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Let Obama Hear Your Voice – Sign Petition To Stop Modi

 

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Sikh Nation, we have surpassed 93,000 signatures in the petition demanding President Obama not meet Modi in the Whitehouse. Through this petition, the world has learned that all minorities in India (Muslims, Sikhs and Christians) know they are unsafe under Indian rule!!!

A Prime Minister who has ordered the murder of countless innocent Muslims can, at any moment, turn on any minority.

Its time for us to unite with all minorities and expose Modi and India to the world!!

Sign the Petition
Stop Obama
http://wh.gov/lMWVf

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Sikh Rights Group Seeks Info On Obama’s To Invite PM Modi

Sikh Rights Group Seeks Info On Obama’s To Invite PM Modi

Washington: A US-based Sikh rights group has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents relating to the Obama administration’s decision to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting at the White House here in September.

 

In its FOIA filed before the State Department, the New York-based Sikh for Justice (SFJ) has also sought documents related to the visa ban of Modi after August 2005.

 

In 2005, the US State Department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US in the wake of the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

 

He never applied for an American visa after the US move.

 

Following his historic win in the general elections this year, President Barack Obama called Modi personally and invited him for a meeting in September.

 

White House officials say, Obama is looking forward to welcoming Modi.

 

Urging the Department of State to expedite, the SFJ’s FOIA states that “Modi’s visa was cancelled/revoked by the US government in 2005 for his involvement in serious human rights violations during 2002 massacre in the state of Gujarat while he was the Chief Minister of that state.

 

“Since Modi is due to arrive in the United States during September 2014 and is scheduled to attend a summit at the White House, it is urgent that public be aware of how and under what US law a decision was taken to reverse ban on the issuance of visa to Modi, a known human rights violator”.

 

“The law requires USDOS to respond to such FOIA requests within 20 business days,” the rights group said.

 

Last year, SFJ had filed a human rights violation case against the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

While the case is still pending in a Washington DC court, the US Government has ruled that Singh enjoys immunity from the case.

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Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire writes to Obama in Support of the Freedom of the Remaining Cuban 5

Mairead Maguire was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in l976 for her  work for peace and a nonviolent solution to the ethnic/political conflict in Northern Ireland – an award she shares with Betty Williams.   The two women, along with journalist Ciaran McKeown organized massive peace demonstrations and founded the Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and peaceful society through nonviolent social action and a rejection of “the bomb and the bullet and all the techniques of violence”. Mairead currently serves as Hon. President.  Since receiving the Nobel Prize, she has dedicated her life to promoting nonviolence  and disarmament, both in Northern Ireland as well as around the world

 

August 5, 2014

 

Mr. President,

 

I am writing again in the context of the worldwide actions that take place on the 5th of every month in solidarity with the three members of the Cuban 5 who remain imprisoned in the US.

 

The attendance at, and broad interest in, the recent event in Washington is a good indication of the increasing disquiet that exists internationally in all spheres of societies formed on a broad range of principles.

 

I have observed some very positive progress since I last wrote and I strongly believe that the ongoing and progressive normalization of Cuba – US relations will be beneficial to both nations and beyond.

 

It is the only way in which a space can be created in order to resolve the humanitarian issues that arise in relation to the three men aforementioned and of course, Alan Gross, who recently suffered the loss of his elderly mother and is, by all accounts very depressed and despondent as he awaits a resolution to his situation.

 

I lend my voice to the many you have already heard in asking you to do all within your power to bring to an end the suffering arising from these situations.

 

There are very real grounds for concern regarding the safety of all of the convictions and sentences imposed in the case of the Five and in particular there are very serious issues arising from the conspiracy to commit murder finding against Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo.

 

So many unanswered questions and reasonable doubts exist in this regard.

 

I know that you are fully informed about all issues arising regarding the Five and Alan Gross and we sincerely trust your intention to act accordingly.

 

I respectfully request that you do so sooner rather than later. Justice delayed is justice denied and there has been sufficient denial and delay to date.

 

Thank you very much for the time and attention you have already given to this matter.

