Monday, March 25, 2013


North Dakota lawmakers just passed a so-called "personhood" amendment -- basically saying that life begins at conception, effectively banning abortion and potentially banning some forms of birth control.

Right-wingers have been pushing their anti-choice agenda at the state level for years, and this fall, voters will have the final word on this amendment -- North Dakota could be the first state to enact a personhood abortion ban.

We can't let that happen.

Can you chip in $4 right now to beat anti-choice state legislators in 2013 and 2014?

Anti-choice, anti-woman activists have been pushing for legislation like this all across the country. Now that they've scored a victory, they'll be embolded to push extreme measures like this everywhere.

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. We need to stop these radical measures from taking hold in other states.

Please contribute $4 right now.

Thank you for all that you do.


Amanda McKay, Executive Assistant to Gov. Howard Dean
Democracy for America

Sunday, March 24, 2013


MUST attend - all plans will be finalized for National Anti-Drone Days of Action - come participate and learn how these 4 days of events will re-shape awareness of drone warfare and expanding militarism.  TUESDAY night, 7 PM, Peace Resource Center offices at the Friends Center, 3850 Westgate Place, San Diego, CA 92105


Saturday, March 23, 2013

[SDCPJ] Unión del Barrio Upcoming Event



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[SDCPJ] A Veteran's Voice

This really speaks for itself.  My only question: will there be justice?

Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran


To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney


From: Tomas Young


I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to "liberate" Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called "democracy" in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq's oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn't lying a sin? Isn't murder a sin? Aren't theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.


Friday, March 22, 2013

[SDCPJ] FW: Join us for an evening of talented speakers & lively discussion- Saturday 3/23 7pm


Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2013 17:37:25 -0700
Subject: Join us for an evening of talented speakers & lively discussion- Saturday 3/23 7pm

Free Presentation

Saturday March 23, 2013  7-pm at San Diego City College
in Support of Wikileaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning

  • Career Technology Center Theater, San Diego City College
    (1081 16th Street, SD 92101)
  • Join our paneled discussion about Whistleblowers such as Hugh Thompson (My Lai) & Bradley Manning (Iraq/Afghanistan) on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the illegal invasion and Occupation of Iraq and 45th Anniversary of the My Lai Massacre. 

    With reputable engaging speakers:

    Marjorie Cohn, International Lecturer on Human Rights & Foreign Policy from the National Lawyers Guild;
    Dave Patterson, US Air Force Veteran from VFP to discuss Drones;
    Gabe Conaway of the SD Coalition to Free Manning;
    and a panel of local Vietnam, Korea and Iraq War Veterans,
    and local Anti-War Activists about exposing illegal U.S. Wars. 

    There will be a talk, a video portion, as well as local organizations tabling with information and more.

    Presented by the SDCC Student Veterans For Peace Club

    Sponsored by SDCC BEAT Club, San Diego Veterans for Peace, Peace Resource Center, San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, The International Socialist Organization - SD, Canvass for a Cause, OccupYrCorner, and Overpass Light Brigade - SD 

    In coordination with the on-going events of the
    San Diego Coalition to Free Manning:
    and with the Bradley Manning Support Network at:

    Please join us for an evening of enlightenment and discussion.

    Thank you for all you do,

6 Surefire Ways to Stop Coughing Now

6 Surefire Ways to Stop Coughing Now
Ever have one of those fall or winter mornings, days, or WEEKS when you just can't stop coughing your brains out? When almost no amount of cough ...
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120 Significant and Fascinating Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics

Palestine Before Israel 1948

[SDCPJ] Fwd: Edison is considering voluntarily submitting a license amendment request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: Gary Headrick <>
Date: March 22, 2013, 9:39:24 AM PDT
To: SCG-Team <>
Subject: Edison is considering voluntarily submitting a license amendment request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Thursday, March 21, 2013

