Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Former President, 93, Dies at Home

Ford was the only occupant of the White House never elected either to the presidency or the vice presidency.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

High Times in the US

Marijuana is now the biggest cash crop grown in the US, exceeding traditional harvests such as wheat, corn and soy beans, says a new report.

I've posted a related articlehere.
Go here to read more about the human side of The War on Drugs. In all wars there are losses and casualties. The casualties here are innocent people and non violent offenders. The losses are civil liberties and human rights. Nearly 40 years of "war" and no victories to claim, no battles won. Only causulties, losses, and human suffering.


It has come to my knowledge, that many don't know anything about Rebildselskabet. That's really a pity, because this community tries to cultivate and improve the friendship between Denmark and USA - which is in my opinion the most noble case at all.

And by the way - friendship between nations begins with friendship between peoples - this is really the way to change the world.

Furthermore I'm absolutely conviced, that knowledge is the best way to cure anti-Americans. So have a look at the homepage of Rebildselskabet. Couldn't find a better pasttime in the holidays...

The pictures I have taken here are from this summer (2006) - among others my daughter, a minister of justice, a nephew and a princess. Gues who is who.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Brave New World...

"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."

It's a brave new world out there, and this is only the beginning. Of course, I couldn't be more thrilled. This marks nothing short of a truly democratic social revolution. The implications for how we create social communities, political activism, governance, transnational security and cooperation etc. are staggering. Viva la Revolución!

As a piece of pop futurism, EPIC 2014 is both brilliant and brilliantly self-subverting (at once inevitable and preposterous). But what’s remarkable is how many of its ten-years-out predictions have already come true—if not materially, then de facto: the mass migration of everything to the Web, the explosion of blogging, the near-instant embrace of social media...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Katrina Begets a Baby Boom by Immigrants

Don't miss this article from the New York Times. I don't have time to write on it now but feel free to make comments.

NEW ORLEANS — First came the storm. Then came the workers. Now comes the baby boom.

In the latest twist to the demographic transformation of New Orleans since it was swamped by Hurricane Katrina last year, hundreds of babies are being born to Latino immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, who flocked to the city to toil on its reconstruction.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Debunking The 9/11 Myths

Now I've never been a fan of conspiracy theories. Frankly I find them very problematic because they disable many people from understanding and discussing important events in a serious manner. None more so than the conspiracy theories about 9/11. You've all heard them. Why were the planes not intercepted by fighter-jets? How could the towers so easily collaps? Ect.

For years it has bothered me not to have answers when I met these questions, but now finally I have.

To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military.
In the end, we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard evidence and a healthy dose of common sense.

I implore anyone who wants to seriously discuss 9/11 in the future to read this article. Not only will you get your facts straight, but you might also evolve a healthy scepticism towards the conspiracy theories that confuse and derail serious public debate.

The War on Americans

US Has the Most Prisoners in the World

WASHINGTON - Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts.

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws were introduced under the guise of the "War on Drugs". Basically, they have stripped judges and the courts their traditional authority to apply balanced justice on a case by case basis. Furthermore, mandatory minimums run counter to the American common law heritage.

The "War on Drugs" is not the only root cause of such high incarceration rates but there is a definite correlation between the introduction of mandatory sentencing and the dramatic increase in the prison population.

Think about like this. A young 18 year old is attending a senior year high school party that includes the typical teenage pastimes of drinking, dancing, and for some, smoking a bit of cannabis. The drinking alone is cause for arrest. Upon a personal search, the cops who crashed the party find a half joint (approximately 1 gram) of cheap home grown marijuana. She is arrested, taken to jail and brought before the judge. Previously, the judge might have only given her a slap on the wrist or perhaps a small fine. (Previously the cops would not have even been arresting young people for such insignificant offenses). Had it been something a bit more severe, the judge may have ordered treatment or counseling. However, today this young lady must serve time. She was on her way to college but that will now be postponed. She wasn’t a “drug addict” but she might become one now as her options are now narrowing. Her only real crime was perhaps bad judgment. Now, she goes from high school education to a prisoner’s criminal education. Does this sound far fetched. I’m describing a real hypothetical situation of a girl from any “main street” working middle class suburb. This is a cakewalk compared to what the young urban poor face (especially black men).

"The United States has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population."

