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Right Wing Religious Extremist Anders Breivik Is Charged With The Terrorism In Oslo

I heard a brief Fox News radio report a few hours ago about the Oslo terrorist bombing and shooting. The update did not mention that this crime was an act of right-wing Christian extremism. I felt if this terrorism had been conducted by Muslims, that Fox would have reported this fact on the radio.

I want to be certain that people understand who committed the terrorist acts we saw in Oslo this past Friday.

From the New York Times-

The Norwegian man charged Saturday with a pair of attacks in Oslo that killed at least 92 people left behind a detailed manifesto outlining his preparations and calling for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination.., Anders Behring Breivik, 32. The police identified him as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, while acquaintances described him as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration.”

I’m not suggesting that people either here in America or elsewhere in the world who share the views of Mr. Breivik are going to go out and kill people. I’m simply saying that the Fox report I heard left out an important detail.

You can read what took place and who committed the crime and draw your own conclusions. This is just as you would do in any case after a terrible deed has been committed.

Mother Jones Magazine, a great liberal journal of news and opinion, has more on Mr. Breivik and the motives behind his actions.  Read it and decide what you think.

Here is BBC coverage of the story from Oslo.

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Millions Using Food Stamps—The Functions Of Social Welfare Programs

The New York Times reports that 36 million Americans are using food stamp programs. Here is a portion of the what the story on this subject says—-

“It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs….Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare….While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away.”

Here is the full story.

I made a point to use the part of the story that talks about the role former President George W. Bush and Republicans played in making the program more available. I was not aware of this and it was not what I expected to read.

I don’t have any illusions that President Bush and the Republicans who ran Congress for much of his time in office were very nice folks, but sometimes in life you get surprised.

Of course, you never know what people’s motives are.

A book I read some years ago about the history of public benefits for people in need was Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare by Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward.

Below is an assessment of this book by an Alice Chang. Ms. Chang is an activist and author in Oakland.

I believe that Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward’s Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, first released in 1971, is perhaps one of the most important books to read for anyone trying to understand the relationships between welfare policy, poverty and coerced labor. Piven and Cloward expose how welfare policy not only does not give poor people “relief” from poverty, but forces them to accept low-wage, exploitative, dead-end jobs. In fact, Piven and Cloward suggest, poverty policy and practice have historically been coupled with labor practice to accommodate local employers’ demands for cheap labor, particularly in service work and in agriculture. Poverty policy is designed and implemented to serve two basic functions. In times of economic downturn, welfare can be expanded to prevent or quell uprising by unemployed masses. Or, in times of relative economic and political stability, welfare can be contracted to expel people from the rolls, thus ensuring their availability to do low-wage work for local employers. Piven and Cloward describe this second function of welfare policy as ‘enforcing’ low-wage work, and the term is just as useful today in describing the use of so-called ‘welfare-to-work’ policies to coerce working poor people into ever more exploitative low- and no-wage jobs.”

The paragraph above is from the web home of the AFL-CIO. It is from a page on the website called–Books, Films, Plays, and Lessons that Change Lives.

36 million people in a lot of folks. And that is not all the people who would qualify for this program under full enrollment.

I hope President Obama soon takes a more active role in addressing the economic concerns of Americans.

It would be good to hear the President speak about how he thinks Americans will find work in a time when technology is helping employers shed jobs, working people have little money to spend to help fuel the economy, and other nations in the world are entering the global economic mainstream.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

While People Go On About Michael Jackson, Supreme Court Makes It More Difficult For Black Folks To Get Promoted At Work

While people go on about the death of Michael Jackson, an adult who often kept company with children that were not his own, the United States Supreme Court has made it more difficult for black folks to get promoted at work.

In a 5-4 decision , the Court ruled that the city of New Haven, Connecticut could not consider race in the context of an exam the city had used to help determine firefighter promotions.  

( Above—A memorial for Michael Jackson.)   

Here is a story on the case and the Supreme Court’s findings. 

Here is an editorial  on the ruling from the New York Times.

From the editorial—

The new standards announced by the court will make it much harder for employers to discard the results of hiring and promotion tests once they are administered, even if they have a disproportionately negative impact on members of a given racial group….Public employers that use civil service examinations and similar tests will be most directly affected, but the principle announced by the court applies to all employers and all sorts of procedures used to rank and sort potential and current employees….Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reading a dissenting statement from the bench, said the majority had undermined a crucial civil rights law. “Congress endeavored to promote equal opportunity in fact, and not simply in form,” she said. “The damage today’s decision does to that objective is untold.”

Here is the NAACP viewpoint on this decision. 

Here is the text of the Court’s decision.

What are the odds that the New Haven Fire Department has been an equal opportunity employer over the years?

If people want to line up  and recall the life of a celebrity while a right-wing Supreme Court makes it harder for them to get ahead on the job—I can’t do anything about that. 