[SDCPJ] Southern California Youm Al-Ard, Land Day Events

Youm Al-Ard, Land Day Events in Southern California
March 29-31, 2013
Youm Al-Ard, Land Day
Youm Al-Ard/Day of The Land has been marked world-wide yearly since the killing on March 30, 1976 of six Palestinians in Galilee by Israeli troops during peaceful protests over the confiscation of Palestinian lands. The Zionist occupation imposed a curfew effective from 5 PM on March 29, 1976 on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur'an, Tamra, and Kabul after it announced plans to further expropriate/steal thousands of dounams of Palestinian Arab land for "security and settlement purposes". In response Palestinians called and organized a general strike and protests from Al-Jalil in the north (Galilee) to Al-Naqab in the south on March 30 1976. During the protests, occupation Zionist soldiers and police attacked and killed 6 Palestinians, 3 women and 3 men, wounded one hundred, and arrested hundreds. Solidarity strikes were also held almost simultaneously in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and in most of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Youm al-Ard is particularly significant because it was the first time since the 1948 occupation that Palestinian Arabs in "Israel" organized a response to Zionist occupation policies as a Palestinian national collective. Palestinians and their supporters throughout the world mark Youm Al-Ard annually ever since.
Events In Southern California
As part of the annual Youm El-Ard/Day of the Land Activities in Southern California, Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition has organized the following program of events:
Day of the Land Demo
Los Angeles: A Day of the Land Demonstration will be held on Friday March 29, 2013, starting 3 PM in front of the Zionist consulate (1766 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025) with participation from all of Al-Awda's chapters in Southern California. Organizations wishing to co-sponsor, please email
San Diego: On Saturday March 30, 2013 Al-Awda's Chapter in San Diego will be presenting the following program starting 5 PM at Al-Awda's Palestine National Center (2720 Loker Avenue West Suite J, Carlsbad CA 92010): A Youm Al-Ard and Spring Bazaar to help raise awareness and support for Al-Awda's work; A discussion on the Significance of Youm Al-Ard in the Palestinian national struggle for liberation and return; A presentation by Khayrieh Zubaidi about the current dire situation in Al-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria and what you can do to help; And a screening of the film "Degrees of Incarceration" followed by discussion with one of the film makers Nidal Al-Azraq from Aida refugee camp. For additional information please email or call 760-918-9441
Orange County: On Sunday March 31, 2013 starting at 11 AM at The Holiday Inn, 14299 Firestone Blvd, La Mirada, CA 90638, Al-Awda's Los Angeles/Orange County chapter will host a screening of "Degrees of Incarceration" with discussion by Nidal Al-Azraq. This will be followed by presentation by Khayrieh Zubaidi about the current dire situation in Al-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. For further information please email or call 323-350-0000
Ventura County: On Sunday March 31, 2013 starting 5 PM at the Arroyo Vista Community Center (4550 Tierra Rejada Rd Moorpark, CA 93021), Al-Awda's Conejo Valley chapter will host a screening of "Degrees of Incarceration" with discussion by Nidal Al-Azraq. This will be followed by presentation by Khayrieh Zubaidi about the current dire situation in Al-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. For further information please email or call 805-390-6480 or 805-217-7138
"Degrees of Incarceration": This film documents the effects political imprisonment has on a community of Palestinians in Aida Refugee Camp in the West Bank. Since 1967, more than 600,000 Palestinians have passed through the prisons of the Zionist/Israeli occupation. The film introduces viewers to Palestinian mothers, teenagers, children, and community leaders as they strive to support each other through crises of arrest and detention. This film demonstrates that Palestinians continue to struggle against the subjugation of their human spirit, and challenges the veracity of portrayals of Palestinians as despairing people
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is dedicated to education and advocacy for the restoration in full of Palestinian human, national, legal, political and historical rights with particular emphasis on the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands of origin from which they have been dispossessed since 1948. PRRC is a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible. To donate, please go to and follow the instructions. To become a member, go to

[SDCPJ] 7 things to do on Int'l Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - March 22

On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 8:20 AM, Cultural Survival <> wrote:
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Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination     

 "Racism has been a banner to justify the enterprises of expansion, conquest, colonization and domination and has walked hand in hand with intolerance, injustice and violence." -- Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Guatemalan Indigenous Leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Since 1966, the United Nations has recognized March 22 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Today, many Indigenous Peoples face constant human rights violations. They are marginalized, denied control over their own development that is based on their own values, disregarded when it comes to the exploitation of their natural resources, and often lack equal access to basic social services.   

