SF Gray Panthers Blog

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Summaries of Postings:

Andy Lopez: Sonoma CA DA uses pro-police expert witness in refusal to charge deputy who murdered Andy. The Sonoma CA DA who refused to charge the Sheriff Deputy who killed Andy Lopez used an expert witness who specializes in defending police in shooting cases, including Johannes Mehserle, who shot Oscar Grant while lying handcuffed on a BART platform. Earlier reports show the deputy who killed Andy Lopez had a history of violence and lying. Santa Rosa police are using heavy intimidation against youths protesting Andy’s murder. (July 15, 2014)

Prison Brutality against Mentally Ill Inmates. There has been a surge in assaults by correction officers against inmates at Rikers Island. Rikers Island correction officers used force on inmates twice as many times in the past 12 months as they did five years before, even as the jail population declined. An internal study found 129 serious injuries caused by corrections staff in 2013. Inmates with mental disorders make up nearly 40 percent of the 11,000 inmates and suffered more than three-quarters of the injuries in the study. In 80 percent of the cases, inmates reported being beaten after they were handcuffed. Even so, none of the officers involved in the 129 cases have been prosecuted at this point. (July 15, 2014)

Gray Panthers of SF Support MUNI Drivers. We, as members of the Gray Panthers of San Francisco, demand the City not press charges against MUNI drivers or their union and give drivers a fair contract. By taking actions against drivers and their union, the City is actively participating in a coercive labor process that will ultimately bring wider and more disruptive conflict to San Francisco. In an economic environment where San Francisco is unaffordable for its workers, and has the fastest-growing gap between rich and poor, it would be wise to realize that workers will not accept this treatment indefinitely. Times can change. Times will change. (June 26, 2014)

It Is Our Community College. Early media reports espoused a victory for CCSF. But, a careful reading of the ACCJC policy statement issued after the commission’s June 11 clandestine meeting causes alarm not celebration. ACCJC does not listen to public demands, legislators’ requests, or even the Dept of Education. Their affront at being called out shows in the wording of their policy statement. (June 25, 2014)

Mandela’s Greatness May Be Assured, but Not His Legacy. John Pilger recalls an interview with Nelson Mandela in the 1990s, painting a portrait of a leader whose African National Congress had been in struggle and exile for so long, they were willing to collude with forces that had been the people’s enemy, even before Mandela’s release. (December 13, 2013)

How the ANC’s Faustian pact sold out South Africa’s poorest. Ronnie Kasrils, who worked closely with Mandela, was a leading anti-apartheid underground activist on the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress from 1987 to 2007, wrote “Back then, our hopes were high for our country given its modern industrial economy, strategic mineral resources (not only gold and diamonds), and a working class and organized trade union movement with a rich tradition of struggle. But that optimism overlooked the tenacity of the international capitalist system. From 1991 to 1996 the battle for the ANC’s soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy ” (December 13, 2013)

Undocumented Immigrants Respond to Obama’s SF Speech on Immigration. President Obama, who deports nearly a half-million immigrants per year, has broad discretion in immigration law enforcement including: the power to choose whether to bring enforcement actions against specific individuals or categories of people, the power to interpret existing laws and regulations, the authority to end or modify existing enforcement programs like Operation Streamline and Secure Communities. Not only has he offered no executive relief, but he continues to push SB 744, which emphasizes border security, guest workers, and long waits and nearly impossible conditions to qualify for green cards. (November 26, 2013)

Why Organized Labor Is Organizing Against Obamacare. This significant article shows a potential new source of support for winning Single-Payer healthcare: organized labor. Unions which had held back from embracing Single-Payer because they had their own health plans are now realizing that Obamacare does not just encourage employers to cut back full-time jobs to un-benefited part-time jobs. Obamacare also damages hard-won union-based health plans. (August 30, 2013)

The real invasion of Africa is not news and a licence to lie is Hollywood’s gift. A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. The invasion has almost nothing to do with “Islamism”, and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. (February 2, 2013)

Spaniards Protest Health Care Reforms: privatization, closures of public facilities. Thousands marched in Madrid on Sunday to protest plans to privatize parts of their public health care system. The Madrid region proposes selling the management of six of 20 large public hospitals in its jurisdiction and 10 percent of its 268 public health centers, saying these reforms are needed to secure health services during Spain’s economic crisis. Spain’s economy has shrunk due to a double-dip recession following the 2008 implosion of the once-prosperous bubble in the real estate and construction sectors. Doctors and medical workers have struck against this shutdown of medical care. (January 13, 2013)

Can We Please Stop Pretending Obama is “Capitulating” on Social Security? Finally, a voice of reason on Obama, who was pushed to the forefront of politics by the Bill Clinton’s corporate advisers who eliminated Glass-Stiegel, pushed through NAFTA, and got rid of welfare as we know it. Obama has made a deliberate and concerted effort to cut Social Security benefits since the time he took office, and this article lays it out step by step. (January 5, 2013)

Here’s Real “History in the Making”: The People Fight Back to Save City College. On Friday, January 11, 2013, City College of San Francisco students, staff, teachers and department chairs will picket and boycott the interim chancellor’s welcome address which traditionally kicks off the new semester. Instead of listening to Dr. Thelma Scott-Skillman’s speech, “History in the Making”, City College’s community will make its own history by conducting a press conference and rally addressing the people of San Francisco. (January 1, 2013)

Take Your Money Out of Wells Fargo Bank. On Tuesday, December 18, two senior organizations, Senior Disability Action and SF Gray Panthers took their money out of Wells Fargo and joined a rally outside protesting Wells Fargo’s widespread home foreclosures and evictions in San Francisco and around the US. Wells Fargo has 40 % of US home mortgages. In San Francisco, Wells Fargo has had twice as many auctions of foreclosed homes as Morgan Chase and BoA combined. We urge all groups to take their money out of Wells Fargo and use credit unions instead. (December 28, 2012)

Drug Companies Refuse to Produce Generic, Less-Profitable Anti-Cancer Drug, Leading to Recurrence of Lymphoma. This is a particularly eloquent illustration of the deadly effects of production for profits, rather than production for our needs. It also illustrates how the capitalists’ ownership of intellectual property (drug patents, in this case) is as toxic as their ownership of the factories, farms, hospitals etc, where we have to work to earn the money to buy back what we make in these places of employment. Bear in mind that the government pays for 80% of the research on drugs which the pharmacy companies then get patents on. (December 27, 2012)

SF Gray Panthers and Senior & Disability Action close their Wells Fargo Bank Accounts, Protesting Bank’s Foreclosures and Evictions. A fiery crowd of as many as 50 seniors and their supporters including green-clad, Doctor Seuss-styled grinches, rallied this afternoon in front of Wells Fargo Bank at the intersection of Market and Grant streets, calling on the national bank to halt its evictions of struggling homeowners and to change its foreclosure practices. An hour earlier, representatives from the two groups entered the bank and closed their Wells Fargo accounts to protest home foreclosures that have “disproportionately shuttered the homes of seniors, people with disabilities, and people of color,” the groups stated. “We’re encouraging all other organizations” to close their Wells Fargo Accounts, said James Chionsini, director of healthcare advocacy for Senior & Disability Action (SDA). (December 18, 2012))

Social Security Chained CPI Explained. Under pressure from seniors, people with disabilities, anti-racists, women, and unions, Obama had finally conceded that Social Security did not contribute to the debt and should not be part of a discussion on the debt. He is now prepared to ditch that position and embrace cost-of-living cuts to Social Security benefits in exchange for (weakened) restoration of higher taxes on the rich. This NT Times article explains the “chained CPI,” the cut in Social Security inflation adjustments. (December 19, 2012)

Healthcare Crisis: Not Enough Specialists For The Poor, but Calif to Cut Medi-Cal Spending A lack of specialists available to low-income patients presents one of the bigger hurdles facing the country as it tries to bring spiraling healthcare costs under control. By the end of the decade, the nation will be short more than 46,000 surgeons and specialists, a nearly tenfold increase from 2010., Healthcare reform is expected to worsen the problem as more patients — many with complex and deferred health needs — become insured and seek specialized treatment. Yet recently A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned injunctions blocking the state from implementing a 2011 law that slashed Medi-Cal reimbursements by 10%. The ruling could make it harder to find doctors for as many as 2 million new patients who could become eligible for Medi-Cal under President Obama’s healthcare law — a possible 25% expansion of the program. California already provides one of the lowest rates of reimbursement in the nation for medical services to the poor, and there is a shortage of doctors to serve those patients. (December 16, 2012)

CARA Flash Mob: Hands Off Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid! Tax the Top 2%! The nation’s richest banks and corporations have rung up billions in deficits with wars, tax cuts for the richest, bank bailouts, and reckless speculation, and now they want us to pay by sacrificing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and every other part of the Safety Net! Democrats and Republicans alike are burning the midnight oil in search of a bi-partisan Grand Bargain to screw seniors, people with disabilities, kids, and low-income workers. No Way! Our Flash Mob for social justice demanded * No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or services to low-income people, * End the tax cuts for the rich, and * Create millions of jobs. (December 14, 2012)

Chile, Mapuche, and the Bernal Heights Library Mural. Our November Newsletter reported the painting over of the mural about Chile that was on three sides of the Bernal Heights Library. That mural included references to the Mapuche indigenous population of Chile. Today in Chile the Mapuche are threatened and persecuted by the government of President Sebastian Pinera much the same way as did Pinochet. Painting over the Bernal Heights mural about Chile under Pinochet is part of the selective re-writing of history. (Dec. 2, 2012)

Clinton’s savage program of Welfare Reform, effects on women and children. Sunday’s New York Times has a significant article on women’s’ and children’s poverty, and Welfare Reform of the 1990s. The next time you hear liberal Democrats prattle about the good old days under Clinton, with his budget surpluses, remember his 1996 Welfare Reform, the savage program that stole billions from welfare recipients and gave the money to the rich, who invested it in the stock market, driving up stocks and giving us our vaunted “prosperity”. Extreme poverty has doubled since Welfare Reform, and poverty and near-poverty have jumped hugely, but Obama and Pelosi say nothing about this, only talking about the “middle class.” Clearly Democrats are as devoted to corporate profits and enriching the rich as Republicans. (April 8, 2012)

Bipartisan plan to gut Medicare: Vouchers, Premium Support, Managed Competition. Democrat Ron Weiden and Republican Paul Ryan are pushing a plan to send the Medicare we know into a death spiral. Medicare would become voucher system, with recipients receiving checks based on the premiums of the second-cheapest Medicare-HMO in an area. Annual voucher increases would be limited to Gross National Product growth plus one percent, far less than the historical growth rates of Medicare costs. Medicare’s premiums would be higher than HMOs premiums, because Medicare would be forced to accept sicker, more expensive patients, who would not survive under HMOs managed care. Medicare recipients would have to pay the difference between Medicare’s higher premiums and the vouchers based on the 2nd-cheapest-HMO plan, out of their own pockets, which would steadily drive healthier patients out of Medicare. Medicare would fall into a death spiral of higher premiums, fewer, sicker patients, and less funding. (December 15, 2011)

Dec. 2nd, San Francisco: Why we need to protest, even with no Super Committee plan. Some may wonder whether the stalemate in the Super Committee has reduced the urgency of our December 2nd demonstration against cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. (The action is Friday, Dec. 2nd, at Mission & 7th Sts., in SF. Read more.) The following article shows that our situation is still very urgent, both in the short term and in the long term. Yes, it is definitely a victory for us that members of the Super Committee were afraid to do the hatchet job that corporate and financial interests demanded. And yes, we do need to come to the San Francisco Federal Building at 7th & Mission Streets at 2 PM on Friday, December 2. (November 26, 2011)

Severe, Long-Term Medicare and Medicaid Cuts Planned Will Impact Jobs Picture The New York Times says cutbacks in healthcare planned in future years are so severe that the resulting layoffs and hiring freezes will worsen the nation’s unemployment. The cuts will result in many of these providers either dropping out of Medicare or giving dangerous care because of short-staffing. Capping and even cutting Medicaid and Medicare spending while allowing costs to rise to accommodate insurance, drug, and hospital profits means that government and its corporate partners are tossing away the notion of equal care for seniors, children, people with disabilities, and low-income workers. (August 18, 2011)

Obama! HANDS OFF SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, AND MEDICAID! On July 24, President Obama was twisting arms to get Congress to agree to huge debt reductions that would cripple Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Angry defenders of these programs staged a noisy demonstration outside the Obama Campaign’s Oakland California headquarters, where a training session was under way to rev up volunteers for the 2012 election campaign. (July 24, 2011)

“Everybody In! Nobody out!” Means No Exclusion of Undocumented Immigrants Since its inception, Single-Payer healthcare’s most enduring rallying theme has been “Everybody In! Nobody Out!” This vision, which resonates with our most basic striving for equality, is being challenged now, as progressives and sections of labor rally behind Bernie Sanders’ new single-payer law, S.915, which contains the fatal flaw of excluding undocumented immigrants. The damage the working class would suffer from passing this bill as is, and splitting us into “legal” and “not legal” groupings, would negate any advances that would be made by getting rid of insurance companies. Here is a resolution that was submitted to the American Public Health Association in response to the Obama Health Plan’s exclusion of undocumented immigrants. (June 26, 2011)

How the Imposed MUNI Contract Would Hurt Drivers And the Public. This imposed contract on San Francisco MUNI workers is an attack on drivers, riders, and all public services. This is what Wisconsin looks like! We need to support whatever resistance the drivers can mount. And why are these so-called labor leaders attacking the drivers instead of supporting them? Who’s next? (June 21, 2011)

Obama shields states cutting Medicaid doctor payments. “The Obama administration is shielding states that are cutting their Medicaid programs by saying Medicaid patients and doctors cannot sue states for reducing doctor payments, even if such cuts cause a reduction in the number of doctors serving Medicaid patients to the point where patients cannot access care. Democrats and Republicans are unified in their determination to cut our programs. Medicare and Medicaid were won in the in the streets in the 1960s, and that is where they must be defended now. (May 29, 2011)

Gray Panther Program: MayDay! MayDay! Civil Liberties Under Attack! “The USA Patriot Act is the greatest threat in decades to rights of free speech and protections against searches and seizures, but the government is on the verge of renewing it for another three years. It allows government to seize records or “any tangible thing” from any person, to order wiretaps without specifying who is targeted, and to label anyone a threat and reduce their legal protections. Come on May 17 to hear why we need to stop renewal of the Patriot Act. (May 9, 2011)

Shortages of key drugs endanger patients. Free market to blame. “Doctors, hospitals and federal regulators are struggling to cope with an unprecedented surge in drug shortages in the United States that is endangering cancer patients, heart attack victims, accident survivors and a host of other ill people.” This is a perfect illustration of why the research, development, ownership and production of medicines must not be left in the hands of private businesses. (May 2, 2011)

CPMC! No Cuts in Skilled Nursing Beds! San Francisco Gray Panthers is extremely concerned about California Pacific Medical Center’s plan to eliminate 180 Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) beds, mostly used for post-hospital care for poor elderly or disabled Medicare-Medi-Cal patients with strokes, heart and circulatory disease, hip fractures, cancer, respiratory diseases, and severe kidney diseases. SF has a severe shortage of SNF beds accepting Medi-Cal. In 2020, the City will have 92,000 more seniors than in 2000, and there will be a shortage of at least 3,000 SNF beds. CPMC’s planned closing of its Skilled Nursing Facility, with 180 beds, would raise the total of closed beds to 912, a 24% drop since 1997. (March 13, 2011)

No Tasers for San Francisco Police! Former Mayor Newsom and former Police Chief, George Gascon argued that equipping police with Tasers would reduce officer-related shooting by as much as one third. This argument is false. If police officers are genuinely endangered by an armed suspect, they will use a gun even if they have a Taser. Instead, Tasers will be used on unarmed suspects as an additional means to threaten or terrorize non-compliant subjects. ACLU research shows that 80% of Taser use is against unarmed individuals. (February 27, 2010)

Alan Simpson! Erskine Bowles! We have questions for you! Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of Obama’s Deficit Commission, are speaking on “Is There a Fair Way to Reduce the Federal Deficit?” at a Panetta Institute forum in Monterey, California, on President’s Day, February 21. Obama’s Deficit Commission, though heavily stacked against social programs, was unable to reach consensus on recommendations, so Simpson and Bowles released their own recommendations, which would have devastating consequences for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, job recovery, and all government programs. We have some questions for them! (February 14, 2010)

Why Mubarak is Out. My wife talked with an Egyptian woman at a march in San Francisco Saturday, who said that before, everyone wanted to leave Egypt. Now everyone wants to go back. This is a great time. The US, the EU, Israel, and corrupt Arab leaders will never be able to stuff the genie back into the bottle. Whatever happens with this uprising, there will be more, and even greater liberation. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the forces involved. (February 8, 2010)

Government Preparing for Nuclear War. Thursday, December 16th’s NY Times article “How to Survive a Nuclear Bomb” is dishonest in saying the government is preparing for nuclear attack by terrorists. These preparations are being made to prepare us ideologically for major war, probably with China, which would inevitably include nuclear weapons. Increasing US aggressiveness to maintain world dominance will inevitably lead to war where we are captive participants, unless we can mount a gigantic movement against it. (December 16, 2010)

Alternative Deficit-Reduction Plan: Death Spiral for Medicare and Its Patients. Rivlin and Domenici propose a “premium support” plan where Medicare recipients will be issued voucher checks to shop for their own health care, either traditional Medicare or a private health plan. Private plans’ premiums would be cheaper, because they pick healthier patients. Voucher checks would not grow with the rate of medical inflation, but would be tied to the GDP plus 1%, so Medicare patients would pay increasingly out-of-pocket. Over time, increasing numbers of seniors and people with disabilities would drop traditional Medicare because of its higher premiums, leaving traditional Medicare with the sickest, who could not survive the private plans’ managed care. With fewer patients, Medicare itself would languish along with its patients. (November 17, 2010)

The Obama Health Plan Has Serious Threats to Medicare. Obama’s Health Plan is fatally flawed because it uses insurance companies to deliver healthcare, but the Health Plan also directly threatens Medicare. It scales back Medicare funding increases to providers over the next ten years, increases that will be needed to balance out inflation and take care of the first half of the baby boomers. The cuts are not directed at Medicare patients directly. Instead they are directed at those who provide care to these patients: the doctors, and hospitals, and home care agencies, rehabilitation facilities, and even durable medical equipment suppliers. These cuts will reduce providers’ incentive to treat Medicare patients, until the providers finally stop taking them. Like today’s Medicaid patients, Medicare patients will have problems finding someone to care for them. (September 28, 2010)

Protest Pete Peterson Social Security Wrecking Crew in San Francisco. The Peterson Foundation and the Concord Coalition, that rail against Social Security and, Medicare, are beginning a national tour to push their message that seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor must give up Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to save the economy. These are the country’s most successful, popular, and life-sustaining social programs. We’ve already paid into them. They are not failing. We will not give them up! (September 19, 2010)

Food Capitalism and Global Warming Produces Starvation and Food Riots To see how climate change will play out in the twenty-first century, look to the deaths and burning tyres in Mozambique’s ‘food riots’ to see what happens when extreme natural phenomena interact with our unjust social and economic systems. The immediate causes of the protests are a 30-percent price increase for bread, compounding a recent double-digit increase for water and energy. When nearly three quarters of the household budget is spent on food, that’s a hike few Mozambicans can afford. Deeper reasons for Mozambique’s price hike can be found a continent away. (September 7, 2010)

Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima.’ Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer, and leukemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study. A survey showed a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality is eight times higher than in Kuwait. They found a 38-fold increase in leukemia, and a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer. At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukemia. Dr Busby says that while he cannot identify the type of armaments used by the Marines, the extent of genetic damage suffered by inhabitants suggests the use of uranium in some form. He said: “My guess is that they used a new weapon against buildings to break through walls and kill those inside.” (July 27, 2010)

When the leaders speak of peace … Co-opting the Anti-Nuclear Movement Brecht wrote “When the leaders speak of peace, The common folk know that war is coming. When the leaders curse war The mobilization order is already written out.” The new movie “Countdown to Zero” is one component of a larger and coherent foundation campaign to stoke up public fears about nuclear weapons for the purpose of extending a near-monopoly on nuclear weapons, and legitimating a more aggressive foreign policy aimed at regime change in Iran and elsewhere. The consensus behind those who funded and produced the film has little to do with disarmament, and a lot to do with stabilizing the American empire. (July 26, 2010)

Celebrate and Defend Social Security on its 75th Birthday (August 14, San Francisco). Join the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) and the San Francisco Central Labor Council to celebrate and defend America’s most successful social program. Social Security is under severe attack by business groups, deficit hawks, and the Obama administration, with lies saying Social Security is on the verge of collapse, is draining the national treasury, and is providing bloated benefits to undeserving seniors. We will refute these lies, and mobilize to pressure Obama’s Deficit Commission and Congress to not privatize Social Security, reduce its benefits, or raise its retirement age. (July 22, 2010)

Report on the Speak-Out in Oakland following the Mehserle verdict. I joined many hundreds at a speak-out at Broadway and 14th St. from 6-8 PM the night of the manslaughter verdict on BART policeman Johannes Mehserle’s straight-out murder of Oscar Grant. The speak-out was organized as an opportunity for young people to express their feelings at seeing yet another murder of a young black man by a police officer who is barely slapped on the wrist. Absolutely everyone agreed that tonight was NOT the night for violent rebellion. Oakland had assembled 6,000 police and tens of thousand National Guard and had been training them for weeks for tonight. But some said it’s also essential to remember that it was only the January rebellions that resulted in Mehserle being taken into custody and charged. (July 11, 2010)

Health Reform may not be able to cover the uninsurable. The Obama administration has not ruled out turning sick people away from an insurance program created by the new healthcare law to provide coverage for those whom commercial insurers refuse. Healthcare experts of all stripes warned during the healthcare debate that $5 billion would likely not last until 2014, when health plans can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Millions of Americans cannot find affordable healthcare because of their pre-existing conditions, and that amount would only cover a couple hundred thousand people, according to a recent study by the chief Medicare actuary. (July 5, 2010)

Grows Uneasy Over Reliance on Migrant Labor Perched 22 stories above an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv, three Chinese construction workers inched their way along the arm of a crane and refused to budge, an act of desperation aimed at getting thousands of dollars in wages they claimed their Israeli employer had illegally withheld. For Israelis, it was an unwanted reminder of the troubled experiment with foreign labor, where more than a million migrants have come to Israel to replace the Palestinians, who were the country’s original source of cheap labor. But even as foreign workers have become a mainstay of the economy, their presence has increasingly clashed with Israel’s Zionist ideology, causing growing political unease over the future of the Jewish state and their place in it. (July 5, 2010)

America Speaks: Pushback in Palo Alto, CA. It was truly amazing how America Speaks worked to force us into giving us the answers they wanted: cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They presented a 25-page doomsday 2025 budget scenario. They got us dancing in front of cameras waving over-sized dollar bills. They smothered us in smarmy togetherness, and inclusiveness. Yet there was big pushback. People at our table felt it was outrageous to have an eight minute conversations about 30 million unemployed or under-employed with no solution being proposed. People refused to make health care cuts unless they had single payer and drug price negotiation. Tax the rich. Cut the military. These messages came from all over the country. Now is when we need to really work to save our programs. (May 28, 2010)

SF Gray Panthers support MUNI drivers voting for no concessions. The SF Gray Panthers salutes the MUNI drivers who resisted the pressures of downtown business, the Mayor’s office, the Chronicle and Examiner, and some Supervisors, in rejecting the concessions the City is trying to force down their throats. MUNI’s service cuts, fare increases, and financial problems are not caused by drivers’ greed or the riders’ fare evasion; they are caused by downtown business refusing to pay for the service MUNI provides in bringing them their customers and workers. (June 13, 2010)

Reduce Debt? Cut Oil Wars, not Social Security! The Nation says ““The President intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.” If Obama agrees to ask Congress to cut Social Security benefits, it would amount to a sellout by a president of the same Democratic Party that embraced Franklin D. Roosevelt, the father of Social Security, back in 1935. If Obama is worried about the federal budget deficit, he shouldn’t turn to Social Security. The solution to the deficit is staring him right in the face: Obama should cut our human and money losses by getting out of the impossible — and costly — wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (June 6, 2010)

We don’t want just any immigration reform! The recent immigrant rights marches draw attention to the righteous demand of legalization. But some groups are supporting legislation, such as the bipartisan Senate Schumer-Graham proposal, that could have devastating effects on immigrants: more raids, detentions, deportations, border militarization; a national ID card for both immigrants and citizens; and a guest worker program allowing importation of temporary workers to work in serf-like conditions. And the legalization conditions are virtually impossible to meet. Similarly, the Guttierez Bill offers little in legalization and has more raids, deportations, and border militarization, as well as mandating electronic verification of Social Security numbers. We must demand real reform: immediate legalization for those here; stop the raids, detentions, and deportations; no guest worker programs, and an expansion of civil and labor rights. These must not be negotiated away just to get a law passed. (March 31, 2010)

British Medical Journal: ‘Obama’s reform: no cure for what ails us’. The new law will simply pump funds into a dysfunctional, market driven system that wastes 31% of health spending, and will push up health costs that are already twice those in most other wealthy nations. Some 16 million uninsured will be forced to buy increasingly inadequate private insurance, and $447 billion in public funds will be used to (barely) help poor people pay premiums. Regulations against excluding patients with pre-existing conditions or canceling policies when patients get sick will be circumvented as they have been before. Almost 20 million will remain uninsured, including all 12 million undocumented immigrants. A non-profit single payer national health insurance program remains the only real cure. (March 31, 2010)

Health Reform? Off the Table. First single-payer was off the table. Then a public option anyone could use was off the table. Then the Medicare buy-in was off the table. And negotiated drug prices. And cost controls. And .. And… It has been a very bitter pill to see how marginalized we are. We do not have a movement that’s capable of mounting a serious threat to the functioning of the economy or government, through strikes, sit-ins, or occupations. We cannot expect different results until we have the kind of movement, that can, and will, stop the gears for long enough to inflict serious pain. (March 23, 2010)

Fatal Ending for Family Forced Apart by Immigration Law: How Would John Brown React? One of the most horrifying images we have of nineteenth century US slavery is families split apart on the auction block. We tend to shudder at this image and tell ourselves that was a different time, but as this story shows, families are still being split apart, as part of a new form of slavery. Today, the exploitation of immigrant labor is enforced by the terror of ICE raids and family separation rather than iron shackles, but it is slavery all the same. How would John Brown react to this story of a family split apart by US immigration policy? How should we react? (February 12, 2010)

US to launch Fallujah-style attack in Afghanistan. As US and British troops prepare to attack the town of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, military commanders and the media are openly comparing the operation to the November 2004 siege of Fallujah, one of the bloodiest war crimes of the Iraq war. (February 6, 2010)

A Gaza Freedom March Participant Tells Her Story. In late December 2008, Israel embarked on its brutal assault on the Gaza Strip, Operation Cast Lead, killing approximately 1400 Palestinians. A year later, in late December 2009, approximately 1400 international nonviolence activists from over 40 countries, converged in Cairo, Egypt, with the goal of entering the Gaza Strip to march with the people of Gaza in the Gaza Freedom March (GFM), calling for an end to the siege of Gaza. A participant tells her story of what happened in in Cairo. (February 1, 2010)

