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Neda Video—Ongoing Iran Protests

Above is the Neda video of the young woman shot and killed during street protests in Iran.

Her full name was Neda Agha Soltan.

The video is graphic and disturbing to watch.

The New York Times blog on the protests in Iran has reports on Neda. You have to scroll down to find the reports.  There is one entry with a link to what is said to be a picture of Neda’s grave.

Update 6/23—Here is a New York Times article about Neda. 

Update 6/24–The latest from Iran.

Update 6/25—The latest from Iran.

Here is a Neda Facebook memorial page.

Global Voices has links to more Iran videos and to bloggers writing about Iran.

Reporters Without Borders says that both traditional journalists and bloggers have been detained by the government.

A mix of traditional journalists with the resources of so-called mainstream news outlets, along with bloggers and people using Twitter have all been essential to reporting this story.

Nico Pitney’s Iran liveblogging in the Huffington Post has been of value.

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June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders Of Vermont–Socialist United States Senator

Yesterday I wrote that conservatives and Republicans were helping Americans consider socialism as an option for the first time, simply because the political is so often repeating a word that most Americans had never given much thought about . In yesterday’s post I said that today I would consider Vermont’s self-described socialist United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders has held public office in Vermont since 1981. In 1981 he was elected Mayor of Burlington. He won that election by 10 votes. Burlington is Vermont’s largest city with a 20oo population of around 39,000. In 1990, Mr. Sanders was elected to serve as Vermont’s at-large member of the U.S House Of Representatives. Mr. Sanders was elected to the U.S. Senate  from Vermont in 2006.

Here is Senator Sanders’ web home in the Senate.

Here is some description of Mr. Sanders from the 2008 Almanac of American politics—

Sanders grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, the son of a paint salesman who had emigrated from Poland; his mother died when he was a teenager. He became involved in radical politics at the University of Chicago, then came to Vermont as part of the hippie invasion of 1968 and worked as a carpenter. Four years later, he ran in a special 1972 Senate election….Sanders won just 2% as the candidate of the socialist Liberty Union Party. His rumpled, tieless, sincere persona helped him election as Mayor of Burlington in 1981…”

On the way to the Senate, Mr. Sanders lost his first statewide race in 1988 for Vermont’s one House seat. He won in 1990 in good part because of the National Rifle Association. The Republican elected to the House in 1988 voted for the semiautomatic weapon ban while Mr. Sanders opposes gun control.

Hence the saying that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

In Congress Mr. Sanders has focused on the cost of prescription drugs. He was the first to propose the 2001 personal income tax rebate that later was taken up by former President Bush and Congressional Republicans. He has opposed NAFTA and other free trade agreements saying the harm workers in the United States and in the countries who are our partners in these treaties.

Mr. Sanders strongly opposed the Patriot Act.  This is a view that put him on the same side as many libertarians.

Writing in The Huffington Post last December, Senator Sanders said he supported the following–

“A major economic recovery program which invests at least $400 billion in each of the next two years to create millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding our infrastructure and moving us toward energy independence, sustainable energy and energy efficiency.”

I think this idea, with a few hundred billion dollars tacked on, will sound familiar to most Americans at this point.

Here is what Mr. Sanders said in a 2006 article at Common Dreams.org about his focus and his success at the polls.

“He says his consistent electoral success reflects the widespread discontent with rising inequality, deepening poverty and dwindling access to affordable healthcare in the US. “People realise there is a lot to be learned from the democratic socialist models in northern Europe,” Mr Sanders said. “The untold story here is the degree to which the middle class is shrinking and the gap between rich and poor is widening. It is a disgrace that the US has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any industrialised country on earth….”

Mr. Sanders was willing to take on Alan Greenspan long before most were willing to do so.

 Here is a list of a number of votes that Mr. Sanders has cast in recent years.

Senator Sanders has shown  that one can be what many would consider quite far to left, and still be able to reach the high post of United States Senator. With the involvement of government in so many aspects of our economy in recent months, Mr. Sanders may well be able to say that the nation is moving closer to his ideals than to those of his critics and towards the critics of government intervention in the economy.

The people of Vermont know Mr. Sanders well after all his years of seeking office in that state. Now the nation is moving closer to the views of Mr. Sanders and his supporters in Vermont.  On the other hand, familiarity with George W. Bush and his radical free-market ideas bred only contempt with the majority of American people.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Books, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mr. Obama Should Appeal To Non-Evil Coalition To Get To 60 Votes In Senate—Help For Unemployed Stripped From Stimulus

The Huffington Post is reporting that provisions helping  unemployed people maintain and acquire health insurance have been stripped from the Senate version of the stimulus bill.

From the report— ….law professor and health care author Timothy Jost noticed that the Senate had removed the House provision that would allow people 55 and over who are laid off to continue COBRA coverage at a subsidized rate until they’re 65 and eligible for Medicare. The House version also made folks who were laid off temporarily eligible for Medicaid; the Senate version strips that out, Jost found. Every one percent increase in unemployment throws more than a million people into the ranks of the uninsured.

It does not surprise me that Republicans want this taken out. (Or that maybe a few Democrats have also signed on with this idea.) I have no expectations of Republicans in Washington. Many are not decent people. I’m not interested in compromising with most of them. I’m not sure why our President wants to talk to them. Though I guess if Mr. Obama feels we should talk to Iran, a view I support, I suppose we can also talk to these persons as well.

If we can’t get health insurance for unemployed people in the middle of an economic disaster, when are we going to make progress on universal coverage? Are we just going to get nowhere on this issue for all time?

Since my Texas Senators are cold-hearted and do not represent me in any meaningful way, I called the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and asked that these protections for unemployed people be kept in the stimulus bill. Mr. Reid’s office can be reached at 202-224-3542. I figure since Mr. Reid is a national leader that any American can give him a call.

I think people who kick other people when they are down are evil.  

I also called the White House comment line at 202-456-1111. I said I hoped President Obama would make sure that health insurance for the unemployed would be part of the final bill. I also said I don’t understand why he is trying to compromise with bad people.  

With 58 Democrats in the Senate, plus Al Franken when he is finally seated, and with Senate Republicans who retain some humanity,  maybe there is a non-evil coalition in the Senate that can help get the President to 60 votes on the big issues.

It’s more complex when talking about rank-and-file voters. People are often a muddle of good and ill. But many of these elected Republicans in Washington are just plain and simple bad folks. They gather up all the rotten thoughts and ideas people have, and bring them to the front and center. They filter out any decent thoughts that voters have.

If we can’t work around these people now, when will we ever be able to do so?

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments