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Grappling With Phantoms: The Financial Cliff, the War on Christmas, and Other Dim Tidings of Political DisconnectBy Phil Rockstroh, SpeakOut | News Analysis
As we draw near to the Winter Solstice and the days shorten, one's thoughts are drawn inward.
Bright lights, fragrant spices and sprigs of evergreen are appropriated to induce one back into the Eros of life. Otherwise, daylight-bereft, in the half-light between the land of the living and the domain of the shades of memory, one can become stranded in impersonal despair or toxic nostalgia.
Countless generations of combat veterans have warned us that if you cannot spread and maintain peace at all costs then you will soon discover your capability to become used to anything. Absolutely anything. While none of us will ever admit to getting used to the images of murdered children or adults this is not to say the murderers won't. What we can admit is that a very clear and traceable pattern of mass murder in our society is upon us. These murderers tend to be young and come from our own ranks and not some foreign land. It hasn't always been this way so something has changed.
The Sandy Hook Shooting, like all mass killings has sparked debates on
gun control, popular culture and accessible mental health care.
Saner gun laws and better mental health services would no doubt help
our country. But the unifying problem—the one that is wholly missing
from this discourse is gender, the fact that nearly without exception
violent crimes and mass murders are committed by men.
Legislation to prevent the Isle of Man being used by 'vulture funds' to exploit the debts of some of the world's poorest countries has this week received Royal Assent.
The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (Limitation on Debt Recovery) Act 2012 outlaws a practice that undermines international debt relief efforts.
The legislation prevents vulture funds from buying up poor nations' debts for a fraction of their original amount and then using the courts to sue for the full value, plus interest and penalty charges.
Last Thursday I joined students at the UIC Forum to sing pro-worker holiday carols while handing out candy canes with petitions attached to them. We did this in an effort to pressure Chancellor Allen-Meares to step in and offer campus workers a fair contract. Workers have been in negotiations for more than 7 months. Our newly formed UIC student organization, USAS (UIC Students Against Sweatshops), is mobilizing students on campus as part of the larger Campus Worker Coalition, which includes unions like SEIU and AFT.
From our professors to those who clean our buildings, UIC workers are fighting for a fair contract and dignity in the workplace. According to a financial audit, completed by Eastern Michigan University professor Howard Bunsis, campus workers are struggling just to maintain their basic benefit standards.
The US military is saying that Adnan Latif, the young Yemeni at Guantanamo who recently died, committed suicide by overdosing on medication he smuggled into his cell. The US military's storyline does not add up, and crucial questions are unanswered. The Yemen government is helping the US hide the truth.
"Evil visited this community today," is how Governor Molloy described the awful events that occurred at a Newtown Connecticut Elementary school. Whenever a "terrorist" attacks and innocents are slaughtered, we begin referencing religious concepts and asking the inevitable questions. Why do they hate us? Why would someone commit such an atrocity? Why was a flawed, obviously insane individual allowed access to weapons? The 24 hour cable "news" networks voyeuristically "report" firsthand accounts and "talking head experts" speculate regarding motive and intent. But yet we ignore the obvious, and refuse to look at who we are, better, what we've become, as a nation, a people, that makes such awful events not an aberration, but an all too common occurrence of slaughter and mayhem.
The New York Times today, in the very first sentence of its article titled, "Leader of Hamas Delivers Defiant Speech at Anniversary Celebration," reports, "GAZA CITY — Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, gave a defiant speech on Saturday, vowing to build an Islamic Palestinian state on all the land of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." Despite quoting Meshal at length in the article, there was no direct quote confirming this first sentence. The Jerusalem Post did provide a direct quote: "Palestine was, still is and will always be Arab and Islamic...Palestine belongs to us and to no one else." This is consistent with the Hamas Covenant 1988, which states in Article Thirty-One: "It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region, because the day these followers should take over there will be nothing but carnage, displacement and terror."
Council member Ken Cockrel must be trippin! On Tuesday, December 11, after he, along with Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, Gary Brown, and Charles Pugh, voted to approve the ill-conceived Hantz land sale proposal, he was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, "a 'no' vote would have sent the message to the world that Detroit isn't really serious about urban agriculture." The foremost advocates and practitioners of urban agriculture in Detroit opposed the Hantz proposal. It is groups like Feedom Freedom Growers, Earthworks Urban Farm, the Garden Resource Program and D-Town Farm that have informed the nation and the world that Detroiters are serious about urban agriculture.
During the campaign season, President Obama claimed voters must choose between two visions for America. We could choose to move forward towards shared prosperity or rely on the same reckless policies that led to economic collapse. On November 6, the American people spoke in favor of shared prosperity. A majority of Americans cast ballots for the President and for Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Americans are also quite clear about the meaning of shared prosperity: we need to invest in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs that build the middle class, not cut them.