US-China tensions the result of rise of China’s power. US fears about China reflect changes in their relative economic strength. While the US has been at the centre of the global financial crisis, China has continued to grow. China’s GDP is still well below that of the US, but it is set to overtake Japan this year as the world’s second largest economy. Moreover China is in a stronger position to offer economic incentives to potential allies. A China-ASEAN free trade agreement came into effect on January 1, creating the world’s third-largest free trade bloc, further undermining US influence in South East Asia. … The Pentagon is acutely aware of China’s rising military strength. A recent assessment by the US Office of Naval Intelligence estimated that China’s naval expansion would be at its height in the next 10–15 years, with “one or more aircraft carriers” and 75 submarines operating beyond Taiwan and South China Sea to protect China’s vital sea lanes, particularly to the Middle East and Africa. Every government has been compelled to try to balance economic relations with China against concerns to maintain relations with the US. But the US insists it is “not a visiting power in Asia, but a resident power”. (January 31, 2010)

US military and intelligence in Yemen shows Obama’s expansion of war. The collaboration with Yemen provides the starkest illustration to date of the Obama administration’s efforts to ramp up counterterrorism operations, including in areas outside the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones. Efforts in Yemen have resulted in more than two dozen ground raids and airstrikes. Obama also has sent U.S. military forces briefly into Somalia. He has embraced the notion that the most effective way to kill or capture members of al-Qaeda and its affiliates is to work closely with foreign partners, including those with feeble democracies, shoddy human rights records and weak accountability over the vast sums of money Washington is giving them to win their continued participation in these efforts. Targeted killing of US citizens abroad is part of the discussion. (January 29, 2010)

To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti. We reject the militarization of the country as a false response to the recent disaster, including in particular U.S. unilateral action to send an additional 20,000 troops to safeguard its economic and geopolitical interests. The occupation troops of the MINUSTAH, over the past six years, did not contribute effectively to the stabilization or the provision of infrastructure and public goods, and nothing indicates that maintaining this policy would be effective from now on. (January 28, 2010)

Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with the People of Haiti. Now more than ever, the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake beckons us to further dismantle the deep structure of racism that violates humanity, and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Haitian sisters and brothers. To this end we must insist that delivery of vital earthquake aid be accelerated, that Haiti’s foreign debt be cancelled and Haitians given the wherewithal to rebuild their own country on their own terms, that foreign military occupiers be removed, that the election ban on Haiti’s popular Lavalas party be lifted and that Aristide be allowed to return. (January 25, 2010)

Haiti Emergency Demonstration, Mon, Jan 25, 5 PM, Market & Powell, SF Despite a world-wide outpouring of aid to help Haiti, large amounts of desperately needed food, medicine, and other relief materials remains in warehouses in Haiti and is not reaching Haitians themselves. Serious obstacles to distribution exist, but the worst is a takeover of relief operations by a US military that is concerned with security more than aid. Consider the following: (January 22, 2010)

Workers Fed Up With Obama-Demo Healthcare Reform “It’s worse than NAFTA.” Top union leaders had bargained a compromise slowing down the health care benefits tax President Obama insisted on, but it was not enough to placate union members—and others—infuriated that Obama had broken his campaign promise not to tax benefits. Obama took a hands-off approach to the content of the bill as it crept through Congress. He didn’t insist on a public option nor a strong employer mandate to provide insurance. It was hard not to notice that the only issue on which he took a hard stand was taxing benefits. One bright spot could emerge from this winter’s health care debacle: union members not pushed into the arms of the tea-partiers could become convinced that “Medicare for All” is the only solution. (January 21, 2010)

Haiti: How much is US’s $100 million worth? How much has it cost? Billions of dollars in debt, Haiti was forced to accept an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment program that promised “debt forgiveness.” This IMF program destroyed Haiti’s sustainable agriculture, bankrupted its cash crops of rice and sugar, raised the price of electricity, and froze pay on public transit, infrastructure and vital social service providers such as doctors, nurses and teachers. Haiti’s debt to the Inter-American Development Bank was not “forgiven.” It is more than $500 million — five times the amount of U.S. aid pledged for earthquake relief. (January 21, 2010)

Why the US Owes Haiti Billions: The Briefest History. By Bill Quigley. Why does the US owe Haiti Billions? Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, stated his foreign policy view as the “Pottery Barn rule.” That is – “if you break it, you own it.” Well, The US has worked to break Haiti for over 200 years. We owe Haiti. Not charity. We owe Haiti as a matter of justice. Reparations. And not the $100 million promised by President Obama either – that is Powerball money. The US owes Haiti Billions – with a big B. (January 17, 2010)

The Right Testicle Of Hell: History Of A Haitian Holocaust. By Greg Palast. From 1825 to 1947, France forced Haiti to pay an annual fee to reimburse the profits lost by French slaveholders caused by their slaves’ successful uprising. France thought it more efficient to simply enslave the entire nation. Then Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, looted the nation for 28 years, putting an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets – with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. Duvaliers’ death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime. What Papa and Baby didn’t run off with, the IMF finished off through its “austerity” plans. (January 17, 2010)

Militarization of Haiti Aid: Humanitarian Operation or Invasion? “The unspoken mission of US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami and US military installations throughout Latin America is to ensure the maintenance of subservient national regimes, namely US proxy governments, committed to the Washington Consensus and the neoliberal policy agenda. While US military personnel will at the outset be actively involved in emergency and disaster relief, this renewed US military presence in Haiti will be used to establish a foothold in the country as well pursue America’s strategic and geopolitical objectives in the Caribbean basin, which are largely directed against Cuba and Venezuela.” (January 16, 2010)

Haiti Didn’t Become a Poor Nation All on Its Own — The U.S’s Hidden Role. It may startle news-hungry Americans to learn that these conditions the American media correctly attributes to magnifying the impact of this tremendous disaster were largely the product of American policies and an American-led development model. (January 16, 2010)

Why is Haiti Poor? Haiti is often described in the media as “the poorest country in the western hemisphere,” but as Peter Hallward notes in a 1/13/10 article in The Guardian, “This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression.” (January 16, 2010)

Please help Haiti. Haiti’s grassroots movement – including labor unions, women’s groups, educators and human rights activists, support committees for prisoners, and agricultural cooperatives – will attempt to funnel needed aid to those most hit by the earthquake. Grassroots organizers are doing what they can – with the most limited of funds – to make a difference. Please take this chance to lend them your support. (January 13, 2010)

Obama received $20 million from healthcare industry in 2008 campaign. “What it also means when you look at it just on its own merit is that Obama definitely has a relationship with the health sector,” Levinthal told Raw Story. “When you raise $20 million from one group, obviously they’ve curried some favor with you and you have a lot of people in that sector who support you. Some experts who spoke with Raw Story also noted the rather stark evolution from candidate Obama, who once advocated for universal healthcare and was a vocal critic of mandated health insurance, to President Obama, who excluded single-payer advocates from White House healthcare summits and who has since strongly embraced mandates. Historian and media critic Norman Solomon, who was also an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, called the president’s transformation on healthcare since taking office “shameful … corporate friendly in a way that I believe is injurious to public health.” (January 13, 2010)

Yemen: The Latest US Battleground, Be Very Very Careful. “Yemen has almost as large a population as Saudi Arabia, but differently lacks much in the way of natural resources. What little oil the country has is rapidly being depleted. Indeed, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per-capita income of less than $600 per year. More than 40 percent of the population is unemployed and the economic situation is increasingly deteriorating for most Yemenis as a result of a U.S.-backed structural adjustment program imposed by the International Monetary Fund. The county is desperate for assistance in sustainable economic development. The vast majority of U.S. aid delivered to the country, however, has been in the form of military assets. The limited economic assistance made available has been of dubious effectiveness and has largely gone through corrupt government channels. In the long term, the United States should significantly increase desperately needed development aid for the poorest rural communities that have served as havens for radical Islamists. Such a strategy would be far more effective than drone attacks, arms transfers, and counterinsurgency.” (January 13, 2010)

Damage Already Done by California’s 2009 Healthcuts. As California’s Governor Schwarzenegger proposes a 2010-2011 budget with more disastrous health and human service cuts, Health Access looks at the effects of the 2009-2010 cuts. Six months after major health care cuts were made to the 2009-2010 budget, and despite major efforts to prevent or delay the impacts, the ramifications are rippling through California’s families, economy, and the health system on which we all rely. (January 12, 2010)

Israel: No turning back from the apartheid state. “(By) preclud(ing) the possibility of a two-state solution, Israel has crossed the threshold from “the only democracy in the Middle East” to the only apartheid regime in the Western world. … It is now widely recognized in most Israeli circles — that the settlements have become so widespread and so deeply implanted in the West Bank as to rule out the possibility of their removal. Olmert said Israel would turn into an apartheid state when the Arab population in Greater Israel outnumbers the Jewish population. But the relative size of the populations is not the decisive factor in such a transition. Rather, the turning point comes when a state denies national self-determination to a part of its population–even one that is in the minority–to which it has also denied the rights of citizenship. (January 11, 2010)

Nelson Proposes Eliminating Medicaid Expansion or Letting States Opt Out. Health bill holdout Sen. Ben Nelson has been criticized for accepting the “Cornhusker kickback,” permanent federal payment for Medicaid expansion for his state of Nebraska as payment for his yes vote on the Senate health bill. In reaction, “Nelson said Thursday that if he can’t secure a similar deal for every state, he wants states to be freed from paying the cost of Medicaid expansion. That could mean eliminating the provision, finding another way to pay for it or allowing states to opt out.” For millions of the poorest US residents, expansion of Medicaid is the only benefit they get from ObamaCare, and now they’re working to undo even that. (January 8, 2010)

Health-care reform’s have-nots: who has the right to remain without heathcare? U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that 7.2 million adults earning less than twice the federal poverty level – about $21,000 for an individual and $44,000 for a family of four – would make too much to qualify for the expanded Medicaid envisioned by the Senate. People without insurance or who can’t afford their employer’s insurance, if they earn up to $43,000 individually or $88,000 as a family, would receive sliding-scale federal subsidies to help pay for private insurance, which everyone is required to buy. Well, almost everyone. If your premiums, even with federal assistance, equals 8% of your income, you could get a “hardship” exemption. (The exemption is for premiums only, not for co-pays or other charges.) Who could receive the “hardship” exemption and earn this privilege of remaining without healthcare? (January 4, 2010)

Health reform bills endanger children’s healthcare. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is one of the few success stories, where coverage has actually expanded. The Senate bill would give CHIP a temporary reprieve, extending federal financing through 2015, two years past its current expiration date, but the House bill would end CHIP and redirect the millions of children either to Medicaid or to the new health insurance exchanges. 14% of families whose citizen children get healthcare through government programs would lose that coverage because the parents have mixed immigration status, and both Medicaid and the exchanges deny aid to undocumented immigrants. In addition, low-income families using CHIP would lose healthcare for their children because they would not be able to afford the deductibles and co-pays of private insurance their employers provide. Medicaid currently provides more comprehensive coverage that CHIP, but Medicaid’s lower payments to doctors and hospitals plus anticipated state budget shortfalls threaten patient access in the future, though the House bill calls for higher provider payments. (January 4, 2010)

Questions mount over attempt to bomb Detroit-bound jetliner. Ten days after the failed attempt to explode a bomb onboard Northwest Flight 253 as it approached Detroit, there are mounting questions about the actions of US government agencies. Each of the facts were sufficient in itself to give the alert. To stop Abdulmuttalab from boarding the US-bound jetliner was a routine police matter. The claim that US intelligence agencies were unable to detect the bomb plot, despite so many warnings months in advance, is simply not credible.  (January 3, 2010)

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Wealth Care. The richest nation in earth’s history can’t agree on how to insure that its citizens get good health care, balking over the economic interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. One of the poorest nations on earth (Cuba) not only provides free, universal health care, but it provides well-trained, humanistic doctors to developing and poor countries all over the world. (January 3, 2010)

It’s 2003 and healthcare’s in crisis. Are workers and business in this together? The following is a leaflet distributed at the American Public Health Association convention in the fall of 2003, six years ago. It seems pretty relevant today, given the current health reform legislation, with its emphasis on cost reduction for business and government, its incentives to make us pay more for less healthcare while securing sustained profits for insurers, drug companies and hospital chains, and its reliance on cuts to Medicare to fund the whole plan. (December 31, 2009)

The Economic Crisis Ends; The Political Crisis Begins. The public money that financed the bank bailouts created massive public debt, to be solved by massively slashing public programs for workers and the poor. While extending the Bush bank bailouts, Obama took time to calm the nerves of investors who saw an exploding debt, and pledged he would “reform entitlement programs” (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid). He must be resisted at every step. American unions should look to Europe for inspiration for how to deal with the coming onslaught: mass demonstrations and united strike action will be the only way to put sufficient pressure on a government. Make the bosses take the losses! (December 29, 2009)

Schwarzenegger threatens to eliminate IHSS if he’s not given complete freedom to slash programs. The Governor in his letter to legislators complained of recent federal court decisions that blocked the State from implementing budget reductions to: IHSS workers; foster family agencies, most Medi-Cal providers; Adult Health Care Centers, and elimination or service reductions to over 130,000 children and adults in the IHSS program. The federal courts have said those reductions that the State wanted to make in order to close a budget gap of over $60 billion, violated federal law. San Francisco and Sacramento Gray Panthers were among the plaintiffs in the successful suits against reductions to Medi-Cal providers. Schwarzenegger has refused to consider single-payer healthcare, which could eliminate billions of state healthcare expenses. He has also refused any serious attempts to raise revenue from corporations or rich Californians who could afford to pay the revenue the state needs to provide needed services in health, welfare, education, housing, and many other vital services. (December 26, 2009)

Hey, Health Legislators: Want to reduce Medicare spending? Reduce poverty! The Senate and House health bills propose to promote “efficiency” by increasing payments to hospitals in areas of low Medicare spending, and reducing payments to hospitals in areas of higher Medicare spending. But hospitals in the high-spending areas are not “inefficient.” Their costs are high because their patients come from poverty-stricken, medically-underserved areas, and are unhealthy. These laws will penalize providers who care for the poor and impair these patients’ access. If health care costs are to be constrained, it must be through addressing the needs of low-income patients; not through penalizing the providers who care for them. (December 26, 2009)

Cuts to KPFA’s “Flashpoints” Spark Continuing Outrage. This time of year should be a happy time for some people but, at KPFA, some staff are being fired and others are having their hours reduced, in an indiscriminate way. The General Manager (GM) appears to be unfairly targeting programs that she does not support, such as Flashpoints. Meanwhile anger builds among activists for domestic and international justice, racial and economic equality, Mideast peace, and media freedom, some of whom have refused to let their material be used by KPFA unless “Flashpoints” is restored. (December 26, 2009)

Unbiased studies dispute Obama, say more healthcare gives better outcomes. Obama and his health policy advisors, who advocate strong cost containment, talk about the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which shows hospitals that spend more on end-of-life care but seem to have no better results. But the Dartmouth Index counts only the patients who die, so the patients who respond to additional care are not counted. Indeed, a study counting both living and dead heart failure patients showed hospitals that spent the most had one-third fewer deaths six months after an initial hospital stay. Obama’s rush for “efficiency” is an invitation to rationing. (December 23, 2009)

Nurses Say Senate Health Bill Entrenches Chokehold of Insurance Giants. “It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the health-care crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry,” says National Nurses Union co-president Karen Higgins, RN. (December 23, 2009)

Iraq vet: Our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land, they are right here in front of us. Racism is their weapon. “Our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it’s profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us.” (December 23, 2009)

Physicians for Single-Payer Healthcare Call for Defeat of Senate Health Bill. A national organization of 17,000 physicians who favor a single-payer health care system called on the U.S. Senate today to defeat the health care legislation presently before it and to immediately consider the adoption of an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program. While noting that the Senate bill includes some “salutary provisions” like an expansion of Medicaid, increased funding for community clinics and the curbing of some of the worst practices of the private insurance industry, the group says the negatives in the bill outweigh the positives. December 22, 2009)

Appeals Court accuses California State lawyers of deception to ram through Medi-Cal cuts. San Francisco and Sacramento Gray Panthers are plaintiffs in a suit against the State of California for cutting its payments to Medi-Cal doctors, dentists, pharmacists, clinics, and adult day health centers, even though California’s payments to these providers and the ratio of providers to patients are among the lowest in the country. It is already difficult for Medi-Cal patients to find doctors, yet the California was willing to go to the US Supreme Court to cut its payments by 10% and make the situation even worse. Now the State has been caught in deceptive practices in the courtroom. (December 22, 2009)

SF Immigration Rights Activists Prepare for National Struggle over Immigration Reform. As Congressman Gutierrez introduces a bill for Immigration Reform into the US Congress, Bay Area immigrant rights activists form their own demands for immigration reform and plan how their struggle will fit into national struggle, which is sure to be more heated than the health care struggle of this summer. (December 20, 2009)

Pakistan, at crossroads of rivalry between  Russia, China, and the US, refuses to satisfy US demands on Taliban and Afghanistan. The New York Times December 15 article, “Rebuffing U.S., Pakistan Balks at Crackdown” emphasizes a geo-political importance of Pakistan beyond its hosting pipelines bring Central Asia’s oil and gas to Western and/or Chinese capitalists.  (December 16, 2009)

Public health in Afghanistan to be subordinated to US military and political goals. The health of the Afghan people caught up in America’s 8-year war is America’s responsibility.  Afghan life expectancy is 47 years, and nearly 1/5 of children die by age 5.  Since 2002, however, there has been an improvement in primary care services provided by the Afghan Public Health Ministry, which has been comparatively free of corruption and has been directly funded by western powers and allowed to develop its own programs.  This will all change under the US military surge, which will include a heavy civilian component where provision of health and other services will be directly tied to “quick impact” projects to achieve US military and political goals.  Set against a background of US war crimes in the area, the prospects are dim. US health workers cannot escape the parallels with post-9/11 US, when the US public health system, in shambles from years of cuts, was infused with billions to fight to supposedly fight bio-terrorism and promote hysteria.  (December 15, 2009)

Mass Firings, The New Face of Immigration Raids. 1,800 were fired from American Apparel, 1,200 under threat of firing at American Building Maintainence, and 254 at Overhill Farms.  “These workers have not only done nothing wrong, they’ve spent years making the company rich. No one ever called company profits illegal, or says they should give them back to the workers.  So why are the workers called illegal?” asks Nativo Lopez, director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana.  The Obama enforcement policy targets the same set of employers the Bush raids went after – union companies or those with organizing drives.  (December 13, 2009)

“The Medicare Buy-In: Unworkable Mess and Subsidy to Private Insurers” Washington’s health  reform gives billions of tax dollars to private insurers, with the concessions that they accept every applicant; wouldn’t charge the sick higher premiums; and only charge older people only two to three times more than the young.  With the Medicare buy-in, even these concessions are meaningless, as Medicare would cover patients age 55 and up.  We need Medicare for all, not a plan that takes only the high-cost patients off private insurers’ books and makes them Medicare’s problem.   (December 13, 2009)

KPFA’s program “Flashpoints” is under attack by station management. KPFA’s courageous program “Flashpoints” is under attack by KPFA management.  Please read below and email protests to the general manger at KPFA: gm@kpfa.org and send a copy to Dennis Bernstein at Flashpoints: dbernstein@ igc.org  (December 11, 2009)

Obama administration backs John Yoo, Bush torture memo author. Obama administration lawyers are once again supporting the dismissal of a civil case brought by a victim of illegal detention and torture during the Bush administration, filing a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of John Yoo, the notorious draftsman of Bush’s “torture memos.”  Earlier this year, Obama administration lawyers supported the dismissal of suits brought by victims of CIA “extraordinary renditions,” targets of government eavesdropping, and detainees transported from the Middle East to US military bases in Afghanistan.  (December 12, 2009)

High Premiums in Senate Democrats’ Health Plan. A family of four earning $54,000 in 2016 would be eligible for a subsidy of $10,100 to help defray the cost of insurance …  By then, one of the most popular federal plans, a nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield policy, is projected to cost more than $20,000, with monthly (out of pocket) premium costs of more than $825, (about 1/6 of monthly income). Some people ages 55 to 64 could “buy in” to Medicare, starting in 2011. That could cost about $7,600 a year per person or $15,200 for a couple … No subsidies would be available until 2014.  (December 13, 2009)

The First World War: The origin of real Terrorism and the beginning of ongoing Oil War. Today, the nation commemorates the First World War that took approximately 20 Million lives in total, but there is little reflection on the causes, which were simply a struggle for material resources, over territories, and colonies, a global clash of empires.  It was marked by the introduction of air raids and poison gas, and then in the early 1920s, the British used chemical weapons on the Kurds in Iraq, under the direction of Winston Churchill.  This is the origin of real terrorism. (December 9, 2009)

Millions in U.S. Drink Contaminated Water, Records Show. Since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage. Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.  (December 8, 2009)

Commissions and Feinstein: The Next Threats to Medicare and Social Security. Four years after Bush tried to privatize Social Security and cut its benefits, there is new clamor to restructure Medicare and Social Security and to cut their future costs. This time it is led by Democrats, and California Senator Dianne Feinstein is in the thick of it.  These lawmakers want to slash the healthcare and income of seniors and people with disabilities to pay for the war in Afghanistan and for the insurance and drug company bailouts that pass for health reform. Forcing through these cuts involves huge concentration of government power, and overturns decades of budget p (rinciples to guarantee benefits for retired and poor people.    (December 8, 2009)

Senate Democrats propose a Task Force or Commssion to massively cut Social Security and Medicare Medicare benefits, like Social Security and Medicaid benefits, have some legal protection because the program’s funding is supposed to automatically increase as the number of recipients increases. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been dead-set on overturning this protection for years, but overcoming the legal obstacle requires a high-power entity like a Commission.  (December 6, 2009)

Crusading Professor Challenges Dartmouth Atlas On Claims Of Wasteful Health Care Spending Obama’s health plan involves reduction of Medicare payments to hospitals historically shown to have higher Medicare expenses compared to hospitals in other regions of the country. Nobody contests that these differences exist, but some contend that these hospitals are high-spending because they are in poor, minority, unhealthy, and medically underserved, areas and that Obama’s plan of reducing those hospitals’ payments would drive healthcare quality further down in racially and economically discriminatory way. It would be the medical equivalent of No Child Left Behind. (December 3, 2009)

Barbara Ehrenreich, The Swine Flu Vaccine Screw-up. Optimism is supposed to be good for our health. According to the academic “positive psychologists,” as well as legions of unlicensed life coaches and inspirational speakers, optimism wards off common illnesses, contributes to recovery from cancer, and extends longevity.  But optimism turns out to be less than salubrious when it comes to public health. In July, the federal government promised to have 160 million doses of H1N1 vaccine ready for distribution by the end of October. Instead, only 28 million doses are now ready to go, and optimism is the obvious culprit.  (November 3, 2009)

Tax on high-cost health plans is to strip down employer-provided health coverage, not raise revenue. The Obama administration demands four cornerstones of healthcare reform: (1) a Medicare cost-containment Commission, (2) taxing high-cost private insurance, (3) reform of medical payment incentives, and (4) deficit reduction. Each of these cornerstones will reduce our health coverage, while the rest of ObamaCare guarantees windfall profits for the insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital industries. This piece illustrates how taxing high-cost private insurance will reduce coverage for those with employer-furnished health insurance.  (December 3, 2009)

Commission is Washington speak for .cutting Social Security and Medicare The whole spectrum of the ruling class is dead-set on crippling Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and commissions are frequently proposed as a way of doing this. They typically have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans (so neither party has to accept the blame for the cuts), and include the heads and ranking members of House and Senate Committees dealing with revenues and taxation. Their recommendations are fast-tracked through Congress and frequently must be voted up or down in their entirety, no amendments allowed.   (December 1, 2009)

Senate Health Bill is a Milestone … In Rationing. This is a pretty detailed argument that the Senate health bill is about rationing, if you define rationing like Ewe Reinhardt, decisions by insurers about what will be covered, versus  paid for out-of-pocket. The article says that these decisions by insurers will be made collectively in response to various governmental pressures including taxes on high-cost plans, government guidelines on effective and cost-effective treatment (such as the recent breast and cervical cancer screening recommendations), a bi-partisan Medicare cost-control Commission, and finally reimbursement reform including moving away from fee-for-service and toward payments for doctors and hospitals bundled together for particular medical care episodes akin to managed care.Obama’s  priorities concur.  (November 28, 2009)

Gray Panthers sit in Pelosi’s office for Single Payer. About a dozen single payer activists, including three Gray Panthers, sat in at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s SF office on November 3rd, demanding she honor her promises on single payer. Pelosi had promised that the House health reform bill, HR 3962, would include the Kucinich Amendment, allowing states the option for single payer, and the Weiner Amendment, allowing a full House debate on substituting HR 676 (Conyers national single payer bill) for the entire House bill being proposed.  (November 26, 2009)

Free Lynne Stewart! One of the first victims of the Patriot Act, Lynn was convicted of aiding terrorism in the course of her legal work. Based on her years of exemplary defense, and the government infringement of attorney-client confidentiality in the case, she was sentenced to only 28 months of detention, and was freed on appeal.  Now, at age 70 and recovering from breast cancer, she has been ordered to jail, and her sentence is being reviewed to be increased. This action is to instill the fear of government prosecution into any attorney who seeks to give a vigorous and dedicated defense to alleged terrorists or others who are victims of unjust government persecution.  Lynne points to the upcoming U.S. prosecution efforts of Guantanamo prisoners as a prime example. (November 26, 2009)

Flawed Health Reform Could Hurt Dems in 2010—Part I. Democrats’ timid, defensive approach to healthcare, which began by ignoring a single-payer, “Medicare for all” plan, could result in a political train wreck in 2010. They failed to authoritatively frame the issue in clear moral terms. The power and profits of insurers will be immensely strengthened, making the task of structural reform far more difficult in the future.  If 45,000 Americans die annually due to lack of healthcare, why are they waiting until 2013 or 2014 to apply their watered-down reforms? Perhaps they are afraid of the potential for widespread public disappointment and disillusionment. (November 25, 2009)

A New United Movement Stops Mexico for a Day. San Francisco Gray Panther Earl Gilman reports from Mexico. In response to the Mexican government´s firing of 44,000 electric workers strikes and stoppages took place throughout Mexico n November 11th.  In the central square in Mexico City 200,000 electric workers, students, teachers gathered to denounce the government action, which appears to be geared to privatizing the industry and destroying an opposition union.  More reporting and photographs follow.  (November 25, 2009)

Red Alert: The Second Wave of The Financial Tsunami.  Since the last quarter of 2008, unrelenting currency warfare has been waged by the key global economies and while this competition thus far has been non-antagonistic, it will soon be antagonistic because the inherent differences are irreconcilable. The consequences to the global economy will be devastating and for the ordinary people, massive unemployment and social unrest are assured.  (November 25, 2009)

