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Showing posts from October, 2009

Shiva's message at USF: End Needless Food Waste

The Herald News - Vandana Shiva, a leader in the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) along with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin, has spent more than 20 years examining agriculture and the environment and advocating on behalf farmers and the hungry around the world. Less than 50 percent of crops harvested around the world are for human consumption, Shiva said. Of that food, 50 percent is wasted, which results in just over 12 percent of all the food produced on the planet actually being consumed. "Couldn't we make sure that no one was hungry if that food wasn't wasted?" she asked. Read more.

AD Mag Update: Mark J. Stock

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Obama Administration Seeks To Block Wiretap Suit

The Huffington Post - The Justice Department invoked the state secrets privilege Friday to try to stop a lawsuit over Bush-era wiretapping – the first time the Obama administration has done so under its new policy on such cases. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision in a California lawsuit challenging the warrantless wiretapping program begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Under the state secrets privilege, the government can have a lawsuit dismissed if hearing the case would jeopardize national security. The Bush administration invoked the privilege numerous times in lawsuits over various post-2001 programs, but the Obama administration recently announced a new internal review process in which more senior Justice Department officials would make such decisions. Holder said that in the current case, that review process had convinced him "there is no way for this case to move forward without jeopardizing ongoing intelligenc

"What journalists are supposed to do"

Glenn Greenwald - David Brooks today says he wanted to write a column about Obama's pending decision over Afghanistan, and in order to write this column, this is what he tells us he did: "For the past few days I have tried to do what journalists are supposed to do ." Sounds intrepid. What, exactly, is it that "journalists are supposed to"? As he describes it, Brooks "called around to several of the smartest military experts [he] know[s] to get their views on these controversies." These are people "who follow the war for a living." He wrote down (at least some of) what they said. He then passed it on without quoting -- or even identifying -- a single one of these experts. That's his whole column. Read more .

The bright side of economic ruin: McDonald’s will leave your country

Allison Kilkinney - Finally, some good news for Iceland. McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food company, said earlier this week that all three of its restaurants in Iceland plan to shut down and abandon the crisis-ridden island. Reuters reports that thousands of Icelanders lined up at McDonald’s restaurants to order their last Big Macs. However, Thora Sigurdardottir, a 35-year old nursing assistant, said she had no intention of going for a final McDonald’s meal. ”Good riddance,” she said. Read more .

Savagery in America and the spectacle of a teenager's rape as public exhibition

Common Dreams - In America -- in my country -- I fear we are losing the battle for our humanity. Some say we have already lost it. Deep down I think they may be right. Such is the level of violence, voyeurism and detachment displayed this October in Richmond, California, when at least two dozen students cheered, laughed or simply stood by and watched as a 15-year-old girl was repeatedly raped, beaten and brutalized by an "unknown number of assailants." This horrific act of terrorism took place in the parking lot of Richmond High School, just yards away from where the school was holding its annual homecoming dance. One school administrator told a reporter that, "the dance itself was successful." It seems the perpetrators of the crime had also staged a "successful" event. The assault reportedly went on for between two and three hours. During the entire time, everyone was cool, no one freaked out, no one called 911. Some of the

The coal industry's coal letter forgeries

Mother Jones - Two weeks before the House voted on the historic Waxman-Markey climate bill, a number of key Democrats received letters purportedly from minority groups, urging them to oppose the legislation. The now infamous letters turned out to be forgeries generated by Bonner and Associates, a political consulting firm working on behalf of the coal industry. Read more .

Coal River Mountain Emergency: Sit-Ins-Funeral March Erupt at EPA/JP Morgan Chase Offices Across Nation

Jeff Biggers @ Common Dreams - As millions of pounds of explosions rip across their mountain communities, including the clean energy landmark of Coal River Mountain, scores of residents from the Appalachian coalfields have joined with supporters from across the country in a series of sit-ins, die-ins, protests, and a haunting "Day of the Dead" funeral procession and sit-in in the courtyard of the Washington, DC headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency. Clean energy and clean water supporters across the country are also sending emails to the EPA and President Obama to stop the tragic blasting of Coal River Mountain. "Inaction on the part of the EPA will affect the future of Appalachians, and generations to come," says Bob Kincaid, with the Coal River Mountain Watch organization in West Virginia. "If Coal River Mountain is blown up, the green energy future of Appalachia, and the entire nation, will be imperiled." Read more .

