Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘United States’

Icons of Wild America

Icons of Wild America

Gray wolves are icons of wild America, but the Obama administration’s Department of the Interior is on the verge of stripping most of them of their protections under the Endangered Species Act. This would be catastrophic.

Tell the Obama administration not to turn its back on wolves.

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Forty years ago, wolves were on the brink of being hunted to extinction. They were saved by the Endangered Species Act, which allowed them to begin to flourish again in the mountains and forests of the United States, in places like Yellowstone National Park and the northern woods of Michigan.

Wolves still have a long way to go, but they’re making a comeback. Now that comeback is in danger.

If the federal government goes ahead with its plans, wolf management will be turned over to the states. This has already happened in the Northern Rockies and it’s been a disaster – over 1,700 wolves have been ruthlessly hunted down and killed in just the last two years. If wolves are stripped of their protections, we could see this happen in parts of the United States where their comeback is still in its early, fragile stages.

The recovery of gray wolves is one of the great conservation victories of the last 50 years, but the job isn’t done. To abandon wolves now would be an enormous tragedy for wolves and for their forest habitats — and for us.

Don’t let the Obama administration abandon wolves — send a message today.

Thank you for everything you do for our wild America,

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

Tango with the Mango

Tango with the Mango
by Gabriel Constans

It is believed the tango is a dance that originally derived from the milonga of Argentina and the habanera of Cuba and the West Indies. It became popular in the United States and Europe around World War 1. The tango is a flowing, elegant combination of movements accompanied by romantic, lively music with a throbbing beat.

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There are hundreds of varieties of the delicious mango, including red, green, yellow, and orange. Mangoes are reported to help rid the body of unwanted odors, and to reduce fevers. They are high in vitamin A, and are said to delay some effects of aging if they are eaten frequently.

Yield: 5 cups

1 ripe mango, peeledand seeded
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 tangerine, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1 banana
1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, and sliced
2 cups filtered water

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 45 seconds.

Pour, serve in tall glasses, wrap your arms around your partner and drink, as you dance the sultry tango.

More Guns, More Murder

Largest Gun Study Ever: More Guns, More Murder
by Zack Beauchamp
From Think Progress/Nation of Change
14 September 2013

The largest study of gun violence in the United States, released Thursday afternoon, confirms a point that should be obvious: widespread American gun ownership is fueling America’s gun violence epidemic.

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The study, by Professor Michael Siegel at Boston University and two coauthors, has been peer-reviewed and is forthcoming in the American Journal of Public Health. Siegel and his colleagues compiled data on firearm homicides from all 50 states from 1981-2010, the longest stretch of time ever studied in this fashion, and set about seeing whether they could find any relationship between changes in gun ownership and murder using guns over time.

Since we know that violent crime rates overall declined during that period of time, the authors used something called “fixed effect regression” to account for any national trend other than changes in gun ownership. They also employed the largest-ever number of statistical controls for other variables in this kind of gun study: “age, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanization, poverty, unemployment, income, education, income inequality, divorce rate, alcohol use, violent crime rate, nonviolent crime rate, hate crime rate, number of hunting licenses, age-adjusted nonfirearm homicide rate, incarceration rate, and suicide rate” were all accounted for.

No good data on national rates of gun ownership exist (partly because of the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress), so the authors used the percentage of suicides that involve a firearm (FS/S) as a proxy. The theory, backed up by a wealth of data, is that the more guns there are any in any one place, the higher the percentage of people who commit suicide with guns as opposed to other mechanisms will be.

With all this preliminary work in hand, the authors ran a series of regressions to see what effect the overall national decline in firearm ownership from 1981 to 2010 had on gun homicides. The result was staggering: “for each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership,” Siegel et al. found, “firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9″ percent. A one standard deviation change in firearm ownership shifted gun murders by a staggering 12.9 percent.

To put this in perspective, take the state of Mississippi. “All other factors being equal,” the authors write, “our model would predict that if the FS/S in Mississippi were 57.7% (the average for all states) instead of 76.8% (the highest of all states), its firearm homicide rate would be 17% lower.” Since 475 people were murdered with a gun in Mississippi in 2010, that drop in gun ownership would translate to 80 lives saved in that year alone.