15-fold increase of birth defects and childhood cancers in Falluja. Doctors in Iraq’s war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting, according to specialists working in Falluja’s over-stretched health system who have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born. Abnormal clusters of infant tumours have also been repeatedly cited in Basra and Najaf – areas that have in the past also been intense battle zones where modern munitions have been heavily used.  (November 24, 2009)

Paying for Health Reform: Medicare Advantage overpayments shifted onto seniors, not eliminated.  In anticipation of the long-promised cuts in government funding to Medicare Advantage plans under any new health insurance makeover bill, the Medicare Advantage providers have jumped the gun, and already passed their predicted losses in profits onto the backs of their fixed-income elderly “beneficiaries.”  In my case, monthly premiums will go up 52 per cent.  Services for which there previously were no charges—like physical therapy, for instance—will now require the same $20 co-pay paid to physicians.  The cost of drugs will also see huge increases in the revised “formulary” which sets out restrictions on which drugs can be prescribed.  (November 24, 2009)

Social Security Agency To Investigate If California Is Illegally Denying Social Security Disability and SSI Claims.  Congressman says California is improperly denying Social Security and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) program claims as a means to get around delays caused by mandatory furloughs of state workers in the Disability Determination Service division within the Department of Social Services, who play a critical role in determining eligibility for those two programs. (November 23, 2009)

Pregnant Latina forced to give birth in shackles by Arpaio deputy.  It started with a traffic stop on her way to cash a check at the grocery store. “He looked at me, did a U-turn, and got behind the car,” she said of the sheriff’s deputy. There were two warrants, driving without a license, and shoplifting for food for her children. During her second night behind bars, the bleeding started. Then she felt contractions. She thought she would be released from the shackles once she arrived at the hospital, but she wasn’t.  “The officer chained me by the feet and the hands to the bed,” she said. “And that’s how my daughter was born.” (November 23, 2009)

California Democratic Party to says to Obama, Get Out of Afghanistan. Norman Solomon writes that the California Democratic Party has just sent Obama a formal and clear message entitled “End the U.S. Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan.”  But will he really get the message?  (November 23, 2009)

Honduran Dictatorship Is A Threat to Democracy In the Hemisphere.  A small group of rich people who own most of Honduras and its politicians enlist the military to kidnap the elected president at gunpoint and take him into exile. They then arrest thousands of people opposed to the coup, shut down and intimidate independent media, shoot and kill some demonstrators, torture and beat many others. This goes on for more than four months, including more than two of the three months legally designated for electoral campaigning. Then the dictatorship holds an “election.”  (November 23, 2009)

Israeli Jews and the one-state solution. It’s said that the vast majority of Israeli Jews insist on maintaining a separate Jewish-majority state, and fear being “swamped” by a Palestinian majority. Ali Abunimah, author of “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse”, says that  with the total collapse of the Obama’s peace efforts, and relentless Israeli colonization of the occupied West Bank, the reality is that the two-state solution is no more than a slogan that has no chance of being implemented. He believes the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement could force Jews to give up supremacy in a unified state, as in South Africa. Jewish Voice for Peace is skeptical.  (November 23, 2009)

U.S. Income Inequality Is Frightening – And Much Worse Than We Thought.  Census reported that 2008 income losses by the top 10% of Americans were offset by larger losses among middle class and poorer Americans as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.  And Census data underestimates inequality: those who might earn $100, $50 or $5 million in a single year, always earn $1.1 million or less in this Census Data. Using IRS data inequality in 2006 was the greatest for the past 95 years.  As economic inequality grows, nations invariably become increasingly politically unstable: Should we complacently believe that America will be different? (November 23, 2009)

The Democrats don’t want to abolish the private insurance industry. They are capitalists. For the Democrats, with the exception of John Conyers and a few others, they simply don’t want to abolish the private insurance industry. They are capitalists and believe in the capitalist system that makes health care a commodity to be bought and sold. For them, health care is not a human right. … One minute HCAN (Health Care for America Now) is calling out the insurance industry for the profit-hungry killers they are, then they argue the companies need to stay in business to compete against a public plan honestly in the marketplace. (November 23, 2009)

HCAN and Organizing for America continue the profit-making power of the insurance industry.  HCAN and Organizing for America are following in the footsteps of organizations that are created every time health care reform is attempted. They passionately promote incremental changes to the system (health reform can’t wait!)  not to solve the crisis, but rather to guarantee the continued existence and profit-making power of the insurance industry. (November 23, 2009)

Silence = Death: A Healthcare Call to Action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled Dennis Kucinich’s state option for single payer from the House bill with no notice, no discussion and no vote. This is what Pelosi’s democracy looks like.  God forbid states like Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota and California should lead the way to single-payer healthcare in the U.S!   As a person disabled by AIDS and arthritis in 1991 I’ve had the good fortune of receiving Medicare. Every American should have access to the care I had growing up in the first medical co-op and for the last 18 years with Medicare. (November 19, 2009)

How the Democrats might privatize and cut Social Security.   Working-class Americans, with Democratic Party help, beat back Bush’s 2005 attempt to take future payroll taxes from the Social Security Trust Fund and put them into private market-based retirement accounts for individual workers, and then scale back Social Security benefits. Now, Democrats and Republicans are pushing together for a new form of gentler and more gradual privatization. (November 15, 2009)

Connecticut ICE agents retaliate against New Haven Municipal ID Program.  Ten New Haven residents filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing federal agents of violating their rights during an immigration raid they say was in retaliation for a city program that provided ID cards to foreigners in the country illegally .  They allege ICE agents broke into homes without search warrants and arrested residents based on their race or ethnicity, two days after the city approved the plan. One e-mail disclosed that an ICE official “had been talking to his headquarters about the fact that New Haven is becoming a sanctuary city.”  Yale Law School students are representing the immigrants. (October 28, 2009)

CIA, Heroin Still Rule Day in Afghanistan.  Since 2001 the opium cultivation increased over 4,400%. Under the US and NATO, Afghanistan became world largest opium producer, which produces 93% of world opium.  The U.S. has GPS tracking devices that can locate any spot imaginable by simply pushing a few buttons. Still, bumper crops keep flourishing year after year, even though heroin production is a laborious, intricate process. Common sense suggests that such prolific trade over an extended period of time is no accident, especially when the history of what has transpired in that region is considered.  (October 28, 2009)

America’s drug crisis and Afghanistan: where the US goes, the drug trade soon follows. Next time you see a junkie sprawled at the curb in the downtown of your nearest city, or read about someone who died of a heroin overdose, just imagine a big yellow sign posted next to him or her saying: “Your Federal Tax Dollars at Work.”  The NY Times said Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghanistan’s stunningly corrupt President Hamid Karzai, a leading drug lord in the world’s major opium-producing nation, has for eight years been on the CIA payroll. But that there is a clear historical pattern here. During the Vietnam War, the CIA, and its Air America airline front-company, were neck deep in the Southeast Asian heroin trade. (October 28, 2009)

You Are What They Feed You! The way food is grown, controlled and marketed affects everything from cost to rising numbers of children with diabetes to environmental pollution and the waste of water resources.  The documentary, “Food, Inc,” exposes the tragedy of this corporate controlled food system through the story of a Mexican-American family, agonizing in a supermarket, not having money to buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables for the family.  We need food grown to feed people and sustain farmers, not for the benefit of corporate food profiteers. (October 27, 2009)

The Politics of Food From a Local Perspective. California, which now produces one quarter of the nation’s milk and over a million pounds of cheese daily. Cheap feed and water subsidies from both state and federal policies encourage mega-dairies. The organic movement has grown over past decades, but partly due to its growing demand, not even the organic label is safe.  Albert Straus began the only organic dairy west of the Mississippi in the early nineties. With about 300 milk cows, he’s maintained a sustainable regional dairy and processor upholding the integrity of organic milk standards.  (October 27, 2009)

Insurer ends health program rather than pay out big. Ian Pearl has fought for his life every day of his 37 years. Confined to a wheelchair and hooked to a breathing tube, the muscular dystrophy victim refuses to give up. But his insurance company already has. Legally barred from discriminating against individuals who submit large claims, the New York-based insurer simply canceled lines of coverage altogether in entire states to avoid paying high-cost claims like Mr. Pearl’s. (October 27, 2009)

When Gitmo and Abu Ghraib Come Home.  When Gitmo and Abu Ghraib Come Home  The Louisiana Board that licenses psychologists is facing a growing legal fight over torture and medical care at the infamous Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons. In 2003, Louisiana psychologist and retired colonel Larry James watched behind a one-way mirror in a U.S. prison camp while an interrogator and three prison guards wrestled a prisoner forced into pink women’s panties, lipstick and a wig. As he recounts in his memoir,” Fixing Hell”, Dr. James initially chose not to respond.  (October 26, 2009)

50 years after “Black Like Me,” blackface again. 50 years ago the white Texan writer John Howard Griffin embarked on one of the most remarkable one-man social and psychological experiments in history, fooling hundreds into believing he was black as he travelled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia recording the bigotry, hate, and violence he encountered in his book “Black Like Me.”  Now, French Vogue published a photograph of a white model painted black, and a talent show in Australia had a group of men doing an “impression” of the Jackson Five in  blackface.  (October 25, 2009)

Existing healthcare bills have a huge effect on Medicare’s financing. Existing bills for reducing growth in healthcare costs plan to finance these changes mostly from reducing anticipated growth in Medicare costs, even though the anticipated growth in Medicare costs is known to come mainly from cost growth in healthcare generally, rather than the growth in the number of seniors.  This unfairly targets seniors for healthcare cuts.  (October 11, 2009)

Covering Katrina: Has a More Critical Press Corps Emerged? “It’s hard to decide which is more troubling: that it took the national press corps five years to summon up enough courage to report, without apology, that what the Bush administration says and does are often two different things, or that it took the sight of bodies floating facedown in the streets of New Orleans to trigger a change in the press’s behavior.”  (September, 9, 2009)

Mexican govt. destroys union 66,000 Mexican electrical workers living in the Mexico City area face loss of their jobs as the government sends in Army and police into electrical installations this weekend around Mexico City. By abolishing the government owned Compania de Luz y Fuerza and passing it over to the control of the Federal Electrical Commission, the  employees no longer have a union contract. (October 11, 2009

Mahmoud Abbas’ chronic submissiveness, Thanks to the Goldstone report, even in Israel voices began to stammer about the need for an independent inquiry into the assault. But shortly after Abbas was visited by the American consul-general on Thursday, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization got on the phone to instruct his representative on the United Nations Human Rights Council to ask his colleagues to postpone the vote on the adoption of the report’s conclusions.  (October 5, 2009)

Protest: Police stand by while thugs attack shackdwellers in Durban, South Africa. The poorest and most marginalized people in South Africa, the large number of homeless shackdwellers, have been been attacked again outside of Durban, South Africa, while police stood by and did nothing. This is the latest of many government-inspired and police-inspired attacks on South African shackdwellers, whose crime is demanding a decent life.  Please sign the open letter of protest to South African President Jacob Zuma.  (September 29, 2009)

Why Afghanistan? It’s pipelines, not terrorism. If al Qaeda has moved to Pakistan, why don’t the troops follow them?  One answer, rarely talked about in the US media, is—you guessed it!—oil and natural gas, this time in the Caspian Basin, and a planned pipeline that would carry natural gas from land-locked Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan, where it could be shipped to the West. To accomplish this, a strong centralized government willing to make deals with the West is needed, hence the attempts to prop up Hamid Karzai with US/NATO military assistance against the Taliban and war lords and with fraudulent elections.  (September 23, 2009)

ObamaCare Takes Form: Race to the Bottom vs. Our Aspirations. In spite of recent news that 45,000 die each year in the US from lack of insurance, it’s clear that business and government want healthcare “reform” to control their costs while protecting and stabilizing the insurance, drug, and hospital industries. It’s not about providing everyone with comprehensive, affordable healthcare, let alone equal healthcare! It’s about forcing everyone to buy private insurance, with little assurance the insurance will cover them, or be affordable. It’s déjà vu of the bank bail-out; insurance companies will clean up. And forget undocumented workers.  (September 23, 2009)

Limbaugh calls racism “inborn”, calls for segregated buses. During Katrina, we saw hundreds of blacks being allowed to die, and hundreds of thousands of blacks being driven out of their homes,  and public housing, schools, and healthcare shut down.  If this had happened during the 1960s and 1970s, dozens of US cities would be in flames, and rightly so.  The cold-blooded racist murder of Oscar Grant by BART police would have produced the same response.  As long as these racist attacks go unanswered, we can expect this step-by-step escalation of ideological and physical attacks to continue.  (September 20, 2009)

NY Times David Brooks exposes rotton underside of Obama health speech HR 3200, the House health measure, is fatally flawed by its reliance on private insurance companies, but whatever value it might have had was thrown out the window by Obama’s health speech.  Obama simulataneously said that health “reform” could not add a dime to the federal deficit, yet taxes could not be raised to cover additional expenses.  Half of HR 3200’s $1 trillion in ten-year expenses are to come from additional taxes on incomes above $350,000, but Obama stated that “Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this ($900 billion) plan.”  Where will these Medicare/Medicaid savings come from?  (September 17, 2009)

Obama Backs Extending Patriot Act Spy Provisions. The Obama administration has told Congress it supports renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire at year’s end, measures making it easier for the government to spy within the United States.  These are the three provisions due to expire:  A secret court, known as the FISA court, may grant “roving wiretaps” without the government identifying the target.  The FISA court may grant warrants for “business records,” from banking to library to medical records.  A so-called “lone wolf” provision, enacted in 2004, allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of an individual even without showing that the person is an agent of a foreign power or a suspected terrorist.  (September 16, 2009)

Indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon threaten to occupy newly appearing oil wells. Indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon are threatening to occupy the oil wells that are now appearing in the Amazonian jungle. The indigenous groups claim the government is not negotiating with them, despite the murder of more than 30 people in Bagua in June. Instead, the government has been meeting with a few self-appointed indigenous leaders who are amenable to the government.  In the last 2 months the Hunt Oil Company, based in Texas, has taken over almost 4 million acres (1 million 500 thousand hectacres) in the jungle. (August 26, 2009)

A Past Campaign to Persuade Doctors to Ration Health Care. Obama’s insistence that deep structural reform is needed for so-called “entitlement” programs (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) gives no re-assurance.  These programs have been under attack by liberals and conservatives alike because their funding automatically increases with the expanding senior population. Given these troubling trends, it would be useful to examine earlier periods when there was a push for medical rationing,  to see what it would look like.  The following paper was written in the mid 1990s, a period with similarities to the period we’re entering. What emerges is that business and government had collaborated for years to produce a climate favorable to rationing in the medical profession.  (August 26, 2009)

Honduras charges Zelaya supporters with sedition, while anti-coup offices attacked. Two dozen supporters of Honduras’ ousted president were charged with sedition Friday in an intensifying crackdown on protests against the coup-installed government.  Protests to demand the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya turned violent in the Honduran capital this week, with police firing tear gas and demonstrators fighting back with sticks and stones. Some protesters attacked the vice president of Congress, although he wasn’t injured.  (August 14, 2009)

The brutal truth about America’s healthcare They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life.  As the Democrats have failed to coalesce around a single, straightforward proposal, their rivals have seized on public hesitancy over “socialised medicine” and now the chance of far-reaching reform is in doubt.  Mr Brock said yesterday that he, and many other professionals, believes Britain’s National Health Service should provide a benchmark for the future of US healthcare.  (August 14, 2009)

The Great Hiroshima Cover-Up In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Japan 64 years ago, and then for decades afterward, the United States engaged in airtight suppression of all film shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings. This included footage shot by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams. In addition, for many years, all but a handful of newspaper photographs were seized or prohibited.  (August 7, 2009)

Immigrant Rights Groups demand end to Homeland Security’s 287(g) program and its racial profiling Dear Mr. President: We, the undersigned civil rights, community, and immigrant rights organizations, urge you to imme-diately terminate the 287(g) program operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program has come under severe criticism this year because local law enforcement agencies that have been granted 287(g) powers are using the program to target communities of color, including disproportionate numbers of Latinos in particular places, for arrest.  (August 4, 2009)

Israel evicts Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, Settlers immediate occupy houses Israeli security forces have forcibly evicted two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem after a court rejected an appeal against their eviction, though they have been living in the neighbourhood since 1956. Israel has reportedly set aside the land their houses were built on for a planned hotel project. The eviction comes amid international calls for Israel to halt settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land. A large police force was involved in the operation. (August 3, 2009)

Schwarzenegger and the budget crisis: it’s easy to target those least able to fight Funny, isn’t it, that when the governor scours the state budget for waste, fraud and abuse, he only seems to find it in programs for the old, the young, the poor and others unable to raise campaign funds or muster political opposition.  Like those seniors and disabled people in the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program. IHSS allows them to stay out of nursing homes or other facilities far more expensive for them, their families and ultimately the state and its taxpayers. Clients don’t get direct state payments, just basic care such as meals and changes of clothes and linens. But beware; there could be hundreds of seniors scurrying from county to county under assumed names, trying to rack up as many sponge baths as possible. So California will now crack down by fingerprinting them.   Or those CalWorks recipients, who probably just signed up for welfare to get job training.  (August 1, 2009)

The Biden and Clinton Mutinies Time bombs tossed by Obama’s vice president and secretary of state show Obama already the target of onslaughts by senior members of his own cabinet. Three weeks ago Biden gave Israel the green light to bomb Iran. Following Obama’s Moscow visit emphasizing trust and cooperation, Biden headed for Ukraine and Georgia, harshly ridiculing Russia and telling the Georgian parliament that the U.S. would continue helping Georgia “to modernize” its military and help Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO. Georgia is perfectly situated as the take-off point for an Iran raid, and Israel has been heavily involved in supplying and training Georgia’s armed forces. Then Clinton said “a nuclear Iran could be contained by a U.S. ‘defense umbrella.’ ”    (July 31, 2009)

Racist, Anti-Immigrant Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article. Three postings were traced to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.  (July 25, 2009)

Re. Gates and Crowley: Police are trained to oppress by race and class Sgt. Crowley says racism had nothing to do with it; he was just doing what he was trained to do. Sgt. Crowley’s fellow officers, some of whom are black, as well as the Superintendent of Cambridge police, agreed with Sgt. Crowley. Sgt. Crowley said he had nothing to apologize for. He was simply doing what police are trained to do. You know what? Sgt. Crowley is right. And that is exactly the problem with the police in the United States. The police in our society are trained to enforce law and order. The order is inequality, based on extremely unequal private property ownership.   (July 27, 2009)

California Democrats toss poor, elderly, disabled, and working class overboard Rather than raising taxes on the rich and the major corporations that fail to pay their fair share of the tax burden in California, the democrats chose to side with the republicans and Schwarzenegger’ in stealing precious resources meant to assist students, children, the sick, disabled, elderly, poor and the working middle class.  “This is absolutely parallel to the fascism of Europe during the 1930s, in it’s broad attack on the elderly, disabled and poor, who are being scapegoated just as the Jews of Europe were in the 30s. They are turning citizens into aliens, and are trying to turn the elderly and disabled into criminals.”   (July 26, 2009)

How Healthy is Healthy San Francisco? Healthy San Francisco — a pioneering effort to do at the municipal level what the federal and state governments won’t — is running into some troubling problems, made worse by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s budget cuts.  A group of low-income residents are suing the city, saying that the system’s annual fees and co-pays are too high.  Bay Area Legal Aid and the Western Center on Law and Poverty say those fees violate federal and state mandates, which stipulate that the city must provide free health care to those who can’t afford to pay.  The long lines and waits will only get worse in the face of budget cuts. Pink slips were already handed out to several hundred San Francisco health care workers and 1,000 more may be laid off this fall.  (July 22, 2009)

The Public Option: Bait and Switch: The people who brought us the “public option” began their campaign promising one thing but now promote something entirely different. To make matters worse, they have not told the public they have backpedalled. The campaign for the “public option” resembles the classic bait-and-switch scam: tell your customers you’ve got one thing for sale when in fact you’re selling something very different.  (July 24, 2009)

John Pilger: Empire, Obama, and the Last Taboo From his early political days, Obama’s unerring theme has been not “change”, the slogan of his presidential campaign, but America’s right to rule and order the world. Of the United States, he says, “we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good… We must lead by building a 21st-century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.” (July 9, 2009)

Immigrant Rights Activists Condemn Obama Plan to Expand Use of Local Police to Enforce Immigration Law On July 10, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano  announced plans to standardize and greatly enlarge the 287(g) program,  by which local law enforcement is given money, equipment, and powers  to enforce federal immigration law.   As the following press release shows, turning immigration enforcement over to local police has led to  frequent police abuse, racial profiling, and rapid-fire detentions and  deportations.   As one immigrant activist said, “This is the clearest statement to  date of Obama’s willingness to support racist, dangerous and  ultimately failed immigration policy.”  (July 19, 2009)

Breaking the Silence: “Israeli war crimes were daily and too numerous to count”The recently released report of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, “Breaking the Silence,” which attested to war crimes there,  but a March 30 Palestine Monitor report, “Israeli war crimes were daily and too numerous to count,” tells the story in more detail.  It is reproduced below.   Human Right Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights and many more are now seeking for inquiry with a common aim: shedding documented light on Israel’s human rights violations and war crimes during the Cast Lead operation. Their message is united and clear: an international independent investigation is needed. Time has finally come for the State to give accountability for the 23 days of continuous, barbaric actions in the Strip.  (July 16, 2009)

Gov. Schwarzenegger, show us the IHSS fraud Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made fraud in California’s In-Home Supportive Services program a budget issue as the state tries to deal with its financial crisis.  The in-home program provides critical care to 430,000 low-income Californians in their homes so they are not forced to move into institutions or onto the streets, which Schwarzenegger acknowledges would be more expensive.  How much of the program’s money is wasted on fraud?  The governor can’t seem to make up his mind.  A couple of years ago, he estimated it at 10%,  but on July 2nd it was “riddled with fraud.”   The next day it was “not rampant,” and last week it was “some people” say it is 25%.   Real investigation shows much less.  He must be honest about how much would be recovered by anti fraud measures, and compare this with the practices of many nursing home operators.  (July 14, 2009)

Cheney Is Linked to C.I.A. Concealment of Terror Program.The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.  The disclosure about Mr. Cheney’s role in the unidentified C.I.A. program comes a day after an inspector general’s report underscored the central role of the former vice president’s office in restricting to a small circle of officials knowledge of the National Security Agency’s program of eavesdropping without warrants, a degree of secrecy that the report concluded had hurt the effectiveness of the counterterrorism surveillance effort.  (July 11, 2009)

When Will The Recovery Begin? Never. The so-called “green shoots” of recovery are turning brown in the scorching summer sun. In fact, the whole debate about when and how a recovery will begin is wrongly framed.  In a recession this deep, recovery doesn’t depend on investors. It depends on consumers who, after all, are 70 percent of the U.S. economy. And this time consumers got really whacked. Until consumers start spending again, you can forget any recovery, V or U shaped. Problem is, consumers won’t start spending until they have money in their pockets and feel reasonably secure. But they don’t have the money, and it’s hard to see where it will come from.  All we know is the current economy can’t “recover” because it can’t go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin.  (July 11, 2009)

After insuring continued profits for insurers, drugmakers, hospitals, and employers, Obama targets the elderly, the poor, and the disabled for health cuts. In each case (of healthcare cost savings), the Obama administration hailed the agreements as historic. But what has been little discussed is what the industry groups will be getting in return for their cooperation, whether or not the promised savings ever materialize.  Meanwhile, after insuring continued profits for insurers, drugmakers, hospitals, and employers, Obama targets Medicare and Medicaid, the  government-run health programs for elders, the disabled, and the poor for cuts.  (July 9, 2009)

McNamara: From the Tokyo Firestorm to the World Bank Robert McNamara, who died yesterday, July 6, served as Kennedy’s , then as Johnson’s defense secretary. He contributed more than most to the slaughter of 3.4 million Vietnamese (his own estimate). He went on to run the World Bank, where he presided over the impoverishment, eviction from their lands and death of many millions more round the world.(July 7, 2009)

The War on Medi-Cal As  California’s Medi-Cal prepares to drop adult dentistry, vision and hearing testing, speech therapy, podiatry, psychology, and other vital services,  a SF Gray Panthers member describes our suit against these cuts, and the effects these cuts would have.  (July 3, 2009)     

Conditions in SF Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Shelters San Francisco Mayor and Combinatorial Candidate Gavin Newsom cut General Assistance grants from $359 per month to $59 per month plus a promise of housing, but “housing” has meant shelter beds under inhuman conditions.  A SF Gray Panther friend spoke with a remarkable couple who described the particulars of their situation.  (July 1, 2009)

Rejection of California budget sets stage for even larger spending cuts. No matter what compromise is now reached, a massive attack on the social infrastructure of California is underway. The budget crisis in California is being used a template to enact cuts to social services all across the country. The ruling class is determined to seize on the economic crisis to restructure class relations in the United States. (June 25, 2009)

Beyond Bad California Budgets.   The February 2009 budget alone contained some $2.5 billion/year in corporate tax loopholes, starting in 2011. Californians are ready for taxes. A David Binder poll last month showed 75% support for both alcohol and tobacco tax increases; 73% support for oil drilling fees; 63% support for both commercial property reassessments, and for a higher income tax on the highest brackets; and 59% support for limiting corporate tax credits. But getting rid of the 2/3 requirement to pass budgets may not be so easy. (June 20, 2009)

Shawna Forde, Minuteman Leader, Arrested in Double Killing in Arizona. Forde is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a small border watch group, and Bush goes by the nickname “Gunny” and is its operations director, according to the group’s Web site. She is from Everett, Wash., has recently been living in Arizona and was once associated with the better known and larger Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Forde is well known in the anti-illegal immigration community, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. (June 18, 2009)

Civil Rights Groups Express Outrage; Defendants in Hate Crime Murder of Latino, Father of Two, Receive Six- and Seven-Month Sentences. Luis Ramirez died on July 14, 2008, two days after being brutally beaten by his attackers who yelled racial epithets before and during the beating, yet the defendants were convicted of minor crimes and the corresponding convictions and sentences are wholly disproportionate to the crimes committed. (June 18, 2009)

NY Times Shows Dismantling of Sanctuary City in San Francisco. San Francisco has proudly played the role of liberal enclave, a so-called sanctuary city where local officials have refused to cooperate with enforcement of federal immigration law. But San Francisco has become more like many other cities in the United States: deeply conflicted over how to cope with the fallout of illegal immigration. “We went from being one of the more progressive counties in the country to probably one of the least, and the most draconian,” said Abigail Trillin, the managing attorney with Legal Services for Children, a nonprofit legal group. “It’s been a total turnaround.” (June 13, 2009)

Budget Justice Rally Rocks SF City Hall. “Mayor Newsom said ‘We have a near-perfect budget.’  Hell no!  We have a budget with a lot of blood on the floor.  It’s your blood it’s our blood and all of our blood!” cried Supervisor John Avalos. Hundreds marched to San Francisco City Hall yesterday afternoon. You can’t cut $70 million from the Department of Public Health — which is already operating at bare-bones levels after years of previous cuts — without significant impacts on health care for San Franciscans. You can’t cut $19 million out of the Human Services Agency without badly hurting homeless and needy people. The mayor’s cheery line may sound good when he’s out of town running for governor, but it’s not going to play so well on the streets of San Francisco. (June 13, 2009)