HIV Travel Ban Lifted By President Obama

President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. will overturn a 20-year-old U.S. travel ban against people with HIV early next year. The order will be finalized on Monday, Obama said, completing a process begun during the Bush administration. The U.S. has been one of about a dozen countries that bar entry to travelers based on their HIV status. Obama said it will be lifted just after the new year, after a waiting period of about 60 days. Read more .

CBS Reveals Swine Flu Cases Seriously Overestimated

Max Eternity - First it was the independent media, which revealed the Swine Flue swindle, but now it seems the mainstream press is catching on too. Earlier this week the New York Times published a story about the exaggerated dangers of Swine Flue and now CBS has followed suit, revealing that Swine Flu cases are seriously overestimated. Video follows: Unplugged: H1N1 Cases Overestimated? - CBS News Video - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Sanders to Push for Single-Payer Vote in Senate

Common Dreams - Sen. Bernard Sanders will likely make history this year when - for the first time ever - he brings a bill creating a national single-payer health care system to the floor of the Senate for a vote. As a compromise on a public-option plan that would allow states to opt out gains steam in the U.S. Senate, Sanders, a Vermont independent, continues to focus his attention on a single-payer bill, although he acknowledges that there are not enough votes to pass it. "That bill will lose," Sanders said Wednesday morning during a telephone interview. "The question, however, will be how much support it will get." Introduced in the early spring, Sanders' American Health Security Act of 2009 would eliminate the role of private insurance companies in health care and create a public fund that would insure all residents of the United States. Read more .

Pelosi's not-so-robust public option

John Nichols @ The Nation - The public option was always a compromise for serious supporters of health-care reform, who -- like Barack Obama when he was running for the Senate in 2003 -- knew that a single-payer "Medicare for All" system was what America needed to provide health care to everyone while controlling costs. But, in the reform legislation debuted Thursday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , the compromise was even more compromised than had been expected. Pelosi says the legislation is "historic," and celebrates the fact that is does still include a public option -- a component many pundits had said was destined for abandonment. But, while there is a public option, it is anything but robust. Progressives believe Pelosi has bent to far to the right. Read more.

Pelosi makes good on healthcare promise

Truthout - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled an $894 billion health-care reform bill Thursday that includes a government-run insurance program, otherwise known as a "public option," that is far stronger than the public plan unveiled earlier this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Unlike the Senate bill, the legislation touted by Pelosi does not provide individual states with an "opt-out" provision. The House bill requires that Americans purchase insurance (or pay a 2.5 percent penalty based on their annual income, subject to a "hardship exemption") and large businesses to provide employees with coverage. The bill melds three separate pieces of legislation House committees passed earlier this year. It comes in at just under the $900 billion ceiling President Obama set and, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill will reduce the federal deficit by at least $30 billion over 10 years. Read more .

Get a safer cellphone and lower your exposure to harmful radiation

Max Eternity - As the scientific community continues to publish reports that indicate the very real possibility of a cellphone = brain cancer link, for those unable or unwilling to part with daily cell phone use, one should at least consider purchasing and using a cell phone that will emit low radiation. The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that has compiled a comprehensive list of the least and worst cellphone radiation offenders currently in the marketplace. Click here to read more.

Why Don't We Eat Pets?

Rabbi David Wolpe @ The Huffington Post - Once in my life I worked on a political campaign and once in my life met someone who called himself a "goop scooper." My candidate and I were touring a chicken processing factory. As chicken carcasses acrobatically clung to the rotating belt that dropped them in a vat, the man who removed their insides told me he was the "goop scooper." The vividness of the picture has not faded. Not since the high school assignment of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle had I been forced to confront the prelude to the cellophane wrap. Shortly after visiting the factory I wrote a humor column about it for my college newspaper. After all, if you want to dash a feeling, nothing works better than a joke. "Wit" as Nietzsche observed, "closes the coffin on an emotion." But can one investigate the whole question of eating other animals unflinchingly, movingly but with wit? Can it be made interesting, readable, compelling -- powe

Latin America's economic rebels

Guardian UK - Guess which country is expected to have the fastest economic growth in the Americas this year? Bolivia . The country's first indigenous president, Evo Morales , was elected in 2005 and took office in January 2006. Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, had been operating under IMF agreements for 20 consecutive years, and its per-capita income was lower than it had been 27 years earlier. Evo sent the IMF packing just three months after he took office, and then moved to re-nationalise the hydrocarbons industry (mostly natural gas). Needless to say this did not sit well with the international corporate community. Nor did Bolivia's decision in May 2007 to withdraw from the World Bank 's international arbitration panel , which had a tendency to settle disputes in favour of international corporations and against governments. Read more .

