Saturday, February 7, 2009
America is facing an urgent and unprecedented challenge. The economic crisis requires bold and immediate action.
Watch President Obama's video and share it with your friends and family:
California is broke. The state is printing IOUs -- or what we are calling "Arnoldbucks" -- instead of tax refund checks. Unemployment claims are not being processed. And yesterday, government offices were closed and workers sent home without pay.
This is an unprecedented crisis. Without a budget deal, the state cannot provide the economic recovery that we so desperately need. Democrats have already agreed to a package of new revenues and extremely tough spending cuts.
But that's not enough for these right-wing Republicans. Republicans refuse to vote for a budget, unless Democrats agree to eliminate meal and rest breaks for workers and stop the fight against global warming.
The Republicans are proposing trading votes with Democrats to eliminate bedrock labor and environmental protections.
It may sound like politics as usual, but vote trading is against the law. Section 86 of the California Penal Code explicitly prohibits this kind of horse-trading. But Republicans, whose oath to anti-tax extremists supersedes their oath to the constitution, are ignoring the law. They are using the state's financial crisis to explicitly trade their votes for a budget that would crush the California dream.
And now, a coalition of groups are joining together to call on California Attorney General Jerry Brown and United States Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, including the California Labor Federation, Sierra Club California, State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Planning and Conservation League.
Time is running out. To stop what the Republicans are doing, we have to take action before it's too late. That's why we're joining our friends in the environmental and labor community to ask Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate Republican legislators for illegal vote trading on our state's budget. Will you join us right now?:
Just two weeks ago Americans watched with relief as George W. Bush left the White House and saw Barack Obama restore the rule of law to our federal government. Unfortunately California Republicans continue to follow Bush's lead by ignoring the law in pursuit of a far-right agenda.
We need to put a stop to Republican lawlessness. Before it's too late.
Thank you for helping to restore the rule of law to California.
Robert Cruickshank, Public Policy Director
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle Staff WriterTuesday, February 3, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments March 5 on the validity of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that California voters approved in November.The court said today that it would hold a three-hour hearing, from 9 a.m. to noon, at its chambers in San Francisco. The proceedings will also be televised statewide on the California Channel, the court said. A ruling is due within 90 days of the hearing.Prop. 8, approved by 52 percent of the voters on Nov. 4, amended the state Constitution to declare that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It overturned the court's May 15 ruling that recognized a constitutional right for gays and lesbians to marry.The court will hear lawsuits by same-sex couples and a group of local governments, led by the city of San Francisco, challenging Prop. 8.
The plaintiffs argue that a measure eliminating fundamental rights from a historically persecuted minority amounts to a revision of the Constitution and exceeds the power of initiatives.
A revision can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds legislative vote or by delegates to a state constitutional convention. The court has upheld such challenges to initiatives only twice in its history, in 1948 and 1990.
Opponents of Prop. 8 also argue that it violates the constitutional separation of powers by stripping the judiciary of its ability to protect a minority group. Attorney General Jerry Brown has sided with opponents of the measure and argues that it is invalid for another reason: that it abolishes "inalienable rights," guaranteed by the state Constitution, without a compelling justification.
The court has also asked the opposing sides to present arguments on whether 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California before Nov. 4 remain valid if Prop. 8 is upheld.The initiative is being defended by its sponsors, a group called Protect Marriage. The group's lead attorney is Kenneth Starr, the former prosecutor in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Just today, two federal employees who married their same-sex spouse in California but were denied Federal married health benefits have won the first round the winds of change are blowing and justice is in the air here and everywhere !! (more)
All I can say is... woo hoo!
