Defeating the Other Apartheid
South African Parliament Overwhelmingly Approves Gay Marriage
From the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian: "The Bill received 230 votes in its favour and 41 votes against it.
There were three abstentions. The measure was opposed by almost all
opposition parties, bar the Democratic Alliance (DA), which allowed its
members a free vote on the issue. The Bill provides for opposite-sex and same-sex couples of 18 years or older to solemnise and register a voluntary union, either by marriage or civil partnership. Same-sex couples can be married by civil marriage officers and such religious marriage officers who consider such marriages not to fall outside the tenets of their religion. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said South Africa needs to fight and resist all forms of discrimination and prejudice, including homophobia. She also condemned violence against same-sex couples fuelled by hatred."
Whose Economic Recovery?
Memo to Democrats: Remember what we learned irrefutably a couple of months ago, though millions of us could sense it annectodally all along: the economic "recovery" of the last five years is an illusion. For an economy's grtowth to matter, for job growth to matter, the benefits have to be shared across income brackets. They haven't been. National income has grown well enough, but median income has fallen. Where has all that wealth gone? It has continued its concentration at the top. The economy is evolving unequally, and at the expense of the middle class. It hasn;t helped the middle class that the media has in the main accepted the Republicans' redefinitoon of the middle class to include those making from $150,000 to $250,000. That bracket has done wonderfully well. But do you call it middle class? Only if your statisticians want to put a good face on the wealth concentration at the top, and make it seem like a more equally shared block party. So they've redefined the "top" to mean middle class. Spare us. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a few numbers and the graphic below that tell the story.
Imbeciles on Iraq
The blog eponymously known as Wizbang! had a one-liner item by its A.K. (speaking of eponyms) McClure today carrying further the imbecilic notion, variously peddled by diehard pro-Iraqi-war reactionaries, that crime in some parts of the United States is more serious than violence in Iraq. (Victor David Hansen is one recent practitioner of the delusion). Wizbang chose to compare the murder rate in Philadelphia to that of Iraq, concluding with these fabulous questions: "Isn't that a quagmire? Isn't it time to consider pulling out?" Orientalism's diseases never cease to mutate. ThinkProgress set the delusionists straight: "The city McClure pointed to is Philadelphia. It had 337 homicides between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2006. In Baghdad, the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index estimates that 5,320 people
are killed a month, meaning there were 53,200 murders between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2006. are projected to be killed this year, meaning Baghdad had 13.2 times more murders than Philadelphia. This number vastly underestimates the number of civilians killed in Baghdad because it applies only to people with mortal gunshot wounds. (Brookings also notes this number may be “too low since many murder victims are never taken to the morgue, but buried quickly and privately and therefore never recorded in official tallies.”)"
Words Without Borders
If you're not yet familiar with Words Without Borders, you're missing out on an original Web site devoted to contemporary world literature hampered neither by b orders nor assumptions about who belongs, or ought to belong, in the pantheon. If literature is our fastest route to the heart of a society, this site is your cloverleaf interchange. Their latest is on Palestinian writers: " "Palestine—a borderless landscape of people, memory, conflict, resilience, and vision—this month locates itself in Words Without Borders, as contemporary Palestinian writers address and establish the multiple senses of place. At the border, Nassar Ibrahim turns practical jokes into metaphorical truths, Azmi Bishara sets the checkpoint to music, and Mahmoud Shukair inspects a guard at both professional and domestic crossroads. Adania Shibli suspends us in a fever dream of silence. Mahmoud Darwish’s diary considers enemies, blood, stones, and death. Zakaria Mohammad asks if an exile can ever go home again; Atif Abu Sayf sets his emotional watch to "Gaza Time." The young poet Hala Shurouf depicts a city, and a woman, constrained, while the grand dame of Palestinian poetry, the late Fadwa Touqan, bears the gravity of loss. We thank our guest editors, Tania Tamari Nasir and Taline Voskeritchian, for mapping this intersection of literary arts, memory, history, and place."
Where The Bombs Are, 2006 Edition
|Click on the image or here for a large version [pdf]
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has its latest annual survey of where the United States is storing its nuclear weapons: "In total, we estimate that the United States deploys and stores nearly
10,000 nuclear weapons at 18 facilities in 12 states and six European
countries (see below). The Pentagon developed this extensive network of
installations over the past six decades in order to ensure the
survivability of its nuclear arsenal. [...] The nuclear weapons network shrank during the past decade, with the
Pentagon removing nuclear weapons from three states (California,
Virginia, and South Dakota) and the size of the stockpile decreasing
from about 12,500 warheads to nearly 10,000. Consolidation slowed
considerably compared with the period between 1992 and 1997, when the
Pentagon withdrew nuclear weapons from 10 states and several European
bases, and the total stockpile decreased from 18,290 to 12,500
warheads. [...] The ballistic missile submarine base at Bangor, Washington, contains nearly 24 percent of the entire stockpile, or some 2,364 warheads, the largest contingent. [...] Its counterpart on the Atlantic coast, Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia, is the third-largest contingent, with some 1,364 warheads. [...] Minot Air Force Base (AFB) in North Dakota, with more than 800 bombs and cruise missiles for its B-52 bombers and more than 400 warheads for its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile wing, has the largest number of active air force weapons. The other B-52 wing at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana has more than 900 warheads, and Whiteman AFB in Missouri has more than 130 bombs for its B-2 bombers." See the full article, with links to previous annual editions...