Cost containment has replaced concern for the uninsured in driving healthcare restructuring. What does this imply? Dr. Marcia Angell’s May 23, 2009 Boston Globe article, “Held Hostage by the Health System,” brings up a number of points not usually heard in arguments for single payer, calling into question the legitimacy of for-profit healthcare in general. (June 8, 2009)

Israeli Journalist Amira Hass on the state of relations between Israel and Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians needed to exaggerate the Palestinian military threat to Israel for their own reasons. There is no way the Israeli figures about combatants among those killed are correct. And Hamas doesn’t want to break the myth that they could stand up against the Israeli army.  About 58,800 housing units have been built with government approval in the West Bank over the [past] 40 years. An additional 46,500 have already obtained Defense Ministry approval within the existing master plans. Some say that it’s too late now to dismantle the settlements, and any solution which is based on the two states is obsolete. (June 6, 2009)

Mounting resistance of Amazon Indians in Peru against oil drilling, hydroelectric dams. Clashes between indigenous protesters and security forces on a remote jungle highway in northern Peru left more than a dozen dead on Friday, including 11 police officers, heightening tension over intensifying protests by indigenous groups over plans to open vast tracts of rain forest to oil drilling, logging and hydroelectric dams.  The protests are part of an increasingly well-orchestrated campaign by indigenous groups that have been inspired in part by similar movements in Bolivia and Ecuador. Angered by the government’s failure to involve them in the plans, the indigenous groups in Peru have surprised the authorities with their sudden strength and organization and are now threatening to blunt President Alan García’s efforts to lure foreign investment to the region. (June 6, 2009)

Salas and Ma’s Pro-JROTC State bills failing. The last hope by supporters of Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) to get a state exemption from physical education (PE) classes this year went down the tubes Tuesday, June 2. That was the day the only PE exemption bill still standing — AB 351, authored by Mary Salas (D-San Diego) and Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) – was pulled off the Assembly floor and returned to the Education Committee. (June 5, 2009)

Shrinking government: Newsom’s budget cuts public health and city employees — and includes no new taxes. “We didn’t raise taxes, and we didn’t borrow,” he said. You can almost hear that line being repeated in the ads he’ll be running as he campaigns for governor. The proposed budget includes 1,603 full-time-equivalent layoffs, or a 5.8 reduction in the city’s workforce, including 400 in Public Health. But it’s not an entirely austere budget. The police and fire departments have status quo budgets with no layoffs. The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development — which often uses public funds to subsidize private sector projects — would get a 32 percent increase, to $24.7 million. (June 5, 2009)

Illness and medical bills linked to nearly two-thirds of bankruptcies, most had insurance. Between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6 percent. More than three-quarters (77.9 percent) were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness, including 60.3 percent who had private coverage. Most of the medically bankrupt were solidly middle class before financial disaster hit. Two-thirds were homeowners and three-fifths had gone to college. In many cases, high medical bills coincided with a loss of income as illness forced breadwinners to lose time from work. Often illness led to job loss, and with it the loss of health insurance. (June 5, 2009)

SF’s Corporate Wealth and Poverty Budget: Make the Bosses Take the Losses! While San Francisco is poised to make crippling cuts to public health, human services, and other vital programs, there is huge corporate and personal wealth that should be tapped to provide needed services. (June 4, 2009)

The substance of Obama’s Cairo speech shows little change is likely. For Obama, “Islam” is synonymous with overwhelming popular opposition across many Muslim-majority countries to the increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions, and the resistance this opposition generates.    He lectured Palestinians that It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus, but did Obama really imagine that such words would impress an Arab public that watched in horror as Israel slaughtered 1,400 people in Gaza last winter, including hundreds of sleeping, fleeing or terrified children, with American-supplied weapons?  And how is Palestine to be a viable state if it is dismembered by the existing Israeli settlements, which Obama says nothing about?  (June 4, 2009)

Economic recovery is wishful thinking. The media has been touting whatever good economic news it can find. But the truth is economic recovery is nowhere in sight.  New and existing home sales both remain near their lowest level for the downturn, as house prices continue to drop at the rate of 2% a month. New orders for capital goods fell by 2% in April. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, new orders were still down by 1.5%.  The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index fell by more than 5 percentage points from its April level, approaching its low for the downturn. The employment component of the index did hit a new low.  But the media folks who could not see an $8 trillion  housing bubble are still determined to find the silver lining in even the worst economic news.  (June 1, 2009)

Economic Slump is pushing cost of drugs out of reach. Even with the Medicare drug benefit, even with the prevalence of low-cost generics, even with loss-leader discounting by big chains, many Americans still find themselves unable to afford the prescription medications that manage their life-threatening conditions. National surveys consistently find that as many as a third of respondents say they are not complying with prescriptions because of cost, up from about a fourth three years ago.   A physician at a low-income clinic near Almand’s, estimated that at least 80 percent of his patients were not taking prescribed medicines.  (June 4, 2009)

Gen. McChrystal, Obama’s New Afghan Commander Will Send Death Toll Soaring. The recent sacking of Afghan commander General David McKiernan after less than a year in the field and McChrystal’s appointment as the man to run the Afghan War seems to signal that the Obama administration is going for broke.  General McChrystal comes from a world where killing by any means is the norm and a blanket of secrecy provides the necessary protection. For five years he commanded the Pentagon’s super-secret Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which, among other things, ran what Seymour Hersh has described as an “executive assassination wing” out of Vice President Cheney’s office.   Behind McChrystal lies a string of targeted executions that may run into the hundreds, as well as accusations of torture and abuse by troops under his command.  General McChrystal is “more aggressive” than his stick-in-the-mud predecessor. He will, as Bumiller and Thom Shanker report in another piece, bring “a more aggressive and innovative approach to a worsening seven-year war.”  (May 22, 2009)

Newsom Budget Figures Don’t Add Up. Mayor Gavin Newsom must assume that when releasing a budget everyone expects to have cuts, the press will just take a few pictures, jot down some snappy quotes, and – maybe – read his one-page press release. Beyond Chron, however, bothered to review the whole proposal, and the numbers contradict what Newsom said in his speech.   The budget has over $100 million in cuts for the Department of Public Health, not $43 million as he claimed. Newsom  said the Mayor’s Office would get a 28% cut, but the figures show only 9% of his staff are being laid off – and the division that runs his media operation would actually get bigger.  … Please join the June 10th march “REAL DEAL OR NO DEAL” to save vital services for San Francisco’s most vulnerable elderly, disabled, minority, and low-wage working people. It’s Wedneday, June 10, 3 PM.  Meet at Hallidie Plaza (Market St betw. 4th & 5th Sts) We will march to, and around City Hall.   (June 2, 2009)

GM bankruptcy shows Obama administration targets the working class. The expected bankruptcy filing Monday by General Motors—for decades the largest US corporation and one of the country’s biggest employers—marks a turning point for both American capitalism and the American working class. Its significance is  economic,   financial and political. The Obama administration holds the whip hand, advancing $40 billion in bailout funds to the auto bosses, holding 72.5 percent of its stock  appointing a majority of its board of directors, and rewarding United Auto Workers executives a 17.5 percent of  GM in return for their concessions. In compelling GM to file for bankruptcy, Obama is giving the signal to all of corporate America to attack the jobs, wages, pensions and health benefits fought for by working people in the course of more than a century. (May 30, 2009)

Trying Harder in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The harder Obama tries to win a military confrontation in the two countries or to engage in a major effort to reform them, the longer and deeper he will find himself sucked into unwinnable wars and inescapable quagmires. he presence of American troops, aircraft and pilotless drones – or too much American money and too many American aid workers – will turn increasing numbers of Afghans, Pakistanis and their fellow Muslims from around the world against us and against those who appear to do our bidding.  Nationalistic and religious reaction is the one unchanging lesson of foreign intervention, especially in countries that have a history of having fought against the British, French or other colonial powers.   Almost no one in the narrow debate talks of Washington’s long-standing struggle to dominate the oil and gas resources of Central Asia and the pipelines to bring them to market.  And early calls for an exit strategy from either Afghanistan or Pakistan have been replaced by plans to build a monumental new American embassy in Islamabad.  (June 1, 2009)

Growing impact of US healthcare crisis on women. The global economic crisis, bringing with it massive job losses and cuts in social programs, is only deepening long-term health care problems. Women and children are among those hardest hit by this crisis. Women between the ages of 55 and 65 are 20 percent more likely to be uninsured compared to men. Thirteen percent of pregnant women are uninsured, those may be less likely to seek out prenatal care, putting t her and the fetus at risk for depleted  nutrients, or even serious harm or death to the fetus and mother if a complication is not found early enough.  Infant mortaltiy is worse than Cuba, and black infant mortality is more than double whites’, mostly due to pre-term delivery. Many college students are being charged $30-50 a month for birth control pills, as opposed to $3-10 previously. At St. Louis-area Planned Parenthood clinics there was an approximate 7 percent increase in abortions over the previous year. Some women are delaying abortions in the first trimester because they need more time to raise the funds to pay for them.  (June 2, 2009)

US assures China it will keep dollar afloat by squeezing US workers. The two-day visit by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to China sheds light on the historic decline in the global position of American capitalism as well as the austerity policies being mapped out by the Obama administration to impose the full burden of the economic crisis on the American working class.  Geithner’s visit follows calls by Beijing to end the dollar’s role as the world reserve and trading currency and replace it with a basket of major currencies, and hints that China might scale back its purchases of US Treasury notes. The market value of Chinese holdings in Treasury notes has already declined 5 percent this year.  As Geithner suggested in a speech Monday at Peking University and in public statements, the US administration’s strategy is to slash social spending and permanently reduce so-called “discretionary spending” by the American people once the banking system has been restabilized through the injection of trillions of dollars in public funds.  “Consumer spending in the United States will be restrained for some time relative to what is typically the case in recoveries,” he said, adding, “These are necessary adjustments. They will entail a longer, slower process of recovery, with a very different pattern of future growth across countries than we have seen in the past several recoveries….”  (June 2, 2009)

The Return of the Resistance in Iraq.  Attacks against US forces are once again on the rise in places like Baghdad and Fallujah, where the Iraqi resistance was fiercest before so many of them joined the Sahwa (Sons of Iraq, also referred to as Awakening Councils), and began taking payments from the US military in exchange for halting attacks against the occupiers and agreeing to join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. But ongoing Iraqi government and US military attacks against the Sahwa, coupled with broken promises of the Sahwa being incorporated into the government security apparatus or given civilian jobs, would likely lead to an exodus from the Sahwa and a return to the resistance. (May 31, 2009)

Baucus to Meet with Single Payer Advocates After months of proclaiming that single payer is off the table, Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) has invited five key single payer advocates to meet with him in Washington, D.C. this week.  We have no illusions that our discussions alone will persuade Senator Baucus to back a single payer bill. But the meeting is a clear indication that demonstrations and activism can move even our money-corrupted political culture.  Senator Baucus, the leading architect of health reform in the Congress, has received more campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations than any other current Democratic member of the House or Senate.  (June 1, 2009)

Dr. Tiller was not the first to be murdered Over twenty years ago, I stood with other women outside a women’s clinic in Daily City to counter a right wing, Operation Rescue attempt to barricade doors of the clinic and its ability to perform legal and safe abortions.   The overpowering number of police in cars, in paddy wagons,  on motorcycles from every city from SF to the South Bay did not conceal their agreement with the anti-abortionists.  Women protesting and taking action to clear a path for women trying to enter the clinic were harassed and threatened with intimidation from the police.  (June 1, 2009)

On Proposition 8: We chant “Separate is not Equal”. Let us not separate ourselves, or our hopes for equality from other’s need for equality. We always feel proud standing as LGBTQ community in protest or celebration and in our determination.  In our actions to defeat Prop 8, we can continue in the spirit of Harvey Milk, and see ourselves as part of and partners with our larger community.  When the UFW initiated a boycott on grapes, the gay community joined their cause. And when we were threatened with the Briggs initiative, they supported our fight to save jobs of gay and lesbian teachers. We can create coalitions and mount a campaign insuring jobs, medical benefits, social security and pensions as guaranteed rights to every individual.   (May 31, 2009)

Mr. Abbas Goes to Washington Obama has, like President Bush, expressed support for Palestinian statehood, but he has made no criticisms of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip–which killed more than 1,400 people last winter, mostly civilians. Nor has he pressured Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians are effectively imprisoned and deprived of basic necessities.  Unless Obama’s  statements against more settlements are followed by decisive action there’s no reason to believe the lip service that failed in the past will suddenly be more effective. On the Palestinian side, Obama is talking to the wrong man: more than half of residents in the occupied territories do not consider Abbas the “legitimate” president of the Palestinians.  (May 30, 2009)

Bail Out the Banks, But Not A Million California Kids in Healthy Families, or Half a Million on CalWorks What is $21 billion in federal loan guarantees for California to skirt bankruptcy compared with the $45 billion given to Citigroup, along with $300 billion more in guarantees for that company’s toxic paper? Or how about the $185 billion doled out to AIG?  If Citigroup is too big to fail, isn’t the state of California? Does anyone seriously believe that the national economy can snap back to health if California is in the dump? (May 28, 2009)

Israel High Court Adapts Israel Defense Forces Criteria for Allowing Palestinians to Study in Israel Despite strong objections from the Committee of University Heads, individual academics, and the human rights organization Gisha, the High Court of Justice on Monday accepted the army’s non-security related criteria for granting Palestinian post-graduate students permits to enter Israel to study at Israeli universities.  “We are being forcibly prevented from accepting students who can make a decidedly valuable contribution to higher education in Israel,” Hebrew University Law Prof. Alon Harel said, following the court ruling. (May 28, 2009)

Held Hostage by the Health System Dr. Marcia Angell brings up a number of points not usually heard: (1) Whether we like it or not, cost containment is becoming a more important driver than the uninsured in healthcare restructuring, (2) measures that would improve health outcomes, like electronic records, case management, preventive care, and comparative effectiveness studies won’t save much money, (3) What’s needed is not only abolishing health insurance companies, but eliminating profit in providing healthcare: doctors, hospitals, clinics etc.  More interesting points follow.  (May 25, 2009)

Israeli Bill Would Impose Loyalty Oath on Arab CitizensAn ultranationalist Israeli party headed by the country’s foreign minister said today it plans to introduce a bill making Israeli citizenship contingent on an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.”  Both proposals by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party focus on the perceived disloyalty of the country’s Arab citizens, who form roughly one-fifth of the population.  The bill would also allow the government to revoke the citizenship of anyone who does not comply or perform some form of military or national service.  (May 25, 2009)

Ariel Bombing Makes Terrorists. Continued aerial bombing will result in more civilian casualties, leading to more anger, resulting in more terrorists.  The UN says about two million Pakistanis have been displaced during the last year of drone attacks, bombing and fighting.  There have been 65 to 85 US drone attacks on Pakistan, killing about 780 civilians and about 50 alleged terrorists.   Whomever I talk to among Pakistanis, it seems, there is an emerging consensus. They hate both the Taliban who blast schools and the Americans who bomb Madrasahs.  (May 24, 2009)

Tom Engelhardt: Six ways the Afghanistan-Pakistan War is expanding. Expanding Troop Commitment:, Expanding CIA Drone War, Expanding Air Force Drone War, Expanding Political Interference, Expanding War in Pakistan, and Expanding Civilian Death Toll and Blowback.  Each of these is explained in detail.  President Obama has opted for a down-and-dirty war strategy in search of some at least minimalist form of success. For those old enough to remember, we’ve been here before. Administrations that start down a path of expansion in such a war find themselves strangely locked in — psychically, if nothing else — if things don’t work out as expected and the situation continues to deteriorate. (May 21, 2009)

FBI Blows it: Supposed Terror Plot Against NY Synagogues Is Bogus. By the now, it’s maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it’s revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne’er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur. (May 23, 2009)

Informer’s Role in NY Bombing Plot. Everyone called the stranger with all the money “Maqsood.” He would sit in his Mercedes, waiting in the parking lot of the mosque in Newburgh, N.Y., until the Friday prayer was over. Then, according to members of the mosque, the Masjid al-Ikhlas, he approached the young men.  He asked Shakir Rashada, 34, if he wanted to come over for lunch. He offered Shafeeq Abdulwali, 39, a job, perhaps at his construction company. Jamil Muhammed, 38, said he was offered cellphones and computers. “It’s easy to influence someone with the dollar,” said Mr. Muhammed, a longtime member of the mosque. “Especially these guys coming out of prison.” (May 23, 2009)

Thwarted New York Terror Plot: How Serious Was It? So what happened with that failed plan to bomb synagogues here in New York City? Was it a serious, well-organized terror plot, or more like a repeat of the Liberty Six? The men — James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen — were petty criminals who had met in prison. They do not appear to have been acting in concert with any larger terrorist group. It’s not clear whether these men would have carried out any terror plot without encouragement and material support from an FBI informant. Indeed, the complaint paints a picture of a plot in which the FBI informant played a central role from the start. (May 21, 2009)

Arizona Undocumented Immigrant Detainees on Lockdown Amid Hunger Strike. Bad food is not the only reason thousands of mostly pre-trial detainees have been going on an intermittent two-week hunger strike in Arizona’s Maricopa County jails. Alleged poor medical care and mistreatment by jailers are motivating the protest by at least 1,500 inmates in four jails, according to human rights activists who visited the detainees. The Maricopa County jail system, administered by Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, holds about 9,000 inmates, 70 percent of whom are pre-trial detainees. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is currently under investigation by the federal Justice Department over allegations of racial profiling and civil rights violations. (May 20, 2009)

The Growing Belief in a One-State Solution. Israel and Palestine: seeking peaceful co-existence. How about peaceful existence? That struggle is a growing movement, and it isn’t a threat to Jews — on the contrary, Jews are very much a part of it.  Nadia Hijab remains agnostic, saying both states must provide equality for all their citizens — Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, women or men, whatever their ethnicity. And, by the way, this isn’t currently the case in either the established Israeli state or the putative Palestinian state. (April 6, 2009)

Friday, May 29th, Noon, San Francisco: Pelosi, Put Single Payer healthcare on the table. Please join CARA, Single Payer Now, Gray Panthers, SAN, and many other organizations on May 29th at the Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate, in San Francisco. We will be demanding that Congress Member Nancy Pelosi foster a discussion on the single payer legislation, HR 676, the US National Healthcare Act – and Put Single Payer on the Table! (May 21, 2009)

President Obama, “Where’s your base?” Randy Shaw casts Obama as the social activist turned savvy politician, waiting for grass-roots pressure to help him do the right thing, and chides activists for railing against Obama’s failure to institute reforms without generating the necessary public pressure. At first glance, this might seem like stating the obvious, but I personally would maintain that this very outlook holds back the formation of a movement that could force meaningful change for the working class.  (May 20, 2009)

California’s cavernous corporate loopholes. As voters prepare to ratify or reject the complex budget deals represented in the six propositions — 1A through F — on the May 19 ballot, there is one part of the budget deal they don’t get to decide on: huge new corporate loopholes. The last two budget agreements worked out by the Legislature and signed by the Governor include provisions that permanently cut billions in revenue from the corporation tax — with the state getting next to nothing in return.  (May 18, 2009)

Liberty Seven defendent aquited of terrorism charges remains behind bars. Lyglenson Lemorin committed an offense tantamount to a terror attack. He embarrassed Homeland Security. Which explains why he’s still behind bars 520 days after being exonerated by a Miami jury. Reducing the Liberty City Seven to the Liberty City Six didn’t sit well with Justice Department apparatchiks who had gone to considerable expense painting Lemorin and associates as homegrown al Qaeda desperados, bent on blowing up buildings, wreaking havoc and killing Americans.  (May 17, 2009)

Obama’s OMB Head Would Cut Social Security. Barack Obama’s choice to head the budget office is on record favoring a reduction in Social Security benefits.  Obama picked Peter Orszag to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Orszag believes that Social Security benefits should be cut back to help balance the Social Security Trust Fund over the next 75 years. He spells out his views in a paper he wrote with Peter A. Diamond for the Brookings Institute back in 2005, called “Saving Social Security: The Diamond-Orszag Plan.”  (November 25, 2008)

Obama Considers Keeping Military Commissions: SF Gray Panther Responds. According to today’s New York Times, administration lawyers are concerned that “judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies.”  And well they should!  Hearsay evidence and evidence obtained by torture have no place in the legal system of any country purporting to have a fair and impartial justice system.   (May 11, 2009)

What kind of Future for Our Grandchildren? Every effort to fund needed services has been fought bitterly by opponents of taxation.  The result is what we have today:  a failing school system, high levels of school drop-outs, high levels of crime and violence among urban/surburban youth, high levels of alcoholism, drug use, suicide, homicide, teen pregnancy, incarceration, and virtually any other measure of the health of a society. I would not even murmur a complaint if our taxes were raised to improve public services, provided it was a graduated income tax that asked those who have made their billions to pay more than those struggling to pay the rent.  (May 11, 2009)

Workers Approve Sit-in At Hartmarx Suit Factory that Wells Fargo May Shut Down Five hunded workers at the Hartmarx suit factory in northwest suburban Des Plaines have authorized a sit-in over the threat that the company’s largest creditor may shut it down. In the event that the factory closes or is liquidated, they will not leave. Wells Fargo has received $25 billion in federal bailout money, and has the option of either selling the bankrupt Hartmarx to bidders or forcing the company to shut down.  (May 11, 2009)

Sen. Baucus, about your exclusion of single-payer Your exclusion of single-payer from the health reform discussion will be remembered in the same light as the night of the twisted arms when the Medicare Modernization Act was forced through Congress. (May 10, 2009)

Is San Francisco’s Care-Not-Cash a Success?A May 3 SF Chronicle article on Mayor Newsom’s Care-Not-Cash proclaimed, “SF Making Strides to Solve Homeless Problem. 83 percent reduction in people receiving checks who are homeless.” Our new member was outraged. “Are we to be happy that there has been a 5/6th reduction in money for homeless people? How does this relate to abatement of human suffering? Why does the Chronicle or Newsom feel that it’s a great accomplishment?” (May 6, 2009)

Mexico’s Swine Flu and the Globalization of Disease.   Mexico, the laboratory of globalization, has produced ideal conditions for global pandemic: a rapid transition from small livestock production to industrial meat farms after NAFTA established incentives for foreign investment, the failed decentralization of Mexico’s health system along lines established by multilateral lending banks, lax and non-enforced environmental and health regulations as the Mexican government was forced to downsize, the increased flow of goods and persons across borders, and restricted access to life-saving medicines due to NAFTA intellectual property monopolies for pharmaceutical companies.

National Lawyers Guild: War Crimes in Gaza Invasion. We are a delegation of 8 American lawyers, of the National Lawyers Guild, who have come to the Gaza Strip to assess the effects of the recent attacks on the people, and to determine what, if any, violations of international law occurred and whether U.S. domestic law has been violated as a consequence. In particular, the delegation examined three issues: 1) targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; 2) illegal use of weapons and 3) blocking of medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians. … We have found strong indications of violations of the laws of war and possible war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip. We are particularly concerned that most of the weapons that were found used in the December 27 assault on Gaza are US-made and supplied. We believe that Israel’s use of these weapons may constitute a violation of US law, and particularly the Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act. (Feb. 8, 2009)

The Growing Trend Toward Fascism, Lieberman’s anti-Arab ideology wins over Israel’s teens The chilling article below, from this weekend’s (February 6th, 2009) Haaretz, appears at first to be disturbing simply for what it says about a growing segment of Israel’s next generation of voters-an open, even proud, racism and an attraction to fascism, in the form of support for Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Israel Beitenu party, which is poised to become Israel’s third largest party in Tuesday’s election.  (February 6, 2009)

SF Immigrants claim racial profiling, police abuse at Supervisors hearing. Dozens of San Francisco residents said Monday that they have been victims of alleged racial profiling and police abuse and that the perceived racism has led to widespread distrust of police in the Latino community. Several speakers at the City Hall hearing said they have been pulled over and given tickets because they had a rosary hanging from their vehicle’s rearview mirror. Others said they had been harassed about their identification or immigration status while they worked, walked or drove home. (Jan. 10,  2009)

Immigrants forced to march through Phoenix in chains and prison stripes.Last week in Maricopa County, Ariz., more than 200 Latino immigrants were chained, dressed in prison stripes and forced to march down a public street from a county jail to a detainment camp in a desert industrial zone outside Phoenix. Along the way they were filmed by television news crews and guarded by at least 50 Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies, wearing body armor and combat fatigues, armed with shotguns and automatic rifles. At least two canine units were present; a Sheriff’s Department helicopter hovered overhead.  (Jan. 10, 2009)

Gaza doctors struggle to treat deadly burns consistent with white phosphorus. Nafiz Abu Shabaan, head of the burns unit at Shifa hospital and the most senior burns surgeon in Gaza, said 60 to 70 patients had died in his unit during the war from severe burns that were unlike any injury he had previously seen. (Jan. 20, 2009)

Still Breathing, A Volunteer in Gaza City The morgues of Gaza’s hospitals are overflowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds cover the entire floor space of the al-Shifa hospital morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. (Jan. 15, 2009)

Is the bailout being hijacked? What to look for, based on Katrina. <!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[endif]–>The U.S. has committed nearly $3 trillion to the financial bailout so far. The Federal Reserve has made more than $2 trillion in emergency loans and another $700 million has been pledged through Congressional action. Much more money is coming. Welcome to Katrina world. Despite pledges of a hundred billion dollars, we are still in deep pain along the Gulf Coast. Unless citizens are vigilant and demanding, the entire U.S. will be subjected to the same forces that swept through the Gulf Coast after Katrina – spending huge amounts of money and leaving a second disaster behind. (Dec. 26, 2008)

Effects of Israeli blockade of Gaza The breakdown of an entire society is happening in front of us, but there is little international response beyond UN warnings which are ignored. The European Union announced recently that it wanted to strengthen its relationship with Israel while the Israeli leadership openly calls for a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip and continues its economic stranglehold over the territory with, it appears, the not-so-tacit support of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah – which has been co-operating with Israel on a number of measures.  (Jan. 1, 2009)

Israel had planned Gaza invasion from the beginning of the cease-fire Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.  (Dec. 31, 2008)

Obama’s Deadly Silence“I would like to ask President-elect Obama to say something please about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced right now by the people of Gaza.” Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney made her plea after disembarking from the badly damaged SS Dignity that had limped to the Lebanese port of Tyre while taking on water. But as more than 2,400 Palestinians have been killed or injured — the majority civilians — since Israel began its savage bombardment of Gaza on 27 December, Obama has maintained his silence. But in the looking-glass world of American politics, Israel, with its powerful first-world army, is the victim, and Gaza — the besieged and blockaded home to 1.5 million immiserated people, half of them children and eighty percent refugees — is the aggressor against whom no cruelty is apparently too extreme.Despite pervasive wishful thinking that Obama would abandon America’s pro-Israel bias, his approach has been almost indistinguishable from the Bush administration’s. (Jan. 3, 2009)

