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In Other Words

"Justice in the life and conduct of the state is possible only if first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
Plato, 427 BC - 347 BC

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

"The highest office in the land is that of citizen."
Harry Truman, 1884 - 1972

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, 1901 - 1978

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. You will be changed, events will change you, but you have to decide not to be reduced."
Maya Angelou, 1928 - present

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."
Noam Chomsky, 1928 - present

Welcome! From throughout our country, these engaging blogs are authored by ordinary citizens with things to say about social, economic, environmental, human, or political conditions in our nation or world. We hope you will sign in and add your comments, too.

January 4, 2016

Favorite Movies of 2015

Posted by Angelo Lopez on January 4, 2016

The last year was a fun year for movies for me. In the beginning of the year, Lisa and I got to spend time watching the Oscar nominated movies with two close friends whom we hadn't seen in quite a while. I checked out a lot of movies from the library and watched a lot of great movies on Netflix. Blockbuster movies, indie films, documentaries... I love movies of all sorts.

I didn't get a chance to watch a lot of the great movies that came out at the end of the year. I had wanted to watch Spotlight, Carol, The Revenant and The Danish Girl, but the holidays got too busy and there were too many friends to visit.

Here are my favorite movies of 2015.

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December 31, 2015

Reverend Willie T. Barrow, Civil Rights Hero

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 31, 2015

As I've been reading about the recent protests of the Black Lives Matter Movement, I began thinking of the older civil rights leaders who fought for African American rights in decades past. Last March 2015, one of the great civil rights leaders died. The Reverand Wille T. Barrow was a leader involved in the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement and the consumer rights movement. In an obituary in the New York Times, Sam Roberts wrote about Reverand Barrow:

The Rev. Willie T. Barrow, who championed civil rights for minorities, women, gay people and consumers; opposed the war in Vietnam and apartheid; and mentored generations of community organizers, including a young Chicagoan named Barack Obama, died on Thursday at her home in Chicago. She was 90.

...Ms. Barrow organized her first civil rights demonstration when she was 12, protesting the fact that she and her fellow black students had to walk to school in her hometown in Texas while whites could ride the school bus. She went on to conduct sit-ins and boycotts with luminaries of the movement, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and joined in the 1963 March on Washington and the protests two years later in Selma, Ala. More recently she voiced concern over gun violence and dilution of the Voting Rights Act.

...While Ms. Barrow mentored men and women alike, she was an unabashed feminist.

She learned by opening her home “to all of the powerful women in the movement — Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Height, Addie Wyatt,” she told The Chicago Sun-Times in 2012. “We have to teach this generation, train more Corettas, more Addies, more Dorothys."

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December 16, 2015

Will D. Campbell, Bootleg Preacher

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 16, 2015

During the past few months, political figures like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been saying divisive language that has been scapegoating groups like immigrants, Muslims, LGBT individuals, and African Americans. They are exploiting the fears of many of the most partisan voters in the Republican primaries to gain votes. In the mid 20th century, there was an itinerant white southern Baptist preacher named Will D. Campbell who tried instead to reconcile the differences between the white and black communities and to reach out to the poor, the dispossessed, and the marginalized in southern society.

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December 13, 2015

Donald Trump, Archie Bunker and the Great American Divide

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 13, 2015

I've been reading a lot about the growing partisan divide, and I've been as exasperated as many of my fellow liberals at Donald Trump's latest rantings. It got me thinking of two great television shows: "All in the Family" and "Family Ties". Both shows are premised on the idea that we can deeply care about friends and family members whose political opinions we deeply oppose. I've found this true in my own life. I'm a lifelong liberal Democrat, but in the course of my life I've had many close conservative friends and family members whom I deeply cared about. It hasn't stopped me from expressing my liberal views and it hasn't stopped them from expressing their conservative views, and we've gotten into many arguments. But for those friends and family members, the friendship is far more important than our political differences.