Read complete article and more at Nation of Change.

A Legal Black Hole

A Legal Black Hole

Our country continues to preserve the disgrace of Guantanamo bay. How is it in the United States of America that people cleared for release continue to rot in a legal black hole for years on end? Either there are 86 people there cleared for release or else there are not. Either they were wrongfully detained or else they were not. And if they deserve to be freed, then they must be freed.

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Close Guantanamo Now Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1126.php

And yet cowards of both parties would rather heap injustice on a multitude of innocents, lest some right wing nut accuse them of accidentally letting someone go who might, BECAUSE of our torture and mistreatment of them, turn to future violence. How can we call ourselves a just and civilized country, and continue to operate on the principle that it doesn’t matter who we lock up as long as we’re locking up somebody?

Guantanamo was conceived of as an outlaw garrison, contrived to be beyond the reach of any manner of justice. Even our currently reactionary Supreme Court could not swallow that one whole. We have lots (and we do mean lots) of perfectly good prisons here in America, that hold lots of convicted terrorists right now. And we did not need kangaroo court tribunals to put them there. We need to either convict these people fair and square or we need to let them go.

The most cowardly suggestion of all is that we should be afraid of housing anyone so convicted in actual American prisons. “I don’t want these terrorists in prisons in MY state,” you hear members of Congress say. If our supermax prisons cannot protect local people from the criminals inside the prisons, what’s the point of having prisons at all?

Close Guantanamo Now.

Though our corporate news media have avoided the subject like a plague, the hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo are being brutally force-fed, itself a form of torture. Torture by America has not stopped, they’re just trying to keep it quiet. And you should know there are some amazingly valiant activists who are on indefinite hunger strikes themselves, to try to force attention on this issue.

Here is what Cynthia Papermaster has to say.

We are asking President Barack Obama to immediately begin releasing the 86 cleared for-release Guantanamo detainees. My hunger strike is now 31 days old. I have not eaten solid food for 31 days, and am existing on less than 300 calories a day. I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I am committed to continuing my hunger strike until the President, who has the clear authority to do so, begins to release the cleared, innocent men from the prison. Cynthia Johnson has been fasting on mostly liquids for nearly 25 days.

Our City Council in Berkeley passed a Resolution co-authored by me, Peace and Justice Commissioner Rita Maran, and the national group “No More Guantanamos”, in October 2011, which welcomes one or two cleared detainees to settle in our community, at private expense. We’ve been successfully raising funds for this purpose.

The Resolution also said that the Council would urge Obama to close Guantanamo Prison and Congress to lift the ban against detainees resettling in the United States. Well, that hasn’t happened, yet we think that if the men had a place to live, a safe and welcoming place, that Obama could use his Executive Order privilege to allow them to live in the USA, in Berkeley.

We also know that there is a waiver in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows him to release detainees. So there’s really no reason for him to refuse, especially since I, Elliot Adams and Tarak Kauff are on long-term, open-ended hunger strike. Elliot is on day 60 of his hunger strike. Tarak is on day 47. We are all taking less than 300 calories a day. You can see our profiles and hunger strike statements at www.closegitmo.net. Click on “Hunger Strikes/Fasts” tab.

Because my health is at risk, I think it’s time to step up the actions for helping the men go free.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said- “These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Peaceteam.net

Our Son’s Take On Guns

Our son wrote this for an English Class at college and turned it in yesterday morning. He titled it Locking Up the Guns. Coincidentally, two police officers were shot and killed (as was the assailant) later that day during a domestic violence situation, just blocks from where we live in Santa Cruz. It is the first time a police officer has been killed in the line of duty in this cities history.

Shona Blumeneau
English 2
2/27/13

Locking Up the Guns

BANG! A large crack pierced through the morning fog. Chaos erupted in the swamp, as I pulled the trigger on the Ruger semi-automatic .22 long rifle. A flock of birds flew through the sky but one remained, the one I had mercilessly gunned down just moments before. My cousin and I ran over to the bird and examined the stagnant creature. I stood there, thinking about how easy it had just been to kill something, while my cousin congratulated me on my first shot. He was the gun enthusiast, not me. This was my first time hunting, and after this experience, probably the last. Guns do more damage than they do good.

