Author Archives: Karen Stasevich
This is the only thing I’ve felt warranted a blog post in about 6 months. Dana, Lindsay, Nathaniel, and others in the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek area will appreciate this.
For $50 lovers can attend Bind Park Zoo’s “Zoorotica” show. Tickets are currently sold out, but a waiting list does exist.
“We’re going to talk about animal reproduction, the different animals here at Binder Park Zoo and their little quirks, different things that get them going to help them reproduce,” said Jenny Parnett of Binder Park Zoo.
The Bush administration’s efforts to blur the line between church and state were rewarded this week by a memorandum that circumvents laws forbidding the federal government from giving taxpayer money to religious groups that use discriminatory hiring practices.
What is the reasoning behind this? Apparently it would be a substantial burden on the Christian organization World Vision’s free exercise if they had to hire non-Christians who want to “save the children” in order to receive federal grants.
What is the problem here, other than the blatant religious preference shown by our government? The memorandum completely ignores precedents set by the Supreme Court, including a recent case in 2004 that found it was not a substantial burden require that government scholarships be used for non-theological studies.
There are plenty of charitable religious organizations that don’t discriminate in hiring, so why is it so outrageous to ask that those organizations receiving taxpayer money comply with our laws? The government should not support discrimination of any kind. Both presidential candidates have said they will support federal grants to religious groups, but only Senator Obama has said such groups must not discriminate. Most likely, he would rescind the memorandum if he becomes president, while McSame would increase religion’s role in government.
Well, it has been confirmed, finally, that VP candidate and Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin overstepped her executive powers by pressuring subordinates to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from his state trooper position. It is still unclear what the Alaskan Legislature’s next move will be; they can either punish her or ignore her illegal pursuit of a personal agenda. Five bucks says they’ll let their 80% beloved hockey mom off the hook.
At the time of his dismissal, Palin’s former brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, was in a custody battle with Palin’s sister.
I commend trooper Wooten for getting out of the Palin family. I also hope he won custody of his children and that they may live happily ever after, in a land with condoms-a-plenty and loads of questionable books about dinosaurs and man-made environmental problems.
Full NYTimes article here.
On Avi Snider’s request, I am blogging about this article.
For those of you familiar with the Student Issues Committee, you’ll be reading another reiteration of what liberal-minded students have been up in arms about since 1999. Public Act 118, aka Rogers Law, requires the address on your voter registration card and driver’s license to be the same, so anytime you move, you have to re-register to vote. To make matters worse, Michigan voter code prohibits first-time voting to be done absentee, so that’s big hit to college freshmen. It is common for students to worry whether scholarships, insurance, etc. will be affected by this address change, which it won’t be, although we’ve heard a couple horror stories. Rogers Law is not a new barrier to democracy and student enfranchisement. Rogers Law isn’t even a liberal issue, even if it does aim to disenfranchise a largely democratic constituency, conservative students face the same hassle and worries we do. The point is, Rogers Law was enacted under the facade that it would protect against voter fraud and that was not its goal. Its sole purpose was to ensure Republican victory, and that is wrong. Even if its aims were true, it should be unconstitutional because laws should not adversely affect a specific demographic.
This is why we devote massive efforts to registering and re-registering college students every year. This is why we need to turn Michigan Blue. The SIC committee was basically told that unless the Michigan legislature gets more liberal, our petition work to remove Rogers Law would be ineffective. This is why we spend all our time and money to stand on soap boxes handing out flyers, trying to inform largely apathetic passersby.
Well, those of you reading this blog are not apathetic, and probably most of your friends aren’t either, or you could bully them into caring. Please, take the time to email your Representative or Senator and tell them what their constituents think about Rogers Law, and to support Bills 4447 and 4448. I did it. Also, visit this really cool website about all 2008 elections and issues on the ballot this fall!
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan confirmed in an interview that the White House frequently gives talking points to Fox News. This is yet another strike against the record for the pseudo-journalists at Fox, but no surprise that President Bush has the conservative media in his back pocket. But propagandizing the media is supposed to be illegal in the U.S., so this confession ought to infuriate the nation. This isn’t the U.S.S.R. Hopefully we will see consequences for this grave violation of civil liberties in the near future.
Read more and watch McClellan drop the ball here.
Senator Obama has received a lot of backlash from supporters for his vote in favor of the revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Prior to its revisions, Obama was deeply opposed to the bill that granted immunity to firms that allowed the warrantless wiretapping conducted by the Bush Administration, but now supports the bill, which has had some significant privacy-protecting changes added to it.
