IVN.us http://ivn.us Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:12:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Feds Say Cannabis Has No Medicinal Value While Holding Patent for Medicinal Cannabis http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/feds-say-cannabis-medicinal-value-holding-patent-medicinal-cannabis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feds-say-cannabis-medicinal-value-holding-patent-medicinal-cannabis http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/feds-say-cannabis-medicinal-value-holding-patent-medicinal-cannabis/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:46:29 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650448 Feds Say Cannabis Has No Medicinal Value While Holding Patent for Medicinal Cannabis

In his latest video for the Truth in Media project, Ben Swann takes a closer took at the medicinal benefits of CBD oil, which has already been proven to prevent epileptic seizures. CBD, which was introduced into the mainstream on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN investigative report, Weed, is one of several cannabinoids found in a marijuana plant and may hold several more medical benefits than just helping people with Epilepsy.

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Feds Say Cannabis Has No Medicinal Value While Holding Patent for Medicinal Cannabis

In his latest video for the Truth in Media project, Ben Swann takes a closer took at the medicinal benefits of CBD oil, which has already been proven to prevent epileptic seizures. CBD, which was introduced into the mainstream on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN investigative report, Weed, is one of several cannabinoids found in a marijuana plant and may hold several more medical benefits than just helping people with Epilepsy.

Cannabis — and all forms of the plant — are still classified as Schedule I drugs with the federal government. Not only does this mean Cannabis is illegal, but the government says it has no medicinal value at all.

Keep in mind, while states like Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana, it is still technically illegal in these states because state law never trumps federal law.

However, Swann’s investigation discovered something interesting: While federal law says Cannabis has no medicinal value, the federal government itself does not really believe this. According to Swann, the Department of Health and Human Services filed for two patents: one for the use of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes and the other for Cannabis oil to treat diseases.

To be clear, there is growing evidence that Cannabis oils can be used not only to prevent seizures for people with Epilepsy but can be used to treat Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease, cancer, and other serious medical conditions. The Department of Health and Human Services must believe this because they filed a patent for the use of Cannabis and Cannabis oils for medicinal purposes.

And yet, a medical benefit that could help millions of people is kept out of their reach because the government says it has no medical benefits and can be abused and therefore must remain illegal. And because it is illegal, the government will arrest, prosecute, and imprison people who want to use Cannabis oils to treat their life-threatening medical conditions.

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/feds-say-cannabis-medicinal-value-holding-patent-medicinal-cannabis/feed/ 4 Feds Say Cannabis Has No Medicinal Value While Holding Patent for Medicinal Cannabis - IVN.us In his latest Truth in Media episode, independent investigative journalist Ben Swann takes a closer look at medicinal cannabis oil and how the government is manipulating the latest craze. Ben Swann,health care,Marijuana,truth in media,medicinal cannabis oil philly-veteran obama-va-bill BN-DS523_0716gi_G_20140716165405 prescription-pills-drug-busts-450x275
Orman Takes Commanding Lead in Kansas Senate Race With or Without Taylor http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/orman-takes-commanding-lead-kansas-senate-race-without-taylor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=orman-takes-commanding-lead-kansas-senate-race-without-taylor http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/orman-takes-commanding-lead-kansas-senate-race-without-taylor/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:22:50 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650433 Orman Takes Commanding Lead in Kansas Senate Race With or Without Taylor

While the legal battle in the Kansas Senate race continues to heat up, the outcome may not make a difference for incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts if polling trends continue. According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey, which previously showed independent candidate Greg Orman leading Roberts in a head-to-head contest, Orman has a 7-point lead with all candidates included.

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Orman Takes Commanding Lead in Kansas Senate Race With or Without Taylor

While the legal battle in the Kansas Senate race continues to heat up, the outcome may not make a difference for incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts if polling trends continue. According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey, which previously showed independent candidate Greg Orman leading Roberts in a head-to-head contest, Orman has a 7-point lead with all candidates included.

Roberts is not the only one in trouble of losing his seat, however. Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is trying to keep Democrat Chad Taylor in the Senate race, is in a statistical tie with Democrat Jean Schodorf — leading by only one point with 15 percent of respondents saying they are not sure who they will vote for in the race.

This may be an indication that not only is Kobach’s political maneuvering not working, it is backfiring.

Pollsters asked respondents to weigh in on the secretary of state’s actions concerning the U.S. Senate race and only 26 percent said they approve of the way he has handled it. Sixty-three percent of respondents said Chad Taylor’s name should be removed from the ballot.

