Silent night . . .
Before they can be hired, Fox News "journalists" have to pass a beliefs test designed by the network's top boss, right-wing Republican Roger Ailes, to prove their political conservatism. Recently, a management memo ordered all "news" employees not to mention "climate change" or warming temperatures without immediately stating that critics dispute the data on which these notions are based. They are not permitted to state that climate change data are peer reviewed by other qualified scientists; or that their "critics" either lack suitable scientific credentials or are bankrolled by Exxon-Mobil and other major extraction industries with an implicit understanding that their "science" will produce company-friendly conclusions.
Holy night . . . .
On Christmas Day, a child-soldier, who has never been convicted of a crime, will be held in solitary confinement for 23 hours, and not permitted proper exercise for the hour outside his cell in a military prison. This will mark his seventh month of such confinement, which physicians and experts in international law have defined as torture. Acting on his belief that every citizen has a moral obligation to shed light on immoral actions of his government, Pvt. Bradley Manning allegedly gave electronic data to WikiLeaks that the government wanted to hide. Manning is being force-fed anti-depressant medication in the hope that it will prevent his committing suicide. He has not been tried on any charges; he has not even been granted the pre-trial hearing that is mandated by Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is neither uniform, nor just.
All is calm . . .
The Justice Department has acknowledged it plans to increase the number of its Gestapo-style raids on the homes and offices of peace activists and critics of government policy. Such raids allegedly were legalized by the 6-3 Supreme Court decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. It held that speech and advocacy otherwise protected by the First Amendment was a crime if government agencies found it to be "coordinated with or under the direction of a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as 'terrorist.'"
All is bright. . . .
As of Dec. 16, at least 293,685 people have been killed in warfare around the world this year. The United States incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be among the leading killers of civilians, along with the civil strife in Somalia and the Sudan, and the drug cartel wars in Mexico.
Round yon Virgin, mother and child . . .
One in six Americans will go hungry this Christmas, or have to forego other necessities such as heat or medicine, in order to buy food.
Holy infant so tender and mild . . .
For eight years our government has held detainees at Guantanamo without charge or prospect of trial, while administering to them a dangerous drug that an Army doctor characterized as "pharmacological waterboarding."
Sleep in heavenly peace . . .
While gloating Republicans watched, President Obama signed into law legislation that provides:
$1.1 million in personal tax cuts for the heads of five banks that required $142 billion of taxpayer bailout money;
$1.3 million in personal tax relief for Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire who owns Fox "News" and other media cash cows;
$400 a year tax increases for America's poorest workers;
tax cuts totaling $35.41 billion for the 400 wealthiest Americans;
slashes in funding for Social Security and Medicare, the only sources of income and health care for millions of elderly Americans;
and massive tax cuts for the corporations that ship American jobs overseas.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Americans bought 1.2 million greeting cards this holiday season that contained images of polar bears. That's about five times as many images as there are living polar bears in the entire world. The bears are an endangered species whose habitat has been reduced more than 21 per cent by the global warming that Rupert Murdoch's media empire denies is happening. Now the wealthiest corporations in history -- American energy companies -- are about to begin massive drilling in the Arctic Wildlife refuge, which will destroy a critical habitat of the bear.
Silent night, holy night . . .
Nearly 20,000 people have been killed in the last five years in Somalia, many of them with some of the 40 tons of weapons the United States has shipped into the country. Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991. This year, the warring factions have begun exporting violence to neighboring countries like Uganda, where a series of July bombings killed 70 civilians.
Shepherds quake . . .
In the Darfur region of Sudan, more than 1.5 million people will spend Christmas lacking the outside assistance they need for basic survival -- food, shelter, water and sanitation facilities. Several hundred thousand have died either as the result of combat between rival insurgents, or from starvation and disease caused by the fighting. International aid agencies have been expelled.
, , , at the sight . . .
In April an explosion at a British Petroleum drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 men, injured 17 and set off the worst oil spill in American history. The environmental damage was incalculable; the extent of despoilation of marine and wildlife habitat may never be known. After months of accepting at face value BP's propaganda about the leak, the U.S. government finally filed a lawsuit on Dec. 15 against BP and eight other companies involved in the disaster.
Glories stream from heaven afar . . .
Already one of the poorest, least developed nations in the world, Haiti was struck on Jan. 12 by the worst earthquake in the hemisphere in 200 years. More than 300,000 people died. Port au Prince, the capital, was virtually destroyed. International aid has largely failed to reach the people who need it, many of whom are homeless refugees, because of crime, corruption and inept management. Later in the year a cholera epidemic killed at least a thousand more Haitians.
Heavenly hosts sing hallelujah . . .
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that corporations are people with unlimited powers of free speech, including the right to spend whatever it takes to rig elections and put only corporate-friendly hacks into office at every level of government. Sixty-one per cent of the Roberts court's rulings have been pro-business, as opposed to 42 per cent for all of the courts that preceded it.
Christ the savior is come . . .
June of 2010 was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record globally. Temperatures were 1.25 degrees F. above average, 2.2 degrees F. in the northern hemisphere. In Moscow alone, 11,000 people died of hyperrthermia, edema, or other heat-related causes. A consensus of scientists held that these weather events could not have taken place if atmospheric carbon dioxide had been at pre-industrial levels.
Christ the savior is come.
In 2010, The State of Texas required sweeping changes in textbooks for the state's schools. They will reflect that no Hispanic American ever achieved anything worth recording in history texts, but Phyllis Schlafly and the National Rifle Association did. That the civil rights movement was rooted in the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers, not the non-violence of Martin Luther King. That the Founding Fathers intended the United States to be a Christian country. But because Thomas Jefferson, a leading Founder, coined the phrase, "Separation of church and state," his name has been stricken from the list of "figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century," replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. And science teachers must teach the creation myth as an alternative to real science.
Merry Christmas! God bless us, every one.