Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 04 July 2017

Petititoners see ‘de facto military junta’

By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer 


DUTERTE UPHELDThe Supreme Court justices, shown in this June 13 photo taken on the first day of oral arguments on President Duterte’s martial law declaration, have voted to affirm it. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ


Opposition lawmakers said the Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao had placed the country under a “de facto military junta.”

“This can be a springboard to expanding [martial law] to the entire country considering how easy Congress bends to Malacañang’s will and now that they know the Supreme Court isn’t allergic to use their constitutional powers to affirm martial law,” said Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.

Baguilat, one of the petitioners who demanded the rejection of Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, said an extension of martial law would be a “draconian step to institutionalizing a dictatorship and must be opposed by democracy defenders in Congress.”

“I am vigorously opposed to a perpetual state of martial law in Mindanao. That seems to be the modus operandi now of the administration and their congressional allies now that the Supreme Court has rejected the petitions nullifying martial law,” he said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the court’s ruling effectively placed the Philippines in the hands of a de facto military junta.

“This is an ominous development that may place the country in an even more dangerous position. We could expect an emboldened military and police to commit more human rights violations and further endanger the lives of our people not just in Marawi but the whole of Mindanao,” he said.

‘Authoritarian rule’
Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin warned of a “creeping authoritarian rule” in the guise of public safety and security.

“Now that he is cloaked with such authority, President Duterte might push it to the limit and declare a drug-induced nationwide rebellion by terror groups. Martial law becomes a hard habit to break,” he said.

Villarin noted that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines had just stated that they wished to extend martial law by two more months.

“The war on drugs took a back seat when the Marawi incident happened but is now back in full swing. Duterte earlier tagged the Mautes to be in cahoots with the drug lords,” he said.

“The Supreme Court has reneged on its role as the last institutional rampart against abuse of the executive’s martial law power,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio.

Only in Lanao del Sur
“I’m afraid that this Supreme Court will go down in history as having paved the way for state repression against citizens in the name of a prolonged and expanded martial law based on nebulous and shifting grounds,” he said.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said: “Placing the entire Mindanao under martial law is difficult to comprehend and justify when the crisis is taking place only in the province of Lanao del Sur.”

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the military now would be “emboldened to carry out aerial strikes, indiscriminate firing and the use of rape as a tool of war against civilians.”

“The decision sets the ground for the arbitrary declaration of a nationwide martial law, as it upheld the presence of rebellion based merely on inaccurate and fake reports by the military,” Brosas said.



Panelo: Duterte may declare another martial law in Mindanao if needed

By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter / 

Photo: Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo. NESTOR CORRALES/ FILE PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte could declare another martial law should he seek to extend his current declaration in Mindanao and Congress won’t approve it, his chief legal counsel said on Wednesday.

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo was asked what the President would do once his martial law declaration in Mindanao had reached the 60-day limit.

“If Congress does not extend on the 60th day upon initiative of the President then there can be no extension. Another proclamation is necessary,” he said in a text message to reporters.


Under the 1987 Constitution, the Congress, upon the initiative of the President, “may extend such proclamation [of martial law] or the suspension [of the writ of habeas corpus] for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

In a Palace briefing, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla said the military may seek extension of martial law in Mindanao if necessary, citing that they have not assessed yet if they have already met the “conditions” determining the need for the persistence of military rule in the area.

“We have set conditions that would specifically act as the standards whether martial law [in Mindanao] should be extended or not. [But] the assessment regarding whether those conditions have been met has not yet been made,” Padilla said.

He reiterated that the military won’t set a deadline on the liberation of Mindanao from the Maute terrorists, saying it would be “unfair to the troops,” as they were already focused in monitoring the presence of the terrorists all over the archipelago through manhunt operations.

“We are doing our best to finish this once and for all. With the way our progress is going on, we are confident with a positive indication of the movement of our troops in the area that we are occupying,” he said.