With all 4 names included in the poll, including libertarian Randall Batson, 41 percent of respondents said they would vote for Orman if the election was held today. The voters who were splitting the anti-incumbent vote seem to be quickly responding to Taylor’s desire to exit the race as Taylor is only polling at 6 percent.

In a head-to-head contest, Orman has a 10-point lead over Roberts, 46 percent to 36 percent.

The Kansas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the U.S. Senate case on Tuesday. Taylor is suing to get his name off the ballot after Kobach said he would remain on it because he did not properly verbalize why he would not be able to fulfill the duties of office — a requirement Kobach argues is mandated by state law.

Photo Source: AP

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Looking to the Founders: Wars, Debt, and the Hour of Reckoning http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/looking-founders-wars-debt-hour-reckoning/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=looking-founders-wars-debt-hour-reckoning http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/looking-founders-wars-debt-hour-reckoning/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:39:55 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650269 Looking to the Founders: Wars, Debt, and the Hour of Reckoning

Founding father Thomas Paine had a keen understanding of this and devoted an entire segment to it in The American Crisis. After 13 continuous years of war and almost 25 years of various "peace keeping" missions, perhaps we ought to revisit this topic and see what Paine foresaw as the end result.

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Looking to the Founders: Wars, Debt, and the Hour of Reckoning

As odd as it might seem, the American Revolution was at least partly fueled by the Founder’s resentment of England’s foreign wars and public debt — topics that are at the very heart of modern American political discussion.

Founding father Thomas Paine had a keen understanding of this and devoted an entire segment to it in The American Crisis. After 13 continuous years of war and almost 25 years of various “peace keeping” missions, perhaps we ought to revisit this topic and see what Paine foresaw as the end result.

While we remember “no taxation without representation” as the rallying cry, the underlying problem was slightly more complicated.

The American colonies were weary of the endless wars of Britain, they were tired of having to pay for them, and even worse, they were outright angry about being forced to use inflated British paper money that was diluting their buying power.

By 1776, almost 100 years of costly wars had caused the British currency to become diluted by massive amounts of unsecured paper currency injected into the market. Over £200 million in paper currency (over $8 billion in today’s money) was secured by less than £16 million in gold and silver.

"When the first Continental Congress met in 1774, the Currency Act of 1764 was one of the 7 acts labelled as 'subversive of American rights.'"
While Britain was entering the height of its colonial expansion, it had the lowest gold and silver reserves of all of Europe.

The effect on the American colonial economy was significant. Early attempts — in the form of issuing bills of credit — by the colonies to combat the lack of hard currency failed miserably and created even more inflation, especially in the Northern colonies.

Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations, directly criticized the American colonies for “cheating” English companies by paying debts with inflated colonial currencies. While turnabout is usually considered fair play, English companies were not about to tolerate this for long.

Spanish silver was by far the preferred currency of the colonies and early republic. The early dollar would be pegged to the Spanish 8 real coin — hence the term “two-bits,” referring to our quarter-dollar coinage.

Of course, the British would not tolerate colonies preferring homemade paper or foreign currency, and the passage of several Currency Acts became a point of contention in the colonies.

The purpose of the Currency Acts was two-fold. First, by limiting the colonies’ ability to circulate bills of credit (or any other form of paper currency), the Parliament was protecting British companies. Second, by demanding that all taxes be paid in British currency, it forced the usage of the diluted and inflated British pound sterling throughout the colonies.

When the first Continental Congress met in 1774, the Currency Act of 1764 was one of the 7 acts labelled as “subversive of American rights.”

 

National Debt as a Percentage of GDP

 

When measuring public debt as a percentage of GDP, it brings out the true costs of American wars — with noticeable spikes during all major military involvement.

The notable exceptions to this were Korea and Vietnam, both occurring during levels of unprecedented growth to the American economy coupled with the political belief that a “guns and butter” economy could sustain both private sector growth and increased military expenditure.

The “guns and butter” economy only delayed the debt spikes from Korea and Vietnam until the end of the Cold War when increased military expenditures, coupled with a slowing economy, would see the national debt top $1 trillion and then soar to almost $4 trillion during the final decade of the Cold War.

We have the finest military ever to exist — with more than two million men and women in active and reserve service, as well as the world’s most powerful navy and air force.

But like the 18th century British, we are feeling the economic pangs of sustaining the world’s most powerful military — topping over 17 percent of the total U.S. budget in 2013.

We currently have two enormous problems with no apparent exit strategy — how to resolve the Iraq wars once and for all and how to deal with a debt that is approaching 100 percent of GDP.