Even temporary gaps in Medi-Cal coverage leads to hospitalization for diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. California’s requirement that Medi-Cal patients renew every three months caused 62% to have periods of no health care. People experiencing this gap were over three times as likely to be hospitalized for unnecessary complications of diabetes, asthma, and hypertension, usually within three months of loosing coverage. Most eventually regained coverage, but suffered diabetic complications, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure in the meantime. Permanently re-imposing the 3 month re-registration, as proposed, would deprive 470,000 Californians of Medi-Cal over 3 years. How long are we willing to let this murderous system remain in place?(Dec. 17, 2008)

Chicago Workers to Rest of Country: ‘Don’t Let It Die’ The sit-in by 240 union workers who were abruptly terminated from their jobs at a Chicago window-manufacturing plant last week raises the question of the rights of workers in the midst of a national economic crisis. Late last night, the workers ended their sit-in after the Bank of America, which had cut off financing for the company, agreed to lend the company $1.35 million to pay workers their severance packages. JPMorgan Chase, which owns 40 percent of the windows company, said it would pay an additional $400,000. NAM associate editor David Bacon examines the issue. (Dec. 11, 2008)

Support the Shministim, imprisoned Israeli youth who refuse to serve in the army. This year, about 100 youth have signed the refusal letter. Because of their principled refusal to serve in an occupying army, youth who sign the letter face 21 to 28 day jail terms in Israeli military prisons, with solitary confinement if they refuse to wear a military uniform. After completing their sentence, they are drafted again and , they face the same sentence if they refuse again, as most do. There is literally no end to the number of times youth might be sent back to jail. (Dec. 12, 2008)

AARP’s Stealth Fees Often Sting Seniors With Costlier Insurance When Laupus, 71, compared his car insurance rate with a dozen other companies, he found he was paying twice the average. Why? One reason, he learned, was because AARP was taking a cut out of his premium before sending the money to Hartford FinancialServices Group, the provider of the coverage. The group, formerly called American Association of Retired Persons, collects hundreds of millions of dollars annually from insurers who pay for AARP’s endorsement of their policies. (Dec. 4, 2008)

Wealth Gap in India has Created a Social Time Bomb “In recent years, the global media has been abuzz with glowing headlines about India’s economic leaps and bounds … But, as the ongoing terrorist assault on Mumbai indicates, maintaining its recent momentum will be a delicate task, and one that it cannot accomplish without bringing all of its citizens on board, including, most importantly, its disaffected Muslim underclass., a large Muslim minority of approximately 150 million.” Everyone knows there is a wealth gap in India, but the degree of inequality is stunning. (Nov. 29, 2008)

Undocumented immigrant children mistreated in custody. Children caught trying to slip illegally into the U.S. are mistreated while in custody, transported home unsafely and denied access to representation, a study released Thursday contends. According to the study, inadequate policies lead to the maltreatment, including children going without water at U.S. Border Patrol stations, being handcuffed, having their requests for medical attention ignored, and getting struck and knocked down by agents. Children flown to non-bordering countries were shackled during the flight and those taken by vehicle across the border to Mexico were transported in kennel-like compartments, the study contended. (Nov. 13, 2008)

The slow death of Gaza It has been two weeks since Israel imposed a complete closure of Gaza, after months when its crossings have been open only for the most minimal of humanitarian supplies. Now it is even worse: two weeks without United Nations food trucks for the 80% of the population entirely dependent on food aid, and no medical supplies or drugs for Gaza’s ailing hospitals. No fuel (paid for by the EU) for Gaza’s electricity plant, and no fuel for the generators during the long blackouts. Last Monday morning, 33 trucks of food for UN distribution were finally let in – a few days of few supplies for very few, but as the UN asks, then what? (Nov 25, 2008)

Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in the strip, according to a leaked report from the Red Cross. The 46-page report from the International Committee of the Red Cross – seen by The Independent – is the most authoritative yet on the impact that Israel’s closure of crossings to commercial goods has had on Gazan families and their diets. (Nov. 15, 2008)

How the Food and Financial Crises are Interconnected. As the economic and financial crisis spread to the entire planet and the world’s stock exchanges fell, by 30 to 40%, the standard of living of more than half of the world population dropped dramatically when the price of food soared. There were massive demonstrations in at least fifteen countries in the first half of 2008. Tens of millions of people more than before faced hunger, and hundreds of millions had to reduce their food consumption. All of this was the result of decisions made by a handful of companies in the agro-industry and the financial sector with the backup of the US administration and the European Commission. Only a small part of the rice, wheat or corn produced in the world is exported, while by far the greater amount is consumed in the country of production. However, the price on the export market determines the price on the local market. (Oct. 29, 2008)

Obama considering top national security post for Jane Harmon, author of HR 1955, successor to the Patriot Act. Obama is considering a top national security post for Rep. Jane Harmon, author of HR 1955, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, and its Senate equivalent S 1959. These bills are as dangerous as the Patriot Act. As Miliazzo says, if such an appointment happens, people’s freedoms are toast. (Nov. 10, 2008)

Prospective Treasury Secretary Summers advised sending toxic waste to Africa; they wouldn’t live long enough to get prostate cancer anyway This is a breathtaking exhibition of the cruelty and racism of the profit system. Lawrence Summer, one of Obama’s most likely candidates for Treasury Secretary, a man whom Robert Scheer says is responsible as anyone for the current economic meltdown, as World Bank chief economist justified sending toxic waste to Africa by basically saying poverty would kill the inhabitants before prostate cancer.(Nov. 6, 2008)

New SF Immigrant Policy on Youth Violates Due Process Consider the case of 15-year-old Andre, who engaged in an irresponsible adolescent prank. He spray-painted the side of a bus. Andre was arrested and was booked and ultimately, placed on probation and ordered to make restitution, a common sanction for a first-time graffiti offense. However, pursuant to Newsom’s new policy, Andre’s probation officer notified immigration while booking him, and when he was released from juvenile hall, ICE was waiting for him. He was transferred to a detention center in another state where he awaited deportation to El Salvador. Having been raised in the United States since he was a toddler, he knew nothing about El Salvador and had no family there who could care for him. (Sept. 12, 2008)

Immigrant rights groups say BART closed stations to stop youth-led anti-ICE protests Hundreds of young activists were prevented from traveling to San Francisco from the East Bay when Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) decided to close multiple stations to prevent these young people from boarding. The NLGSF and 15 other organizations have sent a letter to the BART Board of Directors questioning their extreme measures that violated these individuals’ constitutional rights and requesting information pursuant to the California Public Records Act. (Nov. 6, 2008)

Stop the ICE Raids in the First 100 Days. The first of the 388 workers arrested in the immigration raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, were deported in mid-October, having spent five months in federal prison. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calls this “closing the back door. ” Meanwhile, his department seeks to “open the front door” by establishing new guest-worker programs, called “close to slavery” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Immigrant Latino and Asian communities feel increasingly afraid and frustrated. Politicians want their votes, but avoid talking about the rising wave of arrests, imprisonment, and deportations. This month national demonstrations across the nation are protesting the silence, asking candidates to speak out. (Oct. 23, 2008)

A Gray Panther Responds to Pelosi on Economic Meltdown. Why do you and other Democrats, including Senator Obama, talk obsessively about “middle class America,” as though the millions of people living in poverty do not exist? What good will it do my daughter and son-in-law, struggling to raise two children on $35,000 a year, for bank and credit union deposit insurance to rise to $250,000? They don’t have a dime in savings. They’re in debt all the time just to pay the rent and put food on the table. The Democratic Party needs to find its courage and confront working class poverty. (Nov. 1, 2008)

How We Fuel Africa’s Bloodiest War. The deadliest war since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe is starting again — and you are almost certainly carrying a blood-soaked chunk of the slaughter in your pocket. It isn’t. The United Nations investigation found it was a war led by “armies of business” to seize the metals that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. The war in Congo is a war about you. (Oct 30, 2008)

How Africa Developed Europe and America. Without Africa’s wealth and resources (both human and material), development in Europe and America would not be as we know it today. The slave ship helped to export millions of Africans to the Americas to help in the agrarian revolution in the Americas and the industrial revolution in Europe simultaneously. Profits from slave trading and from sugar, coffee, cotton and tobacco are only a small part of the story. What mattered was how the pull and push from these industries transformed Western Europe’s economies. English banking, insurance, shipbuilding, wool and cotton manufacture, copper and iron smelting, and the cities of Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow multiplied in response to the direct and indirect stimulus of the slave plantations. (New African, Oct 2005)

The Bailout: When Democracy Fails, The Ruling Class Resorts To Terror. The ruling class’s tax-supported bailout of Wall Street was so hated that calls to Congress were 200 to 1 against, in a country where a 55 /45 electoral split is considered a landslide. This bailout was forced through by (1) lies that we’re all in this together, and (2) terror by hammering the message that not passing the bailout would produce an unthinkable and cataclysmic shutdown of the US economy. But if we recall the early 1980s, we can see that deep recession and a shutdown of the economy are quite thinkable for the ruling class. In fact, they CAUSED a shutdown of the economy to terrorize us into accepting deep cuts in jobs, wages, housing, education, welfare, job training, and all other social services, We have not recovered since. (October 4, 2008)

No to the Bailout!The current economic crisis is the inevitable result of economic deregulation dating back to the 1990s, which resulted in the biggest wealth disparity in US history and the dismantling of social programs, even before the current economic crisis. We demand … (October 2, 2008)

Oiling the Waters, Venezuela and Georgia. Recently, Russia sent a long-range tactical bomber, the TU160, to oil-rich Venezuela for “flight tests over neutral waters,” and in November will send a large naval squadron for joint exercises with the Venezuelans. And whether the Georgia invasion was discouraged by the US (doubtful since US military advisers were there at the time), its outcome cannot have been to US liking. The Georgian army is now in total disarray, Russia has recognized South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence, and the BTC pipeline, which Clinton built to access Caspian oil and gas while avoiding Russia, are within easy range of Russian guns. What lessons are normal people supposed to draw from all of this? (SF Gray Panther Newsletter, upcoming October 2008 issue)

Social Justice Quiz, 2008. How many deaths are there world-wide each YEAR due to acts of terrorism? 22,000. How many deaths are there world-wide each DAY due to poverty and malnutrition? 25,000. 1n 1965, CEOs in major companies made 24 times more than the average worker. In 1980, CEOs made 40 times more than the average worker. In 2007? 364. See sixteen more questions and answers on Social Justice. Both the answers and sources are interesting. (September 13, 2008)

Is America driving you crazy and then killing you? The US has the most mental illness of all countries as well as the most treatment. In any given year, one in five Americans suffer from mental illness. More than 2.5 million U.S. children are on antipsychotic drugs; one in 10 U.S. adults are on antidepressants. A 2004 the World Health Organization study demonstrated the U.S. having not only the most mental illness but also the most serious forms. What produces mental health in a nation? Studies demonstrate that the amount of mental illness in a rich nation is associated with the income gap, the difference in earnings between the rich and the rest of us. (Sept 10, 2008)

Kinder, Gentler Privatization of Social Security Is Still Privatization! The current Democratic and Republican candidates both insist they are against Social Security privatization, but if you look more closely, they are pushing a new form of privatization, gentler, and more gradual that the Bush version, but privatization all the same. (July 27, 2008)

Employment rate drops as economy sheds 62,000 jobs in June: This was the sixth consecutive month in which the economy lost jobs. The private sector has now shed 578,000 jobs since employment peaked in November. The temporary help and the larger employment services sectors are both shedding jobs at rapid rates, losing 30,400 and 56,900 jobs, respectively in June. These two sectors, which are often seen as harbingers of future employment trends have, respectively, lost 150,000 and 200,000 jobs since January. The biggest falloff has been among teenagers, who have seen a drop of 4.5 percentage points in their employment to population ratios. That ratio for black teens fell to 19.6 percent, the lowest rate since March of 1984. (July 3, 2008)

Even minimal copayments in Medicaid drug plans cut vital drug use:The authors analyzed the impact of a recent cost-sharing program on medication use by Oregon Medicaid enrollees. Starting in 2003, small copayments $2 for generic and $3 for brand-name medications were instituted. The copays were not required for patients who were unable to pay. The new results show an immediate and substantial reduction in medication use after the implementation of nominal copays in the Oregon Medicaid program. The few previous studies of this issue have also found reductions in medication use in response to cost-sharing measures. This suggests that “a more nuanced approach to crafting cost-sharing policies” should be considered, Dr. Hartung and colleagues believe for example, eliminating copays for drugs with strong evidence of effectiveness. (June 25, 2008)

Did CDC conceal toxic dust threat in Hunters Point as it did in Ohio? Thomas Sinks, a toxic substances official of the Center for Disease Control, led the investigation dismissing the health risk of Lennar Corporation’s blanketing Bayview with asbestos. He is also the subject of a congressional investigation following CBS News allegations that he bowed to corporate and political pressures and concealed the hazardous effects of toxic beryllium dust to residents of a small Ohio town. In San Francisco, however, Sinks had the help of an equally corrupt Mayor’s Office and Public Health Department. (April 23, 2008)

Israel celebrates 60th birthday by police attack on Palestinian citizens marching toward village they had been forced out of. As it has been doing for the past decade, many of Israel’s one million Palestinian citizens staged an alternative act of commemoration: a procession of families to one of more than 400 Palestinian villages destroyed to ensure that it inhabitants would never return. The destroyed Palestinian villages have either been reinvented as exclusive Jewish communities or buried under the foliage of national forestation programmes overseen by the Jewish National Fund and paid for with charitable donations from American and European Jews. This year’s march was forcibly broken up by the Israeli police. They clubbed unarmed demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades into crowds of families that included young children. (May 16, 2008)

The U.S. Role in Haiti’s Food Riots: 30 Years Ago Haiti Grew All the Rice It Needed. US. and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for the heavily subsidized rice from U.S. farmers. In order to get an IMF loan following expulsion of Baby Doc, Haiti was required to reduce tariff protections for their Haitian rice and other agricultural products and some industries to open up the country’s markets to competition from outside countries. Within less than two years, it became impossible for Haitian farmers to compete with ‘Miami rice. Still the international business community was not satisfied. (April 21, 2008)

If you talk by phone with reporter who reported NSA wiretaps, you can get dragged into Federal Grand Jury: Federal prosecutors are combing through phone company records to see who had phone conversations with James Risen, the Times reporter who revealed the National Security Agency program of unauthorized wiretaps. Those people are being dragged before a federal Grand Jury, and risk imprisonment if they refuse to reveal the content of their conversation. The so-called free press is already mostly a creature of business and its government, but this is a giant step to preclude reporters from knowing information that risks the “national interest.” (April 12, 2008)

A Response to “Black men’s shorter life span may be attributable in part to the stresses of their position in society”: This article is very helpful, not just because we all want to live longer. The issue of an older man’s health being the result of what his younger years contributed to it, is a very valuable insight. I feel the need to speak up in behalf of young black males about the brutality of the system toward them. The occasional athlete, singer or comedian does not reflect the fate of most American blacks, especially if born poor. As young black men, they are prey for dope dealers, quick money schemes, murder, whatever…they aren’t seen as a meaningful factor in society or politics besides the “cost” of subduing them. I always notice the presence of extra cops in black frequented areas and I feel disgusted. (April 11, 2008)

Stuffed and Starved: World-wide food prices have increased 40% over the past year, leading to food riots in many countries. Raj Patel, author of “Stuffed and Staved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System” discusses causes: drought, free trade, WTO/IMF-imposed restructuring, diversion of food for bio-fuel, diversion of food to feed livestock for meat, and the increasing cost of oil for transport, fertilizer, and herbicides. Yet poverty produces both hunger and obesity, and farmers are killing themselves. (April 8, 2008)

Excerpts from Michael Parenti: Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth: In reality, old Tibet was not a Paradise Lost. It was a retrograde repressive theocracy of extreme privilege and poverty, a long way from Shangri-La. If Tibet’s future is to be positioned somewhere within China’s emerging free-market paradise, then this does not bode well for the Tibetans. China boasts a dazzling 8 percent economic growth rate and is emerging as one of the world’s greatest industrial powers. But with economic growth has come an ever deepening gulf between rich and poor. If China is the great success story of speedy free market development, and is to be the model and inspiration for Tibet’s future, then old feudal Tibet indeed may start looking a lot better than it actually was. (January 2007)

Lee siu Hin: What’s Going On In Tibet:: What happened in Tibet last week was part of a carefully planned ‘Tibetan Independence Movement’, with deep historical roots backed and financed by Western powers, most notably the United States and United Kingdom. “….Throughout the 1960s the Tibetan exile community secretly pocketed $1.7 million a year from the CIA, according to documents released by the State Department in 1998. Once this fact was publicized, the Dalai Lama’s organization itself issued a statement admitting that it had received millions of dollars from the CIA during the 1960s to send armed squads of exiles into Tibet to undermine the Maoist revolution.” (March 18, 2008)

New Deal Nostalgia: On the 75th anniversary of signing the New Deal, it is important to acknowledge that when the New Deal was over, as Zinn, notes, “capitalism remained intact. The rich still controlled the nation’s wealth, as well as its laws, courts, police, newspapers, churches, colleges. Enough help had been given to enough people to make Roosevelt a hero to millions, but the same system that had brought depression and crisis–the system of waste, of inequality, of concern for profit over human need–remained.” When we envisage the New Deal as our model for social change, we are accepting the permanence of capitalism and assuming it can be reformed, and we are separating the state from capitalism, rather than acknowledging that the US state is a plutocracy. I think it’s important, in the words of the 1960s French Situationists, that we “be realistic and imagine the impossible.” (April 1, 2008)

Obama: another mainstream Democrat. He told the Chicago Tribune in 2004: “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position….” He voted to renew the PATRIOT Act, campaigned for Joe Lieberman in 2006, and wants to increase the size of the U.S. military. He supports Israel’s continuing torture of the Palestinians in Gaza. A Congressional Quarterly study found his Senate voting record virtually indistinguishable from Clinton’s. Well-off whites love to hear a black man say that racism has largely receded as a toxic force, though black households earn about 60% as much as whites, and where black men are incarcerated at more than six times the rate of white men. …Throughout the 1950s, left-liberals intellectuals thought that the national malaise was the fault of Eisenhower, and a Democrat would cure it. Well, they got JFK and everything still pretty much sucked, which is what gave rise to the rebellions of the 1960s (and all that excess that Obama wants to junk any remnant of). There’s great political potential in popular disillusionment with Democrats. (April 2, 2008)

Life Expectancy Gap Widens As Wealth Gap Widens: Between 1966 and 1980, a period of working class advancement with strikes, anti-racist rebellions, and anti-war demonstrations, gaps in life expectancy and infant mortality decreased, only to increase again in later years as corporations and the rich counter-attacked. Be sure to watch the upcoming PBS series “Unnatural Causes Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” (March 23, 2008)

Two Schools in Nablus, A Film: Teachers working for months without pay, a chronic overcrowding in the classrooms, and students at risk each day from imprisonment and perhaps worse – welcome to the typical education experience in a Palestinian school This series provides a rare glimpse into the daily lives of those trying to educate, and be educated, under occupation. (Dec. 10, 2007).

The Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move: The unprecedented policies of the New Deal—Social Security, unemployment insurance, job creation, minimum wage, subsidized housing—were not simply the result of FDR’s progressivism. In 1934, early in the Roosevelt Presidency, strikes broke out all over the country, including general strikes in Minneapolis and San Francisco, and hundreds of thousands on strike in the textile mills of the South. Unemployed councils defied the police to put back the furniture of evicted tenants, and creating self-help organizations with hundreds of thousands of members. Without a national crisis—economic destitution and rebellion—it is not likely the Roosevelt Administration would have instituted the bold reforms that it did. Nor will today’s Democratic party. (March, 2008)

Proposed Medicaid Rule Changes Would Cost States $50B in Federal Aid Over Five Years: The changes include provisions that would prohibit states from using federal Medicaid funds to help pay for physician training, place new limits on Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes operated by state and local governments, and limit coverage of rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, including those with mental illnesses. Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said, “As the economy tips into recession, the last thing we should be doing is taking federal funds from states, especially funds that are supposed to help people with their health and medical expenses” (March 4, 2008)

Revealed: the US plan to start a Palestinian civil war:United States officials including President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice participated in a conspiracy to arm and train Contra-style Palestinian militias nominally loyal to the Fatah party to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, an investigative article in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair has revealed. The plan was for “ ..forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically-elected Hamas-led government from power.” (March 4, 2008)

Jewish Voice for Peace on the massacre in Gaza: It is hard to know where to begin talking about Gaza. We are awash in reports, information, photographs, even video of the onslaught on Gaza – the stepped up air and ground assault by Israeli forces onto the most crowded strip of land on earth. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the last few days, some half of them unarmed civilians and many of them children, including a number of babies. Calls for an end to the siege and direct negotiations with Hamas are getting stronger and stronger. (Mar. 2, 2008)

Private Medicare Advantage Plans are more expensive for us as well as for government:It’s been known for decades that private plans under Medicare cost the government 12% to 50% more than traditional Medicare would cost for equivalent patients. But private Medicare plans also cost many patients more, because the private plans’ caps on out-of-pocket costs, which are supposed to protect us, exclude such costs as cancer drugs, mental health services, and home health care. Using private health plans will cost Medicare an extra $54 billion over the next three years. (Feb. 28, 2008)

CMS proposed Medicaid/Medi-Cal changes giving states unprecedented flexibility … to offload costs onto patients in poverty:According to CMS, the rule changes are in line with the Bush administration’s “goals of aligning Medicaid more closely with private market insurance and giving states more control over their Medicaid benefits packages.” Cost sharing could increase for beneficiaries with incomes between 100% and 150% of the poverty level, and beneficiaries with incomes greater than 150% of the poverty level could be required to contribute copayments. (Feb. 26, 2008)

Job discrimination cases hit new opposition in Supreme Court: Many justices appear ready to retreat from the generous interpretation of retaliation coverage in a 2005 case. Justice Antonin Scalia referred to “the bad old days” when the court was broadly interpreting laws “all over the place” to permit lawsuits by workers and other individuals. “When do you think the bad old days ended?” Scalia quipped. “The bad old days ended when you got on the court, Mr. Justice Scalia,” shot back the counsel representing the black worker fired after complaining about his managers remarks. Black workers often use a Reconstruction-era law to supplement the employment-related provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which has strict time limits for the filings and restricts damages allowed. The broadly written 1866 law, enacted to ensure that former slaves and other blacks had the same right to make contracts as whites, has no such limitations. (Feb. 25, 2008)

US underreports Iraqi civilian deaths: British poll of Iraqi families puts civilian casualties above 1 million, in line with British medical journal Lancet’s estimate of 660,000, which was done 14 months ago, used death certificates, and which excluded Falujah. Yet US media attention constantly focuses on data purporting to show a small fraction of these casualty rates for political reasons, a trend also seen in Vietnam in Hiroshima. (Feb 24, 2008)

Obama: Where do you stand on Civil Liberties? Barack Obama sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is presently hearing S. 1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is as dangerous to Civil Liberties as the Patriot Act. How will he vote? (Feb. 1, 2008)

Homegrown Terrorism bills are a move toward police state: HR 1955 and S 1959, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act(s) of 2007, define homegrown terrorism as the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence to achieve political or social goals, which could encompass, for example, strikes, civil disobedience, or boycotts. The Acts then set up a Commission and university-based Center to investigate and hold hearings on suspected groups, and investigate the feasibility of infiltrating and disrupting suspect groups. HR 1955 passed the House almost unopposed, and S 1959 is in the Senate Homeland Security Committee, where Barack Obama sits.(Jan. 30, 2008)

Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial: Seven activists protested Blackwater’s killing of 17 Iraqi civilians last September by re-enacting the murder scene in front of Blackwater’s gates in North Carolina, complete with fake-blood-stained clothes and cars with bullet holes. Six of the seven were tried in total secrecy: no spectators, no family members, no journalists, no defense witnesses, only prosecutors, sheriffs, government witnesses and a Blackwater official. ACLU lawyers said the secret trials were unprecedented in the state. On appeal, they were sentenced to time served for trespass, but Blackwater’s murders were barely mentioned. (Jan. 29, 2008)

Israel’s “Relief” Means Fuel Cuts of Up to 81% and new electricity cuts: Following a near-total ban on fuel to Gaza, international condemnation, and a continuing lawsuit by Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, Israel announced resumption of fuel sales with an 81% cut and intention to reduce electricity on Feb. 7. Current shortages cause 10 million gallons of untreated sewage dumping per day, clean water is down 30%, and homes are unheated. More facts on Israel’s fuel cuts. (Jan. 29, 2008)

Recession in 2008 Will Lead to Grim Economic Realities for Millions in US: Based on historical data, the unemployment rate would continue to increase through 2010 (to 6.7 % for mild-to-moderate recession, such as early 1990s and 2000s) or through 2011 (to 8.4 % for more severe recession, such as the early 1980s,), causing 3 to 6 million to lose jobs, at least 4 million to lose health coverage, and 5 to 10 million more living in poverty. Unemployment for blacks would jump from 8% to 11-15% and for black teens it would jump from 29% to 37-41%. (Jan. 29, 2007)

No police to be indicted for killing 12 Arab citizens of Israel in 2000 demonstration: The demonstration was against racial discrimination and in solidarity with the recently-launched Palestinian Intifada. Police had used live ammunition. Lawyers for the victims’ family said “this is a black day for justice, human rights and the aspiration for equality and respect between peoples. Mazuz, with unprecedented inflexibility, legitimized the murder.” (Jan. 28, 2008)

Update – More on solidarity actions between Palestinians and Israelis on siege of Gaza. A Boston Globe article on Gaza by the Director of the Gaza Mental Health Program, a description of yesterday’s joint Israeli-Palestinian action from a former Bay Area justice activist now in Israel, and another first-hand description of the action.(Jan. 27, 2008)

Israeli Coalition Against the Siege organizes nation-wide relief convoy to Gaza border and simultaneous, cross-border demonstrations against the siege with Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah. The Coalition states: “We’ll go to the Gaza border, in co-operation with Palestinian partners inside Gaza, to show there’s an alternative to siege and rocketfire – an alternative of ceasefire, peace and quiet, and the flourishing of Sderot and Gaza alike. Unlike what we have been made to believe, residents of Sderot and residents of Gaza are not to be seen as opponents: both are victims of a stupid and vicious policy of the Government of Israel.” (Jan. 26, 2008)

Worse than a Crime. It looked like the fall of the Berlin wall. It is impossible not to feel exhilaration when masses of oppressed and hungry people break down the wall that is shutting them in, their eyes radiant, embracing everybody they meet. Large areas of Gaza remained without electricity – incubators for premature babies, dialysis machines, pumps for water and sewage. Hundreds of thousands remained without heating in the severe cold, unable to cook, running out of food. It is hard to imagine a more stupid act. The launching of the Qassams could be stopped tomorrow morning. Several months ago Hamas proposed a cease-fire. It repeated the offer this week. Why doesn’t our government jump at this proposal? Simple: in order to make such a deal, we must speak with Hamas, directly or indirectly. (Jan. 16, 2008)

