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Amnesty USA volunteers help stop anti-Palestinian amendment

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Bad news to good news!

Last Friday, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the budget bill prohibiting use of any of its funds for assistance to refugees who resettle in the USA—if they happen to be from Gaza.  When I heard of it, I thought, “What on earth?  Why would he …?” And then, “Ohhh, no.”

Yesterday, it became clear that the amendment was heading for a vote.  Amnesty USA emailed its network, of which I am proud to be a part.  Here’s what we learned:

clipped from blog.amnestyusa.org

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home, March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip , March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians: Keep out?

Middle East, Refugees, United States | Posted by: Christoph Koettl, March 9, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Should Palestinians from Gaza be treated differently under US refugee law? According to Senator Jon Kyl (R – AZ), the answer is yes.

Last Friday, Senator Kyl introduced an amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which adds the following line:

“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be made available to resettle Palestinians from Gaza into the United States.” [...]

Contrary to a policy of 30 years, which extends protection to refugees on the basis of need, this amendment seeks to discriminate against an entire group based on nationality alone

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Now the good stuff. Today, I (along with many others) received this email message:

Hi,

We wanted to send you a quick update on last night’s Gaza refugee vote. Thanks to your quick mobilization in which over 16,000 of you faxed letters in a span of just two hours, Senator Kyl withdrew his discriminatory amendment.

A bipartisan group of several Senators including Leahy (VT), Kerry (MA) and Gregg (NH) stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke out against the amendment. Your faxes together with our champions on this issue applied enough political pressure for Senator Kyl to just withdraw the amendment completely.

Again, this was one of those moments when together we really made the difference. Thanks again.

– Sarnata, Steve, Zahir, Edie and the rest of the team here at AIUSA

Ya – hoo!

Yes! We can make a difference!

Check out AmnestyUSA if you’d like to add your voice.  Let’s make a nation that treats its neighbors the way we’d want them to treat us, were we in their shoes.


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Written by Monte

March 10, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Biting the hand that feeds you

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Or, the surprising story of how blue states subsidize red states

{{w|Bobby Jindal}}, member of the United State...

Image via Wikipedia

[UPDATE, 2-28-09: Turns out Gov. Jindal's juiciest anti-government anecdote— how he and Sheriff Lee faced down a rescue-preventing bureaucrat during Katrina— wasn't exactly true.  See Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False.]

Anything strike you as odd about the GOP’s choice of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to give the response to President Obama’s speech to Congress?

How about this:  Republicans gave the task of making the anti- government pitch to the governor of the state that may well be the leading recipient of federal government largesse.

American taxpayers funded Louisiana’s Katrina recovery, to the tune of something like $300 billion dollars. Yet to hear Gov. Jindal tell it, you’d think Louisianans chose to go it alone.  Crediting their admirable “spirit,” he scoffed at the kind of government assistance that flooded his state with cash from the rest of us.

Hang on to that thought for a moment—red state governor pitching self-determination while surviving on barge-loads of federal cash—and back up to 2005.

Here’s columnist Steven Pearlstein writing in the Washington Post on the day before Pres. Bush’s second inauguration:

Tax Foundation

Image via Wikipedia

I have in front of me the latest report from the Tax Foundation showing how much each state gets back … for every dollar of taxes paid. And it shows that … the anti-government red states are the net winners in the flow of funds while the pro-government blue states are almost all losers. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Pro-life, Pro-Obama

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Where can you find the lowest abortion rate in the whole world? See if this answer surprises you:
Western Europe
.

Douglas Kmiec

Douglas Kmiec

I found that figure on a website called Prolife ProObama, where I was greeted by a letter from Douglas Kmiec. And there a strong case is made that – well, obviously – pro-life voters may accomplish more for their cause by voting for Barack Obama rather than John McCain.

Douglas Kmiec is no fuzzy-headed liberal. He was Ronald Reagan’s legal counsel in the White House, also serving that role George H.W. Bush. Kmiec, a committed Roman Catholic, was dean and professor of law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and at Notre Dame. And he’s now a professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University.

And he writes:

  • The most frequent reasons given by women seeking an abortion are that a child would limit ability to meet current responsibilities and that they cannot afford a child at this point in their lives.
  • Unintended pregnancy has increased by 29% among poor women while decreasing 20% among higher-income women.
  • Women below the federal poverty level have abortion rates almost four times those of higher-income women.

Strange, eh? Abortion generally is slowing in the USA. So why would it be soaring among poor women?

Over at  God’s Politics, I came across Tony Campolo on the same subject:

More than 60 percent of all abortions are economically driven.  The reality is that without provisions for hospital coverage; pre- and post-natal care; maternity leave so that a woman giving birth will not lose her job; and nursing assistance to help single mothers transition into parenthood, millions of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term will not do so.

There you go.  Most women who have abortions do so because Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm

What percent of US budget goes to foreign aid?

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Public Perception of Foreign Aid

Developmental Aid by National Income

Center for Global Development (some rights reserved: click graph)

We Americans guess, on average, that 24% of our federal budget goes to development assistance. The real number? Less than one per cent.

Despite laudable recent increases in US giving to reduce poverty, US aid as a percent of personal income is second to last among wealthy nations.

We give about 25 cents per American per day [correction:] year in foreign aid; with private giving, another dime. It’s a lot, in total, because there are a lot of us. But it’s far behind the level of sacrifice made by people in most developed nations.

Further, according to the Borgen Project:

  • Less than half of aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries
  • The largest recipients are strategic allies such as Egypt, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Israel is the richest country to receive U.S. assistance ($77 per Israeli compared to $3 per person in poor countries).

But look what can be done:

  • The U.S. was the largest single donor in a global campaign that eradicated smallpox from the world by 1977.
  • The U.S. provided funding for a program to prevent river blindness in West Africa. As a result of these efforts, 18 million children now living in the program’s region are free from the risk of river blindness.

(Center for Global Development)

We can do better, at home and abroad.

Borgen cites the cost of two B-2 bombers ($4.4 billion) compared with the the annual budget for the World Food Program (largest relief agency in the world) which assists 104 million starving and malnourished people in 81 countries. Its budget? $3.2 billion.

Why not change it?  We can, you know.  Once we separate the illusions from the facts.


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Written by Monte

September 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm

US General: Bush Administration committed war crimes, must be held accountable

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MG TagubaYou may remember Major General Antonia Taguba, USA (Retired); he headed up the Abu Ghraib abuse investigation, carefully and openly laying out the details before Congress in 2004.  The Pentagon was not pleased;  Taguba appears to have been coerced into retirement as a result.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a new report, “outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States.”  Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote the preface.  His statements of fact—coming, as they do, from a top-level military investigator—are startling.  Apparently, America is long overdue for a reckoning with justice.

I reprint it in full (from Truthout), below.  The full Physicians for Human Rights report can be read at their website.
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Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives

By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

Bush, Rumsfeld, CheneyIn order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.


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Written by Monte

June 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

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