Author Archive | Virtually Yours

War Tax Resistance: Hobby Lobby, Bitcoins, and The Peace Tax Fund

Back in October, we learned that 90% of the victims who are killed by U.S. drone strikes are innocent civilians just like you and me. Except that we’re not so innocent, right? Because our tax dollars pay for those drones. Sure, the politicians are the ones who sanction these wars; and yes, it is the soldiers who go off and fight the “bad guys” for us; but it is the citizens (“We the People”) who are funding these atrocities. So I guess that means we’re all war criminals with blood on our hands. If this fact is as difficult for you to accept as it is for me, then you probably find yourself asking: what then must we do? What can we do?

I was having a difficult time shaking the ninety-percent statistic from my mind, and then I was reminded of the Hobby Lobby ruling from several years ago. In case you are not familiar with it, this is the ruling which declared that Hobby Lobby – a private business, owned by Christians – did not have to pay for some forms of birth control (which were otherwise covered by the healthcare that was already being provided to their employees by the company) because the owners of Hobby Lobby equate those particular forms of birth control with abortion, and paying for them would go against their religious beliefs.… Read the rest

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To Forgive: An Ongoing Conversation with My Apocalyptic Fundamentalist Grandmother

tanakawho (CC BY-NC 2.0)

tanakawho (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In February of this past year, I had an interesting conversation with my grandmother about ISIS, God, and the nature of forgiveness. She is an apocalyptic fundamentalist of the Christian persuasion and that is how I was raised, though I now consider myself to be agnostic. I wrote about the conversation and shared it with a few friends, as well as with my family, most of whom are also Christian fundamentalists. Barring a few Bible verses that were texted to me by an aunt (described in more detail, below) no one else in my family bothered to respond, which is fairly typical of my clan. Anything that challenges their beliefs is usually seen as a threat, and instead of engaging with me in these sorts of conversations, they often retreat and just pretend like I never said anything. I considered publishing the piece here on Disinfo, but ultimately held off…it felt very personal and I was apprehensive about it getting back to my grandmother, who might view it as some sort of betrayal.… Read the rest

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Monitoring Mosques? Fine, but Don’t Forget about Our Own Homegrown Christian Extremists

Kevin Swanson spews pro-murder hate speech at the National Religious Liberties Conference

Kevin Swanson is a fundamental extremist of the Christian persuasion. On November 6th and 7th, he hosted a pro-murder hate speech rally which was billed as the “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Des Moine, Iowa. Three GOP candidates attended this pro-murder hate speech rally, including Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Swanson used an archaic interpretation of the Bible as justification for imprisoning and executing homosexuals: “Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. Yes, in Romans Chapter 1, Verse 32, the Apostle Paul does say homosexuals are worthy of death — his words, not mine. And I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of the truth, of the word of God. I am willing to go to jail for it…”

Well that’s encouraging to hear, Mr.… Read the rest

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Killer Mike Introduces Bernie Sanders at Atlanta Rally

If you don’t feel the Bern after watching this rousing speech, you might wanna check for a pulse!

While introducing Bernie Sanders at a rally in Atlanta on November 21st, Killer Mike called upon the spirit of Martin King the Revolutionary while discussing healthcare as a right of every citizen, raising the minimum wage, restoring the Voting Rights Act, ending the war on drugs, and insuring free education as a right for all.

He also calls Hillary “our own Margaret Thatcher.” — HA! 

Bernie/Killer Mike 2016

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World’s Largest 3D Printer Will Build Affordable and Sustainable Housing

How cool is this? WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project), an Italian company, has built BigDelta, the world’s largest 3D printer (40-feet-tall and 20-feet-wide) which will print out green-friendly homes using nothing but earth and water.

Here is a demonstration of WASP’s smaller-sized, 13-foot clay 3D printer:

Via UpWorthy:

The company explained in a press release that it wasn’t money that motivated them to build BigDelta, it was the need. According to UN-Habitat, 40% of the global population (roughly 3 billion people) will be in need of adequate housing by 2030, which means nearly 100,000 housing units need to be built every day between now and then.

