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California Spiny Lobster Magnus Kjærgaard ‘ WikiCommons

At the prompting of a group of New England senators, September 25 has been declared "National Lobster Day." If this day were intended to celebrate the fascinating attributes of lobsters -- like the fact that they can live to be more than 100 years old or that they use complicated signals to explore their surroundings and establish relationships -- I'd be all for it. But it isn't meant to celebrate lobsters -- the intent is to celebrate killing them, and that has true "lobster lovers" like me steaming.

Yes, I once ate lobsters -- back when they were a "splurge" meal on a special occasion. I think it was at my 20th birthday dinner. I went to a well-known restaurant specializing in lobster. We were drinking wine when the live lobsters were presented to us on a tray at the table so that I could pick out the one I would eat. I remember that he wiggled his antennae at me -- all he could do -- as I replied, "Broiled, please," when asked how I wanted my lobster cooked. Perhaps it was because he had tried in his own sad way to communicate (Was it a threat? A plea?) that when I took that first bite of his flesh, it hit me: He had been broiled alive just for my fleeting pleasure. I burst into tears -- my birthday evening ruined -- and never ate a lobster again.

MFA 0924wrp(Photo: Molly Adams / Flickr)


With growing support among the public and with many Democratic candidates taking strong positions for single-payer Medicare for All, a battle is being engaged again between supporters and opponents in the Democratic Party. Support for universal coverage through Medicare for All, or national health insurance (NHI), should become a litmus test for Democrats and their platform for 2020, but already we are seeing vacillation among centrists in the party establishment reminiscent of the surrender in advance strategy that prevailed in the run-up to the 2008 elections.

Peace 0921wrpAntiwar protesters march near the debris from Hurricane Katrina. (Photo: Culture|Subculture Photography / Flickr)


In considering our situation, one must recognize that the US military has become an arm of corporations. The removal of war from public concern has been achieved through creating a professional military, the hiring of mercenaries and increasing the use of killer drones and, soon, killer robots. This process of corporate war at taxpayer expense is insulated against any public sense of conscience by the determination of the corporate-controlled mass press to show the public images of human tragedy and degradation only when this serves to rally public support for corporate war objectives.

Both the Democratic and Republican Parties, beholden to the military-industrial complex, are unwilling to address the fundamental reality of US war and its role in the daily, methodical deterioration of the planet's ability to support life.


chickenBroiler chickens (chickens raised for meat) are the top agricultural commodity in North Carolina. In 2015, 823 million broiler chickens were raised in the state. (Photo credit: North Carolina Department of Agriculture)

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd tore through North Carolina, killing 74 people and causing $6.5 billion in damage. But it didn't just destroy towns and claim human lives; it also claimed the lives of millions of farm animals. The images are impossible to forget: lifeless pigs floating in flood water, thousands of dead chickens inside a factory farm and a few live pigs huddling on top of a barn almost completely submerged under water.

Hurricane Floyd also caused 55 pig manure lagoons to flood, pushing out hog waste into nearby estuaries, which killed fish and caused algae blooms.

Now, early reports show Hurricane Florence's similar devastating impact on animals and the environment. The North Carolina Department Agriculture and Consumer Services said Tuesday that the storm has claimed the lives of 3.4 million chickens and turkeys, as well as 5,500 hogs. About 1.7 million of those chickens perished at Sanderson Farms, the nation's third-largest poultry producer, according to Reuters. The numbers are expected to rise.


Judge Brett Michael Kavanaugh U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit / WikiCommons

Here’s the Wall Street Journal editorial board, attempting, with gentlemanly politeness, to dispense with Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh as quickly as possible:

“Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.

“This is not to say Christine Blasey Ford isn’t sincere in what she remembers.” But . . .

“The vagaries of memory are well known, all the more so when they emerge in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage. Experts know that human beings can come to believe firmly over the years that something happened when it never did or is based on partial truth. Mistaken identity is also possible.”

Schoolkids 0919wrp(Photo: Lee Haywood / Flickr)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) isn't doing enough to protect the 50 million school children and seven million teachers and staff who spend time in U.S. private and public schools from asbestos exposure.

That's the conclusion of a report released Monday by the EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), the agency's internal watchdog.


liberty uni Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

Film students and faculty members at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University are putting the finishing touches on a film titled The Trump Prophecy: A Voice of Hope - A Movement of Prayer. While some are lauding the project, others are calling it another political gift to Donald Trump by conservative Christian evangelicals. 

According to Christian Today's Samuel Smith, "The film focuses on the prophecy of a retired Florida firefighter named Mark Taylor, who claims that God told him in April 2011 that Trump would one day become president. Although Taylor initially thought that meant that Trump would become president in 2012, the prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in November 2016."

Taylor's prophetic claim was described in his 2017 book, The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story of the Man Who Saw Tomorrow... and What He Says Is Coming Next.


Brett Michael Kavanaugh 2004 CSPAN / WikiCommons

Disability comes in many forms. Mine -- a genetic mutation presenting similarly to muscular dystrophy -- came in the form that made high school into an isolating experience. Going to parties was never an option, so I turned to the internet. I found communities that accepted me and didn't care about my disability. They were communities filled with people that shared my interests, and also middle-aged white men.   

Discussions rarely turned to politics, but I was fascinated when they did. Tax reform, the welfare state, burdensome regulations, the rights of the individual, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, immigration ... These were the things the grown-ups talked about and, if you were a "serious" person, this was what you believed -- at least according to them.

It was the first time I had seen those ideas expressed explicitly, but they were, and are, all around us. They float around like radioactive dust just waiting to be breathed in so they can fester and grow inside us. 

Monday, 17 September 2018 08:02

Why History Matters in the "Land of the Free"

History 0917wrp(Photo: Mark Colliton / Flickr)


Politics is no mere abstraction. It's not something that happens somewhere else to other people. There are no other people. In the US, there is only We the People. We have an obligation to the principles we claim to stand for to stand up for ourselves and for all with regard for nothing more than that someone else is as good as us simply by virtue of being alive on this Earth.

BO 0917wrpPresident Barack Obama. (Photo: Robbie Wroblewski / Flickr)


In reality, Obama's "57 States" comment (made before he became president) was perhaps the most widely condemned verbal error of his entire life, and people only knew about it because mainstream media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times first reported it.

But "57 States" shows us the double standards of the conservative media, and their willingness to go to any lengths to serve as apologists for Trump and their desire to smear Obama no matter how trivial the excuse.

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