LGBTI News and Politics

Archive for the ‘Editorial/Opinion/Letters’ Category

Playing Chicken With Nuclear War

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, where a 15-megaton device equivalent to a thousand Hiroshima blasts, detonated in 1954. (photo: US Air Force)
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, where a 15-megaton device equivalent to a thousand Hiroshima blasts, detonated in 1954. (photo: US Air Force)

Robert Parry | Consortium News | Reader Supported News | March 3, 2015

U.S.-Russian tensions keep escalating – now surrounding the murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov – yet almost no one on the American side seems to worry about the possibility that the tough-guy rhetoric and proxy war in Ukraine might risk a nuclear conflagration, writes Robert Parry.

he United States and Russia still maintain vast nuclear arsenals of mutual assured destruction, putting the future of humanity in jeopardy every instant. But an unnerving nonchalance has settled over the American side which has become so casual about the risk of cataclysmic war that the West’s propaganda and passions now ignore Russian fears and sensitivities.

A swaggering goofiness has come to dominate how the United States reacts to Russia, with American politicians and journalists dashing off tweets and op-eds, rushing to judgment about the perfidy of Moscow’s leaders, blaming them for almost anything and everything.

These days, playing with nuclear fire is seen as a sign of seriousness and courage. Anyone who urges caution and suggests there might be two sides to the U.S.-Russia story is dismissed as a wimp or a stooge. A what-me-worry “group think” has taken hold across the U.S. ideological spectrum. Fretting about nuclear annihilation is so 1960s.

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The Koch Cash Behind the Latest Attack on Obamacare

Kathleen Sebelius testifies before Senate Finance Committee

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discusses the challenges facing the Affordable Care Act before the Senate Finance Committee in November 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite)

Why Americans Don’t Care About Prison Rape

Prison block

(Krystiano, CC BY 2.0)

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig | The Nation | March 2, 2015

In June of 2012, the New York Times “Room for Debate” feature considered whether or not convicted youth offenders should be treated differently than adult convicts in the penal system. Those in favor of trying some youth offenders in adult courts included a victims’ advocate, and an attorney from the conservative Heritage Foundation; those against included an inmate at California’s San Quentin prison, and a human rights activist. The victims’ advocate and the attorney from the Heritage Foundation talked about extreme cases of violence and the benefits of stern consequences. The inmate and the human rights activist talked about rape.

“The suicide and sexual abuse rates of younger prisoners are higher than those of the physically mature,” Gary Scott, the inmate, noted: “how can rehabilitation be possible in such a dangerous environment?” Scott was incarcerated at age sixteen.

T.J. Parsell, the human rights advocate, put it like this: “In early 2003, I testified on Capitol Hill with Linda Bruntmyer, a mother from Texas whose 17-year-old son was incarcerated after setting a trash bin on fire. In prison, he was raped repeatedly. He later hanged himself inside his cell. I felt a special bond with Linda, because I too had been raped in prison at 17.”

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The Essential Uselessness of John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner. (photo: AP)

House Speaker John Boehner. (photo: AP)

Charles Pierce | Esquire | Reader Supported News | February 28, 2015

t has long been the opinion of the management of this shebeen that obvious anagram Reince Priebus is the emptiest suit in American politics. I see no reason to change that now. However, as this ongoing brawl between the Republican majorities in the two houses of the national legislature makes painfully clear, Speaker of the House John Boehner is making a strong bid to overtake Priebus, even though their problems are quite nearly the same. Priebus’s suit is empty because being the chairman of the Republican National Committee doesn’t mean a whole helluva lot when you’ve got a flock of gozillionnaires willing to finance the campaigns of people that the RNC would rather not see traipsing around the landscape with their underwear on their heads. What power does Priebus have over Sheldon Adelson? Or the Kochs? Or any of the other panjandrums who can construct entire presidential candidacies from deep in their vaults? Similarly, Boehner has no apparent control of his majority because so many of them are from safe Republican districts and can find electoral sustenance from the same new universe of sources on which the presidential candidates can call. It is unimaginable that Boehner would threaten a recalcitrant conservative House member with a primary. He’d get laughed at. The fact is that almost every former source of political power in the Republican party has been rendered largely a figurehead.

