From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/21-2
Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King’s name to justify their beliefs and actions, as President Barack Obama will no doubt do in his second Inaugural speech and as gun fanatic Larry Ward recently did in outrageously claiming that King would have opposed proposals to restrict access to guns.
So it is easy to forget that in his day, in his own country, King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.
In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” He challenged America’s class system and its racial caste system. He was a strong ally of the nation’s labor union movement. He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers’ strike. He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country’s misadventure in Vietnam.
In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it, King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice.
If he were alive today, he would certainly be standing with Walmart employees and other workers fighting for a living wage and the right to unionize. He would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association. He would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget in order to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education, and health care. He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of the Dream Act and comprehensive reform. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/21-2
See also Common Dreams: MLK Injustice Index 2013: Racism, Materialism and Militarism in the US
The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I’ve noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King’s own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.
King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City – exactly one year before the day he was murdered. That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work (“Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?”). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life.
In that speech, King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today“, as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long” (is there any surprise this has been whitewashed from his legacy?). He emphasized that his condemnations extended far beyond the conflict in Southeast Asia: “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.” He insisted that no significant social problem – wealth inequality, gun violence, racial strife – could be resolved while the US remains “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift” – a recipe, he said, for certain “spiritual death”. For that reason, he argued, “it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.” That’s because:
“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.”
By Joe Romm
on Jan 21, 2013
Obama went all climate hawk on America in his second inaugural address (full text here).
These are, I believe, his longest and strongest remarks on the subject in any major national speech, let alone one of this import:
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/19/140-countries-agree-mercury-treaty
Staff and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 19 January 2013
More than 140 nations have agreed on the first legally-binding treaty to curb mercury pollution.
Delegates at UN talks in Geneva approved measures to control the use of the highly toxic metal, which is widely used in chemical production and small-scale mining, in order to limit mercury emissions.
The executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, said: “To agree on global targets is not easy to do. There was no delegation here that wished to leave Geneva without drafting a treaty.”
“We have closed a chapter on a journey that has taken four years of often intense, but ultimately successful negotiations and opened a new chapter towards a sustainable future,” said Fernando Lugris, the Uruguayan diplomat who chaired the negotiations.
A signing ceremony will be held later this year in Japan, and then 50 nations must ratify it before it comes into force, which UN officials said they would expect to happen within about three to four years.
But some supporters of a new mercury treaty said they were not satisfied with the agreement.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/19/140-countries-agree-mercury-treaty
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/is-genetically-engineered_b_2522547.html
Frankenfish could be on your dinner plate by the end of the year.
On December 21, at the very end of the last business day before Christmas week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its environmental assessment that found “no significant impact” from the controversial AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon. We’re now in a 60 day comment period that ends on February 25, at which time the FDA is widely expected to initiate formal approval.
What is the rationale behind genetically engineered salmon? Why have scientists spliced genes from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout into the genome of the Atlantic salmon? These genes crank out growth hormone year-round, resulting in a fish that grows faster, cutting the time to reach market weight almost in half. This could mean cost savings for fish farmers, leading to higher profits for the salmon farming industry and (they promise) lower prices for consumers.
But there are massively disturbing ethical, environmental, and health concerns that make the introduction of Frankenfish highly controversial.
Corporations Given the Power to Create Life
Humans have been using natural selection for years to favor certain genetic expressions in animals and plants. But natural selection on the farm is entirely different than taking genes from two or more completely different creatures, and splicing them together in a laboratory.
Some people are concerned that the power to create new life now sits in the hands of corporate interests. Others are disturbed by the notion of eating genetically engineered animals when there isn’t even so much as a label to give them choice in the matter.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/is-genetically-engineered_b_2522547.html