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Pope Francis is a remarkably progressive pope on a number of very important issues, ranging all across the political/social spectrum–to name a few such areas, Francis is critical of unconstrained capitalism, compassionate with the poor, vocal against economic inequality and trickle down economics, unwilling to be judgmental against gays and open to the idea that atheists will be allowed into heaven if they are moral.
In short, I find it remarkable that a pope is in office who sounds more like Jesus than he does an entitled and judgmental monarch who sits on a throne with the belief that he speaks for god.
While I have serious problems with the traditional positions of the Vatican, this new pope is, as far as I can tell, a very good man and a political progressive who I can find high levels of commonality with. It is my hope that the pope can sway right wing Catholics away from the Christian right (in the USA and, to a larger degree, abroad) and towards a message of economic equality and social tolerance.
The United States military and intelligence infrastructure are currently engaged in a long-term campaign of drone strikes in several Middle Eastern countries. Ostensibly, this campaign is aimed at killing terrorists, but, in reality, it is far more effective in creating them.
Bombarding civilian areas with missiles and killing civilians is not acceptable and the USA needs to stop immediately. People are naturally angry when confronted with the ongoing threat of death due to a foreign enemy, thus the US drone program is actually chasing many people into the arms of the terrorists–they want revenge and are willing to team up with anybody who is willing to support them.
Here is a link to the report mentioned in the video: http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-afghanistan-drones-20131201,0,2828417.story#axzz2mZfNs0oR
According to a report by Reuters, the US military has nearly $8.5 trillion dollars in funds that are currently unaccounted for–this isn’t to say that the money is stolen or not spent, merely that nobody knows exactly where it went or which projects it was used to pay for.
Here is a link to the story: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part2
In short, our military is gigantic, bloated and this unaccounted for $8.5 trillion is just quantitative proof of our worse assumptions. If an entity is large and disorganized enough to lose track of trillions of dollars, it needs to be audited and likely cut. Fiscally responsible politicians need to immediately start cutting the military waste in order to eliminate waste and divert cuts which are currently sighted in on vital social programs.
The re-authorization of the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act–the federal law which bans guns that are not metallic enough to be detectable by metal detectors–in the House is a very good thing, but it does have a hidden side.
If plastic 3-d printed guns become more advanced (and they will) and are not restricted under the law, the American public will be flooded with untraceable, undetectable, cheap and disposable weapons–in short, the perfect weapons for criminals. At the same time, the fact that anybody can print these guns undercuts the gun manufacturers and harms their profits by flooding the market with weapons that they don’t profit from.
Because they fear this competition, the gun lobby (NRA) has refused to grade this re-authorization as gun control and has given cover to its political allies to vote for this law without worry of being seen as anti-gun.
It is a good thing that the undetectable gun ban is re-authorized, but there is a danger that the gun nuts will use this “concession” on their part to deflect future efforts to limit metallic guns. If the gun lobby is smart, they will point to this law as an example of them giving some ground towards a compromise and will argue that they shouldn’t have to give any more ground. This argument is disingenuous, but it would allow the gun lobby to use the government to kill a major competitor while using the elimination to insulate themselves from regulations on their business.
Last May, when it was announced that the first 3-d gun had been fired, I predicted this choice by the NRA to tacitly support bans on plastic guns–here is a link to the article that I wrote for Salon.com on this subject: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/30/how_the_nras_true_motives_will_soon_be_exposed/
Hopefully, I am wrong on my prediction of the gun lobby’s next step, but I think that they will see the same tactical advantage that I do in this situation. Only time will tell, but we must be ready to debunk this gun lobby talking point if and when it emerges.
Global climate change is causing shifts in weather patterns which result in devastating storms for some, but droughts for others. According to a NOAA CIRES report, 11 major American cities will be facing severe lacks of water in the coming years, risking many lives. In addition to the dangers of dehydration and sun-stroke in populations during a drought, wildfires are more likely to spring up in the southwestern cities mentioned in the report (hotter weather leads to a drying of the brush and an increased likelihood of forest fire)
These droughts are going to be immensely damaging and are as real a threat to our country as any external enemy–we need to take action, both in mitigating global climate change and finding ways to get water back into these affected areas at a price that everybody can afford.