Gay Rights Progress and More Stunning NSA Tidbits for the Day

Gay Marriage in Texas

A judge in Texas has ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional while leaving the law in place upon further appeals.  Part of his ruling should be hammered home across the nation in the fight for gay rights:

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” (Judge Orlando) Garcia wrote. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.” (Emphasis added)

Gay Adoption in Michigan

Another court case concerning gay rights is currently underway in Michigan and is focusing on the effects of same-sex couples on parenting.  People are allowed their opinions as to what they may think about gay parents but let’s get one thing clear: there is no legitimate scientific research supporting the idea gay parenting is in any way a detriment to children.  As stated in the article:

“The scholarly consensus is that children raised by same-sex couples are in no disadvantage,” said Michael J. Rosenfeld, a Stanford University sociologist…“The consensus (among sociologists) is a consensus opinion that this debate is settled.

The NSA Will Attack You Personally and Attempt Brainwashing

There appears to be no end as to how shocking and despicable the NSA actions and programs can be.  Glen Greenwald, through Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing, is now showing us the proof the NSA was/is using covert operations on the Internet to go after political activists and discredit them in any way possible.

Are they texting my Momma?!

As bad as all of these actions are, take a close look at the last bullet point on the slide.  One has to wonder what guidelines were followed and what alleged crime had to be committed for the texts and emails to be sent out to friends and family.  And remember, these actions would have been taken against people who allegedly had done something bad, not criminals convicted in a court of law.

Another slide included in Greenwald’s article is just as astonishing and suggests making attempts at brainwashing people.  In a slide titled “Gambits for Deception”, we see Orwellian phrases such as “Present story fragments”, “Swap the real for the false”, “Repetition reduces vigilance”, “Repetition creates expectancies”, and “Channel behavior”.  How exactly is “swapping the real for the false” construed as being an important part of a democracy?

And let’s not forget there has been no proof any of the NSA’s unwarranted domestic spying activities have produced anything resembling useful actions that have stopped a terrorist, which is the justification for these programs.

On The Venezuelan Crisis

lead_001A great piece in The Atlantic for anyone who is interested in the current crisis in Venezuela. Author Moises Naim gives a rebuke of the Maduro administration while siding with the protesters in the streets.

But keep in mind the caveat that in the article Naim discloses that he was Venezuela’s minister of trade and industry and director of its Central Bank from 1989-1990. So he may favor the upper/middle class opposition in his arguments.

Read Here.

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Will Jan Brewer Sign Anti-Gay Bill and More

2dfd2d44-b56f-4bf8-977e-30d42e36470e-460x276A good article in The Guardian on Arizona’s anti-gay bill that’s up for signature or veto by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. It also includes information on the battles between gays and conservatives across the nation.

Read Here.

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Cantor’s Fairytale Military Capabilities

leadIn opposition to my previous post, here’s a report on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stupefying views on military actions across the globe despite a shrinking military budget.

* They should take it a little bit easier on LBJ. The man did sign the Civil Rights Bill and proposed the “Great Society” programs. Also, Kennedy was already involved in Vietnam even though LBJ couldn’t get us out. (I have a weak spot in my heart, for some reason, for LBJ.

Read Here.

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Pentagon Proposed Cuts

jp-PENTAGON-master180Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel released the proposed military budget today bringing down the current war-footing of the U.S. military troop numbers to pre-WWII rates.

But at the heart here, and as this NYT article covers, is the fact that the military industrial complex is squealing as usual about any cuts whatsoever no matter how bad they are needed or how much they improve the U.S. fighting force.

Two links for further reading today:

The NYT article can be found here.

ikeAnd you can find Pres. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address regarding the Military Industrial Complex here.

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Trouble in Venezuela

Protest against Maduro government in CaracasI was hopeful when I first read that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ was flirting with socialist ideals and policies. He allied with Castro and socialized oil refineries across his country. But in my heart I believed it wouldn’t work. Chavez led his people into too many economic and social problems (like the 56% inflation rate and the high crime rate.) Also the movement was driven by one charismatic leader, not a political sect. His faithful Red Shirts are facing an uphill battle.

So what we have now is Chavez’ successor, Nicolás Maduro, battling with street protesters demanding change at the government’s highest level. In response, Maduro is constricting certain Venezuelans’ freedoms in an effort to suppress the unrest. He is cutting off internet access in areas and refusing to ship oil to certain municipal locations controlled by the opposition. (These tactics should be scary to all liberty-loving people around the world.)

But yet it seems that, according to the reporting, the protesters are the upper-class members of society, such as college students and the oligarchs who tried to overthrow Chavez in the 2002 coup d’etat, not the people.

So who to trust?

Read the latest on the situation here at The Guardian.

The latest report from Venezuela’s political unrest and street violence amidst protests.

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“5 billionaires who are making life miserable for ordinary Americans”

tom_perkins-620x412A good article at Salon.com, picked up from Alternet, listing top 5 billionaire-supporters of right-wing conservative policies/movements that are detrimental to a more fair and egalitarian America

Both interesting and witty as Alternet pieces usually are.

Read Here.

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Conflict In Kiev

0219_UKRAINE_langMap_web-720A great multimedia-included article in the NYT takes you into the protests, violence, and general disarray occurring right now in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

Read Here.

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European Boycotts Against Israel Taking Effect

0224-OBOYCOTTISRAEL-date-palm_full_380A good article in the CSM regarding how boycott movements in Europe, which can only get worse, is beginning to affect Israel’s economy and what lies in the future for this movement.

Read Here.

0130-israel-products-pampers_full_300And there is another good piece at the CSM showing 10 popular product brands that must be boycotted if you are against the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. The list comes form the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction) movement that began in 2005 in an effort to bring such facts to the fore.

Read Here.

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Academics Are Irrelevant, Sadly

Kristof_New-articleInline-v3A good piece from yesterday in the NYT by Nicholas Kristof is a call to academia to become more relevant in today’s political theater.

He blames both the the anti-intellectualism in American life and the academics’ cloistering themselves with complicated peer-reviewed journal articles.

Read Here.