This should be at the top of the congressional legislative agenda. First and foremost, Congress should immediately stop the “War on Drugs” in its current form. The “War on Drugs” is nothing more than a police war against the very citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

Secondly, there should be an immediate repealing of the mandatory sentencing laws. Local courts, representing local communities should have the legal authority to make judgments on a case by case basis.

Third, state governments need to reevaluate the current position on alcohol and drugs. While the threat of alcoholism and drug addiction are very real social issues, communities need to find a new approach to both attempts to regulate consumption and treatment. I suggest an immediate decriminalization of soft drugs and a legalization of alcohol for adults 18 and older. Legal adults should not be discriminated against based on age. (Incidentally, minors should not be given the right to obtain driving licensees).
Treatment and counseling centers could be funded at a fraction of the cost which is spent policing and incarcerating non-violent “drug and alcohol offenders”.

The sad irony is that this government, with all its “compassionate conservatism” and belief in small limited government has become the world’s largest police state. The very areas were government should be active have been stripped away from the people who most need government services. In place of real people oriented “Social Services” the government has created a new class of criminals and robbed ALL citizens of basic and essential civil liberties and fundamental human rights.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Dane is on his way to set a record in American Football

I just received an email from Helle Porsdam. You remember her, are professor from U.S. Legal History? She writes,

"I was wondering if you could possibly post this article on your website. I know it's in Danish, but the thing is that it's a good example of the kind of success story that we've been talking about in class. You guys all hated those stories, but still...!"

So here it is, just click on the link. It really is worth the read.

Morten Andersen kan i aften blive den mest scorende spiller i amerikansk fodbold. Bag rekorden ligger et minutiøst og perfektionistisk stykke arbejde.

Morten Andersen can become American Football's (NFL) all-time leading scorer this evening. Behind the record lies a precise and perfectionistic piece of work.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Why the Baker Iraq Study Group?

Check out this very insightful column by Jonathan Steele at the  Guardian Unlimited.

What Baker proposes is essentially a continuation of what Bush is already doing - trying to reduce US deaths by moving troops out of the front line while avoiding any commitment to a full US withdrawal.

It smells exactly like the Vietnamisation strategy of the 1970s, which was similarly designed to lessen US opposition to an unpopular war.

Panel Urges Basic Shift in U.S. Policy in Iraq

Here is a great story you ought to see...

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — A bipartisan commission warned Wednesday that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating,” and it handed President Bush both a rebuke for his current strategy and a detailed blueprint for a fundamentally different approach, including the pullback of all American combat brigades over the next 15 months.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Atlantic Community Exclusive

The Lantos Doctrine
by Stuart Noble
4 December 2006

On Friday, December 1, 2006, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos participated in a panel discussion on the direction of American foreign policy at the University of Southern Denmark. The event was sponsored by the university’s Center for American Studies.

Also participating were the congressman’s son-in-law, Ambassador Richard Nelson Swett, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark (1998-2001), and his daughter, Katrina Swett. Earlier that day, Ms. Swett defended her dissertation on the role of the U.S. congress in global human rights issues and was awarded her Ph.D. from the University of Southern Denmark.

Congressman Lantos, who is soon to chair the House International Relations Committee, was earlier that week in Latvia, attending NATO’s Riga summit. According to Lantos, “Riga was a disgrace to NATO”. The congressman complained about “the venomous anti-Americanism” and “Europe’s lack of collective responsibility.” He went on to stress that, “it must be made perfectly clear that Afghanistan is not Iraq, Afghanistan is a NATO operation.”

Germany is said to be among Europe’s “anti-American camp”. Lantos went on to illustrate the extent to which the U.S. has aided Germany over the last 60 years and stated, “The Germans should get down on their knees every morning and thank the U.S.”

Speaking in general terms about Transatlantic relations, Congressman Lantos said there would be a major shift in “tact and tone” and that U.S. relations would be “dramatically more courteous and respectful towards are European Friends.” A major theme to be expected was a U.S. push for greater European burden sharing. Mr. Lantos said that Europe can not continue to leave it up to the Americans to deal with “the ugly things of this world” and that the U.S. can no longer carry the burden alone. He noted that Denmark has been “a stand-up ally” and that Denmark’s share of global humanitarian relief ranks among the top in the world but that Denmark and Europe must make greater contributions to security. He went on again to state that, “burden sharing will be one of our primary goals” and, “we will insist that you take your share of the burden”. According to Congressman Lantos, nations and societies which are privileged have a duty to act and support less fortunate nations and societies.