The People in Gaza Challenge Sham Peace Process. Tens of thousands of Gaza residents streamed across the Israeli-constructed iron wall which had been blown up, putting Egypt in a ticklish role. The Mubarak regime wants Hamas crushed, since it is an ally of the Muslim Brothers, Mubarak’s main opposition. But the Palestinian cause is too popular and emotional an issue in Egypt for Mubarak to appear to be assisting Israel in starving the people of Gaza. Moreover, some of the demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza also raised slogans against the drastic rise in the price of food in recent months and against Husni Mubarak himself. Ordinary people are definitely rocking the boat. (Jan. 24, 2008)

Charity Hospital Patients sue to restore services: The Art Deco landmark that flooded during the storm but was mucked out weeks afterward by doctors, including Moises, and military personnel and was ready to re-open several floors. But Charity’s owner, Louisiana State University had other plans. For years, they had wanted to replace Charity with a new facility more attractive to private patients, and Katrina was their chance. Like public housing and public schools, public healthcare has been blown out of the water by privatization forces, and as the police attacks on pro-housing advocates at recent hearings show, this is happeing in an atmosphere of near-fascism. (Jan. 18, 2008)

Book Review, The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950: In the 1920s and 1930s, Communists alone argued for complete equality between the races. Even as late as the 1940s, mainstream interracial groups like the Southern Regional Council “did not endorse desegregation. Had the N.A.A.C.P. been able to win desegregation decisions in World War II America, white Southerners would have had a more difficult time mounting massive resistance in the midst of a war against intolerance. Instead the legal confrontation took place in the 1950s, by a largely different Civil Rights movement, in the midst of an attack on Communism, particularly in labor. The earlier radicals may not have been able to take credit for that civil rights movement, but they knew in their hearts that they had helped pave the way for it. (Jan 4, 2008)

The Perfidy of Pakistan’s Rulers: The Bhutto assassination might force Pakistani rulers to reconsider supporting the war on terror that has been forced upon the entire Muslim world, and which will consume and destroy Pakistan. Pakistan has been a subservient but subversive US ally, enriching its corrupt rulers but a disaster to its people. (Dec. 31, 2007)

Robert Fisk:They Don’t Blame Al-Qa’ida. They Blame Musharraf: Of course we were asked to concentrate once more on those ” extremists” and “terrorists”, not on the questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling in the aftermath of Benazir’s assassination. (Dec. 29, 2007)

No holiday in Gaza: Instead of invading, Israel is stepping up its military incursions and air strikes. The reason given for this is the ongoing mortar and missile fire, but since the incursions do not stop the rockets, this must not be the real reason. 80% of the population is dependent on international food aid, medical services are all but non-existent, but people needing emergency care elsewhere cannot cross checkpoints, water pumps for half the population are broken, and imports are at 1/6 their previous levels. This is not increasing Israel’s security. (Dec. 2007)

California Blue Shield Admits it: Private Insurance Cannot Work: Blue Shield, who was cited in over half of last year’s complaints to the State over denied claims, responded that insurance companies must have the right to retroactive cancellations. They say the administrative cost of fully investigating applicants’ health records, in order to deny coverage to potentially sick or injured applicants, would make the insurance unaffordable. (Dec. 26, 2007)

FBI Chief Planned Mass Jailing: In 1950, the FBI planed to suspend habeas corpus and put “all individuals potentially dangerous to national security”, some 12,000 Americans whose names the FBI had been compiling for years, into permanent detention in military prisons to protect the country against treason, espionage, and sabotage. The Attorney General had given the FBI permission to compile its list in 1948. Habeas corpus, which allows individuals to challenge illegal detention, can be constitutionally suspended “when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” After 9/11, a Bush order allowed holding suspects indefinitely without a hearing, lawyer, or formal charges. In September 2006, Congress passed the Military Commissions denying habeas corpus for “unlawful enemy combatants.” A Supreme Court de-cision is expected next summer. (Dec. 23,2007)

SF Supervisors: Don’t make Sleeping While Homeless a crime in 2008!: The Full Board will be voting on whether to amend the camping and sleeping code to make it easier to cite homeless people for sleeping, punishing people for being too poor to pay rent. The City tells us they’re offering housing and services to homeless people. Let them prove it before citing people! (Dec. 20, 2007)

U.S. Soldiers Stage Mutiny, Refuse Orders in Iraq Fearing They Would Commit Massacre in Revenge for IED Attack: . The 2nd Platoon had lost many men since deploying to Iraq eleven months before. After an IED attack killed five more members of Charlie 1-26, members of 2nd Platoon gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally. Several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre. They decided to stage a revolt against their commanders that they viewed as a life-or-death act of defiance. (Dec. 21, 2007)

Iraq’s Civil Resistance: There is an active civil resistance in Iraq that opposes the occupation, the torture regime it protects and the Islamist and Baathist insurgencies alike, and is leading labor struggles, opposing privatization and oil expropriation, supporting women’s rights, and demanding a secular government. But there is still little awareness in the United States of Iraq’s civil resistance–even on the antiwar left. (Dec. 6, 2007)

Barenboim criticizes Israel after musician blocked from Gaza: His group of about 20 musicians from England, the United States, France and Palestine had been authorized by Israeli authorities to travel to Gaza for a baroque music festival, but the Palestinian was stopped and informed he needed individual permission to enter. The group was held for seven hours at the border, then cancelled its concert in solidarity.

Union Leaders Pose No Defense Against ‘Outsourcing’ Despite Exodus of More Millions of U.S. Jobs: Leaders and their publications hardly mention outsourcing, much less offer a strategy to reduce if not eliminate it, yet it is causing workers around the world to compete with each other in “a race to the bottom.” (Dec. 16, 2007)

Bethlehem Checkpoint, 4 AM

Naomi Klein: The Housing Battle, Shock Doctrine in Action in New Orleans: Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that one of the most shameless examples of disaster capitalism has been the attempt to exploit the disastrous flooding of New Orleans to close down that city’s public housing projects, some of the only affordable units in the city. Most of the buildings sustained minimal flood damage, but they happen to occupy valuable land that make for perfect condo developments and hotels. (Dec. 21, 2007)

New Orleans Police Attack Protesters Against Housing Demolitions With Mace, Tazers, to Keep Them Out of City Hall: Business and government decide to destroy 4,500 units of livable, affordable, public housing in a city that has a desperate need for places to live. Police attacks show that violence is the ultimate force behind free-market democracy. (Dec. 20, 2007)

Privatising Zionism: For less than four dollars an hour, the Jewish teenagers removed furniture, clothes, kitchenware and toys from the homes and loaded them on to trucks, and the Bedouin homes were then bulldozed to allow construction of two new Jewish villages. Increasingly, Israel is outsourcing its ‘Judaisation’ project to private firms. Land from which the Bedouins are expelled is sold at rock bottom prices to big real estate developers, who both plan and build settlements, bringing big profits. Checkpoints are also manned by private security firms. These private firms will be even less accountable for abuses than the government. (Dec. 14, 2007)

UN observer finds Israeli laws and practices incompatible with human rights: He presented his report on December 12 to the UN Human Rights Council following his July 2007 visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He found serious incompatibilities between Israel’s counter- terrorism laws and practices and Israel’s international human rights obligations, including conflating resistance to military occupation with terrorism, illegal military orders, torture, rights to a trial, the wall, and illegal settlements. (Dec. 12, 2007)

See Gaza and weep: Gaza is just 365 sq km – 45 km long, up to12 km wide and entirely sealed from the outside world by an Israeli fence guarded by watchtowers, snipers and tanks. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters and airwaves. A vast prison with air-strikes, beach shelling, troops, tanks, armoured bulldozers, uncaring of civilian casualties. Stuart Littlewood went to Gaza on an unusual mission, bringing moral support to the Christian community and to its Muslim citizens, all suffering horribly under Israel’s collective punishment and cruel siege . (Dec. 10, 2007)

End the Siege on Gaza: All but 12 basic commodities have been blocked entry to the Gaza Strip, causing shortages in water, fuel, medications, essential equipment, raw materials and thousands of other essential commodities. In November alone, 13 patients died after Israeli authorities denied them access to medical care that is unavailable in Gaza. In November 2007, a group of Palestinian non-partisan human rights organizations and civil society leaders launched a call for a joint Palestinian-International-Israeli campaign to end the siege on Gaza. (Dec 11, 2007)

The Lou Dobbs Primary? Immigration more an issue for media than voters: Immigration more an issue for media than voters: Media coverage of the 2008 presidential election identifies immigration as a key issue for the US electorate–even though, according to most polling, it does not rank as a top priority for voters, often trailing the war by half. (Dec. 7, 2007)

What Sicko doesn’t tell you: Michael Moore’s film hails the British National Health Service and condemns US healthcare. But it portrays Britain’s and Europe’s universal healthcare as a triumph of democracy or a win-win agreement between government and citizens, leaving us unprepared for the attacks capital is making on socialized medical care in Britain. (Sept. 24, 2007)

Israeli civil rights group says Israel has reached new heights of racism: There is a 26% rise in racist incidents, 55% of Israeli Jews support emigration of Arab citizens, 78% oppose inclusion of Arab parties of Arab citizens from government, and 78% consider Arabs unclean. The group considered these attitudes the natural consequence of a racist campaign lead by political and military leaders. (Dec. 9, 2007)

A Party for Jews Only: Israel’s 60th birthday will be celebrated solely by Jewish citizens, despite tempting enticements blandished upon its Arab citizens, as though 6 decades of discrimination, being regarded as a threat, and having its leaders attacked means nothing. Lack of Arab citizen participation is a political blow. (Dec. 9, 2007)

Howard Zinn’s “People’s History .. “ to come to TV: Will be 4-hour minseries entitled “The People Speak” is intended to draw both from the book and music and voices relating to issues of women, war, class, and race. It has not been sold to a network. (Dec. 11, 2007)

New Orleans public housing supporters demonstrate in City Council against demolitions: Residents are desperate for affordable housing and rents have doubled, but the city is about to demolish over 4,000 units of livable undamaged public housing. Residents demonstrated at a City Council meeting. (Dec. 7, 2007)

Proposed SF ballot measure would give Lennar even more control of city: Feinstein, Willie Brown, Maxwell, and Newsom support ballot measure allowing Lennar to build thousands of more houses, create parks, and possibly build a new 49ers stadium. Besides exposing South East SF residents to asbestos dust, Lennar has done many other misdeeds in SF, including breaking an agreement to build rental housing in the Shipyard Parcel A. The City says it has the tools to force Lennar’s compliance, but using them would be premature. Lennar is also in financial trouble. Why should Lennar be trusted even more? (Nov. 28, 2007)

Chicago to pay $20 million to 4 men its police tortured into confessions and sent to death row. For years, Chicago police had used beatings, electrocution, Russian-roulette, and suffocation to force confessions from black prisoners and send them to death row. The police commander in charge is retired on his pension living in Florida. Meanwhile, police abuse continues. (Dec. 8, 2007)

The Mandate Muddle? No, the Krugman Muddle: Krugman supports the version of health restructuring proposed by Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney, and all the Democratic candidates: everyone is forced to buy private health insurance, with virtually no assurances of affordability, quality of coverage, business sharing the burden, limits on insurers’ profits, or cost containment. Compare his praise of “individual mandate” restructuring with an on-the-ground assessment of the Massachusetts plan. (Dec. 7, 2007)

Removing homeless from sight doesn’t make them go away: As the federal and state governments abandoned all pretense of responsibility for the health and housing needs of people who may be poor and/or disabled, local governments increasingly turned to laws and policing programs to mitigate the damage. In response, jails are overflowing and municipal courts have established “special courts” along social, as opposed to criminal, lines to deal with this influx. Drug courts, mental health courts and homeless or community courts are all, at their core, manifestations of a criminal justice system overwhelmed by a society that attempts rid itself of poor people rather than attempting to rid itself of poverty. (Dec. 7, 2007)

Visiting Hani’s House: Words and drawings describe what a person goes through and thinks about while visiting a nearby friend in Hebron, the only city in occupied Palestine besides East Jerusalem where Israeli settlers occupy the city center. (Nov. 15, 2007)

Medicare Reduces Payout on Two Cancer Drugs: New Medicare reimbursement reductions for a promising class of cancer drugs may cause with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the fifth-most-common cancer, to lose access to this treatment, sometimes the only available therapy. Many hospitals may discontinue the treatments, just as new data show they put the disease into remission for years in many patients. Medicare officials insist new payments are fair. (Dec. 7, 2007)

Budget Makers Plan Tradeoff for War Funds: Congressional leaders are assembling a $500 billion package to try to resolve an impasse by providing President Bush with unfettered money for the Iraq war in exchange for new spending on popular domestic programs, to possibly be voted on in House Tuesday. The House would consider $30 billion for the military in Afghanistan, the Senate would then add up to $40 billion for Iraq. (Dec. 8, 2007)

Annapolis, where the Roadmap is a one-way street:The vast majority of Israeli Jews, from liberal to conservative, share a broad consensus: for both security reasons and because of Israel’s “facts on the ground”, the Arabs (Palestinians) will have to settle for a truncated mini-state on no more than 15-20 per cent of the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. (Nov 28, 2007)

Israeli officials reject U.S. findings on Iran: Israeli officials, who’ve been warning that Iran would soon pose a nuclear threat to the world, reacted angrily Tuesday to a new U.S. intelligence finding that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons development program in 2003 and to date hasn’t resumed trying to produce nuclear weapons. Why is Israel doing this? (Dec. 4, 2007)

Intelligence Report Reveals Bush and Cheney’s Iran Warnings as Fraudulent: assessment that Iran’s nuclear weapons program halted in 2003 utterly contradicts White House. Ray McGovern is . He is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). (Dec. 4, 2007)

The San Francisco Eight, Torture in America: The SF-8 are eight former Black Panthers tortured 34 years ago into confessions of killing a police officer. Charges based on the confession were dropped at the time, but they are being tried now in San Francisco. Harold Taylor, one of the SF-8 describes how he was tortured in New Orleans under supervision of San Francisco police inspectors (Nov. 30, 2007)

Israel Says Army Ready for large-scale Invasion of Gaza: Until the army gets government approval for an invasion, it will restrict itself to airstrikes and brief incursions on the ground, killing 30 in the past 10 days. A full-scale invasion of Gaza, the most densely crowded area in the world, would cause heavy losses of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. (Dec. 5, 2007)

Dec 6th “Today Show” to show Mumia’s lawyer and exculpatory photos: The December 6th “Today Show,” features right-wing radio broadcaster Michael Smercornish and Maurine Faulkner, wife of the policeman Mumia is accused of killing, and their new book “Murdered by Mumia, A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice.” The book, say Faulkner and Smerconish is “the first … to carefully and definitively lay out the case against Abu-Jamal, and those who’ve elevated him to the status of political prisoner.” In response, Journalists for Mumia have organized a nation-wide campaign of e-mails, letters, and faxes to the “Today Show” demanding a voice to demonstrate the need for a new trial based on palpable racism in the earlier trial and new evidence demonstrating his innocence. It now appears thatMumia’s lawyer Robert R. Bryan and new exculpatory photos will be show. (Nov. 5, 2007)

Medicare Drug Plans to cover fewer medications: The number of medications covered by drug plans of the 10 health insurers with the largest enrollment will decrease next year by 26%. Also, 2.1 million Medicare recipients receiving the Low Income Subsidy whose current plans raised premiums above a government benchmark will have their plans automatically changed, meaning, in Texas, an average of a 14% drop in the number of drugs covered. Low Income Subsidy Medicare patients will also need pre-approval from their new drug plans for many more medications. The decrease will occur “mainly because of changes made by Medicare,” which no longer will reimburse plans for treatments that FDA has removed from the market, are considered less than effective, have duplicative billing codes or are no longer manufactured. (Dec. 4, 2007)

New Orleans: Bulldozers for the poor, tax credits for the rich: HUD is preparing to demolish over 4600 units of low-income public housing in New Orleans, despite a desperate need for housing, and rents that have doubled and even tripled. FEMA is preparing to kick people out of their trailers. (Dec. 3, 2007)

Cholera crisis hits Baghdad: 100 cases in past 3 weeks. Iraqi capital fears an epidemic if stricken sewerage system collapses as the rainy season arrives. As Iraq’s rainy season nears, its ageing water pipes and sewerage systems, many damaged or destroyed by more than four years of war, pose a new threat to a population. One in three Iraqi children can rely on a safe water source. (Dec. 2. 2007)

It’s time to talk about Israel’s nukes, and ours, too: Estimates are up to 200 Israeli bombs, both atomic and hydrogen. What are the terms of the agreement the US and Israel must have? Why is it OK Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty? Or India? or Pakistan? Why is the US developing new nuclear weapons if it signed the treaty? (Nov. 30, 2007)

Jewish Voice for Peace, After Anapolis, Reaction and Analysis: Restarting negotiations offers a hpe of slowing down violations of international law, but the basic requirements for just and sustainable peace were missing, and the immediate humanitarian disasters unfolding as the conference was proceeding were unaddressed. (Nov. 30, 2007)

Nobel Peace Prize laureates are calling for all charges to be dropped against eight former Black Panthers: Desmond Tutu, Mailread Maguire, Betty Williams, Darryl Jordan, and William Wardlaw sign a statement calling for end to torture in the criminal justice system, drop the current charges against the SF-8, investigate continued operation of COINTELPRO, release the two SF-8 members who have served over thirty years on similar charges based on COINTELPRO activity. (Nov. 30, 2007)

Democracy Now! Former Black Panther details brutal police torture to extract confession in 1971 murder case: Eight former Black Panthers or supporters: are now charged with the murder of Sergeant John Young in 1971 and conspiracy to commit murder for a string of attacks on other officers. Similar charges were tossed out in 1975 because the confessions on which the case was based had been tortured out of the defendents by police in New Orleans. Harold Taylor describes that torture. (Nov. 30, 2007)

As Medical Costs Soar, The Insured Face Huge Tab: California Pacific Medical Center called Jim Dawson as he returned home from five months in the hospital battling an infection that almost killed him. It was about his $1.2 million bill. His infection began as dry spots on his arm. By the time it was over … (November 29, 2007)

FEMA sets date for closing katrina trailor camps: Almost 3,000 families in New Orleans and across Louisiana will have to leave their government-supplied trailers over the next few months, while New Orleans prepares to demolish undamaged public housing. “We’re with them every step of the way,” said a FEMA spokeswoman. (Nov. 29, 2007)

Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal Vexed Nixon: Recently released documents indicate the Nixon White House, upon hearing of Isreal’s nuclear weapons, was afraid Isreal might use them. Should Washington insist that Israel rein in its development of nuclear weapons? What would the United States do if Israel refused? Perhaps the solution lay in deliberate ambiguity, or simply pretending that America did not know what Israel was up to. (Nov. 29, 2007)

Huge Palestinian demonstrations against fake Annapolis peace conference suppressed by Palestinian Authority police, journalists covering protests also attacked: Protests against Annapolis conference, which refuses to discuss Israel’s occupation, Palestinians’ right of return, the expanding Israeli settlements, the wall, and Jerusalem. Palestinian Authority determined to suppress outcry, PA police kill one demonstrator in Hebron, detain 50 in Bethlehem, injure 30 and detain 200 in Ramallah. Journalists also attacked for covering demonstrations. (Nov. 27-28, 2007)

Annapolis, when the Roadmap is a one-way street: The struggle among Jews of Israel is not between perhaps a quarter of Israeli Jews on the right, who want to maintain the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the not more than 10 percent on the left who seek a two-state solution with the Palestinians and are thus willing to relinquish enough to allow aPalestinian state to emerge. The vast majority of Israeli Jews share a broad consensus: for both security reasons and because of Israel’s “facts on the ground”, the Arabs (as we [Israelis] call the Palestinians) will have to settle for a truncated mini-state on no more than 15-20 per cent of the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. (Nov. 28, 2007)

Pelosi promises to allow House to vote on impeaching Cheny if public shows enough support. Democrats Choose General linked to Prisoner Abuse for Radio Address: Every Saturday, the President gives a national radio address, followed by the Democratic response, usually given by a House or Senate Democrat. This past Saturday, the Democrats chose retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez to give their weekly radio address. According to the ACLU, Sanchez urged his troops to “go to the outer limits” to extract information from prisoners. Previously released documents have linked Sanchez to the use of army dogs during interrogations. (Nov. 26, 2007)

Annapolis Peace Conference: Shoring up Arab States’ support for the US war on Iran and Iraq: A draft of a joint document makes no mention of Gaza, settlements, borders, the wall, Palestinian refugees, or Jerusalem, and nothing about a just and comprehensive peace, or ending Israel’s occupation, apartheid, or discrimination. Most Arab regimes would be happy to jump into bed with the US in attacking Iran, but are afraid of being overthrown, because the Arab people do not see Iran as a major enemy. So the US is essentially throwing Arab regimes a bone, an Annapolis photo op to keep their credibility while joining the US wars. (Nov. 26, 2007)

Iran, War Is Peace, Sanctions Are Diplomacy: the Bush administration’s persistent refusal to take military options “off the table,” combined with its intensified rhetoric against Iran, has made sanctions palatable to allies, as well as to some of the most dovish members of Congress and the American public — but without addressing the political disputes that keep the US and Iran on a collision course. Congress, by and large, has merely greased the skids. (Nov. 23, 2007)Anti-racist

March to Justice circles ‘Justce’ Department: Thousands from around the country came to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 16, marching to demand an end to police brutality, racial profiling and hate crimes, citing the Jena 6, the Brooklyn police murder of Khiel Coppin, and increasing noose incidents. (Nov. 21, 2007

)FBI reports hate crimes rose 8 percent in 2006: 52% were race-based, and 58% of offenders were white. Beatings and murders by police were not included in the survey. (Nov. 19, 2007)

Ensure Fairness For Mumia Abu-Jamal on NBC’s The Today Show!: On Dec. 6, NBC’s The Today Show intends to air a show about Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner’s new book “Murdered By Mumia,” featuring both Smerconish and Faulkner as guests. The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Journalists for Mumia, and Educators for Mumia have initiated a media-activist campaign urging people to write The Today Show to include speakers on police and judicial bias in the prosecution. (Nov. 20, 2007)

Media pundits ignore gathering storm of housing crisis: An economic tsunami is coming at us, the bursting of the housing bubble and a spreading credit squeeze: over a million homes in foreclosure this year, another two million threatened next year. Housing prices down generally. The inventory of unsold houses reaching near-record levels. But at the media-driven Democratic debate in Las Vegas, no questions on housing or the economy. (Nov. 20, 2007)

Ward Churchill, I am Indigenist: By this, I mean that I am one who not only takes the rights of indigenous peoples as the highest priority of my political life, but who draws upon the traditions—the bodies of knowledge and corresponding codes of value—evolved over many thousands of years by native peoples the world over. . This is the basis upon which I not only advance critiques of, but conceptualize alternatives to the present social, political, economic, and philosophical status quo. (1996)

More on the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: Not since the “Patriot Act” of 2001 has any bill so threatened constitutionally guaranteed rights. “… we’re not only studying radical Islam, we’re studying the phenomenon of people with radical beliefs who turn into people who would use violence” to advance political, religious, or social change. “Studying” means setting up a university-based center to infiltrate and disrupt social movements, a new COINTELPRO program with academic credibility, brains, and close contact with students, where dissent often originates. (Nov. 20, 2007)

Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to ‘Disrupt’ Radical Movements in the United States: The “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” (H.R. 1955), passed the US House in a 404-6 vote on Oct. 23. Civil liberties advocates say the bill broadens “terrorism” in include First Ammendment activity and civil disobedience. It establishes a National Commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence” and a university-based “Center for Excellence” to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence in the United States” in order to develop policy for “prevention, disruption and mitigation.” The Senate is currently considering a companion bill, S. 1959. (Nov 20, 2007)

Israeli demolotions of Bedouin homes continues in Negev Desert: One man has been volunteering for the Israeli Border Patrol for years. He built his son a home, preparing for the upcoming wedding. Evidently, his contribution to The State is of no importance , as now all the rest of the village members know. During the Ramadan the government destroyed a well used by Bedouin shepherds by spilling gasoline and used oil into it. Last spring the Israel military filled the well with gravel. (Nov. 1, 2007)

24,000 Egyptian textile workers strike, occupy factory, for the second time in a year: winning a bonus payment, higher wages for hazardous work, challenging the economic policies and political legitimacy of Husni Mubarak, and keeping alive the 2004-2007 strike wave. The rapid reduction of workers’ already-low standard of living, is making many Egyptian workers look for radical solutions for their problems. (Sept. 29, 2007)

Many Iraqis say where there is calm, it is hardly for reassuring reasons : “All the Sunnis have been evicted from mixed areas in Baghdad.” “American air raids are increasing in a way that shows a total failure on the ground.” “Those American and government forces could not face the resistance fighters, so they arrest innocent people.” Under-reporting also cited. (Nov. 9, 2007)

Attacks against British, Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra: In mid-December, British forces will return control of Basra province back to Iraqi officials — officially ending Britain’s combat role in Iraq. British officials expected a spike in such intra-militia violence after they pulled back from the city’s center, and were surprised to find none, because the Sadrist militia is all powerful. This suggests the reduction of violence in Iraq is not due to military success of the surge, but to suspension of attacks by the Sadrists. (Nov. 15, 2007)

Thousands of Czechs to protest US Missle Shield in Prague: “No to the Bases” plans a national demonstration on Nov. 17, 2007 in Prague. 68% of Czechs oppose the US plan to install a US base as part of a US-dominated military umbrella extending across Eastern Europe, which purports to protect against missles. Many believe this system increases the nuclear threat rather than deminishing it. (Nov 11, 2007)

November 20 SF Gray Panthers Meeting: Injustice in the City

It’s not the one-state solution, it’s the one-state reality: It’s not a question of proposing a “one-state solution,” but of recognizing the “one-state reality” that has been brought about by Israel’s integration of East Jerusalem and the West Bank into the infrastructure and legal fabric of the Jewish state since 1967. There already is “one state” and the remaining question, and real debate, is over its character. Will different laws and rights continue to be afforded to people on the basis of their ethnicity? Will it be an exclusivist, apartheid state — or a democracy where Jews are no more privileged than Palestinians? Nov 13, 2007)

The path to peace in Palestine does not go through Annapolis: Fiasco at the US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Annapolis is looming, so what do the Palestinians do next? Neither diplomacy nor their version of armed struggle has worked. No major Israeli party is willing to contemplate a viable concept of Palestinian independence and the US is not about to help. A new book proposes mass unarmed civil disobedience against the occupation. (Nov. 16, 2007)

Israel’s economic blockade: Gazans go hungry while their cash crops rot: Israel’s absolute economic and commercial blockade of Gaza and total closure of Gaza’s main cargo crossing has made it impossible for Mr Hmaideh’s to sell his entire crop of strawberries abroad, an example of Isreal’s collective punishment of Gazans. (Nov. 16, 2007)

Defeat the landlord-sponsored initiative to abolish Rent Control in California: Landlords and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, who promoted the infamous Prop 13, are promoting a state ballot initiative claiming to protect property from eminent domain, but actually outlawing rent control, inclusionary housing regulations, and many land use regulations and environmental protections. The so-called “California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act” is expected to be on the June ballot. Housing advocates are trying to gather enough signatures to qualify an alternative ballot proposition protecting low-cost housing by November 20, but whether the alternative measure succeeds or not, we must spread the truth about the landlord sponsored measure. (Nov. 16)

The uninvited guest: Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced: A state-of-the-art Chinese Song class attack submarine sailed within torpedo range of the US super-carrier USS Kitty Hawk during recent US naval excercises off the Chinese coast, an event described as “as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik.” But is it? And what does it mean? (Nov. 10, 2007)

A Lot of Nooses, Not Enough Talk: Historically, over 4,700 people were murdered by lynch mobs. The number of noose sightings has increased to 50 incidents in September alone, from 6-12 per year. The Southern Poverty Law Center says “It is perfectly obvious that as a society we are re-segregating, residentially and especially educationally,” “In the last six years the number of hate groups in America by our count has gone up 40%.” Bush plans to veto legislation giving federal authorities greater ability to investigate hate crimes ignored by local authorities. (Nov. 9, 2007)

Medical Care and Rehab costs for vets could cost more than the combat operations: Physicians for Social Responsibility estimates costs could exceed $650 billion. It includes blast injuries to arms and legs from improvised explosive devices; the historically high instances of traumatic brain injuries; and post-traumatic stress disorder, which the VA believes affects at least one-third of soldiers serving there. Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, at least 60,000 US service members have been wounded or become mentally ill from their battlefield experiences. (Nov. 9, 2007)

Rude shocks in Medicare Part D for 2008: Up to $1,915 in cost increases next year for premiums and five commonly used prescriptions — the equivalent of about two month’s worth of Social Security checks. While many plans are reducing monthly premiums for next year, they actually are increasing overall annual costs for a theoretical basket of five common prescription drugs monitored in the study. At least 82 percent of plans in New York, Illinois, California, Texas and Florida increased their overall costs, and out of the total 247 plans,16 percent, increased their costs by 25 percent or more. (Nov. 9, 2007)

Jewish settler outposts expanding by stealth on eve of US-sponsored roadmap talks: Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land is against international law, and even the US 2002 roadmap supposedly bans further settlements, yet settlement expansion is proceeding on the eve of US sponsored peace conference.