Padilla said that the AFP would have been able to carry out military operations in Mindanao even without the aid of martial law, but not as expeditious as allowed by the presence of the military rule.

“Since martial law was there, and the writ of habeas corpus was suspended alongside the declaration, it expedited the process,” he added.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit at the wake of the Bulacan massacre victims on Tuesday, he said that the extension of martial law is upon the decision of the military.

“Our number one duty is to defend and protect the Filipino people,” he told reporters.

Duterte imposed martial law on May 23 after the AFP and the Philippine National Police told him during his visit in Russia that Marawi was in a “critical situation” following the attacks carried by Islamic State-allied gunmen.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday validated Duterte’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, deeming it legal and constitutional.

The martial law, which the Constitution limits to 60 days, is supposed to ‪end on July 22. With a report from Winona Sadia, trainee/JE



7 tourists rescued from capsized boat at sea off Northern Samar

By: Robert Dejon - Correspondent / @rdejonINQInquirer Visayas 

Photo: San Bernardino Straight, off Biri town in Northern Samar (Google maps)

PALO, Leyte — Seven tourists have been rescued shortly after the motorized boat they were riding capsized along San Bernardino Strait that connects Samar Sea to the Philippine Sea.

The passengers were hanging on the floating motorboat when a rescue team from the Biri Municipal Police Station and a local rescue group came to pluck them out of the sea at past 5 p.m. on Tuesday (July 4)

They were brought to the Rural Health Center for medical checkup.

In a report to the Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas (PRO-8), Senior Supt. Ceazar Zafiro L. Tannagan, Northern Samar police director, identified the passengers as Edward Pilapil, Ray Fecismo, Eduardo Espidido, Chresil Mateo, Mark Mateo, Newell Guardiano and Jerry Espidido – all residents of Gubat, Sorsogon.

Initial police investigation showed the tourists were on board a motorboat named Dodot that came from the famous Biri Rock formations.

Cruising alongside Dodot was another motorboat named Repsol boarded by another set of tourists.

The two motorboats were heading back to Sorsogon when “Dodot” capsized due to strong current.

One passenger on board Repsol — Chresil Mateo – called Gerry Delos Reyes, a tour guide, to ask for help.

De los Reyes, the tour guide of the group during their visit in Biri, then reported the accident to the police, which immediately formed a rescue group. SFM



1 killed, 2 hurt in Benguet collision; driver flees

By: Kimberlie Quitasol - Correspondent / @kquitasolINQInquirer Northern Luzon 

Buguias and Kabayan towns in Benguet (Wikipedia maps)

BAGUIO CITY — A man died while two others were injured when their motorcycle collided with a Tamaraw FX early Wednesday (July 5) along the Buguias-Kabayan road in Benguet province.

David Cunay was declared dead on arrival at the Lutheran Hospital in Abatan town. His companions Allan Dagines and Franklin Bulosan are being treated at the same hospital.

The FX driver fled following the accident at Sitio (subvillage) Magmagaling, Baculongan Norte village in Buguias town at at 2:45 a.m. The Cordillera police have not yet identified the driver, but have been able to trace the owner of the vehicle. SFM



Duterte slams NPA over conflicting statements

By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter /

Photo: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Marawi

President Rodrigo Duterte slammed on Wednesday the New People’s Army (NPA) for its conflicting orders against its fighters.

“Ang hindi ko talaga maintindihan, kung meron dito nakikinig na NPA, talagang sumasabog yung ulo ninyo,” Duterte told soldiers of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade in Sarangani.

“First you directed your soldiers to fight, to engage us…government. Mayamaya nagsabi kayo tutulong kayo to fight alongside with government. Mayamaya nandito na naman fight na naman kayo despite of just really doing what you want to say or say what you want to do, ito ini-engkwentro na naman ninyo,” he added.

The President said he doubted the sincerity of the communist rebels with their conflicting statements.

“Kaya ako di ako kumukumpyansa,” he said,

Malacañang had earlier said it was disturbed by the recent attacks of communist rebels even after the National Democratic Front (NDF) ordered its armed wing to refrain from launching offensive against state forces.