I have never lived in a dangerous neighborhood, but even if I did I would not resort to buying a gun for protection. Yes, they can defend you from attackers, burglars, etc., but I am not ready to kill someone with the blink of an eye, and I don’t think many other people are either. Possessing a gun causes much more problems than it does solutions.

If we were to take away guns people would still find ways to kill each other, but the number of deaths would decrease significantly. In 2008 there were roughly 16,272 murders committed in the United States. Sixty-seven percent of those were committed with a firearm. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Zero point 5 is a pretty insignificant number stacked against the amount of people who die from a firearm each year.

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Having a gun does not protect you. Having a gun gives an intruder a reason to shoot you, because they’re worried that you’re going to shoot them. If you’re unarmed, why would someone want to hurt you? Criminals may be stupid, but they’re usually not completely insane. They may take your computer, or whatever criminals take these days, and then go away. If it’s just a plain burglary, the police will file a report and forget about it, and the criminal gets away. If they shoot someone, there’s a murder investigation and the criminal goes to prison. The way gun advocates characterize society as a violent conflict between criminals and innocent people simply does not reflect reality. Theoretically, someone might break into your house just to attack you or your family, but the odds of that happening are less than being struck by lightning.

Only two countries in the world consider owning a gun a basic human right, the United States and Yemen, and even Yemen is starting to have second thoughts. From the UN’s Small Arms Survey: “Only two—the United States and Yemen—is ownership of firearms a citizen’s basic right. Figures published in the Small Arms Survey 2007 show that the USA and Yemen also have the highest rates of firearms per civilian, with an estimated 90 guns per 100 people in the US, and 55 in Yemen.” Why does America have this crazy obsession with guns? No, I’m not blaming video games or rap music. Let’s take a look at the second amendment.

Many US citizens still believe strongly in the amendment that states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” First of all, what states need protecting at the moment? The third amendment, that said the military could stay in private homes was thrown out, as it did not pertain to what was going on anymore. So why not the second amendment? There’s no intruders in the states that citizens are going to go hunt down, and the government has not become tyrannical (part of the reason for the second amendment, if the government ever became a dictatorship the people could rebel). The only people this right should belong to are those of the militia, as stated in the amendment. Just like the right to free speech, the government can limit people’s right to bear arms.

Only the most extreme pro-gun advocate would argue that a paroled violent offender with a standing restraining order to keep away from his ex-wife has the right to carry a fully-automatic machine gun. But similarly, only the most extreme anti-gun advocates believe that people should not be allowed to carry single-shot rifles when hunting deer on their own land.

If someone claims that the 2nd amendment gives them the right to carry a concealed weapon, they are full of it. You should ask them to point to the language in the 2nd amendment that specifically allows for concealed carry but prohibits violent felons owning machine guns. We have to keep in mind that people who wrote the second amendment owned slaves and oppressed women. Times were much different when the constitution was written, and things have changed since then. We no longer have slaves. Women have equal rights. There’s no longer a need to carry a weapon.

There is especially no need to carry a thirty-clip weapon. Incidents like Columbine or Sandy Hook could have been much less catastrophic if the men had to take time to stop to reload. This is what happened with the Gabby Gifford’s shooting. The assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, shot down nine people, injuring eighteen total, and was only stopped when he had to take a moment to reload his weapon and was tackled to the ground by a bystander, who was injured in doing so. This attack could have been much, much worse if he had had a larger clip. I cannot see a reason why someone would need a clip larger than ten for hunting or protection. Lowering the amount of rounds a gun can hold could easily lower the amount of deaths in the US.

Let me paint you a picture: Chris, a five year old boy living in a small suburban neighborhood, gets off the school bus after a fun day in class. He goes into his house where his mom stands. She asks how his day was, he says “fine”, she asks what he did, he says “nothing” and he goes to his room to play. After a while he gets bored and decides to explore his house a little. He goes into his parents’ bedroom, a place he’s been a hundred times early in the morning to snuggle up with his mom and dad, and starts looking around. Eventually he finds his way to the closet, and inside he finds a box. He opens the box, curious, and finds a handgun. He’s never seen one before and wonders what it does, so he fiddles around with it. All of the sudden, BAM, the gun goes off. Chris’ mother runs to the room only to see a pool of blood coming from the closet, and comes to the horrible realization that her only child is dead.

