Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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Actions For Restoring America

How to begin repairing the damage to freedom in America after Bush.

Barack Obama will become chief executive of a nation that has been greatly weakened – in particular, our freedoms, our values, and our international reputation have been greatly undermined by the policies of the past eight years.

Presidents have enormous power not only to set the legislative agenda, but also to establish policy by executive order, federal regulation, or simply by refocusing the efforts and emphases of the executive agencies. The new president must use all of these tools to restore our freedoms and move the country forward.

Doing so will require determined action in the face of inevitable opposition. It will require conveying to the American people why grants of unchecked power do not actually make us safer, and why Americans must stand firm in protecting the values that at our best we have always represented and defended at home and around the world.

It will not be easy to undo eight years of sustained damage to our fundamental rights. But it can be done.

This paper lists many of the actions that the new president should take in order to decisively signal a restoration of American values and a rejection of the shameful policies of the past eight years.

ACLU | Transition Plan

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17 May, 1954

Brown v. Board of Education Decided

In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas, by 13 African-American parents on behalf of their children. The plaintiffs contended that segregating school facilities along racial lines violated the students’ 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. The case was heard by the US Supreme Court, which unanimously agreed that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

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I was just thinking… by Bill

There’s a lot of stuff going around the Web, the conservative talk shows and blogs, and the Christian right-wing press about how Christianity and The Church are being badmouthed, demonized and otherwise mistreated by those terrible atheists and other unbelievers of whatever stripe. To hear them tell it, they’re beleaguered on every side, and unless all True Christians stand up and be counted — hopefully at the polls — the Will Of The Lord is in danger of being contravened, all that is Good toppled, and the Reign Of The Serpent will be upon us.

What’s that all about, anyway? Continue reading

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Bush Wants Control Over Military Lawyers

Washington- The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions
of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed
attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies
toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

    The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination”
with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate
General corps – the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force – can be promoted.

    A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind
the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination – which many former
JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or
appointment – is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater
control over the military lawyers.

Bush Wants Control Over Military Lawyers

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Listen To The Supremes

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Sentencing Commission took aim at the disproportionately harsh sentences meted out for crack-cocaine offenses, suggesting that Americans and their democratic institutions might finally be waking up to the gross racial disparities haunting our prison system.

State Prisons: Listen To The Feds

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An Atheist Reponds to Mitt Romney’s Speech on Religion

As an atheist and a father of three young children, the speech Mitt Romney delivered at the George H. W. Bush presidential library today shocked me to my core.

If this is the drift of this country, towards a politics that explicitly excludes my standing as a worthy citizen because I do not believe in one of the major monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism or Islam, then I seriously do not know what I will do to sustain for myself, and instill in my children, the strong sense of belonging that I currently feel as a citizen.   An Atheist Reponds

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China Demolishs Tibetans Buddhist Statue

China Demolishs Tibetans Buddhist Statue « Status of Chinese People

New eyewitness accounts have revealed that local Tibetans attempted to prevent the demolition of a statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) near Mt Kailash in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) on September 28. Approximately 20 Tibetans were seen forming a human shield around the two meter high statue before they were dispersed and the statue demolished by armed security personnel.

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House Approves Ban on Anti-Gay Discrimination

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat and a long-time supporter of gay rights legislation, said he would move swiftly to introduce a similar measure in the Senate, and some Senate Republicans said that, if worded carefully, it would have a good chance of passage, perhaps early next year.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has said that she would serve as the lead co-sponsor of the Senate bill. Ms. Collins said in a statement that the House vote “provides important momentum” and that “there is growing support in the Senate for strengthening federal laws to protect American workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

House Approves Ban on Anti-Gay Discrimination – New York Times

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Iraq’s Cabinet Approves Lifting Immunity for Security Firms

An Iraqi government spokesman says Iraq’s cabinet has approved a law that lifts immunity from prosecution for private security firms in Iraq.

The spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said Tuesday the measure will subject all security companies to Iraqi law and will revoke the immunity given to foreign security contractors by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004.

He says the law is being referred to parliament for ratification.

VOA News – Iraq’s Cabinet Approves Lifting Immunity for Security Firms


Is child-porn law too broad?

Under a 2003 child-pornography law, Congress empowered federal agents to arrest anyone for advertising, promoting, presenting, distributing, or soliciting material in a manner that is “intended to cause another to believe” that the material is illegal child pornography. The law applies even if the underlying material isn’t actually child pornography.

US Solicitor General Paul Clement says the law, a section of the Protect Act, is a carefully calibrated effort by Congress to safeguard children from sexual exploitation by targeting those who would traffic in child pornography.

Critics say the law is a vague and over-broad regulation of free speech that threatens to establish the federal government as a kind of thought police. They say the government should punish illegal conduct, not controversial – or even repulsive – thoughts and fantasies. In addition, they say the law could chill artistic, literary, scientific, and other forms of protected speech.

Thinkers only, please.  Those with knee-jerks should pad their chins before reading.

Is child-porn law too broad? |

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Tax Break For Gay Couples

Gay News Blog brings us the news that…

Domestic partners have the same right as husbands and wives to accept or inherit real estate from one another without big property tax increase, a state appeals court ruled today.  Read more on the blog… gay news blog: Tax Break For Gay Couples

It’s an economic issue, plain and simple. If the roughly 30,000,000 gays in the US got equal rights under the various marriage-related statutes and regulations, it would create havoc in the Federal and all subsidiary tax systems, the insurance industry, and dozens of other areas that depend on the higher rates and taxes that gay people are forced to pay.  The Christians are, once again, being led down the garden path by snakes who claim to know the will of the creator.

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Saggy pants reveal more than underwear

Whether or not those who wear sagging pants are celebrating crime and headed for trouble, one thing is certain: American teenagers love to bug their elders, and clothing has long been a great way to do that. State attempts to control who wears what also have a long history. …

Those who support criminalizing fashion need to face the more challenging job of looking into the eyes of young people and dealing with the real problems the debates about these fashions raise: the sweatshops where they are made, the educational and career opportunities of the young men who wear them, and the conditions in prisons where the style supposedly originated. …

Saggy pants reveal more than underwear |


Why We’re Losing the War on Terror

In the name of the “preventive paradigm,” thousands of Arab and Muslim immigrants have been singled out, essentially on the basis of their ethnicity or religion, for special treatment, including mandatory registration, FBI interviews and preventive detention. Businesses have been served with more than 100,000 “national security letters,” which permit the FBI to demand records on customers without a court order or individualized basis for suspicion. We have all been subjected to unprecedented secrecy about what elected officials are doing in our name while simultaneously suffering unprecedented official intrusion into our private lives by increased video surveillance, warrantless wiretapping and data-mining. Most tragically, more than 3,700 Americans and more than 70,000 Iraqi civilians have given their lives for the “preventive paradigm,” which was used to justify going to war against a country that had not attacked us and posed no imminent threat of attack.

Why We’re Losing the War on Terror

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Prison purge of religious books on basis of “Fighting Terrorism”

Before this summer, screening was done by BOP chaplains. They culled material sent to the libraries and pulled mostly hate literature – a lot of it white supremacist citing a Christian basis – that could endanger prison security.

The new policy instead uses religious experts to select a list of approved materials. The list is long, allowing up to 450 titles for each of 20 religions or religious groupings, and will be periodically updated. But many titles that the BOP admits “may be very worthwhile” aren’t on the list and were removed from chapel libraries.

Prison purge of religious books |