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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4498)

by Bill Berkowitz

While the lives of men and woman are at stake in Uganda, a playful and downright jolly Pastor Rick Warren, author of the mega-best-selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life" and the Pastor of Lake Forest, California's Saddleback Church, recently appeared on the Fox News Channel to promote his book, "The Purpose of Christmas." In the 4-minute-plus interview, Warren smiled and laughed. He told Fox's Steve Doocy and Martha MacCallum that this is the season for "celebration," "salvation," and "reconciliation."

And, in closing out the segment, he invoked Rodney King's comment: "Can't we all just get along?"

In the past few days, a number of religious leaders have spoken out against pending legislation in Uganda -- the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 -- that would impose severe criminal penalties against homosexuals, including the death penalty.

But Pastor Rick Warren was not on board.

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 01:17

David Calamoneri: Unfinished War

by David Calamoneri

The "embeds" aren't on the TV 24-7 anymore. The Defense Department's propaganda pushing generals were all but gone from the talk show circuit, replaced by health scare, and former beauty pageant stars. But alas, the two wars our last president got us into continue, costing thousands of American soldiers their lives (5,130 so far), an uncounted number of Iraqi and Afghan civilians their lives, and hundreds of billions of our dollars ($940 billion so far). The first with Afghanistan (more specifically "the Taliban"), who would not produce al Qaeda, living and training within their borders, and the second war, a "pre-emptive/Bush doctrine" war with Iraq, who was bluffing Iran with talk of WMDs, had a connection to al Qaeda more tenuous than the Bush Administration and Saddam, and had no connection with the attacks that "started" the war on the noun "terror," which it turns out is a convenient way to get around the international rules of engagement and the execution of war. Guns and bombs blazing through towns and cities induce terror, no matter who is firing them.

Candidate Bush's stance (circa 1999) against "nation building" was just about the only thing I ever agreed with him on. Of course, this "stance" turned out to be about as solid as "compassionate conservatism" was to anyone who disagreed with him, or more importantly, his party. Failure 43's "war president" focus left the unfinished, and internationally supported, war in Afghanistan to focus in on the invasion of Iraq. A war for regime change he, and his, were planning before they figured out the justifications and rationalizations for rushing us into it. Now after eight years, elections fraught with fraud, and reports of corruption, the weak Afghan government established and secured by the U.S. and others receives little, if any, faith or respect from the public who are starting to think back to the Taliban days of, albeit oppressive, security, and stability. With no exports, but heroin. No jobs, but fighting. Afghanistan needs to be rebuilt, but can we stay and rebuild it? Should we stay and rebuild it?

by Bill Berkowitz

Last week I learned two things about Hawaii: First, thanks to The New Yorker's Sam Tannenhaus, I found out just how much Sarah Palin couldn't stand the place during her brief stay there; and, second, my much-trusted Hawaii-based religious right watchdog informed me of a move afoot by the state's Christian Right to put the kybosh on any possibility the state legislature might pass a Civil Unions bill next year.

According to The New Yorker's Tannenhaus, Chuck Heath, Sarah's father, told Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, authors of "Sarah from Alaska" (PublicAffairs; $26.95), that the reason that his daughter dropped out of the college she was attending in Hawaii -- the first of four colleges she ultimately went to -- was because she was uncomfortable in the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders. "They were a minority type thing and it wasn't glamorous, so she came home," her father said.

Enough Sarah Palin for now; on to Civil Unions, or the lack there of.

by Jacqueline Marcus

Well it's a pretty obvious problem, isn't it? It's not as though they're all playing football with different T-shirts that distinguish one from the other: "Hi, I'm the Good Taliban," "I'm the bad Taliban," "I'm bad-boy Al Qaeda," "I'm just an ordinary Afghan father."

We don't know how many innocent Afghans have been murdered because our soldiers simply don't know how to tell the difference. How many innocent Afghans have been thrown into prisons that were built from our tax dollars because no one can discern between the good and the bad?

by Martha Rosenberg

Thank you Illinois DNR.  

It's been a year since the Illinois Department of Natural Resources poisoned all the fish in Lincoln Park's South Pond to "restore" the water body into a "model Illinois freshwater habitat." Most of the world was watching the events two miles away in Grant Park as Barack Obama was named 44th President of the United States.

Tens of thousands of goldfish, koi, bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish/bluegill hybrids that inhabited the pond for 140 years suffocated and struggled to the surface after state "environmentalists" poisoned the water with Rotenone. Soon the lagoon sported a slick of shiny, golden and still moving fish like a macabre layered bar drink.