By combining the new world technology of digital fabrication with the old world technology of adobe (buildings made with water, dirt, clay, and plant fibers), they believe they can print new digs without all the labor, equipment, and materials that typically make home building expensive and time-intensive.

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A Real Democracy Would Use Sortition

This is a great illustrated video which discusses the need for sortition and its proven effectiveness in the form of citizens’ assemblies, people’s panels, policy juries, and constitutional conventions.

Via Equality by Lot:

Check out the Sortition Foundation if you are curious to learn more (you can also volunteer…)

Also, here is a brief animated history of sortition, as well as a fun idea on how we might one day go about implementing a lottery-based system on a much larger scale.

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Michael Moore: Where to Invade Next?

Michael Moore's new doc, Where to Invade Next

Michael Moore’s new doc, Where to Invade Next

The title of Moore’s new doc is somewhat misleading, though its message is ultimately one of hope: he “invades” other countries to see what they are doing right, and then speculates on how the US might go about adopting and adapting some of these ideas.

Via Vulture:

The movie’s title suggests a condemnation of America’s military-industrial complex, but it’s just a clever bit of sensational misdirection. Moore brought WTIN to the Toronto Film Festival without a distributor on purpose to avoid prying eyes, and has been vigilant about keeping the contents of the movie secret from both the public and the many studio heads and buyers in attendance.

The clap-umentary (as in, you clap when Moore makes a point you agree with, which in this audience was often) turns out to be the story of Moore’s army of one “invading,” as he says, “countries populated by Caucasians, with names I can mostly pronounce,” in an optimistic exploration of how they treat their citizens well and what we can learn from them.

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Lessig 2016: Hack the System

Professor Lawrence “Larry” Lessig is running for president with a unique and unprecedented campaign: he is calling himself a “referendum candidate” and if he is able to implement his Citizens Equality Act, he will celebrate the success by resigning and handing over the reigns to his VP. 

Via Vox:

If he’s elected, [Lessig] says, he’ll focus overwhelmingly on passing one piece of legislation, and then resign from the presidency once it’s enacted. This major reform bill isn’t finalized — Lessig plans to “crowdsource” some of its details — but it will include campaign finance reform, new policies intended to make voting easier, and an overhaul of how members of the House of Representatives are elected.

Lessig’s unorthodox candidacy is born out of his great frustration at the US political system — and his belief that a “hack” of that system, involving a promise of the president’s own resignation, is needed to fix it.

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Belgium Considers Selecting Citizens for Senate via Lottery

Palais de la Nation (Bruxelles)
This is a great idea, and long overdue. If they are able to successfully implement this, perhaps it might catch on in other countries which could also stand to benefit from a healthy dose of direct democracy.

Via Equality by Lot:

Senior politicians in Brussels are supporting a legislative reform that could revolutionize Belgian democracy: according to the plan members of the Senate – the upper chamber of the nation’s parliament – would be selected in a lottery that would be held once every four years among the citizenry.

The chairperson of the socialist party in the Belgian parliament, Laurette Onkelinx, a former vice prime minister, is saying that “traditional politics is ailing and new ways have to be considered.”

The idea of sortition has been gaining support recently. Richard Miller, an MR member of parliament, said that “we need to go directly to the people and hear their positions – and sortition is the way.” One of the heads of the left-wing Flemish party, Peter Vanvelthoven, a former labor minister, supports the idea as well: “infuse new blood into the parliamentary institutions through a more direct democracy – select all members of the Senate through a random draw among all the adult citizens of Belgium.

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Burning Man Might Sue Quiznos for Mocking the Festival

This is kind of hilarious, via The Verge:

This one’s almost too perfect.

Take Burning Man, the annual, drug-addled, desert hippie festival that was formed on tenets of self-reliance and anti-capitalism. Add a brilliantly-executed parody video (sponsored by the Quiznos sandwich chain, no less) that skewers the whole affair for getting overrun by corporate influence and rich Silicon Valley types.

What do you get? A lawsuit, apparently. The nonprofit behind Burning Man (unsurprisingly) lacks a sense of humor, and it didn’t take well to the parody trailer, which mimics The Maze Runner as it sees a group of millennials enter into the strange, strange world of Burners.

Read more here.

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