Paine closed by mocking General Howe, saying that he was still at square one after three unsuccessful campaigns in the colonies:

You have now, sir, tried the fate of three campaigns, and can fully declare to England, that nothing is to be got on your part, but blows and broken bones, and nothing on hers but waste of trade and credit, and an increase of poverty and taxes.

Paine foretold that at some point, both England and Howe would have a melancholy hour when their actions against the colonies would be judged. To Paine, there was no sin greater than “that of willful and offensive war.”

Much like General Howe, the United States is now in its third campaign in Iraq, with no measurable gains except increases to our national debt and damage to our international credibility.

Probably the best prophet of the early Iraq war was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn” warning to President Bush that if we break it, we’d have to buy it:

You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You’ll own it all.’ — Colin Powell, summer 2002

And while America is going to try to fix the Humpty-Dumpty nature of the Iraqi infrastructure and society for some time, our melancholy hour could take place much closer to home.

Like 18th century England, our currency is being perceived as diluted and inflated throughout the world.

After WWII, the U.S. dollar became the de facto global reserve currency under the Bretton Woods system. Currencies were pegged by treaty to the dollar in effort to eliminate the hyperinflation that had plagued much of Europe after WWI.

Even though the Bretton Woods system is long past, the dollar is still the reserve currency for one primary reason: worldwide oil transactions are denominated in U.S. dollars.

China and Russia have both renewed calls for an international super currency free from politicized monetary policies, while OPEC nations edge ever closer to using euros for oil transactions.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan predicted in 2007 and again in 2012 that worldwide oil transactions in euros would become an eventual reality.

Considering that the United States imports over 10.6 million barrels of oil each day, this represents a significant loss of financial control on the world stage.

There is no quick fix to this problem. It wasn’t created overnight and it definitely won’t be fixed in one session of Congress or even during one election cycle.

The continued decline of the dollar against the euro is evidence that Fed Chair Janet Yellen is opting to continue the weak-dollar policies of her predecessors — a strategy that will haunt us if the world decides to ditch the dollar.

The British spent most of the 19th century in one-after-another bank failures because they couldn’t ever find a solution to their weakening currency. We have already had one banking crisis. We need to make sure that it doesn’t become the “new normal.”

Solutions to these problems can be found, but at what cost?

The signers of the Declaration of Independence were willing to ‘pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”– everything they had to ensure victory. What are we willing to risk?

Image: Thomas Paine by Auguste Millière

 

David YeeIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Court’s Decision to Reinstate Wis. Voter ID Will Have Major Impact on Election http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/courts-decision-reinstate-wis-voter-id-major-impact-election/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=courts-decision-reinstate-wis-voter-id-major-impact-election http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/courts-decision-reinstate-wis-voter-id-major-impact-election/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:39:58 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650410 Court’s Decision to Reinstate Wis. Voter ID Will Have Major Impact on Election

The Wisconsin Legislature passed the voter ID law in 2011, but it had never gone into effect for a general election. Although it was used in a primary that had a very low turnout in February 2012, a state court blocked the law as a violation of the Wisconsin Constitution before the general election.

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Court’s Decision to Reinstate Wis. Voter ID Will Have Major Impact on Election

In April of this year, a federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law, claiming that the measure placed an unfair burden on older and low-income citizens, particularly minorities.

Yesterday, less than two months before the midterm election and with the governor election in a dead heat, a federal appeals court ruled to reinstate the law requiring voters to show photo identification when casting ballots.

The Wisconsin Legislature passed the voter ID law in 2011, but it had never gone into effect for a general election. Although it was used in a primary that had a very low turnout in February 2012, a state court blocked the law as a violation of the Wisconsin Constitution before the general election.

The decision to overturn this ruling and allow the state to move forward with the law came from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Proponents of the law claim that requiring voter ID will cut down on voter fraud; however, the ruling in April found fraud nearly nonexistent. Instead, Judge Adelman found that the law would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, roughly 9 percent of registered voters.

The decision, if it had been in effect for the 2010 governor’s race, could have changed the outcome where Scott Walker won by a mere 124,638 votes. Now, Walker is in another fierce gubernatorial election battle.

According to 4 different polls on Real Clear Politics, Walker leads in two polls, while Burke leads in the other two. All the polls see the winner emerging with only a tiny margin. At least one political expert on the matter reports that most of the people who will need to get an ID in the coming few weeks are more likely to vote Democratic.

The law’s implementation could literally change the outcome of this election.