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December 8, 2015

The 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate and the Catholic Defense of Islam

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 8, 2015

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, which dealt with the relation of the church to non-Christian religions that transformed church doctrine about Jews and other faiths. Nostra Aetate originated from the realization of church reformers that the Roman Catholic Church's anti-semitic teachings may have indirectly aided in the Holocaust. After a decades long effort to change these anti-semitic Church teachings, Nostra Aetate succeeded in changing the Church's relationships with Jews as well as with Muslims, Buddhists and other religions. Now, with an increase in hostility towards Muslims, the spirit of Nostra Aetate has led the Roman Catholic Church to speak out against the growing Islamophobia in the United States and Europe.

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November 29, 2015

Considering Who To Vote For President

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 29, 2015

Recently a few friends asked me if I would support Bernie Sanders in his run for the Presidency. I replied to them that my support for the Presidency would depend on how I think the 2016 Congressional elections would go.

From what I read, most experts expect Republicans to retain their majority in the House of Representatives after the 2016 elections due to gerrymandering. A major consideration that I have is which candidate would best be able to handle the Republican opposition when he or she becomes President. Would a President Sanders be able to pass progressive legislation through a House with a conservative Republican majority and a Senate that is vulnerable to a Republican filibuster?

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November 21, 2015

More Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals Supporting LGBT Rights

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 21, 2015

Recently, there has been a controversy where a Christian public official named Kim Davis went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who wanted to get married. For weeks I would open up my Facebook page and found many of my gay and lesbian friends offering their opinions of Kim Davis and the homophobia in many conservative Christian churches. This Kim Davis episode reminds me a lot of the 1950s and 1960s, when segregationist Southerners resisted the Supreme Court ruling Brown versus the Board of Education, which ruled that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional.

Kim Davis and her supporters give the impression that all Christians are against marriage equality. In reality, a growing number of Christians in all denominations are supporting LGBT rights and marriage equality. As more Christians know an LGBT friend, coworker, or family member, they are much more likely to support LGBT rights.

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Illegal Immigrants and Lower Crime

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 21, 2015

These past few months Donald Trump has been capturing the headlines with his comments about most illegal immigrants coming from Mexico being violent criminals. While it is true that violent criminals have crossed the border to cause trouble, various studies have shown that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes or be behind bars than the native-born American population. I fully sympathize with those families who have suffered from violent crime. I think violent criminals should be imprisoned. But the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not violent criminals and should not be punished for stereotypes that Donald Trump is perpetuating.

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November 19, 2015

"Black Lives Matter" and the Reconciliation of the Police and the Black Community

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 19, 2015

In the past few years, the tragic deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers have led the grassroots movement, Black Lives Matter. This movement has highlighted many of the economic and societal problems that still exist as hurdles for many African Americans to gain true equality in this country. One of the big issues that the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted is the tense relationship between police and minority communities in many areas in this country. There are areas, however, where police and local communities are working together to try to improve police/minority relationships.

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The National Women's Equality Day Rally in San Jose, California

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 19, 2015

On Saturday, August 30, 2015, I went to the first Women's Equality Day rally in San Jose, California. It was a fun time. I walked around and took photos and talked to various people about why they were there and how they hope women continue their fight for equal rights in all spheres of society. Many of them talk about how women's rights are intertwined with economic inequality issues, immigrant rights, African American rights and LGBT rights. A few emphasized that the fight for women's equality is liberating for men as well as women: men don't have to be trapped in traditional gender roles, and can be much more empathetic husbands and fathers.

There was an inspirational and informative talk by various women speakers in the early morning. Then at around 10 a.m. the group marched around downtown San Jose chanting and holding signs. When they passed by the Cathedral, the rally organizers asked the marchers to stay silent to respect the mass that was taking place that moment. Several cars honked their horns in support of women's rights. I was very inspired during the march.

