THE First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
Fast forward to 2000s. We do love oh how we love our Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Oh yeah! But we don't like people freely exercising their religion. Or it depends on what religion? You are stereotyped as this if your religion is that. If you don't believe in a God then you are cool? I guess, you believe in yourself. Independent thinker. Yup. Sweet. There is Freedom in America, a lot better than what others work around with somewhere. But our Freedoms live and love within the bounds of the Constitution. That is the fact of living in a society such as ours.
Hence the practice of one's right boils down to Common Sense. Freedom is all about smart thinking. So if someone calls you a Moron, that's Freedom. Then calls you a MoronPremiumPlus+ that's also Freedom. If someone compares you with the most vile human being who ever lived? Freedom. An individual may call that way. But how do I call that personage? Hmmm. I reserve my right to hush. I'd rather write a love poem. It is my right or common sense to ignore morons.
IN 2016, the Department of Defense spent $585 billion, an increase of $1 billion versus 2015. This is a partial measure of all defense-related spending. The military budget of the United States during FY 2014 was approximately $582 billion in expenses for the Department of Defense (DoD), $149 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and $43 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, for a total of $770 billion.
YES. We need to talk about Climate Change. With or without Irma or Harvey. We should keep on writing and talking about Katrina and Sandy. And all the typhoons in the Philippines and tsunamis of the past. Yet many keep on arguing about the larger politics of polar extremes. This time, pointing fingers don't help. Jose is coming. No, he is not Mexican or Filipino. It is hurricane. These mediapeople and politicians need to spend those expensive airtime telling people where to get refuge or shelter, or enjoining people who got resources in excess to share part of their wealth to a calamity fund--instead of arguing about some Cabinet official's not so smart words. Again, there are 8,008,000 millionaires and 631 billionaires in the US. How many in the world? (Google it.) Yet only $2 billlion approved for this calamity drive so far?
MORE rant. Imagine this. All or maybe 75 percent of the globe's billionaires hand calamity victims all over the world $2 billion each annually, at least, no questions asked. With or without calamity. A Global Calamity Fund that keeps on building up each year as the rich keep on getting richer. Do you know that there are 2,043 billionaires in the world? Some 719 in Asia, and 631 in the US and North America? I am not even talking about millionaires. In the US alone, there are 8,008,000 millionaires. Imagine that!
FACT. Plants and factories run on oil. Plants and factories hire people in thousands. But then too much reliance on oil messes up the environment. Catch 22. Any government wouldn't be able to bring plants and factories up, and help stop trade balance by going further south, if environmental standards aren't laxed (and tax subsidies aren't ushered on the table). That's what happened in China (upon WTO membership in 2001) when American and European 1 percent brought plants and factories there. Now Beijing is spreading investments out globally, and “fixing” their environment by putting money on alternative energy. That is why there are factory jobs in the US again. That is why the Cabinet is replete with Climate Deniers. Do I have to explain when EPA was created? At the time of Nixon? Almost at the same time Washington struck a deal with Saudi Arabia for oil diggings (and importation from Canada et al), and US oil decreased production? We consume oil at 20+ percent annually despite slowed diggings in the West Coast. Figure that one out.
TO respond to a friend and elaborate on how immigrants (living in America) feel about US internal issues, whether they are naturalized citizens, visa-holding residents, documented or undocumented illegals. As long as a human being lives in the US, and as long as Washington's foreign policy and trade relations affect them and their families and their home/origin-countries, they have a right to speak their mind. America is still the most powerful nation in the world, irrelevant of China or Russia. Hence, it is due each and everyone to share their political thoughts. It is a global community with the US up there on centerstage. That's a fact that we in the US have to accept and be responsible with. One major reason why I chose to live here. As do other (famous) writers that influenced me. This is the stage to speak up. Hence the more we take responsibility with our rights the more we could espouse peace, and the more our voice will be heard.
PER capita income in the US is still relatively higher than most countries at $57,300. In fact, higher than Australia ($48,800), Germany ($48,200), and yup! higher than Canada ($46,200). And a lot higher than Russia ($26,100) and China ($15,400). Price of gasoline per liter is a lot more expensive in Hongkong, Norway, Netherlands, and the Philippines than in the US. Cost of electric power $/kWh is more expensive in Denmark, Germany and Spain (41 to 30 cents per kWh) than in the US (12 cents). Healthcare may be better in Canada and Taiwan, and even in Russia, but America can't always be the "best in life" or the "most awesome" all the time, you know. We are still cool. The good things we got may still be better. Or bestest. Mostest. Don't worry too much. Smile!