Logistically, the state is also facing a nightmare to change procedures so close to Election Day.

First, the state has to get photo ID’s to almost 300,000 people who might now be disenfranchised without them.

Governor Walker approved new rules on Friday to allow a free process to verify birth information and make it easier to get an ID without a birth certificate. However, of the 92 Departments of Motor Vehicle Services in the state, only two are open after 5 p.m. and only one is open on the weekends.

For those who lack cars or flexible work schedules, the limited window they have to obtain a valid photo ID is a challenge.

Perhaps the bigger issue is the fact that more than 11,800 absentee ballots have already been requested and sent out. Some of them have even been returned, without the voter showing ID. All further absentee ballots are being delayed from being sent out.

This measure, however, has its own set of problems since federal election law requires that all absentee ballots be sent out by Thursday. The state has not decided how to deal with any of these ballots

As NAACP attorney Dale Ho said, “No court has ever allowed voter ID to go into effect this close to an election, even courts that have ultimately upheld [voter ID].”

Although 34 states have some law that requires a form of identification at the polls, Wisconsin’s new law is one of the strictest in the country.

This most recent voter ID law is not only changing the way the election is being run, but it might even change the outcome.

Photo Source: Reuters

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Calif. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren Says It’s Important to Listen to All Voters http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/calif-u-s-rep-zoe-lofgren-says-important-listen-voters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=calif-u-s-rep-zoe-lofgren-says-important-listen-voters http://ivn.us/2014/09/16/calif-u-s-rep-zoe-lofgren-says-important-listen-voters/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295649371 Calif. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren Says It’s Important to Listen to All Voters

U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D) has served in Congress since 1994. She knows as well as anyone what a polarized political environment has done to the Legislative Branch and she empathizes with voters and their frustration.

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Calif. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren Says It’s Important to Listen to All Voters

U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D) has served in Congress since 1994. She knows as well as anyone what a polarized political environment has done to the Legislative Branch and she empathizes with voters and their frustration.

When asked how she has gained and sustained support among her constituents, especially in the current political environment, she responded that she “shares the same disappointment with [her] constituents.”

"Lofgren explained that in a district of over 750,000 people, one has to understand that not everyone is going to agree."
Lofgren explained that in a district of over 750,000 people, one has to understand that not everyone is going to agree. Her success comes from looking at the role of government the same way her district’s voters do: wanting a government that has a positive role.

In a district that strongly favors one major party over the other, it is important to assure voters not affiliated with the party that they will be adequately represented.

“It is important to listen,” the 10-term congresswoman said.

Lofgren added that this is especially important for voters who do not always see eye-to-eye on issues to make sure they are heard. Because no one knows everything, listening to the reasoning of opposing sides and addressing their concerns can produce practical solutions that go beyond talking points.

This is Lofgren’s second time running under California’s nonpartisan, top-two open primary, where all voters and candidates, regardless of party affiliation, participate on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters then advance to the general election.

When asked whether or not she supports the top-two primary, Lofgren responded:

“The jury is still out. In theory, it was made to produce a more moderate candidate. In the current state, there is a lot of money being spent on it. I would like to see how it all plays out.”

During the last two election cycles, her opponent has been Robert Murray. Little information has been found or reported on his campaign or his political views

Murray ran in 2012 as a Republican, but is running in 2014 as a Democrat. He received the same percentage of votes in June’s primary as he did in 2012. On both occasions, the 23 percent was enough to get him to the general election against Lofgren.

Lofgren said she has not met or heard anything from Murray or his campaign and has no comment or knowledge on the candidate.

Editor’s note: The author of this article attempted to reach out to Robert Murray’s campaign but was unable to secure an interview.

More on 2014 Same-Party Races

IVN In-Depth: All of California's Same-Party Races

Learn More

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50 Days Ahead of Election, Trust in Congress Hits Historic-Low http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/50-days-ahead-election-trust-congress-hits-historic-low/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=50-days-ahead-election-trust-congress-hits-historic-low http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/50-days-ahead-election-trust-congress-hits-historic-low/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:13:45 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650373 50 Days Ahead of Election, Trust in Congress Hits Historic-Low

With less than 50 days before Election Day, Gallup published a report on Monday that shows that public trust in the federal government continues to decline. According to the most recent survey, 28 percent of respondents said they trust the Legislative Branch a "great deal" or "fair amount."

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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50 Days Ahead of Election, Trust in Congress Hits Historic-Low

With less than 50 days before Election Day, Gallup published a report on Monday that shows that public trust in the federal government continues to decline. According to the most recent survey, 28 percent of respondents said they trust the Legislative Branch a “great deal” or “fair amount.”

