The White Flag


A New Year and New Beginnings
January 2, 2011, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As the new year rolls in many people tend to set goals for themselves, dedicated to becoming a better person. These “resolutions” are usually about weight, and horrid habits that we ourselves cannot stand that we do. Are these really the things that make a better person? Instead of doing what people believe makes a better person, I asked myself what makes a better person. To the White Flag a better person is a more knowledgeable and socially responsible person.

When a person knows more they are usually more adept at knowing what is best. Without knowledge people would still live in caves, and we would not have opportunities to the easy lives most of us lead. So knowledge does more than improve an individuals life, it improves the human race as a whole.

Also, with knowledge a person is likely to know what their responsibilities are. As I learn about something as seemingly innocuous as the world’s fresh water supply I learn that the actions I take today really will have an effect on tomorrow. Or consider that a company you spend your money at spends their money lobbying against cleaning up and protecting the environment–our environment. In that scenario we are essentially paying to pollute the places we and our children live. People need the knowledge to take responsibility in their lives.

Start this year off by being a better person in the simplest of ways; learning about everything you possibly can to later use that information to take responsibility for the world in which you live.
-The White Flag

United States

Officials in Texas believe the EPA is just blowing smoke over the limitations on pollution, and are working hard to block federal legislation.
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“Texas on Thursday filed a fresh motion in federal appeals court to block the Obama Administration’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the state, one day after another federal court rejected the state’s petitions.”

“[Another] petition argues that EPA’s creation of the new rules is an ‘improper overreach’ that violates the federal Clean Air Act, which it said ’declares pollution prevention to be ‘the primary responsibility of States and local governments,’ and not the federal government.”

“Since then the agency has moved forward with developing rules under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions blamed for climate change. Beginning January 2, EPA will require large emitters such as power plants, refineries and cement makers to obtain permits for polluting greenhouse gases.”

The (not) closing of Guantanamo.
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“At one point, there were 774 ‘worst of the worst’ being held in the compound in Cuba, but right now, there are just 174 detainees left – over the years, the rest have been released. Many had been imprisoned (and some tortured) by mistake.”

“In fact, a significant number of the detainees at Guantanamo were turned over to American officials by Pakistani and Afghan bounty hunters who swept up the innocent along with the guilty. Even then, the prisoners might have been sorted out if the U.S. government had been required to follow the Constitution and present actual evidence of wrongdoing.”

“Guantanamo is staying open indefinitely since Congress has set new and stricter limits on what the government can do to remove the prisoners.”

“The provision bans using government money to transfer any prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States, even to put them on trial. It also blocks an Obama administration proposal to acquire a high-security prison in Illinois in which it planned to hold several dozen detainees.”

Arizona continues to be a shinning example of how discrimination dies hard. A new law that became effective January 1st is banning ethnic studies, which the state’s new Attorney General believes ‘divides’ students instead of ‘uniting’ students. You might also be surprised to learn he’s never taken one of these ethnic classes that divide students, nor has he sat in on one.
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“The law bans classes that promote the overthrow of the United States government and resentment toward a race or class of people. Also outlawed are courses designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group and those that advocate ethnic solidarity rather than treat students as individuals.”

“In Arizona, critics claim that the law – along with the partially suspended immigration law – threatens to make the state a ‘new South’ of discrimination against minorities. Meanwhile, educators in states such as California worry that the law could become a model for other states to follow.”

“Professor Rodriguez says it’s not the first time such programs have been singled out, but now ‘it’s being acted upon.’ He views the state’s ethnic studies and immigration laws as attacks on all Hispanics and as reasons why some people might refer to Arizona as ‘the new south.’ ”

The World

Is the rising price of commodities a sign of the dwindling supply?
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“So what are the implications of the recent rise in commodity prices? It is, as I said, a sign that we’re living in a finite world, one in which resource constraints are becoming increasingly binding. This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.”

Civil Liberties

Recently religious conservatives in Iraq have been acquiring many of the public offices in the nation, and diminishing the country’s role as a leader in the Middle East for women’s rights.
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“The tension between the two sides bubbled over last month in Kadhmiyah, a section of northern Baghdad, where local Islamist leaders erected a provocative display outside a major Shiite shrine. It shows four mannequins wearing the hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering for women, while behind four mannequins with uncovered heads are laced with burns, shackled in chains and have red strands lapping at their feet to simulate a fiery afterlife.”

House Judiciary Chairman thinks evidence gained from torture is as viable as any other evidence.
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“[Lamar Smith Said:] ‘Well, as you say, they tried a terrorist in New York City. That was supposed to be their best case, they had their best witnesses. That was the one that they were going to use as an example and say you know, here, yes we can conduct a trial of a terrorist in the United States. And even if they get some rights as citizens, we’re still going to be able to find them guilty on all counts. Well as you know, this individual was found guilty on one count of, I think, 254. And even though he was found guilty of building the explosives, he wasn’t found guilty of killing, I think, 254 innocent people who were killed, among them several dozen Americans. So in that situation, it clearly did not work as the administration had planned, and it kind of blew up in their face, and the judge didn’t allow some of the evidence and some of the testimony that would have been allowed if this individual had been tried at Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, the so-called Gitmo.’ ”

Pakistan, one of America’s main allies in the War on Terror, is curbing the civil liberties of its enemies.
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War on Terror detainees were given excessive medication used to fight malaria, which none of the detainees were tested for.
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“Medical staff at Guantánamo assumed, however, that all detainees were at risk of malaria; they also claimed that 40 per cent of the Afghan population was infected, when the World Health Organisation’s figure for 2002 was 13 per cent.”

“They did not even test the detainees for malaria in advance, and administered doses of 1250 mg, which were five times the normal prophylactic dose.”

Progress

Activists gathered in support of Bradley Manning.
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“The protesters encouraged members of the military at the base near Marysville to support Manning ‘for revealing the truth to the world community about the failed war of terror,’ said Toby Blome of CodePINK in a news release.”

“Manning is being held in solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia on charges that could lead to a 52-year prison sentence.”

With a new year comes new opportunities; effective this year are new restrictions on how health insurance companies can use profits, to ensure customers get good quality health care.
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“The rule requires that insurers spend at least 80 percent of this money on the customers themselves. The companies must either spend this money to pay insurance claims or use it for activities that improve customers’ health.”

“For policies that are sold to large groups instead of small companies and individuals, the number is even higher: 85 percent. The remaining 15 or 20 percent of the money can be used for a company’s salaries, marketing and overhead – or kept as profit.”

“This provision will give Medicare recipients stuck in the doughnut hole a 50 percent discount on the price of brand-name prescription drugs. Health-care activists are worried, however, that drugmakers will jack up their prices. In that case, customers would receive 50 percent off that higher number – which might not be much less than what they were paying before.”

“Nearly all Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive for free all “preventive services” screenings given an A or B rating by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That could include mammograms, colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and nutritional counseling. Medicare will also provide one free ‘wellness visit’ per year for patients who want a checkup.”

“This new agency is aimed at slowing down the rapid rise of health-care costs. It is supposed to foster innovation in both caring for patients and processing their payments and claims.”

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