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U.S. Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay’s essay in the New York Times comes right on time for Veterans’ Day. His profiles of two Iraqi translators who served with the Marines show the way that the United States is leaving behind people who put their lives and families at risk in the service of this country. He challenges all of us to remember and fight for the values that bring us together, and to reject the racism that tears this country apart. Continue reading
Image via Fotolia: #80127845 | Author: vostal
St. Paul elections are coming up on Tuesday. In an off-off-year election like this one, turnout is usually low, making every vote count even more. The entire city council and four school board seats are on the ballot, as well as the all-important trash collection question. Continue reading
Photo by Michael Coghlan, licensed under Creative Commons
The ACLU just published a 50-state Blueprint for Smart Justice, with state-specific recommendations for reducing state prison populations by at least half. It’s time and past time—Minnesota’s prison population grew by a stunning 51 percent from 2000 to 2016. Prisons were already over-full in 2000. The total growth in state imprisonment quintupled between 1980 and 2016. That’s five times as many people in Minnesota prisons in 2016, compared to 1980. Continue reading
I saw an eagle on Sunday, high above the Mississippi in St. Paul, swooping and soaring over the river under a bright blue sky.
When I was in junior high school, back in the early 1960s, bald eagles were an endangered species. Growing up on a farm near Litchfield, I saw kingfishers and orioles, mourning doves and meadowlarks, but never a bald eagle. Back then, only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles still lived in the lower 48 states. They were on the path to extinction, my teachers told us, like passenger pigeons, which were extinct before I was born….
Today, eagles soar over rivers and highways and cornfields. They, like wild turkeys and timber wolves, are success stories of conservation efforts like the Endangered Species Act, first passed back in 1966 as my teachers told us about the coming extinction of eagles….
This article published in MinnPost, 8/27/2019. Click here to read entire article.
[Photo credit: Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash]
Thursday night, I saw the first news reports from New Zealand. Another terrorist attack on a mosque, then on two mosques. “Dozens” dead, then 49, now 50. Denunciations of the terrorism by government officials, the hunt for the shooter or shooters, the arrest, the manifesto, grief, rage, numbness.
The terrorist who killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand boasted of being a fascist and a white nationalist. He praised U.S. President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity.” He expressed hatred of immigrants, calling them “invaders,” the same language used by the terrorist in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. That’s also the language of President Donald Trump, earlier on the day of the shooting, as he vetoed the Congressional action against his border wall national emergency. “People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is,” he said. Continue reading
The Unicorn Defends Itself, one of the series of seven tapestries The Hunt of the Unicorn (Wikimedia Commons)
When our daughter was growing up, in the age of Newt Gingrich, her father and I tried to explain that he was an aberration, that back in the day, Republicans and Democrats usually disagreed but often found ways to work together. We told her that many Republicans cared about the good of the country, that some supported and voted for civil rights bills and the minimum wage. Minnesota had good Republicans, we said. We might not agree with them or vote for them, but they were not corrupt or evil or committed to making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
She did not believe us.
“Where are these mythical good Republicans?” she asked. Continue reading
[CORRECTION 11/23/2018*] The president says America will make $110 billion dollars selling arms to Saudi Arabia, so he will overlook the torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the orders of the Saudi government. The president says this is putting America First. He lies on both counts. The first lie is that selling out human rights is putting America First. The second lie is the $110 billion: the actual arms deal is only $4 billion.
The president’s position reminds me of an old story:
A man asks a woman if she would be willing to have sex with him for a million dollars. She replies affirmatively. He then asks if she would be willing to have sex with him for ten dollars. “Absolutely not!” she replies indignantly. “What do you think I am?”
“We’ve already established that,” he says. “Now we’re just haggling over price.”
The president’s position is that America is a whore, selling out principles for profits. If the price was right, would he sell bone saws to the torturers?
“America First” betrays America and Americans. Continue reading
Vote as if:
You believe we can build a better world together.
Someone I don’t even know emailed me this week to ask for my voting recommendations. Usually, I get a couple of family and friend calls on Election Day, but this is a first for me. So, here are my voting recommendations. A lot of my information comes from Naomi Kritzer, a writer who does careful research for every election and publishes it in a race-by-race analysis on her blog, Will Tell Stories for Food. Thanks, Naomi!
Top of the ballot this year has become very easy: Continue reading
June 2014 Naturalization Ceremony
Today is Citizenship Day. Across the country, thousands of new citizens are swearing allegiance to this country and this dream. Last Tuesday, I saw 875 new citizens sworn in at the St. Paul River Center. They came from 91 countries, but now they are part of one country. More new citizens were sworn in on Thursday in Moorhead, and even more across the country during the past week and today. They all swore to “support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”