7 Things You Can Do Today to Combat Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples: 

1. Take Action: Send a message to the Guatemalan congress in support of Indigenous language radio and freedom of speech. 
In Guatemala, since 2005, Cultural Survival has supported a network of more than 80 volunteer-run community radio stations. Unlike Indigenous-controlled radio stations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and US, who receive federal support, community radio in Guatemala is still illegal under national telecommunications laws, though rights to Indigenous-language media are guaranteed in the constitution and in international human rights instruments like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous people in Guatemala are struggling to get the discriminatory telecommunications law changed and community radio legalized. 

Now, a new bill in the Guatemalan congress,  Bill 4479, proposes a reform in the criminal code that would sanction the imprisonment of individual actors and representatives of unlicensed stations, effectively criminalizing community radio with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.  
take action now 
2. Read, honor, and cite the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 
Article 2 that states:
    "Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their Indigenous origin or identity."
undrip cover  


3. Read "Time to Say Goodbye to Racist Stereotypes in American Sports" 
Generic and specific Native American names such as the "Braves", "Indians", "Seminoles", and "Chiefs" are given by the dominant culture to many high school, college and professional sports teams in the United States. Its time to put an end to racist sport mascots. Start with your town or school.  

4. Watch the untold truth about residential schools in Canada.
We Were Children documentary.   


6. Be Social! Please share this message by forwarding and posting on Facebook and Twitter.    

 Share what you have learned with your networks and sensitize them to racial discrimination happening against Indigenous Peoples. Forward this message, tweet it, post it on facebook. 


7. Make a gift today to support the work of Cultural Survival.  

give now   


The world's Indigenous population is estimated at 370 million people living in more than 70 countries and made up of more than 5,000 distinct peoples. Although representing 5% of the world's population, Indigenous people account for 15% of the world's poor.   

Indigenous people face huge disparities in terms of access to quality education and health care. In Guatemala 53 percent of Indigenous youth aged 15-19 have not completed primary education, as compared to 32 percent of non-Indigenous youth. Indigenous peoples also suffer from discrimination in terms of employment and income. According to the ILO, Indigenous workers in Latin America make on average about half of what non-Indigenous workers earn.


In the international arena, the landmark adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007 by the UN General Assembly, and the establishment of other human rights mechanisms that represent Indigenous interests, show that there is progress in the fight to address the results of historic and present discrimination. At the national level a small number of truth commissions have been established that have worked to redress certain discriminatory policies against Indigenous people. However much remains to be done. Please take action today!

As always, we welcome your comments. Please send your feedback and suggestions to


Cultural Survival is a global leader in the fight to protect Indigenous lands, languages, and cultures around the world. In partnership with Indigenous Peoples, we advocate for Indigenous communities whose rights, cultures, and dignity are under threat. For more information go to

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

[SDCPJ] Former chair of Fukushima investigation commission to speak at UCLA, March 22

Sorry for late notice; I just received this. 

--- On Thu, 21/3/13, Cultural News <> wrote:

From: Cultural News <>
Subject: Former chair of Fukushima investigation commission to speak at UCLA, March 22

Date: Thursday, 21 March, 2013, 1:57 AM


Cultural News Email Update  



Former chair of Japan's Fukushima investigation commission to speak at UCLA, March 22, 2:30 pm 

UCLA Moving Forward Dr Kurokawa left
Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, left, former chair of the Independent Investigation Commission on Fukushima Nuclear Accident.


In 2011, the UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies presented an exhibition documenting the lives and stories of those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.


This year marks the second anniversary of this catastrophic disaster and UCLA hosts a two-part colloquium presented by former chair of Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident investigation commission and an architect who is UCLA professor and former professor of Tohoku University.


This event is supported by the Japan Foundation.


Moving Forward: Life after the Great East Japan Earthquake Colloquia Series


March 22, 2:30 - 6:00 pm

Royce Hall 306 at UCLA


Global Agenda in Post Fukushima

2:30 - 3:30 pm

Presented by Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Academic Fellow of National Graduate Research Institute for Policy Science & Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo


Dr. Kurokawa was appointed as chair of the Independent Investigation Commission on Fukushima Nuclear Accident by the National Diet of Japan.


Reconstruction Efforts of Japanese Architects

4:00 - 5:00 pm

Presented by Prof. Hitoshi Abe, UCLA Terasaki Center Director, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design Chair, Atelier Hitoshi Abe Principal


Reception (food and drink will be served)

5:00 - 6:00 pm


Parking and Directions

Parking Lot 5 - $11 CASH ONLY / $4 Handicapped ---- From Sunset Blvd., enter north campus at Royce Dr. (between Westwood Plaza and Hilgard Ave.). Proceed straight to Parking Structure 5. Handicapped Accessible parking spaces are located on level 4 of this parking structure.


