Tagged: anniversary

Pic of the Day

Clinton, Obama Commemorate Historic Selma March
Click to enlarge — Obama in SelmaPhoto by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Understand that if we had the same coppers in Selma, the same police chief, the same city government, the same members of the state legislature, the same people representing Alabama in Congress, in the House and Senate – that demonstration today, even headed by the President of the United States – would have been brutalized, again.

Racists don’t care who you are. They aren’t interested in anything but their fear and hatred. That our president now happens to be a Black man would make him more of a target. That’s all.

And many of the people filling all those positions, nowadays – from copper at the bottom of the police rung all the way up into Congress – are just as bigoted as their predecessors. Don’t kid yourself otherwise. On one hand they dare not act like the simple-minded lynch mob that set out to destroy everyone in that demonstration 50 years ago. Too much of society has changed. Much of law and justice has been changed. They couldn’t count on getting away with it. And that counts most – with cowards.

On the other hand, they will sit around and whine to each other tonight that at least they have over half the Supreme Court and the majority of Congress on their side. They are succeeding at reversing some of the successes at guaranteeing normal civil rights to all Americans – especially Americans who ain’t white.

This battle shall not end. We face the same challenges and, importantly, the same people, the same kind of people. They didn’t vanish along with the value system that backed them up. They have learned to tell the same lies their political representatives tell all the time.

Their lies don’t change a damned thing. Taking away their political power is what counts. Not changing their bigot minds.

Pic of the Day

A sign on a restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, in the old days

Remembering Selma, this weekend, Reuters offers a slideshow of background photos — and traces the course of some of the events in the civil rights struggle up to Dr. King’s assassination in 1968.

I chose the restaurant window up top just to remind folks that as craptastic as Confederate ideology has been in the Deep South, the disease of racism doesn’t skip any part of this nation. As you might expect, all the rationales of denying any segment of the population their civil rights extends easily and automatically to anyone else hated by bigots.

So, we’re still awaiting a dysfunctional politically-warped Supreme Court to decide if the 21st Century is too scary if folks who aren’t heterosexual want to live the American Dream. And I always take the time to remind my fellow trade unionists that the union I belonged to in the 1960’s – one of the largest in the country at the time – still had a clause in its constitution banning the president of the national union from being a woman or Black.

Oh, anyone surprised the Republican Party essentially is skipping commemorations in Selma, this weekend? The Sad Old Party has given up on joining any fight for civil rights. Not today’s Republican Party.

World’s 1st bullet train celebrates 50th Anniversary

Click to enlargeThe original Series 0

Zipping cross-country in a super-high-speed train has become commonplace in many countries these days, but it was unheard of when Japan launched its bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka 50 years ago Wednesday.

The Shinkansen, as it’s called in Japan, gave a boost to train travel in Europe and Asia at a time when the rise of the automobile and the airplane threated to eclipse it. It also was a symbol of pride for Japan, less than two decades after the end of World War II, and a precursor of the economic “miracle” to come.

The Oct. 1, 1964, inauguration ceremony was re-enacted at Tokyo Station on Wednesday at 6 a.m., complete with ribbon cutting. The first bullet train, with its almost cute bulbous round nose, traveled from Tokyo to Osaka in four hours, shaving two and a half hours off the 513-kilometer (319-mile) journey. The latest model, with a space-age-like elongated nose, takes just two hours and 25 minutes…

The Shinkansen renewed interest in high-speed rail elsewhere, notably in Europe. France and Spain are among the leaders in Europe, and Turkey last year became the ninth country to operate a train at an average speed of 200 kph, according to Railway Gazette. South Korea and Taiwan also operate high-speed systems in Asia…The fastest train in the U.S., Amtrak’s Acela Express, averages 169 kph (105 mph) on a short stretch between Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware…


Here’s a look at the rest of the modern world. Which really doesn’t include the United States.

Japan, the world, remembers those who died in Hiroshima

Japan marked the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on Wednesday, with the city’s mayor inviting world leaders to see atomic bomb-scarred cities firsthand to be convinced that nuclear weapons should not exist.