 

I wish you every blessing and success in your work,

 

In Solidarity,

Mairead Maguire

NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE

 

Remember: On Tuesday August 5th, call Obama and demand the freedom of the Cuban 5
 
CALL THE WHITE HOUSE TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND  
FOR THEIR FREEDOM.
By phone:
202-456-1111  (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)

If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111
By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461
To send an e-mail: [email protected]
To send a letter:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

United States

 

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Stop Obama From Hosting Modi At White House

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http://wh.gov/lMWVf  ||  Stop Obama From Hosting Modi At White House  ||   100,000 Signatures Needed By August 20.

While Obama administration and PM office is preparing to forge a new era of Indo-US economic ties, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has initiated a social media campaign in support of its petition to cancel Modi’s invitation to the White House. US President Obama has invited PM Modi for a meeting at the White House on September 30.

 

A Facebook advertisement “Sign Petition Stop Obama from hosting Modi {Netanyahu of India}. Don’t fund another Israel” sponsored by SFJ has gone viral getting scores of hits every hour.

 

On July 21, SFJ initiated an online petition to the Obama Administration urging to cancel the invitation to PM Modi for his role in 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. “In June 1984, the BJP instigated the military attack on the Golden Temple, resulting in the massacre of thousands of Sikh pilgrims. In 2008, the BJP orchestrated violence against Christians in Orissa,” the petition alleges.

 

The Facebook ad by rights group targeting Muslims, Sikhs and human rights organizations in the United States urges them to “Sign Petition, Stop Obama”.

 

“The fact that world’s largest democracy has elected a Prime Minister whose party is known for committing crimes against religious minorities should be a matter of grave concern for the western world”, stated attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun legal advisor to SFJ, “United States which has acknowledged the role of Modi in massacre of Muslims should not host him at the White House”, added Pannun.

 

Terming Modi as Netanyahu of India, attorney Pannun further stated that online petition will be an eye opener for Obama Administration which is ignoring the track record of Modi and his party BJP with regard to treatment of minorities for vested US economic interests.

 

“Instead of hosting Modi at White House, President Obama should condemn Modi and ban BJP for perpetrating violence against Muslims, Sikhs and Christirans” says the White House Petition.

 

So far the online petition urging Obama administration to cancel Modi’s invitation has received more than 1200 signatures. The petition requires 100,000 signatures by August 20 to qualify for a response by the White House.

 

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Mr. Politically Correct Obama, Meet Your Opposite, India’s Mr. Modi

The Daily Beast
India’s new prime minister has been barred from the U.S. because of alleged links to a religious massacre, but that’s not the only reason a meeting with the president will be difficult.
NEW DELHI, India — When Barack Obama was made aware that Narendra Modi would be India’s next prime minister, the chances are that he moaned softly to himself…and cringed.

India’s voters had brought to power a man who is not permitted to visit the United States, having been denied a U.S. visa in 2005 on account of a State Department determination that he had violated religious freedoms in the Indian state of Gujarat. (Some 2,000 Muslims had died in riots that scarred Gujarat in 2002. Modi was the state’s chief minister at the time, and his critics hold him responsible for the deaths.) The visa ban was still in place when Modi was nominated last September to lead theBharatiya Janata [Indian People’s] Party into the elections; and most awkwardly for Obama, the ban was still technically in place on the day of his victory. American diplomacy has been decidedly maladroit.

As if jolted awake by the obtuseness of his own State Department, Obama invited Modi to visit the U.S. “at a mutually agreeable time” when he called the Indian on Saturday to congratulate him on his triumph.

A meeting between the two men, when it occurs, could be fascinating to observe. Obama and Modi are from two different planets, and each, in his heart, is likely to have vigorous contempt for the other. The former is an exquisitely calibrated product of American liberalism, ever attentive to such notions as “inclusiveness.” He is the acme of political correctness (notwithstanding the odd drone directed at “AfPak”). Modi, by contrast, is a blunt-spoken nationalist, opposed to welfare, and to the “appeasement” of minorities.

Obama and Modi are from two different planets, and each, in his heart, is likely to have a hearty contempt for the other.