Parking Lot 4 - $11 / $4 Handicapped --- From Sunset Blvd., enter north campus at Westwood Plaza and proceed straight to the underground parking structure. Lot 4 accepts cash and credit cards. This is the only lot that will accept credit card payments within the proximity of Royce Hall.


Japanese American community loses its leader and philanthropist who funded its cause  Read the front page article at the March 2013 issue of Cultural News. www.culturalnews/subscription  

Join Our Mailing List      Cultural News Email Update is free!

Deadline of article and advertisement of the April issue is Monday, March 25. The April issue will be published on April 1.

Cultural News | P.O Box 48678 | Los Angeles | CA | 90048


Speaker of the House John Boehner. (photo: AP/Susan Walsh)
Speaker of the House John Boehner. (photo: AP/Susan Walsh)

GOP: We've Been Lying All Along

By David Sirota, Salon
18 March 13

Boehner's admission that we don't really have a debt crisis reveals his party's ulterior, program-cutting motives.

 never thought I'd write these words, but here goes: Thank you, John Boehner. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for finally admitting on national television that all the fiscal cliffs, sequestrations and budget battles you've created are, indeed, artificially fabricated by ideologues and self-interested politicians and not the result of some imminent crisis that's out of our control.
America owes this debt of gratitude to Boehner after he finally came clean on yesterday's edition ofABC's "This Week" and admitted that "we do not have an immediate debt crisis." (His admission was followed up by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who quickly echoed much the same sentiment onCBS' "Face the Nation").
In offering up such a stunningly honest admission, the GOP leader has put himself on record as agreeing with President Obama, who has previously acknowledged that demonstrable reality. But the big news here isn't just about the politics of a Republican House speaker tacitly admitting they agree with a Democratic president. It is also about a bigger admission revealing the fact that the GOP's fiscal alarmism is not merely some natural reaction to reality, but a calculated means to other ideological ends.
Before considering those ends, first remember that Boehner (like Obama) is correct on the facts.
As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, "Even if we do run deficits, federal debt as a share of GDP will be substantially less than it was at the end of World War II" and "it will also be substantially less than, say, debt in several European countries in the mid- to late 1990s." It is also lower than the 80 percent of GDP level that many economists say starts to put countries in a precarious position. Additionally, citing Congressional Budget Office data, the Center for American Progress notes that the long-term debt outlook is only dire because the projections simply assume without question that "future Congresses will enact huge new deficit-increasing tax cuts and spending hikes."
"The debt outlook is bad (but) we’re not looking at something inconceivable, impossible to deal with," writes Krugman. "We’re looking at debt levels that a number of advanced countries, the US included, have had in the past, and dealt with."
So yes, we should start dealing with the long-term debt in a pragmatic and sober way, but we shouldn't pretend it is some sort of imminent crisis worthy of draconian austerity measures.
If we could somehow do that, then there would be plenty of gradual steps that could be taken right now - steps that deal with the debt in measured ways that do the least harm to the overall economy. Those include starting to phase out the Bush tax cuts, which show no correlation with job growth and yet are thesingle largest driver of annual deficits; starting to reduce defense and war spending, which, job-creation-wise, is one of the least effective ways for the government to spend money; starting to move the United Statestoward the least costly, more efficient, and more effective single-payer healthcare system that most industrialized countries have, and that lowers overhead for employers; and starting to spend more money on social programs that fight economic inequality, with the understanding that driving down such inequality tends to boost macroeconomic growth and consequently boost public revenues (this is the Reagan-esque idea of growing one's way out of debt).
But, of course, we aren't having a sober and measured discussion about such pragmatic solutions. Instead, the national conversation about the budget is dominated by debt demagogues with ulterior motives. Taking a page out of the shock doctrine playbook that says every crisis is an opportunity, these alarmists have sought to create the perception of an immediate crisis in order to quickly manufacture opportunities to legislate their otherwise politically impossible agenda items.
In practice, that means Wall Streeters and conservative ideologues citing the supposedly imminent crisis to successfully nudge the political establishment to endorse cuts to Social Security, even though the program has almost nothing to do with the debt crisis. It also means a GOP budget that targets most of its cuts at the social programs that the poor and middle-class most rely on (this, at the same time most of these same alleged budget hawks supported an extension of most of the deficit-expanding Bush tax cuts; decry any cuts to the defense budget; and either outright oppose a single-payer system or support the Obama healthcare law that while certainly expanding coverage, nonetheless buttresses the private health insurance industry and, thus, arguably makes such a single-payer system more out of reach).
From Boehner to Ryan to the Bowles-Simpson tandem to an unending parade of television pundits, the last year has been marked by the most prominent political voices ignoring the more prudent way forward, and instead claiming that these shock doctrine prescriptions - i.e., Social Security/Medicare cuts, social program cuts, etc. - are all required. And not just required, but required immediately, because of the supposed urgency of the debt crisis.
Using that supposed urgency as a rationale to create fiscal cliffs, sequestration battles and debt ceiling crises, their talking points have lately assumed a similar tenor to that of the old Thatcherites' "There Is No Alternative" mantra, the idea being that because the emergency is supposedly so imminent, there is simply no other way forward than the conservative neoliberal path of profligacy for the rich (tax cuts, continued corporate subsidies, etc.) and austerity for everyone else.
But suddenly, thanks to yesterday's declarations by Boehner and Ryan, the charade's most sacred lie has been exposed. In acknowledging that "we do not have an immediate debt crisis," GOP leaders are admitting that there is, in fact, an alternative. They are also admitting that their longtime claims to the contrary were ends-justify-the-means tactics to manufacture an unnecessary panic - one that they hoped would scare America into abruptly accepting the kind of draconian policies polls show the public opposes.
Now that the truth is out, maybe a more reasoned debate can begin and more pragmatic policies can finally take center stage.

