No Pursuit of Justice

Reading this article about the Obama administration’s decision not to pursue the Bush administration’s government lawyers who wrote the CIA “torture memos” or those officials who participated in carrying out those acts is, in my mind, a terrible failure for the new president. While I can appreciate that the man has his hands more than a little full – a massive global recession, climbing rates of unemployment, the near-collapse of our financial system, America’s auto industry teetering on the brink, a health care system that is corrupt and broken, and a very angry Mother Nature…well, that’s a lot for a new politician to address before he’s even up to his first 100 days in office. However, I don’t believe that the egregious measures taken in these “CIA prisons” like Bagram in Afghanistan are any less worthy of outrage, revulsion, or proper justice than those acts committed by military personnel at Abu Ghraib.

The example given in the article, Lynndie England, was dishonorably discharged after her part in the humiliation practices at Abu Ghraib was confirmed and served a year and a half in a military prison and the same amount of time on probation; of course, she was not the only individual in those involved to serve time, others did as well. It is not that I don’t believe that they should have their dishonorable discharges reversed, or that I think it is unfair they had to serve time in prison, what I believe is not only unfair and unjust is to only punish those who were lowest on the military food chain. Sure, these acts were not explicitly ordered nor was she ‘forced’ to commit them; however, the implied notion was that these practices were not just allowed or condoned, but encouraged. To punish the “underlings” but not to insist that the actions of those higher up, or those who were instructing, ordering, or actively encouraging these actions be held responsible for their grossly reprehensible behavior. No one should be above the law, national or international law – if certain persons can get off with not even a slap on the wrist just because of their privileged positions, then what point is there in making laws to abide?

It saddens and angers me that we have not reached a point where we are willing to prosecute and sentence those who commit horrible crimes just because they are in an elite and privileged position of power.

Gotta Have a Blog on 420!

I donno, maybe I just want to talk about weezy.

So I guess the movement to legalize pot is alive and kicking and this year a bunch of them think that they are getting closer and closer to achieving their goals.  You can check out this article, it talks about what is happening but honestly, I don’t see anything revolutionary in it.

Pot is a weird thing in America… So like, it is illegal, right?  Yet, it is not really frowned upon to smoke it, and it is legal for medical use, and with the exception of some folks, it seems like everyone agrees that weezy is a hell-of-a-lot better than alcohol in terms of adverse effects on society, and there is a national holiday for people to rejoice in the fact that they use the plant.  And, and, and…

There is nothing new to report here, I just figured we gotta have a blog on 420.  And…

pot-bellied  I love these goofy-looking guys.

Can’t…keep…track…

Lately, there is so much going on, politically, in Juneau that I have found myself mentally “checking out.” As in, I am no longer properly absorbing what is going on with any great interest- it’s just too weird. And continuous. And weird.

Without having a large body of experience behind me, I am unsure of whether this is business as usual, whether this is just the nature of the game and whether we will always be overstimulated by the politicking, manuevering, blog bombardment, and press releases. Or maybe this is truly a crazier moment in time than most? The jaded observer probably sees it as the same stuff, different day. I think that when I “check back in” I will probably agree.

A partial recap (in no particular order…):
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Feature article in April edition of Conde Nast’s Portfolio Magazine blames Palin for standing in the way of the pipeline being built. Palin’s office responds via press release.

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Palin is a no show for a scheduled meeting with legislators to discuss the stimulus. Press release warring between Governor/Legislators ensues.

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Levi Johnston goes on Tyra and The Early Show. Among other things, he claims to have lived/stayed in Governor Palin’s house with Bristol. “Over my dead body,” replied the Governor. Someone is lying.

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Wayne Anthony Ross’ Red Hummer (license plate: WAR)

Governor Palin’s Attorney General appointment (of Wayne Anthony Ross) is full of twists and results in an historic rejection of the Governor’s appointment (first time in our history). The broken relationship between the executive and the legislative branches in Alaska is apparent.

Points of contention during Ross’ confirmation hearings:
-GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered) community comments
Women
Alaska Natives
-Recent legal opinion addressing the Governor’s Senate appointment
-Assorted other “incidents

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Juneau’s Senate appointment follows an uncharted course (taking as looong as possible) with two rejections by the Senate Dems and a strange “list” sent as the Governor’s third attempt at a suitable (DEMOCRAT) candidate. The list was found to be against the law. There is little budging on either side and Juneau is without representation still.

Tim Grussendorf (pictured below), first appointee. Until recently was a registered Republican.

Joe Nelson (pictured below), second appointee. Made a statement that he would consider running against Kerttula as a Republican in the next Senate election.

Alan Wilson (pictured below), third on the “list” submitted most recently (with Grussendorf, Nelson, Wilson being the Governor’s order of preference) by the Governor. Irrelevant but interesting sidenote: Wilson is married to the owner of Shoefly (where Palin’s infamous Naughty Monkey’s came from).

A Lack of Will

If you’ve been listening to NPR over the past week, you may have heard this interview with former New York Attorney General and governor, the disgraced Eliot Spitzer. No, they weren’t interviewing him to hound him about his time in the doghouse after the scandal of his patronage of a high-end prostitution ring (I believe you refer to it as a “house of ill repute”, when the girls cost you a grand or more per hour…) – they sought his opinion on the current global financial crisis and, at least here in the U.S., it’s roots in the subprime lending crisis. In case you didn’t know, before Eliot Spitzer was the governor of New York (but probably not before he was an adulterer) he was the state’s Attorney General. Early last year before his popular demise, Spitzer contributed http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/13/AR2008021302783.html>this article. Telling though it was, especially as the subprime lending crisis grew, the article was largely ignored by many media outlets – even those not in the mainstream. Though I would estimate we’d still be in rough waters had anyone bothered to take Spitzer’s article to heart, I think many would agree that a lesser version of the current crisis would be better.