Unlike Obama, who can scarcely bring himself to embrace the notion of American Exceptionalism, Modi is an Indian exceptionalist—although not in the manner of Indian leaders who have preceded him. Traditional Indian foreign policy, mired in a reflexive, postcolonial non-alignment, has always held that India has moral lessons to impart to other nations. Its international posturing has had a preachy (and frequently hypocritical) quality to it, of the sort that can get on the nerves of American presidents and other Western leaders. Modi’s foreign projection is likely to be more assertive: It is plain that he envisions a strong India that is accorded respect by other nations, and that also pulls its weight in the world.

This assertiveness comes with its dangers, of course. Will he show restraint in the event of a cross-border terrorist incursion into India from Pakistan? Will he provoke a crisis with neighboring Bangladesh—that rarest of societies, a secular Muslim-majority democracy—by cracking down hard on the movement of its migrants into India? How will he react to Chinese provocations, which are sure to come, given Beijing’s increasingly bellicose insistence on its territorial claims on land and at sea?

The foreign leader he will bond with best is unlikely to be Obama, an American president who has none of the instinctive feel for India, or for the enormous potential of a U.S.-India alliance, that George W. Bush had.  The withering of that alliance has been one of the bleak, untold stories of Obama’s period in office, and one senses that India will have to wait for Hillary Clinton to reach the White House before the Delhi-Washington relationship blossoms again.

Modi’s keenest ally—potentially his BFF—is likely to be Japan’s Shinzo Abe, who was one of the first to send his congratulations to the Indian politician when it became apparent that he would be the next prime minister. Abe and Modi are, in many ways, made for each other: Ardent nationalists yearning to break free from their respective nations’ patterns of international passivity, they both face the terrifying challenge of a China that plays by its own unyielding rules, a maximalist hegemon which has the economic and military heft to dispense with diplomacy as the primary means of dispute resolution.

Shinzo Abe, disconcerted by the ebbing of American influence—and by the reluctance of Obama to project (much less deploy) American power in the service of its allies—has every reason to cultivate Narendra Modi. Japan has a lot to offer India in the renovation of the latter’s appalling infrastructure, and Tokyo is raring to ramp up the rate of its business with India. India is a fellow democracy, and, like Japan, feels acutely vulnerable to Chinese territorial and economic expansionism. By linking up, Tokyo and Delhi can bolster each others’ defense, each others’ confidence, and give heart also to the other nations in the region that feel the burn of the Chinese nationalist furnace.

Although national security is a primary concern for Modi, his foreign policy is likely to be carried on the back of his economic policy. He is aware that India can only be consequential if its economy is growing: not only would growth enable India to afford the military hardware it needs to match China; it would also ensure that the widest possible range of international business interests come to have a stake in India. As the case of China shows, a sufficiently extensive foreign business presence confers on the host country a high degree of immunity from foreign criticism and sanctions. So the American leaders with whom Modi will have the most direct dialogue will not be in Washington but on Wall Street, and in the American corporate sector. And he will not need a visa to see them; they will come to Delhi.

Modi’s victory will also energize the large and wealthy Indian diaspora in the United States. He has many supporters in that country, and it was an invitation from an Indian-American business group that gave rise to the need for a visa in 2005. Modi, one suspects, will be in no hurry to visit the land that considered him unfit for entry only a short while ago. And Obama, one also suspects, is in no great hurry to see Modi, in spite of his pro forma invitation on Saturday. It’s not that the twain will never meet: it’s that they don’t particularly relish the prospect of ever doing so.

 

Read mor ehere — http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/17/mr-politically-correct-obama-meet-your-opposite-india-s-mr-modi.html

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#India – The best democracy that money can buy

 

time-to-curb-unfettered-electoral-expenditure-by-political-parties-that-impacts-poll-outcomes

Should we worry that Modi may be spending as much on advertising as Obama spent on his entire 2012 campaign?

 

Economic Times

April 30, 2014

What money can buy

Siddharth Varadarajan

The 2014 election is a reminder of the one big loophole in India’s election rules designed to favour parties backed by the rich: While individual candidates are not allowed to spend more than Rs. 54-70 lakh, there is no limit to what political parties may spend to promote their overall electoral prospects.