From: JERRY-P-BECKER-BIG-L List [JERRY-P-BECKER-BIG-L@listserv.siu.edu] On Behalf Of Jerry Becker [jbecker@SIU.EDU
]Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 11:20 AMTo: JERRY-P-BECKER-BIG-L@listserv.siu.edu
Subject: Educators Tell Business How to Stop Ruining America
From the Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 90, No. 05, January 2008, p. 392. See http://www.pdkmembers.org/members_online/members/e-toc0901.asp
Educators Tell Business How to Stop Ruining AmericaBy Carl Glickman
We feel compelled to report to the American people that the business and financial foundations of our society are currently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur - companies that extolled themselves as models of excellent practices have deceived the American people with sloppy, undisciplined, and greedy practices that are driving Americans out of their homes, threatening their retirements, and dashing their hopes of a financially secure future. Indeed, if an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre corporate financial performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
Business has allowed this to happen, with greedy CEOs and upper management taking enormous benefits for themselves while preaching and dictating to schools the need to adopt their "sound" business practices of unbridled free markets, privatization strategies, and the notion of competition as the force for change. Taxpayers are now bailing out some of these companies, whose CEOs have been actively involved in dictating to policy makers that America's schools should model the management style of the private sector.
God forbid that our schools become more like these kinds of businesses! Our business and financial communities have, in effect, been committing rash, thoughtless acts of unilateral financial disarmament, dragging our citizens and their children into economic insecurity while having many of these same citizens pay the bill. By making their terminology, practices, and transactions incomprehensible to the lay audience, these business leaders enjoyed a decade-long end run around the public and our alleged watchdog agencies. The hubris of high rollers on the top floors of America's giant companies permitting unfettered profit-taking at the expense of others has no limit. To be blunt, the business community has become an industry at risk of implosion.
To help our colleagues in the business community, we educators hereby recommend a new guiding and monitoring organization for business and financial institutions. The Education Roundtable will gather a team of the country's top educators, whose charge will be to set business standards, goals, and accountability structures for all corporations and financial institutions. To promote a greater culture of accountability, the Roundtable will also require each entity to publish a report card every year, based on a series of standardized assessments.Our final word, perhaps better characterized as a plea, is that all segments of our population will give close attention to the implementation of our recommendations. Our present plight did not appear overnight, and the responsibility for our current situation is widespread. Reform of our corporate and financial system will take time and unwavering commitment. For no one can doubt that the United States is under challenge from many quarters.
EpilogueSome readers will bristle as I have lifted some of the exact wording of the Nation at Risk report of 1983 and changed the words "schools" and "public education" to "business and financial institutions." And yes, I have taken plenty of liberties to extend and add sentences to define all business and financial leaders and stock market manipulators as untrustworthy, immoral, dangerous people who have let our country down, crushing the day-to-day lives and long-term hopes of the majority of Americans who cannot afford to lose their jobs, their homes, and their savings. And my business friends will bristle at the idea that educators, with no experiences in business or finance, should be taking charge of what they need to do. If so, the point has been made and, I hope, sincerely taken before further policy is made.
CARL GLICKMAN is co-convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy (https://webmail.saclink.csus.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=2ec0499b3a0049259f9771ba03908d23&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.forumforeducation.org%2f) and editor of the recent book, Those Who Dared: Five Visionaries Who Changed American Education (Teachers College Press, 2009). The opinions expressed by the author are his alone and do not officially represent the Forum for Education and Democracy.
SIDEBAR: God forbid that schools become more like these kinds of businesses.
Find more articles using PDK's Publication Archives Search at https://webmail.saclink.csus.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=2ec0499b3a0049259f9771ba03908d23&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.pdkintl.org%2fsearch.htm.
Please join feminists and human rights activists worldwide in urging the Iranian government to keep women's rights advocate and Iran's Nobel Laureate
Sobhani was arrested last month and has been denied the right to speak with her attorney or members of her family. She is currently being held in solitary confinement.
It is critical that we stand behind Dr. Ebadi and Sobhani at this time to protect their important work as human and women's rights defenders!
Dr. Ebadi's human rights organization was forcibly closed by the Iranian authorities in December when they raided her personal office and seized her writings, confidential legal files, and two computers amid claims of so-called tax evasion. An angry mob later in the month surrounded Dr. Ebadi's home and personal office chanting death threats against her and vandalizing her building. And now her former secretary has been arrested.
Write to urge Iran's swift reversal of these actions against Dr. Ebadi and permit the reopening of her human rights organization.
In August 2006, we and human rights organizations throughout the world asked you and other people of conscience to write the Iranian government, which at that time was threatening to arrest Dr. Ebadi and close the center. The Iranian authorities responded and the center remained open. We are asking you to help again.
