Navy ship will be named for Harvey Milk, assassinated Gay Rights leader


AP

In a sign of changing times for the American military, the Navy plans to name a ship for Harvey Milk, the gay rights leader and San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated in 1978.

Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, has notified Congress that he will name a fleet oiler for Mr. Milk, the first openly gay elected official in a major American city…

The move comes five years after President Obama ended the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a move that allowed gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve openly. Last month, the Pentagon lifted restrictions on transgender people serving openly.

Gay rights activists and friends of Mr. Milk in San Francisco were already celebrating the long-awaited news. In 2012, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling on Mr. Mabus to name a ship for Mr. Milk, who served in the Navy from 1951 to 1955.

Mr. Milk has been the subject of books, movies, a postage stamp and an opera. He was played by Sean Penn in the 2008 movie “Milk,” for which Mr. Penn won an Oscar for best actor. A 1984 documentary, “The Times of Harvey Milk,” also won an Academy Award.

RTFA for a part of American history deliberately ignored by bigots, mostly of the Republican persuasion. Harvey Milk stands as a role model exactly like others to be so honored in coming months and years: Sojourner Truth, Earl Warren, Robert Kennedy, Lucy Stone.

Sister Megan Rice, freed, ready for more anti-nuclear activism

Megan Rice
Click to enlargeNicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Sister Megan Rice at the Isaiah Wall near the United Nations

For more than a year, Sister Megan Rice, 85, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, had caught occasional glimpses of the glittering World Trade Center from her living quarters: the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison on the Brooklyn waterfront.

So when the Volvo she was riding in one morning last week crested the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the skyscraper came into full view, it made a strong impression.

“Oh, my gosh,” Sister Rice exclaimed. Drinking in the scenery and the panorama of New York Harbor, she added, “We’re well on our way.”

It was her fifth day of freedom after two years behind bars for a crime for which she is boldly unapologetic. In 2012, she joined two other peace activists in splattering blood and antiwar slogans on a nuclear plant in Tennessee that holds enough highly enriched uranium to make thousands of nuclear warheads. All three were convicted and sent to prison. But on May 8, an appellate court ruled that the government had overreached in charging them with sabotage, and ordered them set free…

Now, dressed in a sweatsuit that fellow inmates had given her, the nun was traveling to the American headquarters of her order in Rosemont, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. The agenda was to confer with her superiors about her future — one in which she plans to continue her antinuclear activism. One threat was that the federal government might challenge the recent ruling and try to have her thrown back in prison.

“It would be an honor,” Sister Rice said during the ride. “Good Lord, what would be better than to die in prison for the antinuclear cause?”…

Sister Rice, thin but seemingly healthy, was in high spirits and voluble as she talked about her religious order, her atomic radicalization, her life in prison and what may come next…

The pacifists belong to the Plowshares movement, a loose, mostly Christian group that seeks the global elimination of nuclear arms.

For now, at least, Sister Rice is a free woman.

Read the whole article. A tale of the kind of Catholic foot-soldier I occasionally shared a cell with back in the day.

I’m certain one or another of my kin who still are religious are Catholics like this. Or Congregationalists. Or Buddhists. Or non-religious like me, philosophical materialists, spinning the science-based reality dialectic. Before I left the Great Northeastern dynamo I could always find a couple of kindred spirits at annual get-togethers of my extended family. Philosophy didn’t matter as much as a quest for justice as strong as the quest for fire before we evolved into more sophisticated tool-makers.

It’s nice to see someone with liberal sensibilities and opposed to the insanity of nuclear weapons risk it all out of conscience. We have a president somewhere south of Megan Rice’s prison home who says he shares her ideals. Too bad he doesn’t match her courage.

90-year-old activist chef busted again for feeding the homeless

abbott-busted

…A 90-year-old activist and two pastors from two churches in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were arrested at a park on Sunday and then again on Wednesday for doing what they’ve been doing there for years: serving meals to the homeless.

On Oct. 22, the city’s commissioners passed a measure that requires feeding sites to be more than 500 feet away from each other and 500 feet from residential properties. Only one group is allowed to share food with the homeless per city block…

Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old Fort Lauderdale activist, began offering food to the homeless living on the city’s beaches in the 1990s. Then he formed his own nonprofit, Love Thy Neighbor, and has continued to serve food twice weekly to the homeless at the beach and in a park.

“These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing; they don’t have a roof over their heads,” Abbot said Wednesday. He added that a police officer ordered him to drop the plate of food he was holding, as if it were a weapon, the AP reported.

Obviously subversive. Actually living up to slogans like Love The Neighbor isn’t acceptable in Florida.

If convicted…Abbott could receive a sentence of 60 days in jail or a fine of $500.

“I know I will be arrested again, I’m prepared for that,” Abbott said. “I am my brother’s keeper, and what they are doing is just heartless. They are trying to sweep the poorest of the poor under the rug.”

Seriously, does anyone expect our politicians to support care for the poor?

Yeah, yeah, there will be the expected blather about trickle-down this and that; but, when push comes to shove, the Republican governor of Florida was just re-elected after he kept over a million poor Floridians from having access to Medicaid.

Sisters of St. Francis – occupying Wall Street since 1980


Sister Nora Nash

Long before Occupy Wall Street, the Sisters of St. Francis were quietly staging an occupation of their own. In recent years, this Roman Catholic order of 540 or so nuns has become one of the most surprising groups of corporate activists around.