November 16, 2015

The Illusive and Illusory Nature of Peace

Posted by Diane Wahto on November 16, 2015

Living by pacifist values in a time of perpetual war, in a time when innocent people are slaughtered mindlessly by those who seem to have only evil on their minds is almost impossible. Impressed by the example of Gandhi and the anti-nuke activists in Britain, I declared myself a pacifist when I was 17. Born at the start of WWII and a teenager when the Korean War was waged, I had lived through war for much of my life. I believed war was wrong.

Then came the ‘60s and Vietnam. I demonstrated against that war when I returned to college to finish a bachelor’s degree. Eventually, the war was ended, thanks to Pres. Nixon, who implemented a draft lottery, thus making sure that all men could be called up, not just the poor and minority men. I was sure, after the resounding defeat in that misguided “police action,” and after the human cost and the cost in dollars to America, that surely no one would think to start a war based on shaky grounds again.

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August 8, 2015

Under Granholm’s Stand Your Ground Law, State Senator Virgil Smith could be found Not Guilty

Posted by Isaac Robinson on August 8, 2015

Under Granholm’s Stand Your Ground Law, State Senator Virgil Smith could be found Not Guilty
How would you respond to a home invasion at 1 am? How would you protect those in your home?

Under former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Stand Your Ground Law, Michigan State Senator Virgil Smith will be found not guilty if a jury concludes Senator Smith reasonably believed the use of force was necessary to defend himself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual. Senator Smith alleges an assault and home invasion by his ex-wife in the middle of the night on Detroit’s eastside on his property. Under Michigan law, he can assert the stand your ground defense.

Did the shots fired into the car stop the alleged assault and home invasion by his ex-wife? Did he fear his ex-wife would attack his guest? Did his actions defend his guest? If I was his lawyer, I would say yes to those 3 questions. And I would commend Smith for shooting at the car and for not using deadly force on the person committing an assault on his property.

What would you do if your home was being invaded at 1 am on your property?

And let’s not forget the view of Detroit’s Chief of Police James Craig. Craig made national headlines when he said firearms should be used to defend our property in a NRA interview.

Please read over the MLIVE article “Standing your ground in Michigan: A look at the law, efforts to change it, and why they won't succeed,” written by Tim Martin to get a refresher on Michigan’s Stand Your Ground Law. It also includes a pic of Governor Granholm in a hooded sweatshirt.

Also, Check out “Stand Your Ground: Michigan Act Similar To Florida Law Used in Trayvon Martin Case Provokes Repeal Effort” a piece from the The Huffington Post written by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.

I’m not so sure about the Insanity Defense, but if Zimmerman can walk under the circumstances surrounding the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, Smith can definitely be acquitted for shooting at a car while being assaulted in the middle of the night on his own property. I would argue Smith showed restraint and his actions were reasonable to protect his guest. I would argue that Smith shooting at the car helped him take control of a situation and his actions saved his guest from possible harm.

Act 309 of 2006

780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.
Sec. 2.
(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:
(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.
(b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.
(2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.

History: 2006, Act 309, Eff. Oct. 1, 2006

© 2009 Legislative Council, State of Michigan

Attorney Isaac Robinson is a criminal defense Attorney in Detroit, Michigan, licensed in Michigan for ten years. Robinson is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. NU Law presented Robinson with the Wigmore Key Award at his law school graduation. Robinson is an advocate for human rights. His cell 313-739-5093

July 20, 2015

Learning from History

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 20, 2015

Groups will have a bias against certain issues because of their history. African Americans, for instance, tend to be less responsive to libertarian criticisms of the power of the federal government because many Southerners once used states rights arguments to support segregation laws. Filipinos and other minorities are less responsive of the Christian Rights' arguments about protecting the sanctity of traditional marriages against same sex marriages because those same arguments were once used against interracial marriages. Certain Americans are wary of the NSA collecting our private emails and phone calls because in times past, Nixon's Administration and Hoover's FBI wiretapped ordinary citizens who disagreed with them and created enemies lists to blacklist and harass them.