Religious Zealots

comments_image 246 COMMENTS

You Wouldn't Believe How Fast Americans Are Losing Their Religion -- But the Fundamentalists Have a Plan

As their power declines in America, fundamentalists are moving to developing countries not as far along the secularization curve. And they're causing massive damage.
Sometime last year, the US quietly passed a milestone demographers had long been predicting: for the first time in its history, this country is no longer majority Protestant. Fewer than 50 percent of Americans now identify as Protestant Christians of any denomination.
This change has come on surprisingly recently, and from a historical perspective, with breathtaking speed.As recently as 1993, almost two-thirds of Americans identified as Protestants, a number that had remained stable for the several preceding decades. But sometime in the 1990s, the ground started to shift, and it's been sliding ever since. Whether it's the "mainline" Protestant denominations like Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans or Presbyterians, or the independent evangelical, charismatic and fundamentalist sects, the decline is happening across the board. The rise of so-called megachurches, like Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California or Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill in Seattle, represents not growth, but consolidation.
What's happening to these vanishing Protestants? For the most part, they're not converting to any other religion, but rather are walking away from religion entirely. They're becoming "nones," as the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life puts it. It seems likely that this is the same secularizing trend being observed in Europe, as people of advanced, peaceful democracies find religion increasingly irrelevant to their daily lives.
The spokespeople of the religious right have noticed this trend as well, but it's clear they have very little idea what to do about it. In a column from 2005, Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared that "theological liberalism" is at fault for Christianity's decline, and that the only thing they need to do to reverse it is to make "a bold commitment to biblical authority." Far from it, the evidence is clear that churches clinging to antiquated dogma are part of the problem, as young people turn away from their strident decrees about gays and women.
But the footsoldiers of fundamentalism haven't been entirely idle these past few decades. As their power declines in America and Europe, they're increasingly moving abroad, to developing countries not as far along the secularization curve, where they often find a more receptive audience.
The first example is Uganda, where the most despicable kind of American culture warriors have run amok with horrifying results. Since 2009, the country's parliament has been debating an "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," which among other things would establish a crime of "aggravated homosexuality," punishable by life imprisonment or death.
What's less well known is that three American evangelical preachers, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, visited the country a month before the bill was introduced, giving talks about how "the gay movement is an evil institution" which seeks to prey on children, destroy "the moral fiber of the people," and abolish marriage and the family and replace it with "a culture of sexual promiscuity." Lively boasted that their campaign was "a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda," and later admitted to meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to help draft the bill, although he professed ignorance of the death penalty provision. Other American evangelicals, including Kevin Swanson and Lou Engle, have also expressed their support for the so-called Kill the Gays bill.
It's not just LGBT people in Uganda who've been harmed by the spread of aggressive evangelicalism. American megachurch pastor Rick Warren has a Ugandan protege, a pastor named Martin Ssempa, who has preached aggressively against contraception (in one bizarre public stunt, he burned condoms in the name of Jesus). Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni had formerly been a staunch advocate of the so-called ABC program (consisting of abstinence, monogamy and condom use) which successfully reduced HIV infection rates in Uganda; but thanks in part to Ssempa's influence and access,the government was persuaded to stop free condom distribution, and as a result, new HIV infections spiked again. (Ssempa, too, has called for the imprisonment of gay people. President Museveni also has ties to the Washington, D.C.-based fundamentalist group "the Family," which has called him their "key man" in Africa.)
