Editon:7729 An Independent Opinion Editor in Chief: Wanda Podunt,Deep South, USA


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"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Weekend Ponderings

There are so many things I could post about today. There's the Pentagon's delaying the release of May's recruiting data.[source] Although they deny it, clearly it's noting more than an attempt to delay the release of bad news. News that isn't getting any better. Those in the know seem to think things will pick up over the summer. I think they're only fooling themselves. Our young have figured it out. Being broke and poor beats getting shot at and killed any day of the week. I don't even want to speculate what this bodes for the future of the military.

But this is not what I want to address. Instead I want to offer up a piece of writing that is some of the best I've read in ages. It sums my own personal feelings up in ways I am unable to do. I suspect that will apply to almost anyone who read it. So without further ado, I offer to you for reading...

Things We Throw Away

I know it's long, but try to read it all the way through. Even check out the links. Some of the comments will move you as well.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Broken Promises

When President Bush introduced his global AIDS initiative in January 2003, calling it "a work of mercy beyond all current interantional efforts", the plan certainly sounded promising. Bush pledged to spend $15 billion over five years to provide life-saving drugs to at least 2 million people with HIV, to prevent 7 million new infections and care for the sick and orphaned in fifteen countries.
But, from the start , Bush has failed to deliver on the funding he promised, and what little money he has provided is being used to promote a right-wing agenda, that undercuts international efforts and has put millions of people in AIDS-ravaged countries at greater risk of infection and death. Public health experts say it looks increasingly unlikely that Bush will fulfill his promise, and that even if he does, the money will fall far short of what is needed.

In addition to shortchanging international relief efforts, Bush is using AIDS funds to place religion over science (much as he has done here in the U.S.). Before overseas groups can receive U.S. funding, for example the Bush administration requires them to take a "loyalty oath" to condem prostitution. Brazil recently became the first country to rebel against the oath. Announcing in May that it was rejecting $40 million in AIDS grants from the administration.

"What we're doing is imposing a really misguided and ill-informed ideology on top of a public-health crisis" says Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Bush's plan calls for an ABC approach to HIV prevention which stands for "abstinence", "be faithful", and "condoms use". The administration makes no secret they are strongly stressing the "abstinence". In it's first year the administrations plan spent more than HALF of the $92 million earmarked for prevention of sexual transmission, on promoting abstinence programs.

The emphisis on morality is being driving by social consevatives who have made speading the gospel of abstinence to Africans (as well as Americans) their primary mission. The right wing is fixated on making Africans abstinent. "Condoms promote promiscuity, when you give a teenager a condom, it gives them a license to go out and have sex" (Derek Gordon,of Focus on the Family). In April Rep. Henry Hyde threatened to cut funding to organizations that promote the use of condoms.

In January Ambassador Randall Tobias, Bush's global AIDS czar, issued written guidelines that included the following...
"Groups that receive U.S. funding should not target youth with messages that present abstinence and condoms as "equally viable" alternative choices."

Nowhere is the effort by conservative Republicans to turn the clock back on sex education more pronounced than in Uganda. Under pressure from the Bush administration Uganda has taken a dangerous turn toward an abstinence-only approach. In April the country's Ministry of Education banned the promotion and distribution of condoms in public schools. To make matters worse the government has engineered a nationwide shortage of condoms by issuing a recall of all state supplied condoms and impounding boxes of condoms imported from other countries by claiming they need to be tested for quality control. The Bush administration is showing their approval by pumping $10 million into abstinence only programs in Uganda.

In the end say public-health experts, the administration's diverson of funds away from the tired-and-true HIV prevention methods is more than a misguided experiment, it's a deadly game of Russian roulette that could mark a calamitious turn in Africa's attempts to get a handle on the AIDS epidimic. As the administration fails to make good on Bush's promises, Africans continure contract HIV and to die from AIDS.[source: Rolling Stone magazine, Issue 976]

"People will look back and say, "Why didn't they stop the dying?" "Why didn't we show our compassionate selves?" "What kind of country are we?", (Dr Paul Zeitz, executive director of The Global AIDS organization)

Meanwhile here in the U.S. groups such as The Children's AID's Fund received $10 million, (even though they were deemed "not suitable for funding" by an expert review panel) and Fresh Ministries, a Florida based group with little experience in tackling AIDS also received $10 million.

