30 September 2011

New international human rights logo

A new international human rights logo has been chosen in a competition organized by the German Foreign Ministry. More than 15,000 logos were submitted.

The winning entry was designed by Pedrag Stakic, a 33-year-old freelance graphic designer from Serbia. The logo combines two universal symbols -- a hand and a bird --- to symbolize a "free, just, and peaceful world."

This beautiful open-source logo can be downloaded from www.humanrightslogo.net and used freely for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights.

29 September 2011

Sarah Palin's media enablers

The media pundits on all sides are abuzz with speculation on whether or not Sarah Palin will soon announce her candidacy for the 2012 presidential race. Rumor has it that she will announce by the end of this month. That means either today or tomorrow.

Frankly, I don't care either way. Unfortunately, the media do seem to care -- a lot.

Palin is easy headline fodder, and so they are more than happy to eat right out of her hands, giving her the attention she craves with very little real work required on Palin's part.

Palin has become the Paris Hilton of politics -- famous for being famous (and photogenic), with or without a real job.

And that I why I suspect she will not run. It would require real work, unnecessary work.

Because the lazy media would rather cover her every irrelevant move than deal with the real problems facing this nation and the world -- like the bankers who go unpunished after causing the economic crisis that continues to drag on, and the Bush administration's war crimes which remain unpunished.

Ironically, these are the same media that Palin routinely criticizes.

Like Palin, I guess the media just don't want to do too much work.

28 September 2011

Troy Davis funeral details

Troy Davis's funeral will be held on Saturday, October 1, starting at 11:00 am, at the Jonesville Baptist Church, 5201 Montgomery Street, Savana, Georgia. According to Amnesty International, "The service is open to the public, but media cameras will not be permitted."

Cards and donations can be sent to the Davis family at:
"I am Troy Davis", P.O. Box 2105, Savannah, GA 31407

Prior to Saturday's funeral, flowers and plants can be sent to:
Sidney A. Jones and Campbell Funeral Services
124 West Park Avenue, Savannah, GA 31401-6439
(912) 234-7226

25 September 2011

Troy Davis funeral expenses

As you probably already know, Troy Davis was executed in Georgia on September 21 despite compelling evidence suggesting that he was innocent.

Now, to add insult to injury, Troy Davis's family must pay all funeral expenses.

If you would like to help, go to troyanthonydavis.org and click the "Donate" button on the left side to donate via Paypal.

23 September 2011

President Perry's Secretary of State

If Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry wins the White House, we can kiss the First Amendment's establishment clause goodbye.

Perry wears his fundie Christianity on his sleeve, and is promising to govern the way he thinks God wants him to -- and that means backing Israel to the hilt. Screw the innocent little Palestinian children whose legitimate homes are being illegally destroyed by Israeli "settlers".

Per an interview with Mother Jones: "When ... asked if he believes America's continued support for Israel is a theological priority, Perry answered: 'As a Christian, I have a clear directive to support Israel. So from my perspective, it's pretty easy. Both as an American, and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel.'"

As a friend commented to me about this: "Nice to know that God is going to be the new Secretary of State if Perry wins."

And what an un-Christlike God that would be.

22 September 2011

Troy Davis, RIP

At 11:08 pm in Georgia last night, Troy Davis was pronounced dead.

Cause of death: Lethal injection for a crime he might not have committed.

His execution had been delayed from the originally scheduled time of 7:00 pm so the U.S. Supreme Court could consider a last-minute plea for a stay.

But the high court decided instead to allow Georgia to kill a possibly innocent man.

Davis's original trial was flawed. Most of the witnesses have since recanted or contradicted their stories, with many claiming that they had been pressured or coerced by police. And there is no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime. His conviction was based solely on that questionable testimony by witnesses. In other words, there is reasonable doubt as to Davis's guilt.

But they killed him anyway.

And, if Davis's claim of innocence was true, that means the real killer walks free.

This is not justice.

20 September 2011

Troy Davis still in limbo

Yesterday, after a hearing, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles failed to issue its life-or-death decision in the Troy Davis case.

We expect a decision today, so stay tuned.

Depending on the decision, actions are planned as follows (per the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty):

If Clemency is granted or the execution is temporarily stayed:

- Atlanta: gathering of gratitude at 7pm at Central Presbyterian Church (across the street from the Capitol at (201 Washington St. SW; Atlanta, GA 30303)

- Everywhere: gatherings of gratitude and a call to commit to building the abolition movement are encouraged. Check with your state coalition to see what plans they have.

If clemency is denied:

- We will urge the Board to reconsider, asking everyone to send more emails and faxes to the Board

- Tuesday will be a "Day of Protest"

- People are asked to wear a black armband, with "not in my name!" written on it

- ATLANTA: protest rally at the state capitol 7pm (Washington Street side);

- Everywhere: protests are encouraged. Check with your state coalition.