In a separate speech in Hagonoy, Davao de Sur, Duterte said the government must continue to talk peace with the communists.

“I have to talk to the communists but this time I hope you do it in a modality that is really sincere,” he said.

The President appealed to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison saying, “You are sick, you are not dying but you are seriously sick. Wouldn’t you be happy to see and to die that there is peace in this country before you finally close your eyes?”



North Korea missile launch: Trump berates China on trade


Photo: Missiles fired during US-South Korea drills serve as warning to North Korea

Donald Trump has criticised China following North Korea's test of a long-range missile, condemning it for increasing trade with Pyongyang.
"So much for China working with us," the US president tweeted.
The US and South Korea conducted a ballistic missile fire exercise in the Sea of Japan in response to the North.
China and Russia have urged both sides to stop flexing their military muscle and said they oppose any attempts at regime change in North Korea.
"It is perfectly clear to Russia and China that any attempts to justify the use of force by referring to [United Nations] Security Council resolutions are unacceptable, and will lead to unpredictable consequences in this region which borders both the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"Attempts to strangle the DPRK [North Korea] economically are equally unacceptable," he added.
The missile launch, the latest in a series of tests, was in defiance of a ban by the UN Security Council.
The US has asked for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the issue. A closed-door session of the 15-member body will take place later on Wednesday.
Donald Trump and Melania Trump depart for travel to Poland and the upcoming G-20 summit in Germany, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. (July 5, 2017)Image copyrightREUTERS
The US president held talks with China's leader Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida in April.
Mr Trump hailed "tremendous progress" with China after those meetings.
The trade figures showing an increase in trade between China and North Korea, which he was apparently referring to in Wednesday's critical tweet, cover the period before that April meeting.
The US president is now en route to Poland and Germany, where he will meet Mr Xi for the second time.
Is the new missile test a game-changer?
Can the US defend itself against N Korea?
China, which is Pyongyang's main economic ally, and Russia have called on North Korea to suspend its ballistic missile programme in exchange for a halt on the large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea.
Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met in Moscow on Tuesday, said "the opposing sides should start negotiations".
Japan on Tuesday said "repeated provocations like this are absolutely unacceptable" and lodged a protest.
Possible solutions to crisis
What has North Korea said?
Tuesday's launch was North Korea's first-ever test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
State news agency KCNA quoted leader Kim Jong-un as saying the test was a "gift" to the Americans on their independence day.
The report warned of the possibility of more tests, saying he ordered officials to "frequently send big and small 'gift packages' to the Yankees".
Pyongyang said earlier the Hwasong-14 ICBM had reached an altitude of 2,802km (1,731 miles) and flew 933km for 39 minutes before hitting a target in the sea.
Have North Korea's missile tests paid off?
North Korea, it said, was now "a full-fledged nuclear power that has been possessed of the most powerful inter-continental ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world".
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What is an ICBM?
ICBM flight track
A long-range missile usually designed to carry a nuclear warhead
The minimum range is 5,500km (3,400 miles), although most fly about 10,000km or more
Pyongyang has previously displayed two types of ICBMs: the KN-08, with a range of 11,500km, and the KN-14, with a range of 10,000km, but before 4 July had not claimed to have flight tested an ICBM. It is not clear what differentiates the Hwasong-14
North Korea's missile programme in detail
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Does North Korea really have a long-range weapon now?
Some experts believe that Tuesday's test proves that North Korea has a missile that could travel across the globe and reach Alaska.
Map showing estimates of North Korean missile ranges
Physicist David Wright said it could reach a maximum range of about 6,700km on a standard trajectory, while South Korea's defence ministry on Wednesday put the range between 7,000 and 8,000km.
But whether that missile could deliver a warhead is still a question.
Pyongyang claimed the rocket carried a "heavy warhead" and that it "accurately hit the targeted waters without any structural breakdown".
South Korea said there was no evidence proving the missile could withstand high temperatures and successfully re-enter the atmosphere, reported Yonhap news agency.
Experts believe Pyongyang does not yet have the capability to miniaturise a nuclear warhead, fit it onto a long-range missile, and ensure it is protected until delivery to the target.
They say many of North Korea's missiles cannot accurately hit targets.
But others believe that at the rate it is going, Pyongyang may overcome these challenges and develop a nuclear weapon that could strike the US within five to 10 years.
How advanced is North Korea's nuclear programme?
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What now for Washington? - Dr John Nilsson-Wright, Chatham House
The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen during its test launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, 4 July 2017Image copyrightKCNA
Image caption
North Korean media released this image of Tuesday's missile launch
By bringing Alaska within range, the new missile test is an unambiguous game-changer in both symbolical and practical terms.
US territory (albeit separate from the contiguous continental US) is now finally within Pyongyang's cross-hairs.
For the first time a US president has to accept that the North poses a "real and present" danger not merely to north-east Asia and America's key allies - but to the US proper.
President Trump's weakness lies in having overplayed his hand too publicly and too loudly.