On the U.N., he basically warned Europeans not to be too giddy over the role of the U.N. He thought that Europeans mistakenly see a clear line between Republicans as anti- U.N. and Democrats as pro U.N. According to Rep. Lantos, this kind of thinking is too simplistic and that while the new Democratic congress will be stressing greater cooperation and multilateralism, the U.N. is still in need of major reform. According to Mr. Lantos, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council is a farce.

As a co-chair Congressional Human Rights Caucus, he was particularly proud of a recent humanitarian aid bill which will go to support the aids crisis in Africa. “15 Billion dollars to the Aids Crisis in Africa was a triumph.” He stated his disappointment in that the European press paid so little attention to this.

While U.S. foreign policy would be seeking greater burden sharing from its allies, he believes, “the United States is still the indispensable nation” in global security. “It won’t be Luxemburg that keeps the sea lanes open.”

The congressman also stated concerns that Russia was returning to authoritarianism and that it is perhaps time to consider re-forming the G8 back to the G7 (exclude Russia).

In January he says there will be congressional hearings on the new and alarming role of political assassinations taking place around the world.

When asked about how the incoming Democratic congress will influence the Bush administration’s foreign policy he concluded, “the strongest pressure on the administration to change its policy on foreign affairs will come from the surviving Republicans in the congress in order to prevent a further landslide in 2008.”

Stuart Noble is a freelance writer living abroad in Denmark. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Southern Denmark’s Center for American

Monday, December 04, 2006

Senator Lott Learns The Importance of Suing

This is a great article dealing with our last topic in Helle's U.S. Legal History class. The website is called, Tort Deform: the Civil Justice Defense Blog, whose mission is; "confronts and transcends the arguments put forth by the tort "reform" movement, working to ensure that all Americans can access the courts."

The issues surrounding tort reform and equal access to the courts are essential if one is to understand the "American" sense of social justice and welfare.  

Hopefully, this experience has also reminded Senator Lott of the job that most trial lawyers in this country do: they spend their days fighting insurance companies on behalf of average citizens. They do this because insurers routinely refuse to settle legitimate claims, or sometimes to even deal with injured people and their lawyers, forcing them into court.
Unfortunately, special interest business organizations have invested many millions of dollars not only to elect politicians but also to pollute jurors and the public, convincing them that most of these lawsuits are frivolous. They’re not. Nor has statistical evidence ever supported such a notion, most recently confirmed by the Harvard School of Public Health. 

Could Libertarians Join With Liberals?

"But precisely because government is on a trajectory of unsustainable expansion, liberals and libertarians have a common interest in reinventing it."

Is such a coalition feasible?Many progressives share such core libertarian principals as conservative and responsible government fiscal policy and a separation and balance of governmental powers.

If the assertion is right that, "the ambition of realistic libertarians is not to shrink government but to contain it: to cut senseless spending such as the farm program and oil subsidies to make room for the inevitable expansion in areas such as health", then a fiscally sane progressive agenda could indeed be strengthened by the welcome inclusion of Libertarians under a new Populist Democratic tent.

Progressives would do well to encourage a healthy dialogue with Libertarians and foster a sense of respect for the 400 year old libertarian tradition. Progressives should also stress that the likes of Ann Coulter are not and never have been libertarian. Any real and lasting shift towards greater popular progressive policy in the U.S. will need to be rooted in American soil.

Finally, libertarians need a framework that represents the challenges and realities of a 21st century globalized world. This could be a framework which accepts the principals of universal education and health care as minimum requirements to successful and stable post-modern republican democracy. At the same time, it should not be incompatible with the principals of; personal autonomy, fiscal conservatism, and government checks and balances.

The new realities of greater cooperation, efficiency and interconnectivity through networks could also serve as a template not only for providing quicker and more reliable government services but for shrinking the federal government at the same time, a long sought after principal and goal of libertarian thought. Progressives and Libertarians may find that 21st century information technology may very well provide the tool for forging such a coalition and ultimately a means of 21st century governance.