Parties are only obliged to report their expenditure on general election propaganda to the Election Commission within 90 days of the Lok Sabha election ending. The EC has the right to verify the reported figures but can levy sanctions only if some of that ‘general’ expenditure was incurred to support individual candidates.

Compare this to Britain, whose election system India broadly follows.

There, a candidate can spend somewhere between GBP 10,500-12,000 (i.e. , Rs 10.5-11.8 lakh) depending on the size and location of constituencies. In addition, a party’s ‘national campaign’ spendingis also capped at GBP 30,000 per constituency, or an upper limit of 19.5 million GBP (approximately Rs. 195 crore) for a party contesting every one of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.

In the last British general electionall parties together spent GBP 31 million (Rs 310 crore approximately) in their national campaign. By way of comparison, the BJP alone spent Rs 448.66 crore in the 2009 Lok Sabha election while the Congress too spent a massive Rs 380.04 crore.

While the British and Indian caps cannot readily be compared — India has larger, but Britain has more, constituencies, and the cost structure of the two economies is totally different – India’s failure to limit what parties can spend on general propaganda has given big money power a huge role in our elections.

Indications are that the amount being spent in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, especially by the BJP, runs to a figure at least ten times higher than five years ago. One estimate pegs the BJP’s advertising spend across all media including hoardings at a staggering Rs 5,000 crore. That’s just a bit less than the Rs 6,000 crore — roughly $1 billion the Obama campaign spent under all heads in the 2012 US presidential election! Once other expenses are added, the overall BJP budget will exceed that.

What impact will the deployment of money on this scale have not just on the election outcome and the policies of the next government but on the future course of Indian democracy?

Back in 1974, the Supreme Court in the Amar Nath Chawla case recognised the principle that election expenditure must be limited in order to ensure equality between candidates and to “eliminate as far as possible, the influence of big money in the electoral process.” Though it did not set a limit, it ruled that “some limitative ceiling” on expenditure for general party propaganda during elections “is eminently desirable”.

The court saw the remote, top-down nature of electoral politics as the culprit. “If there is continuous community involvement in political administration punctuated by activated phases of well-discussed choice of candidates by popular participation in the process of nomination, much of unnecessary expenditure which is incurred today could be avoided… Large campaign funds would not be able to influence the decision of the electors if the selection and election of candidates become people’s decisions by discussion and not a Hobson’s choice offered by political parties.”

If election expenditure were not limited, it said, political parties “would go all out for collecting contributions and obviously the largest contributions would be from the rich and affluent who constitute but a fraction of the electorate. The pernicious influence of big money would then play a decisive role in controlling the democratic process in the country.”

This is precisely what is happening with the corporate sector now fully into the act, making both open and hidden contributions. Last month, the Delhi High Court found the Congress and BJP guilty of illegally accepting money from the UK-based firm, Vedanta. Those payments were made by cheque, but cash is still king because it is untraceable. In 2009, cash accounted for 75 per cent of the money raised by the Congress and half of that of the BJP.

In 1943, even before India was free, Babasaheb Ambedkar spoke of the danger posed by the fusion of capital and politics: “These days, with the Press in hand, it is easy to manufacture great men,” he noted caustically — and presciently. “In establishing their supremacy” our great men “have taken the aid of big business and money magnates. For the first time in our country, money is taking the field as an organised power.”

Seventy years on, the influence of big money has grown exponentially. Yet there is little recognition of the damage this is doing to the integrity of our electoral process. The biggest national and regional parties have a vested interest in allowing the status quo to continue. Change will come only when the ‘aam aadmi’ realizes this is what is keeping him out of power.

(Siddharth Varadarajan is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, New Delhi)

 

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Hotelier Chatwal pleads guilty of election finance violations

Updated: Apr 18, 2014 08:45 AM , By Narayan Lakshman
File photo of Hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal with Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President Bill Clinton. Chatwal, a hotel executive who raised at least $100,000 for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama, on Thursday, pleaded guilty in New York to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.

File photo of Hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal with Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President Bill Clinton. Chatwal, a hotel executive who raised at least $100,000 for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama, on Thursday, pleaded guilty in New York to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.