"Fidelity" used with permission from Regina Spektor and EMI Records.
We, the undersigned, share President Barack Obama's view that "for too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect."
Yet, on December 19, 2008, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and seeking to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between May and November of 2008.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days. We, the undersigned, ask that the Court invalidate Prop 8 and recognize the marriage rights of these 18,000 couples -- and all loving, committed couples in California -- under our state's constitution.
As Americans who believe in the rule of law and fundamental civil rights, we know that Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund's shameful attempt to nullify these unions will not be vindicated in the eyes of history. We know that, ultimately, love will prevail, no matter how hard they try to fight it.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter from a group of academics, writers, artists, journalists and Iranian activists throughout the world to the Baha’i community. This letter has been signed by a large number of the most prominent Iranian intellectuals.
We are ashamed!
A century and a half of oppression and silence is enough!
In the name of goodness and beauty, and in the name of humanity and liberty!
As Iranian human beings, we are ashamed for what has been perpetrated upon the Baha’is in the last century and a half in Iran.
We firmly believe that every Iranian, “without distinction of any kind, such as, race, color, sex, language, religion, politics or other opinions,” and also without regard to ethnic background, “social origin, property, birth or other status,” is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, from the very inception of the Baha’i Faith, the followers of this religion in Iran have been deprived of many provisions of human rights solely on account of their religious convictions.
According to historical documents and evidence, from the commencement of the Babi Movement followed by the appearance of the Baha’i Faith, thousands of our countrymen have been slain by the sword of bigotry and superstition only for their religious beliefs. Just in the first decades of its establishment, some twenty thousand of those who stood identified with this faith community were savagely killed throughout various regions of Iran.
We are ashamed that during that period, no voice of protest against these barbaric murders was registered;
We are ashamed that until today the voice of protest against this heinous crime has been infrequent and muted;
We are ashamed that in addition to the intense suppression of Baha’is during its formative decades, the last century also witnessed periodic episodes of persecution of this group of our countrymen, in which their homes and businesses were set on fire, and their lives, property and families were subjected to brutal persecution – but all the while, the intellectual community of Iran remained silent;
We are ashamed that during the last thirty years, the killing of Baha’is solely on the basis of their religious beliefs has gained legal status and over two-hundred Baha’is have been slain on this account;
We are ashamed that a group of intellectuals have justified coercion against the Baha’i community of Iran;
We are ashamed of our silence that after many decades of service to Iran, Baha’i retired persons have been deprived of their right to a pension;
We are ashamed of our silence that on the account of their fidelity to their religion and truthfulness in stating this conviction, thousands of Baha’i youth have been barred from education in universities and other institutions of higher learning in Iran;
We are ashamed that because of their parents’ religious beliefs, Baha’i children are subjected to denigration in schools and in public.
We are ashamed of our silence over this painful reality that in our nation, Baha’is are systematically oppressed and maligned, a number of them are incarcerated because of their religious convictions, their homes and places of business are attacked and destroyed, and periodically their burial places are desecrated;
We are ashamed of our silence when confronted with the long, dark and atrocious record that our laws and legal system have marginalized and deprived Baha’is of their rights, and the injustice and harassment of both official and unofficial organs of the government towards this group of our countrymen;
We are ashamed for all these transgressions and injustices, and we are ashamed for our silence over these deeds.
We, the undersigned, asked you, the Baha’is, to forgive us for the wrongs committed against the Baha’i community of Iran.
We will no longer be silent when injustice is visited upon you.
We stand by you in achieving all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights.
Let us join hands in replacing hatred and ignorance with love and tolerance.
February 3, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
With less than 1/2 the rain we need fora 3rd year here, this seems relavant:
Richard Black, BBC News: "If you look at the numbers, it is hard to see how many East African communities made it through the long drought of 2005 and 2006. Among people who study human development, it is a widely-held view that each person needs about 20 litres of water each day for the basics - to drink, cook and wash sufficiently to avoid disease transmission. Yet at the height of the East African drought, people were getting by on less than five litres a day - in some cases, less than one litre a day, enough for just three glasses of drinking water and nothing left over."