"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Monday, January 30, 2012

The 2012 Social Justice Quiz


Bill Quigley's been at it again (along with Sam Schmitt)!!!  They're asking the tough questions that have some really sobering answers should we be paying attention.  These questions demand not only our attention, but our action.  After all, that's what social justice is all about, isn't it???  So take the test class, and just so there won't be any cheating I'll give you the answers in the next post.  You may begin NOW!




Social Justice Quiz 2012: Thirteen Questions

By Bill Quigley and Sam Schmitt.  Bill teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and works with the Center for Constitutional Rights.  Sam is a law student at University of Montana School of Law.  A version of this with full sources is available. You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmmail.com

Question One.  The combined pay of the 299 highest paid CEOs in the US is enough to support how many median salary jobs?

45,000?  83,000?  102,325?

Two.  The median net worth of black households in the US is $2,200.  What is the median net worth of white households in the US?

$4,400?  $44,000?  $97,000?

Three. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development issues a national survey every year listing fair market rents for every county in the US.  HUD also suggests renters should pay no more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs.   In how many of the USA’s 3068 counties can someone who works full-time and earns the federal minimum wage pay 30% of their income and find a one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rental amount?

19?  368?  1974?

Four.  How much must the typical U.S. worker earn per hour to rent a two-bedroom apartment if that worker dedicates thirty percent of his income, as HUD suggests, to rent and utilities?

$9.39? $14.63?  $18.46?

Five.  The wealthiest 1 percent of the US has a net worth which is how many times greater than the median or typical household’s net worth?

50?  150?  225?

Six.  Which of these countries puts the highest percentage of their people in jails and prisons? 

China? Iran?  Iraq?  Germany?  Russia? USA?

Seven.  In 2012, the US will pay out about $620 million for old age Social Security benefits to 45 million families.  How much is budgeted for military spending by the US in 2012?

$310 billion?  $620 billion?  $836 billion?

Eight.  The US is number one in the world in military spending.  How much more does the US spend compared to the top 15 countries in the world in military spending?

More than any 2 other countries combined?  More than any 5 other countries combined?  More than all the rest of the 15 top military spending countries combined?

Nine.  How many people in the world live on less than $1.25 a day?

150 million?  500 million?  Over 1 billion?

Ten.  How many people in the world live without electricity?

500 million?  One billion?  One and half billion?

Eleven.  The US government donates over $30 billion a year in official development assistance (foreign aid) to poor countries.  Where does that rank the US government in percentage of giving among the richest 23 countries?

First?  Tenth? Nineteenth?

Twelve.  The US government donates over $30 billion a year to poor countries.  How much do US consumers spend on pets and pet supplies each year?

$10 billion?  $30 billion?  $67 billion?

Thirteen.  The poverty rate among children in the US is over 20 percent.  How does US compare with the rest of the 30 nations surveyed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development?

First?  Tenth?  Twenty-sixth?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ten Steps for Radical Revolution in USA

By Bill Quigley.  Bill is a human rights lawyer who teaches at Loyola University New Orleans and works with the Center for Constitutional Rights.  You can reach him at quigley77@gmail.com  

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  1967

One.  Human rights must be taken absolutely seriously.  Every single person is entitled to dignity and human rights.  No application needed.  No exclusions at all.  This is our highest priority.

Two.  We must radically reinvent contemporary democracy.  Current systems are deeply corrupt and not responsive to the needs of people.   Representatives chosen by money and influence govern by money and influence.  This is unacceptable.  Direct democracy by the people is now technologically possible and should be the rule.  Communities must be protected whenever they advocate for self-determination, self-development and human rights.  Dissent is essential to democracy; we pledge to help it flourish.

Three.  Corporations are not people and are not entitled to human rights.   Amend the US Constitution so it is clear corporations do not have constitutional or human rights.   We the people must cut them down to size and so democracy can regulate their size, scope and actions.

Four.  Leave the rest of the world alone.  Cut US military spending by 75 percent and bring all troops outside the US home now.  Defense of the US is a human right.  Global offense and global police force by US military are not.  Eliminate all nuclear and chemical and biological weapons.  Stop allowing scare tactics to build up the national security forces at home.  Stop the myth that the US is somehow special or exceptional and is entitled to act differently than all other nations.  The US must re-join the global family of nations as a respectful partner.  USA is one of many nations in the world.  We must start acting like it.

