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Monday, May 23, 2011

Neighborhood Nukes?! - Right Wing Lunacy - 'Pro-Life' Killers - Resource Wars, Coming Soon! - More on Bin Laden from Chomsky - Most Abused Animal on Earth - Gay Bashing - Climate Change

- Osama bin Laden’s Death: There is Much More to Say by Noam Chomsky
    After the assassination of bin Laden I received such a deluge of requests for comment that I was unable to respond individually, and on May 4 and later I sent an unedited form response instead, not intending for it to be posted, and expecting to write it up more fully and carefully later on. But it was posted, then circulated.That was followed but a deluge of reactions from all over the world. It is far from a scientific sample of course, but nevertheless, the tendencies may be of some interest. Overwhelmingly, those from the “third world” were on the order of “thanks for saying what we think.”  There were similar ones from the US, but many others were infuriated, often virtually hysterical, with almost no relation to the actual content of the posted form letter.
- WikiLeaks: A Battle to 'Carve Up' the Arctic
    Resource wars are possible as global warming melts polar ice - opening new areas to oil exploitation, cables indicate. ... Sir David King, the UK government's former chief scientific adviser, called the invasion of Iraq "the first of [this century's] resource wars", warning that "powerful nations will secure resources for their own people at the expense of others".
    "The doomsday would be competitive resource wars. As climate change gets worse, people will be pushed to get more resources to run their air conditioners and so forth. My prediction is that we are still going to be addicted to oil [when the main icecaps melt] and these resources are going to be extracted by the most powerful lot - which would include Russia, the US and China."
- The Most Abused Animal on the Planet Is …
    Do you know one of those people who says, "I'm a vegetarian, but I still eat chicken"? Considering that chickens are arguably the most abused animals on the planet, they should be one of the first animals we remove from our plates—and there's no better time to do that than World Week for Abolition of Meat.... Chickens' cognitive skills rival those of cats, dogs, and, in some cases, primates....But the billions of chickens who are slaughtered for food or crammed into cages and used for eggs suffer horribly throughout their short lives.
- Media Matters Revisits Right-Wing Media Prophesies That Obama Is The Antichrist
    As attention turns to speculation that May 21, 2011, will be the Biblical day of rapture, Media Matters revisits a litany of fringe right-wing media figures who foretold that President Obama might just be the Antichrist - the latest in a long line of world leaders presaged as "the beast."
- No Such Thing As Liberal Media: Keith Olbermann (Former news host on MSNBC, soon to be on Current TV) tweets:
    "Presented without comment: Michael Moore named contributor to @Current. Michael Steele [former chairman of the Republican Party] named contributor to MSNBC"
- Going Backwards: Small 'Neighborhood Nukes' Envisioned
    Two U.S. representatives from Pennsylvania are advocating that the federal government back a new generation of miniature nuclear reactors that could power neighborhoods.
- Deadly Tornado Tears Through the US Midwest
    At least 89 people have died in Joplin, Missouri, and the toll is expected to climb as one of the deadliest tornadoes in state history roared through the small Midwestern city on Sunday, local officials said on Monday.
- The Answer Is (Artificially) Blowing in the Wind
    Only God can make a tree, the poem says. But scientists are working on making artificial leaves that can produce fuels directly from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, just as real leaves do. One day, the new leaves could help people heat their homes and drive their cars.
- Suffer the Little Children
    Apparently harboring the time-honored illusion that if you don't talk about something that makes you uncomfortable then it will go away, Tennessee legislators have passed the country's first so-called "Don't Say Gay" law, wherein middle school teachers can only discuss sexuality in the context of "natural human reproduction science" - as in, you know, man plus woman equals baby. More on protests, the idiocy of the bill, background and petition by WeSayGay, and more corporate and Chamber gay-bashing.