Additionally, 43 percent said they trust the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary Branch remains the most trusted branch of the government at 61 percent.

Historically, respondents have been more likely to say they don’t trust the Legislative Branch than the other two branches of government. However, trust in Congress dropped to historic lows in 2011 when it fell to 31 percent, picked up a little bit in 2012 and 2013, and has since dropped to a new record-low.

According to Gallup, since 2005, respondents who claim no affiliation to either major party have been least likely to trust Congress and as partisanship has gotten worse, trust among this demographic has declined even more. Twenty-three percent of independent respondents said they trust the Legislative Branch a “great deal” or a “fair amount.”

trust-in-congress

Republicans and Democrats, on the other hand, tend to shift their opinion of how trustworthy the Legislative Branch is depending on which party has control — a predictable trend that is even more noticeable with the Executive Branch. However, the hyper-polarized political environment in the last couple of years has been toxic to everyone .

The survey-takers who identify as independent tend not to care which party is in control, because Congress has become less and less representative of the American public. Partisan gridlock has prevented meaningful legislation from being passed and when bipartisan compromise is reached, it is more for grandstanding than solving problems.

The lack of adequate representation in the Legislative Branch is a result of over 200 years of gerrymandering, as well as election laws designed to limit competition in elections and prevent millions of voters from having equal access to all integral stages of the voting process.

Given the latest data on the public opinion of Congress, most independent voters will likely agree that not much will change after the 2014 elections.

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Is ISIL “Islamic”? http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/isil-islamic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=isil-islamic http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/isil-islamic/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:53:56 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650362 Is ISIL “Islamic”?

“Now let’s make two things clear:  ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state.”—Barack Obama, 9/10/14   Well, it looks … Continued

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Is ISIL “Islamic”?

“Now let’s make two things clear:  ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state.”—Barack Obama, 9/10/14

 

Well, it looks like President Obama is taking heat from his detractors again. No surprises here. President Obama is pretty much always taking heat from his detractors. Fish gotta swim, detractors gotta detract. This time, the president’s grave offense is that, in his speech to the nation last week, he made it a point to say that “ISIL is not Islamic.”

The reaction was quick and predictably fierce. “We have a Commander-in-Chief who won’t call it what it is,” thundered Laura Ingraham on her radio show the next day. Charles Krauthammer was even more to the point, saying that it was “both patronizing and ridiculous for a Western Christian to be telling the Muslim world what exactly their religion is about.”

Attacks on Obama for labeling ISIS as “non-Islamic” are politically and diplomatically tone deaf. Any chance that the United States and its allies have of intervening successfully in Iraq this time will depend on the cooperation of other Muslim countries. This would be a really bad time to declare war on Islam or to reject those Muslim voices that seek to distance radical political forms of Islam from the religion of more than a billion people worldwide.

Beneath the assertions of Obama’s critics lurks the strong desire to see Islam as an inherently violent religion and its sacred book, the Quran, as a blood-soaked call to eternal Jihad. This is both offensive and wrong. The history of Islam is no more violent than the history of the Christian West, and there is nothing in the Quran that even begins to approach the violence and cruelty of the biblical conquest narrative found in the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges.

I have read both the Quran and the Bible from cover to cover. Both texts inspire me in some places and infuriate me in others. And Islam and Christianity — like all comprehensive worldviews — contain things in their traditions that can justify love and hate, brutality and compassion, violence and peace, and just about anything else.

"Human beings are very good at using the ideological tools their culture possesses to justify whatever actions they choose to pursue."Michael Austin
Comprehensive worldviews work that way. And human beings are very good at using the ideological tools their culture possesses to justify whatever actions they choose to pursue.

When we look at Modern political Islam as a logical outgrowth of the Islamic tradition generally, we miss a lot of important stuff. It is one of many ways that the culture could have developed based on its traditions and sacred books. But it developed the way that it did for reasons that have much to do with politics and little to do with any violence inherent in the religion.

At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the Middle East was ruled by European colonial powers. During the course of the century, these powers gave way to largely secular, mostly pro-Western dictators who suppressed nearly every avenue that their people had to show dissent or exercise political power. Except for religion.

As a well-established part of the culture, Islam could not be gotten rid of the way that, say, newspapers, political parties, and opposition leaders could be simply made to disappear.