Speaking before a crowd of survivors, their descendants and dignitaries including U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, the mayor urged U.S. President Barack Obama and others to visit, referring to a proposal made at a ministerial meeting in April of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Hiroshima.

“President Obama and all leaders of nuclear-armed nations, please respond to that call by visiting the A-bombed cities as soon as possible to see what happened with your own eyes,” Mayor Kazumi Matsui said. “If you do, you will be convinced that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil that must no longer be allowed to exist.”

About 45,000 people stood for a minute of silence at the ceremony in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 bombing that killed up to 140,000 people. The bombing of Nagasaki three days later killed another 70,000, prompting Japan’s surrender in World War II.

I’m enough of a cranky old geek to remember when the cabinet member in charge of killing people in other lands was called the Secretary of War. Was WW2 a war I could support? You betcha. Did we sometimes act like the vicious monsters on the “other side”? You betcha. As an American, therefore, I have a responsibility to fight to keep my nation on a righteous path – opposing the greed and deceit so often prompting war.

Yes, I stood in the street with my family and neighbors and cheered and cried with joy – August 6, 1945 – because the war was over. At that moment we didn’t consider the threat our government had unleashed upon the world.

As for the music up top – Pete Seeger was a freedom fighter for us all. He would never let us forget evils committed in our name. The music was written by James Waters. Pete’s performance.

The lyrics are a poem written by one of my favorites, Nazim Hikmet. Even in exile from his beloved Turkey he, too, was a freedom fighter.

Thanks, Mike – who found something completely different.

Help draft a global “bill of rights” for the Web

Tim Berners-LeeReuters/Vincent West

Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist who effectively invented the web with a proposal 25 years ago, has used the anniversary to establish a campaign called Web We Want. He wants people to sign up to this campaign and help draft a global “Internet Users’ Bill of Rights” to cover the next 25 years.

Berners-Lee kicked off the Web We Want drive with a series of interviews, in which he argued that the web is under threat from both corporations and governments, leaving its openness and neutrality in doubt.

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture,” he told the Guardian. “It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

On the government side, Berners-Lee is worried about surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA and GCHQ revelations, as well as the fragmentation this may cause. On the corporate side, he is concerned about the abuse of net neutrality and copyright law (which he described as “terrible”), as well as the prevalence of proprietary ecosystems such as Facebook.

The principles behind Web We Want, which is coordinated by the World Wide Web Foundation, are as follows:

Affordable access to a universally available communications platform

The protection of personal user information and the right to communicate in private

Freedom of expression online and offline

Diverse, decentralized and open infrastructure

Neutral networks that don’t discriminate against content or users

I’ve been online since 1983. Even in early Internet days folks understood the risk of abuse by Government probably more so than by corporate scumbags. I recall one BBS I belonged to that had to become a fundraising center because one of the members was arrested and thrown into jail in the great state of Louisiana because of his gender identity.

Like most experienced geeks, I haven’t had a problem with most corporate access to my data because generally that access was granted by my own decision. Though, again, there always are those who see a chance to make a disreputable buck by selling illegally-acquired info.

But, courtesy of George W Bush and Barack Obama, we’re back to government snooping big time. The best of tech companies are working their coneheads off trying to build more secure systems, better encryption, means and methods we haven’t even heard of – yet – to protect us from Big Brother. Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal for a Web Bill of Rights makes a lot of sense, too. And I heartily endorse it.

A year after Superstorm, Hoboken prepares for the next disaster

A year after superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage to Hoboken, New Jersey, the city is looking to its past in order to plan for the future. “Hoboken: One Year After Sandy,” an exhibit that recently opened at the Hoboken Historical Museum, aims to not only remember the storm, but to highlight the city’s vulnerabilities and emphasize the need for long-term changes that Hoboken must make in order to continue thriving on the Hudson river waterfront.