THE Chinese are the scapegoat. If things aren't doing fine, blame the Chinese. It's as though they invaded and colonized America and other countries just like how Queen Isabella ordered Ferds and Christopher to sail and grab some more land or how Alexander The Great and Napoleon ran over natives in some island and built their Twizzler factories there and forced people to speak Mandarin. It's as though they invented globalization or founded WTO. It's as though when products get here these didn't go through scrutiny by non-Chinese quality control and non-Chinese port inspectors. So on and so forth. The thing about the Chinese? We can diss and shame them anytime, yet they will still sell us lo meins with a Jackie Chan smile. And we buy `em because it tastes goodah! Then we say hey lois meinz is French, right? German maybe? Or Minnesota.
COST or price/s of gasoline in the US may not go up due to several reasons. But I think the apt question is, what is too high in terms of the gravity of our consumption (hence amount of supply as per demand)? The most affordable gasoline price in the world is $0.02 per gallon in Venezuela for a people with average daily wage of $16.14. Next is in Kuwait, $0.88 with $68.69 daily wage. Third lowest is US: $2.57 per gallon for daily wage of $156.34.
Generally, those countries that produce a lot of oil also have relatively low gas prices. But that'd lose meaning when it comes to consumption. The US is the 3rd largest producer of oil (notwithstanding huge imports) yet it consumes a whopping 20+ percent of global consumption. Kuwait is #8 and Venezuela is #10 in production but they're not even close to the top 10 consumers. You might say those two nations are tiny hence they consume less. (Though Venezuela isn't "tiny.") But then Russia and Canada are the world's largest countries (and 1st or 2nd and 4th in oil production) but in terms of consumption, Russia uses only 3.6 percent (5th) and Canada, 2.8 percent (10th).
I do believe that if America, especially with many factories going East, lessens reliance on fossil fuel, both industry and humanity, it'd help a lot in stalling the horrors of climate change. I do believe that if America, especially with many factories going East, lessens reliance on fossil fuel, both industry and humanity, it'd help a lot in stalling the horrors of climate change. But then can you imagine if cost of gasoline in the US goes up to $6/gallon or around European standards? That'd be the time when followers of Trump, Hillary, and Sanders will be on one spot. Maybe they'd finally agree. Uh huh.
NEWS. "The Democrats' Religion Problem." Secular candidates have a hard time winning the trust of religious voters, says a recent New York Times story. I concur. According to latest studies, some 70.6 percent of American adults identified themselves as Christian, with 56 percent saying religion played a "very important role in their lives," a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation. Meantime, irreligion is growing rapidly among Americans under 30. Yet not enough to swing votes, and if ever they are strong in some states, they are also divided, as what the Nov 2016 attested, as against the traditional religious with a potent mass base.
NEWS COMMENTARY. Observer Moshik Temkin agrees, "Historians Shouldn't Be Pundits." Or pointing at a historical figure (mostly bad ones) to accentuate current bad boy personalities is a bit off kilter. I am referring to all these asymmetrical comparisons that many love to throw out there. You see, comparing Donald Trump to Nixon and Hitler might be good for TV, but bad for history. Or Philippine president Duterte with deposed dictator Marcos, Putin with Stalin etc etcetera. Such a dig on oblique parallelisms (sic) only say many are history-dumb or history-clueless. And it's bad to the young's education. Who wants to read up a 2000-word history on that tiny iPhone? Let's be responsible sometimes.
NEWS. "White House Pushes Military Might Over Humanitarian Aid in Africa." African and American military leaders are uneasy that shifting to a military-heavy presence on the continent could hurt America's long-term interests. Oh well. Meantime, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are planning to propose a defense budget of $640 billion for 2018, a $37 billion increase over the Trump administration's previous $603 billion request. Uh huh.
