to mention the killing of other sentient beings for “the sport of it”, our despicable treatment, disregard and exploitation of other sentient beings shows us that, whatever we may tell ourselves, the life of others is expendable, easily sacrificed to advance our own interests or even fulfill some needless desire.

We proclaim that we believe in and adhere to the Golden Rule – do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet, in reality, our actions reveal a very different devotion. Exploitation rather than reciprocity has become our code of conduct. We seem more incline to screw others before they screw us.

As someone who has spent his entire adult life as an advocate for all existence, who fervently believes that it is morally wrong to allow our wanton desires to interfere with the basic needs and interests of others, I have often been challenged to justify my moral perspective on a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

Let me first say, if I were a woman (which I’m not), I hope I would choose (no matter the circumstances of my pregnancy – inconvenient, unwanted, life-threatening or rape-induced) to give birth rather than to abort the child developing within my body.

You see, I believe, in spite of the fact that few of us are, most of us want to be heroes. We picture ourselves as someone willing to sacrifice our own well-being and even our life for the interest of others. And yet, when push comes to shove, our actions frequently do not live up to our stated principles and/or our imagined esteem. Fear and self-preservation too often determine our actions.

With that said, adherence to the fundamental principle of morality (the Golden Rule) does not require us to be heroes, to give up our interests for the interests of others. It only requires us to abandon our wanton desires for the interests of others – to stop screwing others before they screw us.

A woman who is pregnant is in an extraordinarily unique position. She has another’s interests developing within her interests. No one has the right to demand that anyone to be a hero, to give up his or her interests for the interests of another. I guarandamntee you that if men could bear children abortion would be an unquestionable and inalienable right, protected by a constitutional amendment if need be.

In conclusion: It would be easy to continue to shout accusations at one another. I’m sure it would make some of us feel righteous and morally superior, but would it do anything to solve the problem?

Suppose both sides got together, stopped demonizing one another and decided to accomplish the one thing they have in common – a desire to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

The alternative is more of the same – dissension, resentment, anger, hostility and of course – more abortions.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bloody Sunday

Today marks the anniversary of the first of three Marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, known as "Bloody Sunday." On March 7, 1965, an estimated 600 civil rights activists headed east out of Selma to march the 54 miles to the state capitol. They were demonstrating for African-American voting rights and to protest the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson who was shot by Alabama State Trooper, corporal James Bonard Fowler, during another voting rights march in Perry County earlier that year.

The march was led by John Lewis of SNCC, the Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC, Bob Mants of SNCC and Albert Turner of SCLC. Though the march began smoothly they had walked only a mile when they met a wall of state troopers waiting for them on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Earlier that morning Sheriff Jim Clark issued an order for all white males in Dallas County over the age of 21 to report to the courthouse to be deputized. Though the Rev. Williams tried in vain to speak to the commanding officer John Cloud, he was told to disband at once and go home. Moments later, the troopers began to assault the demonstrators, knocking them to the ground, beating them with nightsticks and firing tear gas as other troopers mounted on horseback charged the protesters. Seventeen marchers were severely injured and hospitalized.

That night televised footage of the brutal attack was seen around the world. The horrifying images of the marchers being attacked by officers of the law shifted national public opinion about the civil rights movement. Demonstrations broke out across the country.

Two days later, on March 9, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led about 2500 marchers to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There they held a short prayer session before turning around, obeying the court order preventing them from marching all the way to Montgomery.

Two weeks later, on March 21, the third March from Selma to Montgomery began with 8,000 protesters. It too was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When the march ended on Thursday, March 25, over 25,000 people marched to the steps of the State Capitol Building where King delivered the speech "How Long, Not Long."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

156 Years Ago Today

In 1833 Dred Scott was sold to John Emerson, an army surgeon in Saint Louis, Missouri. Scott was then taken to the free State of Illinois and then on to the free Territory of Wisconsin before returning to Missouri.

When his “master” died in 1843, Scott sued Emerson's widow for his freedom, claiming that his residence in a “free state” made him a free man.

After being defeated in the State Supreme Court, Scott’s attorneys brought suit in federal court against Mrs. Emerson's agent in the litigation, her brother John Sanford of New York. Eleven years after Scott's initial suit the case came before the United States Supreme Court.

The Dred Scott Decision, written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney on March 6, 1857, held that Scott, as a Negro and a slave, was not a citizen of the United States, and therefore, had no right to sue in federal court. The 7 to 2 Decision was contrary to both federal and state laws.

Taney went on to hold that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories, declaring the anti-slavery provision of the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, because slaves are personal property protected under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The two dissenting opinions from Justices John McLean and Benjamin Curtis were strong and sharply worded exceptions to the chief justice's sweeping opinion.

Intended to be the definitive ruling that would settle the growing and contentious controversy threatening the Union, the Dred Scott Decision instead helped to move the nation one step closer toward civil war.

Two months after the Decision, on May 26, 1857, Peter Blow, the son of Scott's first owner, purchased freedom for Scott and his family. During that same month, John Sanford died, in an asylum for the insane.

Photos of Sydney's Art