Posts Tagged ‘Ethics

01
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-1-08: The Weather Underground

1950: Fuchs guilty of espionage

In London, Klaus Fuchs, a German-born physicist who helped build the first two US atomic bombs, is convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Because he committed the espionage before the USSR was designated a British enemy, he was only sentenced to 14 years.

Fuchs, a Communist, fled Germany for Britain after the rise of Adolf Hitler. In 1943, he was enlisted into the US atomic bomb program and soon was relating precise information about the US program to a Soviet spy. In 1945, Fuchs returned to England, where he was arrested by British intelligence in December 1949.

The discovery of Fuchs’ espionage came four months after the Soviets successfully tested their first atomic bomb, a development that helped motivate US President Harry Truman to approve the American hydrogen bomb program.

http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/this_day_in_history/this_day_March_1.php

1498 – Vasco de Gama landed at what is now Mozambique on his way to India.

1562 – In Vassy, France, Catholics massacred over 1,000 Huguenots. The event started the First War of Religion.

1692 – In Salem Village, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Salem witch trials began. Four women were the first to be charged.

1781 – In America, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation.

1803 – Ohio became the 17th U.S. state.

1815 – Napoleon returned to France from the island of Elba. He had been forced to abdicate in April of 1814.

1845 – U.S. President Tyler signed the congressional resolution to annex the Republic of Texas.

1864 – Louis Ducos de Hauron patented a machine for taking and projecting motion pictures. The machine was never built.

1867 – Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state.

1872 – The U.S. Congress authorized the creation of Yellowstone National Park. It was the world’s first national park.

1873 – E. Remington and Sons of Ilion, NY, began the manufacturing the first practical typewriter.

1912 – Captain Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from a moving airplane.

1932 – The 22-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped. The child was found dead in May.

1937 – U.S. Steel raised workers’ wages to $5 a day.

1950 – Klaus Fuchs was convicted of giving U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

1954 – The United States announced that it had conducted a hydrogen bomb test on the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

1954 – Five U.S. congressmen were wounded when four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire from the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives.

1961 – The Peace Corps was established by U.S. President Kennedy.

1966 – The Soviet probe, Venera 3 crashed on the planet Venus. It was the first unmanned spacecraft to land on the surface of another planet.

1971 – A bomb exploded in a restroom in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol. There were no injuries. A U.S. group protesting the Vietnam War claimed responsibility.*

1974 – Seven people were indicted in connection with the Watergate break-in. The charge was conspiring to obstruct justice.

1999 – In Uganda, eight tourists were brutally murdered by Hutu rebels.

*The Weather Underground, a radical and violent splinter group of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), are held responsible for this attack.

“Hello, I’m going to read a declaration of a state of war…within the next 14 days we will attack a symbol or institution of American injustice.” ~ Bernardine Dohrn http://www.upstatefilms.org/weather/main.html

This is a full length film documentary and has graphic violent content.

“The Weather Underground”

Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society, 1962

Introductory Note: This document represents the results of several months of writing and discussion among the membership, a draft paper, and revision by the Students for a Democratic Society national convention meeting in cf2 Port Huroncf0 , Michigan, June 11-15, 1962. It is represented as a document with which SDS officially identifies, but also as a living document open to change with our times and experiences. It is a beginning: in our own debate and education, in our dialogue with society.

published and distributed by Students for a Democratic Society 112 East 19 Street New York 3, New York GRamercy 3-2181

http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/huron.html

“Violence didn’t work.”  Mark Rudd

A policy is a temporary creed liable to be changed, but while it holds good it has got to be pursued with apostolic zeal.
Mohandas Gandhi

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
Mohandas Gandhi

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09
Feb
08

On This Day 2-9-08: Turning Points, Guadalcanal

1825 – The U.S. House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams president. No candidate had received a majority of electoral votes.

1861 – The Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as its president.

1870 – The United States Weather Bureau was authorized by Congress. The bureau is officially known as the National Weather Service (NWS).

1900 – Dwight F. Davis put up a new tennis trophy to go to the winner in matches against England. The trophy was a silver cup that weighed 36 pounds.

1909 – The first forestry school was incorporated in Kent, Ohio.

1942 – The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff held its first formal meeting to coordinate military strategy during World War II.

1943 – During World War II, the battle of Guadalcanal ended with an American victory over Japanese forces.

