Monday, September 26, 2011

Sly Stone...Homeless

New York Post reports that funk legend Sly Stone is homeless and living in a white van in Los Angeles:

The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.
Don't take in this news without also reading this:  Rolling Stone's assessment of Sly and the Family Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artist of All Time.   Amen.

Here he is is at his height (along with the great Larry Graham on bass): The Andy Williams Show (of all places), 1970:

Sleep Well Daughter of Africa, Wangari Maathai

Let us join the people of Kenya in mourning the death and celebrating the life and legacy of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.   Maathai died Sunday after a long battle against cancer.    Through her fearless championing of environmental sustainability in Kenya, Maathai helped reveal for all the world how environmental issues are inextricably linked to women's rights, economic justice and fairness, national and international peace and security and the fundamental principles of democratic governance.  

Check out this remarkable tribute by John Vidal in the Guardian UK, which includes this quote from Maathai spoken in England in the late '80s:
The top of the pyramid is blinded by insatiable appetites backed by scientific knowledge, industrial advancement, the need to acquire, accumulate and over-consume. The rights of those at the bottom are violated every day by those at the top... the economic and political systems are designed to create more numbers, population pressures show no sign of waning, deforestation and desertification continue. The people at the top of the pyramid do not understand the limits to growth and they do not appreciate that they jeopardise the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs.
 World leaders are sending tributes of their own.  Read them here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Social Contract 2011

New statistics were released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of Americans living in poverty has reached a 52-year high.    This is the backdrop for Economist Paul Krugman's New York Times column this week rejecting claims of "class warfare" by those who refuse to consider even the slightest increase in marginal tax rates for the wealthiest in this country.  It is a well worth reading and discussing and includes a couple of significant references to the "Social Contract," which we've been discussing in our government classes for almost two weeks now. 

Krugman includes this quote from from former financial regulator and U.S. Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren (running in Massachusetts for the seat now held by Republican Scott Brown):

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.  
Elizabeth Warren

Paul Krugman

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Red Rabbit...Public Good? Public Bad?

We're currently talking public goods in our U.S. Government classes.   Okay, my students... what about public art?  And what about Sacramento's new giant red rabbit?

...Meanwhile, at the United Nations: Talking Libya and Palestinian Recognition

Wong-Jablonski Model UN Alum and UNer's to be pay particular attention:

Let's start with the Libyan delegation, specifically who or what should the Libyan UN delelgation be representing.   The Libyan rebel leaders who have organized the National Transitional Council have petitioned UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to represent Libya before the world body.   The Libyan seat at the UN is still held by government representatives of Moammar Gaddafi.    Particularly noteworthy, is this story on China's recent decision to recognize the National Transitional Council as the leaders of the Libya--the final member of the UN Security Council to do so.

There is a serious bid at the United Nations by the Palestinian National Authority to gain full state level member status, putting the Palestinian Authority at parity with all other fully-recognized UN member countries.  Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority is pushing a UN vote on the matter for this session...probably in the General Assembly, where no member country has veto power, but also where the action would stand as mostly symbolic.  Read here about Russia's support, the "Arab Spring Effect," Europe's likely reaction and some diplomatic implications for the Obama Administration.

Former President Jimmy Carter weighed in on the Palestinian bid, reluctantly supporting it as "an alternative to a deadlock and a stalemate now."

And speaking of Carter, the Guardian has an good profile of the 86-year-old.    Worth the read. And worth some discussion/debate of his legacy both during his term in office and the years since.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Land is Your Land...

Scraggly and rough...the perfect version of the perfect song at the perfect time.  Seems fitting that they need to read the lyrics off  of a stapled sheet they're passing around; Woody Guthrie wrote it on a loose-leaf piece of paper.    

Farm Aid Concert, Noblesville Indiana     September 29, 2001

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meet the Floyds: Malcolm and Malcom

Read all about Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers receiver and Malcolm Floyd, C.K. McClatchy teacher and head football coach (and former NFL receiver himself).  Confused?  Maybe this helps:
Separated by nine years and, now, by five inches in height, Malcolm and Malcom Floyd have an unusual bond. The older brother was allowed to name his sibling to discourage rivalries, and named him after himself. The spelling variation is their father’s doing.
Go read the rest.