Pelosi Vindicated: CIA and Republicans lied about 2002 torture program

The Hill - Intelligence subcommittee Chairwomen Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) are leading an ongoing investigation into what they described as a practice of incomplete and often misleading intelligence briefings, which arose in the wake of CIA Director Leon Panetta’s June 24 admission that intelligence officials failed to notify Congress about a top-secret program to assassinate al Qaeda leaders. The Speaker came under fire after she said at a testy press conference in May that the CIA had lied to her and other members during a 2002 briefing about its use of waterboarding on detainees. Pelosi was the ranking member of the Intelligence panel at the time. “We were told explicitly that waterboarding was not being used,” she said at the May press conference. “They [the CIA] misled us all the time.” Republicans demanded proof from Pelosi of CIA lies, and the Speaker was also criticized for not objecting to waterboarding when she first learned about it. Nadeam Elshami, a

Swine flu less dangerous than normal flu

NY Times - Now that President Obama has declared swine flu a national emergency and manufacturers are warning that vaccine production is running far behind schedule, is it time to panic? Almost certainly not. Swine flu is spreading rapidly, but the virus appears no more virulent than a seasonal flu virus. If current trends continue, it will kill or hospitalize fewer people than would be harmed in a normal flu season. Read more .

Senate bill to include Public Option opt-out plan

Truthout - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that a health care bill to be introduced on the Senate floor in the next few weeks will include a government-run insurance plan, otherwise known as a public option. Reid, who is up for reelection next year, said this key element of the bill would include an "opt-out" provision, meaning individual states could decline to participate. States would have a year after the 2013 phase-in of the government's new health insurance plan to decide whether to opt out of the public option. Reid's version of the bill calls on the government to negotiate rates with health care companies, whereas payments in the House version of the bill supported by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be tied to Medicare rates. Read more .

"Wall Street firms should not be called banks"

Guardian UK - One of America's top financial regulators has suggested that Wall Street institutions should be banned from calling themselves "banks" in an effort to clear a fog of confusion about the word in both political and consumer circles. Sheila Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), suggested that only commercial deposit-taking institutions, where customers' cash is safeguarded by a guarantee, should be permitted to describe themselves as banks. "Everything gets called a bank these days," Bair told the annual conference of the American Bankers Association. "Wall Street firms, mortgage firms ... Maybe there should be some legal constraints on who should call themselves banks – maybe only FDIC insured institutions should have that label." Read more .

Heart Disease: A Toothless Paper Tiger That Need Never Exist

"If the truth be known coronary artery disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never, ever exist and if it does exist it need never, ever progress." The Huffington Post - So says Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who was a researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic for over 35 years. In 1991, Dr. Esselstyn served as the president of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and organized the 1st National Conference on the Elimination and Prevention of Heart Disease. In 2005, he became the 1st recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. Dr. Esselstyn is also an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, and he was awarded the Bronze Star as an army surgeon in Vietnam. In this series of interviews I've conducted with extraordinary nutritional researchers and medical doctors, I've sought to understand the link between diet and the most common and dreaded diseases that are prevalent in our culture. What I'm hearing over and over is that a plant b

Rich Germans ask to be charged higher taxes

A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes. The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany's economic recovery. Germany could raise 100bn euros (£91bn) if the richest people paid a 5% wealth tax for two years, they say. The petition has 44 signatories so far, and will be presented to newly re-elected Chancellor Angela Merkel. The group say the financial crisis is leading to an increase in unemployment, poverty and social inequality. Simply donating money to deal with the problems is not enough, they want a change in the whole approach. Read more .

