Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tuscon, Arizona: A Moment of Silence

Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tuscon, Arizona: A Moment of Silence

At 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time on Monday, Americans are called upon to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless acts of violence in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives.  It will be a time to come together as a nation in prayer or thoughtful reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.

Further, as a mark of respect for the victims of the tragic violence perpetrated on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, President Obama has ordered that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 14, 2011.

President Obama Leads Moment of Silence for Arizona Shooting Victims

Photo-Gallery: A Moment of Silence to Honor the Victims of the Tragedy in Arizona

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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The Vitriol of Sarah Palin and Her Tea Party Followers: For Shame!!

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with Senior Citizens

Sarah Palin’s PAC: “Targeting” Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot today outside a Tucson Safeway supermarket; fourteen other people were wounded and six killed, including federal judge John Roll, during the assassination attempt on Giffords.  Representative Giffords was featured on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” map, which targeted legislators who voted for President Obama’s health care bill.  This was the map that was roundly criticized as an incitement to violence.

Giffords, a third-term legislator, supported President Obama’s health care reform bill. This earned her a place on the map, posted by Sarah Palin’s Political Action Committe, that literally put Democrats in the cross-hairs of guns last spring after the bill passed.  “Don’t retreat, instead-RELOAD!” was how Palin introduced the map to her Tea Party followers on Twitter.  Days later, a vandal smashed the glass door of Rep. Giffords’ Tucson office.  Giffords’ father stated that members of the Tea Party “always threatened” his daughter.

Giffords’ Tea Party opponent in the 2010 election, Jesse Kelly, went even further with the violent rhetoric.  Kelly’s campaign held an event called “Get on Target for Victory in November.”  Description of the event: “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office.  Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

President Obama has called for a nationwide moment of silence at 11 a.m. on Monday, the White House announced Sunday.  “Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, I call on Americans to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives,” the president said in a statement.  “It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.”

President Obama: The Arizona Shooting Attack and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Breaking News: Piecing Together the Giffords Shooting

Keith Olbermann Special Commentary: “Violence Has No Place in Democracy”

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Be Proud: The Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

Be Proud: The Moment the Closet Door Finally Opened

“For all of us, there are genuine needs and wishes, deep longings for human warmth, empathic responsiveness, trust, mutual recognition and creative playfulness.  These are many of the ingredients that we think of when we speak of love, or the loving feelings we have for the cherished other person.”

Monday, June 28, is the 41st anniversary of the famous Stonewall riot, an event that changed history.  Gay people battled their way out of the closet with bricks and uprooted parking meters, and with a defiance so shocking it scared the men of the NYPD.  And despite many challenges, they have never gone back in.

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village.  They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the gay  community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities.  The riots have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride March in U.S. History. The March  traveled up 51 blocks to Central Park, beginning with a relatively small group that grew into a massive crowd of 15,000 people as it made its way up from Greenwich Village.  Similar marches were organized in other cities.  Today, Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.

Stonewall: The Stone Wall Against Oppression

The Stonewall Riots: A Night That Changed the World

After Stonewall: The First Gay March

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An Angry Obama Relieves Runaway General McChrystal of Command

An Angry Obama Relieves Runaway General McChrystal of Command

An angry President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal from his position as Commander of American forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and named as his replacement the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.  President Obama said he had done so because an article in Rolling Stone featured contemptuous quotes from the general and his staff about senior administration officials, threatening to erode trust among administration and military officials, as well as to undermine civilian control of the military.

War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president,” President Obama said.  “As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for our national security.”  “I welcome debate among my team,” he said, “but I won’t tolerate division.”

President Obama Relieves General Stanley McChrystal of Command

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President Obama: The “Time for Bickering” About Health Care is Over

President Obama: The “Time for Bickering” About Health Care is Over

After weathering a number of setbacks during the summer, on Wednesday night President Barack Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress and called upon them to enact sweeping health care legislation.  Obama declared that the moment has arrived to protect millions of people who have either unreliable insurance or no coverage at all.  Obama said the changes he proposes would cost about $900 billion over decade, “less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans” passed during the Bush administration.