This may seem drastic, but it happens more often then you’d think. In the New England Journal of Medicine a study was put out that found 18 children die from gun related incidents every day. This makes guns the second leading cause of death in young people – twice the number of deaths from cancer. I find that to be a staggering number coming from a well developed first world country. I read an article the other day about a doctor, who were haunted by the death of one of her patients, a twelve year old boy who went on an errand for his mother and was caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle. The boy had shortly before written a letter to his mother expressing his desire to become a doctor.

Keep Your Word Mr. President

Dear Gabriel,

“Don’t blow it.” That’s what I want to say to President Obama.

This is the moment that will define the future of the United States’ commitment on human rights. President Obama’s second term will determine whether the post 9/11 stains on the United States’ human rights record are an anomaly or the “new normal.”

President Obama promised to support and advance human rights. Let’s hold him to it.

When he was first elected in 2008, President Obama promised a new dawn of American leadership. As a new president, he acknowledged that the protection of human rights cannot rest on exhortation alone.

He offered the promise of an administration that would respect human rights — closing the Guantánamo prison, bringing detention practices in line with international law, repudiating secrecy and ensuring that human rights weren’t traded away in the name of national security.

It really isn’t a choice for the President to make. Under international law, the U.S. government is obligated to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and ensure accountability for violations of those rights.

Tell President Obama to live up to his promises and uphold human rights.

The prison at Guantánamo, indefinite detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings with drones and other human rights violations committed by the U.S government undermine the rule of law in the U.S. and around the world. These abuses also create a climate in which other countries can point to a double-standard to justify their own human rights abuses with the refrain, ‘if the U.S. government does that, why shouldn’t we?’

By taking bold steps to restore respect for human rights President Obama can help ensure justice, security and accountability here in the U.S. and around the world. That’s why he must take three bold actions immediately:

Close the prison at Guantánamo
Stop unlawful killing with drones
Ensure the UN adopts a strong Arms Trade Treaty

President Obama has been given a second chance to keep his promises on human rights. Please stand with us today and call on the president to live up to those promises.

Thank you for everything you do to protect and advance human rights.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Drought Compounded by Law

Dear Gabriel,

We’re in the middle of the worst drought in more than 50 years. American farmers are ringing warning bells: their crops are dying by the acre.

The US is the world’s largest exporter of corn, wheat and soybeans – so when our crops suffer, the world pays higher food prices and families go hungry.

What’s making matters even worse? The EPA’s mandate for corn ethanol – a rule that requires a large portion of US corn crops to be used to make ethanol. Instead of being eaten by hungry families, those crops are burning up in our gas tanks.

Higher food prices could cause severe food crises, like the current one in the Sahel, to spread to other regions of the world. We can’t wait any longer to take action! Join us in calling on the Obama Administration to waive this mandate.

We need your voice: Tell the Obama Administration to waive the mandate for corn ethanol NOW.

With a shrunken harvest this year in the United States, global food prices could skyrocket. As food prices continue to rise, people in poverty around the world – many of whom already spend a majority of their income on food – won’t be able to buy enough food to eat. Climate shocks are destroying crops simultaneously in multiple parts of the world, creating a perfect storm for hunger.

Last year, 40 percent of the corn produced in the US was made into ethanol because of this mandate. We’re burning up millions of bushels of corn for fuel – and what’s left over to meet demand is so expensive that millions of poor families can no longer afford to feed themselves. That’s just plain wrong.

By waiving the mandate for corn ethanol to allow more of this year’s harvest to be used as food, we can take some of the pressure off the global food market and stop food prices from rising out of control. Will you ask the Obama Administration to stop a global food crisis?

Send a message to The White House: Tell President Obama to waive the mandate for corn ethanol now so the world can afford to eat.

Thank you for standing with Oxfam’s GROW campaign. Together, we’re helping to fix our broken food system to ensure that everyone on the planet has enough to eat, always.

Sincerely,

Vicky Rateau, GROW Campaign
Oxfam America

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