Thr truth about healthcare in America, as we hide behind Swine Flu

Donna Smith @ Common Dreams - Swine flu leads the news. You can die from swine flu, or should we say H1N1, even if you have no underlying health conditions. Young people have died, and pregnant women are at risk. People are lining up to be vaccinated. Health professionals are at risk due to poor preparations at some health facilities. As many as 1,000 deaths have occurred due to this flu outbreak. It's scary out there. But the swine flu is no match for the killing going on at the hands of the for-profit healthcare system in these United States. We bury kids, pregnant moms, babies, teens, young fathers, mid-lifers and older folks too without even batting an eye in the chambers of power in this nation. Some have termed it the spine flu as they say it is the failure of our leadership to stand up to the money interests promoting and protecting this system. But it is worse than simply failing to stand up to the for-profit insurance industry, the big pharmaceutical companies, the large h

War is a hate crime

Chris Hedges - Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the bizarre culture of identity politics, there are no alliances among the oppressed. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passed last week , was attached to a $680-billion measure outlining the Pentagon’s budget, which includes $130 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic majority in Congress, under the cover of protecting some innocents, authorized massive acts of violence against other innocents. It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify t

Our Embedded Media

Samuel Claiborne - Recently there was an article on natural gas extraction in the NY Times. It was basically a cheerleading essay on how the wonderful new technology of ‘fracking' was going to exponentially increase the world's natural gas supply. There was not one single word in the entire article about this technology's serious environmental repercussions - from its use of large quantities of highly toxic chemicals, to the truly incredible quantities of water it requires. This led me to think more and more about how our media have changed in my lifetime. When I was a kid, the horrors of Vietnam were in our living rooms, and our magazines. As a young child, I was traumatized to see pictures of napalmed children in a copy of Newsweek while waiting in a pediatrician's office. Until that moment, I'd been an innocent 5 year old, never dreaming that people could do that to other people, let alone that my country could be the perpetrator of such unalloyed horrors. But a

Texas, the eyes of Justice are upon you

Photo credit: holder from Bill Moyers & Michael Winship @ Common Dreams - On October 13, we lost a resolute champion of the law, a man who left his impact on the lives of untold numbers of Americans. His very name made his life's work almost inevitable, a matter of destiny. William Wayne Justice was a Federal judge for the Eastern District of Texas. That's right, he was "Justice Justice." And he spent a distinguished legal career making sure that everyone -- no matter their color or income or class -- got a fair shake. As a former Texas lieutenant governor put it last week, "Judge Justice dragged Texas into the 20th century, God bless him." Dragged it kicking and screaming, for it was Justice who ordered Texas to integrate its public schools in 1971 -- 17 years after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision made separate schools for blacks and whites unconstitutional. Texas resisted doing the right thing for as long a

L.A. Paranoia

Allison Kilkenney - The LAPD has just released a new Orwellian commercial for iWatch , a program that encourages residents to spy on each other and report any “suspicious behavior” (whatever that means) to the authorities, who we’re assured will sort everything out.

Racism at the Pentagon and their war on Obama

The Huffington Post - In addition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military is also fighting a war against the Obama administration at the White House, Seymour Hersh said in a little-noted speech at Duke University on October 13. The military is "in a war against the White House -- and they feel they have Obama boxed in," he said. Hersh, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, sees an undercurrent of racism in the Pentagon's dealings with the White House. "They think he's weak and the wrong color. Yes, there's racism in the Pentagon. We may not like to think that, but it's true and we all know it." Read more .

21st Century Slavery and the Privitization of Prisons

New York Times - State officials will soon seek bids from private companies for 9 of the state’s 10 prison complexes that house roughly 40,000 inmates, including the 127 here on death row. It is the first effort by a state to put its entire prison system under private control. The privatization effort, both in its breadth and its financial goals, demonstrates what states around the country — broke, desperate and often overburdened with prisoners and their associated costs — are willing to do to balance the books. Arizona officials hope the effort will put a $100 million dent in the state’s roughly $2 billion budget shortfall. Read more .

Soros says taxpayers right to resent bank bonuses

Photo credit: mconnors from Reuters - Billionaire investor George Soros said U.S. taxpayers were entitled to resent bankers' bonuses because their profits were funded by government bailouts, according to an interview published in the Financial Times. "Those earnings are not the achievement of risk-takers. These are gifts, hidden gifts, from the government, so I don't think that those monies should be used to pay bonuses," the paper quoted him as saying in its Saturday edition. "There's a resentment which I think is justified." Read more .