Five.  Property rights, privilege, and money-making are not as important as human rights.  When current property and privilege arrangements are not just they must yield to the demands of human rights.  Money-making can only be allowed when human rights are respected.  Exploitation is unacceptable.  There are national and global poverty lines.  We must establish national and global excess lines so that people and businesses with extra houses, cars, luxuries, and incomes share much more to help everyone else be able to exercise their basic human rights to shelter, food, education and healthcare.  If that disrupts current property, privilege and money-making, so be it.

Six.  Defend our earth.  Stop pollution, stop pipelines, stop new interstates, and stop destroying the land, sea, and air by extracting resources from them.  Rebuild what we have destroyed.  If corporations will not stop voluntarily, people must stop them.  The very existence of life is at stake.

Seven.  Dramatically expand public spaces and reverse the privatization of public services.  Quality public education, health and safety for all must be provided by transparent accountable public systems.  Starving the state is a recipe for destroying social and economic human rights for everyone but the rich.

Eight.  Pull the criminal legal prison system up and out by its roots and start over.  Cease the criminalization of drugs, immigrants, poor people and people of color.  We are all entitled to be safe but the current system makes us less so and ruins millions of lives.  Start over.

Nine.  The US was created based on two original crimes that must be confessed and made right.  Reparations are owed to Native Americans because their land was stolen and they were uprooted and slaughtered.   Reparations are owed to African Americans because they were kidnapped, enslaved and abused.  The US has profited widely from these injustices and must make amends.

Ten.  Everyone who wants to work should have the right to work and earn a living wage.  Any workers who want to organize and advocate for change in solidarity with others must be absolutely protected from recriminations from their employer and from their government.

Finally, if those in government and those in power do not help the people do what is right, people seeking change must together exercise our human rights and bring about these changes directly.  Dr. King and millions of others lived and worked for a radical revolution of values.  We will as well.  We respect the human rights and human dignity of others and work for a world where love and wisdom and solidarity and respect prevail.  We expect those for whom the current unjust system works just fine will object and oppose and accuse people seeking dramatic change of being divisive and worse.  That is to be expected because that is what happens to all groups which work for serious social change.  Despite that, people will continue to go forward with determination and purpose to bring about a radical revolution of values in the USA. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: The Year of Police State USA

Dear Friends,

Not so Happy New Year!!!

While the nation was preoccupied with preparations for New Year's Eve festivities President Obama once again emulated his predecessor by signing a major piece of controversial legislation when he knew no one would be paying attention, least of all the mainstream, corporate news media.  In fact it is safe to say that Obama has far surpassed former President George W. Bush - something I previously thought would be impossible - in consistently undermining the Constitution of the United States during his presidency.

With President Obama's signing of the “National Defense Authorization Act " H.R. 1540 on December 31, 2011 the United States has reached an extraordinary new high for the National Security State even as it plunges to the nadir of democracy.  If you listen carefully you can hear the jack boots marching across America as the quest for global hegemony creates the associated increased militarization of the "Homeland."

The relentless pursuit of Draconian laws since September 11, 2001 has not abated during Obama's tenure.  In fact it has increased at a dizzying pace as Congress and it's partners in the Military-Industrial Complex have done everything possible to ensure that a well oiled military machine continues to expand so that the sun never sets on the American Empire.

Some have warned of the similarities of our nation's current situation and that of Germany in the early 1930s.  There are striking parallels between the steps leading up to the fate of the Weimar Republic and what we are experiencing in the U.S. today.  We ignore the lessons of history at our own nation's peril! 

Michael Chossudovsky The signing of NDAA (HR 1540) into law is tantamount to the militarization of law enforcement, the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act and the Inauguration in 2012 of Police State USA.      

Michael Chossudovsky has written a worthy analysis of the NDAA and the lessons of history associated with it in THE INAUGURATION OF POLICE STATE USA 2012. Obama Signs the “National Defense Authorization Act ".  At the end of the article he sums things up pretty succinctly:
The signing of NDAA (HR 1540) into law is tantamount to the militarization of law enforcement, the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act and the Inauguration in 2012 of Police State USA.
You can also read Obama's signing "Statement of the President on H.R. 1540" at the White House Website in which he makes a vain attempt at feigning his democratic intent.  Rather than supporting an unconstitutional law while issuing a worthless Presidential signing statement, the President should have found what is left of his backbone and vetoed this unconscionable legislation.
Today I weep for my country.  We must not, as citizens, let this stand.  We must speak out against these unlawful actions on every street corner and in every hall of government!



URL for Michael Chossudovsky's article: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28441

URL for President Obama's signing statement on HR 1540: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/31/statement-president-hr-1540