1950 – U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. This was the beginning of “McCarthyism.”

1971 – The Apollo 14 spacecraft returned to Earth after mankind’s third landing on the moon.

1975 – The Russian Soyuz 17 returned to Earth.

1989 – Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. completed the $25 billion purchase of RJR Nabisco, Inc.

1997 – “The Simpsons” became the longest-running prime-time animated series. “The Flintstones” held the record previously.

I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five people that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.
Joseph R. McCarthy

Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.
John Adams

Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.
John Adams

One reason I have always been fascinated with History is because of points in time when something so significant happens that it alters life on Earth.  When it happens it may just be something deemed newsworthy by the press; such as, the US victory over the Japanese at Guadalcanal, or US Senator Joseph McCarthy (R, Wisconsin) charging that the United States State Department was riddled with Communists.  Events that may be viewed with great cheer or great consternation, but events so important that the course of mankind is forever altered.

The battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific significantly altered the course of World War II against Japan in that from that point on Japan could not stop the US military. 

A grinding battle of attrition, Guadalcanal tested the endurance of each nation’s armies and navies.  Soldiers fought battles so closely that eye to eye hand to hand combat became the norm, rather than the firepower battles fought between dueling artillery batteries that have dominated warfare since the first time Stonewall Jackson lined up his artillery wheel to wheel in mass formation during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of the American Civil War. 

Navies gave no quarter as American PT boats and destroyers challenged Japanese destroyers and cruisers, or American cruisers took on Japanese battleships.  Both nations sacrificed air craft carriers, and desperate efforts to keep the soldiers supplied on Guadalcanal resulted in horrific casualties with American supply ships driven off and US soldiers forced to survive on captured Japanese supplies, or the desperate “Tokyo Express” runs made by fast Japanese destroyers carrying as many as a thousand soldiers each running through “The Slot” of the Solomon Islands, attempting to supply the Japanese Army on the island.  Caught out it in the open seas these ships could not outrun pursuing dive bombers or strafing fighters sent out by Japanese air craft carriers, or from the American held Henderson Air Field resulting in the untimely deaths of thousands of soldiers and sailors.  So many ships sunk in the area of sea between Guadalcanal and Tulagi it has forever been dubbed Iron Bottom Sound. 

For more pictures and information about this battle, please follow this link:  http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/guadlcnl/guadlcnl.htm

The Battle of Guadalcanal typifies the horrific cost of war and the terrible sacrifice made for American freedom. 

image 1The very real threat of foreign enemies fought during World War II gave way to a perceived threat of foreign enemies following the war.  A perceived threat that US Senator Joseph McCarthy (R, Wisconsin) defined in a speech before the US Senate on this day in history, a definitive moment in history and in how Americans define freedom. 

Dubbed McCarthyism this dangerous perception of Communists in the midst of the American government, military and society forever altered how Americans would interpret freedom.  No longer would Americans debate the nature of freedom.  What is freedom of the press?  What is freedom of speech?  Because Joe McCarthy defined it as freedom is not being Communist. 

If you lived in a Communist country, if you studied Communism, if you had ever attended a lecture about Communism, if you had ever quoted a Communist, you were not free.  The careers of scientists, writers, actors, movie producers, government workers, military officers, and common citizens could be ruined with the mere suggestion that they had Communistic tendencies.  If you worked in a union, supported unions or tried to organize unions you were labeled Communist.  If you argued against the war in Vietnam, you were labeled a Communist.  If you argued against government taxation or against government meddling you were labeled a Communist.  

Understanding the significance of a moment in time fascinates me.  Understanding how those moments alter life sometimes enthralls me and sometimes angers me.  Joe McCarthy’s power hungry paranoia and disregard for the sacrifices made by Americans in the many battles like Guadalcanal in the name of freedom and freedom loving peoples has altered how Americans interpret their freedom and significantly altered life on Earth.  For more on Joe McCarthy:  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmccarthy.htm.

11
Jan
08

On This Day 1-11-08

1815 – U.S. General Andrew Jackson achieved victory at the Battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 had officially ended on December 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. The news of the signing had not reached British troops in time to prevent their attack on New Orleans.

1861 – Alabama seceded from the United States.

1867 – Benito Juarez returned to the Mexican presidency, following the withdrawal of French troops and the execution of Emperor Maximilian.