Even when your best friends are Bill and Hillary Clinton, you cannot escape the net of a serious FBI investigation.

This would appear to be the key lesson learnt by Sant Singh Chatwal, the wealthy hotel magnate who on Thursday pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act by making more than $180,000 in federal campaign donations to three candidates through “straw donors” who were reimbursed, and to witness tampering.

In doing so Mr. Chatwal, who has often been described as a “bundler,” or large-scale campaign finance contributor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign among others, flouted spending limits aimed at limiting financial influence in federal elections and to ensure transparency as to the identity of donors.

As part of the plea bargain Mr. Chatwal has struck with federal authorities here he has also agreed to “forfeit” $1 million.

Mr. Chatwal, who made his name in the restaurant industry for founding the Bombay Palace restaurant chain and then achieved notoriety in the 1990s for being pursued by U.S. and Indian authorities for unpaid taxes linked to high-end real estate, apparently “used his employees, business associates, and contractors who performed work on his hotels to solicit campaign contributions on Mr. Chatwal’s behalf in support of various candidates for federal office and PACs, collect these contributions, and pay reimbursements for these contributions.”

A second component of the scheme that Mr. Chatwal allegedly ran saw him and his agents at Chatwal Associates induce straw donors, or false donors masking real donations from Mr. Chatwal, to make approximately $188,000 in campaign contributions to three candidates for “federal office,” while he often arranged for them to be reimbursed with his own funds or those of one of Mr. Chatwal’s companies.

While Mr. Chatwal ran this “scheme… to subvert the very purpose of the Election Act,” between 2007 and 2011, U.S. federal authorities began to close the noose around his operations by 2010, when an “informant” supplied law enforcement with a recorded conversation that he had with Mr. Chatwal.

In that discussion, the U.S. Department of Justice explained, Mr. Chatwal underscored his view as to the importance of political campaign contributions, stating that without campaign contributions, “nobody will even talk to you…That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system… What, what else is there? That’s the only thing.”

Similarly there appears to be recorded conversations indicating that Mr. Chatwal “sought to obstruct the grand jury investigation into his Election Act scheme by tampering with a witness, a person whose business performed construction work for Chatwal and Chatwal’s companies and who had recruited straw donors at Chatwal’s direction.”

In a June 2012 recorded conversation, Mr. Chatwal reportedly told this individual that if FBI and IRS agents approached him or his family, they should not speak with the agents and should instead refer them to a lawyer that Mr. Chatwal would provide.

In a July 2012 recorded conversation, Mr. Chatwal was then said to have directed the same individual to “lie to agents about the Election Act scheme,” adding that he would pay for the individual’s legal fees in connection with the investigation and offered to conceal the money within a payment for work the individual’s company had performed for Mr. Chatwal.

 

Read more here– http://m.thehindu.com/news/international/world/hotelier-chatwal-pleads-guilty-of-election-finance-violations/article5924915.ece/?maneref=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FQfaG2UbpIF

 

 

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Pastor Who Prayed For Obama’s Death asks Women to Shut Up In Church #WTFnews

Pastor Steven Anderson said that female congregants should not speak up while church is going on.

Photo Credit: ptnphoto/Shutterstock.com

March 25, 2014  |

Steven Anderson is a fundamentalist Arizona pastor who first made headlines when he said he prayed for the death of President Obama. Now, he’s making waves again by saying he wants women to pipe down in church.

As a video that captured his sermon shows, on Sunday, Anderson asked his female congregants not to say “amen” when in church.  He cited Bible verses to justify his position.

“Now obviously, before the service begins, there’s chatting and talking going on, that’s perfectly legitimate. When we all sing praises to God, of course the ladies should also lift up their voices,” Anderson, who is also anti-gay, said.  But once services begin, it’s shut-up time.

Women are to learn “in silence…When the preaching of God’s word is taking place — and first of all, it’s not for a woman to be doing the preaching, and second of all, it’s not for women to be speaking,” he said.  “Even if they were to have a question, they’re not to ask that question in the church, number one. Number two, even if they want to ask that question to their husband, they should wait until they get home.”