  • Published in World

Tour de France: No broken bones for Degenkolb after stage 4 crash

Trek-Segafredo rider unable to avoid falling Cavendish in Vittel, Contador ready for Planche des Belles Filles

Photo: John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) checking the damage of the crash

Avoiding the first of two crashes inside the final kilometres of stage 4 at the Tour de France, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) had nowhere to go when Mark Cavendish fell in front of him with 150 metres to race.

While Peter Sagan was disqualified for his role in the accident and Cavendish left the race with a broken shoulder, Degenkolb escaped with no serious injury.

"Before the big crash from Cavendish, there was one crash before and that's why I was a little in the back. I was just coming back to the front of the lead group for the sprint, and Cav was in front of me, and I couldn’t avoid him by jumping over him," said Degenkolb who had no choice but to ride over the Dimension Data rider.

"I went fully over the handlebars, and I had a pretty bad crash. In the end, luckily, there is nothing broken, no fractures. But still I have a very painful right shoulder, and we will see how it goes tomorrow if I can be on the bike. I will give everything and hope to continue, of course."

Degenkolb was able to remount his bike with teammates Markel Irizar and Koen De Kort accompanying over the line in 157th place, 2:15 minutes after Arnaud Demare had raised his arms in triumph.

Trek-Segafredo's general classification rider Alberto Contador found himself slowed by the crash as he explained he told his teammates that he was correctly anticipating an incident.

"We were super well placed and with about 18 kilometers to go the road widened and then narrowed and had areas of gravel where you didn't know if it was still a road," said Contador. "That's why I told the team to come more behind to maintain a distance of security. The only pity was that in the end, John has fallen in the sprint. I hope he can continue and it's nothing serious because he's a great support for me in the flat."

Contador and Trek-Segafredo will now turn their attention to the stage 5 ascent of La Planche des Belles Filles, a climb Contador is yet to race after missing the 2012 Tour and then crashing out in 2014 before hitting its slopes.

"I could say more [about the climb] if I did not crash in 2014 just before the start of this climb that ended the stage and I had to leave because of my injury," he said. "I think it's a pretty spectacular climb because it's short, but with a lot of slope. It is already beginning to be hot, and in the first mountain stage, there are always surprises. I hope to feel well and depending on how I go, I'll decide the tactics to follow. For now, the important thing is to recover and reach this last climb as fresh as possible."

Looking at his overall rivals, Contador explained he expects three-time Tour winner Chris Froome to make a move and add to his 2012 victory at La Planche des Belles Filles.

"I think if Froome is well he will try to get more differences. He has a very powerful team, they demonstrated this in the time trial, and he is a rider who always likes to make differences in the first mountain stage. If he has strength, he will try something for sure," he said.