While it seems obvious that the global financial crisis is not solely the product of predatory lending practices and “a lack of will, not power” by federal regulators to investigate and prosecute the illegal dealings in the financial sector, Spitzer does make a valid case for these two variables being of particular significance. Whether or not you think Spitzer is a smutbucket or just another philandering politician, he does have the experience as a former Attorney General who, along with his colleagues in other states, tried to fight back against the irresponsible and downright illegal lending practices of banks but was cut off by the Bush administration. Spitzer concludes his article with the prediction that “the Bush administration will not be judged favorably” once the history of this crisis is investigated, revealed, and written. One can only hope, it seems, that though it is unlikely (nigh, impossible) that anyone directly responsible in that administration will be held accountable, that future generations can be far more wary.

Sustainability

In this article from Scientific American, Michael D. Lemonick discusses the Top 10 Myths About Sustainability. No, this isn’t an affront to environmentalism – it’s an article that seeks to define just what sustainability is, how it can (and can’t) operate, and how it can help. The concept of sustainability, the article points out, is widely and legitimately applicable to our modern global society but can be difficult for people to understand. I found two points in this article to be especially succinct in describing the concept of sustainability in very simple and very real terms.

“The economy,” says Anthony Cortese, founder and president of the sustainability education organization Second Nature, “is a wholly owned subsidiary of the biosphere. The biosphere provides everything that makes life possible, assimilates our waste or converts it back into something we can use.”

This is immediately followed by,

If too many of us use resources inefficiently or generate waste too quickly for the environment to absorb and process, future generations obviously won’t be able to meet their needs.

As humans on this planet, everything that we rely upon to provide us an environment in which we can not only live, but flourish, is a product of the earth in at least its most basic form. Therefore, if we are wasteful and abusive towards the planet, it is likely that we will no longer be able to flourish – perhaps not even live. Sustainability may require us to use less (whether that be fossil fuels, water, etc.), and to use what we do take from the earth with greater efficiency, but it is not about returning to cave dwellings and loincloths. Sustainability requires each individual to be both responsible for themselves and conscientious of others in the way that we live our lives, manipulate and use resources, and to consider how our actions of the present will continue to resonate in the future. Regardless of personal politics, I fail to sympathize with any individual’s inability to recognize not only the merit, but the absolute necessity, of sustainable living. The future of humanity does not look to be an easy or pleasant one and will require a massive overhaul, but that is no reason to feel hopeless. At the individual level, even small changes and adjustments to your habits and lifestyle are better than no changes at all!

Denali or Mt. McKinley?

Picture of Denali

Picture of Denali

I was invited on Facebook to join a group who wants to properly rename different land marks in our nation. Mt. McKinley or Denali is one of the places they want renamed. I never knew the history before; I only knew Denali was the native name. Mt. McKinley was named by a gold miner who was showing support for the 1896 presidential election of William McKinley, who never visited Alaska, and William Jennings Bryan. McKinley favored gold while his opponent liked silver.

The State of Alaska officially recognizes Mt McKinley as Denali, and the US government acknowledged the name when Denali National Park was created in 1980. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK, retired) introduced multiple bills to officially rename the mountain as Denali, but was constantly opposed by Representative Ralph Regula (R-OH, retired), who represented an area of Ohio that contains Canton, William McKinley’s hometown. Though Regula has retired, two other Ohio congresspeople, Betty Sutton and Tim Ryan have pledged to continue obstructing attempts to rename Denali.

Alaska State House Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) recently introduced a resolution (HJR-15) to urge the US congress to finally change the name to Denali. Denali (or Dinale) translates to “The Great One” in Athabascan dialects common to native peoples north of the mountain, and is known as Doleika to the Dena’ina people in the south. By recognizing the prominent feature by a traditional name, Denali, the US government would take a step toward reversing years of cultural genocide of Alaska Native peoples.

I have always wondered what was with the two names, but having two names myself, never got interested enough to find out the reason. I am now considering how many other national monuments or land marks are binomial. Is it right for a place that is known as one name to its native people to be changed for political reasons?

What Comes Next?

London Protests

Once again, with this year’s G-20 Summit coming up (and the abundance of material for protesting banners) political activists, environmental groups, but also regular people, are all meeting in London to “greet” international leaders.

Protesters gathering on Saturday were calling for jobs, fair distribution of wealth, and a low-carbon future. They carried banners and posters reading “Climate Emergency,” “Gaza: End the Blockade,” “Planet Before Profit,” “We Won’t Pay for Their Crisis,” and “Jobs not Bombs.”

In a preliminary meeting of G-20 officials in Chile on Saturday, Joe Biden asked for patience, and promised to have a concrete plan of recovery out of the economic mess. Needless to say, tensions in Britain and all-over Europe are not going to get mellowed-down by this type of promises. Instead, British protesters follow the general feeling of rage among the taxpayer, from Washington to Brussels.

It is expected that the marches will continue throughout the meeting in London and the rest of Europe next week. The masses, ranging from 400 protesters in Paris, to 20,000 people demonstrating in Frankfurt, are only continuing to grow, and some are expecting the largest amount of enraged people since the huge rallies against the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It is hard to say exactly what the effect of the protesters will be upon the decisions made within the G-20, but one thing is certain: this allows people to have someone to hold responsible for the crisis. Furthermore, it allows them to collectively show their anger against their governments, and get their voices heard. The only thing that keeps people from rallying the streets in America is Barack Obama, who is still extremely popular among the people, even though not all of them support him in his giant stimulus package.