LA police plan to “map” muslims in area: LA PD counterterrorism bureau chief Downing revealed the plan to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental affairs. “We want to know where the Pakistanis, Iranians and Chechens are so we can reach out to those communities … (and) law enforcement agencies everywhere faced a vicious, amorphous and unfamiliar adversary on our land.” There are an estimated 500,000 Muslims in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. Liberal Mayor Villaraigosa says police have good intentions. Anti-racists recalled the mass arrests of hundreds of muslims trying to comply with the special registration requirements forced on muslims and south Asians in the US following 9/11. (Nov. 9, 2007)

Gaza, A moment before the lights go out: Israel’s cutoff of electricity and fuel to Gaza makes water unsafe, and frequently unavailable at all, and sewage disposal is even more threatened. Water supply is Gaza’s biggest energy consumer, and it is regularly available only every other day, with 3-4 day delays occuring. Bad water exposes residents to diarrhea, infections, and kidney damage. The results of crippled sewage disposal would be worse. (Nov. 7, 2007)

Iraq’s Little-Known Humanitarian Crisis: Since the 2003 75,000 to 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed (depending on who’s counting), and 1 million Iraqis, half children under 5 died during the 1991-2003 economic sanctions. Over 4 million are displaced and half have fled the country, the largest Mid-East forced migration since 1948. 2/3 lack safe water. The list goes on. (Nov. 1, 2007)

Study: 2,002 Died in Police Custody in 3 Years: Deaths in custody are of course barely the tip of the iceberg of police killings, since many more take place in confrontations, chases, etc. (Oct 11, 2007)

The siege of Gaza is going to lead to a violent escalation: The collective punishment of 1.5 million in Gaza reached a new level, as Israel began to choke off essential fuel. Hamas itself has mostly avoided armed action against Israel for two years, though that may be about to change. This week Ehud Barak, declared that “every passing day brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza”, while Hamas told a rally that the movement was now ready to “strike inside the heart of Israel, the occupation entity” if Israel did not stop its killings in Gaza. (Nov. 1, 2007)

Tutu on Hope versus Optimism in the Middle East: I am not optimistic. Optimism requires clear signs, meaningful words and unambiguous actions that point to real progress. Hope persists in the face of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, because of what I experienced in South Africa, I harbor a vast, unreasoning hope for Israel and the Palestinian territories. South Africans, after all, had no reason to suppose that the evil system and the cycles of violence that were sapping the soul of our nation would ever change. (Oct. 16, 2007)

San Francisco’s Homeless Policy: Matrix Redux: Newsom has issued 46,000 citations for homelessness at a cost of $7.8 million. No amount of punishment will lift people out of poverty. I didn’t work under Matrix, and it won’t work now. (Oct. 9, 2007)

SF mayor Newsom has created a private organization to coordinate City activities on homelessness, environment, familes and youth, and digital outreach: It’s an entirely new branch of city government that is private, funded by undisclosed corporate donations, staffed by volunteers who are often city employees or his campaign donors, and unaccountable to any internal controls or outside scrutiny. It represents a new scale of privatization from the top down, rather than the bottom up. (Oct 17, 2007)

US-IRAQ: Ill-Equipped Soldiers Opt for “Search and Avoid”: morale among U.S. soldiers is so poor that many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol. We decided the only way we wouldn’t be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time. The number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking treatment for PTSD increased nearly 70 percent in the 12 months ending on Jun. 30. (Oct.24, 2007)Mumia: ‘I spend my days preparing for life, not for death’: The former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent 25 years on death row in the United States – despite strong evidence that he is innocent. In his first British interview, he talks to Laura Smith about life in solitary, how he has remained politically active, and why the Panthers are still relevant today. (Oct. 25, 2007)

New Joint Chiefs chairman wants to exit Iraq to prepare for future wars: Adm. Mike Mullen believes Iraq and Afghanistan have so consumed the military that the Army and Marine Corps may be unprepared for a high-intensity war against a major adversary. especially along the Pacific Rim and in Africa. He plans to press Congress and the public to sustain the current high levels of military spending — even after the Iraq war — arguing for money to repair and replace worn-out weapons and to restore American ground forces. (Oct 22, 2007)

Deadly effects of racism and lack of healthcare on Latin American immigrant workers: Mexican immigrants are almost 1/3 of the population but are 44% of immigrant worker deaths on the job or from job-related injuries because of dangerous jobs, and are uninsured. Latin American immigrants’ health declines the longer they reside in the US, most likely from inadequate access to services and lack prevention and treatment. (Oct. 23, 2007)

Torture & the San Francisco 8: Both in US prisons and secret prisons abroad, captured individuals are severely tortured, or subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The torture of some SF8 members 36 years ago is the prime example. The murder confessions police tortured out of SF8 members were soon dismissed, but the SF8 are now on trial with the same charges and the same evidence, and the judge has denied a motion to follow suit and disallow the confessions. He has left a door open for further argument on this issue. The next hearing is Monday morning, Dec. 3, at 9:30 AM and a courtroom full of supporters are important. (Oct 22, 2007)

Jewish Voice for Peace Report from Nablus: Jewish Voice for Peace’s Health and Human Rights Project delegation to Israel/Palestine landed in the West Bank on Saturday.The team of 13 is posting both photos and stories on their blog daily. This report: Two days ago in Naublus, Israeli soldiers repeatedly shot at and then evacuated a house, consisting of five one-family apartments, and an apartment inhabited by a seventy-year-old man – the man was shot in the heart that night when he opened his front door to the Israeli soldiers; he was unarmed, and he died. Today, our delegation visited the rebuilding site … (Oct. 21, 2007)

Candles for Gaza: Candles are a basic necessity in Gaza after an EU cutoff of generator fuel and Israeli airstrikes, but many can no longer afford them. Najwa Sheikh Ahmed and her husband began a campaign to help, asking friends and colleagues “on the outside” to bring candles, which they distribute in the camp. Fida Qishta began a programme to help over 400 of the traumatised children of the area; the dollar per month fee was more than many could afford. To get anything big running, we need help from the outside. (Oct. 15, 2007)

Letter from Iraqi refugee in Syria: There are at least 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria; some areas are almost totally Iraqi. There are difficult visa problems. We had a brilliant idea, we decided to go to one of the border crossings, cross into Iraq, and come back into Syria- everyone was doing it. It would buy us some time- at least 2 months. We chose a hot day … (Oct. 22, 2007)

Hollywood’s penchant for ugly stereotypes: Jack Shaheen’s book “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” which chronicles a century of films that denigrate Arabs, took twenty years to get published in 2001. Over 900 films project Arabs as villains, over 20 have Arabs trying to rape or abduct western heroines, about 10 portray Arabs enslaving Africans, 11 show killing “evil Arabs.” He was led to investigating this by experiencing the Israel air war in 1974, and wondering how the devastation of Arabs was politically possible. He has given over 1,000 lectures since then. (July 19, 2001)

The FBI’s War on Black Liberation COINTELPRO and the Panthers: Few groups in US history experienced murder, beatings, lies and frame-ups more than the Black Panther Party. These frame-ups continue today in the cases of Mumia abu Jamal and the San Francisco 8. . In both, the prosecution is based on either flimsy or false evidence, and the politics of the defendants has been used to try to prejudice the case. (Oct. 20. 2007)

Mukasey a good fit for Justice Department intent on injustice: Mukasey believes presidential power to be robust, expansive and sometimes beyond the power of Congress to control. Despite the tense questioning of Mr. Mukasey on Thursday, there was no indication yesterday that any senators intended to oppose the nomination. (Oct. 20, 2007)

Iraqis Who Fled Homes In Fear Face New Terror As Turkey Targets PKK Rebels: Refugees from across the country found peace in the Kurdish north, but are now threatened by shelling and cross-border raids. Seven villages have been hit by artillery supposedly aimed at the PKK, which has conducted raids in Turkey. Turkish attacks could destabilize only secure area in Iraq. Local authorities fear 30,000 people may be displaced if Turkish troops enter. (Oct 20, 2007)

Robert Fisk: Secret armies pose sinister new threat to Lebanon: What worries the Lebanese authorities is the sheer scale of weaponry arriving and they might be from vast stock of 190,000 rifles and pistols which the US military “lost” when they handed them out to Iraqi police without registering their numbers or destination. “Such a situation could lead to a new civil war”, one minister said. (Oct 19, 2007)

Palestinians’ Lives Invisible to Israelis: Since 2000, the Israeli army has killed more than 4,000 Palestinians, the majority unarmed civilians, and thousands more are wounded or kidnapped, yet this is not reported in Israel or the US. Israel’s 25 foot high wall hides the fact that it grabs 80% of West Bank’s water for Israeli settlements, leaving Ramallah without running water 3-4 days per week. The wall also hides poverty, unemployment, and virtual imprisonment. To the US and Israel, Palestinian lives have less value. (Oct 19, 2007)

Clinton health plan not to cover undocumented immigrants: The New York senator said she supports basic health services for undocumented immigrants, including hospitalization and treatment of acute conditions. But the magnitude of the nation’s health care challenge means her universal coverage proposal would not cover people living in the country without documents. “She said. “These are hard choices.” Apparently it was easier for her to choose to use insurance companies than to cover 12 million needing healthcare. (Oct. 19, 2007)

Zionist pressure puts Pluto Press in jeopardy: For four years, the University of Michigan’s publishing house has distributed books of Pluto Press, but this relationship is endangered by pressure from an ultra-Zionist group, StandWithUs, that wants to suppress Prof. Joel Kovel’s book “Overcoming Zionism,” which Pluto publishes. Howard Zinn, of the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism, has written a letter urging the University of Michigan to not sever its relationship. (Oct. 18, 2007)

Numbers tricks mask declining wages and rising inequality: Not only is the public incapable of making sense of the nation’s cooked books, but Americans have no idea what “class” they belong to. The greatest damage the rich have done to American economic discourse and to the English vocabulary is their purposeful misuse of the term “middle class.” They discovered that keeping everybody else deluded and disoriented about the real structures of wealth and income allows them to do whatever they choose. Oct. 17, 2007)

“Middle East Peace Process”: The show goes on … and on: It’s like one of those Broadway extravaganzas; with each revival the cast changes, and it manages to remain fresh to the gullible throngs willing believe it can end the conflict caused by a century of western-supported Zionist colonisation in Palestine. As I have argued elsewhere and in my book, One Country, peace through partition is an unachievable fantasy. (Oct. 16, 2007)

House Oversight Committee report says Medicare drug plans wasted $15 billion in 2007: The report examined 12 insurers covering 18 million people, and cited excessive adminisrative costs, sales expenses, and profits of $1 billion. (Oct. 15, 2007)

Why is Uncle Sam so committed to reviving nuclear power?: In the 1950s. Investors were enticed by multi-billion-dollar subsidies, rapid write-offs, special limits on liability, and federal loan guarantees. Despite all this special help, by the 1970s the industry was in financial shambles. Now, with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects 29 applications for reactors had has hired 400 new staff. The Act provides four kinds of subsidies. Is it all about nuclear weapons? (Sept 30, 2007)

In response to James Watson, racist Nobel-Prize winner:In recent interviews and a new book, Nobel-prizewinning scientists James Watson has made racist statements to the effect that blacks are less intelligent than whites and the like. Watson is not an isolated racist nut, but is the most recent of many academic racists called out when the whole working class is under attack. Two scientific essays are presented refuting Watson on intelligence, genetic determination, and ancestry. (Oct 19, 2007)

Elderly Medicare, Medicaid patients not receiving quality care:Using quality-of-care measurements researchers found that vulnerable elderly patients on both Medicare and Medicaid received only 65 percent of the tests and other diagnostic evaluations and treatments recommended for a variety of illnesses and conditions. For example, only 42 percent of patients with diabetes were tested to gauge their blood sugar control or received an eye examination during the one-year study period. Likewise, many patients who were newly diagnosed with heart failure did not receive recommended diagnostic evaluations or medications known to be effective. (Oct 16, 2007)

A letter from the Elizabeth (NJ) Immigrant Detention Center: This letter is on behalf of all the inmates at the Elizabeth (Immigrant) Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. This “prison” or “detention center” is run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). We have written this letter because of the mistreatment treatment from CCA Officers and the problems that this center has. (Oct 16, 2007)

HUD Demolitions Draw Noose Tighter Around New Orleans:Renting is so hard in part because there is a noose closing around the housing opportunities of New Orleans African American renters displaced by Katrina. They have been openly and directly targeted by public and private actions designed to keep them away. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just added their weight to the attack by approving the demolition of 2966 apartments in New Orleans. (Oct 16, 2007)

urors Never Saw Earliest Crime Scene Photos at Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 Trial: German linguist Michael Schiffmann has disclosed his discovery of 26 photographs of the death scene of Officer Faukner, taken by press photographer Pedro Polakoff, which suggest more evidence that basic investigative protocol was violated by police from the earliest moments of the killing. (Oct 10, 2007)

Sickening portrayal of Israeli Army brutality and its brutalizing effect on soldiers: Israeli society has become brutalized and all manner of basic human values undermined as a result of the practices necessary to maintain the occupation. This report in ha-Aretz, which was not translated and did not appear in the English, reconfirms this on the basis of research by two psychologists. (Sept. 21, 2007)

US masks Mideast Apartheid as Peace Initiative: The US plans a regional meeting on peace, but from deciphering leaks and trial baloons, it’s about giving Israel a major piece of Palestine, consolidating Israeli control of all of historical Palestine while defusing the “demographic threat” by taking a large portion of the Palestinian population off Israel’s hands. (Oct. 13, 2007)

ICE sued for druging immigrant detainees while trying to deport them: Former detainees accuse the agency of forcibly injecting them with psychotropic drugs. An ACLU attorney representing two detainees said, “It would be torture to give a powerful anti-psychotic drug to somebody who isn’t even mentally ill. … But here, it’s happening on U.S. soil to an immigrant the government is trying to deport.” (Oct. 12, 2007)

Columbia University president sheds crocodile tears over noose, but pushes racist expansion into Harlem: It is really hypocritical to see Bollinger and the local politicians crying antiracist crocodile tears as they set out to destroy Harlem. Columbia is in the final stages of getting approval to take over 17 acres of Harlem, north of 125th St. Thousands of Harlem residents have already been forced to move. There is a very integrated community movement to oppose Columbia’s expansion, and there is a small group of students also in the opposition, who have done a great job of writing and speaking, but they have not sparked a larger movement. (Oct 12, 2007)

Nooses appear across US as racists crawl out of the woodwork: As word of the Jena case began circulating, reports of similar incidents arose. Some examples: in a black Coast Guard cadet’s bag, at a Long Island, NY, police locker room; on a Maryland college campus, in the office of a white officer conducting race-relations training, and at the office of a black professor at Columbia University. (Oct 11, 2007)

Tutu re-invited to University of St. Thomas: After over 2,700 letters of protest, the president of the University of St. Thomas acknowledged he made the wrong decision and invited Archbishop Tutu to campus. (Oct. 10, 2007)

Blackwater in Iraq, killing for profit: In Iraq, the mercenaries outnumber US troops, 180,000 to 160,000. They include former US special forces, Pinochet’s ex-kidnappers and torturers, Central and South American death squad members and South African apartheid thugs, and earn $500-$600 per day. US Mercenaries operate in at least 50 countries. As many as half the Abu Ghraib interrogators came from this sector. (Oct. 11, 2007)

Kids on private health insurance not getting needed care: Bush says he vetoed extending the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to millions of additional children because parents whose kids have private insurance might abandon it in favor of SCHIP. Let’s look at the private insurance they might abandon. (Oct. 11, 2007)

From the South African Shackdwellers: We are the Third Force: This is quite probably the most widely republished piece of journalism in post-apartheid South Africa. The term “Third Force” referred to apartheid security agents who offered covert military support to Zulu nationalists waging a war against the ANC in last years of apartheid. But the new government was formed based on market forces, leaving banks and international finance in control, and since that time poverty for many has actually increased. Those who are now fighting the ANC government’s neglect are being labeled “Third Force,” and this essay from the South African shackdwellers answers this charge.

Veterans Administration to withhold data on individual cancer patients: protecting patient privacy or coverup of war-related cancers to come?: It’s hard not to conclude that the government wants to hide data on the future course of Iraq combatants’ cancer cases. The VA isn’t objecting to disclosing the raw numbers of its cancer cases among vets, but is objecting to disclosing personal identifiers of cancer patients. While it’s understandable the VA wants to protect personal information, this personal information enables researchers to see what happens to these patients, for instance, how much care they are getting, and whether these cancers are spreading in the vets’ bodies unusually fast, both of which are big issues. (Oct 10, 2007)

Combatting Malaria in Africa: Mass distribution of free mosquito nets to everyone? Or use consultants, advertising and marketing techniques to sell them? She lost two of her six children, but since hundreds of free mosquito nets came to Maendeleo, in west-central Kenya, malaria epidemics have become rare. The WHO malaria program director says the only way is to hand out millons free. But the Bush and Clinton administrations favor “social marketing” where nets are sold and consultants are paid to produce brand names and advertising campaigns. Two years ago, USAID was spending 95% of malaria budget on consultants. (Oct. 09, 2007)

David Lazarus: Nation’s healthcare crisis gets personal: I write a lot about healthcare reform. I was diagnosed this past week with diabetes. I have about as much insurance coverage as anyone. What happens if I get fired tomorrow? I’m virtually uninsurable in the individual insurance market. Will diabetes leave my family destitute? (Oct. 7, 2007)

Scott Ritter: The Big Lie: ‘Iran Is a Threat’: Iran has never manifested itself as a serious threat to the national security of the United States, or by extension as a security threat to global security. At the height of Iran’s “exportation of the Islamic Revolution” phase, in the mid-1980’s, the Islamic Republic demonstrated a less-than-impressive ability to project its power beyond the immediate borders of Iran, and even then this projection was limited to war-torn Lebanon. (Oct. 8, 2007)

Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Power: Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency. (Oct. 9, 2007)

Struggle Is a School: The Rise of a Shack Dwellers’ Movement in Durban, South Africa: The promise of a decent life after the demise of the white-only South African government has turned sour. The new nation that kept the banks and financial structures in charge has made life even worse for the the working class, but resistance is forming. A prime example is the shackdweller’s movement that arose in the shantytowns. This video and article describe that movement.

As financial problems spread and state revenues decrease, Medicaid costs jump sharply:The housing market slump has dropped state tax collections growth to about 5% this year, down from 9% in 2005, while Medicaid costs have increased almost 11% in the first 6 months of 2007 alone. Earlier drops in Medicaid costs were one-time only reductions in patient services. Nowhere does the article say Medicaid costs are going up because more people are poor. (Oct 8, 2007)

Federal Medicare Audits Show Problems in Private Plans: Private Medicare plans, including the three largest, have deceptive sales tactics, improper drug and care denials and terminations, huge backlogs, and lack of phone support for patients, docs, and pharmacies. Violations included “imminent and serious threat” to 11,000 members of a Florida. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans for healthcare has increased sharply, to over 7.7 million, from 4.7 million in 2003. Auditors found the same types of violations in both drug-only and drug-plus-healthcare programs. (Oct. 7, 2007)

SCHIP Battle Foreshadows a Larger Health Care War: “This is only the first battle in this Congress over who will control health care in America,” Mr. Hensarling said. “Will it be parents, families and doctors? Or will it be Washington bureaucrats? That’s what this debate is all about.” Hensarling has it wrong on both accounts: Parents, families, and doctors certainly don’t control health care now. And under all the Democratic contenders’ plans, insurance companies would still hold the cards. But who would hold the cards under Single Payer? (Oct 6, 2007)

Almost 18% of US residents under age 65 are uninsured: 63% of the working uninsured are self-employed or private-sector workers with fewer than 100 employees. 33% had family incomes less than $20,000, while only 7% had family incomes of over $75,000. Erosion in employment-based coverage is not being offset by expansions in public programs. (Oct. 5, 2007)

Archbishop Tutu barred by U. of St Thomas, Minneapolis, because of criticism of Israel, head of program that invited him also demoted: Tutu was banned because of statements he made that some consider anti-Semitic. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t protect you from charges of anti-Semitism if you criticize Israeli human rights violations. Neither, apparently, does being one of the most compelling voices for social justice in the world today, or even getting an honorary degree from and giving the commencement address at Brandeis.(Oct. 5, 2007)

In Massachusetts, where everyone must buy private health insurance, patients flock to community clinics providing services that private insurers don’t cover: Now that Massachusetts requires everyone to buy private insurance, many are turning to community health centers, the locally based, nonprofit, safety-net organizations that arose from the antipoverty movement of the 1960s, because the community health centers provide services not covered by private insurers. In fact, three of the four private insurers working with the state tend to direct subscribers to the community health centers. (Sept 28, 2007)

Blackwater: Are you scared yet?The third of the ten steps to close down democracy and produce a “facist shift” is to develop a paramilitary force, by which democracy can be drastically and quickly weakened. Blackwater’s overall plans are to do more and more of its armed and dangerous ‘security’ operations on US soil, in cases of natural disaster or ‘public emergency,’ where the President alone can decide what a ‘public emergency’ might be. Homeland Security hired these same Blackwater contractors to patrol the streets of New Orleans after Katrina. (Sept 27, 2007)

Ellsberg: Attacking Iran will complete the US conversion to a police state: “I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state. … And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.” (Sep. 26, 2007)

Shifting Targets, the Administration’s plan for Iran:The Administration has redefined Iraq as a battle between the US and Iran. It is redrawing attack plans away from bombing nuclear facilities and toward air strikes on Revolutionary Guard facilities, said to be the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. It reflects US skepticism over Iran’s nuclear threat (at least 5 years away), and realization that Iran is winning in Iraq. Cheney is desperate to attack quickly, and there is a significant increase in attack planning. Bombing would be accompanied by “short, sharp incursions” by US Special Forces units into Iranian training sites. Experts say Iran has been making extensive preparation for an American bombing attack, strengthening their air-defense capabilities, and believe they will hit targets in Europe and in Latin America, though there is a lack of good information. Zbigniew Brzezinski said “We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.” (Oct 8, 2007)

Harvard prof says SF8 case proves racism lingers in US:In 1973, several former Black Panthers were arrested and tortured into confessing numerous crimes, including the police killing. Charges were eventually dropped because of coercion. 36 years later the state is pressing charges again, with no new evidence. The racial injustices that took place in the ’60s – police brutality, inadequate healthcare, inadequate schooling and an illegal and immoral war – are still going on. “We need to learn how to stand up and take action to things that are going on around us.” (Sept. 27, 2007)

Ellsberg Calls for Actions to Prevent War with Iran: He said that if a new 9/11 terrorist attack happens in the US the president would not hesitate to suspend and dismantle the Constitution and that hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners and dissidents could end up in detention camps. He said the Senate resolution declaring Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization is an invitation for Bush to declare war on Iran, comparing it to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. (Sept 28, 2007)

Stephen Zunes: My Meeting with Ahmadinejad: The Iranian president impressed me as sincerely devout in his religious faith, yet rather superficial in his understanding and inclined to twist his faith tradition in ways to correspond with his pre-conceived ideological positions. He was rather evasive when it came to specific questions and was not terribly coherent, relying more on platitudes than analysis, and would tend to get his facts wrong. In short, he reminded me in many respects of our president. (Sept. 29, 2007)

Revealed: Script for Bush’s Mangled Words at the UN: The President used his appearance to call for a “mission of liberation” to bring democracy and human rights to countries under dictatorship or repressive rule. The entire Cubandelegation upped and walked out midway through, later saying “Bush is responsible for the murder of over 600,000 civilians in Iraq… He is a criminal and has no moral authority or credibility to judge any other country. (Sept 26, 2007)

First youth, then hurricane evacuees were tortured by Jena prison guards: Jena used to be best known for its notorious prison which was closed after it was revealed that youth were regularly being raped, brutalized, beaten, and humiliated. Some youths slit their wrists on the razor wire. It was reopened in September 2005 to house Katrina evacueee prisoners and the abuse was repeated. All 23 detainees interviewed but one reported being hit or kicked by the prison staff, according to Human Rights Watch and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (Sept. 19, 2007)

The justice that Jena demands: These are young Black men who have encountered Louisiana’s criminal justice system who I know because their mothers have become proud members of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), the organization I have worked for over the last 7 years. These stories are about young men who have experienced incredible injustice, not unlike the Jena 6, only the national spotlight has never shined on them. here are hundreds more. Thousands. (Sept 27, 2007)

HUD’s Wrecking Ball,Tightening the Noose Around New Orleans: New Orleans had a severe affordable housing crisis before Katrina. The Housing Authority housed over 5,000 families, with a waiting list of 8,000 families and about 2,000 apartments that had been empty for years awaiting repairs. Now HUD has recently approved demolition of 2,966 units, many in livable condition, to be replaced with perhaps 1,000 low-income units. HUD and the NO Housing Authority are carrying out plans to keep low-income and black residents out behind a veil of secracy and deception. (Sept. 25, 2007)

