FREE SPEECH ZONE | Reducing Gun Violence: It’s Complicated

The National Rifle Association, primarily funded by the $12 billion-dollar gun industry, has four million members, One-third of Americans–about 100 million–are gun-owners. Does the NRA speak for all of them?Sandy Hook penetrated our national numbness to gun violence but, we could get stuck in stubborn circular arguments like Roe. V. Wade opponents make, deliberately distracting from real issues.I’m the only un-armed person in my Texas, gun-owning family. But, after experiencing crime, I’ve seriously considered getting a gun twice. Law enforcement remains lax on rape, domestic violence and stalking. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Elections: What’s Democracy Got To Do With It?

The quadrennial ritual of U.S. presidential election is happening in a strange morass of massive money contributed by secret corporate donors, right-wing attempts to roll back voting rights for millions of Americans and a mountain of very real problems that neither ‘major’ political party seems interested in addressing. Add in the context of the “Arab Spring” aftermath of elections and Syria’s uprising that attempts to overthrow its dictator, it feels almost quaint that there are still people willing to die for the chance to vote. Here in the “land of the free”, as a progressive voter I am told I have no choice but to vote for the Democratic Party candidate.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.In the country that touts itself as ‘the greatest democracy on Earth’—America— elections are more like crude propaganda and 21st century grade-B exploitation films made by Madison Avenue shopping gurus. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | After Bin Laden: A reckoning and reflection

After hearing that Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden is dead, I felt relief—and hope. Hope like light coming through the crack in a locked door. Hope that we can finally end the longest war in United States’ history.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.The post-September 11th attack on Afghanistan—a country that never attacked us—was sold with two reasons: get bin Laden and defeat Al- Qaeda. The CIA says that now there are only 50 to 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. Continue Reading

Digging into urban farming at the University of Minnesota

Cities of the future may include widespread urban farming, beekeeping and a locally-grown fish industry, according to speakers at an April 19 forum on urban agriculture at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. Robert Jones, U of M professor of agronomy and plant genetics, led the discussion. Featured were Will Allen, Milwaukee urban farming pioneer, and Marla Spivak, Senior Fellow in Agricultural Systems at the U of M and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow and U of M professor of entomology, specializing in bees.           Spivak grew up in Denver and found her calling at 18, working for a commercial beekeeper. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | War and unemployment

High unemployment is good for war.Whether it’s debt-ridden college graduates working as baristas or small town youth with only fast-food and Wal-Mart as post-high school career options, high unemployment keeps a volunteer military ranks full.Underemployment, whether the problem is low wages or part-time hours, makes the National Guard and military reserves attractive for essential cash for (the promised) one weekend a month. Unfortunately, more and more “weekend warriors” are finding themselves in combat when they thought they’d be helping with disaster relief in their local communities. In spite of the current parroting that “only the private sector can create jobs,” government plays a critical role directly and indirectly.Building roads, bridges and other major infrastructure, running public transportation, creating community-based services from daycare to clinics and schools, investing in new technology such as clean, renewable energy or research, such as the National Institute of Health—all this government spending includes contracts to the private sector that create jobs. Cut the spending and, inevitably, you cut jobs. So, debates about the federal budget (as well as state and local ones) are labor issues. Continue Reading