The result, as Fareed Zakaria has recently written, is that Islam became “the language of political opposition to these secular regimes.” The more oppressive the regimes became, the more radical the Islamic opposition made itself. And over the course of half a century, radical political Islam established itself as the primary locus of opposition to Western colonialism, secular dictatorship, and political disenfranchisement.

So, are groups like ISIL “Islamic”? They flow from the Muslim tradition, but they do so through many years of radical opposition to unimaginably oppressive regimes. I do not say this to excuse — I agree with President Obama that confronting and arresting ISIL has become a humanitarian necessity — but to understand.

Nothing would be more devastating to America and its allies than to base actual policy decisions on the nonsensical view of culture and history that sees Islam as an inherently violent and necessarily malevolent force in the world

Michael AustinIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Battle Against ISIS Continues After Coalitions, New Iraqi Government Form http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/battle-isis-continues-coalitions-new-iraqi-government-form/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=battle-isis-continues-coalitions-new-iraqi-government-form http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/battle-isis-continues-coalitions-new-iraqi-government-form/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:19:13 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650067 Battle Against ISIS Continues After Coalitions, New Iraqi Government Form

Following the U.S. airstrikes on August 8 to defend Yazidis trapped on Sinjar Mountain, members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) joined forces with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) to form the self-defense units. Together, they managed to defeat ISIS while the Kurdish fighters regrouped and rearmed, such as at the battle of Makhmour near the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

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Battle Against ISIS Continues After Coalitions, New Iraqi Government Form

Since the incursion of ISIS into western and northern Iraq, groups normally at odds are forming ad hoc coalitions to repel the jihadist army.

Following the U.S. airstrikes on August 8 to defend Yazidis trapped on Sinjar Mountain, members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) joined forces with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) to form the self-defense units. Together, they managed to defeat ISIS while the Kurdish fighters regrouped and rearmed, such as at the battle of Makhmour near the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

The United States considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization given its decades-long struggle with NATO ally Turkey.

Likewise, members of Shi’ite militias from the Peace Brigades and Hezbollah Battalions joined forces with Kurdish pesh merga fighters and the Iraqi Army — using military Humvees provided by the U.S. — to liberate the Turkmen city of Amerli on August 31, which had suffered a siege from ISIS lasting nearly 80 days.

"While Sunnis and Shi’ites have cooperated ... some Sunni communities are still skeptical of the Iraqi Army given its recent history of religious persecution."Andrew Gripp, IVN contributor
The military operation was reportedly coordinated on the ground by Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian operator who has served as a political power broker in Iraq and has managed terrorist operations across the globe. The Peace Brigades are tied to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Shi’ite militia had battled the U.S. during the Iraq War, and the Hezbollah Battalions have alleged ties to Iran’s al-Quds force, which is led by Mr. Suleimani.

An uncanny alliance was also formed among Kurdish pesh merga fighters, the Iraqi Army, and local Sunni tribes near Kirkuk — the largely Kurdish city whose legal fate has been a cause of political friction between Erbil and Baghdad. Nevertheless, in cooperation with Sunni groups opposed to ISIS, such as the Naqshbandi Army, the pesh merga managed to prevent ISIS from capturing the city.

While the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, and politicians in Baghdad have squabbled over how Kirkuk’s fate will be decided (either through a referendum per Article 140 of the constitution or through facts on the ground), both parties have agreed to table this and other related issues regarding territorial sovereignty and oil and gas revenues until the ISIS threat has been settled.

A catalyst for such cases of inter-sectarian cooperation has been the formation of a new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has stressed the need for national unification following the sectarian governance of Nouri al-Maliki.

For instance, al-Abadi has criticized the use of the quota system to fill key cabinet and administrative positions within the government and has pressed for appointments to be based on competence and expertise rather than sectarian allegiances. In a press conference, al-Abadi also announced the importance of bringing private militias under the control of the Iraqi Army as a way to allay the fears of Sunnis who have been targeted by Shi’ite forces.

While Sunnis and Shi’ites have cooperated, such as in the joint effort between Sunni tribes and the Iraqi Army to reclaim the Haditha Dam located in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, some Sunni communities are still skeptical of the army given its recent history of religious persecution.

For instance, residents of Mosul, which is currently held by ISIS, are wary of what might follow a liberation of the city by the Iraqi Army or Shi’ite militias. However, according to Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province, negotiations are underway to assemble a force of Sunni groups and tribesmen from Anbar, Diyala, and Salahuddin provinces to assist the U.S., the Iraqi Army, and the pesh merga in the battle to recapture Mosul.