Thus does he find himself being outmaneuvered in the ongoing cockfight over tying the funding for the Department of Homeland Security to the president’s executive orders on immigration. Thus do we find Boehner looking for a way out and flopping around like a trout in the canoe.

And on Wednesday morning, Mr. Boehner and House Republicans emerged from their private meeting saying they had no plans to act until the Senate actually sent them a bill. “I don’t know what the Senate’s capable of passing, and until I see what they’re going to pass, no decisions have been made on the House side,” Mr. Boehner said. “The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration, and we’re waiting for the Senate to do their job.”

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Where the Leadership of Black Women Can Take Us

Alicia Garza  | The Nation | February 28, 2015

(Photo by Lynne Graves/Sojourner Truth Memorial - Florence, CC BY-NC 2.0)

(Photo by Lynne Graves/Sojourner Truth Memorial – Florence, CC BY-NC 2.0)

For the past month we have honored, as we do every year, the cornerstones of Black history who have brought us to where we are today. But this year, if the month is to be anything but an elementary school exercise, it’s time we answer some old questions in new ways.

Despite the possibility of two women vying for the president’s office, and summits being held across the nation about women’s economic security and the role of women in the economy and our democracy, the silence around the needs and dreams of Black women is still deafening.

In a challenge to white suffragettes at the Ohio Women’s Convention in 1851, Sojourner Truth, a pioneering opponent of structural racism and patriarchy, gave a famous speech in which she asked, “Ain’t I a woman?” Was self-determination and economic security a right for all women or just some women? A hundred and sixty-four years later, Black women are leading the struggles for equality along lines of race, class, gender and sexuality, but the question remains.

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How Activism Won Real Net Neutrality

On July 23, 2014, hundreds of Free Press activists, allies and volunteers rallied for REAL Net Neutrality on President Obama's motorcade route as he attended a big fundraiser in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (photo: Stacie Isabella Turk/Free Press)
On July 23, 2014, hundreds of Free Press activists, allies and volunteers rallied for REAL Net Neutrality on President Obama’s motorcade route as he attended a big fundraiser in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (photo: Stacie Isabella Turk/Free Press)

Jay Cassano | Waging Nonviolence | Reader Suppported News | February 28, 2015

oday the Federal Communications Commission has adopted strong net neutrality rules that will require all traffic on the Internet to be treated equally. There will be no fast lanes for large corporations and slow lanes for independent voices. In the days and weeks to come a lot of ink will be spilled about the significance of the FCC’s new rules and the legal nuances of where they might fall short. But for the moment, it is worth reflecting on how this victory was won.

This time last year, it looked like all bets were off for net neutrality. A Washington, D.C., district court had just shot down the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules in a lawsuit brought by Verizon. The task then fell to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and former head lobbyist for both the cable and wireless industries, to draft new rules that would stand up in court. What followed was one of the most sustained and strategic activist campaigns in recent memory.

Today’s net neutrality rules would not exist without the tireless work of activists both in the streets and behind screens. Last year, I interviewed activists about how they planned to win on net neutrality, something that seemed impossible at the time. But they achieved today’s improbable victory by following those plans to the letter: having a clear and concise demand from day one, creating synergy between online and offline organizing, and framing net neutrality as a social justice issue.

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Ensuring Internet Equality for All

Activists Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese hold a pro-net neutrality banner outside the FCC's front door. (photo:
Activists Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese hold a pro-net neutrality banner outside the FCC’s front door. (photo:

Bill de Blasio | Reader Supported News | February 28, 2015

t’s no secret I consider income inequality the greatest challenge of our time. And whether you’re my age or my teenage son Dante’s, it’s clear: the Internet has become fundamental to solving it. Like electricity in the 1800s, the Internet is now an essential building block of economic opportunity.

It doesn’t just connect us to our friends and family through Skype or Facebook. It links us to job opportunities, critical services, and troves of information. It allows us to check whether our children have homework, take advantage of new education tools, or build a business. More and more each day, the Internet — like electricity — is turning into a basic utility. And this critical resource should be treated as such.

All this points to one conclusion: we must have affordable broadband.

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