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World justice through mechanisms like the International Criminal Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

The Radio Show, A World Of Possibilities, had a great show on 04/04/06 entitled "Bringing Tyrants To Justice: War Crimes On Trial"

The United States is one of the few countries which has not agreed to participate in the International Criminal Court because of fear that it would be possibly brought before the court for prosecution for war crimes.

Over 100 other countries have agreed to participate in the International Criminal Court as a way of bringing mass murderers to justice. If a person kills one other person, they will be brought to trial and if found guilty sentenced to possibly life in prison or perhaps even execution if you live in the United States which still uses capital punishment unlike most other countries of the world, but if a war lord or head of state kills thousands or hundreds of thousands of people they may well retire to an ocean side resort like Papa Doc from Haiti or Idi Amin from Uganda or George Bush from the United States.

The program also discusses other ways for justice to be pursued in the face of atrocities such as various truth telling tribunals and the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa.

This program is well worth listening to. It puts United States history and policy in a world wide context and makes it more understandable why United States foreign relations have deteriorated so badly over the last 6 years.

To listen to the show click on the link below.

Link: "A World of Possibilities" Program Details.

President Bush opposes marriage between a man and a flag.

Andy Borowitz is a funny guy. I loved today's, June 30, 2006, column on the crazy president and the crazier congress entitled "Bush opposes marriage between a man and a flag." Part of what makes it so hilarious is that it isn't that far off from the nonsense that has been going on in Washington, DC these past few weeks with the luny Republicans proposing their two favorite constitutional admendments. Real life is funnier than Saturday Night Live.

In what many political observers believe could become an effective wedge issue in the 2006 midterm elections, President George W. Bush today proposed a constitutional amendment banning marriage between a man and a flag.

In a nationally televised address from the Oval Office, the president said that the proposed amendment was intended to protect two embattled American institutions: traditional marriage, and the American flag.

To read Andy's whole column click on the link below.

Link: The Borowitz Report .com.

Timothy's law makes progress in New York State

Since 12 year old Timothy O'Clair committed suicide in Schenectady, NY in 2001 there has been an effort to get the New York State legislature to pass a law that would require health insurance companies to provide "parity" for mental health services the same as physical health benefits. Currently co-pays and coverage is significantly higher for mental health benefits when it is available at all.

Just as the New York state legislature was closing its business for this session both houses of the legislature, the Assembly and the Senate, came to agreement on the law. A celebration would be premature, but an end-of-session agreement between the state Senate and Assembly has brought New York an important step closer to requiring that mental illness get the same insurance protection afforded physical illnesses. There are still some hurtles which need to be overcome but this is the farthest that this legislation has ever got. Here is what was printed on June 27, 2006 in the Journal News which is a newspaper which serves Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties.

For more than four years, advocates have pushed for passage of Timothy's Law, insurance-parity legislation named for 12-year-old Timothy O'Clair, a Schenectady boy who committed suicide in 2001 after his parents were forced to give up custody so he could qualify for state-paid mental-health treatment. The family's insurance coverage did not cover his needs.

The boy's father, Tom O'Clair, heralded the agreement reached late Friday by the two houses of the state Legislature. The legislation requires health-insurance policies to provide at least 30 inpatient and 20 outpatient visits for all mental-health treatment, lowering co-pays that can now be excessive for mental-health treatment. The bill lists specific adult and childhood disorders that would receive unlimited benefits.

As the article points out, it is not time for cheering yet.

The reasons why it is not yet time for outright cheering

• Neither house has actually voted on the legislation, the agreement coming late Friday as the Legislature was adjourning. But Assembly and Senate leaders — including Sen. Thomas Morahan, R-New City, chairman of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee — pledge passsage when legislators return to Albany.

• The bill will require the signature of Gov. George Pataki, who has not yet reacted to the agreement.

• The legislation directs the state Insurance Department "to develop a methodology" to cover small-businesses' costs. That means legislators didn't figure out how to pay for it.