Military propaganda video game Halo 3 dominates market

Allison Kilkenney - The September 2009 NPD video game sales report has just been released , and Halo 3: ODST was the big winner, pulling in over 1.5 million units sold and tripling its nearest competitor. Halo 3 is a dream recruiting tool for the military, a perfect amalgam of propaganda and entertainment that highlights all of the unrealistic, hyper-machismo badassery of Hollywood-style war, while completely whitewashing the moral relativism of real-world conflicts. Read more .

Senate Passes Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act

Truthout - The Senate cleared a historic hate crimes bill Thursday for President Obama's signature, approving new federal penalties for attacks on gay men and lesbians. The legislation, which was attached to the conference report for the bill outlining the Pentagon's budget, marks the culmination of a years-long fight by civil rights groups to codify the expanded protections. Read more .

The First Family by Annie Liebovitz

Mental Illness: The Stigma of Silence

Glen Close @ The Huffington Post - What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about illnesses that affect not only individuals, but their families as well. Our society ought to understand that many people with mental illness, given the right treatment, can be full participants in our society. Anyone who doubts it ought to listen to Kay Redfield Jamison , a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins, vividly describe her own battles with bipolar disorder. Over the last year, I have worked with some visionary groups to start, an organization that strives to inspire people to start talking openly about mental illness, to break through the silence and fear. We have the support of every major, American mental health organization and numerous others. I have no illusions that is a cure for mental illness. Yet I am sure it will help us along the road to understanding and constructive dialogue. It will help decon

CIA deeply invested in monitoringTwitter, Blogger,Facebook, Myspace and other

Max Eternity - Though it has been an open secret for many years now, Wired Magazine has "officially" revealed specific details of the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) degree of involvement in domestic spying. The CIA, still embroiled in an ongoing investigation of its complicity in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal and the Bush-ear telcom domestic spy plan, now faces the real possibility of finding itself mired in yet another policy failure, which could result in class-action law suits. Click image to watch video.

"Cell Out" for the Congo

Common Dreams - Activists asked cell phone users to stop texting for one hour on Wednesday -- not to save energy or focus on the road, but to call attention to one of the deadliest and most underreported conflicts in the world. What's the Story? The so-called "Cell Out" campaign is part of Congo Week , a series of actions being held worldwide between Oct. 18 and 24 to call attention to what many believe is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world -- the ongoing war over resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Read more .

15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now

by Michael Moore Friends, It's the #1 question I'm constantly asked after people see my movie: "OK -- so NOW what can I DO?!" You want something to do? Well, you've come to the right place! 'Cause I got 15 things you and I can do right now to fight back and try to fix this very broken system. Here they are: Read more .

The School of the Americas: New Legislation Brings Limited Transparency

Council on Hemispheric Affairs - After years of lobbying by human rights activists, Congress has approved the release of information on the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas, the military training facility infamous for producing some of Latin America’s most notorious human rights violators. The final amendment incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 requires the Pentagon to release the names and enrollment information of students and instructors at the facility for fiscal years 2009 and 2010. However, the bill falls far short of the expectations of the human rights community by not disclosing the same information for the years 2005 through 2008, leaving a large hole in the public record of who the U.S. military was training and what was being taught to the Latin American military personnel in attendance during those years. Read more .

We Must Pursue Peace

“We must pursue peace through peaceful means… in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.; The Trumpet of Conscience Rick Chamberlin @ Common Dreams - King believed lasting peace would only come when the world and its leaders embraced the nonviolent affirmation that ends and means must cohere. Destructive means, King said again and again, cannot bring about constructive ends. It’s a lesson President Obama should heed, especially as he considers a strategy shift in Afghanistan. “Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force’.” King was not dreaming when he spoke those words, he was reflecting lucidly on how far strategic nonviolence had taken the civil rights movement in America, and before that how it had been used by Gandhi and his followers to expel the most powerful m

22 Pound Toddler Denied Healthcare For Being Underweight

The Huffington Post - The parents of a two-year-old girl in Colorado are unable to obtain health insurance for their daughter because the insurer, United Healthcare Golden Rule, claims she is too small. In a letter sent to the family of the child, Aislin Bates, United Healthcare Golden Rule writes, "we are unable to provide coverage for Aislin because her height and weight do not meet our company standards." According to a Colorado news station , Aislin weighed six pounds, six ounces at birth, and now weighs 22 pounds. Read more .