American evangelicals have spread their poisonous influence to other African countries as well. A report by Political Research Associates, "Globalizing the Culture Wars," chronicles in detail how American religious-right groups, especially the theologically conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, have worked together with their counterparts in Africa to foment homophobia and oppose feminism and gender equality. Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, three major English-speaking African nations, have seen the brunt of this effort. As the report says:
In Africa, IRD and other U.S. conservatives present mainline denominations' commitments to human rights as imperialistic attempts to manipulate Africans into accepting homosexuality -- which they characterize as a purely western phenomenon... As a direct result of this campaign, homophobia is on the rise in Africa -- from increased incidents of violence to antigay legislation that carries the death penalty.
In part, religious conservatives are doing this as a power play against religious liberals in their own countries. Most of the mainline Protestant churches in America and Europe, particularly the Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations, have rival left-wing and right-wing branches, and the conservatives want to enlist the African branch of those churches to help them oppose and undercut liberal efforts for social justice. (Conservative Anglicans in America want African Anglicans to help them defeat liberal Anglican proposals to let gay people serve as clergy.) But it's the African people who bear the collateral damage of this cultural proxy war.
Africa isn't the only place the American religious right is trying to exert influence. Pat Robertson's legal group, American Center for Law and Justice, has branches in Russia, France, Pakistan, Israel and elsewhere, and recently opened a branch office in Brazil. If its American counterpart is any clue, the BCLJ will devote its time mainly to fighting against the expansion of rights for gay and lesbian people and advocating laws that give Christianity special privileges. With a booming evangelical population and its rapidly increasing economic and cultural power, Brazil is a natural place for the religious right to take root, if secular humanists and progressives aren't ready to counter them.
And when they seize the reins of government here in the U.S., religious conservatives haven't hesitated to spread their views through hard power as well as soft. The most consequential example is the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. This rule, which was first enacted by Ronald Reagan and since then has been repeatedly reinstated by Republican presidents and canceled by Democratic presidents, states that any group which takes money from American aid agencies can't perform abortions, refer women to other groups that provide them, or even lobby for more permissive abortion laws in whatever countries it operates in.
Since the U.S. has always been one of the largest supporters of international family-planning efforts, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), this puts recipients in an unenviable dilemma: to accept American money, they'd have to turn away women in desperate need of abortion, but if they turned the money down, they'd lose the capacity to serve many more women who need contraception, STD treatment, vaccination, and prenatal care. As Michelle Goldberg writes in her book The Means of Reproduction, the global gag rule has forced the closure of family-planning clinics in Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere, depriving women of access to basic health services like Pap smears.
The point of all this is that stopping the religious right is a global issue. The harm they do in America isn't trivial, but they do far greater harm in developing countries where constitutional protections aren't as strong, and where American money exerts an outsized influence. If we can't stop them here, there are people all over the world who will suffer much worse repercussions.
The more optimistic way of viewing this is that, when we defeat them at home, we weaken them abroad as well. When they lose elections in the U.S., they can't control foreign aid money to restrict women's right to choose. When we expose them as bullying, homophobic bigots, when we chip away at their following, we deny them the flow of donations they use to spread prejudice in developing nations. For better or worse, what happens in America resonates throughout the world. That's why standing against the religious right is a moral imperative: not just for the sake of people in the First World, but for the sake of people everywhere in the world.

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