Even with a black man as President, many in this nation are eager to reverse the gains of the Civil Rights movement and to undo progress we have made in this nation. 

I can’t decide for others about what they need to be focusing on in life.

( Below–An Associated Press photo of New Haven firefighters celebrating outside the Supreme Court.)

In this photo taken June 29, 2009, Attorney Karen Torre, center, ...

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

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

What Is The Subconscious Mind?

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For many years I had a recurring dream that I was in the Brown University Bookstore on Thayer Street in Providence, Rhode Island. (Above you see a picture of the Brown University Bookstore I took last year. The store is the grey building on the left. To the right is Thayer Street.)

After some years of this dream, I began to think about this place during my waking hours. 

As long as the dream went on, I never figured out why I was having the dream.   

As a kid I often went to the Brown U. store.  Last summer, in Providence for the first time in 20 years, I went into the bookstore for first time since maybe 1980. I’ve not had the dream since I went into the store last year.

In the past couple of months, I’ve had a new recurring dream. I dream I’m in parts of Providence that I knew as a kid, but did not see when in Providence last summer. I’ve now had this new dream three times.

Though I lived in Providence for my first 13 years, I consider Cincinnati, Ohio  my hometown far more than Providence. Cincinnati is where I lived the 18 years after Providence. Yet its Providence I keep dreaming about.

I think this is in part because I visit Cincinnati twice a year and have only been to Providence once in the past 20 years. I think if I did not regularly see Cincinnati, I would dream of that city as well.

In any case, all this got me to thinking about the subconscious mind.  What is the subconscious mind? 

A New York Times article from 2007  says it is something that guides your actions more than you realize. It says our minds respond in ways we don’t fully control in response to clues and triggers. For example, if we see a briefcase we may become more competitive. 

Past that article, what I found by poking around on the internet—perhaps reflecting a subconscious view that I don’t really want to know what is lurking in my mind—was nothing very solid.

There is a lot of stuff about using your so-called subconscious mind to quit smoking or become rich. Other web pages had a New Age feel. New Age stuff is fine for people who go for all that–But it does not do so much for me.

Wikipedia has a definition. 

Beyond my wariness of what I read in Wikipedia—And I do appreciate Wikipedia for all the pictures I use on this blog that I get from that source—I find myself wondering how we can well-define something that takes place in our subconscious. How can anyone know for sure?

I’d like to think that right now in my subconcious mind some type of dinosaur fight is taking place—

File:Laelops-Charles Knight-1896.jpg   

Here is the defintion of subconcious from The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

” Of or pertaining to, existing in, the part of the mind which influences actions etc. without one’s “full” awareness.”

I think this is as close as we are going to get to a good definition.

Your subconcious mind is present in some respect and it is messing with you in someway. If all it is doing is making you have a dream about a place you left a long time ago, you’re likely getting off lucky.

( Here is a link to information about Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Maybe those of who reached this post via a search engine question will have thoughts of all the good FDR and the New Deal accomplished planted in your subconscious when you are deciding in the future how to vote.)

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Books, Cincinnati | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

America—Not As Black As People Think

A new New York Times survey has Barack Obama leading John McCain by 45% to 39%.

Okay—No surprise.

Reading the polling data, one question did stand out. People were asked what percentage of the country was black.

The Census Bureau reports that in 2006, 12.8% of the American public was black. That number added up to about 38.3 million people.

In the Times survey, 32% of all people said America was between 20% and 30% black. An additional 32% said the number was between 30% and 40%. And 9% of respondents said America was a majority black nation.

Both a majority of black and white folks in the survey got the question wrong.

I guess I should stop being surprised at what people don’t know, but I really don’t see how people can figure the nation is 30% or more black. 

Do whites get it wrong out of a fear of being overrun? Are blacks looking for strength in numbers?

In any case, I don’t get what people are thinking sometimes. Don’t folks have any sense of the world around them?

Here is BlackDemograhics.com with information on blacks in the United States.

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 7 Comments

People Believe Wild Things Because Nothing Is So Brutal Or Crazy That It Can’t Be True

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about conspiracy theories many people believe.  

For example, 30% of black people believe it’s possible AIDS was deliberately manufactured to kill black folks.

This is held out as a crazy thing to think.

I don’t believe it myself.

But if you asked me if many white people and white politicians don’t care if poor urban black people live or die, I would say that’s correct.   

And plenty of black politicians don’t care either.  

In my own experience as a city council aide in Cincinnati, Ohio, I read the files of black cancer patients who had intentionally been given extra doses of radiation to see how they would react.

Get this—They suffered.  

Poor black people in cities, blacks and whites in rural areas, our colonized undocumented labor force, and poor people of all kinds, get inferior hospitals and inferior care.

