Local Gov’t Stories, Events
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Books, Films, Arts & Education
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Health Care & Environment
03.23 Two Ohio coal-fired plants to close, deepening industry decline [hurrah!]
03.22 Carbon fibre: the wonder material with a dirty secret [making solid-state carbon products removes carbon from the atmoshere, diminishing CO2 as a warming factor]
03.22 World Water Day: one in four children will live with water scarcity by 2040 [watch and learn: "conservatives around the world will fight public water projects to support privatization and for-profit (mafia-like?) "solutions"]
News Media Matters
03.20 Google braces for questions as more big-name firms pull adverts [practice confers unmerited legitimacy to extremist videos]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
03.24 Healthcare bill hangs in balance as Republicans agonise over Trump's vote gamble [cross your fingers and make a wish]
03.23 Has the Trump Budget Blown Republicans’ Cover? [an immoral focus]
03.23 Trump’s Spending Cuts Would Create the Black America He’s Been Talking About [an immoral focus]
03.23 Trump-Russia inquiry in 'grave doubt' after GOP chair briefs White House [0:56 video]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
03.21 Forbes billionaire list: Trump loses $1bn as elite club gets 233 new members [how're YOU doin?]
03.19 Why transaction laundering is turning into a huge financial blindspot [what happens when bad actors–usually Republicans–weaken or stop effective regulations to avoid taxes]
03.21 Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chief, Faces New Allegations in Ukraine [birds of a feather...]
03.20 UN asks UK to suspend work on Hinkley Point [why allow the potential of a Fukushima catastrophe?]
Howard Zinn and the State of the Union
Barack Obama is possibly the only public speaker capable of telling us that he's going to violate us in the name of saving us and we all choke up with gratitude.
Howard Zinn has crossed over. He was a mensch, a historian and a peace and justice activist. He was not convinced that nonviolence was always the answer, but he often provided expert testimony for nonviolent resisters seeking help in conducting a robust defense of their actions in opposition to militarism and injustice. He was a public intellectual of staggering stature, producing his germinal People's History of the United States that shattered myths and provided comfort to people who had been written out of history or misrepresented in our standard histories.
At the same time that the news of Zinn’s death flashed throughout the peace and justice world, we listened to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. It is both inspiring and chilling. He is justifying more military, more nuclear reactors, and more coal plants. His righteous rhetoric is great, and I hope more Americans understand that Republicans shame themselves constantly by their disinformation and obdurate obstructionism. But Obama’s actual policies are quite disappointing in many ways. Yes, he's a pragmatist, but he is also a brilliant orator. He builds up the citizenry's hopes in his integrity, and he seems to be working to honor his promises, but many of his promises are actually harmful.
Nuclear power is not a solution to any problem we have and will in fact exacerbate them all. Those power plants are the only power that is permanently poisonous.
An increased military budget is not wise, humane, or in anyone's enlightened self-interest. It squanders our resources and alienates our world neighbors.
Coal power is unnecessary and takes away sacred mountains, wild wooded creeks, and our clean air, and it will worsen global warming.
There was no serious mention of disarmament, ecological protection, a drawdown of our 1,000 foreign military bases, energy conservation, cessation of small arms and light weapons exports, and no realistic plan for either ending our Afghanistan quagmire or making Rooseveltian strides toward full employment.
Barack Obama is possibly the only public speaker capable of telling us that he's going to violate us in the name of saving us and we all choke up with gratitude. He is truly charismatic, truly talented, and, I'm chagrined to say, truly unable to change the war system.
Obama, problematic as his policies are, is light-years ahead of what we might well have endured otherwise with McCain as President.
That all said, I am so very glad it was not John McCain delivering the SOTU. Bush was an emetic speaker; McCain would have been harshly flogging a herd of dead peacenik horses with his faux populism and bellicosity—he just looks like hot conflict ready to explode, a barely suppressed bundle of hatred who paid some horrific prices decades ago and has been cashing in ever since, representing all that is most churlish and pugnacious in ‘his people,’ not the majority. Obama, problematic as his policies are, is light-years ahead of what we might well have endured otherwise.
I expect that Howard Zinn would have said, well, here is what you could do today to help promote peace and justice, and here are several historical examples from which you could draw inspiration. While I know Howard will rest in peace, I’m hoping the rest of us will act in peace and empower the best in Obama. The war profiteers have moved from the limelight to just off-stage, but their power is still a massive influence, an invisible hand of a marketplace that leaves the working middle class of this country increasingly bereft and no one—no individual—can match their power.
I believe Howard Zinn would remind us that only in our collective good and brave actions can we right our ship of state. o you, Howard Zinn, who crossed over at 87: those of us who teach and write will draw endless inspiration and challenge from your lifetime body of work and your example that, in life, was so very living.
Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the graduate program of Conflict Resolution at Portland State University and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on February 4, 2010.