Anderson is the head of the Faithful Word Baptist Church, located in Tempe, Arizona. TheSouthern Poverty Law Center, which labeled the institution a “hate group” in 2010, said then:“Much of [Anderson’s] venom was aimed at homosexuals, who he suggests should be killed (‘The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals’).”

Anderson made national headlines when he called for homosexuals to be executed in July 2013. In 2009, Anderson called for President Obama to be struck down, saying: “I hope that God strikes Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy. You know, and I hope it happens today.”

Watch Anderson’s sermon here:

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Open letter to Obama on Race by Laura, ACLU

02/24/2014

An Open Letter to the President on Race

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

Dear Mr. President,

Do you remember any of your campaign ads from your 2000 Congressional campaign? I’m thinking specifically of a radio ad touting your support for a bill that required police officers to log the ethnicity of every driver they pulled over.

In the ad, you said, “Racial profiling is not only wrong and degrading: it’s dangerous and can lead to unexpected confrontations. Not only that, it erodes confidence in law enforcement.”

You’ve spoken against the humiliating practice of racial profiling many times since then. So why does your Administration continue to discriminate against Americans because of the color of their skin or the way they dress?

From stop-and-frisk in New York to Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona, you can’t deny our country continues to struggle with this issue. And despite countless stories of innocent Americans accused of wrongdoing just because of the way they look, your Administration has yet to revise the Justice Department guidance regarding the use of race in federal law enforcement issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft more than a decade ago.

I know you alone can’t stop racial profiling. It’s going to take a lot of change in the hearts and minds of all Americans and from all levels of government before we can add racial profiling to the list of shameful practices our country has left in the past. But here’s the truth: by eliminating the practice on the federal level, you can send a message to state and local officials that racial profiling has no place in law enforcement.

If you’re going to succeed, you have to make sure you protect ALL individuals from harassment because of who they are. That means extending the guidelines to cover race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or sex (including gender identity and expression) to any degree and closing the loopholes for national security and border integrity investigations. They send the wrong message to all law enforcement officers that racial profiling is sometimes okay, even though you and I both know that’s not the case.

It’s long past time for you and your Administration to end this humiliating, ineffective, and unlawful practice. Racial profiling is at odds with our shared American values of fairness and justice, and it has no place in federal law enforcement.

The ball’s in your court, Mr. President.

Respectfully,
Laura

Read more here – https://www.aclu.org/blog/racial-justice/open-letter-president-race

 

 

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In 2013, US lost 30 people a day to gun violence, Obama shouldn’t let us forget

The president should be talking about guns (and gun control) a lot more. This goes way beyond horrific school shootings

 

Ana Marie Cox

 

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

President Obama opened his remarks at McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee with a brief mourning of the death of a student there on Tuesday, the day of his State of the Union speech. Obama mentioned gun violence once in his address to the nation. Again yesterday, the bulk of his speech was about education policy, not gun control.

 

The fact that McGovock was itself the site of a gun fatality only gave a glancing emphasis on the firearm policies he says he is trying to move forward. The setting perhaps emphasized just as much the futility of the rhetorical gesture. President Obama needs to talk more about gun policies in this country, but he has to do it differently. As horrific as school shootings are, gun violence takes more lives outside our classrooms than in them.

 

In the five years of Obama’s presidency, mass shootings have been the one reliable catalyst for a presidential push on our nation’s uniquely liberal firearm laws. He broke a three-year streak of non-engagement on the issue in January 2011, after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 17 other people in Tucson, Arizona, giving one speech and writing one op-ed calling for more legislation. Then, the White House was for the most part silent for another 10 months, until Newtown. That tragedy brought a flurry of urgent officials pleas: 18 sets of remarks in five months, according to C-SPAN. After that, another season of silence, until the Naval Yard shootings in September 2013.

 

I understand that Obama has vowed to do what he can to limit access to guns “with or without” Congress, but it’s clear that his administration sees mass shootings as their best leverage to accomplish the more substantial changes that come with new federal regulation. It’s equally clear that it isn’t working. I have some suggestions for a shift in emphasis.

