Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

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PONDERINGS

January 9, 2014

SNOWDON AND THE NSA

A short STRIB feature this morning raised a thought-provoking question as debate continues on the NSA and the FISA courts.

Apparently, the general consensus is that the Supreme Court represents some of the least tech-savy people in the country.  www.startribune/politics/national/239124211.html  Reading the article, it becomes clear why there is controversy over Snowdon as a whistleblower vs. a traitor, as well as a growing discussion on why similar activities conducted by commercial and corporate entities (especially world-wide-web participants) are acceptable but less-intrusive government data gathering is not.

Even members of the Supreme Court are suggesting a reliance on the Fourth Amendment to resolve this issue in cases currently bubbling up in the system may not be the answer to resolving these issues of the 21st century.

In a way, that is comforting as it does point out the wisdom of the founding fathers as they drafted the constitution to become guiding principles, but at the same time allowed for amendments as necessary to change it to cover unforeseen future circumstances.

On the other hand, can you imagine the angst, emotion, and drama that would accompany any movement to amend the Constitution to clarify this issue in our world today?  I am afraid it would rank up there with slavery, women’s rights and the civil rights movement in terms of tearing the country apart.

ISRAEL AND REFUGEES

Keep an eye on this one…at least on the surface, the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” mantra does not seem to be applicable – at least in all cases.

It is surely a complicated question that does indeed confront the Jewish state with key questions about its identity, who is a refugee, and do Jews have a special duty to be accommodating in light of their own history.

It does not appear to be a black/white issue; there have been attempts at accommodation; there have been concerns; and definitely there has been unequal treatment of Christian and Muslim refugees.

Sadly, as I read it, I could not help but draw some parallels to our country and our conflicted stance of  freedom and immigration – especially in view of the fact the US was also founded by early settlers often looking for refuge from persecution….and in so doing, created tremendous conflicts with the indigenous peoples already living in the land we wanted.  And yet, we are not always welcoming to those modern immigrants seeking refuge in what we built as a white man’s world.

 

AN ECONOMIC WORD GAME

A New York Times report on Obama’s comments yesterday following the Senate decision to debate the Jobless Benefits bill pointed out a truism that actually made me smile.

Yes, there is a careful “balance” going on in the 2014 message of “despite an improving economy, too many people are being left behind.”

The NY Times ended the article by citing critics calling it a “muddled economic message the White House has been delivering for years under Obama”.

And yes, the economic is not a right/wrong or black/white situation…it is a mixture.  There is not just a single“right” answer;  the situation is complex.

We are too used to right vs. wrong with no nuances depending on our own political leanings along with the color of our skin.  We forget there is truth and fiction in both.

So perhaps that is why I see Obama and the way he thinks as a mixture of white and African-as a good thing. He, like our world, is complicated.  He, like our world, challenges both sides.  That, in my mind, makes him a good leader.

Maybe we are so critical of him only because it is scary – because whether we agree or disagree, we cannot go backwards.   There is no winner in black vs white or left wing vs right wing.

The way forward for success in the future is collaboration – from which will come a better way than either stance today.

OIL, PIPELINES, TRAINS and the MIDDLE EAST

We’ve tipped the scale; most of our oil comes from within our own country today; North Dakota is booming; jobs are plentiful…all good things.

Enter the pipeline vs environment debates and the reality of unsafe trains causing concern over hazardous materials…one more time, proof there is often on easy answer to almost anything in today’s world!

Then another question popped into my head to confuse the situation more.  With our capacity increasing, it is creating more self-sufficiency in terms of fuel.  What is that impact on the US relationship with the Middle East?  As far as I know, we have not heard much discussion on that.

  But obviously, if we produce most of our own oil, we are not reliant on the Middle East and that could well mean less dollars are flowing there from us – despite  financial help to various countries in need.  We most likely no longer carry the mantra of Good Customer in the Middle East – we have become something else.  Are we SURE that it is the tensions of “Obama’s” US policy goals alone that has changed the tone and attitudes?    Food for thought as you listen to the next rant from your favorite commentator claiming Obama’s approach is not working well.

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MONDAY MORNING POTPOURRI

October 29, 2012

THE STORM: It’s hard to wrap my mind around what is happening on the East Coast….Praying more people than not have heeded the warnings and have taken shelter away from the water….tonight continues to be forecast as VERY BAD when it actually comes ashore.

YES to Excelsior MN Fire Chief Scott Gerber( along with several Hennepin Cty, MN-based federal employees and private companies from MN) who is back in Boston to help them with Hurricane Sandy – just like he did with IRENE.

Watch the Supreme Court closely today….discrimination against blacks, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaska natives and Hispanics is at stake.

YES to Target for bringing James Dyson and his message to Target’s internal product designers and engineers….”I encourage wrong thinking which is the unconventional or obtuse way of doing things…if you don’t take risks you slowly wither because things change and you don’t keep up.”

Good message; first, I am growing weary of same product – just new color – standard of Target in recent times; and second, it’s a good message to ANY designer in any industry – including ours….when an event picture can be quickly identifed as YOUR WORK, step back, rethink, and figure out how to push the envelope!

OPEN LETTER from MN Business and Non-Profit leaders (www.MNUnited.org) in STRIB Business Section today is pretty impressive…the Message AND the Signatures both. Think carefully about the negative impact to our state if this petty proposed amendment is passed. VOTE NO!

Oh dear…little did I know Ecolab provides chemicals used in fracking! We need to learn more about this in view of October 10 US Environmental Protection Agency report that water tests near the natural gas drilling site in Wyoming establish first link between hydraulic fracturing and tainted water!…Meanwhile, industry-funded studies continue to say fracking poses no threat to groundwater or air quality. This descrepency needs to be addressed.

Just read that racial attitudes have not improved….a slight majority of Americans express prejudice towards blacks as well as Hispanics. Politically the split is pretty telling: 79% Republicans and 32% Democrats. As our national demographics continue to move towards whites becoming the minority population, what in the world will these people do?

Which reminds me of a report over weekend regarding white parents who are still focusing on keeping children in all white schools at all cost. Yes, I understand the thought that the formal education is better – but is it really and why? More important, as whites become the minority, we will begin to realize these well-meaning parents are doing their children a disservice? I would think as minority ratios in our population rise, it would be better to have relationships with non-whites as well of those that look, act, and think just like us.

Buried in the news by the storm is the fact that of course, the  holiday TRUCE in Syria did not hold; and WORSE, with Iraq as a major influencer, it is moving towards a multi-national religious war between Sunnis and Shiites.

The STEPPING UP Strib article again praises China as an export opportunity. Today I read that Minnesota exports to China have increased 89% in last three years, as China became our second LARGEST export partner, behind Canada. That is probably a good thing – contributing to our lower unemployment and better economic situation than many other states, but….I was glad to see the acknowledgement of concerns re sustainability of emerging Chinese middle class and potential issues that could economically impact us if not watched carefully.

Quick thought:  WHO looks more presidential…Obama overseeing the storm preparations and taking care of American citizens…or Romney crazy on the campaign trail…looking for a personal advantage created by the storm.  I’m thinking I have seen this attitude before – in the mid 2000’s maybe?

Finally, I still have not made it to the RED DOT outside Olson’s new home at the old Ford Plant. Hve you? The idea of the red decor seen through the windows on the upper floors spelling out OLSON is awesome – just blows my mind how anyone first of all–thought of that, and second, figured out how to make it a reality!