Fingers crossed for justice. There is no excuse to execute a possibly innocent man.

UPDATE (10:45 AM): The Georgia Board has rejected clemency for Troy Davis. He will die tomorrow at 7:00 pm despite all the evidence that he may be innocent.

19 September 2011

Troy Davis's last hope

Today, the Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles will review the case of Troy Davis, who is scheduled for execution on Wednesday despite considerable evidence that he might be innocent.

At this point, it appears that Davis has exhausted all other legal options, so his fate now rests with the Board.

Davis's original trial was flawed. Most of the witnesses have since recanted or contradicted their stories, with many claiming that they had been pressured or coerced by police. And there is no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime. His conviction was based solely on that questionable testimony by witnesses.

Nevertheless, the Board rejected previous calls for clemency.

Will they make the same reckless mistake this final time around? Or will they take seriously the hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions in support of Troy Davis that have been pouring in from around the world, and grant clemency?

Fingers crossed for the latter.

Stay tuned.

17 September 2011

Rick Perry embraces science (when it's convenient)

Now that the Republican presidential contenders are all busy fighting amongst themselves, Rick Perry has suddenly reversed course and decided to embrace science - just this once.

In responding to Michele Bachmann's claims that the HPV vaccine (mandated in Perry's Texas) causes mental retardation, Politico quotes Perry as follows:
"It was an ill choice of response when she had no scientific backing, to say the least," Perry said. "There were a number of venues that have responded to that and responded appropriately. To put our vaccinations of our children in question with hearsay and innuendo is not in the best interest of the healthcare of our citizens... To make statements without clear and incontrovertible evidence is not good for the general debate and my bet is if Mrs. Bachmann had the opportunity to retrieve those words that she certainly would."
But don't worry. He still doesn't believe in global warming.

14 September 2011

1/6 of Americans now live in poverty

This is shameful: Here in the USA, often touted as the richest nation in the world, almost 1/6 of us live in poverty.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. poverty level jumped to 15.1 percent last year. This is a 17-year high, attributed at least in part to the ongoing unemployment crisis.

And it gets worse: 22 percent of our children under 18 are living in poverty.

To add insult to injury, the number of people without health insurance increased to 49.9 million -- a new high.

So we can all just starve or die of untreated illnesses.

Meanwhile, the richest of the rich continue to grow richer, enabled by their paid servants on Capitol Hill.

And, unlike the rich, we must still pay our taxes as we starve and die.

13 September 2011

Is Obama's jobs bill doomed?

Obama's jobs bill looks like a good, if perhaps inadequate, start at creating much-needed jobs. Some money would go towards infrastructure, some towards schools, some towards police and fire department payrolls, etc. All important work to keep things running.

But don't hold your breath.

According to The Hill, Obama wants to pay for it all "by raising taxes on the wealthy and businesses."

Surely that won't pass the GOP-dominated House.

The GOP will likely push instead for more cuts to social services that benefit everyday people, so that the rich won't have to pay their fair share.

And, if recent history is any indication, any "compromise" will likely also result in reducing the cost of the plan, and therefore reducing the number of jobs created.

How much will Obama bargain away this time in the name of "compromise"?

And who will the voters blame next November?

08 September 2011

Help save Troy Davis from 9/21 execution

An execution date of September 21 has been set for Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis. That is less than two weeks from today.

This is despite overwhelming evidence that I believe provides reasonable doubt as to Davis's guilt in the case: Davis's original trial was flawed. Most of the witnesses have since recanted or contradicted their stories, with many claiming that they had been pressured or coerced by police. And there is no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime. His conviction was based solely on that questionable testimony by witnesses.

But, this past March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected without comment Davis's appeal to overrule a federal judge who decided that Davis's innocence claim wasn't good enough.

The SCOTUS decision cleared the way for Georgia to execute a man who may be innocent, while the real killer will remain unaccountable.

What you can do:

>> Please click here to sign Amnesty International's petition to Georgia's Board of Pardons & Paroles urging them to grant clemency. Amnesty will deliver our signatures next week.

And please ask your friends to sign it too.

This may be our last remaining chance to stop this injustice!

07 September 2011

Obama caves in to the polluters

In case you haven't heard about this, since it came down at the start of a holiday weekend: Last Friday, President Obama gave in to the corporate polluters and rejected new standards for air quality.

In a staff blog post for the National Resources Defense Council, John Walke points out that
"[Obama's] own rationale for interference defies the Clean Air Act and a unanimous Supreme Court decision, elevating unlawful considerations above public health, science and the law."
The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial board had this to say about it:
"Tens of thousands of people are dying prematurely each year from breathing dirty air. Many more fall ill with asthma, bronchitis or heart attacks. But major polluters don’t want to talk about the smog that’s killing them.

