United Nations declares today to be “Malala Day”

MALALA-UN

The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions
but nothing changed in my life, except this:
weakness, fear and hopelessness died.
Strength, power and courage was born

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for advocating education for girls, marked her 16th birthday with an impressive speech at the United Nations, where she said education could change the world.

Wearing a pink head scarf, Malala told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and nearly 1,000 students from around the world attending a Youth Assembly at UN headquarters in New York that education was the only way to improve lives.

“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution,” she said.

“The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

The UN has declared her birthday, July 12, as “Malala Day“.

The Pakistani teenager, who first came to public attention at the age of 11 for speaking out against a ban on girls’ education, was shot in the neck and head by Taliban gunmen last October on her way home from school in Pakistan.

She left a Birmingham hospital in February after she recovered from surgery during which doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate and inserted a cochlear implant in her left ear to help restore hearing.

Malala used her speech at the UN to ask the UN secretary-general and any listening world leaders on the need to keep a promise to provide universal primary education by the end of 2015…

Bravo! A young woman whose courage sets a standard for the world.

All the political hacks who represent supposedly educated democratic nations at the UN will probably commit to the programs she stands for – for universal education. Liars and reactionaries back home – in the United States and elsewhere – will do their level best to stop that funding. We know the range of excuses they will raise. And those will be lies as are the other excuses they roll out to impede equal opportunity for all.

US Government’s propaganda fail – Americans accept Edward Snowden as a whistleblower

snowden+hrw
Snowden meeting with Human Rights Watch in Moscow – today

A majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released today shows.

Fifty-five percent said Snowden was a whistle-blower in leaking details about top-secret U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, in the survey from…Quinnipiac University. Thirty-four percent said he’s a traitor…

The poll also showed that by 45 percent to 40 percent, respondents said the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terrorism. That was a reversal from January 2010, when in a similar survey 63 percent said anti-terrorism activities didn’t go far enough to protect the U.S. from attacks, compared with 25 percent who disagreed.

“The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti-terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor, are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute.

The view of Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than traitor predominated among almost every group of respondents broken down by party, gender, income, education and age. Black voters were the lone exception, with 43 percent calling Snowden a traitor compared with 42 percent saying he was a whistle-blower.

“The verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment,” Brown said…

The poll showed both Democrats and Republicans about evenly divided on whether government counter-terrorism measures have become excessive. Independent voters view the methods as having gone too far by 49 percent to 36 percent.

“The fact that there is little difference now along party lines about the overall anti-terrorism effort and civil liberties and about Snowden is in itself unusual in a country sharply divided along political lines about almost everything,” Brown said…

…Among Republicans the percentage who said government has gone overboard in restricting civil liberties in the fight against terrorism grew to 41 percent in the new poll, compared with 17 percent three years ago.

It would be naive to see these numbers as anything but evidence of a rethinking by the public about the tradeoffs between security and freedom,” Brown said.

It would be naive – or simply the voice of hypocrites whose politics support a government spying on its citizens, who consider their political security more important than individual liberty, freedom to think and speak, a right to privacy.

We know which side Obama and the executive are on. We know which side the noisiest baboons in Congress have chosen – predictably, I might add. We have watched the conflict in play between the generally tame mass media and the few American journalists with the courage to stand for the Bill of Rights. The responsibility is ours to press government into defense of our rights and, not so incidentally, withdraw the blank check given to the NSA.

School board reading list has 30 spelling errors

New York state officials criticized a school board whose summer reading list misspells titles including “The Great Gatsby” and names including George Orwell.

The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has more than 30 spelling errors, including misspelling “The Great Gatsby” as “The Great Gypsy” and misspelling the names of authors including George Orwell, Emily Bronte, David McCullough and Frederick Douglass, Newsday reported Wednesday.

Hempstead Superintendent Susan Johnson did not immediately return calls for comment…

Roger Tilles, a member of the New York State Department of Education’s Board of Regents, blamed the district’s leadership for the spelling errors.

“It indicates again that a stable administration is absolutely essential for kids to get the kind of education they need,” he said. “Hempstead has not had a stable administration for a long time and the kids are suffering.”

Hempstead is in Nassau County – which certainly has a stable political history. Mobbed-up politicians have been in charge for decades; but, then, they don’t care a whole boatload about spelling either.

Bipartisan launch for a new Glass-Steagall Law governing banks

FDR_glass_steagall
FDR flanked by Carter Glass on his right, Henry Steagell on his left

Senator Elizabeth Warren said a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers are introducing legislation aimed at separating commercial and investment banking, recreating a Depression-era firewall established by the Glass-Steagall Act but repealed in 1999.

“Despite the progress we’ve made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten the economy,” Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said today in an e-mailed statement. The measure would “make our financial system more stable and secure, and protect American families.”

The legislation is also sponsored by Senators John McCain, an Arizona Republican, Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, and Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats.

The bill aims to separate traditional banks that offer checking and savings accounts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from “riskier financial institutions” that work in investment banking, insurance, swaps dealing, hedge funds and private equity, according to the statement.

Warren told regulators testifying at a Senate Banking Committee hearing today she did not expect them to back her right away…“Based on what the regulators did to Glass-Steagall over the last 30 years, I don’t expect anyone on this panel will jump and endorse the new Glass-Steagall bill,” Warren told officials from the U.S. Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and other agencies. “Even so we’re going to keep pushing for it…”

McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, said…“Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, shattering the wall dividing commercial banks and investment banks, a culture of dangerous greed and excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world,” McCain said in the statement.

The idea of restoring the Glass-Steagall has also gained some support from Wall Street veterans. Sanford “Sandy” Weill, whose creation of Citigroup Inc. ushered in the era of U.S. bank conglomerates in the 1990s, has said ending Glass-Steagall’s prohibitions was a mistake.

“What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking,” Weill said in July 25, 2012 CNBC interview. “Have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not going to be too big to fail.”

Overdue. Of course. But, then I opposed the end of Glass-Steagell in the first place. That was nothing more than an further act of capitulation to Republican conservatives by Democrats hoping to stay in power by passing laws against civil rights for the LGBT community, opening our borders to so-called Free Trade – generally aiding the flight of jobs and capital offshore. Some guy named Clinton did all that.