1902 – “Popular Mechanics” magazine was published for the first time.

1935 – Amelia Earhart Putnam became the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

1964 – U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released a report that said that smoking cigarettes was a definite health hazard.

I usually don’t talk about politics.  It’s kind of like arguing on the Internet.  You may win the argument, but people will view you as an idiot in the process because you were dumb enough to get into the argument in the first place.

I’m not a big fan of politics.  I don’t even like to vote.  I do remember the first time I voted though.  I had just turned eighteen and there was a runoff election for county judge in my home county.  The incumbent judge was the same guy who four years earlier had slammed his gavel down and given the man who murdered a best friend of mine two years for involuntary manslaughter.  If you’re thinking about murdering someone, shoot them seven times with a twenty-two rifle and then claim you thought you were shooting a bear.  You’ll only get two years.

I walked into that polling booth and of course the little old gray hairs knew my dad.  “You look just like him.”  I registered right then and there because Wisconsin isn’t one of those Nazi states that has all those rules about registering way before the election so people will be denied their right to vote — although they’re trying to Nazify the voting process here too.  One of the gray hairs handed me a ballot and explained how it worked.  I entered the booth not even knowing who was on the ballot.

I slipped the ballot booklet into the punch card apparatus and opened it to the instruction page.  I carefully read and followed the instructions.  I opened the next page and saw that judges name.  I think that is the day I began understanding my personal anger.  I pushed that punch through his opponents name and felt satisfied.  I didn’t care about political parties and still don’t.  I just voted my conscience and still do.

That judge lost.  After eleven years of being the county judge, we threw his butt out.  I like to believe that the other kids who turned eighteen that year and remembered that boy left face down in a trout stream also voted against that judge.  Oddly enough over the next five years we got them all.  From the dog catcher to the mayor to the state legislators.  We got them all, including a state legislator who had held his seat for twenty-three years.

This election will be historic.  The first time a woman or a black man will be running for president.  But no election has held any meaning for me since those first five years of my voting history.  Every time I voted in those days, I walked out of the polling place feeling satisfied.  These days I leave the polling place feeling like I need a shower.

15
Dec
07

On This Day 12-15: The Price of Hegemony

he·gem·o·ny /hɪˈdʒɛməni, ˈhɛdʒəˌmoʊni/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[hi-jemuh-nee, hejuh-moh-nee] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun, plural -nies.

1.
leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.

2.
leadership; predominance.

3.
(esp. among smaller nations) aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.


[Origin: 1560–70; < Gk hégemonía leadership, supremacy, equiv. to hégemon- (s. of hégemn) leader + -ia -y3]Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hegemony1791 – In the U.S., the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, went into effect following ratification by the state of Virginia.1877 – Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

1890 – American Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, SD, during an incident with Indian police working for the U.S. government.

1938 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

1944 – A single-engine plane carrying U.S. Army Major Glenn Miller disappeared in thick fog over the English Channel while en route to Paris.

1944 – American forces invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines.

1961 – Former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death in Jerusalem by an Israeli court. He had been tried on charges for organizing the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.

1961 – The U.N. General Assembly voted against a Soviet proposal to admit Communist China as a member.

1965 – Two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, maneuvered within 10 feet of each other while in orbit around the Earth.

1970 – The Soviet probe Venera 7 became the first spacecraft to land softly on the surface of Venus. The probe only survived the extreme heat and pressure for about 23 minutes and transmitted the first data received on Earth from the surface of another planet.

1978 – U.S. President Carter announced he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year’s Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.*

1992 – El Salvador’s government and leftist guerrilla leaders formally declared the end of the country’s 12-year civil war.**

*A Diplomatic Mission had been opened under the Nixon administration.  The deal with China to get full diplomatic relations not only included severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it also meant supporting a Chinese incursion into Vietnam.  The Chinese incursion into Vietnam was meant to draw the Vietnamese out of Cambodia, China’s ally.  The Carter administration also agreed, as part of the deal, to give military, medical, and economic aid to Cambodia.  The Cambodian government at that time was led by Pol Pot.  With the Vietnamese gone from Pol Pot’s Cambodia, he was then able to continue his genocide of his own people.  It is estimated that Pol Pot killed between one million and four million Cambodians.

**This was a very brutal war.  For more information lookup El Mozote’ or follow this link to read Mark Danner’s account:  http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people/Danner/1993/truthelmoz01.html.  This ain’t for the faint of heart.