  • Published in Sports

Peter Sagan disqualified from Tour de France

World champion sent home after causing crash in stage 4 sprint

Photo: Stage 3 winner Peter Sagan (Boha-Hansgrohe) (Getty Images)

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has been disqualified from the 2017 Tour de France. The World Champion was sent home after causing a crash on stage 4 in Vittel. The race jury announced the news at a hastily arranged press conference in the media centre, more than an hour after the stage had finished.

Sagan had finished second on the stage but connected with Mark Cavendish in the sprint for the line. He was initially docked 30 seconds and 80 points in the Green Jersey competition. However, upon further video analysis, the jury announced the new decision to the media.

To see how the crash happened, click here to see a gallery of images from the finish.

"We've decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017 after the tumultuous sprint, here in Vittel. He endangered multiple riders, Mark Cavendish and others who were implicated in the crash, in the final meters of the sprint," an official from the race jury announced.

"We applied article 12.104, irregular sprints, in which case commissaires are allowed to enforce a judgement to disqualify a rider and amend a fine."

The stage was won by Arnaud Démare but the crash – the second within the final couple of kilometres drew most attention. Cavendish attempted to come through on Sagan’s right, close to the barriers. Sagan then moved his right elbow out, causing the Dimension Data to move off his line and into the barriers at high speed.

As Cavendish lay on the ground, he was then hit John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Ben Swift (UAE Emirates) who also fell in the incident.

After the finish Sagan quickly rode towards the Dimension Data bus where he apologised for causing the crash.

Cavendish was taken to hospital after the crash and it was revealed that he has suffered no breaks or fractures. However it is unclear as to whether he will start stage 5 on Wednesday.

"I get on with Peter well," he said before being taken away for check-ups.

"But if he came across that’s one thing, but the elbow, I'm not a fan of him putting his elbow in me like that. Like I said, I get on with Peter, a crash is a crash but I just need to know about the elbow really."

Click here for LIVE COVERAGE of the 2017 Tour de France

  • Published in Sports

Celebrating July Fourth Should Mean Questioning United States History

Alan Singer 

In this political cartoon an earlier generation of immigrants to the United States, now prosperous, seeks to bar new arrivals. Their shadows betray their past.

This is Part 2 of my July 4th Independence Day blog. Part 1 explored my approach to teaching American history and included a series of themes and essential questions that focus student attention as they examine what is important to know and why. Because it was the week Americans celebrate Independence Day, the blog examined a quote from a speech by Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and former slave. The speech was delivered in Rochester, New York in 1852, and Douglass asked the assembled, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” I use the speech in social studies classes to engage students in examining the question “How do we create a more just society?”
Follow Alan Singer on Twitter:

Essential Questions about the Past and Present

1. How should we interpret the United States Constitution?

2. How do we preserve and extend democracy in the United States?

3. What is the responsibility of government?

4. What is an American?

1. How should we interpret the United States Constitution?

This is clearly an ongoing debate stretching from Washington’s first administration and arguments between cabinet members Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson to the current Supreme Court. It is noteworthy that Jefferson, who favored a narrow or strict reading of the Constitution, interpreted national power broadly when I suited his purposes and he negotiated for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory doubling the size of the United States. Even rightwing stalwart Antonin Scalia, who repeatedly argues for judicial restraint and against federal overreach, had no problem extending first amendment protection and citizenship rights to private businesses in the Citizens United decision. I introduce this question to students with a mock face-off between Scalia and former Associate Justice William Brennan. Brennan, who was appointed by Dwight Eisenhower to the Supreme Court in the 1950s was neither a radical nor a liberal, but he was very thoughtful about how to interpret the Constitution and the role of Supreme Court Justices. His key point is that “the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs.” In 1996 Associate Justice Scalia responded directly to Brennan’s views arguing for a much narrower interpretation of the Constitution based on a principle he called “textualism” but has also been identified as “originalism.” Supreme Court Justices have a tendency to be long-winded and feel the need to touch on every implication of an idea, so teachers need to pick and choose as they select passages from the documents.

Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., October 12, 1985, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

There are those who find legitimacy in fidelity to what they call “the intentions of the Framers.” In its most doctrinaire incarnation, this view demands that Justices discern exactly what the Framers thought about the question under consideration and simply follow that intention in resolving the case before them. It is a view that feigns self-effacing deference to the specific judgments of those who forged our original social compact. But in truth it is little more than arrogance cloaked as humility. It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage we can gauge accurately the intent of the Framers on application of principle to specific, contemporary questions . . . We current Justices read the Constitution in the only way that we can: as Twentieth Century Americans. We look to the history of the time of framing and to the intervening history of interpretation. But the ultimate question must be, what do the words of the text mean in our time. For the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs. What the constitutional fundamentals meant to the wisdom of other times cannot be their measure to the vision of our time. Similarly, what those fundamentals mean for us, our descendants will learn, cannot be the measure to the vision of their time.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “A Theory of Constitution Interpretation”

“I am first of all a textualist, and secondly an originalist. If you are a textualist, you don’t care about the intent, and I don’t care if the framers of the Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words. I’m not very good at determining what the aspirations of the American people are . . . If you want somebody who’s in touch with what are the evolving standards of decency that reflect a maturing society, ask the congress. Many European countries envy the United States Supreme Court because of its wonderful power to create rights that ought to exist and eliminate rights that ought not. I suggest this is a very new enterprise. We’ve only been doing it for forty years. We haven’t lasted for 200 years doing it. And we haven’t gone far down the road. I think at the end of it, at the end of the road, there is really a serious weakening of constitutional democracy.”

2. How do we preserve and extend democracy in the United States?

This debate has also been going on since the early years of the republic when Jefferson and his supporters challenged Alien and Sedition Laws passed by Congress and signed by President John Adams. It involves ongoing debates over who has the right to vote and representation in national and state governments. As his second term as president came to an end in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower grew increasingly concerned about threats to democracy in the United States. During his administration he had to address both McCarthyism and the Cold War. But in his farewell address to the nation Eisenhower chose to warn against the “unwarranted influence” of the rich and powerful on government decisions, particularly on military decisions. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) case revolved around the constitutionality of federal election laws that regulated campaign spending by corporations and other organizations. The majority opinion, delivered by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, argued that the First Amendment “prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech” and extended this right to the very rich and powerful corporations that Eisenhower feared were gaining to much influence over government. The quote is from Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurring opinion.

President Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation (1961)

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military—industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Chief Justice Roberts Concurring Opinion in Citizens United (2010)

“The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern. Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are. First Amendment rights could be confined to individuals, subverting the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy. The Court properly rejects that theory, and I join its opinion in full. The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer . . . [C]areful consideration convinces me that Congress violates the First Amendment when it decrees that some speakers may not engage in political speech at election time, when it matters most.”

3. What is the responsibility of government?

The Declaration of Independence famously announced, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Much of the history of the United States has been about struggles to extend the promise of the Declaration to more people. This has included debates over the responsibility of government to prosecute injustice and provide work, welfare, old age and disability insurance, and for health care. Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt debated the responsibility of government when the United States was confronted by the Great Depression during the 1930s. Roosevelt continued to address it as the nation planned for the post-World War II era including in his 1944 State of the Union Address. Martin Luther King, Jr. repeatedly challenged the government to act aggressively to address inequality in the United States and toward the end of his life began to question the very nature of American society. Ronald Reagan responded to both Roosevelt and King arguing that government action was the problem rather than the solution including in his 1985 State of the Union Address. The debate over the responsibility of government continues today especially in arguments over health insurance and education.