This must have been a tough decision for Obama, who voted in favor of an amendment written by Senator Chris Dodd that would have taken away immunity for the telecommunications firms involved. Regrettably, the amendment failed, but Obama still felt that the added protection provided by the revisions were great enough to outweigh the fact that he would be labeled a “sell-out” by liberal hard-liners.
What his critics fail to recognize is that the bill only grants immunity if firms can provide a government-signed letter stating that their compliance was legal (although all companies received such letters). More importantly, key points of the bill’s revision include the following: warrantless wiretapping programs are now subject to evaluation by a secret federal intelligence court, a court order must now be obtained for surveillance of any American at home or abroad, it prevents reverse-targeting, it sets up a process of judicial review to handle whether telecommunications firms can be sued for providing information, and names of Americans inadvertently in communication with persons of interest must be purged from records unless a warrant is obtained for that person.
Personally, I am relieved that Obama voted in favor of the revised bill. The protection it added for the rights of Americans is crucial, and I think it shows that when faced with a tough decision, Obama will make the right one, even if it isn’t popular or perfect. He has also said that WHEN he is president he will review the law, but for now this is the best anyone could do.
I would also like to point out that Senator John McCain was not present for the senate vote. Probably because he cares more about photo-opting in Latin America than protecting civil liberties and doing his job.
For anyone who cares, here is the entire bill.
I was listening to BBC World Service as I was driving home tonight. The topic of talk was U.S. Foreign Policy, George W. Bush and the upcoming election. I wish I could remember the name of the British analyst I was listening to, but the name escapes me at the moment. I’ll try to find the link when it’s not so long passed my bedtime.
What I got out of the short, but insightful, segment was that the international community (Great Britain especially in this case) views the current President’s foreign policy as a continuation of a very predictable and long legacy in American foreign politics. The analyst said that Bush was not exactly bad for the U.S. because he merely continued the policies (and policy mistakes) that have been typical in our nation’s history. Bush’s reaction to 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq were not anomalies and the international community was not taken by surprise. However, Bush has become the whipping boy of foreign diplomacy for both his constituents and the nations of the world. This is because he is the embodiment of everything that has gnawed at the patience of foreign leaders and peoples throughout the United States’ existence.
I’m always a little torn when it comes to weighing in on how much blame the President really deserves for the screw ups of the last eight years. From an international standpoint, I can see why Bush’s actions seem typical of U.S. policy, and why his blunders are not much different than those prior to his administration. What I am certain that I can blame on President Bush is the fact that he has made mistakes that should have been avoided through maturation of U.S. foreign policy, that someone else had to be better for the presidency. With regards to trade, war, cultural understanding and a whole slew of issues, Bush has failed learn from the mistakes of others before him and instead has repeated them all in many ways.
The last part of the segment talked about whether either ’08 candidate, McCain or Obama, would be able to depart from what the international community sees as a tradition of bad U.S. foreign policy once in office. The concern was that even though both candidates strive to distance themselves from the Bush-style politics, they would fall victim to the same fate as liberal and conservative administrations before them, continuing the “pattern” of typical U.S. policies.
While I am certain that a McCain presidency would ensure repeated bad foreign policy, I sincerely believe that Senator Obama is the best chance for real change our country has seen in many an election cycle. If ever there was a time that America was tired of the type of politicians which George Bush personifies, it is now. If ever there was a leader in America that diverged from the past and current trend of Washington politicians, it is Senator Obama. I look forward to one year from now, living the promise that change holds for our country.
New Zealand scientists say they can reduce green house gas emissions through the development of an inoculation for farting/burping farm animals, which account for 90% of its green house gas emissions by producing methane gas. Full story here.
The article doesn’t say how far along they are in producing something usable, or how effective it would be, but this just made me realize how badass science is. Seriously, we can do anything. Anyone know of any other interesting anti-global warming efforts?
Syria is allowing inspections of the site which Israeli Forces destroyed because of suspicions that it was a secret nuclear reactor. Israel did so before the International Atomic Energy Agency could inspect the site. Now, Syria and Israel have been engaged in indirect peace talks, but Syria argues that Israel should submit to the same type of inspections. While Israel may not be a threat to the West, it is seen as hostile to much of the Middle East because its stockpile is of unknown size. As we have seen in the past, Israel does not show the greatest of restraint in flexing its military muscles (just ask Lebanon).
Is it fair to demand inspection privileges of countries like Syria and Iran, but not of Israel?