Finally! A president who lives in the real world. By extending the hand of friendship and mutual respect and sweeping away the Cold War tactics of arrogance, confrontation and peace through strength, Barak Obama was treated in kind both by world leaders and citizens of the world.
The effort to deal squarely and honestly with the nuclear question, whether civilian or military, marks a break with past administrations. Not only are his proposals realistic, doable and necessary, but their implementation would be the first step on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons.
This July the presidents of both Russia and the United States will begin negotiations to further reduce their nations’ nuclear stockpiles. If these negotiations are successful in dramatically reducing both nations’ arsenals, a convincing argument can be made to the other nuclear nations that the two nuclear superpowers’ efforts should be followed by their own reductions.
A positive outcome on this front would give other nations second thoughts on pursuing their own development.
In his call for an international fuel bank where countries that renounced nuclear weapons could purchase fuel to power their reactors, Obama is in essence asking all countries to unite regardless of politics, in order to mitigate the looming consequences of climate change.
Whatever one’s feelings about nuclear power as an energy source, it is going to be part of the mix, and Obama’s proposal marks the first step toward a less threatening, more peaceful, less confrontational and more cooperative world.
Fujimori and Berenson
The news of the recent sentencing of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori resurrected memories of yet another forgotten political prisoner. I couldn’t help but remember when Fujimori visited President Bill Clinton at the end of Clinton’s tenure. Clinton mentioned nothing of the case of American journalist Lori Berenson, no pressure, the same way he did nothing on pardoning Leonard Peltier.
Lori Berenson is a U.S. citizen currently being held as a political prisoner in Cajamarca, Perú. After serving nearly five years in harsh Peruvian jails high in the Andes, her conviction for treason against Perú and her life sentence were overturned.
In June 2001, she was cleared of terrorism-related charges but convicted of collaboration, and sentenced to 20 years in prison in a trial that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights claims completely violated her rights.
What will Barack Obama do for Ms. Berenson or for Mr. Peltier for that matter?
In the case of Fujimori, what goes around … comes around?
For more information on Lori Berenson, visit www.freelori.org.
Please check out this piece on the increasingly shrill and dangerous rants by the extreme right wing media, actually issuing calls for murder on the public airways. (“Glenn Beck and the Rise of Fox News’ Militia Media” — the article, by Media Matters, can be found at www.pww.org.)
There have been attempts to draw connections between phenomena like violent video games and actual gun violence. But there can be absolutely no doubt that there is a very clear connection between outright calls by right-wing fanatics to murder their political opponents and an increasing number of murderous attacks by mentally disturbed people.
While we have a right to free speech in our nation, a right that liberals and progressives have fought to protect, it is a well-established legal precedent that there is no right of free speech to yell fire in a crowded theater.
It is certainly time that the great majority of the American people, who truly want a civil, decent and respectful atmosphere for political dialogue in our nation, again take control of our airways. These airways are public, and are owned and regulated by our elected government.
At the very least, we should, in my opinion, begin discussing calling CNN, Fox and the stations that allow these maniacs to poison the public airways and demanding that they be removed.
Sponsors for these programs can also be lobbied or boycotted.
Please discuss this growing danger. Our very lives may depend on it!
Travel to Cuba
The following comment was a letter to the editor printed in the Tri-City Herald newspaper here, April 13.
The debate to “Open Cuba to Travel” is not a radical idea. Many people are knowledgeable about how the status quo and conservative political fringe manipulate the U.S. mainstream media “to obstruct, cajole and frustrate” the hopes and expectations of working Americans.
Fifty years of reactionary political and economic attacks on the Cuban Revolution have left almost as much confusion as when the Eisenhower administration ordered top secret U.S. government interference and intervention in the internal affairs of a new sovereign and independent country. This neurosis around revolutionary change in the Americas had grown so disproportionately that Cuba was accused by the Bush II administration as a state sponsor of international terrorism (2002).
Could the reason for an unjustifiable, obsolete policy be fear of the example set by Cuba that poses an imaginary threat as an excuse to deny U.S. people their constitutional right to travel to witness the Cuban reality?
Call your congressperson to support long overdue change to restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba.
John Hope Franklin
For historians of every stripe, the name John Hope Franklin (1915-2009) is one that cannot be ignored. This is, in part, because he was past president of the American Historical Association, a group of scholars that has been in existence since 1884. That his classic work “From Slavery to Freedom” is still in print today, over half a century since its initial publication, is a testament to his historic brilliance.
We The Poets
one after the other
and we are dying
little by little
We are dying
that it was worthwhile