09
Dec
07

On This Day 12-9: John Birch

1608 – English poet John Milton was born in London.

1884 – Levant M. Richardson received a patent for the ball-bearing roller skate.

1917 – Turkish troops surrendered Jerusalem to British troops led by Viscount Allenby.

1940 – During World War II, British troops opened their first major offensive in North Africa.

1941 – China declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

1955 – Sugar Ray Robinson knocked out Carl Olson and regained his world middleweight boxing title.

1958 – In Indianapolis, IN, Robert H.W. Welch Jr. and 11 other men met to form the anti-Communist John Birch Society.

1960 – Sperry Rand Corporation unveiled a new computer, known as “Univac 1107.”

1975 – U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signed a $2.3 billion seasonal loan authorization to prevent New York City from having to default.

1990 – Lech Walesa won Poland’s first direct presidential election in the country’s history.

1992 – U.S. troops arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, to oversee delivery of international food aid, in operation ‘Restore Hope’.

1994 – U.S. President Clinton fired Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders after learning that she had told a conference that masturbation should be discussed in school as a part of human sexuality.

I belong to the generation of workers who, born in the villages and hamlets of rural Poland, had the opportunity to acquire education and find employment in industry, becoming in the course conscious of their rights and importance in society.
Lech Walesa

And for well over a hundred years our politicians, statesmen, and people remembered that this was a republic, not a democracy, and knew what they meant when they made that distinction.
Robert Welch

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
John Milton

A Brief History of John Birch found at:  http://www.jbs.org/node/4829

At the age of eleven, Birch expressed a desire to become a Christian missionary. Upon learning of the violence inflicted upon missionaries by Chinese communists, the youngster selected China as his mission field. When cautioned by his pastor that “more will be killed” in China, Birch replied: “I know the big enemy is communism, but the Lord has called me. My life is in his hands, and I am not turning back.”

Birch’s labors in China began in 1940, a time when the country was being ravaged by the Japanese military. After Pearl Harbor he dyed his hair black, adopted the garb of the local population, and continued his underground work behind enemy lines. While near the border of Japanese-occupied territory on the evening of April 19, 1942, Birch came upon Colonel James H. Doolittle and members of the raiding party that had just completed a dramatic bombing raid on Tokyo. With his encyclopedic knowledge of the language, customs, and geography of China, Birch was able to convey Doolittle and the crews of 12 American bombers to safety in free China.

Shortly thereafter, Birch became an intelligence analyst as a second lieutenant with the China Air Task Force — General Claire Chennault’s legendary “Flying Tigers.” Performing high-risk intelligence-gathering missions on the ground, Birch acted as “the eyes of the 14th Air Force,” devising an early warning system that enabled U.S. air units to come to the aid of Chinese units under enemy attack. He also organized a rescue system for pilots who were shot down by the Japanese. Chennault credited Birch with the fact that 90 percent of his downed flyers were rescued.

On August 25, 1945 — ten days after the end of WWII — Birch (by then a captain) was part of an official military mission to Suchow that was detained by Chinese communists. Captain Birch and another man were separated from their group and shot. An autopsy later demonstrated that after Birch had been immobilized by a gunshot to the leg, his hands were tied behind his back and he was shot execution-style in the back of his head. The communists had also desecrated Birch’s dead body.

In its desire to depict the Red Chinese as innocuous “agrarian reformers,” the U.S. government suppressed the news of the unprovoked murder of Captain Birch. It fell upon Robert Welch to rescue the memory of this selfless Christian patriot from the shameful oblivion to which it had been assigned. In December 1958, Welch named the new organization he created the John Birch Society to preserve the memory of this patriotic exemplar. Wrote Mr. Welch, “If we rediscover some of our sounder spiritual values in the example of his life … and learn essential truths about our enemy from the lesson of his murder, then his death at twenty-six ceases to be a tragedy.”

04
Nov
07

On This Day:11-4

1924 – Nellie T. Ross of Wyoming was elected America’s first woman governor so she could serve out the remaining term of her late husband, William B. Ross.

1956 – Soviet forces enter Hungary in order to supress the uprising that had begun on October 23, 1956.