 

Perhaps the White House believes the deaths of children are the most sympathetic emotional wedge. Fine. If you look at the data, Obama should have been talking about gun control legislation in the Senate twice a day, as 215 children died in the 99 days the Senate was in session last year. As many have argued, Americans are becoming numb to gun violence. If it’s the scale of a tragedy that might inspire Congress, the murder of, say, three or more, then he should have hammered at them about once every two and half hours, the entire year. Over 12,000 people, adults and children, died from gun violence in 2013 – about 30 a day.

 

I suppose another aspect of mass shootings that makes them, in theory, the best bet for Congressional actions is that we assume that anyone who plans a massacre is, by most definitions, crazy. No one wants crazy people to have guns, right?

 

There are numerous different proposals that try to prevent the definably mentally ill from obtaining firearms, indeed, one of Obama’s “without Congress” proposals to curb gun access is an expansion of the ways a “lawful authority” can report on an individual who is prohibited by federal law from owning a gun. This is a step forward, to be sure, though the rule also gives the impression that the current background check system (National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS) is working at all – and that the prohibited category is a useful screen.

 

First of all, using the NICS is voluntary – only 13 states use it for all commercial gun purchases (leave alone the gun show loophole for now). States that report to the database have incredible latitude as to what they include: some states limit the time period of the reporting (letting those with older sign of trouble slip through), some states narrowly define “mentally ill”.

 

The patchwork of laws about reporting means that of all those denied a gun purchase because of a NICS search, even after the Virginia Tech shootings prompted a tightening of the reporting and search laws in many states, less than 2% of individuals run through the NICS database are turned down for mental health reasons. This is almost certainly an under-representation. What’s more, evidence implies that many of mentally ill who are determined to get firearms will wind up “jurisdiction shopping”. After Virginia started reporting its mental health records to NICS, 378 of the 438 those denied guns because of a Virginia mental health record were trying to purchase a firearm in another state.

 

So I have a radical suggestion: cede to the gun rights lobby that bad actors who want weapons cannot be stopped – perhaps especially the mentally ill ones. Instead of focusing on how to stop a “bad guy with a gun”, see what we can do to stop the guy in the mirror with a gun: a majority of gun deaths are suicides, as I have noted repeatedly. (And will undoubtedly repeat again.) This actually opens up the debate about gun regulation rather than narrows it, because recent research has shown that any reduction of gun ownership in a population decreases the number of suicides overall: looking at the years between 2000 and 2009, the study authors found that for each percentage point the portion of gun owners in a population goes down, suicides decrease by at least half a percent.

 

Many assume that focusing on preventing gun suicides falls under laws keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, but most people who commit suicide do not meet even the lowest bar for gun ownership prohibition set by federal or state laws: previous documentation of violence to self or others.

 

Two-thirds of suicides do not have a contact with a mental health profession in the year leading up to the attempt. Another set of studies found that only 24% of those that attempt suicide go on to another attempt. Suicide ideations are also fleeting; 25% of suicide attempts are based on less than five minutes consideration. What’s more, those who commit suicide by firearm are the least likely of all attempts to have a record of mental illness – the most likely, it follows, to attempt suicide because of temporary crisis and moment of desperation. But 85% of those who attempt suicide by firearm will never see the other side of that crisis.. Firearm suicide beats the next most effective means (hanging) by a margin of 16%.

 

The math is easy: if you somehow (a waiting period, sophisticated gun locks) kept guns out of 10% of the over 19,000 in 2010 that died from a firearm suicide – if you forced the determined to use next most effective method – then about almost 600 of them would get another chance at life. And 76%, over 400 of them, would decide they’d stick around.

 

That’s over 15 tragedies the size of Newtown’s that could be prevented but weren’t, and weren’t mourned as the tragedies they all were. To put it in Obama-moved-to-speak math (18 speeches for each Newtown-sized group of deaths): would Obama be willing to give a speech on gun control 250 times a year, just about every day?

 

I don’t know if such a consistent appeal would work on Congress. Would it work on you?

 

Read more here — http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/31/president-obama-gun-control-push

 

 

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