He said there is widespread agreement on about 80 percent of what must be included in legislation.  And yet, criticizing Republicans without overtly saying so, he added, “Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics and ideological warfare that offers no hope for compromise.”  “Well, the time for bickering is over,” he said. “The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action.  I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

President Obama: The “Time for Bickering” About Health Care is Over

Rachel Maddow Reports On President Obama’s Health Care Speech To Congress

The full-text of President Obama’s speech to Congress can be read here.

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Picture du Jour: Springtime for Limbaugh

Picture du Jour: Springtime for Limbaugh

Cartoon by: Steve Brodner

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Drux and Flux: The Flow of Progress into Tragic Social Decay

Drux and Flux: The Flow of Progress into Tragic Social Decay

It is only for the sake of those without hope
that hope is given to us

Walter Benjamin

Drux and Flux: Visual Comments on Today’s Deepening Economic Crisis

Drux and Flux won the Canadian Film Institute’s 2008 Award for Best Canadian Animation, as well as an Honorable Mention for Best Experimental/Abstract Animation at the 2008 International Animation Festival in Otowa, Canada. Director Theodore Ushev’s Drux and Flux presents an oppressive and miserable vision of how both the contemporary commitment to an over-arching belief in progress and to the ever-expanding industrialism in society have effected modern life. The five-minute short film opens with shots of a printing press, which are used to present the film’s opening titles. That scene then switches away and shifts, through rapidly choreographed cuts, to an elevated train, a dimly-lit manufacturing city-scape, the interior of a factory, then to the manufacturing building’s inner workings. The cuts are rapid, and the fast pace is maintained throughout the film.

The quickly cut scenes track the rise and fall of industry and are accompanied by increasingly discordant sounds on its background music track. Scenes from Soviet propaganda posters and the clashing of gears and girders are juxtaposed, along with almost subliminal flashes of the words “1932” (the year of Hitler’s first election-run for Chancellor of Germany) and “Juggernaut” (a possible reference to perceptions of WWII Germany as an “unstoppable force”). The latter disturbing associations between ever-increasing industrialization, exponential technological advance and the rise of totalitarian political regimes can be quite unsettling. Drux and Flux culminates with clip-art style images of a human skeleton that is reinforced with building materials, yet it’s still unable to support itself. The overall result for the viewer of this film is a vision of the potential horrors of modern-day industrialization, which has been summoned like a nightmare brought about by watching too many hours of late-night horror films while listening to a constantly-looping off-speed recording of Verdi’s Il Travatore Anvil Chorus.

Ushev drew his inspiration for Drux and Flux from a variety of sources. Sociologist-philosopher-political radical Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1964) is cited as his starting point, a work that presents a wide-ranging critique of both advanced capitalist and communist societies. This book theorized about the inevitable decline of revolutionary potential in capitalist societies and about the development of new and potent forms of social control, especially over the common working person. Marcuse argued that “advanced industrial society” created false needs which fused individuals into homogenized particles that comprised the existing system of production and consumption. Advertising, industrial management, politicians and the mass-media cooperated to brainwash members of the working class, eliminating their potential for effective expressions of negativity, critique, and opposition. The result, according to Marcuse, was a “one-dimensional” universe of thought and behavior, in which the very aptitude and ability for critical thinking and for developing either opposing or alternative social positions was withering away.

As Drux and Flux travels through its series of dismal industrial scenes, one is left with a deeply sad mood about the frightening impressions of the enormous slabs of metal and rust, the smells of rotting death. By the end of this short five-minute journey, the viewer is left to wonder whether this is what things actually might be like when our industrial world finally reaches its end.

Drux and Flux: The Flow of Progress into Tragic Social Decay

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