1979 – Iranian militants seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 63 Americans hostage (90 total hostages). The militants, mostly students, demanded that the U.S. send the former shah back to Iran to stand trial. Many hostages were later released, but 52 were held for the next 14 months.

1989 – About a million East Germans filled the streets of East Berlin in a pro-democracy rally.

It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.
Walter Lippmann

A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.
Abraham Lincoln 


As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
Abraham Lincoln

20
Aug
07

Opiate of the Masses

Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the masses.” If religions are the opiate of the masses then the faith-based religions are to heroin as the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses are to aspirin. The early pagan gods were punitive and reward based — if we please them then we’ll have a good harvest; if we don’t please them then we will not prevail in war. Like aspirin cures a headache, the early gods could cure droughts or stop enemy armies. Then along comes Christianity peddling its message of salvation at a time when people believed gods controlled weather and the outcome of battles. A simple message these Christians had, believe in Jesus as the son of God and you shall be granted eternal life; but not just any life, you’ll be granted life in heaven free of fear and privation. An intoxicating message, the promise of eternal life, especially to simple people who contemplate stars as gods capable of preventing droughts.

Simple people, with limited or no education, then contemplated this intoxicating message and changed the world they knew by developing codes of law, and forms of behavior that had not existed under paganism, bringing justice and fairness to a world that had none. The great Roman Empire touted science as proof of its greatness. Roman aqueducts carried water across miles of desert to irrigate crops and to supply their great cities. Roman engineers created cement that allowed the construction of great buildings, not just piles of shaped stone that tower like mountains in the desert, but baths, coliseums, and pagan temples that have survived until today. The Romans also destroyed whole civilizations with the inhabitants murdered or forced into slavery, and their laws permitted women and children, forced into slavery, as the sexual toys of the rich and powerful. Today we call it genocide because behavior like that of those Roman conquerors offends that sense of law developed from the faith-based religions.

When a scientist saw a falling red orb commonly served in pies, that scientist gave us the revolutionary theory of gravity. Sir Isaac Newton then took a prism, placed it in a darkened room, shone sunlight through a crack in a blacked out window and discovered the spectrum, but more importantly he created scientific method. The observation of natural phenomena, the development of a theory of the phenomena (hypothesis), the recording of those observations, and how those observations compared to the hypothesis. With the development of scientific method scientists revolutionized life on earth, creating machines of extraordinary capabilities; medicines capable of curing diseases that in the past killed millions, and generally made life more convenient, giving humans more freedom to pursue their interests rather than being preoccupied with survival from famine or war.

With the stage set religion and science have become diametrically opposed ideologies that continue in this perplexing battle that disprove each other based either on faith or scientific methodology. Christianity, the dominant ideology, stands entrenched behind dogma and centuries of sacrifice. Who could forget the thousands of Christians sacrificed to “the games” in the Coliseum when Nero needed a scapegoat for the great fire that swept through Rome? Or how barbarian pagans boiled and mutilated those tribesman seduced by Christianity’s promise? Science, the emergent ideology, rises from centuries of disease and privation with pasteurization and bathing to rid bacteria, with fertilization to help crops grow, with engineering to control floods and save water in time of drought and easing the sufferings of mankind. It seems then that God offers a promise after life, while science delivers during life.

However, the faith-based religions have created a residual ideology that is more important than our own ethereal survival. A residual ideology that teaches us that while scientists can create weapons so terrible that tens of thousands of lives can be destroyed in seconds, ethically, the price is worth the millions of lives that could be saved if using such a weapon ends a terrible war. Ethics, as a residual ideology born of faith-based religions and the philosophers who contemplated their importance to humanity, are as important to scientific development as Newton’s scientific method because greedy powerful men will use scientific inventions without caring who suffers.

Oppenheimer stated, after observing the explosion of the first atom bomb, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Oppenheimer’s fellow Manhattan Project scientists, unchecked by ethics, created the neutron bomb, which the Soviets called “the perfect capitalist weapon” because it kills the people without damaging the stuff, but President Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia with a devout Christian ethic, refused to permit them being built in the United States. Ethically world leaders condemned above-ground nuclear bomb testing, because scientists had determined that fallout levels created by such tests were detrimental to human life. Maybe Karl Marx was right, and religion is just something to get us through a cold dark night, and maybe science is the panacea that can end the darkness forever, but without the ethics created by the faith-based religions science could very easily be “the destroyer of worlds” and of humanity.




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