Iranian university presidents pose questions to Columbia University President Bollinger:In response to Columbia University President’s introduction of invited speaker Mahmoud Ahamadineja, Iranian university presidents posed the following questions: (Sept. 25, 2007)

Washington OKs demolishing 4,500 units of New Orleans public housing. Residents are organizing. Despite the severe shortage of affordable housing following Katrina, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the New Orleans Housing Authority plan to demolish four public housing complexes, 4,500 units, and redevelop them as mixed-income housing. But New Orleans residents are resisting. (Sept 25, 2007)

Millions of Low-Income Families Who Need Medicaid and SCHIP Are Ineligible for Benefits:Just over half of people (53%) living in low-income families in nine states and the District of Columbia are eligible for neither Medicaid nor the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) The study defines a low-income family as one living below what it costs in different places across the country to cover the basics: housing, healthcare, child care, transportation, taxes, and other essentials. (Sept 25, 2007)

We Have Seen the Enemy — And Surrendered: Bow your heads and raise the white flags. After facing down the Third Reich, the Japanese Empire, the U.S.S.R., Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, the United States has met an enemy it dares not confront – the American private health insurance industry. (Sept 20, 2007)

Racist Violence from Jena to Oakland, It’s Not Just a Southern Thing:While tens of thousands travel to Jena to protest miscarriage of justice, police killings continue in Oakland California. Gary King was identified as a “potential suspect” in a month-old murder case by an Oakland police officer from a full block away and across six lanes of traffic, yet this was sufficient evidence to shoot Gary in the back as he fled. The officer was involved in two earlier shootings, one fatal. It turns out Gary was not a “potential suspect” but a “person of interest.” It was the third police killing of the year. (Sept 24, 2007)

Black men’s shorter life span may be attributable in part to the stresses of their position in society: Statistically, black males in America are at increased risk for just about every health problem known, with a shorter life expectancy than any other racial group in America except Native Americans, and worse than black women. Poverty is the most powerful determinant of health, but even when it, lifestyle, and all other factors are accounted for, the gap persists. Now researchers are beginning to examine discrimination itself. Racism, more than race, may be cutting black men down before their time. (Sept. 24, 2007)

Jewish fund must sell land to Arabs: Israel’s Supreme Court has told the Jewish National Fund (JNF), that helped Jews settle in Palestine that it must change its policy of refusing to market its lands to Arabs, 20% of Israel’s population, and gave the century-old group three months to change its policy. JNF owns 13% of Israel’s land, 80% of which was taken from Arabs who fled in the 1948 war. (Sept 24, 2007)

Nonviolent Protest Gains in West Bank: Every Friday in Bilin for the past three years , protesters have demonstrated against the “security fence” facing tear gas and rubber bullets. Now, the Supreme Court ruled that the path of the fence around Bilin offered no security advantages and it can be moved so villagers will be able to reach their crops. Increasingly, other Palestinian villages are following Bilin’s lead. (Sept 24, 2007)

The Royal Treatment: Saudi Involvement in Iraq Overlooked: Bush , Petraeus, and Crocker blamed Iran for the failures of Iraq. But U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia also supports resistance groups in Iraq, and will continue. About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia. New arms deals give military equipment worth $20 billion to Saudi Arabia, over $30 billion in military assistance to Israel, and $13 billion to Egypt. (Sept 18, 2007)

US Embassy Declares Salvadoran Anti-Privatization Work “Dangerous” to US Public:The US Embassy in El Salvador denied union leader Maria de los Angeles Pleitez Carcamo a visa for a speaking tour of the U.S. Pleitez is scheduled to participate in CISPES’s “We Are Not Terrorists, Organizing is Our Right!” tour from Oct 16-31, talking about her union’s work to stop the privatization of the public health care system and the increasing repression of social movement and union leaders. (Sept. 21, 2007)

Sutter and CPMC bleed St. Luke’s: Sutter Healthcare, a highly profitable non-profit hospital chain, swallowed up San Francisco’s St. Luke’s Hospital over vehement objections of health advocates, who knew Sutter would not accept St. Luke’s role as largely charitable provider for low-income and minority patients, and that Sutter would shut down services and neglect the hospital, or even try to close it. As CPMC moves to build its $1.7 billion mega-hospital in tony Cathedral Hill, these issues are coming to a head. (Sept 19, 2007)

Iraq War Costing $720 million Each Day:The money spent each day of the Iraq war, $720 million or $500,000 per minute, could buy homes for almost 6,500 families, health care for 423,529 children, or renewable electricity for 1.27 million homes. This includes not only the immediate costs but also ongoing factors like veterans’ long-term health care, interest on debt and replacement of military hardware. It breaks down into $280 million a day passed by Congress, plus $440 million a day in unpaid, long-term costs. (Sept. 22, 2007)

US to limit cancer treatment to undocumented immigrants: The federal government has told New York State that chemotherapy, which had been covered for undocumented immigrants under a government-financed program for emergency medical care, does not qualify for coverage. Medicaid permits emergency coverage for undocumented immigrants. New York and other states have defined an emergency as any condition that could become an emergency or lead to death without treatment. (Sept 22, 2007)

More Than One Million Iraqis Murdered Since 2003 InvasionPrevious estimates, most noticeably Lancet in October 2006, suggested almost half this number (654,965 deaths). These findings come from a poll released today by O.R.B., the British polling agency that has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005. A representative sample of 1,461 adults, aged 18+, answered the following question … (Sept 20, 2007)

Dehumanizing the Palestinians: The Gaza Strip has been declared a “hostile entitiy” by the Israeli cabinet, which then cut off the meagre supply of electricity (needed to pump water), fuel, and other basic necessities. The US, UN, and European Union have said almost nothing about the humanitarian disaster Israel is causing. Israel operates in a context where the “international community” has become inured to a discourse of extermination of the Palestinian people — political and physical. (Sept 21, 2007)

Can the quasi-governmental Jewish National Fund legally refuse to lease land to Israeli citizens who are Arabs? The Jewish National Fund, a private organization that owns 13% if the land in Israel refuses to lease land to non-Jews, even though 80% of its land holdings were taken from Arabs during the 1948 war. The Israeli Parliament has preliminarily ruled that JNF’s refusal to lease land to non-Jews is not unlawful discrimination, but the case is now coming before the High Court. (Sept 24, 2007)

More profit, less care, in nursing homes, as corporations restructure to insulate themselves from lawsuits: Within months, investors and operators were earning millions a year. Registered nurses was cut in half and budgets for nursing supplies, resident activities and other services dropped, fire doors were broken, and kitchens were unhygienic. Vivian Hewitt sued when her mother died after a large bedsore became infected by feces. But private investment companies have made it very difficult for plaintiffs by creating complex corporate structures that obscure who controls their nursing homes. (Sept 23, 2007)

Jena: The Ignored Story of Legal Lynching : A 1919 NAACP report on lynching listed Louisiana as ranking fourth behind Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. Thousands often attended lynching, once known as America’s ‘blood sport.’ Beyond mob-justice against alleged criminals, lynching was a device for social control, ethnic cleansing and economic theft. In July 1934 a prosecutor in Bastrop, La – about 60-miles north of Jena – refused to investigative the lynching of a black man in that town’s public square because he had attended and “sympathized with [the crowd’s] attitude.” (Sept 20, 2007)

Neo-Nazi group publishes addresses and phone numbers of Jena 6 familiesAfter some 60,000 anti-racists, largely youth, demonstrated against Jim Crow railroading of the Jena 6 (See Sept 21 Democracy Now), and Mychal Bell was denied bail, a neo-nazi white supremacist group has posted the addresses and phone numbers of Jena 6 families, on their “Lynch the Jena 6″ webpage. Other examples of recent noose-based racist threats are recounted. (Sept 23, 2007)

Ahimsa Sunchai demands Newsom retract his misrepresentation of State’s survey of toxics in Bayview: Dr. Sumchai demands Mayor Newsom retract the willful misinterpretation he has widely disseminated of the California Department of Public Health’s findings on asbestos at the Lennar Construction Site at Parcel A of the Hunters Point Shipyard. Increased risk and asbestos levels above mandatory thresholds were found. (Sept 22, 2007)

Number of Uninsured is greatly undercounted, 1/3 of Americans were uninsured for some or all of 2006:Last year, for Americans under age 65, 89.6 million, over one in three, were uninsured for some or all of the two-year period from 2006-2007. Over half of uninsured were uninsured for nine months or more. Twenty states had over 1/3 uninsured, California had 40%. (Sept 20, 2007)

Schwarzenegger’s plan is an insurance industry give-awayA news story on Schwarzenegger’s proposed universal health care package for Californians, reported in Truthout on Thursday, generated an enormous response from California readers and organizations, who felt it did not address the inherent problems associated with Schwarzenegger’s proposal if it becomes law. (Sept21, 2007)

Is ClintonCare the same as SchwarzenCare? Sen. Clinton threw around the word “consensus” a lot but the consensus was was with the same industry that so savaged her prior experience with healthcare. Ironically, given the overheated reaction from Republican candidates, Clinton’s plan most closely resembles the approach of two Republicans — the Mitt Romney-crafted law in Massachusetts and the proposal by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Sept 18, 2007)

Public housing on the chopping block: Starting in the 1990s, the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) encouraged the demolition of 100,000 units, and local authorities across the country have destroyed at least 78,015 public housing apartments under HOPE VI, with another 10,354 planned for demolition, according to HUD data, Linda Couch, deputy director of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, told IPS (Sept 12, 2007)

Democrats aren’t spineless about opposing war; war is on their agenda. Wesley Clark writes: Iran is not the only country where the next war with the United States might erupt. Consider the emergence of a new superpower (or at least a close competitor with the United States). China’s shoot-down of an old Chinese satellite in January was a wake-up call about the risks inherent in America’s reliance on space. (Sept 16, 2007)

Plummeting Dollar, Credit Crunch..Final Stop: Soup Kitchen USAThe dollar as the world’s “reserve currency” may be closing. In August, foreign central banks and governments dumped a whopping 3.8 per cent of their holdings of US debt. Rising unemployment and the ongoing housing slump have triggered fears of a recession sending wary foreign investors running for the exits. China, Japan and Taiwan have led the sell off which has caused the steepest decline since 1992. (Sept 15, 2007)

Israel labels Gaza ‘enemy entity’, cuts off Gaza’s water, electricity and gas. UN warns Israel, while US backs Israel:Israel has declared the Gaza Strip an “enemy entity”, and has cut off fuel and other vital supplies to 1.4 million in the territory, as collective punishment for rockets fired. The UN has warned that cutting vital services would violate international law. Condoleezza Rice, in the Mid-East for a US-led Israel-Palestine peace conference, supported Israel’s action but said the US would not abandon innocent Palestinian in Gaza. (Sept 19, 2007)

Bay Area activists leading fight against Social Security No-Match letters.Now, after a failed immigration debate in Congress, the Bush administration wants to pass a regulation that would explicitly turn the Social Security No-Match letters, intended to make sure workers receive their benefits, into an immigration enforcement tool. This could result in massive firings and retaliation against workers organizing with unions. (Sept 19, 2007)

Debate essential to Arab-Israeli peace: Amy Goodman“I think it’s accurate to say that not a single member of Congress with whom I’m familiar would possibly speak out and call for Israel to withdraw to their legal boundaries or to publicize the plight of the Palestinians or even to call publicly and repeatedly for good faith peace talks.” (Sept 12, 2007)

U.S. Banks Brace as Dollar and Credit System Reel:The British Northern Rock Bank and the government are frantically trying to calm their customers by reassuring them that their money is safe. But Northern Rock doesn’t have their money and, surprisingly, it is not because the bank was dabbling in risky subprime loans. Rather they depended on wholesale financing of their mortgages from eager investors in the market. Instead of the traditional method of maintaining sufficient capital to back up the loans on their books. (Sept 18, 2007)

Israeli society pays a heavy price for occupying Palestinian lands:Skyrocketing military costs, mounting poverty , Slashed social programs, erosion of the safety net, pension theft, and bloated business profits, so say nothing of political instability and injuries and fatalities. (June 28, 2007)

Humanitarian Access to West Bank decreasing in spite of growing need:The occupied West Bank’s supposedly favored status over Gaza is not protecting ordinary Palestinians’ health, safety, or welfare, reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “Already, UN agencies are seeing increasing restrictions at crossings into the West Bank similar to those already in place into Gaza.” (Sept 10, 2007)

Mumia Abu-Jamal – Legal Update from his lead counsel: We continue to await a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia. It is impossible to know what the federal court ruling will be. Whomever loses will seek a rehearing and petition the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals might (1) Grant an entirely new jury trial, (2) Order a new jury trial limited to the issue of life or death, (3) Remand the case back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings, or (4) Deny all relief. The decision could come any day. (Sept 16, 2007)

Private Medicare fraud auditor will collect millions denying claims:PRG-Schultz International is paid up to 25 to 30 cents per dollar of Medicare spending it says is wrongly paid. Their rejections of Medicare claims from California rehabilitation hospitals are being reversed on appeal after the auditor denied almost all claims for rehab hospital therapy following post knee and hip replacement. Auditors are starting to deny rehab services for stroke victims. This audit program was established as a demonstration project in three states — California, Florida and New York — in 2005, to be permanently expanded to all 50 states by 2010. (Sept 16, 2007)

Tomgram: Tony Karon on Growing Dissent among American Jews: The extent to which the eight million Jews of the Diaspora identify with Israel is increasingly open to question. In a recent study to measure the depth of attachment of American Jews to Israel, the researchers asked whether respondents would consider the destruction of the State of Israel a “personal tragedy.” Less than half of those aged under 35 answered “yes” and only 54% percent of those aged 35-50 agreed (compared with 78% of those over 65). The study found that only 54% of those under 35 felt comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state. (Sept 13, 2007)

Facts Belie Petraeus’ Case, Say Humanitarian Groups: A joint ABC/BBC poll this week shows 70 percent of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated since the surge. Some 60 percent believe attacks on U.S. forces are justified, including 93 percent of Sunnis. Now only 29 percent think the situation will get better, compared to 64 percent who shared that optimism before surge. (Sept 14, 2007)

Last of charges dropped against Mychal Bell, one of Jena 6: A state appeals court on Friday threw out the only remaining conviction against one of the black teenagers accused in the beating of a white schoolmate in the racially tense north Louisiana town of Jena. The reversal of Bell’s conviction will not affect four other teenagers also charged as adults, because they were 17 years old at the time of the fight and no longer considered juveniles, said attorney George Tucker of Hammond. (Sept 14, 2007)

Annotate This… President Bush’s Sept 13 Speech to the Nation on Iraq: Bush’s speech last evening was an impassioned plea to stay the course. But much of the argument was based on spin instead of reality. In this edition of ‘Annotate This…’ Stephen Zunes and Erik Leaver analyze Bush’s statements and offer an alternative interpretation of the situation on the ground. (Sept 14, 2007)

Thousands Turn Out For Immigrant Rights Protest Against Social Security “No Match” Letters: The agenda behind the ICE enforcement of Social Security No-Match letters is to create that crisis to push forward a broad Bracero-type program, a guest worker program, which would legalize those workers, but create even greater conditions of exploitation. That’s been the record of the Bracero Program, which was dismantled as part of the Civil Rights Movement. (Sept 13, 2007)

A quiet call for revolution in response of president’s Iraq address: “It is my opinion that all is not yet lost in America, but I firmly believe we are dangerously close to losing the foundation of our freedoms … more to the point, I believe our government leaders are out of control and beyond redemption … Democrats and Republicans alike.” (Sept 14, 2007)

On eve of Bush speech saying Iraq on way to being pacified, key Suni ally killed in bombing: It was the biggest blow to the Anbar tribal alliance since a suicide bomber killed four anti-al-Qaida sheiks in June. … Abu Risha, head of the Anbar Awakening Council who met with President Bush just 10 days earlier, died when a roadside bomb exploded near his home, one year after the young sheik organized 25 Sunni Arab clans into an alliance against al-Qaida in Iraq. (Sept 13, 2007)

Homeland Security selects Israeli company to keep US/Mexico border safe: “The talent and expertise that Elbit Systems has employed for years in protecting Israel’s borders will now be put to use on US borders to keep Americans safe.” Elbit has been selected, with Boeing as prime contractor for the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) to supply technology to identify threats, to deter and prevent crossings, and to apprehend intruders along the US borders with Canada and Mexico. (Oct 15, 2006)

What Crocker and Petraeus didn’t say: Their testimony may have been as important for what they didn’t say as for what they did. No mention of ethnic cleansing of formerly integrated neighborhoods, of 86% of refugees being targeted for their sect, in militia infiltration of Iraqi Security Forces, or the lack of political progress which the surge was supposed to insure. (Sept 10, 2007)

How a market-based educational experiment fails New Orleans children: Within days of Katrina, conservatives lobbied for a free-market construct for public education. Rather than bringing communities together to work for the reform of all schools for all children, it creates a system where winners and losers are inevitable. By spring 2006, of 25 public schools that opened, 72% were charter schools, and 56% had “selective” admissions policies. By contrast, state-operated schools had no texts or desks, guards outnumbered teachers, and class size grew to 40. (Sept 12, 2007)An

Appeal from Lynne Stewart for the SF8: “the state has accused 8 men, all with Black Panther, or other activist ties in the past, almost 40 years after the event. The crucial point is that the state’s proof consists of confessions made under torture which were disallowed as coerced and unreliable in legal proceedings in the 1970s. Now, with repression ever looming, they are resurrecting this case most importantly, to legitimize torture on the home front. (Sept 12, 2007)

Iraq perspective of the Petraeus Report and the surge: Five million depend on a food program, but two million cannot be fed in dangerous areas. 75 per cent of doctors, pharmacists have left their jobs in the hospitals, clinics and universities. Unemployment is 68 per cent of the workforce. 70 per cent of Iraqis say that their security has got worse during the last six months. No wonder the Iraqis believe what is happening to them is wholly contrary to the myths pumped out. (Sept 11, 2007)

German perspective on the Petraeus Report: The Show Must Go On: It was the culmination of a slick and professional marketing campaign. The White House left nothing to chance ahead of Monday’s report to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Iraq. In the world of PR, it’s referred to as the “rollout” of a new product. (Sept. 11, 2007)

Health insurers and HMOs spent $4 million in Sacramento since 2001: Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Nunez, architects of a potential health care deal subsidizing the insurance industry, led the pack with $719,600, and $136,300 respectively. The analysis includes contributions made by the top six health insurer and HMO donors — Blue Cross, Blue Shield, PacifiCare, Molina, Health Net, Aetna – - as well as the Association of California Life and Health Insurers and the Association of California Health Plans. Kaiser, Blue Shield, Blue Cross,PacifiCare, and HealthNet, control 80% of the HMO market, and have recorded profit increases of $11.7 billion since 2002. The six largest HMOs spent $1.6 billion on marketing in 2006. (Sept 10, 2007)

Army continues demolition of homes, livelihoods of Bedouin Israeli Citizens in Negev Desert: On May 8, the entire village of Twail Abu-Jarwal—30 tents and huts, home to over 100 people—were destroyed on Israeli government orders. Villagers who refused to move were physically dragged from their homes. These cases are but the latest examples of Israeli government dispossession of the Bedouin community. (Aug, 2007)

GAO says private plans overcharged Medicare $59 millions, Feds did nothing, auditing abandoned? Private insurance companies in Medicare have kept tens of millions of dollars that should have gone to consumers, and the Bush administration did not properly audit the companies or try to recover money paid in error. (Sept 10, 2007)

Racism in New Orleans Criminal Justice System: Among nation’s worst pre-Katrina, still worse now: If Louisiana were a country, it would have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and 95% of the detained New Orleans youth in 1999 were Black. After the storm, thousands of prisoners were abandoned in Orleans Parish Prison as the water was rising. (Aug 30. 2007)Bedouins in Negev Desert, Israeli citizens, live in prison-like bantustans inside Israel: At 10.30pm every night Israeli forces lock the entrance to the village, effectively imprisoning the approximately 4,000 residents inside until guards unlock the gate in the morning. They are citizens of Israel pay taxes, yet don’t have running water , electricity, or schools. (Sept 4, 2007)

Norman Finkelstein, Israel critic and embattled DePaul University professor, agrees to resign: Finkelstein has drawn criticism for accusing some Jews of improperly using the Holocaust agreed Wednesday to resign immediately. He was denied tenure in June after six years on the faculty, and his remaining class was cut last month. Another supporter was also denied tenure. Campus support is widespread but help is needed.

Author-psychologist returns award from American Psychological Association for its refusal to disassociate from coercive interrogation: Mary Pipher, author of “Reviving Ophelia“, returned an award from the APA, saying “We are not innocent bystanders at those sites, doing our best to protect people. We are responsible for training these interrogators. …We are the only people left, the only medical professionals, who are lending (the sites) legitimacy.” (Sept 5, 2007)

Test the Lennar site: There is no safe level for asbestos exposure:The SF School Board is discussing a voluntary program to test for toxic exposure kids who attend facilities near Lennar Corp.’s Hunters Point excavation that is spreading dust with naturally-occuring asbestos throughout the neighborhood, but the Department of Public Health insists there’s no threat or reason to test anyone. Lennar’s subcontractor bungled 13 months of airborn asbestos testing so there’s no data on kids’ exposures, despite legal requirements. The SF Supervisors refused a measure to halt construction until past exposure can be done. There is no safe level of asbestos. (Aug. 29, 2007)

How many 9/11s has the US caused in other countries since WWII?: US military forces were directly responsible for about 10 to 15 million deaths during the Korean, Vietnam, and two Iraq Wars. In proxy wars for which the United States is responsible, there were between nine and 14 million deaths in Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan. The overall conclusion is that the US is most likely responsible since WWII for the deaths of 20 to 30 million people, possibly 10,000 9/11s. Country-by-country analysis follows. (April 24, 2007)

Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran: The Pentagon has plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, to annihilate their military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week reported “significant” cooperation with Iran over its nuclear programme and said that uranium enrichment had slowed. (Sept 2, 2007)

The Iraq War As Seen By Soldiers on the Ground: This brutally honest assessment of the war is ten days old, but will increase in importance in mid-September as Republicans and Democrats alike will try to convince us the “surge” is working and Iraq and its oil can be ours if we stick it out. (Aug 19, 2007)

SCHIP: New federal regulations against states expanding SCHIP coverage to children of low-middle income families damages children and are put in place to protect the health insurance industry. (Sept 2, 2007)

The Quiet in Falluja is the Quiet of the Dead: “The city is practically dead, and the dead are quiet.” “After sacrificing thousands of our beloved, Americans and their tails want to kill the rest of us,” said a 50-year-old woman (Aug 28, 2007)Louisiana School Bans T-Shirts Supporting Jena 6: About nine Jena High School students arrived on campus Tuesday sporting t-shirts that read “Free the Jena 6.” But LaSalle Parish Schools Superintendent Roy Breithaupt said the silent protest caused too much of a stir on campus. (Aug 31, 2007)

Palestinians are poorer than ever: In 2006 Palestinians living in ‘deep poverty’ almost doubled. 46% of public sector employees do not have enough food, 53% of Gaza households’ incomes declined by more than half. Palestine Authority revenue was half the previous year, as Israel withheld over $800 million in PA taxes. (Sept 1, 2007)

Racist Disparities in California Life Expectancy: White men in California live an average of seven years longer than black men. Berkeley’s death records from 1995 to 1997 showed an astounding 20 year difference in life expectancy between blacks living in the flatlands and whites living in the hills. (August 30, 2007)

Amazing Grace: Whitewashing the History of Abolition: In 1791, slaves in Haiti revolted until they wrested independence in 1804. It changed the world. Slavery held on for decades- but after Haiti it was fighting a losing battle. Yet English Parlimentarian William Wilberforce gets the credit. (Aug 25, 2007)

Cancer in Iraq vets shows toxic exposure: A decade after Gulf War I, 56% of those soldiers are on permanent medical disability. Now a new rash of mysterious, fast-growing cancers is springing up among veterans of the current Iraq war. (Aug 28, 2007)

Support for Kenneth Foster soars as the clock ticks: Kenneth Foster, who came within hours of being executed for a murder Texas knows he did not commit, helped found The Drive Movement, that organizes non violent protests against executions from inside the death cells with hunger strikes and refusing to walk to their executions. (Aug 29, 2007)

Demand the Safe Return of Haitian Activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine: He is head of a Haitian human rights organization advocating for victims of the 1991 and 2004 coups against Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He has not been seen since August 12, and is presumed kidnapped. (Aug 29, 2007)

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert: This week’s message from the Alliance for Retired Americans writes about how seniors pay more Under Part D than other drug plans, and how insurance companies are targeting early retirees who are the second-fastest growing group of uninsured. (Aug 24, 2007)

Outrageous Racial Differences in Infant Mortality: In some Florida counties, black infants die at four to ten times the rate of whites, as opposed to the national figure of twice the white rate. (Aug 18, 2007)In Coal Blood: Mining disasters are reflection of energy-policy disasters: Half a century after my grandfather’s mining accident, our nation still without a credible renewable energy policy, the mining goes on. More than 104,000 people have died in our nation’s coal mines over the last century, and hundreds of thousands of miners have died from black lung disease. In an age of global warming and greater energy and safety awareness, we are also witnessing the great coal revival. Nearly 50 percent of our electricity still comes from coal and dirty coal has been repackaged as “clean coal.” There appears to be no real commitment at this point toward renewable or non-fossil-fuel sources of energy. (Aug 15, 2007)

Affording Health Care: Blue Shield CEO Bruce Bodaken may have a point when he says, “The key to health care affordability – everybody pays” (Open Forum, Aug. 16), but he’s side-stepping two questions: “Who does everyone pay?” and “What for?” (Aug 18, 2007)

Bush’s lethal legacy: more executions:The US already kills more of its prisoners than almost any other country. Now the White House plans to cut the right of appeal of death row inmates. (Aug 15, 2007)

The Color of Health Care: Diagnosing Bias in Doctors: Researchers have noted differences in diagnoses and treatments offered to racial groups, from heart disease to schizophrenia. In a new study, physicians who were more racially biased were less likely to prescribe aggressive heart-attack treatment for black patients (Aug 15, 2007)

3 Jailed Immigrants Die in a Month: Three detainees died within weeks of one another in federal immigration custody, adding to a toll of more than 60 who perished in recent years and fueling complaints of medical maltreatment from civil rights advocates. (Aug 15, 2007)

US Life Expectancy Below That of 41 Other Nations: It is attributed to the high uninsured rate, rising obesity, and racial disparities. One expert predicted that the U.S. ranking would not improve as long as the health care debate is limited to insurance. (Aug 13, 2007)

In Coal Blood: Mining disasters are reflection of energy-policy disasters: More than 104,000 people have died in our nation’s coal mines over the last century, and hundreds of thousands of miners have died from black lung disease. In an age of global warming and greater energy and safety awareness, we are also witnessing the great coal revival. Nearly 50 percent of our electricity still comes from coal and dirty coal has been repackaged as “clean coal.” There appears to be no real commitment at this point toward renewable or non-fossil-fuel sources of energy. (Aug 15, 2007)

Earlier articles can be seen in the “Archive” section in the right-hand column.


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