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July 15, 2015

Jasper and the Conservative

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 15, 2015

Over the years, I've met some conservatives who are really nice and decent people. And I've met some conservatives who are really intolerant and crazy. The same is true with liberals, of course. But since I'm liberal, most of my bad experiences have been with conservatives, especially Christian conservatives. I do have close conservative friends and family members whom I respect and care about. In those relationships, it's mutually agreed that our friendship is more important than our political differences.

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Great blog Diane

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 15, 2015

DIane, this is a great blog. It takes special character and empathy not to be influenced by the prejudices of the community around you. I hope more parents get involved in the lives of their children, so that these things don't keep taking people by surprise.

June 23, 2015

For Everyone’s Sake, All Lives Should Count

Posted by Diane Wahto on June 23, 2015

That 21-year old Dylann Roof, the man who shot nine people in the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, is a hate-driven man with an unjustified superiority complex cannot be denied. Yet, when I first saw him on the news as he was being taken to jail, I thought he was still a child. He looks unformed, as teenagers often look before they gain the maturity of adulthood. However, within that youthful countenance lives an age-old evil that is rekindled with every new generation and every new set of victims.

Since I’m not a psychologist, I can’t say what impels a person like Roof to go so far off the rails of humanity. I do know that he is not alone in his desire to obliterate those who are not like him. Roof hates Jews, Latinos, and Asians, but his greatest enmity is directed toward black people, people he grew up with, attended school with, and partied with on occasion.

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May 24, 2015

The Leadership We Need

Posted by Diane Wahto on May 24, 2015

After watching Republican presidential candidates try to avoid an opinion on the second Iraq War, then watching the episodes dealing with the Vietnam War on PBA’s documentary series about the Vietnam War, I appreciate even more that Obama is indeed the leader we need right now. Given the quagmire of the Iraq War under George W. Bush’s leadership, Obama’s determination not to get the United States military involved in another war there heartened me.

I opposed both Iraq wars, the one under the elder Bush and the one the team of Bush-Cheney started in response to 9/11, with the claim that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Secretary of State Colin Powell put his credibility on the line by going to the U.N. and embellishing the truth about WMDs in Iraq. Because of his statements, Bush-Cheney sent Americans to Iraq to fight and die in a war that had no purpose.

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March 19, 2015

Social Media Activism

Posted by Diane Wahto on March 19, 2015

As a liberal, or now what is called a progressive, and as someone who does a little bit of social interaction online, I have found myself a member of many liberal-progressive Facebook and e-mail groups. I don’t do Twitter. I opened a Twitter account to help my writer daughter-in-law spread the news about her Young Adult book series. However, I closed it after too many people wanted me to follow them and it occurred to me that the constant tweeting would take up whatever time I had left over from checking on Facebook and my e-mail. Oh, and I don’t text either. How much non-face-to-face interaction with other people does a person need during one day? Every so often I have to check my bank account and write a poem or two. How in the world can I have time for that if I’m constantly checking Facebook notifications and Tweets of the hundreds of people who wanted me to follow them?

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March 8, 2015

Jasper and these Partisan Times

Posted by Angelo Lopez on March 8, 2015

Even though I'm a liberal, I used to have quite a few conservative friends in my 20s and 30s. About the mid 1990s, though, something changed. Many of the conservatives that I've met since then have been less willing to respect differences of opinions, and I've gotten into some exasperating conflicts in the past decade or so. I still have some friends and family members who I care about who are conservative, and I think of them to remind me not to stereotype all conservatives as being a certain way. Here is a cartoon that I did for the February 18, 2015 Philippines Today on that subject.

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March 5, 2015

A Protest Rally Against Wage Theft by Crazy Buffett Restaurant in Sunnyvale

Posted by Angelo Lopez on March 5, 2015

On March 4, 2015, the Santa Clara Wage Theft Coalition organized a rally to protest the practice of wage theft by Crazy Buffet restaurant in Sunnyvale, California. Crazy Buffet has a total of 21 judgements against it, totaling over $1 million, for not paying worker wages. In the last 2 years, the Labor Commissioner has issued citations totaling $1.6 million to the owners of Crazy Buffet.

Read More Here ...

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