Category: History

U.S. Navy has its first female four star admiral


Addressing crew at her first command, USS Fort McHenryKristopher Wilson

The United States Navy promoted Michelle Howard from vice admiral to admiral Monday, making Howard the first female in the Navy’s 236-year history to hold the rank of four star admiral.

Along with her new rank and four star shoulder bars, Howard will also take on the post of Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the second highest position in the Navy.

Howard, no stranger to making history, was the first black woman to command a Navy ship.

Howard was promoted to her new rank during a ceremony held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Michelle Howard’s promotion to the rank of admiral is the result of a brilliant naval career, one I fully expect to continue when she assumes her new role as vice chief of naval operations,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “But also, it is an historic first, an event to be celebrated as she becomes the first female to achieve this position…

“Her accomplishment is a direct example of a Navy that now, more than ever, reflects the nation it serves — a nation where success is not born of race, gender or religion, but of skill and ability,” Mabus told the crowd during the ceremony. “She is also a great example of how much we as a nation and a Navy lose if we put artificial barriers in, if we don’t judge people based on their ability, based on their capability.

Of course, if she’s stationed anywhere in the new extended Confederacy she may have a rough time voting.

Boy Scouts make statement by marching in gay pride parade


James Estrin/The New York Times

The color guard leading the annual Gay Pride March down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday carried flags of sky blue, navy blue, red-white-and-blue and rainbow. But, for these marchers, the colors that mattered most were the ones they wore.

Khaki shirts, olive pants and rainbow neckerchiefs: the Boy Scout uniform, pride-style — a uniform that had never been seen on a group of marchers in New York City’s pride parade before.

They had come to mark progress — the Boy Scouts of America’s breakthrough vote last year to end a decades-old policy of prohibiting openly gay youths from being scouts — and to call for more. However, the organization, a touchstone of traditional America, still bars openly gay adults from participating as troop leaders or volunteers. Ending that ban has become a signature cause for the gay-rights movement…

The marchers’ uniforms were a provocative statement. Boy Scout officials have said that scouts are forbidden to wear their uniforms in events that support social or political positions, including gay pride events, and have disciplined scouts and scoutmasters in other states for doing so. But the New York area council has adopted a nondiscrimination policy that leaders of the parade group, called Scouts for Equality, said they believed would protect them.

A spokesman for the national organization declined to comment on the group of marchers, which included parents and straight supporters of the gay rights movement as well as gay and straight scouts and leaders…

The scouts did not take their “marching” lightly. No meandering on the asphalt for them, no dancing and high-fiving the spectators. As they stepped off to frenzied cheers from the crowd, lifting their flags, Peter Brownstein conducted their progress in low, determined tones, as if he were directing a military procession: “Left, right, left right left right.”

As the group passed the Stonewall Inn, the West Village bar known as the birthplace of the gay-rights movement, he and the other marchers paused and gave the Scout salute.

Mr. Brownstein, a Boy Scout leader from Utah, was forced to leave his troop after marching in the Salt Lake City pride event last year. That did not deter him in the least from coming to New York’s celebration.

We’re showing,” he told his fellow scouts, “that we belong.”

Power to the People still means all the people, folks. Cheers to the scouts who marched for progress.

Fiery protest against militarist revision of Japan’s constitution

self-immolation Shinjuku

A man burned himself at crowded Shinjuku train station in Japan’s capital Tokyo in a move allegedly to protest against the Japanese government’s attempt to exercise the rights to collective self-defense…

The man, according to pictures, was in his 50s and reportedly had a speech opposing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration and its efforts to lift the country’s self-imposed ban on collective self-defense rights before burning himself on a bridge connecting buildings at around 2:00 p.m. local time…

Local police has blocked the site and declined to provide details to Xinhua through a telephone interview, and the man’s condition after the suicidal attempt remains unknown.

The incident came after the Japanese government on Friday submitted the final version of the resolutions of exercising the “defense” rights to the ruling coalition…

The collective self-defense rights allow the Japanese Self- Defense Forces engage battles overseas, which run contrary against Japan’s war-renouncing pacifist constitution which bans the SDF to combat outside Japan.

According to the latest survey on the controversial issue by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, about 67 percent of Japanese opposed lifting the ban through constitution reinterpretation and 56 percent of Japanese oppose relaxing the ban through any means.

One of the most amazing feats of self-contradiction happened when the United States forced Japan to renounce any use of their military abroad to implement political policy. Quite reasonable in light of decades of Japan’s imperial ambitions, invasions.

Of course, we went ahead and did exactly what we forbade to the Japanese. At present, we still maintain hundreds of thousands of American troops in over 150 countries. We still suffer the effects of the wars we promoted around the world, small or large, Granada or Vietnam, Kuwait or Iraq, Americans try to recover the lives wasted in national-aggrandizement.

Court rules states can’t ban gay marriage


Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, winning plaintiffs — their dog’s name is Goji

A federal appeals court has ruled…that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they want to be wedded to someone of the same sex.