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Herbert Hoover’s Rugged Individualism Campaign Speech (1928)

“The American system is founded upon the conception that only through ordered liberty, freedom and equal opportunity to the individual will his initiative and enterprise spur on the march of progress . . . The Republican Party restored the government to its position as an umpire instead of a player in the economic game . . . For these reasons the American people have gone forward in progress while the rest of the world halted.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address (1933)

“I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis — broad executive power to wage a war against the enemy — as great as the power that would be given me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe . . . The country needs and demands bold experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails admit it firmly and try another. But above all try something.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Economic Bill of Rights” (1944)

“We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty. As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence . . . People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.”

“Where Do We Go From Here?” by Martin Luther King, Jr., August 16, 1967

“There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?”

Ronald Reagan demands “Economic Freedom” (1985)

“This government will meet its responsibility to help those in need. But policies that increase dependency, break up families, and destroy self-respect are not progressive; they’re reactionary . . . Let us place new dreams in a million hearts and create a new generation of entrepreneurs . . . Let us resolve that we will stop spreading dependency and start spreading opportunity; that we will stop spreading bondage and start spreading freedom. There are some who say that growth initiatives must await final action on deficit reductions. Well, the best way to reduce deficits is through economic growth. More businesses will be started, more investments made, more jobs created, and more people will be on payrolls paying taxes. The best way to reduce government spending is to reduce the need for spending by increasing prosperity . . . Reducing unneeded red tape and regulations, and deregulating the energy, transportation, and financial industries have unleashed new competition, giving consumers more choices, better services, and lower prices . . . Every dollar the federal government does not take from us, every decision it does not make for us will make our economy stronger, our lives more abundant, our future more free.”

4. What is an American?

What is an American was one of the most contentious issues in the 2016 Presidential election as Donald Trump called for a wall to separate the United States from Mexico, ending automatic citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants born in this country, and barring Muslims from entering the United States. But this is certainly not a new debate. In 1895, a poem by Thomas Aldrich decried the way a “motley throng” of new immigrants were threatening to undermine the American way of life and demanded, in an idea now echoed by Trump, that gates be placed around the country. Poet Langston Hughes answered him in the 1920s when he wrote “I, Too.” In the 1920s Congress enacted quota laws to sharply restrict Southern and Eastern European immigration. These immigration restrictions were not repealed until 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed a new immigration bill into law. During World War II, Paul Robeson, who faced discrimination because he was African American and was later victimized for his political beliefs, sang a “Ballad for Americans” seeking to define and unify a country built on diversity. Watch Reeces Pieces’ Youtube defense of immigrants.

Unguarded Gates (1895) By Thomas Aldrich

Wide open and unguarded stand our gates, And through them presses a wild motley throng- - Men from the Volga and the Tartar steppes, Featureless figures of the Hoang-Ho, Malayan, Scythian, Teuton, Kelt, and Slav, Flying the Old World’s poverty and scorn; These bringing with them unknown gods and rites, Those, tiger passions, here to stretch their claws.

In street and alley what strange tongues are loud, Accents of menace alien to our air, Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew! O Liberty, white Goddess! Is it well To leave the gates unguarded?

“I, Too” By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes. Nobody’ll dare say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” then. Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed —

Photo: Congressman James McClintic (D-Oklahoma), December 10, 1920


This political cartoon is from 1916. The idea of using a wall to keep out immigrants is not new.
“There is an old saying, ‘A stitch in times save nine,’ and this saying, in my opinion, is apropos of the condition that exists in the United States at the present moment with relation to the need of a law which will protect the citizens of this country from the foreign immigrants who are fleeing to our shores to escape the heavy taxation in the war-devastated regions of Europe. Some time ago it was my privilege to visit Ellis Island, not as a member of the committee but as a private citizen interested in obtaining information relative to the situation which exists at that place. I stood at the end of a hall with three physicians, and I saw them examine each immigrant as they came down the line, rolling back the upper eyelid in order to gain some information as to the individual’s physical condition. I saw them place the chalk marks on their clothing which indicated that they were in a diseased condition, so that they could be separated when they reached the place where they were to undergo certain examinations. Afterwards I went to a large assembly hall where immigrants came before the examiners to take the literacy test, and the one fact that impressed me more than anything else was that practically every single immigrant examined that day had less than $50 to his credit . . . Practically all of them were weak, small of stature, poorly clad, emaciated, and in a condition which showed that the environment surrounding them in their European homes were indeed very bad. It is for this reason that I say the class of immigrants coming to the shores of the United States at this time are not the kind of people we want as citizens in this country.”