Many Sunnis have turned against ISIS as the basis for their allegiance and their shared antipathy toward al-Maliki has proven to be tenuous and fragile following ISIS’s brutality against Sunni locals and the creation of a new, more inclusive government in Baghdad.

Although together these various forces — Kurdish, Sunni, Shia, and those from the Iraqi Army — have succeeded in collectively reclaiming some territory, it is likely that foreign intervention, such as the last-minute rescue effort to stop the massacre at Mount Sinjar, will be required to eliminate the ISIS threat all together.

According to Maj. Gen. Fadel Barwari, the U.S.-trained head of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces, Iraqi forces are able to reclaim towns and cities like Tikrit temporarily and force ISIS to engage in “tactical withdrawal.” However, once the insurgents regroup, they then harass and attack government forces from all angles, making it difficult to hold on to territory.

“The inability of Iraqi forces to control the liberated land comes from the lack of traditional defense mechanisms such as air forces, logistical abilities to build fortifications, and the necessary supplies to link battlefronts,” Barwari told Al-Monitor.

Defeating ISIS in the long-term will thus likely require more outside intervention from countries with greater capabilities, and the U.S. has led a global diplomatic effort to build an international coalition committed to dismantling the organization.

At a NATO summit in Wales, President Obama encouraged fellow NATO allies to develop a strategy to defeat ISIS. Turkey expressed reluctance in joining the effort — motivated, in part, by its animus toward the PKK — but the Arab League, while thus far withholding specific details, has pledged to help stop ISIS.

A looming question is whether or how to take the fight to ISIS in Syria, where it has planted the capital of its proclaimed caliphate in the city of Raqqa.

In Syria, ISIS has continued its fight against President Bashar al-Assad, and it is looking to isolate and strangle the remnants of the rebel opposition. In Aleppo, for instance, ISIS is threatening to take hold of the countryside north of the city and cut off supply lines linking the rebels to Turkey, which has long been aiding the rebels.

In his speech on September 10, President Obama announced his desire to support the Syrian rebels who are battling both jihadist groups like ISIS and the Syrian regime as part of a multifaceted strategy that also involves airstrikes, military advice and assistance to Iraq, and stemming the flow of foreign fighters, money, propaganda to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.

Andrew GrippIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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How We Can Revitalize Politics by Teaching Character http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/can-revitalize-politics-teaching-character/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-revitalize-politics-teaching-character http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/can-revitalize-politics-teaching-character/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:17:41 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295649705 How We Can Revitalize Politics by Teaching Character

There is a trend in education to teach children, from the earliest grades, the importance of character and how to do what is right. This is not a new concept, but a throwback to the days when instilling right from wrong was a cornerstone of the upbringing of our children.

Glenn DavisIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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How We Can Revitalize Politics by Teaching Character

Ronald Reagan was known for the jar of jellybeans he kept on his desk in the oval office, offering them to dignitaries and other White House visitors.

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans,” he would say, reading importance into whether a person would grab a handful or carefully select a favorite color.

Politicians often speak of the importance of character. Campaign speeches, testimonials, and press releases are full of references to a candidate’s moral stature.

The term is used to convey, above all else, that a person with the right character is the right person to be elected. And conversely, the character flaws of one’s opponent are sure to be brought up at every opportunity.

One would think this would ensure that only the most upstanding individuals would be elected to public office. But over the last several years of Gallup polls, the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress have consistently been rated among the lowest of various professions. Why is this and what can be done to reverse this trend?

Our society has a long history of encouraging just the opposite.

"The importance of getting ahead, winning, and striving at all costs to stand above one’s peers is hammered into us from an early age."
The importance of getting ahead, winning, and striving at all costs to stand above one’s peers is hammered into us from an early age. This is reinforced in school, in athletics, in one’s career, and yes, in politics.

Frank Underwood in House of Cards reaches the presidency not because of his character, but because he lacks this trait. Dare I mention real national leaders who have done the same?

But there is hope.

There is a trend in education to teach children, from the earliest grades, the importance of character and how to do what is right. This is not a new concept, but a throwback to the days when instilling right from wrong was a cornerstone of the upbringing of our children.

Educational theories and practices based on social and emotional learning (SEL) bring back the idea that academic success is rooted in teaching the ability to make responsible decisions.

For years, education reform efforts have focused on setting national standards in academics in order to reduce disparities in mathematics and language arts proficiency.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education since 2009, has devoted his tenure to holding educators accountable for academic standards, through programs such as Race To The Top, No Child Left Behind, and Common Core. However, this emphasis on meeting standards and its inherent need for assessment put pressure on educators to “teach to the test.” Something had to give — citizenship.