The judges added they don’t want to brand as intolerant those who oppose gay marriage, but they said there is no reasonable objection to the practice.

“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the judges wrote, addressing arguments that the ruling could undermine traditional marriage.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the court: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. However, gay marriages won’t be happening in the near future because the panel immediately put its ruling on hold pending an appeal…

And everyone knows we can count upon the intolerant and bigoted to appeal this decision.

The decision gives increased momentum to a legal cause that already has compiled an impressive record in the lower courts after the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, 16 federal judges have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates…

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said blah, blah, blah, blah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement on its website blah, blah, blah, blah.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert in a statement said blah, blah, blah, blah.

Now same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Recent polls show a majority of Americans support it.

Concepts advanced in times of ignorance need to be reexamined in the context of society, science and knowledge growing over time. Only fools accept textbooks as unchanging and fixed. Yet, the weakest among our species, the least educated and those who profit from fear would keep this nation and the world in darkness centuries old.

Oh yeah, you can count Indiana, now, too. :)

Presbyterians to divest holdings which aid Apartheid Israel

After passionate debate over how best to help break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Friday at its general convention to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.

The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one of a handful of historic mainline Protestant denominations and the church of many American presidents, is the largest yet to endorse divestment at a churchwide convention, and the vote follows a decade of debate — and a close call at the assembly two years ago, when divestment failed by only two votes…

The companies the church has targeted for divestment are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The church has about $21 million invested in them, a spokeswoman said. The church says it has tried for many years to convey its concerns that the companies are profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories by selling it bulldozers, surveillance technology and other equipment…

In a last-ditch tactic on Thursday, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, leader of the Reform movement (the largest branch in American Judaism), addressed the assembly and offered to broker a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the church’s two top leaders so they could convey their church’s concerns about the occupation — on the condition that the divestment measure was defeated.

That offer appears to have backfired, with some saying afterward that it felt both manipulative and ineffectual, given what they perceive as Mr. Netanyahu’s approval of more settlements in disputed areas and lack of enthusiasm for peace negotiations…

Of more influence was the presence at the church’s convention all week of Jewish activists, many of them young, in black T-shirts with the slogan “Another Jew Supporting Divestment.” Many of them were with Jewish Voice for Peace, a small but growing organization that promotes divestment and works with Palestinian and Christian groups on the left…

It is not the first American church to use divestment to protest Israeli policies: The Mennonite Central Committee and the Quakers have sold stock in some companies that do business with Israel. Last week the pension board of the United Methodist Church announced that it had sold its stock in a company over concerns about its contracts with Israeli prisons.

Bravo. And, yes, it’s overdue. Community and religious organizations that saw the light of freedom bright enough to support the historic boycott of Apartheid South Africa have no excuse for absenting themselves from the BDS campaign against Apartheid Israel.

I’ve taken part in both campaigns and can heartily endorse the effect on the prospects for peace from such a campaign. We can’t count on our elected officials or the White House to get on board till the last possible minute; but, if the citizens of America still care to think of ourselves as a nation that stands up for justice and freedom – then climb on board the peace train and tell your church, your union, your college or university to divest themselves of holdings which aid Israel’s apartheid crimes.

California traffic stop leads to meth lab at retirement community

Fresno police say they made a routine traffic stop on Robert Short, 64, at Olive and Rowell on Saturday night and found he had meth in his car. Investigators then went to Short’s apartment near Willow and Butler, where they say he was cooking and distributing drugs.

Neighbors who live in the California League-Fresno Village say their retirement community is quiet and safe. So naturally neighbors were appalled to hear one of the tenants is in the Fresno County Jail for dealing and cooking meth in this complex.

“It’s shocking, I would never guess that anything like that would go on at a senior citizen village,” said Robin Schramek.

When Action News knocked on Short’s door, no one answered. But there were signs all over the door that demand privacy and no visitors. Neighbors say despite the tight-knit community there they didn’t know Short, who kept to himself…

When officers pulled Short over it was for a routine traffic stop. Since he’s on supervised release for previous meth sales they searched his car.

“When the officers searched the car they located four ounces of methamphetamine in the car, which is a lot of methamphetamine, so that’s consistent with somebody who’s selling,” said Fresno police Lt. Joe Gomez.

After searching his apartment, they found a half pound of meth, heroin and materials for a meth lab.

“Just shocking someone that age would do that, but actually a perfect place to do it, right? Retirement village, who would suspect it going on there?” said Gomez.

Well, what kind of community do you want to have? I’ll wager it took the coppers who stopped Short only a minute or two to check his priors, to find out he’s on supervised release for previous meth sales.

Don’t want to be surprised about drug dealers in your tight-knit community? Collectively set standards – legal standards – and check folks out before they move in. It’s not uncommon in the best of low-income projects to have rules established about evicting folks convicted of dangerous crimes.

Just don’t get silly and purist about your standards. Folks trying to go straight need all the help they can get.