Americans, Their Smiley-Face Facade, and Reality

The Salt Lake Tribune - Whenever I think of the smiley-face icon, I think of Wal-Mart because of its once-ubiquitous ad campaign. And when I think of Wal-Mart, I think of crappy wages and insecure employees who probably live paycheck to paycheck. That metaphor -- the happy face fronting a world of worry -- is the subject of a new book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, by social commentator Barbara Ehrenreich. Read more .

How About a Little Coverage of the Millions of At-Risk Kids Not Trapped in a Balloon

Arianna Huffington - No matter what happens in the unfolding legal saga of the Heene family, the most appropriate response to the whole matter was that of Falcon Heene. He vomited. Twice. On national TV. Well, let me just say that Falcon speaks for me. I had to stifle the same urge as I watched so much of the media devote so much of their resources to the story of the boy NOT in the balloon. And, sure, I know that asking the media to have some sense of perspective on a story like this is like asking a dog not to bark. It's in their nature to give breathless, wall-to-wall coverage to these kinds of stories. But, even knowing this, I was shocked how little changed in the volume and tone of the coverage even after it was known the boy wasn't in the balloon. Even then, after we knew the balloon was empty, they kept running footage of the balloon, hour after hour. As Bill Maher said on Real Time , "they're calling him Balloon Boy, which is so stupid, because the one th

Screams, Flames Among Horrors of Botched US Executions

Common Dreams - US executions are meant to be clinical and humane, but for some they end up resembling medieval torture, complete with the smell of burning flesh, screams, and scenes so gruesome that witnesses faint. "We put animals to death more humanely," reporter Carla McClain said of a 1992 execution she witnessed, in which Donald Eugene Harding writhed and thrashed in an Arizona gas chamber for over 10 minutes before dying. Read more .

ElBaradei says threat of Iran's nuclear program grossly overstated

AntiWar - In an interview with the German-language Die Presse , IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei cautioned that the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon was dramatically over-stated. Read more .

Obama's commendable change in federal drug enforcement policy

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - The War on Drugs is the pernicious precursor to the War on Terror in so many ways, beginning with the relentless erosion of civil liberties; endless expansions of federal powers of detention, surveillance and militarized involvement in other countries; and a general pretext for remaining in an endless "war" posture. Anything that moves even a little bit towards abandoning the orthodoxies which sustain it should be applauded Criminalizing cancer and AIDS patients for using a substance that is (a) prescribed by their doctors and (b) legal under the laws of their state has always been abominable. The Obama administration deserves major credit not only for ceasing this practice, but for memorializing it formally in writing. Just as is true for Jim Webb's brave crusade to radically revise the nation's criminal justice and drug laws, there is little political gain -- and some political risk -- in adopting a policy that can be depicted as "

US Healthcare History: Our Very Own Killing Fields

Common Dreams - Jenny Fritts was 24 years old. Jenny lived with her husband Sean for the past five years, and together they had a little girl named Kylee, 2. Jenny was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child - a beautiful, baby girl. Jenny is dead. Jenny's unborn baby is dead. They died because they were turned away for appropriate care at a for-profit hospital because they did not have health insurance. Sean rushed Jenny back to another hospital when her symptoms became even more severe, and he lied about having insurance to get her in the door. She was placed on a respirator in intensive care, but she didn't make it. She died. And so did her baby. Read more .

Why Arianna Doesn't Get It

The Nation - I admire Arianna Huffington. She is a strong, bold voice in our media firmament. But in the last few days, she has advanced an idea which, in my view, is wrong. She is urging Vice President Biden to resign if the Obama administration ignores his proposal to concentrate on counter-terrorist operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Arianna argues that by doing so, Biden would be following in the hallowed tradition of US officials, like Elliot Richardson and Cyrus Vance, who resigned for reasons of principle. Read more .