A resurgence in SEL is advanced by organizations such as the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. CASEL’s mission is to ensure that students from preschool through high school become “knowledgeable, responsible, caring and contributing members of society.”

By advancing curriculum that fosters this goal, and sponsoring research and promoting acceptance of the underlying principles into public education, CASEL and similar groups hope to make character development as important as academics in child development and learning.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum, was originally published in 1989 and is now in its fifteenth edition. Fulghum’s tenets include the need to:

  • Share
  • Play nicely
  • Cooperate
  • Speak with respect
  • Say please, thank you, and sorry

All simple things, really. But they are clearly lacking today in political dialogue and public discourse.

Even Secretary Duncan has admitted a troubling trend of too much focus on testing.

,” Duncan said recently in announcing a policy change to relax emphasis on testing.

Time will tell whether we will see new trends in educational reform focused not on academic standards, but rather on the social skills and character traits which define how we as individuals contribute to society.

The need is clear to develop a new generation of socially and emotionally adept leaders, and restore character and integrity to those we elect as our leaders. More immediately, this Election Day, reward those who demonstrate strong character traits with your vote. Choose your jellybeans with care.

Glenn DavisIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Ill. Libertarian Party Files Complaint Against GOP for Intimidating Petition Signers http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/ill-libertarian-party-files-complaint-gop-intimidating-petition-signers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ill-libertarian-party-files-complaint-gop-intimidating-petition-signers http://ivn.us/2014/09/15/ill-libertarian-party-files-complaint-gop-intimidating-petition-signers/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:31:45 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295650334 Ill. Libertarian Party Files Complaint Against GOP for Intimidating Petition Signers

A few weeks ago, the Illinois Libertarian Party (LP) qualified for statewide ballot access, but on Friday, Illinois LP candidate for attorney general, Ben Koyl, formally filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. The complaint surrounds whether the Illinois Republican Party utilized intimidation tactics against petition signature collectors for the LP.

Carl WicklanderIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Ill. Libertarian Party Files Complaint Against GOP for Intimidating Petition Signers

As Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner receives unpleasant polling news, his state party may also face a federal investigation.

A few weeks ago, the Illinois Libertarian Party (LP) qualified for statewide ballot access, but on Friday, Illinois LP candidate for attorney general, Ben Koyl, formally filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. The complaint surrounds whether the Illinois Republican Party utilized intimidation tactics against petition signature collectors for the LP.

The Rauner campaign has long denied any connection to intimidation tactics. However, stories about armed men confronting LP ballot signers have circulated for months.

The Illinois Republican Party hired lawyer John Fogarty to challenge LP ballot signatures. Fogarty’s firm hired Morrison Security “to help build a case against the Libertarian petitions,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

After first saying it was normal for Morrison Security investigators to carry firearms on the job, the Illinois GOP later said, “We do not support the practice of any investigator wearing a firearm while verifying petition signatures.”

In his statement, Koyl said he is hoping the U.S. Department of Justice will:

“Investigate this matter to ensure that citizens who run for public office and those who assist them can exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of intimidation or deception.”

The Rauner campaign announced it was committed to seeing as many people participating in the political process as possible.

Koyl continued by saying:

“If this is true, we expect [Rauner] will ‘walk the talk’ and publicly announce his support to stop the Republican Party of Illinois’ continuing ballot-blocking efforts and welcome Libertarian candidates into all upcoming debates.”

Koyl earlier issued his complaints about intimidation to the Cook County State Attorney’s office and the Illinois Attorney General’s office, but received no response.

The news of a potential federal investigation for the Illinois GOP is only the first leg of trouble for Rauner’s campaign. After leading most polls since his primary victory in March, Rauner has found himself trailing incumbent governor Pat Quinn in a couple recent ones.

A Democratic Governors Association poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group shows Quinn leading among likely voters 43-40, with LP candidate Chad Grimm receiving 5 percent. It also shows Rauner failing to attract independents or lure Democrats to switch sides.

A separate Chicago Tribune poll also showed Quinn leading Rauner 48-37 with 5 percent for Grimm. Troubling Rauner in the Tribune poll is that Quinn is viewed as more trustworthy than him. Rauner, a political newcomer, has been criticized for tailoring his campaign to polling data.

Bruce Rauner is not implicated in any wrongdoing regarding intimidation, but it serves as a distraction in a campaign that is quickly tightening.

Photo: Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner / Sun-Times

Carl WicklanderIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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