Views in brief

January 8, 2013

The really fascinating people of 2012

LET'S THINK about this. What does it take to be named in the top 10 list of the "most fascinating people of the year"? Some of the lists that have been announced leave a lot to be desired.

Does it take writing a sex book, or being an exploited-for-TV child, or does it mean you have to be the sister of a Duchess, or in the one of those Hollywood families where no one can figure out why you are famous, or if you have ever accomplished anything of value? The lists that have been announced so far are a sad commentary on our culture and values.

There are some who really do deserve recognition. They have earned respect because of their accomplishments. Actually, there are many who would qualify for the list. Here are 10 with very fascinating stories to be told. They should have been nominated.

1. At the top of the list would be Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Few in history can match their contribution to humanity.

2. The West Memphis Three--Jessie Misskelley, Charles Baldwin and Damien Echols. How about being falsely convicted and then on death row for 18 years? Not many can top that (except those who were falsely convicted and then executed, such as Troy Davis). Also to be remembered are the families of the three murdered children: Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.

Lynne Stewart, Leonard Peltier and other victims of the legal system should make the list. Think of the interesting stories they could tell if they are ever released from prison.

3. Then there are those who dedicate their lives to working for justice. The Innocence Project and all the lawyers who volunteer their time and talent to free the falsely convicted should make the list. Maybe the ACLU should be on the list. (I'm not too sure about that one yet. I am waiting to see how much support they will give for First Amendment Rights and freedom of political speech, which has been under attack in Vermont.)

4. Think about all those in the Occupy Movement. They really came through when FEMA and the Red Cross failed to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

5. There are many who work tirelessly to spread the truth: Bill Blum, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Tavis Smiley, Cornell West, Amy Goodman, William Quigley, Ward Churchill...the list is endless.

6. There are those who maintain, at their own expense, websites where information can be shared. Thanks, your contribution to humanity is appreciated everyday by many.

7. There are those brave souls who risk their personal safety and face imprisonment because they support peace and justice: the Hancock Drone Base protesters, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant protesters, the protesters at the Fort Benning School of Assassins.

8. What about Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Peta Lindsay, and all other candidates whose names were on the ballot so that voters would have a choice for president that would be an alternative to the Democratic and Republican Party candidates?

9. Think about Ralph Nader. He just keeps on working for peace and economic justice. His legacy is unmatched. He should be on the list and we should have a national "Ralph Nader Day."

10. And then there are the anonymous, nameless people in our community who work to help the homeless, the hungry, the abused--those who recognize the impact of disenfranchisement, and try to do something about it. They often work without pay--true examples of altruism. We owe them our gratitude.

There is no shortage of fascinating people, which is why the lists that are out there are so troubling.
Rosemarie Jackowski, from the Internet

Hagel doesn't deserve the left's support

LATELY, THE Democratic Party has done a thoroughly good job convincing progressives why there must be an alternative to the two-party system--with only 19 members in the party voting against the exceptionally bad fiscal deal agreed to in Congress.

Recently, however, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has truly abandoned any "left" or "progressive" principles with an e-mail declaring its support for Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama's new nomination for secretary of Defense.

Perhaps they should also endorse John Kerry for secretary of State? He was at least anti-war for a part of his life before he wasn't and ran for President.

Hagel is a former Republican senator from Nebraska who voted with the Bush platform almost 100 percent of the time. He voted to authorize the Iraq war and voted for all of its funding.

As the public sentiment grew more critical of the war and casualties rose and the war dragged on, Hagel opportunistically criticized Bush's handling of the Iraq war. This does not he mean he supported ending it.

Perhaps the Obama Administration is nominating Hagel because of token "bipartisanship," but the PDA, a so-called progressive group, is dead wrong to go anywhere close to supporting Hagel or even supporting a post for the secretary of Defense at all. The very job description of a secretary of Defense is "secretary of war."

When founded, PDA initially proposed establishing a department of peace and severely cutting the military budget. It is something any progressive should spend time fighting for--while spending no time at all endorsing any so-called secretary of Defense.
Greg Morse, Providence, R.I.

A coal port that's safe

IN RESPONSE to "Portland says no to coal": I work at the coal mine that will supply the coal for this project. I have worked there for 37 years as a heavy equipment operator and can feel the concern that you have for this development.

First, let me say that whatever happens, I believe that this company will use the best technology available to complete this port. And you should demand it. There are a lot of issues in producing coal and transporting it, but I believe it can be done with everyone's concerns taken into account.

Second, this coal is of high quality: high BTU, low sulfer, no mercury. This may not sound reassuring, but there are a lot of other coals that are not of this quality and that are less environmentally sound.

Finally, don't oppose this project because other companies are also proposing ports. This should be looked at as a standalone port/project, and the other companies can speak for themselves. If you make this company do what is right in protecting the environment and quality of living, then I think it will be a win-win situation for job growth, the tax base and industry. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion.
Larry Deeds, Sheridan, Wyo.

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