The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights

"Obama's Bad Influence"

Naomi Klein @ The Nation - Of all the explanations for Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, the one that rang truest came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "It sets the seal on America's return to the heart of all the world's peoples." In other words, this was Europe's way of saying to America, "We love you again"--sort of like those weird "renewal of vows" ceremonies that couples have after surviving a rough patch. Now that Europe and the United States are officially reunited, it seems worth asking: is this necessarily a good thing? The Nobel Committee, which awarded the prize specifically for Obama's embrace of "multilateral diplomacy," is evidently convinced that US engagement on the world stage is a triumph for peace and justice. I'm not so sure. After nine months in office, Obama has a clear track record as a global player. Again and again, US negotiators have chosen not to strengthen international laws and pro

"Disturbing charges" that Blackwater Worldwide used child prostitutes

PressTV - New disturbing charges have emerged against XE, the infamous private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, whose operations came under spotlight after its 2007 carnage in Baghdad. According to a report by MSNBC and based on alleged sworn declarations by two Blackwater employees in federal court, the firm used child prostitutes at its compound in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. The declarations added Iraqi minors got involve in sexual acts with Blackwater members in exchange for one dollar and Erik Prince, the firm's owner, "failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men." Read more .

Swell grows to fire official who denied marriage license

The Huffington Post - Two civil and constitutional rights organizations called on a Louisiana justice of the peace to resign Friday after he refused to marry an interracial couple, saying any children the couple might have would suffer. The leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union in Louisiana and the Center for Constitutional Rights and Justice in New York said Keith Bardwell, a white justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish in the southeastern part of the state, should quit immediately. Earlier this month, Bardwell refused to issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) also called for Bardwell's dismissal. "I am deeply disturbed by Justice Bardwell's practices and comments concerning interracial marriages," she said. "Not only does his decision directly contradict Supreme Court rulings, it is an example of the ugly bigotry that divided our country for too long. Read more .

Architect-Artist Andrew Reach Creates Poster for D.C. March

Andrew Reach @ Equality Across America - As a disabled gay man in a loving relationship for almost three decades, I’m not physically capable of marching. So the way me and my long term partner Bruce Baumwoll want to give back to the movement for our equality is through my art. we’re very passionate about the healing power of art. It’s my lifeline to coping with living in a state of constant pain. We share the art to give people hope and inspiration in their own lives. I created this poster to read as a recognizable symbol for the struggle to have equal rights and to be able to marry like everybody else. The Male and Female symbols have been combined to create a kind of new hybrid symbol that represents a universal marriage symbol. The pink triangle is our symbol of empowerment in our long struggle for civil rights. The marriage ring is open to allow everyone access inside, representing the universality of marriage and the belief that it is a inalienable right to love and marry someone

Interracial couple in Louisiana denied marriage license

CNN - Civil rights advocates in eastern Louisiana are calling for a justice of the peace of Tangipahoa Parish to resign after he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. The demands for Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, to step down came after he wouldn't issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, 30, and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond. "He's an elected public official and one of his duties is to marry people. He doesn't have the right to say he doesn't believe in it," Patricia Morris, president of the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish, located near the Mississippi line, said Thursday. "If he doesn't do what his position calls for him to do, he should resign from that position." "I'm not a racist," Bardwell told the newspaper. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children." Bardwell, stressi

Champs-Elysees set ablaze in protest by farmers

The Huffington Post - French farmers struggling with slumping grain prices blanketed the Champs-Elysees with bales of hay and set them ablaze Friday, and blocked highways around the country as they demanded government help. About 150 farmers blocked traffic and unloaded hay and tires onto the most famous shopping street in Paris. The protesters set the hay on fire before firefighters quickly extinguished the flames. The grain farmers' fiery protest comes after dairy farmers dumped rivers of milk across fields in France, Belgium and other countries to protest collapsing milk prices. Dairy farmers had urged the EU to limit production through quotas to drive up prices and shield them from market fluctuations. Read more . Read more.