The city of over 50,000 people…sits right on the Hudson River, as does much of its critical infrastructure. The Hoboken Terminal serves as one of the New York metropolitan area’s most important transportation hubs, with thousands of commuters passing through via New Jersey Transit, the Metro North Railroad line, Path train, and more each day. The waterfront is dotted with parks and offers spectacular views of Manhattan’s mighty skyline. Further inland (which isn’t very far at all) Hoboken is filled with pastel-colored buildings dating back to the late 19th or early 20th century, and many residents live in ground-floor or basement-level apartments.

According to Juan Melli, communications manager for Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Hoboken sustained over $100 million in private property damage from Sandy and $10 million in public property damage.

Hoboken’s peculiar topography caused uneven flooding throughout the city; much of the city sits in a flood basin below sea level but some areas occupy a higher elevation. Some streets were spared, while others were submerged beneath several feet of contaminated water.

The museum’s exhibit demonstrates this phenomenon with an interactive computer map of Hoboken that models how floodwaters engulfed the city during the storm; it poured in from the north and south, and quickly pooled in lower-lying areas.

Residents have been encouraged to submit multimedia to the exhibit, as well as to share their story of Sandy in a guestbook or record it in a quiet booth off to the side. The museum hopes to create an archive of the accounts and make them available to the public online once the exhibit closes next year…

A recent analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that sea levels are rising faster than previously – and Hoboken itself was mentioned by the report’s author as being in danger. Future planning is key.

“We’re very comprehensive,” Melli said of the city’s plans to protect itself from future storms. The city has partnered with the Department of Energy to create a “smart grid” that will be more resilient to power outages. The city has also purchased additional flood pumps, is growing its emergency response team, promoting greener and stronger infrastructure, in addition to exploring a plethora of other options.

Know-nothing conservatives, whether Tea Party ignoranuses or simply cheapskate Republicans, in state after state, city, shore or mid-American farm country continue apace in their denial of any change in climate. Rejecting science is considered holy writ in bastions of superstition. They rely on the American tradition of providing aid to communities too stupid to care for themselves, so perverse in their reliance on 14th Century ideology they refuse to allow investigation of future danger or preparation for safety of citizens at risk.

Cities like Hoboken will prove themselves representative of the best of American standards in political action – while bird-brains and turd-brains from North Carolina to Nebraska take chances with the lives of generations to come.

Remember Superstorm Sandy

A homeowner who is part of America, not the Confederacy — REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

An American flag is seen on the window of a door at the Breeezy Point community, which was damaged by hurricane Sandy in October 2012 in the borough of Queens in New York — photo taken October 28, 2013.

If you live in Oklahoma or Colorado and your Congresscritter voted against aid for the folks devastated by Sandy – but, they begged up for aid for you after a tornado or flood – please, give them what they deserve for being hypocrites and scumbags.

Vote ’em out of office and tell them to get an honest job!

US invasion of Afghanistan began 12 years ago – today!

Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, began 12 years ago Monday…There are still 54,000 American troops in Afghanistan and the number of coalition bases has gone from a high of 800 to about 100, Stars and Stripes reported…

Discussion and media interest about Afghanistan have faded since President Obama ordered a troop surge three years ago, but a White House spokesman declined to discuss whether Obama is avoiding public discussion, Stars and Stripes said.

A. Trevor Thrall, a professor at George Mason University, said this isn’t the first time a president has tried to avoid news out of Afghanistan, the report said.

George W. Bush stopped talking about Afghanistan almost immediately after he shifted focus to Iraq,” Thrall said. “Afghanistan was truly a forgotten war [when] Obama took over and it became it again after the surge was over. The result is the public really has no idea what’s going on there.”

Troops still in Afghanistan told Stars and Stripes they have mixed feelings about the lack of attention.

“It’s kind of sad, because I think some people are a little more occupied with the latest TV show,” said Lt. Uriel Macias, a Navy reservist assigned to a stability operations team in Kabul. “But what is often forgotten is that we are still losing people all the time.”

Of course, we could have left a long time ago – just as we could have stayed out of Iraq altogether. But, that not only would have required reason and objectivity among our elected officials in the White House and Congress – it would have required courage in the face of right-wing chickenhawks, war-lovers and profiteers.

Not especially likely in the Land of Liberty.