"They’d rather spin this into an economic threat. Dirty industries know they can exploit unemployment anxiety by howling that stronger standards under the Clean Air Act would lead to job losses."
And Obama fell for it.

He apparently doesn't care about the quality of the air that his two young daughters will have to breathe in the future.

And apparently he doesn't care about the fact that pursuing clean energy alternatives could more than make up for any job losses from reduced pollution.

All he apparently cares about is appeasing the Republicans and their corporate overlords.

05 September 2011

This Labor Day, reflect and take action!

Today is Labor Day in the U.S. - a holiday on which we honor the American workforce.

But what is there to celebrate this year, when some 9.1 percent of us are unemployed, and millions more underemployed?

What is there to celebrate this year while American businesses continue to ship our jobs overseas where they can take advantage of slave-level wages?

What is there to celebrate this year while Republican presidents across the nation are doing everything they can to destroy the unions that have for decades given the American middle class a fair shot at the American dream?

What is there to celebrate this year while Congress insists on tightening the national belt rather than providing stimulus funds that could create jobs that could fix our crumbling infrastructure, thereby solving two problems at once?

What is there to celebrate this year when our democracy has morphed into a corporate plutocracy?

I suppose we can celebrate the fact that We The People are still allowed to vote and to speak out. So we must keep the pressure on Washington and on state houses across the country.

Here are some pro-worker actions you can take right now with just a few clicks of the mouse:

>> Tell Congress:Tax Wall Street to heal Main Street

>> Tell Congress: Just Say 'No' to the 'No JOBS' Act!

04 September 2011

The two faces of Barack Obama

With President Obama running for a second term, I cannot help but wonder which Obama we will see as the reelection campaign heats up over the coming year.

In 2008, we saw Obama the Candidate, who promised us change we can believe in. He inspired and energized us.

Now many of us on the progressive end of the political spectrum are dealing with 2+ years of disappointments from Obama the President.

We're still holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

We're still wasting money on unnecessary military operations.

The unemployment rate is still much too high.

The bankers are still raking in obscene salaries and bonuses as home foreclosures continue.

The rich still enjoy their Bush-era tax cuts (which are now Obama-era tax cuts).

And our Social Security and Medicare are on the line as possible bargaining chips in the ongoing budget wars.

This is not change I can believe in.

Perhaps Obama feels trapped in a position where he has no choice but to "negotiate" with the right. But negotiation, by definition, is supposed to be at least two-sided, with some give-and-take on all sides.

So has Obama pushed back strongly enough? I haven't heard enough words in his speeches to convince me that he has. I just keep hearing him use the word "compromise" while what he actually does is capitulate.

Still, next year, we the voting public will have to choose between Obama and his still-unknown Republican challenger.

More progressive Democrats have proven unelectable in the past, so we won't see a Dennis Kucinich or a Russ Feingold reaping any kind of surprise overthrow victory at next year's Democratic National Convention. And a progressive running as a third-party candidate (remember Ralph Nader?) would only potentially steal enough votes from Obama to reward us with a President Bachmann, a President Perry, or (at best) a President Romney.

So will Obama step up to the plate and try to win back the progressive base that worked so hard to get him elected in 2008?

If so, will enough of us support him?

That last question is not a rhetorical one. Sometimes we just have to face reality and vote for the proverbial lesser of two evils. We cannot afford any more Republican Supreme Court appointments.

But we can - and we must - make noise in the meantime. For democracy. And for true change that we really can believe in.

01 September 2011

Pastor wants atheist watch list

Internet pastor Mike Stahl thinks atheists should be listed in national registries, like sex offenders and terrorists.

He seems to think that if you don't believe in a magical deity, then you're a threat to those around you.

I would like Pastor Stahl to consider the following:

- Islamic terrorists are motivated by religion -- not by atheism.

- Christian terrorists (Hitler, McVeigh, Rudolph, etc.) are motivated by religion -- not by atheism.

- Many of the most high-profile sex offenders today are members of the religious clergy, or are religious cult leaders -- not atheists.

The atheists I know are smart, peaceful types who would never engage in terrorism and would never inappropriately touch a child. Nothing physically dangerous about them.

That said, by definition the only thing that separates atheists from others is that they simply do not believe in any of the alleged gods -- just as you do not believe in the gods of all those other religions besides yours. Should Buddhists be registered too, since they do not believe in your specific Judeo-Christian god?

Of course, radical religious nuts will not let fact or logic get in the way of their blind hysteria.

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
-- Stephen Roberts