Slavoj Zizek on Capitalism, Healthcare, Latin American “Populism” and the “Farcical” Financial Crisis

War Profiteering: The Acorn Standard

Jeremy Scahill @ The Nation - Take the case of the top three war contractors, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. These companies have engaged in 108 instances of misconduct since 1995 and have paid fines or settlements totaling nearly $3 billion. In 2007 they won some $77 billion in federal contracts. Or consider pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which in September paid $2.3 billion to settle a slew of criminal and civil cases, including Medicaid fraud. According to the Justice Department, this was "the largest healthcare fraud settlement" in its history. Yet Pfizer made more than $40 billion in profits last year and won $73 million in federal contracts in 2007; it continues to do robust business with the government. Not bad for a "corporate felon." Unfortunately, neither Pfizer nor the largest US military contractors are targets of significant Congressional action. Instead it's ACORN, a community organization that trains and advocates for poor and working

Father Calls Insurance Company's Decision To Drop Son's Coverage "Attempted Murder"

The Huffington Post - Rather than continue to pay for Ian Pearl's million dollar medical treatments, one insurance company has decided to end certain lines of coverage altogether, reports William Ehart of the Washington Times . Pearl, 37, suffers from Type II spinal muscular dystrophy, and has been using a wheel chair and connected to a breathing tube for most of his life. Patients with his type of muscular dystrophy rarely live past infancy, but Peal credits his vitality to the care he has received all his life. Read more .

Looking for a Middle Class

Marie Cocco @ Truthdig - The challenge of our time is to re-create America as a middle-class nation. How many of you, having previously held a presumptively secure job with a solid company, are now working as a “contractor” or “consultant”? The trend toward taking employees off the payroll only to hire them again as contractors—without health benefits, pensions, sick days, vacations—began in the 1970s with janitors, construction workers and truckers. Now highly skilled technology workers who helped transform the global economy are among the downsized, the outsourced, the contracted-out. Read more .

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Michelle Obama and I Agree: Commit to the Arts in Schools

Michael Tilton Thomas @ The Huffington Post - While foreign finance ministers and central bankers met a few weeks ago at the G-20 summit to discuss the state of the world's finances, it was something that Mrs. Obama, not Mr., said that made my ears perk up. Speaking at the Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts School, Michelle Obama gave an 11-minute address about the importance of the arts in our schools. I appreciated her expressing the conviction that the arts aren’t somehow an “extra” part of our nation’s life, but should be an essential part of it. Specifically, a generation raised without awareness of the arts, without the opportunity to experience the arts themselves by making music, making drawings, making poems, is a disenfranchised one. Art is the essence of who we are and our society is strengthened whenever young people are given the opportunity to directly share this legacy. Read more . Read more at:

Obama calls for $250 supplemental payment to senior citizens

Associated Press - President Barack Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year. The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year. It would mark the first year without an increase in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. Read more .

Russia Rejects US Threats for Iran Sanctions

AntiWar - Speaking today in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected US threats to press for more sanctions against the Iranian government , insisting that the focus should be on diplomacy and that the repeated threats were “counterproductive.” Lavrov’s comments came following a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was attempting to get specific guarantees from Russia to support new sanctions against Iran . The effort was, as Lavrov’s comments indicate, unsuccessful. Despite this, State Department officials claim that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave Secretary Clinton assurances behind closed doors that Russia was still willing to back the sanctions if Iran didn’t implement the Geneva deal. Read more .

Swine Flu Is Bad for Victims, But Good for Businesses

Common Dreams - Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business. "The vaccine market is booming," says Bruce Carlson, spokesperson at market research firm Kalorama , which publishes an annual survey of the vaccine industry. "It's an enormous growth area for pharmaceuticals at a time when other areas are not doing so well," he says, noting that the pipeline for more traditional blockbuster drugs such as Lipitor and Nexium has thinned. Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market. Read more .

Africa the Motherland: Afro Latino Culture and History

"When we were children, we were told that we have a motherland, and that motherland was Spain . However, we have discovered later, in our lives, that as a matter of fact, we have several motherlands. And one of the greatest motherlands of all is no doubt, Africa . We love Africa. And every day we are much more aware of the roots we have in Africa... Racism is very characteristic of imperialism. Racism is very characteristic of capitalism. Katrina is—indeed, has a lot to do with racism–no doubt about it. Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth, because of my curly hair. And I’m so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it’s African." - Hugo Chavez - Wikipedia - An Afro-Latin American (also Afro-Latino ) is a Latin American person of at least partial Black African ancestry; the term may also refer to historical or cultural elements in Latin America thought to emanate from this community. [ 1 ] The term can refer to the mixing of Africa