The irony of killing the fish to save the pond was not lost on Chicago residents who have enjoyed the fish from rented paddle boats on the 5.2 acre pond for generations.

"It takes such a long time for them to grow and they're just gonna kill them off," lamented Carlos de la Pena to CBS News.

by Nikolas Kozloff

When people think about preserving the Amazon rainforest, captivating animals may come to mind such as the jaguar, toucan, or manatee. But while wildlife must be safeguarded, there are now other urgent reasons to protect the jungle. The seriousness of the problem was recently brought home to me when I visited the Amazonian city of Manaus.

There, I sat down with Dr. Philip Fearnside of Brazil's National Institute for Research in the Amazon, one of the most cited scientists on the issue of global warming. When I asked Fearnside about the connection between the Amazon and world climate, the scientist took out a calculator. After about a minute or so, he looked up and replied that the Amazon might contain nearly 100 billion tons of carbon simply in its trees. "That's a lot of carbon," he remarked, chuckling.

Those trees render a great service as they suck up greenhouse gasses that would ordinarily wind up in the atmosphere. However, when they are chopped down, they stop sequestering carbon and release more carbon as they decompose or burn. Even worse, yet more carbon gets emitted when the soil is tilled or other agricultural activities take place on cleared forestland.

by Jacqueline Marcus

Corporate media networks want Obama to FAIL. If Obama is not failing, then the corporate press outlets deliberately "project" the perception of failure.

For the first time in a long time, we got to see our President again at Allentown, speaking to his supporters. We got a chance to hear what he is up against: When questioned about regulations, for instance, Obama explained that is trying the best he can, but that Congress stalls legislation with committee hearings and debates and that it takes forever to get the ball rolling. We got to hear his side of things, uncensored and unedited by the corporate media. I felt assured that President Obama is indeed trying to get the right things done, but it's hard to see where he stands through the anger of Afghanistan and the smoke of Wall Street bailouts.

Nevertheless, after seeing Obama at the Allentown meeting, answering questions with his own people again, I felt badly for him.

One way to keep Obama's accomplishments off the radar is by censoring talks such as the one he gave in Allentown. C-SPAN showed it one time to my knowledge and will show it just once again on Monday night exactly during Monday Night Football. As for the mainstream media, NBC Nightly News, owned by defense contractor, General Electric, showed a brief edited clip of a young man asking about legalizing prostitution -- and that was it.

Friday, 04 December 2009 06:42

Michael Winship: The Afghan Ambush

by Michael Winship

The decision has been made. The months of meetings and briefings are over. Tuesday night, the President made it official: 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan. Along with Friday's announcement of an additional 7,000 from our NATO allies, after all those weeks of debate and consultation, the result's pretty much exactly what our commander over there, General Stanley McChrystal, asked for in the first place.

Friday, 04 December 2009 00:56

Joe Uehlein: Labor's Road to Copenhagen

by Joe Uehlein

While world leaders play the "blame game" for their failure to negotiate a binding climate agreement in Copenhagen, trade unions from around the world, almost unnoticed, have forged their own common approach to climate protection.

Unions in different countries and industries inevitably have different interests. But remarkably they have been able to come together as a unified force around the necessity for protecting the climate, protecting workers, and protecting the world's poor.

As world leaders assemble in Copenhagen for the global climate conference, they will be joined by a global labor delegation of 250 trade unionists from around the world demanding a just transition to an environmentally and socially sustainable global economy.

by Bill Berkowitz

Despite what you may have thought, suspected, or maybe intuited, in this brave new world of tweets, Facebook and MySpace social networking, and You Tube's viral videos, there is still a place for direct mail fundraising appeals that are delivered to your mailbox by the U.S. Postal Service. And, at the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC), the six-page letter appears to be still king.

Direct mail fundraising appeal urges FRC supporters to stand against what it claims should really be called the 'Discrimination Against Christians in the Workplace Act.'

As has been the case for years with religious right organizations, the most popular direct mail subject matter -- and fundraising fodder -- is the gays. This time around, there's an added bonus; cross-dressers in the workplace.

Last month, the FRC sent out an appeal -- signed by Tony Perkins, the group's president -- headlined "President Obama and Washington D.C., radicals plan to impose homosexuality and silence Christianity in workplaces." Will you help me warn Congress?"

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