“Ballad for Americans” By John La Touche and Earl Robinson

Am I an American? I’m just an Irish, Jewish, Italian, French and English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Polish, Scotch, Hungarian, Swedish, Finnish, Greek and Turk and Czech. And that ain’t all. I was baptized Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, Lutheran, Atheist, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, Quaker, Christian Scientist and lots more . . . . Deep as our valleys, High as our mountains, Strong as the people who made it. For I have always believed it, and I believe it now, And now you know who I am. Who are you? America! America!

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Remarks at the Signing of the Immigration Bill, Liberty Island, New York October 3, 1965

“Our beautiful America was built by a nation of strangers. From a hundred different places or more they have poured forth into an empty land, joining and blending in one mighty and irresistible tide. The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources—because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples. And from this experience, almost unique in the history of nations, has come America’s attitude toward the rest of the world. We, because of what we are, feel safer and stronger in a world as varied as the people who make it up—a world where no country rules another and all countries can deal with the basic problems of human dignity and deal with those problems in their own way . . . Over my shoulders here you can see Ellis Island, whose vacant corridors echo today the joyous sound of long ago voices. And today we can all believe that the lamp of this grand old lady is brighter today— and the golden door that she guards gleams more brilliantly in the light of an increased liberty for the people from all the countries of the globe.”

  • Published in U.S.

U.S. Fertility Rate Reaches a Record Low


A baby being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit. The preterm birthrate in the United States in 2016 increased to 9.84 percent from 9.63 percent in 2015. Credit Marice Cohn Band/The Miami Herald, via Associated Press

In 2016, the fertility rate in the United States was the lowest it has ever been.

There were 62 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, down 1 percent from 2015. There were 3,941,109 babies born in 2016.

In an analysis issued by the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers report that birthrates declined to record lows in all groups under age 30. Among women ages 20 to 24, the decline was 4 percent. For women 25 to 29, the rate fell 2 percent.

The decrease in the birthrate among teenagers — 9 percent from 2015 to 2016 — continues a long-term decline: 67 percent since 1991.

“The decline in teens is across the board,” said the lead author, Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician and demographer with the center. “Younger teens, older teens, and across all racial and ethnic groups.”


The present overall fertility rate puts the United States population below replacement level, but that does not mean the population is declining.

“Yes, it’s below replacement level, but not dramatically so,” Dr. Brady said. “We have a high level of influx of immigrants that compensates for it.”

Fertility increased among older women. The birthrate for women ages 30 to 34 rose by 1 percent over the 2015 rate, and the rate for women ages 35 to 39 went up by 2 percent, the highest rate in that age group since 1962.

Women ages 40 to 44 also had more babies, up 4 percent from 2015. The rate for women 45 to 49 increased to 0.9 births per thousand from 0.8 in 2015.

The birthrate among unmarried women went down, to 42.1 per 1,000 from 43.5 in 2015, a drop of 3 percent and the eighth consecutive year of decline since the peak of 51.8 in 2007 and 2008.

There were differences by race: 28.4 percent of white babies had unmarried parents, 69.7 percent of black babies and 52.5 percent of Hispanics.

The preterm birthrate — babies born before 37 weeks of gestation — increased to 9.84 percent from 9.63 percent in 2015. This is the second year in a row of increases in preterm birth after a decline of 8 percent from 2007 to 2014.

The highest rate of preterm birth was among non-Hispanic blacks, at 13.75 percent, and lowest among Asians, at 8.63 percent.

In 2016, 31.9 percent of births were by cesarean section, compared with 32 percent in 2015.

  • Published in U.S.
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