NEWS. "American Companies Still Make Aluminum. In Iceland." The Trump administration blames China for the decline of aluminum production in the U.S. But where has it really gone? In Iceland. US companies are doing them there, with the Chinese of course. (Iceland signed a free trade agreement with China in 2013.) And BTW, Iceland is the seventh most productive country in the world per capita. And the world's largest electricity (hydroelectric and geothermal power) producer per capita, although 85 percent of their total primary energy supply is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources. Aluminum, uh huh.
NEWS. "Luxury Cars Offer More Models, but Find Fewer Buyers." Automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have failed to expand their market share by offering more variety, joining the industry's overall sales decline. Do you know how much auto companies spend for their research and development programs? BMW spent 1.32 billion euros last year. Daimler, owner of Mercedes-Benz, bankrolled 6.6 billion euros. 1 Euro is 1.13 US Dollar. Highest annual R&D budget, for all businesses, is Volkswagen's $13.5 billion. Toyota (#7 overall), $9.1 billion. More cars also mean more oil. Of course. You know the annual national budget of Ghana? $12 billion. Samoa? $280 million.
THE United States only has 25.8 internet subscribers for every 100 inhabitants. That is lower than the world's top ten most computerized peoples per capita, with 29 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. The top ten: Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, South Korea, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Canada. Remember on election time, digital tech or computer reliance were supposed to be integral? So it seemed. We thought the 48 percent of Americans who voted in the last elections were mostly online debating on Facebook? Nope.
NEWS. "Movie Ticket Sales Sagging? Time to Bring Out the Toys." Okay, okay. I don't mean "toys." I mean, Toys. The once-catatonic corner of moviedom dedicated to merchandise has suddenly come alive as studios — walloped by vanishing DVD sales and determined to keep fans engaged between sequels — look at themed toys, clothes and home décor with renewed vigor. That's what I'm talkin' about. Recent revenue from licensed products — Wonder Woman action figures, Harry Potter iPhone cases, Scooby-Doo pajamas — totaled $6.5 billion, an 8 percent increase from previous year. Sell-out, hardsell, commercialization? Those words don't figure anymore. You reckon?
IT is logical and natural or the media to focus on the president of the most powerful country in the world. That's just a fact of journalism in any given time. The issue isn't about a clown or a good one in White House. It is how journalists tackle and treat a news story for the common good (of the people). More info dissemination than opinionated "analysis." Which is the true goal of media or journalism. Meantime, Trump as a clown actually works for him. Isn't it very clear yet that he is a man who savors attention, whatever attention that is, clownish the better? That's where his genius resides. Distraction. It is on the other side of the road. Though many doesn't recognize his brilliance, as though all brilliance/s are saintly, which is a flaw in how we as a people view leadership. Now when I talk like this, some people say I am giving Trump credit which is again a form of ignorance.
People these days simply want you on either polar extremes. If you don't hate Trump as they do, you are a pro Trump. Sick thinking! That thinking only makes the situation worse? Why. It widens the divide among people which only benefits powers that continually feast on our vulnerabilities. Anger is a form of vulnerability or weakness. Anger isn't strength especially when it is bottled up (ie online). Anger can be powerful if it is translated in pro active moves out there, as persuasion. A motivation for further study and planning. But anger all the time only puts off people, even those who are supposedly part of the choir. I stopped being angry at governments. They abused that anger to blind me more. I need to strategize and work things out.
That's how we help usher change. Maybe many are angry due to personal reasons. I have personal reasons why I should be angry at the government. But me I mine is just a small fragment of a nation. I have to know what others, those who are not my partisan friendships, are thinking too.
OF Presidents and Trump. I don't watch (or listen to) President Trump on TV. I never watched “The Apprentice” at all. I don't hate him. I just don't like him. But I am interested in the man because he is the President of the United States of America. If the president is Conan O'Brien or Kim Kardashian, I will read them as well. As a journalist, I receive full text/s of his speeches and whatever he said or says, as I receive other media feeds from White House Press Office from the time of George W onto Obama. Several numbers everyday, 24/7. I read all those news dispatches and official communication. If you are going to talk to me about America's affairs vis a vis working class and the global community as a voracious anti Trump personage, no go. Save it for someone else. But let's talk about the in's and out's, between-lines and hidden-lines, of whatever his government is doing. I like to learn and I'd like to share what I know or how I think. Don't teach me partisan anger or anger per se. I've been there done than that.