When you ask black folks if AIDS was the work of government, maybe what you’re really asking if the government would do things that would kill people who look like you do.

“Yes” seems to be a logical reply.  

Mr. Kristoff says it is crazy that 36% of Americans believe that government orchestrated 9/11 or knew about it advance.  

Well—I’ve always thought that was a mistaken belief .

George W. Bush was intent on going to war in Iraq before 9/11. He did not need any provocation. 

What people know is that we lied about why we went to war, we did not give our troops the right equipment to save their lives, we sometimes kill innocent civilians, and that the troops sometimes get terrible care upon arriving back home.   

Did the government or President Bush know about 9/11 in advance? No. Is the government as led by President Bush capable of terrible acts that cause people to die? Sure–All the damned time.  

Mr. Kristoff mentions two other conspiracy theories in his column. 

One is that the levees in New Orleans were opened on purpose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This is not so.

Yet it had been known for years that the levees might not hold during a bad hurricane and that much of New Orleans was vulnerable. Then, after it was clear the disaster response was poor, President Bush said his FEMA director was doing a “heckuva job.”    

So why not figure that levees were opened by design? Is that much worse than the truth of the matter? 

Another view held by many is that crack cocaine was deliberately introduced into poor neighborhoods.

Now that one is crazy

These communities were already so flooded with alcohol, cigarettes, overpriced grocery stores offering little or no produce, bad schools and a host of other urban afflictions, why would you have to introduce something new to harm people?  

The history books tell us that we won our land in good part by exterminating the native population, and that we built up the land with the frequent and longtime use of slave labor.  

Our own experiences in life show us that our cities are left to rot year after year. And the poor are getting more poor even as the rich get richer.

So when you ask if the people in charge of our country are capable of barbaric or even genocidal acts, why would many give any other reply than “yes.”

April 1, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, History, Hurricane Katrina, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Absence Of Political Memory

A recent New York Times story about the Rhode Island primary started off this way–

“For the first time anyone can remember, this small state is relishing its role in the presidential primary cycle.”

I’m not certain how many people reporter Abby Goodnough interviewed to reach this conclusion, but the Rhode Island primary was a big deal in relatively recent memory.

In 1976 Democrats Jimmy Carter of Georgia, Jerry Brown of California and Frank Church of Idaho campaigned hard in Rhode Island.

(Photo is of Senator Church.)

Coming into Rhode Island, Governor Carter had the clear lead in the nomination fight. Governor Brown and Senator Church entered the race late to see if they could catch up with Mr. Carter.

The 1976 Rhode Island primary was held on June 1. 

While winning after starting late not seem likely in today’s nominating process, Hubert Humphrey had won the 1968 Democratic nomination despite ignoring most primaries. A victory after a late entry seemed possible in 1976.  

Rhode Island was one of the first primary involving Carter, Brown and Church.

All three candidates came to Rhode Island. I shook hands with all three and had brief conversations with Mr. Brown and Mr. Church. I was 8. I remember meeting the candidates as if it were last week. I recall Walter Cronkite discussing how little Rhode Island was playing such a large role in the process.   

Governor Brown won Rhode Island in 1976. It was not enough. Governor Carter had a lead that could not be overcome.

Ms. Goodnough could not find anybody in Rhode Island who recalls the 1976 Democratic primary? No political science professor or Democratic party official? It was a big deal at the time. 

Or maybe it’s true that nobody does remember.

No matter–The past has relevance. 

The past is context for the present. It gives our lives meaning to know that something came before and that we are part of something larger than just the present moment.

The past is alive. It is always open to new interpretations and it is with us when we consider why things are as they are in our lives.     

I read Ms. Goodnough’s article and for just a moment I wondered if my own memories were correct.

They are.

The past exists if even people can’t be bothered to recall it, or even if they won’t do the work required to remind us that more exists than just the story of the day.

Please click here for other Texas Liberal political history posts.  

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Reminder That Democrats Don’t Have 2008 Locked Up

In his Sunday column from January 27, Frank Rich of The New York Times talks about the risks for Democrats in nominating the Hillary and Bill team.

Here is the full column.

Here is an excerpt—

In a McCain vs. Billary race, the Democrats will sacrifice the most highly desired commodity by the entire electorate, change; the party will be mired in déjà 1990s all over again. Mrs. Clinton’s spiel about being “tested” by her “35 years of experience” won’t fly either. The moment she attempts it, Mr. McCain will run an ad about how he was being tested when those 35 years began, in 1973. It was that spring when he emerged from five-plus years of incarceration at the Hanoi Hilton while Billary was still bivouacked at Yale Law School. And can Mrs. Clinton presume to sell herself as best equipped to be commander in chief “on Day One” when opposing an actual commander and war hero? I don’t think so.

We can do better than Hillary Clinton.

Click here for Barack Obama for President

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment