Friday, August 30, 2013

Warren speaks out on "the Boston epidemic"

This note from Elizabeth Warren just hit my inbox, and I'm so pleased to see that she's standing with Massachusetts political leaders against illegal guns.


There have been more than 100 shootings in Boston since the Marathon in April.

Think about that. If 100 people went to Massachusetts General Hospital with a mysterious virus in four months, we would treat it as an epidemic. There would be headlines, alarms, and calls for action.

This week, I stood with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Senator Ed Markey, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns at Faneuil Hall to demand stronger national gun laws. We're not going to stop our call for action.

Some people say that gun laws should be left to the states, but state laws just aren't enough.  

We have some of the country's toughest gun control laws in Massachusetts, but Mayor Menino has pointed out that an astonishing 65% of the guns recovered at crime scenes in Boston come from out of state. Unlike Massachusetts, nearby states like New Hampshire and Maine don't require a permit or license to buy a gun, so people can buy guns there and drive back to Massachusetts with the trunk loaded up.

Nationwide, only 60% of gun sales are subject to a federal background check because of the gun show loophole and other gaps in oversight. Background checks are a simple and effective step that would help keep guns out of the wrong hands, and we need to close the gaps.

I know a minority of Senators blocked this bipartisan bill earlier this year, but I'm not going to stop fighting. Neither is President Obama, who just yesterday announced an executive order to close more of the loopholes.

But too many loopholes remain. Our children are at risk. Until we have made our schools and our streets safer -- here in Massachusetts and across the country -- we're going to keep talking about this issue.

Thank you for being a part of this,


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Waking up

Lake Josephine, St. Paul, MN, V.Bergman.
Within the past year or so, I've received criticism from a couple of meditation practitioners for keeping up with the news, a habit I acquired in childhood. I remain unclear as to the exact objections of my critics to my staying informed.

I understand that people who suffer from chronic depression might want to stay away from the daily news, but how about the rest of us?

On the other hand, I took issue at an event not long ago with a seminary professor expressing his disdain for meditation practitioners - in his words, "navel gazers," who turn their backs on social justice issues and world affairs.

In his book, Being Peace, Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh responds with great clarity and simplicity to the conflicting opinions on this matter:  should the meditator follow current events or ignore what's happening in the world?

Meditation is to be aware of what is going on - in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects...

(In Buddhism, waking up means being aware of what's going on in our bodies, our feelings, our minds, and in the world.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stop the indiscriminate wildlife slaughter!

Dr. Lundeberg holding a swan.
Try this: go to wildlife photographer Dr. Mary Lundeberg's website and gaze in wonder for a time at the beauty of the birds and beasts in her hundreds of dazzling photos.

Then read this message from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and see if it doesn't make your blood boil:

A small division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) known as “Wildlife Services” is tasked with resolving conflicts between people and wildlife, but their Predator Control Program continues to operate with a kill-first mentality!

This program, that has killed more than 50,000 “non-target” animals since 2000, including endangered species and household pets, is also responsible for the slaughter of literally hundreds of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies each year.

Now let your outrage motivate you to do something about it:

Take Action
This brutal, kill-first mentality needs to be stopped!
Dear Virginia,
They’re like a government hit squad killing wildlife for hire. And you and I are footing the bill.
A small division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as “Wildlife Services” is tasked with resolving conflicts between people and wildlife. But their outdated methods and mentality result in the needless killing of thousands of wild animals each year!
Their Predator Control Program’s methods are brutal, scientifically unfounded and the death toll is simply astounding.
In fact, Wildlife Services agents have accidentally killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000 – animals that were NOT targets -- including imperiled and protected species and household pets.
Appalled? We are too. 
Wildlife Services is the government’s top wildlife killing machine; a program that operates in much of the country with a kill-first mentality, usually without a second thought to resolving conflicts using proven non-lethal techniques.
Wildlife Services has gone too far for too long, and they need to be held accountable!
The work of this relatively unknown agency is inefficient, ineffective and scientifically unfounded.
  • Wildlife Services has killed more than 50,000 “non-target” animals since 2000, including endangered species and household pets
  • The program has recently been the subject of public scrutiny regarding the deaths of non-target species including an endangered Mexican gray wolf.
  • Most of WS’s lethal predator control work is at the request of ranchers and big game hunters. 
  • They are responsible for the slaughter of literally hundreds of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies each year.
This agency should know better! Its own researchers have identified non-lethal alternatives that protect livestock and ranch animals without the unnecessary killing.
We work so hard to protect the wildlife that make our country such a remarkable place. This taxpayer-funded travesty must be stopped before more animals are needlessly killed.
For wildlife,
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife
Jamie Rappaport Clark
Defenders of Wildlife


Friday, August 9, 2013

Running scared of Hillary 2016

Well, if you didn't notice in the 08 primary that the media favored unflattering photos of Hillary and gravitas-enhancing photos of Barack, you missed out on a key force in the tidal wave that swept the inexperienced, youthful male senator to the nomination.

Ani at The New Agenda sees the same "visual vilification" of Hillary happening today before she has even announced her candidacy in 2016 - in other words the RNC is running scared along with a few on the extreme left. That would be the lefties still dissing Hillary while suffering from Obama's emergence as a centrist and continuing to fantasize about Dennis Kucinich, etc.

Here's Ani:

In the media’s obsession with all things Hillary, no sooner do NBC and CNN announce biopics on the former Secretary of State and presumably, once and future presidential candidate, than the RNC denounces those films as biased infomercials.  Clinton has nothing to do with pushing these projects, of course, but since Republicans are terrified of running against someone with her bona fides and popularity, we can cue the “visual vilification.”  Check out the photographs of Mrs. Clinton and RNC Chair, Reince Priebus, in the FOX News’ article, Republicans open pre-emptive strikes on Clinton, undecided yet formidable in 2016:

Read more:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Janet Yellen and the female dollar

Janet Yellen, courtesy of

Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman joins forces with Senator Elizabeth Warren in supporting Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Fed’s board of governors, to head the Federal Reserve. That’s right. Neither Krugman, nor Warren, is going along with “the Female Dollar” folks out there who would likely support Larry Summers; Summers’ claim to fame includes charges of sexism while serving as president of Harvard.

In his recent NY Times op ed, Krugman identifies two sexist campaigns seeking to undermine Yellen. Krugman sets up his forceful argument on Yellen’s behalf in his opening paragraph:

Can a woman effectively run the Federal Reserve? That shouldn’t even be a question. And Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Fed’s Board of Governors, isn’t just up to the job; by any objective standard, she’s the best-qualified person in America to take over when Ben Bernanke steps down as chairman.

Let’s start with the more extreme, open campaign. Last week, The New York Sun published an editorial attacking Ms. Yellen titled “The Female Dollar.” The editorial took it for granted that the Fed has been following disastrously inflationary monetary policies for years, even though actual inflation is at a 50-year low. And it warned that things would get even worse if the dollar were to become merely “gender-backed.” I am not making this up.

True, The Sun is a marginal publication, with strong gold-bug tendencies, and nobody would pay much attention if the rest of the right had ignored or distanced itself from that editorial. In fact, however, The Wall Street Journal immediately followed up with its own editorial along the same lines, in the course of which it approvingly quoted The Sun piece, female dollar and all.