It's becoming increasingly clear that with this administration the motto "you're either with us or with the enemy" is applicable on all fronts.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Democracy in Action

Is the United States government touting democracy to the world an oxymoron? If one were in Ft Lauderdale this week for Organization of American States it might well seem so.

In his speech to the Organization of American States (OAS) extolling the benefits of US-style democracy, President George W. Bush declared Monday that Latin Americans "need to see that in a democratic society, people can walk in the streets in safety."

Unfortunately, for those who traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the OAS general assembly, such democratic comforts were in short supply. Rather, the atmosphere surrounding the inter-American meeting was that of a police state, and those walking the streets—officials and protesters alike—were subjected to systematic harassment and the threat of detention.

Massed federal, state and local police from 26 separate agencies imposed such intense repression that the OAS is itself reportedly preparing a formal protest to the US government.

A Venezuelan reporter, Lyng-Hou Ramírez, filed a complaint with the OAS after she was detained by Secret Service agents and other police.

According to an account published in the Mexican daily La Jornada, the reporter, who was officially accredited to cover the meeting for a press group representing several prominent Latin American dailies, was detained for over an hour and threatened with deportation.

"I am not a terrorist, I am a journalist," she was quoted as telling a mob of 20 agents who came to interrogate her after she was grabbed by local police while leaving the convention center.

The Mexican newspaper quoted a State Department official who defended the detention on the basis of “tight security,” and added that Ramírez was “not the only one” detained.

Ramírez said that the agents refused to contact the OAS to confirm that her credentials were legitimate. “They don’t make the rules, we do,” they told her.

The incident began after cops searched her bag and found an OAS document on human rights, which apparently made her an immediate suspect

Ms Ramírez might have expected such treatment in any other country but certainly not in the United States. At least in pre-BushCo/Patrioit Act days. Not anymore.
While our President and his Secretary (of State) bounce around the globe touting democracy, we here in the US are seeing a slow and steady decline of such.
Our government is out of control. They're seeing terrorist threats in every nook and cranny. They're using September 11th, as excuse for turning the U.S. into a police state. The only people who don't see what's happening here in America are the far right wingnuts and the ostrich people .
I believe this comment by attorney Carol Sobel say's it all. "Convening diplomats will be able to talk about democracy, but they won’t get to see it practiced."
You know it's bad when the lawyers start making sense.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Elephant in The Room

For many months I've been saying that the one real threat to the US is China. So the following is no surprise to me.

"U S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rebuked China at a regional security conference in Singapore, saying it was pouring huge resources into its military and buying large amounts of sophisticated weapons despite facing no threat from any other country."[ source]

His warning was met by this response from the director of the Asia bureau of China's foreign ministry, Cui Tiankai: "Since the U.S. is spending a lot more money than China is doing on defense, the U.S. should understand that every country has its own security concerns and every country is entitled to spend money necessary for its own defense."

Rumsfield countered with "Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment?"
Cui Tiankai responsed with "Do you truly believe that China is under no threat by other countries?"

Personally I would have responded with "What makes the United States government think they are the only ones with a right to bounce around the globe telling other countries what they can and cannot do within the boundries of their own country? Why is it that the US can attack other countries, using made up and altered intelligence information, but China is not suppose to be concerned about the buildup of weapons within their own provinces? Weapons being supplied to that province by not only Japan but by the US as well. Most important, what makes the US government think they have the right to tell ANY country what they may or may not have in their weapons arsenal?"

If the world were a schoolyard, the US would surely be the schoolyard bully. And like all bullies eventually a bigger bully comes along. I'd say China just may well be the bigger bully. The US government would be well advised to tread carefully. China not only holds the bank notes on our billions (or is it trillions) dollars of debt, but they out number us about two to one. Considering that the military currently can't meet their enlistment quotas and that the military is already stretched to their limits, taking on China would be a fatal mistake.

Maybe the time has come for those of us outside DC to start seriously making plans for the inevitible. Remember those bomb shelters our grandparents used to have? I'm thinking now would be a good time to think about looking into investing in one of my own. Granted most of us won't survive an all out pissing contest between the bullies, but those few who do will need some means of continuing to survive. Besides I live in Podunt. Nothing ever happens here. The world mostly doesn't know we exist. We could, maybe survive. With a good bomb shelter, and a whole bunch of canned food and bottled water, that is. Maybe?


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