The Right's Mirror-Image View of Life
Anti-abortion campaigners in the US fail to value life lost through war, or those taken by a punitive justice system.
By Cliff Schecter
Pubished May 2011 on Al Jazeera

Anti-abortion campaigners believe it is their right to choose the rights of others - while many 'pro-lifers' vocally support the death penalty and wars that kill innocents [GALLO/GETTY]

Yesterday, I pulled up to a drive-through ATM, and sitting in front of me in the line was a car with a license plate that simply stated, "Choose Life".

Who can argue with that? I support life, don't you?

The problem, of course, is the relationship between that phrase and the US right wing. You know, the ones who are petrified of everything from black presidents to black helicopters to Black Sabbath.

Yes, they piously claim to be "pro-life", but it is a simple platitude, for - to paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride - I do not think that word means what they think it means.

To those not steeped in US politics, being pro-life might seem like it means what one would expect - to oppose policies and endeavours that duly result in a loss of human life. But, in the US political arena, it means something quite different. Generally, it is a way of telling everyone that it's your business to give a woman her marching orders - that she must eventually carry a three-day-old embryo to term, even if it's the result of rape or incest.

Or its corollary, that you're some kind of Nietzschean Superman for ensuring that 91-year-old patients in terrible pain due to pancreatic cancer must stick a tube in any empty orifice to force themselves to stay alive and suffer, even against their own wishes.

The sad reality is that, to be pro-life in the US today, which is to be conservative in almost all cases, is to love thy enemy by supporting illegal wars - or just plain stupid ones - that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents, cutting health-care benefits and nutrition programs for children and the poor, and turning the other cheek … of the person you're torturing.

It is also to cut funding for bridges that are falling down to make room for slashing the tax on yacht shoes, make a best faith effort to ensure criminals, the mentally unbalanced and terrorists have access to assault weapons and C4 explosives, and to love thy neighbour - to love them so much as to give him or her a lethal injection if you think they killed someone.

"Think" is the operative word here, as it seems the conservative Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, may be about to put an innocent man to death. Shawn Hawkins, the man in question, is to be executed on June 14, 2011. This, even though there are serious enough concerns he may be innocent that on May 11, the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended that the governor grant him clemency due to increasing doubt over his guilt.

But hell, what's a little faulty eyewitness testimony, evidence destroyed before it could be DNA tested, and lack of placing the defendant in possession of the murder weapon between friends?

So, in other words, the morning-after pill is murder, but taking a guy who even Ken Blackwell, Republican candidate for Governor in 2006, thinks should be given clemency - and killing him - that is just so pro-life!

The truth is that those on the US right are about as "pro-life" as Arnold Schwarzenegger is pro-wife. Or Dominique Strauss Kahn is pro-maid.

It is an empty phrase they throw around to get a core demographic of lunatics who hate the very idea of a woman choosing to have sex and having any control over her body frothing at the mouth. Because presumably, Jesus, who talked about love and brotherhood, would have taken the time to stop walking on water and curing the infirm to publicly flog any woman contemplating a life of self-determination.

This is not to say there are not legitimate concerns with late-term abortions. I have these concerns. Or underage girls making this decision without adult guidance. I have those ones too.

But this is not what this particular battle's about. Because if it were, I probably wouldn't have once argued on a television show with a conservative, who in one sentence told me that abortion was murder, and in the next that we should eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (the guys who, you know, make sure we can breathe) - and turn Iraq into a "glass factory" (See: sand and extreme heat).

Now maybe you're reading this and asking: "I already know all of this, why is he wasting my time?" Well, perhaps this is just my way of saying I'm tired of the platitudes, particularly on the licence plates of portly, pale, Rush Limbaugh-imbibers who take way-too-much time at the drive-through ATM because they're still working their way through fractions.

You can pick whatever political slogan you want. But pro-life is pro-life in any language.
And you're probably a bit closer to actually being pro-life if you care about how a pregnant woman will get healthcare, and not being the guy trying to cut it, while wearing your wife-beater t-shirt and holding up the Obama sign with the Hitler moustache.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. You can follow him on Twitter: @cliffschecter