• And, most disappointing for the advocates, the legislation does not cover addictions.

Link: Mental-health insurance.

Quote of the day

"The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Corruption of government revealed in Nixon's "enemies list" 23 years ago today and the beat goes on

It was on June 27, 1973, 33 years ago today when John Dean told the Senate Watergate Committee about President Nixon's "enemies list". I don't know if politics is any dirtier today than it was back then, but I wonder with the immoral and deceitful war in Iraq, the spying on American citizens, the corruption of Abramoff and Delay, etc.

American politics has become a joke when you consider that President Clinton was impeached for fellatio by an intern and lying about it which has nothing at all to do with killing people, and national security, while George W. Bush steals elections, kills people, lies to the American people, and invades their privacy. As a friend of mine said  to me four years ago, "I'd rather have a President who got a blow job, than one who blew the job!" To which I say, "AMEN"

President Nixon's former White House counsel, John W. Dean, III, told the Senate Watergate Committee about Nixon's "enemies list." He released a 1971 memo, written by presidential advisor (now Rev.) Charles Colson, proposing the use of "available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." Twenty persons were to be subjected to IRS audits, litigation, prosecution, or denial of federal grants, and a separate list contained 200 additional names.

Link: The Great Cover-Up: Extract 2.

Religious right against gay marriage while it appears heterosexuals don't want marriage either if you believe the numbers

It is hypocritical in the extreme when the Bushies are proposing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage when heterosexuals are avoiding marriage in higher numbers all the time.

According to an article published on 06/26/06 by the Scripps Howard News Service marriage ceremonies are on the decline.

Although June is the odds-on favorite month to wed in America, there will be fewer men and women vowing "till death do us part" this year. The National Marriage Project reports that couples taking the plunge have declined by nearly 50 percent since 1970 _ and not just in June, but year-round. Meanwhile, Catholic sources report a sharp decline in church-sanctioned marriages.

Are American men and women losing their capacity for romance? Probably not, but the institution of marriage is met with more skepticism than ever, especially among potential spouses who are the children of divorced parents. If Mom and Dad couldn't make it work, they fear, what are their own chances?

For some years now, the odds for a lasting marriage have been only 50-50, and even worse for second marriages. Indeed, those couples who divorce tend to do so within the first five years of wedlock. If wedlock were a consumer product, it would be a hard sell, even for Madison Avenue. There are plenty of potential runaway brides _ and grooms _ in America.

The religious right pushing this ban on gay marriage might be interested to know that church attendance does not predict marital happiness but praying together and agreeing on religious values does. Also, it appears that a little idolotry, that is, placing one's spouse on a "godlike" pedastal helps a little too.

Joint church attendance is less an indicator of marital happiness than praying together and agreeing on religious values. Some 90 percent of married couples of all ages who pray together report "very great" sexual satisfaction. Nearly half of newlyweds regard their partner as "Godlike," that is, worthy of worship and adoration, complementing their religious faith. Marriage still holds out the promise of mutual caring in place of lonely isolation.

I believe that St. Paul said that celibacy was to be preferred to marriage but marriage was preferred to burning in hell, and modern day couples are opting not for celibacy, or marriage, but living in sin and taking their chances that God is merciful.

Link: Scripps Howard News Service.

Does parental verbal abuse hurt children?

There is an interesting article in the June, 2006 issue of the American Journal Of Psychiatry which found that verbal abuse in childhood can cause significant psychiatric problems in adulthood.

Parental verbal aggression was a potent form of maltreatment. Exposure to multiple forms of abuse was associated with very large effect sizes. Most maltreated children had been exposed to multiple types of abuse, and the number of different types is a critically important factor.

Link: Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful Words: Relative Effects of Various Forms of Childhood Maltreatment -- Teicher et al. 163 (6): 993 -- American Journal of Psychiatry.