The nuns have gone toe-to-toe with Kroger, the grocery store chain, over farm worker rights; with McDonald’s, over childhood obesity; and with Wells Fargo, over lending practices. They have tried, with mixed success, to exert some moral suasion over Fortune 500 executives, a group not always known for its piety…

The Sisters of St. Francis are an unusual example of the shareholder activism that has ripped through corporate America since the 1980s. Public pension funds led the way, flexing their financial muscles on issues from investment returns to workplace violence. Then, mutual fund managers charged in, followed by rabble-rousing hedge fund managers who tried to shame companies into replacing their C.E.O.’s, shaking up their boards — anything to bolster the value of their investments.

The nuns have something else in mind: using the investments in their retirement fund to become Wall Street’s moral minority…

In 1980, Sister Nora Nash and her community formed a corporate responsibility committee to combat what they saw as troubling developments at the businesses in which they invested their retirement fund. A year later, in coordination with groups like the Philadelphia Area Coalition for Responsible Investment, they mounted their offensive. They boycotted Big Oil, took aim at Nestlé over labor policies, and urged Big Tobacco to change its ways.

Continue reading

Independent activist wins election as mayor of Seoul


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A civic activist and vocal critic of President Lee Myung-bak rode a growing call for political change to become mayor of the South Korean capital, Seoul, winning a poll widely seen as a bellwether for the presidential election in December next year.

The activist, Park Won-soon, an independent candidate who was supported by the main opposition Democratic Party, clinched the mayoral race by winning 53.4 percent of the 4 million votes cast, according to the country’s Central Election Management Committee.

His rival, Na Kyung-won, a candidate affiliated with President Lee’s Grand National Party, won 46.2 percent.

Citizens defeated political power,” said Mr. Park, who refused to join a political party, billing himself as a “citizens’ candidate.” “Through election, they defeated an outdated era…”

Sohn Hak-kyu, head of the Democratic Party, indicated the victory of Mr. Park as an independent would prompt all the liberal opposition parties to regroup toward “a change of governments next year.”

The race in Seoul, home to one-fifth of the country’s 50 million people, was also widely regarded as a referendum on President Lee ahead of the parliamentary elections in April…

The poll, although confined to Seoul, drew nationwide attention by pitting a woman against a man, a political establishment star against an outsider — and Park Geun-hye against another possible candidate for next year’s presidential election, Ahn Chul-soo, a Seoul National University professor whose meteoric rise to political stardom analysts said reflected a gathering storm for change…

Mr. Park, 55, is a former student activist expelled from his university in the 1970s for demonstrating against former President Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated in 1979. Mr. Park later became a human rights lawyer who led two of South Korea’s most influential civic groups that exposed corruption in the country’s powerful conglomerates and accused members of the conservative elite — including President Park — of collaborating with the Japanese during their colonial rule in Korea.

RTFA to get yourself up to speed on contemporary politics in South Korea. Understand that changes like this one are at least as qualitative as the American attempt at the end of the Bush/Cheney cabal. And may actually produce changes that are qualitative rather than quantitative.

Federal appeals court lifts ban on funding for stem cell research

A federal court has given the Obama administration the go-ahead to continue funding embryonic stem cell research. The controversial 2-1 decision Friday is a victory for supporters of federally funded testing for a range of diseases and illnesses.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia lifted an injunction imposed last year by a federal judge, who said all embryonic stem cell research at the National Institutes of Health amounted to destruction of embryos, in violation of congressional spending laws.

Legislation passed in 1996 prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars in the creation or destruction of human embryos “for research purposes.” Private money had been used to gather batches of the developing cells at U.S.-run labs. The current administration had broken with the Bush White House and issued rules in 2009 permitting those cells to be reproduced in controlled conditions and for work on them to move forward…

Two scientists had brought a lawsuit to block further research. But the three-judge panel concluded in their 21-page ruling, “the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded” that the law does not ban research using embryonic stem cells.

Yes, the Right Wing nutballs in this land can always find one or two researchers who are academically-qualified to support some crap ideology. While the course of science overall proceeds along the traditional conservative, cross-checked methods of investigation and validation that have always been root and cause of progress.

As long as we can assume a modicum of honesty in American jurisprudence there is the chance of sanity.

And then there is Congress. 😦

British coppers recorded trying to recruit protester who was wired – Har!


The Horrors of Free Speech

Undercover police are running a network of hundreds of informants inside protest organisations who secretly feed them intelligence in return for cash, according to evidence handed to the Guardian.

They claim to have infiltrated a number of environmental groups and said they are receiving information about leaders, tactics and plans of future demonstrations.

The dramatic disclosures are revealed in almost three hours of secretly recorded discussions between covert officers claiming to be from Strathclyde police, and an activist from the protest group Plane Stupid, whom the officers attempted to recruit as a paid spy after she had been released on bail following a demonstration at Aberdeen airport last month.

Matilda Gifford, 24, said she recorded the meetings in an attempt to expose how police seek to disrupt the legitimate activities of climate change activists. She met the officers twice; they said they were a detective constable and his assistant. During the taped discussions, the officers:

• Indicate that she could receive tens of thousands of pounds to pay off her student loans in return for information about individuals within Plane Stupid.

• Say they will not pay money direct into her bank account because that would leave an audit trail that would leave her compromised. They said the money would be tax-free, and added: “UK plc can afford more than 20 quid.”

• Explain that spying could assist her if she was arrested. “People would sell their soul to the devil,” an officer said…

This mostly falls under the category of recording the bastards who’re recording you. I may as well look on the humorous side of it all – though over beaucoup years I’ve spent challenging the kreeps in charge, I witnessed enough attempts by the FBI, CIA and other alphabet soup sluggos to turn friends and family into informants.

Turning them out to the public Left was one of my specialties, one of my delights.